Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Play-by-Play

Well, today ALL of our family (almost) is in Memphis celebrating Thanksgiving together.

We are also celebrating here.  Tonight we will have Joao and Clarice Spencer and their sons, Joca and Levi,  over to try their first Thanksgiving meal.  Natalie will also be here, as well as our teammate, Matt.

I am cooking by myself today.

So, as a little motivation for myself, and some Thanksgiving Day entertainment for my family in Memphis, I am going to try to give you a play by play of our day.  My apologies to anyone else reading this blog who hoped to possibly read something interesting or meaningful....

Here goes.....

8:00 AM
This is the kitchen.  Ansley and Garrett were home by themselves yesterday while we took Natalie to Gramado.  Needless to say, they didn't clean up the kitchen at all.  Oh well....

These will be pumpkin pies....  (The pumpkins, not the diaper rash powder in the photo.  Not sure why that's in the kitchen, but not surprised, either...)

Fresh green beans.....

Sweet potatoes that aren't orange.  I thought about cooking a carrot with them so they will be closer to the right color.  Or would anyone even care about that?

My morning helper. Watching Ratatouille and repeating every other phrase to me.

My other morning helper - going to run.

That's it for now.....
Hopefully at 9:00, I'll have some progress to report!

9:00 AM
Wow!  That hour went by fast!
Kitchen cleaned and sweet potatoes cooking in the biggest pot I have.

Pumpkin cooking in the oven.

Started the dressing.  (I had made the cornbread Tuesday.)

Helper is now watching Spongebob and has a dirty diaper.

More later....

11:45 AM
Well, I got the turkey cooking.  Check out this contraption!  The top of my roaster oven broke, so it has a hole that has to be stopped up so the heat won't get out.

The "pumpkin" is done and the pie crusts are chilling.  I had to make an emergency grocery store run because I only have one pie plate.

I got the strawberry-pretzel salad started......

and exercised and took a shower.  Carys and Natalie are home from Gramado, and Kevin has gone to pick up the other kids.  We are going to try to watch a Thanksgiving parade on the computer (while cooking, of course.)

I wonder if anyone in my family is even looking at this??

3:30 PM
Our guests will be here in 3 hours - which means 3 1/2 here in Brazil....

The dressing is done, just needs to be baked.  These two helped turn the cornbread and bread into bread crumbs.

Carys helped chop the onions - with eye protection.

The turkey is also done, as well as the strawberry pretzel salad.  We only have a few more things to make.  Anderson is babysitting Giovanni who just woke up from his nap for the second time, Ansley is teaching English class, and Kevin took Garrett to soccer.

And check out these pumpkin pies!  They smell SO good!

5:30 PM

Almost ready!

Turkey sliced (and Vera showed up just in time to clean out the cooker!  Yeah, Vera!!)

Me and my best helper of the day!

The table is set and looks so pretty.  More pictures soon.......


Everything went great and we are having a great time.  
Here are the pictures....

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting Started

Thanks for all the encouraging comments about our new cookie business.

As I said, this will be a family affair, and several of us in the family have been busy already this weekend.

Carys and I painted Christmas Cookie Plates.  Carys did all of these except the ornaments and the Santa.  Isn't she a great artist?

Ansley made up a cute logo for our company:
Kevin got in touch with a good friend from high school who is helping us set up a website.

Garrett cut chocolate bars into chocolate "chips" until his hand was hurting.  Yes, that is what we have to do here.  I have yet to find any decent chocolate chips to buy.

Anderson wanted to help so badly on the cookie plates, so I let him and Carys paint this one for our family.
It's been a good weekend!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Moving to Brazil meant I changed my cooking habits ( I had to...)  I've talked about that on this blog before.  One thing I started doing was making homemade cookies.  We don't have ready-made cookie dough here or even any cookies that taste like American ones.  My cookies aren't anything extra special, but since they are American style homemade cookies, and those don't exist here, everyone oohs and aahs over them whenever I make them.

For years our family has talked about starting a "cookie company".  Not sure what that would look like or how to do it - it's just been some kind of idea that has been talked about and that our kids REALLY want us to do.  We, especially me, are the farthest thing from business people that you could get.  So starting a "cookie company" has always seemed like just too big a mountain to start to climb.

But.... this year we are dipping our toes into the cookie company idea.  I say "we" because while I am the cookie baker, recipe chooser and expert of the quirks of cookie-baking in Brazil, this will definitely be a family affair.  Or I will go insane.

Anyway, there are two Christmas bazars coming up.  One at the kids' school and one at our club.  And cookies made by the Blumes will be for sale at each one.

We hope to offer cookies (obviously) in several flavors, cookie "kits" (like cookie mixes in a jar), giant cookie "pizzas", and decorated Santa plates to set out Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve.  There are some other ideas floating around my head, but if I we get just this much done, I'll we'll be doing good.

So, in our kitchen, we have huge bags of sugar....


and stockpiles of other ingredients.

And my husband's birthday gift is getting quite a bit of use.

The first bazar is at the end of November, so this weekend I will be making frozen cookie dough "blobs" that can be baked closer to the actual day of the event, as well as painting cookie plates (that will be fun!).

There are lots of reasons for starting this venture, all of which I don't have the time or words to explain right now.  Our "what if?" conversations have gone from having a company that is so successful that we don't need outside support, to having a little cookie shop that would be a ministry, to making enough money that we can pay for our college kids' airfare each year.

Whatever happens, we believe that it will be God's doing.  This idea has been in our heads for so long and now seems like the right time to try it out.

We'll let you know what happens.  Now, off to the kitchen!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I am blessed with 6 wonderful kids.  Their ages are all spread out - 19, 17, 14, 11, 6 and 2.  For those of you who don't know our story, we had planned on having 4 kids.  Then we were blessed with Anderson - a wonderful surprise.  After that, there was just a nagging feeling that we were supposed to have one more.  So after a bit of a struggle, God gave us a "gracious gift"  - Giovanni, our 2 year old.

I have been a mother for 19 years, and I have loved every phase of motherhood.  I loved it when we just had one little girl to dress up like a doll.  Then two little girls to watch their sister relationship grow.  Then the fun of having a little boy who was chunky and loved to play ball.  Then a little spirited girl who rounded out perfectly our family.  Until....God surprised us with a precious little boy who stole all our hearts and then blessed us with another little one to keep us young.  I have enjoyed every part of this journey.

Here is a little about what my motherhood journey is about right now (like this past week) .....

I watch from afar as my oldest flourishes at college - making new friends, learning new things, becoming exactly who she was made to be.  I miss her, but I am really happy for her.  I am looking forward to her being home for Christmas.

I listen from far away as my senior in high school takes a trip with her school to a totally different country, gets sick, and has to depend on prayer, herself and people she barely knows to see her through.  She recovers quickly and is back to her friendly self - laughing and having fun.

I help my 8th grader study for two important tests.  One in math that I have no clue about, and one in science that I can figure out.  I make up practice tests, and pray for him to be free from distractions.  After a long weekend of studying and helping, I am so glad that he tells me "Mom, I feel really good about both my tests."

I move my brain back from teenage girls, to pre-teen girls as I listen to my 11 year old whisper secrets about who likes who in her 5th grade class.  I invent things to do with her - painting, crafts, shopping because she is my last girl and I don't want the time to go by.

I listen as my 6 year old chatterbox boy talks about soccer, friends, school, and asks a million questions.  I cut his hair to look like some soccer player (I forgot who.)   I love that he is still little enough that I can pick him up and hold him.  He loves for me to read to him.

I cuddle and play with a little one.  I interpret his language so everyone will know what he is saying.  I suffer through his teething - being grouchy and making a million dirty diapers a day.  I read books, watch movies, play with toys and clean up behind his trail of messes.

That is my life as a mother right now.  It is full.  But, in thinking about it, every phase has been full.  I think that's what mothers do.  They give themselves fully to every part of mothering - whether it is to one kid or to six.  And in that giving, we are blessed.

Hope you have a blessed day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Farinha Láctea

Do you ever have those "freak out" moments with your kids?  Like when you imagine that their crankiness is because of some hidden, horrible illness?  When really it's just their teeth, or a bad day?

Just because I have 6 kids, doesn't mean I don't still have those moments, especially with my youngest.  Like right now, he is not a fan of eating.  He will eat about 10 different things  - and all of them contain sugar - except black beans and rice (thank you, Brazil!) and a McDonald's cheeseburger (thank you, USA??).  He used to like more foods, but right now, he only eats if he is really hungry and it is something he really loves.   When I am tempted to "freak out" about his eating habits, my husband reminds me that Dr. Threlkeld (our first pediatrician in Memphis) always said that he won't starve, he'll eat when he's hungry.  So, I relax.

Anyway, one of his favorites right now is this:

This is kind of like cream of wheat with sugar and powdered milk.  I mix it with warm milk and it makes a mushy kind of cereal.  Anderson ate this a lot when he was little and he still asks for "baby cereal" sometimes.  Giovanni loves it.

And of course, Mr. Independent has to feed himself - always.

(yes, I'm letting him watch baby einstein on youtube while he eats.)

Evidently, "baby cereal" has other uses.
Like painting your spongebob placemat.

PS. If you happen to live in Brazil and can buy this stuff, it's also good to put some of this into a bowl (without milk) and cut up a banana into slices.  Stir the slices around so they get coated with the cereal.  Yumm.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween isn't generally celebrated in Brazil.  We have Kids' Day, which kind of makes up for it.

In the past, our family has driven about 2 hours away to a Halloween-themed pizza place.  That was fun, but we are kind of sick of that place - and it is pretty expensive.

We could have just let Halloween go on by and do nothing.  The kids probably wouldn't have minded that much.  But, we decided to have some family fun instead.

The day before, Carys made these cute Halloween lanterns.  She is so artistic. You just have to show her once how to do something and she takes off and does it.

On Halloween Day, here's what we did:

Carys and I made some pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  Pump-cakes.  Get it?

(I just used my normal pancake recipe, put cocoa in about a cup of the batter, and orange food coloring in the rest.)

We put the faces on the griddle first - using a medicine syringe.

Then the orange on top.

When you flip it, you have a pumpkin face.

It was a fun way to start the day.

The kids actually put on costumes and went trick-or-treating on our street.   Ansley gives English classes to our neighbor, Eduarda.  She said that she had always gone trick-or-treating on our street.  We were surprised.
(Just so you know, Ansley wouldn't normally dress up and go trick-or-treating.  She did it for Eduarda.)

They tried, but I think they got one sucker each until they came to our house.  Kevin and I had gone to the store and bought a bunch of junk - so they were loaded up enough.

(That's me.  I've let my hair go natural.  Not really.)

After trick-or-treating,  Carys and I made a Halloween feast.

Mummy hotdogs.

Mummy pizzas.

Veggie dip.

Apple bites.

And spider-web cupcakes.
All the food ideas are from Family Fun.

Even though the kids didn't get to do the traditional American Halloween activities, we still had fun and I hope they will always remember special times like these.