Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quick Funny from Rylen

Rylen's first Quick Funny post! What a milestone.

We've asked Rylen to "help" us get up out of a chair or couch before. You know, that joking around you do with kids where they pull on your hand and you grunt and groan and make it a lot of work for them? (Is it just us that does this?)

Apparently he has learned the lesson well. Now, when he wants one of us to get up and come with him somewhere (usually to the kitchen for a drink or snack), he comes over and grabs a hand. Then he proceeds to groan and grunt with effort - though without ever actually pulling on your hand - to indicate that it's time to get up. Makes me laugh every time!

Friday, July 20, 2012

New and Improved S'mores

I don't have a ton of stories about the Wardle reunion trip this year. I'll pretty much leave it at - it was just as we expected. Lots of fun seeing and visiting with family, time for the kids to fish with Grandpa, plenty of rain and hail (as always!).

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my family. And since Aaron doesn't camp, we stayed at my parents' house at night. So we got to enjoy their really nice new deck, their stellar air conditioning (it was really hot), and their extensive DVR selection of Criminal Minds episodes. (I'm very addicted to that show. We watch a few episodes every night. Plus I watch old episodes on YouTube during the day while I work at my desk.)

I thought I would share a tip... everyone likes S'mores, right? But they're so hard to get right. You cook the marshmallow and stick it on your chocolate and graham cracker, but a perfectly toasted marshmallow isn't really hot enough to melt the chocolate. And I don't like to eat the marshmallows that are hot enough (read: on fire and charred).

So my sister Emily and brother-in-law Tim came up with a new idea during this last camping trip. It gives you the perfect combination of toasty marshmallow and melty chocolate! Delicious.

Let's all thank my other sister Melissa for being the model for this photo series.

Make a hole in your marshmallow and insert your chocolate INSIDE the marshmallow! They used extra-large marshmallows and a couple of squares of chocolate, but you could definitely do the same with a regular-size marshmallow.

Toast your marshmallow. By the time it's done, the chocolate inside will be melted.

Squish between two graham crackers.

Take a BIG bite!

Enjoy. Mmmm!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Traveling Tip

Alright, I'm trying to ease back in to the blogging thing. I know I've been MIA with everything going on, but I do actually have stories to tell. I just have a hard time sitting down and writing them. But since I know people are doing/planning summer road trips right now, I wanted to share a new tip for traveling with the family.

I don't know about you, but for me, mealtimes are some of the most expensive, time-consuming, frustrating parts of a road trip. When you stop to eat at a restaurant it ends up costing a fortune. And for all that money, the kids probably don't finish all their food because their jumping out of their seats, crawling under the table, fighting with their siblings, playing with their drinks, spilling their drinks and generally being restless because they've been cooped up in the car for the last several hours. So after a long (it always seems to take longer than we thought it would) frustrating mealtime, we still end up taking them to a park or playground to run off some of the energy before we get back on the road. By the end of it all, we've sometimes spent 2 hours on a meal stop.

I am really tired of that.

So a few weeks ago, I saw something on Pinterest (of course). It said that if you put hot dogs in a crockpot - no water or anything extra - and cook it on low for several hours, you'll have hot dogs that taste broiled... kind of like the ones on the hot rollers at a convenience store, but without the germ concerns I would have with eating a convenience store hot dog.

So I decided to give it a try on our road trip. We have a power inverter for the car that converts the cigarette lighter to a regular plug. You can find one of these at any truck stop or on Amazon. Just make sure you get one that converts to household power (120V AC). (We learned this from experience by getting one of the wrong power level first.)

With the right power inverter, it's super easy. I dumped the hot dogs into the crockpot before we left the house. Then I put the crockpot between the two front seats and plugged it in. We drove for several hours before stopping to eat, then found a park with picnic tables. We used paper plates, plastic utensils, and leftover condiment packages from visits to various fast food restaurants. (Everybody saves those, right? It's not just me?) Altogether - with a package of buns, some chips, and water for everyone to drink - we spent well under $10 to feed the whole family! On the road!

The hot dogs were great - much better than cooking them in boiling water or in the microwave. (I mean, you have to like hot dogs first, but we do, so it works out.) Next time, I'll throw in more hot dogs so we have enough for two meals on the road. For that price, we can eat hot dogs for two meals in a row.

The other advantage? We're eating outside, letting everyone get some fresh air. It doesn't matter if the kids are loud and wiggly - we're at the park. And they can run around and get out the wiggles once they're done eating (or even before they eat) because we're already right there at the park or playground. Big time saver to not have to make two stops. Combine it all with a rest stop (assuming the park has restrooms) and it's a lot less time before we're able to get back on the road with contented kiddos.

Now that I know I can use my beloved crockpot while traveling, I just need other recipes that would work as road food. It has to be something that cooks without a lot of liquid (I don't want it to slop out of the crockpot while we're driving) and pretty easy to eat and clean up at the park. I've thought about meatballs (for sandwiches) or maybe pulled pork. Anybody have other great suggestions?