One last shot of Copper before we left Carterville. I love the shadows in this photo!
A big Thank You to Rich and Janie for opening their home to us once again. We always enjoy spending time with you and the rest of the family!
Our last day in St. Louis was spent exploring the Art Museum and then Grant's Farm. As soon as I saw this big guy from a ways away I rushed over to see up close. There were actually two there. Such huge interesting creatures!
Have you ever woke up thinking about something you can't wait to eat? I'm not talking about breakfast but about a sweet treat that you know is waiting for you. This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up wanting to pull one of the mini cheesecakes I made yesterday out of the freezer and have at as soon as I could. But....I showed restraint and waited until after lunch to finally indulge in what I think is the absolute best concoction ever created. Cheesecake!!
Cheesecake is not something we have a lot of and we haven't had any since going gluten free. The filling of cheesecake is naturally gluten-free but the traditional crust is made with graham crackers which are a no-no for me.
Yesterday I was a bit bored and of course that usually leads to me doing some baking. Also Sara was here for the weekend and she enjoys eating my sweet treats - which is a win-win for us. The more she eats (with the fabulous metabolism of a teenager)...the less left for me and Chuck to eat (with the not so fabulous metabolism of a 40 something).
I've had a couple packages of cream cheese in the fridge and had thought about coming up with a cheesecake recipe that would be GF. So I began to wonder what I could use for the crust. I knew I could always just skip the crust all together - but I really like to have a bit of a crunch to go along with the creamy goodness of the cheesecake. I could have gone to the store and looked for some gluten-free graham crackers, but I really wasn't wanting to do that. I first spotted some GF pretzels and thought that might work, but then I remembered that I saved the left over GF chocolate sandwich cookies from the cupcakes I made for Shawn's graduation. Perfect! What's better than a graham cracker crust? A cookie crust! There wasn't a bunch of cookies left - but just enough to make a batch of mini cheesecakes. They were so very good! I do believe there are about 3 still left in the freezer...but I'm betting they don't last rest of the day.
I make no effort to hide the fact that I would love to one day move out of this house of ours for many reasons - but one being the neighborhood has changed quite a bit since I when I grew up in this same house. It's by no means a dangerous neighborhood but has it's increasing downfalls. One of the big ones is the increased number of rental houses where those that live there and own the property really don't seem to want to take care of it. Along with the increased number of rental houses also come the noise of college students living in these houses and walking to and from them (never quietly and often at 2 or 3 in the am).
However the downfall of living near Augustana College is also one of the only positives of where we live.
Augie holds a special place in my heart. Of course it is my Alma Mater but it is also a place I explored as a young child both in and out. My mom worked many years in the college center food service. She was loved by coworkers as well as professors and students. It is also a very beautiful campus. Ever since Chuck and I have shared this house as our home we have taken hundreds of walks through the paths and walkways of the college, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with the dogs. If we ever do move from this house it will be something that I miss a great deal.
Since I graduated in 1992 there has been one addition to the campus after another. My Alma Mater sure believes in progress and certainly knows how to spend their astronomical tuition fees!
This path was a very nice addition that I enjoy a great deal!
I have been loving my iPhone so much since we made the switch this spring. There are so many things I love about this phone. I don't know why I call it a phone - I use it for making calls only about 10% of the time - the other 90% of the time all the other wonderful apps are utilized. It's been a lifesaver to help me figure out if something is safe for me to eat when buying groceries or finding a restaurant. There are so many great apps - I feel inclined to share the ones I like and how I use them.
I'm going to start with my hands-down favorite app - Instagram. Since the first minutes of getting the iPhone my favorite thing is to take photos and use one of the many apps that help transform each photo into a work of art. I have to admit that I continue to find new photo apps each week to try. The iPhone makes it so easy to share photos to facebook and Twitter. Instagram makes it even easier. Along with being able to instantly apply some really cool filters to the photo this app uploads it to the Instagram feed where it can be seen by everyone. You can simply upload it to Instagram alone or choose to have it also appear in your Twitter feed and facebook wall. You can find facebook and Twitter friends to add your Instagram feed. You can "like" or comment on photos in the feed. Looking at the Instagram feed you get a pictorial glimpse of where people are and what's going on around the world. Love it!!
So since there usually isn't a day that goes by that I'm not taking a photo - I thought it was time again for a "Photo-a-Day" challenge. This time the photos will be taken or edited using Instagram. I'm not going to put a time limit on this one. Perhaps I will shoot for the whole year...perhaps just the summer. Some days I will only post the photo and nothing more. Other days I may use the photo to reflect on the day's events.
So...Here's the first photo....
Chuck and I have been trying our best to purchase and eat foods that are good for us. We picked up this yummy looking pineapple today. I just love the look of fruit - the perfect subject for art...Mother Nature's work of art.
This past Sunday my oldest son Shawn graduated from high school.
My first-born son has not had the easiest hand dealt to him in life. He's faced the challenges that come along with having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. As the prevalance of Autism has risen greatly over the years (current statistic is 1 in every 110 children have an ASD) I'm sure that many of you have come into contact with, know of, or even perhaps parent a child with Autism. I'm very proud to say that Shawn has faced those challenges head on - usually with a smile on his face. He has grown to be a very fine young man. He has a huge heart and always wants to make people around him happy and proud of him. (Except for the occasional screaming match with his brother over a video game or the pigsty of a room they share. But hey - isn't that what they call "brotherly love"?)
Shawn knows what he wants and makes every attempt to go for whatever that is.
After graduation on Sunday he posted on facebook "I am happy glad that my years in school are over TIME TO GET A JOB!".
That's the Shawn we know and love. We love his little language quirks and his ambition to meet his goal. This goal is not an easy one. Though Shawn is perfectly capable of learning the skills needed for most jobs, in this economy getting someone to give him that chance may be a real challenge. Even if the goal of getting a job may take a while - we are very proud of him and all the accomplishments he has made in his 18 years so far!
Of course I wouldn't let an celebration opportunity go by without doing some cupcake baking. Even thought the gluten-free diet has made it a bit of a challenge, I'm slowly creating some GF cupcakes that are just as delicious as the regular ones. I made some chocolate espresso cupcakes with chocolate frosting - all from scratch. They were a success!