Sunday, January 29, 2012

December in Review: Fun with Family

If December was nothing else, it was a great time with our family...

Hanging out with Sarah:

Playing at the climbing wall with Clara and Darcy:

Playing all things boy with Grandpa's help:

And sometimes getting Grandpa to play all things girl:
When I took this picture, my dad said, and I quote, "This isn't going to show up on the blog, is it? "  Short answer--YES!
Loving on pets:

And loving being together:

Thanks family for such a fun time!  We love you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

December in Review: Pony Camp

Mary got to spend part of her long break participating in Pony Camp at Meadowlark Farm in Batesville with her cousin, Clara.

She had a marvelous time and learned a lot about horses and horse care.

Of course, she was most excited about getting to ride the horses--who wouldn't be?

Now she wants me to look into lessons here.  Is there anything this girl can't do?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

December in Review: Operation 4 Eau

My remarkable husband planned a mini retreat for me with 3 of my girlfriends--without me ever realizing it!  Apparently he'd been scheming for months, and it was the perfect gift for my 40th birthday.

We had a rental house on Lake Hamilton just outside of Hot Springs.  It was very beautiful, with early morning fog while we sipped our coffee before it turned into a beautiful sunshiny day for shopping.

We get together on a near annual basis, and we always have a theme and logo--which we usually iron onto a pair of pajama pants or a t-shirt.  This year, though, they went pro.  They designed the logo based on Ted's initial email to them, and then one of the gal's brothers helped get it printed onto coffee mugs and screen printed onto our pj pants (love me my pj pants).

The foodies of our group researched the restaurants, and we ate well--very well.

We went to a "winery" to taste some of the local vino--but returned to the house to enjoy some of my favorite I'd brought from Italy.

We didn't have any spa time planned, but enjoyed walking through Fordyce Bath House and looking at the "state of the art" bath houses from bygone days.

And we enjoyed shopping in the stores and galleries along Bath House Row, seeing the natural hot springs water flowing through both beautiful and functional fountains, and shopping (did I already mention that?).

Somehow I managed to come home without the $400 pair of boots I was drooling over.  But I'm pretty sure I did bring home a few extra pounds from all the yummy food we found!

Thanks Ted, Marta, Mary Beth and Lisa--You Guys Rock!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

December in Review: Birthdays...

Birthday Season wrapped up for us in December.  It's always so much fun to celebrate a birthday in December when everything is so festive.

Happy birthday Mary!  Our darling girl turned 10 shortly before we left for Arkansas.  A big year for the Gatlins because they go on a special date with Daddy to Pass & ID for their military ID cards.  This is probably one of the few times that a trip to Pass & ID office is any fun for anybody.  I've been there before--fun's not the word I'd use.  

And then Happy Birthday Cory!  Our sweet boy turned 8--in ARKANSAS!  He was very glad to be with some doting grandparents on his birthday.

I had a little birthday in Arkansas, too.  Nothing too remarkable.  Hardly worth mentioning.  Therefore I won't...until another post, because in the end, Ted made it a big one.  :)

Buon Compleanno to Us!

Friday, January 13, 2012

December in Review, part 1

Wow!  Christmas in Arkansas!  Here's what happened:

We enjoyed Christmas lights at Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs

We made and decorated sugar cookies


We received our annual Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve

We celebrated Christ's birth with gifts and fun and our family

We played games

We played dress up

That was just the Christmas celebrating!  There were birthdays and other fun.  Tune back later...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Field Trip: Noble Coyote

Our trip home for Christmas included a brief visit with dear friends in Dallas, who are starting a coffee roasting business.  One of my first thoughts (besides getting to see my friend) was FIELD TRIP!  That's the "wonderful" thing about this homeschooling thing--even vacations are school for my "lucky" kids.  (quotes added to denote an opinion not necessarily shared by the children)

And now you, our lucky reader, get to go on the field trip, too!

Meet Geraldine, the roaster...
Geraldine looks a little like a locomotive.

Noble Coyote begins with hand picked green beans purchased through Fair Trade markets--standards are very high.

The beans are scooped and measured into a bin.  Here we are going with a bean from Guatemala

Next the beans are put into Geraldine's hopper and released into the drum when the temperature reaches a balmy 350ish degrees (okay, it wasn't really 350ish--there was an exact temp, but my aging memory is failing me, and I'm not exactly recalling--trust me, though, NC knows).

Once they're in the drum, turning and roasting, NC will occasionally check on the beans' progress

and listen for the first and second "crack."  These happen at fairly consistent points of the roasting process resulting from the beans expanding and popping off a thin papery layer under the increasing temperature.

After the second crack, NC empties the beans from the drum into a cooling pan, 

which rotates the beans while a fan pulls air through them to cool.

Then, they're poured into another vessel  (mmmmm...smells good)

from which they can be scooped and weighed into 8 or 12 oz packages


Now that's some fantastic coffee.  Noble Coyote is a very new business--you can find them here on Facebook until their website is up and running.  

Of course, after a hard day's work, it's nice to return to headquarters for a little jam session

Thanks, Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters--we had a fabulous time.