camp fire pizza

When I was in Alaska I was blown away by the campfire pizza they made out in the backyard over a hot fire amongst the trees and canopied by a tarps just in case it started raining.


While Hannah and I were out about town and exploring Glacier Lake, her daughter Rebekah prepped everything for the pizza.  She made homemade sauce (red AND white!) and dough, busily chopped vegetables and got the meat ready, too.

Here are a couple of short videos to “set the scene” so to speak.  Hannah and her husband worked like a well-oiled machine and had the entire process down like a science.  I asked her about campfire cooking in general and she said they don’t really have any favorite recipes especially for campfires; they just figure out how to cook their favorite foods over a fire.  They have done A LOT of camping over the years……


seven puppies, my friends, seven puppies…. and the first-time mother dog didn’t ever want to nurse them, thus Jacob’s foot on her neck.  LOL  The puppies spent most of the time wandering around exploring.


I wore thick clothing so as to discourage the mosquitos which were large and very plenteous.  I could kill five in one slap to the leg.


I don’t know where everyone was when I took this photo……which is of a pizza on the fire, covered in foil held down by sticks.  This is the final step in the pizza making, in order to get the toppings melted.  LOTS OF CHEESE.


This was the white pizza with bacon, chicken, and onion…the best pizza I ever had!!!!

(besides my moms…..)


BEAUTIFUL evening.




The fire was extremely hot they had to work fast…….



They made pizza after pizza………



And it was cooked to perfection!



pizza dough recipe


By what magic does my mother make her fabulous pizza?  I’ve tried for years but curiously enough, it is only recently that I feel as though there is hope for me, her eldest daughter, to follow in her footsteps.

I texted her last week to tell her I was going to make it but it wouldn’t be as good as hers and she replied, “Maybe I’ll make it too” and I said, “Then we’ll be the same.” and she said, “In spirit” and I said, “What do you set your oven to?” and she replied, “475”…..”on the lower shelf so it gets crispy on the bottom.”

Hours later, I sent her a photo of the results.


“That looks perfect,” she wrote.

The next day she sent me a photo of the bottom of her pizza crust and it looked exactly the same.54506716276__12E75B43-9D7E-4A62-A53D-E589479F86F1

This was the point of turning for me, from hesitant frustrated pizza maker, to confident and joyful.

I had given Seth, Sarah, and Michael each a lump of dough to make their own pizzas, too.  It was the first time Michael had made a pizza.  This was last week.  When he came over again yesterday I asked them all what they wanted for dinner and he requested pizza again.  In this way I knew it had been a good experience for him.  Unfortunately I had already made it the previous night.  Michael works at a boy’s home and is going to started cooking with the boys four times a month (on Saturdays).  He started writing up a meal plan and Pizza made with Actual Dough was on the list.


Sarah bragged that she “Ate seven pieces”.

Seth said “My stomach’s extended.”

Sarah said, “My taste buds are out.”

David and Caleb were so jolly after a tummy full of pizza that they ran around the house trying to pull each other’s, and Seth’s, pants down.

I’ve tried several recipes for pizza dough but this is the one that makes my heart sing.

Shanda’s Pizza Dough Recipe

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 T. white sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, let sit until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and 4 cups of bread flour into the yeast mixture.  Mix in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  (I use a kitchen aid mixer).  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  (I leave the dough in the kitchen aid mixer bowl).  Cover with a damp cloth and put in warm place to rise until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.

Deflate dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and form into rounds.  Cover the rounds and let them rest for about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475.  Use a rolling pin (or hands) to roll dough into the desired shape, cover it with your favorite toppings.  Place on bottom rack in oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
recipe source:


day with the college boy

Good afternoon!  I took David to the orthodontist this morning which was nice because (does this happen in your family?) as is typical, the car is the best place for my children to open up and talk.  We have nice conversations about anything and everything.  So I got to hear everything that David wanted to talk about.  After his appointment (“What did they do to you Dave?”  “They put in a new, thicker wire.”) we scooted into the Goodwill store quickly to look at 1) dishes  2) DVDs and 3) books.  Then….Dunkin’ donuts for a snack.  He got a mint hot chocolate and a breakfast sandwich on waffles.  I got a snack sized breakfast wrap thing and a hot tea.

I dropped Dave off at the middle school (right before he got out he said, “Wouldn’t you rather just take me back home?” and I said, “No, get out.”) and then parked so I could walk and as I walked I talked to my friend Kathy on the phone, and sipped hot tea.


This weekend’s great event was getting up super early in the morning (4), and leaving to drive three hours for a visit to our college boy.  Rich and I took the younger children with us, but Jacob had work so he wasn’t able to come along.

We were in terrible moods for half the trip.  It was dark and raining and we had to stop at every red light on our way to the highway, which was driving Rich crazy because we were literally the only ones on the road.  We also couldn’t figure out how to get the new DVD player in our vehicle to work but eventually David figured it out and the sound of Looney Tunes filled the air.  About an hour down the road we all started perking up.  We left so early because we wanted to surprise Ethan by getting to him in time to take him to breakfast.  He wasn’t even awake yet when we pulled up to his dorm.  The dorms are kept locked so I called him on his cell phone to tell him we had arrived.  We saw his light turn on behind the blinds in his window as he quickly pulled on his clothes and came out in the chilly rainy weather and into the family car, where we all smiled at him.

We ate breakfast at a very nice, casual place, filled up with nice ordinary people.  We felt comfortable and happy and our waitress was capable and pleasant as well.  I ordered steak and eggs.  We all ate so much food that we were able to completely bypass lunch.

After breakfast we went for a little drive and then stopped at a Norman Rockwell museum. Next up was bowling.  We also visited a bookstore in town which was great (used bookstores are my favorite).

We headed back to the college.  Grace and I sat and read our books for well over an hour.  The college kids had an event going on where you could get an empty Pokemon character and stuff it yourself to make a stuffed animal, it closed with a zipper in the back.  It was so cute to see all these big college kids sitting around boxes of stuffing, not unlike sitting around a campfire, talking away as they made toys, of all things.  Seth, Sarah, and Caleb managed to each get in on the action, too.  The college kids were so nice to them.  Grace and I would look over at them and then look at each other and smile little smiles of joy.  Rich and Ethan played pool downstairs together, and David joined Grace and I and put his head down on the table to take a nap.

We began to get hungry so we left for an early dinner.  (It was so rainy and chilly–39 degrees!) Ethan was craving pizza so we found a well-reviewed pizza place 20 minutes away which ended up being amazing.  The place was a very low key, “hole in the wall” sort of place with an awesome view of the town and the train tracks.  Very busy.  You had to order at the counter and then sit down to wait for your pizza to be done.  When it is done they call your name and you go up to get it (no waitresses).  There was a lady at the table next to us who talked to me about our large family.  We rarely get the comment “are they all yours” any longer.  We used to get it all the time when the kids were small, but now that three of them are taller than me we don’t get that question as often.  But she loved the kids and it was a friendly little conversation.

The pizza was incredible.  Their most popular pizza was made with their garlic knot dough and was simply covered in garlic, I think it took a full 24 hours for my breath to get back to normal.  I had two pieces of it, it was topped with tomatoes and cheese.  We bought three large pizzas and simply stuffed ourselves until there was only one and a half pieces left and Rich said, “No more, the rest is for E to take to his room with him.”

Then it was time to drop Ethan back off at his dorm.  There were tears shed but all in all it was a most pleasant day!  Beautiful.  You know, there is just nothing like the feeling of being safe and loved in your family.



Rich had to take it twice.  🙂  family photo at the breakfast place!  Isn’t the decor great?  I love rooms that are filled with stuff everywhere you cast your eye.  Inside the well-decorated bathroom there was a sign which said, “Girls, PLEASE do not steal the decor!”  The word please was underlined three times.


I admit I am a little sad that our oldest son is not in this photo, but aren’t they handsome? Seth is 7, David is 14, Caleb is 11, and Ethan is 18.


*same breakfast, same facial expressions*

I’m laughing as I look at it.  Their breakfast was called the “gut buster”


beautiful mountain stream


We went to a Norman Rockwell museum, which was a building full of every cover and/or illustration that he ever did, plus little signs giving more information about his life and pictures.  There were NO original works, but we have been to the real museum in Stockbridge so we were okay with seeing the many many prints.

my favorite:


Rich’s favorite:



The pizza was so good.  Rich even said it was better than Grandes.  (the place we go to “back home” all the time, which we’ve been going to for our whole married life).


So I wanted to tell you guys that I’m finally on instagram if you want to follow me here is my link:  SHANDA’S INSTAGRAM  .


Happy Monday!

all the exciting stuff we did on saturday


We drove out to NY on Saturday.  We stopped at the mall in Albany because I had Macy’s money that was going to expire that day and I wanted to see if there was a good selection of fiestaware….there wasn’t.  The only thing they had besides the typical place settings, mugs, plates, and bowls was a single white disc pitcher so that’s what I got.  It was free so I was happy.  Rich and the kids ate at the food court before we hit the road again.

Grace and Jacob were not with us on Saturday because G had a singing obligation and J had to work.  They drove out on Sunday morning with Emily, Jacob’s girlfriend.


The next stop on Saturday was a very popular chicken BBQ place.  The kids played on the playground and Rich took a nap on a picnic table, while yours truly ordered a chicken dinner take out.


I sat in the car to eat it because it was too cold outside for me.


We drove to our hotel.  The kids swam for a while and Rich went running in the work out room.  I rested (I was suffering from a sinus headache all day) and then went down to watch the kids swim.


After swimming we drove to an antique store in B. that I knew had fiestaware because my Mom and sister had texted me pictures a few days before.  I will post the photo of what I bought at the end of this post.  It didn’t take long at the antique store and then we went to a really popular produce stand in the area (where Rich and I grew up).  We all picked out our favorite fruits to eat from this place that I have been going to since I was a child.


They allow sampling of the fruit.



The spring flowers were lovely in the sunshine.



This was pretty much the best day ever because after that, we went bowling.




And then!  Pizza!


Caleb and I were both reading Harry Potter #4 but he had left his copy in the hotel so we shared my copy while we waited for our pizza to arrive.  We have both moved on to #5 now and I’m beating him. (He finished #4 first) As soon as he got off the bus today I said, “I’m on page 130!” and he said “Quit reading!”



It’s always so so good for Rich and I to go back home and visit our old haunts!

(We are high school sweethearts and both our families go back several generations in our hometown)……..



I spy with my little eye ONE retired Sapphire Carafe and THREE mini disc pitchers in retired apricot, yellow, and juniper.  So exciting.

easter 2015


Glorious Easter!  The day all the world is reminded of the amazing hope we have, because of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross and *not staying dead* but rising again the third day.  Up from the grave He arose!  And because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, I can also live forever and ever……. and someday soon, because life is short, I will see Him, and know Him, and be home.  Oh I can’t wait for that day….that “can’t wait” feeling is HOPE, glorious resurrection hope.  Thank you, Jesus.

I woke up this morning at 6 and found Jacob frying himself some eggs, Davy ready to chat with me, and Grace sick to her stomach but saying she was fine and going to school regardless. (She is way too responsible for her own good.)  I served cereal, started the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, folded three loads of it at the couch, drank coffee, made myself a couple of eggs and shared them with Seth, gathered up homework and bags for the elementary school boys, and sent five children off to school.

I’m still in my pj’s, feeling rather sleepy, I’m in bed with Miss Sarah.  We are under the down comforter and she’s snuggled up close enough so I can play with her hair, she’s sucking her finger and feeling the tag on her new stuffed animal.  It’s cozy with my little sunshine girl, listening to the washer and dryer hum.


I found this old snapshot of the kids, taken in our old neighborhood.  Caleb was a baby and not in the photo.  Grace is wearing her flower girl dress and Jake and E are dressed exactly the same, and standing exactly the same, too.  Little Davy has such a sweet smile on his face.  Isn’t it funny how a simple picture can make a person happy and sad at the same time?  I remember how Grace, at this age, used to hate getting sun in her eyes, and was very sensitive about outdoor photography, you can see it in her face in this picture, too.

They are growing up but Grace wore a white dress again this year.




Thank you to Mike for taking these portraits yesterday morning before church.

Outside, we gathered up the family and I said, “come on let’s act like we love each other!” which prompted Seth to put his arm around me and melt against my leg……sweet, sweet love of a little son.


Grace Sarah Easter 15

We went to church….I can’t think of a better day to attend a church service….and then when we came back home we didn’t eat a ham dinner.

We ate pizza!


Here is a photo of all my children yesterday when we got back home.  I wouldn’t let them in the house until I took a picture of them all….my own offspring plus Jacob’s girlfriend Emily (red sweater), and Myriah (white jacket), a young family friend who lives in Virginia and came to visit us during her spring break.  She will be here all week.


I spent five dollars on the actual baskets from our local thrift store, and I put jelly bean filled eggs in each one, with a gift.  I accidentally bought two bags of very SOUR jelly beans but the children still liked them.  Seth had matchbox cars, David and Caleb had sticky bugs that they could shoot with their finger at the windows, Sarah had a stuffed animal, and the older teens each received a pair of new socks.  Simple, but enough to keep them all excited about the day.




We had my sister’s dog-baby all weekend, too.  His name is Lloyd and he is a labradoodle.  Isn’t he adorable?  Rich called him Rug and told me that Rug looked just like me what with the brown curls.  He was a lot of fun to have in the house with us, such a cute puppy.  David was the one in charge of him, while Uncle Jason and Aunt Amanda were away for Easter.  He is back home now and Seth asked me if we could please get a rug.


Emily had Easter dinner at her grandparent’s house and took Caleb with her (heart melts).  The rest of us made homemade pizza……


It was non-stop activity in the kitchen for a long time as I made a ton of pizza dough and the kids each made a pizza of their own.  Jacob was a slow perfectionist over his pizza, causing great amusement, but his hard work paid off because YUM YUM it was good.  Myriah made a pizza for the first time and did so good, it was amusing to see her press the dough around on the oily pan trying not to touch it with her long fingernails.  Grace made a pizza with salami as a topping and she used cookie cutters to make the salami pretty.  Seth made a crazy-shaped stuffed crust pizza that was thin on one side and thick on the other.  Ethan and David each chopped up their own fresh garlic and made clam pizzas.  It was awesome.


We cleaned up the kitchen and then watched a movie.  Some of the kids fell asleep and the rest of us went outside after the movie was done, to get some fresh air.  By the way, it snowed yesterday.  But spring is coming and there are signs of it everywhere, it’s just very late this year.








One last picture of Lloyd!


I hope you all had a nice Easter, and have a Happy Monday!

We are loved.

handmade (day 4)

With fingers shaking with exhaustion, I bring to you day four of our admiration for all things handmade.  Yes, I am tired, but it is only the common tiredness of motherhood, so I am thankful.   For instance, it’s taking a long time for Seth’s order to come.  He asks so much for his little dog Duke which he ordered days ago.  Seems like forever.  And another boy is having a little trouble, and another one (a girl) doesn’t get home until way after dinner is over, and a couple others stay up too late playing video games, and another one forgot to do his homework, and another one was so grumpy…..and several are still coughing.  But, it’s not a big deal, the sun is shining and soon the snow will be gone along with all the problems.  LOL

I read Seth and Sarah Curious George and the Pizza this midmorning which gave Seth a powerful hunger for pizza of our own.  Did you know that when a child is recovering from being sick you’re supposed to do whatever they ask?  Me neither, but in this case it seemed good and proper so we got in the kitchen, argued about who was going to stand where, and made HANDMADE pizza and they were so cute that I had to document the process with the camera.




Seth was telling her that his was going to be better but she didn’t care.



She was busy spreading around sauce and she was entirely capable….  sauce sauce sauce, rub, pour, slap, sauce.



And then when it came to the cheese…..she put a tiny bit right in the middle.  Very amusing.

What she really wanted to do was eat all the dough raw but we talked her out of it.


Seth’s was stuffed crust.


We each made our own pizza and we all exchanged slices with each other.

Seth, can I have a piece of yours?  Sure!
Do you want a piece of mine?  Uh…. Okay!
Try mine!



She had to blow on her pizza a little bit and we made up a song about it.



I was pretty proud of mine, too!  We were all proud of our pizza.




Talking to her brother….



quick and easy pizza dough recipe here.  (SO SO GOOD!!!)



On Saturday, my Mom and Dad gave me a handmade wooden box , and they also gave me this handmade trinket hook board.

I hung it up today, it was obviously made for the wall above my sewing table.  It should have only taken two holes in the wall, but of course it took me four since it was a struggle for me to get it straight…….(don’t tell Rich)…..



They decorated it with buttons from my childhood clothes.  I loved these heart buttons then, and I still love them now.  (first day of Kindergarten dress)


They used other little odds and ends, too.  I hung some of my necklaces from the hook on the left.


And a beaded necklace, with a paper heart made by Dawn, was hung on the hook on the right.

The two metal pieces are an “S” for my initial, and a “38” for my age.   Everything was meaningful……

Even the board was from my Grandfather’s chopper (farming machinery).





I’ll be back tomorrow with no words, for a “this moment” friday post.