31 January 2011

I'm too sick to cook chicken noodle soup recipe

Wow.  This cold has smacked me down hard.  Picture a cartoon character after being hit by a hammer, or anvil... That's how I've been feeling.  It came fast too.  Usually, I can keep these colds off a little, but not this one.  Saturday, I had just enough energy to throw the remains of a rotisserie chicken and some veggies into the crockpot for some chicken soup.  My first time actually making home made chicken noodle soup.  For some reason, I had it in my head that you had to actually make the noodles from scratch in order to make chicken noodle, or I probably would have done it a long time ago.    It tasted really good.  We ate it again Sunday and probably will again today.

Just in case anyone else suffers from a misunderstanding of how easy home made chicken noodle soup is, here's my "I'm too sick to cook Chicken Noodle Soup recipe"

1 leftover rotisserie chicken, or some chicken stock, I suppose would work
2 chunks of frozen chicken because there really wasn't that much on the leftovers
Carrots.  I didn't even chop them
Celery -I had some frozen
Onion - chopped
Salt and Pepper
Put all ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cover the chicken bones with water and cook on low all day.  About an hour before dinner time, during a burst of energy, I sorted out all those little bones, chopped up the chicken and carrots, added a bunch of dry noodles and turned the crockpot to high.  This was really brothy.  Add more chicken and veggies and less water if you want a chunkier soup. 

Other than the soup, I have my morning and nightly ritual of some tea and the netti pot.  Have you ever used one?  It took me a long time to actually try it.  I didn't think I would actually be able to because I have a little fear of water and a fear of things touching my nose, so pouring water up my nose seemed quite impossible.  It took a really bad head cold about a year ago to make me try it.  When I got to the point that cutting the top of my head off seemed like a nice thought, I figured the water in the nose thing couldn't be any worse.  It's really gross, and not all that pleasant, but it does give some relief.  My husband still is afraid to try it.  Chicken.

I woke up from a long Sunday nap to find dinner almost ready.  At least I'm sick on the weekend when my husband can help out so much.  The house is amazingly clean.  What a guy... a nap, dinner and a clean house?  Too bad I'm not feeling better to enjoy it.

I also woke up to some strange project in the works.  He has filled a few old 2 liter pop bottles with water.  They are sitting on the counter.   I asked why, but he was too embarrassed to tell me.  That's okay.  Usually it's him trying to figure out what on earth I'm up to with all my shenanigans and half finished projects.  I'm dying of curiosity though...

Hope you have a lovely, healthy day.

28 January 2011

Random thoughts: Movies, Bathrooms and Scrabble

I don't feel great today.  I stupidly stayed up late watching a lame movie, but I kept waiting for some action to start.  Nope, waste of two hours.  It's one thing when you know that it'll be a slow moving movie, but when the description makes it sound like a James Bond/Jason Bourne mix, you expect a little more.  Then of course, the baby decided to wake up a little early this morning.  Little stinker.

I'm also trying to figure out why my little man cannot 1) flush the toilet and 2) close the bathroom door, especially when the toilet is not flushed!  The baby monster can somehow tell when that door is open.  She will come from the far corner of the house to gleefully splash in the toilet.  shudder...  I guess I should be happy that we can get into the bathroom at all.  I like to think I can take care of myself, but my husband had to rescue me yesterday.  He knew the secret location of the tiny screwdriver.  I have my own toolbox here in the house that I am used to using for household things.  I should have looked in his tool box I suppose, but I forgot about it.  However it was done, we are again able to go into our bathroom, for which I am thankful.

We have lately enjoyed the "re-birth" of another time wasting activity.  Just over seven years ago, my husband and I opened a wedding gift to find a board game, Scrabble to be exact.  We were not overly thrilled, and it has stayed in it's plastic in a forgotten drawer under the birthday wrapping paper ever since.  I have only played the game once before in my life when I was not quite a teenager.  It was against my wordy uncle, my English major sister, and her friend.  I won.  And I love to remind them of that fact.

I had not considered playing the game again until we were visiting family for Christmas.  While there, we were introduced to the touch phone application, Words with friends.  It's just scrabble on the phone and you can challenge others to play.  It's actually a lot of fun, especially when you win, and our evenings have become games between my husband and myself. He beats me almost every time.

Our iphone is actually an old one that was given to us.  We don't use it as a phone at all, it's mostly for games to keep the kids occupied during long trips and boring waits.

This new game, however, has cut into their game time, and they have noticed.  They want to get in on the word fun as well.  So, this morning, after several requests to play the word game, I dug the old scrabble game out, set it up and the kids and I made some words.  It was a little tough considering the four year old is still just mastering what letter is what, but with my help, we had a nice little game going.  Of course, we didn't pay much attention to points, or the double word spots.  And I let them stretch the rules a little.  Seeing how words go together is the important thing.  Adding up the points will come later.  All in all, we had us a good time.

27 January 2011

Baking day Tuesday...on Thursday

I realize I'm late this week.  It's been that sort of week.  I did not win the sweater I wanted, which didn't really surprise me, but sometimes I fool myself into thinking I'll become one of those lucky people that win things.  But then I did win something!  I entered a giveaway over at boboloo and I won some cute little crayon rolls, which I always have thought I would make, but I never do.

Today,  someone managed to lock us out of the bathroom.  Nobody is fessing up, but I can't pick that dang lock.  Bobby pin is too short, paper clip is to flimsy and nothing else will fit in that dang little hole!  There is no key to it here and from the looks of the door knob, this has happened before to previous tenants.  There's lots of little scratches, and the hole is a bit stretched from something being forced in there.  If I don't get this figured out soon, I may be taking the entire knob off.  That, or busting through with my body.  Fine day to actually drink as much water as I'm supposed to.  So here I am, trying to take my mind off of this situation for a bit.

It was a big baking day today, not entirely on purpose either, but first, a story:

About a decade ago,  I was a college student.  Every once in a while some friends and I would go to an little cafe/ice cream shop for a change from all the fast food that college students seem to live on.  It was attached to a gas station and decked out with coca-cola paraphernalia from top to bottom.  At first, it was just an ice cream run, but then we noticed the other menu items.  It was run by a little old lady, in fact I think the name of the place was Gramma's Ice Cream, or something similar to that.  She appeared to be a sweet little grandmotherly lady, but she had quite the sharp tongue -never approving of my friend's hairstyle- and such a funny sarcastic sense of humor.  I think that's why I liked her so much.  She would make any variety of baked potato you could think of, polish dogs, with all sorts of toppings and she introduced me to something called a bier-rock.

I had never heard of it before.  Cabbage and burger, wrapped in bread dough and baked.  It's like a self contained sandwich.  I guess snowmobilers would stop to get them, wrap them in foil and put them in the engine area while riding their machines.  Then when they were hungry, their lunch would be all nice and warm for them.

When I  left school I basically forgot about them.  That is until I was perusing through a cookbook that I have, and I came across a recipe for runzas, which are the same thing as far as I can tell.  I guess it's been about a year now that I have been making them.  They are quite labor intensive, especially with small hands helping, but judging by how quickly they disappear, they are quite a hit.  I really like to make them for those long work days on the ranch because they are so contained.  We don't have to have a cooler to hold all our sandwich making supplies, which is always a mess.  And I can easily hand one to my dad when he is needing to refuel, but not yet ready to quit and get off his horse.  He can eat while he rides.

It occurred to me this past week, as I kept forgetting to find things for my husband to take to school with him to eat, that these little runzas are the perfect answer.  I can make a bunch, freeze them and then send one or two with him in the morning.  They will be defrosted by the time lunch comes around, and there is no shortage of microwaves on campus for him to warm them up with.  So, I made some.  A bunch.

I figured that two loaves worth of dough would get me through the two pounds of meat I had browned, but I was wrong.  Maybe if I had stuffed them a little more.  We have also, in a pinch, used frozen roll dough, as well as biscuits in the can for the bread part of the recipe.  All have worked, but I prefer to make my own dough.

I had not planned to get so crazy in the kitchen today, but I ran out of dough.  Originally, I planned on two loaves of bread, the runzas, and maybe some buns if I had left over dough, and some cookies.  I ran out of dough with just a bit of meat left, so I decided to whip up some more dough.  Only I forgot to half the recipe and ended up with tons more dough, hence the many buns.

The cookie recipe, I got here.  They are mostly peanut butter, and not getting my fill of my last batch of peanut butter cookies, I decided to try these.  Wow.  Even my husband admits that they are rich, and he never admits something like that.  I do like them, but I think I'll stick to the spoon method when I want that much peanut butter again.  I used to scoop out some PB and then dip it into some chocolate milk mix when I was a kid.  These reminded me of that, just a bit more sophisticated, I suppose.

Here's the runza recipe:
adapted from the centsible nutrition cookbook

1 lb sausage
1 lb hamburger
1 onion chopped
8 cups chopped cabbage
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
cheese -I used mozarella
approx. two loaves worth of dough.  I used my favorite bread recipe.
Brown meat  with chopped onion.  Add cabbage and cover for 5 minutes.  Drain liquid and add salt and pepper.
Pull off a piece of dough- egg sized is what I did- and roll it out in a sort of rectangle.  Put a bit of cheese down on one side and top with a good pile of meat mixture.  Fold the uncovered side of the dough over and seal the edges together.  The recipe I got this from suggests dabbing water on the edges before folding it over, but I found it stuck better without.  Let rise on a pan for as long as it takes you to finish making them all, or 20 minutes or so.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I have never frozen these before,  but I'm going to give it a try today.

24 January 2011

A sliver and putting things away

I have an onion sliver.  I had no idea it was possible to get an onion sliver, but as I was peeling the outer layers off the onion, I brushed across the root end, and came up with a painful something stuck in my finger.  I can't seem to get it out and it's hard to see.  It really hurts, so watch out.  You never know what your onion has in store for you.  All this time I thought they were after my eyes...
Anyway, on to the point of this here post...

As part of my goal this year, to have a place for everything, I have a smaller goal to help me get there.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could just spend a few days (or weeks) getting everything in order and nice and clean and be done for good?  Well, we can't.  :)  At least, I can't.

It would be a lot more fun to clean if I felt like things would actually stay that way.  Unfortunately, I live here, so things will just get messy due to that little fact.  Add on to that, I have kids, and the baby has suddenly decided that nothing can stay on any shelf anywhere.  She dutifully makes the rounds in the house, removing anything that we dare to put away.  How I wish it somehow went the other way.  It would be so lovely to have a child that finds joy in putting thing back on the shelf.  I guess I can give her a year or two to develop that attribute.

I have noticed through the past weeks, that I have a funny habit of not completely putting things away.  While cleaning my desk, for example, I will find something that belongs in the kitchen, so I walk in there and set the item on the counter and then return to the desk.  Why don't I just walk the extra three steps and open a drawer to put it completely away?  I don't know why, but it came to my attention when I noticed that my kids' idea of "away" was stacking things on top of my counters, or desk, or table, or whatever.

Putting things all the way away could make a huge difference in the feel of my home.  This is something that I can change, but it seriously takes a conscious effort.  Hopefully, as I work at this little goal, it will become natural and a habit.  We'll see.

Tonight is the perfect time to practice.  As I write, the table is still covered with the remains of our dinner, the floor is covered with toys and books.   The kitchen is a disaster with groceries needing to be put away and dinner dishes waiting to be washed.

21 January 2011

More giveaways!

Lately, I've been on a sweater kick.  I made these slippers for the baby from a sweater.  My sister made me some cool mittens.  I'm still working on that dang hat, but I really want to make a cute little sweater dress for my girls.  I see them around and I had a silly thought about knitting one when I remembered that there are always cool sweaters sitting on the rack at the second hand store.  So, I took myself to the shop and commenced flipping through sweater after sweater.  I didn't find any that I liked.  Nothing I would dress a little girl in anyway.  I did come home with two sweaters.  But today, I found the sweater that I want.
[78] wool blend fair isle sweater for upcycling

Can't you see a cute little girl just learning to walk, stumbling around in a little dress that looks kind of like this?  And it just so happens that the person selling it is having a give away.  Resweater has tons of sweaters to choose from.   I just love the idea of reusing old wool sweaters.  She blogs about all her wool resweater projects in case anyone is interested in trying something out, but not sure what to make.

Also, Amy, over at Homestead Revival is hosting a soap giveaway.  Personally, I would pick the honey oatmeal variety if I win.

And finally, Frugal Granola is hosting a giveaway at a bed and breakfast in Washington, so if that sounds like your cup of tea, head on over there.

19 January 2011

Lemon Dijon dressing

 Our family seems to go in salad spurts.  One week, we just can't get enough of it, so I buy a bunch of lettuce, and then, the desire goes away.  We've not had a salad for a few days, and I hate cleaning out yucky lettuce, so I decided I would do my part to use up some salad makings.  There was also a bit of avocado and some jack cheese.  I've been planning to make a dinner chicken salad out of some left over rotisserie chicken for a few days now, but my husband seems a little scared of the idea, so I made it for lunch the other day, and I ate it.  All by my self.  It's a salad, so I don't feel guilty.

The dressing is very simple.
3 Tbs lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon)
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
3 Tbs olive oil

Mix it all up and throw it on whatever salad you put together.  I like this dressing because it's light and yummy and so different from everything that I have in my fridge.  I put my chicken right into the dressing to soak up the flavor, because I hate when the dressing just runs down to the bottom.  Blue cheese sprinkled on top would probably taste good if you like that sort of thing.  I never have it in the house, so I use whatever I've got.

Of course with so simple of a recipe, I had to try to ruin it.  As I tried to sprinkle in a bit of salt, I noticed that all the holes except one were clogged.  I turned it right side up and started banging on it, when suddenly, the stopper in the bottom fell out and about 1/3 cup of salt landed right in my dressing.  I thought I got it all out, but my salad was still a bit salty.  Still good enough to eat though.
I'm linking up with Homestead Revival for a recipe exchange.

Right about the time I made this, Amy over at Homestead Revival mentioned having a dressing recipe exchange, so I saved this one until that was going.  I'm so excited to see the different recipes because I'm getting a bit tired of the same old stuff around here.   Check it out and share your salad dressing recipes!

An award!

Somebody gave me an award!  I thought that was nice.  You know those people that can pick up a piece of string, a broken window, some unwanted clothing and a glue gun and make something totally beautiful and useful and amazing?  I'm not one of them.

But this lady is.  Recently, I stumbled across Roundabout.  I can't even remember how I got there.  I get clicking away and suddenly I find myself in a fun place, so I hit follow, and here we are.  Anyway, she is creative and seems to be able to make what she pictures in her head work out in real life, which is where I struggle.  (I am making myself try to fix this little wool hat that I was making for my baby.  It looks really bad, but that's why I made it for her.  She's not big enough to complain yet.)  Anyway, she passed this award to me.

The rules are:
Share 7 things about yourself
Award 15 new blogs that I'm following

Okay, so seven things about me...

1-I have a bad habit of starting projects and never finishing them.
2-I am the youngest of six kids.
3-I hate, hate, hate making phone calls, especially when you have to call to straighten something out, like insurance.
4-I really want a truck.   The minivan just doesn't light me up inside.
5-I really really like Dr. Pepper.  When we go out for ice cream, I just get a Pepper.
6-I have quit putting the books back on the shelf for my baby to pull off again.  Maybe she will decide she doesn't want them on the floor and start putting them back on the shelf.
7-I'm out of Dr. Pepper.

I find this one kind of funny because you would think that the "stylish" award would be for stylish blogs, but no, just for new blogs.  :)  I feel silly giving awards to people.  I'm just little me, you know?  Who cares what I have to say?  So, I decided to break the rules a little.  Not only am I not going to do all 15, I'm going to award them to whoever and for whatever I want.  If the blog police take me away, you will know why.

I nominate...
Mamas Minutia because she has a way of writing that makes everyday things so stinkin' entertaining.

Life on the (funny) farm  Okay, this one is new, so I guess I'm not that much of a rebel.  She's fun to read.

Life with Jack and Jill  -not a new blog, but I still like her style.

Bloom  because she has a picture of sheep on her banner.  That and I like her style of writing.

Thrillingly Thrifty  Also new to me.  I like the make something new from something old ideas.

My taco salad is gone and I need to move on in my day, so I'll leave it at that.

Have a fabulously stylish day!

18 January 2011

Grinding wheat for baking day Tuesday

I did it.  After several phone calls to my mom and a practice run last night, I successfully ground my wheat flour this morning.  It brought back memories of "helping" when I was a girl.  The rumbling and shaking of the counter, pouring the wheat berries in and chasing them around to get them down the hole and the amazement at the finished product.  It was fun showing my kids the progression from the "seeds" to the flour, to the bread.

Here's a shot of the wheat going down the hole to be ground up.

 This is how it looks without that metal plate on top...before I got serious about grinding anything.  The stone toward the top of the picture (toward the back in real life) spins really fast against the stone in front.  The berries drop down the hole and fall between the two stones.

 Here's what it looked like after grinding.  Flour everywhere.  I learned not to blow into there. 

I started with a quart of hard white wheat and about 1 1/2 cups of hard red wheat.

 I ended up with a pint of the hard red.
The quart of hard white wheat yielded a generous six cups, filling both the quart jar and a pint jar.

Something I really didn't like as a girl was how heavy and tough the whole wheat bread was.  My mom's generation is all about hard red wheat and I didn't realize that there was anything else.  Last year, as I was attempting to slowly move my family from white bread to wheat bread, I discovered white wheat flour, which has the same health benefits and usefulness, but is a much lighter, easier to swallow wheat.  At least for me it is.  I don't think anyone actually noticed that it was wheat bread at first.

For my wheat today, I used a half and half mix of hard white and hard red wheat.  You can kind of see the different colors in this picture.

I don't know if it was the white wheat, or being freshly ground, but the bread turned out really nice today.

I also tried the bread recipe I found late last week.  It looks a bit rough and we haven't tried it yet because we ate almost an entire loaf of the pretty bread, and we're kind of full.

I also burned the heck out of my left thumb while getting this one out of the oven, so it's not really endeared to me.  The blister is showing up much better now, but I don't really feel like taking another picture. 

Due to my injury, my husband volunteered to finish off the day, which wasn't really baking, but it included bread, so it fits.

We made some scones, topped them off with taco fixings and called them gorditas.  My kids were very excited and are planning to open an eating store to sell them.  The store will consist of two camp chairs set up behind a cooler on the sidewalk outside.  We informed them that a store already exists that sells them, so I think I am off the hook for now.

It was a long day in the kitchen and now I need to get in there and clean it all up.  I think I set a record for pictures in a post with this story.  Sorry about that.  I usually struggle to find just one pertinent picture, but this one went the other way  See you tomorrow, when I'm back to my almost picture less posts!

17 January 2011

Anniversary and a slumber party

I have been married for seven years now.  We observed our anniversary just over a week ago.  I say observed because we didn't really celebrate due to the number of sick people in our house, including my husband.  Celebrating an anniversary without him seems kind of un-anniversary like. 

I guess saying that we didn't celebrate isn't exactly true.  You could say that we celebrated a week late by building a fort in the living room, using chairs and a big blanket.  Under the canopy, we gathered around the recently found wedding scrapbook to show the kids how much they have aged us since that day.  It was a fun and different way to celebrate, I guess.  Maybe not the most romantic getaway in our history, but certainly memorable.

The kids liked the fort so much, they begged to spend the night under it and since today was a holiday, we let them.  They offered to make room for us under there too, but I find that the excitement of a sleepover no longer makes up for sleeping on the floor.  Does that make me truly grown up?

14 January 2011

Planner update...needs improvement

I'm going to try the full page variety of planner page for a few weeks.  We'll see if I like it enough to keep going.  I already have a few changes in mind for the page, so I'm glad I didn't print out 52 of these.

  For some reason the lines aren't showing up, but there are lines on that page.  I made them a little lighter so I could feel more free to scribble.  I thought I would really like having my planner right there in my notebook, but I haven't really used it in there.  I did do my meal plan and originally my thought was to take the page with me to the store, but I think that takes too much thought.  I found myself at the store yesterday, without my list.  No good.

Part of the problem is that my desk is too crowded.  I've been organizing different parts of the house, so my desk has been neglected and abused, becoming the dumping ground for items that I found during the organizing that need to find new homes.  The things that actually live on the desk have been smothered by the homeless, causing a bit of a mess.  Among the craziness is the camcorder (recently found), a stack of burnable c.d.s, the thermometer that was used often last weekend on baby, son and husband, a dry erase marker, last year's Father's Day card (husband doesn't know what to do with cards, it's not his thing), the camera and the camera case (sitting side by side so they can take up twice as much space), an old planner, a disk with cider press plans on it, a dictionary (found and needed for the ongoing scrabble games with husband, just needs a good home), a seed catalog, two books I made for Christmas, and the scrapbook from our wedding that I had been looking for and wanted to show the kids.  Oh, and the sewing machine is still here too, I don't notice it anymore.   That's how long it's been here.

If all this was cleaned, organized, and given homes, there would be room to actually set my notebook down and open it.  Today, I will make room and see if that helps the planner situation.  If not, I'll be going back to the smaller, more mobile variety, or I'll put dates on a little spiral notebook and use that.

13 January 2011

Teaching a little boy to be a gentleman

Is it even possible?  Maybe my son and daughter are too close in age for him to see her as anything but a punching bag and occasional playmate.  He is older and bigger and faster and stronger, and he doesn't see why he should allow her to, say, go to the bathroom first.  Being so close in age, the competitive feel is there.  If one decides to play with a certain toy, the other will try to get there faster.  That's just the nature of siblings, but I would like to at least practice some manners here and there, and we have a built in lady in training to practice on.

He has been introduced to and has expressed his disagreement with the "girls first" rule.  In his mind, if he is faster, he is first.  This goes beyond his sister.  I have watched in horror as he, rather than wait for someone to cross his path, will cut right in front of another person, causing them to stop or nearly trip.  It really bugs me when he does that to older ladies. 

Today, the other little boy that usually rides to kindergarten with us was gone, so I was able to hear everything my son was saying and doing to the little girl that we pick up.  She's a sweet, sort of shy girl, but that doesn't keep my little man from carrying on a conversation with her, one sided or not.  Today, he made her climb over the top of him to get to her seat, then gleefully showed her how he can talk in a way that sounds like he's burping.  They climbed out of the van, him leaving her to close the door, and ran up the sidewalk to the school.  I thought he was going to pull it out, as he swung the door open, and the girl was running up the sidewalk, but then he went inside and let the door slam in her face.   And somehow he manages to have girlfriends already?

I realize that this will be an uphill battle right up to the time that some other woman takes him off my hands, but I think it's one that needs fighting.  We'll be discussing and practicing how to be a gentleman starting tonight and ending when I die, probably.  Any advice on this is appreciated.

12 January 2011

The Planner Dilemma

Do you have a planner or calendar that you love?  Maybe I'm just hard to please, but I can never find a planner that I really like.    I had one of those leather planners when I was in high school and starting college, but it became just a large checkbook holder, as I never actually opened it to use anything else.  During college, I found that a spiral notebook was my best organizational tool.  I could scribble to do lists, copy recipes, jot down addresses or phone numbers all on one page.  It was everything I needed, well, except for the dates.  It was definitely difficult to plan ahead, but I was a college student.  What did I need to plan ahead for?

Then I got engaged and had a wedding to plan.  Suddenly, I needed to know what date it would be two months from Tuesday.  I had to find a planner, and I found the perfect one.  It was basically a half sized spiral notebook, but it included dates, imagine that.  Plenty of room for my scribbles, but it kept me organized.  It was on sale, since the year was already halfway over and I've never found one like it again. 

In my quest to find the perfect planner, I have seen all sorts of varieties.  None of them inspire me. Does that sound funny?  To be inspired by a planner?  I have to be though, or it will become my coaster instead of my planner.  I have to feel like opening it for it to work.  I do not need a planner that lists every hour of the day.  I just can't schedule my days like that, or I get uptight and then depressed when I don't accomplish things the way I scheduled it.  I like the page to contain a whole week.  That way, I can write my weekly to do list right there.  I'm awfully structured in my planner needs for being so unstructured, aren't I?

Last year, around this time, I was getting very frustrated.  I needed a planner, but hadn't found one to suit me.  Finally, I decided to make my own, and I did.  I liked it, I have some improvements in mind, but I like being able to personalize it for exactly what I need.  That planner had the week on one side, and then lines on the other side.  It was basically a book made of folded letter size paper, held together by string threaded through two small holes punched in the spine. 

Now, it's a new year and I am in need of yet another planner.  I'm trying to decide if I should do a full sized paper and keep them in my household notebook, or if I should play with the half sized format again.  I do want to add a spot for meal planning and a grocery list, but if I get too structured and crowded, I won't be able to use it.  I have to have space to scribble and sketch my crazy ideas.  Maybe I'll add a little picture too.  Something inspirational, or a reminder of what I was doing last year at this time.  I'd better get on it though, or I'll be stuck using my spiral notebook again.

11 January 2011

Baking Day Tuesday: pumpkin

It's baking day Tuesday again.  Last Tuesday was pretty boring, so I didn't write about it.  Today turned out a bit different.  I discovered that I am out of wheat flour.  I do have wheat and a grinder, but I'm still working up the courage to actually figure the darn thing out. 

It's an old magic mill.  I remember my mom using it when I was a little girl.  I find it funny that all these new skills I'm learning are really old skills that she had, but some of them kind of got lost in the middle somewhere.  She would make a huge batch of bread.  I remember getting to help punch down the dough with her.  I thought it was so fun.  Then, financial troubles made it necessary for my mom to go to work and she was no longer able to make bread.  The wheat grinder was moved to the basement, where it stayed until my sister took it to her house.  She eventually bought her own mill and the magic mill was back in my mom's basement for a bit before I carried it off.  The instructions are long gone, but the mill is still in great shape.  I'm just too scared to use it.  Yet.  Next week maybe.

I did have a bag of bread flour with a few cups left in there.  It has been sitting on top of my flour bins for several months now, annoying the heck out of me.  I move it to the wheat flour bin when I need white flour, then back again when I need wheat flour.  Every once in a while it makes it to the sugar bin, but no more.  I used it in some pretty plain loaves of white bread. 

We needed a break from the same old recipe anyway, and this was one I had never tried.  Then, as I was throwing the empty flour bag away, I noticed a recipe for hearth bread on the back.  It looks fun.  Wish I had seen that before I started these.  Oh, well.  They taste just fine with some nutella slapped on there.

But, baking day is not over!  My husband is threatening to throw out the pumpkin that has been on our entryway stairs since Halloween.  I've been meaning to get to it for months now, so no time like the present.  It's baking right now, after which, I will scrape out the "meat", puree it, and freeze it.  My daughter saw me working on the pumpkin and was instantly jumping up and down begging me to roast the seeds, so those will go in next.  They sound kind of good on this cold January day.

10 January 2011


Not here.  All I have to give away are some peanut putter cookies with chocolate chips on top, and I think they may be gone by tonight.  :)  So much for that diet...

There are some giveaways that I thought I'd pass the word on though.  It seems like everyone is in a giving mood this morning.
  Mountain Home Quilts is giving away a homesteading book that looks like fun.   

Thy Hand Hath Provided is hosting a giveaway for Smashing for Pretty.  Some pretty cute jewelry coming out of there.

A Rural Journal is giving away several fun items.  This is my favorite.  A magnet that says how I feel.

Finally, Kelly the Kitchen Cop is giving away a gallon of olive oil as she encourages us to be healthy.

Okay, I think that's all. 

08 January 2011

Garden Plans

My days spent baby-sitting during the holidays allowed me to peruse through a few seed catalogs that I brought along.  I love seed catalogs.  They give so much hope to a budding gardener like me.  Perhaps I don't get quite the enjoyment that others do, however, since I read them looking only for varieties that can survive our crazy mountain weather of late snows and early frosts.  I am particularly fond of magazines that clearly indicate cold tolerant crops, but I enjoy reading, highlighter in hand, the unmarked catalogs as well.

This year, I'm excited to try some other varieties.  We moved last fall to an area with a much longer, warmer summer.  I can't wait to see what I can grow.  Unfortunately, my garden plot is a puny little strip along one fence in the backyard, so I'm going to have to choose my plants with care.  However, with the garden strip adjoining the lawn, water shouldn't be much of a problem, so I can hopefully space things a little closer than I normally would in our dry climate back home.  There is also a strip of basically useless sidewalk, so I'm hoping to gather some containers and get some things growing there too.

Another change for this year is how I start my plants.  To get cold tolerant plants, you have to grow them from seed yourself because you won't find them at the stores at planting time.  I still want to grow my own, since I have most of the seeds I need already and not a lot of money to spend on transplants.  However, I live in a basement with very few windows.  I just won't be able to do as much as I normally would do.  I am planning on doing some winter sowing to see how that works.  If it works as well as it sounds, it will make my life so much easier, as it eliminates the need for big south facing windows as well as a cold frame.  I had heard about this before, but it didn't seem possible until I read about it here.

Here is my garden wish list:

Cucumber        I thought I had some seeds, but they are momentarily lost
Summer squash: yellow, zucchini, and these wonderful one ball.  My husband specifically requested them.
Lettuce and other greens including spinach, cress and arugula
Herbs such as cilantro and basil.  I've not had great success here, so this will be a learning year with herbs.
Green beans    Hoping to have some success here as well.  They don't like the cold.
Peas                 Lots of them along the fence.
Tomatoes        A few years ago, I decided that part of my food storage should include some heirloom seeds.  I saw a mix of HL tomatoes and bought them without another thought.  I also nearly bought one of those big cans of emergency seeds.  They will plant an entire acre, I think, and they are sealed up all nice so they should keep forever.  It's an awesome idea, except nothing in there will grow in my climate.  So I've been hanging on to these seeds for a few years, not sure what to do with them, but this year, I know exactly what to do.  I'm going to plant me some heirloom tomatoes.  There are six varieties in the packet -a rainbow variety.  I'm going to plant all the seeds (about 40ish) since they are a few years old, and see what I get.  I've been wanting to try some heirlooms, and this will give me a variety, including some I probably wouldn't normally choose, like Aunt Ruby's German Green. 

Is it silly to be so excited about something that I won't be able to eat for six months?  I'm excited to try new things this year and see what happens.

07 January 2011

Stranger Danger and Getting Organized

It was the other night, the door was locked, we checked on the kids, all was well as I lay down to sleep.  And then, a feeling of un-ease hit me.  A feeling that something bad could or would happen soon.  I knew that all was well in our little home, but I just couldn't shake the feeling.

Now, I'm an impressionable type.  Annoying commercial jingles, or songs from kid shows stick in my head for days.  My active imagination keeps books or shows playing in my head for hours after I watch or read.  I definitely can't watch horror shows, or I don't sleep at all.  I just lay in bed wishing that the bathroom wasn't so far down the hall.  I quit watching crime dramas a few years ago because I couldn't sleep just thinking about all the horrible things that could happen to me or my kids someday.

This wasn't like any of those things.  There was nothing specific on my mind.  I still don't know what it was all about, but as I lay there thinking, I realized that since moving to town, we haven't really emphasized safety to our kids, other than wearing helmets and looking both ways when crossing the street.  My kids are used to being surrounded by family and friends.  They don't know to fear strangers.  So, I decided to have a talk with them.  I hate painting such a horrible light on persons that we don't even know, but I know that my son will happily talk to anyone that will listen and my daughter is a sucker for candy.  They can be social with strangers when they are all grown up, but for now, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I still don't know what that feeling was about, but I feel better knowing that my children know how to stay safe.  It was a good little chat. 

Then, we organized!  My awesome husband was still out of school this week, so we've actually been getting things done.  He single handed-ly tackled the main storage closet that held the most mystery boxes and was the biggest mess.  There is now room in there to store the annoying tubs of baby stuff that have been on our closet floor, and still more room for my sewing machine.  There's still room to spare! 

While he did that, I worked on the boxes in our room and it's almost done.  I confess that there is still one box hidden behind my rocking chair that holds those papers I was working on and a few other things that I just didn't have the patience to go through, but it's down to one box!  Okay... I still have stacks of books to find a home for.  If only we had a book shelf... If only we had room for a bookshelf.  So far, their  home is on the shelves where a normal person would store their shoes.  Thankfully, I'm not a shoe person.

Next up is the pantry!

06 January 2011

A New Organized Year?

"Cleaning the house while the children are growing is like shoveling snow while it is still snowing."

I thing that's how that saying goes and it captures my feelings pretty well.   I feel like I've been trying to swim upstream for the last few days, and I can't swim. -Really, I  can't.  Dead-man's float is my specialty.  I think we finally got our house back into tolerable order.  It always takes me about a week to completely recover from a long trip.  I feel like I've done nothing but laundry for four days.  Our Christmas was not huge, but it's been challenging to find homes for everything, which has lead me to my goal for this week, month, or year.  I'm not sure how long it will take me. 

I like order.  I want things to be organized because I function so much better that way.  Unfortunately, I am also a pack-rat.  I come by it honestly, just stop by my mom's basement.  I decided, after pulling everything out of that basement due to last spring's flood, that I would de-clutter and organize my things.

Then, we moved, and things were stuffed into boxes and baskets to be gone through later.  These things were stuffed into closets when we moved in to get them out of the way.  Now, we have no storage for the important things and the house feels small and cluttered.   My children are picking up on my ways.  They seem to think that cleaning means to redistribute the mess to different places.  Their room keeps getting smaller due to the cluttered corners growing larger. 

So, I decided that my main goal for 2011 will be to find a home for everything in this house.  That means I have to get tough and go through things and possibly get rid of a lot of things.   Mostly, though,  I just need to actually go through boxes and consolidate things together.  All my craft stuff can have one shelf, while my husbands tools can have another. 

I know this sounds so simple, but trying to do this with my kids at home makes things tough.  I finally started sorting through the piles of papers that have been stashed in various places yesterday.  I had a full head of steam and I was determined to get this one thing done.  Then, with piles of papers spread all over the living room floor, the baby woke up from her nap, so I had to hurry and put things away before she disorganized my newly organized piles.  Maybe today, I'll finish it all the way.  I also organized my notebook and my desk.  Just those things make me breath a bit easier.

Other steps to accomplish this goal include:
Print recipes from computer and organize recipe notebook
Go through pantry and pull out mystery boxes stashed in there
     -empty boxes, get rid of unwanted stuff, find homes for keepers
Go through storage closet and pull out mystery boxes
     -sort, organize things, then organize closet
Find a place to store extra hats and gloves, etc, where we can use them
Go through mystery boxes in my bedroom, sort, organize, etc.
Same for the water softener closet, pull everything out, sort, organize
Help kids find homes for all their things.  Maybe take pictures, so they can remember how things should go?
Sort through baby clothes, get too small put away, get out next size.
Help older kids sort through drawers and get out too small and summer clothes.

Okay that list doesn't look all that long, but it's probably going to take me forever.  I'd better go get started!

02 January 2011

Catching Up

Back, finally!  It was only after agreeing to play daycare provider for my sister in law, that I realized she did not have internet.  Two whole weeks.  I'm not an addict, I can live without internet, but those were some seriously boring days.  I do believe we just endured the roughest Christmas break ever.  Here's the breakdown:

Travel:  Six hours in the car.

Wrestling tournament:  A present for my little man.  He loves to wrestle.

Stomach flu:  Yeah, because driving across the country with three kids in the car isn't miserable enough, lets throw in some vomit.  I could tell you just how my baby covered me from neck to toe, but I still get a little queasy thinking about it.  I got it the following morning and then my husband too.  The two older kids escaped somehow

More travel:  Three hours waiting for an accident to be cleaned up.  I didn't have my camera close by to take pictures of the snowmen on the interstate.

Babysitting:  Baby-sitting was pretty uneventful because I didn't have enough seats to take all the kids anywhere.  All week, in the house with six kids until the parents came home around 5.  And no internet.  I did get some projects done.  I made these slippers for the baby out of a felted sweater and I finished my daughter's doll house.  I started another set of slippers, but they are so much bigger than the baby's feet, I'll have to wait till she grows a bit to fit them to her.

Christmas:  Christmas was rough.  I had this picture in my mind of a nice, quiet Christmas.  Opening presents together and enjoying each gift before moving on to the next.  That just doesn't happen when you have cousins opening presents too.  We focused on homemade, personal gifts and the kids love them, now that they have looked at them.  Unfortunately, watching their cousins open millions of gadgets and video games made things a bit awkward at times.  The dancing queen was wonderful about it.  She immediately jumped in, finding what gifts belonged to her three year old cousin, helping him open them and then squealing in excitement for him.  She was so cute, but my little man noticed that he ran out of gifts long before the cousins did.  He felt bad at first, but then I noticed how he really appreciated his gifts, while his cousins were already whining and fighting about who gets to play what video game. 

More stomach flu:  Christmas celebrations were kind of shut down by the stomach flu, which made its way through all the extended family, hitting hardest on Christmas Day.  20 family members were knocked down by it.  Merry Christmas to all.  :)

Birthday:  The original plan for my little man's birthday was a big bowling party, but due to the sickies, we had a much more intimate bowling  party...and no cake.  The cake happened later at my mom's house.

Bad weather/travel/flat tire:  We delayed our departure because of the weather, but finally just decided to go.  And it went pretty smoothly until I commented on how quickly the trip was going.  We immediately had a blow out.  I'm talking within a minute after my comment.  I had nothing wooden to knock on, or it might  have been avoided.

Baby fever/cold:  Nothing like a crabby sick baby to travel with.  Actually, she slept a lot.  And cut some teeth.

More travel:  To my parent's house we go.

New Year:  We toasted it with sparkling cider while the kids were awake and played games.

A little more travel:  After a sleigh ride at the ranch, we packed up and made our weary way home.

I feel kind of bad that I don't have any huge goals or aspirations to list.  I know I have some, but with the sickies, cranky baby and holidays, the new year kind of snuck up on me.  Hopefully as I catch up on everyone's blogs I'll be inspired and motivated.

*sigh*  So good to be back.