28 February 2011

Snowy weekend and a suprise visitor

I'm back from a tiring weekend at my mom's house.  I agreed to watch two of my sister's children over the weekend, but weather made it impossible for her to bring them to me, so she took them to my mom's house, where I also went.  However, being at my mom's house, I end up watching even more children.  So, including mine, I watched 7 children, ages 8 and under during the day - only 5 at night.  They didn't sleep well.  Who does at a slumber party?  My sister also failed to mention that her boys wake up by 6:30 am.  I am not used to that. 

So, I am tired and in denial of needing to get into a new week.  Meal planning?  Who needs it?  Actually, I planned on sloppy joes, but I seem to be out of burger.  Which is unheard of in our family.  My mom sneaks burger into our freezers because they have so much.  I guess she's been distracted, or I moved too far away.  I am planning a full on assault of my chest freezer as soon as the baby goes down for her nap.  If I don't find some lonely package of burger, I'm bound to find something else that wants to be dinner, right?

While at the ranch, we looked out the kitchen window and saw...

a baby moose!  I realize he seems large, but he's not quite a year old.  He (I say he because he seems like a he, not because I actually know...it's too fuzzy down there) and his mother spent last spring and summer by the river that runs through the ranch.  Sometime in the fall, his mom disappeared.  I don't know if someone shot her during hunting season, or if they were somehow separated and she just hasn't found her way back, but he's still here and still alone.  And apparently lonely. 

He is standing in the backyard, surrounded by dogs, children, tractors, horses, people, cars in and out... you name it.  We don't usually see wildlife right here.  We're just too loud.  Yet, there he is, bedding down in "pirates cove" by the creek and wandering through the willows and crab apple trees.  I don't know if he'll survive the winter, he doesn't seem very lively, but I hope he makes it through.  My sister wants to make a pet out of him and I admit, his ears look so fuzzy, I really want play with them. 

The kids also enjoyed a sleigh ride, complete with sledding off the back.  There is a lot of snow right now.  Spring is nowhere in sight, but that didn't stop me from doing some garden planning.
But I definitely did not sit on the swing.

24 February 2011


I like cards.  Maybe it's because I come from a family that doesn't express feelings well, so we need to write them down.  I don't know, but I come from a card giving family.  I have often spent well over an hour in the card section of a store, just reading, looking for that one card that captures exactly what I would want to say to someone.  I love that feeling of finding one, or more that are just perfect.  I remember the checkout lady starting to cry once when she read the card that I was buying for my mom.  It was my first year away from home at college and her daughter had also just left home. 

One day, I was burning a bit of time before some appointment by reading cards and I bumped into my cousin, doing the exact same thing.  It was kind of funny because we usually didn't have much to talk about.  Apparently, card reading is a strong family trait.  My Grandma has the talent of making a birthday card arrive exactly on your birthday.  Even now at 90, my baby's birthday card arrived her right on the day. 

These are a few cards that I liked, but haven't sent to anyone yet.  Sorry it's a little blurry on the words.

I keep lots of cards that were sent to me, especially ones that meant something special.  I have shoe boxes stashed away that I sometimes look through and remember how much it meant to me to get that one from my sis when I was feeling down, or whatever. I like to keep them to remind me of my other Grandma and how she would underline the parts that she really agreed with.  Sometimes she would underline the whole message...or maybe that was my Grandpa fooling around with her.  I can see him doing that.

My husband, on the other hand, is not a card person.  He tries because he knows I like them and he has purposefully gone out just to get a card for me for our anniversary.   I think it's cute that he tries and I love him for it.  He apologized to me this Valentines Day for not getting me one.  What's funny is, I have quit getting cards for him.  He doesn't know what to do with them, and I'm not going to keep them for him.  So, he who doesn't understand the card thing is looking for them, and she who loves cards is no longer looking. 

Marriage, ain't it grand?  :)

22 February 2011

Fun family weekend

What a lovely weekend of family time and injuries.  We had a fun Saturday, starting with watching a bunch of six year olds try to play basketball.  It was very entertaining, since the only real rule was that you couldn't double team.   That and any blatant fouls.  I got such a kick out of watching those little faces light up when the ball that they had hurled with all their strength actually went into the hoop.

In the afternoon, we went sledding.  My little man was having a great time, when he noticed some college students starting up higher on the hill.  Of course, he thinks he's invincible, so up he went and down he came, only he didn't make it very far before he wrecked and scraped up his wrist.  It was a nasty looking scrape and of course I was worried that there might be a more serious injury that I couldn't see.  But, after a movie and a treat, (and a bandage and ice pack -which the kids seem to think is the cure for everything) he was back to his normal happy self.  Kind of cut our winter sports short though.

On Sunday, our family had been asked to speak in church.  The kids even got to take part, which they loved.  Not much stage fright in my kids, it seems.  After all our meetings, the little man informed me that everyone told him what a good job he did, and after a passing person said something similar, he said thank you,  and then turned to me and said, "see!?" 

With my husband in tow, I ventured to do some serious couponing this Monday.  He has the kind of mind that can strategize how to get the best deals.  It's a bit much for me, especially when I have the kiddos with me.  We did not get any amazing deals, or come out spending only pennies, but we did knock a few bucks off of the diapers that we were running low on.  Yippee.  They say that you get a high from couponing.  My high is finally leaving the store, buckling the kids in and then standing there, outside of the car, enjoying the quiet before I have to actually climb in the car with them.  That's my enjoyment while shopping.  The checker at Walgreens assured me that I would catch on quickly.  Apparently he's seen people like me who wander the isles wondering what they're supposed to do become pros.  We'll see.

Also on Monday, thinking that we should maybe cool off on the sledding for a bit, we decided to finally go cross country skiing.  My sister collects skis of all varieties and sizes.  I don't think she can help it.  It's like an addiction for her.  It's nice for me though because I can ask if she's got any skis that would fit a six and four year old, and be pretty confident that she does.  And she did.  We brought them back with us about a month ago and the kids were so excited, they tried to ski in the backyard that had barely enough snow to cover the grass in some places.  Almost everything melted back in January right about the time we finally got the kids skis and the various parts of my skis gathered and brought here.  I have been dying to go all winter.  Finally, finally!, we got some more snow!

Let me just go off on a tangent here and explain why I love cross country skiing.  We get a lot of winter here in the mountains. It can get kind of depressing.  Cooped up inside for some of the fall, all of winter, and most of spring can get really old.  I needed something to keep me from becoming depressed.  I like to sit in the afternoon sun in the kitchen to get some vitamin D, but I just start to feel so fat and lazy in the winter time.  Cabin fever can make you crazy.  We decided to try cross country skiing as a way to get outside and enjoy the beauties of the ranch, without having to wade through the deep snow.  It's amazing how my perspective of winter changed just by skiing.  I actually enjoy the winter and even though I'm excited to get gardening, I was really happy that we got so much snow this weekend.

We drove to a nearby park with lots of open areas and got ourselves ready.  It was lucky that we were at a park since the dancing queen was done before my husband and I had gotten our skis on.  She was in no mood to try yesterday and would fall over and then flop like a fish, screaming her head off.  (unfortunately, I didn't get a picture)  It was clear that she was not going to enjoy it.  Thank goodness there were swings right there.  She had a great time while we skied nearby.  The little man took off like he's been doing this forever.  Twice around the field and he decided to sled down a tiny slope.  The baby got to relax in her sled and be pulled around by mom and dad.  I was worried about how she would react, but she never made a peep until we would stop and then she would screech for us to get going again.  All in all, a fun day.

18 February 2011

"Good" movies are depressing

This is kind of a different post than usual for me.  I don't usually watch many movies.  There's just so many other things I'd rather be doing.   Maybe it's the drab, bored with the same old, same old feeling I've been having,  but lately, I've been on a movie kick.  Being seriously disappointed a few weeks ago, I was careful in our selection this time.  I wanted to get a family movie to watch with the kids on Valentines Day, but the redbox was seriously OUT of kids shows.  Guess everyone had that idea.  So, we rented Inception and set the kids up with a movie in the office. 

Inception PosterOur movie was interesting.  I still felt a bit mislead from what I read in the description, but it wasn't bad.  It's the kind of movie that makes you question your reality, in a Matrix sort of way.    I know that this right here is reality, because in my dreams, the dishes magically do themselves and I can see that they are still in there waiting for me.  It was not the sort of movie that I would suggest to watch for a romantic evening.  Kind of depressing in that way.  The boy does not get the girl, because she's already dead.  Yup, life sucks.

North Face Poster
My husband brought a movie for me to watch.  A truly amazingly done movie, called, The Northface.  It's about mountain climbers in Switzerland trying to be the first to climb the Eiger mountain.   It's actually in German, but with English subtitles.  And he was right.  It is an amazing movie.  I couldn't stop watching it.  The story line is great, the filming was amazing.  Very well done, but, it's based on a true story and therefore must be depressing.  No happy ending there either.  I still recommend it though.

 Then, I watched The Duchess by myself one day during nap time.  It's not new and I barely remember hearing about it when it did come out.  I got sucked in because I like "period" movies.  I blame the princess stories I grew up with.  I think I'm trained to fall for the movies with fancy dresses and poofy hair...marrying a prince and living happily ever after in a beautiful castle. 

This movie had all those aspects, except my idea of happily ever after is quite different than the one in the movie.  They just kind of live ever after.   I do the same thing with other period movies.  I know how things will end, but I keep hoping that somehow, everything will work out wonderfully and they will ride off into the sunset.  Nope.  I come away from these movies feeling so sad at the plight of women in those days.  They truly had no rights.  At all.  Even while my mind is reminding me that it was a movie and not real, and certainly Hollywooded up, I find myself moping around feeling sorry for the women that lived before me.

 My mind does this to me.  It's why I can't watch horror films.  I am not able to just say, wow, that was a well made movie.  Or, they really drove that point home.  Or, the actors were so believable.  No, the story sucks me in and sticks with me for a long time.  I have to watch a few completely silly, happy movies to snap out of it.

I realized that a non-depressing movie is one that ends with the wedding.  They leave you off with the hope of a wonderful life thereafter.  The depressing ones start with a wedding and then show you all the ways that life stinks.  Yep, prince charming isn't so charming once you get to know him.  In fact, he's a jerk.  Too bad you're stuck with him.  ...Okay, they don't all start with a wedding...  but movies that actually follow real life events usually don't end well.  Although there are a few sports - underdog shows that end well, and I like those.

I find that I prefer the old standby romance when I watch a movie.  No matter how truthful or real a movie is, I still want that happy ending.  I don't need to know about real life.  I have a real life.  I already know it's not all sparkles and prancing ponies.  I watch movies to be entertained and taken away for a little while. 

Yep, give me the old, boring, predictable romances.  I'm old, boring and predictable.

16 February 2011

Tidbits: hunger strike, cold sore and graduation

My baby is on a hunger strike.  Unfortunately, she can't or won't tell me her terms.  I have tried to not stress about it, thinking that surely she'll get hungry and eat the next time I fly a spoon toward her mouth.  Nope.  Just the scrunchy face, turn the head thing that she's been doing for the last three days.  She does eat some plain dry cherrios and her bottle, but I would like her to get a few more things in as well.  I've tried every variation of baby food, and when that didn't work, I gave her some of my food.  Scrunch, turn.
Okay, this is a pickle face, but you get the idea.
 On the flip side, she slept completely through the night three nights in a row.  The two things must be related.  I just can't figure out how.

For the record, the cheap cold sore chapstick doesn't work.  I have applied every hour, as instructed and the cold sore has just kept on doing what it wanted to do, which is to take over my entire lower lip.  It's even bigger now (the lip) than before and I'm discovering that the lip does more than just hold the slobber in.  I sound silly when I try to talk and eating has been particularly challenging.

We found out today that my husband will likely graduate in the spring of 2014.  I knew it would be a few years, but putting a date on it made it feel oh so far away.  I refused to put a time limit on when we moved here because I knew it would take longer than I wanted, but deep down, I was hoping to be out of here about two years sooner.  Oh well, patience now.... and as my mom would say, "In three years, you'll still be three years older."

14 February 2011

Valentine (sugar) Cookies

Happy Valentines Day!  I hope you have a good one.  We're not doing anything exciting.  Poor people can't partake of the flower and chocolate frenzy that most people do.    I have a long history of really horrible Valentines Days.  Illnesses, blind dates, crummy boyfriends, etc.  I actually smugly thought that my days of having a rotten VD -my affectionate name for the day- were over once I was married.  It's especially easy to enjoy it when your expectations aren't high.  All I ask for is a Dr. Pepper and maybe a shoulder massage.  Got the massage first thing this morning and the Dr. Pepper not long after that. 

Know what else I got for Valentines Day?  A cold sore.  How nice.  It was shaping up to be the best V Day in my history.  Until my lip started hurting.  And then it exploded into a big puffy, painful lump on my lower lip.  Now I'm getting some chills and body aches.  I swear I just recovered from something like this and now here I go again.  My poor husband won't even get a kiss for Valentines Day.  He will get cookies though.

Growing up, it was always tradition to make sugar cookies and cut out holiday related shapes for several holidays through the year.  Easter, Halloween, Christmas and Valentines Day.

My daughter and I planned on making these cookies a week ago, until I discovered that my stash of butter was gone.  The dancing queen has been begging to make "cutting" cookies everyday since I bought butter.  I finally promised her that we would make them Sunday afternoon, IF she took a nap first.  She really wanted to make them, apparently.

After all that, I realized that I don't own a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Oops.  I really thought I had one.  It must be at my mom's.  Not to be discouraged, my kids happily used the Easter shapes.

Soft Sugar Cookies
1 cup sugar
1cup butter
3 eggs
1 Tbs baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla

Mix, roll out, cut and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes.  It helps to refrigerate the dough a bit, but you don't have to.  The dough keeps well in the fridge for quite a while, if you can keep people out of it.  This made 5 dozen cookies, with some dough left over to snack on.

12 February 2011

A gardening day!

What a wonderful, sunny day!  I just sat outside for an hour or so, soaking up the sun.  Isn't it funny how at this time of year, 45 degrees feels so warm?  It even inspired me to plant a few seeds. 

I started my winter sowing experiment about a month ago.  If it works it is the perfect fix for my window-less situation.  You can read about it here.  Usually at this time, I am getting ready to start planting some seeds and my "window garden" takes off.  *sigh*  I used rotisserie chicken packages and 2 liter soda bottles for this experiment.  (I believe I have mentioned my Dr. Pepper habit..)

So far I have planted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beans, spinach and other greens, cilantro, basil and summer squash.  My son was upset with me for not planting carrots, so I guess when I get more containers, we'll do that as well.  I've never had much luck with carrots.

If this works, I will have most of my plants for my little garden.  The others can be directly sown when it starts to warm up.  If it doesn't work, I'm only out the seeds, most of which I already had, and my garden will have to be very small.

This is only my third or fourth year as a serious gardener, and each year has been an experiment.  I like having that mindset because I never feel like the garden failed.  I just learn to not do that again when something flops.  It is truly an addictive hobby.

It felt so good to be out in the sunshine today, but it makes it that much harder to face the fact that winter is far from over here.  Hopefully, I can feel a renewed motivation to get my other projects done.

10 February 2011

February Daydreams

February is a tough month.  Spring is still way off, but I can't help but look for it.  I want to be outside, but I can't.  I have tons of things I could and should be doing inside, but I don't want to. 

February is my daydreaming month.  Despite needing to plan meals, or do dishes, or fold clothes, I sit and dream.  I sketch yet another idea for my someday house.  I think I've drawn up dozens of house plans through the years.  We probably won't ever actually build it, but I like to imagine it and draw it, yet again. 

I plan my someday garden when I should be planning out my now garden.  It's so small though, it won't take much time to figure out.  I dream about my future homestead.  Where I'll put the chickens, plant the apple trees, put the herbs and hang the hammock. 

I get antsy to get on with it, even though I know we are here for the next few years.  Patience now so I can get my dreams later. (repeat over and over...)  In years past, I got through this time by planting seeds and watching them grow a little everyday in the window sill.  Here, however, I don't have good windows to do that, so I'm trying to do a little winter sowing outside.  I'm excited about that, but it's out there, in the cold.  I can't peek at them while in my bare feet, sipping hot chocolate.

There are things I can work on here and now.  I should make a list, but I already have several lists going on and I have just ignored them.  Maybe by writing it here, I'll pay more attention to it.

I need to make the meatloaf for tonight, and remember to cook the asparagus that is sitting in the fridge. 

I need to plant a few more seeds and check on the ones I already planted.

I have several sewing projects that I want to work on, but I don't quite have the inspiration yet.  I want to sew an apron, more wool slippers and an Easter dress for the dancing queen.

I want to get out my wool spinning stuff and work on that a bit, but I also need to come up with an idea of what to make out of it as a gift for my sister who gave me all the stuff.  (don't say socks...)  I feel kind of silly working on something with no finished product in mind.

I need to do some mending.

And apparently, I need to put together the lego Ironman control center...

08 February 2011


We're a bit slow here today.  I'm finding it difficult to get motivated to do anything.  Anytime I start to do something, I get called back to assist in the lego Ironman construction.  The little man was so excited to spend his Christmas/birthday money on a lego set.  I should have thought it through a bit more.  It's tough for me to find all those pieces and get them assembles correctly.  It's dang near impossible for a six year old.  I should just turn him loose with the pieces and see what we end up with I suppose.

The dancing queen spent her Christmas money on a princess journal that comes with stickers, stamps and glitter glue.  Oh boy.  It's pure joy.  At least she was able to entertain herself this morning.

At least the baby enjoyed her blocks.  I always worry about something I make not being enjoyed.  She likes to throw them.

I'm so slow, the kids got dry cereal without milk for breakfast.  I'm working up some energy to at least warm up some leftovers for lunch.  I'm having to really fight the inclination to put on a chic flick, wrap up in a blanket and eat cookies.  As nice as that sounds, it wouldn't be, because the kids would be constantly asking me to explain why somebody in the movie did that, or went there, or said that... they would be asking for popcorn, or wanting to eat my cookies and they would no doubt be in my lap, which wouldn't be so bad if they could actually sit still.  Besides, I should do something today.

And we don't have cookies.  We need cookies.  What is a house without cookies?

I thought it would be a great idea to make some sugar cookies and the kids could help cut out valentine shapes.  It is a tradition, after all.  I was getting all excited to do something when I discovered that we are out of butter.  1/2 cup in the whole house!  I always have butter on hand because I use it so much.  So now, I am deflated again.  The baby is napping so I can't run to the store.  Besides, it's almost lunch and the little man has to get ready for school.  If you need me, I'll be under the blanket in the recliner... watching a cartoon... I can compromise.

03 February 2011

More projects

I realized yesterday that my baby is turning 1 next week.  I can't believe how fast this year went.  I then remembered that I had planned to make her some cloth blocks for Christmas, but when that got too busy,  I decided to put it off until her birthday.  And then I promptly forgot until yesterday.  I spent last evening and today putting these together.

I was a little worried about how they would turn out with all the different patterns and colors, but I think they ended up pretty cute.  I was worried about them being too small, so I made them big.  Really big considering they're for a baby.  Too big maybe...so I added the ribbon for something to get a hold of.

A few weeks ago, I brought a gray sweater home from the second hand store.  It had a very big turtle neck on it that my husband decided would make at perfect beanie.  So, he cut it off.
Now we just have to figure out how to finish the top of the hat.  Gather it up?  Fold it and stitch?  He can't decide, so this project is on hold.

A few days ago I had a craving for some craisins, you know, raisins, but from cranberries instead of grapes.  Then I remembered that I had some cranberries in the freezer.  I bought them around Thanksgiving time without any idea of what to do with them, so they ended up in the freezer.  I had cranberries, and I have a dehydrator... maybe I could make myself some craisins? 

The instructions I had said to blanch the berries, then freeze them and then dehydrate.  Since these were already frozen, I just blanched and dried.  I expected them to shrivel up while drying, but they didn't.  Unfortunately I just kept drying, thinking they would eventually shrivel up.  Instead, I have dried out berry shells with almost nothing inside.  Maybe I can rehydrate them a bit... probably not.  I kept them just in case I think of something to do with cranberry crumbles.  They do look pretty in a jar though though.  Maybe next year I'll get it right.

01 February 2011

Dinner Crepes recipe

First of all, thanks for the well wishes.  I am feeling so much better today.  Unfortunately, my two girls have both come down with something.  It hit them at the same time I got hit, but it's different.  My dancing queen has a nasty cough.  I hate listening to her cough in the night, knowing I've done everything I can for her.

Also, yesterday, I received a little gift from Boboloo.  These adorable crayon rolls.  At least one of these will be going in the diaper bag to corral those random crayons that end up in there.

It was a fun baking day today, although I did set the smoke alarm off once.  Something under the burner that didn't seem to mind lower heats, got a bit smoky when I was heating up the water. 

We still have plenty of bread, so that didn't make the list.  Instead, I decided to make more wheat bagels.  I have not been able to find any at the grocery store the last several times I've looked.  However, I was dissatisfied with my last ones because after a day or two, they seemed to get kind of soggy.  I found a recipe that suggested boiling longer, so I gave it a go.
I boiled them for a minute on each side, then baked in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes, reduced the heat to 450 and baked for another 5 minutes.  So far, these are my favorite bagels yet.  We'll see how I feel about them tomorrow.  They aren't the prettiest bagels I've ever seen, but I blame that on the trip to the doctor.  I put them in the fridge while we were gone, and they were quite lumpy looking when I finally boiled them.  The flavor is good though.
In addition to the bagels, I made crepes, which isn't really baking, but who's keeping track?  I've been wanting to make dinner crepes for a while, but my husband is usually in charge of the actual crepe making and he's been so busy with school that it's been impossible to get done.  We generally make them as we eat them, which means there's always a few people waiting for the next crepe to come off the pan.  It's a bit of a production, so we don't have them often.  It wasn't until I was snooping around the recipes over at Thy Hand Hath Provided that I realized that crepes can be made before hand.  Once again, like the chicken noodle soup, the obvious eludes me.

We make our crepes by sauteing up some garlic and mushrooms, finely chopped, and then adding a bunch of chopped spinach and cooking until the spinach is wilted.  I took the advice of Thy Hand and did this the day before.  It didn't look like much in that little bowl, but it ended up making more than enough. 

Then we make the crepes. 
Here's my crepe recipe.  I don't know where exactly we got it, but we've been using it for a few years now.  I'm sure there are other more sophisticated recipes out there, but we like this one pretty well.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups flour

We mix it all up in the blender.  I doubled the recipe and my blender threatened to die.  It's a wimpy blender.  I finally got so I could make a decent looking crepe using my electric skillet.  I would pour some batter in a circle and then pick up the whole skillet, tipping it around until the batter stopped running and started cooking all over.  Turn it over when it doesn't look wet anymore and cook a little longer.  I struggled with going too long and cooking them too  much.  They don't roll very well when they are cooked too much. 
If you are making the crepes as you eat them, add the filling right there on the skillet as soon as you turn the crepe over.  Roll it up and let it sit on the skillet for a bit while the cheese melts.  Our filling includes the spinach mixture as well as a few slices of lunch meat, like ham or pastrami, and cheese.  The kids prefer just ham and cheese in theirs.

Today, I made the crepes, took them off the skillet and then filled them and put them into a pan.  I got into such a groove, I didn't realize how many I made until I ran out of batter.  (Usually, we make dessert crepes as well, but I forgot)  We have enough for an entire other meal.  Guess I know what we'll be eating tomorrow.  At dinner time, stick the pan into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. 

Making the crepes beforehand and then popping them into the oven at dinner time made my life so much easier.  I love when I can get almost everything done while the baby naps.  Maybe we'll be having this meal more often now.