Wednesday Potpourri

I’ve noticed that probably 90% of my post titles contain the day of the week. Not only am I title-lazy, I’m also that kid who wouldn’t wear her day-of-the-week panties if it was the “wrong” day. :-)

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I am extremely eager to go to storytime at the library tomorrow! The Huz fixed his truck over the weekend, and though I haven’t been anywhere this week, it’s such a relief to know my car is out there waiting if I needed it. Ahhhhhh…

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I took Eldest to her Quiz Bowl meet on Monday. There were five or six schools competing, and we were there for two hours. I even ended up reading out the questions for one match because the opposing school’s coach ended up having to bring her baby. Quiz Bowl is cool. All the nerds getting together and celebrating their nerdiness. I coulda been a contenda…

One of the questions asked of our school’s team was, “What was Jesus’ hometown?” I was sitting in the back, wondering if they wanted Bethlehem or Nazareth, when our team answered, “Nazareth.” The judges ruled it incorrect at first, but not because Bethlehem was the answer they were looking for. According to their booklet, “Nazarene” was the name of the town and a “Nazareth” is what you’d call someone from aforementioned town. Ummm, wha?? I thought I was still in the Bible Belt here. The TEACHERS were arguing this point, you guys.

And it is a public school. I don’t think they should just assume that “Bible Facts” are common knowledge to everyone. I realize Christianity is the majority religion, but if professed Christians don’t know the answer how would they expect a Jewish or Muslim kid to know this stuff? Ugh.

They ended up giving the kids credit, but only after another mother and I spoke up.

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I have been subsisting on Benadryl and coffee for about a week. Fall is always my worst allergy season, but this has been rough. Along with the sneezing and itchy watery eyes, my face and inner ears are itchy. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but my inner ears are totally itchy. And you can’t scratch your inner ears. So I sneeze and wheeze and scratch, and take Benadryl to counteract that. Then, I get sooo, soooo sleepy from the meds and drink coffee to counteract that. I end up jacked up on caffeine but still grouchy because I’m tired and can’t sleep. No good.

The worst part is, I keep thinking to myself, “Well, it was a really bad year for pollen – hardly any rain and my house is a lot more dusty than it could be and I’ve been digging around in my two giant boxes of dusty yarn and pleaseohpleasedon’tletmebeallergictothedangdog.”

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Well, it’s that time again. This weekend, I’m going to do a seasonal wardrobe switch with the Littles’ clothes. It has been nice and warm in the afternoons, but the last few mornings have been in the 40′s. Time to put away the tank tops and break out the sweaters. *sigh*

Posted in miscellany | Leave a comment

Errrr… Tasty Tuesday?

Okay, so… I have laid down on the job of taking tasty photos this week. I did feed these people, so at least there’s that! However, most of this week’s meals have been quickly prepared and, though tasty, were less than photogenic. I do have a rather pretty plate of stir-fry to show you.

I loveloveLOVE Chinese food, but am so intimidated when it comes to preparing it. Luckily, I live next door to my MIL, who makes the best Chinese-food-not-actually-cooked-by-a-Chinese-person, hands down. I’m going to have to learn because it’s a huge pain in the butt to drive an hour to town whenever you get a hankering for Sa Cha Chicken!

Now, the reason I haven’t been lovingly preparing culinary masterpieces? Because I’ve been spending my “spare” time (bwaahahahaha! spare time!) crocheting. I even made myself a hat. Can you believe I’ve been crocheting for over 5 years but never made myself a hat? I’m also getting started on winter hats for all the little kids in the family.

Last week, I was perusing the internet, looking for some pattern or the other when I stumbled across patterns for toys. First thought – Christmas! Second thought – why didn’t I think of that years ago?!? I’m thinking farm animals with a barn/carry-bag for the little boys. I’ve made a couple of prototypes for the animals, but I need to work out how I’m going to do the barn now. That’s the part that will give me a little trouble, I think.

As for the little girls, I want to make them dolls and a few little outfits to go with. Here’s what I’m working with so far:

Problem is, I can’t decide if she’s cute and kitschy or kinda creepy! The pattern I used as a jumping-off point left her with an extreme underbite and I think version 2.0 will look much better with a bit longer facial area. She took about two days to make and clothe, but I’m not quite done with her hair. I would really like to make each doll with the same hair and eye color as her intended recipient. I’m super-proud of the fact that I whipped up her little Mary Janes without any type of pattern.

So, what do you guys think? On with the doll-making, or something else for the little chickies?

Posted in food, stuff I like to do | 8 Comments

Thankful Thursday

Well, well, well! Thursday already! I don’t know about you guys, but this week has flown by for me. Time to focus on what was good about it. :-)

This week I’m thankful for:

1) cooler weather. Being the heat-seeker that I am, it seems a little weird to be thankful for falling temperatures! But the fresh air and open windows have been so very nice, and I’m sure I’ll be even happier to see my electric bill going down. ;-)

2) back to crocheting! Another side effect of autumn, along with soups and stews. So far, the Littles are letting me do it without trying to destroy my stuff. I give them a couple small balls of scrap yarn and they stay happy, busy, and out of my yarn. Heh heh heh. We’ll see how long that lasts!

3) Eldest’s softball team did great in the county tournament, coming in second! Seeing her experience a sense of accomplishment and pride in herself has been really great.

4) the newest addition to the family, Dodge. He’s a pretty good boy. And a most excellent walking partner!

5) Yummy, yummy oatmeal. Mmmmm, cinnamon…

How about it? Watcha thankful for?

Posted in thankful | 1 Comment

I Am A Slacker, Exhibit One

So, does anybody remember way back when my cousin was pregnant and I was *supposed* to crochet her a baby blanket? Ummmm, yeah. Well, apparently I realized I would not get it done in time and bought her a baby shower basket of goodies. I put all the yarn and squares in a bag and shoved the bag in a closet and forgot about it.

Last week, I got bored and needed to do something with my hands (but obviously did not want to clean with my hands). I found the bag and felt just awful for forgetting about the blankie.I figured since the baby is nearly eight months old now, I’d better expand and make it a crib-sized blanket. It measures about 30 x 45, so hopefully she’ll get a year or two of use out of it. Here’s how it turned out:

A detail shot:

In fact, I felt so bad about not finishing it that I made her a cute little hat, too.

Now I just have to wash and dry them today, and hope the hat fits!

Posted in stuff I like to do | 7 Comments

Tasty Tuesday

Alright, it’s Tuesday again! Let’s talk food.

First up: soup. That autumn chill is creeping into the air. In my mind, cool weather = chili, soups and stews. I had about a pound or so of chunked ham in the freezer from my Sunday-dinner ham of a few weeks back. Nothing better with ham than potatoes, right? Then, just to make it a meal in a bowl, I threw in some green beans. And, voilà:

It was totally freakin’ awesome.

Next time, I’ll make garlic-cheese biscuits with this soup. I didn’t make them because I was pressed for time, but it would’ve gone great together.

Next, I have burritos. We have some type of Mexican dish at least once a week and it’s usually burritos, but I’ve never posted pics because it wasn’t anything to brag about. Last week, however, I made a four pound bag of pinto beans all in one shot. We had a pot of regular ol’ pinto beans, and I froze a lot of them, but still had enough left over to make homemade refried beans for our burritos.

Rice & chorizo, refried beans

Close-up of the rice & chorizo, since it looks kinda like dog food in the 1st picture. I’m not so sure the close-up helps.

Mmmmm-nom-nom-nom

It’s still not really anything to brag about, and it’s not as easy as opening and heating a can of refrieds, but it was quite tasty and almost as easy. Besides, the mashing/”frying” process can release pent-up tension, much like kneading bread. ;-) 

Last of all, this week’s Sunday dinner:

Lemon pepper CrockPot chicken, succotash, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy.

I love that I can “roast” whole chickens in my 6-quart slow cooker. When I remember to thaw it first (heh heh), I skin the chicken and cook it on high for about 4 hours. When I forget to pull it from the freezer the night before, it will still cook beautifully in 6 hours on high. I didn’t believe a frozen-solid whole chicken could possibly be completely done after 6 hours, but it’s true. If I do it that way, I wait to season it until about halfway through. 

I have made these chickens so many different ways, and I’m always thinking of more. Lemon pepper is always a hit. If I have a lemon or orange or both on hand, I’ll squeeze the juices over the chicken and then stuff the fruit itself into the cavity. A tiny bit of liquid smoke and a quartered apple in the cavity is an interesting and delicious combo as well. The possibilities are endless.

Once a month or so, I have everyone throw their chicken bones back in the crock. The next day, I’ll scoop the layer of fat from the top, fill the rest of the way with water, and cook on low all day for homemade chicken broth.

And that’s what was tasty this week! What goodness did you consume?

Posted in food | 4 Comments

Soooo Sleepy

Between kids and dogs and Benadryl, I am feeling very tired… and it’s only Monday! I can’t quite grasp why, after actually getting more sleep than usual for the last week or so. Maybe it’s because my walking partner is wearing me out.

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When the Huz and I first got together, he had The World’s Most Awesome Dog, Max. Max was a full-blooded German Shepherd whose parents were police dogs, and he costed far more than somebody who didn’t even have a dependable ride (at that time) should probably pay. He was the Huz’s baby, a fetching machine, and an all-around badass of a dog. He would literally herd my children and keep them in our yard. I think Max even had an uncanny knowledge of the English language, or so it seemed.

Our whole family (which was a bit smaller back then) was devastated when Max suddenly disappeared. The Huz called for him daily for three weeks, walked through the woods around our house, asked around, posted signs… all to no avail. I suspect that someone saw him on the road in front of our house and offered him a ride. He loved riding in cars and would’ve loaded up pretty easily. Regardless of what happened to him, we were heartbroken. Max has been somewhat of a legend ever since. We still talk about him all the time, and he’s been gone for five years.

So when I was perusing Craigslist last week, looking for nothing in particular and really just killing time, and seen an ad for free German Shepherd pups, I had to click through. Four solid black 5-month-old males, free to good homes. I sat there and had a little internal debate. Pros and cons, pros and cons. But of course they posted a picture with the ad and how could I ignore that cute face? I showed the ad to the Huz and, of course, he was all over it. He wanted to call right then, but it was almost 10 o’clock and I didn’t want him to anger the people we might potentially get a dog from. So I programmed the number into our cell and told him to call the next morning.

Morning came, and as is my morning ritual, I got the Littles started on breakfast and tested my webs. I went to Craigslist first thing, and the ad was gone. I panicked and got in touch with the Huz. He said he’d talked to the man with the puppies, and we’d be picking one up after he finished work for the day. There had been such an overwhelming response to the ad that the guy had taken it down.

It was about an hour’s ride, but once we got there I realized how much we’d lucked out. The guy’s name was Mike and he’s been breeding and training Shepherds for over 20 years. The parents are AKC registered and on-site, so we got a glimpse of how big he might get. Mike said that he trains search-and-rescue dogs (and occasionally narcotics dogs), but he only trains the females out of a litter and normally sells the males. This litter had some kind of skin funk when they were at prime selling age, and by the time he got them well again they were too old to sell “in this economy.”

He let them out of their pen and our dog ran to greet Mike, then straight to Worm and me. He was the most sociable of them all, and just so happened to be the biggest as well. We had him named before we ever got home – Dodge.

So far, so good. He’s very intelligent but we’re going to have to get him accustomed to the livestock. He is great with the kids, which I was worried about since he’d never been around children before. Heck, he was an outside dog, so it took him a few days just to get used to being indoors and all the household noises and such. And he and our little dog, Smudge, are getting along famously.

Added bonus: since we can’t let him have run of the yard just yet, and he’s such a big puppy, I’ve been taking him on a 45-minute walk first thing every morning. Now maybe I’ll stick with the run jog walk in the morning routine, since Dodge is depending on me. We’ve also been taking a walk as a family in the evenings, and it’s been so nice. But I’m tired!

I was going to post a picture of the newest addition, but do you realize how hard it is to get a picture of a solid black dog without it looking like a picture of a blob?

Posted in completely awesome!, sooo tired, the huz | 2 Comments

Tasty Tuesday

I have but two meals for this week’s Tasty Tuesday. One is just a different spin on my Caribbean-inspired fish:

Crushed pineapple and diced onion & bell pepper, just because I had them on hand left over from other meals.

And then I have a Mexican-style “all most-in-one” dish. I serve it over rice, which I could put in the skillet with the rest. I don’t because this is my biggest skillet and it’s too full to stir comfortably if the rice is in there, too. It’s so convenient, though, because I can just throw it together out of whatever I have. Sometimes, like this meal, it’s beef. I have made it with chicken, chorizo, and pork. Plus, I’m for anything that cuts down on dishes.

Note the lovely baked tortilla strips. I took the last of these out of the oven, transferred them to a plate, and set the hot pan on the stovetop. For some reason (maybe because there was nothing on it?), when I turned to move this 450 degree pan 30 seconds later, my mind did not register that I would need a potholder. Luckily, I picked it up with my left hand, only with three fingers, and had an aloe plant within reach. I’ve discovered that if I can get aloe on my burns ASAP, they usually don’t blister. In fact, though it hurt like the devil, I would be embarrassed to post a picture of my fingers because it didn’t look nearly as bad as it felt. Then you guys would be all, “What a wuss!” ;-) I burn my hands all the time, but rarely do I try to handle fresh-from-the-oven pans with my bare hands.

But, now! As a special treat, a special treat! Disclaimer, though – I did not make these awesome-yet-so-simple cookies. Eldest did, and all by herself.

This peanut butter cookie recipe has been in my mom’s family for as long as anybody can remember. One cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg. Mix thoroughly, drop on ungreased cookie sheet by the tablespoon (I use a melon baller when I make them, Eldest just uses her mixing spoon), do the fork-press, bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. The tops will look a little underdone, a bit doughy even. They harden as they cool, so I cool them completely on the pan. They lift off the pan more easily and with less crumbles that way, but as you can see if you look closely, she was in a hurry to reuse the pan. She doubled the recipe and added a half-cup of chocolate chips. YUM. It made plenty for the whole lot of us, plus a plateful of leftovers. Which didn’t last a full 24 hours.

Eat anything interesting this week?

Posted in Eldest, food | 4 Comments

Trivial Facts and Deep Thoughts

Friday, I wrote a nice, long post. I got most of the way through it and my internet went ka-blooey. In that moment I was ticked about it, but now I’m so glad it didn’t post. You guys were spared three to four hundred more words about how crazy the nap thing still is. But I did feel better after writing it out, so all’s well blah blah blah. All weekend, Worm fell asleep in the high chair at lunch and got carried to bed. Since he was actually sleeping, I really didn’t care. Maybe I should just let him fall asleep eating for as long as it lasts?

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We’re on week three of the Huz taking my car to work, and hopefully the end is near! After helping him take it all apart and put it all back together this weekend, his truck was still leaking water. After replacing the thermostat and gasket (twice on the gasket), we finally found where the leak was coming from – the thermostat housing. If this sounds like Latin to you, I envy you. I could totally do this thermostat thing all on my own now. 

Anyway, it’s not hard to fix. Brand new, it’s about $100 for the part. Since it’s been this long anyway, we figured he could use my car again this week and try to find the part from a junkyard. If he hasn’t found one by payday, we’ll bite the bullet and buy it new. Either way, I should be rolling by this coming weekend. Whew! What a relief that will be.

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Eldest played three (!) softball games last week (one was rescheduled from the week before when it rained). Her team won All. Three! Games!! She even batted in some runs, though she didn’t get to score one herself. Today they’re playing a tournament, and then next week is the county playoffs. Being so unathletic myself (but always secretly wishing I was an athlete shhhhdon’ttell), I really admire her enthusiasm for the game. The upside to the season coming to an end, though, is that she won’t be drop-dead tired every day. Poor Eldest takes after her mother in that she is cranky when tired.

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I hate being unsure of my “right” to write about something. This blog is, in many ways, like a journal to me. Of course I know that someone else will ultimately read it, but its core purpose is helping me keep my sanity by getting things off my chest or out of my head. When I write here, I spend half the time keeping folks informed of what’s going on in our world. The other half of the time, I try to forget my audience completely – to write as if it were only for me. It’s the only way to keep my feelings honest, rather than, “But what will they think of me when they read this?” I guess I figure I’ll worry about such when the time comes.

The lines start to blur, though, when I feel compelled to write about people or situations that are personally known to at least some of my readers. I have to take into account that my perspective is just that – one person’s perspective. All that being said, I won’t stifle myself by not writing about what I spend precious time thinking about, just because it might be seen as talking about a friend behind her back. Because honestly, nothing I write on this subject will be anything I wouldn’t say to her face. If she could hear what I’d be trying to say.

A very good friend of mine had a very close call this weekend. From what I’ve been told, she’ll have a long recovery for her mangled leg but is lucky to even be alive. I have to say upfront that I don’t know all the facts, but chances are she was under the influence of something. Thankfully, her two kids were not with her at the time. 

I love this girl. We’ve had our ups and downs, lived together, had some of the most fun times together, put ourselves in harm’s way for the other’s sake, fed each other, and yes, we’ve fought, too. Not often, but, damn… when we did, it was EPIC.

She was the first female of my own age that I had any success in relating to. Basically, she restored my faith in chicks. At her best, she’s one of the coolest people I know.

I’ve known her for 13 years. Sadly, the last eight have been like watching the Titanic sink. Like being on one of the lifeboats, cold but far from danger, with empty space on either side and a familiar voice coming from that chaos in the distance.

Maybe it’s self-centered or self-important of me, but I can’t help but wonder if I could have helped. Or if I’d done things differently, would it have changed anything? I spent a lot of our teenage years (when I had but one adorable, impeccably behaved child who could easily be pawned off to friends or relatives who were experiencing baby-lust, or had children of a similar age, or for some inexplicable reason had pity on me with the whole missing-out-on-her-teenage-years thing [my grandma] for a night or even the weekend) enabling her. Sometimes as the more sober driver, sometimes as the voice of reason that got us out of a questionable situation, sometimes as the nurse/babysitter when she’d end up in a bad state. Let’s just say, us girls, we were pretty effed up at that point in life.

Some of that I suppose I could blame on being young, but I wasn’t that stupid, either. I seen first-hand the difference between my wanting to catch a buzz in whatever convenient way, and her wanting to get totally obliterated in whatever convenient way. I think about the options, what I could’ve possibly done. I could’ve told her parents the full extent of what they already knew was going on. I could’ve called on outside forces, though I doubt I ever would have. I’ve also seen and felt the damage that the “system” can wreak in the name of the greater good. And besides, where I come from, “Snitches are a dying breed.” So I don’t think it likely I’d have done anything like that.

There were a couple of times that should’ve been wake-up calls to her, so it’s not like I’m sitting here blaming myself for her downfall. I totally understand and subscribe to the notion of personal responsibility.

But, there was a time when she listened to me. I just think that I could have possibly been a better friend. Maybe if I’d practiced more of my brutal honesty with her (which, for some reason, she’s historically been spared, unlike most people I know). Maybe if I’d said something. Maybe if the times I’d tried, I hadn’t backed off when she got defensive.

Maybe.

“Maybe
Oh if I could pray and I try, dear,
You might come back home, home to me.

Maybe
Whoa, if I could ever hold your little hand
Oh you might understand.
Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, yeah.

Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe dear
I guess I might have done something wrong,
Honey I’d be glad to admit it.
Oh, come on home to me!
Honey maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe yeah.

Well I know that it just doesn’t ever seem to matter, baby,
Oh honey, when I go out or what I’m trying to do,
Can’t you see I’m still left here
And I’m holding on in needing you.

Please, please, please, please,
Oh don’t you reconsider babe.
Now come on, I said come back,
Won’t you come back to me!

Maybe dear, oh maybe, maybe, maybe,
Let me help you show me how.
Honey, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe…”

                                                           Janis Joplin
     

Posted in brutally honest, Eldest, friends, hard stuff, the huz | Leave a comment

Thankful Thursday

What I’m thankful for this week:

1) Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee. COFFEE!! Okay, now that I have that off my chest…  The glory of coffee has taken on a whole new importance since the Littles have decided they absolutely cannot sleep past 7 o’clock or so.

2) Ahhh, the internet. Yes, thanks to living in the middle of nowhere, I do pay an exorbitant amount of money for service that isn’t the height of reliability. Yes, sometimes it’s slower than dial-up (I didn’t even know that was possible). And though I love where I live, it’s that spotty connection to the great wide world that keeps me sane. Thank you to everyone who’s helped me through this past couple of weeks. You guys don’t know how much even one little comment, or conversation on Facebook, can make me smile, laugh, maybe even tear up a little – but ultimately feel so much better. Now, if my mom would just join us here in the 21st century…

3) Okay, so I tried really hard not to talk naps, but BOTH Littles took one yesterday, and I think I *may* have figured out a good schedule but that’s all I’m going to say out of fear I might jinx myself. <exhale>  

4) The thirst for knowledge. In myself, in my children, and just in general. As a kid, I was encouraged to learn, to question and to think for myself. I am so glad that I was raised that way, and that I’m passing that on to the next generation. In the last 2 months I’ve been asked some of the hardest questions, but it has been such a rewarding experience to provide some kind of answer - or at least discuss the possibilities.

5) The safe arrival and good health of the newest addition to my great big extended family. I saved him for last because who doesn’t love a picture of a brand new baby?

Charley  9/14/10 6 lb 1 oz

What a handsome boy! Congrats to my cousin and her husband, and here’s hoping that Dad gets to be with his new little family soon. He’s in the Marines, training in Washington state, and she gave birth in Tennessee. 

Now, what about you? One thing or 20, trivial or life-changing, it feels good to think about the good stuff.

Posted in friends, thankful | 3 Comments

Wordless Wednesday

Posted in Dervish, wordless, Worm | Leave a comment