Monday, December 22, 2008

How's the heat at your house?

Over at msn the Women in Red are talking about heating costs.....

Here's what is going on for us....

Our house is about 1700 sq ft and was built in 1897. We heat with baseboard electric (I know... groan) and a pellet stove. We have propane for the hot water heater and the cook stovetop. I think I forked over more than $400 to fill the propane tank this summer.... that will last us all year. Our electric bill has been running about $120/month but I'm sure this next one will be a doozy. We keep it around 60 all the time. They don't make programmable thermostats for baseboard heaters so we can't change that.... we don't turn on the baseboards in the two upstairs bedrooms and we don't have one in the downstairs bedroom so we all sleep with our doors open. The heat from the pellet stove keeps us toasty. We have installed all swirly-que light bulbs and are working hard to turn off lights not in use. Pellet prices are up to $250/ton.... we go through almost 3 tons in a typical year.... that baby runs 24-7 during the winter and is our primary heating source... much cheaper than anything else the way we are figuring it and a real luxury.

Flannel sheets & down comforters for all. Oh.... and a nice warm dog that circulates in the night. Although I can't get my kids to wear warm fuzzy jammies no matter how I try. They "choke my chest" according to Sweet and Tuff has some she will wear but she likes gowns the best.

Last week we took the doors off the cabinet under the sink. Due to some poor design the pipes for the kitchen sink run in the wall for a short distance and will freeze solid if we don't keep it open and water running at a trickle during the bitter cold weather.... 10 below zero. We took the doors off completely because my legs were covered in bruises from walking into the baby locks sticking out of the open doors.... I am a klutz.

So far we are holding our own and not freezing up. I have window insulation kits that I want to put up but haven't yet... I know, I know.... maybe tonight.

So what are you doing to stay warm this winter?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stylista


Above... her "outside" clothes.... warm pink knit hat, goggles, hot pink snowpants, mittens, heavy hooded sweatshirt (the most important piece of clothing to own when you live here)....

Below.... what she is wearing underneath....



Damn. I love that girl and her fabulous fashion sense.

**Those long underwear are fancy ones from the patagonia outlet and have survived two children....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The great snowman nose heist

It all started innocently enough.... a warm-ish Saturday in December.
And, then, the devious little angels had a thought.....

Ahem.


Oh my.



The nerve!




The co-conspirator.


I kinda feel like this should be an anti-drug campaign... don't do carrot.


The innocent.


Then not-so-innocent.










Monday, December 15, 2008

And, lo, it was a Christmas Miracle...

Suddenly... we have FOUR TV stations.

Oh. My. Goodness.

4. Four. FOUR.

Channel 10. What IS it? They have Smallville and Gossip Girl and reruns of Will & Grace and Sex & the City. Mostly when I check it out it seems to have Cheaters showing.

Channel 12. NBC

Channel 21-1. ABC. This is new. And so exciting.

Channel 21-2. FOX. Wow. New. Lovely.

How did this happen? Who knows. Hot re-scanned for channels (hoping for something new digitally) and found these two. They were on Friday, then out Saturday but back on Sunday night.

Yeah! 2 more channels of crap to gaze at blankly.

Ho-Ho-Ho

Clutter, clutter.... everywhere.

Elle has up a lovely post about enjoying the season. Go read it, I'll wait.

Ok, are you back?

Now you can go read what my darling apartment therapy has to say.

Now... for my thoughts. In an orderly, numbered list. I like to have a plan.

1. The gifts. I keep a running list (in excel, of course) of gift ideas. For me, for family, or just in general. Then, in October or so, I set the budget. The budget, this year, she is slim. Slim and sexy and wearing a little black dress... that's our budget.

2. The cards. This year we are skipping the usual holiday form letter. Just a photo card. From Costco. I ordered it online and bought the stamps there when I picked up the photos. I do the labels on the computer (don't tell Martha... tacky, tacky...) from an (you guessed it) excel spreadsheet.

3. The shopping. I try to shop all year. I follow the budget advice of several frugal websites. I hit cvs the weekend after T-day and got some good stuff for the stockings. I try. I try. My big and brilliant goal is this: Don't go in a store more than once in December. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? (Ok, I confess... there is an exception.... I MUST go to Costco more than once in a month. Must. But I've only been once so far.)

4. The decor. This year we went simple. And we tried to "take down" as much as we "put up" for decorations. The result is a lovely decorated home that doesn't make me want to scream for lack of empty surfaces. Trips to the potty at night are no longer an obstacle course of wooden sleighs and santa-men. It looks great. And my hope is I can take this stuff down after the holidays and NOT PUT BACK anything else. Wish me luck.

5. The packages. I don't mail any gifts. At all. And I've been wrapping & tagging as I go so I'm in pretty good shape. And I have a decent stash of gift bags for Hot's last minute wrapping fest.

6. The food. I make fudge. It is what I do. Everyone gets fudge. It's easy. I also do a little caramel corn. Maybe caramels if I'm feeling crazy... but mostly just fudge. And for pot luck stuff I make spinach salad or shrimp dip. Maybe some fruit dip. But nothing fancy. And I buy Yellowtail Shiraz in the big bottle at Costco for unplanned festivities. What's not to love about that?

7. The parties. Skipped. We each have a work party. Hot's was cancelled due to the extreme cold we are having and mine will be snacks & drinks from 6-8 on Friday. Simple.

8. The inspiration. Every year I save the December issues of whatever glorious decorating magazines I have. Then for the holidays I get them all out of the decorations box and flip through them. It's fun for me. I also collect all of the holiday and winter-themed books we have and put them on the empty shelf on the book case. The kids love reading them before bed.

9. The fun. We sled. A lot. Down the driveway for beginners. Down the big hill for the brave. Behind the 4-wheeler for the adventurous. Even if this year's Christmas Eve HIGH temp is predicted to be a balmy -9F. Yes... the high. (The low? -43F.... PLUS WINDCHILL.) We make snowmen and play fox-n-geese. We make snow forts and snow angels. We eat snow with maple syrup for dessert. We drink a lot of hot chocolate (with real whip cream) and eat a lot of popcorn and fudge. My kids are little so just making a pan of fudge is cause for an all-out celebration. We made a gingerbread house from a kit (clearance from last year) and it was a blast. Kae recommends frosting graham crackers on the outside of a small creamer carton and decorating it. I'm already planning to make mine a gingerbread outhouse.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cartoons

I have the Jane & The Dragon theme song stuck in my head.

What? You don't? Oh. Go here and click the video link to hear it.

Ahhhh. Qubo.... you and your evil song lyrics.

How do you handle cartoons at your house? We follow a classic cartoon methodology that gives away my 70's upbringing.... Saturday mornings are for cartoons. And eating breakfast in the living room. I like waffles. We get two channels so the kids have a choice of the moral-n-nonviolent Qubo offerings or the more violent stuff on Channel 10. They tend to alternate. And by 11:00 they have to be dressed, have the living room tidy (including breakfast dishes in the sink & tv trays wiped off), and be ready to go outside.

Friday nights are movie night at our house. It was the only way we could stop the "let's watch something" begging every night of the week. Now I just ask, "Huh, is it Friday?" and they have to leave me alone. Although we are watching any and every Christmas cartoon and special during the holidays.... I'm not heartless.

Ah... the eternal Homestead quest to cut down on tv viewing.... sigh.


Jane and the Dragon

There once was a lady in waiting
Let's call her Jane.
That girl wasn't ordinary-
No way for me a lady stuck in waiting
I'd rather battle fire-breathing dragons
I knew I could prove that a girl could be a Knight
Though my friends all laughed at me
but...
I wouldn't be discouraged and trained in secret
Then a dragon pinched the Royal Prince
and everyone was freaking
So I went alone to the dragon's home
to slay the dragon
Hey now, hey now now
Jane and the Dragon are best friends now
Dragon's sweet, he let me save the young Prince
Then the King made me a Knight apprentice
Hey now hey now now...
With Dragon's help I'll be a Knight someday
Composed by Martin Kucaj
Lyrics by Arlene Bishop
Published by Cinesymphonies, Nelvana Limited 2005

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hunting Season 2008

Looking out my dining room window (wow... I washed that window not so long ago... can't even tell....) She's on the (covered) porch. She had to climb several steps to get here:



And then I found a scavenger in my compost pile:



Dude- Nice Rack. I've always wanted to say that. Seriously. He's within skillet-chucking range and 'tis the season....




This is actually a different guy (I think... I know there were two) over by "pirate rock." He's just hangin' with the ladies.... Deer in rut are a pretty funny thing to watch.

Watch This, Mama.....

Seriously... how can you not love a dare devil in snow pants??
*Edited to add: Yes, his feet really are that big. These are his hunting boots and they have extra insoles but he's currently wearing SIZE ONE shoes.... the size of your average 10-year-old.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sweet Mama Soup

Caroline-

I have a great, great, great recipe for squash soup... from Better Homes & Gardens. It calls for Sweet Mama squash but I've used other kinds.


2 to 2-1/2 lb. Sweet Mama, butternut, or acorn squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and black pepper
Chopped red and/or green apple

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If using Sweet Mama, use half to three-fourths of the squash. If using butternut or acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Arrange squash, cut sides down, in 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours for Sweet Mama, 45 to 60 minutes for butternut or acorn, or until squash is tender. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Scoop pulp from squash halves. Place cooked pulp in a bowl; mash with a potato masher or fork (you should have about 2 cups pulp).
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan cook onion in hot oil for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in broth, apples, and maple syrup. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until apple is very tender. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in mashed squash.
3. Transfer half the squash mixture to a blender container or one-fourth the squash mixture to a food processor bowl. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Repeat with remaining mixture.
4. Return blended squash mixture to saucepan. Stir in whipping cream (if necessary, add additional broth to make desired consistency); heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with chopped apple. Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Pack-a-Lunch

Money Saving Mom has a post up about brown bagging lunches.

I brown-bag every day. I'm lucky... we have a kitchen with a hotplate & microwave at work so I can even make grilled cheese or soup for lunch. Hot isn't so lucky... he doesn't know where he will be at lunch-time every day. We are trying to break him of his "stop at Bob's" habit. Bob's is a local gas station/convenience store that has lots of pre-made (fairly tasty actually) lunch options. He gets a diet drink, sunflower seeds, a salad & sometimes a newspaper and spends about $10. Which makes my budget gasp and flutter. It can't be avoided sometimes in the summer but in the winter he can pack a lunch.... or so I think.

I'm getting into the idea of bento lunches. I love this site for her quick and clever lunches... and so cute. (Seriously... did you see the hot dog octopus?)

I'm also trying hard to use pyrex bowls with plastic lids for in the microwave. I have several and could, honestly, use a few more... but my tiny kitchen is already a game of tetris to put things away.... one more bowl might tip me over the edge.

Growing up on a farm has made me something of a master of the packed lunch. During harvest we pack a cooler to last all day. Those little playmate ones. Each of us is assigned a different colored cooler and you are responsible for getting it in the house every night so it gets rinsed out and repacked.

Interesting tips for harvest lunches:

1. It is hot so you are never as hungry as you think you will be... even though you are working hard all day.
2. Pack lots of drinks. I don't drink a lot of pop (soda for the rest of you) but I do love an ice-cold root beer during harvest. And a bottle of lemonade frozen solid is a great ice pack.
3. Pack sandwiches veggies separate. Soggy is not fun. But a gorgeously crafted sandwich piled with veggies on a hoagie is a beautiful thing.
4. You can eat sandwiches every day and still have variety. Deli cold-cuts, shaved ham, smoked turkey, shredded bbq beef, ground beef (I need to get this recipe from my mom), roast chicken, egg salad, tuna, cream cheese and veggies. I don't do pbj but my mom loves peanutbutter and banana sandwiches. Heck, you can even eat Spam during harvest.
5. Harvest is the one time a year you can splurge on those single serve packets. Chip varieties. Maybe those little cheese/cracker packs. Gogurt. Individual fruit cups. Mmm.
6. Oreos are ok but homemade cookies are better. We make up cookies ahead of time and freeze them. Last year my sis-in-law brought over a giant assortment of at least 6 different kinds of homemade cookies for the freezer.... yum.
7. Salad is an option. Last year my dad was on a veggie-veggie-veggie kick. I made him the most beautiful salads with homemade vinagrette dressing.
8. It works for kids. I've done hot dogs in a thermos. Usually it is so hot they just want grapes, carrots & chips.... and, sometimes, you have to be ok with that. They eat more at night when we get home and it has cooled off.... just make sure they get enough liquids. And pack hand sanitizer.
9. Everything tastes better with a little dirt and wheat dust on it.
10. Reuse the baggies.
11. Granola bars pack well. Ice cream bars do not pack well. But... if you are dumping in the bins by the house and you are quick you can win a LOT of points with the combine drivers if you bring them a frozen treat once in a while.
12. If all else fails... grab a can of pork-n-beans, some stewed tomatoes and a can opener. There's actually a bit of a bitter story behind this one. One day I packed a beautiful lunch for myself including powdered donuts, an herbed cheese and veggie sandwich on fancy bread, watermelon, veggies with dip... you get the idea.... well, as fate and truck break-downs would have it.... by lunch time I was in dad's truck and he was in mine. He called me on the radio and I could tell his mouth was full. He did mention how good his lunch was and, by that time, I was starving. I was so happy to roll into the field and see all the combines were empty so I had a minute to eat "my" lunch. I opened the cooler and saw a can of pork-n-beans (which I dispise), a diet coke (yuck... and no ice pack even) and a can opener. Lucky me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

SAUSAGE AND APPLE STUFFED ACORN SQUASH RECIPE

This recipe is from the CSA we did this summer. phfarms.com

It is SO GOOD. I made it one Saturday afternoon this fall with a package of deer sausage. I just emailed it to my mom and she is making it today. We will see how she likes it. My husband -meat-n-taters guy that he is- took one look at the recipe and said, "I won't eat it." So I had to inform him I wasn't making it for HIM. Then he wanted just one bite and ended up eating half a squash-worth.


SAUSAGE AND APPLE STUFFED ACORN SQUASH RECIPE
#146036 recipezaar.com 1¾ hours 20 min prep SERVES 2

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 lb pork sausage (regular seasoning)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
2 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped (macintosh)
1/2 cup fine breadcrumb
1/4 teaspoon sage
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Combine the melted butter, garlic salt and 1/8 teaspoons sage; brush over cut sides and cavity of squash. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a large roasting pan, cut side up, at 400 degrees F for 30 - 40 minutes, until squash is tender yet still holds its shape.

Meanwhile make stuffing: Fry pork sausage until light brown. Remove pork to a colander to drain. Drain all but 2 tablespoons drippings from fry pan. Add onion, celery and mushroom; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in apple and sauté 2 more minutes. Combine the pork, vegetables, and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Taste and season with sage, salt or pepper if needed (depending on your sausage you may not want to add more seasoning). Stir in the egg and parsley. Fill the squash halves with stuffing-they should be slightly mounded. Return to oven and bake, covered, for 20 more minutes, until the egg is set. Garnish as desired with parsley and shredded romano cheese.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Things my son said this week....

"Mmmm mama, you smell like swimming trunks." (True, true... I was cleaning every surface with disinfecting wipes after Tuff's weekend-o-vomit last weekend.)

"Hey grandma... I didn't touch my weiner and I didn't touch the toilet seat, so I don't have to wash my hands." (That sounds like a daddy rule, doesn't it?)

"Mom, I can't draw a heart... can I draw a trapezoid instead?" (Um... sure.... I'm sure the trapezoid it the universal sign of affection somewhere.....)

"Hey, mama, where did that one bag that was in your bedroom go? You know... the one with the presents in it?" (Hah! Sucker. I hid it.)

"Hey mom.... watch this." (This will be replaced in his early 20's with.... Ya'll hold my beer and watch this.... this time it involved riding down the hill and launching himself off the manure pile on his bike....)

"Hey mom... I like riding my bike in my snow pants.... it doesn't hurt at all when I tip over."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spaghetti with white clam sauce

from my mother-in-law....

1 pkg (7 oz.) spaghetti
¼ C. marg. Or butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 Tblsp. Chopped fresh parsley
2 cans (6.5 oz) minced clams undrained
Chopped fresh parsley
½ C. grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti as directed
2. While spag. is cooking, melt marg. In 1 ½ qt. Sauce pan over med. Heat. Cook garlic in margarine about 3 min, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Stir in 2 Tblsp. parsley and add the clams. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to lower temp and simmer uncovered 3-5 min.
3. Drain spaghetti; pour sauce over spaghetti. Toss. Sprinkle with parsley and cheese.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's like a celebrity sighting

THE CROCK POT LADY WAS HERE.



How did she do that? How did she know? And do you think I hurt her feelings by questioning her sanity in presenting a yogurt-in-the-pot recipe?

Cook Dinner for Elle

Elle wants recipes. Easy, fast, tasty ones.

I'd post some but most of mine came from her.... so that doesn't really help, does it?

Princess

File this under things the pre-kid me thought I'd never do:

Put princess stickers on a little girl's shoes.

Tuff is very sad. Her brother -who has Wile E Coyote feet- got new tennis shoes this week. And they have Transformers, lights AND velcro. Meanwhile she's stuck with a pair of hand-me-down white Nikes with a pink swoosh and, gasp, laces.

This weekend Sweet soaked his spidey shoes (ahh.... remember the days when I swore I wouldn't raise licensed-characted obsessed children? So young and so adorable was I....) and I discovered he had no backups. Oops. Couple that with the fact he learned to ride a 2-wheeler and he uses his feet for brakes and, well, the kid needed shoes.

The spidey-shoes came from Target on clearance for less than $7.... so I'm assuming similar replacements can be found. Alas.... no.

I looked at Target, Shopko & Ross. Nothing. So I sent Hot shopping. He went to Famous Footwear and, for WAY more than I'd spend on a pair of shoes that will be trashed in 3 months, he outfitted our son. (You know the rule to a happy marriage... if you want them to do something then you can't criticize how they do it. Right?)

Sweet was in heaven and practiced running very fast in his new SIZE ONE** shoes. Tuff was pissed.... Now every time we go somewhere she says, hopefully, "Target? Pincess soesh?"

Which brings us to this morning's sticker antics.

I called Hot to tell him and he laughed out loud for about 30 seconds. She's such a.... personality.

So Santa might start looking around for some Tinkerbell sneakers..... because, really, it's all about making sure my Precious Baby is happy.....

**Size One? Size One? He's FOUR YEARS OLD. Size One. I know ELEVEN year olds who don't wear a size one. He really is built like Wile E Coyote.

Monday, November 10, 2008

tidbits

SarahP made me laugh out loud with her comment about heart & liver as spare dog food. I will eat elk heart. I won't eat the liver of any animal.... sorry, I worked on a liverfluke research project and I just can't do it.

Caroline asked about doing black beans for the freezer. I just do what the crockpot lady tells me to do to make beans and they turn out ok. I'd like to try her refried bean recipe but haven't gotten around to it. She also mentioned what to do if the power goes out for days? I'd call my dad and ask him to bring the generator down. But, seriously, we would pack a bunch of quilts in the freezer for extra insulation and cross our fingers. Those chest freezers will stay really cold for a long time if you don't open them.

Also... I've been thinking about trying her "crockpot yogurt" recipe. At first, it sounded a little, well, crack pot to me... but I might like it. I do love vanilla yogurt.

And this crayon thing.... I've been dreaming about it. Actually about doing it in a flat pan and cutting out cookie-cutter crayons while it is still warm. How cute would it be if I owned a set of little tiny alphabet cookie cutters?? (I don't... but I've seen them.)

And, OMG, in looking for the crayon link I found PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES. How good does that sound??? Vats and vats of it.

Caroline also asked about painting supplies in the freezer. To this I say WHAT? You DON'T have paint brushes in the freezer? Then you are much more on-the-ball and into completing projects than I am.... When I need to stop a painting project before I'm done, I wrap brushes in plastic wrap or an old Target bag and toss them in the freezer instead of cleaning them. Let them thaw a little and you are good to go.

My best example of this was staining the deck & wrap around porch the summer Tuff was born. As far as projects go it wasn't bad.... mostly flat surface and minimal prep work. But staining with a two-year-old and a newborn? Oh my. So I worked mostly during nap times over the course of several weeks. Got it done.

Wanna list of current "paint projects" in my freezer?

1. White exterior primer brush. For painting the porch posts & windows.... I was going great guns but then I hit the south side of the house... where the "weather" happens.... and much scraping and sanding is required.... I lost my motivation.
2. Pale green (peaceful jade) interior brush. Painted Tuff's room... still need to finish the ceiling edging... also planning to paint some of the living room this color.
3. Palladian blue interior brush. If I ever get the ceilings painted I will need this brush to touch up where I mess up in the laundry room.
4. Lady finger interior roller. I started the dining room & kitchen... and I have the paint..... and I want this to be the "base" color for the whole house....
6. Ivory tusk interior roller. The laundry room cabinets.... I just need to touch them up where they got dinged when we installed them.... but I can't seem to get around to it.

Who else lives in an ongoing to-do list of paint projects???

Friday, November 07, 2008

Men have Body Dismorphic Issues Too

Amen to this article.

My hubby is an, um, attentive lover..... meaning, um, how do I say this and keep things rated PG around here? He's, uh, good. Real good. Yeah... let's just say there are more reasons than just his job that make me call him "Hot" ok??

But he doesn't know it.

And now I know why.

Vintage is the only word for it

Vintage.

That's the quality of stuff I'm finding in my freezer. And that's my next de-cluttering challenge to you. Freezer diving.

Let me back up.

Traditionally, October is the month to clean the chest freezer in the garage in prep of hunting season. Except our freezer is pretty good sized so last year I didn't really NEED to clean it to put a deer AND an elk in there. Plus, of course, some random chunks of beef.

But then I decided I couldn't stand the mess in the fridge freezer so I emptied the whole thing into the garage freezer.

And it was full.

So I started, bit by bit, feeding everything in it to my family.

Here's an inventory of what I've excavated so far... and still digging:

1. A turkey. Ten pounder. Yummy. See below.
2. A lot of frozen juice in random flavors. Apparently I got a flat of it at Costco. Damn you Costco. And damn me for my amateur impulse shopping ways. But it all mixed up ok and, although I'm not normally a huge juice drinker it has been fun.
3. Frozen fruit. Lots of it. A giant block of frozen goodness from, you guessed it, Costco and random assorted plastic containers and bags of peaches, grapes, melon & bananas that I froze at the last second before they went bad. Smoothies. Yummy, yummy smoothies.
4. Paint brushes and rollers. These were not fed to the children. But I did toss the ones that match up with paint projects long done... and I promise to get motivated to finish the ones that are still in there.
5. A whole box of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
6. Tons of homemade soup in bags for work lunches. Bringing them into the house freezer a few at a time and eating them.
7. Ice packs. And more ice packs. And more ice packs.
8. Butter & Bacon. But not in large quantities.
9. Chocolate. Purchased post-holiday and stashed. I figure it counts as a workout if I have to hike all the way to the back of the shop to get a chocolate fix. Right?
10. Vegetables. Lots of garden veggies. My mom apparently processed, packaged & froze a whole lotta stuff while I was groggily wandering around the house after sinus surgery in September. Gotta love that. Beets, beans, corn. Cute little baggies of frozen corn all ready to go in the microwave and eat. It does explain where these photos came from.
11. Beef. But not as much as I thought. A few packages of hamburger, some steaks and a roast. I think I'll cook the roast this weekend after I make soup.
12. Elk. Only one yummy package of salami left. Mostly burger but still some rounds and loins so we are working on those. It's so funny... all year long I'm a little miserly about eating it and then in October and November we have a marathon of meat.
13. Deer sausage. Two precious packages. This stuff makes the most incredible stuffed squash. And anything else you can think of. Love it. And it is a totally impressive thing to fix for people who claim they don't like venison.
14. Antelope and goat steaks.... 2 packages..... how the HELL did these sneak into my freezer? Ew. Ew. Ew. Uck.
15. Chicken Nuggets.
16. Chicken & Veggie Dumplings. I love these. I buy them at Costco when I have a coupon and we eat them with noodles instead of ordering Chinese food.... a weak but acceptable substitution.
17. Apple Juice.
18. Popcorn Chicken. Hot accidentally got this..... I love it but it costs too much to be a part of our regular diet. I promise you this package won't last long.
19. Beans. Frozen, cooked black beans.... better than canned and cheaper as well. I just learned how to do this.
20. Flour. Where do YOU store that giant Costco bag of flour? I put it in one of those over-sized ziplock things and throw it in the freezer.
21. Frozen milk cartons of water. To take up space and make the freezer more efficient.... they would also be our water supply if the power went out for a few days. When I first did this I put a giant plastic tub in the bottom of the freezer and filled it with water. Wow, was that a learning experience. DON'T DO IT.
22. Bread. I rotate sandwich bread & mini bagels pretty well but there are some very aged hamburger buns in there.... those gotta go.
23. Coffee. Only one extra bag of whole beans. Not bad.

That's it. That's what I've found so far. How about you?

Ask Elle

Elle has a brilliant new system for handling the dinner dilemma... and some great recipes to go with it. So go hassle her to post it. You'll love it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Turkey Lurkey

There are several unfortunate stories out there involving my sister and turkeys. Not the guys she's dated but the actual animal... usual frozen & in a bag.

The big family secret is.... I'VE NEVER COOKED A TURKEY.

Until Now.

I didn't work on Tuesday and I've been trying to empty the freezer in the garage in hopes of filling it with elk soon. Well, in the bottom, I found a turkey. How old? Who knows. This is just another argument for an upright freezer.... even if they aren't as energy efficient.

So Tuesday afternoon I was basting bird. I had it all planned to be ready at 6 but the damn button wouldn't pop. I shoved a meat thermometer in places I'd rather not talk about and the temp was well into the safe zone everywhere I poked it.... so I think the button was wonky. It finally did pop... with a little, ahem, help.

So the turkey was delicious. The potatoes had too much water in them so they were a little gluey but still quite tasty. Stove Top... how can you go wrong with stove top stuffing? I made fresh rolls and they were delightful. The gravy was way too salty. My kids shoveled food into their faces until I thought they would pop. Hot has lunches for the rest of the week. And I'm planning a giant batch of turkey soup for the weekend.

We Had A Play Date

So I'm raising my kids to be geeky and socially awkward.... just like me.

My son is 4 and has had exactly ONE drop-off playdate. His bestest daycare buddy started kindergarten this year. I took Sweet to her house on a Friday evening and they ordered pizza and played in her back yard for about 2 hours. Tuff & I ran errands and stopped at the park for a quick swing.

So last Friday was Halloween and we met up with Kae, Princess & Flower after a quick trick-r-treat of the downtown walking mall businesses. Where did we meet? A bar, of course. Blackfoot's new "Church of Beer" to be specific. The place was packed and our 4 soon joined a hoard of other costumed pee-wees staring through the glass windows overlooking the brewing area. What was so fascinating? The beer making process or the gorilla masks? We don't know.

Kae & I made big plans. Let's have a playdate on Tuesday. So we did it. We spent several hours and even mooched lunch. The kids couldn't wait to go. Tuff gets all bright eyed and happy and says, "Swing set???" in that hopeful little girl voice. Sweet wants to bring all of his transformers.

They played well. Princess was "Sleeping Beauty" and Sweet was "all the boy parts... the prince & the dragon & stuff." Tuff taught Flower how to jump off the couch and Sweet showed Princess how to monkey completely around the room couch-to-couch-to-chair without touching the ground. Sorry 'bout that.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dinner has fallen off the Wagon

So I know you are all wondering how meal planning is going this week.... hah. Not well.

Saturday I made squash soup & faker eggplant parmesian & baked beets.... so I have great lunches for this week but....

I was out-of-town for work on Sunday and Monday.... so Monday night ended up being a "Daddy Special" evening.... pasta & white sauce from a jar with chicken nuggets & corn. Tuesday was only marginally better.... grilled cheese & bacon sandwiches.....

Elle called me while I was cooking to ask me how to make a volcano in the toilet* and she said, "Holy heart attack on a plate." She had French dips that night... need that recipe.

Wednesday I had big plans but had to work late so it was a Daddy night again.... Hamburger Helper. Note to self: Get more HH & egg noodles for emergencies.

Now it is Thursday and I don't have a plan at all. I think it will be refried beans & cheese on torts for everyone.... and maybe pancakes tomorrow night and a hope that I get it together for next week!

*Baking soda & vinegar.... what? How do YOU clean your toilet?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I do love me some Apartment Therapy

I will admit I don't actually KNOW anyone who LIVES in an APARTMENT but....

Has anyone done apartment therapy's "The Cure" before? Anyone want to commit to doing it when they run it in the spring? I think you have to buy the book but it looks kinda fun in a this-will-be-less-painful-when-it-is-over kind of way. I know "they" will all make fun of me and my house but I'm ok with that... as long as I get a few things accomplished.

Ok... I'll admit.... I saw "The Landing Strip" and thought I was going to have to get out lather or tweezers but I'm off the porno page and onto the decor page now.

And ya'll KNOW my house needs HALP.... actually, do you think I could get Maxwell to just adopt me as a pet project?

Ah, the challenges of a "wanna-be-modern-retro" girl combining life forces with a "hunter" guy.

I mean.... I can look at the "European" mount elk skull as appealing in a Georgia O'Keeffe sort of way.... nice shape and contrast with the wall.... but there are some things I just can't overlook.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dinner: Weekend Edition

Sunday I made beans… I love beans. Cheap, easy…. What’s not to love?? Now, this would be an excellent weeknight meal EXCEPT… my slow cooker is HOT. Really hot. And I’m afraid it will boil dry if I leave it on all day…. Even on low. So we made them on Sunday.

There are a lot of methods to making beans and I rarely use the same one twice.

I don’t usually bother to soak my beans overnight. These were pintos from my aunt’s farm…. But they are old so I wasn’t sure how they would cook up… turns out they were fine.

First, rinse the beans well. Gritty beans are not good. You can quote me on that. Toss ‘em in the slow cooker with lots of water and let ‘er rip… hee-hee. I threw in a chopped up onion and a couple of chopped jalapeno peppers as well. Near the end I tossed in a couple strips of cooked bacon to entice the wee ones to eat the beans… my kids love bacon… like little treasures in the bean field.

Then I got crazy and made corn bread in my cast iron skillet. I have no perfect recipe… I just use what is on the back of the corn bread bag…. Usually turns out ok.

We also made tortillas. Super easy especially when you have a rolling pin master like Hot at the wheel… my tortillas tend to be the fluffy thick kind… his are thin and more traditional…. He has more patience.

So we piled on cheese, beans, sour cream & homemade green tomatillo salsa and had dinner as a family. Oh… that reminds me to give you the tomatillo salsa recipe…. It is from here and works really well with my handy dandy new stick blender. We eat it on everything…. Tuff will eat it with a spoon if you let her…. And, of course, I let her….

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mission Next

Ok, so we did socks.... and it was a bit of a disappointment for me.... my sock drawer was fairly tame... I did trash a couple pairs of formerly-black trouser socks and add those to the list of things I want for Christmas.....

Let's finish up with unmentionables, shall we?

I have one big drawer in a two drawer dresser that is all about socks, undies & bras. Socks on the right side, bras on the left and undies (in a box) in the middle.
I realized something a few months after Tuff was born.... my panties were in sad shape, and, bonus, breast feeding meant I wouldn't be, ahem, potentially messing them up monthly... if you know what I mean..... So I did a major panty-raid then... but that's been years ago... let's see what we can get rid of today, shall we?

So after Tuff was born I hit a great 10 for 25 sale at Vickie's Secret and restocked. Yes, 10 for 25. Who-hoo. Then I tossed all those stretched out undies that served me so well during pregnancy and the messy weeks after. Today I only got rid of 4 pairs.... one worn out, two uncomfortable and one ugly.

I prefer a combo of thong, bikini & boy short panties... not all at once, of course. Is that too much information? And I really like the thin jockey boy-cuts at Macy's... but I only have one pair and they were a freebie giveaway this spring.

Here's a view of a selection of my (clean) undies:



I'm not wearing any of those panties today. Darn, I love that little girl. And she's so good at dressing herself!

And then there are bras. I have two I wear for work on a regular basis and two that are backups and uncomfortable as hell but will do in a pinch... I should replace those. I usually wear some sort of workout tank with a build in bra on weekends. I also have a fake-Spanx tank top and two slips in my panty drawer.

So, yes, I have two functional bras... what of it? How many of the many, many bras in your drawer do you actual wear regularly? Oh.

Ok, in the name of full disclosure..... I also have a plastic box in the closet with some "special" unmentionables... when I am 96 and die my kids will howl when they clean THAT box out. But, while the kids are little, those sweetie little things really only see the light of day for holidays... like Valentine's and birthdays and Christmas Eve. And I just heard both my brother and my father fall over dead. Sorry guys.

It's much easier to report the unmentionables of Hot Stuff.... he doesn't wear any. Unless he's on a fire... then it is one added layer of protection before he burns the boys. Uh, and he likes boxer briefs... I've tried getting him the dark colored ones to hide the soot but I never get the right kind so he's on his own now. And I just heard my husband fall over dead.

Sweet wears mostly tighty-whiteys with super heros on them... although he has started showing a preference for the boxer-briefs..... He hasn't outgrown his undies as fast as the rest of his clothes so he actually has some that fit... there were a few days in there when he was "out" of size 2-3 but I hadn't shopped for bigger that were, um, a little soprano around our house.

Tuff likes pink panties. And she really likes them to have princesses on them or tinkerbell... I do what I can. And pink pullups for bed time. Not diapers. Not leftover spiderman pullups from her brother. Pink. Pullup. Ah... two. And I confess we just got a stash of hand-me-down princess panties from her cousin and I have no problem letting her wear them. Is that bad parenting?

Ok, go to your undie drawer. Release the worn, the frayed, the uncomfortable and the ugly. Go.

Socks

So Elle is back at her de-cluttering mission. We discussed it last week and decided she’d pick the first topic and she went for…. Socks.

This is funny to me since most of the athletic socks I own she gave me…. I just have a hard time finding good socks so when I see her wearing some I like I tell her… and then she buys them for me… it works.

So… socks.

I have a good stash of athletic socks… my favorites being low-cut ones that have some clever designs on them… from Sam’s Club or Costco I think…. Have to ask Elle. I trashed a bunch of them last January in the great closet clean out and I hate to sound hokey but I feel so light and free now.

I confess a love of Smart Wool…. For work and play. Pricey but oh-so-worth it. I tend to wear jeans and black tops in the winter and nothing says fun like a pair of striped smart wools peeking out over my Dansko’s. Plus, it entertains me during the legislative session. I also have on hand several pairs of thin, plain black trouser socks… and two pairs in a slightly dressier finish that I can wear with my heeled, closed-toed mules on days I need to power dress. Oh… I also have a pair of those toes-only socks to wear with above mentioned mules for summer power dressing.

I also confess to being a seasonal sock person. I have a pair of Valentine’s Day socks & a pair of Easter socks and 3 pairs of Christmas socks…. All tasteful… I assure you.

I think that covers my sock collection. I didn’t count but if Elle wants a tally I would say I have 8 pairs of athletic socks, 3 pairs of SW hiking socks, probably a dozen or more pairs of dress socks, 5 pairs of seasonal socks and two pairs of ski socks. I also have 2 pairs of heavy-weight black tights and one pair of really cool grey textured tights. And I’m wearing a pair of smart wool socks in an autumn stripe today.

Have you ever noticed when you are in a meeting and people are seated you really notice their socks… especially if the seating is theater-style. I have an idol and he always has on the nicest and blackest socks I’ve ever seen…. He also wears very nice suits and always has a fine pen in his pocket and a soft-spoken way that inspires confidence and awe…. But it all starts with the socks.

My sweet hubby wears Smart Wool…. And he prefers the over-the-calf heavy-weight ones…. At $22 each. Indeed… the value of his sock drawer is more than my computer. But he knows what he likes and there is a value in that, right? He also has a random selection of white crew athletic socks that are replaced on a regular basis because life is too short to wear threadbare socks.

Sweet is hard on socks. Wow. His socks are purchased in 3 or 6 packs from Ross. Shorties for summer and crew for winter. 2 pairs of Smart Wool for sledding.
I don’t like Hanes…. They don’t fit right and don’t stay up on him. I do like Puma. And whatever the ones he has now…. I just got new ones and tossed all the grungy ones from this summer…. WHERE did he learn to go out on the porch in his socks? Oh.

He does have a couple pairs with spiderman on them…. Cute, but I’m not paying extra for them… I think they are from the dollar store.

Tuff loves socks. Pink socks. Her two favorites are hot pink ones with frogs on the side and pink/white striped ones with kitties on them. She also has a few pairs with ruffly edges and some with fire engines. I just got her a 6-pack of plain white bobby socks… not the cutest thing ever but they sure are easy in the morning.

And tights. Tuff just discovered tights. Thanks to a very generous hand-me-down bag she has lots of cutie-pie Children’s Place tights.

And a note on baby socks. Put them in a lingerie bag in the wash…. They won’t go down the drain, they are easy to sort & match and you won’t have an embarrassing situation involving a baby sock static-clinging to an awkward place inside your clothing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More bread recipes

Ok. I love my basic bread dough recipe. But check out this one from Mommymommyland.

I love that girl.... and I'm making more bread tonight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's Cooking???

So I have this theory. I have this theory that if I make up a list of 10-15 weeknight meals for each season then I will have less anxiety when, on occasion, my kids eat hot dogs & nuggets & mac-n-cheese for dinner.... with no veggies.

So that's how it started.

Then I enlisted the help of my sister and my brother.

My brother was very little help. When I asked him to list his 5 favorite meals he said, "spaghetti, tacos, pizza, leftover spaghetti, anything my boss is buying...."

My sister, however, is becoming Doris Domestic and she had lots of great ideas.

My plan is to make these things fit into my grocery budget, include leftovers for work lunches and make "two-fers" as often as possible.

So, here, I present the first of our Fall Season menus.

Day 1: Porcupine Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes.

My mom makes porcupine meatballs all the time... turns out she makes them in the pressure cooker. I needed the pressure cooker for the potatoes (and my sister, gasp, doesn't OWN a pressure cooker) so, if you want a recipe, google it.

My recipe is, basically, this:
2 lbs burger (I used elk)
one packet onion soup mix (seasoning base for all redneck meals)
some water
2/3 c rice, uncooked

Make meatballs and brown them in an electric skillet. Then add 2 15oz cans of tomato sauce, maybe some Italian seasoning, more water (a cup or two??) and simmer for a while. 40 minutes maybe?

Scrub some potatoes, cut up and put in pressure cooker with water. Bring to shht-shht and cook for 6-7 minutes. Cool and drain. Mash with handy-dandy stick blender, milk, salt & pepper. If you want to get fancy add some cream cheese or that seasoned cheese.... I rarely get fancy.

Serve with veggie of choice from the freezer or call the tomato sauce a veggie.

Ok, I got a little fancy and made homemade rolls for day 2. I make the dough in the breadmaker and then cook the rolls in the oven.

1 c warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 egg
4 TBS butter
4 TBS dry milk
4 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
4 c flour

Day 2: Meatball Sandwiches

Rolls. Reheated meat balls. Mozzarella cheese slices (from last weekend's faker eggplant Parmesan and tomorrow night's homemade pizza.)

Broil until warm and bubbly. Serve with a side of veggies (corn for the kids, leftover squash for me) and apple slices. My kids were not crazy about the sandwiches so next time I think I'd take some of the leftovers for lunch and let them have warm chicken nugget sandwiches...what? We're about simple.

Note: My sister made the meatballs the night before I did and used beef and they were good. But our burger is pretty lean... you might have to drain off the fat after you brown the meatballs if you use normal burger.

Tonight's menu is chicken tender salads.... I have some greens I need to use up. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

So I was reading Oprah the other day.....

So I was reading Oprah the other day..... and there was a big article about pink stuff for cancer... ice cream scoops and nail polish and whatnot (I love saying "whatnot" because it makes my urban friends cringe.... they also don't like "jiffy" for some reason....).



So I'm thinkin'....



WHY can't they do a set of markers in shades of pink?



Do you hear me Oprah?



I'd buy 15 sets for all the little princess-obsessed rugrats in my life.... it is a sure fire money maker.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Corn Huskers

Every moment is a teaching moment. (That's what my mom says... here she is in action.)









We love mud


Monday, October 06, 2008

Trash Day

Caroline commented on the last post about budgeting garbage.

Love it.

We have to haul our garbage to town to the "transfer station." I think we could have curbside but I don't want to pay for it and I would have to haul in the recycling anyway.

We keep three big plastic garbage cans in the garage. Ew, I know. But in the fall the bears get in them if they aren't in the garage. I have no idea how often we go to the dump... twice a month? Every three weeks?

So Hot worked all of August. 100 hour weeks... no, not 100 hour pay periods... 100 hour weeks. This is fantastic for our budget but it gets a little old for the day-to-day household things. For example, Sweet doesn't like to go to bed without daddy-books.... Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love You... complete with charade-like action are their favorites. Nothing cuter than a 2-year-old plopping her fuzzy-jammie clad self on the couch and declaring, "I wait." when told Daddy isn't going to be home for bedtime....

So the kids and I figured out a new dump-plan.... I condensed the garbage into bags, piled them in the back of the Subie, grabbed the kids & the dump pass... and dropped it all off on the way to daycare in the mornings. I saved a trip to town on the weekend AND driving the gas-hog-air-conditioning-is-out pickup AND avoided the weekend crowds. All while taking care of my main goal which was making sure Hot didn't feel like he was dropping the ball on household stuff because of fires. I don't think he had a clue we were being all yuppie-hippie taking the Subaru to the dump until he saw the dump pass in the visor.... and then he was slightly horrified but mostly impressed.... I could tell....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's Get Cheap.

Ok, so over at moneycentral they are taking about 8 extreme ways to save money.

My question is... who DOESN'T reuse sandwich bags? Seriously? Those things are pricey.... for a few crumbs you toss them? Really?

The rest of the list, besides the reusing sandwich bags:

Turn your car off -- while it's moving. Ok, well, I don't do that... but I do make it a game to see how long I can go down the pass without stepping on the gas or the brake.

Stop saving money. I'm pleased to report we don't have to do this one... at least not yet.

Make your own cleaning supplies. We do this. It works just fine... it is cheap and enviro. I do miss softscrub. And I do confess to not giving up bleach... I've tried. I can't do it. Not yet. My sister swears by the greenworks toilet cleaner... she says it works so well she seriously doubts it is actually "green" at all. I don't use toilet cleaner because sometimes the dog drinks out of the toilet (sorry, tmi, I know) but I do sometimes give in and bleach it.... she's so lucky her dogs are too short to drink out of the toilet....

Stop drinking soda. I don't drink soda or "pop" very often. But try to pry a diet, caffeine free pepsi out of my husband's hand... go ahead. The compromise it buying it on sale at CVS with ECB's.

Move back home with your parents, at any age. Ha. Ha. Ha. If they saw us coming they'd lock the doors... if they had locks on their doors.

Get rid of your carpet. Trying. Can't talk Hot into it. But trying.

Hold a no-spend month. This is a clever idea. Maybe a winner for January when we are recovering from the holidays.

Anybody else? Clever ideas?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pink is my favorite color.

Crayola makes a multicultural pack of markers with various shades of tan.

Why don't they make a multipinkeral pack? With various shades of pink? With what is going on at our house this makes perfect sense to me. Because Tuff is suddenly obsessed with pink and princesses. All the pink markers we own are dang near used up....

What is it with little girls and pink? It has to be the hormones her brain is stewing in because it certainly isn't anything I've done. I don't even really like pink. Her room is decorated in retro cowgirl & raggety ann.... she doesn't even have pink sheets....

She got a Disney princess word book for her first birthday which I promptly stashed in the back of the book baskets and out of rotation. She has no barbies. She had no character-princess stuff and, still, she figured it out. She now has princess and tinkerbell jammies, princess stickers and she found the princess word book and sleeps with it every night.

She's asking for pink princess panties.

What's a mom to do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

These Days.

So what do you do when you have sinus surgery and get your tonsils out?? To document.

Well... you watch a lot of movies.
And you read some magazines.
And you organize little bits of things in your life like the drawer with the random bits of ribbon and sewing supplies.
And your husband gets mad at you for "doing to much."
And you nap.
And you eat soup and refried beans and ice cream.
And you super-glue all the little broken things in the "to do" drawer.
And you sit on the porch in the rocker and drink smoothies.
And then you nap again.

I can't tell you all the movies I've watched or half-watched in the last 3 weeks.... The Princess Bride, Billy Elliot, Transformers, Girl Interrupted, Juno, Hero Wanted, The Take, The Little Mermaid, The Great Debators, PS I Love You, Bob the Builder, Red Wall, 300, The first two Bourne movies, GI Jane, Blazing Saddles....

For the first two weeks I wasn't supposed to bend over and lift things. Which is really great when you are trying to put a 2-year-old on time-out..... "Come here and climb on this stool so I can pick you up and put you in your room until you can be nice." It just doesn't work so well.

I'm rinsing my nose with Wilson's solution.... which is saline & gentamicin as far as I can tell..... it reminds me of the horse meds my dad kept in the orange cupboard in the basement when I was a kid.... same smell.

The best foods are Bear Creek creamy potato soup and refried beans with melted cheese & sour cream. Also the green "super food" juice from Odwalla (sp?) is wonderful and sweet. Smoothies are a good thing.... although the first few days citrus and anything acidic (like tomato soup) was not good. Milkshakes. Pudding. The portabella soup I got was horrible. The all-you-can-eat soup bar at Jaker's is wonderful.... we hit that for lunch after my second doc appt to get the "upper packs" taken out and I even managed to gum one of their honey scones enough to make it work for me. It's funny because we don't have Jaker's but it seems to be our post-surgery-of-choice place to eat.... we went there after Hot Stuff's cataract surgery and appointments all the time in another town (GF) and now we go there after mine im MS. Funny.

I am eating pretty much what I want now although it will be another week or so (according to the doc) before I'm ready for nachos. Popcorn and carbonated beverages are the other big no-no's right now. I also accidentally ordered some balsamic vinagrette and it was really heavy on the vinager and it hurt.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Where I been.

So I had sinus surgery. And my tonsils out. And I was doing really well and healing quickly.... as I expected to do. Then my kids got colds. And I was very careful to wash my hands and not get too intimate with their bodily fluids. But I caught my daughter blowing bubbles in my water glass. The girl has an obsession with straws. And then I got the cold. And that sucks. The end.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Harvest Crew

A friend commented on the fact that we go home to help with harvest. A lot of families don't do that.... heck, some even hire help. Well.... it isn't like I learned this whole "cheapskate" thing on my own, is it?

And it takes a lot of pressure off when you realize they are getting exactly what they pay for....

So here's the crew, part-timers listed first:

My Brother & Sis-in-Law. SIL drove combine which just reinforces my belief they are the favorites..... because nothing says "I Love You" like air-conditioning. Also, ps, her cookies rocked.... I take back all that brown-noser comment I said. Brother spent most of his time in the shop fixing things, running the plasma cutter, and bathing in diesel. "I need 2 inches added to my ding-a-ling" was a request honored.

My Sister. Truck Driver. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.

My Cousins. My cousin drove some truck, her husband drove a combine. Their kids ate their own weight in wheat and supervised. They were also responsible for most of the grocery shopping because they had to go back-and-forth a couple of times a week to check their horses at home.

My Uncle. Combine Driver. Often seen leaving the harvest field as clean as he arrived.... unless something breaks.

My Aunt. Grain Cart Operator. She drives the Cat tractor and runs the grain cart. This also makes her the field boss. It also means she's in charge of tracking the grain yield.... I think she will be asking for a laptop in the tractor next year... and not just for playing solitaire.

My Mom. Truck Driver. She likes the orange truck because it is easier to shift. Also, she bought a new hat and a new lunch cooler for next summer.

My Dad. Gofer. His job is to fix things as they break. He's the busiest guy in the field. He is also in charge of moving the auger from bin to bin because, trust me, you DO NOT want to see what happens when I try to move it.

My Grandpa. Grandpa races around a lot and complains because we all move to slow. Mostly we only move enough to get out of his way. He's a 1922 model and we are trying to get him to slow down but, well, he's stubborn.

My Grandma. You know Grandma is the one who taught me how to drive my first year in the field..... in Old Yeller. Grandma just watches over us now but, seriously, I think she protects us all from Grandpa.... it's the only explanation. I miss her often but I miss her most at harvest. I miss swinging by her house between trips to the field for push-ups (raspberry please), frozen lemonade and trashy paperbacks. I miss helping her take lunch to the field.... packed in boxes wrapped with those ugly orange & green terry tableclothes that came out every summer. I miss watering her driveway to try to cut down the dust and I miss hearing her on the radio, "99 Base, this is Mother Hen.... you guys ready to eat??"

So there you have it.... Crew 2008.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We call her Tinklebell

Let's pause in the picture frenzy for a very funny story about my mom.

First, this is my mom:

Here's the background to the story that you need to know to see it as funny: See behind mom in the picture? That's the hopper on the truck and it is dumping into the hopper on the auger. The blue thing is the auger. It runs on hydraulics from the tractor to make the wheat go up into the bin. Get it? Ok, so the auger has a hopper-walker. The hopper-walker is this nifty electronic deal that walks the hopper out. So it works like this:

You pull up next to the auger with your big, big truck and jump out and use the hopper-walker to walk the hopper under your truck's dumpy thingy (technical term, stay with me) and start the auger, well, augging (more on that danger later). Then you "let 'er rip, tater chip." (So, that means you open up the truck hopper and wheat dumps into the auger hopper and gets auggered up into the bin.) Got it?

It's all pretty sweet and will be sweeter when I figure out how to download a cool song to program into the hopper-walker... right now it just goes "beep, beep" while it walks out.


Ok, more background. This story isn't very funny so far, is it? The hopper-walker is operated by a toggle switch (I would say the toggle switch is operated by a dipstick but that would be rude and insulting) and runs off the battery of the tractor (for those of you with a tech or farming background... this means it can operate when the tractor is not running).




So you can use this switch or the keychain remote. Yes. A remote. The idea is you can get in the truck, start it, move it so the box isn't in the way of the hopper's path and move it with the remote so you don't have to get out of the truck again. Sweet, huh?

So mom has a remote. In her pocket. And she has to pee. What? How can I be delicate about that? It happens. It's all the gatorade. Remember, first, that the bins are in the middle of town. Ok, now remember town looks like this:

And that is why you can squat-n-pee in the middle of town. Which is what mom did, one fine summer day. With the remote in her pocket. Do you see where this is going? SHE. ACTIVATED. THE. REMOTE. And walked the auger out from under the truck while it was dumping.

How funny is that?

And, more importantly, how big a pile of wheat can you dump on the ground in the time it takes to tinkle and pull up your Wranglers?

About 10 feet in diameter apparently.

Truck Driver. This is Your Job.





Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That's a big friggin steering unit



Sis again

She said to just label this one, "Harvest 2008"


G-Grandpa's Truck

Great-Grandpa's Truck, the Jimmy, has over a million miles on it. Great-Grandpa (my grandpa) has about a million on him as well. He's a 1922 model.

Slug, the orange fuel pickup, has no brakes.... ask me how I know this.....

Check out the skyline.... that is Flat.

Plain Old.... Not Bad.

So pretty. One of my favorite things. I wish I could make this post scratch-n-sniff... well.... so you could smell the ripe wheat.... not so you could smell the dust, diesel and sweat.



Eagle


My sister.


Nice boots.
Nice glasses.
Nice.... surgical mask??

In Training


I guess I better point out the tiny little farmer-man sticking up there next to the stack.... That's my boy.... he's checkin' the wheat for Grandma....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Before the Wind and Grasshoppers







Please note

1. The tree in the background.... it's a juniper. We are thinking of cutting it down.
2. The diaper on the porch. We are classy like that.
3. Tuff's face after she smelled the wine. She then plugged her nose and said, "tinky, mama, tinky."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recipes

Ok.... Mary P over at DaycareDaze has a kid recipe swap going on....

Elle- you MUST post your enchilada recipe.... because I love it.

So, basically, our meals break down into the same three categories as everything else in our lives.... cheap, easy & green. Everyone already knows my kids eat too many hotdogs and chicken tenders but let me attempt to further the myth of super-mom with the following selections...

Tomato cubes in the freezer. At the end of every summer I get a giant flat box of tomatoes and various other garden leftovers from my grandpa. More than I could ever eat. Ever. So I dump all the extras (tomatoes, onions, zucchini, squash, carrots... whatever) into my big soup pot and cook it down. Then I run it through the blender and freeze it in ice cube trays. I toss the cubes in zip-lock bags and whenever I'm making soup or pizza or spaghetti sauce I toss a couple in for spare veggie goodness.

Cream of Green Things soup. Same idea as above but lots of green stuff (or yellow or orange or whatever) all together in the trusty soup pot. I pause and wish I had a stick blender. Then I run it through the blender and freeze it. Thaw and add cheese tortellini and cream. Ta-da. Ok, sure, the torts and cream aren't exactly health and diet food but YUM.... and the kids will usually eat it.

For FUN we do zip-lock bag omlettes (two eggs and whatever toppings you like mooshed together (be careful not to use too many mushrooms.... it makes it watery), put in a freezer-type small zip-lock with your name on it (seal well and try to get all the air out) and toss in (that trusty soup pot again) boiling water for 13 minutes) or hobo dinners (a hamburger patty topped with tomato slices, carrots, potatoes, onions all wrapped in a foil packet and cooked in the bbq or oven..... best eaten outside while you pretend you are camping.)

Ok.... I admit... FUN in this case means no clean up for mama.

And I present the following two for super-speed.

Pita Pizzas. Um, this isn't really a recipe... pita bread, top with tomato sauce or tomato cubes from above, sprinkle with pizza-style spices and cheese and everyone select their own toppings. Ok... I'm going to confess.... I've also done this with cheddar cheese and left-over taco meat and called them Mexican Pizzas. You can bake them or, in case of emergency "mama, I hun-gee" moments... nuke 'em.

Turkey Roll Ups. My mother-in-law called me at work one night and asked what a turkey roll up was..... Sweet was asking for one. She was concerned with cream cheese and tortillas..... I explained how we make turkey roll ups at our house.... You take a piece of deli turkey. And roll it up. The End.

Oh... and the ultimate swimming lesson meal. I leave work at 4:30, get the kids at 5, take them to the pool for lessons at 5:30. By 6 they are both starving. So last week I made "hamburger-cheese rolls" for special snacks.... served cold, we ate them, with baby carrot sticks, snow peas & blueberries, by the pool and then swam again (without waiting a single minute for our food to settle!) for a while before we went home. They are super-easy to make up and stick in the freezer: Brown some meat (I used elk burger... it isn't greasy) and make a batch of dough in the bread machine. Roll out the dough and sprinkle with meat & cheese & whatever else floats your boat.... we put some tomato sauce & mushrooms in the last batch. Or you could do ham & cheese. Tuff likes chopped pickles in hers. Ew. Then roll up and slice like cinnamon rolls. Bake. Serve hot or cold with ketchup or salsa. Easy and portable. You can also make "mama" rolls with pesto and expensive cheese.

Oh wait... one from my mom.... a special treat when we were kids was a freshly-washed lettuce leaf sprinkled with sugar and rolled up tight. Sugary crunchiness. Mmmm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hammock riding as a rodeo sport

Alternate title: Why the hammock is only 4 inches off the ground.

Summer Fun