Friday, September 30, 2011

I still dream of kitchens

Oh picture of a kitchen.  How I love thee.  I've reinvented my kitchen theory.

My original theory was to have a remodeled and bigger kitchen.... same basic layout but with an island instead of a penninsula.  That evolved into an extended kitchen with a penninsula on the end and a rolling cart island.  That's still my ideal.

But now that I've given up on ever adding on (yes, people will be using the peonies as a second bathroom for eternity) I've decided to focus on the remodel concept.

I still have this post as my primary inspiration.

I want (today anyway):

wide plank farmhouse flooring
white cabinets
dark counter tops (but if I had an island or rolling cart I'd want butcher block on it)
stove with gas top/electric oven/microwave above
remove the upper cabinets over the penninsula
lazy susan in both corners (one is currently a 9 inch wide opening that goes all the way back... at a right angle... to the wall.... not cool)

The current "look" is docuemented below... this was actually a photo I took showing the insanity several hours before a party.....  Those upper cabinets must go.  And all that lovely golden oak.... let's paint it white.  Once the uppers are gone... does the corner cabinet and appliance garage stay?  Or get replaced by a slightly awkward-to-reach regular cabinet?  Hmmmm.

So, left side... doorway to laundry room, fridge, 24" of counter with drawers under it, stove w/micro above, lazy susan in corner.  Front and right bottom views stay the same (although the little 9" cabinet on the left will be a lazy susan and not the horror it is now.... I can tell this is an old photo because the microwave in the wall hasn't died yet and the old black dishwasher is there.

This was the kitchen the day we first looked at the house....  I'm sad to see how much HASN'T changed....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I think I missed September somehow......

I forgot to post any goals or progress for September.  Oops.
1.  Post every day in September.  (So far, so good.)
2.  Go on a fall family vacation.  I think we should do this every month.  (Done.  Fairmont.  Fun.)
3.  Buy new bras and new boots.  (Half-assedly done.  I got a couple bras at Target.  I bought three at Macy's and HATED them so I took them back.  I'm shopping for cute fall boots but haven't really focused on them yet.)
4.  Hang pictures in both kid rooms.  (Almost done.....)
5.  Reorganize the kitchen.  (About 50% done... need to do the two upper corner cabinets this weekend.)
6.  Find a place to store the sewing machine.  (Ideas?)
7.  Plan a minor exercise routine.  (Done.  October's goal will be to implement.)
8.  Do some fun things with Tuff.  (Ears pierced, coffee shop stops, planning a "girl party" and plans for a lunch date.)
9.  Wash outside windows.  (Fail.)
10.  Paint porch posts.  (3 done... thousands to go.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things I may have said this week.....

"Why can't she just find a nice little transgendered boy to play with?  Why does she want to be friends with those snotty little girls with the snotty mothers?"

"Son.  Truly.  Sometime in the distant future when you look back on your second grade class picture know that I love you.  And I demonstrated that love by letting you wear those goofy-ass shorts with that shirt and those socks for picture day."

"We sit when we eat suckers."

"Hell yes.  Coffee helps women not be depressed.  The New York Times says it so it must be true."

"Please.  If you love me.  Bring me back some gingerbread from that fantastic bakery in Bozeman."

"But I like salted caramels.  And the NYT says I need my coffee so I don't get depressed...."

"I know I said I want to support small local coffee shops but the drive-thru I usually go to when I need a treat has gotten too f-ing strange..... let's go to Starbucks."

"Surely today is Friday."

"Boots.  I need boots.  Riding boots."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu planning gone awry

Last week's meals were a hodge-podge so I'm trying to get back on schedule this week.  Technically, this is week 2 of my two-week meal planning and it is going to be sketchy.... this is a rough week at work and this is my sad little attempt at control.

Su:  Pot Roast
M:  Burgers & Potato Wedges
Tu:  Mac-n-cheese and leftover chicken after football
W:  Uh-oh.  I only have planned until Tuesday?  Ok... um....  Cheese & Tortillas
Th:  Sandwiches & Salad or maybe McD's before football
Fri:  Pizza Bites or Egg Rolls
Sa:  Regroup and Try, try again

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Classic Pot Roast

Found a stray chuck roast in the back of the freezer in the garage.

I can't say how long it has been there.  I don't know.

I tossed it in the crock pot with a can of cream-of-something soup, some onions, carrots & yukon pototoes.

Cooked the hell out of it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dog Days

We celebrated the dog days of summer today.

Ate an early lunch of snack foods and went to the pool.  Intended to spend an hour but we had provisions (water bottles & a big bag of stale pretzels) so we stayed a few hours. 

Came home for late naps and then watched the Saints on tv.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Goats in the Pool

All that time in Fairmont and I took exactly two pictures.  This is a goat we named Apple. 

Apple Martini Goat Cheese Crostini.

We shortened it to Apple Goattini.  

Tuff loves her.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The view at our house.....

I just love it when the little man is all bundled up....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Strawberry Jam

I threw together a quick batch of fridge jam.  Those new smaller clamshells of strawberries at Costco are about the right size for 2 cups of mashed berries....

2 cups mashed berries (about a pound)
1.5 c sugar (or so)
1/4 c lemon juice

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Little Things of Note

My lovely basil crop froze.  Bummer.  Happens most every year. 

I saw a guy walking a wheel barrow today.  He was crossing the street.  No apparent reason for the wheel barrow.

My son has outgrown all of his shorts.  All.  Of.  Them.  And, in spite of the freezing temps at night, it appears summer isn't quite gone.  He came out dressed like a hobo this am.  So we are off to find a few pairs of shorts and a new hoodie sweatshirt.  I miss hand-me-downs. 

I'm making a list of ailments to talk to the doctor about... the list is really long.  Geez.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fairmont Hot Springs: The Vacation Guide

So we decided to get the hell out of Dodge this weekend. 

So it was off to Fairmont Hot Springs.

We left fairly late on Saturday and stopped in Anaconda for lunch.... at Pizza Hut.

It was one of those lunches....  Milk, please.... we only have chocolate milk.  Ok.  A sandwich please... we don't have sandwiches.  Salad bar.... nope.  Ok.  Well.  What DO you have?  And, also.... this Pizza Hut does not have the classic (and iconic) Pizza Hut Ice.  (Side note:  I just googled to find an image of the ice and I can't find one.  That's a first.  Google failed me.)

We checked in (early) and hit the pools.  The kids decided to do the slide.  The water slide is $8.75 for a half-day, $10.75 for a full-day or $1 a ride.  The pools are free if you have a hotel room. 

Lots of fun.  I recommend bringing a few floaties and life jackets.  We also travel with googles and snorkels.... but we are those people.

In a perfect world I would get to the pools earlier, swim, then get out and have lunch and rest and then swim again later in the afternoon.  I'd also pack a delightful picnic lunch of crackers and fancy cheese.  And some microwave soup for the kids.

Alas... I don't live in a perfect world... but I did remember a giant bottle of red wine AND a corkscrew.

We had dinner at the cafe.  We could have done the dining room.

Everyone was pretty beat so we went to bed.  The next day we soaked early, showered and got ready and hit the Sunday brunch before it closed at 11:30.  Then we visited the little animal menagerie (horses, goats, ducks etc) and played on the playground.  We didn't do folf or golfing or mini-golf (although we would have done mini golf if we had realized it was there).  It was a little chilly and windy.

Cost breakdown:
Fuel:  less than a tank ($60)
Lunch:  Pizza Hut $34.96
Hotel:  $145 plus tax
Dinner:  Fairmont Cafe... we probably could have done the dining room so Hot could have steak but it was still pretty tasty.
Lounge:  ?  Hot had a drink or two while watching football scores while the kids and I "rested" in the hotel room.
Waterslide:  $20.50 (2 kids 1/2 day at $8.75 plus three single rides for Hot)
Brunch:  ?  ($10.95/adult and $5/96 for kids... but I think they gave us free coffee and I think the girls both ate for free....)  Also... I totally snagged three chocolate chip cookies from brunch and fed them to the kids on the drive home.... is that awful??
Snacks:  Pretzels, chips, water bottles in the car.  A bottle of wine for the hotel room.  Some microwave popcorn would have been good and maybe some other snack foods for in the hotel.

We drove home via Anaconda-Georgetown Lake- P-burg.

I recommend the fish hatchery at Washoe Park in Anaconda.  Great visitor center and for a nickel you can feed some GIANT trout.  Very cool.  We wanted to visit St Timothy's at 7 Gables and the candy store in P-burg but kids were conked out so we didn't stop.

Our next grand adventure may be to P-burg to do sapphires and the candy store

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Boy Party

Every day this week Sweet has been counting down to Friday for the BOY PARTY at our house.  Monday we reminded everyone of the party (Friday, our house, 4:30-7:30).  Tuesday we planned the menu (take-n-bake pizzas, juice boxes, popcorn).  Wednesday he cleaned his room.  Thursday he planned his outfit.  Friday we PARTIED. 

He invited 3 buddies and they ran and ran and ran.  Many bad guys were tranquilized.  Many monsters captured.  No vegetables were consumed.  Much fun was had. 

Next:  Girl Party 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things I Love for Breakfast

Toast topped with a runny fried egg and cheese
Oatmeal with milk, brown sugar and craisins
Scrambled eggs with veggies and sausage
Nuked egg with spinach and parm on a whole-wheat english muffin
Vanilla (or Greek) yogurt with Fiber One cereal and chocolate sauce
Apple with laughing cow cheese wedge
Pancakes or waffles or biscuits

I've never been a breakfast eater.  But I try.  I think breakfast should have some protein and a little bit of fat so it sticks with you.  Following are the top 5 breakfasts my kids will eat:

1.  Hot pocket
2.  Corn dog
3.  Chicken nuggets
4.  Cocopuffs
5.  Leftover pizza

Do you see the problem?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Table & Chairs

In my ongoing quest to doll up the girls' room (on a zero-dollar budget) I bring you Project:  Table and Chairs. 

First, can I say, someday I would like the luxury of just buying something new instead of working my ass off to doll up some old piece of crap.  Sorry, but true.

Second, this ugly old table and chairs might be worth the work... my grandma, in the throes of alzheimer's, picked these up at an auction to give me for "when I had kids" someday.  My grandpa kept them in his basement.

Here we are.... with our safety gear.  Masks and giant white t-shirts.  Yes, I let a 5-year-old run an orbital sander... how else will she learn?  Notice the classy spray paint can... there will be a quiz later.

Bugsy was not so interested in wearing the mask or the giant white t-shirt so we called her the supervisor.

Wow, people, that's some seriously bright turquoise you selected.  Wait.  Remember when I said there would be a quiz?  This color turquoise and the amethyst purple seen in the background.... where else have you seen them???

Keep thinking....

That's right!!!!  My sister's boots.....

Yup.... and there is that lovely purple......

Oh, what?  You've never spray painted a pair of cowboy boots?  I did tone down the turquoise a little.... mostly because the chairs are really beat up and I'm hoping a solid coat of semi-gloss will cover it up a bit better.......

Next steps are to finish painting the white parts.  It took a long time to get this far with little people with sponge brushes doing the painting......  Then we will see how it looks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Doris Domestic Fails Again

So.... while I'm documenting epic cooking failures......  I've been trying a lot of new things lately.....

I whipped up a bunch of eggs in muffin tins, then put on toasted english muffins (is it odd I love whole-wheat english muffins and loathe the regular kind??) to eat like a delicious low-sodium version of a McD's sandwich.  They were great.  I had mine with spinach and parm.  Hot had cheddar and bacon.  I read that they freeze well if you reheat in the over (soggy in the microwave) so I tried it.  25 minutes later I had..... bricks.  Build-a-kiln bricks.


So back to the old way.... putting a egg, some spinach and parm in a pyrex bowl and nuking it and slapping it on an english muffin.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I like enchiladas. I like cheese. What went wrong?

Hot off my not-so-fabulous success with the Peanut Butter Chicken I went back to Stephanie O'Dea (yes, I have the cookbook) and and tried

Cheese Enchilada Stack

Epic Fail.

It was mushy and not very appetizing.  Although Hot said it was tasty when he put it on a flour tortilla with some rice and beans. 

I really wanted this recipe to work for me but it will not be maintaining a place in the family favorites cookbook.  Good thing there about a gazillion other recipes on her site for me to try......

Slow Cooker Cheese Enchilada Stack Recipe

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (the whole can)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried minced onion (or 1 small onion, finely diced)
8 corn tortillas (check labels for hidden gluten)
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (4-ounce) can sliced olives, drained
6 tablespoons sour cream

The Directions

If you want to add meat, you should use already cooked pork, beef or chicken (great use for shredded chicken!).
This is NOT because the meat won't cook---it definitely will, but while it cooks, it will give off so much liquid that your enchilada stack will be soggy and gross.

And nobody wants that.

Anyhow. Use a 4-quart slow cooker. In a large mixing bowl, make enchilada sauce by combining:
Stir well and set aside. Put a layer of tortillas into the bottom of your slow cooker (you may need to tear a few). Add a handful of cheese, and some sliced olives. Scoop a large spoonful of sauce on top. Repeat layers until you've run out of ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until cheese has melted, is brown and bubbly, and the top layer has begun to pull away from the sides. Let it sit unplugged for about 15 minutes before serving with a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where I Fail Again as a Cook

 My son has an unnatural love of jarred alfredo sauce.  I think it tastes funny.  And, also, it is expensive... he can easily eat a jar by himself in a few days if given free reign.

So when Costco stopped carrying it recently (Sidenote:  Did you know if the label at Costco has an * on it the item is seasonal and when the price ends in a 7 it is going out-of-stock.  Yes, My name is Homestead and I am addicted to Costco.) I tried my hand at homemade.

I used this recipe and it was easy and..... NOT A HIT.  I found it a bit thick and a bit bland.  The kids cried.  I'd site the source but I don't know where it came from.

1/2 c butter
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, chunked
1 c half and half
1/3 c parmesan
1 TBS garlic powder (optional)

Melt butter.  Add cream cheese.  Melt and stir.  Add the rest and stir.  Serve over pasta.

I think it was the cream cheese.....So next time I am trying this.....

1/2 c butter
2 1/2 c half and half
1 1/2 c parmesan
pepper and salt

Cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes.

Heart attack on a platter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Chicken

In my quest to try new things and get organized I've been doing a bit of crock pot cooking.  My cooker runs hot so I don't ever leave it for the day while I am at work.  (Also.... my countertops were poorly installed and the heat of the cooker makes them separate which pinches tender baby thighs... but that's another story..... but it explains why sometime the cooker is plugged in to the ONLY OUTDOOR PLUGIN I have.... on the west porch.)

So I tried this recipe.  I love this site.  Even if sometimes it looks like she whipped up a dismembered head in the crockpot.... sorry but sometimes crockpot cooking looks icky.... can you forgive me for that???

I loved the peanut butter chicken.  Creamy without cream-of-something soup.  Pretty healthy and very satisfying.  Comforting.  Maybe a little salty but that could be fixed. We had it over rice.

My family..... no thank you.  Not one of them liked it.  Sigh.

But I'm keeping the recipe for now.

Peanut Butter Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut in chunks *
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup soy sauce (use gluten free--La Choy or Tamari wheat-free)
1/2 cup chicken broth

* If you are going to use quarters, or meat with bones, be aware that the meat will probably fall off the bone, and you'll need to fish out the bone pieces before serving. I've used this sauce with a whole chicken (I doubled the sauce ingredients for a 4.5-pound bird) and it was fantastic, but the bones were a bit of an issue.

The Directions.

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put the chicken into the bottom of your pot and add the peanut butter. Toss in the vegetables and cumin. Squeeze in lime, and add soy sauce and chicken broth. Stir as well as you can to combine (the peanut butter will be clumpy, and that's just fine). Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Go Saints

Listening to football and cleaning the kitchen.

Spent the morning at Urgent Care.  Sweet had a lump on his jaw and started complaining of a stiff neck.  Off we go.  Most likely it is a lymph node swollen due to a sore in his mouth.  He got a blood test.  The blood draw made him woozy and green and he threw up.  Fun.  I love slogging three kids to Costco for drugs when one is asking for pizza one minute and threatening to toss his cookies in the hair care row the next....  At least I took a shower this morning.

He got antibiotics.  Unfortunately I didn't realize they WEREN'T chewable until we were all the way home.  Sigh.  They always screw you at the drive thru.

Girly Room: Project Kitchen

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Getting Dressed

All last week we had tears over outfits.  So Sunday we carefully put outfits on hangers and put them in a special spot.  Smart, no?

All this week we had tears over outfits.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Fortune Cookie: Condoms prevent minivans.

I love my car but it is so curvy.  There is no where to set a cup of coffee while you open the door.

What am I saying?  I think I need a cup holder on the outside of my car.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Apple Butter Recipe

From my cousin who channels her grandmother....

Apple Butter

4 1/2 lbs tart cooking apples, cored & quartered (can also sub 2 lbs of pears for 2 lbs of the apples)
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
* In an 8-10 quart heavy pot combine apples & cider.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Press through a food mill or sieve until you have 7.5 cups.  (I've been know to push it thru my fine meshed collander too).  Return pulp to kettle.
* Stir in sugars, lemon juice & cinnamon.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat.  Cook, uncovered, over very low heat for 1 hour 30 to 1 hour 45 minutes or until very thick and mix mounds on a spool, stirring often.
*Laddle hot apple butter into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.  Process in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes.  Remove jars from canner, cool on wire racks.  Adjust processing time for altitude (In Bozeman that means add 10 minutes total time)
** From Better Homes & Gardens You Can Can Book

Sunday, September 04, 2011

September 3, 2011

Meet my new nephew.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011