Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Christmas Past..Makin' Memories

Christmas Eve, Pa and I were up way too late as usual. Come Christmas morning, Pa and I both had a heck of a time trying to open our eyes and drag ourselves out of bed when the kids began shaking us, and excitedly insisting we get up at what they seemed to think was a most reasonable hour of 6:00. When we protested, they were quick to inform us that we were fortunate that they had actually allowed us to sleep in. It seems Lindsay was ready to wake us at 3:00! Yup! Lindsay had awakened at 3AM, headed in to the living room, took one look, and immediately rushed in to wake up her brother and let him know there were two brand new bikes sitting in the living room! By the time our wake-up call arrived, they had thoroughly inspected said bikes, and were full of information. I had no idea the bikes had been made in California!

While I truly am grateful the kids allowed us to "sleep in", by the time early afternoon, and kitchen duties were in full swing, both my body and my mind were telling me noon would've been a much more appropriate time to get up. Thankfully, Pa is pretty good in the kitchen, and is more than willing to pitch in so the food prep was actually pretty much evenly divided. Although a bit late by Christmas meal standards, dinner was a success. A perfect ending to a perfect Christmas day!

There were a few chuckles to be had Christmas morning as we were opening gifts. First, was two of the gifts for the kids from my sister. Blanket sleepers! Nathan and Lindsay both had huge smiles on their faces as they held them up and Daniel and I both had a good laugh. Later it occurred to me that I've been relishing memories of their younger days, wishing those days and moments could last just a wee bit longer. These gifts are a fun blast to the past for me ;-)

The next very hearty laugh was from Pa when he opened his gift from my daughter, Kimmi. Pa likes pocket Ts. and is always insistent that any t-shirts he purchases, or receives as a gift is adorned with a pocket. Kimmi had done a fine job of honoring this request with a t-shirt that had a printed pocket with a rather cranky looking creature (a lizard? Or perhaps a dinosaur?), printed within it. It was great! And.... Pa said he would wear it! :)

The third gleeful chuckle was at Nathan's expense. Both our young'uns have been fighting cold and cough symptoms lately. Naturally, that means Ma and Pa have been diligently pouring liquid medications down their throats. Nathan is old enough now that we've been opting to give him a mild dose of Nyquil at night, as it seems to help more than the children's medicine. Although he admits it does help, he hates it!

Christmas Eve, one of the gifts I had to wrap for Nathan was very small. I did manage to wrap it, but it was so small it would've easily become lost in the jumble of gifts the next morning, so I thought I'd pull a fast one on him, and place it inside another, larger box before wrapping it once again. Pa and I looked around and found a box for a three pack of Nyquil we'd gotten from Costco. Perfect! I placed the tiny package inside, stuffed it with plastic bags, and wrapped it up, before placing it under the tree alongside everything else.

Christmas morning, as the gifts were gone through one at a time, Nathan finally came to "the gift". He eagerly ripped the paper off the box, gasped, and said, "You! You Guys! Very funny!" He then set the box off to the side like so much rubbish, and prepared to look for another, more desirable gift to open. We had to force him to open the box! He seemed confused when he saw the plastic packing material, and began pulling it out until he finally reached the tiny wrapped package in the bottom. He opened this package carefully, turned it over in his hands and became a bit excited, "A knife!" He then opened the box and peered inside. Then he got real excited! "It's a Swiss Army Knife! It's just what I wanted!"

*sigh* My son is growing up.

Last night, Pa and I were snug in bed by 9:30. It was nearly 8:30 when I got up and started the coffee and the fire this morning. Pa followed shortly after 9. Aahh! Blessed sleep!

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and that you are enjoying the rest of this most wonderful of seasons safe, warm and dry, with your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Real Santa

This afternoon, I read The First Christmas to my children. Afterwards, Nathan wanted to know how "we" managed to go from that story, to the fat jolly fellow dressed in red, delivering gifts to children in the middle of the night.

I immediately thought of an earlier entry posted by Alexandra, at Happy Hearts At Home. She posted some book titles, and a link to some information about a Bishop, named Nicholas. I quickly went on line, and went directly to Alexandra's site, where I proceeded to scroll through her posts for the month of December. I followed her link, and checked out several links provided there, until I came upon what I felt was the perfect story to satisfy my children's curiosity.

Personally, I think this story, The Real Santa is the perfect follow up to the story of the first Christmas. It's not too long, and it tells the story simply, in a way that children can understand, without going into too much detail, which one can always follow up on if more detail is desired.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crazy Cold!

Yesterday morning we noted our low temperature was a frigid 22º! This is the Southern Oregon coast for Pete's sake! As if last year wasn't bad enough, now we're having this bitter cold tossed out at us. Has Mother Nature finally snapped? Has she lost her mind?

I'm doing my best to think positive. Thinking forward to Spring and Summer, and considering all those less than beneficial "bugs" we normally have to deal with. Perhaps this rather lengthy, and lower than usual for our area dip in temperatures will serve to reduce the numbers of those normally tenacious insects we fight every year.

The kids are thinking positive as well. They're hoping for just the right combination of cold and moisture that might result in their first (and perhaps only)white Christmas!

It's good to dream! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Gardening

Nathan and Lindsay are both feeling better today. Naturally, this makes Pa and me both very happy. Thanks to the weather, the kids are even happier about their recovery than they might be otherwise.

This morning the kids awoke to a light dusting of snow on the ground. While neither of them thought it enough to bother going out to play in, they did agree it was exciting just to see it there, especially considering how close to Christmas it is.

By the time I got up, the snow was still decorating the ground, but the cloouds had parted, leaving patches of blue in the sky. Within the hour though, the blue had disappeared, and the snow was rapidly disappearing as well, being replaced, and overtaken by another white substance. It was hailing, and this was not a short burst of hail either. No, this downpour of icy pelts lasted a good hour, before being joined by rain, and then snow mixed in with that. It has been a most interesting weather day! The hail comes down, making everything white, then rain with more hail, and snow, and more of all of the above, being accompanied on occasion by bursts of wind, which causes the icy pellets to reveal their sting.

Although Nathan was excited by the sight of all the white stuff, he was also a bit unnerved, realizing this may signify the end of any hope for his garden to make it through the winter this year. All was not lost though. He decided to make the best of the situation.

Currently, the sky is once again showing us some blue. It's quite cold outside, but clear, so the kids are taking advantage of their limited cold weather wear, including their gloves. Nathan's garden has been transformed into a winter wonderland of sorts, or, at least as close to a winter wonderland as we're likely to experience where we live...

If you look closely, you can see the green ears, on top of the snowman's (actually, a combo of hail and snow)head.Those are radish tops. The eyes are radishes, and at the base of the snowman, you can see where the snowman's nose, a carrot has fallen. Naturally, all the snowman's vegetable features were harvested from Nathan's garden, where the snowman resides until his classic "Frosty" demise.

Who knows, whether it be by snow or by hail, maybe, just maybe, we'll actually manage a white Christmas this year!

Granted, I'm not planning to hold my breath, but I figure a couple crossed fingers can't hurt ;-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pipe Cleaners To The Rescue

Yesterday, Lindsay came down with her brother's ailment. Nathan was still working on recovery while she was experiencing the worst of it. Today, both kids were still feeling less than perky, but they were also bored.

When they are ill, provided it's not a serious illness which would keep them confined to bed, we like to allow them outside for fresh air and to soak up some of the healing rays the sun provides. Unfortunately, this time of year, that isn't always an option. This year it is certainly not an option, so I was left to try and come up with something to keep hands and minds relatively busy.

While Nathan was relatively happy just curling up with a book, Lindsay was interested in something a bit more creative. However, yesterday, she really wasn't up to anything too complicated. I thought a bit and remembered the two packages of pipe cleaners I had grabbed the last time we were at the dollar store. I checked, and sure enough there were plenty of red and white ones. I cut them in half and within minutes she was happily twisting them together to create candy canes for the tree.

Today, Lindsay was feeling a bit better so I put my thinking cap on again, and tried to come up with an idea that might be a wee bit more challenging for her. Again, my mind wandered to the pipe cleaners and Christmas ornaments. I looked online for ideas but couldn't come up with the perfect idea there (although I did discover my oh so clever candy cane ornament idea was less than original..) so I thought some more, pulled out a pipe cleaner and started playing with it until I came up with an idea Lindsay thought was great.

It took a bit more searching for products I knew we had stashed around somewhere, and a bit of experimenting, twisting pipe cleaners this way and that, finding just the right size and color of beads to string on for the noses, and deciding the best way of affixing the google eyes, but in the end Lindsay and I had oodles of fun, and we ended up with what we both think are some pretty cute ornaments to add to our tree.

The black, as well as the red and white reindeer were the two I made to give Lindsay some ideas. She had a great time making the others all by herself. Her most favorite seems to be the white one with the bright orange nose.

On the off chance you may want to try making a pipe cleaner reindeer, here's how we did it!

For each reindeer you'll need
1 12" pipe cleaner (or two if you want to make a bi-color one)
1 bead, with a hole large enough to thread through 1 pipe cleaner
2 small google eyes
Glue (we used elmers)

Fold your pipe cleaner in half to find the center. Thread the bead to the center point.

If you choose to make a bi-color reindeer, twist the two together.

If a child is doing this, the next step is where they may need some help:

Fold in half again,with the nose being your center point, and bend each side towards each other about 2" from the center point. Tuck one end underneath the other as if to tie, and twist it up at the opposing corner. Tuck the other end under at the bent point, twisting it up. Straighten everything a bit if necessary so you have a triangle with the bead "nose" at the bottom corner, and a long "tail" sticking up at the other two corners.

Fold each "tail" in half, upon themselves, pinching the fold, then fold a portion of (maybe half) back up and out in a direction you like to complete the antler.I noticed it helped to twist the last fold around the main portion of the antler, to make it seem more like a seperate fork.

If you chose to do a bi-color, then the last folds can be seperated for additional antler forks.

At this point, I like to bend the bottom portion of the head out just a little so the nose sticks out a bit. You can also pinch the nose portion in just a little for shaping. Now just squeeze a dot of glue at the two upper edges of the triangle (where the antlers begin), and top that with your google eyes.

Hopefully I described this in a comprehendable way! LOL If you have a question, let me know and I'll try to explain it more clearly ;)

Hopefully, tomorrow both my children will be feeling much better. Otherwise, I think I may have to find something other than pipe cleaners to get creative with. ;-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sleepless In The Boondocks

I hope you all will forgive my absence this last month. For some reason I just haven't been feeling great. I thought about it a bit and I realized that I had somehow managed to slack off on my healthy eating habits. It would seem that there really is something to those V8 ads. If you want to stay reasonably healthy, don't skimp on your veggies!

Wednesday, Nathan and Lindsay had their very first experience at a day care provider. At 11 and nearly 10 years of age, it was a rather strange experience for Pa and me. A whole afternoon without the happy chatter of our children every where we went. Although it was kinda nice in a way, it also felt very strange, almost wrong. It's been a long time! The nicest part of the whole thing was being able to shop for those items that will be a big surprise for our children come the 25th together, rather than taking turns ushering the kids in one direction while the other of us adds items to a basket to be left around a corner to be inspected by the other parent when we switch roles . That really was a nice, even fun change for us!

Yesterday morning, Nathan woke up with a sore throat and a tummy ache. While Pa and I were busy trying to keep him comfortable, Lindsay was doing what she always does when her brother gets sick. She was worrying. By the time bedtime arrived she had worried herself just about to the point of being sick herself. Everything about her said she was about to burst into tears. There was only one thing I could think of to help her calm down, and hopefully get some sleep.

Last night, we pulled out the hide-a-bed, brought out some blankets and pillows and Lindsay and I camped out in the living room together. While she was still concerned about her brother, it did seem to divert her attention enough to cheer her up a bit. I was hopeful we would both manage a good nights sleep. Silly me.

I will give her credit for warning me that she was a bit of a restless sleeper. She said I may be awakened at some point by her knee jabbing me. I'm happy to report that was not an issue. However... it was not a good sleep night! I discovered rather quickly that I am just plain too old for sleepovers with an almost 10 year old! She tossed and she turned. Then she tossed and she turned some more. The whole bed was shaking for a good hour. At one point I was just sure she was doing jumping jacks on the bed. A quick glance in her direction told me that was not the case. I asked her if there was a problem. She responded in the negative, saying she was just having a hard time getting to sleep. I suggested she might try laying still and closing her eyes.

An hour later the bed was still moving about, being none to gently rocked by my daughter. When questioned this time she responded by saying she was hot. Okay. I removed the top cover. Oddly enough, that didn't stop the rocking bed.

"Lindsay! Lay still!"

5 minutes of quiet, then...

"I know why it's called the midnight!"

"Huh?" Okay...why is it called midnight?"

"Because it's the middle of the night!"

"Hmmm! I guess that makes sense! Since it is now after midnight, do you suppose we could go to sleep now?


5 minutes later I hear my daughter's voice once again, "I know why it's called high noon!"

"What?!!? *sigh* Alright, why is it called high noon?"

"Because the sun is high in the sky!"

"Ah! I see! Thank you for letting me know. Goodnight"


Maybe 5 minutes later she pipes up again, "Maybe I should think of these things during the day"

"Huh! Now there's an idea! Can we please go to sleep now?"


I then lay there for at least an hour being rocked by the tossing and the turning. I'd given up on trying to get her to lay still. I figured that only encouraged her to talk. At some point I realized the bed was no longer rocking. I turned over and glanced at my daughter, sleeping soundly beside me.

This morning, shortly after 6AM, I awoke, opening my eyes to see Lindsay, propped up on her elbows, gazing down at me. It only took a second for me to realize there was no point in trying to convince her to go back to sleep. I asked her to go turn the coffee maker on while I got the fire going in the wood stove. I figure I might have gotten 3 hours of sleep last night, although I sure wouldn't bet money on it!

Fortunately, Nathan is feeling better today. I'm rather looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again tonight. I'm thinking I could even manage to sleep through Pa's snoring!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Hot Water

Yesterday, after nearly a week of dealing with various challenges our home, and it's odd little quirks which have been incorporated into it's collective being by previous owners, Pa finally managed to get our new hot water heater up and running.

Late yesterday morning, I was finally able to take my long awaited shower. After waiting for what seemed such a long time, the anticipation building higher each day, it was an incredibly satisfying experience. I felt a bit guilty as I realized I was spending more time under the warm pulsating water than I normally would, but I was enjoying it so much! I just couldn't bring myself to cut it short. I justified my lengthy, not so frugal actions by rationalizing I hadn't employed my normal amount of water for bathing purposes in 6 whole days. Thereore, if I extended my enjoyment by even twice the normal time I would still be realizing at least three days worth of savings. I also emerged from the experience in a wonderful mood, which was noted, and enjoyed by my whole family :)

Since we didn't manage our usual shopping trip to town this last week, Pa made a quick run in for a few items to get us by until our next trip in. While there, he decided to stop by Papa Murphy's for a pizza to enjoy during our ....

Saturday Night At The Movies

This week the kids chose Madagascar. Once again they chose well. We all enjoyed this film, which I'm guessing most folks with young'uns have already seen and perhaps moved on to the sequel. If you are not among those numbers, then I would suggest this one is definately worthy of adding to your list of family friendly films to enjoy at some point in the future. However, I see this film is rated PG for, "mild language and crude humour" Although I didn't notice it, I have to admit I was not able to focus completely on the entire film, so perhaps it is not one to simply plop the little ones down to watch unattended.

Today, we are once again enjoying the sun. Not surprisingly this time of year, I understand we are to enjoy it while it lasts. This next week promises to be a busy one for us, as we head out to glean as much wood as we can for our heating purposes before the rain and the wind pay us yet another, probably more extended visit. I've also heard some rumors that the rain and wind may be joined by yet another. Ah, yes, that cranky one with the frigid disposition has sent word that she may be stopping by again soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed her mood has improved a bit since her last rather memorable visit!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

America The Beautiful ??

Less than two weeks ago, in America, we had an election. Before the night was over most Americans were aware of who our next President would be. While not a huge landslide, it was certainly not contestable. John McCain was most gracious in his concession speech. I was proud of him. Americans stepped forward, breaking through both party, and racial barriers. I was proud of my Country.

Naturally, as with any election process, there are going to be those who are disappointed, some perhaps even angry. Eight years ago I was less than thrilled with the outcome of the election. At that time, just about half the citizens of our country felt the same way I did. However, I did not hear words of hatred from the losing side. Most folks were able to continue to foster friendships with those who may have had different political views. Not once do I recall hearing a call for assassination of the then President elect. I do not recall hearing or seeing news reports of vandalism of personal property, bets of when the President elect might be taken out, along with what amounts to cheering any such attempts on. I don't remember anyone feeling physically threatened for having voted for him.

I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at the news reports I'm seeing today. School buses full of elementary school students, many as young as second grade, chanting, calling for the assassination of our President elect. Crosses being burned in peoples front yards. Threats against life and property of our citizens, in retaliation for daring to vote for a man who's skin tone happens to dark. There have been physical assaults. At least one child was suspended from school for daring to wear a t-shirt bearing the image of the next President of our Country.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to think. I am saddened. I'm disappointed, not in the election process, but in the aftermath. I still feel some pride in our nation for so many being able to move past the ugly, hate filled era of our nation's past, but I am saddened to realize that ugliness is still festering unchecked in the hearts of so many in our country. It makes me even more sad, and angry that this unwarranted hatred is not only accepted, but actually encouraged, being taught to so many of our young people, those whose minds should still be at that sweet, innocent stage of life.

While I still have hope for our nation, I find myself thinking how ironic is our name, The United States of America. A week ago, I was proud. Now I'm just disgusted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunshine On My Shoulders...

The sun is shining! It's bright! It's glowing! It's warm! It's beautiful!

There is but a small whisper of a breeze, the ground is damp, but steaming from the warmth the sun's rays are providing. The birds are flitting about, singing their happy song, and the cat's are basking in their chosen places, rather than hiding under whatever form of shelter they are able to scurry to in the quickest manner (as in this weeks backyard photo).

For the first time in a week, I found myself calling the kids in from their outside pursuits to get started on school. They were reluctant to leave their leaf raking. They're eagerly digging in to their days lessons so they can return to the fun outside. I have yet to hear, "What can I do?"

Keeping my fingers crossed this unscheduled, but very welcome appearance will last through the day. Do I dare to hope it will return again tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Water Woes

Sunday, my son and I both managed to get our showers taken before the latest of our major appliances decided to call it quits. This time it was the hot water heater.

The last few days I've been especially grateful for my working range. As some of you may recall, that was the last appliance to refuse it's services. I've been heating gallons and gallons of water on my stove the last few days, for everything from doing dishes, to washing hair.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the break in the wind gusts, and headed in to town to pick up a new water heater. As it turns out, the old one surpassed the normal life span of a water heater by several years. We were told we definitely got our moneys worth out of it. Good to know.

Once we arrived home from our little excursion, it was getting late,the sky was becoming a bit darker, due to the late afternoon hour, as well as the cloudy blanket above us, which was also providing us with plenty of moisture, for which we weren't feeling so grateful. No point in complaining though. Pa headed for the shop to grab the hand truck, and we quickly transferred our load from the truck and into the shop where it awaits our attention today.

This afternoon, after the kids are finished with their lessons, and have had their lunch, we will once again brave the rain, grab the hand truck, and carefully nestle the water heater upon it's arms. Pa will then wheel it into the house, and proceed to get it set up while the kids and I busy ourselves in other pursuits, none of which will involve water. We're all eagerly anticipating having hot water at the turn of a knob again. I can hardly wait to to once again feel the warm water cascading down over me in the shower.

Lindsay and I were discussing the situation last night. We came to the conclusion that sometimes it's a good thing to be forced to make do without those things we take for granted on occasion. It makes us stop and appreciate those modern conveniences. Come to think of it, this is a great time of year for just that sort of reminder!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Walk On The Wild Side

It's Tuesday already! Our rainy weekend, which followed us into Monday, is still here, but it has been joined by yet another force of nature. The rain is still coming down but, rather than pouring straight down, as it has been the last few days, it has been joined by an old buddy, the wind. Together they are washing over us at various angles. While not my idea of weather related perfection, I have to admit, at the very least, it breaks up the monotony of the steady thumping the rain by itself provided.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a brief break in the downpour. Nathan took advantage of the break and, with a few of our feline family members at his side enjoyed a little stroll around the property, and part way down the driveway to inspect the diversion ditches he and Pa had worked so hard on.

He came running back, burst through the front door, out of breath and wide eyed, exclaimed he had just witnessed an incredible sight! As he was wandering down the driveway, and was nearing the "pond" that he and Pa had constructed to slow the flow of the rainwater gushing down the side ditches, he stopped short, and gazed in amazement at the little family before him. A mama raccoon, and her three youngsters looked up at him from the "pond" where they had been enjoying a drink. Naturally, he named each of the babies. The one who had been playing in the pond is now known as "Splash". "Claws" was holding on to the edge of the muddy soil surrounding the pond. The one he liked the best he named "Peek". Peek was the curious one of the bunch. Mama simply snarled before rounding up her little brood and herding them back into the wooded area on the other side of the drive.

Fortunately, the older, and more protective members of our kitty family had chosen to stay closer to the house for this little stroll. The kittens which accompanied Nathan were easy enough for him to control. Like "Peek", they were curious, but cautious, and chose to stay close by their human's side.

Just another day in the Boondocks..;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday Dinner And A Movie

It was another rainy day at our house yesterday. We managed to keep busy inside for the most part, and were rewarded with wonderful aromas emanating from our kitchen, filling the house. For me, it was a preview of what is to come at the end of this month, and continuing through December. I'm really going to have to watch myself this next two months, or I'll find myself wearing last Decembers clothing once again!

As it turned out, I was not able to coordinate baking times and temps to accommodate baking any of my initial bread choices to go with Pa's creation for dinner last night. I did manage to come up with another option though, which turned out to be an excellent choice. I searched many of my recipe files, and I searched online for ideas. After my search, and some thought, I came up with a savory muffin recipe which required minimal alterations in baking temps for those items already taking up space in the oven. I simply turned the heat up by 50º for the last 5 minutes the ham was in the oven, pulled it out, and popped the muffins in while the ham rested for 15 minutes. The acorn squash was perfectly happy for that last 15 minutes at a higher temperature. The whole meal was a complete success, and we were left with plenty of leftover ham for lunches and meals to come, including the bone, which I'm eagerly anticipating utilizing in a bean dish this coming weekend.

With a yield of 12 individual, beautifully browned, fragrant muffins for the four of us, the kids were delighted to realize they would have leftover muffins for quick and easy breakfast treats for a couple days as well! Once I managed to tear myself away from the comfort of my bed this morning, I was greeted by the welcome sight of two spent muffin liners, neatly folded at their places on the table. Hey Mikey! They liked them! :) Following is the recipe I came up with...

BC Muffins

2 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)
8 slices bacon, fried crisp, reserving grease
1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup (more or less) powdered milk
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 375º
First off, fry your bacon up, nice and crisp. Set aside to drain, and remove the pan from the heat so the oil can cool down. Then go ahead and grate your cheese, setting it aside.

Now, spoon your baking mix into a bowl. Add the powdered milk, and mix it together. Add the egg, 2/3 cup water, and measure 1/4 cup of the now cooled bacon grease in. Mix until everything is moist. Now crumble your crisped bacon in, and add your grated cheese, mixing to combine well. The mixture will be thick.

Spoon mixture evenly into 12 prepared muffin tins. I lined the tins with paper liners. Alternately you could lightly grease and flour the tins. The mixture should fill the tins at least 3/4 full. Pop the pan in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. or til the tops are a light golden brown, and they test done.

Pop the muffins from the tin and allow to cool a few minutes for easier slicing (and fewer burned fingers!)

The young'uns enjoyed these muffins as they were, while Pa and I enjoyed the addition of a pat of real butter. Our young'uns have also informed me these are great consumed at room temperature for a breakfast treat the next morning

Last night, Pa and I enjoyed our weekend movie. Baby Boom, starring Diane Keaton was a delightful, humorous adventure about a childless by choice, single career woman who finds herself in a different role than she ever imagined, that of a single mother. This role is thrust upon her unexpectedly by the passing of a long lost relative, and results in some highly entertaining predicaments, and of course some alterations, both in her personal, and her career life. This was not what I would describe as an incredibly moving film, but a great, fun movie, which I would recommend for older teens through adults.

Happy Monday! I hope this is the beginning of a fantastic week for you all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Crackers And Lace

Yesterday was an odd day for me. For some reason I felt "off", antsy, nervy... At some point, I decided perhaps a bit of knitting would relax me. Perhaps I was right. However, it didn't take me long to realize an intricate lace pattern, particularly one that I've been working on for a long time with excellent results, and am near the halfway point on, is not the knitting project to choose when feeling "off".

The first row of my 10 row repetition went okay. About halfway in to the second row I allowed myself to become distracted. I discovered it is easier to become distracted on an "off" day. While this was discouraging, it didn't upset me too much. I had made mistakes in this pattern before and managed to work it back and re knit it. I then proceeded to attempt just that. It was then that I discovered while attempting to knit an intricate lace pattern when one is feeling off may not be the best idea, attempting to fix a mistake when feeling jittery is a hugely bad idea! I somehow managed to drop a stitch, and between the complexities of this particular pattern, and the fiber I was working with, along with my aging eyes, all I managed to do in attempting to correct my error was to make it worse.

Perhaps a more experienced knitter could have frogged the piece back to a point they could start afresh. While I've got a couple years of experience behind me, I've still got a ways to go. My eyes aren't that good, and I was nowhere near the the top of my personal best. My beautiful lace creation is now history. I am now considering whether to start this same piece over from the beginning, or if I should opt for a different pattern. There are a couple patterns I'm interested in trying but, they both look even more complicated than the original pattern I was working on, and at least one of them, while really quite nice, and it does possess one quality that would be even more desirable in the finished product, has a less intricate finished look to it. Ah well. I think I'll work up a swatch of the other one, then decide.

On a brighter note, I did find something to do yesterday which made me feel much better. It chased the jitters away, made our house smell good, and in the end, I was rewarded with smiles all around.

Many years ago, when my now grown daughters were young, I had a recipe for cheese crackers that my children really enjoyed. Somehow, after so many years, and numerous moves, I managed to lose this recipe. Since being introduced to the joys of cyberspace, I have spent countless hours searching in vain for this particular recipe. I have, however found several recipes that came close. Yesterday afternoon I decided to try tweaking one of these recipes just a bit to see if I could come up with a satisfactory rendition of the original recipe. The results of my experiment fell short of my expectations, but my family, especially the two youngest members of my family, were thrilled with the results. That made me feel good, and the physical aspect of working the dough was just what my jittery mood needed. With my families overwhelming support, I plan to experiment a bit more with this recipe in the very near future. I have all kinds of ideas to change it up, and expect I will end up trying various options before coming up with what I will consider the perfect cracker. Naturally, I'll be keeping you all updated on the progress ;-)

Lesson learned: When feeling jittery, kitchen utensils trump knitting needles!

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last nights feature event was one the kids chose from the list I had put together for them through Netflix. Over the Hedge was an excellent choice that the whole family enjoyed. Some portions had the kids laughing out loud, others found Ma and Pa chuckling, and many received laughter from all four of us at the same time. We also enjoyed trying to place the voices we knew were part of the cast, including William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Wanda Sykes, Gary Shandling, Bruce Willis and more. I'm going to have to go online to see how many we guessed correctly. This is an animated film I would recommend for the whole family.

Pa's roasting a ham for dinner tonight.He's popping an acorn squash in beside it for a side dish I was rather hoping to make some bread today, but the timing wouldn't quite work out. I may make a quick bread instead, maybe cornbread. Or perhaps I'll go with a casserole bread, which is a yeast bread but not quite so time consuming. I've an old cheese bread recipe in mind. I'm thinking that would go well with the rest of the meal... Tomorrow, I'll let you know what I ended up doing, and perhaps, provide a recipe..

My day is rapidly getting away from me! Must step away from the keyboard...

Hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Here Comes The Rain Again...

Thanks to all those who've been leaving such wonderful comments the last few days! I truly appreciate that you are taking the time to respond, and the thought that went in to such meaningful words!

With last year's storms still fresh in my mind, compounded by this years long term forecasts for the season, and what seems like an earlier arrival of the heavy rains, I'm experiencing feelings of more urgency in my preparations for the winter ahead.

Every year Pa and Nathan spend hours working on the diversion ditches alongside the driveway. Fortunately, the rainy season is preceded by the usual wood gathering and processing, so their muscles have been prepared for the hard work. Yes, it happens every year, and we expect it, but this year it seems the heavier, longer lasting rains have come earlier than usual. The diversion ditch, and the holding pond have already become a challenge, the water flow exceeding the carefully constructed borders, and blowing out, resulting in the erosion producing streams flowing freely down our drive, which makes me a bit nervous about what may be in store for us as the season progresses.

While Pa and Nathan diligently work with their shovels, as the rain pounds down on them, Lindsay and I are warm and dry in the house, working on other seasonal chores. We knit and crochet. We work in the kitchen, creating baked goods, warm, comforting meals, and of course, cocoa mix, for those chilly winter days to come.

In addition to those things which keep our minds and bodies busy this time of year, I find myself wondering what I may need to add to my grocery list. Considering the early onslaught of heavy rain, and the expected warmer, wetter weather this year, I feel a need to stock up a bit more, and earlier. Who knows when the floods will begin, and how bad they may become in our area this year? I would be surprised if 101 did not become impassable at least once, if not more often this year. Even if Pa and Nathan manage to keep our driveway in a state which would allow us to navigate it, we may be cut off from our weekly shopping trips, perhaps for longer than a week at a time.

I also wonder if this may be the year our electric bill will be based on an average for a time. UPS does not deliver to our home as it is. Fortunately, living in a smaller community, we are able to arrange to pick our packages up at their office, so long as we are provided with tracking #s. That arrangement doesn't work for others though, such as the meter reader. Like us, he has equipped himself with a pickup, and tires which allow him access to rougher road conditions than many, so he may be able to make it up. I rather hope so, as the kids enjoy his visits. I'm just hoping it doesn't get so bad that we can't make it up and down our rather lengthy driveway ourselves! Although none of us would really mind the walk if it came to that, we really don't relish thought of leaving our truck at the bottom of the drive, on the road, out of our sight, as others in our area have found it necessary to do in years past. We've been lucky so far in that respect. Keeping our fingers crossed that our luck holds out.

Although I miss being able to hang my clothes outside to dry this time of year, the wood stove does a fine job of drying our clothing. We're grateful for our truck, and for the wood gleaning opportunities in the area this year, so we can heat our home, and dry our clothes in an affordable manner. Now, if it would just stop raining (pouring!) long enough for us to make a few more trips to add to our wood pile!

If, like us, Mother Nature has brought a bounty of precipitation your way, rejoice! It's a blessing to be able to bring our own form of sunshine into our families lives! Bake a loaf of homemade bread, and enjoy the resulting aroma(not to mention the taste!). Make some yogurt, and turn it into a yummy treat. Create something really cool from items you might normally toss in the trash. Find a good book, gather your family about, and read it out loud. Enjoy the opportunity for togetherness the season has provided!

A happy weekend to all!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Boondock Perks

It was yet another fun trip to town yesterday. Pa dropped us off at the Library as usual. We entered the building, and the young 'uns headed towards the book drop off. After depositing their bags full of books and turning around to head towards the aisles to choose from the seemingly endless offerings for this week, one of the Librarians called their names, and asked them to come to the desk. They did as requested, and I stood in the background, listening as I perused the books in front of me. Both Librarians behind the desk proceeded to explain why they had called my children over. It seems a new book had recently been ordered. They explained this book was not even in the system yet, so they would not see it when searching on the computer, but upon noticing this title they had immediately thought of them. My daughter, Lindsay is now first on the list to recieve this book, the latest from one of her favorite series, The Cat Warriors. Once again, the folks at our library, their fondness for my children, and their attention to detail amazed me.

Our location, a small community, associated with a slightly larger, yet by the standards of many, if not most, still a very small community, certainly not a city, does have it's drawbacks. We find ourselves searching in vain for many items not available in our area for purchase. There are certain amenities that require hours, if not an overnight stay to access.

Yet, I feel blessed to live where things flow at a slower pace. Folks have the time, and the inclination to savor the delights that are so easily missed when one feels rushed to get from one place to another, always being pushed along by the crowds, the traffic, the feeling of urgency to get to the next destination. We enjoy a different set of amenities here. Folks have the time to stop and smell the roses. Conversations spring up between the aisles, and in the lines at the grocery stores. Rather than getting angry, grumbling about the hold up in the lines at the Post Office during the holiday madness, folks smile and get to know those they share the line with. There is joking between the customers in line, as well as the folks behind the counter, who greet you by name as you take your turn in front of them. Librarians get to know their patrons. Strangers more often than not are simply friends you have yet to meet.

As we went about our day, heading to the grocery store, I found there were a few items I simply could not find on the shelves. I was frustrated, but found myself looking about me, noticing a few other people in the aisle. I knew, as I began explaining to my children what it was I was searching for, that someone would come to my aid. Sure enough, a lady spoke up. Two of the three items I was searching for would probably not be available in any of the grocery stores in the area. However, she said, I could probably find them at the larger of the two Health Food stores in the area.

So, yeah, there are some inconvenient aspects of living where we do. There may even be times when I get frustrated enough to complain a bit about some of those inconveniences. It doesn't take long though, for me to reflect, and realize I am on the winning end of the trade off, and there's not a thing I would change. Life is good in "The Boondocks".

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today is Costco day! I'm looking forward to discovering what did and didn't come in from my latest order. I'm still thrilled at the discovery that we have this option. Today's order includes the beginnings of my holiday baking supplies. Next week I need to make a phone call and see about availability (and corresponding order #s) for items I need or desire that are not included in the "catalog" we were provided with. Although we have found there are some items that really aren't that great of a deal, or that we can pretty much count on finding at the Grocery Outlet for less, there are a lot of great deals to be had, and I'm just loving having this additional $$ saving option available.

Of course, being Thursday, and the end of October festivities now over and done with, today is also our Library and shopping day. Due to last weeks fun, we didn't manage to do our regular amount of shopping, so I'm looking forward to that even more than usual this week. I do have to admit though, it was kinda fun "making do" with what we had on hand for the last week. I find the challenges of figuring out new ways to utilize our stores to be highly entertaining, and we usually discover at least one new favorite dish out of those weeks. Of course the big secret to that is stocking up on those items you know you'll use when they're on sale. I'm hoping to find a few more of those types of items today.

Another thing I'm hoping to find on the grocery store shelves today is some bread making supplies. I'm not one to settle for plain white when making my own bread. I prefer to get a bit more creative than that. Naturally, I have plenty of my own ideas ready to incorporate into my yeasty experiments, but I have also found a few recipes I'm really looking forward to trying. There's one in particular that was suggested by a dear friend that I'm anxious to try. This calls for some ingredients that I hadn't considered in the past, and they are all on my ever growing shopping list.

Speaking of bread making supplies, I was tickled to finally talk to the manager of the bakery at Albertson's last week. She sold me 10 bread bags for just under 10¢ a piece. While I can get them a bit cheaper on line, I would have to purchase such a large amount at a time that it would seem a bit silly. I'll continue my search for another source, but in the meantime, if necessary, it's good to know I have this option.

The young'uns have been becoming a bit antsy with all the rain we've had this last week. They were okay the first few days, but it's wearing thin. We're starting to get a bit more creative with busy work for them. I'm rather hoping my bread making endeavors will serve as a distraction for them as well. Naturally, there will be some "extra" dough for their personal creations, to be baked right along side the larger, more conventionally shaped loaves. Mmmm. I can hardly wait for that wonderful aroma to fill my house!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud To Be An American

Yesterday evening, while watching the election results, I felt, more than any time I can remember, like I was watching history unfold. I remember the assassination of JFK, of MLK Jr., and of Bobby Kennedy. Although those were historic events, I didn't feel that awareness as I do now. I also remember going to the moon. I knew that was a historic event, but I didn't feel it quite the same way I felt it last night. I expect that has to do with age. Perhaps I was just young enough at the time of those past events that it didn't quite make it through just how historic those things were.

Last night was different. I'm older now. I have children and grandchildren and I am very aware, sometimes painfully so, how current events can shape their future. Being an older parent, of two relatively young children, I have seen and heard their expressions of wonder at some of those historic events I myself have witnessed. Last night Pa and I were joined by our two youngest. We watched together as history unfolded in front of our eyes.

Once the the numbers had come in to the point it was obvious who the next President of our country would be, I had experienced what seemed an odd combination of emotions. I was moved to an incredible level by the emotions being shown by Obama's supporters on the screen. It wasn't the whoopin' it up party as usual. It was raw emotions. It was hope. I saw Jesse Jackson in tears. I watched as Martin Luther King III spoke. I couldn't help but wish his Father had lived to see the moment. His dream was being realized. I saw hope in the eyes, in the posture of every person in those "camps", no matter the color of their skin. I saw Americans of every hue, age, and both genders moved to tears, not just for the victory of their candidate, but for dreams realized, and for hope.I was also thrilled to note that our country, for this historic event was not sharply divided by party lines. It would seem the majority of Americans voted for the person, rather than the party. For the first time in years I feel like we are not a divided nation. We are one United States of America.

Two men made me very proud last night. The first of those men was John McCain. He gave an incredible concession speech. While congratulating the new President elect, he called for unity, and declared his intentions to do all he could to work with, and assist his former opponent in the task ahead, which no doubt will be a very difficult task indeed. John McCain showed real class. He proved to me that he is all that I believed him to be. He is a man I would be honored to sit down and visit with. Although the odds of that happening are less than my winning the lottery, I've no doubt it would be an entertaining, and educational meeting. He is a good man. No, he is a great man, who has served our country well, and I expect he will continue to do so.

The second man who made me feel such pride last night was our President elect, Barack Obama. He stepped out not in arrogance, not in pride. Rather he took the stage with his trademark cool, calm, capable presence. He spoke of hope and of change. He spoke of unity, but those words were not conveyed as the empty promises of those who have gone before him. His words, his expressions, his whole demeaner seemed to be agreeing. He really seemed to mean it. His acceptance speech was not one of gloating, it was one of hope, and incredibly,a note of humility.

As Barack Obama stated last night, I have no doubt he will in the years to come make some unpopular decisions. I will be surprised if he does not make decisions that I disagree with, perhaps in some cases, quite strongly. But, I believe that all he does he will do because he believes it is the best thing for our Country. I dare to hope that he is right. I do not expect him to be perfect. I realize he is human after all. I know for a fact that he will, if given the opportunity, do at least one thing I will disagree with. However, that is something I don't believe should be a political thing in the first place, and I am fully capable of conveying, and hopefully instilling those personal beliefs and values to my children. I am also concerned about how one other issue that could personally affect me and my family may unfold under his leadership. This is an issue that is very important to me, and if I was one to vote for a person on a single issue then I would have voted for the other candidate. However, I realize, perhaps more than any other time in history, we need to look beyond one or two issues. We need to look at the whole very big picture. I have hope that the best person for that job will be taking over in the Oval Office.

I am, once again, after eight very long, painful years, proud to be an American.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One More Halloween Down

As with the majority of American families with children, yesterday was a busy, fun filled day for us. Naturally, our young 'uns took their sweet time deciding on their choice of costumes for the end of October event. As a family, we shy away from the scarier aspect of the evening, tending more towards fun and creative costumes to add to the parade of candy seekers at the mall. We also enjoy creating our own disguises, rather than opting for the generic options available in the stores. While this adds to the fun for us, it can also result in a bit of anxiety when the big decisions come late in the game.

Thursday, rather than our usual Library and grocery shopping day, we headed straight for the thrift store, where we desperately searched for the items we could turn into the costume Nathan had decided on for the season. Fortunately, Lindsay had made it easy on us this year. She had chosen to go out dressed as a mouse, which just happened to be what Nathan had chosen for his disguise last year. To expand on the theme, Nathan decided he wanted to go as his favorite critter of the moment, a cat.

There are, of course, ready made cat costumes available, which would have made my chore a mite easier, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, I've found most cat costumes are either intended for the very young, or the young adult female seeking a more alluring effect. I was thinking neither would be appropriate for my 11 year old son, and so the search was on!

Initially we were in search of an oversized black hooded sweatshirt. I figured I could create ears easily enough by simply pulling up some of the excess fabric in the large hood. We were unable to find that particular item though, so we had to get a bit more creative. What we found ended up to be the conversational piece of the thrift shop!

In the children's section we found a girls black fur coat with a lovely long fur trim adorning the outside rim of the hood. We tried it on Nathan, which resulted in hilarity from all sides, especially from some Hispanic ladies standing nearby. Between bouts of laughter I could make out the words "Nina " and "Nino". Yes, I could certainly understand the mirth. Although there were some language barriers to overcome, we were able to communicate to the point I was able to explain my intention. All, including other shoppers observing the whole thing, agreed it was a great idea.

Thursday evening, we set our purchases off to the side and I had a heck of a time attempting to sleep while brainstorming how I was going to pull this costume off. Yesterday morning, I began by carefully snipping the decorative fur from the hood. I then cut a shorter portion off, and was delighted to see the larger length had a natural kink to it. One end of this larger portion of fur was then hand sewn on to the back of the coat. After trying it on, Nathan was happy, both with the placement, and the natural kink. It made a perfect tail! I then cut the smaller length of fur in two. Again, I was tickled to note the natural kink, and even more amazing, the point each had on one end. All I had to do was carefully stitch the fluffier end down on the top sides of the hood and we had ears!

A pair of Ma's black pants, the coat zipped up, and hood over his head, Nathan was all but ready to go. As Lindsay donned her costume, I proceeded to draw whiskers on Nathan's face with the black body makeup pen I had purchased for just this occasion. I then turned to Lindsay and did the same before we all marched outside for the big photo shoot.

At the mall, the kids' costumes were a big hit. One lady even warned Lindsay, the mouse that she might need to watch out for Nathan, the cat. We did notice some changes at the mall this year. I was happy to note there were fewer store bought costumes than in years past. Folks were being much more creative, and came up with some really great costumes for their children. It was fun seeing the different ways folks chose to unleash their creativity, and to see fewer repeats within the crowd. I'm rather hoping to see this trend continue. For our family anyway, it just adds to the fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Bit O Wood And Knittin' !

Yesterday was another fun filled yet busy day. We spent the afternoon about 2 miles away from our house, gleaning yet more wood. Looking around it was amazing to us to realize just how close we are to the home of the wild and the free. I guess it probably shouldn't be all that surprising, considering the wildlife that has visited our yard throughout the years. We expect to return to this site several times in the coming weeks, and will try to remember to take the time out from the fun and the work to get some photos.

In the meantime I do have a photo to share with you...I finally finished my very first knitted garment that I designed myself. I really had a lot of fun with it, starting with the idea of a basic textured t-shirt style. Naturally, as with my kitchen experiments, I become a bit more creative as the garment began taking shape . As well as being my first attempt at designing, it also included my very first placket !

There was a reason I chose this shirt for my first attempt. After searching what seemed like endless sources for a pattern for a short sleeved light shirt for a teen or preteen boy I was becoming more than a little frustrated. The only patterns I could find for that size range were for warm, bulky sweaters! Although I have nothing against sweaters, our winters don't tend to be cold enough for the most part to warrant such garments as everyday wear, so I wanted something a bit lighter, more of a year round type garment. Finally I decided to heck with it. If I couldn't find what I wanted, then I'd just have to create one of my own. The following photo shows the result of my grand experiment. Pictured with Nathan, is Lindsay, sporting the lighter weight garment I knitted for her over the summer. I found the pattern for Lindsay's top online but found the fit was off around the neckline, so we did some modifications. Lindsay and I were both very happy with the end result. And didn't my children chose nice yarn for their garments?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank You, Marcia!

Thank you so much, Marcia! It means so much to me that you find my blog worthy of this award!

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

The rules to follow are :1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.
Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I am honored to recieve this award and it is with pleasure that I pass this award on to those I find worthy!

First, I would like to pass this award on to Bev, at Emma's Daughter Designs. Bev was off line for awhile, for various reasons, but is back again, posting about her life, and her knitting pursuits. She is an incredibly talented lady, and has such a wonderful way with words. I hope you stop by her blog. I just know you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Next, I would like to honor my daughter, Kimmi, at Musings of A Pastry Case. Kimmi's talents are many, and she seems to be adding to her list of talents all the time. Her main interest is cooking and baking. Unfortunately, she hasn't figured out how to transfer the tastes of her creations through cyberspace, but she does share photos, and some great descriptions, along with glimpses into her life beyond her culinary experiments.

Dorothy, at Grammology is the third person I'd like to mention. Dorothy is an exceptional lady. She has experienced much adversity in her life, including medical trials, and has met those challenges with a strength and grace that is truly inspiring. Her thoughts on life and family are thought invoking and inspiring as well. Her site is well worth a visit!

Connie, at Play Wit Me Nana is another blog that enjoy. Connie is so generous in sharing her life with her Grandchildren, including her very talented, and adorable Granddaughter. Her blog always leaves me smiling.

Another favorite of mine is Alexandra, at Happy Hearts At Home. Alexandra is another Homeschooling Mom, who posts some great frugal ideas, and links for Homeschooling, Crafts and household needs.

My sister, Carol, at Too Many Hats is another I'd like to honor with this award. She does a great job of relating stories of her family life, both with words, and through photography.

I'll try to add to this later on. For the moment I need to get busy, as we have a lot we need to get done today.

I hope you all visit Marcia's wonderful blog, as well as the others I've listed here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Politics: Just For Fun

One of the things I decided when starting this blog was that I was going to do my level best to avoid political posts as much as possible. While I do have some very strong opinions just like everyone else, I also have friends and family who have opposing views. I could go on my soapbox and make my strong opinions known but I have to wonder what the point would be. I would gain atta girls from some, and alienate others.In the process I would have accomplished nothing worthwhile. Face it. No one is going to change their mind because of anything I say. And so it is I am finding myself sitting on my hands, biting my tongue, taking a deep breath, reminding myself to "just say no"

On that note, there is a little something that has occurred to me in recent months. "Just for fun", I did a search and was actually rather surprised to find what I was searching for so easily. "Just for fun", I am inviting you to visit this site and take a little peek into history. It's not a long trip into history. The journey begins with our current president and proceeds backwards into time through 6 Presidents who have preceded him in serving our nation. There is actually very little reading involved, and you have the option of skipping the reading portion all together if you choose. Just look at the pictures..

When you are finished browsing through the pictorial history lesson, I would ask you to do one more thing. Go to most any news site, or just open a current newspaper that may be laying around the house. I'm guessing finding photos of each of the current Presidential candidates will be less than challenging. Take a good look at each of them, and one at a time, imagine what they would look like after 4 then 8 years in the Oval Office.

Remember, it's "just for fun"

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Another fantastic weekend is coming to an end. Fortunately, our weekdays are tend to be fun as well so we're not experiencing any real sense of loss.

Thursday's trip to town was another fun one. Our first stop, the Library was particularly interesting to me this time. They have a Native American exhibit up, featuring tribes from the PNW. In addition to the exhibit they had available, upon request, teachers materials on the same subject. Being of Native American descent , naturally, I jumped on that. The materials are intended for older students, but I think I can work them in just the same.

The Grocery Outlet offered some good bargains this last week, including some baking pans I was in need of. We ended up saving more than we spent once again. I just love when that happens! At Albertson's, I stopped by the bakery and inquired as to the possibility of acquiring bread bags for my homemade bread. The young woman who was working really did her best to get me an answer, but ended up telling me I needed to check back when the manager was working. Fortunately, the manager is scheduled to be on duty next Thursday when we will again be heading into town, so hopefully I'll be coming home with the needed bags then.

For the last couple months, I've been scrambling to get my laundry caught up prior to the seasonal weather change. In particular I wanted to get all the bedding done up, as they take up so much room when I need to dry them inside. I was incredibly frustrated in my search for two sets of Nathan's sheets, including his flannel sheets which are so nice during the cooler months. Yesterday, I happened to be rummaging through his closet, pulling clothing that no longer fit and all. In the corner of said closet I noticed something that looked familiar. The sheets! Both sets all crumpled up, stashed in the corner, looking so forgotten and alone. They are now stashed in a different place, the washer, where they will be taking a spin within the hour. Fortunately, today promises to be a beautiful sunny day, so I should be able to get them laundered and dried. I'm a happy Ma!

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last night we were treated to a truly great film! The kids had gone through the selections at Netflix and chosen a film called The Yearling. It did look like one they'd enjoy and I placed it at the top of the list so it would be here in time for their weekend viewing. After it had been moved up to shipping status I took a closer look at it, and noticed it was made in 1946. Hmmm. I gotta admit, I felt a twinge of concern over that. Oh well. It was a done deal so may as well just sit back and hope for something they would enjoy at some level. After supper we popped the movie in and sat back to watch it. What a wonderful surprise! It was a great movie! Starring Jane Wyman and Gregory Peck, it featured great acting as well as being a good story, packed full of valuable life lessons, which had the added bonus of providing us with some great family conversation once the movie had ended. All four of us were riveted through the entire film. I highly recommend this title for family viewing, although I will mention there are some parts which may be confusing or disturbing for the very young.

I need to get a new batch of laundry detergent made so I can get those sheets washed up and hanging out on the line. Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kitchen Fun 'N" Brainstorming

Today is Library/shopping day! It's also Costco day! We're looking forward to receiving our Costco shipment almost as much as our trip to town!

Yesterday, I had hoped to make some yeast bread, but by the time I finished with everything else I had run out of time, so I made do with a loaf of quick bread instead. Rather than the usual banana bread I thought I'd try something different. I found a recipe for peanut butter bread, and added some chocolate chips to the batter. As it turns out, it was a better choice than the yeast bread for a couple reasons. First off, I realized I only have one bread pan, and if I'm going to put the time and effort into making yeast bread, I figure I may as well bake more than one loaf at a time. Naturally, a loaf pan is on today's shopping list. Secondly, we didn't do as much grocery shopping last week as usual and we were out of dessert options for the kids. The peanut butter bread, with the addition of the chocolate chips made for an excellent alternative for that. It was good last night, but I'm really looking forward to sampling it again today as, generally speaking, I've found quick breads tend to be much more flavorful the second day.

With the addition of a working oven, I'm finding new inspiration almost daily. I've decided I'd like to start baking my own bread for my family, rather than relying on the overpriced, preservative laden breads available at the grocery. Upon thinking that over a bit, I realized recycling the bread bags from previous bread purchases wasn't going to get me very far for storing my homemade creations. What to do? I looked online and found various sources of plastic bags for sale, ranging in price from better than $7 for 2 bags, to $80 + for 1000 bags. Obviously the 1000 bags is a better deal, but I really don't think I need that many! Then I had a light bulb moment. We do our shopping in a relatively small community, which limits us in some ways, but also has it's benefits. Folks tend to be friendly, and helpful. The folks at the stores we frequent know us. Perhaps, if I ask real nice I may be able acquire some bread bags from the bakery dept. at the grocery store! Guess I'll be finding out today!

In my previous post I forgot to mention, in all the fun the kids and I were having, somehow my glasses got knocked off. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. As I looked down, I spotted them, laying on the ground, right in front of me. Unfortunately, at the same moment, I was taking a step forward, in an attempt to steady myself. It was too late to stop myself. I did manage to swerve a bit, so I didn't hit them head on. . I picked them up, and was amazed to note they hadn't broken. They were bent, and it was a challenge to get them bent back enough that I could place them back on my face. It took several more adjustments to actually keep them on my face, but it was doable, and I am now gazing through them again. Perhaps Dorothy was right, and we should stop off to grab a lottery ticket during our trip to town today!. ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Last Day In The Big Woods

We had a change of plans yesterday. Although the sun did come out in the afternoon, we didn't make out to glean more firewood. Pa made some phone calls in the morning, to BLM, Menasha, etc. to see what opportunities may be coming up for us to increase the size of our wood pile. The folks at BLM were quick to advise against going out because of the rain and the resulting muddy conditions, so we made the most of our time at home instead. Although the kids were a bit disappointed that we weren't heading out into the deep woods, they did have a good time. At one point they came in all excited, dragging Pa and Me out to see the very pretty web they had watched a spider construct, from start to finish. It was fun listening to their descriptions of the process.

Today was a different story. It was our last day to take advantage of our permit so we headed out as early as we could manage it. We had a great time. While Pa was busy sawing up the wood, the kids and I had nothing to do but play, and play we did! I'm pretty sure I got as much of a workout from our play as I did from hauling the wood to the truck! Nathan even decided to see if the name we gave him earlier in the year might have bestowed some magical flying powers.

Although it was a pretty impressive attempt, none of us noticed any actual lifting in the motion that might have indicated flight. Guess he forgot the name was "Featherless Natewarbler" , and I've never known of a featherless bird actually managing flight ;-)

Pa did keep us busy hauling wood though, and I'm happy to report the wood was in a much kinder mood today! We even managed to have a fine conversation with a BLM Forest Ranger, as well as the head Forester for our district. Once they had checked our paperwork to make sure we were legal we all just chatted it up for quite awhile. That ended up setting our timetable back a bit but that was okay. We learned alot from them, including the very welcome news that we will probably be able to get another permit for the same spot in the near future.

On the way back we experienced one more slight delay. We were all surprised when we had to stop the truck to wait for a flock of ten wild turkeys to move out of our way. They were just standing there. They finally moved, but as we passed Pa looked in the rearview mirror and noticed them all walking back out to the very same spot. Pa says he's pretty sure that was the farewell committee.

Once home, with the truck unloaded we all had a chance to sit down and relax. It was then we realized how worn out we were. We really did get a workout today! Although we're going to miss our fun in the woods, Pa and I are rather looking forward to a wee bit of recovery time. The kids are just going to have to make do with our own little patch of woods, at least until we manage to land another permit.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Fun In The Boondocks

What a wonderful weekend we had! Just the four of us at home. Pa and Nathan got quite a bit of wood split. Lindsay jumped right in and helped with the stacking, and even got to split her first round of wood! The maul was too heavy for her, but she managed just fine once Pa got her set up with a wedge and the mallet. She was so proud!

Saturday night I had a chance to experiment with my oven again with a combination of ingredients that had been coming to me in spurts for the last week. It was a casserole that ultimately yielded 3 out of 4 thumbs up. Lindsay wasn't thrilled with it, but she didn't hate it either. At least she finished her plate. Everyone else had seconds, and are looking forward to leftovers.The thing she didn't like about it turned out to be the thing everyone else enjoyed. I had a heck of a time trying to come up with a name for this one, but wanted to share it with you all, so here goes:

Kicky Goulash

3 1/2 cups plain yogurt, drained for 4-6 hours
2 TBSP Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4-1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper (I did 24 grinds of the mill)
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 can sliced olives (save a few for garnish if desired)
*1 can (6 oz.?) diced mild green chilies (optional)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste = 1/2 can water
7-8 oz. egg noodles, cooked
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus a bit more for garnish if desired)

Preheat oven to 350º

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil 'til tender. Add ground beef, breaking up as it cooks,salt and pepper. Cook and stir til meat is barely pink. Stir in sliced mushrooms, cover and let steam a couple minutes. Stir in tomato paste, 1/2 can water, and drained yogurt. Stir well, til no red streaks remain. Add shredded cheddar, chilies and olives. Mix together with cooked and drained noodles. Transfer to a baking dish (my 2 qt. dish barely contained it all, and a bit bubbled over into the oven, so either go with a slightly larger dish, or set it on a baking sheet) At this point I added a bit more shredded cheese and reserved olives to the top just to make it purty ;) Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or til bubbly.

6-8 servings

* Optional. This was the part Lindsay didn't like. It gives it a bit of a tang. If you prefer you might opt to saute some green bell pepper with the onion and garlic instead.

Saturday Night At The Movies

This weeks feature event was "Ice Age" (sorry, no link. IMDB isn't cooperating with me this morning), featuring the voice of Ray Romano. This animated film was a fun adventure and a meaningful story about relationships between rather unlikely friends, that the whole family enjoyed. Plenty of chuckles, and several "aaahs" for the tender moments. I think this film would be good for all audiences, including the very young.

Sunday was another busy, yet fun day at our Boondock home. We started our day with a breakfast prepared by Lindsay. She was inspired by a cookbook big sister, Kimmi had sent her, The Pooh Cook Book. She prepared, for her first time ever, a perfectly fluffy yet moist pan of scrambled eggs. She was so proud, and is looking forward to her next experiment.

Once fueled with all that protein, we were all ready to start our day. Pa and Nathan headed out and went to work on the woodpile once again, while Lindsay and I busied ourselves with household chores. We did all manage to take some time out for reading before supper time was upon us. This evening Pa treated us to a wonderful baked chicken meal. Afterwards, I sent Nathan out to get the bucket of vanilla ice cream while Lindsay and I took our turn at the stove. This time we were experimenting with dessert. It really turned out good! More Leftover Magic with rice!

Stovetop Chocolate Rice Pudding

About 2 cups cooked Rice
2 TBSP butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
Vanilla Ice Cream

Place cooked rice in heavy saucepan. Add milk to cover. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick (I figure it takes about 20 minutes) . Meanwhile, in small saucepan, heat butter. When it begins to melt add remaining ingredients, except vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until it boils. Let it boil, while stirring for 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat, and allow to cool a bit before stirring in vanilla. Once the rice is cooked to desired thickness remove from heat and stir in the chocolate mixture.

Serve warm in bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

4-6 servings

Today, assuming the rain lets up in time, we're heading back out to the woods. We have 'til Tomorrow to finish up with this permit. Keep your fingers crossed that the wood is in a better mood this week!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

That Wood's Got Attitude!

Alrighty then! I guess it's a bit past time to post an update here! Sorry I've been MIA for so long. It's been a busy time in the Boondocks!

Last February we were fortunate enough to acquire a permit to get 2 cords of wood from a BLM site. It was a beautiful site. We were all four truly impressed with their harvesting methods, which left so many standing trees, as well as other smaller growth undisturbed. We believe in using not abusing, and it seemed to us that's what had been done at that site.

That 2 cords of wood helped us out a lot with our home heating, but it sure wasn't enough to keep us going into this season. A couple weeks ago we were thrilled to be able to get another permit, again with BLM. While last winter's site was impressive, this site purt near took our collective breath away. It is just gorgeous! They left a minimum of 80 trees per acre, and again, there was minimal under story damage. There are a couple small clear cuts to be seen if you look in the right direction, but other than that, the view is spectacular. I couldn't help but think what a lovely spot it would be for a home site. Of course BLM has other plans, so we just enjoyed it for the short time our visits allowed.

We had a great time gleaning wood from this site, and were thrilled with the diversity of the wood available. We got a good mixture including a bit of fir, some alder, and the biggest thrill of all, Myrtle wood! While the Myrtle was the biggest thrill, it was also the biggest challenge, and it actually seemed to have a mind of it's own!

All was going well until Wednesday afternoon. Pa was at the top of the hill sawing up the top portion of a Myrtle wood log.

Nathan and I were down at the bottom, staying safely out of the way until he finished, and Lindsay was patiently waiting in the back of the truck for us to finally bring some rounds over for her to stack neatly. When we heard the sound of silence signalling the saw shutting down, and saw Pa stand upright we knew it was safe to proceed. Nathan and I eagerly rushed over to the rounds waiting for us and began picking them up.

They were some good sized rounds, and even heavier than their size might indicate. We managed though. We each took a round over to the truck and helped Lindsay stack them before returning for more.

I saw Nathan grab one, and was leaning over to grab my large round when all of a sudden I felt a very painful pressure on my leg. One of the rounds at the top of the hill had rolled down, bounced off a branch along the ground and attacked me with so much force that it nearly knocked me over! I screamed, both from the pain and the shock of the surprise attack. My family all rushed over to see if I was alright. I replied in the affirmative as I leaned back to sit on a nearby log, grasping my leg. I sat there for several minutes before I decided to try standing up, just to make sure it wasn't broken. I'm happy to report I don't yet suffer from brittle bones ;-)

Once I had limped around a bit to get the feel of walking again we all set to work, finishing the job we'd started. I felt a sharp pain on occasion but was able to put it off and keep up with my family. Once the truck was loaded to the point of overkill, we all hopped in and headed for home. About 90 minutes later we arrived home and my family all spilled out of the truck, eager to get started unloading all the wood. I, however had a bit of a problem. I did manage to get out of the truck but was surprised at the pain I felt when I put weight on my leg. I helped unload the wood in spite of Pa and the kid's suggestions that I go inside and rest my leg. Imagine my surprise when Pa tossed that round of wood that had attacked me in the woods up to the top of the pile and it proceeded to roll down and right over to me. I stepped out of the way, staring at it with disbelief. That thing really seemed to have it in for me!

By the time we were finished I could barely make it into the house, where I sat down and placed my hand on my leg where it was hurting.I was only mildly surprised to feel a lump. I lifted my pants leg to take a closer look. I really was surprised to see a very colorful huge lump on the side of my leg. It so amazed me that I just had to limp back outside to show Pa. "Look at this! There's a basketball growing out of my leg!"

Pa ushered me back into the house where we were soon joined by the kids. I was ordered on the couch. Nathan brought me a chair to put my leg up for elevation. Lindsay brought me a bag of frozen peas for an ice pack, and someone brought me something to drink, as well as a book to read. Pa then headed down to the store to get me some Tylenol, both for the pain, and in hopes that it might help with the swelling. It seemed my work was done for the day! I did get a lot of reading done that evening, as my children took turns exchanging the bag of peas for another so my leg would be well chilled. Several hours later when it was time for bed I was amazed at how much the swelling had gone down, and pleased to note I could walk into the bedroom without the assistance of the crutch Pa had pulled out for me.

Next week, we hope to get yet another permit for another 2 cords of wood. Hopefully, the wood in the next location won't be quite so vicious.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Birthdays 'N' Bakin' 'N' Shoppin'... Oh My!

This weekend was a Birthday weekend for our family. Friday was my Mother's Birthday. She lives far enough away that we were not able to spend the day with her, but she was sure on our mind, and we know Grandpa Earl made it a very special day for her.

Saturday was Pa's Birthday. He was tickled the sun chose to show up just long enough for him to enjoy spending some time outside before it continued raining once again. Of course, it being a Birthday, we opted for something a bit more exciting for dinner than our usual Saturday night beans. Rather, we had Pa's favorite, Corned Beef and cabbage, which was a delicious change. I was thrilled to have an oven so I could bake his cake this year. It was a different cake than I had made before so I was a bit nervous about it, but was quite pleased with the results. Decorating it was oodles of fun!

Saturday Night At The Movies

Of course, it being Saturday, the kids had to watch their movie. This week they chose Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Lindsay and I both thoroughly enjoyed it, I for the scenery and the music (I happen to be a Neil Diamond fan from way back), and Lindsay for the scenery and the story. While Nathan didn't seem sorry about their choice, judging by the multiple times I noted him sitting on the couch with his nose in his book, I'm guessing he wasn't quite so enthused with it as Lindsay and I were. Pa spent most of the movie viewing time chuckling at Lindsay's and my reactions, so I figure he wasn't really in to it either. Hmmm. Could it be a gender thing? I only wish we could've seen it on a big screen. Lindsay and I both agreed the wonderful scenic photography was deserving of a larger presentation.

Yesterday, Sunday, I got to use the oven again. I chose to experiment with some silicone bake ware I had received as a gift from my Father and Stepmother a few years ago. I was pleasantly surprised at the results, although I wonder if perhaps I need to bump the temperature up a bit when using it. Seems to me I read somewhere that you need to increase the temperature by 25º when baking with silicone bake ware? Anyway, I'm looking forward to experimenting with it again, after I do some more research.

This morning as we prepared for school I made an announcement. We now have two very happy children! Today and tomorrow will be the last two days of 4th and 6th grades for them. To celebrate, they will get the rest of the week off, and if the weather cooperates, they'll be able to head outside one evening, and we'll fire up the last of the sparklers we saved from our July 4th festivities just for this purpose.

One more exciting thing for this week. On one of Pa's recent trips down to the little store down the road, he learned that every two weeks, they take orders for Costco! Pa was able to get the catalog yesterday, and we got our first order in this morning. Although it's not quite the same as being able to head to the store, and push the big cart around loading it with whatever catches our attention, we are pleased to have the option of saving on quite a few choices. Thursday, Pa will head back down to the little store and pick up our first purchase. Our first order is a fairly small one, but I have big plans for future orders! One of the items on this week's order is a large bag of yeast. I've been wanting to start baking bread again, but was put off by the price of yeast at the grocery stores. I can get a 2 lb. bag of it from Costco for a very reasonable price. Excellent! I was thinking of trying to make a sourdough starter, but it's difficult to keep our house warm for extended periods of time. Now it won't be a problem. Just one more reason to be happy about having a working range ;-)

With all of the "busyness" around here lately, I've neglected my handiwork. It seems like so long ago that I last picked up my knitting needles, or a crochet hook. On top of that, I'm now quite eager to get started on sewing again. I'm hoping to pick up my knitting, if only for a little while again this afternoon. Tomorrow is Lindsay's next appointment with her eye Dr., so I'm hoping to come up with a reasonably mindless knitting or crocheting project to keep my mind and fingers busy while we're there as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We're Cookin' Now!

Tuesday, Pa made a quick trip to town to pick up a few things we needed, including the long awaited gizmo for my range, which had finally arrived after an extended trip from China. Yesterday, he went to work, wiring the gizmo, and getting it securely affixed to the range.

Yesterday evening, I extracted our very first oven baked meal in nearly 10 months time from the oven. What a treat!

Actually, it was rather entertaining. Upon Pa's announcement that the oven was now complete, and he had performed a successful test run, I was so excited! I couldn't wait to put together a meal utilizing the oven. I headed into the kitchen and came up with a complete blank! I looked in one cupboard, then another, and another. After much searching, I came up with absolutely no ideas for supper. I came to the conclusion that I had nothing in the house which could be put together for an oven baked meal. I paced the floor for a bit, expressed amazement and dismay, then it occurred to me that I had always been able to come up with something from what I had on hand in the past. Surely I could come up with something now!

I thought a bit more about all the ingredients I had on hand, and an idea began to formulate. Once I got started more and more ideas came to me, turning what started as a basic throw together into a unique and flavorful dish which my whole family savored. Once supper was over and done with, it dawned on me. I just wasn't used to thinking in terms of baking. For 10 months I had found it necessary to amend my thinking, focusing on stove top meals. Any oven related creativity had been pushed to the back of my brain for so long that I had to really focus to nudge it out from it's corner. Once it had been nudged enough all kinds of fun ideas came spilling out!

Today is our weekly Library and shopping day. My shopping list is different this week than it has been for quite some time. It includes ingredients that will be used in all sorts of creations, which I will happily pop in the oven, and pull out again after an allotted time, perfectly browned and happily bubbling, or risen to perfection. It is a process that, for the time being anyway, seems almost magical.

Oh Happy Day!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Hectic September Reaps October Benefits

Just a quick update, coming to you from what is now known as the kid's computer.

We still don't have protection for the new PC so all 4 of us were tickled to finally be able to get the old PC hooked up again. I'm also anxious to get the new one protected, as well as getting it some speakers, and a printer (our old printer isn't compatable) so it is fully functional. In the meantime, the kids are thrilled to have a PC they can call their own, even if they have to let Ma and Pa borrow it on occasion.

It's been a busy week, actually, it's been a busy month! Honestly, I can't remember a time when I have felt so busy, even when I was working outside the home. In addition to trying to get things done around the house, reorganizing, finding places for things so everything can be "in it's place", trying to figure out priorities for remodeling.... I've been rushing to get as much laundry done as I could while the weather held. Thanks to the new washer I was able to get an amazing amount done, and my wardrobe has increased by an amazing amount. Pa's wardrobe has increased as well. Between the two of us we're finding that we now need to add yet another dresser to our bedroom. I'm hoping we might find a good one at the thrift store.

A huge thank you goes out to Marcia, who sent me some books, as well as a few treats for the kids, which they really appreciated. She did the lollipops up so cute as flower centers and she included a post-it pack she had covered. All adorable, and so clever!. Thank you very much, Marcia! Oh! And the books are great too! Pa was amazed when I actually managed to clear enough space on the bookshelves for them, before he even had time to grumble about it! LOL

More great news at our house. The part we needed came in. Pa was able to pick it up today, so hopefully I'll be happily cooking on my range once more by supper time tomorrow. I'm beyond excited about that! I can't remember the last time I was so eager to be able to use an oven!

Speaking of supper...Pa is fixing what promises to be our last meal prepared on the propane stove, and it's almost finished, so I'm outta here. Tomorrow I get to cook in my kitchen again! What a great way to start a new month!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Cyber Transition

It's raining here today, so we're spending time cleaning house, rearranging, sorting and resorting...

Fortunately, yesterday was a very nice day so I was able to get some laundry done, and the kids were able to enjoy some time outside. In addition to that, Pa and the kids managed to get some wood cut up, split, and stacked, so we're able to stay warm during the cool evenings, and early in the morning.

I'm not spending much time online right now, but am hoping all that will change by Friday, or Saturday. We're in a period of cyber transition, waiting for our AV to arrive,so we'll feel safer meandering around the internet. We're also holding out 'til tomorrow or Friday (doin' our best to limit out trips into town to once a week) to pick up the other things we need to get everything hooked up(such as the all important printer)to the new system. Really looking forward to being able to take full advantage of my new toy. apologies for my lack of updates. Just a couple more days and I should be posting regularly again, both here, and at my friends' blogs.

Hope you're all having a fun week!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Everything Is New Again

There's a reason today's update is so late.

Yesterday, we got our new PC all hooked up and lookin' purty on the desk. The monitor is beautiful! I just love it! I can actually see whole pages now, without one side or another getting cut off. I don't have to scroll back and forth to read entire sentences or to see a whole picture, one fraction at a time. Excellent! Not sure what it is, but somehow the keyboard seems more user friendly as well. I just seem to be able to type faster, and my hands seem to rest more naturally when using it. The hardrive is amazingly quiet. It just quietly purrs along. The new UPS is great as well. Very happy with our purchase!

There were a couple intial problems. First of all, we couldn't figure out where and how to hook up the printer. Secondly, we couldn't seem to go online. No matter what we tried, when we hooked the phone line into the new PC the line went dead. Obviously that wasn't going to work out!

This morning Pa called DELL, and the very helpful folks there explained where to hook the phone line in (he had it hooked into the broadband rather than the dial-up), and they were able to tell him what we needed to get our printer hooked up.

Now we're just waiting on a disc from our ISP so we'll have AV protection,so I can use my email again. Oh! And Pa needs to take another look to see where he went wrong in hooking our speakers up. It'll be nice to have some sound to go with all the really cool graphics I'm now being treated to. ;-)

This afternoon, the kids and I are heading out to the shop to get our other desk cleared off, and cleaned out so we can bring it inside. Then we'll be able to have both PC's running. While the kids are both enjoying the new games that came with our new OS, they're also anxious to have a computer they can call their own. I can't say that I blame them!