Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

To all my friends - I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, magical Christmas.

It's 5:50 a.m. on Christmas Eve. Hubby's gone off to work, the house is peaceful, and I'm just trying to wake up a bit before I head off to the kitchen to cook all day. Tonight's gifts are wrapped, the shopping is all done, the lists are all made, and everything is well in hand.

I'll be spending most of the day in the kitchen. Good thing I love it there, huh? Yesterday I made the cheesecake for tonight, and started prepping salads for tonight and appetizers for tomorrow. Today I'll make the cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's breakfast, cookies for tomorrow's dessert, tonight's salads, and continue preps for tomorrow's appetizers.

My share of tonight's menu:
- orange jello salad (of the ambrosia variety - hubby's favorite)
- broccoli salad (the kind with craisins and sunflower seeds - yum!)
- pumpkin cheesecake

My share of tomorrow's menu:
- Belgian endive stuffed with herbed cheese
- jalapeno poppers
- baby twice-baked potatoes
- bacon appetizers
- deviled eggs
- Swedish sugar cookies

I figure if I get the bulk of it done ahead of time, then tomorrow will be fairly mellow and we can lounge around most of the morning, chowing down on homemade cinnamon rolls, before we head off to visit Grandpa in his apartment (with a cracked pelvis, he's not going to get to come for Christmas this year), and then go to my parents house for the afternoon/evening.

Hope your shopping is done and your plans are well in hand. Have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Swap Received...

The next post down you'll see what I made for the holiday swap I participated in. Here's what I received!

I got a long box filled with little wrapped gifts - seven of them in all. They all looked something like this:

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Each gift somehow related to her "tradition tutorial", and they each had a note explaining what it was about. For instance, the photo above is package number one. The tag read: This tradition started 30 years ago. On Christmas Eve, my family would go to my Grandparent's house. A wreath was always hanging on their door. Inside the package was

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a wreath ornament.

#2: My grandmother LOVED to bake! She always had trays set out for us. Inside the package were

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recipes for Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, Rosemary Roasted Cashews, and No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.

#3: My Grandmother would make us an ornament every year.

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and I got an awesome handmade ornament.

#4: This was the most intriguing wrapped package of all of them.

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We would all go into the kitchen and make hot chocolate.

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Inside was a tower of hot chocolate mix, with all the trimmings!

#5: I would grab a candy cane on the way out the door with my mug of hot chocolate.

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Candy cane stickers!

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We would all pile in the car with our drinks and turn on Christmas music. Inside was a homemade CD (haven't listened to it yet, but I'm sure it will be great!).

And, finally, #7, by far my favorite part of the tradition: We would drive around the city and look at all the Christmas lights. I wrote down the address of the house who really made me "feel like Christmas" and send them a thank you note after. We still do this every year, and now I'll get to have my fiance join us! Merry Christmas! (My swap partner got engaged last weekend!)

Inside was the cutest little handmade card.

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Inside, the card reads We just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to create such a magical light display for our community to enjoy!

She even included a stamped envelope so I can start the tradition, too.

What a fun swap. I just hope she enjoys mine as much as I enjoyed hers!

Holiday Traditions Swap

Well, the swap is over, I mailed my package off on Tuesday. I received my partner's package yesterday - what a wonderful gift!

We were supposed to send, at minimum, a handmade ornament, a recipe, and a tradition "tutorial".

First, here's most of what I sent to my partner.

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There are two handmade ornaments. The Santa is a punchneedle ornament. It's a nifty, easy little needlecraft that actually holds my attention because I don't have to think too much! Just fill in between the lines... I did discover while putting it together that I'm a bit glue challenged, but I think I just need more practice, LOL!

The wreath is also handmade. I found the pattern on the Martha Stewart website - it's made out of chenille sticks. Easy and it looks really cute when it's done!

I also made those coasters that I already told you about, just because I thought they were cute.

My holiday tradition is Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. I bought her the VHS copy because, for some reason, when they produced the DVD version, they cut Kermit's introduction out of it, which is just plain wrong! I included a note with it that explained that this is the only Christmas special that I make sure not to miss each year, and that I usually watch it while decorating the tree (though not this year, because hubby decorated the tree with me, so I'll watch it while wrapping gifts).

I sent two recipes. One was for pork tenderloin with balsamic-cranberry sauce. I included this one because this is the entree I made the year I cooked the entire Christmas dinner by myself. I also included my favorite recipe for caramel corn.

To go with the caramel corn recipe, I included a package of Moose Munch (that's Harry and David's caramel and chocolate-covered popcorn, for those of you who don't know).

All in all, it was a very fun swap and I might even do another one in the future!

Friday, December 14, 2007

8:20 p.m. ...

One dozen gifts 3/4 of the way finished. Can't finish them tonight, they have to sit and cure for a while. They'll be done by the end of the weekend. Phew! That wasn't nearly as grueling as I thought it would be. I even got into a rhythm there for a while. And, I watched some great DVDs! In addition to Strawberry Shortcake and Miracle on 34th Street, I also watched The Polar Express and four episodes of The Closer (ok, I can't watch Christmas shows ALL the time!).

Oh! Oh! And, my swap package arrived today! It is SO COOL - I took pictures - I'll post about it later!

Hubby and I went to see The Golden Compass after dinner. Pretty good movie. Little slow in spots, but overall I liked it!

8:30 a.m....

One down, 11 to go!

Strawberry Shortcake, well, that might be going in the White Elephant at work next year! I've moved on to Miracle on 34th Street - the original, and still the best!

Crafting Day - December 14

Well, I finally have a whole day off of work with NO MEETINGS. I'm finally going to work on my friends' Christmas gifts! With any luck, I'll get most of them done today.

I've decided to blog my progress, for a little accountability (not that I'm actually going to say what I'm making - no sense ruining the surprise!

It's 7:10 a.m. I've had my breakfast and coffee, caught up on my email, hooked up the portable DVD player in the spare room, cleared off my work table, and pulled out the Christmas DVDs. My first viewing selection? Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Merry Christmas. Yes, that's right, Strawberry Shortcake. You wanna make something of it??? LOL!

Actually, I got this DVD from my mom two years ago (I think it was somewhat of a gag gift, and I sure hope she didn't pay the $11.99 it said on the price tag!). The sticker on the overwrap advertised a "strawberry scented package!" I tore off the plastic and, sure enough, it's that plastic-undertoned strawberry scent I remember from my childhood. Ah, the memories...

I'm off - wish me luck!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Traditions and Memories, Part 3 - Christmas Morning

Christmas morning. To a kid, that's the best day of the whole dang year. Even better than the first day of summer! To my Dad and I, who are still perpetual children and refuse to grow up at Christmas time, it's still a time of wonder, joy, and obnoxiousness, much to my Mom's (and hubby's) dismay.

As a child, we were Santa's last stop on the route. Because of that, we were strictly forbidden from getting up before 7:00 on Christmas morning. Santa and my parents had a deal worked out so that he only brought our stockings - everything else came from him. So we'd already have seen all the gifts under the tree, it was just our stockings that were new. They were the only things we were allowed to look at before breakfast, so that was great!

One year, I woke up VERY excited, somehow convinced that it was 8:00 and we'd all overslept. I do that sometimes - wake up all confused about the time. Once in college I was up and in the shower, thinking I was late for a test, before I realized it was only 2 a.m. But I digress...

There I was, thinking it was 8:00, VERY concerned that we were missing Christmas. So I woke up my brothers, and we all raced upstairs. We were making all kinds of racket (and fortunately Santa had come early that year) when my parents came out and informed us it was 4:00 in the morning and we'd better get our butts back to bed or Santa was coming to take everything away! Oh, my brothers were mad at me that year!

My stockings held similar things every year. There was always an orange in the toe. In my earlier years, there was always a coloring book and crayons or markers. When I was a teenager, there was always a kid's toy of some sort, but also Wet 'N' Wild lipstick and nail polish in matching shades. And then there was candy, and other assorted goodies.

After we opened our stockings, we had to eat breakfast before we could open our gifts. Breakfast was always something sweet. Mom made the best cinnamon rolls and butterhorns around (Mom's butterhorns were basically cinnamon rolls without the cinnamon), and would make dozens of them in the days leading up to Christmas. She'd give some to the neighbors and other friends in town, and most years, we'd have them for Christmas breakfast. My brothers and I would fight over who got the piece with the most icing. As a kid, I could never figure out why Mom didn't just put extra icing out to prevent the arguments. As an adult, I completely understand the need to not add extra sugar to an already hyped-up situation!

Once in a while, for whatever reason, we didn't have cinnamon rolls. Then mom would make coffeecake, which was just as good. Love Mom's coffee cake! It was just a basic recipe, out of the Betty Crocker cookbook. It didn't have anything fancy, no yeast, no sour cream, just flour, sugar, butter, and that streuselly topping. But it was ambrosia to us!

After breakfast, it was time to open presents. We have a tradition in my family that I absolutely love - we open gifts one at a time, so that everyone can see what everyone else is getting. We never had tons of presents, everyone probably got four or five, so this made the giving celebration last much longer. In hubby's family, everyone opens things all at once, and it's just not the same.

After gifts, the wrapping paper was put away for recycling, ribbons and bows were straightened and tucked away for next Christmas (Mom's a saver!), and then it was time to play with our new gifts until dinner time.

As an adult, of course, things are a little different. Hubby and I wake up Christmas morning and, if we've bought gifts for each other, we open them (this year we did one huge gift that covered the whole year). I make us a nice breakfast, and we have a quiet morning. Then in the early afternoon we head over to Mom and Dad's (having been with hubby's family on Christmas Eve), where Dad and I run around like the little brats that we are and continually ask Mom "can we open our gifts yet? When's it time to open presents? Moooooooooooom! I want to open my presents NOOOOOOOOW!" Wouldn't want Mom to mistakenly think that we'd matured during the year or anything!

Then the rest of our family shows up and it's on with the gift giving!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It begins...

...the Christmas crafting season. Should have started this months ago, but I'm nothing if not a procrastinator! Made some coasters -

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They were TOTALLY EASY. Cutting them took longer than sewing them! I used this tutorial, which was so simple and well laid out. I made one set for my swap partner and one set for hubby's aunt, whom I drew in the gift exchange. I have one more set to make, not in these colors, for my sister-in-law, whom I drew in my family's gift exchange. Fun stuff!

Oh, and the gifts I'm making for my friends? Well, I made the first one. They're not looking so good. Hopefully I'll get better with practice. Otherwise, if you are one of the lucky recipients, you can just tell people that a five-year-old made them...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Batten Down the Hatches!

I think we're all ready for the windstorm tomorrow. I just checked, and it looks like we'll be having 25 to 30 mile an hour winds tomorrow, and 30 to 35 on Monday. Of course they don't say if that's gusts or sustained winds. Either way, it'll be better than the 90 mile an hour gusts and 40 foot swells they were predicting for the coast this weekend!

The garbage cans are in the garage and there's not much else that can blow away. If the power goes out, we have plenty of firewood, oil for the lamps, and propane and white gas to cook with, so we'll be ok. The pantry is stocked so we don't have to open the fridge or freezer if that happens. I'm doing as much laundry as I can tonight (as much as I can since I didn't think about it till 8:00!), since Sunday is laundry day. So I think we're ready to take whatever comes.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready to get started on my next bit of crafting - Christmas coasters for my swap partner. I have two patterns I'm thinking about, so stay tuned for details. Here's the fabric I picked out -

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Hard to see the detail, I'm sure, but it's a navy with stars, a cream color with holly sprigs, a green with a tiny leafy pattern, red with a tiny white leafy/floral kind of pattern, and the big holly fabric.

Picking out the fabric took me 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes, for five pieces of fabric. And now I remember why I don't do this - I SUCK at colors and prints! So if anybody leaves me a comment and says "ewwwwwwwwwwww - those fabrics don't go together at all!", well, you and I are going to have a little problem... :-) The big holly print is definitely going to be the back, regardless of which coaster pattern I use.

I sewed the edges today and they're in the laundry pile. So tomorrow I'll break out that rotary cutter and mat that I haven't opened since I received them last Christmas, and try to figure out how to cut a straight square!

Hope you all are having a great weekend, and don't blow away if it's stormy where you are!

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's time for the Cinnamon Bear!

It's that time of year once again - time to break out The Cinnamon Bear, that classic radio program following Jimmy and Judy as they go on their search for the Christmas Star.

You can sign up here to have links to the downloadable episodes emailed to you each week. There are 26 15-minute episodes in all, so if you start now, you can listen to one each day right up to Christmas!

I downloaded it last year so I could burn it to a CD, and so I can tell you that it is the original version, the one they play on the radio each year. It's a really fun program. If it's anything like last year, they'll also send you a bunch of other Christmas-related radio programs, too. Fun stuff!

Anybody else remember how the Cinnamon Bear used to visit Frederick & Nelson stores each Christmas and hand out those giant cinnamon bear candies?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Darn you crafty people!

Craftiness is, apparently, a virus.

I blame Norma. Well, mostly Norma. Elaine, too. Oh, and we musn't forget Sue. Or Carla, for that matter. Always showing off, describing or posting pictures of their latest beautiful, cute, homey, or just downright fabulous creation. Or posting links to blogs with more cuteness, more fabulous creations. Showing off the treasure from the latest swap. Making it look so easy.

And now, here I sit, bouncing from blog to blog, looking at projects and thinking "that looks easy enough, I could do that!". Signing up for my first swap, changing my mind 50 times about what to include. Perched on the edge of going to blow the rest of my allowance at Joann's on my lunch hour. Wanting to buy odd-sounding items like chenille sticks and fat quarters. So I, too, can post pictures of fabulous creations.

Darn you crafty, creative people.

But really, who knew that craftiness was as contagious as the flu?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Traditions and Memories, Part 2 - Christmas Eve

Growing up, Christmas Eve was typically spent in one of two places: at my grandparents' house, near Seattle, or at the home of some friends of my parents, who lived in the same town we did. At least once we were at my uncle's house in California, the year we went to Disneyland. I don't remember having a Christmas Eve dinner at home until I was well into my teen years.

As a young child, going to my parents' friends' house was great. We'd have a big dinner, complete with clam chowder (and ever since, clam chowder has been particularly associated with Christmas Eve in my mind). There was always a birthday cake for Jesus, and we'd sing the happy birthday song. Then, we'd go upstairs and have a pinata. That was the best part of the whole evening. They had a big open rec room with a high ceiling. They'd tie it to the high point of the ceiling, and we'd all take turns being blindfolded and smacking it with a broomstick. It was always full of candy and little toys. After the pinata, we'd exchange gifts between the families, before we went home to await our visit from St. Nick.

Going to Grandma and Grandpa's was equally fun in my mind. Oh, I don't remember what we ate for dinner, which is surprising because so many of my childhood memories center around food. I do remember begging and begging to open just one gift on Christmas Eve. Sometimes Mom gave in, and sometimes she didn't. And I remember the tree – they had these really beautiful old lights that had a plastic collar around them, so they looked big and full even though the bulb themselves were small. And they had bubble lights. I could stare at those things for hours! Grandma collected nativities, so their tree was full of ornaments featuring the Blessed Family. Who knew there were so many different kinds!

One year, I was probably about 12, we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house and I was sleeping in the living room. They had a funky fold-out chair that turned into a bed – like a sofa bed but much, much smaller. The chair was right next to the Christmas Tree. Sometime in the middle of the night, I awoke to a faint jingling sound, and heard a rustling next to my bed, near the tree. Excited and terrified, I stayed as still as I could, eyes squeezed shut, pretending to be asleep. Something brushed my cheek, just for a moment, and then all was still. I finally dozed off again and awoke to a beautiful Christmas morning. To this day I have no idea what or who that was. Could have been one of the dogs. Could have been my brothers messing with me. I highly doubt it was my parents, who were the epitome of “early to bed, early to rise” people, and simply didn't get up in the middle of the night. But that year, I believed in Santa Clause like no other.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My new favorite meal

All I have to say is, YUM!

Swedish Meatballs and Spaetzle

To make the spaetzle:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t. nutmeg
dash pepper
3/4 t. salt
1/3 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, chopped

In a medium-size bowl, mix the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gradually mix in milk and eggs, blending until smooth. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Pour the dough into a colander with large holes. Using a wooden spoon, press the dough through the colander holes into the chicken broth, a little at a time. Reduce the broth to a simmer. Let cook three to four minutes, then remove the spaetzle with a slotted spoon and press another batch through the colander. Note: keep your colander on a plate in between batches, as the dough will run through it a little bit.

Once all the spaetzle has cooked, set aside the chicken broth - you'll need a cup of it for the meatballs.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes. Add the spaetzle and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about five more minutes. Serve hot.

Swedish Meatballs

1 2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. allspice
pinch pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine 2/3 cup milk, onion, breadcrumbs, salt, allspice, pepper and beef, mix well. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the meat mixture into small balls (about 1 1/2 inches) and brown in the butter. Add chicken broth (reserved from the spaetzle, if you make them the same day). Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the water and flour to make a slurry. Remove meatballs from the skillet. To the chicken broth in the pan, add the remaining cup of evaporated milk and the water/flour slurry. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Add the lemon juice. Return the meatballs to the pan, warming them through before serving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A few precious moments

Hubby's off having dinner with his dad and sisters tonight. This means I actually get the house to myself for at least a couple of hours! The good thing about having a husband that doesn't have any friends is that he's always around when you need or want to do something together. The bad thing about having a husband that doesn't have any friends is that he's always around. So, I take these moments when I can get them, and I relish them.

I've been crafting a little. I finally found a needle craft that holds my interest and doesn't frustrate me - needle punch. I've been doing that most of the day, and now I'm going to put in an old black and white movie - The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - and watch it while I work.

For dinner, I'm making sloppy joes. I love them, hubby hates them, so I only make them when he's out at dinner time. So, once or twice a year.

I have a fire in the woodstove, happy animals at my feet, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of my precious moments of alone time.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's cooking today?

I'm having a mini cooking session today. I just cooked up a big pot of brown rice, some of which will be used in pork fried rice for tomorrow's dinner, and some of which will go in the freezer for future meals.

I also put together a big pot of lentil soup, made extra rich with the addition of about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. What a great addition that was - don't know why I didn't think of it before!

Finally, I mixed up a batch of Pumpkin Spice Bites (the next post down), which I'll freeze before taking to a potluck at work later this week.

I'm also cleaning and doing laundry. Tonight I'm going to a wedding. Full weekend - how's yours?

Pumpkin Spice Bites

I'm making these in preparation for this week's "healthy foods" potluck at work. As desserts go, they're not bad - they're sweet, but fairly low fat and have a lot of fiber and vitamins thanks to the addition of the pumpkin.

1 box spice cake mix
1 egg
1 15-ounce can pumpkin

Mix all ingredients. Spoon into greased mini-muffin tins. These don't spread very much when they bake, so you might have to press them out a little with your finger to get them to fill the tins. Bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean (about 15 minutes).

My mini-muffin tin is little shapes, so I think they hold less than standard mini-muffin tins, and I'm getting about five and a half dozen out of one batch.

Brown Rice Casserole

I don't think I posted this one's one of my favorite side dishes.

Brown Rice Casserole

1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 c. brown rice
2 ½ c. chicken broth
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
dash cinnamon

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and saute until golden. Add rice, and saute until onions begin to brown.

Add chicken broth and seasoning, and bring to a boil. Transfer to greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until all liquid is absorbed.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Want to see a freaky picture?

Go to google and type in "ewe photo" (without the quotes). The middle picture it shows at the top is a picture of a python that has swallowed a pregnant ewe. I won't post it here because I don't want to freak anybody out.

Freaky. Creepy. Cool.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boycotting China

If you're fed up with the never-ending list of recalls this year, here's a list of products and brands that will help you avoid purchasing products made in China...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Holiday Traditions and Memories, Part 1 - The Tree

I signed up to participate in

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As part of my swap package, I'm supposed to write up a "tradition" tutorial, and a recipe. Well, I'm having so much fun remembering holidays past as I try to figure out what on earth I should write up for my tutorial and recipe (and of course there are way too many recipes to choose from), that I feel myself wanting to write up a lot more than that. So I'm sharing with you lucky people.

Yeah, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet. These swaps take time. Get over it. :-)

And now, for part 1 - the tree...

Growing up, Christmas time was the best. It all started with what I like to call the annual Christmas Tree Brawl. A week or so before Christmas, we'd venture out to the u-cut Christmas tree farm. The five of us would trudge out in the mud (I lived in Washington, it was always muddy out there at Christmas time!), and each seek out the perfect Christmas tree. Then my two brothers and I would get into a big, light-hearted argument about who picked the best tree. Even if we secretly agreed, we still argued. It was all part of the fun. I'm sure it drove my mother crazy!

We'd bring the tree home, and Dad would set it up in a five-gallon bucket in the living room. Then, we'd decorate. Because I was the youngest, my ornaments always had to go on the bottom of the tree. One year, the dog chewed up almost all my ornaments! I still have the Snow White ornament that I rescued that year, complete with a puncture wound or two.

The Christmas tree stayed up until Epiphany, on January 6. Then we knew that Christmas was officially over.

Now we have an artificial tree, which I usually put up early in December. Hubby doesn't like to decorate, so I hanging the ornaments is a special me-time, done while drinking a big mug of hot chocolate and watching my Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas video, the sappiest Christmas special known to man, and my all time favorite.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Perfect poached eggs

I'm on an egg kick lately, and there's nothing quite like a warm, creamy poached egg to start your day...

Use the freshest eggs you can find. I always look for a sell-by date that is at least a couple of weeks away. The fresher the egg, the better the whites will hold together in the water. I always cook them two at a time, in my 1 quart saucepan. Here's how:

Fill your pot will water to about 2 inches below the top of the pan. Put on the stove, cover, and bring to a full boil. Meanwhile, crack your first egg into a custard cup or similar small dish (this will let you pour the whole egg in at once, instead of in a stream as it would come out of the shell).

When the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and stir to dissolve. Turn the heat to low, and lift the pot off the burner (this ensures that the water won't be boiling when you put the egg in, which would break up the whites). Holding the custard cup very close to the surface of the water, slip the egg in.

Return the pot to the burner, and let the egg cook gently while you crack the next egg into the custard cup. Using a spoon, carefully push the egg that is cooking over to one side of the pan. Slip in the second egg. Let simmer (do not boil!) for five to seven minutes, until the yolk is the desired firmness. Remove with a slotted spoon.

When you pour the egg in, you'll get a little stringiness from the outer whites. Don't be alarmed by this. If your egg is fresh enough, the center white and yolk should hold together nicely in a little pillow.

It takes a little practice to know when the eggs are cooked to your liking, but you can tell by pressing gently on the yolk. When the yolk is runny, it gives easily to gentle pressure (careful not to break the yolk!). As the yolk cooks, it resists the pressure more and more. I like my eggs just a tiny bit runny, so I cook them for about five minutes. Hubby likes his hard, so I cook his for about seven. If you like really runny yolks, you'll probably only want to cook them for three or four minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Two years ago today...

Two years ago today I took my last birth control pill. Sometimes it feels like forever ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. It's funny how much can change in just two short years.

When we started on this journey, I was full of trepidation and hope. I knew in my heart that it wouldn't be easy for us to get pregnant, but still I thought it would happen. It hasn't been easy, and it hasn't happened. There have been good times, bad times, and times of genuine apathy. I've had surgery, taken more drugs than I care to think about, and completely screwed with my hormones.

Babies have appeared all around me, in every facet of my life, except at our house. We've had two nephews and a niece join our family. One of my best friends is expecting. I've ridden the emotional roller coaster, praying that someday I would be able to step off.

And here I sit, two years later, no closer than I was then. Perhaps even farther away, because I know more now than I did then, and, well, sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

And yet, I'm ok. I'm not crying anymore. I'm not a religious person, I don't go to church, but I was raised with a belief in God and the knowledge that everything happens for a reason. If we're meant to have kids, then something is going to happen that will make that possible.

I don't know what it is, and I don't know when it will happen. So I'm waiting and seeing. Putting our financial house in order, so that if it does happen, we'll be ready. Loving on our seven nieces and nephews, enjoying them for the joy they bring to all our lives. Not giving up on the dream, and not giving up on encouraging hubby from time to time to take care of what he needs to take care of, but I'm not pushing it and I'm not nagging anymore.

The feelings haven't left completely, of course. I still listen to people complain about their kids and wonder if they know how lucky they are to have kids to complain about. Listen to pregnant women complain about morning sickness and hemorrhoids and wish I was right there with them. Yeah, I still want to slap people sometimes. But not nearly as often as I used to.

It's been two years. Who knows how many more it will be. Life is an adventure, just remember that.

My friends, love your kids. You're so lucky to have them. And when they're hard to love, send them my way and I'll love them for a while. I've got plenty of love to go around.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

This is the perfect meal for a day or two after you've eaten a roasted chicken. Save the carcass and keep it in the fridge till you're ready for it (no more than four days or so though!).

If you don't have a chicken carcass, just skip the stock-making step and use six or so cups of chicken broth.

To make the Stock:
1 leftover chicken carcass
8 cups water
1 carrot, cut in 1-inch chunks (peeling not necessary, just scrub it well)
2 ribs celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 small onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
5 - 7 whole black peppercorns

Pick as much meat off the carcass as you can, and set it aside (you'll add it back in later). Break the carcass up into chunks (you'll want it fairly flat in the pan), and put it in a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients, and pour the water over the top (if it's not enough to cover, just keep adding more water till it is). Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for two hours.

After two hours, strain it into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer to catch all the little herb bits (don't worry if some remain, it doesn't have to be completely clean, just make sure you at least get all the peppercorns out!). If there is a lot of fat, skim it off the top (you can use the fat in place of the butter in the dumplings). Pour it back into the pan and return it to the heat.

To make the soup:

2 carrots, sliced (peeled if desired)
2 celery ribs, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (use what you pulled off the carcass)
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 can evaporated milk, divided (I use evaporated skim milk)
salt and pepper to taste

Add the vegetables and poultry seasoning to the stock. Cover and let simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, make a roux: in a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook for two minutes. Open the evaporated milk and measure out one cup. Set this aside (you'll need it for the dumplings). Add the remaining milk to the butter and flour mixture, stirring until the mixture thickens.

When the vegetables are done, stir in the chicken, peas, and roux. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is dissolved. The mixture will thicken slightly, but will remain fairly soupy (if you like a thicker base, just make more roux). Cover and let simmer while you make the...


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter

In a medium-size bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley. Melt the butter and stir in the milk (this is the milk you reserved earlier). You can do this in the microwave or on the stovetop, doesn't matter. You just want the mixture to be warm, not hot. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture all at once, stir just to combine.

Drop by spoonfuls onto the soup. Cover and cook over low heat for 17 minutes, or until dumplings feel firm when you press on them. Don't take off the lid while they cook! They rely on the steam to cook the tops.

Twice-baked potatoes

Twice-baked potatoes are one of hubby's favorite side dishes. He likes them almost as much as honey-dill carrots. My recipe isn't really a recipe, I just gather a bunch of ingredients and then wing it.

Baked potatoes
sour cream
parmesan cheese
bacon bits (hint - buy the kind in the can - they're cheaper and they freeze easily)
minced chives
garlic powder
onion powder
paprika (I prefer the Hungarian sweet paprika)

Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch all the way around. Mash in a bowl with enough sour cream to make them the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients (to taste) except paprika; mix well.

Mound the mashed potato mixture back into the potato shells, evenly distributing it until it is all used up. Sprinkle liberally with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until lightly brown on top.

Monday, October 08, 2007

What's for breakfast?

Breakfast is an odd meal for me. I'm not a morning person, so in the past I haven't been awake enough to think about eating a REAL meal before work.

Growing up, mom would make us hot cereal, or french toast, or pancakes before school. Never cold cereal - we couldn't afford it. Until I was in high school (when Mom went back to work), cold cereal was a treat we looked forward to having at Grandma's house. Of course, Grandma would let us pick out whatever kind we wanted, sugar content be damned! Pass the Cookie Crisp, please!

I didn't eat breakfast on weekdays during most of high school, and part of college. Once I started working, though, I found I really needed it. Most mornings I just ate cold cereal. Sometimes the healthy stuff - I love shredded wheat and the occasional box of, yes, bran flakes. Sometimes the stuff masquerading as healthy - just because Cracklin' Oat Bran has the word "bran" in the title, it's not a health food, believe me! And, of course, sometimes it just has to be Cookie Crisp (or Lucky Charms for hubby).

Since I'm now up at 5 am with hubby, and don't leave the house till 7:30, I find I have some time on my hands in the mornings. And I've discovered the wonders of the quick hot breakfast. It's like having weekend breakfast on a plain old Monday morning! Excellent!

I've developed a fondness for oatmeal, a food I loathed and detested as a child. Of course, I prepare it completely differently than my mom did! I have several variations - pumpkin, apple (either with bits of dried apple cooked in it, or with fried apples dumped on top if I have extra ambition), plain sweetened with maple syrup, or plain sweetened with molasses. Of course, it has to be made with MILK. This is critical. Part fat-free half and half if I have it. I can put a pot of it on the stove on low heat, go take my shower, and when I come back, rich, creamy, yummy oatmeal. And if I don't have time even for that, I mix all the ingredients together the night before, let it soak in the fridge overnight, and then nuke it for two minutes in the morning and it's just as good!

Sometimes, I'll make up a whole loaf of French toast on the weekends. Then I freeze the slices on a cookie sheet, pop them in a freezer bag, and, voila! Toaster french toast. Just heat and eat.

This morning, I had two fried eggs, toast (on homemade bread with homemade jelly, yum!), and canned pears. Plus coffee and orange juice. On these mornings, I just hop in the shower five minutes early (my mornings are pretty well routinized, so I pay close attention to time). Then I use those five extra minutes to cook my eggs. While the eggs and toast are cooking I putter around the kitchen a little - I either get a head start on pulling my lunch together, or work on dishes, or, like this morning, I swap out the laundry left in the washer and dryer last night.

Of course, some mornings I'm just a zombie and I NEED that box of cold cereal. I have shredded wheat for that. Or sometimes I sneak a bowl of hubby's granola. But I find the hot breakfasts stick with me better and I don't need to snack as much at work.

So what's YOUR breakfast routine?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A weekend at home

Since I was gone three days last weekend, I thought a weekend at home would be swell. So I turned down a couple of invitations and told hubby we were staying in. And it's been a GREAT weekend!

We didn't stay in entirely - we went on several shopping expeditions, actually. First, to Bi-Mart to stock up on Coleman fuel and lamp oil.

Then to the fireplace shop to pick up our hearth pad. Just 12 more days till our woodstove is installed! Got home to discover that the hearth pad is too small, so we made a quick call back to the fireplace shop to negotiate a free heat shield that will mean we only have to make it a smidge bigger, which we will do with a row of bricks in the back, painted black to match the rim of the hearth pad.

Then, we rearranged the living room, and realized that our entertainment center was too big for where it needed to be with the new arrangement. Off to Target. We found one that matches the coffee table and end tables we bought there last year, and also found a nifty new padded bench in the same style that will provide more living room seating for us (yay, almost all our living room furniture now matches - I'd better be careful or people will think I've become a grown-up!).

Today was grocery shopping and now I'm spending the afternoon in the kitchen. First, I made buttermilk yeast bread (which smells HEAVENLY). There's also a pot of pinto beans simmering on the stove. Dinner will be roast chicken, twice-baked potatoes, garlic toast (on the freshly-made bread, of course!) and some sort of vegetable. When the chicken comes out, two loaves of banana bread will go in. We had a plethora of black bananas in the pantry. Those not immediately becoming bread were mashed and frozen in one cup portions for future loaves of banana bread.

So that's about it for our weekend. How was yours?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chicken Paprikash

I don't have a whole lot to say lately (life is pretty much same-old, same-old)...but Linda asked for my Chicken Paprikash recipe so I figured I could at least post that!

Chicken Paprikash-Topped Potatoes

12 ounces skinless boneless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 T. flour
2 t. Paprika (I like to use the sweet Hungarian paprika)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground red pepper (optional, though it doesn't give it too much of a kick)
1 T. butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced, or two small cans of sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. sour cream

1. Combine chicken with flour, paprika, salt, and red pepper until coated.

2. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion, mushrooms, and garlic and saute five minutes (if you are not using a non-stick skillet, you may need to add additional butter or some oil). Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook six minutes or so until chicken is done and the sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

3. Serve over hot baked potatoes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Getting Away...

My friend Heidi and I are heading off today for a girls' weekend in Ashland. We're going to see at least one play, and hopefully another if her brother can get us tickets. At $50 a pop, I can't afford more than one ticket, but he's an actor so he can get some comps from time to time.

Hubby's home sick today, and I've been sucking down Airborne for the last three days in the hopes that I will manage to avoid getting it. We were at a family birthday party on Sunday with a sick toddler, and she was kind enough to share her germs with half the family!

This morning we were outside at 4:30 a.m. putting a tarp on the roof, since hubby discovered at 4:00 that there was water dripping down through the bathroom vent. Helloooooooooooo fall! We only had this roof put on two years ago, no way it should be leaking yet! But leaking it is, so we'll have to get it fixed. The joys of homeownership...

So yeah, I'm ready to get away for a couple of days! Just have to survive one meeting, and I'm outta here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thanks Elaine!!!

Got home last night to find that my art card from Elaine arrived in the mail. It is SO CUTE!!!!!!!! I love it I love it I love it! I'm going to get some stick-on magnet stuff so I can give it a place of prominence on my fridge...I think that's appropriate, don't you? :-)

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Monday, September 10, 2007

September is...

...National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared?

What if a local or national emergency happened today?

Do you have a plan?
Do you have a 72-hour kit?
How long could you feed your family if all the stores were closed?
Where would you go if you had to leave your home?

Questions to ponder...

This has been on my mind for a while now. Must be the good Scout in me, and the fact that the anniversaries of both Katrina and 9/11 are upon us once again. We're not totally prepared, but I know we're better off than a lot of people. I know where we would go if we had to leave. I know what we would eat if we couldn't get to the store for a while. I'm not sure what we would drink, as we don't have any water stored at all. This is something I think about.

The dogs would have to rely on the cat to feed them (by HUNTING, not by sacrificing himself, for goodness sake!), as I haven't figured out a good long-term storage solution for dog food - we get those stupid little moths in a heartbeat. But we'd have light, and soon heat, and several different cooking sources. I could do laundry (assuming I get the water thing figured out) without a machine. Did you know you can do laundry with a clean toilet plunger?

It's not something anyone wants to think about, but it's something we all should think about. Here are some good websites:
Take 5 to Survive

And, of course, my favorite prepping forum, Mrs. Survival. Lots of good resources and great people there!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Apples Apples Everywhere...

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Picked all the apples off the tree this morning. I've been wanting to do apple pie filling for a while (it's been about four years since we've done any). Hubby likes to eat it on waffles. Unfortunately, my recipe uses cornstarch, and I've since found out that's a no-no in water bath canning. While it hasn't killed us yet, I figured, why take the chance?

So today I just canned apple slices in light syrup (when it comes time for waffles, I'll thicken and spice them). And I made juice out of some of the peels and cores, and made jelly from that. Took about six hours from start to finish, and I ended up with 13 quarts of apples and six half-pints of jelly. Could have had a lot more jelly, but I just flat out ran out of energy! So that'll do for now. I have just enough apples left to make a big crisp, so I'll do that tomorrow.

Now, you're probably thinking that isn't a lot for six hours worth of work. But, I figure that's close to $100 worth of canned apple pie filling and store-bought jelly, so that seems like a good trade-off to me. If the apples that grew on our tree were normal size, I could use my peeler/corer/slicer and make things go a lot faster, but we have these monstrosities that are about three or four times the size of a normal apple. So I have to cut them in wedges and peel them with a knife. So it takes a little longer. But, I watched some good movies while I worked!

All in all, it wasn't a big apple crop this year, but at least we'll be eating them for a while!

Free family-oriented e-books

Tawra over at is giving away 37 e-books until September 11. Lots of great topics - cooking, budgeting, activities for kids, and a bunch of other stuff. Check it out!

If you like getting e-newsletters, too, hers is a good one on a wide variety of budget-friendly topics.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pierogi with onion cream sauce

Someday, I will attempt to make pierogi from scratch. Until then, I like the Trader Joe's variety best but Mrs. T's is ok too!

1 box frozen potato and cheese pierogi
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup cream (fat free half and half works nicely)
1 tablespoon butter

Cook pierogi in boiling water, according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms. Saute for five minutes or until onions are soft. Add cream and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Remove from pan.

Add remaining oil to the pan, and brown pierogis according to package directions. When they are fully cooked, add onion mixture back to the pan, cover and simmer for five minutes, until sauce is heated through. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Waffle mix

I'm mainly posting this for me - so I'll know where to find it when I want it again. Guessing most of you don't keep powdered eggs on hand, even if you have powdered milk...but if you do, well, here you go! If you don't, this recipe is the same thing, just with fresh ingredients instead of powdered...

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered egg
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container. To use, mix with two cups water.

Makes enough for one meal for hubby and me, with 1 - 2 leftover for the dogs...

Ready for Fall

Happy September everyone! As I sit here, at 6:30 a.m., with a cool breeze blowing on me, a cup of creamy hot coffee, and a cat snuggling in my lap (and patiently putting up with my typing because his head MUST be on top of my right arm), I am excited about the impending arrival of fall.

I love fall. It's my favorite season of the whole year. Falling, crisp mornings...the first frost...Halloween...the end of allergy season...the return of the rain (not that it ever left us this summer, it seems). It's a beautiful thing. As a kid, I was almost always thrilled (with a couple of notable exceptions during my teen years) with the prospect of going back to school and getting back into my routine after a fun-filled summer hopping from camp to camp. As one who generally loved school, and didn't get to see my friends much when I was out of school, this was an exciting prospect.

Since we bought our wood stove and should have it installed sometime in the next month or two, I'm also looking forward to cozy evenings in front of the fire with a good book.

Yesterday I went outside to check on our apple tree and discovered that they are ripe. We don't have a big crop this year, I think the weather affected it. But we have enough to do something with - our apples are usually about six inches in diameter, so it doesn't take a whole lot of them - so now I just have to decide what to do with them.

Last night I made an apple crisp and some applesauce. The crisp was dessert; the sauce went right into the freezer. I'm thinking this is the year to break out my canning equipment and supplies and put up some apple pie filling (hubby's favorite waffle topping) and applesauce (which I've been using as a fat substitute when baking lately). Our apples are no good for eating raw (completely sour with a weird, spongy texture that I've never experienced in an apple before), but they are excellent when cooked. I'm also going to try saving the cores and peels to make apple jelly, something I've never done before. My grandma used to make it and it was always good on toast.

So bring it on, fall! I'm ready for you!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Potato Pancakes

This makes a great side dish, and is also a good breakfast food!

4 cups peeled, grated potatoes (about 2 large)
3 eggs
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped dried chives (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
black pepper to taste

Heat a non-stick griddle to medium low (about 250 degrees). Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Spray griddle with non-stick cooking spray, and then spoon potato mixture onto the griddle, forming fairly flat patties. Cook 8 - 10 minutes on each side, until the potatoes are cooked through and the patties are nicely browned.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saving Seeds

Today was another garden harvest day. I'm a little disappointed that things are going so slowly this year, but I suppose our weird, unsummer-like weather has something to do with that. That, and the giant artichoke sucking the life out of the soil. I mean, our jalapeno plant, which we normally get 20+ jalapenos from by the end of August, is just now starting to flower!

I let some of our yellow beans go too long before harvest, so I was inspired to try saving seeds. I picked the soft bendy ones, shucked them, and the seeds are now out on a tray in the garage to dry. I've never done this before, so we'll see how it goes. I also picked a bunch of the dried pea pods and saved those. I know you can't save hybrid seeds. Luckily neither of these are. I'm also going to try saving some tomato seeds. Two summers ago I planted some heirloom tomatoes that have been coming back on their own ever since. I'm going to try saving some of those seeds so I can actually plant them where I want them next summer!

Anybody else save seeds?

I am a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...

Messy? Nah, not me! ;-)

You Are a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

You life your life in a free form, artistic style.
You are incredibly creative and at times, quite messy.
Deep down, you are a kid at heart. And you aren't afraid to express it.

Your best friend: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Club Sandwich

Friday, August 24, 2007

Testing 1..2..3..

just testing my blogarithm signup form...

Please return to your regularly scheduled lives!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Creamy chicken pasta

Made this up as I went along for dinner tonight. Turned out it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself!

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can sliced mushrooms
1/2 can artichoke quarters, chopped
1 1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces cream cheese (neufchatel works fine), cubed
1 1/2 cups rotini pasta (I like brown rice pasta)

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, boil the chicken breasts in lightly salted water until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, cool, and dice.

Dump water out of pan, return to heat, and add olive oil, onions, and garlic. Saute until onions are transluscent, about five minutes. Add mushrooms, artichokes, soup, milk, and herbs; salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream cheese; cook and stir over medium heat until cheese is melted. Add chicken, and bring just to a boil. Stir in dry pasta; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 17 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Add more milk if necessary as it cooks.

Note: Normally, I like to keep boiled, shredded chicken in my freezer, ready to go. This would be an excellent substitute for the chicken breasts and would make preparation that much quicker.

What an odd day!

I don't know what came over me yesterday. It started out like any other Sunday - get up, drink coffee, cruise the forums. And then, without warning, I was the spirit of Little Suzy Homemaker.

First, Hubby and I made breakfast together. Then...

I cooked.
I baked.
I cleaned.
I took out the garbage. . . AND replaced the garbage bag!
I mended.
I sewed.
I grocery shopped. . . and I put the food away.
I did four loads of laundry. . . and I put the clothes away.
And I worked on a volunteer project for a friend's auction.

And then Hubby and I made dinner together.

Seriously, it was strange. I went on a mad baking spree, making two kinds of quick bread (see other post) and some granola. I made up a batch of bean, cheese and rice squares for my lunches this week. And I did the dishes when I was done.

I fixed a couple of skirts that have needed mending for weeks. I replaced a broken button on one of hubby's shirts, and a pair of his shorts with a ripped-out belt loop.

I finished the computer room curtains, a project that has been sitting in my sewing pile for three years. When we bought our house, I had a misguided fit of creativity and told Hubby I'd make the curtains for the computer room and bedroom. We've had blankets on our windows ever since. Yes, it only involved 12 seams (11 actually because I cheated on the last hem), but I could just never quite talk myself into finishing them. Well, they're not perfect, but they're on the window!

And then hubby and I made dinner together - grilled chicken nachos with homemade pico de gallo, made with tomatoes and onions right out of our garden, and jalapenos out of the freezer from last year's garden. Supplemented with fresh garlic, lime juice, salt and cilantro (which normally would be out of our garden but this year our plant didn't produce). Good stuff!

What a bizarre day. And now it's Monday, back to work. Here's to a great week!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Baking day

It's been a while since I've spent a day in the kitchen. We didn't have any plans today, and hubby didn't want to work on the yard, so I thought I'd have a baking day. Hubby is now getting on board (slowly, but surely) with the healthy eating thing, so I'm revamping some recipes to see if I can get something that's tasty without being over the top in fat and calories. First, I made a batch of zucchini bread (see next post), and then I whipped up a pan of banana pumpkin bread, substituting Splenda for the sugar, 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the white flour, and throwing in an extra banana because I had three dead ones in the pantry. Good stuff all around.

Hubby's been on a big granola kick lately, so I also whipped up a batch of honey granola with almonds and hazelnuts. Not sure how it's going to be, though, as I used Smart Balance instead of butter or stick margarine and it came out of the oven a little soft. Hopefully when it cools it will crisp up!

I haven't figured out yet what to make for dinner, but it's been nice spending some quality time in the kitchen!

Almost healthy zucchini bread

I made this with pattypan squash (it's what happens to be growing in our garden) instead of zucchini. if you do this, scoop out the seeds before you shred it - they're bigger, more like pumpkin seeds, and definitely don't add anything good to the bread! You could also use yellow summer squash.

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Splenda for baking (or you can use white sugar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
3 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce, brown sugar, Splenda, and vanilla. Stir in baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Stir in flours and oatmeal. Finally stir in zucchini, stirring just to combine.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bye bye, Angie...

My parents had to put their dog down yesterday. Silly me, I knew it was coming (Mom warned me on Sunday), and yet I *still* checked my home email from work and sat at my desk crying for about an hour when I got the news. You'd think I would know better.

They got Angie when I was in college, so she wasn't one of my childhood dogs. But, she was definitely one of the family. They found her at the pound when, the story goes, they went in looking for a short-haired dog. Then, they ran across Angie, who danced and pranced and generally tried harder than all the other dogs in the place to get them to take her with them. In spite of the fact that she was a long haired shepherd/collie mix, they couldn't resist and she went home that day. And dad's been cleaning up mountains of hair on a regular basis ever since.

She was a sweet dog, who wanted to be an only dog. Mom and Dad had four other dogs during their time with Angie, and she was never so happy as when she was the only one. She wanted all the love, all to herself. But, no matter what, she was a good, loving, mellow, happy dog. And we'll all miss her.

So goodbye Angie, and we'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

So tired of being responsible...

Hubby and I are struggling lately with a serious case of the "wants". We want...

- a flat screen TV
- make that TWO flat screen TVs, one for the bedroom and one for the living room
- a woodstove with a nice hearth pad and a mantle on the wall
- a fully landscaped front yard
- a new car
- an up to date kitchen
- hardwood floors throughout our house
- a new couch (one that doesn't make my butt go to sleep in five minutes)

and the list goes on and on. Lately we find ourselves drooling over ads, stopping into stores, and whining about being responsible adults.

Don't get me wrong, I'm GLAD we're responsible adults. We worked hard to get out of debt, bought a house that was within our budget, and keep on top of our credit cards. We have a budget and, for the most part, we stick to it (I'm still working on that pesky food thing). It would just be so much EASIER to just say screw it, rack up a bunch of debt, and just make payments.

But nooooooooooooooooooo, responsible adults we must be. Saving our money, budgeting, buying one thing at a time as we have the dough.

*sigh*...responsibility. So hard...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I know there's a caption here somewhere...

...I just am too tired to think of a funny one! Today we had Twinstravaganza, celebrating the birthdays of three sets of twins, all born in the first ten days of August - hubby and his sister, their aunt and uncle, and these little cuties, our nephews, who just turned one...

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Baked Beans

This is one of those recipes that I make just often enough to completely forget how I do it in between times! I got up this morning to make these for a potluck at work, and couldn't for the life of me remember what I put in them. I'm sure the fact that it was 5:30 a.m. and I hadn't had coffee yet had nothing to do with it!

I think I've got it now, though, so here you go - I'm writing it down so I don't forget again!

2 28-ounce cans Bush's Original Baked Beans, drained
1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup molasses
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup

Mix all ingredients together, pour in a 9x12 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Or...pour into a crockpot and cook on low for four to six hours.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Citrus Herb Marinade

Made this with chicken for dinner last night. It was VERY good. The herbs give it a citrusy taste, even though there's no actual citrus in it. Now I just have to write it down so I don't forget it!

olive oil
white wine vinegar
fresh pineapple sage leaves
fresh lemon balm leaves
fresh oregano leaves
minced garlic
dried minced onion (could have used fresh, I was being lazy).

Whirred in the blender until the herbs are well chopped. Pour over chicken, marinate 2 - 3 hours.

Next time I'm going to try adding a touch of dijon mustard, I think...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What's for dinner at your house?

We're having

- grilled, marinated chicken
- grilled potatoes with olive oil
- grilled green beans and onions
- tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella salad
- bread with roasted garlic and romano baked into it (thank you, New Seasons!)

Today's harvest

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Spent a little time in my garden today. Harvested yellow beans, green beans, pattypan squash, and tomatoes.

As you can see, our tomatoes have a little blossom end rot problem - I need to look into that. I did end up tying them up (some of the branches were down to the ground), but I'm pretty sure it's caused by something else, as the ones that ripened with the problem were up on the tomato cages.

I am amazed by our beans this year. Last week, I harvested nearly seven pounds off of both rows (we have a row of yellow and a row of green, and our rows are about five feet long). I'd say today I have about two more pounds in the bowl. The first harvest is in the freezer - these we'll be eating this week. There are plenty more still growing on the plants, too! I had to tie the plants up, though, as they were completely blocking the onions and the leeks.

The carrots are huge - I need to pull them up, too, and plant another row. I was hoping to finish the five-pound bag in the produce bin first, but since those are pretty much frozen (everything freezes in our produce bin!), I think I'm going to peel, slice and freeze those and use the ones out of the garden as fresh. That way I can get another round of seeds going for fall.

We ended up pulling out the monster artichoke plant (the artichokes were terribly disappointing), so I have one whole end free to do something with. I may plant some fall plants, we'll see.

Oh, and today I picked some herbs (pineapple sage, lemon balm, and oregano) out of the front beds and made a marinade with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and garlic. I'm going to grill it for dinner - we'll see how it tastes!

OMG! The internet crashed!

Hee hee!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to know your cat is not a bully...

When your cat comes home from the vet looking like this...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket know your cat is not a bully! According to the vet tech: the bullies get it on the top of their heads and their faces. The victims get it toward the rear as they're desperately trying to escape.

So yep, it's official, Puck is not a bully...

One morning late last week he came in and had trouble jumping. On Sunday I noticed a big old squishy lump on his side. We got him to the vet yesterday, and he had an abscess, as we suspected. They did a little minor surgery to put a drain in, and sent him on his not-so-merry way.

I don't know who has it worse - Puck, for not being able to go outside till the weekend, or us, for having to listen to him whine and cry because he doesn't like being stuck in the house (for those of you who don't know, trying to force Puck to stay in the house causes all kinds of lovely consequences, like him peeing on our pillow-top mattress out of spite).

Overall, he seems to be doing ok with it. Other than, of course, the part where we have to flush it out twice a day and force antibiotics down him. Fortunately, it's Wednesday, and we get to take him back in on Friday to have it removed... But the dogs haven't been too obnoxious, and we made him a nice cushy bed in the garage so we wouldn't have to listen to him cry all night about how he wanted to go outside. He even used the litter box for the first time in months!

He's going to look a little funny till that shaved patch on his side grows back in, but we're just glad he's going to be ok...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lentil Soup

I made this for lunch today. Yum, yum, yum!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups beef or vegetable broth
2/3 cups dry lentils, rinsed well
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add lentils and spices; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until lentils are soft. Add tomato sauce and salt and pepper, cook 10 minutes more.

Makes 3 generous servings.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The problem with being frugal...

Tomorrow the new Harry Potter book comes out. I am a big HP fan. Not the biggest, by far, but big. And I'm SO eager to read the last book and see how it all comes out (though I am extremely sad that it's the last book because I could probably keep reading about Harry for years to come).

So the book comes out tomorrow and what did I do? Bought it through Amazon and was too cheap to spring for shipping. Gah! This means I have to wait - last time it was something like four extra days.

BUT I WANT TO READ HARRY POTTER NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, well, live and learn...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today's household tip

I read somewhere on one of my many forums that, if you plug in a night light and put a dish of soapy water under it, fleas will jump toward the light, fall into the water, and drown. The soap is apparently supposed to keep them from escaping somehow(?).

Well. Yesterday morning I sat down in my teeny-tiny hall bathroom and immediately had three fleas jump on my foot. This is, of course, NOT OK! So I decided last night I'd try my little experiment.

I had to rig up the night light because there are no outlets close to the floor in the bathroom, but I took a household extension cord (one of those short white ones), plugged it in to the outlet above the counter, ran it up through a towel bar, and then let it hang close to the floor. Plugged the night light into it, put a dish under it (about three inches deep, full of water with lots of soap), and closed the door.

This morning I went in and there were six fleas in the water! Voila! It worked! Too cool! Most of them were teeny-tiny, but there were a couple of big ones in there.

Nine fleas, just in my teeny-tiny bathroom. Wonder how many there are in the rest of the house? I shudder to think...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We caved...

We caved on Friday (at least I think it was Friday, I can't keep track of the days right now). And we're caving again tonight. But this is the part where, if you're going to eat out, you write it down so you know why. I think I have a good reason.

Leave it to me to get the flu in the middle of a heat wave. Really. I am SO talented. Hit me like a ton of bricks first thing Thursday morning, out of nowhere (I thought I was just getting a summer cold, not expecting a 100+ degree temperature), and there was no way I was cooking. I barely got my butt out of bed to check my email (had to check in on a couple of work-related matters). Thursday night, hubby ate cottage cheese and peaches for dinner. Friday night we got Burger King. Saturday, I have no idea what we ate, but I'm sure we ate something. Tonight we're getting KFC because I need some protein (I've eaten mostly bread and bananas for four days) and mashed potatoes sound especially appealing to me right now, even though it's 88 degrees outside!

Hopefully I'll be over this soon and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled home cooking...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A new challenge

After reading this article, I was inspired. Eating out is one of our biggest budget challenges (well, that and my tendency to grocery shop compulsively). So I talked to hubby about it. Today marks the beginning of a new budget month for us, and we're going to give it a shot.

Our rules are simple: we will not have an eating out budget (if I'm going to Starbucks it's coming out of my allowance!), and we can buy anything we want at the grocery store. I also like her philosophy that, if you find you NEED to eat out for some reason, you write it down and look at the situation, to try to change it in the future.

So I made up a list of a month's worth of meals that I can make, including some quick and easy stuff for nights when I'm tired, and some more cooking-intensive items for weekends when I really feel like doing it right.

So here are 31, whether or not we eat them all:

1. tacos (chances are we'll have this at least twice)
2. tamale pie
3. salsa chicken
4. balsamic chicken
5. buttermilk chicken
6. grilled pork chops
7. roasted cornish game hens
8. grilled salmon
9. teriyaki chicken
10. grilled cheese and soup
11. spaghetti
12. beefy tomato skillet
13. oven fried chicken strips
14. fish sticks and frozen fries
15. turkey burgers
16. hamburgers
17. chicken and black beans
18. pork tacos
19. stuffed peppers
20. blackened chicken salad
21. jambalaya
22. chili
23. tandoori chicken
24. rotisserie pork loin
25. kielbasa and cabbage
26. enchiladas
27. fried rice (pork or chicken)
28. Spanish rice cassserole
29. BBQ chicken pizza
30. stroganoff
31. chili dogs

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Busy Saturday...

Stayed out too late last night, though I had a ton of fun, and today I feel like I have a hangover even though I didn't have a drop to drink. Egads I'm getting old!

In spite of that, we're having a busy day today. Hubby got up and cleaned the kitchen. I got up and cruised my forums for a bit, where I discovered that is having a huge toy sale at the moment. So I spent half an hour shopping, and ended up getting six Christmas gifts and four birthday gifts for the little nieces and nephews for $60, with free shipping. My budget for all of these gifts combined was $150, so I'm pretty pleased with that!

After breakfast we went to Fred Meyer to buy boxes for storing our camping equipment in the shed (needed to keep rodents and bugs out). Also got some catnip for the herb garden (Puck's going to love that!). Came home and got the camping equipment out into the shed. Then I cleaned the area rugs that have been in storage for about two years (I forgot all about them!). So now the dogs will have something to lay on in the living room once again...

This afternoon we're going to Home Depot to buy some more stuff for the landscaping project. After that, who knows...

Dinner tonight will be something on the grill (hopefully pork chops if I'm remembering correctly that we have some!), because it's too hot to cook inside!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Beefy tomato skillet dinner

Swiped (and heartily tweaked) from a Campbell's Soup cookbook (love that cookbook!). Makes 4 servings.

1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can tomato soup
1 cup beef broth (or the equivalent in water/bullion mixed)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small can sliced olives
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups (dry) twisty noodles
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and garlic*. Drain fat. Stir in all remaining ingredients, except noodles and cheese. Bring to a boil. Stir in noodles. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until noodles are cooked. Stir in cheese, cook and stir till melted. Let stand five minutes before serving.

*note: ground beef cooked with onions and garlic is one of the things that I prep up ahead of time and keep in the freezer. Just makes dinners go that much faster. I also keep peeled, diced tomatoes (from my garden) in the freezer - they taste so much better than canned!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Landscaping Update

Well, it's been a little while since we've been able to work on it, but the herb garden is finally in! Yay! Here's a picture:

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It's not full of plants yet, but here's what I have so far (clockwise, from the front):

Bed 1: Parsley, stevia, bay laurel, lavendar, and chives (this is one of my "miscellaneous" beds).

Bed 2: Lemon balm and lemon thyme (this is the "lemon" bed - I want some lemon verbena and then I have to see what else I can come up with that will fit).

Bed 3: Apple mint and peppermint (this is the mint bed - there are a couple of others I want to get).

Bed 4: Marjoram, cilantro, and pineapple sage (another "miscellaneous" bed).

Bed 5: Basil, oregano, rosemary, sage (this is the "Italian" bed).

I'm still collecting plants, and I'll probably fill in with some annual flowers because I know eventually the herbs will fill the beds, but it'll take a year or two.

Also, we put the capstones on the wall, and we started ripping out the sod. It's a giant pain in the patootie, though, so we're going to rent a sod cutter to finish it.

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That's about it for now. We're plugging along, slowly but surely. Some of the neighbors stopped by while we were working to tell us how nice a job we're doing and how it's going to look great when we're done. I'm glad they understand that we're working on it, because it looks pretty darn bad!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Greek Pasta Salad

Makes four servings

2 cups (dry) fusilli pasta (or another twisty pasta)
1/2 English cucumber, sliced and then quartered
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (you could also use a small can of sliced black olives instead)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse until cool.

In a medium bowl, combine pasta, cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, and feta. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well (I do this in a shaker jar). Pour dressing over salad, toss gently. Let stand at least one hour to allow the pasta to soak up some of the dressing. Stir before serving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kielbasa and Cabbage

We don't actually use kielbasa for this recipe. We use Jennie-O turkey smoked sausage. Still in the ring like kielbasa, but I like the flavor much, much better.

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 medium potatoes - peeled, diced and boiled just until tender
1 pound kielbasa, sliced
1/4 cup real bacon bits (if you actually buy bacon, you could use 4 - 6 slices, cooked and crumbled)

In a large skillet or a wok, combine water, sugar, onion, and spices. Add cabbage, toss gently to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat until it just starts to wilt, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, toss to combine. Cover and cook an additional 10 - 15 minutes until cabbage is nicely wilted and begins to brown.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Salsa Chicken

One of the world's easiest recipes!

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Shredded cheese

Put chicken breasts in a baking dish. Top with salsa (I use about half a cup per breast). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until just cooked through.

Remove chicken from pan. Drain the excess liquid out of the pan, keeping as much of the solid bits (from the salsa) as you can.

Put the chicken back in the pan. Top with a bit more salsa and shredded cheese. Bake
for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Car Salesmen - Ugh!!!

So now that hubby has signed the paperwork to become a permanent employee (GO HUBBY!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!), he's decided it's time for a new car. This is fine with me - I told him we could get one as soon as he got a permanent position. He's been driving crap cars for about four years now, and it'll be nice to get him into something reliable.

So Monday night, after going out to dinner to celebrate, we stopped at the local Toyota dealer. We just wanted to sit in one of their SUVs to see if he would fit (we haul a lot of stuff and would like to go camping with the dogs and the 4-wheeler during the summer, so we're either getting a mid-size SUV or a truck with a back seat big enough for kids). Our plan is to try some various makes out, see what hubby fits in (he's 6'6) and then save up some money. Of course, the second we got out of the car they swooped down like vultures.

After explaining why we were there, and emphasizing that WE AREN'T BUYING ANYTHING, the guy immediately tried to sell us a $20,000 car. Um, hellooooooooooooooo! Not buying! Then, when we didn't take the bait, and were about to leave, he said "hang on, I'll go get my card." Came back out with the sales manager who not only tried to convince us to go for a drive to their other lot to see another car, but also tried to tell us that the only difference in gas mileage between a V6 and a V8 is one mile per gallon. Yeah. We'd like to see some concrete proof of that, please!

Anyway, it was 10 more minutes before we could make a graceful exit (next time I'll just grab my head and start screaming. That should get their attention). And now I have no desire to shop for cars.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon:

1 salmon fillet
cooking spray
1 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons olive oil

(note: I have something called Fox Point Seasoning that I get from - I used that instead of the shallots and chives).

Mix seasonings and oil in a small container. Spray the skin side of the salmon liberally with cooking spray, and place (skin-side down) on a hot grill. Baste with about 1/3 of the seasoning mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook until fish flakes easily, about 20 minutes, basting two more times with the seasoning mixture. Remove from the grill and place skin side up on a plate. Pull skin off (should pull off pretty easily except right around the edges), slice and serve.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's Bath Day!

Well, the fleas are taking over our poor puppies, so it's baths all around when I get home from work tonight. Oh goody.

Can I just stay at work all night??? :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chicken and Black Beans

This is one of my absolute favorite quickie meals. Makes about five servings.

1 tablespoon oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can diced green chiles, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic, sauteeing until the onion is transluscent. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Let simmer five minutes. Add chicken back to pan, stir to combine, and let simmer five more minutes or until chicken is heated through.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced avocado. Would also make excellent burrito filling, I believe!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

I made up this recipe one day when I was craving something pumpkin-y. It's very filling and very good! You can skip the cardamom if you don't have it (I probably have the world's biggest spice cupboard, LOL!). It says two servings, but really I can eat the whole thing for breakfast myself and it keeps me going till lunch, which is rare for any breakfast food.

1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup nonfat milk
Pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients.
Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until thick.

Number of Servings: 2

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Yard and Garden Update

Things are moving right along in the garden!

Yesterday I picked all the peas that were ready in the garden. I shelled them, blanched them, and put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer, so they wouldn't freeze in a giant clump. Today I put them in a ziploc and weighed them. Two pounds of peas! Woo hoo! We're at the point now where we'll need to pick them every few days so we don't lose any. Fortunately they'll keep in the fridge for a few days so I don't have to repeat this process so often!

My spinach is trying to go to seed and ready to be cut down, with a new row planted. I'm going to chop, steam, and freeze the leaves that aren't too thick and leathery. I use a whole lot of frozen chopped spinach in my spinach dip throughout the year. This will keep me from having to buy it. The thick leathery ones I'm going to blanch, dehydrate, and crush into powder. This can be put into soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, etc. for an extra burst of nutrition.

The radishes have been flowering. They're pretty, and I don't really like the radishes (too hot), so I'm leaving them. Next year I'll get good old grocery store variety red globes.

The artichokes are just about ready to go. 26 at last count. On one bush. Wow. We lost a couple to the aphids, but we've been spraying them down with organic aphid spray (which is basically dish soap, I think) and they've been staying away. We'll just have to wash them carefully before we eat them!

Peppers are flowering, tomatoes are flowering, beans are getting ready to flower. The onions are just about ready to start thinning (to use as green onions). The leeks are slow growers, to be sure, but it looks like they'll be ready right about the time we run out of onions. The squash and cucumber are coming right along. No flowers yet but they were the last thing to be planted. We got some nifty new tomato cages and we'll be training the squash and cucumber up that. Makes for a much neater garden!

In the front yard, we laid out the stones for the planter beds today. We still have a lot of work ahead of us with this project, but it'll be nice to get that piece done. I still have time to get some herbs in this summer and I'm looking forward to it! Right now I'm thinking I'll have the following themes in the beds - Italian (things like oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley), Mexican (cilantro, garlic, and I don't know what else at the moment), lemon (verbena, thyme, balm), mint (because it will take over wherever I put it so I might as well give it a space of its own), and miscellaneous (whatever else I find that looks good!).

How are your gardens growing?

Started another blog

I've started another blog, to journal my latest weight loss journey. If anyone wants to visit, it's here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Some girls have all the luck

For some reason, allergy season hit me way harder than normal this year. Oddly enough, I haven't had the itchy, watery eyes that I normally get (I'm usually like a walking Visene commercial). Instead, this year I got something new. Total congestion and difficulty breathing. Whee.

Well, this evening I decided I'd had enough (right after I cussed hubby out for asking me why I was coughing after I'd already told him three times I couldn't breathe). So, I decided to pay a little visit to my friendly neighborhood urgent care clinic. They were friendly enough, but not exactly in my neighborhood (gee Kaiser, think you could take pity on us poor Washington County folks and not make us drive all the way to northeast Portland if we need to see someone after 5:00 on a Saturday???).

Well, the nurse practitioner took a listen and, sure enough, I was wheezing. So now, in addition to seasonal allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infertility, and PCOS, I get to have asthma, too. Wow. Can a girl get any luckier?

So, they gave me a breathing treatment and a dose of drugs while I was there. Then, $121 worth of prescriptions later (quite a feat with our prescription benefits, let me tell you), I am now the proud owner of two inhalers, two prescription allergy medicines, and a round of prednosone.

Oh well. At least I can breathe tonight!

Friday, June 08, 2007

You know you might be losing it...

...when you start yelling at cartoons on television.

Ok, I admit it, I watch cartoons while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. Channel 32 (used to be WB, can't remember what it is called now) has cartoons on at 7:00 a.m. Mondays it's Strawberry Shortcake, which I try to avoid, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays it's The Littles, and Thursdays and Fridays it's Liberty's Kids, which is my third favorite cartoon ever, right behind Star Blazers and Red Wall. But lately, I find myself yelling at the characters. what's up with that???

For instance, if you'd been eavesdropping at my house this week, you would have heard the following gems:

"Dinky Little! You dumbass! Do you know how much fun your family could be having if they didn't always have to save your butt?????"

"HENRY! You can't agree to babysit and then leave the baby with THE LITTLES! They're only three inches tall!!!"

To Benedict Arnold: "RUN TRAITOR RUN!!! Quit whining about your stupid commission and go back where you belong!!!"

Yup. Losing it. I'm sure!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Turkey Burgers

These are so good...

1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced dried onions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (could substitute regular paprika)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Mix all ingredients together with your hands until well blended. Shape into four patties. Grill, broil, or pan fry, as you prefer (if using a George Foreman grill, seven minutes ought to do it). Serve on buns with all your favorite hamburger toppings.