Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There's No Guilt Like Mother's Guilt

Guilt, it is a funny word isn’t it? Guilt, it is a motivator to do the right thing. Guilt, it is something most mothers live with constantly. Am I doing the right thing by fill in the blank. It could be working or not working. It could be saying no or saying yes. It seems motherhood and guilt go hand in hand.

I didn’t really understand the depth of guilt until I became a mother. It started right off at the baby shower when I was given a gift wrapped guilt-in-a-box, others call a baby book. The basic premise of a baby book is for the new mother to write down all the important dates and memories of their precious newborn. What no one tells you is that you will be so dog-tired and frazzled to get it all down! Yeah, I filled out how much my son weighed, how long and the exact time he was born. I even attached a lock of his first haircut and approximately when he got his first couple of teeth. His book does have quite a few pages filled out.

Then, my daughter was born. To be quite honest, all hell broke loose! He was twenty months old when she was born. He wasn’t sleeping through the night and she had her days and nights mixed up. He cried when she cried, which was pretty much all the time. I was surviving on two or three hours of sleep a night. Did I already say he gave up napping at eighteen months?

After about three months, it finally calmed down a little around the house. A wonderful neighbor came every morning and took my son for a few hours so I could have some time with just my daughter. He finally began to sleep for six hours and my daughter began to realize that when it got dark, it was time to sleep, not party! I looked at her baby book, aka guilt-in-a-box, and realized I hadn’t filled out one single thing! I did manage to fill out most of it from memory but it was just my first brush with the old guilt-o-meter.

Every so often, when I’m bee-bopping along thinking I’m doing pretty good if I do say so myself, the old guilt-o-meter will peg off the charts. Like the time I sent my daughter to school even though she said she didn’t feel good. She wasn’t running a fever, she hadn’t thrown up. Little did I know she had ear infections in both ears! I felt like mom of the year that day!

I’m sure all you moms out there understand the word guilt as well as I do. My question is, why don’t dads feel guilt the way we do? Dads, you know the ones who eat the last piece of pie and don’t even feel one tiny prick of guilt? It is in the Y chromosome not to feel guilty? I can already see the difference in my daughter and my son. She has the guilt gene, he definitely does not. When old women used to talk about the women’s curse, I always thought it was our monthly time. Now, I’m thinking it may be GUILT!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Menu for April

Sitting down and making my menu plan for April. The days are getting longer and I begin to take soups out of the menu and replace them with salads, sandwiches and grilled food. One thing I can never replace is pizza. We eat it a lot. I make a mean homeade pizza and the kids would eat it once a week. I like it more like every other week and never the same way twice. In the spring and summer, I like to lighten my pizza's up with fresh tomatoes and spinach and a little feta cheese. I will use more grilled chicken and less sausage in the spring too.

A favorite casserole recipe year round at my house is pizza casserole. This is good for those nights when everyone is inviting someone over. Every kid I've ever had around the table likes this dish and some even request it when they come over. It's a nice pantry/freezer dish that can be whipped up quick and you can double or split it and freeze one for later.

Puffy Pizza Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained (I keep mine in the freezer already)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce or homemade- If you can or freeze homemade spaghetti sauce omit the onion and pepper.
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup green pepper, chopped (I leave this out, hubby HATES green pepper)
1/2 cup water
1 package spaghetti sauce mix
1 teap. crushed oregano
1 clove crushed garlic
dash of hot sauce
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter/margarine
1 T cooking oil
2 eggs
1 cup flour (can be 1/2 whole wheat)

8 oz (4 cups) shredded mozzeralla cheese (I keep this already shredded in the freezer)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Mix tomato sauce, onion, pepper, water, spaghetti sauce mix, oregano, garlic, hot sauce and cooked hamburger. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Beat milk, butter, oil and eggs for one minute. Add flour and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn meat mixture into a 13x9 inch pan.(If you're splitting this, it would be 8x9 or 9x9)

Sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Top with the flour mixture. make sure to seal the edges of the crust over to the side of the pan. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. If you're freezing this for later, label and freeze. To bake later, just refridgerate until thawed and cook as normal.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until crust is done in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

When you're ready to serve, turn it upside down onto the plates. It looks like a deep pan pizza. I usually serve this with a veggie tray of carrots, peppers and cucumbers and ranch dip because I usually have a bunch of kids eating!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Springing the Dog!

Well, we got up the other day and no Kate, the big black dog! She was gone, officially AWOL. I had a sneaky suspicion as to with who and where she had gone. We have a dog in the neighborhood who comes to visit and play and then leads her off into trouble. At night, we put her on a sixty foot lead cord so she'll stay out of trouble. She managed to remove her collar and run for sweet freedom!

My son was distraught. Try homeschooling when your dog is gone! So, like a good mom, I loaded him up and we scoured the neighborhoods. Nothing. I knew she wasn't in the neighborhoods because the other dogs weren't barking until we got out and began yelling at the top of our lungs. That night, we all went to bed with heavy hearts. People around here shoot big black dogs running loose.

I got up the next morning and called the city pound, hoping, just hoping that she'd gotten herself picked up by 'the man'. The nice lady on the phone said, 'why yes we have a big black german shephard, she's so sweet!' Sweet! Did she call my dog, who got herself put in the pokie, SWEET! We jumped into the car to spring her!

Well, she was embarrassed, I think. She peed all over the place when she saw us jumping for joy. It was a long ride home with a very happy boy and a deliriously happy dog. I think she knew she had misbehaved badly.

She's home now. Hopefully, her wild oats have been sown and now she'll just be happy to hang around guarding her own little territory.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garden Update

Just a little update on the vegetable garden. Lettuce and spinach is up and doing great! My purple carrots are beginning to peak through the soil. Not seeing my beets yet but I'm thinking it will be a few more days! My husband and son got my first trellis up because my sugar snap peas are about two inches tall so soon I'll be training them up the strings. We're already eating green onions! They just taste so good in the spring!

I have one tomato plant in a wall-o-water which is a plastic tube filled with water. It's supposed to keep the plant warmer at night thus helping the plant grow faster. I've never had much luck but this year, since I'm not working full-time, I'm trying it out again. I've got a few more of them so this week, I'm going to put in three more plants in them. A red cherry, and two different of the Boy tomatoes, Better Boy and Super Boy. I'll let you know how they do compared to the normal plantings.

I took a risk and planted some pole beans and cucumbers this weekend. They can not take cold weather so in Oklahoma, planting these this early is a risk. Last weekend, we had snow!

I'm hoping this week, with weather expected in the seventy and eighties and plenty of sunshine, I'm hoping to get back outside and do some more planting. I can't wait to start eating more of my bounty!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Garden! Oh boy!

I am so ready to be outside in the garden. So far in Oklahoma, we've had several days that are warm enough to be outside in the garden. I am a bit of a fair weather gardener. I don't want to be outside bundled up from head to toe just to dig in the dirt. I will drag brush and rake in the cold but to actually do some dirt gardening, I like it to be at least warm enough for a light jacket.

This year, gardening is taking on a new meaning with Kate, the german shephard. Have I told you that she love, love, loves me? Me. The one who could really live without her. I deal with amazing guilt because I'm really the only one in the family that could see her go tomorrow and not miss her much. The rest of the family is so in love with her. Not me. I just tolerate her and she really love, love, loves me the best. She wants to sit in my lap! She outweighs me and she wants me to hold her. When I finally give in and let her crawl half her body onto my lap, she tries to sneak a lick! Yuck....nothing like a tongue as large as your entire hand slobbering your face.

She follows me around the yard and tries to help me. When I dig, she digs. When I kneel down to pick up something, she thinks it's time for a kiss. When I drag a stick to the burn pile, she retrieves it for me. She tries really hard to help!

This week, I'm planning to transplant my tomato plants into the garden. I will put them under glass for a few weeks to get them ready for outside. I already have lettuce, spinach, peas, carrots, onions and parsley growing. Soon, I'll be planting all the rest of the veggie garden. Luckily, my hubby built a fence to keep giraffes out the first year we lived here. It is actually to keep out the herds of deer that grow wild around here but it looks like a giraffe cage.

Maybe it will keep out Kate also........

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter baskets, when is too old?

Ok, now it's almost time for Easter, here's the pressing question? When is too old for the Easter basket? Both the kids know that the Easter bunny is actually a middle-aged woman who sneaks outside and puts the baskets out. What to put into baskets of a twelve and fourteen year old?

Candy and what? A razor, a cell phone, an itunes card? This is getting ridiculus! Help! Maybe some gum, those chocolate eggs that are filled with egg colored stuff, oh, those gross me out! How about money-filled eggs?

I have an idea! This year, they leave me an easter basket!

Give me some ideas!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birthday Boy!

Today is my husbands birthday! He's a whopping 45 years old. I always tease him that he's soooo much older than me but really he's only three years older. To my children, that's a lot of years! They can't imagine marrying someone that much older!

It did seem ridiculus when I was twelve but as I got older and went to college, age didn't seem to matter anymore. It is funny how things that were so strange became so unstrange as I got older. Some other things that seemed strange when I was young that don't seem so strange anymore:

Going to bed without being asked and being glad to do it.
Turning down dessert because I'm just too full.
Working in the garden or yard and being excited about it!
Telling someone how cheap I bought my (you fill in the blank here) and being darn proud of how much I saved!

I could go on and on..things I was embarressed about that my parents did now seem perfectly normal. Oh, the pleasure of growing up!

The family is having a party for him this weekend with probably some steaks on the grill, if it's not snowing again! Last saturday, I had them on the menu but it snowed about six inches. I put them into the freezer and will get them out if the temperature is above freezing. You never know in Oklahoma!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad

Now that spring is officially here, I can really fire up my grill! Grilling at our house is done by me, not the man. My man's family doesn't do grilling. Over the years, I have purchased several different types of grills as presents and they always disappear after a short time. I came to the conclusion that they just don't grill. My family would cook everything on the grill in the summer if possible. I grew up without whole house air-conditioning until I was in my teens. We had a couple of window units, one in the kitchen and one in the living room. My mother would cook a large lunch and then try not to heat up the kitchen anymore.

I still hold to that and try not to use the oven very much in the summer. I have made bread on the grill and do a lot of ice-box pies. Yes, I said ice-box. I call my fridge the ice-box. I thought everybody did until I got married and moved to Indiana. First time I said to get something out of the ice-box to a friend, she just stood and looked at me. Sometimes, my Okie shows a little too much! Anyway, I like to grill!

Since I covered the big batch cooking back in January, is it almost April, good grief how time flies! Anyway, you know that when I grill chicken, I grill a whole lot at a time and freeze some for days when I don't have time to fire up the grill. Today is one of those days. It's soccer tonight, so we're having a grilled chicken salad. I have a lot of different variations on this but tonight, we're going tex-mex.

Tex-mex Grilled chicken Salad

Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces. Fill a plate with enough for each family member
1/2 - 1 grilled chicken breast per family member, if you're using rotissore chicken, use 1/2 - 1 cup per member. You can use the chicken hot or cold.
chopped tomato, red bell pepper, green onions, black olives
1 cup ranch dressing with 1/2 mashed avocado stirred in ( I use my frozen guacamole)
shredded cheddar or co-jack cheese

I make a bean salsa to eat on or beside the chicken salad. It's super easy!
1 can drained and rinsed beans; can be black, pinto, red; use what you have! If you have a large family, use two different kinds of beans
1 cup frozen corn, it will thaw as it gets mixed up into the salsa
1 tablespoon diced fine; onion
1 tablespoon diced red pepper or jalapeno (I keep some frozen for this)
1/4 cup italian dressing
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons dried cilantro or fresh if you have it. Do this to taste.
you can add a little tomato if you'd like.

Mix all together and let sit in the ice-box for a while. It's actually better the next day.

I do this in an assembly line. I usually make everyone's and hand them out. That way, my son doesn't take all the black olives!

Sometimes, I put corn chips under the lettuce, then top with chicken, all the veggies, the dressing and cheese.

The entire dinner can be made in under 15 minutes if the chicken is already grilled!

Off to soccer!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Middle-Age Shopping Experiences

My daughter just recently turned twelve and her brother gave her his absence for almost a week going on a mission trip. My husband and I decided to take her on a shopping excersion to Dallas, he would work, we would shop. He even had us staying at a hotel connected to the mall. No driving, just walk thirty feet and shop!

It dawned on me as we traveled around in circles in the mall that malls are no longer catering to me. I'm not twenty-somthing anymore and although the general population is aging along with me, the mall stores are not. When I was twenty-something, I generally shopped at the Gap and the Limited. Those were my two most favorite stores. I could buy my entire wardrobe there, except a few things at Target, gotta remember good old Target! Now, when I visit those stores, very few things reach out to me and yell, 'take me home now!' Could be a couple of things happening because I'm getting to be more forty-something than twenty-something.

First thing that could be happening: My body is not so easily dressed. I'm not saying that is what is happening, just theorizing that because I am older, stuff may be shifting around and it's harder to get just that fit. May be that I'm just more picky about the stuff I put on my body too. Who's to say to a forty-something woman, my moods change so fast sometimes I don't even know myself!

Secondly, I don't need so many clothes because I don't change my style as often as I did twenty years ago. Now that I'm older the trends just don't fascinate me like they used to. Been there, done that, don't feel like doing it again. I know what looks good on me and what doesn't and quite frankly, don't need anyone else to give their opinion thank you very much.

Thirdly, and this kind of goes with the secondly one, I don't like trying on clothes in dressing rooms. Those rooms are like torture chambers for middle aged women who may or may not, I'm just saying, have more cottage cheese on her body than a lo-cal plate down at the diner. The lighting in those rooms for some reason highlight every dimple and wrinkle. If I was running the show, I'd put some of those soft lights that hide stuff, specifically my stuff, that I really don't want to see!

I took my daughter into one of those teenager shops, you know the ones. They look like you're going in a little speciality shop off the street in Florida. First thing, she had to lead me around because apparently they spent so much money on the decor they left no budget on the lighting. I can't see so well in the dark and I kept bumping into the maniquines and saying 'sorry'. She got so embarrassed she lead me back to the dressing room, sat me on a bench and said 'stay'. When she came out wearing new clothes, I couldn't see her until I got out the flashlight I carry in my purse. How am I supposed to buy something I can't see? I asked the sales clerk if I could take her out into the mall to look at the top. Saleslady, who was all of sixteen, didn't think it was too funny. Neither did daughter. Anyway, that is what it should be like in my dressing rooms, especially when trying on swimsuits!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Storm of Epic Proportions!

I don't normally post on Saturdays but today is just too funny! Yesterday, I spent all day outside transplanting lilies and roses, mulching landscaping and raking flowerbeds and generally soaking up the sun; my kind of fun! Today, I am sitting by the woodstove, drinking coffee and listening to the sleet coat the outside of my windows. Don't need curtains or blinds today, I have a nature made stained glass coating.

Funny how the weather changes so fast. I live in Claremore, Oklahoma the official home of the Will Rogers Memormial. Will Rogers, the man who said he never met a man he didn't like and that if you don't like the weather wait a minute. Smart man.

As I was working outside yesterday, I knew the impending storm was approaching. I could come inside and watch the television or see it on my computer in real time. My mom even called to let me know. She called me once during sunday school to tell me to go home the roads were getting bad. She lives an hour and a half away. We went home, she was right. Whem my mama calls and tells me to get home. I obey!

I was left wondering yesterday afternoon in the seventy degree weather what my foremothers knew about the weather. They didn't have the luxury of turning on the radio and television to get an instant forcast. Did they wake up to sleet to have to scurry around and bring things inside? Or were they like most of us in Oklahoma yesterday, thanking the good Lord for the sunny, warm day but secretly dreading that spring snowstorm that always comes? Oh well, now that we've had our March storm, now we can get ready for tornado season. Maybe I'll spend the time indoors today cleaning out the storm closet!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Iced Tea

I'm a southern girl. That should be enough for you to understand some basic things about me. My momma told me never to go out in public without lipstick. Even if it's just outside to pick the garden. Even if I'm still wearing sweat pants and haven't brushed my teeth.

I always offer visitors to my home something to eat and drink and if I don't have what you want, I'll offer to make it. Even if you are just the next door neighbor.

I can through a party together in about fifteen minutes. I keep everything on hand and ready. I don't want to miss an opportunity to have a good party because I don't have paper plates!

I'll always have iced tea made beside the sink. It's not that sun tea stuff either. It's the real boil and steep kind. I don't sweeten it, I'm not a fan of sweet tea. But if I go to your house and that's what you serve, I'll drink it all and swear I like sweet tea just fine. And if you come to my house, I'll have every kind of sweetener there is so you can choose.

That's what southerners do, we are polite. We will lie straight to your face just to be polite. Here on my blog, I am not going to be polite today. I am going to rant about iced tea. I like my tea straight black or in my case, green. Nothing fancy, no pear, no honey, no natural sugar or unnatural sweetener, no whatcha-cal-achino stuff that has more calories than a milkshake. If I wanted a milkshake, I'd go to Braums and order a milkshake, thank you very much! I just want a glass of straight iced tea! And I want it in a glass, a real glass too! I like to drink out of a real glass, not plastic, not paper.

I'm sure some of you like that froo-froo tea that's being marketed out there today. I'm happy for you but if I come to your house, please have some plain old iced tea, thank you very much!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I went to a women's retreat a few years ago and one session I attended was about extending hospitality. A wonderful lady spoke to us that day and she said something I will never forget. She said that inviting someone to share a meal at your home is one of the most intimate offerings you can share. They not only get to come inside your cocoon but also get a glimpse of how you live and what you eat! Very profound.

I have noticed over the years that very few people offer hospitality anymore. It is as if we think everyone will judge us if we host and don't do a perfect job or have a perfect table or cater food. Maybe all the television and magazines have made us think that we have to be perfect to do a good job hosting. That is so very far from the truth around here in Oklahoma! I'm guessing it is the same where you live too!

Most of us do not have hundreds of dollars to drop on a few friends for one night. However, most friends, of mine anyway, don't mind! Offering hospitality is not all about fancy stuff and fancy food. It is about sharing what you have. If all you have is a pot of beans but you're willing to share those with a good time of friendship, then share! I usually can't remember too much about the food or drink of a fun party but what was said, who was there and how much fun we had just visiting.

Early in my marriage, my husband and I often hosted dinner parties for our friends. I was still in college, so I had plenty of time to prepare nice dinners. My meals were not often gourmet, in fact, often it was a simple casserole with a salad and bread. Our home was small but our intentions were good and we always had a great time together.

Now days, most of my hospitality is offered to people under the age of fourteen and I don't mind at all. My hope is that I am teaching a new generation how to be a good host and that it doesn't matter what is served as long as it is served with an open, willing, sevice-minded heart!

Now that the days are getting longer and warmer, I challenge you to open your home to someone this week. Grill some chicken or hamburgers, assign a dish for each person and make some ice tea! I promise, most people will not comment on the dust on the coffee table. If they do, mark them off the next party list or have them host the next get-together.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today is my daughters twelveth birthday. It sure doesn't seem like twelve years has past since she's been here. Some days it seems like a blink and some days it seems like forever, like I never had a life before my kids were born!

Somewhere along the line, my daughter got the idea that she was a princess. I'm not sure when it happened but one day I realized that she thought that the entire kingdom should stop because it was her birthday! She's never had to go to school on her birthday because it's always been over spring break. He dad usually takes off work for her birthday and grandparents come over. She honestly thought that everybody had a day off for her birthday! Might possibly be because I refer to myself as the 'queen of the ponderosa' quite often! If I'm the queen, then she naturally has to be the princess!

This year, my husband and I are going to do some special things for her, just she and us. Her brother is off on a mission trip so that's like a gift too! Brother takes off and gives you five days alone! Happy birthday! I'm looking forward to spending quality time with just her. She's turning into quite a young woman and sometimes it scares the bejezus out of me! Next thing I know, I'll be sitting on the front porch, in over-alls, with the shotgun watching her drive away on a date with some good-for-nothing boy!

If the next twelve years pass as fast as these last ones have, I'm not quite sure I'm ready. Maybe we can just slow down a bit.....and stay at twelve for a while!

A few years ago, I found a recipe for a very easy ice cream cake made out of ice cream bars. She had nine girls one year for a slumber party so I needed an easy quick cake! I have used it several times since and it is one of the most requested recipes from my friends. It's almost embarrassing to hand over because it really looks like it takes more time than it does!

Ice Cream Bar Cake

18-24 ice cream bars, unwrapped; these can be any flavor you choose
large tub of cool whip
ice cream toppings (whatever you like) I have used: strawberry/chocolate; carmel/chocolate

In a 9x13 pan, lay ice cream bars side by side until they cover the bottom of the pan. You can break them to fill in sides. Place a third of the cool whip on top of the bars. Drizzle the ice cream toppings over the cool whip and repeat with bars, cool whip and drizzle. If you want to write happy birthday in icing, drizzle before the cool whip. Store in freezer.

This is great for a kids birthday party because it's cake and ice cream in one!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's Go Fly A Kite!

'Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Let's go fly a kite and keep it soaring. Up through the atmosphere, upwhere the air is clear, come let's go fly a kite!'

My favorite song in Disney's Mary Poppins is 'Let's go fly a kite'. I like all the songs actually, I know them all by heart and have since kindergarten or before. I used to get into trouble during nap time for laying on my carpet pad and singing. I wasn't tired so I didn't need a nap, especially at 10 o'clock in the MORNING! Good grief, we were only there two and a half hours, it wasn't like we ran the entire time!

Anyway, getting off topic again, back to flying a kite. In our world of giant-sized, cookie-cutter houses on postage stamp sized lots, I think our kids have lost the joy of kite flying. I remember as a kid, one of the best things about spring was getting outside in the windy days of March and flying a kite! It was pure spring!

I've always taken my kids out, let them choose a kite and watched their faces as that kite begins to lift up, up, up into the sky! The last ten years, we've been blessed to live on four acres with two acres being almost totally open prairie land. I like it and don't plan to put any trees on it. I have finally talked my husband into not mowing all of it like a golf course but instead sowing native prairie flowers on it. He likes birds, I like butterflies; I used the angle that it would bring in both. I was right, it does!

Today as I'm looking out my window toward the road and over my little piece of prairie ponderosa, I'm thinking this afternoon will be a good day to fly a kite. I've always got a few ready, I buy them when they are on sale in June! Over the years, we've moved up to bigger kites, no more are we using those flimsy plastic ones that can't stand up to the Oklahoma wind sweeping off the plains. We've got the good ones, the ones that will go as far as your string or patience will let you. The ones that will knock you for a loop if you let it get out of control and come crashing down! Know that from experience, you can not outrun a kite on a mission!

Take your kids or just yourself out to fly a kite today. Enjoy the emerging green that is happening all around us. This is the day that the Lord hath made! Rejoice and go fly a kite!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

We ordered pizza the other night from one of our favorite places. The pizza places in our town are having pizza wars and we get to be the happy recipients of cheap pizza! We ordered a barbeque chicken pizza and a canadian bacon pizza. I made a salad and it made a great, quick and fairly cheap meal. As we were finishing up, my daughter announced that the pizza was good but she liked my barbeque chicken pizza better than theirs! I was very flattered because she often is more critical of my food than her teenage brother who very often doesn't even taste the food before it get swallowed!

We do make homeade pizza more often than ordering it. We have it so often that I keep some purchased crusts and mozzeralla cheese in the freezer. I also keep cooked and crumbled sausage and hamburger so making pizza at home is just as easy as driving to the pick-up place! Not to mention usually cheaper!

Here's my recipe. The mystery is the sauce and it's so easy to do!

Barbeque chicken pizza
1 prepared crust, I use a whole-wheat one
1/2 cup barbeque sauce, I use my secret homeade sauce
3/4 cup pizza sauce or canned tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon italian spice seasoning mixed in. Use the cheapest pizza sauce you can find.
1-2 tablespoons honey, to taste
chopped grilled chicken
1-2 cups cojack cheese
diced onions and black olives, to taste

Mix the barbeque sauce, pizza sauce and honey in a bowl. Ladle the sauce onto the pizza crust as thick as you like. Top with diced grilled chicken, about 1 breast per pizza. Sprinkle with diced onions and olives and top with cheese. Bake as directed on the prebaked shell.

I have to admit, I do like mine better than the store bought one too!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Glorious Spring Break!

Today is the last day before spring break. My son and I are taking a half day off of school because he needs to pack for his mission trip tomorrow. He has finished his finals for homeschool and is looking forward to some time away from mom, dad and sister to hang with the big kids. I wonder how many texts and phone calls I get this next week!

I have often wondered if students realize just how excited that teachers get over the prospect of spring break week! Most teachers I know don't jump on a plane or get in a car and head out of town, most can't afford to! Teachers don't get paid enough to do that! Most teachers look forward to no lesson plans, no spring fevered students, getting to sleep in and getting to the house cleaning that has been put off since Christmas!

The majority of Americans do not realize just how hectic teaching really is on teachers. I used to say the school year is like running the mile in track. By the last lap, you are so tired but know you have to keep running. Your room is completely dismantled, looking nothing like that happy, clean and ordered classroom of August. Your getting ready to test the students using a test you didn't create. You can see the finish line of May but you have to get through one more nine weeks!

I have a friend who used to listen to me gripe about teaching problems. I could tell she didn't really get it but I needed to gripe anyway. Several years ago, she went back to school and got her teaching degree. Her first day in the classroom, she called me in tears saying, 'how do you do it day after day?' She apoligized to me after her first year because she never really got what I was saying until she did it. She's well on her way to being a great teacher but that first year she wasn't sure she would make it out alive!

I think one reason most teachers feel this way is because they care so much about our children and their futures. I still get emails, texts, letters, phone calls, facebook friends and such from former students. I still care about them and their futures. I will always care about them. I think that is why teachers get so tired, we care so much for so many that sometimes we just need a break. A break to re-energize ourselves, to find ourselves, to be taught instead of teaching and let our caring so much have a break.

Spring break, I think it may be more so the teachers can finish that last lap, just don't tell the students!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Easy Skillet Dinner!

Now that spring is going strong, I want to be outside until the last possible ray of sunlight is peeking over the horizon. That means little time for dinner prep before my hubby appears hungry from his day. Plus, now the son is practicing soccer at least two nights a week so sometimes time is even shorter.

This is a great recipe I've used for years. You can add an extra chop if you have an extra mouth to feed. You can use ground beef if you're really short on time. Remember, you already have a pound cooked and ready to go in the freezer!

Pork Chop Skillet

4 pork chops (1/2 in thick) -you can add or take away as needed, this makes a great leftover lunch. I use boneless
1 T oil or Pam spray
1 1/4 Cup water
2/3 Cup uncooked long grain rice- brown works but takes a little longer to cook
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 t salt- may omit
1 cup frozen corn or 1 can drained
2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to taste

In a large skillet brown both sides of the chops in oil or pam. Drain and remove chops into lid of pan for a moment. Combine water, rice, onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt in skillet. Place chops over rice mixture, top with corn, cabbage, tomatoes. sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Very quick and easy! Save the leftover rice and tomato mixture as a starter for stew! If you have any leftovers!

Get back outside and enjoy the sun!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Instead of eating out!

Why do you like to eat out? Is it because it takes you out of the kitchen? Is it because you don't like the clean-up? Is is because you don't have the time? All of those are reasons I sometimes like to eat out. In my stage of life however, it costs quite a bit to eat out! With two kids no longer eating the kids menu, it can cost us over thirty dollars even if we only order water to drink. That really adds up over time.

I really try to limit my family to eating out two times a month at a sit down restaurant. I will occasionally go out for lunch if I can get a coupon or a deal. Do I feel deprived? Not really, I think about all the money I save and I have learned that I can use some convenience foods to help me make things that are restaurant quality for a fraction of the price.

If time is what I am craving, I rely on my freezer meals and soups. I can have a quick dinner on the table in under fifteen minutes if I use some of the big batch cooking foods.

If clean-up is what I am wanting to get away from, I confess, sometimes we will use paper plates! I also will make a one pot meal that saves me dishes afterwards.

If it is because I am wanting restaurant quality foods, I have found some good, quick, tasty and healthy choices from my Schwan's man. I love tortilla encrusted tilapia but it's so expensive to order fish at a restaurant. Well, Schwan's has four fillets that I can cook at home, adding my own rice and salad and the entire cost is less than one meal out. I also buy shrimp scampi, saute it, add it to cooked linguine and have shrimp scampi linguine for four for less than one order out.

Give yourself a break every now and then and just order a pizza for carry-out. One pizza around here sometimes sells for under ten dollars. Serve it with a salad or veggies and dip and you'll feel like you didn't have to cook!

Don't think that you aren't a successful woman if you don't make-from-scratch everything that goes into your mouths. Be selective and careful about reading the labels, but you can give yourself a treat occassionally by using a convenience food to feed your family and still save money!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Linen Closet comes alive and takes over entire house!

Do you often feel like the title of today's blog? I do. Sometimes, especially after Christmas, I dread opening any closet because I just don't want to look at the mess I've created. Each spring, I force myself to take a long look at the storage and linen closets and do a little tossing and donating.

When I got married over twenty years ago, my husband and I received many, many, many lovely gifts. I remember, I wrote each thank you note by hand; this was pre-computers mostly! We recieved about ten sets of sheets and twenty sets of towels. I graciously packed them all up, put them in my little toyota tercel and had my father-in-law drive them to Indiana where we were living after the wedding in Oklahoma. I unpacked them into our first apartment and filled every nook and cranny of storage that we had.

A year later, we purchased our first home and I happily repacked those same sheets and towels and moved them across town into our little three bedroom, one and one-half bath home with very little closet space. Five years later, I grudingly repacked them to move into a large four bedroom home with more closet space but as kids began to move in, it seemed smaller and smaller. Notice a trend here?

Five years after that, my husband took a job to relocate us back to our old stomping grounds of Oklahoma. Back to grandma's, grandpa's, aunts, uncles and cousins. Someone else packed up our stuff so happily I went only to unpack those same towels and sheets I had moved away eleven years ago into a larger house with even more storage space. The only problem was it seemed that we never had enough storage!

You see, I'm kind of like the princess and pea story. I spend way too much time in my bed to have itchy, scratchy sheets covering my body. So those pretty sheets that were given to me mostly got to stay in the closet while I used two or three sets. We also switched to a queen size bed about a year after we were married so the only bed those sheets fit were the guest bed that got used a few times a year. Those pretty but tiny bath towels got placed in the closet while we used the big but ugly ones everyday.

A couple of years ago, my new year's resolution was to let go of possessions owning me. I began to purge my house of things that no longer gave me joy. Things I had around simply so I had something to dust. I occured to me that just because I didn't enjoy those things anymore didn't mean someone else might not cherish that possession! Purging my home took on more meaning when I realized that I had simply been hordeing those things for all those years! I could give them to someone to enjoy and free myself of needless stuff at the same time.

I donated five black plastic trash bags full of bed sheets only used a few times, pretty decorative towels that had been folded and refolded, bedspreads that no longer fit my decor, curtains from the first, second or third place we had lived but didn't fit at our new house. It was liberating! I donated it all to a women's shelter. They were truly overjoyed at recieving so many nice, almost new things!

Now when I look in my linen closet, I see every size bed with a label on the shelf. One that shelf are four sets of sheets, sheets that are comfortably soft and silky, or soft and flannelly (if that's a word!). Two for spring/summer and two for fall/winter. I no longer fold sheets everytime we wash bed sheets, they just get removed, washed and placed back on the bed. Each bathroom has four bath towels, four hand towels and six washcloths. Again, I don't spend time folding towels, I just wash them and hang them back up.

Cleaning my linen closet this year is simply a matter of looking at the fall/winter sheets and seeing if they need to be replaced with a new set that are conveniently on sale now! I just recently replaced the four towels in the master bath. They now hang in the kids' bathroom and their old ones are in the utility room for spills and Kate's many messes. The utility towels got tossed, it would give no one joy to inherit those!

Go out and purge something today! Donate those things and give someone else joy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Getting a grip on spring cleaning

I've been working like a mad woman inside my house to get it in shape for spring. Cleaning is good exercise and I play a little game with myself to keep me motivated. If I will super clean for about an hour each day, I can forgo my exercise. I mean get to sweating cleaning, not light dusting. I hate, hate, hate to actually exercise but heavy cleaning or gardening doesn't seem like exercise to me! I can work outside from dawn till dusk hauling, digging, mowing, pulling weeds and such, just so I don't have to do any actually exercising. I think it's because I get bored doing the same things over and over.

One thing I've been doing is oiling all the wood in my home. I have a lot of wood. My doors are wood, there is paneling, the cabinetry, the baseboards, etc. I started so vigorously that I could hardly lift my arms for two days! I decided to pace myself by mapping out what I would do each day. I envisioned myself working out my legs by putting oil on my socks, laying in the floor and rubbing the paneling with my feet! That should work out those leg muscles! I'm thinking it might also moisturize my feet as well.

The oiling is almost done, I have one area left this week. That's good because my seedlings are coming up and pretty soon, the garden will be calling me. I am beginning to rake the flowerbeds clean and am dreaming of daffodils blooming!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mission trip

My thirteen, almost fourteen, year old son will be leaving in a week on a mission trip. This will be his first mission trip and will be the first time he is more than a couple hours away from home. His youth group has been planning and meeting to get ready for the trip. I have been praying for him and his companions that they stay safe, have a good time, learn and grow and touch others for Christ.

It's always been very hard for me to let my kids leave my sight. They were such an undeserved gift and I truly believe that God gave them to my husband and I with a great responsibility to raise them up right. I remember when my son when on his first school trip without me. My husband was there but I almost needed medication because I was afraid that something would happen and I wouldn't be there to prevent it.

I think God placed on my heart that day a remembrance of the day my son was born. I read the story of Samuel in my bible study that day. How his mother, Hannah, gave him to Eli in the temple because she recognized that only God allowed her to be Samuels mother and she recognized that God had given her a gift to be Samuels mother. Hannah recognized that she wasn't in control of the situation anymore than I am today. God is in control and He would keep Samuel and my son safe if that is His will.

That day, as I was freaking out about my own son getting run over by a bus or something silly like that, it dawned on my that my children are not MY children but GOD'S children. I was granted the privilege of raising them, loving them, teaching them and even correcting them; but in the end, if I am successful, they will be GOD'S children. And God would never leave them on a field trip or a mission trip or even a bike ride on their own.

I still get freaked out about them getting too far away from me and when I do, I get my bible out and re-read that story. I may be reading it often over the course of these next two weeks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Nothing like a spicy meal that can be made in about fifteen minutes and on the table in from start to finish in under an hour! I prep for this meal earlier in the week so I have leftovers to use. I use any leftover rice or rice-a-roni and chopped chicken, either from the freezer or from earlier in the week. Plan on a chicken breast or 3/4 cup chicken per person, if you have eating machines like me. I usually make extra for either leftover lunches or for that extra person sitting around the table.

This is a make-what-you -meal so I'll be a little loose with the directions.

Large flour tortillas- figure at least one enchilada per person; if you have big eaters, use two.

1 chicken breast or 3/4 cup chicken for each person, cooked and chopped (remember your chicken breasts in the freezer? Go get them!)

at least one can of drained and rinsed beans like pinto, kidney, black- if you're cooking for more than four people, you may want to use two cans

one can cream of chicken soup, undiluted; making more than eight, use two cans

one can fiesta cheese soup, undiluted; making more than eight, use two cans

monterrey jack or co-jack cheese, about 1/2 cup for each person

Mix the soups and diced onion if you like together. place about 1/2 cup of this in a 9x13 pan, sprayed with no-stick spray. Take a flour tortilla and place about 1/4-2/3 cups chopped chicken, 1/4 cup beans, cover with a bit of shredded cheese and about 2 tablespoons of the soup mixture. Roll up and place seam side down in the pan. Continue until you have about two enchiladas per person. If you have a large family, use two pans and double the beans! If you have a small family, make two 9X9 pans and freeze one for later.
Cover the enchiladas with the remaining soup and cover with foil. Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until hot. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Serve with spanish rice. If you have leftover rice, just mix in a little salsa before reheating.

Of course, I always serve guacamole and chips and a green salad!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Toys, toys, toys!

Toys, toys, toys! What to do with all those toys! I have to say, I'll be glad when my house is not over run with all these toys and games! It's not as bad as it used to be when my kids were little because their toys are getting fewer and fewer. Now it's more electronics and such but I still feel like I am over run all the time.

It doesn't help when grandparents and other adults are always bringing in more stuff to stuff in my house. Getting rid of things they don't play with or use is very difficult because the kids don't want to part with anything.

I use a technique I like to call 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind'. It works for adults too. I learned this when we moved, I didn't have time to unpack all the boxes right away so I just stored them in the guest bedroom. After about a month, I began to realize that there wasn't a thing in the boxes that I couldn't live without. My husband made me open the boxes anyway after I declared "they could all go straight to the goodwill!" I was right, after we opened them all up, most of the stuff went to the goodwill!

For the kids, I give them a plastic storage box. They put the stuff they don't play with but want to keep in the box. We put the box in the attic and next season, I take the box out and they usually put most of it into the donate pile! Once it's out-of-sight for a while, they lose interest in it. The 'I just can't give that away' stuff has been located, I store it in the attic so I can give it all to them when they move away! I'll need a much smaller house once I get rid of all that!

I go through the books and games with this technique as well. It keeps our home from bulging at the seams when we do this two times a year. It also gives us a good tax write-off and the kids know someone else is getting good use from things they aren't using anymore!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kate the Big Black Dog

Have you ever seen Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS? My kids watched it every afternoon when they were younger. I always thought it was kind of dumb but it wasn't written for my age, it was written for 3-5 year olds. The basic premise is that a mom and dad get a cute, small red puppy for their daughter and Clifford, that cute, small puppy grows into a dog as large as a house. They move from the big city to a small island where Clifford can have a lot of room to roam.

I'm not real sure but tomorrow morning, when I get up in my second story bedroom, my dog Kate may be looking in the window at me! She may be the second dog in history to grow as big as a house. I ordered some expensive fertilizer for my garden this spring. It was to be delivered today and all day I have watched for the mailperson to deliver it. Well, while I went to pick up my daughter from school, they delivered it all right. Apparently, right in front of my large german shephard who likes to see in boxes! My son was supposed to be watching, oh help us, if someone breaks in when he's on watch. They could carry out everything but the sofa and the television and he'd swear he never heard or saw a thing!

When I returned home, Kate had not only opened the box but taste-tested the bags of fertilizer. Veggies Alive! and Tomatoes Alive! apparently was better than the premium dog food she normally gets. I called the company and she will live, she may get a little sick they said. Serves her right for ingesting all my expensive fertilizer!

Since it's fertilizer, I'm thinking Jack-in-the-beanstalk here. How big will the fertilizer make her grow? Since she's already bigger than me, will I be able to ride her into town like a horse? Will we need a bigger doghouse? Can I train her to stand and shade me when I work in the garden this summer?

As of this moment, my kids are out in the yard playing with her and staying out of my way. I'm still pretty mad that this dog of theirs ate through two bags of precious fertilizer! They are out consoling the dog who isn't the least bit sorry and doesn't even seem sick!

Just another crazy day in my world! Maybe I'll make my son scoop the poop for a few days so I can collect my fertilizer! That would serve him right too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chinese Chicken Slaw

My son and I were on our own the other night for dinner. My husband and daughter went out on daddy-daughter date night. Every year, we have a daddy-daughter dance in our town and they've attended. I take her to get her hair done and buy a dress. Daddy buys a flower for the pretty girl and they go out to dinner before the dance. This year, she decided that she was too old to go. It made my husband very sad but he, typical male, didn't say anything about it.

My daughter commented a few days after the decision not to go was made that what she was really going to miss was the dinner with her dad. I happily volunteered that her dad would take her out for dinner anytime she wanted. Well, they got dressed up the other night, went out for linguine with red clam sauce and ice cream for dessert. Dad was in his element! What a happy man he was to show his little girl around town, except this time, his little girl wore high heels!

Son and I were on our own for dinner and I didn't really want to go out. I found a head of cabbage that needed to be eaten. I decided to make chinese chicken slaw. I had a rotiserre chicken I had purchased earlier in the day so I deboned it and chopped it coarsely. Here's my recipe for the slaw I made and I do say, it was delicious!

Chinese Chicken Slaw

1 head chopped cabbage
1/2-3/4 cups chopped chicken per person
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup black seedless grapes per person
2 T toasted almond slivered per person

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon chili oil (too taste, it's really hot)
mix all together and let sit until salad is ready

I chopped the cabbage and chicken and let my son take out what he could eat onto his salad bowl. I then put the oranges, grapes and almonds on top and poured some dressing on top.

It was a hit! He told me I could make that anytime. Maybe I just will, it took all of ten minutes to make!

I'm sure I could persuade the other two to do a daddy-daughter dinner more often!