Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully, you are spending it with your family and have been to visit the graves of loved ones.  We visited both sets of my grandparents graves a few weeks ago to lay a bouquet and remember them. In honor of yesterday's and today's heroes I'm just going to post one of my favorite poems.  I had to memorize it in the 8th grade and have never forgotten it or the men and women who have fought and many times died to give my family the freedoms we have. 

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

If you don't the background of the poem,  read about it at this website.
have a great Memorial Day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Grilled Veggies and Potatoes

I realized this week that when I said on Monday that I'd give you this recipe on Monday that you couldn't cook it over the weekend as you were firing up that old grill! So, I'm posting it today! The friday before Memorial day weekend!

As a tribute to Memorial Day, take a moment to read about the American Legion Poppies and their meaning.  It is a true tribute to the men and women who have served our country, willing to give their lives for our freedom.  If you happen to see someone selling poppies this weekend, buy one to support our wounded veterans!

This is one of those recipes that changes each time I cook it because I use what I have on hand or what I have from the garden.  you can make as much or as little as you want and now for the best part, it cooks on the grill while the meat is cooking! Add this to a salad and bread and the kitchen stays pretty clean!

Grilled Veggies and Potatoes
about 1/2 potato per person, this can be new, yukon gold, regular white/red, sweet; peeled and sliced pretty thin
mixed chopped veggies: zuchini, yellow squash, pepper, onions, etc. slice these about 1/2 inch thick, they cook faster than the potato
sliced mushrooms, if desired, I like portabello

on a large piece of heavy duty foil, sprayed with cooking spray or oiled, place potatoes and veggies.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any other spice or herb you like.  I sometimes use a no salt greek seasoning if I don't have fresh herbs.  I've placed pieces of rosemary or basil on top of the veggies.  Sprinkle either garlic powder or fresh garlic over.  Place another sprayed piece of foil on top and fold the edges several times to close all around.

Place over medium heat on the grill for about 15 minutes, then very carefully turn over for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove onto a baking sheet and unfold one end to check the potatoes for doneness.

I always make lots of extras because this is the best start for a sunday night frittata! All the veggies are already done, just add eggs, cheese and meat!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Greek Salad

I went to the garden and came out with green onions, lettuce, spinach and sugar snap peas.  What to do about dinner? Well, I made a greek salad! When I do a salad, I usually make them individually because each person in the family likes certain things except me.  If it grows in the ground, I like it.  Except lima beans, don't care for the texture.  But I'm planting them after the peas finish producing for my daughter, who really loves them!

Here's my recipe, feel free to exclude anything that you don't like!

Greek Salad
leaf lettuce and spinach
 feta cheese, crumbled
olives, I use calamata but kids might just like plain old black
sliced beets, you can use a can/jar. I use the ones I have canned and they are pickled.
Tomatoes, green onions, carrots, cucumbers, red peppers anything else you can get the family to eat!
Diced pineapple - I know this is weird but we had a place in Indiana that had the best greek salad and they put pineapple on the salad.  It gives the salad a little sweet in an otherwise tart salad!
I put sliced grilled chicken from my big batch cooking because my son doesn't think it is a meal unless it has meat!

Fill each salad plate with the amount the person wants, then add all the extras to taste.

I lifted this off the internet and changed it a bit to suit our tastes so feel free to omit anything your family doesn't like.
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (t) oregano
2 t basil
2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t black pepper
1 1/2 t dried onion pieces
1 t honey mustard
1 cup red wine vinegar

You could also just use prepared but I don't like them because they usually contain sugar and we get enough of that already.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Air conditioner wars!

Well, we're at it again.  It's been ninety degrees over the weekend and my husband and I are into the air conditioner wars again.  I say leave it off during the day and just turn it on at night, he says leave it on all the time!  I say we get fat and lazy when we have the air conditioner on all the time, that our bodies do not adjust to the summer temperatures especially our appetites! He says, so what, I'm hot!

I grew up with out a whole house air conditioner until I was about twelve.  That year, my mom was pregnant with my brother and it was the hottest summer on record.  Many, many days over one hundred degrees.  We got a whole house air conditioner that year.  Before, we just had a couple of window units, one in the kitchen for when we were cooking or canning and one in the living room. We kept the doors to the bedrooms closed and re-opened everything up at night and turned on the attic fan.  Now, I'm a pretty hot-natured person and I can remember waking up in the middle of the night drenched with sweat and dragging a chair out into the hallway to turn the fan back on.  I do not want to go back to that again.  But, I think we can all survive during the day without air! Well, not air, we need that to breath obviously, air conditioning. 

I spent my days as a child laying under a big tree or playing in the pool or some other activity in the shade.  The outdoors forced me to be creative and I think that's why I love nature so much as an adult.  My mother didn't want us to lay around inside fighting with each other and watching tv, not that we had cable, it didn't exist.  She would work outside in the garden in the morning and then sew clothes or clean in the afternoon.  We stayed outside and out of her hair.  We didn't expect her to entertain us or come up with fun projects for us to do.  You didn't say you were bored around my mom.  You'd find yourself picking beans or folding clothes or clipping weeds.  I do my own kids the same way.  Being bored is something that spoiled kids say. Busy, working kids do not get bored.  I tried to never be bored! 

I have to say, my husband did a pretty good job of leaving the air off this weekend.  It forced the kids to be outside.  We have a lot of trees on our property, a hammock for reading and napping and a fort for anything else you'd like to do.  We even have a pool.  My kids did a good job of not saying they were bored either.  Couldn't hurt that I posted the 'If you are bored....." job chart on the fridge either.  I guess finding their own activities beats sweeping out the garage, weedeating, pulling weeds, etc. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feeling old

My daughter was calling a friend to inquire about the slumber party she was planning. Yes, we're having a slumber party! When I was twelve, I loved, loved, loved slumber parties.  Now, I loathe, loathe, loathe slumber parties!  Getting all those girls to quiet down and go to sleep is like herding cats, an impossible task.  Of course, my husband just wants to sleep and all that giggling makes him nervous.  I think he's afraid if he actually goes to sleep that the girls will sneak up on him and paint his toenails or something.  

Anyway, after several attempts to reach this young lady, my daughter asked me what it meant when the phone went, beep, beep, beep.  I didn't know what she was talking about so she put the phone up to my ear.  If you're older than twelve, you recognize a busy signal immediately but if everyone you've ever known has call waiting, call forwarding, voice mail, etc., you have probably never heard a busy signal.  My daughter looked at me like I was from another planet when I explained the busy signal.  She had never heard one before!

I began to explain what the telephone was like back when I was twelve.  I even had a friend who was on a party-line.  We would get a real kick out of listening to the town gossip on the line.  My daughter was aghast to think her mother would listen in to others conversations on the line.  Apparently, she can't envision me as a twelve year old! I guess that's alright, my mom was never twelve either!

It's amazing to me to think of all the technicalogical advances that have been made since I was twelve.  It becomes mind-boggling to think of what it will be like by the time I'm sixty.  I think about the generation that traveled by horse and wagon and suddenly had cars.  Our voices traveled by wire and now they travel wireless.  I can converse with people on the opposite side of the world in real time.  I wonder what the next generation will develop?

Monday, May 24, 2010

What to Eat

I've had several people ask me about meal planning lately.  Do I continue to plan my meals during the summer? How do they change? Well, my summer meal planning includes a lot more easy salads and sandwiches and grilled dinners.  I am going to start giving my week meal plan on Mondays so you can see how I do it.

Monday - shrimp fried rice, egg rolls (I buy these from the Schwan man), sliced tomatoes.
Tuesday - whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce, french bread and italian green salad
Wednesday - we have volunteered to grill hamburgers/hotdogs for our son's youth group
Thursday -greek salad (I'll post the recipe on thursday)
Friday - grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes and veggies( I'll give you the recipe monday), fresh spinach salad

Saturday - hoagie sandwiches, chips, veggie tray with ranch dip
Sunday - lunch - taco salad; dinner - frittata (using leftovers from this week like  the pork chops and the grilled veggies)

I can't get real fancy most nights because someone has an activity that requires my driving all over north america! Have a great week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A snake in the grass!

My wonderful husband was helping me cut the daffodil leaves this weekend.  They are turning brown so now is the time to get rid of them and plant something that will give me summer bloom.  I have been starting zinnias, cleome and several other annuals that need to get in the ground NOW!

Normally, I pay my daughter to cut the spent leaves but this year, well, she has been one busy girl and didn't have time.  I'll come up with some other garden task so she now that school is over so she can make some summer spending money. 

I was using small hand clippers to cut my hundreds of bulb leaves and my wonderful husband volunteered to wield the big shears for me.  I just had to gather the clumps of leaves up and 'whack' he cut them all off in one swipe.   Now, my hubby and I have been married a good long time.  Long enough that we know each other pretty well.  Long enough to finish each other's sentences.  Long enough, that when we go to a restaurant, he'll often ask me what he'd like on the menu!  Long enough for him to know my feelings concerning SNAKES!  I come from a long line of snake haters.  My grandma Shaw used to walk us kids in the woods with a hoe in one hand.  When people asked what the hoe was for, she'd very calmly reply 'the hoe is for YOU to kill the snake.' What she didn't say was that she'd already be home before the hoe ever hit the ground!  I feel the same way.

As a science teacher, I know that snakes do good for the environment.  I know that they keep the small mammal population in check, I know that they eat insects and many other things.  My scientific mind knows all that.  However, my inner EVE feels that all the worlds problems can be blamed on that snake!  I have reconciled both of those people living inside me ( no, I'm not Sybil, I don't specifically have this conversation out loud!) with the fact that snakes can live in peace and harmony with me as long as they stay off my property!  I have even removed non-poisonous snakes from my property into the woods behind my house. 

I think the big problem I have with snakes is that they tend to sneak up on me.  I'll be happily focused on my work and all the sudden, here's this snake looking at me, usually not alarmed at all.  I have a green snake in my iris bed that gets his thrills that way.  I'll be working and pulling weeds and all the sudden he's right in my face spread over two or three plants scaring the daylights out of me!

I have a special 'save me Jesus' snake dance that I tend to do when I've spotted a snake.  It's a mix of a jump that Michael Jordan would be proud of and a very loud prayer.  I had a car stop in the road once to make sure that I was alright after witnessing my dance over a copperhead that I spotted.  The poor man was trying not to laugh as he told me he was sure I saw a snake because he knew a short little thing like me wouldn't normally jump five feet straight up and over unless it was a snake.  What can I say, I have fast reflexes!

Well, to make a long story short, my husband let me put my hands all around a little snake while I was collecting daffodil leaves.  He says he didn't want to alarm me and that he planned to get it relocated once I had moved on.  He says he didn't want me hurting myself getting out of the way. I think he was wanting to see the 'save me Jesus' dance because he hadn't had much entertainment lately.  That or he's just evil.  All I know is that now I've pulled a rib muscle and can't move at all.  I think I'd better start carrying a hoe like Grandma Shaw did, I'm getting too old for the dance!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honeysuckle and Hammacks

When I get to heaven, I think I will be overwhelmed by the sights and smells and sounds that I encounter.  I always say that I'm going to play a fiddle in the praise band and eat chocolate, strawberries and drink jamacian blue coffee all day long.  One time each year, I think about the smell of heaven and that is during honeysuckle bloom here in Oklahoma.

Our four acres is surrounded by an Oklahoma jungle.  We have neighbors that moved here from Colorado and California.  They were amazed the first few years at how fast things grew and seemed to overtake their flower beds and landscaping.  Roundup becomes your friend when you live here because you can't seem to dig deep enough to dig out some of the stubborn plants and kill off the poison ivy and poison oak.  Every two weeks from mid-April to late-May, I mix up two gallons of Roundup and spray new poison ivy and oak plants just to keep more from sprouting up.

Most of the plants that grow wild in the woods are a bit gentler on the body and soul than the poison variety.  One my favorites is honeysuckle.  We have the white and yellow kind growing around our property.  I love standing still and quiet beside the forest and looking into that dark and overgrown mess.  As my eyes adjust, I begin to see movement that minutes before I didn't see.  It wasn't that it wasn't always there, I just hadn't stood still enough to see the subtle movings of the forest.  When the honeysuckle is blooming, that movement includes butterflies of all species.  Sometimes the honeysuckle actually looks like it is moving because of all the different kinds of insects moving from this flower to that flower gathering its sweet nectar. 

As a child, I would pick off a flower, pinch the back end off and suck that sweet nectar myself.  I have taught my children to do the same.  God provides a sweet little suprise in some of the most unlikely places! Now, as an adult, I don't hover around the honeysuckle craving something sweet.  I just like to breathe it in. 

Around dusk, my favorite place to be in the world right now, is in my hammock.  It is away from the house far enough, I feel like I'm in my own space.  From my hammock, I can see the playset, the trampoline and my garden but I'm still far enough away to almost be invisible to anyone.  Sometimes, I share my space with one of my children or my husband or Kate, my big german shephard.  But most of the time, it's just me, nature and God.  During honeysuckle bloom, the air about dusk is so loaded with honeysuckle scent that it's almost sweet to the taste.  Breathing becomes a joy and it's the best stress reliever around. 

Last night, I began my walk to the hammock and noticed someone had already beat me to it.  As I got closer, I realized that my daughter was already laying and swaying in the breeze.  I asked if she would mind sharing, she shook her head no and let me lie down beside her.  In a whispered voice, I asked what she was thinking about.  She said, 'Nothing, I'm just laying here breathing.' She didn't have to say another word, I understood.  When the air is filled with honeysuckle scent, breathing becomes the only priority.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I hate to drive.  I get really nervous when I drive because I'm worried that someone will pull out in front of me, weave into my lane, just generally, do something really stupid. I've never been in a wreck during my adult life so I'm not really sure what my reaction would be.   That said, I do a lot of driving people to here and there and back again so I have a lot of time to think while I'm driving.  I'll probably rear-end someone sometime because I'm too busy thinking and not paying attention to what I'm really supposed to be doing!

I think a lot about things.  My day, what I should have said instead of what I actually said, what I'm having for dinner, what I need to get done, those kinds of things. Especially when I'm alone.  When one of my kids is riding, we generally talk.  I talked a lot to my dad when he would drive me around.  He would give me some advice that didn't feel like advice while we were driving.  I learned to look at the telephone lines to see if someone was coming up the hill because the phone lines would reflect their headlights.  I learned what Billy Joel meant when he sang about trojans in his pocket...I didn't have any idea while I was singing it at the top of my lungs! I learned not to sing lyrics of songs that I didn't know what they meant!  Among other things.

I am learning now that being alone in a car is a good chance to casually mention things that you normally wouldn't across the dinner table.  Sitting side by side is easier than sitting eyeball to eyeball.  I've discussed drugs, sex, people from school who's parents are doing things they shouldn't, making good choices versus bad choices and how they can effect you forever and ever.  Among other things.  I hope it doesn't sound like preaching, they don't react like it is.  I remember when my dad would offer these little five minutes of wisdom.  I remember them as discussions, not as a teenager who was being told what to do. 

And most of all...I still remember them!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May in Oklahoma

Ok, I'm grumpy and tired.  This is Oklahoma in May! Tornado season and my weather radio keeps reminding me at awful hours.  Hours when decent people should be asleep in their own beds.  I have my radio set for only severe weather in my county but I swear those people at the national weather service must get a perverse thrill at setting off those alarms every thirty minutes and it's the same severe thunderstorm warning! Why oh why does it need to keep reminding me?

We have a lot of trains in the town I live in.  Trains going and coming at all hours of the day and night.  If you are running late in Claremore, Oklahoma, you get a pass if you just claim a train made you late.  Everybody believes it because it's happened to all of us!   Even the school kids get a pass if they claim a train made them late for school.  Sometimes they just park on the tracks to annoy me I think!  Anyway, they have to blow their horns at every intersection.  During the day, they just toot the horn a little but at night, well, at night they begin blowing about a mile from town and keep it steady until they are about a mile out of town.  I've always said I think that night train conductor has an ex-wife who lives here.  I wish she would move! You do get to ignore it after a while unless you're sleeping with the windows open.  You can't get used to the tornado warnings though, they go off just enough to keep you up all night!

I often think about the boy who cried wolf as I'm laying in bed trying to get back to sleep after it's gone off every thirty minutes for a few hours.  When it's the real thing, I'll probably just ignore it and be swept off to Oz!  Oh, and now, I've signed up for text messaging so when the radio goes off a few minutes later, my cell phone goes off.  Too Much Information at two o'clock in the morning!  Tonight, I think I'll just unplug and turn-off everything and try to sleep.  Then I'll probably just lay there in bed wondering if I'm going to get blown away! Nah, I think I'll just leave it all on and pray for clear skies!

Monday, May 17, 2010

An Okie Marinade

This is a great marinade for chicken and steaks.  Since I big-batch cook, I'm planning to grill ten pounds of chicken breast and about six steaks.  We'll eat some chicken tonight with a wild rice pilaf, grilled portabello mushrooms and a marinated tomato salad.  I'll save the steak to eat later in the week and I'll freeze the rest to add to salads, tacos and anything that I don't want to fire up the grill for.  This is my husbands favorite marinade! 

The ingredients are easy to put together and if you like, double or even triple the recipe and put it in freezer bags with the uncooked meat to cook for later! 

Okie Marinade
 1 cup pineapple juice, I have saved and frozen this from opening pineapple but you can buy small cans of just juice.
2.6 oz. soy sauce
2.6 oz. sherry
0.6 oz red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 t granulated garlic

This measurements are approximate, I usually don't measure exactly when I am making this.  Mix all the ingredients together. Place the meat in a container and pour the marinade over it.  cover and marinate at least 24 hours.  Grill or bake the meat and discard the marinade.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daddy Daughter Camp-out

Let me start this post by saying I do not like to camp.  My son had a boy scout camp-out one year on Mother's Day and I whined so much the rest of the camp wanted to vote me off the campground! This was, of course, before the copperhead snake was found under my chair!  After that, several other moms came over to my side and complained loudly also!

That said, I think I like to camp more than my husband.  His idea of camping is to stay outside until bedtime and then come home.  Sometimes, it's really good to be the female in a relationship because you never hear of mom-daughter camp-outs.  It's always the dad that gets stuck doing those things.  Moms and daughters do things like shopping, getting their toenails done and watching tear-jerker movies that the guys in their lives won't sit still for. 

My husband and daughter are camping out tonight.  Our church is sponsering a DD camp-out and I signed my husband up because he was out of town and my daughter's friends and dads were all going!  Normally, we have a rule about signing each other up but lately he's been signing me up to bring things to work so I just thought a little payback might be good!  Not really, but she really wanted to go and I know, and so does my husband, that it won't be many more years when camping out with dad will be really, really uncool.  So we bite our lips and pack for the camp out. 

I'm checking the tent today for spiders and creepy crawly things.  I've got the blow-up mattresses and the battery operated pump ready to go.  I'm getting the fishing poles untangled.  I'm praying for no rain! 

They should have a memory when they return whether good or bad.  I had a friend once who always said, 'You'll have a good time or a good story!' Maybe they will have both!

PS- got an email saying the camp-out is cancelled due to the weather we've been having.  They are postponing until the fall! By then, she'll be aged out and into the youth group.  Maybe I'll just set up the tent in the backyard and they can pretend to camp-out!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Irish Tacos

Potatoes are really cheap right now.  Around here, you can buy a ten pound bag for under two dollars if you shop around.  My kids like baked potatoes and I like that they are healthy and full of fiber and easy to make. 

I worked at a small private school when I lived in Indiana.  Lunch was included as a small salary perk.  They really knew how to cook!  It was good food and I didn't have to worry about packing a lunch every day.  I even got a few really good recipes from those wonderful ladies.  One was irish tacos.  Instead of giving each kid taco shells, which got smashed up because eating tacos at school is a pretty messy job.  They gave each child a baked potato and put the taco fixings on top.  Easy and really good.  It's one of my own kids favorite meals just like it was at school.

Irish Tacos

1 baked potato for each person
1/4 cup of taco meat
1/4 cup black, pinto or any kind of beans
lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, sour cream, black olives, salsa....anything else you eat on your taco

This makes a great party food for kids too.  I serve it as a bar style where everyone goes by and tops their own potato the way they like it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garden Update

Took a look at the garden today and it's doing quite well.  My husband roto-tilled the rest of it for Mother's Day for me so this week, I'll be putting in a few more tomatoes, watermelon and cantelope.  There will be a place for winter squash and pumpkins a little later on. 

My tomatoes are doing so well this year, already have a few a big as my pinkies!  This always makes me nervous though.  A good looking garden seems to be an invitation for the weather to try it's hardest to ruin it.  High winds, heavy rains and the dreaded hail in Oklahoma will take a beautiful garden and reduce it to broken stems in a few short minutes.  I always think about the early homesteaders who relied on those gardens for winter food.  What a heartbreak to see all those crops ruined by a minute of hail. 

Oh, the life of a farmer.  So dependant on the weather for their livelihood!  I wouldn't make a very good one because I'm not much of a gambler and I think you have to have the soul of a gambler to make a good farmer.  That and a lot of prayer! 

I'll be picking my first big crop of lettuce and spinach this week.  I'm thinking a good mess of wilted lettuce will begin my garden season.

Wilted Lettuce : this is neither low calorie or low fat but it is sure good!

A large dishpan full of mixed greens, washed and salted and peppered. Slice several radishes and green onions thin and add to the salad
Fry several pieces of bacon and keep the fat in the skillet.
Pat the bacon dry and let it get crisp. 
In the skillet with the bacon grease add about 1/4 cup cider vinegar.  Heat up until steaming.  Pour over the greens and add the bacon.  Mix thoughly.
Eat immediately!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well, I've been kept busy the last few weeks refilling my hummingbird feeders.  The scouts hit Oklahoma in mid-April and are now in full swing.  So many of their favorite flowers are not yet blooming so they really depend on the feeders from their long journey.  During the summer, I have so many flowers blooming that they don't eat much from the feeders but right now I have to keep those feeders full!  I have also spotted an Oriole so I've got my feeder out for them too.  I never have many, just a few times in the spring, I spot them trying to eat out of the hummingbird feeders so I get one out for them too.  I don't want anyone to feel left out!

My husband tells me that everything I take care of gets fat! The dog, Kate, has suddenly gotten a little portly.  The cats are a little on the heavy side too.  Everything except maybe Franklin, my leopard tortiose could stand to lose a little weight.  Maybe this spring and summer, everyone will slim down!

I've been looking and looking but I have yet to see a fat hummingbird.  They move way too fast and too much to ever be fat.  I've never worried about my weight either.  It just always seems to stay the same.  Maybe it's because I don't sit down much either! New diet plan:  the hummingbird diet.  Never sit down, eat only small amounts and beat your arms as fast as you can!  Hey, after reading some of those silly diet books, this one might be a best seller!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Here's a family favorite for these warm evenings when you'd much rather be outside than standing over the stove.  It's easy to put together, can be made a day ahead and feeds a bunch on very little money!

Cowboy Pasta Salad
1 lb.  pasta, I use whole wheat and whatever shape I have
1/2 Cup light mayonaise
1/3 cup your favorite barbeque sauce
1/2 cup chopped black or green olives, or a mix
1 can rinsed and drained black beans
1 cup rinsed and drained corn, either a  can or frozen will do
1 chopped green onion
1 chopped tomato

Cook and drain the pasta.  Mix the mayo and the barbeque sauce and pour over the pasta.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  To make this a main dish meal, chop 1-2 grilled chicken breasts, some chopped ham or turkey or 1/2 lb. cooked and drained hamburger.

This is really better if it sits a day in the fridge.  Wait until just before serving to add the tomato and the meat.

This makes a great picnic meal because it's a main dish meal.

Now go out and have fun! Dinner's already done!

Friday, May 7, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

Today is my son's last day of school!  I can't decide who is more excited.  I think it might be me!  No more lesson plans, grading, keeping someone on task to finish a job!  He is getting out a week earlier than my daughter because he didn't get snow days and some of the vacation days she did.  It was totally worth it to me. 

I love summer break.  For us, as a family, time loses it's meaning.  We rise when we wake up, we eat when we are hungry, we generally find a routine but it is very different than the school year when everything is timed perfectly.  As the kids have gotten older, my summer seems to be getting shorter.  Already on the calendar, there are four weeks that are filled with camps and such.  I'm penciling in activities that I want to do before school starts in the fall.  Still, it is a welcome break from constant planning. 

I'm busy buying up cheap paper plates and cups because there is always a party or get-together coming up.  And I do not want to miss an opportuntity to host because I'm not prepared!  Since we have a swimming pool, our house is usually the one that gets picked for the get-together and that is fine by me.  I love having kids around, they always know that they are welcome.  That's the way my husband and I want it to be. 

Summer is wonderful and for me, it starts tomorrow! I don't care what the calendar says!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I wish my family were nudists.  Laundry day would be so easy!  Of course, we'd probably still have a large water bill because the kids would need more baths.  But there would be so much less laundry! Especially for my daughter, the style now is to wear two or three shirts and camisoles at a time and of course, they all get put into the hamper.  I don't know how she manages to do it, but she outpaces the rest of us by a mile each laundry day!

My son, now that he is a teenager, needs to change clothes more often now.  It's not that he's a fashionista like my daughter, he stinks!  Boys have a smell about them that is not pleasant.  If you have boys, you know.  If you don't have boys, you have no idea the stench that can come out of a boys room.  I used to laugh at the Febreeze ads, now Febreeze is my best friend.  No joke.  At least twice a week, I open the windows in his room and Febreeze the closet and anything else that touches him. 

The more boys in the house, the worse the stench.  We have boys visiting all the time so the stench can get quite bad sometimes.  This is why they shower so often and create more laundry.  Plus, as the kids have grown, their clothes have gotten bigger.  More laundry! 

Oh well, I'm thinking being a nudist wouldn't go over well in my household.  I'll just keep doing the laundry!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Gifts

What is it with men and holidays?  When I married, I didn't think that I would become the keeper of all holidays but that is exactly what has happened.  My husband does not give it one thought to ask, 'What did we get mom for mother's day?'  I would never think to ask him what he got my mom for mother's day!  I really don't mind getting the gift but I do draw the line at picking out the card and signing it.  I really think he should take some ownership in the holiday - after all - this is HIS mother! The person who gave him life! 

I think it is genetic.  I see my daughter becoming the keeper of traditions at our house.  On Christmas day, we were snowed in but we still had to set the table with the fancy linens and china for breakfast.  One day, I'll go to her house on Christmas and see the table set exactly like I do now.  Not my son, if my future daughter-in-law doesn't have traditions from her own family, there will be none.  He doesn't even give it a thought. 

Women are the keepers of the home, whether we like it or not.  All this women's lib stuff is great, I like being treated in the workplace as an equal but we still are the ones that are genetically programmed to keep family traditions, buy gifts for mothers and fathers and children and set the tone for the home.  So, I guess I'll be buying another mother's day gift this week, I bought my moms a month ago.  I already have an idea I just wanted to watch him squirm a while trying to come up with an idea.  Yes, I think I probably am a very evil woman deep down inside!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thin or Thick Skinned

I was out patching a tree that someone, (not going to mention who but he's almost fourteen and should know better than to drive the mower as fast as it will go when mowing!), skinned when he got too close to it as he was mowing.  He skinned it up pretty badly but I think it will be ok because it's several years old. 

I first put that black tarry patch stuff on under the bark that he skinned off.  I'll trim the bark off after the black stuff dries and forms a protective seal.  Then, I wrapped under the bark around the tree some fabric wrap that will glue to the black stuff and form a bandaid of sorts.  This tree has really thin skin or bark because it's a maple and they usually do.  The bark is smooth and easily torn by things like mowers and fourteen year old, out of control boys. 

As I was patching, I began to think about being thin skinned or thick skinned.  What would someone describe me as being?  Do I get upset at silly little remarks that someone makes?  Does it really matter to me what people who don't know me think?  I had to answer that, yes, sometimes it does.  It occured to me a couple of years ago, that oftentimes the things that upset me the most were little comments that were probably meant as a joke, not meant to hurt at all.  I vowed to always try to take those remarks, not as they sounded, but rather, as I thought the person wanted them to sound.  I try to look at the person's heart instead of what may come out of the mouth because sometimes, even I, can't quite get my point across.  I wonder how many hurt feelings I have caused over the years because something I said was taken in the wrong context. 

In the bible, the tongue is described as a two-edged sword.  Able to do damage going and coming.  Sometimes, I let my sword get out of control and I need to show grace to others who do the same. If my son had hit an older, more established and different species of tree, there wouldn't have been much damage.  Maybe I need to become more like the old, ragged, hackberry in the yard.  An ice storm a few years ago took out half the tree but it's still standing and doing well.   It may not be the most beautiful tree in the yard, but it still holds my favorite swing and is most importantly, still standing and going strong!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Making Fun of Mom!

It's beginning to stink now that I have a teenager and one on the way! They are beginning to notice things that I do that may not be normal.  And the bad part about it is, they are pointing it out and laughing! Take my compulsion to coupon.  I like to save money and using coupons is a good way to do it.  I have always cut and used coupons.  I check before we go out and eat if I have a coupon we could use.  To me, it's like a game.  'Who can save the most money wins!'

I have never noticed before my wonderful children pointed it out but apparently, I also like to brag about saving money.  I never thought about it as bragging.  I always am proud and want everyone to know! Well, they think it's bragging about being cheap and they think it's hilarious.  Just the other day, I was going on and on at dinner about how cheap the meal was and I began to notice the looks they were sharing.  These were not normal brother/sister looks.  Normal brother/sister looks are scowls, frowns, tongues sticking out....that sort of thing.  These were smiles and rolled eyes.  Finally, I stopped talking and said 'what?'  This produced belly laughs and almost rolling in the floor.  I checked my husband, he didn't have a clue.  I looked down to make sure I was fully dressed, you never know with me!  When they stopped laughing and pointing, my daughter said through tears, 'so how much money did you save?' Which again produced hysterical laughter.  They both were laughing so hard they were crying. 

I'm just glad they were getting along for once! And for the record, it was a really cheap meal!