Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small Town America!

This past weekend my family and I attended a harvest festival in the town my parents and sisters family live.   It coincides with the homecoming celebrations at the local high school.  Everyone in the town either takes part or watches the big parade down mainstreet.  The churches sell food and snacks, the local crafters sell handmade cuties that I usually buy.  You see old friends or meet new people that may become friends. 

People who don't live in small towns just don't understand the small town festivals and parades.  People who live in small towns can't imagine living in a town that doesn't have festivals and parades.  I love them.  I knew I loved my town when I attended three parades in three months the first three months we lived here.  It's so much fun to watch the kids run out and grab a piece of candy that a clown or the local queen or football player tossed out.  I also love watching my own kids as they march in the line or ride on the float.  They are becoming part of this town.  They are putting down real deep roots in a small town where everybody knows your name and your parents. 

It's a good life. It's good when people know who you are and where you go to church and are watching your every move.  Too many people have lost the 'otherness' of a society.  Too many people don't care what the neighbors think.  I want my neighbors to like my family and know that we live by certain principles and morals.  I want people to watch me and hold me to a high standard.  I want my friends and neighbors to call me when they see my kids step out of line.  Living in a small town is a good, good life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday Pot Roast

Yesterday, I cooked the traditional sunday dinner for the family.  Pot roast with potatoes and carrots.  I usually buy my roasts when they are on sale and then cook at least two when I cook. I put my potatoes and carrots on the bottom and then place the roasts on top.  I sprinkle onion soup and some beef boullion over.  Then I pour about two to three cups of hot water over.  I cover the potatoes and carrots.  I only cook enough potatoes and carrots for one meal or a little extra for a quick beef soup later in the week.  Since veggies don't freeze well, I just freeze the extra roast and gravy. 

Now, since I'm pretty frugal, I usually buy the cheap cut of roast that has to be cooked for an extremely long time.  My husband teases me but while we're eating like pigs he never complains!  I freeze that extra roast and gravy to add noodles later for beef and noodles.  This makes a very easy Sunday meal for later in the month. 

When we're all sitting down on Sunday after church talking and eating all the extra planning I do for those meals is well worth it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Baby Sister is 40!

I really don't know how this happened but my baby sister is turning 40 today!  Somehow she is now older than me because I'm only 39 and have been for a few years!  Turning 40 wasn't so bad.  I figured that once you got over 40, you can pretty much do whatever you want and people just pass it off as being old. 

No really, I've become aware that I am now more of a mentor to younger mothers than the young mother.  I've been there, I've seen it and they want my advice.  Sometimes it suprises me that anyone would want my advice because I don't feel old enough to be giving anybody advice!  But then I begin to think about the things that I've experienced, the joy, the heartbreak, the sadness, the high times.  I begin to realize that I've survived over forty years, I may actually have some tidbits of wisdom to share. 

Now this does not mean that I know it all.  I certainly do not.  Age has also given me the wisdom to look for mentors in other people, people who have experienced more than me, or have a special gift for discernment that I do not have.  I think that's why old people are percieved as wise.  They begin to realize that it's ok to ask for help when they need it and it's always ok to pause and think about it before answering or reacting. 

My grandpa used to say, 'It's easier to change a no to a yes, you can't take back a yes." As I've gotten older, I am learning how true his words were.  I use the word no more and don't feel guilty about it.  I feel that if an activity I'm asked to join in I carefully weigh it against how it will effect my family.  Sometimes, the answer is yes, but often, the answer is no.  If it will not help or have a positive effect on my family, I simple turn down the offer.  It may be a very worthwhile cause but I can't do everything and often I am so pulled that I can't get anything done.  Saying no, opens up time for my family to fill it with postive things. 

Getting older is not so bad.  Especially since I'm living to 100! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Turkey Apple Paninis

Tonight I'm making sandwiches for dinner.  I make sandwiches a lot for dinner.  I've had people tell me they don't like homemade sandwiches.  When I press them, I find out they mean white bread, meat and mustard/mayo sandwiches! Yuck! I don't like those much either.  It has gotten very pricey for our family to even grab a sandwich out.  My son can eat a footlong of whatever and by the time you add drinks and chips, it's usually at least twenty dollars for a sandwich meal!  I can make steak at home for that!

When I make sandwiches at home, I make them like we get when we order out.  My son's friends think I'm the sandwich queen.  Pretty high praise for fourteen year old boys!  Well, tonight, since I'm hoping to transition to fall sometime soon even though it's still ninety degrees outside, I'm thinking apples.  Turkey apple paninis to be exact.  Slap a fancy name like panini on it and my family lines up to eat!

I don't have a panini maker.  I don't need another kitchen gadget that's difficult to clean and store.  I just use a heated up iron skillet that I've had over twenty years and bought it used at an auction.  Love that skillet, it's like using a nonstick pan.  I simply heat it over a seperate burner and slap it on top of the grilled sandwiches while I cook them.  The only thing my paninis don't have is grill stripes and that's ok because my daughter thinks they are burn stripes anyway!

Turkey Apple Panini
Makes 4 - 1 for each of us

split hoagie rolls - 4
apple butter
honey mustard
deli turkey
provolone or cheddar cheese
very thinly sliced apple, like a gala or fuji

On the bottom of the hoagie rolls, spread a mixture of apple butter and honey mustard to taste.  I don't like much, the rest of the family likes a lot.
On top of that, place the sliced turkey and then the apples and cheese.  Top with the top of the hoagie bun.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and grill the hoagies until brown.  Flip over and place a heated skillet on top or you can cook in a panini griller!

Serve with carrots and ranch dressing or if would ever get cold outside, tomato soup!  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Payday! Again!

I'm on someone's payroll again!  It feels lovely!  Although I'm only working part-time, it is exciting to open up my bank email on the first and the fifteenth each month and see a little more money going into the account.  It doesn't define me and we're not going to get rich by any means but it is exciting.  I've been very mindful not to say, 'now that I'm working, we can now buy.....'.  That's a quick way to undo all the frugality that I've established over the last year. 

We've always been frugal, my husband and I.   We're just not spenders.  We've always lived below our means and that is just fine with me.  I don't want to ever feel like I have to hold down a full-time job just so we can pay our bills.  It doesn't hurt that I don't especially like to shop and don't have a ginoreous(not sure that's a word) closet.  I look at my closet, it's full, I don't need anything new! Simple, isn't it!

A couple of years ago, I became absolutle certain that I could go the rest of my life and not buy any new clothes and die with clothes.  Well, maybe I'd have to replace underwear because for some reason, those wear out quicker than other stuff.  And maybe socks after a few years.  But for the most part, I have way too many clothes.  I decided that I'd only start replacing stuff when it was worn out.  Seems to be working.  I've only replaced a few tops and shoes in the last few years.  Saves plenty of money!

I got paid today and instead of rushing out to eat out or buy something new, I think I'll just sit here and smile.  Saving that money for a nice vacation this winter with the kids! Memories last a lot longer than a new pair of shoes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Football, football, football.....

I like football.  I like to watch it, not play it.  I'd be the guy that turned tail and ran screaming in the other direction.  Definately could not play!  Since we are knee deep in football season, I thought I'd ramble a bit about my love of this lovely fall sport.

My husband, who is notoriously more cheap than me, I'm frugal, he's cheap.  He'll do without because he doesn't want to spend the money.  I'll save over here so I can spend over there.  I like to travel so my frugalistaness goes to traveling.  Anyway, my husband was talked into buying season football tickets this year to his alma mater, Oklahoma State.  I did the talking.  He got a raise and was feeling really good and I said, 'why don't you buy them this year?' He did in a moment of weakness. 

I didn't realize what a wonderful, great, loving wife I would be depicted as for talking him into buying tickets.  He was so over-excited last Saturday when we arrived on campus in time for the 'Walk'.  That's when the football team walks across campus to the stadium.  Then, we went to some friends to visit at their tailgate set-up.  All the way, he just kept saying, 'this is great!' over and over.  In fact, all week, he's been saying it.  I'm glad he had a good time. 

Ok, I did talk him into the tickets. I did threaten the children not to complain as we were slepping all over the campus following dad around in the hot sun.  But here's the secret.....I enjoyed it almost as much as he did.  I like sitting out in the stands on a cool fall evening cheering and listening to the band.  I've already bought our family pass to our hometown's football team.  Football means fall and I like that just fine!  Just don't tell the hubby that I really enjoy it.  He thinks I'm the greatest wife ever right now and I don't want to spoil it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

When did it Change?

I was hanging out with a bunch of women recently and I overheard a couple talking about their bathrooms.  This is never a good thing, me eavesdropping on conversations, but alas, it happens often.  I have extreme hearing and I just can't help it!

Anyway, they were discussing their bathroom themes.  Themes!  When did bathrooms need a theme?  It's not a restaurant!  I remember my grandparents bathrooms.  Pink and green were the prevalent theme.  Maybe there were a few decorations on the wall, someone made in ceramics.  There was a little crocheted dog made out of a bar of soap.  I think that was for smell?  That or maybe if you were ever completely out of soap it was a rescue dog! 

There wasn't a hundred dollar shower curtain.  There wasn't an expensive rug on the floor.  There wasn't a two thousand dollar shower or jetted tub.  There also wasn't a theme!  It was a bathroom, plain and simple.  And you know what?  It worked! I have a feeling the rest of the world looks at us and laughs.  The are in on the joke!  Bathrooms are for doing your business, not for decorating to look like House Beautiful!

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Cool Weather!

Soup, soup, how I love soup! I seriously could eat soup everyday.  Now that I'm home during the day, I usually do eat soup once a day, either for lunch or dinner.  This last week, we finally had our first little brush with cool, fall weather.  It was soooo exciting because it was also the first football game for our town's high school.  I decided it would be a soup night!

My daughter and a friend were going to the game so I invited the family over to chow on soup and salad before the game.  I made a southwestern chicken and rice soup.  To be honest, it was a chance to use some leftovers as that is what I use soup for mostly, to repurpose leftovers into something I like to eat!  I had some chicken broth in the freezer that needed to be used, a couple of grilled chicken breasts and some leftover rice from a meal earlier in the week.  I dumped it all in, added a can of rotel, some frozen corn, spices and a can of Campbells Fiesta Cheese soup.  I love that stuff!  Adds just the right amount of cheesy flavor without overwhelming the entire dish.  I cooked it all in my big crockpot and served it with a green salad and homemade bread.  We ate until we couldn't move!  It was a good thing to send them off to a chilly football game.  Their stomachs filled with warm, homemade soup. 

I love fall!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sushi Bowls

Ok, I'm first going to say, this is not gourmet food!  I never said I was a gourmet cook.  I've always said that went out the window when the kids were born.  So please don't email me and gripe that I have dumbed down sushi.  Remember, it has to be quick, easy and kind of healthy at my house!

That said, my family loves sushi.  My kids would eat it every night.  I can make it but it is a time consuming mess that takes up most of my afternoon.  I love to go out and eat sushi and my husband and I do it as often as we can.  I hate to pay for the entire family to go eat sushi because dropping sixty to one hundred dollars for a meal, just kills me.  I'm pretty frugal remember?

I woke up in the night thinking about ways to make eating sushi with the kids easier on mom.  I came up with the idea of a sushi bowl.  I know all the sushi chefs out there are impaling themselves on their sushi knives but large appetites call for desperate measures! 

Here's what I did:
I made my sushi rice and let it cool slightly.  I then mixed nori cut into small strips into the rice so it would be nice and soft.  While the sushi rice was cooling, I cut up crab, smoked salmon and rinsed and drained small salad shrimp.  I also diced carrots, avocados, cream cheese and cucumbers.  I put all of it in small bowls and sat them around the rice and nori mixture. 

We filled our bowls with rice/nori and then topped different areas with what we like in our sushi.  I had a california roll area, and several other ones I just made up!  I mixed my soy sauce and wasabi and just dumped it over all of it.  The rest of the family left theirs on the side and dipped each bite into the sauce. 

Although it was not traditional sushi by any means, it seemed to pass the sushi test from the kids!  They loved it and loved making each persons unique to their own tastes.  Both kids voted to have this recipe again.  My daughter wants it once a week.  Probably not going to happen but it may be a once a month treat!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September Menu Planning

I sat down and started my September menu planning.  Yes, I know, it's already September.  Well, with school starting, a new job, home schooling, dance and piano lessons starting, I've been a bit busy!

I'm beginning to transition out of summer foods and into fall dishes.  More pork and apples, less salads.  More pancake nights, less sandwiches. I even put chili and stew on the menu in late September ! We are eating the last of the Oklahoma peaches and are savoring each one.  I found a great sandwich recipe for ham peach panini.  I found it in the All You magazine.  I don't have a panini press and am not planning to purchase one.  What I have is a non-stick skillet and a cast iron skillet.  It works just fine.

Ham-Peach Panini

Bread, I've used regular sandwich or bagette; One section for each person
Sliced ham
Thinly sliced peaches, I don't peel them
honey mustard- the recipe called for dijon but I don't care for dijon.
Peach/Apricot jam or butter
cheddar cheese

On the bottom bread, spread the mustard and jam.  I go easy on the mustard and heavy on the jam.   Place sliced peaches on each bottom bread then cover with ham and cheese.  Top with the other piece of bread.  Grill in a little butter until browned then flip over and place the iron skillet on top to smash it down. 

So good, even my picky daughter ate it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Last night, we finally had some rain!  It was so enjoyable, we all gathered on the back porch and sat and watched the lightning show and watched as the rain moved in.  Lightning used to scare me when I was a kid but my mom would sit on our front porch with me and watch the storm move across the sky. 

Powerful is the word I would use for lightning.  These big, bright streaks across the sky brought with it welcome relief from the intense heat and drought we were having.  Such excitement!  Living on the edge of the great prarie, I often wonder what it was like two hundred years ago when lightning came bringing rain but also the threat of fire.  Fire was good because it burned off the old, dead grass so new, fresh grass would grow and bring the buffalo.  You'd maybe lose your home to fire but you'd also probably have fresh meat.

For now, I'm just content to watch God's light show in the sky and marvel at it's awesomeness!