Saturday, October 30, 2010


My husband and I went and early voted today.  We usually vote early on saturday because it makes it more convenient if we both go together.  Sometimes, during the week, it gets so hectic that I'm afraid I'll forget.  I have always been a voter.  My parents and grandparents always voted.  They had to travel about twenty miles round trip because of where we lived so the entire family went.  I grew up knowing that somehow, voting was important. 

Exercising your right to vote is important.  I don't care if you are a democrat, a republican or an independant, it is important that you vote.  I don't care, well maybe I do, how you vote but it is important that you vote.  We, as citizens of this great country, need to exercise that right.  It always amazes me that these non-presidental election years brings out so few voters.  We, for some sad reason, feel that the only important person to cast a vote for is the president.  How far from the truth can that be?  The president is important but the congress and senate actually make policy for our lives. 

Don't forget to vote. It is important.  Plus, you can't gripe about our government and politians if you don't vote!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall may really be here....

Sometimes I battle seasonal depression at this time of year.  The days are getting shorter, the sunlight is fading earlier and earlier and plants are beginning to pack it in and go into the dormancy of winter.  I was thinking of this today as I was going to pick up my daughter from school.  I was waiting for a train, something that happens quite a bit here in Claremore, looking out the window and daydreaming.  Even though it was just before three, it looked quite closer to five.  The shadows were growing across the open field that was showing definite signs of death.  That old claw of depression began to creep closer.

Suddenly, I really for the first time began to see the beauty of that moment.  Here I was, in the car, all by my wonderful self. Listening to soft music on the radio.  Gazing out of the window at a very beautiful, clear, blue October sky.  I found myself thanking God for the sky, thanking God for the many shades of brown that lay in the field, thanking God for the ability to drive to pick up my daughter after school!  That old depression suddenly was as far away as it is on a warm, sunshiny, June day! 

It's easy to slip into a meloncholy mood during the fall and winter.  I think it has to do with both seasons and hormones for women.  I've found the way to keep that dark mood at bay.  Being thankful!  By actively looking for things to be thankful for, I can remember just how blessed I truly am.  A person, who is so blessed and knows it has a hard time sinking into that fall moodiness.

About that time, the train passed and I met my daughter at our normal pick up spot. We laughed about her day and she as she ate her apple for snack, she said, 'I think I really need a cream slush, mom.'  I had a choice to make then, do I do the 'mom' thing and say 'no, not today. I have too much to do at home.' Or do I take that moment and enjoy my little girl, who is very quickly becoming a woman,  with two cream slushes?  I chose the cream slushes.  I chose the the thirty minutes of sitting in the car and talking.  There will always time to do the chores, read the paper and clean the floor.  There will never be enough time to enjoy my childrens childhood.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pork Roast and Fried Apples

Fall means apples at my house.  Fried apples to be exact. Last night was pork roast and fried apples. It was good and because I made a very large roast, I now have enough leftovers in the freezer to have a repeat later in the month with very little work!

I cooked my pork roast in my big crock pot.  I just dumped it in and pour about two cups of apple juice over the top.  About half way through cooking, I slathered apple butter on the top.  Just before serving, I deboned it and took off any fat.  Kate loves these nights! I strained the juice and cooked noodles in about half of it and froze the rest apart from the extra meat.  This allows me options to either have pulled pork sandwiches or pork and noodles later.  I can always use the broth in other recipes.  It's a bit sweet with the apple juice so I usually use it to cook noodles in.

Now for the apples, this is so super easy that it's embarassing I'm actually  printing a recipe!
At least one apple per eater.  I usually make more because they are really good for breakfast with oatmeal or over waffles.  Peel the apple and slice into thick slices.  I usually make six to eight large apples.
1/4 or less butter
1/4-1 cup brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg, if desired
Place the butter in a large skillet and let it melt over high heat.  Add the apples and turn the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes.  You don't want them to turn to mush!
After about 10 minutes, add 1/4-1 cup brown sugar to taste.  I go for less, I feel the apples should be a bit tart.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired.
The butter and brown sugar will carmelize and they are so good!

I serve these alongside pork at this time of year.  But they can also be served as dessert or over ice cream.  You can add pecans or other nuts or any dried fruit.if you like.

My husband was scarfing these down and asked how I made them.  I told him and he just looked at me and said 'is that it?' I started laughing and asked, 'did you think it was really hard?' He shrugged and commented that they were so good he just figured they were hard to make!  Little does he know!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A song in my heart

We are studying in Sunday school about songs.  Our teacher stated that God planned for us to have a song in our hearts.  My husband gave me one of those looks.  You know the kind.  For me, this time, it meant, 'I think she's talking about you!'

I'm always singing.  All day, everyday, I'm usually singing and since I usually listen to Christian music radio stations, that means that I'm usually singing some Christian song.  It's nice to have a song running around in my head all day.  But I don't just leave it in my head.  I sing out loud.  Sometimes really out loud!

Another oddity that I have, is that I can hear a song a few times and know it by heart.  I still remember the songs that we used to sing when I was a kid at church.  I used to wake up my parents on saturday mornings singing the choir songs at the top of my lungs. 

I've never really thought about this much until lately.  It seems as I've gotten older, I've become less aware of when I'm singing out loud and when I'm not.  I've actually gotten compliments in the grocery aisle from total strangers, if we can be total strangers in my small town!  I hear a song, I join along.  It's what I do!

My sister used to say that I could make up a song about a lid and a straw and she's probably right.  I can usually make up songs on the fly too.  Words, rythm, it all just is running around in my head.  I could never have been Amish. I read a book about them and they are not allowed to sing except at church and church songs.  Well, I sing everywhere and it does not have to be church songs!  I would have been kicked out a long time ago.  Well, my foremothers would probably already have been kicked out before I ever got the chance!

Back to the sunday school lesson, the teacher stated that joyful people sing.  That usually the more joyful you are, the more inclined you are to break out in song!  I began to think about times when I have been less than joyful.  I realized that during those times, I didn't sing much.  It is true! The more joyful I am, the more singing I do. 

Now the question remains, do I sing because I am joyful or do I sing to keep me joyful? 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeding Anne

I said I would let you know how Anne liked my beef stew.  Well......she liked it! She said she would love to come and eat it again and again!  I used a basic beef stew recipe that I've used for years that has potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes in it.  I served it over plain white rice.  Both Anne and my husband love plain, white rice.  She kept telling me how much she likes rice! 

I also served platters of fresh fruit; grapes, strawberries, mango, bananas and mandarin oranges.  Anne loved the fresh fruit.  In Kenya, she said that what we had was much closer to what you would normally have if you went to someones house for dinner. 

I must confess, we had a chocolate dessert!  I know it's not true Kenyan to serve dessert but I had a leftover pan of my chocolate caramel wow! cake.  My daughter had a spa night the night before and we had some leftovers.  Anne and I ate some out on the patio while soaking in the sun. 

As I was driving her home, she began to tell me how strange the seasons where to her.  In Kenya, trees don't lose their leaves all at once and she'd never seen snow until she moved here.  She said that learning in school about four seasons is a lot different than living them!

Anne is such a special person.  I am truly blessed to have her in my life!  I hope she feels the same way about my family.

Sickies at my house!

Well, it's been sprite and chicken noodle soup for my two kids at my house today.  They aren't quite sick enough to stay home and not do school but they just aren't up to normal.  I have suspended all afterschool activites, dance, etc until everyone gets rest and recuperated.  We have fall break this week and I want everyone well so we can celebrate!

I'm really sad this year because, since we're building and our yard is a mess, that we are not going to have our traditional halloween bonfire and party.  I started a few years ago when the kids decided that they were too old to trick-or-treat.  The first year, halloween was on a friday night so it was perfect.  Last year, my daughter wanted to trick-or-treat so we just had the party on a friday again.  This year, since it's on a sunday night, I guess it's not so bad.  Next year, we'll have another blow-out party. 

I like decorating the house for holidays.  Every holiday!  I've got the pumpkins, the gourds, the spider webs out.  I guilted my daughter last night into helping me put the rest of our stuff out. 

One of my favorite quick desserts this time of year is caramel pudding.  It's super easy and uses up the last of the milk that's close to the use by date.

Caramel pudding

1 box of cook and serve vanilla pudding (do not use instant)
1/4 cup marzettis caramel dip for apples

When you've finished cooking the pudding, stir in the caramel dip and pour into four indivual cups.  let cool until warm.  Easy and quick and the kids love it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anne is coming to dinner!

My friend, Anne, from Kenya is coming again for dinner.  This time, I'm cooking a more traditional Kenyan dinner for her.  I hope she likes it.  I know it won't be exactly like what she eats at home but hopefully, it will be close!

I'm making a beef vegetable soup served over rice and a selection of fruit.  I tried to make something that my family would eat along with Anne.  I researched and this seems to be a normal diet for many Kenyans.  I'll let you know how it came out!  The really nice thing is that they do not normally serve any sweet dessert so I'm off the hook for dessert!

I enjoy talking to Anne.  She is always such a positive person and is very drawn to my daughter.  She wants to get out of nursing school and go back to her homeland to help young girls.  Many are mistreated, I haven't asked her about her own life.  I'm sure it was much different than my own daughter's experiences.  It is amazing that people can live so different than us.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact.  I just get used to my own little world and don't think much about how other people live. 

I'm looking forward to hosting Anne again...  each visit gives me a glimpse of what my life would have been like had I not been fortunate enough to be born in the good old USA!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Been a while!

I know it's been a while since I've posted.  I've just been busy, busy, busy!  Our building project is moving along.  We have now lost the useage of the garage, the floor has been raised, and we no longer have a driveway platform.  Hopefully, we'll have a foundation for the new garage by next week.

The kids are so excited but it will entail a lot of packing up and moving around.  But with that, they know that eventually they will get bigger rooms and closets and some new furniture.  It's kind of nice to be doing it right now because they are beginning to outgrow many of the toys/books/furniture that carried them through childhood.  These new rooms will be decorated to transition them into young adults.  Makes me a bit sad though. 

I stay busy with my new job, which I enjoy, and running all over the town carrying two young people to whatever event is going on that night.  I have resorted to my cell phone alarms to remind me what day is what.  I was driving myself crazy trying to keep it all straight.  Wednesday night, my alarm went off about 4:30pm and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was going on!  My son had entered in a reminder to get him to youth group early to practice.  Thank heavens he had entered it! I had already forgotten.

I'm picking pears off the tree now and storing them in the fridge until they become ripe enough to process.  This particular tree isn't the best for eating out of hand but is good for cooking.  I'll probably cut them up and freeze them for cakes and breads this winter. 

I just planted my lettuce, spinach and turnips for fall.  I'll put my glass window over the lettuce and spinach when it starts getting cold.  I should have lettuce and spinach until early December using this method.  I'm hoping my turnips will give me greens and then a few to cook and eat.  I'm the only one who likes them at my house so there is no point in putting up a lot.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Helping others...

Sometimes I look around and realize that my life has been so easy compared to others.  Don't get me wrong, I've been dealt bad deals over the years that literally knocked the wind out of me.  I had to crawl to the corner and regroup before I headed back out into life.  But I've never been completely knocked out.  I've never dealt with the death of a child or the loss of a parent.  It is inevitable that one of those things will happen in my life.  I think we are programed to accept the death of a parent, they are older than you. 

But it's not supposed to the other way around.  You're not supposed to lose a child.  You're supposed to watch as your child grows up and goes out on their own.  You're supposed to be there when they graduate college, get married and hold your first grandbaby.  You're not supposed to plan a funeral for your child, they are supposed to plan yours.

And yet, sometimes, God choses to take them home.  I had to read about Samuel in the bible again today.  I had to remind myself that the child belongs to God and that we are just the privilege to 'raise' them. 

I can't imagine the feeling of losing a child and ,quite honestly, I hope I never do.  All I can do if offer my support and my prayers to those who have to face this terrible crisis.  But one thing I do know, with the support of God and our little community, those going through this will not be going through it alone.