Sunday, September 11, 2011


Ten years ago, I actually got to sit down with a cup of coffee, turn on the tv and watch a little 'Good Morning America'.  Usually, the tv was being used during the early morning to watch Dora, the Explorer or some other PBS or Disney show.  My kids were 5 and 3 and they liked their morning programs...but for some strange reason, that morning, they had quickly eaten their breakfasts and run off to play. 

I was actually excited to sit for a few minutes...until I turned on the tv.  It seems a plane had hit a building in New York and there was chaos on the television.  No one seemed to have any information...and I and the entire world then looked on in shock as a second plane hit the other tower.  We all knew then that it wasn't some terrible accident, we knew that it had been orchestrated but we didn't know by who.  In that moment of horror, my thoughts went to my husband, he was at work.  If we were being attached, he needed to know. I called his place of work and quickly told them to turn on a television.

In the hours that followed, I tried to maintain a normalcy for my kids.  I took my son to his violin lessons that morning, stopping to get gasoline.  The line was so long, I guess everyone needed to do something so filling up their tanks seemed like something rather than nothing.  I was also told that the local blood bank had a line as well. 

We, in the fly-over states, felt so helpless to help those who were hurting. We didn't know what to do or say so giving blood seemed like something.  Our lives changed forever that morning.  Oklahomans knew that feeling.  After the Oklahoma City bombings, we had our innocence taken in a way that only terrorism can.  We realized that no one is safe, that in an instant, our lives can take a turn that we can't control.

But we also realized that we can survive and thrive.  I see that now.  We are Americans, we have always risen from adversity and we will continue to do so.  I am proud to be an American.  I am proud of the sacrifices that others have made for me and my family. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Try, try!

Well, we got some rain last week. First time in over a month and now they are finally going to take us off the burn ban! We also, for the first time in a long time, went for a few days without going over 100 degrees!  I was so happy to see clouds!

I've had nothing much in the garden this was too hot to set tomato fruit or anything else so I had just a few piddly tomatoes, a few cucumbers, no peppers and not much else. We certainly would be hungry if the family was relying on my garden!  I have had enough okra and eggplant to do a batch about once a week....nothing to write home about this year!

Fall is going to be better...I keep telling myself that.  Ok, I'm an Oklahoma State fan, we're used to looking forward to a better 'next' season!  I went out today and replanted cucumbers and swiss chard...still too hot to plant spinach, lettuce or turnips.  I also planted some little gourds, maybe I'll have some for Halloween and Thanksgiving...

That's the thing about gardens, if you fail one season, there is always another season right around the corner! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow this time, I'll be the mom of a ninth grader and eighth grader. don't know if I'm ready to tell you the truth.  As a high school teacher myself and a ninth grade teacher for more years than I want to scares the soup out of.  He's now playing for all the marbles.  Mistakes cost a lot!  Mistakes can sidetrack your entire life....I don't know if he's ready...

I'm sure he'll be fine, I just worry...

Tomorrow is supposed to be almost 100 degrees again.  We broke last week after over a month of over 100 degree weather.  My garden is toasted but there are signs of life now that we got about 5 inches of rain last week and even a day that didn't hit 90!  I honestly was getting worried about large shrubs, we were so dry! I am just thankful that we don't have to live this winter of off what I've grown this summer....very few blackberries, very few tomatoes, peppers, anything else!

Hopefully, my fall garden will be better than this summer garden.  I pulled most of it a few weeks ago and put it out of it misery.

Now back to worrying about tomorrow! First day of school...SCARY!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting Ready...

School's starting around here in the next few weeks.  I'm ready.  It's too hot to do anything else, I'm tired of having so much fun....I'm tired!  We need to get back into a routine at my house.  The month of July, I usually stop making meal plans and we just fly by the seat of my pants.  The kids are running all over, I never know who will be here for dinner or lunch for that matter.  I could be cooking for two or twelve.  The pool is overflowing with teenagers and that's ok with me!

But about the first of August, I begin to yearn for normal.  I printed out four months of meal planner calendars yesterday and today, I'm filling August completely up using my stockpile in the freezer and pantry.  I've started penciling in kid cooking nights.  This year, each child will be cooking at least once a week, using pantry items.  This keeps them from coming up at the last minute with strange items that I have to buy last minute at full price.

My daughter cooked penne pasta with tomato sauce and fruit salad on Monday, my son will be making Hamburger Helper.  He is not happy about participating in this exercise.  I don't care, I want him to learn basic cooking....he says he already knows...we'll see! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gardens is everything else..

I am so very thankful that we will not have to rely on what I'm growing this year for our winter's bounty.  Claremore hit 115 yesterday and the last rain, even a few drops, came at least a month ago.  I have been carefully watering young trees, shrubs, perennials and my fruit plants.  Today, many communities have started water rationing and threatening rolling blackouts on electricity if we all don't cut back. I desperately don't want a ban on outside watering! 

We have an in-ground's over 90 degrees in the it's not really refreshing.  I've told my husband and kids if we go on water rationing, the pool will be drained to save the trees and plants.  It's really getting bad, as bad as I've ever seen it.  I keep praying and praying for rain and fall....and football season!

In Oklahoma, football season is an exciting time.  Mostly because it's the beginning of fall, and the end of hot, hot, dry, dry weather!  The entire state is waiting on football!  and a hurricane, which is what the weather people say is the only thing that will break our while those on the coast pray for no hurricanes, we, in Oklahoma know it's the only thing that will save crops and animals.

I guess what they say is true, one man's misfortune is another man's misfortune.......

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Checking in...

Wow! It's been almost a month since I've last posted! I've been so busy going, going, and going that I have forgotten to type anything. We spent almost two weeks in the great state of Washington...see the pic above.  It was glorious! I took that pic while standing on the northwesternmost tip of the continental US. 

I often wonder why people are so in a hurry to leave our continent to explore.  I am 44 years old and still haven't been and seen everything here yet!  I'm pretty sure once I do see it all, I'll need to turn around and do it over again as I will have forgotten half of it!

Summer is here in Oklahoma for the duration. I'm trying hard to keep a few things alive around my yard.  I will be yanking most of my garden up in a week, once I get back from summer church camp, because we are so dry and hot that nothing is producing.  I'm so very glad that my family does not rely one hundred percent on my produce for it's winter sustenance or we would be very hungry this winter!  I have nothing producing except eggplant, lots and lots of eggplant!  We've had it fried, sauteed, in pasta dishes and grilled.  I'm thinking that once summer is over, no one will want an eggplant for a while!

I'm truly hoping that after church camp, I'll start getting better about posting.  It will be the first of August, time to get started settling down for school.  I'll try to get everyone back into some routine because we certainly have not been on one this summer.  I'll also be starting meal planning and big batch cooking again. I've taken the month off since we have been gone so much! 

I'm kind of looking forward to August to tell you the truth.  I like order and summer is definitely order around here! Everyday is different, everyday ends differently. I never know who will be here and when.  Yep, I'm looking forward to August!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Thoughts on Freedom

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, I look back at my past year and reflect.  I hope I have gathered a greater understanding of freedom this year with a few of the activities I have been involved in and really want to remember those lessons into the next year.

As we all here in the good old USA start our grills and drag out our fireworks and red, white and blue t-shirts, I want to remember that the freedoms we enjoy as citizens have never been 'free'!  The rights we enjoy as citizens were fought and paid for by our forefathers and mothers sacrifices.  Sacrifices that, I'm sure, were giving freely but not without pain.  Sacrifices that required giving to others, others they surely did not know or hope to know.

Looking across the nation today, I'm not struck by sacrifice and service but instead by selfishness and wanting to be served by a  government who has allowed itself to grow to big to really be 'of service' to anyone.  A government who only lives to grow larger on the backs of it's citizens.  It is egged on by a public who wants it all, thinks they deserve it all, and wants to take it away from someone else. 

Over the last year, I have had the privilege to help and serve numerous people.  No, I didn't serve in the military, no I didn't go fight a war...the last time I checked middle-aged women were not allowed in either! He! he!  I may not have done big things to ensure our freedom but I hope to think my little acts of service and sacrifice helped shape our future generations to look outside of themselves and past tomorrow. 

I think our country is at a crossroads this summer of 2011.  Do we continue to allow our leaders to herd us down a direction that is counter to what most of us Americans know is right or do we exercise our 'rights' as citizens and change the course of our destiny by not being afraid of standing up and saying 'enough!'  I pray that we stand up and say 'enough' to our leaders. 

Moving forward will require sacrifice and selfishness.  It will require us to do things that are hard and are not necessarily 'fun'.  It will require saying 'no' sometimes to those with their hands out and some of those hands will be our own! We are used to 'having it all and having it now'.  It's time to be grown-ups.  It's time to do the hard work and stop blaming everyone else for our problems.   We are the grown-ups.....It's time we act responsibly and do the right thing for ourselves, our children and our world.....

We need to be the USA!  We've never wanted to be anyone else....why stop now?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Red, HOT and Blue!

Remind me again why July fourth has to be so stinking hot each year?  I remember when I was a kid, I didn't do too many firecrackers because it was just too hot to stand out in the sun...I mean really, you can only blow up so many ant holes and then you start suffering from delirium from the heat!

We are planning to attend a friend's cookout again this year and luckily, they also have a pool.  That will at least keep the kids know when it's too hot to swim, it's hot! 

I've been charged with bringing chips and salsa again this year.  Apparently, it was such a hit last year that I'm a repeat!  I always laugh when someone asks me to bring the same thing over and over again.  I have friends that I do the same thing to because I enjoy something they make.  I guess I should only be worried when someone asks me NOT to bring what I brought last time!  We used to laugh at school and say we were going to have a carry in dinner and tell everyone what they had to bring...we would take votes of everyone's favorite dish that each person made.  It would have made an interesting dinner!

I'm usually the salad lady.  I love salads and so my salads are pretty creative...oftentimes, people think of a salad as an afterthought but I love making and trying new and creative salads.  Plus, for me, they are usually a quick and easy way to make a one dish meal and at this stage of my life, that's important!

As you celebrate our country's birth this weekend, think of all those who have given up to gain our freedom.  There are thousands serving our country even now, giving up their 'weekend off' serving in far-away lands.  I'm hoping that 2011 will be the year we begin to bring our troops home!  Personally, I'm getting tired of paying with American lives...well I won't go into that now! 

I support our troops and love the United States! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Simple Seafood suppers

It's only going to be 104 degrees farenheit today in Oklahoma so cooking has kind of stopped being a priority. I'm looking for easy, quick and cool to prepare foods for a family who's appetite is somewhat reduced due to the heat.  I have turned to seafood and salads.

So far this week, we've had a cold tortellini salmon salad and a hot pasta with shrimp and mussels.  Both were hits with the family, both took less than 30 minutes to put together and neither needed a recipe book! All amounts are for my family of one is a small eater!

Cold torellini salmon salad
3 small salmon fillets - I cooked these in the microwave with lemon pepper and then placed in the fridge to cool them
1bag of frozen tortellini - cook according to directions
1 cup mixed veggies - I used frozen, place in the colander that you are going to drain the pasta in, the hot water from the pasta will cook and steam the veggies until just tender, exactly what you need for a cold pasta dish!
Italian dressing to taste
I cooked the salmon, tortellini and veggies, tossed it all together and added the dressing and then put in the fridge for an hour.  I served this with bread and brushetta!  Easy dinner

Mussels, Shrimp and Pasta
I found a box in my seafood area of my local grocery store called Steamers in 5 mediterranean mussels in sundried tomatoes.  You just poke a hole in the plastic cover and microwave for 5 minutes.  Perfectly steamed mussels in a very good light sauce!
I put about 1/4 cup butter in a skillet and added some already cooked shrimp and then the mussels and sauce and then added cooked pasta. I served this with a green salad.
I have to say the presentation on this dish was amazing!  It looked very similar to a dish I had seen in San Fransisco and the entire meal cost less for my family than the one dish was in San Fran!

Both of these dishes were hits at my house!  It's challenging to come up with light simple meals when the weather turns this hot.....we sometimes just eat a fresh veggie meal when sweet corn is in season but this year, my daughter is in braces so I have to cut the corn off the cob for her...that makes it more difficult!  Oh well, she'll be out next year so we'll be eating sweet corn off the cob again!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too hot to cook!

Well, we've had a hot spell in Oklahoma and it looks like we're in for a long, hot spell!  I'm glad I've got my watering systems running so I don't have to constantly drag hoses all I just have to water the potted plants every night!  I set my zones on timers to come on early morning and water so I don't have too.  It saves me so much time and my plants and garden thanks me!

Looks like it is going to be a lean tomato year this year because of the heat.  When the nights are over 85 degrees, tomatoes don't set fruit well.  I have about 15 tomatoes on 20 plants!  Not good odds but nothing I can do.  My okra is going great though and my eggplant likes hot weather also! 

When the days get over 100 degrees, I really have a hard time getting motivated to cook.  I hosted families from England and Australia last weekend and cooked for 13.  I had work ladies and kids over Monday and made lunch for 12.  I'm kind of burned out now.  It's too hot to cook so I look for easy no-cook or low cook meals.  Salads and sandwiches fit the bill.   I absolutely refuse to turn on the oven...not so with my son. He's on the bad list right now because I came home and he had cooked a frozen pizza in the oven so the air conditioner is running!  We have a convection oven!  USE IT!!!!!

He also is on the bad list because all his and his buddies dirty dishes are all over.....that will be remedied soon.
I don't clean up after him, he's almost 15, he knows where the dishwasher is! 

Back to dinner, tonight, we are having a chilled pasta salad.  I've got some leftover crab salad from the luncheon so I'm going to toss it with cooked rotini pasta and add a light ranch dressing.  I've got cucumbers from the garden and I'm calling it dinner! 

Tomorrow night, we're having grilled chicken taco salad.  I grilled extra chicken on Saturday so I have plenty in the freezer for at least three or four meals.  It really does get too hot to grill in Oklahoma!  I usually grill early in the day from now until about mid-September....I get tired of my face melting off standing over that hot grill!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Almost back to normal...

Well, the house is quiet again.  One child is home from camp, the other comes home tomorrow.  We've had a steady stream of company since June 10th!  It's been wild around here! 

I got to visit with my best friend, she came down for a few days while my kids were at camp.  My husband would have gone out of town for the duration but I think he promised the other husband and that he would stay and 'supervise'!  We're kind of like Lucy and just never know what we'll do!  We did lay out in the sun by the pool and burned our would think that two middle aged women, with college educations and kids would have better sense than to lay out all day!  Oh no! We burned ourselves to crisps!  But it was a fun, fun kids to bother us, no snacks or lunches to make, no laundry....just us laying out.  On second thought, it might have been better had we gotten up a few times!

My daughter came home from working at camp this week.  She was a server and she's oh so tired tonight.  I was proud of her because even though the teens 'in charge' of the group turned out to be really bad at being in charge, she took it like a Christian lady....her mother would probably not have taken it with as much grace. She can teach me a lot sometimes.

My son comes home tomorrow from a leadership camp.  I've been praying that he learns and grows a lot.  I am anxious to hear about his time....I've only spoken to him once the entire week and that's because I called yesterday to make sure he was still alive!  I guess it's a good thing, no news is good news at camp!  My daughter called several times to have someone to gripe too....she didn't want anyone at camp to know what a rotten time she was having.  She finally did start having a better time when she stopped worrying about trying to be perfect and just do her best. 

This weekend will be wild and then hopefully, all will settle down!  I'm hosting families from three different continents this weekend, malaysia, austrailia, and england!  I'm cooking good-old American fare, that's what was requested.  My menu will be a fusion of several types of dishes....appetizer is chips and homemade salsa, main dish, grilled chicken with pasta with vodka cream sauce, brushetta and bread, green beans, sliced cucumbers and a green salad.  I'm making hummingbird cake and tiramisu for desserts.  I'll be sharing some of the recipes this next week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Sorry I'm not posting this week! We've had company since last friday night and I'm so busy entertaining that I can't get anything posted!  I'll catch up next week, I promise!

It's amazing when you look at your town as a tourist, there are so many fun and interesting things to do around my town!  Try looking around your own town through a tourists eyes!  You may decide that 'staycation' isn't going to be so bad.  Something I'm trying to do is not do my normal cleaning chores this week.  If I was staying at a rental house, I wouldn't feel like I needed to wash the windows or sweep the floor I'm not feeling bad this week if a little dust builds up or the bathroom mirror has a little toothpaste spit on what, I can clean next week when the guests are gone!

I'm not going to Martha this up! I'm going to be Mary a little!  I'll catch you all next week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Deal on Bananas....

Got a big bag of bananas today at the grocery store for $1.49.  I love when I can get that bargain!  This means banana bread!  I recently made a couple of loaves and they were gone almost before they came out of the daughter and husband almost came to a wrestling match!   This time, I baked a couple of loaves for the company we're having this next week. I'm going to wrap it and store it in the downstairs fridge so no one will eat it!

I had a bunch of leftover bananas even after baking two loaves.  I peeled them, cut them into thirds, put the over ripe ones in a freezer bag for future bread and smoothies and then dipped the rest in chocolate that I bought after easter!  They are in the freezer for tonight after the pool!

Here's my recipe for banana bread. I've used this recipe for 20 years. Got the recipe from the Thomas family recipe book my mom gave me in 1988 for Christmas. Must have been a fund-raiser book, I enjoy it and use it a lot!

Banana Bread
Sift Together:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together:
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs (one at a time)
1/3 cup shortening/butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts - I use pecans
2-3 cups (1 cup) mashed bananas

Add dry ingredients and pour in 1 greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes.  I double and make 2 loaf pans at one time. Let cool 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling board.

This bread freezes well.  let cool completely before wrapping and freezing

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grilled Veggies...

This is my favorite new seasoning! Well, it's not new, I've already been through 3 bottles....I guess it's my favorite summer seasoning!

I usually use this on my green salad but I've started using it on my grilled veggies and it is sooooo good!

Grilled veggies

Yellow squash, zuchinni, potatoes- white or sweet, carrots, green beans, eggplant, onion whatever is growing in the garden that needs to be eaten; cut into 2 inch squares or 1/2 inch slices.

Chop the veggies and place on  heavy duty aluminum foil that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray or drizzled with olive oil.  Sprinkle with Cavender's greek seasoning(salt-free) and chopped garlic.  You can add extra fresh basil or parsley.  Seal up with another aluminum foil sheet.  Place on hot grill for 10 minutes, flip and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from grill and carefully open packet to check for doneness.  I will sometimes, put the foil packet back on the grill if it needs a few minutes to cook or open it up and cook it while my meat is cooking so the veggies get more oven baked instead of steamed.

Serve with more of the seasoning....oh it is so good.  make sure you cook extra, a fritata using this veggie combination makes for an easy weeknight meal!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Homemade Salsa

My local grocery store had good looking tomatoes for a dollar a pound this week....I'm thinking homemade salsa!  We love it and it's so healthy made at home! My kids will definitely get their five servings of veggies when homemade salsa is around.

I use about 5 pounds of tomatoes when I whip up a batch because usually, I end up sharing with others.  This is one of those recipes that you add as much as you like to your taste recipes.  I'll just give you the basics.

Chopped tomatoes.  I use about 5 pounds but you can use as many or as little as you can use.  I usually hand chop but you can use a food processor if you promise not to pulverize them!

One can- diced tomatoes - put the contents (not the can! I'm being silly today!) in a blender, not a food processor. don't ask me why but a food processor just doesn't seem to work as well.  you'll have to ask a food engineer to explain the difference, school is out for me!  Blend until chunky.

Chop 1-2 onions, I use a sweet white onion this time of year.  I also will chop a few green onions so it is pretty.  Add to the tomatoes to taste.

Chop red/yellow/orange peppers - add to taste, for my 5 pounds, that's one pepper each.

Chop cilantro, garlic and add to taste.  For my 5 pounds, about 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup garlic.

at least one jalapeno pepper/serano/your pepper of choice - I will add a little and wait a couple of hours before adding more.  Each pepper will be uniquely hot so don't assume what you added last time will be the same this go around.....experience speaking!

cumin, for 5 pounds of tomatoes, about 1-2 tablespoons
Lemon juice, 1/2 cup for 5 pounds of tomatoes
add salt to taste or diet preference.

Mix all together and let sit for a couple of hours before adding extra pepper, spices.  This tends to get better as time goes on!

I have frozen this before in freezer containers and just added a green onion once it's thawed.  It's not fresh salsa but it's pretty close in December!  I usually can't keep it around that long though.....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Crust Blueberry Pie

I love this recipe! I took it from a pick your own website.  I adapted it a bit for me but I usually do!  I also use the basic recipe with blackberries but add a bit more sugar! I like that it only has a bottom crust, I'm not a fan of crust, I like a brown sugar topping instead.

One Crust Blueberry Pie

one pie crust, you'll need a deep dish pie pan; many recipes for pie crust out there....I use pillsbury already pie crust...I hate making pie crust!
5-6 cups frozen blueberries; put blueberries in a colander, run warm water over them to thaw and let sit to drain
mix together; 2/3 cups granulated sugar and 7 Tablespoons plus 2 T tapioca (omit if you use fresh blueberries); 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Add to the dry mixture:
2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons grape juice or other dark juice - cherry, pomegranete, etc.
Place drained berries into prepared pie shell and pour mixture over.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (can be whole wheat)
1/4 cup butter, slightly softened
Mix these three ingredients by cutting butter into the sugar and flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  I use my kitchen shears to cut the butter!

Sprinkle the topping on top of the pie. 
Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour until the crust is golden.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and you're family will love you for at least a day! 

PS- there will be no leftovers,  if there are by chance, cover loosely and store in your're husband will eat the last piece the next morning for breakfast with yogurt and call it fruit and yogurt!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer cooking...

It's always a party at my house in the summer...I'm either cleaning up from a party or preparing for a party!  Summertime means living least that's what someone must have been a man because I never seem to be living easy!  I love to entertain, I feel that it's serving someone else to entertain and I love when my kids or my husband invites someone to share our home.  I am just feeling a little overwhelmed after this week!

We have hosted someone or a bunch of someones the last three weekends.  This weekend, I cooked big meals on both friday and saturday nights.  Sunday, I declared a day of rest and after church, we headed to my favorite mexican restaurant and then had leftovers for dinner; remember to always cook more than you'll eat on the grill!  I did make a blueberry pie for my father-in-laws birthday.....I guess I just can't stop myself! 

Grilling played a big part in the meals and my husband is not the grill king.  His family never grilled...I mean never.  My family, on the other hand, would grill everything they could!  So---when grilling season hits, and that's pretty much year round in Oklahoma, I hit the grill!  Since it's been over ninety-five degrees this week, I grill while I'm hot and sweaty and then put the meat in the crockpot until I'm ready to serve it.  That way, I can shower and change before the company arrives!  I marinated chicken for one night and port tenderloin the next.  I used the same Okie marinade I've posted on works for chicken , pork or steak.  I then put the cooked meat in the crockpot with a liner(no clean-up at midnight), and pour a little pineapple juice and soy sauce over the meat and lay fresh pineapple slices on top.  Keeping the crockpot set on warm ensures that the meat stays hot but doesn't overcook. 

This allows me to time everything a bit easier...I hate to be waiting on the meat or forget the meat and have charcoal..  Kate loves it, me...not so much!

Speaking of Miss Kate, she's the best dog in the world!  I went out to start and clean the grill and carried out my tenderloins.  I started, cleaned and started back in the  house to get my grill tongs.  As an afterthought, I called back, 'do not get that meat!'.  My husband was coming into the kitchen and stood off watching this scene.  He said, 'you realize you just told a dog not to eat something?'  'Yes, I replied, she won't eat it, she knows that she'll get a bite after it's cooked.  He laughed and laughed and said he'd run into town later to get me more meat.....she didn't eat it!  He couldn't believe it!  I told you she's the best dog in the world....she likes the scraps mixed into her nightly food...she's a food snob, what can I say?

I'll post my recipe for blueberry pie tomorrow!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Today is Memorial Day so like many in the United States, we all have the day off!  Many in Oklahoma still call it Decoration Day, most of us also decorate graves.  I didn't go this year but both sides of the family decorated graves of all the grandparents.  My grandparents are buried within a mile in the same town, one set in the National Cemetery, my grandfather was in the navy,  and one set in the town cemetery.  My husbands grandparents are buried in the same cemetery, out in the middle of nowhere.  Many people in Oklahoma decorate graves and have family reunions this weekend.

We decided, well I decided at least, that last night, we'd take a picnic and go to the lake in town.  Our little Claremore Lake is quite a jewel for our town.  It is so pretty and well taken care of.  The town has built a walking path around it and is is clean and nice to walk in the evening.  It is usually very busy with families, both old and young, taking advantage of the pretty view and level paths.  We stopped and bought some chicken to round out the meal of baked beans and oriental slaw that I made. 

The kids took their bikes and after eating, they took off on their bikes while hubby and I walked around the lake taking in the scenery.  After my son and daughter had a falling out over a bike chain, she started walking with us.  I had splurged on some store bought cookies for our picnic and we were talking about the kind I bought.  They are iced oatmeal, my husbands favorite store bought cookies.  My daughter started talking about them.....

'We always had those cookies at night before bed.  You would put three on each plate and we had a glass of milk.  Dad would bring the plates and set them on our tv trays and we could watch cartoons for thirty minutes.  Oh yeah, you'd sing some song about milk and cookies!  After we finished watching our cartoons, it was time for bed.  You'd either read to me or dad would read to me and the other one would read to bubby.' 

It amazed me that she would remember something so normal.  This was not a big, fancy vacation or a monumental moment in her life....this was just normal life.  She gave me a great look into what she would remember about her childhood, what she would take on with her when she became a mother.  Milk and cookies, cartoons and books before seemed like such a simple thing back then....I didn't realize it would make into big time memories!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Party Weekend...

Well school is now out for everyone in the family! I'm so happy!  No longer are we tied to a rigid schedule of getting up at 6:30am!  Now, if I so chose, I can sleep in to 7:30am and sit for a bit with my coffee and newspaper before starting work! 

Yes, I'm working during the summer but it's not normal school stuff.  We're meeting and getting policies in place for fall.  Not dealing with the grind of grading and calling and grading and calling. It will be refreshing to be doing something different! Plus, letting me sleep in until 7:30 each day feels like vacation time to me!

This memorial day weekend, my thoughts go to all my former students around the world that are working hard to keep me safe.  I literally have students scattered across almost every continent in the military.  I am thankful for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of every man and woman now and in the past that have served my country so faithfully.  It takes a very special person and a very special family to be a military family.

We, in my family, have two birthdays this weekend.  Mine is the 30th and my niece's in the 31st.  She was born when I was forty.  I decided that I wouldn't celebrate mine anymore in deference to her birthday....didn't want to steal her thunder! He! he!  She sure gets more excited than I do for another birthday to roll around that's for sure.

We've partied with her today.  Tomorrow is church and then Monday is my birthday.   I've asked for a clothesline...yes, a clothesline.  With a pool, summer is one long towel washing after another.  They bought me a folding clothesline several years's still in the barn because we couldn't decide on a place to put it, well, I had a place, hubby wasn't so sure. So it sat in the barn as the towels piled up and up. 

So this year, on a big yellow piece of construction paper, stuck on the fridge with yellowstone magnets, I placed my birthday wish list.....#1 Put up my clothesline...#2 a pool that order!  We'll see what I actually get....something tells me that I'll be lounging at the pool and the towels will keep piling up!  Well, I have a post hole digger and now I have a son big enough to use it!  Next week, he'll be digging me a hole!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Big batch cooking day!

I'm big batch cooking a bit today....we've got a lot coming up and I've just about depleted my store of food in the freezer ready to heat up! Today, I'm cooking about 10 pounds of seasoned ground beef. About half of it will go into one pound freezer bags and one-third will become sloppy joes.  The last one-third will be seasoned with taco seasoning because my son his having his big end-of-school year, beginning of summer party friday night! 

He's hosting a swim party for the gang of boys at church. Out of about twelve boys, they attend about five-six schools, including three that are home schooled!  They are a really great group!  I'm having a nacho bar for them.  That seems to be a favorite with the boys.  I've made the ground beef, bought a couple of BIG bags of chips and am ready to make the nacho dip!  I'll also have kidney beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream and salsa out too and I usually put out a bowl of rice in case someone wants a rice bowl instead of nachos.  This is an easy, easy way to throw a party on the cheap because I can buy most of the stuff with coupons on sale and store until the next party. 

I'm planning to big batch grilled chicken tomorrow because I used all my frozen grilled chicken last week in salads.  When I big batch cook for summer, it usually is just the meat since we eat few casseroles as I do not like to heat up the kitchen with my oven.  I'll just grill a bunch of meat and have salads as a quick and easy meal. 

Another tip I do for easy, quick summer meals is to wash, dry and tear up my lettuce all at once.  It will store quite well in the crisper for at least five days.  This way, when you need a quick meal, just thaw out a type of meat, grab the lettuce and you're five-ten minutes from dinner!

We have managed to dodge the major storms that have been hitting Oklahoma and Missouri this week.  Last night, I was ready to go. We had the storm closet cleaned out and ready but luckily it was just a drill....I'd like it to stay that way!

Thoughts and prayers go to those we know and those we don't who have lost family and everything they own to this latest round of storms! It's amazing, when we start thinking we're big stuff, a storm comes along and we have to hide in the ground to keep from getting killed....

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Little Glimpse of Heaven...

My family talked a lot about heaven this weekend.  As the end of the world approached Saturday night, I made the family go furniture shopping with the promise of dinner out hanging over their heads. My son only went because he really didn't want to scavage around and find something for himself!  My daughter went because she knew I had a coupon to TGIFridays, boy, was that a disappointment!  We won't be doing that again!

Anyway, we talked about how if the rapture really did happen right then, would we ever laugh at the fact that the last thing we did on earth was shop for furniture for our earthly home!  As I get older, I honestly would like for God to call me home while I'm still walking around here.  I also would like it to be sooner rather than later because my own children are still young enough not to have made dangerous and grave choices that I worry about.  If God called us home, I would not worry about them anymore!  I'm not so sure that's a real good reason to want the rapture to take place but I'm a human mother....what can I say? 

My daughter did not want the rapture to take place friday night!  She has a long list of things to do before God calls her home! Some of those include:  going to Falls Creek, going to high school, going on vacation this summer, etc! I had to laugh because I remember being thirteen and thinking the same exact thing!  Oh, how time changes your perspective.

Earlier that saturday morning, I caught a little glimpse of what heaven may be like. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. I was wearing shorts and flip flops and working in my gardens.  I always listen to Christian radio because music sticks with me and I tend to sing out loud most of the day so I to imbend in the brain only stuff I won't be embarrassed to sing out loud in front of my kids.  I was pruning roses and I caught myself singing a praise song,...don't remember it now...but it was about singing and worshiping God. 

I came to the realization that I just might already be in heaven because, here I was, doing something I loved to do even though it was work and I was praising God while I was doing it!  As a kid, I sometimes got the idea that heaven would be church all the time.  You know, sitting still in the pews and singing hymns - not the most fun by kid standards.  As I got older, I began to think that in heaven, we will have jobs but it will be an honor to do them and we'd be singing and praising all day long.....just like I was doing out in my roses! 

I do know that I have no idea what heaven will be like.....I do know that if it is even close to last Saturday morning, I'm ready to go today!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's the End of the world!!!!

So chicken little is at it again!  This time, it's an eighty-something year old man who says the rapture is tonight!  Oh, has he mentioned that he miscalculated last time?  Yes, there was a last time!

Got me to thinking....what if today really is the last day I have on earth?  What would I do differently?  Would I still sleep in, work out in the yard, yell at the kids to clean their rooms, etc....or would I get up at the crack of dawn to see the sun rise one last time, make a killer breakfast for my family and spend the day having the time of my life?

I would hope to think I would do the latter.  But here's the deal, we don't know if the world will end today. We don't know if we have another breath so we trudge through our days getting things 'done'.  We can't live each day like it's our last because for most of us tomorrow will come and things we didn't do today will still need to be done. We have to work to buy food, clothes, shelter....those things to help extend our lives! 

I try each day to spend just a few minutes thinking about what 'if', what if I don't wake up tomorrow, what if Jesus comes, what if that car pulls out in front of me?  I try to take that moment to think about how my day is going.  We all need to savor living a little more in the United States and not worry about getting as much.  Being content is something that we need to decide is a way of life.  Being content with having a job that pays the bills. Being content in the home we live in and the car we drive.  Being first is sometimes not the best.  Being content and savoring each day like it is our last......I think that will satisfy us much, much more!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Loving the rain!

We had rain last night, lovely soaking rain!  We need it badly but not as badly as the poor people out in western Oklahoma. It's basically a desert in southwestern Oklahoma, it's been over a hundred days (maybe more) since they've had moisture.  In a farming state, that's bad...real bad!

But this morning, they finally had a good soaking rain! Maybe, just maybe, the farmers and ranchers can pull out a growing season.  We sometimes forget that we are ultimately still closely tied to nature.  We live in air conditioned and heated homes, we travel in a climate controlled vehicles....everywhere we go, we try to control the climate.  don't get me wrong! As a perimenopausal woman myself, I am so very thankful for air conditioning!  I'm not sure I would be able to make it in this climate without some relief!  I am thinking that this summer, I'm just going to wear my swimsuit instead of underwear so when that hot flash hits me, I really can strip off my clothes and jump into the pool!

All that controlling the climate makes us forget that we really can't control anything! We think we have control and then lack of rain reduces the wheat belt of the nation into a desert.  We have too much rain in one place causing floods of epic proportions and no rain in other places.  We have tornadoes reducing leafy green towns into open fields littered with a lifetime of possessions.  We really have such little control as human beings and yet, we think, we do.   How very little we really do!

I'm glad for the rain here.  It means my gardens will grow lush and green, it means that my veggies will grow and grow and my harvest will be plenty.  I'm glad for the rain for my fellow Oklahomans.  They needed it worse than me but I'm glad that we both got blessed!

Grilled chicken caesar salad

So I needed something really quick and fast for dinner.  I had a bunch of lettuce, radishes and green onions from the garden so I decided a grilled chicken salad would fit the bill.  My son requested that instead of the regular greek salad I do, that I make a caesar salad.  I had grilled chicken breasts in the freezer. I always keep them handy for quick meals.

Now I have a lot of salad dressing recipes, from green goddess to the junior league and almost everything in between...didn't have a caesar salad recipe and I was not planning to drive into town for a bottle of salad dressing!  I scoured the recipe books...nothing! Not even in the old, old ones!

Here's the website;,1615,142189-245199,00.html

I doctored it a bit but it was a hit!


Read more about it at,1615,142189-245199,00.html
Content Copyright © 2011 - All rights reserved.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c Parmesean cheese
1 tbsp of milk or half and half
Mix all ingredients together and shake or whisk until well blended.
thanks to Shannon for sharing!
I added a little less mayo and a little more lemon juice. I also used fresh parmesean.  I was going to use a little anchovie paste but I had used it up a few weeks ago in a puttanesca sauce. Ok, did I just say or type that? I sound like an uppity-food snob! he! he!  Anyway, I think it could use a touch of the paste but even without it, it was a quick and easy great tasting dressing. 

I'm thinking it would be a great base dressing to add fresh dill or basil or just about any herb for a creamy dressing.
I'll definitely be making and keeping this dressing in my fridge all summer long!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strawberry Pie! My-Oh-My!

Here's my recipe for strawberry pie! It's my mom's pie recipe.  It's good, it's fresh, it's so, so good!  Strawberry pie should not originate in a bag from the produce department!  That bag that is gooey, bright red and gross!  I have to say that it turns my stomach thinking about those bags laying there!

Try this and you'll never go back to those gooey bags!  Make extra because it is so super delicious on waffles and pancakes and over ice cream.  I do not put this pie together when it's just the four of us.  I make the crust and then when it's time to serve, I cut the crust and place the strawberry mixture into the shell. 

Mom's Strawberry Pie

Mix together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 3 cups sliced strawberries.  Let stand one hour.

Mix 1 cup crushed strawberries, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 1/2 T cornstarch and a few drops of red food coloring, optional.  Stir and boil until the liquid is clear.  Boil a few minutes until it is thickened.
Let cool and mix strawberries into the mixture.  Don't put into a cooked pie shell until just before serving.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Okie Dinner

Sunday started cold around here. In the span of a week, we went from almost ninety highs to around forty lows!  Sunday after church, I put on a pot of brown beans for dinner.  I figured that it might be the last weekend to eat a big pot of brown beans.  I don't like to eat hot food like soups in the summer.

All afternoon, those beans cooked in my crockpot.  I had soaked them in boiling water during church so they didn't need to cook too long.  I seasoned them with a polska keilbasa, garlic, salt and pepper.  I put the sausage on top in the crockpot so they could cook last.  After about three hours, I stirred it all up and let it cook another two hours.

I served the family a traditional Okie dinner.  The kind of dinner my grandma would have loved.  She served brown beans with every meal.  I love brown beans! My sister not so much.  She told my grandma one time that she was allergic to went over until grandma mentioned my sisters allergies to my mom!

Well, I served brown beans, fried potatoes and onions, cornbread, wilted lettuce and strawberry pie! We ate until we were ready to pop!  The meal started talk about our relatives that lived during the depression.  Both my husband and I had relatives that traveled to California to find work.  One of my grandmothers always said they didn't know what a depression was....they were dirt poor before the depression and they were poor after the depression!

It started me to thinking about hunger in America.  I'm pretty sure my grandparents knew about hunger.  I'm sure they experienced it during the depression and probably before.  But my grandparents knew how to find and grow food and make simple meals that were tasty and inexpensive.  A bag of beans is not expensive.  Growing the lettuce, green onions and radishes are cheap.  Flour and cornmeal is not expensive.  The entire meal cost less than five dollars not counting the strawberry pie, but I grew the strawberries so mine cost me a pie crust and some sugar!

 My husband pointed out that the problem isn't necessarily hunger but the lack of ability in America.  When you don't know how to cook a bag of beans, peel and fry a bag of potatoes, or stir up some cornbread then you have to purchase pre-cooked meals.  Expensive pre-cooked meals.  Pre-cooked meals that are not healthy!

My grandparents ate squirrel and rabbit.  They picked poke and made poke salad.  They hoed a row and planted.  They survived.  When America finally get hungry enough, maybe we will relearn those tasks.....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Well, the honeysuckle is blooming again. That's a smell that I always associate with summer and May and school getting out!  A very, very pleasant smell.  I love to sit outside on my backporch or swing in my hammock and simple breath that honeysuckle in...down deep into my lungs.  Always makes me think I inhale summer into every cell of my body by taking that honeysuckle way down deep.

I'm so ready for school to be over.  We all have finished state testing and now the kids are officially done...stick a fork in them done!  Done, I say!  Very difficult to motivate done...especially my son and all my students.  I'm trying very hard to keep a happy face and a happy voice when I speak to them, because quite frankly, the teachers are done too!  I think that's why I enjoy the honeysuckle so much.  When I'm out there breathing, I'm not thinking about finals and grading and trying to get my son to do one more thing....I'm simply enjoying the warm evening, playing with the dog and breathing that sweet scent.

I truly believe that a warm summer evening is what contentment know the feeling, the breeze is just cool enough to keep you from being hot, the leaves on the trees are so fresh and green that they almost seem unreal, the flowers are blooming, the air is scented just enough you can almost taste it, you're walking hand and hand with your love talking about the day.  Not the bad stuff, just the good stuff..oh, and you have a glass of iced tea!  Can't forget that!  I never want in that moment.  I never want anything more than to live for that moment, I'm not cataloging my coupons for the next shopping trip, I'm not worrying if my house is clean enough, I'm not thinking about anything except being there, in that moment.  If that moment is the last one I have on this earth, it would be enough....that's contentment. 

If you've never had that type of contentment,....move to Oklahoma and experience the month of May! I guarantee you, it will change you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

It Happened

I'm sitting home by myself on a friday night...husband and son are in Arizona hiking and my daughter and many of her closest friends are experiencing their first junior high dance....Mother's day is coming and somehow, my kids have grown up! 

I don't know when it happened....I still remember how special those first few Mother's Days were to me.  Growing our family through adoption made Mother's Day really, really special and a bit bittersweet.  I was happy, I was finally a mom but I knew that each of my children's birth mothers had a hole in their hearts that day.  I have treasured each mother's day but somewhere along the kids went from being babies to being young adults....

It had to know, when they are driving you crazy running in the grocery store or even worse, laying in the floor throwing that fit they somehow learned, a little older lady smiles sweetly and says, 'treasure these days, for soon, very soon, they will be over!'  Yeah right!  When you're in the thick of those wonderful (terrible) days, you just want them to end and you to get a good night's sleep!  Well, I'm there, they are almost gone!  And it hurts and I'm sad...but I'm also proud of them both.  My chest bursts with pride when someone outside the family comments on how polite they are or how hard they worked or how giving they both are!  My husband and I seem to be raising two pretty wonderful kids...I'm not sure how we got so lucky! 

It had to happen.....I'm up once again late..but this time, I'm rocking alone in my chair...waiting to be the pick-up mom....


I'm doing a snoopy dance about now!  My strawberries are getting pink! That means that in a few days I'll be eating home grown strawberries from my garden! Yipee!

Oh yeah, my daughter wanted to plant them last year so I really should let her have the first one.  I will, I promise!  I was worried about the winter being so cold but I don't think we lost a single plant!  And they are sooo big!

Now, I'm ready to fight the squirrels, who have been eyeing them for the past few days.  I went to Atwood's yesterday and bought me a net that you use to keep birds off of fruit.  I have created a tent over the berries so no one but me or anyone with opposable thumbs can get under!

When I first tried a garden the first year we lived here, the deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, armadillos, you name it they came and ate my garden.  So the next spring, my wonderful husband made me a fortress garden!  It has twelve feet tall chicken wire around it....I call it my giraffe pen.  He doesn't do anything half way and he does good work, after over ten years and it's still standing!  I've only had to restaple the chicken wire a few times and it keeps out just about everything, except squirrels...and one pesky turtle.  I find him every year and take him back to the creek....then he returns and I take him back to the creek.  We do this on and off all summer long.  One day, I think I'll drive him up to Lake Oologah and see if he returns!  It's about twelve miles....

We used to do that with our ducks when I was growing up.  They'd sit and poop on the front porch so mom and dad would load them up in the truck and drive them to the pond...not twelve miles but a pretty good walk from our house....we'd get home and pretty they would come, marching in a line right in the path!  So funny!

I'm patiently waiting for the strawberries...or at least I'm waiting, maybe not patiently.  I can't wait!  My mind is just spinning with all the goodies I'll be making in the next few weeks!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Update on our psychotic cardinal..

So I'm about ready to turn the boy loose with the beebee gun to take the poor female cardinal out of her misery.  I know, it's mean. I know, it's not right.  But GOOD GRIEF! She is driving us all crazy!

A few weeks ago, when she was trying to beat up the other cardinal in the window, I could wax poetic and make references to how we are like that...trying to get what we want and not turning and looking at the big picture.... Now, I just want her gone. 

We have stickers in the windows, we have foil taped to windows, my daughter has placed books and posters in her windows...did I mention that it's not just the front picture window anymore? Oh no! She now moves from window to window trying to scare off or attach or do whatever it is that her little psychotic mind is doing!  When we go to the window to scare her off, she just moves to another one! 

This starts about 5:30am, first daylight here in Oklahoma and goes until mid-afternoon.  Like I said, it's driving us all crazy.  And yeah, the male has left.  I guess he figured it was no use trying to woo a crazy female....if only some human men felt that way! he! he!

The beebee gun is looking better and better but I know if I turned the boy loose, I'd feel bad...and he'd probably just shoot out the window so the bird could move in....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Salad Days are here Again!

Oh yeah! I'm picking veggies from the garden! WooHoo!

I picked my first head of romaine lettuce yesterday.  I pulled my first few green onions also.  Guess what we're having for dinner tonight!  Grilled chicken, grilled potato packets and a green salad!  For some reason, fresh picked veggies just taste better....

We finally began to get rain last week.  I was so very thankful because I really didn't want to start watering this early but to get those veggies fresh from the garden I would have dutifully set up the water timer and started dragging hoses around. 

I'm just a garden junky.  I love searching each day for a new treasure to eat at dinner!  It won't be but a few weeks and we'll be eating fresh strawberries and I'm so excited for that! Fresh strawberries on my cheerios and waffles, fresh strawberries on our salads, fresh strawberry pie!  My daughter is wanting to make strawberry jam also.  That way, we'll have strawberries during the winter from our garden. 

Oh, how I've missed you garden and spring!  Welcome back!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Over the last year, I've written a lot about giving.  Giving of your time, your talents and your money.  This week, I have been given the chance to put all of the above to the test.  I'm facebook friends with many of my former students.  I am proud to say that I have students living all over the world that check in with me and let me know how and what they are doing.  Most of the time, I'm proud of what they are becoming....sometimes I have to chastise or give a gentle nudge to do the right thing....  I found out this week that two former students, who have married and have a young son, needed help.  What started out as me pledging money has ended up being me trying to raise the bar on my giving and now I'm coordinating raising the entire amount!

You see, the husband is in the military and is now in training across the country and will be sent to Afghanistan for at least a year.  He has been given leave in June for four days and the wife and child would like to bring him home to visit them and his family before he's gone....they are young, they are a military family and the military doesn't pay for leave travel, they don't have the money.  She posted on facebook for ideas from friends so she could work and raise money to bring him home.....

I look at my former students as 'my kids'.  I care about them.  And one thing I've learned over the last few years is that I'm good at organizing....both my home, my time and my friends!  I'm going to start listing on my resume community organizer.  Hey! If it worked for the President of the United States, I'm going to use it too!

Anyway, a post on facebook to my list of friends has brought me almost to my goal of raising $400.  It's no surprise really, just yesterday in the paper, Oklahoma was listed as the most charitable state.  Oklahomans give over $1500 a year per person to charities.  That's per person!  In a state that has a pretty low per capita income....I think it's because that's the way we were raised.  We help each other.  Just like in the pioneer days.  You may not have much but when a neighbor is in need, you help. 

Once again, I'm proud to be able to use my talents and money to help someone in need.  I'm proud to have friends that also have a heart for giving.  I'm proud to live in a state that leads the country if giving.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love my cuppa!

Ok, I know, I'm not British. But it sure seems like everyone on this side of the pond is really polarized about the upcoming British nuptials..  Me?  I don't care a whit, everyone is trying to play this that she's a commoner and all.....PLEASE!  I'm a commoner, she is not a commoner. She may not hold a title but she's got lots of money in the family. Enough to get her into a very prestigious university so she could hang out with the Prince!

I don't dislike the British.  I happen to know a couple that are simply charming and very polite.  I have hosted a couple at my home.  I just don't care about the wedding.  What I do like is tea!

That's right, I love a cuppa!  I have a hot tea almost every afternoon with a couple of my new favorite cookies.  Now normally, I make my own, but I do have a couple of favorite store bought ones that I squirrel away from the family.  I love those little butter cookies, I love Pepperidge Farms dark chocolate milano cookies and my my new favorite cookie is from Nabisco.  They are the new Newton Fruit Thins..the cranberry citrus goes so well with a cup of Earl Grey or Constant Comment tea.  They have a chocolate version but I haven't tried them yet!

I love to take a few minutes in the afternoon and sit and enjoy a cup of hot tea and a cookie.  I don't eat the entire bag, just one.  It just takes about ten minutes to turn a hard afternoon into a little more enjoyable one with a cup of tea and a cookie.  I can see why the British love their afternoon tea........not so much their royal weddings!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Black Swallowtails...they're here!

I've been noticing many more butterflies lately.  I've counted many more black and zebra swallowtails and monarchs this year than in the past few years.  I have a plant called rue growing in my border garden.  I bought it several years ago at the end of the season for very little.  I usually buy things at the end of the year when stores are trying to give away the few haggard plants they have left. 

The rue plant is a very pretty plant.  It grows about three feet tall in Oklahoma and has a pretty lacy light green leaf and a yellow flower in late May.  I will prune it back occasionally so it stays bushy.  I was worried that this years cold would kill it but it came back just like always.  Rue is an insect repellant plant but I didn't know that when I bought it.   The label in the plant said citronella but that happens sometimes in those end of season sales.  You don't always get what you thought.  Sometimes is good, sometimes it's bad.  This time, it was good!

What I have found is that black and zebra swallowtails love to lay their eggs on the plant.  I think the caterpillars eat the rue and make themselves very yucky tasting to birds and other predators.  I was looking last week to see if I had any eggs and saw little caterpillars all over the plants!  I was so happy!  I love helping the butterflies!

I've planted my dill and have transplanted my parsley, other favorites of the swallowtails.  I have finally successfully started milkweed and my mother-in-law sent me more seed to start this week.  I look forward to seeing even more butterflies in my garden in the upcoming years!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Well, we've had another Easter and it was good.  This year, we went to my mom and dad's and had Easter with them, my sis and her husband and daughter.  We even got to see my brother, his wife and their girls.  It's good to live close enough to see family often.  It's not as often as it used to be since I have to work around my kid's social schedule now.  I guess I should be happy they have friends and they get invited places!

I was gone all last week and finally made it home on friday afternoon.  Everyone was happy to see me, including Kate, my big black german shepherd!  She jumped up into my lap and immediately started crying and husband said it was quite sad how much she missed me!  I missed them also alot....I'm glad I only have to do testing once a year!  I normally work from home so one week a year is not too much to give so I can work the rest of the year out of my house.

Although the family did their best to keep the house in order.....they just basically maintained the chaos!  There were no dishes in the sink or piles of dirty clothes but one can tell that I was not here to do the things I do each and every week.  Things like changing the sheets and towels, vacuuming and dusting and grocery shopping.  I'll be busy, busy this week trying to rein in the dirt that is encroaching upon this household! 

They are also very happy to see my culinary skills back.  Yes, we did eat good, very good in fact, at nanna's this weekend.  Pulled pork sandwiches with a wonderful relish that is too die for Saturday night and and ham and scalloped potatoes for Easter lunch.  As we drove home with some more pulled pork for our dinner on Sunday night, we discussed what we would be having for dinner this week. 

This will be a very normal week finally!  Neither my husband or myself will be missing from action this week.  First time in three weeks!  And the kids are so very happy with all this normalcy. Family dinnertime is something that we all miss when we don't have it.  We miss that bonding time as a family.  Just like a couple that spends time apart, families are off when they don't have that family dinnertime. 

Sunday night, we ate pulled pork sandwiches and pickles and fruit salad around my second hand dining table laughing and joking until we were crying!  I could actually feel the tension of the past few weeks cracking and falling off me.  As we cleaned up the table, my husband and son wrestling in the kitchen made me smile.  My daughter and I were making jokes about 'men', my son was joking about 'chuck norris' and my husband was wiping tears of laughter off his face at our antics, he said, 'I just want to tell you all how much I miss you all when I'm gone!'  The kids shrugged it off but we shared a knowing smile....I felt the same way! 

It's good to be home, it's good to celebrate another Easter with family and it's good to get back to normal!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Out of Town...Mom is Missing!

So this week, my job has required me to be out of town all week due to state testing.  I had to travel to southern Oklahoma to test the kids that live in this area.  My husband was great about working from home this week, he's been gone so much lately, he felt he needed to get caught up on work and the best way to do that was to stay home and work in the home office since I'm out of it!

I honestly think it's good for the family for me to be missing in action every now and then.  They seem to really understand just what I do when I've been gone a bit.  My husband also says everyone realizes what I bring to the family besides the one who does a bunch of work!  He says that mom's (me especially) bring a certain feeling at the end of the day that he can't do! 

I understood that today as I was sitting at a restaurant eating.  My cell phone rang and it was my daughter.  I had called her before dance class but I had to cut it short because she was straightening her hair for dance pictures.  She called me back to discuss a decision that she felt was wrong that a friend made.  Her dad just wasn't the one she wanted to talk to about it.  For one thing, he wouldn't understand......he's a guy afterall!  We talked about it for a bit until she felt better about it and then we talked about shopping for dresses for the big school dance coming up.  We both agreed that Dillard's after Easter and prom would be the best place to shop so next week, we're hitting Dilliards!

I've been gone for three nights now and hopefully, tonight will be my last night.  I'm hoping to go home Thursday night if I can get everyone to show up the next two days.   I really miss my family!
I guess I'm just a homebody...I like to cook, I like to meet my kids afterschool and talk about their days, I like to be home with dinner when my husband comes home from work....I like all that everyday stuff that a normal, everyday mom and wife does....that boring stuff that the world says is not important. 

I know three people who don't think that any of that stuff is not important.  I know three people who are ready for their mom and wife to be home......make that four of us! I'm glad state testing is only once a year!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tornado Season!

Spent some considerable time in the old storm closet last night.  The weather people started telling us a couple days ago to expect large storms so I was glad that last weekend my husband got my son's new closet put together and we moved all his stuff out of the closet.  I then spent last Sunday night refolding and putting away properly all the stuff I'd been blindly stuffing behind his clothes!  Just in time!

My daughter had a track meet yesterday and I worried all day long that they would be caught up in the storms but she called me about 5 o'clock to tell me they were pulling into Claremore.  I ran into town totally unprepared for her to eat with my son and I.  My husband was out of town so it was just going to be he and I and I was planning to just find something in the I had three mouths to feed. And a storm was coming!

I ran in as the wind began to blow and grabbed the old stand-by...tomato soup and cheese quesadillas.  Quick, easy, cheap and the kids love them!  I buy the tomato soup when walgreen's has them on sale and I use coupons to make them about fifty-cents a can.  I use two for three of us.  I buy the tortillas for a buck for twelve when Reasor's has them on sale and I buy the cheese on sale and stockpile the freezer.  The entire meal costs me less than  five dollars.  I rounded out the meal with some strawberries and cookies while we listened to the tornado sirens sitting in the storm closet!

Shortly after we cleaned up, I ran and put Kate in the garage because the sky was beginning to get green.  I was taught that when the wind died down and the sky got a greenish tinge, it was time to hit the hole!  All of us but Grandpa, he'd stand outside and watch the storm.  Not me. God gave me enough sense to know to get and stay low!  We dragged out the boxes of junk out of the storm closet and all of, the kids, and two cats got inside.  Well, almost two cats.  One doesn't like the closet so she hangs around just outside.  I think if we ever did hear the 'sounded like a freight train' sound, she'd quickly jump in before we shut the door. All of us, plus two ipods, three cell phones, a laptop, two radios; one that uses batteries, one I can wind up or use solar power; a lantern, a flashlight, enough blankets and pillows to sleep an army and we waited.....and listened to the hail, rain and tornado sirens.  It was actually pretty good quality time with the kids.  I had them trapped so we had to visit and talk....

Thankfully, we had no damage and we had good rain.  We've all been so dry for so long that most of us Oklahomans were excited for rain, even if it meant the chance of a tornado.  Just another day in Oklahoma in the spring.  We keep our eyes on the sky waiting for the next one to come along......the storm closet it cleaned and ready to go!  Maybe I'll call a family meeting in the storm closet when I'm feeling lonely!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Cardinal Moment!

All day long, the young female cardinal has pecked on my picture window in the living room.  She started early in the morning, so early that it woke me up.  I have a very large window in my front room with two little windows on each side.  I love being able to look at my beautiful surroundings without blinds, shades or curtains.  I feel that, even if I'm vacuuming, I am outside!  Well, so do birds and insects.  I have to buy those pretty vinyl clings that match the season and put them up to keep birds from hitting the windows and knocking themselves does help but usually a few times a month, I hear a crash, run outside and scoop up a dazed bird to put him or her in a little cage to keep them safe from the visiting cats until they've gained their senses again. A few times, they've released themselves in the house.  Oh, that's usually when my husband calls and one of the kids say, 'mom can't talk,  (uncontrolled giggles), she's chasing a bird with the butterfly net....yeah, in the house!'  My poor, poor husband.

Anyway, today this young female cardinal has had two courters bringing her food.  They have worked and worked to win her heart.  All she wants to do is peck at the reflection in the window.  It's become really annoying.  By lunchtime, my son asked, 'why is she still doing that? Doesn't she realize that it's a reflection?'  'I guess not', I reply, 'she's young and this is her first mating season. I'm not sure if she is trying to get in the house to build a nest or if she's upset at her reflection, maybe it will get the guy.'  My son, in frustration, said finally in the middle of the afternoon...'Good grief! Why would she sit there all day long banging her head over and over when obviously we aren't going to let her in!'

I began to think about myself....'we do the same thing, you know.' I told my son.  We want something and even when God tells us 'no' and closes the window, we still run forward and try to crash through over and over until we hurt ourselves. 'Do you think that God ever looks at us and explains to the angels that we're young and immature and can't see the big picture just like we're talking about this little bird?'  Do you ever think that God thinks, 'When are they ever going to learn? I have something so much better if they'd just turn around and look at what's behind them?'  when I said that, my son smiled....'Never thought about it that way' he said.

I began to pity the little bird after that, I began to feel sorry for her.  She was missing so much behind her because she was focused on that bird in window that she drove away her suitors and she was alone.  If she'd just turn around and focus on what she could have...but instead, she's still flying into the window over and over again.

Reminds me of someone I know.......

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hummingbirds have Hit!

Saw my first hummingbirds today! I was so excited. I put out the feeders on Thursday so it didn't take them long to find the feeders!  I only put out a little food in them because I didn't know how long it would take them to get here. 

I also put out my oriole feeder.  I usually wait too long to get it out.  I look outside and see an oriole trying to eat out of a hummingbird feeder and then I run and get my feeder and by that time, the poor oriole has given up.  Well, this year, I have it ready. I'm hoping that one stops by. 

I love watching little hummingbirds eat all summer but usually by mid-summer, they stop eating at my feeders as much as they did in the spring. By mid-summer, I have flowers blooming all over that they prefer.  I'm sure the nectar tastes better than plain old white sugar!  I would like it too!

I noticed zebra swallowtail, black swallowtail and monarch butterflies this weekend also.  Even though I don't have a lot of blooming flowers right now, I do have a place for them to lay eggs.  I have dill, parsley and some shrub-like thing I bought years ago that the swallowtails like laying eggs on.  I thought it was a citronella plant but it may have been mismarked.  It doesn't look or smell like citronella.  Well the butterflies really like it and it does well in this hot Oklahoma summer so it's staying!

The butterflies like the nectar on the cherry trees and are keeping the tree colorful.  It's fun to see so many colorful butterflies landing on the tree!

I'm so glad spring is here! We've started having salads for dinner and I know it's so much better for the kids than some of the heavy winter meals we eat.  This week, we're having a grilled chicken greek salad, tuesday is crab salad sandwich night with fruit salad, wednesday night is church dinner, thursday night will be  homemade pizza, and friday night will be  tomato soup and quesadillas. The next few weeks will need to be simple meals because I'm helping with state testing.  I will be BUSY!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Girls Retreat

You all pray for me today when you get a minute.  I'm leaving this afternoon with my daughter and a passle of other mostly junior high girls on a church sponsored girls retreat.  I'm actually looking forward to it but it can be stressful being 'in charge' of a group of girls. Mostly, because you never know what types of backgrounds many of the girls will bring, what type of lives they come from and I worry that I won't be prepared with the 'right' answer when I need it.

I know, I know, I don't need to be perfect but I always worry that I'll say something to a young girl that will cause her to carry something into adulthood that I didn't mean to give her.  At the junior high level, many girls and boys are so self-conscious that almost anything you say can be taken the 'wrong' way.  When I taught that age, I often felt that I was walking on eggshells! 

Please just say a little prayer that I'll have the right words to say when I need them, that everyone will be kind too one another, that the group of girls will form a tight bond that will outlast the two day retreat and that the sponsors get a few hours of sleep!  I'm looking forward to spending girl time with the sponsors and the girls from my church.  We, so often, don't get to just really gab and visit.  Did I say I'm riding the bus?  After surviving all the camps from last summer, I can do anything! 

The weather is supposed to be nice, the company will be great so just say a little prayer today that everything goes as planned!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kate, the snake hunter,.....NOT!

Ok, so you know that I don't like snakes.  I've posted numerous times about how I don't like snakes, hate snakes and generally freak out when I see one.  I'm actually better than I used to be!  I now try to chop off their heads instead of running away screaming.  I guess I'm just getting old and mean!

Most people have dogs that will stand between them and a snake.  Not me.  Oh no!  I have a very large, very fierce looking, very scary bark sounding, black german shephard who is more scared of snakes than me!  Of course, if you are a Merlin-type looking man (grey beard wearing a wand), she's going to tear you to pieces.  Think the bug man, the cable man...any man that is carrying something that looks like a stick!  Someone in her, before us, life must have been mean to her and that someone must have been an older man with a beard.  Anyway, she'll protect me from any human, squirrel, mole or deer(if I tell her too, if not, she'll stand on the porch and watch them) but she draws the line at snakes. 

The other day, I found a teeny tiny black snake taking a nap in my garden.  I have gotten better because as long as the black snake is not fifty-eleven feet long, I'll take it on an airplane trip into the woods using my rake.  I just wrap it around the rake and 'fling' straight into the woods where it can live happily ever after eating all sorts of other mean snakes.  Well, I found this little thing and called Kate, who was guarding the entrance to the garden so an armadillo couldn't sneak up on me, to see the snake.  She came running over, tail up and wagging.  When I pointed out the snake and said 'get it', she dropped her tail, whined and took off running out of the garden and onto the back porch.  I couldn't get her to come off that porch! 

I think my dog is more afraid of snakes than me.....oh yeah!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring in Oklahoma

If you've never been to Oklahoma, I promise the best time to visit is April.  Springtime starts in full bloom in Oklahoma in April.  It's so nice to go outside in a pair of shorts and lay in the sunshine in the hammock!  It might not be a pretty sight to the pair of nesting bluebirds to see me and my pasty white legs stretched out in the hammock but I can guarantee that I'm a happy lady! 

The redbuds are blooming, the lilacs are in full bloom and the late daffodils and tulips are still giving it their best shot!  I have creeping plox blooming up a storm even though I was sure it was dead in February after being buried under snow for so long.  Nice surprises are springing up all over the place!

My spinach and lettuce and beets are making their appearances and in a few weeks, I'll be harvesting my first little leaves for my salads.  I do plan tomorrow to go out and cut some redbud flowers and violets for my spring flower salad.  It's so yummy with a few strawberries, toasted pecans and feta cheese on a bed of greens.  As I was digging dandelions last weekend, the thought occurred to me to save a few leaves for part of that salad but I decided that we had so many dandelions that I could just go out and get them on the day I made the salad. 

I always love spring in Oklahoma.  I can still pick my way to the creek behind my house and not worry about snakes lurking around every tree.  Most people don't worry but you know my snake phobia.  If I had been in that garden, Adam wouldn't have had to worry!  Any place a serpent is, not where I will be willingly!  I went down yesterday and looked for frog eggs.  Didn't see any yet but I'm sure I will soon.  As soon as the nights get a little warmer, the boy and girl frogs will be out in full force! 

I haven't seen the poke yet, I do expect to see it start pun intended,he! he!'s leaves up out of the ground in a few weeks.  I'm ready for a good old batch of poke salad with hot pepper vinegar.  I don't make it often but it is always a tradition that I look forward to.  I think about what spring meant to the homesteaders back a hundred years ago.  Spring meant poke salad, fresh greens, green onions....spring meant the hens started laying better....the cows gave the best green milk of the year...all new, all fresh.  Spring meant they had lived through another winter. 

I always feel a fresh sense of renewal too.  I feel like I've been in hibernation and now I can go outside in just a shirt and shorts and let the sun warm my skin.  I can dig and plant and work muscles that I haven't used all winter.  You definitely use different muscles shoveling snow and hauling wood than you do digging, hoeing and planting.  I love to walk with my husband around our place every night and look at what new thing is coming up or building a nest or is now in bloom.  It's a peaceful time that we have, our evening walks.  I just love spring!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Breakfast for dinner...

We're having breakfast for dinner tonight.  I always look forward to that night because I never get up and make that kind of breakfast in the morning!  Even when I do cook something special, usually the only person that's impressed and happy is my husband, the kids like cold cereal better than most anything else. 

Plus, I'm an morning oatmeal person.  I eat it at least three times a week.  I have always liked Quaker and cooking for me in the morning is when I put a real pot on the stove and cook homemade oatmeal, the kind you stand and stir and stir! And believe it or not, I can usually get the kids to eat it with me instead of the sugar crunch junk they normally like.

I take my homemade oatmeal with frozen blueberries.  You almost don't need to add any brown sugar when you add a cup of frozen blueberries.  I started doing that when my kids were little.  My son would not eat anything that was warmer than room temperature.  So when you microwave oatmeal, it takes forever to cool off enough to eat!  So I started adding a few frozen blueberries in it to cool it down enough that he'd eat it that morning so we could resume the day.  Now, I add them and cook them a bit so the oatmeal isn't room temperature....I do not like it that way and neither does he anymore. 

I also make my oatmeal with milk.  I like it creamy and using milk gives me my calcium for the day and it tastes creamy and good, even the instant stuff.  I had a coupon awhile back for the Better Than Nature brand of oatmeals.  I had never tried them before but the coupon was a buy one get one free so I figured I'd try it at that price!  I bought several varieties and they are really good!  My favorite is the dark chocolate. I can even get my daughter to eat it because when you put a little dollop of butter on the hot oatmeal, it tastes like a warm chocolate chip cookie! She was a bit skeptical at first but it didn't take her long to start believing me. Especially when I said, 'no, you're right, you probably wouldn't like it.' To a kid that screams, 'this is so unbelievably good I don't want you to have any..!'  Which was what I was really saying. 

Tonight, we're not having oatmeal, I had that for breakfast.  I was supposed to be fasting for a doctor's appointment but I forgot.  I didn't have to give blood anyway so all is well.  Anyway, I'm frying ham, scrambling eggs and hashbrowns, making bisquits and having a winter fruit salad(a can of mandarin oranges, a can of tropical fruit salad and and a handful of frozen blueberries and blackberries.  Everything but the bisquits and frozen fruit were purchased with coupons and didn't cost a bunch.  I'm guessing the entire meal will cost under eight to ten dollars and for my big eaters, that's a bargain!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The End is Near!

I'll bet you thought I was talking about the end of the world...he! he!  The end of our massive remodeling project is very close!  We are having carpet laid today and grouting of the tile tomorrow.  Then all we need is the plumber to hook up the shower, toilet and sink.  WooHoo! 

I'm more than weary of the project.  It's definitely the biggest project we've tackled.  About five years ago, we gutted the kitchen and re-did it but it only took about a month.  This has been going on since October.  When we are all done, we will have the kids rooms remodeled with bigger closets, we will have a great big family room, teen cave, man hole, what-ever you want to call it!  We also have a new three and a half car garage, with a new circular drive and new landscaping and sidewalks.  I'm ready to start landscaping, that's my favorite part of any project!

I'm also so ready to get the kids back into real bedrooms.  I'm just about ready to move off and leave them four of the seven days of the week.  It's been really stressful for us all but my son has taken the biggest hit, he's been sleeping on his bed in the middle of the living room for a month and a half.....he needs his own room!

I feel really blessed that we have been able to do this project.  We almost started it a few times but then something would come up and we'd feel that it wasn't the right time.  My husband's company almost sold, I quit my full-time job, those types of things make you put the brakes on big-time remodeling.  What surprised me was no one asked us why we just didn't move!  We did look at it but we love where we live, we love the neighbors, we love the location.  We just needed a place for our teenagers to hang out away from us!

I have realized through this process that I could never build a house.  I just don't have the patience or desire.  I honestly don't care what the drawer pulls in the bathroom look like, I just want them to work.  My husband has been pretty good to let me choose colors, tile, etc.   He's learned over the years that it really means more to me in the long run than it does to him.

It's almost over! This time next week, everyone will be back where they are supposed to be! Yipee!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Momma cries.....

Ok, I admit it. I'm a music person.  I listen to music, I sing music, I hum music....all day long.  It's slowly driving my son crazy!  He's always pointing out when I'm singing when I don't even know it.  My dad hummed when I was a kid working with him.  I sing.  I sing loud. 

One day, at the grocery store around Christmas, I was shopping along and an older man began to look at me.  I smiled at him...I'm a pretty happy person. I smile at total strangers and will talk to a post...  Anyway, he began to follow me.  After a few aisles, he said, 'you have a nice singing voice'......I asked him if I had been singing out loud....he said 'yes'....I was singing Christmas songs along with the overhead speakers!  I started laughing and he said, 'you just looked so happy singing out loud, I thought I'd compliment you!'  I try to be a little more discreet now with my singing.

Well, the other day, my son and I were driving to Lowe's to get my husband a ladder for his birthday.  It is one of those cool ones that fold into four sections.  We were driving along, listening to my favorite Christian radio station, and a song by one of my favorite groups started playing.  I should also tell you that I like just about all kinds of music.  Really the only genre I don't like is rap.  I don't see the originality in rap music. 

The station I listen to is a Christian edge station.  I started listening to it when I first moved here because, like I said, I sing out loud and some of the lyrics I wasn't too keen on my kids listening to me sing out loud.I figured that the kids wouldn't like Christian music since I listened to it but they both still really like it.  Christian music is not like it was when I was a teen.  Back in the eighties, it was pretty bad....

One of my favorite groups is Skillet.  They are hard rock with a great rock singer.  My husband doesn't like to get in the minivan because you never know what song is going to be rocking out Suzy-Q!

As we were driving to Lowe's, 'Lucy' by Skillet came on.  If you haven't ever listened to the song,  I suggest you do.  Some say it's about abortion, I don't know but I know that by the time I got to Lowe's, I was a balling, ball-bag.  My son never said a word, he's used to mom sobbing as she drives while listening to a song.  After the song was over, I looked over at him and he just said, 'are you done now?' and smiled at me!  We both cracked up laughing......

I'm sure he doesn't share with his friends that his mom is one of those people who starts bawling at the drop of a hat....or note.... 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reading...Oklahoma style!

I've just discovered an Oklahoma author that I love!  Her name is Billie Letts.  We went to the library over spring break and I just grabbed a few books to read.  I don't normally have a plan, I just wander around and pull out books. I grabbed a couple of hers and then a book in the new fiction section.  It was a mystery and I started it as soon as I got home. 

I often wonder what type of woman reads those novels with the 'F' word every other line.  This book was supposed to be a light mystery read about a realtor that finds a dead body in a house she listed.  Well, I slogged through about three chapters until I couldn't read anymore.  It was just embarrassing!  I put it away to take back and picked up one of the Billie Letts books. 

It was so refreshing to read a book with no bad words and actually had a redeeming story line!  'The Honk and Holler Opening Soon' was an easy read and I enjoyed it very much.  So much, that I finished it and the other book over spring break!  After the second book, I looked at the jacket to see where the author lived and was blown away to find that she was an Okie!  No wonder I liked her so much!  Both books were set in Oklahoma but that doesn't necessarily mean that the author lives in Oklahoma. 

I went back this week to pick up a few more books for my daughter and also picked up two more of her books.  This time, I picked one up that said 'Oprah's book club' on the cover....have I been living under a rock?  We have an Oklahoma author that was a Oprah's book club author?  I kind of missed out on Oprah's book club reading because I was simply too busy raising kids and driving them all over the country or county.

Well, I'm sitting down tonight and starting my third Billie Letts book.  I've been putting it off because I know that once I start, not much will go on around here until I finish the book....

Well, Billie Letts, you have a new fan....I know, it took me a while. Thanks for writing true fiction without trying to be gross, stupid or using curse words every other line.  You're making Oklahoma look really, really good!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Menu Monday..

This is that transitional time in Oklahoma where one day it's eighty degrees, the lilacs are blooming and the next day the high is forty!  I make my menu seasonal but it's really hard during this time because I don't know if we should be having soup in the house or grilling on the patio. To make it easy on myself, I put a few cold weather meals in the menu and also a few warmer weather meals, then I just pick the temperature that fits the day.

This week has started cold so I used the honey mustard chicken and rice meal with green beans and green salad last night, tonight, we're having grilled fish and mac-n-cheese and  mixed veggies.  I have an outing at work and need something fast and easy!

Wednesday night is eat-at-church night - my favorite night of the week!  I'll tell you, I don't feel the need to eat out during the week when I can count on a night out every Wednesday for under fifteen dollars!

Thursday is going to be crab salad sandwiches with a veggie tray, Friday night, I'm grilling burgers and having baked beans and coleslaw(it's supposed to be almost eighty!).  Saturday, we'll probably grill chicken and potato packets and have a greek salad.  I'm thinking we'll be eating on the porch again by saturday night!

Here's my super easy potato packet recipe. I change it up as the summer goes on to include my garden produce. 

Super Easy Potato Packet

Spray a large sheet(about the size of a 9x13 cake pan) with no stick spray or use the no stick foil
Dice in about 1/2 inch cubes one potato per person (1/2 for kids)
Dice about 2 tablespoons onion per person
You can also add: carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, etc....
Add  teaspoon diced garlic per person
salt/pepper to taste
If you have fresh basil or a favorite herb, put it in also.  If you only have dried, use 1/2 teaspoon per person or leave it out.
1 tablespoon grated parmesan or other hard cheese per person
Drizzle of olive oil

Place all the ingredients on the foil, layering potatoes and other hard veggies first.  Place another sheet, a little larger than the first, on top of the ingredients.  Starting with the bottom foil sheet, fold up at least three times all around so moisture will not escape while cooking.

Place directly above fire on medium for about 10 minutes and then move to an area of the grill that is not going to cook directly or on low.  cook another 10 minutes.  Carefully, remove the foil packet and place on a cookie sheet.  Unroll one end of the foil and check for the potatoes to be soft.  If they are almost there, just leave them in the foil until the meat gets finished grilling, the steam will usually finish cooking them. 

You can just open the top of the foil to serve or put in a serving bowl.  For family, I just serve out of the clean-up!