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!