Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

2009 couldn't be complete without a few more embarrassing moments for my sisters. But because my new year's resolution is to try to be a nicer person, I didn't pull out the big guns.

Also, I know Trudy will retaliate.

So here is a quick reminder of days gone by and a few before and afters just for fun.

2010 is sure to have many highs and lows, but it is not likely to surpass the style-high of the decade, the trend that never caught on, but definitely should have:

The era of the purple star pants.

And it seems like only yesterday that these scrappy sisters were fighting one minute, hugging the next.

Oh wait, it was yesterday.

One has to wonder what kind of excitement 2010 will bring . . .

Cross-country flights?

Auspicious celebrations?

Orangutan look-alike contests?
Our (six) readers will have to decide who the winner is.

But wherever the new year takes us

Crowded airports

Or wide-open spaces,

hospital waiting rooms

or other places,

know that we are wishing you the happiest of new years!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cloudy Day

If it weren't for days like this, I'd almost be missing the snow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Plans

I should be shopping, or making Christmas cookies, or candy.
But instead we will travel the 80 miles from our home to attend
an all day basketball tournament for daughter #1.

Since the school the girls attend is so small the athletic teams are split into varisty and junior varisty teams. The varisty team is the top players for grades 6-8, and the jv team is the remainder of players for grades 6-8.

Since daughter # 1 is a 8th grader she gets plenty of play time for both the jv and varisty. She may not score alot of points, but she is a good team player.

She is always encouraging the other players and keeps everyone pumped up for the game.

Most of all she loves hanging out with her friends.

Go Crusaders!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time Flies when you're having fun!

Sister Two has had one busy fall!
I haven't had time to post anything about my life of late.
So I'm going to catch you up .....
The girls have been busy with school activities, sports, and 4-H.

I turned 40!

I had to have minor surgery to remove my gall bladder.

Sadly we said good bye to our mom and grandmother.

We have been trying to finish up harvest ....

Corn Silage Harvest

We moved cattle to a pasture closer to home, so if a storm strikes they can be fed easier.
Daughter # 2 thinks the faster the better.... she is sure the cows can keep up.

But older sister reminds her slow down and drive safely.
While thanking her lucky stars they didn't move cattle by horseback that day.

We have been trying to finish combining corn,

but the weather hasn't been cooperating.

This morning temperature was a crisp 27 below zero!

The story of a farmer and rancher's life.
Nothing goes as planned.

All the while I have my thoughts on March

When the newest member of our family arrives ....

and the fact that I don't have baby stuff around anymore!

Daughter # 2 has been reminding me that in 16 days

Santa arrives

and he won't be sporting any

Daughter # 1 also reminds me

that I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet

or even started!

I hope your fall has gone more smoothly,and you are ready at your house for Santa.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What do you do when ....

.... you have nearly a case of Pepsi and you detest the vile drink

because your great-grandmother taught you to love Coke at an early age

and you had just bought a case of Pepsi for your mother two days before she died?

You would do what any techno whiz would do.

You would google Pepsi recipes.

Tonight we will be dining on a Pepsi Roast.

We'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Story of Roscoe

Meet Roscoe, our 22 pound bruiser.

He originated in the Wildcat Hills as a "barn" cat at my boss' homestead.
Being an intact tomcat, he spent more time scrappin' than anything else.
 As a result, each ear was tattered and he was constantly injured.
Of course, being such a big brute, the other
parties were usually worse for wear.

Karen decided it was time to find Roscoe a new domicile.
 Evidently she has my number in her rolodex under 
"sucker" because she called me right up.

"Do you guys want another cat?" she asked.

Well, we were down to Eddikins, Lilly, Bree and Mittens. 
Our mouse population was escalating so I readily agreed. 
 She delivered him to me at school and I carted him home. 

He was in rough shape. 
Both ears were completely torn up
and in various stages of healing.  
Mardell took one look at him and
called the vet clinic to get his balls snipped off.

That evidently pushed him over the edge.  
He hid under the bed for months.
Guess I can't blame him.

He only came out to eat and scowl at us.
Slowly but surely he came around 
and decided we weren't so evil after all.

He adopted Mardell as his own and 
planted himself on her every night.

Of course, he didn't want to share her 
so he growled at everyone (animal and human)
that came within a ten foot radius while he perched on her.  

The first time that she went to Mary's for a week-end, 
I didn't see him until I went to bed.  He jumped up on my chest 
and glared at me, while emitting a very low, guttural growl.  
I think he blamed me for her disappearance. 
I slept with one eye open that night.  

Life went on and he got used to her 
disappearing for a day here and a day there.

He definitely felt like she belonged to him 
and would have absolutely nothing to do with me.  
I was only good for feeding him and 
even then, he preferred for Mardell to do it.

After Willowby's kittens had graduated from the birthing basket to running around the house, he decided that he had had enough and moved outside to the shed.  I tried to coax him back inside with no luck.  I tried luring him with canned cat food.  No dice.  I tried tuna fish.  Still no dice.  I even tried liver.  If anything should have worked, that should have.  Eventually I accepted the fact that he wasn't moving back in.  I continued to put food out and after a fashion I saw him less and less, until eventually I didn't seem him again.  I figured the coyotes had feasted on him ... probably for a week or more! 

The summer was busy with moving to a new school and trying to get settled.
Just as school was starting, we decided to move Mom in with us and so there were more adjustments to be made.  Life went on and he slowly faded from our memories.

Mom was always a cat person.  The bigger the better.
Etta, her psycho Maine Coon cat, was extremely large and she hated me.
Etta, not Mom.  When Etta died, Mom mourned her loss for a long time.

I think the best thing for Mom about moving in with us was that we had cats.
Kittens were born the first week she lived with us.  Naturally they had to be in her room.

She loved our polydactyl tomcat, Mittens --- 
even when he began kneading with that extra toe.

He loved her too. 
He would lay on top of her for the
entire afternoon if she would let him.
It was a common sight to see him lounging on top of her.

We got up one week-end morning and 
Mom was out on the futon watching television.
"Look who I've got again," she bragged. 

I did a double take.  She thought Mittens had come in during the night and climbed up on top of her, but it wasn't Mittens at all.  It was Roscoe, who had now been missing for at least sixteen weeks.  He had come in the pet door, jumped up on her and claimed her, just as he had done with Mardell many moons before.  Now he spent all of his time with 
Mom and had nothing to do with the rest of us.

The day Mom died was kind of chaotic.  Once we finally got the CR-V dug out of the snow and had dealt with the county coroner and deputies, we went to town and made arrangements at the funeral home for her cremation.  We pretty much collapsed when we got home.  The next few days were pretty much a blur.  Once the dust had settled, so to speak, after Mom's memorial service, we realized that we hadn't seen Roscoe for several days.  

I went out and looked around the shed and some of his other haunts.
I didn't see hide nor hair of him.  We kind of joked around that he was torqued because Mom died and he up and left us.

Yesterday he waltzed in as if he had not been gone for a month.

He's still huge and he has once again reclaimed Mardell and her bed.
That doesn't bode well for Goliath.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Green Slime

As most of our faithful readers (all 4 of them) have surmised,
Mom wasn't exactly an adventurous cook.

In fact, her idea of a meal was often a spoonful of peanut butter on toast.
Not exactly the best nutritional plan for someone with diabetes.

When she moved in with us, she was forced into a more regular routine
and she discovered that we really like to eat.  A lot.

She was continually amazed that I could cook 
and just marveled at my culinary feats, such as they were.
She would have been content to eat my potato soup every night.

She took it upon herself to do the dishes.
Mom did more dishes in the three months that she lived with us 
than she had ever done in the eighteen years of my growing up!

She also began baking.
Mom never baked that I can remember.

Yet she made cookies and apple cake on a regular basis for us.

She also decided that on the days that Mardell volunteered at school, 
she could at least get supper started.   Then she graduated to cooking the whole meal and having it done when we got home. She wasn't very confident with her cooking as she hadn't done it for so long and continually worried that we wouldn't like it.  

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we would drive home 
and wonder what we would find for supper.
One particular Tuesday we walked in and I was instantly transported back to Grandmother Hall's house on Christmas day.  This was the night that Mom had fixed Green Slime.  You can bet that Grandma Hall never fixed Green Slime, but it felt like Christmas.  Maybe it was just the coziness of walking in and finding Mom in the kitchen, happily bustling around, declaring that she didn't think we were ever coming home.  But whatever it was, it felt like Christmas and Mom just beamed when I told her it felt like that.

She pulled supper out of the oven and took the lid off.
All I could see was a piece of meat with green slime covering it.
She was fretting about, saying that she hoped 
we liked it and that she just wasn't sure about it.
She had seen this recipe on Rachel Ray earlier that day and decided to try it.

Yes, my mother, the Queen of Peanut Butter, did this.
I cringed when I saw it and mentally prepared myself to smile through every bite no matter how horrible it really was.  I had visions of the Green Bean Casserole days.  Before we ate, I caught Mardell
and told her that no matter what, we loved it.

I couldn't get enough of the green slime.
I dipped my meat into the slime and savored every bite.

Mardell had cooked up some apples to go with it and I literally gorged myself.
Mom later confessed that she had used too much thyme.  
She thought it would take more dried than fresh instead of the other way around and she only had one tenderloin instead of two .... hence the slime as she used every last bit on the one piece of meat.

I know, I know, I haven't answered the question of what Green Slime really is.
Here's the recipe and I highly recommend trying it.

Rachel Ray calls it Uptown Roast Pork Tenderloins with Escalloped Apples,
but it will always be Green Slime to us.

  • 2 pieces, 1 package, pork tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 Gala, Honey Crisp or Golden Delicious apples, quartered, cored and sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Coat the tenderloins with olive oil.  Combine the grill seasoning, lemon zest and thyme.  Rub the spice mixture into the tenderloin and roast 25 minutes.  Remove and let juices settle.  Then slice on an angle.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and saute apples for 12 to 15 minutes until very tender.  Season with a pinch of salt and sprinkle the flour over the skillet, toss to combine.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the skillet and sweeten with sugar.

Arrange the apples over the pork to serve.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tryptophan Overdose

Do you remember how excited I was to try brining a turkey?

I wasn't completely sure about it, but 
we decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Just for the record, brining a turkey is a huge pain in the ass.
It is much easier to throw the bird in a bag and roast it.

I insisted that Mardell buy a big bird as I wanted left-overs.
We are usually sensible and buy a bird that will feed our crew for Thanksgiving dinner and one or two more meals.  There are never left-overs to speak of.  Well, with the exception of that nasty cherry gross jello that Mary always wants at holidays.  It falls into the category of green bean casserole except it is prettier to look at.

At any rate, she bought a big bird.

No! Not Big Bird, a big bird, a 17 pound turkey!
(Keep in mind that there were only two of us this year!)

I went to every grocery store in this town looking for fresh herbs.
Trust me when I say the Food Network lies when they say you can buy fresh herbs in any supermarket.  Actually, had I wanted chives or tarragon, I would have been in business.

I did find fresh bay leaves and I am now wondering what to do with the remaining 39 leaves!

At any rate, I put together the brine and we let the bird soak overnight.
Mixed together the butter concoction and rubbed and massaged the bird.

Prepped the veggies and broth mixture for the roaster and lovingly placed the bird atop its throne of carrots, apples, onions, garlic and cinnamon sticks.  I interrupted my nap every thirty minutes to baste the bird. It was beautiful when it was done.  The skin was roasted a dark golden brown and the smell was out of this world.

We let the bird rest while we prepared the rest of our feast.
It was truly a wonderful meal.  
However, we had so much food that we 
each ate only one slice of turkey.

We decided that we would eat more later .... 
and then opted for pie and ice cream instead.

Since we didn't have any room in our fridge, 
we checked the temperature of the enclosed patio
and deemed it a suitable refrigerator.  

We covered the turkey with aluminum foil and 
securely put the lid back on the roaster and set it on the step.
Can you predict where this is going?

This is what remained this morning.

Do you remember I said we each ate only one slice ..... 
of a 17 POUND BIRD?!!!

This is what a tryptophan overdose looks like!

Six hours later and this guy's STILL snoozin'

These two look like they ate the proverbial canary  turkey.

I'm sure Mom is sitting somewhere laughing her ass off!

Consider Kiva this holiday season

Two years ago, Vicki and I decided that in lieu of a classroom gift exchange, we would ask the students to donate $1 to be used at to help fulfill loans to individuals battling poverty.
We told the students that we would match the amount that they donated and we ended up loaning $200.  We could only loan $25 to each person and once their loan was fully funded in conjunction with other lenders, we would be notified. We went through the loan descriptions and the kids chose the projects to help fund. 

Ni Putu Mili from Indonesia needed a loan to buy piglets and feed.

Valeriana Churata of Bolivia requested a loan to 
purchase fabric, wool and thread to make blankets. 

Adjo Odette Djogbessi of Togo wished to buy fabric and dyes with her loan.

Vo Thi Ly, Vietnam, also purchased piglets and mash.

Mamlakat Mardonova lives in Tajikistan.  
She has a degree in economics and is married with ten children.  She needed a loan for her clothing business.  The kids determined that anyone with ten kids REALLY needed the money.

 Parmo Mendullo is a widow in Tanzania who 
supports herself through the sale of charcoal. 

Nancy Helida De La Cruz Araujo of Peru
was the first one to repay her loan.  She paid it off 
early and used her money to supplement her general store inventory.
For the final loan, the students chose a group 
because "they could help more people".

This group of 15 women sew curtains, blankets 
and clothing in the Dominican Republic.
Within three days, all of the projects were fully funded.
Repayment plans were made for anywhere from six months to fifteen months.
Each one of the loans was repaid in full.  
Vicki and I had decided to reinvest the money into a new group of loans, 
but we hadn't gotten to it yet and she had told me to make some choices when I had a chance.  After battling the commercialism at the Evil Empire, I came home and made eight more loans.

Corazon Tomines is from the village of San Manuel in the Phillipines. She is 50 years old, widowed and has six school-aged children. To make a living, Corazon owns and operates a business venture in the food sector making and selling food. The main source of income for the business comes from making native cakes and other delicacies for sale.

Alberta Clarion is from the village of Tiaman, Bonifacio, Misamis Occ, also in the Phillipines. She is 52 years old. Alberta is married and has four school-aged children. To make a living, Alberta operates a specialized retail store. The main source of income for the business comes from selling daily-use products such as bread, shampoo, soap and toothpaste in the local community.

Isabel is a 34 year old single mother. She is father and mother to her two daughters. The oldest is 12, and the youngest is 7. They both go to the same school. They live in the Imperial city of Cusco, Peru.   Her last name is not given to protect her identity.  She alternates her activities between the household and private courses that she teaches. She teaches private classes that reinforce mathematical reasoning, verbal reasoning, languages, and physics, etc. She teaches classes in the afternoons for students who are getting low grades in school. She has been doing this for several years. It has gone very well for her thanks to the effort she puts into her work. She is a fighter, and she is enterprising. She devotes herself to teaching with much joy.

Federita Garcia is a 73-year-old farmer from Talibon, Bohol in the Phillipines. She has been tilling the rice field to be able to ensure enough food for the family.  She is borrowing money for the rental of farm equipment.

Jenart Ebonimen is 46 years old and married with 9 children. Her husband sells planks at retail prices to his customers. She cooks and sells fufu at wholesale and retail prices to her customers. Fufu comes from fermented cassava.

Teresita is 51 years old with 11 children who range in age from 10 to 32 years old. Most of the younger ones are still in school but the older children are already working and helping to support the family. This family of 13 lives in the village of Bi-ao, in the town of Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, Phillipines.  To help her husband support their family, Teresita started with pig fattening and raising chickens, selling the chickens in the local market after raising them for 45 days. This venture became a family affair as the younger kids were able to help with the chores of feeding the animals and cleaning their pens, which were all located in the backyard of their house.

Virginia sells a variety of products from her store in Bolivia, and also has another business selling eggs. Her husband is a gardener and bricklayer and he often travels, leaving her in charge of the home. She has 5 children, but they are already independent except for the youngest, who studies at the University where his mother covers his expenses.
In keeping with the students' desire to help as many people as possible, I also chose one group of 13 individuals from Bolivia.

They need the loan to further their clothing businesses.

In six to twelve months, these loans will be repaid and once 
again can be re-invested in other people fighting poverty. 
It was truly the gift that keeps on giving.  
I hope everyone will consider Kiva this holiday season.