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Moving...It's a blast

Moving...It's a Blast

Fixing up a house is one thing, but moving while in the middle of a home improvement journey is a whole separate saga. I don't know many people who actually enjoy the moving process. I'd be lying if I said I did. There are just so many things to do.

Do I keep these items that I haven't used in three years? Do I throw these clothes out? Do I bag these up to donate? This isn't even the hard part! The worst thing about moving is, well, moving.

If you ask my husband, he would say that I do not like change. Of course, the journey of owning a house together has been an exciting one, but getting down to the nitty gritty of boxing up and moving has been laced with curiosity, joy, and disillusion.

For example, I was under the impression that we had everything we needed to move into our own space. This belief was quickly shot down. Oh, you mean we need curtains? Did someone say something about a spice rack? What's an ice cube tray? It's amazing how many simple things we take for granted and believe are always there, yet quickly remember how important or practical they are when we start from scratch without them.

Let's not forget the joys of packing, as well. We are still taking boxes to our house even after almost six weeks of living there. We have the necessities, and unfortunately quite a bit of junk already accumulated. But still we have so much more to either move or toss.

Don't get me wrong - I am absolutely ecstatic to have our own space...we just hope to keep it a bit more organized and neater than before. I'm just not ready yet to give up the dream of having an uncluttered house. I know it's coming, but it seems all I am doing is prolonging the inevitable.

And then there are the cats who try their best to provide their own clutter. We have hardwood floors in our living room. When we first bought the house, we removed the two or three layers of linoleum that had been carelessly added and came across some original hardwood …   More

Super Bowl Commercial Season is Here

It’s almost here…the Sunday that everybody waits for, Super Bowl Sunday. For every sports enthusiast who knows the Broncos are taking on the Panthers for a Super Bowl Championship there is a person who waits for Super Bowl Sunday solely for the commercials.

Whatever network mucky-mucks dreamt up the million-dollar Super Bowl commercial wars is a genius. It brings families together, unites sports enthusiasts and non-sports enthusiasts and it gives the multitudes something to talk about on Monday morning, especially when the game is not one for the history books.

Doritos has come up with a contest for Pete’s sake, one that has college film majors foaming at the mouth for a chance to be discovered. My family has undiscovered talent in this realm. Our cousin Brent and some of his buddies from Georgia wrote, produced and entered the Dorito commercial contest this year.

It was a great commercial featuring Hansel and Gretel. Gretel was leaving Doritos behind so they could find their way out of the woods while Hansel (aka Brent) was trailing behind her eating them as fast as she could drop them. It was really funny and earned them a nod but unfortunately did not make it to the top five.

The company that produces the most highly anticipated commercial each year is Budweiser. According to my Google research they have been doing Super Bowl commercials for around 30 years. Somehow while touting their favorite brew they tend to pull on our heartstrings.

During my research I discovered that this year’s commercial, however, would steer away from last year’s cuteness featuring the golden puppy that lives with the Clydesdales. Last year he accidentally ran away from the farm but eventually found his way back to his pals. While the puppy may be absent, you can be assured that the famous Clydesdales will make an appearance.

As far as the beer commercial goes, this year there has already been a teaser featuring funny people, Amy Schuler and Seth Rogan for …   More

My wild child

My wild child

We’ll continue this week on the subject of Warner. He, it seems, will be the wild child of the trio. Maybe, as the baby of the family, it’s his birthright. The experts say the baby of the family fights for attention and as a result can be the class clown and a daredevil. Warner certainly fulfilled the latter on two occasions last week.

We’ll start with the most terrifying. Some of you may recall that, shortly after we moved to our farm, Warner disappeared one morning. I had last seen him in the yard playing with the dogs. I couldn’t find him or the dogs and I was terrified because we have two ponds on our property. Heart in my throat, I raced to one pond and then the other, finding no signs of disturbance.

Long story short, just as the sheriff and fire department were arriving, Darin found him. He was fast asleep inside his closet.

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon. The kids were in the yard playing while Darin worked outside and I fixed supper. Suddenly, they all appeared at the back door, Warner was soaked to his waist.

“Nooo!” I screamed, knowing instantly where he’d been.

Sylvia had been with him, but she wasn’t wet. She claimed they were playing in the barn when Warner wanted to go to the pond. “ I was screaming at him, Mom,” she said. Darin told her she should’ve come and gotten him. I could see how she was between a rock and hard place; knowing Warner shouldn’t be in the water, but afraid to leave him.

Warner was crying – he knew what he did was wrong. He was deposited in a warm bath and I had to have a very difficult talk with Sylvia and Hays, explaining if someone – even their little brother – gets stuck in the water they are never, ever to try to go in to save him.

We have changed the rules so that should never happen. Warner and Sylvia aren’t allowed outside unless Hays is with them.

OK. Let’s talk about the daredevil’s other trick. This one was much more funny than …   More

Baked Parmesan Mushrooms

Baked Parmesan Mushrooms

There isn’t a hobbit alive (figuratively, to my great disappointment) that likes mushrooms more than I do.

They’re good raw or cooked, on burgers, steaks, pizza, stir fries, salads and skewers. They’re good sauteed, herbed, roasted and fried.

I will eat them in a box, I will eat them with a fox, I will eat them here or there, I will eat them anywhere.

Add lemon and cheese and they get even better, like these (http://damndelicious.net/2014/03/26/baked-parmesan-mushrooms/) Baked Parmesan Mushrooms.

The fact they’re so easy to make is the icing on the proverbial cake.

Slice your mushrooms (you can use the called-for cremini mushrooms, but you can do this just as well with baby bellas or typical white mushrooms) and lay them out on a baking sheet. Add a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, thyme and Parmesan cheese over the top of them, or, as I’ll probably do next time, put the mushrooms in a bowl and make sure they’re well-coated in the mixture before pouring them out on the baking sheet.

Bake these for around 10 to 15 minutes or until brown and tender, stirring from time to time.

Serve immediately.   More

B-I-N-G-O

Now that I’m an “old lady” of 50, as are my friends Jennifer and Kelly (getting there quickly) we have been talking about crashing a bingo game. My friends are sure that we would be entertained and maybe we could be considered among the “young crowd” again.

Kelly said she would fix the Metamucil cookies to go and we would be ready for an afternoon of number calling. But then I remembered we would have to buy our dabbers – multiple colors so there would be no cheating among the three of us. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to study up on the subject – those senior citizens have no mercy for the newbies.

I feel like I have a little experience. I have to admit that I am a closet bingo player. My biggest stage was, however, the Salem Lions Bingo booth at the Washington County Fair. When I was younger, in the days before children, I loved to sit and play bingo at the fair.

My excuse was that I was supporting a good cause but secretly I was there to watch the others squirm as I loaded up on “Bingo” wins and prizes.

When Duane was an employee at Kimball’s I also looked forward to their summer picnics when sometime during the day, a rousing game of Bingo was held. It was free and the prizes were one step up from the Bingo tent at the fairgrounds. I don’t think I ever won big but the adrenalin rush was one to remember.

Once in a while I even visited the American Legion bingo on Sundays. This is where I learned of the dabber. And I learned that Bingo was more than diagonal, horizontal, vertical and cover all. Oh, the plays that I was missing at the other Bingo games.

I put those days behind me when my kids came along and started needing my attention. But you can be assured that when they were little, they knew the “Bingo” song. So what, it was about a dog named Bingo – don’t be a hater.

I have come to appreciate Bingo again as it has been reintroduced to my life in the form of weekly Bingo drawing at LPC. It started almost …   More

Simple Stir Fry

Sometimes, simple really is best.

I think that’s what makes this chicken and asparagus stir-fry (http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/chicken-and-asparagus-stir-fry/ ) from Gimme Some Oven (http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/) so good — simple ingredients allowed to shine without too much doctoring coming to form something unpretentious and tasty.

Start by cutting up your chicken and asparagus into bite-sized pieces and in a zipper bag or bowl, combine soy sauce and honey. Add the chicken to this and leave this in the refrigerator until you’re ready.

While the chicken is marinating, heat some olive oil on a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the asparagus until it’s cooked. Remove this and set it aside and transfer your chicken from the marinade into the skillet. Cook the chicken until it’s almost done and add garlic, scallions and the marinade from the chicken to the pan. Cook this for a few minutes until the chicken cooks through entirely and you can smell the garlic. Throw the asparagus back in and stir to coat with the sauce you’ve made with the marinade and other ingredients, along with some toasted sesame oil (just do it — a little of this goes a long way with the flavor of this) and serve with rice or noodles.   More

Quiet still has its challenges

The last couple weeks have been somewhat quiet (and cold). We have gotten settled into the house a little more. However, there is always room for a challenge. This week was the hose on our washer freezing and busting, causing a large leak in our laundry room. I usually come home from work for lunch and try to do a bit of housework. I ran a load of laundry like normal, but you can imagine my surprise when I came home a few hours later ready to put those clothes in the dryer and found a pool of water in the middle of our carpeted laundry room. With the help of a box fan and some towels, we were able to get the floor dried up fairly quickly.

Luckily, we were able to replace the hose, and after a few trial runs to make sure that we wouldn't have another small flood on our hands, we are back in business. I am super happy about that, since I'm the one on laundry duty and do not want to go back and forth to my parents' house to wash clothes like I did until we finally hooked up the washer and dryer.

My husband, Alan, has been adding more and more insulation during this cold time of the year, hoping to attain a decent electric bill this month. I, of course, have been adding more and more "stuff" (groceries, decorations, etc.) We have two cats, Oliver and Mellie, and they just seem to be adding more and more fur to the equation. We also have a dog named Max (I know that is an extremely original name, but I kid you not, he looks like a "Max"), who is generally an outside dog; however, due to this extreme cold we've been experiencing, Alan and I have decided to let him in during the nights and most of the days,too. We have went from having an empty house to having a zoo fairly quickly.

The house is chaotic between us working on it while trying to maintain a home life and taking care of animals. Sometimes I feel it is best to have a place to go to when you just want to take a few minutes out of the day to relax and unwind...mine is my bathroom. When we first moved …   More

Gone Bananas

Warner loves Banana Slurp!

The title of this blog more accurately would be “The joys and challenges of getting your kids to eat healthy,” but that was too long. Besides, I would imagine the phrase “Banana Slurp” is far more likely to encourage you to read on.

Healthy eating is a huge deal to me. It’s always been a focus and became much more so after Hays, Sylvia and Warner were born. Way back before I became a mom, I just thought if you fixed and served healthy food, kids would eat it. Turns out, it doesn’t always (ever?) work that way. Turns out, there’s a lot of stealth and sleight of hand involved.

A few things have been easy. My kids have only ever eaten whole wheat pasta and bread so they don’t like the white kind. It’s much easier to establish a healthy habit than to change an unhealthy one. I have always made homemade pizza (it’s a weekly ritual) and my kids actually tell me they like it better than the pizza store (Papa John’s). Don’t think we never eat out. There is a box of Papa John’s in our refrigerator right now. We do splurge once in a while.

My friend Darlene gave me Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook when the kids were small. The wife of world-famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld gets the last laugh in her household: Those kids have no idea how much healthy stuff their mom is feeding them!

Jessica cooks and purees vegetables, then sneaks them into dishes. It actually works. My kids had no idea there was pumpkin in the Bacon Broccoli Mac ‘n Cheese I recently made. It was the broccoli that moved Warner to tears and to proclaim: “This is the most horrible supper you’ve ever made, Mom!”

They also won’t know if you throw some cauliflower into the pot when you’re boiling potatoes to mash. Smashed up bananas will hide easily in pancakes. I grate carrots and green pepper into the pot when I make spaghetti sauce. My kids’ favorite brownies are Jessica Seinfeld’s recipe which uses pureed …   More

Missing Summer? Try this Crockpot Low Country Boil

Crockpot Low Country Boil

The media likes to paint American food as greasy hamburgers, meat loaf, apple pie, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, but there’s a lot more to American cuisine than fast food and vats of grease and gravy, on top of the fact it pretty much changes depending on where you are.

Visit New Mexico and you’ll find their passion for green chilies. There’s the fresh seafood of the coasts, Hawaiian delicacies of the Pacific islands, the Cajun dishes of Louisiana, hazelnuts and chocolate hazelnut pie (an Oregon favorite) of the Northwest, barbecues and fish fries and persimmon puddings of the Midwest. Add to this the ethnic influences of the immigrants that built this nation over the years that have seeped into menus and dinner tables in the United States and we can honestly say that the junk food stereotype spread abroad is a bit unfounded.

One traditional meal of the American southeastern coast is the low-country boil, the region’s answer to the New England clambake, served on newspaper. Normally, this is done in a big pot, like a stock pot, but that’s one kitchen item I don’t have.

I do, however, have a crock pot and, fortunately, that’s what this (http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2013/06/crockpot-low-country-boil.html) recipe from Family Fresh Meals (http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/) looks for.

Combine water, beer (or near-beer or broth), Old Bay seasoning and garlic in a large crockpot (my six-quart was full to the brim after all the ingredients were in) and stir to combine. Add to this red potatoes cut in half, onion cut in quarters and celery (I considered this optional — cooked celery doesn’t tickle my fancy), and squeeze lemons over the mixture, then throw those in, too. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for four to five hours. Low, not high, because that’s what I did and the potatoes ended up a little done by the time this recipe was said and done. After that’s done, add cut up fresh corn on the …   More

Audrey has it right

Have you ever noticed that usually when you seek something, you can never find it but when you are not seeking something it continues to pop up unexpectedly. Apparently I need to remember to surround myself with people who make me laugh because everywhere I turn this quote by Audrey Hepburn suddenly appears.

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

I liked it so much I shared it with my co-workers in their paycheck envelopes and I reposted it on my Facebook page. When I look at those that surround me I think it actually sums up my life.

My high school girl friends, Jennifer and Kelly, make me laugh hysterically. They always have and it has only gotten better as we have aged together. Now we have new things to laugh at and laughing too much now leads to more frequent trips to the bathroom to prevent bladder leakage.

And I would like to say that we have matured with age but I don’t like to lie, we are still as juvenile as when we were in high school. Sorry girls, but you know it’s true.

My kids are funny in a sarcastic sort of way. Wonder who they get that from? Duane and I knew we were in trouble with Paige when at about three years old after misbehaving and being told by her dad “we are going to go rounds,” she stands up in her seat and goes in circles. She hasn’t missed a beat since.

I have to remind my kids, however, that I am funny. Isn’t that the way it always is – they never “get” it. When Paige and I are on the same wave link sometimes we just have to look at each other and laugh, then we have to separate because as soon as we get it together we lose it again. She snorts or I snort and it starts all over again.

I find myself laughing a lot when I am around the gang of Mark and Pam, Keith and Karen, Jody and Karen, Tom and Jessica, Eric and Krista, mostly because they don’t take …   More

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