A man with a sense of humor….

10 Dec

Apparently, Bailey already knows what she wants in a future husband.

He has to have a sense of humor.

Big red shoes and a big red nose.

Great hair and the ability to sit on a bench and just chill all day.

 

Even he looks surprised by the turn of events on this quiet Wednesday afternoon.

I had to peel her off of him. She cried and waved goodbye to her first boyfriend.

I think he even winked at her before I got her out the door. We are now avoiding McDonald’s for a while.

She needs time to get over him.

A little vacation math….

2 Dec

Number of times we were patted down in the airport: 0

And that’s even after I discovered that Bailey went through the metal detector with two pockets full of change. Because of that and several other reasons, I don’t think they turned the metal detector on that morning. Not complaining though, no one was cute enough to pat me down anyway…

Number of days we planned on being in Nevada: 10

Number of days we were in Nevada: 15

Number of times I had to call United: 3

Number of pounds our luggage was overweight: 2

Number of dollars that costs you: 100

Number of times I thanked the airport baggage guy for just letting me throw 2 pounds of clothes in with the carseats that check for free: 100

Number of times people asked if I needed help with two carseats, two children, three carryons and my purse: 3

Number of people who said I did a great job keeping my kiddos happy and quiet on the plane: 14

Shocking isn’t it.

Number of moms I told not to worry about their screaming baby, mine used to scream and who cares anyway: 3

Poor moms. I’ve been there. Don’t worry. You’ll get off the plane and never again see any of those huffy people again.

But I’m so glad mine didn’t scream.

Dally just quietly cried a bit when I couldn’t find her bubble gum in my carry-on. She settled for seven tootsie rolls and a package of gummies.

Number of manicures I went through in two weeks: 1

Seriously. Apparently the number on enemy to a manicure is washing dishes, doing laundry and feeding horses.

Number of days that manicure lasted when I got home: 1/2

Number of people it took to jump my dead battery in my truck at the airport at 9 pm: 3

Seriously, I love my roadside assistance, but I told them several times that my truck is a 1-ton. This apparently meant nothing to them. So they sent a guy with a vehicle that could fit INSIDE the CAB of my truck to try and jump my truck. He tried. He really did. But his Barbie-size car battery just didn’t have a chance. We bonded. He has ten children. TEN. He looked like he was just in his twenties. He said he’s budgeting $100 a piece for them for Christmas. My kiddos want to go live with him now. That is a lot of stuff. I hope they paid him extra for being out there with me for over an hour. The airport maintenance people ended up jumping my truck. Apparently, this happens a lot.

Number of inches of snow on the ground when we left: up to 18 in the higher passes.

Number of degrees BELOW zero when we left: 14

Number of times I’ve looked out the window and THANKED GOD that this is what I see:

500,000,000!

I hate the snow…

1 Dec

But I so love the Cowboy in the snow. It’s just romantic. Until he stuffs snow down the back of your pants.

Which happens almost every time we are in the snow.

Let me also say that while I enjoyed our trip to the mountains of Northeastern Nevada, I have now spent 4 days straight on my couch repeating over and over:

Thank God I’m home, Thank God I’m home. I’ll never leave you again.

Because I realized that there are much windier, colder and treeless places in the world.

Did I mention colder? Like below zero colder?

Then this morning, I got an email about cheap flights. I got to thinking, maybe just for a quick weekend.

Like I didn’t go out there for a week, get snowed in by a blizzard and spend TWO weeks instead. In a hotel room. With two small kiddos. And the stomach flu.

That’s what a good Cowboy will do to you.

Cause when you see him like this….

The snow literally melts around your feet.

And then, he’s going to turn around and wait for you to come join him.

And the snow will literally melt off the mountain.

Saying thank you doesn’t nearly say enough…

10 Nov

I’m the daughter of a Veteran. I’m the niece of a Veteran. I’m the Granddaughter of a Veteran. I’m the sister of Veterans, cousin of Veterans and a friend of several Veterans.

The words “thank you” can’t even begin to cover the feelings I have for those who sacrifice for our country…..for my family.

Sometimes I’ll be sitting on my porch watching the kiddos chase fireflies and think, “This is what so many have fought and died for. Right here in my front yard.” And I pray a prayer of thanks. All of my blessings come from someone who I don’t even know fighting for our country and our freedom.

I’m so blessed that my children have so many beautiful opportunities. Dally’s Daisy Troop marched in our local Veteran’s Day parade this last weekend. I love that her first parade was for something so special and meaningful.

I didn’t realize how much it really meant until we were actually there.

 

Nor did I realize that I was in this picture. See my flag? I was holding it and the camera at the same time!

 

 

The parade started off with a flyover. It was really amazing. I can’t believe I’m as old as I am and have never seen a flyover before! I also can’t believe I took this picture without falling over backwards on a Girl Scout.

 

 

We were right behind the bagpipes when lining up. Can I just say that I think that dude was totally rocking out in his head? He is definitely the coolest bagpipe player I have ever seen. It must be hard to remember not to shake it when you are wearing a kilt. I give them all big time props for that.

 

 

The girls were given bags of candy so that they could throw them at the children along the parade route. It took a bit for this information to sink in.

 

 

As the parade got underway, one of the first places we passed was the Senior Citizen’s Center. I was so proud of my girls, who waved big time at all the lovely seniors. However, after the parade, we stopped back by the Center to visit and  I learned quickly that you do not drag two children through a mile and a half parade, back up the parade route and into a building of seniors. Let’s just say Dally bumped Bailey. Bailey bit Dally. Dally screamed at Mommy. Mommy dragged both girls out of the Center while the seniors all chuckled.

 

 

There was so much to look at and so much noise that Bailey just couldn’t remember that she needed to walk. And I’m not talking a leisurely stroll down Main Street. This parade was in high gear. The feet behind her don’t belong to the group of people we were supposed to be walking with. In fact, in the process of taking this picture, we fell way far behind. Which resulted in my carrying my 40 pound two year old while trying to run on pavement in cowboy boots to catch up. It counted as all my exercise for the next month. I was literally out of breath by the end of the parade route.

 

 

When we reached the end of the parade route, Bailey was clinging to her bag of candy like it was her lifeline. Not only did she not throw any, she made sure she picked up all the candy she came across along the way.

 

The kiddos are too young to understand, but the parade was truly amazing. So many generations of Veterans all in one place. As I walked by and waved at so many of them I wondered if they were thinking of how they became Veterans. The prices they paid. The freedom to have a small-town parade honoring them.

And when the bike drove by with the POW/MIA flag, I couldn’t help but think of those that never made it home to see the parades or the scouts or hear the bagpipes. But maybe they see it anyway.

 

What I do when I have a lot to do…

9 Nov

You know that I have a to do list a mile long when I start completing lots of little crafty creative projects.

It’s my way of ignoring the fact that there are things I absolutely must get done.

Especially if I leave the sewing machine in the middle of the dining room table.

You can find the tutorial for the journal cover at kinn notebook. If you are like me and have two kiddos talking to you nonstop all day long, you may need to read those directions like fifteen times before you get it. Then, all of the sudden, ding! The light goes on. And you go ahead and do what she says.

I used the tutorial at happythings for the super cute little lined drawstring bags. Again, read it several times. Ding. Sew, sew, sew. I could make these bags all day long! I’m already planning on making a really big one this evening. The only variation I make on the pattern is that I make my lining fabric just a fraction shorter than my outside fabric (she uses like a 3 inch difference, which was too much for me).

I’ve never appliqued before, so that isn’t necessarily perfect. But the fabric is so cute that it makes up for the lack of skill.

And for you frugal crafters out there, I made all of this out of four fat quarters and 2 sheets of printer fabric. So all in all, my cute little projects cost me less than ten dollars. Which makes up for the new purse I bought this week…..or let’s just go with that.

Next time, I’ll take step by step pictures. I would have this time, but I had repair men in and out of the house all day. They probably already thought we were a bit odd due to Bailey wearing 3 different outfits all at the same time (including hair accessories). So I refrained from taking pictures every 20 seconds!

I’ve got to get back to the dining room now. I absolutely cannot do anything crafty tomorrow, just to make up for all that I did today.

Cocklebur Junction Butter Dumplings

3 Nov

After I type that I’ve decided it could be a new nickname for someone in my life. I already have my butter bean Bailey and my lucky ducky Dally. The kiddos have an Aunt Boo and an Uncle Hitch. I’m feeling really Southern and sentimental, so I guess a good name for the Cowboy would be Butter Dumplings.

I’m going to guess that he’s not going to like that too much.

But I have swayed him over my side when it comes to eating Chicken and Butter Dumplings.

It’s not your traditional country-style Chicken and Dumplings, which can be made out of anything, even just flour and water. Butter Dumplings are light and fluffy, floating in a well-seasoned Chicken soup. I’ve never seen anything like them out there. I adore them. Nothing heavy, but packed with a ton of flavor. The original recipe comes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which ranks right up there with Joy of Cooking for me. But of course, I’ve tweaked the recipe to make it my own.

You start with your Chicken stock. I generally don’t add my meat back into the soup until the dumplings are finished. For 4 servings, you need approximately 6 cups of chicken stock. Heat the stock until it is gently simmering.

I take 4 Tablespoons of butter and put it in the microwave for a few seconds on low until it is softened. If you have more foresight than I do, just set it on your counter for a while to soften. The idea is that the butter is nice and creamy soft.

Take the back of your fork and cream the butter until there are no lumps in it at all. Beat 2 eggs into the butter. Get it all nice and smooth.

Grate…and yes, I said grate, as in with a grater….an onion until you have 1/4 cup of grated onion.

You are probably going to cry a bit. It can be torture. That’s why there are no pictures of this process. Tears were running down my face from the ultra strong onion I was trying to grate.

Just keep saying “Butter dumplings, butter dumplings, butter dumplings.”

Add the onion to the butter and eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup flour and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir until well blended. You want a soft batter. You can stir in a Tablespoon of heated stock if you need. The consistency is like a muffin batter, a little thicker than a pourable cake batter, but much looser than a biscuit dough.

Drop about a teaspoon of batter into the stock at a time. Cook until set and cooked through. This is impossible to tell. I hate how cookbooks say that. Give it 10 minutes. They should be done. Take one out and blow on it, blow on it, try it. Try not to curse in front of the kiddos when you burn your mouth. Wait a few more seconds. Try it again. Decide it was worth burning your mouth.

Taste your soup and see if you like the seasonings. Add more salt or pepper, if needed. I often add about 1/2 cup of milk — it adds a creaminess that actually boosts the flavors. Or if the kiddos are really so ready to eat they can’t handle it any longer, I just dish the soup up and add the cold milk to each of their bowls. This cools the soup down quickly. Enjoy!

The never fail Chicken everything recipe…..

2 Nov

There is something about the crispness of cool fall days that forces me to make Chicken Soup, Chicken and Rice, Chicken and Noodles, Chicken and Dumplings….the list goes on and on. I think it’s the whole idea of having something yummy simmering on the stove.

It’s so simple and quick. I can do it in my sleep.

The key to making any good “chicken and…” recipe is starting out with lots of flavor. You can use this basic process to start any great chicken soup.

You need to gather onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, basil, salt and pepper. This combination will create the flavor that drives your dish.

Chop the onion, celery and carrots. (I used one onion, four celery stalks and three carrots.)  Hang onto the garlic, we’ll use it in just a bit. Your cutting doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be chunky. It can be not chunky. Whatever you like. I like fairly large chunks that aren’t very uniform. I call it “rustic.” Which is a french word for “lazy.”

Take a large stock pot, heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and put it over medium heat. Add a generous amount of butter. I’d say I have two Tablespoons here.

You can also use olive oil or just plain vegetable oil. I’m just a butter sort of girl. If I have fewer than eight sticks of real cream butter in my fridge, I start to panic.

Add the vegetables and season with salt, pepper and basil. This isn’t the finished flavoring for your dish, but you need to add a bit of salt in order to draw the flavor juices out of the onions and celery. The basil and pepper helps to add a layer of flavor. Believe me, the carrots are going to soak up the flavor. If you are a stickler for measurements, I added about two Tablespoons of salt, a Tablespoon of basil and a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

Stir it all together and let it cook until the onions are tender. Give it a quick stir every few minutes so that all the vegetables have their turn in the hot seat.

This is what it looks like when the veg’s are getting tender. The smell will be amazing. People will start wondering in the kitchen just to see what you are doing. Small children will stand there and look up at you with big eyes until you give them a cookie to go away!

Place chicken thighs on top of the vegetables. I used five. I could have used three. I probably could have used seven. But five seemed to be the right amount for me. Just make a decision and go with it. In my opinion, a lot of cooking relies on gut instinct. Thighs give the most flavor to chicken soup. I use thighs and legs as a base for all my chicken stock.

Realize at this point that you should have washed the dishes in the sink before beginning this process. Because now you are left with a hot pot full of food and need to get water in it. So take a few minutes to dig around and find a pitcher. Fill it with water and pour water over the chicken until it covers the chicken by about 2 to 3 inches.

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Throw in two bay leaves and add your garlic. If you are making the same amount of soup I am here, you will need approximately two of the larger cloves from the outside of the bulb. Do not use five like I have pictured here. Unless you are sick and really need the garlic to work homeopathic wonders on you. I have a cold. That’s why I used so much garlic. That, and I got carried away. Sometimes, that happens.

Put a lid on the pot and let it gently simmer. Don’t full boil it, just find a spot where things are nice and gently bubbly. The amount of time it takes to cook the chicken will vary depending on how much chicken, the size of the pot, the size of the chicken and etc. For these thighs, we are talking less than an hour. A full chicken would take approximately an hour.  Use a meat thermometer to check the chicken to see if it’s done, if you are worried about it. The temperature should be at 170 degrees F.

Remove the chicken and garlic from the pot and set it aside to cool. If you really love garlic, you can take the bulb of garlic and gently squeeze it over the pot. The inside of the garlic will come out as a soft paste. Stir this into the stock. Yummy.

Now remove the chicken from the bones. This is messy, it is slimy and it will get under your fingernails. I will guarantee that you will be right in the middle of it when your children need something very badly, your nose itches or the phone rings. It is just how the universe works.

Put your chicken to the side as you decide what to make with your chicken stock.

At this point, you have a lot of options. You can freeze the chicken soup (stock) for use later and use the chicken for chicken salad.  Or go ahead and make a big pot of Chicken something….noodles, tortellini, alphabet-shaped pasta — the options are limitless! You can add rice to the stock and make chicken and rice. Just remember that white rice takes two cups liquid to one part rice. If you have two cups of stock and one cup of rice, you aren’t going to have any liquid left over. Make sense? If you have three cups stock and one cup rice, you will have a little liquid left. Six cups of stock and one cup of rice and you have a lot of soup for the rice to swim in. Keep in mind that noodles and pasta won’t soak up as much liquid, but they will still absorb some. Especially after the soup sits in the fridge overnight.

Once the rice, noodles or pasta are finished cooking, season the soup with salt and pepper. If you salt it prior to cooking the rice or pasta, you may end up with something way too salty. This is because the water evaporates or is absorbed. Less water, but the same amount of salt, equals too salty.

Now add the de-boned chicken back to the pot and enjoy!

My favorite thing to make is Chicken with Butter Dumplings. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow. It is a wonderful twist on dumplings that is quick, easy and not messy!

And it adds butter. Everything is better with butter.