Friday, September 4, 2009

Julie, Julia and Me

After my sister, Pam, saw the movie, "Julie and Julia", she posted the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on Facebook. Intended as wry humor, I suggested that when we were together for Labor Day, we should make the recipe. My sister-in-law, Leslie, joined in with a "yes, let's do it!" and so we will be cooking. We do enjoy cooking together and who doesn't like an challenge.

Today I printed the ingredients list and the recipe. Oh, dear! The recipe is a whole page. Typed. Single-spaced. At the beginning it lists: Difficulty - difficult. Uhhhhh.... I said to myself, "Too late now, sister, get shopping." Off I went to the grocery store. Did you know that the butcher has "secret" meat in the back and will cut it anyway you like? Julia's recipe calls for one 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon and 3 pounds (yes, pounds) lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes. Should you tip the butcher?

After the grocery store, I headed to the wine store. I truly enjoy shopping for wine. This particular store had a European wine section. Julia's recipe suggested Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. I've had Burgundy and I'm not much of a fan, so I looked for the other two. We'll need a little extra wine beyond the recipe, of course. Here's what I found:
Louis Jadot - Beaujolais-Villages - 2006

J. Vidal-Fleury - Cotes du Rhone - 2006

Everyone arrives tomorrow and the cooking begins at 1:30 p.m. We'll take pictures and let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't You Love Surprises

Oh, my how time flies. This was a part of our super-sized celebration at our place on Mother's Day. We had four mothers in the house: Lauranell, Brett, Jenny and Brook. We also had birthdays to celebrate: Greg's 50th, Jess's 83rd, Spencer's 10th and Maddox's 4th. We do food very well, so well, in fact, that the crowd came for lunch and stayed through dinner!

Surprises can be life-altering. Did you know that?

When you are 3 going on 4 you need a little help keeping your eyes closed.

Aunt Piper was happy to help.

Don't we all love surprises? The anticipation grabs a hold of everyone!

The not looking part is excruciating. A little help here...

And then...

Oh, my...

a puppy!

With slobbery kisses...

and sharp teeth.

"Just don't poop in the house. Got it!"

Happy Birthday, Maddox!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

One Down, Two to Go!

My, my, haven't been here in a while! I've just finished the first of three semesters in the College of Education at K-State. The instructors fondly refer to this semester as "teaching boot camp". They are soooo funny! I'm glad to say I survived.

One of the classes I had was a technology class and I heard a few not-so-flattering things about this class from other students. The instructor was hired last fall and was teaching a three hour course. K-State's course is one hour and it's been hard to cut back to one credit hour's worth of work. Somewhere after the first few weeks of feeling overwhelmed I fell for this course. It must be something to do with why I majored in computer science the first time around?!? And the instructor...pretty amazing.

Anyway, here's the website I created posing as a teacher. 85% of it is projects from my classes so I will need to re-work it for use when I become a teacher, but you might take a look.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can I Help with Those Christmas Lights?

My husband took down the Christmas lights this weekend and it reminded me of the pictures I took a few weeks ago when he put them up. Once he gets started on a project, there's no stopping him. I wish I had more of that in me! I'm the one who works on ten things at once and I'm not sure any of them are ever completely finished. But can you completely finish laundry??? Just asking?
We were working inside and he was working outside.

The two oldest boys put the lights and ornaments on the tree, while Youngest, well, he,...ah...

You get the idea.

It's a good thing the Mortician was in a great mood, because it was cold outside that day, so...

I spent most of my time helping from here.
When he was finished we wandered out to see. My oldest son and I stepped out on the porch and immediately heard a mournful crying. We looked all around, but didn't see the source. We looked at each other and slowly looked up.

Yep, there's Sox the cat! That goofball cat!

As they say,..."curiosity killed the cat".

Do your cats come when you call? This one does not! She was an orphan and I shudder to think what she went through. It took weeks for her to come to us or let us pet and hold her.

So we pondered what to do as she paced in every direction except the ladder.
Since it was cold out and I'm a whimp, I gave up and left the kids to solve the problem. Just being a good mother and all, raising children with good problem-solving skills.
Middleman suggested to his younger brother that they leave the ladder up and hide. There's brilliance in that young mind. She was down within five minutes. I'm so proud!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dreaming about my Garden

Look what arrived in the mail...

Be still my heart...Organic Gardening magazine. Not only will I enjoy the beautiful pictures and reading the articles, I spent some time this morning ordering advertized seed catalogs. I promise to recycle those catalogs when I've finished! (Catalogs are a must-have in rural Kansas).

Receiving this magazine has got my mind working on next summer's garden. Are you starting to think about your garden? I'm convinced that's what these bitterly cold, windswept days are for. I plan to curl up in front of the fire and leaf through garden catalogs to help me make my final plans for spring.

Our soil is less than desirable...rock, hard clay. However, a huge, old organic gardening book tells me that clay soil is full of nutrients, it's just a matter of loosening things up with sand, compost and other additives. We began the process last year. Our first garden produced some teeny, tiny plants. Now I'm interested to see if our soil quality and therefore plant health (size) will improve this season.

For now, I'll brush thoughts of soil aside and concentrate on fruits and vegetables. Which ones to add? Which ones to leave behind? Any new interesting varieties? Must-have tools? (I would like a kneeling pad!). Mmmm...I'm already thinking of the first salad and BLT.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Clubing - Book Style

Book Clubs have proliferated around the world. I understand why because seven or eight years ago a friend and I formed one. We both enjoyed reading and loved the idea of a high-brow excuse to get some gals together every other month. We started meeting in women's homes and quickly decided with all the kids in diapers among the members that we needed a night out! We stormed restaurants all over with our discussions and laughter. Now that most of the member's kids are well beyond diapers, even feeding themselves and some driving, we decided to return our meetings to member's homes.

Last year we changed up our whole system. We brainstormed a whole list of books and fought to the bitter end on the final six for the year...oh, how I fighting, as far from fighting as you could imagine. We drank wine, jabbered and laughed our way to the final six book selections.

Our system worked so well last year, we repeated it again in December to make our selections for 2009. How do we pick? Do we have a system? Well, sort of...

Enthralling story, controversial topic, exquisite writing style, a little romance...sometimes. We do try to pick one classic, one non-fiction, and one funny read. The rest...just memorable fiction. We usually stick by a rule that at least one member needs to have read the book, but occasionally we stray for a much-talked-about book.

Here are our selections for 2009 (Do I recommend the books with large pictures more? Aaah... no. The pictures just imported into this blog in different sizes and when you have 111 things you should be doing, you just can't worry about such things):

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

The Shack by William Young

Here are the books we considered but did not select:
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival*
Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Last Voyage of the USS Pueblo by Ed Brandt
The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn*
Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte
Fifty Acres and A Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas
Flamingos on the Roof by Calif Brown
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Pope Jane by Donna Cross
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I've read the three with astericks and recommend them!
Happy Reading!

Monday, January 5, 2009

An Unexpected Opportunity for Some Serious R & R

When we first moved back to my husband's small town and he took over responsibility for his family's funeral home, we learned so much about the role of a funeral director. My eyes were opened to the compassion and stability my husband would provide to so many families. I also learned that someone needs to be available to answer the funeral home phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The first year my husband was that person. It was a challenge and we are thankful that we now have another employee with whom to share this responsibility.

Sometimes a situation will arise that offers an opportunity. Last week my husband oversaw a funeral in our building and the family asked if he could drive their loved one down to the Branson, Missouri area for a burial. 99.9% of the time we find a way to fulfill each families wishes and he agreed. My husband calculated the drive time and realized he would need to spend the night. The night, you say?

Over the years, we have heard about the Big Cedar Lodge in the Branson area and an idea was hatched.

I stowed away and after the burial, we headed south to the Big Cedar Lodge. Have you been there?

The road leading to the property winds all around through the woods and sports a "Don't even think about riding your motorcycle on this road" sign. The registration and nearby buildings are gorgeous, both inside and out with a post and beam design, beautiful stained glass and glorious views. We walked over to a cozy coffee house and sat out on the patio in the January 65-degree weather?!?! Can you explain that temperature to me?

Several lodges overlook the valley and this was ours, Falls Lodge...

Our room had a fireplace, jetted tub and balcony. We enjoyed the sunset from that balcony. We were also joined by many creatures, very similar to the room shown here...

no big deal when you are married to a hunter who has more mounted animals than this mini-collection.

Later we ventured to one of the restaurants. You may wonder about a Devil's Pool Restaurant or a Buzzard Bar, but we ate surprisingly well. KC Strip for him and Shrimp Pasta in Marinara Sauce for her.

Big Cedar Lodge is owned by the Bass Pro Shop, so you won't be surprised to learn that I anticipated a bait shop feel with a hunting lodge setting. Thankfully, I was wrong! The property and lodges do have a wildlife theme, but they also encompass all the modern ammenities with a few surprises thrown in. Artisan ironwork graced every building and our room was spectacular. My partner in this sneak getaway was a huge part of the'll have to come up with your own on that one.

We're back to the real-world, re-charged, ready to wrangle boys and take care of business.