10 sept 2018

What a weekend! Apart from hosting our first community group on Sunday where Ryan said he was thankful he doesn’t get nervous talking in front of people because my eyes were boring into him (I was a ball of nerves the whole evening, thankful though of how easily he can talk to groups) and coming down from the high of realizing how well we all did fit together, a group of believers in different stages of life committing our time to study and pray and support each other over the next year. Both tears and laughter were shed this first night and it’s amazing to me how quickly strangers can bond if only just a sliver of vulnerability is shown.

But aside from all that, Ruthie turned 7 today. She actually got teary-eyed last night, her last tuck-in as a 6 year old.

In an effort to push back against the me-me-me that we all have inside us and hoping they learn to appreciate experiences with only a few friends, I’ve pretty much opted out of parties. You know they’ll end up wanting the exact opposite later on and that’s fine too, just hoping a piece of this gets stuck in their psyche. Last year, Ruthie asked her friend Kalyn to go canoeing with their dads who are also good friends. Ryan was hoping that’d become a tradition, but this year we asked if Kalyn could spend the night on Saturday and she did! They chased after cats and fireflies, helped me make noodles for dinner, tore apart a pinata, and had a pillow fight. 

Ryan slept.

They all crashed in one big bed after watching a movie and woke up in the morning when Annie farted really loudly.

Our favorite donut shop was closed this morning, so we had to forgo our donut tradition and had chocolate chip pancakes instead, Ruth’s second favorite.

I asked Ruthie to choose a couple friends from school to take through a drive-thru safari today. I decorated the van with streamers and leaned into the jabbering that only 7 year olds can create. Their endurance is admirable.

Annie thought it was her birthday because I let her sit up front with me during the safari.  She couldn’t believe how big the windshield window was. The emus made us scream and anytime we saw one ahead, the race to roll up all the windows and hide below the window was intense. But my favorite moment was when an employee cut up an apple, opened up the gates just for us to feed the giraffe and they all ooohed and ahhhed….over the cat lying on the bench. That literally proves that you don’t have to do jack for a good time at this age. My gawd, Ruth, you have four cats at home.

As I’m typing this, I hear classical music in the living room along with squeals and laughter and I’m imagining them reenacting their ballet class with dear-ole-dad.

Thankful for another year with my kind, shy, funny Ruthie. I like you.

17 july 2018


Do you think they’re making cookies? Ruthie hoped Ryan would. She had the idea of making little pizzas with cookie cutters and really thought he wouldn’t notice the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Score 300 points for an extra 20 minutes of them playing with dough while I cleaned up though.

This is a weight-watchers recipe: 1 cup greek yogurt, 1.5 cups self rising flour (plus more to knead). It’s so easy and they love it.

And yes, a christmas gown in the middle of July. Why not?

Thanksgiving 2012

We switch holidays on and off with the relatives. This year Thanksgiving is with the in-laws, Christmas with my family. Next year it switches. The weather was sunny and, at times, warm. I managed to pack some dress (maternity) pants into my bag, but pretty much slothed it up in pjs the entire time while eating my weight and the baby’s weight combined. Pretty sure it already weighs 10 lbs, so I ate accordingly.

Ruth and I snuck into the kitchen and watched the man of the house cut our turkey. No manual labor here, only a chainsaw will do.
Ruth stayed close.DSC_6466And we finally sat down to eat. Finally because the sweet potato casserole I made caused a hold up. We probably should’ve just scratched it all together because it was mostly only glanced at and Ryan was held at knife point to eat some. My mom said it had a lukewarm reception in KC as well.

I, of course, tried everything freely. Three times over. DSC_6467After we paid our yearly dues to the gluttony gods, everyone went into the living room. Most of us walked, someone hobbled though. Nathan was having back pain to the point that anyone who walked by in a trench coat was hounded for drugs.

Eventually he was medicated enough to lay still in the back bedroom. Shirts not required. I kept mine on. Ruth showed everyone her obsession with certain body parts.
I did too.
Along with my obsession with havarti cheese. Holy moly, Carolyn. Put the cheese slicer down. DSC_6474_2
The next day, Ryan and I snuck away to go to the mall. I was in there three seconds before I wanted to claw my way out. Ugh, if there’s anything more boring now that I’m not a teenager looking for boys to sit next to in the lunch court. I’ve conveniently forgotten the looks at my Spice Girl shoes by said boys, thus resulting in me sitting with only the girls I came with. Those shoes were massive. Like, drag queen tall. It was awesome.

I guess it also never helps to be on a budget too. Now, if I’d won that 500 mil powerball…. nah, still boring.

On the way home, I spotted the smallest Estate Sale sign ever created. That was a sign for the truly addicted. The prices at the sale were not. Too high for my taste, so we went home and got Ruth ready to see her great-grandparents.

She showed off her latest talent: blowing her nose. Great Grandma Leitta and Great Grandpa Jesse acted impressed. While she continued I did what I normally do… grilling Leitta on her past. She won her school’s talent show when she was 9 (1940) which gave her the opportunity to sing on the local radio station KFH. She had background singers too… the Arc Vally Boys. They asked her if she ever sang to a professional musician or what note she starts on. She said had no idea and said only her sister had played the song for her. So they had her sister come in and start the Arc Valley Boys off. Of course I didn’t write down the song she sang and now I don’t remember.

This reminded me of the karaoke story my mom likes to reminisce about… She and dad were out with friends and mom signed up to sing ‘I heard it through the grapevine.’ They called her name while she was in the bathroom. By the time she came out, a group of guys had already gone up to sing it. So mom ran up there, scooted her way in front of them, and they sang back up to the star. I wish I’d been there to see it.


Her other great-grandma, Vivienne, came over for a ham dinner. Round two of stuffing myself like foie gras. Ruth was hesitant at first, but eventually found a common playing field: rocking chairs.

And using a walker…
Vivenne is hard of hearing to say it lightly. So at any given moment, someone was yelling conversations in the living room. They normally got an answer too. When she asked me, however, something about Ruth, and I explained it to her, she stared at me and said simply, “I can’t hear you” and turned towards someone else for another conversation.

Heh. You’re lucky that happened after dinner, Vivienne, otherwise I would’ve made you eat my sweet potato casserole.

The rest of the time? Ryan and I went on a mini hike on their 5 acres, which after actually walking it, really does seem like a lot… movies were watched, games were not played (you’re welcome, Randy), and Ruthie was watched. Or, hopefully she was… I didn’t pay attention, I was on vacation!

And poor Shady was bothered. This dog is the most docile animal I’ve ever known. She runs away from Ruthie like it’s Godzilla walking towards her. That is, until Ruth is eating. Then she patiently waits to be given a piece. I told Ruth she’s getting a taste of her own medicine. This girl can hear the slightest movement of hand going to mouth and beeline to your knee. DSC_6483
Overall, it was a good holiday. Sweet potato casserole and all.

A Good Saturday

I love me a full day. Granted, ‘full’ could be also construed as watching a Survivor marathon 8 hours straight, so please feel free to define it any way you’d like.

But today I felt productive: both in chores and quality time.

Everyday we officially wake up to this little lady staring at us. I say officially because it’s only the last couple of hours that she’s in bed with us. Yes, I’m still breastfeeding. And yes, I have moments where I want to chop off my breast Amazon woman-style just to be done with it, but most other times I enjoy holding this growing girl in my arms.

So when she wakes up at 5:30 for her early morning feeding, I stumble back into bed with her and we sleep for a couple more hours, if we’re lucky. She wakes up, yells at both of us mamamamamadadadadada, then Boo (minus the K), and I reach down for a couple books for her to read as we close our eyes a little while longer.

Some days we have energy, others we don’t.

This day we did, so Ryan fixed us his homemade sausage, cheese, and egg mcmuffins. Protein points for this pregnant lady.
I literally could eat those all day long, but controlled myself and managed to squeeze a day’s worth into a morning meal. I took over breakfast duty to let Ryan and Ruth watch Saturday morning cartoons, which consisted of (what else?) He-Man & She-Ra the movie.

Ruth just wanted to read. That’s all she wants to do now. She’ll pick a book from the shelf, hand it to you, then scoot backwards into your lap. No matter what I’m doing, I stop to read to her because if there’s one activity I want her to enjoy, it’s reading. No batteries, no electricity, no controllers needed. Just you, the printed page, and preferably something to eat. My mom remembers holing up eating buttered popcorn with a book in hand when she was younger. It will take me less than a nano second to continue that tradition. Because, really, the only qualification needed for a family tradition is buttered popcorn.

So while Ruthie read by the sunshine, I hung out laundry in the sunshine.

To be able to still hang out clothes in mid-November is wonderful.

I had vintage laundry cart that I’d wheel up and down the line. It looked like this:


But the cloth was coming apart and it was hard to transfer clothes easily from the dryer, across the living room, to the vintage hamper. So I’d have to use a regular platic hamper to make the transition. One thing I hate is having several different things that do the same job. So after searching online, I found this guy:


I want it if only to have an excuse to wear a jean on jean ensemble. Whomever has me as a secret santa, this is available for just $40 more than our max budget of ten bucks. Go ahead, splurge.

After I got a little sun on my face, I plopped chicken into the crockpot to cook for the day.

After it’s done, I use the bones and fat along with left over vegetables to make broth overnight. After straining it Sunday morning, I was able to get 10 cups out of the deal. Two birds, one stone. Lovely.

After a morning nap, the family drove to The Dollar Store because we were on a mission. I wanted to start a family tradition each Thanksgiving of volunteering, but Ruth is not old enough to scoop soup out without a baby spoon. And I can’t imagine the agony of being hungry only to have your food ladled 1 teaspoon at a time.

I thought we could do something else in the meantime. We chose to participate in Operation Christmas Child. You fill up a “shoebox” with toys, sanitary items, etc, attach a label with the age and sex of who you are buying for, and drop it off at various locations. The label also has a bar code that the company scans so you can track where your package is going.

Since there were three of us, we had three shoeboxes, one for each of our sexes and for the age range closest to us. 1 male: 10-14 years, 1 female: 10-14 years, and 1 female: 2-4 years.

Ruthie was a blur of excitement as we shopped for her girl.

I had absolutely no idea what to buy the boy. Ryan said, “Don’t worry, I got this.” And promptly came back with an armful of boy games. I nixed the snot rockets, but everything else was solid. Even though Ryan would be a perfect dad for girls, I still hope he gets a little boy someday. He would be so excited to build and destroy with a mini-him.

Ruthie, in the meantime, really only wants a green apple and she’s happy. Not quite into destruction… unless it involves spaghetti.

I’ll give you three seconds to spot my belly button. Go.

We arrived home after buying a ton of items only to have it total to much less than expected. Gotta love the dollar store. And gotta not love walking in and seeing that you never plugged in the crock pot. Ah, the trials of a homemaker.

It almost ruined my day. Almost.

But luckily we headed to the park and that always perks me up.

Ruthie thinks she’s a big girl playing on the slide by herself. Don’t you dare try to help her either. And Lord help us if another kid shows up, because then Little Miss Show Off comes out to play. A boy joined her in the playhouse and she at first stood there, repeating ‘Hi’ a thousand times. He didn’t notice. So as he hesitated at the slide entrance, she got a determined look on her face, basically pushed him out of the way, and slid down.  

Do you like how we never take her out of her pj’s?  I mean, if we’re all in pj’s then we’re just a really cute mitchy-matchy family, right?

Besides, after our park jaunt, we went home and immediately all took a nap. So basically we’re just super prepared.

When we woke up, dinner was made and kombucha was drunk. By Ryan, at least. It’s not advised to start drinking kombucha regularly if you’re pregnant. It’s really good for your digestive system, but it detoxes your body, so you don’t want the detox to think the foreign entity trying to grow in your uterus is not supposed to be there. If you’d already been drinking it regularly, I guess I’ve read it’s safe.

And since Ryan’s stomach was troubling him the past couple weeks, what better timing to force him to start!

I mean, look at this!! Doesn’t it look yummy???
Mmmmmmmm, pulling out the mother. Tasty!
You don’t eat the mother. Save it for your next batch. With each batch a new mother is grown. You can see in the first picture there are several mothers floating at the bottom. Pretty appetizing. 
But for how much they’re going for in health food stores, it’s nice to see I can get a good batch out of only 4 bags of tea, water, and sugar. Amazing.

So after Ryan choked it down (although he did say it tasted like apple juice), we played with Ruthie, hiding Cookie Monster in various places for her to find.
Thankfully she’s a serious child. And finding cookie monster and pulling off his head was serious business indeed.
The day felt long, like mid-summer-it’ll-never-go-dark day. And we needed that, big time.

Hunkering down before the holiday storm. And I couldn’t ask for a better pair to spend it with.

Junk In My Trunk

Yes, there too, but also my estate sale finds. Between the 9 circles of Dante’s Inferno that was last summer and my overpowering swollen ankles during the last couple months of pregnancy, I didn’t make it out to many garage sales.

I probably could have, since my car has an a/c now – an upgrade from the Aerostar minivan without a/c that I drove through college. Yeah, it had a carpeted dashboard. I know, I was pretty hot. No literally, I sweated like mushrooms in a skillet. It was tasty – but I didn’t think every person hosting their sale would like me asking to use their bathroom. Hey, how bout I don’t haggle you for this whatchamecallit that I’ll eventually donate back to the Goodwill in a couple years if I could just. use. your. toilet. Thanks.

No, it wasn’t worth it.

So needless to say, I’ve been itching to get some junk.

With winter upon us, so are estate sales and anytime I go to KC, my mom tries to find some for us to attack. She’s my junkie wingman. Wait, that didn’t sound right. You know what I mean. We both like the kind of places that has layers of items, making you dig through for that special find. So knowing that she understands the patience of this archeological adventure, I can roam without feeling rushed.

Some things fun were discovered, some practical, and some sentimental.

Like that mid-century style glass holder (which will probably get spray painted)… did I hear Mad Men calling? I know, me neither. The only mad man in my life shook his head as I unloaded it onto the kitchen table.

Why do we need this?

That’s the thrifter’s worst accusation. No, we don’t need this, you’re right. But, luckily, at the last second, I’ll think of a reason for its being here that will make you wonder why you asked me in the first place.

Next in line is this whale desktop paper clip. And I mean a literal desktop, kids.

Wow, I’m really letting this gray hair get to me. Back in my day…

If only the Shack had room for a little desk. Until then, it will have to settle holding Christmas cards on our bookshelf.

Along with a couple glass jars, biscuit pans, and an embroidered dress that my mom spotted, I also bought a tablecloth (complete with 12 cloth napkins) and a new book.

I can’t tell you how many of this type of book I have. I mentioned my Old West collection here, and have since bought several other series. I cannot put a price on those huge photos from the past. Someone else did, though, and if I remember right, it was less than a dollar.


In fact, the most expensive thing here was the tablecloth/napkin combo at $5.

The dollar spent on this glass holder was not enough to sell Mr. R. So I quickly  remedied it by putting in it a few of the thousand jars that I own (I have a soft spot for them). These jelly jars will be perfect to house leftover herbs that I’m starting to collect. A couple of these above were used in a cold/cough syrup recipe that I got from my new favorite blog: Frugally Sustainable. Can’t wait to share it with you.

But couldn’t you also see them filled with craft supplies in our kids’ room, too? See? Plethora of possibilities, R.

Until then, I’ll be daydreaming about my next junk sale run.

Comb My Hair, and other New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s get real. I don’t comb my hair unless company is coming over. And, really, if you’re not English royalty then all you’re getting is a finger run-through before it being thrown back into a ponytail.

Someone must have snuck into my room while sleeping with a straightener, because this photo is about as good as it gets. My hair, that is. They must have also straightened R’s mustache as well. Yuh-ikes. I’m going to add “Trim my freaking ‘stache” to his resolutions.

Look at our daughter. She makes me smile from the inside out. I’m a little nervous about having a second, because this girl is chill and I don’t think we’ll get the same thing twice. How she came to be so laid back from both of our uptight characters, I’ll never know. I’d like to think it started with the somersaults I had to do in the pool at 37 weeks to get her to turn head down.

Speaking of her, do you know what was the top post of 2011? Ruth’s official introduction: Nice to Meet You, she said.  My personal favorite post of 2011? It was a tie: The debut of my baby bump and my home birth! A friend asked the other day if that experience made me leery or eager for another one. And like I told her, on the day of I swore I’d adopt the rest of my kids, but almost every day since I’ve been daydreaming about going through it again. It was both the hardest and most powerful thing I’ve ever accomplished. Click here to read about people staking out in our yard to see my baby bump. And here for when I relived the scene from Coming to America and had a hot tub in my bedroom (aka, my home birth).

As for next year, besides routinely combing my hair, I would also like to:

  • create a family tree for my mother’s side. My dad has this great tree framed and I’d like to recreate it, if possible, by the end of next year. With the help of my family, of course.

  • learn how to sew. I snagged my grandma’s sewing machine out of my sister’s loving hands and would like her to know it wasn’t all for naught. Hopefully I’ll be able to make something better than a trapezoid baby blanket.
  • buy 75% of my clothes at goodwill. The other 25% will probably be from Eddie Bauer. Ryan is aware that I run around behind his back with Ed, and fully approves. We have an open relationship.
  • make an effort to get ready in the morning. See above: combing hair. This also includes breakfast. Yes, we skip occasionally.
  • create a weekly meal plan. R and I talked, we’re going to go simple with our meals, with maybe one fancy dinner every now and then. I don’t know why I feel guilty if it isn’t a Cheesecake Factory knockoff with a bajillion ingredients, so I need to get over this. Soups, tuna patties, meatloaf.. These are all good. And easy. And cheap.

My Aunt S and I starting the ancestral process. Remember those long sheets of printer paper? I’d love to make a Happy Birthday sign from it again.

  • make sourdough bread. The thought of reducing ingredients in staples (ie: bread) makes me happy, like in this instance: store-bought yeast. I can do this, despite my anxiety.
  • run a half-marathon. October. I can do this. I’ll probably have to wear a hat with a piece of chocolate cake dangling in front of me, but I can do this.

Ruthie is intrigued. I hope she’s as obsessed with the past as I am. I’ll give you five seconds to try and find my parent’s newspaper stash. Go.

  • Pay off our car loan and some (if not all) of my school loans. We have paid off R’s undergrad and graduate loans, along with one car loan in the last few years. Selling our house, then living in a dorm room and now a shack has helped. We literally smell how close we are to having zero debt.  I remember Dave Ramsey calling those school loans “pets” that we pay on a little each month. It’s like we just assume it will be a monthly expense. R and I are working hard to eradicate that cloud over us.
  • lose this baby weight! I gained a whopping 55 lbs and have only lost 30 so far. 10 of those went straight into Ruthie’s thigh rolls which I love. But the ones still on me… not so much.

…starting the branches…

  • And lastly, I would like to grow more in my spirituality and give God the thanks He deserves. I sometimes congratulate only myself on accomplishments or achievements made. He is the rock that has helped me and He is who I need to give the glory to. Upon waking in the morning, I should open my eyes and immediately thank Him for another day in which I can become redeemed.

That’s my list. I have several more, but am afraid of getting overwhelmed. Come April 1st, we’ll see how well I’ve done in the first quarter.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years and best wishes in 2012.


My mom asked me not to write this post. And so like any youngest child, I will immediately disobey her as soon as I get the opportunity.

I’ve just returned home this morning from a week in Kansas City, staying at my parents’ house and generally soaking up time with the little slobber machine. It was delightful. 

One morning we decided to make cookies of days gone by. These are the ones we kids all sat around the table decorating while hosting imaginary talk shows. For some reason, every time I tried being a cohost, the station had technical difficulties.

Sigh. To be the youngest.

Mom confessed that the icing recipe was really taken from this mini-mix it children’s cook book from who knows when! And the mats are straight up 1983, people. Pretty soon, I’ll be framing it on the wall and lugging them to Antiques Roadshow. See the rolling pin drawn on the mat? And see it in the first photo above?

They’re the same! I know, I’m amazed that they’re still around and weren’t eaten, plastic and all, simply because cookie dough got stuck to it. I’ll eat anything if cookie dough is on it. Hey there Henry, you gonna eat that spoon? Give it here, please… just can’t pass up silver plated metal used to scoop out cookie dough ice cream. And don’t wash it off your hands, either. I’ll clean them for ya.

It can get kinda embarrassing. Well, for R. Not for me. I don’t care.

Ruth woke up in the middle of rolling out the dough, so grandma rocked her as we cut the shapes.

I don’t know if you’re aware, but R and I don’t have a TV at the Shack. Instead, we keep the computer in the living room and watch episodes online. This was fine in town. But now we live amongst turkey farms and cow fields and the only internet provider available puts a cap on our download usage. Meaning, we could probably watch one hour’s worth of episodes per day. So we’re choosy and it ends up being Survivor (yes, we still watch it) and then something more substantial, like Bridezillas.

When I go to my parent’s house, however, it usually involves watching back-to-back episodes of House Hunters for 16 hours straight. I hope someone is taking care of Ruthie, cause I ain’t budgin’.

This day, however, I got my cooking shows kick.

…then Miss Giada came on. And her twins.

I looked at my mom who did the appropriate eye-roll that I was hoping she’d do. It’s part of our bit. There are specific things that we’ve talked about that I know, if I look at her during certain moments, she’ll make a face. Then we laugh.

Giada and her decolletage is one of them. Why we feel the need to discuss them is beyond me. But we can’t help it.

As I iced the now-baked cookies, I asked her if I reminded her of Giada.

She said no.

And rolled her eyes.

Swedish Coffee

While my in-laws stayed with us a couple weekends ago, R’s dad brought up “cowboy coffee”, which is basically coffee brewed over the campfire when you’re in a pinch. Unfortunately, there’s grounds in it. Cowboys don’t care, though.

By the way, I have no idea how we get onto any of these subjects. I had probably confessed that my dying wish is to go on a cattle drive a la Billy Crystal in City Slickers. Everything has become my dying wish lately. It sounds that much more romantic. At this moment, my dying wish is that Ruthie takes a nap to give me enough time to use conditioner in the shower. A few extra minutes to shave my legs would be the heaven part afterwards. I’m sure R’s dying wish is to quit talking about my dying wishes.

After we wrinkled our noses at the ground-filled cowboy coffee, he threw out “Swedish Coffee”. A similar campfire technique, minus the grounds, plus an egg. So we searched how to make it on youtube. Looked easy, so I asked the FIL to be my hand model and walk us through the steps.

First you pour a scoop of coffee into a bowl.

Then crack an egg and mix into grounds. Shell and all. We were surprised by that. Don’t forget to say hello to the cutest dog in the world, Shady.

After it’s all mixed up and looking like cake batter, dump it into boiling water.

As we waited a couple minutes for it to brew, I took the opportunity to admire FIL’s gorgeous gray/white goatee. If you don’t know, I’m slightly obsessed with white hair. Even to the point that I’m kinda hoping I go that color soon. My thought process is that if I keep my hair uncolored and gray, I’ll look the same age for a longer period of time.

R said, “You mean looking 55 until you’re 55.”

Yep. But when I’m 55, it won’t be a shock to anyone at least.

Look at it, though. That color on a bob would be so classy. I love it.

I wish it were in my genes.

Hang on, people! After looking at other photos, I spotted my dad’s pretty white hair. Maybe I do have a chance!!

Poor R. Good thing he likes older women.

Now let’s all take a moment and count Ruthie’s chins. I see 4. Atta girl.

After a few minutes, we were ready to pour the brewed coffee. No strainer is necessary.

Why? Because the egg holds all of the grounds back! Look at that clear coffee, we were all amazed.

And there’s the residue.

Just a little diy. You know, in case you’re out camping and happen to also be carrying around one egg.


Stocked up

Who else was in absolute weather heaven this weekend? My energy level sky-rocketed, especially after nearly having a tea party with a monstrous garden spider. It didn’t even have clotted cream ready to serve, which is what really caused all the drama, but more on that later.

We had early breakfasts and back-to-back days of Spades-playing with family. It was relaxing, yet interactive. Plus, R was off a whole extra day and I do enjoy his silly company. Even truer now that we are entering the twilight phase of being alone together.

But before I get into all of that, let me share my latest “Why haven’t I been doing this all along?” experiment.

A friend posted on FB that she made some homemade chicken stock. I bullied her into writing about it, because God forbid I go a day without yelling at someone to do something for me.

She obliged and here’s her blog post on how to make chicken or beef stock from scratch. Sigh, she makes everything seem so easy, so I’ve put it off knowing it must be harder than it looked.

Then I found a great deal on whole chickens at the supermarket and resigned myself to try it.

So this is my teeny, tiny batch from it! And like I’d been thinking all along, it was really easy.

Next time I need to add more water, but for my first rodeo, I was pretty proud.

The fat was scraped off from the top leaving this jelly-like stock underneath.

And right into the freezer it went. Snuggling up next to the big batch of stew that’s ready to be defrosted for baby’s Birthing Day. You can feed stew to a newborn, right?

Settle. I know you can’t feed that until at least 3 months in.

Have a great shortened week!

How you must enjoy my cooking disasters…

So sorry, suckers – this one turned out!

I swear, if I could eat soft pretzels every day, I would. And now that I have a few extra hours in the day, I decided to make some of my own.

Mix 4 tsp yeast and 1 tsp sugar with 1.25 cups water.

Be sure to spill the mixture right before taking a photo. It puts you in a good mood.

In another bowl mix 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1.5 tsp salt. I also threw in some flax seed to make me not feel quite as guilty when I eat 5 pretzels in a row.

Mix everything together  and then dump it on the table.

Kneed for 8-10 minutes. Oil up a bowl, roll the dough around in it and set the bowl in a corner for an hour. I put a damp towel (not terry cloth) over it to keep it moist.

Then look back at the mess you made and sigh. Oh well, you have an hour.

And you can also chug the water bottle your midwife gave you, complete with a bright orange KEGEL sticker on it. She makes me giggle.

My mom gave me that Indian Cookin’ cookbook. She included a note that I check with my local park ranger to make sure these are safe. One recipe said to sieve wood ashes into an iron pot of boiling water. I might pass on that one.

It’s been an hour! Hurray.

Punch down the dough. If R had been home, I’d let him do this. It’s like licking the cookie dough spoon to him.

Roll out pieces of the dough to your desired length and turn into a pretzel.

In a bowl, heat up 4 cups of water and mix in 1/2 cup of baking soda.

Dip the pretzel in the mixture and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once the sheet is full, sprinkle salt on them, then pop into a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes. I was baking banana bread at the time at 350, so let them sit for 15 minutes and they came out fine.

Better than fine, actually!

I brushed melted butter on them and have since been restraining myself from chowing down.

Happy Baking!

Reason #435

…how different R and I are.

Making hash browns:

I could stop just after this photo alone.

Unless the skillet being used is round, there is no way a circle would be formed by my own accord. If anything, it would be rectangle in this case.

The flipping is a most serious endeavor. Split perfectly down the middle with a careful flick of the wrist.

And when it does not flip neatly and nicely, a hurried adjustment to the original shape.

Whatever, just plop it onto my plate please.

We spent two days last weekend getting R’s brother married and I needed four days to recuperate. Seems I forget how big I am!

Tub o’ Spuds

I was offered to split a 50lb bag of potatoes with a co-worker, not really knowing what 25 lbs of spuds really looked like. Let’s see, I said to myself… an average bowling ball weighs about 12 lbs, so put two of them together and there you go Carolyn! You can for sure handle two of those and get a 300 in the yummy meal league.

The potatoes were loaded by C into my car during the lunch hour. So when I plopped down into it at the end of the day, I wondered why exactly my body immediately tilted to the right.

Then I looked over at the passenger seat.

It was Attack of a Thousand Killer Spuds. And I was about to commit the fatal flaw of every female in a horror flick: sitting and screaming until they devoured me. Apparently I’ll have to eat my way out of this to survive.

Bring it on.

I took out 13 of them there taters to make twice-baked potatoes. Most of them to be frozen.

This is not for the faint of heart…

…or for people with OCD.

But if you can handle the war against killer potato innards, then forge ahead. You won’t be sorry.

Who could be with bacon, sour cream, and cheese. Pretty sure that’s the basis of happiness.

After all was prepped, I took one last glance at those little guys before their journey to the baked heaven.

3 pans of twice-baked potatoes and later, 3 more pans of french fries.

I’m sure I made a dent in the tub, right?




Garlic Chicken Alfredo Pizza

2 posts a week, this is going to be my goal.

Just returned from a weekend with the sisters, the sister-in-law, and the mother and had a great time. More on that later. At one point, we talked pizza, and how we make it. Carolyn likes her some pizza, ya’all. Well, I realized that I’ve never posted about the yummy chicken alfredo pizza night a few weeks ago.

I’ve finally found a way to make a thin crust that will allow me to eat twice as much pizza without feeling guilty.

It’s called: Rolling Out The Dough.

Here’s the dough recipe, if you’re interested:

  • 1.25 active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2.5-3.5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add salt, oil & 2.5 cups flour. Mix in your mixer at medium speed and add rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough clings to hook and cleans side of the bowl. Take out the dough and knead for a couple minutes, then place in greased bowl, turning to grease all sides of dough. Cover, let rise in warm place (I put it on top of the dryer) for about an hour. Punch down dough, divide in two, and then roll roll roll.

This makes two pizza crusts.

I take a couple handfuls of chopped garlic and spread on dough.

And then drizzle with olive oil. Put in preheated oven at 400 and bake just the crust for about 10 minutes.

While that is baking, I like to boil (yes, I said BOIL) a few chicken breasts. After cooked, chop it up while defrosting some frozen spinach.

When the crust is ready, pull it out, put on the toppings and then pour 1/2 bottle of Garlic Alredo Sauce on each pizza. Do it.

Put it back in the oven for another ten minutes….

And voila. I was too excited to take photos the night of our dinner, so this is my breakfast the next day. YUM.

Beware of Freckles.

We were supposed to go to this a month ago. But it didn’t happen.

It was a Dutch Oven Workshop at a nearby state park. We woke up early on a saturday morning, actually put on work-out clothes and did a workout (as opposed to putting on work-out clothes and then heading to a breakfast joint for bacon and white gravy), boiled up some hot coffee for our thermos, and hit the road.

Literally 2.5 miles into the drive, R asked me to hand over the thermos for a quick drink. I laughingly said, “Maybe you should watch the road. Remember what happened the other night?” and then, feeling guilty, I gave in and gave him the lid for sip. He took his eyes off the two lane country road and..


The tire popped.

I sat there sitting in the nearest driveway telling myself to schedule a massage asap or there was going to be a warrant out for little miss carolyn.

You see, a few nights prior we had visited some friends for dessert and on the way to their house another incident happened. A “I’m glad no children were riding their bikes along the sidewalk” type of one.

A right-hand turn into their neighborhood caused R’s head to slightly face me. In doing so, the freckles on my legs caught his attention. And if any of you know R, you are quick to realize that he cannot do more than two things at once. So why not test this theory while driving a one ton piece of machinery, shall we?

He saw the freckles and proceeded to lean over to point out each of them with this right index finger. He repeated “freckle, freckle, freckle, freckle”.

And I looked up at the same instant our car hit the curb, and then hit the grass next to the curb, and then the sidewalk next to the grass next to the curb.

R was still pointing out freckles. It wasn’t until I screamed that he jerked the car back onto the road.

Now our already dirty, no-muffler-because-it-still-runs-fine-and-we-don’t-like-spending-that-extra-money-on-that-car car makes a weird scraping sound anytime we make a left hand turn. Great.

Thank you melanin.

So our flat tire happened on the way to the first class and they offered to move us to the second one the following month.

And here we are. Only two other couples attended: one from South Africa, the other from Texas. We slipped into the back and I spied the menu on the board.

Ahhhhh yeaaaaah. (Side note: Does anyone else remember the show were two guys would rub their bums in chocolate pudding while saying Ahhhh yeaaaaah? Or am I the only one who gets that visual every time.)

Well, anyway, if pudding had been on the menu, I probably would’ve had to reenact that skit for the class, so let us all bow our heads in thanksgiving that it was not.

Each couple paired off to do a dish. R was stuck with me even though when asked if we all wanted to stay with our spouses, he responded without glancing “Is she watching me as I answer? Then, fine.”

‘Preciatecha, R.

(Remember? That was the first Arkansas slang I heard when we moved down here. ‘Preciatecha. Another since moving to a smaller town: “So-and-so is a mess.” I’ve discovered this can be used as an insult or affectionately. With the wide range of uses, you can imagine how often it’s thrown out there and for some reason it takes all that I have to swallow a low guttural growl each time it’s said. I know what you’re thinking….. I’m a mess.)

R and I tackled the Charley Bread which was a basic corn bread recipe with a can of creamed corn added.


Mama hasn’t been fed this good in a looong time! And by long, I mean since about 8 that morning. Each meal seems like eons since the last…and my mouth was beginning to water, especially every time they opened the peach cobbler lid to check on it.

R checked on our bread and it was coming along nicely. We used the stacking method of heating the dutch oven which threw the time to cook it off. So it ended coming out around the same time as dessert.  No one complained.

And then we all sat down for our picnic in the woods. R and I chatted it up with the park ranger, because he graduated from K-State too! What a small world.

It was a good class, I’d take another one. We ending up buying a dutch oven from them and we’re so excited to put it to use.

If anyone has any tips or recipes, I’d love to have them!


This was a crowd pleaser with the roommates. I thought they were a bit too greasy, which is odd since for the longest time I had convinced myself that grease was an ancient magical substance passed down from one tribal medicine man to another. And then finally one medicine man went to college and shared it with everyone suffering from headaches early one saturday morning. And then the world calmed thyself.

[let’s all have a moment of silence for that wonderful substance]

But anyway, I still felt like these could’ve been dabbed a while longer with a paper towel. It was quite an easy recipe. Cabbage, meat, other veggies that i can’t think of right now, some oyster sauce and voila: the inside is complete.

I even saved some of the cabbage for our livestock outside. And then later read that cabbage gives them gas.

Well, suck it up and join the club, I say.

We don’t have a fry-daddy, so I just dipped them in some olive oil.

And presto! Here they are. I probably made 20 or so and they were gobbled up fast.

If you think about it, it’s basically kind of like a one pot meal. Just add a side of grease for dipping sauce, and you’re done!

Gravy – Fail.

I’d like to make a good biscuits and gravy. There’s one snag though.

I have no clue what I’m doing.

It doesn’t help that I have my mom’s voice in my head saying how gravy is the one thing she is nervous about making. I know you’re rolling your eyes, mom. I remember positive things you say as well…they’re just not as fun to talk about, though.

So here is my first foray in this gravy business. And yes, I cheated by using frozen biscuits. Carolyn can not try two new things at once. The circuits in her brain will explode and R will have to clean that as well as the laundry.

Let’s keep the chores to a minimum, thank you.

Any gravy makers out there? Did I not brown it enough? How much flour should I add? I used my saved bacon grease but just glopped some in the pan without measuring. Is there a good tried-and-true recipe you’ve used? What about pepper? I pulled an Alice in Wonderland scene and peppered ourselves right out of the dorm room. Too much? Too little?


The eggs were alright.

Sugar with a Handle

When a sugar bag has a handle on it, you know you’re going off the deep end. I don’t care.

We went almost two weeks without bread because I made up excuses as to why I didn’t have time to bake it. There is nothing so disheartening as knowing you can’t even make a measly sandwich if your stomach growls. Not even a PB&J. When I was craving grilled cheese and soup while sick last week, R ran to the store to buy a loaf.

I’ve never heard so much hissing and yelling in my life. He expressed over and over how much he wished it were the bread I usually make. I didn’t show it, but boy did that make me feel proud of what I had been accomplishing in the baking department.

After that episode, I made sure I’d have enough supplies for the upcoming months. Partly because I need to get a little more farmwife in me (i.e. discipline), and also because we are setting a strict lunch routine.

Everyday we are going to have the same thing to eat, with a little variation in ‘type’. A sandwich, yogurt, vegetable, string cheese, and maybe a dessert. I don’t use sugar in my bread, honey instead, but we do like our banana bread and chocolate cake, so I stocked up for that maybe factor. We will make the lunches the night before and not worry about it in the morning.

Little things. We’re learning.

But this menu requires bread, folks, and a steady supply of it.

So I got started.

This time around, though, Miss Carolyn got wild and crazy. She added oats. Yes, that’s my partying side when it comes to bread. One day I’ll even attempt sourdough starter.

Can I get three snaps in a Z-formation, please?

But for now, I’ll stick to my sometimes awkwardly shaped, whatever flour I have on hand, bread. Don’t let R’s yawn fool you, it really is exciting.

Icy with a dash of baking

Yes, it’s definitely white around here. And work has been cancelled.

This means that PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre has been watched, bread has risen (and is about to get punched down – my favorite part. Too much aggression?), apartment neighbors will be visited with freshly baked bread (Sara, my ESL friend, lives nearby!), those bananas will be turned into banana bread cupcakes, and flight tracker will be stalked.

R and I are set to leave tonight and visit my brother. I am refreshing the screen obsessively hoping everything stays the course.

Until then, I’ve got some baking to do.


We had a couple days off from school this past week due to weather, so I ice skated my way to some antique stores. I always try to have a game plan before entering these fun-filled edifices. If not, I’ll wander aimlessly and you’ll find me in the corner many days later overdosing on other people’s memories. It’s not good.

One of the items on my list was a crock. My co-worker gave me a recipe for biscuits and gravy, but she suggested I use leftover bacon grease.


You see, it’s these little things that I just never think of. This is just one more way to extend the food I eat. Another similar idea is the sourdough starter for bread. I’ll be trying that someday soon once I get some courage. I don’t know why it intimidates me so. But absolutely no yeast needed. Kneaded is needed. But not yeast, and the starter just grows and grows and grows. A new deliciously informative blog I found has already helped at least prepare my mind for this feat. Here’s her post on sourdough.

So, anyway, I found two crocks and immediately strained the grease into one of them through a cheesecloth.

And there she be. I know, I know.. you’re wondering why I just don’t wash my hair for a day and use that grease. That wouldn’t taste good on biscuits, silly.

My other crock I used on the side of the stove, where I store utensils and other frequently used ingredients. Remember, we live in a teeny apartment, so any space is crucial. Above is how it was before…

And here’s the after. The new crock just freed up an entire drawer in the kitchen. Sweet!

Oh, and guess what else I bought? A pressure cooker/canner. A co-worker owns 100 acres and has offered to set up a garden this summer.


Butter, please.

..and I guess a few walnuts with phyllo dough.

Gotta love baklava. No pictures were obtained of individual pieces due to them having been promptly eaten (by me) during the plating process.

On another note, would you like some insight into how a one-car family enjoys below freezing weather?
  1. Well, they tend to walk out to find their one-car’s doors frozen shut.
  2. With some jiggling, they normally manage to get the passenger door open.
  3. Said one-car takes a few minutes to get to a freezing temperature (you know, as opposed to below-freezing) as they drive to work.
  4. Upon arrival, passenger tries to open the door only to find they are both frozen shut, trapping owners within.
  5. It is quickly realized by both driver and passenger that no amount of jiggling will open the doors.
  6. Driver of the car then rolls down and climbs through the window.
  7. He/She walks to the passenger side and jiggles the door open for passenger.

…and repeat.
Is this the so-called character building part of my life?

my reward for not calling in sick last week, even though I wanted to.

We’ve been holed up here today, trying to get over whatever bug is making us feel lowsy. I did go to my knitting class, but quickly came home and have hardly moved from the sofa.

Last night, neither of us wanted to make dinner. That is, until we watched Survivor. (yes, still watch this darn show. I think I’m addicted.)

And then we saw it during the reward challenge: burger… french fries… beer…

Oh my, we looked at each other and exlaimed, “We need that. Now.”

So, as if we had not eaten in 30 days, we piled up the plates with our own reward challenge.

The only challenge here was to not use too much mayo. Does anyone else do that?

And can I say that I will never go back to frozen french fries? First of all, so much cheaper with plain ‘ol taters. Secondly, so much tastier. Unfortunately, I did not make the buns. I’ve made buns before and they took me forever, but came out okay. I need to try again, but this was an emergency. We needed them stat to gorge our faces.

Our sicky heads were happy last night. So very, very happy.

Thank you, Pete.

My favorite NY baker hooked me up this weekend. He’s one of the (many) blogs I read listed to the right.

He baked an apple pie with crumble topping and made it look so darn easy that I thought I could manage it. I’ve gotta take this pie-making business in baby steps. So the three lovely words “pre-made pie crust” gave me a big smile. If he suggested it, then well…I guess I better follow the recipe to the T, right?

He did give a link to the crust recipe he normally uses, which I’ll tackle one of these days when I’ve got my big girl pie-making panties on.

Not tonight though.

We stopped through a little town today that was known for their apple orchards back in the day. It’s slowed down a bit, but we still popped in to buy some straight-off-the-tree-and-piled-into-a-bag apples.

At home, they went right into my hanging basket. Ah, it gave my OCD such pleasure to see all baskets filled.

I quickly donned my new apron, a birthday present made lovingly by my friend K. Then onto the laptop where I watched….(and this is where I hesitate. Deciding if I should share. But only for a few seconds)… how to core and peel apples.

Look people, it’s only been the past few years that I’ve started cooking. Give a girl a break.

Awww, look at them. Why did this intimidate me? They were willing and able, and I made it through with no cuts.

Into the oven the pies went (one will be frozen for a quick reheat later on) while R and I practiced our Thriller moves. That is coming up next weekend..and from the laughs I’ve already expended, it should be a good time.
Note to self: Buy a pie server.

The Little Things…

Or in this case, one big thing gets me excited. (I heard that, Office watchers.)

One of my favorite antique stores in a small town just north of us is building something big. And to me, it makes me grin every time I see it.

It’s a covering for a farmers market. Why does that make me happy? Because as of right now, there’s a splattering of random vendors set up in parking lots, street corners, and other places that catch you off guard.. not at all coordinated time-wise either.

No saturday morning shopping. More like driving home from work and oh what is that over there shopping. Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun too.

You know, to stop spontaneously and pick up a few good tomatoes. A few good tomatoes. Tell me about the sauce. You can’t handle the sauce.

The only good saturday morning one-stop marketplace is about 45 minutes away. Thumbs down.

But this. This! Only 5 minutes.


Grand Canyon Pt 1

You must forgive the rather off-kilter formatting of this particular post. When I began uploading photos, I also started to watch ‘Remains of the Day’. Having never seen it, I was quite distracted (and have since tried to talk and write with a hint of British in every line.)

But I’m back to my normal American self and ready to talk about our quick adventure to the Grand Canyon.

R, N, A, & I (or C, because my name doesn’t start with an I, yet it may appear so due to the grammatical construction of the sentence. You know, to the millions of people reading this blog who don’t know me.) Well, anyway, R, N, A, & I/C packed up our 30 bags full of camping gear Friday night and headed to the airport. Again, like the our flight to Little Corn Island (see post here), I had never been on one so entertaining. But this time it was because of the flight staff. The man describing the plane, the placement of luggage, the general procedures of the flight talked non-stop for 5 minutes, intentionally.

It was an act, you see. A performance.

He made fun of the passengers, teased the work staff, and provided interesting information about the upgrades to the planes.

When he finished (and finally took a breath), most everyone (including me) actually clapped. I’m a thespian-lover. They could be street performers or opera singers, it really doesn’t matter. Because if they’re good, they’re good. And they deserve recognition fortheir talent.

So, I’m running away to join the flight attendants. If only for the free peanuts.

But wait! It wasn’t over! After everyone had been boarded onto the plane, a lady came onto the loud speaker and announced “I’ve found a black wallet at the front of the plane, here. It looks to be a man’s wallet….Okay, good! Now that I have your attention, Let’s start the safety procedures.”

Everyone laughed and, dare I say, actually listened to the procedures? Well, we knew N would either which way. He’s been pretty jittery since a terror flight he had recently.

It didn’t help when the pilot came on mid-flight and announced “If you look to the left, you will see [insert some geographical formation]. But don’t everyone lean to look at once, you’ll tip the plane.” And later, when R teasingly asked N during some turbulence, “So when do you think this plane would have arrived?” No laughs that time.

We landed arounded 7ish, picked up our rental car, bought food & supplies, and headed to our destination. Having arrived around midnight, A & I/C watched the boys put tents up by moonlight. An hour later, it started pouring. We had made it just in time.

After only a few hours of sleep, R was put in charge of making breakfast in the morning of which he did a great job. Nothing beats a good camping breakfast. Especially with some wildlife to watch while eating… If you look closely to the photo on the left (you can click to enlarge it), you just might see another friend of ours eating her breakfast.

We slowly got around to head down to the canyon, a couple shuttle rides away. N made some sandwiches that consisted of about 95% peanut butter and 3% bread. The other 2% were air bubbles created by my shocked exclamations.

We made it to the canyon, admired it’s grandness (no pun intended) and then quickly shifted our attention to something infinitely more fun. Squirrels! Despite the ominous signs showing bloody chunks taken out of fingers, we snuck pieces of food to the skinny squirrels thinking we were their only lifeline to survival.

After reading more signs asking each of us to please not die, we started down the Bright Angel Trail. This was touted as being popular, steep, with water. Some of the trails do not have water, therefore detouring some individuals. At one point we saw a young man climb out onto a outer rock to take photos. Our eyes widened, me with fear and the boys with excitement.

Oh, lordie. This is going to be a long walk, I can feel it.


The views were nice on this one… if only a bit narrow. It’s like seeing a sliver of the sky, knowing what the rest probably looks like, but unable to feel the full magnitude of it. But that was okay. Why? Because we got to see mules. And boy was I excited to pass by them.

I had read “the rules”, that hikers are to stay put (!) next to the inner wall and not to move. I took this very seriously.

Until the last mule literally shot out poop in front of me. And when I say shot out, I mean it was a horizontal excavation. That’s when I lost it….and squeeeealed. Not sure if that was the wisest thing to do while it was carrying a man next to the cliff’s edge, but now I know my natural reaction to that sort of situation. Apparently I make a noise similar to the animal involved. Just imagine me next to a donkey.

It took about an hour to get to our turning point. The bathrooms. We refilled our water bottles, ate some trail mix, and started our way back up. We were so happy walking down, skipping along at times, laughing & joking. It would be the same on the return trip, right? Right?


No. In fact, I think I would have been left for dead….

…if not for this woman. She joined us kind of last minute on this trip, and am I glad she did. Because do you know how long it took for the guys to compete against each other to see who could hike fastest up the trail? Nano seconds. The only part of them that stayed with us was their dusty wake.

A tried to talk to me a few times. She gave up after I didn’t respond. Not that I wouldn’t respond. I couldn’t. First of all, all I could hear was blood pouding on my temples and if some sort of noise phrased in a question actually reached my ear drums, I only whispered my answer through gasps of breath.

My brain and eye sockets were so much on fire that I didn’t even notice the guys’ backpacks laying on the rocks next to where we saw the guy climb out onto the rock. I was forging on, determined to get to the point.

So even when R and N stepped out, thinking they’ve pulled a good practical joke, my brain cells were too fried to figure out if it was funny or not.

We made it home within the next hour and collapsed around the fire. I had wanted to go to a Moon Walk which was offered around a full moon (which coincidentally was Labor Day weekend), but agreed that sitting on my bum with a good glass of red would be much more enjoyable.


So that’s what we did. We chit-chatted, listened to N’s adaptation of ‘Tales from the Crypt’, and went to bed early.


We had to be up at the crack of dawn to join a hike led by a park ranger. It would be on another trail with some of the most spectacular views of the canyon I’ve ever seen. I was a happy camper.

Up next: Grand Canyon Pt 2

















Stayin’ Put.

It’s nice stayin’ put sometimes.

  • we camped out at a little state park.
  • made wishes on stars and roasted marshmallows.
  • thumbed through a thick book while locusts buzzed above.
  • slept in our new “sweetie pie doubler”.
  • wore socks and sandals without shame around the morning campfire.
  • went on a hike and breathed in a waterfall. my nose was never happier.
  • found a FREE mid-century style vinyl chair on the side of the road. it’s ripped, but I will have it recovered. Ryan rolled his eyes only once, so the pick-up was a success.
  • shared a burger and malt at our local dairyette.
  • walked around the city cemetery to look at old tombstones and noticed many wives from the late 19th century without death dates listed. wondered aloud if maybe they are still walking around town? discussed whether people might think I’m one of them.
  • received a fun letter from my mom and belly-flopped onto the couch to read it.
  • made stove-top popcorn.
  • turned up the a/c and buried myself under a blanket to watch a pre-20th century period piece (genre according to netflix).
  • updated my blog

And you know what. We’re not even into Sunday.

Cumberland Sauce

I am such a WEENIE!!!! I chickened out again and decided to focus on a sauce. K asked me the other night how I determine which recipes to make. “By the one that makes me cry least”, I said. They all really really frighten me.

Anyway, what I made tonight was a Cumberland Sauce. There were several different versions, so I went for the longest one. It makes about two cups and Joy (that’s what I’m calling her — the cookbook) says that it’s a “classic formula for cold ham and game (which includes squirrels). The sauce may be served cold. For quicker currant jelly sauces, see opposite.” Oh wait, forget that last part. You can’t see the opposite.

(click to make recipe larger) In this photo, there are two versions offered, I made the top one.

I laid out my ingredients, threw on my new (old — 1940s) apron, and went to work. Then I dumped flour on my face to up my self esteem.
Never did find red currant jelly and ended up replacing it with red plum jelly. Don’t ask me the basis for my decision. I have absolutely no idea, except that it looked the most curranty (whatever that looks like.)

Throw in all the spices and then add wine.

One for the pot….

…and one for the chef.
I’d upload a clearer shot, but this is a good representation of what I was seeing after 43 redo photos of me drinking from the bottle. If the flour didn’t help give me confidence to forge ahead, this certainly did. Well at the very least, it made me smile during the rest of the sauce-making. Permagrin Carolyn, that’s me.

Drop in the cornstarch mixture…

…along with grated lemon and orange rinds. Be sure to drop the whole fruit into the pot thirty times just to remind you to not drink while cooking.

And voila! There you have it. We bought some roast beef and drizzled the sauce over.

My thoughts? It wasn’t bad, but I think this is better suited for a fall/winter dinner. Again, purely preference, but the cloves gave it a distinct Christmasy vibe, which I love…around Christmastime. Other than that, I would try to make your own roast so that you can cut it up in thick chunks as opposed to the thin deli slices we have. Letting the sauce seep into the meat would make the dish that much tastier, I think.

Thanks again for following. One of these days I’ll bravely turn to the Meat section!


I kind of cheated with this first recipe, since I knew no stove burners nor oven sheets would be needed. Here’s the recipe. I modified it by removing the onion since R will not even sit in the same room as one. He can tolerate a green pepper, but just barely.

Just so we’re clear here, I’m no chef. But I like to cook, so you do the math. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t add up.
I lovingly placed all the ingredients out and bookmarked the Gazpacho page.

Then I started the prep work. We’ve been replacing out our knives little by little and currently do not own a chef’s knife. It’s been killing me, so I’ve had to make do with our serrated one…dragging instead of chopping.

The recipe said you could dice up the veggies or use a blender. I chose the blender, but later regretted it. The soup came out too pulpy. But this is purely your preference…I’m an extremist with soups… I want the soup creamy or I want crunchy bits. Nothing in between. And this was definitely in between. R, on the other hand, enjoyed the texture.

I poured the soup into a bowl and added the parsley. Does the parsley look chopped? Because it wasn’t. Chef’s knife just got added to my store list.

I think I’ll also add a new camera to that list too. If you didn’t read the title, would you have thought I was making chilli? I swear I had every light on too.

I had doubled the recipe to freeze some for later and used our extra ice cube trays to store the rest of it. If I want some later on, I can just pop out how ever many individual ice cubes I need and put it into the fridge to defrost. If it were a hot soup, then straight into a pot to reheat.

R broke our rule of not buying bread and brought home some french bread. Oh, it was so good. Threw in some ice cubes for an extra swirl of cold in your mouth, and there you have it. Gazpacho! My first Joy of Cooking recipe. Yes!


I thought I’d take you through my kitchen, since I’ll be in at least once a week. We’re still trying to think of creative storage solutions, so feel free to leave feedback and ideas. But please try not to be jealous of my glorious kitchen, it will be very unbecoming of you.

So you walk in from the living room and pass by random end tables that are housing about 1000 too many wine glasses. Do we have that many friends in Arkansas yet? For some reason I feel the need to keep them “on hand.” You know, just in case a party breaks out last minute.

And then you cross into the sink area. I’m sure the mirror was installed to make it look bigger, but it just accentuates how close the cabinets are behind you. So, in the end, you feel more claustrophobic than if no mirror were present.

What’s that drawing on the fridge?
Oh, just one of my favorite drawings by R. He actually is awesome artistically. His feet are exaggerated in this because I tease him of having “Froto feet”.

And then lastly, you turn around, bump into the stove and look out into the living room while making pancakes. There you have it. This is where the magic will happen.

Joyful Wednesdays

I was wandering around an antique store trying to find a table for our bathroom linens (no luck), when I came across this cookbook: The Joy of Cooking. My friend K had suggested the Better Homes & Garden one since it uses basic ingredients for most of its recipes and because we don’t have a microwave (my knee-jerk reaction to use it is slowly fading and it’s given me the excuse to buy vintage Pyrex refrigerator dishes). These would be the best for me at the moment. I found a BH&G cookbook at the store as well, but it being $12 and this one being $2 made the decision for me.

So, here’s what I’ve decided to do. I’m going to go through one recipe a week (or more) from this cookbook. Not only because I think it will get my cooking motor going, but also b/c my life is stagnate at the moment and I need something to write about. (Also, this was the premise for the new Julia & Julie movie and so I have to copy it.)

Prepare yourselves for some really bad lighting, smoky kitchens, and overly-salted foods. Did I mention that on page 515, it shows you how to skin a squirrel? No literally, there’s a drawing of a boot stepping on a squirrel’s tail while you pull the rest of the skin upwards. My stomach just turned. I’m definitely not feeling joyful at the moment.

We’ll call these wonderful experiences Joyful Wednesdays. Up first, Squirrel Soup.

me vs joy: who will win?