Monday, June 29, 2009

Basket Full of Lavender

I have been really blessed lately. I don't say that in a boastful way, but rather a thankful one. I have recently won a couple of give aways from some lovely fellow bloggers. You remember the personalized stamp from Purple Lemon Designs? It is really great. And the way Kelly had it packaged was just darling. But I'm not going to show you pictures of that 'cause I don't want you finding out my address and start stalking me or something. :D I wouldn't want to make you jealous with my housekeeping skills and all, if you became a stalker, that is. Yes. My house is a wreck. We've been sleeping on air mattresses in the living room and had my whole bedroom torn apart in the rest of the house while it was being painted this weekend. But, that's an entirely different story.

However, I do want to show you what I received from Kate at Centsational Girl. I won her give away basket full of lavender products from Lavender Bee Farm in Sonoma County, CA. I really like lavender. A lot.

When I opened the box, it was topped with shiny lavender colored tissue paper and a card from Kate. Aaaaw.

The card was a really nice touch - and so beautiful, too.

This is a picture of everything in the box - including a Sonoma County Farm Trails Booklet and a dozen recipes featuring lavender.

A lovely sprig of fresh lavender tied with a soft blue, shimmery ribbon. This now adorns the strip of woodwork that separates my two kitchen windows.

A darling beaded sachet of dried lavender buds. This is going in my room - just as soon as I finish putting it back together. :D

Lavender hydrosol linen water. Obviously, this can be used as a linen spray or sprayed on pillows just before bed to induce a good night's sleep. But, it can also be used as a skin spray to refresh on a hot day or to soothe irritated skin. I am looking forward to using this.

A tin of lavender and sea salt culinary blend.

A jar of all natural honey. I have to add here - I love natural honey. I never buy the over processed stuff from the grocery store anymore. Not only is there a variety of flavors available in natural honey, depending on what plant the bees used to make it - but eating raw, local honey is supposed to help build up a tolerance to the different pollens that can plague a person with seasonal allergies. I think there is a lot of truth to this because my guys haven't had near the problem with allergies since we switched to local honey. It also has it's nutrients in tact when it is raw. Can you tell I like honey?

This Bee Bar, made of beeswax and olive oil, is supposed to be for elbows, heels and rough spots. It's so pretty, though, that I almost hate to use it. But I will. :D

This picture doesn't do justice. These are linen table napkins with scalloped edges and embroidered lavender detail in the corner. My camera batteries died before I could get a picture of the four of them opened up. I couldn't find any more batteries, much to my disappointment. But, they are gorgeous, with a generous size and a beautiful hand. I don't know if I want to risk getting spaghetti sauce or something on them that won't come out. I may try to think of a more creative way to display them without ruining them. I love, love, love them.

So, now you've seen all my wonderful goodies. It almost felt like Christmas with each new product I pulled from the box. Thank you, Kate for another spectacular give away.

Now, I'm off to move some furniture and wash some dishes.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Little Britches' First Fish

Before you read this: I CAN NOT get this to make proper paragraphs today for some reason. Sorry. Carry on...
BEHOLD! This is my son. He's the one on the left - you know, the one NOT sporting a mustache. The other guy is a catfish. But it's not just any catfish. And he's not really a guy. He may not even be a he - but that's not the point of this post. Continuing...This is a very special catfish. He's also a very special son (Not to be outdone by the catfish. Just sayin'). So, about the catfish - this is the first catfish, or any fish, for that matter, that Little Britches has ever caught. YAY, LITTLE BRITCHES! WHOO HOO!
Little Britches has never been much of an outdoorsman in the past. Maybe it was 'cause he was little. Maybe it was because he never gave a flyin' monkey's butt about outdoorsy things. Maybe it's because we lived in Florida for the first almost six years of his life and he had to fight the Black Widows over who was going to use his Play Hut the most. It probably didn't help that every time we tried to go fishin' in FL you either kept getting your line hung up in all the bull rush around the lake or you were attacked by such ungodly swarms of mosquitoes that, I swear, they could have made a horror flick out of it. I need to tell you that story some time. I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't been there. So, anyhoo, Little Britches didn't like to fish. He had absolutely no interest in it what-so-ever. Until recently, that is.
All of a sudden he's wanted his 'Poppa' to take him fishin'. So, Poppa took him fishin'. And that fish right up there - that's what he caught. Poppa thinks that Little Britches might like to fish for blue gill (or crappy as they say in the Sunshine State) more than catfish, though. Now, Little Britches don't mind fishin' so much. That makes his Poppa very happy!
Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Camping Weekend

My family of three went camping this weekend. It's the first time we've been since we moved back to Hoosier land. MW and I used to go years ago, but that was before we moved to the Sunshine State. We had all these visions of the gazillions of things we would do spending time outdoors there - camping included. Then we actually lived there. And, EW! That just wasn't going to happen. The parks we visited were more closely related to toxic dumping grounds here. There wasn't really much grass, just scrub. And, Lord, have mercy - the bugs. And snakes. And gators. Sleeping outside with things that can kill you just wasn't our cup of tea. You may be thinking that we're wieners right now. I suppose you'd be right.

Camping this weekend was pretty near divine, though. We went to a small lake nearby that is surrounded by woods. Our campsite had a creek running behind it with the lake in front of it. The best part was that since it's not a big state park, there was hardly anyone there. There were more fisherman than campers.

This is where we slept. Yes. It is a tent. I can't imagine camping any other way. I think it's all part of the "be one with nature" thing. Plus, you don't get the awesome campsites when you use a camper. So, anyhoo...

While me and MW were setting up the tent -we sent Little Britches out to collect sticks for the fire. He was much more interested in finding these, though. Aren't they just the cutest little baby toads you've ever seen?

As dusk began to fall we had an unexpected visitor. A raccoon decided to drop by and see what was going on. MW stood up, hoping he would decide to scurry away. He didn't. He stood up, too, kinda like, "Oh, yeah? You want sum'ma me?" As MW walked toward him hoping that would make him scurry off, he began to come closer. OK. That was a little weird for me. I thought wildlife was supposed to be all not wanting to have anything to do with people and all. Well...MW got a new toy for Father's Day - a BB/Pellet gun. You know he brought it with him. He didn't have the scope on it, yet, and it had BB's in it - not pellets. So, he grabbed that gun like he was Jesse James and began to make that raccoon dance. Then he scurried away. But not for long. By now it's almost dark and getting hard to see. But my eagle eyed husband spots a shadow on the opposite side of our camp. It's that blasted raccoon again! That sucker came back 4 times, right up on our campsite! I was getting kinda nervous seeing how they can be so vicious and are prone to carry rabies and all. And you KNOW how wildlife just loves me! Note the sarcasm in my voice here. We were beginning to question whether we ought to pack up and go home. He never came back after that fourth time, though. I guess he got the hint. I was relieved. I think raccoons are really cute. But that guy wasn't acting like a typical wild creature, which was starting to make me slightly paranoid. I figured he was either really friendly and used to people, or rabid, totally nutso and wanting to spread some rabid love. I didn't want to risk it being the number two answer. So, I was grateful he never came back. After that we went on to have a wonderful night.

Then I woke up looking like this. I know you're jealous. You want my hair, don't you? And my make up. Please, don't hate me because I'm beautiful! Now I feel like singing...I'm too sexy for my hair - too sexy for my hair...

After I washed my face and brushed my hair...we went exploring in the woods.

Little Britches got a present for his momma. He's so thoughtful!

He also spotted a big ol' crawdad.

We walked around the lake. Isn't it lovely? Actually, pictures don't even begin to do it justice.

Then my gifted toad became prisoner in a cup holder. Can't you just hear him screaming, "Don't I at least get a phone call?"?

We can't figure out why it's taken us so long to break down and go camping. There really is nothing quite so peaceful and relaxing as hanging out around a fire in the middle of the woods while watching wildlife. Ooooh, and sleeping with to the music of crickets and bullfrogs...I feel more relaxed just thinking about it! We saw our first Oriole while we were there. That was pretty cool.

I think it's a wonderful thing for Little Britches to experience, too. No electronics - just nature and his imagination. He had a blast! We'll definitely be going back again before too long!

MW said that this was the best Father's Day he's ever had! That makes me very happy!

I hope that your Father's Day weekend was half as great as ours was!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Story of Razors - I Need Your Help

OK, ladies. I need some help here. And if you're thinking, "Yeah, so what's new?" then I say to you, "Just shut up already! Mkay?" Now that we have that out of the way...I'm looking for a new, great razor and I need some recommendations.

I currently use Schick Intuition. I like it pretty well. Actually, I love the fact that I don't have to use shave gel because it already surrounds the razor. That makes it much faster and less messy to get smooth, lovely, model type legs. What? You don't believe that I have the legs of the model? Man, you're being rough on a girl today. Moving on...What I don't like is the fact that I can only get about 4 shavings out of it before there's no soapy bar stuff left around the razor.

So, a couple of weeks ago while shopping for a new razor with my dear MIL this all became an issue. She showed me the one that she adores. I think it was a Venus Breeze, or something like that. She said that she got about 5 million uses out of one razor and that she didn't need to use shave gel with it. However, when she showed me the one that she uses, it had a small thing of shave gel in the pack with it. This speaks to me that it is intended to be used with said shave gel. But she also said that my nieces use it with no shave gel either. I, however am slightly hesitant to venture into shave gel-less territory using a razor that is intended to use it. Here is the reason why.

Once upon a time there was a lazy busy mother. She needed all the help she could get in regards to speeding along personal hygiene. One day she heard Lisa Rinna a soap star, who shall remain nameless talking about the fastest way to shave. She was really a wicked witch forming a diabolical shaving plan. She called it 'dry shaving'. This soap star, who shall remain nameless (cough...Lisa Rinna) that was really the evil witch said that if you slather your legs in baby oil you can dry shave with your razor. It was supposed to be magical. This sounded like a wonderful time saving plan to me, I mean the lazy busy mother. So she tried it. She got into the shower, slathered on some magical baby oil and began to shave away all of the nasty little troll hairs that had invaded Leg Land. But, something didn't feel right. "Hmmm," thought the lazy busy mother, "this feels like it's skipping. It's not shaving smoothly like I think it's supposed to be." So, when she got to her second leg she decided to do it differently. She wet her leg down with water first before slathering on the magical baby oil. Aaaaaah...much better! It worked beautifully! But, alas, it was too late for the other side of Leg Land. The damage had already been done. The lazy busy mother had received the worst cast of razor burn in the history of all razor burns. She was burned from her ankle to above her knee. Oh, how it hurt. It hurt with a pain that she remembers to this day. What was she to do? She covered her leg in a coating of soothing petroleum jelly in hopes that it would ease her torture. But that wasn't enough. So, she wrapped her entire leg in an ace bandage. That helped a little bit. She had to leave her leg wrapped up like that for days. Even after she was able to remove the bandage, her leg was still red. It itched very badly for a really long time. She thinks it took off the top layers of her epidermis, too, because the hair on that leg grew much faster than the hair on the other leg after that. The itching, discomfort and fast-growing hair went on and on for 10 long, uncomfortable months. Then one day the lazy busy mother found the truly magical ointment called Olive Oil. She began to apply it to her legs every day and something wonderful began to happen. The Olive Oil began to heal that poor, troubled leg. Before very long, it was back to normal. But the lazy busy mother is still slightly emotionally scarred from the whole incident. She is now very leery of any shaving that claims to be done without shave gel. The End.

I relayed this story to my dear MIL, and she said to me, "You know that something like that would only happen to you, don't you?" Yes. Yes I do. But, c'mon, is it me or does the term 'dry shaving' seem to imply; no water necessary?

So, do you dear ladies now see why I could use your recommendations for a shaving tool? I'm not trying to isolate you gentleman, but I don't know many gentleman who actually shave their legs on a regular basis - except for the weirdos who used to shop at Meijers in Columbus, OH in the middle of the night. If you happen to be one of them and have a fabulous shaving tip for me, then, by all means, leave me a comment. And please, do share where you got those fabulous leopard print spandex capri pants and that hot pink feathered boa! Otherwise, ladies, if you have any tips for me - I'm all ears!

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day - A Tribute

Today I wanted to take some time to acknowledge all of the "fathers" in my life. Many times, fathers are the unsung heroes of the family. Many times, they aren't present much at all. I have been blessed to the place where this wasn't the case in my life. I'm very grateful for that. So, please, journey along with me today as I remember the special "father's" in my life.

This is me and my papaw - my mom's dad. He was a real hoot. He was one of those West Virginia coal miners I told you about. And, yes, he had black lung, too. His health was very poor for most of my life. Him and Granny lived in a delightful little house out in the country. They had a huge tree with a wooden swing suspended from each side. After a long day of mowing grass, they would sit on those swings together and drink lemonade. Sometimes, Papaw would let us grand kids mow the lawn on the riding mower. That was always such an excitement for me. He didn't appreciate the time I mowed down his huge patch of asparagus, though. Hey, I thought it was weeds! It was separate from the rest of the garden and I didn't realize the difference. I didn't know that it takes up to three years for the green spears to grow, either. Oops!

Papaw had speech difficulties later in life and was wheel chair bound due to strokes. Every Friday night the whole family would go out to eat together. First, Papaw liked Ponderosa. After years of eating at Ponderosa every night, you could say I got a little tired of it. Actually, I still don't like to eat there. I was overjoyed when they finally built a mall in our town. Our new Friday night hang-out became the food court. Papaw liked to make a 'run for the border'. Papaw also liked to socialize - a lot. He loved to hang out in the food court and talk to everyone there. It was kind of comical because he was a lot like having a toddler. You know how when you have a baby and that little darling child gets old enough to begin building a vocabulary and they talk and talk and talk? Oh, how they love to talk! Except, no one but you can understand them? And you have to translate everything your little tyke says to everyone because they smile and nod so sweetly while your chatty bundle of joy is sharing all of life's adventures with them? And then they look at you - still smiling - but with a really confused look on their face and a pleading in their eyes that is crying out, "What did your toddler just say to me?" Well, that is precisely how it was with Papaw! He would talk to everyone, I mean everyone around. Then we would have to translate. He liked to aggravate us kids, too. He was always coming up with nicknames or phrases or new ways to tease us. He loved fishing. He had a little flat bottom boat we called the "Lettuce Leaf" because it was green. He also made his own fishing lures for therapy later on in life. I have many, many memories of this papaw. Too, many to share today.

This is my other papaw - my dad's dad. Sadly, I don't have very many memories of him. He, too, was a West Virginia coal miner - the kind that stayed there. He was a supervisor in the mines and my dad told me how he used to love it when Papaw would take Dad with him to check things out sometimes. Sometimes Papaw even went on horseback! I think I was 4 when he died. My mom told me he was in heaven. When I asked her what heaven looked like she told me that it was very beautiful and had lots of pretty flowers. So, when we got to the funeral home, I told everyone that it was heaven. After all, Papaw was there and there were lots of pretty flowers! I'm sure it made lots of sense in my 4 year old mind.

This is my Dad waiting for me to be born. He is the only "Papaw" that Little Britches will ever know here on earth. He is one of the most generous, kind hearted people I've ever known. When I was younger, Dad was layed off from Ford. I mean, like 3 years layed off from Ford. He couldn't find a job for anything. The economy in Michigan in the early 80's was in bad shape - probably about like it is now. He did any kind of odd job he could to make end's meat. It had gotten so bad that he was ready to head to Texas to find work when Ford called him back up. Even in those lean years, though, we never went without. Dad is very resourceful. We couldn't afford new bikes for me when I would out-grow mine. But, that wasn't an issue for Dad. He would find old bike parts, sand them down, paint them and put them together, add a new seat and a couple of other new parts and I would have me a brand new, one of a kind bicycle that was the envy of ever kid in town! Seriously. This red one he made me was stolen out of my fenced in back yard 4 times. Four times! The last time we had to go pick it up at the police station. We were gone once after that and the same kid that had stolen it before was trying to swipe it again, but he got caught. By Samantha. Samantha was my very best BFF who lived across the street. Do your kids every watch i Carly? Well, my Samantha wasn't too unlike that Sam. You just didn't want to mess with her much. My Samantha saw that boy taking off down the street with my kickin' red bike that Dad had pieced together for me so she did what any good BFF would do. She chased the boy down, beat the crap out of him, and brought my bike back to my house. Funny, he never tried to steal it again! So, anyway...Dad was very resourceful. Not only could he build bikes - he could build anything. He still can.

He made this cradle for me when I was born. I slept in it. Although, I don't look too happy to be in it here. :0) My son slept in it. One day, my grand babies will sleep in it.

Even during the lean years people had it much worse than we did. Dad has always had a soft spot for kids. So, when the kids from around the corner would come to play and didn't even have shoes for their feet, Dad would say something to me like, "Pam, you've got extra shoes (or coat, or whatever) and these kids don't have any. Why don't you find a pair that you don't wear much and give to these kids so they'll at least have shoes (or coats, or whatever)?" And that's what we did. Even if we didn't have extras, we usually at least had popsicles. So, sometimes that is what they got. But, they always got a piece of my Dad's heart.

Not only can my dad build bikes, and cradles, and whatever else he decides he wants to build, but, he's a pretty mean cook, too! And he can't stay out of the kitchen 'doctoring up' whatever someone else is making. This also applies to school projects like the musical instrument we had to make in elementary school. What started out as, "Dad, I have to make a project for school. I want to make a guitar. Can you put some nails in a board for me and then I'll attach some rubber bands to it?" turned into an actual wooden guitar with frets, pegs and wire strings (that I had practically no part in)! He just couldn't help himself, gosh darn it! He gets so excited when it comes to building things. He got an 'A' on my project though! It still hangs on the wall in their basement. He is also a huge practical joker. Gosh, I should write another post just on that topic! The stories could go on and on about my dad, but I wouldn't have room to write it all.

This is my husband and his dad. I never had the pleasure of meeting him. He died waaaay to early. From the stories I hear he sounds a lot like my dad. Actually, my husband says that my dad reminds him a lot of his. He was a butcher and liked his meat! I guess he could really pack the food away. He never gained an ounce. Everyone always talks about his famous 'cannons'. I guess his biceps were huge. They say it looked like you set an apple on his arm when he flexed his muscles. He was also a very affectionate man. His sons kissed him on the lips until the day he died. I'm thankful that he passed this on to my hubby. I love hugs and kisses. It's also something that MW is most thankful for. He said there was never any doubt about how much his dad loved him. That is a legacy worth passing on. My MIL always says how much MW reminds her of his dad. Out of their two boys, he is most like him. She says that the older MW gets, the more she sees his father in him. He must have been an awesome guy!

This is my husband. He is the father of our son. He is the most important male figure in Little Britches' life. That boy is his pride and joy. He is very aware of how short life can be and has determined to make every minute with Little Britches count. MW works in a business where they do emergency service. Somtimes this means late nights and weekends. It means he doesn't always get to spend the time at home with his family like he would like to. But, he makes the most of the time that he does have. Once a month he has to work on Saturdays in the office. He takes Little Britches along with him. This has become one of the highlights of the little guy's month. He loves getting to spend some 'guy time' together with his dad. MW is very fun loving and affectionate, like his father. He is passing this trait on to our boy. I see so much of MW in Little Britches. They have 'the dance' they do together. And MW is training Little Britches in all the ways to be a good man. He's taught him important things like always opening the door for a lady, whether it be car or other wise. He' also taught him other things like the proper way to grab a heiny - with the clear instruction that this is not to be done until post-marriage! There is a lot of heiny grabbing going on in our house! He's not only teaching him hands on life skills like mowing grass, helping build things...He is teaching him the most important things in life like, seek God first, do the right thing even when it's not the easy thing... For this I am thankful.

MW was always very much into sports. Little Britches, not so much. He's more of the artsy fartsy type, like me. As much as MW would love to be able to take the little guy out back and throw the softball around - it just ain't happening. Actually, Little Britches is wired in such a way that if you try to force him into something he completely rebels against it and shuts down. But, if you keep throwing it out there, he'll eventually come around in his own time. Take fishing, for instance. MW has tried to get the boy to fish for years. He's had absolutely no interest what-so-ever. Until all of a sudden. They went fishing together a couple of weeks ago and now Little Britches can't wait to go fishing with his 'Poppa' again. It's been like that with everything with him. One of the things that I appreciate about MW is that he recognizes that him and Little Britches are not the same person (even though he is Mini Me is so many ways). He has told me on more than one occasion, "Yeah, I would love for him to be into sports like I always was, but I don't want to push him into something that he isn't wired for. More than anything, I want him to be who God wants him to be - more than who I want him to be. I trust God that he will work it all out." That makes me feel so good as a wife and mother.

I am confident that when Little Britches is a grown man with children of his own he is going to look back at his life and remember the legacy that his father passed to him. He will remember that no matter what was going on in the world, our house was a refuge from the storm, a house filled with lots of love, lots of laughter, and a father who loved him unconditionally.

So, today I want to say thank you and Happy Father's Day to my husband and my dad. Thank you for a home filled with love. I love you guys!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kitchen Fiascos.

My kitchen skills fluctuate between culinary genius and raging disaster. I am a good cook. My husband tells me so. My son tells me so. My - bible - tells - me - so...Oh, wait that one was from "Jesus Loves Me". It's just that sometimes things go awry.

Growing up at our house meant that it was just us 3 'women' for dinner during the week because Dad worked 2nd shift. With a busy schedule, the routine was that whoever got home first started dinner - either me or Mom. So, I ended up doing a lot of cooking. I loved to cook. I loved to experiment and make up new recipes or tweak old ones. One of my favorite compliments that my dad would give me is when he would say, "Boy, you're gonna make some man a happy husband some day 'cause you sure can cook!" I'm no Paula Deen. But I can get a palate pleasing dinner on the table most nights. But, there are those raging disasters I mentioned earlier.

The first one that comes to mind happened when I was still a teenager living with my parents. We ate a lot of chicken breasts which can get boring (if I say so) unless you jazz them up with a little variety. I loved to make 'orange chicken' if we had oranges in the fridge. I don't remember exactly what I did, but I know it consisted of baking the chicken with sliced oranges and some of the juice. One night when I was doing dinner we didn't have oranges. We had grapefruit. Hmmm...I love grapefruit. I substituted and made 'grapefruit chicken". Ugh! Pft, pft, blah! It was completely and totally inedible - a raging disaster. I don't remember what we ended up doing for dinner that night, but it didn't include that chicken! It was hilarious though, because shortly after that we saw a chef on TV making 'grapefruit chicken'. Maybe I was on to something. Or not.

Growing up in a Southern family we ate a lot of biscuits and gravy. Mmmm...I love me some biscuits and gravy! It's still one of my favorite foods. Does flour, milk and butter actually qualify as foods? Who cares? It's soooo good! My granny and mom taught me how to make homemade biscuits. I had them perfected. Then I went off to college and basically quit cooking for a couple of years. Then I got married to a man's man. Not a salad eatin' (though he does love a good salad), granola kind of man. A meat and potato, my dad was a butcher kind of man. Ooooh, how he enjoys a good meal! Shortly after we were married I wanted to impress him with my skills. I was gonna make him homemade biscuits and gravy. Oh, how I poured my heart out into that flour, butter and buttermilk. I caressed that dough with all the love I had in my heart for that studly man of mine. I was such a proud wife when I pulled those biscuits out of the oven. Then we tried to eat them. They were more fit for the National Hockey League than they were for dinner. I swear it was like trying to eat a hockey puck. I don't remember what we did for dinner that night, either. I just know it didn't include those biscuits - and I use that term very loosely here. I was so deflated after that incident that I took to using canned biscuits for the next 14 years. It's only been the past couple of months that I've had the courage to reacquaint myself with the art of biscuit-making.

Of course, we can't forget the reason I bake all of my French fries now.

More recently, I discovered that you have to have an attention span longer than that of a 2 year old if you want to do something as simple as boil eggs.

My most recent kitchen fiasco happened this weekend, though. We have some dear, sweet next door neighbors - Bob and Teresa. Bob is 86 and Teresa turned 81 on Saturday. I found out about her birthday Friday evening as we were talking over the fence. Isn't that a nice, neighborly custom? I don't think people talk over the fence as much as they used to when I was growing up. Anyhoo...I wanted to do something nice for Teresa for her birthday. Teresa probably weighs about as much as the years she's spent on this earth. There really isn't much to her. She reminds me of my Ain't Clayter in that respect. Taking this into consideration and the fact that when we were having a bonfire with some friends in the fall, she brought over the left over cupcakes she had from when they had company - I figured she's not much of a sweet eater. That pretty much eliminated making cake or cookies. But seeing how I hadn't planned on baking something Saturday, my pantry options were very limiting. I did have a can of pumpkin, though. I could always make Pumpkin Bread. Yeah, that would work. It's not nearly as sweet as cake or cookies. Pumpkin Bread it is - even though it's June. Whatever. It's the thought that counts, right? Well...I've never actually made Pumpkin Bread before. That meant that I would have to find a recipe for it. I found the recipe in one of my old church cookbooks. With all of the things church people can't do - they have darn near perfected the art of cooking. This was going to be great! Or so I thought.

I followed the directions to a T. I mixed the sugar and oil in my Kitchen Aid. I incorporated the eggs one at a time. Then it said to start adding the dry ingredients a little at a time, adding the water as needed. Huh? I read the ingredients again. Yep. There it was; 2/3 cup water. So, I alternated - a little of the dry ingredients, a little of the water. Is this right? This doesn't look right. This looks too soupy to be bread. This looks like way too much batter for one loaf of bread. Hmmm...maybe it's supposed to make two loafs of bread and they just forgot to add it to the recipe. But, I pressed on following the instructions. It wasn't my recipe - who was I to question? So I poured the batter into the loaf pan. I had enough batter left over for a second loaf. Good. One for Teresa. One for us. I put it into my pre-heated oven. I set the timer to check on it in 45 minutes. I go about my business. Little Britches hollers at me a while later that he smells something burning. "No biggie.", I thought. "It's just that a little of the batter has probably bubbled over and is burning on the bottom of the oven." After 45 minutes the bread is still completely soupy in the center and 1/2 of it is burning on the bottom of my oven. I press on. Maybe 15 more minutes would finish it off. Nope. The only thing 15 more minutes did was cause my house to look like a training exercise in smoke inhalation for the fire department. And the bread was still soupy. 2/3 cup water my big, fat butt! What the recipe should have read was: If batter is too stiff, you may add up to 2/3 cup water to thin it down.... So, I took Teresa her card. It read; Happy 81st Birthday! I was going to bake you some delicious, homemade Pumpkin Bread, but nearly set my oven on fire (Which has actually happened to me. That's another post, though). So, all I got you was this crappy card! Are you kidding me? I don't want her knowing I'm an idiot savant in the kitchen! She did end up with just a card, though.

So, what have learned to today? a) All stereo-types are wrong, wrong, wrong. Bad, bad, bad. Just because someone attends church and submits a recipe to the fund-raising cook book, it does not automatically mean they can actually cook. b) Listen to your intuition. If that voice keeps telling you that something doesn't look right - then it probably isn't right. If that voice tells you to place a cookie sheet under whatever it is that your baking, listen. c) Place a cookie sheet under whatever you're baking. :0) d) Don't multi-task too much when cooking. Working with things that can make you homeless if left unattended for too long requires more attention than a 2 year old can give. And finally, e) Dyson vacuum cleaners are not only good on floors, they're good on ovens, too.

P.S. The car wax is working perfectly on the faucet!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bar Keeper's Friend and Car Wax

So, what exactly do Bar Keeper's Friend and Car Wax have in common, you may be asking? I'm not sure that they do have anything in common, actually. But I used them both and wanted to tell you about them. :0) Hmmmm...where to start?

OK. You know that I am on a journey to greener cleaning and have pretty much rid our home of all chemicals. I feel that if there is a safer way to get something done, then that's how I want to do it. This journey started because of my son's health. We are reaping the rewards of these changes. However, I'm not completely opposed to doing something in a non-"green" way - but only as a last resort. This brings me to today's post.

It all started with this (once) gorgeous Paul Revere tea kettle that I bought at the thrift store for $1.00. I tried to not be in the picture, but, everywhere I went...there I was. After cleaning it up and getting all of the lime scale out of the inside with my trusty friend, vinegar, it has served me well. Until I did something stupid, that is. I leave it sitting on the back of the stove because I really don't have anywhere else to put it. One day while meaning to turn the front burner on, I turned the back burner on instead. I dry boiled that tea kettle and it ended up looking like this. I googled to see what would clean it up (after trying everything else I could think of) and basically found that if anything would do the trick it would be Bar Keeper's Friend. That didn't work. Evidently, water in a tea kettle takes the blah, blah, blah from the heat and spares the metal. Since there was no water in the kettle the heat ruined it. Bummer. I really liked that tea kettle. It still works, but it's not pretty anymore. :0(

I still had a whoppin', huge container of Bar Keeper's Friend, though. It isn't totally green but it doesn't have phosphates in it, at least. I tried on my sink. It's porcelain and gets all these really ugly scratches in it.


I read the back of the container. It can be used on tons of materials, even plastic.

We have a 2000 Ford Taurus that MW drives. The headlights started getting a thick haze on them. We have tried tons of junk to get this off. Nothing worked. It's so bad that he has to constantly drive with his brights on just to see at night. No one flashes their lights at him to let him know he's hurting their eyes, either. It's awful. We thought we were going to have to replace them. This happened to my MIL's lights a few years ago and it cost her a few hundred bucks to replace her headlights. She told us the other day that she had just seen a commercial for something that was supposed to take every last bit of that nasty old film off of headlights. But...when I saw that Bar Keeper's Friend could be used on plastic, I figured "Why not?" They're already ruined. I told MW what I was planning and he immediately went out to the car with Bar Keeper's Friend, a sponge and a bucket of water. He came in a few minutes later and said, "Come look." It took every last speck of film off those headlights. We can now even see the paint that's peeling off of the light bulbs. I bet that stuff my MIL saw on TV cost more than $1.79. A lot more. MW took the car for a spin last night after dark to check them out. They now work beautifully! He can actually see when he drives it! Whoo Hoo!

Lastly is my kitchen faucet. We have really hard water. I am constantly fighting a battle to keep it free from mineral deposits which make it look like this.

And this.

I usually soak some paper towels in vinegar and wrap around the faucet to break down the minerals and clean it up. This works great but it takes a bit for the vinegar to break it down. Since I already had the Bar Keeper's Friend out I cleaned my faucet up with that. It did a good job, too. What I really want is a way to keep the mineral deposits off the faucet. Enter car wax.

I had read in one of Jerry Baker's books that if you polish your faucet with car wax it will create a barrier that protects it from hard water stains. MW gave me what he had in the garage. I applied it with a cloth and let it dry to a haze. This only took about a minute.

Then I buffed the wax off with the other end of the cloth.


When I was done I sprayed a little water on it to check it out. It beaded up and dried right up, which is a good sign. I'll have to give this one a little time to see how well it does in the long run. I suspect that it's like a car where you have to reapply the wax every so often. I can live with that, if it works. I'll keep you updated.

OK, folks. That's all I've got. Thanks for coming by! Hope some of this you'll be able to find useful in your own house one day. Not that I'm wishing mineral deposits or foggy headlights on you or anything...but, hey, life happens! :0)

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Southwestern Chicken Layered Salad

Periodically, Betty Crocker delivers recipes right to my e-mail inbox. Most of the time I'm not that interested. Yesterday morning I was very interested. There was a recipe for Southwestern Chicken Layered Salad. It looked really yummy. It looked super easy. I wanted to try this recipe - like, yesterday.

Historically, Fridays have always been my shopping day. Yesterday was no different. Not only do I do my grocery shopping - it's also the day I hit Goodwill, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, whatever... Since I needed to hit Hob Lob and my girl, JoAnn's for some finishing touches for Little Britches' bedroom - I had a 40 minute drive to the town where they are located. I was going to be pretty late getting home. Usually, by the time I get my shopping in, unload groceries, put away groceries....I don't feel like spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen working on supper. This recipe uses a rotisserie chicken, so I thought it would be perfect. It's cheaper than ordering a pizza and probably much quicker, too.

Let me just add here: OH. MY. GOODNESS! This is SOOO, SOOO good! It reminded me of a great salad that I have gotten a few times at Garfields. MW kept going on and on about how good it is. He said it is one that he would like me to fix every week. Works for me! It was a breeze to make. Check it out.

Southwestern Chicken Layered Salad

deli rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 can (11 oz)Southwestern style corn, drained, liquid reserved - I couldn't find Southwestern so I used Mexican style.
2 TBSP taco seasoning mix, from 1 oz package
1/2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 c. ranch or French dressing
1 c. corn ships
black beans, rinsed and drained (optional) - They add an extra layer of color, flavor, protein and fiber.

Let me just add here; when it comes to the measurements, whatever. I measured nothing. Nothing. Oh, yeah, except for the taco seasoning. You probably wouldn't have to do that either. It's your salad - put how much you like on it. MKay?

Open your can of corn and drain it directly into a 10" skillet set on medium. Shred your chicken into the skillet. It calls for 2 cups. I used it all, minus a leg and thigh. That was because somebody wanted to eat said leg and thigh. :0) Then sprinkle on the taco seasoning. It should look something like this.

Give it a good stir. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes until it's good and blended and thoroughly heated through. I know the picture isn't great. So sue me.

Put some lettuce on your plates. The recipe calls for Romaine. I'm cheap and lazy. I used the pre-bagged stuff from Aldi. Whatever.

Now comes the fun part. Put some of the chicken on your lettuce. Then start layering; cheese, corn, black beans ('cause we like black beans), ranch dressing, corn chips and salsa. I think adding some cilantro would just send this through the roof, but I didn't think about that until just now. Darn it!

It might look something like this.

Or this. Except yours won't be blurry because you probably won't take a crappy picture of it.

Whatever it looks like - it will be oh, so very, very delicious!