Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Monday evening I accompanied my guys fishing.  Chris was fishing for catfish on bottom.  Me and Ike were fishing for blue gill with bobbers.  Ike had caught 3 blue gill.  Before too long he threw out his line and almost immediately he yells, "Somethings messing with my line!  I got something!  I need some HEEELP!"  Chris grabbed the net while Isaac was realing in his catch.

We were shocked, to say the least, to see this 14 pound carp hooked and caught on a #10 blue gill hook (the smallest).  It was the largest fish ever caught where we were fishing.  They were really surprised to find out it was caught by a nine year old!  That's my boy!  I couldn't tell you who was more excited, though - Isaac or his daddy!

Shortly after Ike's big catch, I caught a rather large catfish using the same small hook.

Unfortunately, we had to throw the big carp back.  I've always heard that they're good eatin'.  They're actually a delicacy in Europe.  A lot of people open pay pits stocked with carp over there for this reason.  But, you have to know how to get around that mud vein when you clean them - which can be a pretty crappy job.  Sorry, couldn't resist!  Since, we (and by saying 'we' I really mean Chris) don't know how to clean them - back into the water it went.

The catfish was another story.  I already had planned to make tilapia for supper last night, so we fried it up and served it along side the other fish.  Can you say, "YUM!"?

We had so much fun we're going back tonight!  That leaves me with just one question:

Anyone know how to clean a carp?

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Know You Live In A Small Town When...

3 fire engines, 2 police cars and 1 ambulance show up to extinguish the fire someone has going in their backyard fire pit.  Yes, life in a small town is exciting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Computer Journal

I don't know about you, but, with the move towards paperless - I have more and more important things going on my computer.  Things with passwords.  But, I'm a simple gal.  So, seeing as how I didn't want to remember a bunch of user ID's and passwords - I'd just use the same one for everything.  Stupid - I know.  Then, I started to hear more and more about identity theft.  It was time to change my computer ways.

If you have a steel-trap mind and can remember 50 different passwords - I envy you.  I, however, do not posess that gift.  So, I had to get creative.

A friend had given me this blank journal.  So, I now keep it by my computer to keep track of all things computer related.

The first pages are where I keep all of my passwords and privacy questions.  It looks something like this;

     * Progressive Insurance
        Log In - xxxxxxxxxxxx (my ID)
        PW - xxxxxxx (my password)
        ? - 1) answer to 1st security question
             2) answer to 2nd security question

I have plenty of space to add more companies and the appropriate info if  I need it.

Also, I have a couple different e-mail accounts (personal and blog).  I have these written inside the front flap along with my husband and my son's e-mail addresses.

A little ways back in my journal I have a section marked with a sticky tab for book recommendations.  Any time I come across a book while browsing or a fellow blogger recommends a book that is on a topic that I am interested in - I write the title and author in this section.  I always leave a space in between so I can make notes later.  Sometimes, I take my journal with me to the library and write down the location and info on it in this space.  I can also make a note when I've read one on my list and whether or not I want to purchase it for myself.  Books I have purchased then get highlighted.

The last section I have in my journal is towards the back.  I have a section for good websites that I wouldn't necessarily read every day and don't want to clutter my bookmark section with.  In the example above, I had written down sites with handmade gift ideas for Christmas - definitely something I don't need to see every day.

The nice thing about a journal like this is that it is totally customizable to whatever information you need to keep you organized during your computer time.  You can also find blank journals really cheap - I picked one up at Goodwill for like thirty-five cents recently.

So, tell me, how do you keep track of all of your computer passwords and information?


I'm sharing this post at Teach Me Tuesdays.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy 15th Anniversary, My Love

"Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned."
~Song of Songs 8:6-7

Thank you for 15 years of filling my life with joy and my heart with love.  Words cannot describe the measure of my love for you.

Happy Anniversary, My Love - You complete me.

"I love you - those three words have my life in them."
~By Alexandria to Nicholas III~

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Apron - To Wear or Not to Wear? That is the question.

I tend to be a messy cook.  I'm prone to splash when stirring, splatter flour and wipe my hands on my pants in a pinch when a towel isn't immediately available.  Don't judge - I'm just laying my reality out there for you.  Now that I have begun baking my own bread, I can tend to be a real mess with all of the kneading involved.  I have found a simple, albeit old-fashioned, solution, though...the apron.

I have worn one occasionally for many years.  But, lately, it's a part of my attire on an almost daily basis.  Some women scoff at the idea of wearing an apron - they think of it as a symbol of common housewife bondage.  I don't look at it that way, though.  Maybe, that's because I've embraced my role as keeper of the home.  I find wearing an apron strangely liberating.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I am a messy cook and I'm also in charge of laundry.  Either way, I don't care.  I like to think of the apron as a symbol of my ability to nurture and care for my family and their needs in a way that is lost to many in today's world.  I don't run around like June Cleaver in a dress, pumps and pearls.  Heck, I don't even own pearls.  I'm more of a jeans and tennies type gal.  Although, I do love Crocks and Birkenstocks, too. :0)  And, though, I may or may not be found in make-up on any given day - there's a good chance you'll catch me donning my apron in the kitchen!

So, in honor of my new apron (you'll see it in a minute) - I thought I would share with you today the history of  'Grandma's apron' and the evolution of mine.

The History of Grandma's apron:
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath. Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

 When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

 And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

 Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot woodstove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to eat.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

REMEMBER: Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the windowsill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the windowsill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I doubt anyone ever caught anything from an apron.

Interesting, huh?  Ready to see mine?  OK, let's go!

I made this Christmas apron (in all it's wrinkly self) in 8th grade sewing class.  It may have been the first thing I ever sewed.

See the cute little snow men?

I also made a matching pot holder.  If you look closely, you can see a snow man stitched into it.  Isn't that special?
I gave this set to my Granny once I finished it.  It came back to me after she died almost 8 years ago - although, it's hard to believe it's been that long.  I don't wear this one all that often because it's only a 1/2 apron.  I find I need a bib style to keep me cleanest.  It's also dear to my heart for reasons you can probably figure out.
I picked this one up at a dollar store many years ago when I only wore an apron only occasionally.  It's really too small to be very effective.  But, it was cheap.  This was a classic case of 'You get what you pay for'.
This was a great find and the reason for my current 'apron love'.  I got it at Goodwill (where else?) for $1.99 and it still had the tags on it!  I love it.  It wears like iron - you can't hurt it. I wear it on a nearly daily basis - so much so that I realized it's time I get another one (or 5) that are functional that I can rotate out while the others are being washed.
While I was shopping Friday, I picked up a really pretty bed sheet that I thought would make a lovely apron.  I had every intention on going in JoAnn Fabric and buying a pattern so I can attempt to make one, but decided against a stop at JoAnn's at the last moment that day.  But then...
Look what my best friend showed up at my house with yesterday!
Is this not adorable, or what?  I swear, aprons have not even entered our conversations.  But, she handed it to me and said that her mother-in-law had made it for me.  Made it for me!  I've never even met her mother-in-law.  She lives in Michigan.  She had made my friend one and knew that I am learning to sew, so she decided to make me one, too.  I love that woman!  I can't wait to wear this one.  Don't think I didn't try it on like I was 10 the moment she handed it to me, either!
To me, this gift was another one of those small ways that God gives us the desires of our hearts.  Only he knew of my desire to add another apron to my collection - and, yet, he placed it on the heart of woman whom I've never met to make me one.  It's the small blessings like this that overwhelm me with gratitude and add up to a spectacular, joy filled life.  But, I digress...
That ends my personal apron showcase.  I had fun reading your comments from my "Book Nerd" post - so, I hope you'll play along with me again!  Let's hear it - do you don an apron?

A) Never, ever.  Not in a million years would you catch me in one!
B) I wear one occasionally.
C) June Cleaver's got nothing on me!  I wear one almost daily.
Thanks gals!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Very Simple Fix

I have these 2 silpats (silicone mats) which I use just about every time I pull out a cookie sheet.  I love them.  I also have this skinny little drawer where I keep them rolled up along with my rolling pin and various other utensils.  The problem is they don't want to stay rolled into a tight tube.  Inevitably, they end up loosening in the drawer, making it a pain in the patootie to get the drawer back open.

This is just one of them.  The front end is larger than the rear and sticks up more.  Can you imagine what it's like when two of them are in this little drawer?

Yesterday, I had this idea strike me in the head like lightening from the sky: You know rubber bands would fix that don't you?  HELLO!!!!  WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT BEFORE? 

So, I now present to you a much more manageable utensil drawer.

It amazes me how the best solutions are often the simplest ones!

Have a great Friday!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Know I'm A Nerd. But, I've Come To Terms With That.

I have this little addiction.  I love books.  I have always loved books.  I think I love them too much.  The problem is - I don't have a whole lot of time to get reading in these days.

Let me give you a glimpse of my current book pile that I am working on (on top of my daily Bible reading).  Ready?

I did finish this one.  It's an easy read full of personal stories, great recipes, tips and really cute crafts.

This one didn't get read all the way through.  I had to return both of these to the library yesterday after renewing them once already.  This book is more of a reference guide to all things "homestead".  It has EVERYTHING in it.  We're talking from how much crop you can grow on different amounts of land, to starting seeds, to saving seeds, to canning, cooking; fruit and nut trees - what is the best type for your area, how to care for them, how to save the nuts and use them...; herbs - growth, care, saving, recipes...; sheep, goats, pigs and cows (both for milking and meat) - how to care for them, what each breed is best for, butchering, wrapping the meat, milking, making cheese; raising bees and much, much more; The list for this book could go on and on.  Let's just say that I was ecstatic to run across this little gem at our pitiful library and have added it to my "I MUST OWN THIS BOOK!" list. :0)

I received this book for free because I agreed to write a review for it (when I finish it).  It's all about the real life of Jane Austen.  I'll share more of the details of how I received it for free (and will have access to more free books) and how you can, too when I write my review.

My approach to reading this book has been different than any other book I've read.  It's not one that I have personally been able to just pick up and read leisurely.  It's one that I feel compelled to read when I've had a rough day.  Amazingly, there is always just the right thing that I need to hear that day when I do.

I am SO glad that I bought this book (with my Swagbucks, by the way)!  It is so rich with information that I want to sit for days at a time and read it.  But, my family expects to eat each day and they would frown upon running around naked because they had no clean clothes to wear - at least I think they would frown.  Let's just say, I don't want to go down that road!  I can't read this book if I'm distracted, though.  I need to be able to concentrate because it is full of important information (that I desperately need to know), case studies and medical report findings.  I read this one with highlighter in hand.  It has ignited a fire in me that I've seldom experienced.  It's really that good!

In this selection of books, I own three and had checked two out from the library.  Normally, I check out more at a time. I'm trying to restrain myself. :0)  I see so many books that I want to read because they relate to things I am currently wanting to learn and I check them out in my excitement.  I know - I'm a nerd.  But, I've come to terms with that.  Then, the reality of a busy day to day life sets in and I struggle to read them.  Cookbooks are returned without trying even one new recipe. 

On top of my book addiction - I subscribe to these magazines:  Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, Midwest Living and my free subscription to Weight Watchers Magazine.  At least I can digest the magazines in 5 minute chunks of time if I need to.  And, I usually do!

I have come to realize that I LOVE to be continually learning and trying new things.  I think that is part of my book obsession.  They open a whole world of experiences and how-to's for anyone willing to glimpse within their pages.  HOW EXCITING IS THAT?! 

So, I want to know - are there any other 'nerds' out there with me?  Do you love books?  What is your favorite kind of books that you like to read?  Don't leave me hanging, ladies! :0)

Hope you can find a few moments to get lost in a book today!

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Wash My Own Mouth Out With Soap - And I Like It!

This is a post I've had on the back burner for a while.  I wanted to have some time to use the product and get an opinion of it before I wrote about it.  You're probably wondering what it is, so I won't hold you in suspense any longer.  I've been using tooth soap.  Yes, soap on my teeth.  Actually, my whole family has been.

I decided to take the next step in kicking more chemicals to the curb a couple of months back.  When it was time to buy more tooth paste, I opted for a natural tooth paste from Trader Joe's.  I didn't actually read the ingredients until I got home.  Dork!  It had flouride in it - something I was wanting to eliminate.

Right at that same time I began to read about tooth soap over at Health, Home, & HappinessThis is one of Cara's posts about it.  But, if you have some time to browse around there, she has some really interesting posts on holistic dentistry.  Anyway, the timing just seemed right.  What was the point of buying "natural" toothpaste if it still had poisons in it?  So, I ordered a 4 pack of tooth soap from the shop, Beautiful Soaps.

I like the fact that this particular brand of tooth soap comes in a chap stick type container.  It just seemed more sanitary to me than the ones that are a regular bar meant to be kept out.  Plus, I thought this style would travel easily.

My whole family loves this stuff!  I don't think my teeth have ever felt cleaner than while using tooth soap.  It doesn't give you that artificial minty feeling in your mouth after brushing - it just leaves your teeth feeling really clean.  Another thing I've noticed (Chris, too) is that in the mornings my teeth don't have that fuzzy feel that they did with regular tooth paste. 

We were close to the end of our first order of tooth soap when we went to Michigan last weekend.  I placed another order before we left, but took the tube of "natural" toothpaste with us on our trip.  I couldn't believe the difference.  By mid-afternoon my teeth felt absolutely skanky.  We're talkin' plumb carny, here (pronounced, kyarn - ee, emphasis on the first syllable.  That means absolutely, beyond nasty in my yanka-billy vernacular).  It was really gross.  I was really glad to see that manilla envelope in the mail precious shortly after our return home.

There are many health benefits to using tooth soap, including the fact that flouride is considered harmful and banned in Europe along with most other countries for reasons I'll let you research yourself.  I know, how kind of me, huh?  I've also read that flouride is a component in rat poison.  And, when we don't interfere with the process by coating our teeth with glycerine and other things - something in our saliva causes our teeth to naturally remineralize.  I don't have all of the specifics down, yet.  I plan on researching this area more fully.  But, in the mean time, I can't imagine ever going back to any sort of tooth paste if for no other reason than I know that there is nothing harmful in tooth soap and my teeth have never felt cleaner.  Ever.  I'm so not kidding here.

I hope that you take a little time to look into the benefits of using tooth soap over tooth paste.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go brush. :0)

Have a gerat Monday!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Bottom Line

My husband, my son and myself went to Michigan over the past weekend to spend time with my family.  We had the best trip ever - except for the part where my husband got sick (for the first time in a year) promptly upon arriving and was in bed for pretty much the whole time.  He went to an urgent care clinic on Sunday morning and got a couple of shots and a couple more prescriptions.  But, we still ended up extending our stay by two days until he was capable of making the drive home.  Other than that, it was wonderful.  :0)

Mom had bought some Granny Smith apples that she was going to use to make pie.  She ended up not making the pie and since they prefer red apples for eating, the Granny Smiths would have went to waste.  Dad asked me if we would want them.  Of course!  I told him that I buy 2 bags of them every week because they are Chris' favorite.  So, when we loaded up the Explorer to leave I grabbed the apples and tossed them in the back - happy that I would have something to send with Chris to work for lunch the next day.  Lord knows there wasn't anything else in the house to eat when we got back!

So, yesterday morning as I'm trying to find things to put in Chris' lunchbox to fill a hole in his belly I reach for the bag of Granny Smith apples.  Then, I read the bag.  That's when I became appalled, angry, horrified, and a few more emotions that I wasn't ready for at 6:30 AM on a Wednesday morning.

I scanned the bag to the computer so you can read it for yourself.  Pardon the crinkles.

Do you see what it says the apples are coated with?  Look, right there above the bag weight.

Coated with Food Grade Vegetable and/or Shellac Based Wax Resin to maintain freshness.

HELLLLOOOOO?  SHELLAC?  REALLY?  Am I being unreasonable here?  I mean, my dad is a carpenter and I remember shellac being a very common finish on many of his wood projects.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to ingest it.  So, just to make sure I'm not turning into a completely paranoid food freakazoid, I felt the need to Google.  Actually Swagbucks.  Whatever.

This is copied straight from Wikipedia.

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes (pictured at right), which are dissolved in denatured alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze[1] and wood finish. Shellac functions as a tough all-natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odor-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish. Shellac was once used in electrical applications as it possesses good insulation qualities and it seals out moisture. Shellac is often the only historically-appropriate finish for early 20th-century hardwood floors, and wooden wall and ceiling paneling.

From the time it replaced oil and wax finishes in the 1800s, shellac was the dominant wood finish in the western world until it was replaced by nitrocellulose lacquer in the 1920s and 1930s. It remained popular in the Southern United States through the 1950s and 1960s. It continues to be a popular candy glaze for pill shaped sweets such as Skittles.

Shellac is edible and it is used as a glazing agent on pills (see excipients) and candies in the form of pharmaceutical glaze (alternatively, confectioner's glaze). Because of its alkaline properties, shellac-coated pills may be used for a timed enteric or colonic release.[11] It is also used to replace the natural wax of the apple, which is removed during the cleaning process.[12] When used for this purpose, it has the food additive E number E904. This coating is not vegan and most likely not vegetarian either as it may, and probably does, contain crushed insects. In the tablet manufacture trade, it is sometimes referred to as "beetlejuice"[citation needed] for this reason.

There are a few things here that disturb me.  Let's break it down, shall we?  First, they say that it is edible.  But, it has be dissolved in denatured alcohol.  What is that?  Let's ask our handy dandy Wikipedia again.  Mkay?

Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has additives to make it poisonous or unpalatable, and thus, undrinkable. In some cases it is also dyed.

So, they take this "safe" resin and then break it down in a poisonous liquid before they put it on our food, candy and medical pills.  Does anyone else find this a little disturbing - or is it just me?

And, then there is the fact that it most likely has crushed insects in it.  I understand that that is probably an issue with a lot of canned, processed and manufactured foods.  But, apples?  Really?  I wonder how many vegans and vegetarians know that the apples they are eating aren't vegan and vegetarian.  Would they be upset?

I'm just skimming the surface here.  You should Google it yourself.  But, the bottom line for me is that I am not comfortable eating a food that is coated in poison and that is used as an insulator, sealer and in engine work.

One more issue and then I'll be done with my little rant.  As I stated earlier - when we got home from Michigan there wasn't really much in the house to eat.  I have been cutting out the processed foods, which makes weekly grocery runs a necessity.  I have been shopping at Trader Joe's - which is nearly an hour away.  Yesterday, I thought I'd make a quick a run to our little store here in town and buy enough stuff to get me through the next three days when I can get to Indy and do my big shopping.  I had apples, lemons and bananas on my list from the produce department. 

Guess what apples I found?  The exact same kind that I had at home that were coated with shellac.  I proceeded to look at the loose apples.  Same thing.  I moved on to lemons.  All of the lemons were coated with the same stuff.  I asked the guy stocking produce if they had any organic produce.  I know that I have bought it there before.  Evidently, there wasn't enough of a demand for it and the store quit carrying it. 

So, I left the store without buying any apples or lemons.  I did by the bananas because at least they have a peel that I would be taking off - and they aren't on the dirty dozen list.  Actually, they're on the list for the least contaminated produce. 

I never paid much attention in the past to the things that I put in my mouth and offered up to my family.  No wonder we are in the shape we are in.  As I have begun to finally pay attention - words really can't express the emotions I am experiencing.  I'm horrified at what the food manufacturers and FDA are passing off to us as "food".  What's worse is that we thoughtlessly eat it - putting our faith and trust in the fact that they have our best interest and health at heart.  I am realizing that the bottom line for the food industry is the bottom line.  I also find it very unsettling that I can not even buy an apple that hasn't been coated with shellac without driving an hour.

I know that it costs more to buy organic.  We are a one income household.  We scrimp and save and sacrifice to be able to be a one income household, because as a family - that is where our personal priorities are.  That's just us.  We're all different.  But, we have eaten a lot of crap over the past 15 years because it was affordable.  The thing that we have come to realize is that it wasn't affordable.  Oh, maybe on our budget.  But, it cost us in our health.  The stance we have taken as a family is that the buck stops here.  We realize we are going to have to pay.  Either we pay up front by expanding our grocery budget - or we pay down the road with medical expenses and degenerating health.  We choose to pay now.  That means that I won't be purchasing "food" that makes my family sick just to line someone else's pocket.  I will drive an hour if I have to just to be able to put real food on the family table.  I will utilize my farmer's market this summer, as well as my own back yard to grow real food. 

My bottom line is this:  I will be voting with my money.  If that means that I don't shop at my local supermarket because they won't get on board - so be it.  If I have to drive an hour each way to buy nutritious food each week for my family - so be it.  But, I won't be force fed poison any more just to make it easier on the food industry.  And, with that my rant ends.  Thanks for listening.