Monday, January 30, 2012

Pink Tulips

I was not planning on purchasing pink tulips when I walked into the grocery store.

As a matter of fact, I was specifically there for three items:  Chocolate Cheerios, bananas, and Peter Pan Superchunk Please-Not-Creamy-This-Time-Mom peanut butter.

And then I saw them . . . right by the ice cream freezer.

Pink Tulips.

My heart swooned.  I steeled myself.  I'm at the end of the grocery budget.  Must focus.

I found my peanut butter and bananas and rounded the corner to head toward the cereal.  And there they were again.  Blush pink, faintly edged in white.

I had just come in from a drizzly, grey outside.  A drizzly, grey day that followed about 13 other drizzly, grey days.  My hope of ever seeing the sun, color, or bloom again was fading quickly.  I couldn't at this point exactly be held accountable for the grocery budget; could I?

Somehow those luscious tulips got into my basket and I made a firm decision.  The children would be eating Honey Nut O's until the end of the month.  No Chocolate Cheerios.  Cost of 2 boxes of Chocolate Cheerios = Cost of Tulips.  Do the math.  These tulips were mine.

I felt like I had found a hidden secret, my own little stash of pink-hope-for-spring.

That afternoon I looked at blogs and found that pink tulips were popping up everywhere.  It seems that others have also found their own private stash pink-hope-for-spring in their own shops.

These were from Uncommon Grace.

These from Beauty Does Matter.  ::sigh::

Can you even imagine looking out your farmhouse window and seeing this sight?  I do believe I'm hyperventilating.

My favorite, from Farmgirl Paints.  Love the blue canning jar, love the rusted turquoise metal "box," love the vintage shakers.  And, of course, love the pink tulips.

The sun is flickering on my tulips, I'm smiling, hope springs eternal.  The kids will never miss those Cheerios.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Hate Meatloaf . . . And Other Lies I Used to Believe

Yesterday when posting about my youthful ideals of what a sister, a large family, and a dog were supposed to look like, I got to thinking about other lies I've believed.  Lies that have thrown me completely for a loop in the past month.

Lies like:

A child will never knowingly cause more work for its mother by not cleaning up the empty chip bags, slowly warming gallon of milk, sticky peanut butter knife, dripped juice, spilled cereal, and discarded granola bar wrappers in the kitchen.


A bathroom used by 3 teen-aged boys should only need to be cleaned once a week.

A bathroom used by 3 teen-aged boys should only need to be cleaned three times a week.

A bathroom used by 3 teen-aged boys should only need to be cleaned once a day.


The level of excitement generated by a new knitting project will extend to the time of completion of said object.

or, to bring me to the subject of this post,

I hate meatloaf.

Yes, that last "I hate," as I have recently discovered, is a lie.

Because I just hadn't tasted this meatloaf.

This meatloaf is moist and juicy and light and bursting with flavor.  It is airy, not compact; soft, not dry and hard.  My children actually love it, and one requested to have it for leftovers the next night.

By the way, shouldn't "meatloaf" have another name?  Isn't there something just slightly off-putting about the idea of meat and a loaf.  Like those two concepts shouldn't come together in one name.

I googled "another name for meatloaf."  The two sites that came up were "No Results Found" and an attempt to get me to read the lyrics of "Is Nothing Sacred."  Wrong meatloaf.

So, I guess we're stuck.  Meatloaf it is.  But don't let the disappointment of all those past meatloafs keep you from trying this one.

It is Meat Succulence . . . to be sure.

Italian Turkey Meat Loaf Succulence (I double this for a family of 7)
1 large egg
Half a 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley (Whoever has this on hand?  I left it out.  Never missed it.)
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package Italian turkey sausages - removed from casings, about 4 sausages (You can get these just in the poultry section of the grocery store.)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 375.  

In a large bowl, beat the egg and stir in tomatoes, onion, parsley, oats, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Then mix in by hand the Italian turkey sausage and ground turkey just until blended.  Form into a large meat loaf (meat succulence) on a baking sheet (like a jelly roll pan), patting to remove any air spaces.  Bake for one hour.  Top with spaghetti sauce and continue baking 15 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Still Glad

I always wanted one of these.

A sister.

In my typical idealistic world view, a sister would be the ultimate confidante, the ultimate encourager, and, of course, we'd share the ultimate wardrobe!

I also believed that having a large family would be similar to living in the "Sound of Music" and having a dog would be be close to the experience of "Lassie."  Some dreams die hard.

I'm still hopeful.

But with all the imperfections that having a sister might bring to one's life,

I'm still glad that both of my girls have one of these.

A sister.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prairie Fire - A Return

It's been eyeing me archly for months now.  Then I started noticing the edges of an accusatory attitude.  Which was followed up by full-on condemnation.

My Prairie Fire knitting.

I hadn't picked it up since spring 2011 blew in all warm and fragrant.

In my defense, I have to say that the Prairie Fire is very thick, warm and wooly . . . exactly why I chose the yarn.  And while it is yummy to knit it in the damp cold of winter, once spring makes its entrance (and it makes its entrance early in the South!!) holding poundage of bulky, loosely woven wool across my lap begins to make me feel hot and slightly claustrophobic.

And then, there's the issue of moss stitch.  Whose big idea was that?  Instead of zinging down the rows with the continuous knit stitch of the very pedestrian garter stitch, I had to choose a stitch where I knit 1, throw the yarn, purl 1, throw the yarn, knit 1, throw the yarn, purl 1 . . . you get the idea.

And as a final blow, there have been other yarn-y type things that have caught my attention and made the previously infatuating Prairie Fire look downright dull.

Prairie Fire and I might have continued our standoff of condemnatory glances and cool disdain, if several things hadn't happened to bring me back to a place of commitment.

#1 - Days on end of cold, damp weather.  Wet cold that seeps into the very bones.
#2 - Children's shivers upon awaking to a large, open house in cold, damp weather.
#3 - Hours spent supervising children's math, feeling crazy impatience about to drive me over the edge.

So, in the end, the combination of chill, motherly pride, and a desire for sanity led me to finally once again pick up the dear Prairie Fire.

In no time at all the knits and purls were coming quickly and easily.  The bulky weight of the half-finished throw lay warm and comforting across my lap and up my waist.

Prairie Fire and I are once again in a relationship.  Now, to finish it up before the warm breezes of spring come again and steal my focus!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Muscadine Grape Jam

Along with the rivers of hot tea I am consuming this winter to stave off internal chill, I am enjoying jars of autumn goodness that bring to mind the smells and coziness of fall.

That goodness is . . . Muscadine Grape Jam.

Please note hot tea and toast, looking lonely.

Enter Muscadine Grape Jam to bring the rustic sweetness of the vineyard right to my chilly winter table.

I have a friend who grows organic muscadines right on her property.

The grapes are harvested by these two little scamps of hers and delivered in bulging 2-pound bags, which I attempt to save for jam-making.

I regret to say that one day I lost all control and ate a full 1 1/2 pounds of muscadines straight out of the bag.    I learned quickly that the human digestive system was not created for such.

My digestive system has no problem at all, however, with multiple cups of hot tea and a slice of ancient grain bread spread thickly with Muscadine Grape Jam.

Or maybe two.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Of Beads, Hemp, and Jack Sparrow

Saturday morning I thrifted a cute unbleached linen blouse.

Saturday noon I decided the blouse needed a new necklace to go with it.

Saturday afternoon I picked up a box of mixed wood and bone beads and hemp cord at Hobby Lobby.

Saturday night, after completing dinner, cleaning up dinner, monitoring showers/baths, setting out clothes for Sunday, administering night-time prayers, hugs, and kisses, I finally got to start on my necklace, which of course was intended to be worn to church the next morning.

Love, love this beautiful collection of the wood and bone beads, mixed in with some odd beads of my own, collected from who knows where.

I started at 10:30 p.m. and invited along Johnny Depp in his current incarnation as Jack Sparrow, to give me some company and keep an eye on the progress.

Surrounded by all those interesting beads and the earthy black hemp twine, I felt as if I had perhaps found my new calling as a jewelry artist, complete with darling little tins of different beads, a set of intricate hand tools---pliers, crimpers, cutters, tweezers, and a small soldering gun.

Never mind that I was just stringing beads onto twine.  The imagination of what could be has always been much more alluring than the reality of what is.  ::sigh::

When I plunked myself down at 10:30 p.m., my initial thought was, "How long could this possibly take?"  By 2:30 a.m. I knew that it actually could take exactly 4 hours to sort beads into appropriate patterns, string beads and knot string.

This may or may not have anything to do with the distraction of encouraging Jack Sparrow in his quest to once again be in possession of his Black Pearl.

I also realized at 2:30 a.m. that as fun as beading is, I do not have a new career in such laid out ahead of me.    

And, also, that should I ever be so unfortunate as to wind up a stowaway on a pirate ship,  Jack Sparrow would be an endlessly entertaining captain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hands in the Kitchen

There is something very good about these pictures . . . very good indeed.

Male hands working in the kitchen.  Mmmm-mmmm.  I do love to see that.  Or I guess I should say male hands that know what to do in the kitchen!!  There are several pairs of male hands around this house that don't need to be in the kitchen!!  They do many other things and do them well, but they don't need to be in the kitchen.

Okay . . . where was I?

Oh, yes, very good pictures, indeed.

Middle Son had a project:  Research the origins of a recipe from a Spanish country, make that recipe, and present in class.

He picked salsa, and not just any salsa but Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa.  We're kind of picky about our salsa around here.  Most especially, we're not all about a lot of chunks.  And in Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa, the blender takes care of all those disturbing chunks and makes it smooth as can be.  And we are very happy.

These male hands chopped onion, pressed garlic, and sliced jalapenos.  I sat and watched and felt joyful.

And then, when the salsa was made, I tasted and re-tasted and sneaked more when Middle Son wasn't looking.

Because it was really, really, really good!!  Yummmmmmmmmmm!

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to Watch a Basketball Game

7:15 pm - Arrive at game.  Find that the Varsity Girls are still playing.  Dig for the magazine that I have surreptitiously stowed in my purse.  Drool over the cupcakes.  Determine to have a "French Country Kitchen" by Thursday.

7:30 pm - Loudly cheer for Oldest Son's team coming on to the court.  Admire his warm-up shots.  Silently curse kit lens that came with my Nikon.

8:00 pm - First quarter break.  Avoid eye contact with basketball-loving fans, including My Husband, while snatching up my magazine.  Sigh over fabulous table setting idea.

8:05 - Second quarter begins.  Resume loud cheering for Oldest Son and his team.  Scold refs, encourage point guard, instruct Oldest Son as necessary.

8:20 pm - Half-time.  Sneak more looks at my magazine.  Remember that I have not had dinner and am wildly hungry.  Salivate over cupcakes, tea, and candies of various delectable-ness.

Become totally distracted by the step team!

8:35 - Third quarter begins.  Stuff magazine and cheer for Oldest Son and his team.  Scold coach, mutter at opposing team's fans, admonish defense as necessary.

9:00 pm - Third quarter break.  Realize that everyone has accepted that I love my magazine as much as the game of basketball.  Notice female fan down the bleacher eyeing my "read" and wishing she had brought one of her own.  File away cool idea of how to display a book.

9:05 pm - Enter into fourth quarter.  Focus on taking pictures.  Make increasingly loud comments to My Husband regarding the ability of my kit lens to get any decent pictures.  Begin to list lenses that would improve my quality of life.

9:30 pm - Game over.  Exit game, magazine safely stowed once again.  Think how much I love watching my son play his game.  Think how much I love looking at my magazine.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perfectly Perfect

In life, perfectly perfect things do not come along often.

So when they do, one must enjoy them to the full, celebrate them, drink them up!

Which brings me to the subject of my perfectly perfect new slippers.

Let's begin by saying that I am NOT a slipper person.  In my opinion, slippers tend to make a person look frumpy and schlumpy.  There is nothing worse than having someone meet you at the door with slippers that have been worn much longer than the manufacturer intended (for some slippers, that's just about a week) and are now an odd, faded color, fabric threadbare, fluff matted down, and let's not even talk about how a slipper can lose its ability to ever again look clean.

Instead, I have chosen to go barefoot in the house, summer and winter, so instead of looking frumpy and schlumpy, I have instead looked barefoot (occasionally pregnant---5 times to be exact) and cold.

Until now.  Until I found the most perfectly perfect pair of slippers ever, ever.

Aren't they the cutest?  Suede upper, stitch-y look, fur for a little style, nice hard sole for running out to the mailbox, inexpensive, warm.

If I wear them enough, now, the cracks and callouses on my heels may actually one day be soft again.  Slippers can be a good thing.  Who knew?

If you just must have a pair, Target has them here.

Come to think of it, I may just order another pair to replace these when they inevitably wear out.  After all, in life, perfectly perfect things do not come along often.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Turkey Enchiladas

There are 3 reasons I love this meal:

#1 - They're quick - meaning I can decide to make them an hour before dinner time and still have them on the table at the prescribed moment, meaning I can feel like something really did go right with my day.

#2 - They're turkey - meaning I don't feel heavy and gorged when I finish eating them, meaning they're light but totally delicious!!

#3 - They're enchiladas - meaning it's Mexican food, meaning it's flavorful and slightly spicy, meaning my family loves it.  My family really could eat Mexican food meal after meal after meal after meal after meal ......

This recipe is adapted from an American Test Kitchen recipe.

Quick Turkey enchiladas are especially comforting on a grey . . . drippy . . . overcast . . . drizzly day.  Like today.

Give me something warm and scrumptious!

Quick Turkey Enchiladas (serves 4 . . . I double it for the 7 of us)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 1/2 cans red enchilada sauce (you will need 2 10-ounce cans of enchilada sauce)
1/4 cup drained sliced pickled jalapenos, chopped (I left these out . . . too spicy for little mouths . . . husband very disappointed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
10 6-inch corn tortillas

Heat oven to 400.  Grease 13x9 baking dish.  Heat oil in large skilled over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in turkey and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of cheese, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, jalapenos, and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stack tortillas on plate, wrap with plastic and microwave until pliable, about 1 minute.  Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup turkey mixture and roll tightly.  Please seam-side down in prepared baking dish and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Top with additional 1 cup enchilada sauce and remaining cheese; cover with foil.  Bake 10 minuntes, remove foil, and continue baking until cheese is completely melted, about 5 minutes longer.  Serve, passing remaining heated enchilada sauce at table.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Being Ancient

There was one more find that came through the door after my flea market spree.

A 1963 Royal portable manual typewriter.


When I opened it up, the children stood around in awed silence.

They waited for a screen to appear above the keys.  None did.

"Does it come with paper?" one asked after awhile.

The next several hours were filled with jostling back and forth, jockeying for a turn on The Wonderful Machine.  This was mixed in with chimes of discovery:

"Mom, if you type far enough, a bell dings!!"

"Hey, if you hit the keys too fast, the letter arms get stuck together!"

"Wow . . . when you press the silver bar on the left, the paper rolls up to just the right spot so you can start typing on the next line!"

"You sure have to press hard on these keys to make them work!"

It was as foreign to them as creating butter with a churn.  As fascinatingly unknown as exploring Eli Whitney's original cotton gin might be.

And I was amazed that something so common and unremarkable from my childhood should be an object of such awe, wonder and marvel to my children.

A similar typewriter sat on my grandma's table, and she routinely drummed out fascinating letters to her children and grandchildren spread out over the globe.  I feel pretty sure some model of manual typewriter was probably in a closet somewhere as I grew up, as un-exceptional and ordinary as the folding chair leaning up next to it.

But now, being brought face to face with a 1963 Royal, my children felt like explorers investigating an artifact from some past culture.

Me?  Well, I just felt . . . ancient.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Wow but don't I feel like Cinderella come late to the party.  After watching beautiful blog by beautiful blog show their "finds" at the thrift store or the flea market or their neighbors curbside garbage, today I get to show my finds from my first day ever of flea market searching.

Uh, maybe not quite "searching."  When it is 19 degrees out and only 10 vendors have bothered to show up at risk of hypothermia, it might not exactly  be called "searching."  Rather, glancing . . . spotting . . . sighting.

Love, love, love these sweet little bottles.  In case you wanted to know, Kreml is a hair tonic from the 30's.  Yes, I'm quite the little storehouse of vintage knowledge now.  ::ahem::  I have them up behind my sink, and since pansies flourish in these parts all winter long, I can enjoy those chipper little pansy faces while doing my dishes.  Sweet!

Old well wheel, cocoa box, pitcher and 3 cent milk bottle.  Rustic, worn, used.  Makes me smile.  I think I'll do a few little vignettes on top of my cupboards.

The Man of the House looked slightly bewildered.  I told him I had "finds," and he pictured a new piece of furniture that became mine for $10.  He did not, however picture rusted metal, old glass and worn silver.

This could be a frustrating new obsession.  Poor man.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Well, there's been more than a little watching of American Pickers over Christmas break.  Goodness I love that show!  And between that show and great blogs from flea market lovers and Flea Market Style Magazine, I decided that it was high time to actually visit a flea market.  Youngest Son was more than game to come along.

Last week of Christmas break, needing a little something fun to do, let's do it.

Never mind that after a mild winter, the very day we chose to go was smack dab in the middle of a cold front!

Actually, by the time we got to the flea market, the nice little windshield was informing us that it was, indeed only 19 degrees!!

If it looks to you like there are a lot of empty tables at the flea market, well, you would be doggone right.  There weren't many brave souls buying or selling in the 19 degree weather.

But there were some.  And Youngest Son and I had a blast . . . searching, bartering, discovering . . . the condensation of our breath in the icy air so thick we could scarcely see each other.

I'll show you my sweet little finds tomorrow.

Me and Youngest Son . . . the newest American pickers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Table

Here's what my winter table is looking like.  Christmas colors, but not Christmas-y enough to need to remove with the reindeer, ornaments and nativity.

Collected bottles, a wrapping of burlap, tied with twine.  Mixture of daisies and mums.  Various fresh greenery laying on the burlap runner.

Simple, common, beautiful nature.  Just the way I like my table!