Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Parade Starts When?

Growing up the month of November was about two things, Thanksgiving and my birthday!! That was it, I was sure this month had not been created for any other purpose than the celebration of Pilgrims and ME! I mean after all what kid doesn't grow up thinking their birthday is a national holiday?
Well, you are never going to believe this, but I have recently discovered that this month has one other purpose. (This is of course besides my nieces' birthdays, these two beauties decided to crowd in on my month but they are so cute I have chosen in my magnanimity to forgive them and even share.) Oops, I have wandered off course as usual. Back on track, apparently November also has an actual national holiday I had over looked, Veterans Day. OK, you don't have to get all judgey (That's a word, right! Well if it's not is should be!) on me. I am sure that somewhere along the line I learned about Veterans Day, I just worked retail so long that I forgot about those days people with real jobs got to take off. Well, it took moving to the sticks to truly educate me about Veterans Day.
My lessons about this day began about five years ago when my son joined Cub Scouts.  His den would be marching in the annual parade and the other mothers seemed shocked that I did know when that would be. Apparently ALL Veterans Day parades are on 11/11 at 11am. Where do they learn this stuff?
But it wasn't until my kids changed schools that I truly learned what this holiday was all about! Now, for most kids Veterans Day is simply a day off from school. Not in Panther Land! These kids go to school on this national holiday for one purpose, to honor the men and women who have fought and died in service of our country.
Each child is encouraged to invite a Veteran to the school on this day. These honored guests are given special seating in the front row while all the parents, grandparents, aunts, sisters-mother's-cousins-in-law (I might be exaggerating just a bit), show up in red, white and blue to fill the High School bleachers. It is quite a sight! The students then march in and line up on the gym floor where they one by one take the microphone to introduce their guest. This introduction includes the service man or woman's name, rank, branch and years of service as well as any wars they might have fought in. It was moving to see each former soldier stand as they are introduced and remain at attention as each new honoree is announced. The applause never dies down as name after name is read.
The guests of honor are then presented with handmade cards of thanks and treated to patriotic music from the Jr High band and readings by the High School students. Of course I couldn't help chuckle as the elementary students took to the floor for their "ribbon dance" to God Bless America (Once again I thought if the ACLU ever finds out about this place we are dead!) The ceremony ended with each young person filing past the Veterans to shake their hands and thank them personally.
As I drove off, stressed that I was late for my next appointment, I knew I needed a little self-inflicted attitude adjustment. These men and women had given up everything to help preserve my freedoms and I was irked that a one hour ceremony in their honor ran a little late. I felt pretty small that day, but small in a good way. You know the kind of small that makes you feel a bit like a child, protected from this big scary world by something so much bigger than yourself. Thank you to all of you who have been part of that something BIG!

Fanny Farmer Pumpkin Bread

If you do not own a Fanny Farmer Cookbook, sell a kidney and get one!! I have made a few adjustments to the spices (I like things a bit more spicy) but otherwise it is all Fanny!

1 1/2 c. flour                                2eggs beaten
1/2 tsp. salt                                  1/4 c. water
1 c sugar                                      1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda                         1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c pumpkin puree                        1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 c veg oil                                  1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
  (If you are adding the nuts try shaking them in a ziplock bag of flour to lightly coat them before adding to the batter. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom.)

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices. Then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix to thoroughly. Stir in nuts. Pour into a well greased or buttered loaf pan. Bake 50-60 min. or until toothpick comes out clean. Turn out of pan and cool on rack.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just Another Night in the 'Hood

Last night I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes after a wonderful dinner. (Parmesan chicken with roasted red and sweet potatoes and cauliflower.) The window over the sink gave me a face to face view of my hubby who was standing at the backyard patio table in his camouflage bib overalls cleaning birds from the afternoon dove hunt. (Yes, we eat dove. In our house the motto is “if it flies, it dies”. Cute hun?) Anyway, we were laughing about our very gender specific duties when my husband took off running. There was a strange high pitched squeal coming from our neighbor’s yard and I joined him to see what could possibly be making that tormented sound.

A herd of deer were feeding in the yard next to us, and in an effort to join his elders a small fawn had attempted to jump the fence. He didn’t quite make it and he was hanging from the chain link fence by one back leg. David quickly ran over and picked up the fawn to take the pressure off of its poor little leg that looked as if it would snap at any second. But the deer’s leg was still wedged tightly. He told me to run across the street and enlist the help of our neighbor Mike and his crowbar. I burst into Mike and Candis’ house (the best part is they were in the middle of a dinner party) and told Mike to grab his crowbar and come help save this poor little deer.

Now at this point I need to point out that Candis and I are fighting and unending battle against the local deer population who view our flowerbeds and vegetable gardens as salad bars. Daily we plot our plan of attack to scare off the creatures. But in this time of need no one cared that this may be the very same suspect who had just that afternoon stripped my pepper plants of their leaves.

Anyway, back to my story, Mike hurried over followed by Jeffry, one of the dinner guest. Mike pried open the chain links far enough for David to free the fawn’s leg. By this time most of our neighbors were standing out on their front yard to see what all the hubbub was about and if they could be of assistance.

As the fawn ran off to catch up with his herd, people slipped quietly back into their homes and within seconds the neighborhood returned to normal. I am sure that most of the people who live around me will not remember anything peculiar about last night. Just as they find nothing odd about the morning a moose sauntered through our front yard on its way over the mountains (we don’t even live in moose country). To them it will be just another night in the “hood”.

Parmesan Chicken (Quick and easy!)
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 tbls. soy sauce
4 tbls. melted butter
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
garlic power
grated parmesan cheese
Mix melted butter and soy sauce together in shallow pan. Dip chicken in mixture coating both sides. Place chicken in baking dish, cover with parmesan cheese and season with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Bake on 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

Sushi, Thai food, fresh bagels, Doughnut Man, no wait I’ve got it, In-N-Out!!! I was trying to remember what I was most looking forward to eating when I arrived in So Cal last week. Yes, I had been sent there to attend a conference for women in ministry, but I spent the greatest amount of my preparation energy daydreaming about what I would eat while I was there.

If you have been with me on this journey for any length of time you know that I am obsessed with food. In fact every blog ends with some yummy recipe. And if you have read even one of my entries you also know that the beautiful valley where I reside is greatly lacking in commerce. This includes great restaurants. I am not asking for anything special or fancy, just a large variety of spectacular cuisine. Is that so much to ask?

Now, I have to admit that I have it much better than most. I am married to one of the finest cooks to ever grace a home kitchen. Not only is my husband proficient in his craft, he actually finds the process relaxing. (This may explain my ever expanding hips.) So when I feel the need for Southern style BBQ, he cranks up the smoker and within hours I am enjoying ribs or brisket rivaling anything to come out of Memphis. Or if I get a hankering for seafood fettuccini he heads to the store to see what’s fresh to add to his decadent Alfredo sauce.

But, back to my rant, there is actually a Chinese restaurant here in town that serves crunchy Chung King noodles out of a can and calls it chow mien! I am sure this violates some article in the Geneva Convention. And the one place that serves a decent bowl of soup is up for sale, so that will be gone before long. I am sure you are beginning to understand my frustration.

“So where do you want to eat?” has quickly become the most dreaded question in my life. There is a great Steakhouse and Tavern in one of the outlying towns, but if they are open you have to be prepared for at least an hour wait for your food, and that is after the 20 minutes you waited to see a waitress. Then there is my favorite Greek joint, yes we have Greek food and it is spectacular. The challenge is it is only a drive thru with outdoor dining. So unless the sun is out and the wind isn’t blowing you will be bringing the food home where for the next three days you will be looking for the sweaty Greek man hiding in your home exuding that aroma.

Therefore it is extremely logical that I am already making my list for my next trip out of the area. This time we are off to Atlanta! Ohhhhh, soul food, no wait, BBQ!!! And my hubby won’t even have to wake up at 5 am to make it!!!

Reo’s Lemon Chicken
So yummy you won’t miss an Italian restaurant!
Cut two whole chickens in half and broil skin side down until brown. Turn once and reduce temperature and cook chicken fully.
Marinade- 1 cup olive oil
2 cups lemon juice                            1 tbls red vinegar
6-7 cloves crushed garlic salt and pepper and oregano to taste
Mix together. Cut up cooked chicken and arrange in pan. Cover with marinade and broil 3 minutes, turn and broil 1 minute more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adventures in Driving

I know it has been quite a while since my last post. In addition to attempting to recover from a car accident my computer crashed two weeks ago. Whew, it has been one crazy season at our house. But I stole my hubby's work laptop,(shhh, don't tell) so I am back in touch. At least I will be for the next two hours.

I was one of the lucky ones. At least I was on the day of my 16th birthday. The glorious day began with my Mother pulling me out of school to take my drivers test, and I actully passed. We drove home to find a hot pink and turquoise vintage VW Bug in the driveway, complete with the oversized bow on top. This one of a kind creation was a labor of love from my Father, and I loved every inch of it, from it's Baja gas pedal, to the marble gear shift. That car was the bomb! No really, it was, less than a week after I got it the engine caught on fire. That was okay, because as my Father was replacing the melted portions of the engine he was able to fix the small short that caused the horn to honk every time I turned right. Despite these small quirks I loved that car, it gave me the greatest gift a teenager could hope for, freedom!

After four years of joy, my husband and I sold the Bug within months of our marriage.Maybe pink wasn't his color, maybe he simply got tired of having to rescue me from the side of the freeway.

Ahhhh, freeways, those fabulous monstrosities of steel and  concrete that make the world go round. While stuck in rush hour traffic, I never thought I would miss freeways. But after 8 years I do. I miss watching the people in car next to me, make phone calls, put on make-up and yes, even reading the newspaper. And these were the drivers. But while this may seem trickey and even dangerous you must keep in mind that these cars rarely broke the 15 mph mark. I never gave much thought to the fact that my 35 mile drive home often took well over an hour.

Now, I spend hours and hours in the car, but for a much different reason. I spend hours to get to the nearest mall or Target. I drive over two hours to stock up at Costco, or for that matter to have soup, salad and beadsticks at Olive Garden. I think I enjoy my drives much more now, even without the people watching, there is just so much to see. The snow covered mountians that I must cross to leave my hometown are full of deer, elk and bald eagles, and all three regularly make appeances. Instead of breaking for an accident I find myself slowing down to let a flock of wild turkeys cross the road. And traffic jams are the result of grain trucks moving slowly during harvest.

I drive slower and far more cautiously than I every imagined possible. When I make the four hour trip to Portland I have to change my mindset. I have to remind myself that a car in the lane next to me is not a hazard and that breaklights ahead are no reason to panic. My sister has always said I drive like a granny, now it is true. But you know what, it really doesn't bother me.

So I have traded my VW Bug for a Chevy pick-up, my lead foot for four wheel drive, and freeways for gravel roads. I will teach my kids more about avoiding deer than changing lanes. I worry more about ice on the road than getting nailed for speeding. And I spend more on my snow tires than I ever would have for a great sound system.But despite all of these differences somethings never change. That blue beast of a pick-up gives me the same pricless gift that cute little bug did all of those years ago, freedom!

Corn, Blackbean and Tomato Salad (can you tell I am counting the hours until summer?)
Mix together in a bowl:
1 can corn, drained
1 can blackbeans ,drained and rinsed
2 chopped tomatos
1 chopped avacado
1 peeled, chopped and seeded cucumber

2 tbls cider vineger
1 tbls olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix together dressing ingredients, toss with salad, chill for one hour before serving.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson

In the third grade I had the much coveted Miss Theal. She was the sweetsy, loving, pretty teacher with a sing-songy voice that everyone hoped for. Each student in her class room felt as if they had won the lottery, everyone that is except me. I was not her biggest fan. Not because of her personality, mind you, but because of her favorite subject, VOCABULARY!!! I despised the weekly busy work of looking up and writing out dictionary definitions, writing each word five times each, and creating our own sentences with our new words. Why couldn't she simply introduce new words and tell us what they meant?

Well, you will be happy to know that I did survive Miss Theal's third grade class, but barely. And I am ashamed to admit that while homeschooling my son during his third grade year we followed much the same format for our vocabulary lessons (but I did take mercy upon him and leave out the creating new sentences). But I have chosen to be much kinder to you my loyal readers.

I could have never guessed that moving to "The Valley" would require vocabulary lessons, boy was I wrong. There have been times over the past 8 years I have wished desperately for a interpreter. In addition to the completely new words that I had never heard before there were also words that I thought I knew the definitions to, but was mistaken. So if you are headed for the wilds of the Eastern Oregon Mountains you may find the following vocabulary lesson helpful. (Don't worry, there will not be a test on Friday. It's really okay, Miss Theal will never know.)


Rig- any vehicle that could or ever has transported a dead animal. This is not limited to pick up trucks or SUVs. A Honda Accord with the gold package is quite capable of hauling a deer that has been quartered.

Pop- a bubbly, sugar filled drink usually served from cans. Known in other parts of the country as soda.

Jockey Box- a bread box sized compartment on the passenger side interior of most "rigs", know in civilized societies as a glove compartment.
(I once asked my husband if he had ever actually put "jockeys" in his Jockey box. He simply rolled his eyes as I pulled a pair of gloves out of mine.)

Crick-(rhymes with stick) A small, quickly moving body of water, similar to a river. A common location for fishin' ( for definition of fishin' see verbs below)


Hookie Bobbin'- although not yet an Olympic sport, this ageless past time requires great skill from the "Bobber". One attempts to stay on his feet, holding onto a car bumper while being pulled over the snow and ice. (No skis required)

Huntin' and Fishin'- The correct pronunciation for the commonly mispronounced words hunting and fishing.

Bagged- Not the act of placing ones groceries into a plastic or paper bag. The act of killing an animal one has been huntin'.

Muddin'- The act of driving in circles off road in an attempt to get ones car as covered with mud as possible. Bonus points are added for getting the "rig" stuck in the mud.
Well, I think that is enough new vocabulary for one week. After all, no one learns a whole new language in a week. Enjoy!

Rick's Cheesey Rice Casserole
All of this "red neck" talk has me craving some Cheese Whiz. We learned this recipe from a dear friend in of all places LA. Don't worry he was a Texas transplant.

2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Jar Cheez Whiz
1 pkg  frozen chopped broccoli (thawed)
1 can cream of chicken
1 stick of butter

Saute veggies in butter, stir in rice, and set aside. In sauce pan on low heat warm up soup and Cheez Whiz. Combine all ingredients in buttered baking dish and bake at 350' for 30 min.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Camo Quilts?

I've been spending quite a bit of time looking at all of the wonderful crafting and sewing blogs lately. My fingers are itching to get back to creating. The feeling is slowly coming back to my hands and I find that I can sit for more that about 5 minutes at a time. So now the question comes, where to start? How about a funky T-shirt turned dress for my 10 year old girl child? Oh, that satin tank top with ruffles looks like a challenging project.

Ok, the T-shirt dress is out, my daughter would rather die than be seen in anything that even closely resembles a dress. And where the heck am I going to wear a satin tank? So perhaps I should look back over some recent pictures to see what we could really use. Well, there is that lovely one from Christmas where my husband is wearing his new camo hat with our kids school emblem emblazoned across the front. I could complain about the hat but I am the one who got it for him. We have a sweet friend who owns a fun little custom t-shirt company. She had made one for her own husband and my hubby couldn't stand the thought of not having one of his very own. So she graciously whipped one up just in time for Christmas.

I am pretty sure I have touched briefly on the topic of camo in earlier blogs, but I think the subject needs further investigation. Camouflage clothing is something of a staple around these parts. I get it, I get it, when you are out hunting and you don't want to be seen by the animal you are about to shoot for dinner, camo is a very important item. What I am unsure of is how it migrated off the hunting and battle fields and into everyday life. I don't know how it began, but this is one fashion statement that is here to stay.

I am starting to get use to seeing men in camo walking around Wal-Mart. I like to tell myself that these gents are just coming in from archery hunting to grab a can of Spam for dinner. And then, when I see a camo baseball hat I talk myself into believing that they accidentally grabbed their hunting hat on the way out the door. But I am still stumped when I see camo vests and bow-ties at weddings and proms. I just can't seem to come up with a likely reason one would need their neck and tummy to disappear into the surrounding brush, especially at a formal event. And it's not just the guys here. I see many darling girls in camo hats bedazzled with rhinestone crosses. I mean doesn't the bling give your position away?

But nothing challenges me more than the camouflage fabrics found in the yardage section at Wal-Mart. There is camo fleece, camo cotton, quilting camo, satin camo and not wanting to neglect the gals, pink camo.  And this is hot selling stuff. The employee at the cutting table mentioned to me that it never goes on sale due to how consistently is sells. I don't know, I am still not convinced, do we really need a camo quilt?

All things have their time and place. This includes Camouflage. Anytime you are shooting at something or someone is shooting at you, you may wear camo. But I have to draw the line in the sand there!!

I know, I am talking a good game, but the reality is I bought my husband a camo hat for Christmas (which he loves by the way) and that is just something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life. (No really, he will most likely wear it that long!)

Baked Oatmeal
(I am pretty sure this is one of my husbands creations and oh so yummy!)

2-3c cooked oatmeal cooled
2 eggs
1 ½ c milk
3/4 c sugar
1tsp salt

Combine oatmeal & blueberries in bowl. Heat milk, sugar and salt until hot. Wisk eggs in seperate bowl, slowly add hot milk mixture while wisking (so you don't scamble your eggs). Pour into oatmeal mixture. Stir well and pour into buttered baking dish. Cook uncovered 350* for 1hr or until middle is set. Serve warm with cream and brown sugar.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Christmas

This past fall when a good friend introduced me to the Advent Conspiracy I was inspired! What if I spent less this Christmas on things like gifts and decor? What if I took the money I saved and gave it away? What if everyone did this, what kind of difference could we make in this world?

My husband and I decided that the way we would "conspire" this year was to give only homemade gifts. I broke out the old sewing machine, and after a lesson on how to thread it from a friend, I was off. From a few simple ideas stole from craft blogs our house was transformed into Santa's workshop. I loved putting new fabrics together in interesting ways. The sound of my machine humming along while a Jane Austen book played in the background made me peaceful. I was well on my way to finishing over 30 homemade gifts for the season.

While all of this was going on, my family was getting in on the act. I had a vision of a white paper Christmas. Instead of buying new decorations to add to my haul, we purchased one ream of white copy paper. From this humble beginning our Winter Wonderland would emerge. Hundreds of paper strips became the paper chain that now covers my celling. My husband discovered his gift for cutting out delicate and exquisite snowflakes. Lastly a dozen origami cranes flew in to give new life to my old fake green wreath.

I was feeling pretty Martha Stewart about the whole thing, and had even mailed off two boxes of gifts when I left to pick my kids up from school on Tuesday. While driving 55 on the highway a pick up truck pulled out in front of me without warning. I smashed into him at near full speed in my almost new car. My car didn't make it, but thanks to the grace of God I did. I have no broken bones, just tons of soft tissue damage in my neck, back, arms and legs. This damage makes it difficult for me to sit for any length of time (this blog has been done in many starts and stops) without my hands falling asleep or my neck deciding it is time to quit.

Now my sewing machine sits on the dining room table with my last project still hanging from the needle. It, along with about 5 other projects will remain unfinished for now. My dear husband is working his tail off to keep up the house, cook the meals (he does a lot of that anyway), and keep up at work. He does this all with out one word of complaint, and a smile upon his face. The kids help out as much as they can as I sit and stretch and try to heal.

I am the kind of person who feels the need to create. I paint, sew, and write, not so much for others, but more for myself. Long ago I realised that it was the simple fact that we are crated in the image of God, the Great Creator, that gives us all the innate ability to create. The creative process is for me a form of worship. The connection I feel with my Lord when I am expressing myself is beyond description. But now in this season of healing I will have to learn how to simply "be still" and know Him.

So, my Martha Christmas will have to wait. There are dear friends and family members who gifts will arrive sometime in January. I refuse to go out and spend in a desperate attempt to get something in the mail. After all , I am part of a conspiracy and that is not to be taken lightly!

Soft Spice Bars (one of the many ways my husband is spoiling me)
3/4 cup butter melted
1 cup plus 1 tbls. sugar divided
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

In mixer or mixing bowl combine butter 1 cup sugar and molasses. Beat in egg until smooth.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir into molasses mixture.
Spread into a well greased 15x10x1 baking pan (reg sized cookie sheet works great)
Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbls. sugar
Bake at 375 for 10-12 min. or until lightly browned. Do not over bake.
Cool and cut into bars.