Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Husband's Sense of Humor

Do you see that???

BLUE tape to tape up the holes I put there in a valiant effort to take out the soffit and save him some time *cough, cough* by getting 'things' ready on this side.

BLUE tape, people. 

Honey, I'm so glad you're sense of humor is still intact. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Soup and Bread

We love soup and bread nights.  I try and do it at LEAST once a week.  I think I get in that range.  I've gone from once a month cooking to trying to 'meal plan' to more of an idea list.  It seems to work better but it means I don't track as well as I used to.  :/ 

Looks more like catagories or themes.  Beans, Rice, Chicken, Beef, Pasta, Pizza, Soup, Finger foods. 

99% of what we do is from scratch and more than half of our meals are bean based.  I've tried cooking all fancy and then the kids 'oooohhh' and 'aaaahhhh' over the simple and AWESOME beans and rice.  Guess what?  That's where we're livin'. 

ANYWAY - what do you do when it's POURING buckets outside, you are trying to use up freezer items, and just the other day you came across a gallon bag of roasted carrots you did late summer? 

You decide SIMPLE CARROT SOUP is for dinner, thanks to having read your girlfriend's post (a sweet gal who *follows a recipe*...then shares it!).

Then, you remember this AWESOME bread recipe* another friend posted and you've now learned to finesse to look exhaustingly beautiful when in actuallity, you dumped everything in a bowl, forgot about it for the rest of the afternoon, and will shape to let rise once more an hour or so before you want to serve it.


I love it when a plan comes together.  Or a throw it together that looks like you had a plan well thought out in advance.  Whatever.

*Angela Bread aka: No Knead Artisan Bread


Add to large bowl, in order:
  • 3 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 T. yeast
  • 1 1/2 T. salt
  • 6 1/2 c. flour
Mix with wooden spoon.  Dough will be sticky.  Lightly cover (not airtight) and let sit at room temperature 2 - 5 hours. At any time after 2-hour mark, may bake and/or refrigerate dough (keeps for up to 14 days in covered but not airtight container). Will take on better, almost sourdough flavor after 24+ hours.  Makes 4 1-lb. loaves.
  • Pull off 1-lb. of dough (large grapefruit sized ball)
  • Dust surface with flour, then pull floured top layer of bread around itself and to the bottom, rotating 1/4 turn each time, until top of ball is smooth and bottom is 4 corners pulled together (don't worry, can't really mess this part up). Should take about 30 seconds.  Finish options:
Option 1:  Round Artisan Loaf
  • Let dough ball sit (rise) at room temperature 40 minutes
  • Use serrated knife to cut deep grooves in top of bread
  • Bake!
Option 2:  Herb Loaf
*Add 1+ teaspoon each of herbs of your choice to water when making dough.  Our favorites:  dill, basil, and rosemary.

Option 3:  Dinner Rolls
  • Divide dough ball into 6 dinner roll
  • Let sit (rise) at room temperature for 40 minutes
  • Bake!
Option 4:  Baguette
  • Pull/roll dough ball into elongated loaf (may need to dush with flour again)
  • Let sit (rise) at room teperature for 20 minutes
  • Use pastry brush to "paint" with water to remove excess flour
  • Use serrated knive to cut grooves in top of bread at angle
  • Bake!
  • Pre-heat oven (and baking stone, if using) to 450 degrees, with metal cookie sheet or broiling pan on bottom shelf
  • Place bread/rolls on baking stone or baking sheet on top shelf in oven
  • Toss 1 c. hot water on hot sheet/pan on bottom shelf to create steam; shut oven door to trap steam
  • Bake 30 minutes for bread (35+ minutes if baking 2 loaves), 20-25 minutes for dinner rolls, or 25 minutes for baguette
  • Cool on wire rack

  • Option 5:  Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls
    • Spread bottom of 9" baking pan (i.e. pie plate) with creamed mixture of: 1/2 c. brown sugar, 6 T. melted butter, 1/2 t. salt, and pecans
    • Roll 1 1/2 lb. dough ball into large rectangle 1/8th inch. thick (flour as needed)
    • Spread with creamed mixture of:  1/4 c. sugar, 4 T. butter, pinch pepper, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. nutmeg, then sprinkle with 1/3 c. pecan bits
    • Roll into log and slice with serrated knife into 8 equal pieces
    • Place in pan, sprinkle with extra cinnamon to taste
    • Let sit (rise) at room teperature for 20 minutes
    • Bake at 450 for 40 minutes
    • Scrape sides with knive to loosen, then invert on plate while still hot
    • Serve warm!
    Vary to taste. Our personal preference:  fewer pecans and more butter/sugar topping.  I used a pie plate with handles, which worked very well in inverting onto plate: placed dinner plate on top, held firmly against handles and tipped upside down.  Voila! 

    I usually make the two big loaves at once as...well...everyone loves it, but last week I saved half the dough for fresh, hot bread another night that same week.  Worked fabulous...but, use a bigger bowl than I did when I stored the half for later or you'll wind up with this


    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    The Window Side

    Half the kitchen is done.  That other half is driving me batty.  I know what end result we're shooting for.  Unfortunately, it costs money we don't have right now so I mentally back up and find out something I can do to be ready when money grows on trees. 

    Like rip out another cabinet and soffit. 

    Honestly, I have this demo thing kind of down to a system and lined up my tools, idea, permission, and three hour time slot.  If it had only been as easy as the first soffit to go. 

    Wouldn't you know it, this one is open to the attic as well.  I couldn't believe it.  Once I'd started it was a bit hard to stop, so I (recklessly) kept at it, now fueled with a serious dose of irritation in addition to the normal caffinee. 

    This cabinet wasn't horrible to take out, although again - 30 layers of paint is pretty good glue.  Unbelievable. 
    Back and forth, back and forth - like wiggiling a loose tooth.  Then some yanking was involved. 

    While I was there and the mess was unavoidable - let's just rip out all the tile that's going to come out someday anyway.  Efficient aren't I?  What's uglier than blue countertops?  
    Yep.  That is....

    Here's the DIYer's best friend.
    Looking slightly better...
    Here's the after.  Well.....the first after of that day's project.  Yes, those stupid holes are still there.  I'll wait until the real talent can take care of the holes to the attic, the electrical, and possibily some structual issues.  His name is Alan and you will recognize him as he will be the one with REALLY BIG JEWELS in his crown.    
    Once those pesky little details are finished off nicely...I'll finish preping.  More mudding and then...paint.  Be afraid, be very afraid.   

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Everything 'ology'

    This month has been a smattering of doctor's visits.  Some for the big kids (shocker) and most for Charlotte. 

    We've had Pediatric for her one year 'I'm big stuff and see how great I'm doing' appointment.  20# 6oz and 29 1/2 inches long.  Following her growth curve in a very smooth fashion.

    Then it was Opthomology for her eye check.  It's routine for her.  Originally we were sent there because of the complications there can be with Down Syndrom and vision but she's doing pretty well, so they're just monitoring to make sure that the little bitty issues she has don't escalate more quickly than can be counteracted.

    Later that same week was Audiology and the Pediatric Otolaryngology.  I don't even know HOW to pronounce that one.  Basically ENT.  (ear, nose, and throat)  This step is another standard with her diagnosis of Down Syndrome although this one has more of a 'yes, there's a bigger issue' element.  She has not passed their hearing screenings adequately.  We know that she can hear some things but there seems to be delay.  She's had a few of these appointments and this one was another follow-up to see if she had matured enough to respond to the testing - or not if her hearing was an issue.  

    Yep - These last test revealved that she has fairly significant inability to hear at certain frequencies and or determine WHERE sound is coming from.  Our Audiologist (who is stinkin' awesome) was telling the big girls and I that Charlotte was hearing basically like the rest of us would if we were underwater in the deep end of the pool.  Not great for developing hearing...or speech.

    Lunch in the waiting room at Doernbecher
     After that, we were off to another part of Doernbecher (that place is HUGE and yes, we did get lost) to the ENT offices and they checked her out.  Different doc, same results.  They are the ones that get to lay out the surgery card though.  Looks like that's the direction we're heading.  Tubes will be placed in her ears (both sides) to help drain the fluid.  This will be the first step in determining if her auditory nerves aren't functioning as well as they should or she was just blocked with fluid.  It's a very routine surgery but there is sedation so we have to get permission and clearance from her cardiologist for that first.  Hopefully within a month we'll be on the other side of this and she'll be cringing with all the noise that IS our home and family. 

    Our new normal is a bit on the wild side.  It's good though and we're finding our groove.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Chicken Business

    Alan made some improvements to our chicken coop recently.  The girls needed some better roosting places and so off he went with leftover boards and a plan.  He tweaked it a bit as they didn't like the boards placed at a 45 degree angle.  Now it's at 90 and they're all perched up there cooing at him in the evening when he goes out to put them to bed for the night.  

    It's like high school bleachers for chickens.  They're pretty funny to watch parked up there at night.  Most of them like the top two rails vs. being on the lower ones.  Maybe the view is better from there?  We still have a few random chickens and those dang turkeys that mill around and sit in random and inconvenient spots but those birds are too big to mess with.  

    I don't love the turkeys in case you can't tell.  

    They would go a long way in restoring their relationship with me if they'd quit squeezing themselves into the chicken's nesting boxes and either cracking some eggs or flipping them out because they want to have the nest.  Grrrrr.....

    We're getting about 10-14 usable (not cracked...grrrr..hiss....) eggs a day so production has gone down.   It's the changing of the weather but  now we have a light up and on a timer so hopefully, that will get at least us through the winter without having to buy eggs.  Next weekend we may do some winterizing of the coop that may keep them happy as well.  

    *A little extra:

    Here's the mama and her babies....all 14 of them. (One met its demise at the paw of one of our cats...natural consequences of not staying with it's mama...eeesh.)  They're doing great and finding their place in our zoo.  

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Jam Packed

    THIS is what our family October Calendar looks like.

    Therein lies the reasoning behind not blogging much.

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Baby Birthday

    Charlotte turned one.  ONE.  O.N.E.

    I am not a big kid party kind of mom, especially when they're too young to remember, but my older kids were SHOCKED and mortified that we weren't going to rent the church and throw a carnival for Charlotte's birthday.  We compromised in that we had a small party here at home.

    THANK YOU JESUS we were still having pretty great weather so we dragged out every yard game we had and set up the table and dusted off the chairs.  A baked potato bar and we were set.

    Well....sort of.  There were a few disasters.  Cake and decorations just to name a few.  There was some outside drama that was affecting the mood, so to speak, but we powered through and she turned one just the same.

    I remembered to take a few pictures thanks to a friend who kept saying, "Did you take a picture of that?" - oh....right.  Of course, there's not a single one of the whole family together.

    This was about the moment when I flipped and almost uninvited everyone.  Nowhere in my bio will you find 'anything close to Betty Crocker', but this was ridiculous.

    Go for red, Baby, always the red.  
    Is it just me or is time picking up speed?  

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Buddy Walk

    This past weekend we went to our first big 'Down Syndrome' thing as a family.  The Buddy Walk

    I was a bit nervous and almost came up with some excuses to skip it.  Found those big girl panties and we all went.  See how excited everyone is?

    It was sweeter and less painful than I expected.  (I did cry a bit - but nothing that could be hidden behind sunglasses)  You see, some days I almost forget that Charlotte has Down Syndrome.  This is growth from seeing more Down Syndrome than Charlotte, a season I wasn't sure would come.  I knew at this event Down Syndrome would be a focus. 

    I've decided now though that this is not a bad thing. 

    Even Charlotte got into the water play and dancing that was going on.  It even helped her find her feet!!  She finally put weight on them!!

    All around there were sweet babies snuggling and kids who were having a great time, hanging out, listening to music, enjoying goodies, and in general livin' it up.  People with Down Syndrome and people who love someone with Down Syndrome.  It was pretty awesome. 

    This year our 'team' was 6 in total.  Next year, we'll get organized and have a bigger 'zoo crew' to share the fun with us.

    Care to join in the fun?  Charlotte Joy is ready to party. 

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Vicious Cycle

    Catch 22 - whatever you want to call it. 

    It looks a lot like Shock, Grief, Acceptance, Embracing, and Rejoycing.  It is perpetual.  Continual.  Onion layer -ish.  "Haven't I been here before?"  Vague recollections of these feelings but something I can't quite put my finger on. 

    I hadn't expected that. 

    Mostly - I figured it would be a 'one time visit' of each stage.  Where I got THAT idea, I'll never know.  Whatever.  It isn't.  It won't be.  Maybe there's some hope in knowing that. 

    Geez - just the other day I was feeling okay about all things after surviving The Buddy Walk. 

    October is Down Syndrome Awareness month.  Facts and posts everywhere.  Blue and Yellow everywhere (the colors of Down Syndrome awareness.  REALLY, God???  BLUE?????  The irony is super thick.  Along with the fact that Charlotte's birthday is in October, but I digress.) 

    THIS blogpost was fabulous for me to read today.  Freeing really. 

    Apparently it's Breast Cancer Awareness month as well.  HERE is a fabulous post about that. 

    All this 'awareness'....yeesh.  I'm just not sure how I feel about all of it. 

    Monday, October 1, 2012


    Someone is going to have a birthday this week. 

    Be still my heart.....

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

    A Quote I Love

    "Calmness and method...are the housekeeper's best friends.  Do one thing at a time.  (There!  I've forgotten my bread in the oven!  I put it into bake while I was writing.  All burnt on the top!  Oh, Dear!)  Where was I?  Oh, one thing at a time!  Don't stop to shed a retrospective tear over old letters in the garret while baking sponge cake, nor hunt for eggs in the barn with the pantry door wide open for the cat to enter in search of a nice dessert.  A housekeeper needs her wits about her."

    - Mrs. Mary R.P. Hatch, Daughters of America, 1890 

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    A Farm Girl?

    I'm not exactly one.  More like two weeks of crazy, inspired self sufficiency in which I start ripping out kitchen walls, crafting from someone else's garbage cast offs, and buying chicks by the double baker's dozen to the other two weeks of dragging myself around and having freak-out-I-want-to-shop-for-shoes-in-a-pretty-store days.  

    All this and I want my coffee too.  Yeeesh.

    *I should put links in to quickly direct you to those particular posts but THIS is one area of life where my organizational skills have completely tanked.  My apologies.  Most days this blog is a choice.  The other one?  Educating my children and actually being mentally and emotionally present more than just having my body in the room so I'm doing my best to choose to BE there.*

    Anyhoo....This is a great blog.  They're doing a Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest*could NOT get the button to work so here's a boring ol' link.*

    I found it through - shocker - an online friend from the homeschooling forum I'm part of.  I'm trying to remember the exact context of the connection - maybe using egg shells.  Or was it that freak out time I cracked an almost ready to hatch CHICK into our cake batter?  "Happy go back to Spain, Auntie Joy" cake.  Ummm....THAT was gross.   And cool.  And really gross.  And became the Science lesson for the day.  And GROSS.  Did I blog about that?  Hmmm...I'm not finding it.

    For your viewing pleasure - or really gross/cool side.

    This is how I prefer to have my fresh eggs.  You can't say we aren't learning as we go.  We're getting 10-14 eggs a day. 

    FYI:  Anyone who buys eggs from me, rest easy as the rooster is dead and gone.  (Riley's school lesson was a long one that day.  Practical though.)  No more fertilization even possible.  Whew - that and we now candle every egg we find that didn't come in THAT VERY DAY.  With the flashlight app.  On the iphone.  In the dark bathroom. 

    We maybe need to get out more.  Or just realize we're something in between a farm family and an urban one and enjoy the ride. 

    Saturday, September 22, 2012


    I've seen a few projects I've wanted to tackle and due to life - spending $$ on them is not an option so I'm scrounging around and working with what we have. 

    I saw feed bags a few months ago and then found a tutorial on them.  Ha....I have bunches of those from our chicken feed.  One day I had a few hours and wrangled the girls into helping me.  (cooerced and bribed more like - they weren't digging this work thing)  It was educational. 

    Janelle helped me quite a bit when the instructions just. weren't. making. any. sense. to me.  Natalie Faith was the picture taker extroadinarie and Charlotte Joy just kept grabbing at stuff being right in the middle of it.  Riley took a couple of random pics but was mostly enjoying his time before FRESHMAN year started in full force. 

    Usually sewing is something I avoid like the plauge until I have a strike of 'this looks simple enough'.  About a fourth of the way in I remember why I hate sewing.  My girls heard a lot of "FOR THE LOVE...." and "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???"  I'm sure this will train them up in the way they should go. 


    Anyhow - here we go.  A project.  In pictures.

    Wash bags after cutting them to about 22" with the 'picture' centered how you want it.  *I* wasn't that exacting.  Shocker. 

    Dry in sunshine - we had SUNSHINE!!!

    Then - start sewing. 

    Get excited because you're actually 'crafting'.  Baby's excited too.

    And keep sewing.

    She keeps laughing.  At me?  Hmmmm......

    Then - pull it out and say, "WHAT the heck???"

    And continue to say "WHhhhhhaaaaatttt?"  At some point, Janelle helped me visualize what the tutorial was trying to explain.  Yeesh - was I confused.

    It's beginning to resemble a bag.  Charlotte is helping also known as yanking on mom's hair because it's right there.

    Handles were scrounged from old curtain tie backs I wasn't using but couldn't bear to throw away because they were RED.  :)

    Oooohhh - (this is inside out by the way....)

    TADA!!!!  The big bag. 

    And the shortie one - this is what you get when you screw up the first time around and keep wacking off the messed up bottom but want. to. get. it. right. before. you. give. up. entirely.  :)  Handles are brought to you by old car seat straps that we'd had to cut when we were in that accident to prove we weren't going to use the car seat anymore.  Nice and strong, just shorter.  Perfect fit for the short bag.  It's like I'd planned that. 

    End result.  :)

    One is now the libary book bag and the other is 'all the stuff I have to cart to the car from the house in remembering to take back to people or places.  Very handy. 

    Here's the actual tutorial if you want more specific instructions.  Let me know if you get confused.  I'll send Janelle your way to help you. 


    PS:  Yes, they are blue.  I have yellow bags in which I will make up the REAL, going to do a great job on them, bags.  These were practice bags and have worked well for a start up project.