Sunday, January 23, 2011

babies and bowling

The reader's digest version:
We went bowling. It was busy. A little boy was rolling bowling balls. Those bowling balls hit a couple people. I assume he was bored and mama was not watching him, so he was out to entertain himself. After he did that 3 times, I went up to him and told him to stop. I talked to him like I'd talk to my kids. I was stern but polite. His mama got mad at me for talking to her baby. She tried to start something. A very tall guy, the Devildog and someone else squelched it. She left, slinging unoriginal epithets. We ranted then joked about it.

Moral of the story: mind your child in a busy bowling alley or someone else will. And if you don't mind your child and someone else does, shut up about it and do your dang job and be a parent. Your 3 year old is big enough to be learning right from wrong.

or as my sister would say "beechokeeds!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

A little birthday present for myself

We had to get the guys measured for tuxedos for SIL's wedding. Devildog and I are part of the gang of people at the front of the church in monkey suits and fancy dresses. The Clone is a flower girl. The boys are ushers. I had Devildog drop the girls and me off at DSW while they got measured. Clone was quickly bored because there are no little girl size shoes there. I made my way back to the clearance corner and searched the big-foot sizes to see if something suited my fancy. As usual, most of what I tried on was too narrow in the toes and quickly went back to the racks. Shoe shopping is frustrating, possibly more so than shopping for pants or undergarments. First of all, there aren't enough size 9 and 10 wide width on the market at a price point this mom of 4 is willing to pay. I refuse to sacrifice fit and comfort for cute alone. It has to look good, fit well, and feel comfortable to come home with me. I have mildly high standards when we're talking about my feet - the one place my body relies on to carry me where I have to go. These would normally not even show up on my radar because they're fuschia. But, shopping to replenish my wardrobe this year has prompted me to consider colors and styles I wouldn't have looked at before. I tried them on and they're comfortable little shoes. I am figuring I can wear them with a variety of other things in my closet, so they wouldn't be one outfit wonders. They weren't too narrow in the toes, didn't have 4 inch heels that would make me fall on my face with the first step, and upon further investigation, they had a pretty clearance sticker.
So, here's my question for you - knowing my cheapskate tendencies, how much did I pay for these shoes?
It made for an even happier "Happy Birthday To Me!" moment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ham & Potato Soup

Pardon me for getting all domestic on ya here. But I made a bomb diggity soup for dinner.
I had New Year's ham languishing in the fridge and no sandwiches were created of its carcass. Pieces had been sliced and picked off, and I failed to remember to send a hunk of the pork with the FIL when he went back to the other home he occupies. I also had potatoes that needed to get turned into something other than a counter adornment. I contemplated soup or casserole, and went with soup.

I peeled and cut up the potatoes in a standard quartered & sliced method. the slices were about 3/4 of an inch thick. I cubed up the ham, removing the gristle and fat etc (the gross stuff nobody but the dog would eat). My sister was coming to visit, and I was planning on sending the scraps with her, but forgot. Oops. Anyway, I did use a hunk of fat to be rendered for flavor. I tossed it in the bottom of my favorite stock pot (the one Devildog bought many moons ago for a chili cook-off at work) on low heat to render out the fat. I had the heat too high and ended up frying one side of that chunk of fat. I simply turned down the heat, and poured some water in the pot to deglaze it and lidded it. I stirred around the little bit of water that was left and scraped the brown bits off the bottom that hadn't gotten shocked loose already. I poured more water in the pot, covered it, and turned the heat back up to high. As the water got hot, I turned it back down a bit and dumped in the potatoes and ham. When the potatoes were boiled till fork-tender, I poured off probably half the water. I should've poured off less, but oh well. I then poured in milk, the rest of the sour cream we had in the container, and a block of softened cut up cream cheese. I was determined not to use any canned soup, as the ham had enough salt in it, and quite honestly, I put in zero salt because of that, and it was nearing my salt threshold. Plus those soups really aren't all that great for you. Your mileage may vary. I folded it a lot to get the cream cheese to blend, and potatoes being what they are, they got mushed a bunch too. I ended up scooping out the stuff into a casserole dish, leaving the cream cheese chunks, and debated turning it into a casserole, but I lacked sufficient cheese. Plus my sister said it was fine as soup. So I dumped it back in the pot when I got the cream cheese to play nicely. About this time, I'd already turned on the oven to make a casserole, so I told the kids to check the fridge for biscuits. The oldest produced a thing of French Bread, and I called it good enough. Crusty bread with soup is lovely anyhow. I turned the heat down to low and kept the pot lid on it while the bread baked for 25 minutes. We then went to open belated Christmas gifts (because that's how we roll here). And when the timer beeped, we had bread, and soup, and Oldest decided to make some collard greens - sautee'd not drowned. He leaves his crunchier than I would have, so there was some leftover. I need to add kale and/or spinach to my list, now that I remind myself of this.
I only had to twist my sister's arm once to eat with us. I guess she thought she was taking food from the family's mouths. She has a husband and they have custody of a grandson after his mom died 12 years ago. I have 4 kids, a husband and myself and we're all big eaters. I learned how to cook for an army, and heaven help me as the nest empties and I have to learn to cook smaller again. There was enough for the kids, me, sis, and Devildog later crammed a bunch of it into a container and had some for himself. There's probably 3 portions left, if not more. And the longer it sat, the thicker it got. So it ended up being like a casserole anyway.

So I learned from this concoction that 1/2 a block of cream cheese will do. And that I probably could've left more if not all the water I started cooking with and it would have been fine. Plus with my stove, turning OFF the heat would probably be wiser, as there's plenty of residual heat when you have a thick clad bottom pot, and a ceramic cooktop, combined with the oven below it on 350 to bake dairy case packaged bread. The pot is soaking in the sink now for scraping the bottom later.
The Clone suggested I add this to the "Favorites" - meaning the binder of absolute Full Of Win recipes that are my family's favorite dishes.
And the inspiration for this meal came from a recent issue of a Taste of Home digest Slow Cooker recipe magazine. I was flipping through it at work and came across a potato & ham casserole that sounded good. However, I think I like my ham & potato soup much better. And I concocted it.

Not bad for the daughter of a woman who could screw up a box of macaroni and cheese.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The view across my mug

This is sometimes my view as I sip coffee from the bench on the front porch.
It was warm today. I was surprised since just a week ago it was most definitely NOT warm. So I took my coffee outside. I thought it was a little ironic of sorts to be 70 degrees by 10 a.m. yet, the tree was definitely dropping leaves.

Last week I was NOT wearing these, even while inside the house. Last week we were shivering with the freezing temperatures, wishing we had carpet instead of cold-retaining tile. Persnickety Ticker told me tile is brutal in the winter. Of course someone should slip Mother Nature some HRT. This menopausal weather is annoying at best.

Mmmm. Coffee. Devildog snagged the cup I used for the first round of coffee when I was away from the kitchen. So this mug is round 2's vessel. It was a housewarming gift, along with 3 others with similar phrasing and different colors. This is my favorite because it's purple.

And this view - would be the bane of many neighborhoods. But here, it's a bit of a welcome view. My FIL is visiting and has his dog Ashley with him. She was rescued from the Ashley River and as I understand things, she rescued him too. A few years ago, he was in a very dark place in his life. Ashley was apparently abused, and is a tender, sensitive & empathetic dog. Mini-Human loves Ashley, even though the dog has limited tolerance and hides after a while. So when this camper is in my driveway, there is dog hair on my floors. And we get to visit with the FIL I knew was there all along. It was hidden for so many years by those dark clouds.