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Friday, July 20, 2012

going visiting

The kids are up and excited this morning, though it is barely 8 AM.  Why?  Oh, because we just have a fun morning planned.

Today, we're going to visit a friend of mine and her mini-farm.  Mrs. Kathy has been working very hard at becoming self-sufficient over the past few years and now has a herd of animals (goats and chickens), bee hives, and a garden of joy on her little piece of land in the country. 

I have been promising the kids that we would visit her again for nearly a year and, finally, we're packing up and driving out there for the morning.  Katie loves to get Mrs. Kathy's colorful eggs and Alex likes to play with her two boys. 

What's even better is that she's giving me some cucumbers for canning.  Oh, yum!  I can just imagine the jars of pickles I'll be able to put up next week.  My family liked my pickles so much last year that they were all gone by early spring, and those were just slices!  What with whatever amount Mrs. Kathy gives me today, paired with whatever I can pick up at the farmers market tomorrow, I'm hoping to be able to can enough spears, slices, and relish to last a whole year.  What would that look like?  I don't know.  A whole lot, I would imagine. 

On another note, we're going to visit one of Mr. Hull's cousins in a few weeks.  Apparently, the man is a prepper (which we are not.)  After seeing my husband's post for his love of spam (which I do not eat), he mentioned that we ought to come out and see his supplies sometime.  So, since I'm insanely curious as to how this guy's thoughts play out in real life, we're going to take him up on the offer. 

Which leads me to today's thought.  Do you can or otherwise preserve your food?  If so, why?  Are you a self-described prepper like my cousin-in-law, waiting for the shit to hit the fan?  Are you looking to become more self-sufficient, putting up the things you grow, like my friend Mrs. Kathy?  Or, are you more interested in saving money where you can and preserving things as they go on sale, but not actually growing them yourself, like me?  Or, do you dabble in the home chores and do it just because? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

battle of the wills

A friend and I took all our children for a picnic at the park today.  It was a hot, hot, summer day, much like we typically have in Virginia.  But, we enjoyed the shade, the stream, and the company.  I should have taken pictures but, well, I didn't. 

Anyway, all too soon, it was time to leave.  My friend's children seemingly came to her obediently and all ran up the hill to the parking area, just as they were told.  I say "seemingly" because she later corrected me on my observation.  But, still. 

Katie, on the other hand, wanted one more push on the swings.  I wasn't quite ready to go yet anyway, seeing as she was soaked from plopping in the stream and I had wanted our next stop to be the gym.  Off to the swings we went. 
Higher, higher!


No, I mean, really, really done.

Could it have been the storm clouds looming overhead?  I think not.  She was just ready to go.  Ready, that is, until she was told that she would have to walk up that hill to the parking area.  It isn't a ginormous hill or anything, but to a little kid I know it looks like a mountain.  Heck, it can even look like one to an out of shape grown up.

And, that was it.  She planted her feet on the ground and said, "No."  Pouting her lip and cocking her head, her body language showed me that she just wasn't going.  No amount of ice cream was going to bribe her to walk up that hill.  So, I stood there with her.  For fifteen minutes, I stood there and she cried.  I talked to her, tried to reason.  I told her that it did look like a big hill and I imagined she was tired and just wanted to be carried.  But, I also told her that she was a big girl and she could do it.  I knew she could!  We would even race to the tree.  Ready?  Set?  Go.  

But, no.  She didn't budge.  Not even an inch.  Still, I thought I would win.  I really did.  I thought I was going to stand there like a good mom until she decided to walk up that hill on her own.

It didn't happen that way.  I grew tired and frustrated.  She outlasted me, she did.  I picked her up and marched her up that hill, proclaiming that she would just take a little nap when we got home.  That's it.  That'll teach her, I thought.  

We're home now.  I took her wet clothes off, put clean ones on, and put her in her bed and declared it nap time.  Ha!  We haven't had a set nap time in this house for at least a year, but probably longer.  She didn't stay there.  Oh, no.  For the last thirty minutes, she has been standing at her door (which is closed), asking to come out of her room.  At first, I replied that she must go back to her bed and lay down and take a little snooze in a sugary sweet mom voice.  Now, I'm just ignoring her.

Gosh darn it, I think she's won. 

with water, in the middle of nowhere

Over the course of my nearly-thirty years, I have taken a lot of trips to Myrtle Beach, SC.  If you've ever been to Myrtle, you know that it is an absolute carnival of overindulgence.  Too many shops, too many amusement parks, too many go-kart and laser tag places, too much putt-putt, too many restaurants (well, maybe not-- there's still always a line!), too many cars, and way too many people. 

I've also been to other beaches, sure, but they all seem to have way too much.  Maybe that's because I always go with my mother, and she's the absolute Queen of Too Much. 

There was this one time, though, that she let someone else choose the location and we stayed in a little beach condo on the Outer Banks.  That was heavenly.  There was nowhere near too much.  There were maybe four or five other families on our stretch of beach.  Of course, we've never been back.

But, now that I am nearly thirty, it might at some point be time for my husband and me to start choosing our vacation locations.  Just maybe.  What do you think? 

So, inspired by Mama Kat's Writing Prompts, I started thinking about what my ideal vacation home would look like. 

And, then I realized that I don't even care what the actual house looks like.  It should be small, as my family isn't that big.  It should be Ocean Front, with not many other houses around.  It should have a little walkway out to the beach (preferably a raised deck so that we wouldn't encounter snakes or other creepy-crawlies as we traversed the dunes), and it would be comfortable.  A kitchen and three bedrooms would be a must, and a porch with rocking chairs and a swing, too.  But that's it.  I'm not that picky.  I just want quiet relaxation, that's all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

rainbow sprite

I really had to force myself to go to the gym today.  Really.  My Biggest Loser Roanoke final weigh in is this coming Saturday and I'm just having a really tough (mental) time of it.  You see, I'm not trying to make excuses here, but it is so easy to fall back into them.

There's no way I can win.

I haven't worked hard enough.

I had pneumonia in the middle of the competition, for heaven's sake!

The power went out, so I couldn't meet with my trainer that one week.

My trainer took me off heavy weights and I haven't lost nearly as much sense.

I haven't been drinking enough water.

Maybe I drank too much water.

I shouldn't have thought I could win anyway.

And on, and on, and on some more.

But, you know what?  So what if I don't win this measly competition.  Just participating in it has given me the results I was seeking.  I am 100 times more active now than I was when I first signed up for it back in April.  That, in itself, spells victory.

Where was I?  That's right, back to the gym this morning.  I truly had to drag my butt there.  My plan was to go to the lunchtime cycle class, which in itself presents challenges with an early lunch and so forth.  But, I made it with five minutes to spare.

Right away, I knew I was in for a treat.  The instructor was this cute little sprite of a thing wearing neon workout gear with peaced-out knee socks and a tiny lime green bow in her pixie cut.  Oh, and was she energetic!  There were only two other people in the class, both of whom were older men, which is kind of funny, but whatever.

Upon opening the class she announced it was going to be a "bad girl sort of a day."  Oh, was it fun!  From a virginal warm-up (courtesy of Madonna), through Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, and Ke$ha (did I spell that right?), the ride was fantastic.  We had so.much.fun.  The instructor's energy was infectious as she sang along with the music and introduced me to "jumps."  Honestly?  I can't wait to go back.  THAT'S what I like! 

So, so what.  I'm not going to win the competition on Saturday.  There's no way.  But, my body is changing shape.  My clothes are loose (too loose).  I have more energy.  Oh, and I've found out that I just have one chin.  That's awesome!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ikea love

Last weekend, I took a long, long road trip to visit with some fantastic friends in Delaware.  More about that later.  On the way home, I planned a pit stop at one of the Ikea stores in Baltimore.  I was a first-timer and boy, was I enthralled! 

There were some really awesome things there and they were all SUPER cheap.  Like, Walmart cheap, but much nicer-looking, and seemingly better quality, too.  How do they do it?  One will never know. 

Katie chose to stay with me, rather than go to their kiddie corral, but isn't it so great that they have a staffed play area for children?  And, it was decorated to the hilt, too!

So, off we went, taking a big yellow bag to fill on our journey through the maze of home goods.  I found a table/organizer/thingie that I really want to organize all the homeschooling junk in the kitchen, but thought I'd better table that purchase until after I'd spoken with Mr. Hull.  Isn't it fabulous, though?  It is hip-high and big enough for all our stuff, with project-drying space along the top.  Maybe we can look forward to bringing it home when we visit Atlanta and Charlotte in a few weeks.

But, I did actually buy some super fun things. 

Katie picked these out.  The elephant is a cover for one of those flat-sided exercise balance balls.  I thought the ball was included because I apparently can't read Swedish, but that's fine.  I bought the ball on ebay when I got home so we'll actually have the whole thing set up in about a week.  They had them out to play with in the store and she had so much fun bouncing and flopping on it that, for what I thought was $15, it was a no-brainer.  The utensil set was actually on sale for a dollar or two, and the stuff is really heavy duty, so I don't anticipate that the dishwasher will melt these.  We had been running really low on forks and spoons for her, so this well help a lot.

I bought this nifty chalkboard for our homeschool.  I'm thinking I will hang chore cards from the hooks and use the caddy area for... something.  I had wanted to paint a chalkboard on a big wall in the kitchen (as in, paint the whole wall), but Mr Hull nixed that idea, so this will work instead.  Again, only $15.  Super!

Finally, just for me, a set of four bird placemats.  I thought this package contained one thick, pliable cutting board.  However, again, I don't speak Swedish, so I didn't know.  Perhaps the fact that there were other placemats  pretty close by should have clued me in.  Oh well.  I like them.  And, the fishy ice cube tray.  I think I'm going to use it mostly for jello-jigglers though.  Fun!

I must add, when I was searching for these photos, I found a lot of this stuff on ebay for much more than I paid for it.  Do I see a lucrative business opportunity in the future?  Perhaps if I lived closer to an ikea.  However, I don't think the gas would pay for itself.  Oh well.  Another day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

possum granny's dump cobbler

Back before my husband and I ever got married, his mother taught me this cobbler recipe.  She didn't write it down, and I didn't either.  I may have tweaked it a little bit.  My memory may have faded.  But, it still turns out darn tasty.

No, my mother in law is not Possum Granny, in case you're wondering.  That would have been her granny.  Or maybe her husband's granny.  I can never quite remember.  At any rate, this recipe is old.

How did Possum Granny get her name?  I gave it to her, that's how!  And, don't tell my husband.  He might be offended.  Then again, he told me the story that led to her nomenclature, so he might not be.  Let's chance it.

Apparently, and this is only if my memory serves me correctly, I heard the story quite some time ago, a young man who was just learning how to be a preacher was sent to Possum Granny's community many years ago.  He needed a place to stay, and she had the room, so he wound up living with her over the course of several months.  Now, back in those days, hollows were called hollers and people cooked all sorts of small animals for supper.  One of Granny's specialties was, you guessed it, possum.  Or, opossum if you want to be proper.  So, Granny fixed some possum for this young preacher.  Maybe she fixed it many times.  I don't know because I wasn't there.  Use your imagination.  Apparently, he liked it.  I don't know about this either because I have never, nor would I ever, eat a possum.  They are just too cute.

Some years passed and Granny eventually met her fate.  The no-longer-young preacher happened to speak at her funeral.  The one thing, he said, that he would always remember about Granny was that she had taught him to eat possum.  That's right.  She taught him to eat his first possum.

The crowd roared, so the story goes.  You see, apparently "possum" is another word for pussy in those parts.  So, Granny had taught the preacher how to eat pussy.  Oh my.  At least the mourners had a sense of humor about them.  That's all I can say about that.

Stories like this, and recipes like the one that follows, are important to me to pass down to my children (at the proper age, that is!) because they convey a sense of family history.  I don't have my Granny's recipe book, nor do I know who does.  You wouldn't want to eat some of my mother's cooking, and my mother-in-law doesn't really cook at all anymore.  So, we have very few family recipes other than that of the dump cobbler.  As I cook more and more from scratch and perfect recipes that I find through friends and online, I want to keep a written record of my family's favorite meals so that the special foods are not forever lost.

Have you started a recipe collection?  Is it handwritten or in digital form?  Do you use a recipe book or cards?

Possum Granny's Dump Cobbler

The first time I made this, I used strawberries.  They didn't work so well.  Then, I tried cherries, but my pitter missed about half the pits.  I've found peach is delicious, as well as blackberry.  I would recommend just using your favorite fruit as it comes into season.  This recipe is a favorite year-round.

2 cups of fresh fruit or 1 can of pie filling
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon or other complimentary spices to taste

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Place your stick of butter in the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking dish and put the dish in the oven as it preheats.  Once the butter is melted, remove dish from oven. Mix together flour, sugar, egg, baking powder, vanilla, and spices and pour into the pan. Place fruit on top of batter in one generous layer.  The batter will start to puff up as it sits in the hot pan, but don't fret!  Just keep on putting the fruit on there.  Bake for 50 minutes or until top of cobbler is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping and enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

back to blogging... again

Oh, my... I could never anticipated how busy the world of homeschooling would keep me.  So, a year after abandoning this blog in favor of life, let's return to our regularly scheduled programming. 

If any readers are left out there in blogland, I thank you.  If any stumble across this after having been semi-regular readers, I welcome you back.  If any of you are brand new to the One Creative Housewife world, hang onto your hats.

Really, folks.  It's been windy out there!
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