Thursday, April 30, 2009
My issue comes at charging the boyfriend with murder. Was he stupid to be stealing a car? Heck yeah. She made the choice to get into the stolen car with him though. I hate the loss of any life, but when that life is lost while committing a crime it makes it difficult to truly mourn. You mourn the person but you do not mourn the circumstances if that makes sense. I think her boyfriend never even dreamed she would lose her life. If he had known it was happening he would most likely have not stolen the car. Should he be charged with murder then? No, not in my book. She was a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong man. It does not bring justice to punish him for something he had no intention of happening. I could see a negligent homicide charge or manslaughter, but not murder.
In my eyes this woman was both victim and offender just as the SUV owner was both. It goes to show that there are many more shades of gray to humanity than we admit too.
The girls were both there (it was shift change) and they both thanked me and said that their day yesterday had just been amazing. That the kindness of all the people had made the day just a joy to work. Holly is my age, and she said at first she thought people were just doing it because they felt like they should, but as the day went on and she saw the joy people got from it, it had just made her feel so happy and appreciative to the amazing people she is surrounded by.
I couldn't believe that one simple action had had such an impact on everyone around us. I'm definitely going to continue small acts of kindness. The feeling of happiness is great, and I want more people to feel it too.
We will be spending the rest of the spring and summer training the dog and working on our calling skills. Hopefully this next season will be more fruitful than the last.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tonight I went and had dinner with my sister and Mom. Sister is getting married in July and has been having a heck of a time picking a veil. Since I'm the maid of honor it's my job to help with these things. As we are browsing veils online and half-assed watching American Idol, a little reader board across the scene caught my eye. The part I caught was basically talking about a couple counties, and news conference, and to watch their news at 10.
Sister pulls up the channel's news website, and in big red letters you see "6 probable Swine Flu Cases". Apprently this covers 3 counties so far. King county (Seattle), Snohomish County (the 'burbs) and Spokane County (mainly Spokane Metro area).
The really fun part of this is that my mom is a nurse in South Pierce County, and my sister works for a government in a very very large building and is exposed to hundreds of people a day. This flu has a 7-10 day incubation period, and so likely hundreds if not thousands have been exposed by the original 6.
When I got home I google'd some, and found an article from the Seattle Times with some more details. The suspected cases are in a women, young child and male in King County. A male in Spokane county, and 2 more in Snohomish County; one a child and the other I can't remember. The women in King County also happens to be a Primary Care Physican (oops). The article stressed that the child in King County had not been to school during the period he/she was contagious.
I'm officially very very glad I stocked up when I did. No more extra outings ANYWHERE. If I need anything I'm not taking the boy and you can bet I'm wearing a mask. Even with the current US death rate (let's call it 1 in 100) what will it be in 7 days? 10 days? 14 days? A month? I'm not taking anymore chances. I don't care if they call me crazy, I sure as hell would rather be crazy then dead.
I'm burrowing into my hidey hole, and I'm not coming out for a long long time.
When I pulled up the window my coffee lady already had my drinks ready (I'm nothing if not predictable coffee-wise). I pulled out my wallet, and she poo-pooed me and explained the women before me was so thankful I let her go she paid for my drinks. Now, I get the theory behind this and I'm grateful for the drinks. But I was just being polite, and I'm a little sad that the world is so cold now that someone is so moved when they given their proper spot in line to buy coffee.
That being said, I didn't really know what to do. I didn't exactly feel like I deserved free coffee for doing the right thing. So I decided to pay it forward. I asked Cathy what I could do to buy coffee for someone else since no one was behind me in line. I ended up giving her $3 and she said she's make whatever they wanted and call it evens.
Now I like doing things for people. Be it buying lunch, coffee, giving away my canned stuff. It makes me feel good. I wish more people did it. It is so rewarding and at the same time encourages other do pay it forward also. If everyone took the time once a week to do something nice and unexpected for someone else, how much better could the world be?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Several options were given to homeowners over the last year or so. I'm not sure how these were presented to the public as I just found them on Google after a little creative searching. The options were; pay out of pocket, apply for a USDA rural development loan, apply for a grant from the city, and have a payment plan. As of May 6th, 2008 the city was still "researching the possibility of a policy for a payment plan" so I have no idea if it actually came to fruit. But according to the information I found you had to have been turned down for funds by at least 3 financial institutions (and have proof).
After some more Google-ing I actually found a page on it on the City website, complete with monthly updates. I couldn't access any of the info however as the PDF's wouldn't open on my computer, or my parents. I guess for now I'll just have to judge their progress from my front windows.
The property we live on is bordered by two roads; one main and one arterial. They spent two days last week tearing up the front 250 feet of my house on the main road, and decided to use their easement on our land to make themselves a parking lot in our yard for the weekend. So my son got to play soccer between a honey bucket, a Grater and a Backhoe.
Monday they finished up work on the main road, and this morning started on the arterial. I know this because I was awoken by one of the local city guys (who looked exasperated to be honest) letting me know that I had no water, because the vibration from the backhoe had cracked the water main. I didn't kick up a fuss because I had just woken up, but this happens to be the second time I've heard this excuse. Because the same thing happened to my friend's parents down the road. The city fixed it the same day, and agreed to adjust (and actually reduce) their water bill for the month. They didn't make me any such offer, but I guarantee you I will be informing my landlord, just in case they don't.
Not much longer after that, there was another knock on my door. This was another worker, asking if I need to get out of my driveway that day. Granted I have decently unorthodox work hours, so this was about 8:30 am, but yes I had to work. He asked when and looked fairly anxious. I sighed took pity on the poor guy and asked when in the next 90 mins. would be best for them. He said now. I glanced on the couch at the Boy lazing around in his pj's, and sort of went 'uhhhhh'. Instead I offered to move my car to a neighbors driveway so they could do whatever they needed to do.
Once I got the boy ready to go and headed out, I could see why they had wanted to know if I was leaving. There was a 4 foot trench where the end on my driveway used to be.
So to recap: I have no answers, no water and no driveway.
1. Fixed rate only - Do not ever ever EVER do an adjustable rate. That is how so many have lost their homes now.
2. Short sale = no bueno. Short sale means that the seller is selling for less than they owe so your offer is pending bank approval not owner approval. Usually this is someone facing foreclosure trying to get out before that happens. Another negative is that they take like 90 days at least for processing. Finally it also means that until closing other offers will be looked at so if someone comes along and offers $5 more they could very well take it from you.
3. No 100% financing - If someone offers you this there is a twist. Read the fine print and everything that goes with it.
4. Taxes, mortgage insurance, and homeowners insurance are often not added into a mortgage calculator so remember you will be paying these each month on top of what you finance.
5. Mortgage insurance is paid until you have 20% equity in your home. The faster you get there the better.
6. Pick the payment you want to pay BEFORE you look and prequalify. We went by what we want to pay not by what we qualify for. No point in being house poor.
7. You need credit above 650 for FHA and 690-750 and above for a conventional loan.
These are just the basics that we have learned. Do your due diligence. Research the are for comps, schools, and crime to get a good idea of what you are moving in to. If there is a houseing association read their rules and make sure you can live with them. Most of all good luck. This is an amazing time to buy that first home.
My mom is a nurse, and she's concerned but not hugely. When the Avian flu came out in Asia a few years ago, her old work had the option for nurses to personally purchase face masks at the wholesale cost. She bought a ton of them for the whole family including various child sizes for the Boy (who was just a baby at the time). I called her yesterday because one of the outbreaks in California is near some of our family. Her advice for me now was just to be careful. Don't go places I don't have to, avoid large groups like sporting events or malls. Watch the Boy for any flu symptoms and track them if he starts to develop any (our family doesn't really get fevers, so doctors tend to say "well, you have no fever" when we're about to die we're so sick).
She and I also agreed that should either the Boy or I get symptoms instead of rushing him into the Army Medical Center (which was my Plan A previously) that I would call the doctors office. Because as she pointed out, we could just have the flu. It wouldn't help for us to not have it, and then unknowingly expose ourselves to someone who does.
I went a step or two further because well, I'm getting *cough cough* a little more paranoid. I went to the store this morning and stocked up on enough groceries and non-perishables to last at least 2 weeks without having to go to the store, even assuming we don't have power. I don't have as much water as I'd like, but I'm going to get some tonight at Wally-World. It's plain cheaper, and I'm going to go pretty late at night to our 24 hr one so I can avoid as much exposure as possible. My mom also suggested if I do stock up, to be sure and get medications just like for any other flu, so I'm buying some large bottles of (generic) Tylenol and things like that. I'm also stocking up on essentials like antibacterial gel (instead of soap), toiletries, soap things like that. I can fairly effective quarantine myself off from contact if need be, but I want to have at least 2 weeks if not more of vital supplies.
My mom basically told me I'm over-reacting. And maybe I am. But frankly it's a good reason to fluff up my food storage and rotate some out. If something happens, I'm more prepared them most. If nothing happens, I have 2 more weeks of food storage supplies.
We'd been discussing getting chickens for awhile, but hadn't made any firm plans. Yesterday I had planned a trip to see Lila, but it got canceled for unforeseen reasons and the Logger showed up shortly afterwards for donuts for the Boy. His friend (The Crabber, because again that's what he does) has been working to fix up the chicken coop, and the Boy and I went along with them to town to get some supplies. We stopped at the feed store to look around, and they had just gotten a couple batches of chicks. Before we knew it, we somehow were walking out of the feed store with 15 chicks and all the various supplies.
We got 8 white egg layers, and 7 brown egg layers. 8 are white, 6 are yellowish and one is black (so the boy can easily identify his). I'm not sure which breed they are because we forget to ask, so if you know, please let me know. Their names are Chicken (the Boys), LouAnne, Turtle, Drumstick, Noodle, Poopbutt, Scramble, McNugget, Omelet, Benedict, Poachy, Shelly, Huevo, Yoko and Dark Meat.
The chicks are staying in my garage for a bit until the weather gets warmer and we've finished the coop. It's actually sort of sweet to go in the garage and hear "peep peep peep-peep-peep". They have all survived so far (have I mentioned I'm pretty adept at killing things completely on accident?) but I figure since none of us know much about chickens it'll be a little trial and error least for a while.
Keep your fingers cross, and I'll pray to the Chicken Gods.
Boy rolls his eyes and mutters "Yeah right, Dad."
Hubby: "What!? You don't even know what I am talking about."
Boy: "You're talking about HOT CHICKS, aren't you?!"
Monday, April 27, 2009
Ryan the 2L: Are they done yet? I'm hungry.
Ryan the 2L: Why not?
Me: They aren't insta-grow food.
Ryan the 2L: Are they boneless?
Me: They are baby chicks Ryan. They don't come in regular and blob.
Via text message
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Sooooo that leaves me with a lot of time to ponder other things. So the Swine Flu issue has been in my thoughts. I am hoping the reason for no American deaths is due to our vaccines, immunities, and health care but I figured it was important to remind people not using the vaccines and health care that they need to. Even if you know you have the flu please get it confirmed by your doctor. With so many strains out there it can help the CDC get a fix on trends and risk areas to have the data of our tests.
Also flu facts seem prudent to share here. Flu 'season" is typically October - May in the U.S. with peak falling somewhere between December and March. Being vaccinated is good but is not 100% protection as the vaccine is formed from the data I told you about earlier. Better to be vaccinated then not though.
The best fighter we have against flu are anti-viral meds. These need to be started within 12-48 hours of onset of symptoms hence another reason seeing the Dr. is important. Another good reason for anti-viral meds is that if a family member catches the flu the meds can help protect you from catching it.
All my info came from fluFACTS.com. Remember children and the elderly are most at risk but anyone can catch it!
I'm a little torn at the moment, because there are a couple different ways I could go. I could take the simple route and just buy the melt and pour bases, buy a soap making kit or go full hog and try to do it from scratch. At the moment I'm leaning towards getting a melt and pour base to start. There is a local natural remedy store that I believe would have all the oils and such I might want to add, and molds are decently cheap. This way at least I can get used to the process before trying to do it all by myself. Also lye freaks me out seeing as they used to use it to cover dead bodies (over share, sorry I know) and I've seen Fight Club one too many times. Lip print scars on my hand is not something I am interested in.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The Boy: Umm... Is this organic?
Vendor: Well, yes it is.
The Boy: *pauses and scratches his head* Yeah, but is it local?
Apparently my brand spankin' new handy-dandy Compost Bin is a buffet of happy raccoon goodness. The other morning when I left the house to go to work, I realized that the front door of the bin had been torn off AGAIN. The raccoons had made off with everything edible. They even sifted through it to get the rotting onions off the bottom. And I know raccoons it was because they left their grubby paw prints all over my container. I guess I should consider myself lucky they didn't take off with the whole thing for use in their crazy psychotic raccoon fortress.
I'm thinking this weekend might be a good one to spend the stinking $20 and invest in a pellet gun. Lila's husband suggested baiting them, but mentioned it might kill some neighborhood cats. I don't have cats, so I don't see this as an issue, but I can see it possibly kicking up a fuss. I can't effectively lock the thing (I looked) and it's plastic so they'd probably just tear out the lock anyway.
Damn you raccoons! Damn you!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Two years ago or so, our city council decided we needed a sewer. Now, this idea has been batted around for YEARS. Literally as long as I can remember. There hasn't been a need for one. We have no 'big business' or fast food places that would require one. And the city limits haven't changed in years (probably more then a decade). Regardless, the almighty City Council decided that we silly citizens need a sewer system.
I'm unsure of the politics behind this, I'll be honest. I don't understand how the city council (4 people) can just decide to do a project so large as this. I figure if the whole city votes on a school levy, why don't they vote on town improvement issues? Also, instead of a levy type system where the cost is added over time, it was decreed (I can't with good conscience say decided) that each property would have a one time hefty 'deposit' to offset the cost to the city.
Fast forward a year. Construction begins, and slowly but surely every road in town in torn to pieces, patched badly and start growing potholes like weeds. Everyone is annoyed, but it's not like you can boycott a construction zone when it's the only route home.
Fast forward another year. Construction is almost complete. The roads are still a wreck, and aren't being fixed because every penny the town has is going into the sewer. I live in a duplex, which is owned by my friend's grandfather. He warned me when I moved in last fall that he was unsure about how they were going to do the sewer system for the house, and that he might have to raise the rent a little. He explained that even though the duplex was on one septic tank currently, the city was possibly going to charge him twice for the property since it's technically two residences.
Last week, I got a letter in the mail from my landlord saying he was indeed raising the rent. It only went up a small portion ($25) and since I was forewarned I wasn't upset. May and David (my neighbors and the owners grandson and wife respectively) also got the same notice, and were apparently a bit surprised. Last night, BD (my friend and David's brother) had come over for dinner, and David and May ended up joining us. The discussion turned to the rent raise, and subsequently to the town sewer project. May apparently hadn't understood fully that the rent was going up because of the sewer deposits. BD had recently spoken to his grandpa (who owns the property) and so he knew the amount his grandfather would have to be paying. $4800. That staggered me. The city did charge him for two residences, so their grandpa is paying a combined amount of $9600. When I heard that you can bet I was thanking my lucky starts my rent had only gone up $25.
BD mentioned it must be very hard on the people, seeing as most people don't exactly have the kind of money hiding under the couch cushions. May, who works in the mortgage portion of a large bank, mentioned that the week previously a co-worker had mentioned an elderly couple from the community who had gone to the bank for a reverse mortgage on their home. They purchased it in the 50's, and had it paid off in the 70's. Because they were on a fixed income and couldn't afford the deposit, they were being forced to borrow on their home to pay the city.
We all wondered what would happen should someone be unable to pay the deposit, and if they had a choice in hooking up to the system, but none of us knew. This morning as I made my rounds through town on my way to work (Grocer, coffee shop, gas station) I made it a point to ask what people thought. I was shocked by the responses. Everyone I encountered was going to have to do something drastic to get this money by June 1st. Most were re-financing their homes, a few were taking from 401K or stocks. No one had the money. No one. There is no way to 'opt out' of the new system, and if you don't pay, well... the city puts a lien of your house. Simple enough for the city I suppose.
I really can't get my mind around this. The city has functioned just fine without a sewer system so far. Instead they are doing it regardless of need or cost to people who can't afford it, many of whom are already struggling, on unemployment or a fixed income. If it made any sense to add this, I would probably be in favor of it. It isn't bringing a single thing to our community. Na-da.
I just don't get it.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I'm hoping it's just shock from the transplant, because the last lettuce soldier appears to be quite happy. Of course that was this morning, it could very well be dead by the time I get home.
Your time on the Earth was short, little lettuce starters. But do not be sad, for tomorrow you shall be compost.
This weekend I went to one of the big box stores (which I'm starting to hate a little to be honest) because I wanted to pick up the compost bin my sister had recommended to me (but that's another blog). Since I was there anyway, I decided to pilfer through their gardening section and see what I could find. I had a basic list of what I wanted: Planters, potting soil, watering can, yata yata.
I ended up buying 5 planters. 1 large deep round one (for my carrots) 2 medium long ones, and 2 smaller long style ones. I also bought 2 bags of potting soil (one organic compost, one Miracle Grow. Normally I would have stuck with organic but I need all the help I can get). I also bought a trowel and some gloves. I looked at buying watering cans, but couldn't find one under $15, so I scraped the Norman Rockwell picture in my head of me watering plants while the boy plays with a puppy in the background. Instead I bought one of those 42 level hose nozzles and called it odds and evens.
I got home, lugged the bags of potting soil (soooo heavy) out of my trunk and got to work. I ended up filling the tall round pot, and one each of the long pots. I tried to mix the soil about 50/50, but with the Miracle Grow most concentrated on the top and tapering off towards the bottom. Gracie recommended I put gravel or sand in the bottom to help with moisture control, but I didn't have any, and I was impatient. So if they all die, this is an official disclaimer that she told me so.
The carrots went in the tall round, since Gracie and I discussed it and we figured they need lots of 'down' and less 'out'. In the larger long planter I put in the onions and my lettuce. I don't think it'll be big enough for ever, but I plan to move one species over to the other pot in a couple weeks. The small planter is the home of my chives, sage and English thyme.
They all need full sun (at least for Spring) so I have them in the front of my house where I have the most sunlight. So my little garden is tentatively up and running.
Here goes nothing.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I am getting rid of my George Foreman grill. I love it and it works great, when I only had the Hubs and I or the Hubs, Bug, and I to cook for. Now I cook for at least 6 people a night so the itty bitty grill makes cooking take longer rather than being a helpful tool. The ice tea maker is going too. I actually prefer sun tea anyway and since I am moving to a desert I will get pleanty of sun to make it with.
Also I know I keep clothes for way too long. If it has not been worn in ages and the fabric can't be used for scraps then donate it. Someone else can get some use, you get a tax write off, and you make room in your closet.
So declutter, make room for the things you use and need and trust me you will feel better too!
You are supposed to use seedling plants but of course I was impatient and bought plants that were almost grown. I had to gather the leaves and gently push them through the opening in the bottom of the TT. I did good and only broke one branch on the biggest plant. You then add the dirt. I found that the 8qt bag fills the TT almost to the recommended depth.
Use the hook they sent with it or something equally strong. It gets HEAVY at this point. Put the green ring part of the lid on the top and line up the wire hangers in the slots. (If you buy this you will understand) Hang the TT and put the other lid part on lining up the slots with the slots on the ring part. Congratulations! You have an upside down garden!
I trimmed and cut the beans, getting rid of any with bad spots or wilted bits (During this, I also had my jars heating on the stove). I started my brine mixture (water, vinegar and canning salt) pulled out the hot jars, but let the lids in my hot water. I packed the jars, adding a clove (or two if they were small) a few sprigs of dill and packed the green beans in on top. When the brine was ready I ladled it into the jars, popped on the hot lids (fresh from the hot water, and yes I usually burn my fingers) and screwed them down with the jar bands.
I hadn't ever used my canner as a water boiler before, so I called Gracie in a panic early in this process. She talked me down, and so I had a good idea had to do it before I started. I had the canner already heating up with an ungodly amount of water in it on the stove, and once the water hit 140 degrees (I just use a candy thermometer) I put my cans of beans in. Let it heat to a "rigorous boil" per my canner's booklet, boiled for the allotted time, and pulled the beans out of the hot water, shoving them in my usual corner to cool.
They seem to have turned out great! I haven't tried any yet (I'm letting them 'stew' for bit to really season). The only thing I'm a little perturbed about is the shrinkage of the beans themselves. I shoved the cans full, yet I always seem to get a .5-1 inch of space once they are heated and sealed.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Granted I know how money worries can cast a dark shadow over life. I know how it feels to wonder where the next paycheck was coming from. Luckily we have remained fairly steady through this downward economic time. We lost about half of the hub's retirement fund but we are young enough to be able to bounce back probably. Hubs has remained employed and we are moving and able to use the housing trend to purchase our own first home. However we had some very very lean years in the beginning. Where Hubs worked 2 jobs and I worked 1. Never though did the hope fade that we would be able to make a better life for us and our children.
The biggest problem with the current economical trend is that so many are loosing their hope. Hope is the one thing that can get us through rough times. This will pass, a new day will dawn, we will recover. We will learn from this and make better choices in the future. We can and will be okay!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
What are your favorite herbs for food or for medicine?
Friday, April 17, 2009
I think both sides are plum crazy. Obama is a man. He is a man with a huge job ahead of him and the weight of a nation on his shoulders. I didn't vote for him BUT I stand behind him 100%. I think he wants what is best for our families, our livelihoods, and our nation. To expect miracles is a bit much as is expecting the Apocalypse to occur just because he is the president. We need to give him the chance to do his job. Analyzing the first 100 days for hours on end accomplishes nothing. Seriously give the man a break, he is only human. Yes his mistakes and triumphs will impact all of us but until you do the job you don't get to assume you can do it better.
One good thing about staying around the area you grew up (especially when it's a very small town) is you know everybody. Seriously. Today I stopped at the grocery store because I wanted to can something besides strawberries and apples. I happened to have gone to school with one of the guys who works in the fruits and veggies and he told me that they had just gotten an excellent batch of green beans. I grabbed a bunch of those (it's probably several pounds to be honest) and also some baby dill. I actually found a mix of pickle spices also, so I'll probably try some with fresh herbs and some with the seasoning.
Once again, I will try and keep you up to date on my adventures and please, keep your fingers crossed for me.
Set oven to 350. You want 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, Place in bowl. Add 1 egg, some garlic salt, season salt, Mrs. Dash or what ever favorite seasonings you like. Add 2 pieces toast (Yes actually toast 2 pieces of bread) pulled into small pieces. Mash it all together. I use my hands but I am sure a potato masher would work. Get out a glass baking pan. I use the square for this amount. place meat mixture into the pan and make a loaf shape. I usually make mine about 3-4 inches thick. Coat loaf with ketchup. Stick in heated oven for 45 minutes and then check by cutting into the center. Thicker obviously takes longer, thinner will be shorter so check it sooner if needed. Great with Mag's potatoes and green beans!!
Also the same mixture can be used to make delectable meatballs. Instead of baking simply roll into balls about 2 or 3 inches round. Melt butter in a skillet and brown the balls. Drain grease and add 1 regular can diced tomato, 1 can water, 2 cubes beef bullion, a table spoon sugar, seasonings you like. (I use a regular Italian blend) Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Awesome over egg noodles!!
I wash and peel the potatoes, then dice them into roughly 1/2 inch chunks. These don't have to be perfect, trust me. Place them in a mixing bowl lightly coat with oil and toss lightly with salt, pepper or any other spices you like. I usually use rosemary, or skip the salt and pepper altogether and use Johnny's Seasoning Salt. Dice 1/2 a large white onion, and peel 5-8 cloves of garlic, and add these to my potato mix. Also cut 4-6 slices of bacon into chucks, and cook then set aside.
I pour the whole shebang into a casserole pan (size depends on how many I'm feeding) cover with tin foil, and bake in the oven for about an hour at 350 (check and stir around every 15 mins or so) in the last fifteen minutes, add in the bacon and leave off the foil to get some color on the tots. This goes great with a steak or pork chops. It can basically substitute for any other potato-ish side with dinner.
I almost always have left overs from this (as I'm physically incapable of cooking for 1 or 2 people) so I will save the remnants and grab them out in the morning. Simply throw them in a sautee or cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of oil (if you're like me, and seem to pick out a lot of the bacon bits before you re-cook it, you might want to add more. Sausage also goes great in this). Once the potatoes have brown and have a nice crisp you have a couple options. You can serve them straight up with the usual breakfast subjects ala Potatoes O'Maggy, or you can make what I like to call a Leftover Scramble.
For a Leftover Scramble you need either a cast iron or over safe pan (trust me on this) and if you do use an oven safe pan, I highly recommend you use a fry pan or skillet. Otherwise you risk make a scrabble-mess, and having sad face because you don't have breakfast. Heat your oven to 350, and simply pour a plain scrambled egg mixture (I use 2 eggs per person. 3 if I know they are a big eater) directly over the potatoes in the hot pan. I also occasionally add green onions or cheese (or both) into the egg batter, and it makes it very very yummy and adds some texture and color. Allow to bake approx. 15-25 min depending on the amount of eggs you add. And please be sure it's throughly cooked before you remove it from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The really sad part is, I honestly got really excited. I've been looking into home composting for awhile, and just hadn't found anything practical yet. Like I've said many times before, I'm on a limited budget, so spending $300 on a home version just isn't in the cards (regardless of it being $50 off).
The version my sister sent me appears to be a Keter 120 Gallon Composter. That is an optimum size for me, and a great price (about $60-70). I really didn't have a ton of organic scraps when I started this adventure. But now that I'm canning and cooking almost exclusively at home, I'm starting to get a good size pile (and right now that's what it is, discreetly hidden under a tree in my side yard). I'm going to head to the local big box store where she saw it this weekend, and depending on my paycheck this week, I might make the investment. I was also thinking about getting a kitchen bucket because well, I'm lazy. I don't want to have to run out to the big bin every time I have a handful of scraps.
Hopefully this works and doesn't just turn into a pile of rotting gross.
I saw this wonderful story on my yahoo headlines. Child abuse spikes as U.S. economy flounders.
My goodness people!! Life right now is tough for a lot of people. Jobs are scarce, money gets tighter every day, hopelessness abounds. I understand the stress of that. The worry of 'Will I be able to provide for my family this week?'. No longer do we take our 401k for granted as we watched half of it disappear. No longer does the adjustable rate mortgage sound like a good idea. Life has changed. That is no reason to take out a fear or frustration on the children. They are our future. They are the reason we fight to get our economy back. They are the reason we work where ever we can even if it sucks or is below us. You can bet your butt I would be working in fast food if needed. Please remember there is hope always. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always and end to the rough patches in our life!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Now this is only the start of the collection. I want a 9 mm for my conceal carry weapon. We want a few shotguns, probably a rifle for me, and a semi-auto for Hubs at the very least. I also recommend something not requiring ammo. We have a compound bow for that reason. We will probably buy me a bow as well so that I have something I can pull. Hubs' bow takes a bit more strength than I have.
Anyone who cooks regularly has faced the same dilemma. I like to call this Why-did-I-buy-this-piece-of-crap-itis. Everyone has that one kitchen utensil that they hate. My personal bane is the Spatula. I've had a bazillion of them; some melted (oops) some warped, some cracked and flecked (ew). On the beginning road of my canning adventure, I went to a kitchen store with my sister looking for non-reactive things for my jamming and pickling. I wanted a small spatula for tapping out bubbles, and anything I might need.
My sister shoved me past the regular culprits and tossed one of these in my hand. I don't remember her exact comment, but it was something along the lines of "I know this is kind of expensive, but seriously it's worth it. You won't regret it." I took it home, shoved it in the back of my utensil drawer with the rest of the useless spatulas. A few days ago, I needed to scrap an awkward size bowl and reached in the drawer, fished around blindly and pulled it back out. I'm sure I shrugged (or at least my brain did) and I went to scraping. It works like magic! It got out seriously every last drop. Then when I made the snicker doodles, I used it to mix the dough, and it worked amazing again. The tip is just flexible enough to allow you to scrape everything (Seriously, this thing is like a window squeegee) but it's stiff enough to use as a mixing spoon.
Highly, highly recommended from Maggie. Buy one, it's worth it!
The pirates also attacked another US vessel called the Liberty Sun, which was taken humanitarian aid to Kenya. They attacked using RPG's and small arms fire, but despite having 14 boats of armed men, were unable to board.
One of the lead pirates justified the upscale of attacks on US and French vessels by saying that "The U.S. and French governments should know this because they started the aggression on us."
I'm sorry, Pirate say what? We started what aggression? Last time I check you attacked two of our ships carrying humanitarian aid to your countries! God forbid we feed you starving kids.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder trial have finally grown a pair and decided to pursue the death penalty. I think it is about dang time. Any one who kills a child whether their own or another should not be allowed to breath. Harsh, sure, even cruel probably. Children are the only innocents left in the world and they darn well deserve some old fashioned justice.
I hope they pursue the death penalty in the Melissa Huckaby case. As soon as they included the 'rape by instrument' charge I decided I would happily volunteer to flip the switch.
I think honestly serial child rapists and child murderers should be automatic capital cases. I am all about forgiveness and growth and chances, I really am, but some circumstances just do not deserve forgiveness.
I'm lucky in a couple ways. My current living situation has an attached garage, and due to some previous tenants (not sure which ones to thank, but the thanks is there) there is an abundance of shelving that is perfect for storage. And must of it is off the ground which seriously cuts down on potential bad things from creepy crawlers and furred invaders.
I'm unlucky in that seeing as that place I live is older, but not old enough to be of the "make everything yourself days" I don't have a ton of inside the house storage space. I would honestly kill someone (or at least do physical harm) for a walk-in pantry. I like my food where I can see it. And lately since I know I'm going to need large amounts of the basics (see above list of recent purchases) I need to consolidate my wares.
So not only do I need useful small storage, but I need large storage containers that I can have be not only airtight, but also accessible. I want to be able to rotate my storage through my kitchen,a and I'm really only feeding two people so having huge containers of food just isn't justifiable.
Gracie posted about food storage before and since I'm lucky enough to have her as my own personal guru, I've gotten quite a bit of help. But I've moved from the "what might I need" to "what should I get", and Gracie sadly can't just pick a few things and I buy them. I've been cruising a couple sites, and most of them seem to like the Snapware line of products. I've found some for a good price on Amazon.com that I like a lot. As a single mom, I can't go blow a couple of hundred bucks on stuff. I'm going to have to buy in bits and pieces.
Anyone have any recommendations for brands they use and like, or any to stay away from?
This is pretty interesting to me as a (former) Army wife, since the Navy hasn't had a huge jump on the action in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one freak out, I'm not saying they haven't done anything, it's just a little complicated when the war being fought is well... in a desert. And it's high time for the Navy to F*up some Pirates. The biggest parts of this are going to be Government support (which I think it has) and Public support (which I also think it has). Once the public is up in arms, it's very very very hard to ignore on the government level. Especially if you like your job, it pays to listen to the people.
The second video is a legal analysis on what to do with the captured Somali Pirate, who according to reports has been singing like a canary on a US Navy Vessel. I'll leave the complicated stuff to Ryan the 2L, since it's his specialty but I gleaned from it that basically we have him in military custody and we don't have to return him to anyone under international law. We do however, have a treaty with Kenya and it's possible he will be handed over to them. And I'm pretty sure Kenya might actually do something justified to him.
I'm personally in a complicated spot in this. I'm not a fan of "shoot first, ask questions later" as a general rule of warfare. BUT Ex-hole spent a large chunk of our marriage in Iraq, and many of our friends didn't come home because both sides in a war don't have to play by the same rules. I think if you're a damn pirate, you shouldn't expect to be given any sort of pause. When you kill people and hijack their shit for a living, you have to understand it may not look so good should you be caught.
At the same time, I don't know if it's possible for the US to declare "war" on the Pirates. We obviously can't declare war on Somalia (the entire country isn't behind this after all), but what can we do should this escalate further?
I guess we'll have to see.
Update: I just saw this article, and it looks like the Pentagon is planning some small special ops forays into Somalia and the Pirate strongholds. Game on!
Monday, April 13, 2009
My friend who is helping me with a little garden, and oh so kindly donating both land and work, should be finished up with the roto-tilling soon. Since he's putting in so much initial work, I offered to deal with some of the starts and things. I talked to one of the nursery owners, and settled on buying some starts. We are now the proud owners of carrots, lettuce, yellow Spanish onions, thyme, sage and chives. I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the gist.
I also bought some more Irises, and this bunch has the slightest tinge of blue and purples and might be prettier then the last. I made some of the apples into (yet more) apple butter, and tomorrow I'm going to take a shot at Apple Pie Filling. I would have attempted it today, but I didn't have nutmeg. And despite my protest that I think nutmeg is useless (mostly because I didn't have any) Gracie swore I need some or it wouldn't really taste right.
And today was also a bit of a celebration! Ryan the 2L and I have finished our Lent Fast and both managed to lose the 10% total weight loss bet. I still 'won' by 4% overall, but I don't think Ryan wants to admit it. Since today was the first real day I could eat 'whatever' I wanted, you can imagine I've been thinking it over for awhile. But this organic, self-sustaining thing is getting to me a bit and I couldn't force myself through the McDonald's drive-though. Or Jack in the Box. Or Taco Bell. And yes, a little piece of my soul died with it.
Instead, the Boy and I made Snickerdoodles! I found a pretty easy recipe on RecipeZaar and they came out gorgeous! The Boy had a ton of fun rolling the dough in the cinnamon mix, and they smelled like heaven coming out of the oven. The recipe is pretty easy, and luckily I could involve the Boy with little to no mess.
When I went to pick him up, I noticed a magazine sitting on the table. I glanced at the cover and was a bit confused. Grizzly looking guy, snowy cabin, big husky... and the words The Back Woodsmen. I snagged it and settled down to breeze through it real quick, and instead spent about 45 minutes going through every word. It had a wide variety of topics, from how to spot native fruit trees to how to make bottle cap candles.
According to my dad the magazine has been laying around his house since January. I don't believe him because I know my current domestic insanity would have led me to something like this like a homing beacon.
I have to say, I'm already in love. It's very no nonsense writing and editing, and you can tell these guys know their stuff. Nothing is horribly impractical, even for someone who is a newbie to survivalist things like me. You can find them online at backwoodsmanmag.com, with articles from the current issues, a merchandise store and other recommendations for books and things.
You can order the magazine online (much to my happiness) and subscription is insanely cheap (respectively) at $23 a year, $44 for 2 years or $250 for a lifetime subscription. It does take 6-8 weeks for your subscription to come, but the magazine is bi-monthly. I ordered both a year subscription and the March/April issue (back issues are $5 each). I'm really excited about this new addition to my reading, and I'm sure I will try some of them for your enjoyment.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I hope these attacks can be quelled, but well, I doubt much will be done by anyone seeing as no one has really tried yet. Except the French. But well... yeah.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer: Even if I had a million dollars, I refuse to spend an extra $150 to get it in lime green. I'm pretty fine with hand mixing (builds the biceps) but considering I'm doing this on my own, it gets a bit tedious when trying to do 5 things at once. I can't say I'd mind having this take some of the load off.
Atlas Pasta Maker: I've tried to hand roll pasta in the past, and even made a fairly decent batch of ravioli's once. BUT I don't not have the patience or practice to make it paper-thin like you need to really have it work well. I'd love to be able to make whole grain pasta, and spinach pasta on my own. *Note: I'll probably cave and buy a smaller, cheaper one eventually*
KitchenAid Food Processor: This particular one is twelve cups, and I'd probably actually lean a bit smaller for just me and the Boy. Once again, this is something I don't need but it would be a nice little splurge it I could afford it.
Le Creuset French Oven: (Excuse me while I wipe off my drool) This is numbero uno on my list! It cooks everything, does everything and I want it. I want it yesterday. Actually, scratch that just get me the 6-piece set. I'll take that in yellow, thanks.
Cuisineart Ice Cream Maker: My parents have an automatic ice cream maker, but it seriously makes about a pint of ice cream. You stare and stare and stare all day, and in the end you get two bits. This one makes 2 qts. which is enough for a big get-together, or to freeze for later. On a more realistic note. Ex-Holes family has one of these which are actually a lot of fun. The kids spent a bit rolling it around in the grass (rolling, no soccer) and poof! Ice Cream.
Belgian Waffle Maker: Once again, I'd be more then happy with a little cheaper one like this but if I was splurging I want one of the cool flippity ones. Waffles are a big deal around our house come breakfast. If I whip out the waffle iron, I'm practically beating the Boy off and trying to keep as many waffles as I can away from him at least until they get to the table. Right now I have the standard square waffle iron, and well, I like Belgian waffles more.
For Grills I would take both the Weber Genesis and regular Weber Charcoal Grill. I love the taste of a charcoal grill, nothing beats it. But sometimes you can fight the ease and stability of propane. Oh, and ah, throw in a EGG Smoker while your at it.
I think that's about it, but I'll probably think of a ton more once I post this.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I love, love, love the shelf reliance system, I just don't have any place to put it. This is the coolest thing, it rotates the cans just like at the grocery store. I think we are going to have to clear out a place in the garage and install one. They even have stratch and dent sales! How cool is that? I know I can get my hands on plans to build something similar, I just have to ask the right people. More on this as I find info.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I do plan on taking another trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and I will let you know what spoils I make off with. I'm considering trying some meat and spaghetti sauce canning this weekend so I'm sure if I do you'll get a blog about it early next week.
In the meantime; Stay safe, be happy, and be ready for the unexpected!
I ran home, threw the cake mix together, plopped it in a 13x9 pan and put it in the oven. When it was finished and nice and lemony smelling, I pulled it out out of the oven and let it cool. Honestly this was the hardest part for me. I have no patience, seriously none. You can't start the next step until the cake has totally cooled off, and I'm guessing I checked it 55 times before it was ready.
Once it was done (finally, stupid cake) I broke it into pieces and crumbled it with a fork in a large mixing bowl. You add about a can of frosting, but start with about 3/4 and work your way up. The density of the cake can really vary how much you need, and no one likes a soggy cake pop. Roll them into balls, I found 1.25-1.5 inch balls worked best. Any bigger and they're hard to handle, any smaller and they tend to crack on the sticks. Place the finished ones on a greased or lined cookie sheet, place in lollipop sticks (or sticks of your choice) and place in the freezer.
While in the freezer, melt either chocolate or candy melts in a double broiler (or if you're lazy like me a glass bowl over a saucepan). Pull the cake pops from the freezer and dip into the coating of your choice. I shake off the excess and then place them (stick first of course) into a Styrofoam block. This allows them to dry without the flat spot from setting them back on a sheet.
Here is the finished project! Hooray for Cake Pops!
They were a huge hit, and all the moms wanted to know how to make them. These are so simple (really, if I can do it, you can do it!) and can earn you a lot of points for style and creativity. You can play with a infinite mix of cake and frosting and decorations for the shell.
Cake Pops get a 5 star rating in my book, and I'm sure I will make some more very soon!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
This experience made me quite a bit more aware of how I did things on a day by day basis. I had no idea how survive outside of the normal everyday realm. Just about everything we ate was created with things only purchased at the grocery store. I didn't make a single thing by hand, and beyond that I didn't have the foggiest idea where to start if I wanted too. So I took it upon myself to learn. I had help from friends, and did a lot of research. I spent the money and bought a couple books, and started on the road to self-reliance.
Luckily for me, my family has taken my sudden domestic 'insanity' pretty well in stride. My father is LDS, so he's all for it. My mom is a little taken back, but she's very supportive. My sister thinks I've completely lost my marbles, but since I'm giving her some of my canned fruit she's managed to keep her thoughts more or less to herself. I'm not saying I could survive all on my own should something happen, but I sure wouldn't be the first to die.
Now, I also have some amazing friends that need specific mentioning. Ryan the 2L and Theotherryan (or TOR) and TOR's Wifey. You might have heard of them (okay, chances are you have) as they run the amazing Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest. I've known the Ryan's since I was knee high to a duck, and although TOR's Wifey is a more recent addition, she is equally amazing. The Ryan's have introduced me to the scope of the 'survivalist' world (although I still swear I'm a hippie) and helped ease me into it, while still letting me take my own way. I'm very excited to be their sister blog, and hope I can do them justice.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
My dilemma is this: it's a potluck style lunch. Normally this would be easy, I have a bazillion potluck-style ideas, and a bunch more I'd like to try. But this one has to be uber kid-friendly, and Easter themed. I have a feeling I'm going to end up being asked to bring "cookies or something". In case you don't remember, I'm not a baker. I'm not that good at it. Period. I can make basic cookies, but when it's time to impress I'm at a loss.
I asked my sister, the "Baker" of our family and she told me to take pita and hummus. I'm sorry, sister say what? Hummus? This is little kids. I need child-proof finger food, preferably dessert-ish. Where did you get hummus?
My mom was also little to no help. Gracie gave me a couple ideas, and so did Lila but I'm generally drawing a blank. I want to do something more creative then sugar cookies, but still simple as I have to perfect it in one night only.
I'm currently obsessed (No, really) with Cake Pops from Bakerella. The possibilities are endless, and Bakerella made some adorable Easter bunny pops that I might be able to handle if I simplify the faces a bit. I'm very aware of what I can and cannot handle, and teeny tiny bunny faces I'm pretty sure falls into the latter. I've been browsing for the pastel candy corn, and have yet to find it so I think I might have to expand the search area.
I also consider making some meringue cookies like these Easter Story Cookies. Having the boy pound pecans and explain that Jesus was beaten is a little further then I'm willing to travel per say, but meringue cookies are my favorite. We have a mint chocolate version my family makes every year at Christmas, so I'm pretty sure I could hack it.
Other then that, I'm pretty well out of ideas. Anyone have any suggestions?