Monday, April 29, 2013


Over the weekend, the book club I belong to traveled to Kalamazoo's Miller Auditorium to see Wicked.

As we are a book club, we read the book.  Well, some of us did.  One of us did not and I shall not name her here but she also said that she does not hear us saying one good thing about it that made her wish she had read it.

We weren't fans of the book, sorry if you are.  That said, we have never discussed a book to death more.

I read a synopsis on goodreads of the other books in the series and I won't be reading any of them.  The last one is listed repeatedly as "dark".  Well, I found Wicked to be dark so I wasn't interested in reading something MORE dark.

But here is this tricky little thing, I actually liked Elphie in the book so it wasn't a total waste.  I'll just never ever reread it.  Ever.

My book club, how I love it!  We have been the group since the beginning and we all decided we would do this thing, see this play.  We dressed up.  We painted our nails. We had sitters.  We were out on the town.

We settled into our balcony seats and I was trying to act all calm and not jump up and down in sheer excitement because this was my first musical play and I. Was. Excited.

I was also nervous to see all these little girls there to watch the play and I worried what they would see because the book was that bad.

However, whoever wrote the musical Wicked was brilliant because it didn't follow the book much at all and I. Loved. It.

I mean, I really really loved it.

As the play went to intermission, I thought it was over, and while an odd spot to end the play, I stood and cheered and was thinking it was great and then realized we were only half way through!

And it ended just beautifully.

Romantic sigh, beautiful.

The music is now one of my pandora stations.  I looked up the price of a t-shirt or book to remember this amazing show but the shirt was 40 and the book was 20 and I didn't purchase them.  I'll just add them to my "if I ever win the lottery or my chickens begin laying golden eggs" list.  

If Wicked is coming near you - Go. See. It.  Don't even bother with the book at all.  Just see the musical.  It's so amazing!

And, on a side note, while at Wicked, I was sent this photo in a text of what my boys were up to.

My son is holding a blue racer.  And it's still alive.  He is wearing gloves because it attempted to bite him but that is another story for another day.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"That Old Lady Smell"

While cleaning out some forgotten drawer, I found a bottle of lavender spray from the Healing Garden. I sprayed a bit, it smelled wonderful, so I sprayed the curtains in our bedroom with it.

I have been cleaning the house all day and it's pretty much a lost cause.  I mopped the floors in the living room, they are now covered in mud.

I cleaned the bathroom, S3 put his muddy shoes in the sink.

Anyway, back to lavender.

I love the smell of lavender and I thought that tonight, when I went to bed on my just washed today sheets, I would smell the lavender and feel fully spoiled.

I moved on to the kitchen to start cleaning, it's scary messy, when S1 walked in.

He tilted his head to the side.  Sniffed.  Scrunched up his nose.  "What's that smell?" he finally asked.

"What smell?" I asked him.

"That different smell.  That girly smell."

"Oh, that.  That's lavender spray I put on the curtains," I told him.

"Huh."  He stole one of my green apple slices with peanut butter on it.  "When we were in fifth grade, or some grade, anyhow, they had lavender hand sanitizer and we boys called it "old lady sanitizer."

"So the house smells like an old lady?" I asked him.

"No, it doesn't smell like alcohol," he explained.

I couldn't resist, leaning against the kitchen counter with a smirk I asked, "So...old ladies smell like alcohol and lavender?"

Realizing he couldn't win this one, he retreated back outside to help his Daddy.  Guy stuff is so much easier than talking to girls.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Woodchuck for Dinner

Our oldest son had been noticing some woodchuck damage and decided to do something about it.  Last year we had such an infestation of various rodents so he wanted to make sure he had an early start.

He caught one on the first day after setting his auction buy trap.

I knew then that I would have to "adjust" our weekly menu.

All the boys have been waiting to eat woodchuck (or groundhog - but the word groundhog makes me bitter because he said that it would be an early spring and it is supposed to SNOW this weekend.).  Friends I shall leave unmentioned (but drive a blue bus because their family is so large - 16 kiddos from one mama and one daddy and only one set of twins) had assured our boys it was tasty.

As they are known as being tricksters, I was slightly leery.

The school called as S1 was headed back to the house withe the rodent and I had to run in to get S2, who was feeling sickly.  I was so in shock over the fact that I was actually going to be making woodchuck for dinner that I had to share this information with the school secretary.  Oddly, she didn't seem shocked.  I think this should concern me.  

S2 arrived home to watch S1 cut up the meat.  I was quite thankful that crock pot liners have been invented because they were surely being used on this meal.

We had been told that cream of mushroom soup would make the meat more tender, so we added that as well.  

It wasn't looking very tasty.

However, every single time I get a chicken ready to bake I swear I am not eating one because I think they look so disgusting but I keep making them for dinner and we keep eating them.  So I wasn't so quick to judge.

The longer it cooked, well, it didn't smell very good either.  We kept waiting for a good cooking scent, but it never happened.

When I drove into our little hometown to pick up yet another sick boy (it's been a rough week, but we can't blame the woodchuck, it hadn't been eaten yet), I stopped to talk to Alicia at my amazing work place, the heart of our town, the library.

"There's a woodchuck in my crock pot," I told her.

"What?" she spit out.

I repeated what I said.  "That's what I thought you said but I didn't want to believe you," she answered, shaking her head.

When I arrived home, the woodchuck wasn't smelling any better.

I started frying bacon.  Bacon always smells wonderful. Waffles and bacon had never sounded so delicious for dinner.

The meat cooked up dark, nearly black.  My husband began to get a little hopeful. "Bear meat is black and it is some good eating," he told us.  He began dreaming up plans if it tasted as good as prime rib and how we would raise the woodchucks, becoming a woodchuck farm, hitting the jackpot on an untaped market and the recipes I could sell and the money we could make.

All the boys started asking for me to make them a waffle.

But S1, bless his heart, cut up pieces for everyone and was sure that with Sweet Baby Ray's, anything can be tasty.

He was mistaken.

"All this hard work for it to taste this bad!" he moaned dejectedly. 

And it was bad bad.  So bad that when they cleared the table, they wouldn't even give the leftovers to the chickens.  That is bad, folks.

I was ever so thankful for that crock pot liner!

S1 emailed the Visser's the people who told us it would taste good, and they told us you have to boil woodchuck first and then cook it.

It's going to take a little while to get over this, but I am pretty sure that we are going to be trying this meal again.

Lucky us.

I would like to add that days later, they are still bemoaning the fact the woodchuck tasted so tough and terrible.  My husband still laments, "If it only it had tasted good, think of the money we could have made!"

This, people, is my life.

I cannot make it up.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Three Crock-pot Recipes for Four Ravenous Boys

Back in October, at the height of football season, I bought this cookbook....

But because it was, in fact, the height, of football season, I sorta didn't try any recipes.  Oh, I looked it over at practice, when I was stuck in the suburban during a rain storm, waiting for a game to begin....

The boys went through and chose a few recipes (aka, full page pictures) they thought they would like to eat.

Since then I have made the oatmeal recipes and one potato recipe and one dessert from this crock-pot cookbook.

How sad is that?

Well, lately we have been in this terrible rut for dinners.  It goes something like lasagna, tacos, pizza, roast or chicken and potatoes, shepherds pie, chili or goulash, grilling. 

When my dear friend (who happens to be my boss) said she was taking the week off of work (as she well deserved) I knew I was going to have to get creative with dinner since I would be working every day.  As I have mentioned before, the boys have to know what they are having for dinner when I drop them off at school.  If I am not sure, they get a panicked look in their eyes.  

What if, what if I forget to FEED them?

The horror!

So I picked out three recipes and picked two other days to make a "normal" meal.  I thought that would be a good balance.

I told my friends what I was doing and promised I would give them the boys ratings.  And here I am, doing just as I promised.

The first day I made this Beef Stroganoff.

I cannot spell stroganoff to save my hide, just so you know. 

I was pretty sure this would be everyone's favorite.  My husband thought it tasted like hamburger helper, and he has a thing against hamburger helper because we lived on hamburger helper our first year of marriage and if you talk to him for any length of time he will tell you this.  

I made it up the night before and stuck the entire crock-pot in the outdoor fridge of which I do not speak of.  It is currently not filled with worms (everyone is now clicking the link in the highlighted words to read of the worm fridge now....I just know it) so the entire crock-pot fit right in there which was amazingly handy in the morning to just pull it out of the fridge and plug it in the kitchen.

Do not tell my husband this - that the fridge on the porch could have been a brilliant idea.  He doesn't need to know this, I am still thinking bitter thoughts about him telling everyone how much he hates hamburger helper.

 The meal turned out perfectly.

It got so so reviews.  Jake, as I said, didn't like it much.  Not that it was bad, it was just bland.

And it was bland.  But the boys all said they would eat it again so I consider that a win.
Please notice S2's hat.  We had to wait on this photo just so he could have his hat on.

After dinner I made up the meal I was a little worried about.  Again, we stuck the whole crock-pot in the fridge and when I got home with the boys at the end of the day, dinner was ready.

You just can't beat that.

It looked a little iffy, I stirred it and it looked delicious.

My husband absolutely raves about this Cheddar Vegetable Sausage Casserole.

S1 didn't like it but the other's seemed to like it quite well.  They said I could make it again.  (It should be noted S1 does not like vegetables...which is tricky when your family is vegetable farmers.)  I had this the next day at lunch, it was even better the next day.  I doubled the recipe and I am so glad I did.

Because I was using crock-pot liners, clean up the crock-pot simple easy and I got the next meal ready to go.

By now the boys were thinking I may be using "new" meals as a form of punishment.  "What's wrong with the food we like?" they whined when I told them it would be a new chicken dish for dinner.

This recipe, Golden Mushroom Chicken, is in the book but I cannot find it on the Crockin' Girls site.  If you have the cookbook, it is on page 261.  I could not find golden mushroom soup so I just used cream of mushroom soup.  This recipe I doubled as well and then crossed my fingers and hoped it would be good.

They nearly licked the pot clean.

Well, except for S3 who had had it with new food and refused to eat anything but cereal and pretzel sticks.  

Normally, that would bother me but this was sooooo good we didn't care.

I made up two packages of Knorr creamy chicken rice and I should have made three bags of it.  Jake said it was good and I could make it again but the polish sausage dish was still his favorite.

But anyway you look at it, I have THREE new dishes to put into rotation at our home.

And they are all so super easy I could make them at night when I was tired from work and not even stress it.

Feeling rather confident in my cooking skills, I decided to try another new recipe on our taco dinner night. 

During the week, I had gotten an invite to All Recipes magazine and was about to toss the offer when I noticed they included recipes in their request.  And one of those recipes was for lemon bars.  And lemon is the color of sunshine and I miss sunshine and I happen to love lemon bars.

So I made these Lemon Pie Bars
They were just cool enough to eat when the boys arrived home from school.  S1 was upstairs in his room doing school work and his nose led him downstairs just before they arrived home and he gobbled up three of them.

I wasn't sure if the boys would like them.

Think they did?

They were amazingly simple to make so I may have to make up a whole new pan of them.

Seriously, even I who make (I think) good food but not pretty food noticed they looked rather sunshiny pretty....

And they made a full 9x13 pan...a must in our household, obviously.

So what will I be making next week?

I think I will torture the boys and try a few new recipes again. :) It was such a nice change!

And...get husband actually THANKED ME for making dinner.

Okay, maybe I am not as bitter about his hamburger helper stories......

The Crockin' Girls have no idea I am writing this post.  I bought the cookbook out of football mom desperation and I am thinking it was a brilliant move on my part.  Check out their website to learn more, follow them on facebook and twitter or their blog to get new recipes.  They seem so chatty and sweet and real on twitter, I am sure you will enjoy following them too!

If You Could Ask Me Eleven Questions

Today I am  making lemon bars (more on that later) and thought, "Hmm, I'll log onto my blog to remind myself that I want to blog today..."

And I had a comment along the lines of, "Congratulations on your Liebster Day Surprise!" and I really thought it was spam.

But apparently it is not.

I need to answer 11 questions and then tag some other blogs.

Since My Brady Bunch Family was nice enough to nominate me, I'll happily answer her questions....

1. When do you find time the time to blog?

Well, today, it was while I was making lemon bars.

Here's the thing...there are days when I look at something and find it so hilarious I simply must blog about it right then.  There are times when I am so busy and I think "I should blog about this" and so I send myself a title.  And there are times when whatever it is I am going through is so not funny to me that I don' want to blog about it but know it would be good for me to find the humor in it so I force myself to blog it.

But my time to blog is sporadic at best.

2.  If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

I. Have. No. Idea.

I guess I'll go with a kitten because we are going to be getting a kitten and it's going to be SO FUN so kitten it is for today.

3.  Describe what you feel when you see your favorite color.


4.  What is your favorite television show?

Downton Abbey, even if it made me cry.  All my boys in the house mock me and my show.

Together we watch Duck Dynasty, Survivorman, Top Gear (Rutledge is my favorite), and currently the boys are watching a lot of the A Team.

5.  What one thing would you like your children to take into adulthood?

A relationship with God.

Not a religion, not a church, a relationship.

6.  What does your family think of your blog?

The boys think that I know a million famous people and that I am a sort of superstar.  Seriously.

It's trickier now though, because S1's friends are reading my blog - hmmmm, I imagine it's because they want to find out what my take is on the stories they are hearing from the boys - so I try to keep that in mind too.

They also say a lot more of, "Oh no! This is going on the blog, isn't it?"

My husband thinks it's great all the friends we have across the country now.  And he wishes it made me money.

7.  What would your dream vacation be?

Tricky tricky!  Because I would love to travel and I am a total homebody so that is tricky....

BUT, it would be amazingly wonderful to have motor home and travel across the country to visit my blogging and moved friends.  Jake and I have talked about this over and over again.  It would be great to see the places my friends talk about, the towns I have read about in books, the important places of history in our country.

The boys want to go have dinner with the Robertson's of Duck Dynasty.

8.  What is your favorite midnight snack?

Ice cream.

I like ice cream with warm brownies or those break apart and bake cookies.

9.  What daily chore do you despise the most?

Daily chore would be cleaning up the kitchen after it was just clean until I got dinner done and now it is a huge mess again.

Otherwise, it's folding socks.  Dread socks.

Or the bathroom.  Ick.  But I try to keep our one and only bathroom clean so it's not overwhelming.  That's tough when they decided to wash a muddy dump truck in the bathroom sink or a chicken is recovering in our bathtub from some near death experience.

10.  What advice would you give to a first time blogger?

Don't over think it.

If you want to blog, it's for a reason.  If you are like me, you make up posts in your head and all the words get louder and louder and you don't get them to quiet down until you type them out.  So type them out and push send.  If nothing else, it is a great journal of your life.

11.  If you had 3 wishes what would you wish for?

I instantly think of Cinderella.

Three wishes?  I. Have. No. Idea.

I am sure we could over think the three wishes thing but the lemon bars are done in the oven now and I am trying to wrap this up...

Thanks for nominating me!!!!

Oh, 11 blogs.

How about this instead?  Pick 11 blogs from my list of blogs I follow (it's embarrassingly long) and pick some you have never read and visit them for just one post to read.

Maybe you will meet a new friend then!

Monday, April 8, 2013

We Have Turned Into Miss Kay

On the last day of spring break, the sun shown brightly through the windows of my camouflage colored living room and I thought of all the things I had to do on my to do list.  

It was a long list.

I stretched from my seat on the couch for my phone and sent a text to my mom asking about her cat who was due to have kittens this week.  She sent a text back telling me to call her.

So I did.

And I began the conversation telling her I had a long list of things to accomplish and she said she did too so it would just be a quick conversation.

Two hours later.....

Seriously!  I really do not care to talk on the phone.  But I haven't talked to my mom for weeks and she has been to Florida and back and I haven't seen her in ages.  

We are on the phone and she is telling me a play by play about her cat, Calli, who is about to have kittens, she is sure.  She is telling me how the cat is acting and how she made a box for it and where she  hopes the cat won't have kittens and how mean the dog has been to her cat this week and I am listening to all this because I am interested and asked about it.

As she is telling me how tight the cat's stomach is, I suddenly realize how long we've gone on about pets and I start dying laughing.

"Mom, you ARE Miss Kay!

Image from Starcasm

My mom knows I watch Duck Dynasty but she has only caught an episode so she didn't get the humor but I did and I was dying.

Recently, my husband called me in the morning to have a twenty minute conversation on the phone with me about someone he had found out watched Duck Dynasty - and liked it.

Google Image. Visit Duck Commander for more information on the show.

"I mean," my husband explained to me, "We get that show.  Those are our kind of people.  But these other people who watch it, I mean, what do they get out of it?'

"We don't hunt ducks," I reminded him.

"That's beside the point," he argued, "We say the same phrases, do the same things, I mean, these are good ol boys who could be in our family.  They even LOOK like they could be in your family."

And he's right.  The beards are in my family and long before anyone ever thought beards were cool.  My Dad has a big bushy curly beard, my uncle looks a little like Phil.  People are scared of my family's mean looks, something I find ridiculous because my Dad?  Kindest man, biggest heart, sweet spirit....

Oh my gosh, we are a Northern Duck Dynasty family!

And my mom is Miss Kay.  And I may be turning into her too.....

Worse things could be said of us. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Depths of Despair

When I was a little girl (oh, this sounds so grammaish right now!) I loved the Anne of Green Gables series.  My parents got me the entire set one year for my birthday and I read them numerous times over.  Then the  movie came out and, oh my, I watched it a zillion and a half times.

When I am feeling down and out, I still refer to it as "the depths of despair" and then I always hear Marilla saying, "To despair is to turn ones back on God."  Her voice sorta sets me back on the right path.

Winter is rough on me.  I count down until the first day of spring.  Our spring arrived with snow and cold.  The last two weeks have been so wonderful to have SUNSHINE but it's still cold.

My attitude has been rotten.  I keep trying to snap out of it, talk myself out being blue, list all my things joyful things (think Ann Voskamp), but really, it hasn't been working.  And while our family is good and there IS so much to be thankful for, we have had a couple hard weeks.  A tough month.  It's more emotional than anything else but you know what, emotions are a big deal and when you are fighting the "depths of despair", it makes it even tougher.

I do not think I am the only one who suffers this.  

I am coming out of it now.  It's easier to laugh.  I know it won't be long before I get some color from sunshine and wear dresses and heels again and dig my hands in therapeutic dirt as I work on flower beds.  

All that leads me to this....

I have never read anything from Jen Hatmaker.  I have friends who have told me I need to read her books but there is a STACK of books I have to read and I haven't gotten them all done.  I keep saying "eventually" and wondering why I keep hearing her name come up.

I cheered. Her conversation with her husband?  That. Is. Me.

Totally me.

I am not even exaggerating, totally. me.

So, in case there are others out there that are feeling blue, I am saying I know how you feel.  And go read Jen's post because it is said so well I cannot duplicate it.

And cheer up!  The sun IS shining.  Spring always does come, eventually.  This also means that I had better start walking the track in the morning to fit into the dresses I miss wearing so much.

And to quote Red Green, "Remember, I'm pulling for you.  We're all in this together."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Weekend with SEVEN Boys

I think that title just sums it all up.

Our great nephews - yes, they are GREAT and they are great - came to stay with us over Easter so their parents could get away for their 10th Anniversary.

Honestly, the weekend went amazingly well.  We didn't even use an entire thing of Neosporin!  It may be the exhaustion talking but really, it was a ton of fun.

I spent most the time in the kitchen - shocker.  I had stocked up on food.  And An, being a foodie (really, she is the top dessert chef and baker at a well known restaurant) packed food.  I mean, the boys arrived with a COOLER.

We found use for the cooler so I am really glad she sent it.

Coolers make great chairs, did you know?

I spent a great amount time in the kitchen.  And most of the time the kitchen looked like this....

Notice the basket? An sent that too, filled with grown up goodies. She's lovely like that.

Do you notice how the sunshine streams into the kitchen, filling it with a cheery glow?  The cheery glow forgot to clean my kitchen.

Our floors looked like this...
The dart bullet is further proof of an all boy household. Well, except me. 

In fact, the youngest at five, J informed me our floors were made of dirt.  "No, honey," I explained sweetly, "I have only swept them twice today so they are only a little dirty.  Not made of dirt."  The photos shows you how much dirt one room had it in it.  

Of course, if two of my boys weren't thinking it was cool to wear cleats outside and then back inside and three (yes, husband, calling you out) of my boys didn't wear big bulky boots in and out, they would have been cleaner.

But what's the sense in not wearing those?

We watched a lot of A Team.  The show?  It is AWESOME to them.  And I kept falling asleep when it was on and my husband wondered why I was so tired.

For real.

Meal times were the best.

Here are some dinner highlights....

J had to have lemon on his glass every. single. meal.  And because he is J, he had lemon on his cup for every. single. meal.

One meal we spent a great deal of time guessing what J's favorite foods were.  Thankfully it was mac and cheese, which we were having for lunch then.

A big debate at one meal time was what exactly should they do when they caught Big Foot.  What cracked me up was that it wasn't even a question IF they would catch Big Foot, it was just what they would do when they did.  

At dinner one night they suddenly began singing Convoy.  I don't know why.  Then they began talking about how they used to think that the song was talking about flying black bears and grizzly bears in sky.

They weighed out the best way to have a food fight at school and not get caught.  Not getting caught seemed to be trickier than they thought it would be, and I was relieved to hear that.

The Sunday they were with us, it was Easter sunday.  We did not make it to sunrise service, although Jake and S1 and S2 made it to church at 5:30 to make breakfast.  And I was up at five to get dinner done.  We were only about ten minutes late to church breakfast - woohoo!

At the service, I looked down and saw this....

It made my heart melt.

And wish for a good coffee with an extra shot of espresso.  Okay, more than an extra shot.

But this?  This photo I love ever so much....

We "hillbilly-ified" the boys while they were with us.
We used a couch to say "only go this far in the driveway".  Yes, a couch.

And then, as all hillbillies do, we burned the couch at night.
The boys never ever wanted to leave our house then.

We didn't have an Easter egg hunt - I can do only so much - but we did make dirt cake.  I did not think to have gummy worms (how ever could I forget?) so J suggested we catch real worms.  Fortunately, the ground is still frozen otherwise I really believe he would have.

A has severe food allergies and I am pretty sure he was sick and tired of hearing me say, "Are you sure you can eat this?"  If you have a child with food allergies...God bless you.  What extra patience and creativity and wisdom you must be granted!

At night the boys giggled and laughed and wrestled and yelled until they fell exhausted asleep.  I made beds for them, they mostly slept on the floor.

During the day the door slammed about five hundred million times.  They quickly learned our front screen door requires kicking to open (seriously, it does) and that was all kinds of fun.

An sent a cooler and two bags of food.  I loaded up at the grocery store before they arrived.  I only needed two more runs to the store while they were here.  

They arrived on Friday morning, they left on Monday night.  These boys had never stayed more than a few hours at our home before, and always with their mom or both their parents.  They left in a flurry and silence fell over the house.

I waved goodbye to my extra boys and they didn't see me.

I shuffled back to the kitchen to finish cleaning up.  My husband didn't miss a beat.  "You miss them already, don't you?'

I sniffed.  And nodded.

It was a great weekend.  One I drank a lot of coffee over but a great weekend. 

S4, Whiskers Gray and J.  
So sorry, An, pretty sure J is going to need a bunny now.

And you all can thank me for telling you no bathroom or stinky stories.  But let's just say that having one bathroom is no fun.  And S may have gone home to tell his mother dear, "I have heard it said and it's probably true...Too much bathing, it will weaken you."  Hey, we did what we had to!