Monday, July 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Yeah, yeah, I'm at it again; hoping for better luck since MIL got 8-10 stones taken out of her common bile duct, even though they removed her gall bladder SIX YEARS AGO! So, now that the 4H Fair, Ryan's wedding and MIL's common bile duct are all taken care of and over with, I might be able to get my life on track again...

Before we left for the wedding-to-end-all-weddings (as my mother thought of it), I spent several Ulysses S. Grants at Costco on all sorts of good stuff, so I should be able to put it together. Handyman is gone tonight and I am just starting to feel the Ford logo leaving my behind; so tonight it's Personal Pizzas from Costco in the oven-o!

Tuesday: That old summer standby: Tuna Macaroni Salad with Ritz and Triscuits. Have I mentioned that my family, particularly Handyman and I are addicted to Triscuits, in all their glorious flavors? It is pretty common for me to spend $10+ on Triscuits at a time--this is when I can get them on sale. We particularly like SHARP cheddar cheese on Cracked Black Pepper Triscuits, or Fire-roasted Tomato Triscuits or Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits. #3 likes the Roasted Garlic. But I digress...

Wednesday: I'm guessing #2 and #1 will not eat Tuesday's supper, so I'll fix Salmon Patties and french Fries for Wednesday. They are quick, and I find it strange, but all my kids like them. I will throw in a product endorsement for Kirkland (Costco again!)brand Balsamic Vinegar. It is very superior to anything I've bought at the grocery. Of course, it comes in a vat (not really), so there's enough to feed a large Italian family for a decade.

Thursday: #1 will be at her 1836 interpretive post all day, so that means FAMISHED. I think I'll whip up one of her faves, Mexican Lasagna from Saving Dinner. I do add some stuff to it, like hominy. But now that #2 has decided that red spaghetti sauce is not poisonous, maybe she'll try it.

Friday: I'm going for something on the grill here. Handyman should be home, so think picnic food...

I picked several cherry tomatoes and one smallish tomato (THE FIRST ONE!) today! Hallelujah! I sliced it and had it on a bagel with bacon bits and Aunt Jane's Crazy Salt! Summer has officially begun! I wanted to take a picture of it to post, but I shot so many pictures at the wedding that my camera batteries gave up the ghost. I gotta get some batteries and upload to (sorry) Costco for printing.

My friend/housesitter's kids somehow missed the zucchini the size of a Prius in the garden. My kids were lauging because I like bigger zucchini--not those pansies they sell at the grocery. I slice them and fry them and I want them to be fairly sizeable, so I always say, "Let's leave it one more day." And by the next day, it requires a 4WD to haul it out of the garden.

Back from the wedding...

What do you call a housesitter who comes with 6+ children, takes care of all your critters, buys and plants flowers in your window baskets, leaves a tub of cookies, changes all the sheets on all the beds, does some laundry and leaves the house cleaner than she found it??

I'll call her "Often"!! What a treat...we got home at 12:30 a.m. this morning to a clean house and a pair of tired corgis--which I didn't know was even possible. I guess a passle of boys can do that. :)

I'll post some pics later of the world's cutest flower girl at one of the world's loveliest weddings. The weather was cooperative and we got to see some kin as well.

For now, I've got to unload the car...isn't that always a drag?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Menu Plan Thursd.........

Wow! What a beautiful day! Oh, did I mention that I spent 8 hours yesterday in the hospital with my MIL while she barfed her brains out?? Perhaps not. Yep. She called at 1:30 or so and needed someone to take her to the ER. So, that was me. Note to self: Do NOT wear flip flops to hospital. Cold feet, sore feet from standing, holding barf pan.

Fortunately, my mom (11 years younger than MIL) made supper for my whole family and brought it to my house. Fortunately, I have a child old enough to hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive. My mom even made an awesome dessert.

Sooooo, menu plan Wednesday: Call mom--food on the fly, and it's good!

Menu Plan Thursday--we're supposed to go to Costco today, and Handyman did a grocery store shoot yesterday, so he came home with bags of free stuff, so there shouldn't be any issues tonight...we'll see

P.S. #3 seems completely fine. I think it was a God-thing. If she had been well yesterday morning, we would have been at the pool when MIL called, so it would have been a struggle to cover all those bases. PTL.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Menu Plan Wednesday NOT

Okay, the menu plan worked really well last week. This week is already a train-wreck headed for the terminus. Sunday morning I woke to that too-familiar sound, a low whuffing noise; I leaped from my bed to see what was the matter and stepped into warm dog barf! So began my day, which included taking three kids to church without their dad to ride shotgun, but it went well. We even got a parking spot in the shade! What a blessing.

Anyway, I tried not to do housework on Sunday, TRYING, STRUGGLING to have a shabbat, which somehow means that there are mountains of sweaty laundry for Monday morning. So, I'll just plan my menu on Monday, right?

On Monday, we were all scheduled to work the food booth at the 4H Fair in the evening. I had to leap out of bed to race to meet a friend of #1 before her mom took off for work. Then we all headed to the fair in the afternoon. We went a little early to walk around and see all the animals we could not see when we had two dogs with us earlier in the week. It was then I found out that my watch battery must be going, because it was 15 minutes slow. So, off to the food booth we went and only had to work a 2-hour shift. So supper was several varieties of fried, dipped, powdered stuff. Yum!

Okay, I'll do my menu planning on Tuesday. Tuesday morning was spent cleaning #2 and #3's landfill--I mean--room. Got that done before noon and issued proclamations that they were not to mess this room up the rest of the week, since we have friends coming to house-sit over the weekend. Of course that means that they will decimate several other rooms instead.

#1 got a ride to the historical museum where she is a costumed "interpreter", so she was gone all day. Then Tuesday evening I loaded #2 and #3 and their two friends into the car for a few errands on the way to pick up #1 and our neighbor's two children. We stopped at the library and the bank and made our way to the 4H Fairgrounds, where it was exhibit pick up night. That meant that every person who showed at the fair was there, in this two-hour window, to pick up their exhibit. Sooo, the parking lot was crammed. As I pulled in, a friend called to ask if I could pick up her daughter's exhibit--sure, no problem. First, I had to drag 2 four-year olds and 2 9 year-olds through the parking lot, find the right building, request the poster (didn't know the grade of the child, for sure and didn't know what the poster looked like--I did point to the 4 yr. old friend who was with me and said "It has three pictures of her on it.")

Found it, signed it out and headed to our food booth to buy leftovers at a bargain price. Got 15 lemons, 6 green peppers and 4 bags of 12 ct. hot dog buns for $11. Then passed another friend in another building who said #1's grand champion picture was available to be picked up in ANOTHER building. Dragged 4 kids, 4 packs of buns, 15 lemons, 6 green peppers and a photography poster across the grounds to another building where I deposited them all on a park bench outside said building and retrieved said pictures. Then back into the sea of parked cars, many with teen drivers and lots of big pick-up trucks, where we buckled in a headed down the road to pick up three more kids to begin our drive for home. Every seat belt taken with sweaty children, I was reminded of my dinner plans, or lack thereof...

Menu plan Tuesday--pancakes, with blueberries if desired. Then I harrassed everyone into bedclothes before sundown (which occurs somewhere around 10:45 pm) and read Journey to the Center of the Earth until I was hoarse.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the power went out in a storm on Monday night, around 2:30 am. I used my indiglo watch to find the electric bill, read the phone number and dial on our one corded phone, to report the outage. Usually when I do this, the computer "reads" my phone number and automatically records my outage, no big deal. That night, it said press one for power outage, which I did. Then we went to a new menu at the end of which it said, "If you are calling to report a power outage, hang up and dial blah blah blah blah blah." Now at 2:30 am, in the pitch black, on a phone with a really short cord, your options for writing this number are pretty limited. I praised God for my crazy talent for remembering numbers and dialed again by the light of my watch!

This time it said, "If you are calling about a power outage, please enter your ten-digit phone number." ?? What?! It never says that. So I entered it, by the LIGHT OF MY WATCH! (Note to self, get a phone with glowing numbers!) It said, "We're sorry, we cannot locate your file." WHAT?! WHAT is this all about??! So, I think to myself quickly "Did I enter my old number, from six years ago? Did I enter my cel phone number or Handyman's SSN? What is the deal??!?? So I re-enter the number I fully believe to be correct and it says "We're sorry, we cannot locate your file. Please hold for the next available operator."

You have got to be kidding me?! It is 2:40 in the morning; I am standing in the pitch black while the storm rolls on around me. Handyman has to be up at 5:30, if he's even sleeping now. So, I hold. And I hold and I hold more. I actually doze standing next to the desk, listening to music, thanking God that is not old Fleetwood Mac songs, repeatedly. After ten minutes of this, I want to scream, but I do not. I do call Handyman to find a flashlight, and find the phone book to make sure I have not dialed some outsourced number that is ringing in New Mexico or New Dehli, where one operator is on his/her donut break.

He bumbles around, trying to use his cel phone as a flash light, can't find the white pages, complaining that the office is a "pig sty", which it is not. We just do a lot of "business" in here. Finally, he finds the white pages, we look up the utility company and bingo! It is the same number where I have been holding now for 15 minutes because they "can't find my account." They don't have trouble finding my account when I send the money in...

An operator comes on the line; I try not to imagine her with powdered sugar all around her mouth. I try not to scream. I do say "Good grief!" at the beginning. She says over 1800 people are out of power and that's why the computer was unable to locate my account. Whatever! Takes my address. I fall back into bed, thanking God for my indiglo watch. (Note to self: Buy bigger watch.)

So, you can see how this, as the precursor to the trip to the fairgrounds with four children, buns, fruit, poster, etc, was a launch pad for pancakes for supper...

Menu Plan Wednesday: #3 woke up barfing at 5 am. Thankfully, it was not 2 am. It was only teeny barf, because I know the pancakes are far past her tummy. Maybe she caught something from the dog?? All I know is the farrier is coming at 8:30 (came at 8:10), so I have to get up and get dressed and find my check book. No swimming today after all.

#3 is supposed to be the flower girl in a wedding in St. Louis this weekend. She better buck up pretty quick...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Results are in...

With apologies to #1, I only have pictures of #2 and Princess Tashi during the agility show for today's post. I was the ring steward in the Novice ring where #2 was showing. #1 was showing two rings away from me and I could not leave to photograph her, sooooooooo her pictures are all trapped in an ancient format call "film" that will require me to actually drive my SUV somewhere--increasing my carbon footprint, drop off a long roll of celluloid that must not see any light, wait for several hours and then retrieve said pictures. What a hassle! But they should be great when we get them.

#1 and Tucker the Wonder Dog, were champions in Standard Agility and Obedience and blue ribbon in Jumpers Agility, AND GRAND CHAMPION in Agility overall! Hoooooooweeeee! All that jumping up on the dining room table must have helped! ;)

#2 and Tashi the Princess, in their first year of competition, received blue ribbons in Standard agility, Gamblers agility and in Obedience, even though Tashi tried to nip at the judge--several times--during stand-for-examination. Her sit-stays and down-stays were perfect; so that carries a lot of weight and covers a multitude of "standing" violations. :)

The menu plan was a terrific help! I stuck to it through Friday, except we DID NOT eat fast food at the dog show Monday night. I decided we weren't spending more money because we had taken ourselves out to eat on the weekend before, on the spur of the moment, and it cost us $50 at a very modest hometown Mexican place. Sooooo, it was PB&J with some snacks thrown in. At the end of the night, the little food booth was giving away nachos with meat, as we were beginning to tear down the rings, so that helped out.

This week will be a little wild--we're supposed to pick up a small amount of hay tomorrow, still have shopping to do for upcoming wedding getaway weekend and get house prepared for house-sitters (friends who want to try out the whole hobby-farm thing).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I am trying something new--goodness knows, if I write it down, it tends to happen; so I'm making a plan for this week...

Monday: This will be EEEEEEEEEK! fast food of some sort because we will be at the dog agility show until who-knows-when tonight. The kids will love it--I'll be burping...

Tuesday: Fuss Free Ravioli and Cheese Bake that I got from The Organizing Junkie website. Doesn't look like it could be any easier, unless it came with a maitre'd. We'll have garlic bread, of course, and a salad.

Wednesday: 5 Minute Southwest Layered Salad, also from Organizing Junkie's list, served with guacamole.

Thursday: This is also a dog-show night for us, so I'm doing a homemade quiche and Spinach Salad, so we can eat early and head for the fairgrounds.

Friday: Broiled Tilapia with a parmesan/butter/mayo topping and fettucine. This is an old recipe that was intended for walleye. The recipe makes more than enough for fish fillets so awhile back, I spread the extra on pasta, and yum! A rare, successful culinary experiment. I'll probably be able to whip up a rhubarb pie tonight as well.

I also want to improve on our breakfasts, and our lunches for that matter, since my children do not eat sandwiches, other than peanut butter. But, that will be another day. I've had a horse with a teeny bit of colic this morning and been to the fairgrounds to set up the dog agility rings for tonight. I have grocery shopping to do and a shower to take.

Wish me luck! Need more coffee...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Glory and Grief

The circle of life keeps on turning here at Netherfield. It has been a busy couple of weeks, with dog obedience and agility taking up two nights a week; Mowing our property, keeping Grandma and Grandpa's yard mowed (when it gets fertilized with enough chemicals to keep the lunar surface lush), trying to ride horses and do laundry and weed the garden, there aren't enough hours...

Thank heavens for daylilies. I love flowers that thrive on neglect. They are so reliable and cheerful. I love the colors and the variety and they don't call out to me, like so many other things here, saying, "You're not getting this taken care of." They instead bulge with buds and cheerfully open, day after day after day. No muss, no fuss. Thank heavens for daylilies. Here are some of the colors blooming at my front door right now...

On a sad note, old John, my crippled, almost blind rooster passed on last night. I knew it was coming and was thankful that he could go peaceably. #3 reminded me that now he can be in heaven with our precious little bantam hen, Sara. That was a comforting thought for all of us. We still miss Sara.

I loved it when I would carry John out of his winter "stall" in the kitchen in the mornings, to head out to the horse barn for the day and he would crow while I was carrying him. He was so excited to get out and strut his stuff. Lately, he has not been up to that level of activity, but he did enjoy sitting on the warm driveway and would perk up whenever we came out with crusts or popcorn or something.

My season of life housing chickens in my kitchen has come to an end. For that, I am glad. But he was a kind soul and almost everyone was thrilled to pet or hold a big rooster. It was almost like holding an eagle in your arms, really. He had a regal look about him. I am so glad I went the extra mile for him. And I am thankful for having known him.

Never forgotten...