Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013...the year of change!


Through different phases of our lives we are defined.

The first 20 years we are students. Babies and toddlers learning to walk and talk. Children learning our ABCs and 123s. Teenagers learning how to socialize, drive cars and dreaming of what we want to be. Young adults moving through college or young career paths. 

The next 20 we become spouses, parents and/or home owners. Working, going to sporting events and school programs...helping with homework, doing home repair and paying to bills.
During the first 40+ years of your life you fall into patterns. For us that meant me being a Mom first and foremost. Volunteering for Girl Scouts, Band boosters, working concession stands, anything that had to do with the kids. Christmas baking, birthday parties, cleaning, etc...  For my husband it certainly meant working to pay the bills. As a Dad it was taking the kids hunting and fishing. Teaching them to be self sufficient. They can clean fish, butcher a deer and change their oil and a flat. As a family it was sit down dinners (every night), game nights, lots of love and laughter. I definitely feel blessed that we enjoyed such an "all American" family.
Along the way you could always count on me creating something in the kitchen, hubby creating amazing music in his band, fall hunting, visits to the lake in the summer, snowman building and cutting down our Christmas tree. Yep...all American. Surprisingly enough two of my all-time favorite TV shows are The Walton's and Happy Days.

Well 2013 saw most of these things change. Hubby left the band scene, this was the first New Year's Eve we have not "played out" in years. Our daughter moved out on her own. Our son has his drivers license and is preparing for life after high school (he's a junior). For the first time in yeeeaaars I am not volunteering with any organization. We purchased our first artificial Christmas tree. Family dinners at the table are now a special occasion. 
Sounds sad but, with the right perspective, it is really invigorating and exciting. No I did not arrive at excitement overnight. But to be sad would be hanging onto the past. When we graduated we were kinda sad to leave the phase of our lives, and oh so excited about what was to come. So it makes sense that while I'm sad about moving from the full-time family mode to the next phase of my life, I am super excited.

What will 2014 hold? My business has been steadily growing, and recently experienced a growth spurt. Hubby is back at a flat-rate dealership and dabbling with entrepreneurship. Watching (and helping where I can) my children grow into the next "phase" of their lives is rewarding and exciting. Soooo many things on my list for 2014 I can't wait to get started and see what the next 20 years hold for myself and my family.

And believe you/me, I won't take ONE moment for granted. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ham Cheddar chowder

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Hard to believe 2014 is upon us.

With leftover ham from Christmas I thought a nice cozy chowder was in order. The weather this evening is rainy and chilly with snow on the way.

I am definitely a "dump cook"...I dump things in, taste and add accordingly. To enjoy cooking I think if you want to enjoy cooking you have to be that way. Use measurements as a guide, then add or subtract to suit you and your families pallet. Use what you have and be creative. Taste it, and if you like it...go with it. If not, add something to change it until you do :-)

OK, enough chit chat...onto the recipe...

2 cups of water
2 cups of peeled and cubed potatoes (bite size)
1/2 cup of peeled and chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups of milk
8-oz of shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
2 cups of cooked cubed ham

  1. In a large pot add water, potatoes, carrots, garlic salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender, approx 10 minutes. Add the corn and ham and reduce the heat to low.
    Vegetables, Ham and Veggies
  2. In a different, medium sized pot melt butter then whisk in flour, over a medium-low heat. Cook a couple of minutes, then add the milk. Whisk periodically until white sauce (aka bechamel sauce) thickens.
    Bechamel sauce
  3. Stir in cheese until smooth.
  4. Pour cheesy bechamel into the large pot of ham and vegetables. Heat through and taste. Add seasoning if you desire.

Cook's notes
I used a hand grater for the garlic, faster and easier and less mess.
If you don't like carrots, leave them out. You could use peas or your favorite vegetable.
I used leftover corn I had in my frig.
Freeze leftovers and to pull out for a fast meal later. You will probably have to add some milk while reheating.

You could add some crusty bread or a salad for a full meal. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Building a life...

Today my husband and I are celebrating 22 years of marriage. I am VERY proud of how we have persevered through the trials and tribulations of building a life, raising children, building a loving and lasting relationship.

We are so blessed to have had two beautiful children come from our love for one another. Thank God for all our blessings.

Jon, Me, Frank, Morgan
Today was wonderful. Even though Morgan has moved out on her own, she came and spent the day with us. We put steaks on the grill, made roasted cauliflower and broccoli and pudding cream pie for dessert.

I couldn't ask for any better!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's in the blood....

This past weekend was our final weekend of drag racing for the 2013 season.

It's a bitter sweet, exhilarating and exhausting time.  Our fellow racers are like family. And many of them we only see during the summer. The kids have formed friendships that will last a lifetime.  It's really great to watch them fiercely compete then come back to the pits and hang out, laugh, ride 4-wheelers, etc...

I guess I should start with a brief description of drag racing and some of the "lingo" we use. We compete in 1/4 mile bracket racing. Which essentially means the slower car gets a head start equal to the difference between the times the cars dial (the drivers estimate on how long it will take to travel the 1/4 mile distance. Each driver lines up at the starting line. There is a pre-stage and stage bulb on the tree...once both bulbs are on for each driver they are lined up at the exact same point. There will be 3 bulbs come down, then it's go time. If you leave too early it produced a red light and you are disqualified. If you leave too late, you've given your opponent too big of a head-start. Each race is called a "round" and eliminate half of the cars in the class. Rounds continue until the final, where there are only 2 cars left...the winner and the runner up.

We were at the track until VERY late Friday and Saturday. But every lost minute of sleep was well worth it. Hubby races a 1967 Chevy Camaro. This car is his baby...he has owned it longer than I've known him. It started as a primer stock car and has morphed several times through the years. It was white with a black checkerboard down the side for a long time. A couple years ago he put a fiberglass front end on (decreases weight = faster car) and painted the car a custom black cherry. Many people enjoy watching him race because not only does it go fast, he covers the 1/4 mile in 9 seconds going 148 mph, but he usually pulls an amazing high wheelie. There were approximately 140 cars in Hubby's class Friday and he lost in the semi finals...3rd place. I can't believe to tell you how exciting and proud I am.

I am thankful for a friend who takes amazing pictures. MC pix took this series of our first pass...what a ride...what an awesome set of pictures.

Our son races a junior dragster. It's essentially a mini dragster aka half scale. The juniors run under the same rules except they only race 1/8 mile, which our son covers in just over 9 seconds going 75 mph. The kids who race these cars are from age 8 - 17...awesome kids who exhibit amazing sportsmanship. So proud of each of them. Son had a rough night Friday but Saturday was a different story. He won the whole junior event.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pumpkin cake/pie...


Mix 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 egg and a stick (1/2 cup) of butter/margarine together. Reserve approx. 1 cup and press remaining crust into bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.

Blend together 1 large can of pumpkin puree (29oz), 3 eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 2 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice.

 Spread on top of crust.

Combine reserved cake crust mixture with 2 tablespoons of butter/margarine and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. Crumble over top of pumpkin mixture.

Bake at 325° for 50 to 60 minutes.

Brew a cup of tea or coffee, invite a friend over and enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sun will come out Tomorrow...

A good friend of mine has recently began performing in Live theater. He has performed in two plays so far and they were both wonderful. His most recent was "Annie". While my guys went hunting, his wife and I went to see the performance. The talent on that stage from the children, the adults, the orchestra and the dog was FANTASTIC! The little girl playing Annie is 11 years old and WOW....what a talent! Her voice is strong and beautiful.

Annie, Sandy and Lt Ward

This was Medfords first scene with the extremely talented Courtney, and of course her beloved stray dog, Sandy. He played three different roles for this particular play.

The girls who played the orphans were funny, adorable and positively brilliant. Medford said backstage they were typical little kids...running around being mischeivous. But when they were given their que to be ready they snapped to quiet attention. He was as impressed with their professionalism behind the scenes. Strong voices, well learned choreography and cute as the dickens...yep they had it all going on.

Tap dancers...WOW!
When the dancers added their tap shoes I was so excited! Not only because I could listen to tap dancing for hours, but because my Mom tap dances and was looking forward to sharing how good they did with her. 

Annie and Sandy
And lastly, but in my opinion, the MOST important part...Sandy! The dog is NOT a professionally training dog. Nope, he is from the local shelter. He is beautiful and was very well behaved. Courtney and her family took him home so he could get used to them. As luck would have it, they fell in love with him and adopted him. AND there was a little beagle puppy in the scene with the dog warden and he too has been adopted by a cast member.

I just can't say enough about what a good time we had. If you have a theater close by, take the time to go see won't be sorry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nature's bounty...

I thoroughly enjoy cooking, baking and preserving food. There's nothing like eating summer fruits and vegetables in the middle of winter.  This is a good thing because my family LOVES to eat. One of my husband's favorite sweets is blackberry jam. He is not a big breakfast person but offer him bacon and french toast w/ blackberry jam and he's at the table before you say it's time to eat.

We have a small patch of blackberry bushes by the barn but not quite enough for making jam or cobbler. But plenty for picking as you go by, enjoying on some ice cream or by themselves. So I put a request on facebook and got a wonderful response. The next day my son and I went picking and WOW did we hit paydirt. We filled up half a bucket within an hour and a half. If Jon would have put all the one's he picked in the bucket instead of his mouth we probably would have had another quart or two...haha.

The Ball Blue Book has a very simple recipe for jam. It's simply berries and sugar. Wash the berries in cold water and remove any bad ones or leaves. Crush your berries and mix them with the sugar. Cook it to gel stage and them process it in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove to a towel and wait for that tell-tale "pop".  Sooo good! When my husband tried it he said it was better than Smuckers. From one recipe I got 10 small jelly jars and 2 larger ones...and for only the cost of the sugar.



Jon had football practice BEFORE we went picking. Within 10 minutes of walking in the door he was sound asleep on the couch. And stayed there for well over an hour.