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Archive for October, 2008

paying taxes

We all have to do it.  No one wants to, some manage to avoid it, but we pay taxes.  From the time we are 6 years old and have to fork out a portion of your hard-earned goods.   You would carefully sort through, sneak a few of your favorites before you had to pay up to dad….what?  You’ve never heard of the CANDY TAX?  Don’t tell our kids that 🙂

We do joke about it being the candy tax, but basically they have to share with daddy (and mommy, I usually find a piece or two.)  We got in from our harvest festival last night and local parade with quite the “harvest” of corn-syrup laden goodness.  It was at my mother-in-laws that we finally “got in” and settled down to the sorting.  It isn’t from my side of the family, we dumped it all in a bowl and it was a free for all.  Nope, not my husband’s family.  It must be sorted into suckers, sours, jawbreakers, gum, chocolate, good chocolate, and the likes.  Then is when my rule kicks in.  Dig in, enjoy it all you want tonight because that is the one time a year you get candy like that. 

It actually made for a fun night.  We ate out there (please do not think us rude, yes it was the day we buried my father-in-law, but grandma insisted on seeing the kids and spending some family time….more on funerals and food later.)  So we worked at eating what couldn’t be frozen, sorted candy, joked, laughed, watched a few rounds of video games between the brothers, and in general let out a big sigh.  One of Forest’s brothers went home last night and will be back on Saturday (he lives fairly close), the youngest had to leave this morning, and the oldest is here until Monday.  We are right here local so always here.

It’s great seeing these guys, watching some of my man’s oddities in action in others, hearing funny stories from a days past (the things boys do, my goodness am I thankful right now for four girls…I’m telling you I was at least in middle school until I entertained the thought of climbing a TV tower to the top of a roof and they were doing it when they were five, FIVE is still just a little thing!!!!)  We always have such a good time together and the holidays will be here soon.  Hopefully we will all be together again, well…almost all of us.  Why do families today have to scatter like they do? 

Thank you for those that emailed and posted well-wishes and prayers.  Personally I still feel very disjointedand tired.  The house has suffered, but it’s just a house.  Our diet has suffered, but priorities shifted this week and rightly so.  I wanted to post her like usual, but what do you say…even today I feel like this is the strangest thing I’ve ever put out there and if not strange then certainly random, disconnected.   

It was a long week, but for my husband’s dad it was the end of a long fight.  As a family we shrank in number this week, and the loss will be felt always, but in strength we grew.  How is it that life goes one so quickly when you feel that time should just stand still?  Last night, though, almost felt as if time froze for us…for just a moment or two.

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Giveaway Winner

According to Random.org, the winner of the Build-A-Bear Giveaway is:

6 Michele in Salem

The one that stands out for me is a chemistry set. That’s funny because I’m not at all scientifically inclined, but all of these years later I do love to cook and “mix things up”. I think that’s what I loved about that gift. What a cool give-a-way!

Michele, email me your addy and I’ll send it right out to you. 

On a side note, if I am absent the next few days you’ll have to please excuse me.  My Father-In-Law passed away yesterday and this week will be saying goodbye, caring for my Mother-In-Law, and visiting with family. 

A couple photos of the man that raised my man, grandfather of my children, and the orneriest person I ever did meet…he will be and already is missed:

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Giveaway- Build-A-Bear

If you were to ask any of my girls what gift they remember from last Christmas it would be the gift certificate to Build-A-Bear.  It was fun to go in and pick out your very own bear (or in the case of the twins, a bunny), have it stuffed, give it a heart, even make your bear roar like a lion if you different like my oldest is!  So, to share my impending excitement over Christmas and want of being prepared early.  Today I am giving away a $10 gift card to Build-A-Bear!

This is not the actual gift card, but I coulsnt resist the Christmas one!

This is not the actual gift card, but I couldn't resist the Christmas one!

$10, that’s it?  TRUST ME, that is all my girls had and it was enough.  The older two each added maybe $2 to their total (making your bear roar isn’t standard, you know 🙂

The girls favorite part about their bear was that it came with a birth certificate and an online identity for Build-A-Bearville.com  I admit I was a bit impressed with this site even though we have never let them on a similar sight.  The girls have an online name that they access the community with.  Interaction is from a pre-made list of communications so there is no way for innocents to pass  on personal information.  Lots of games, some of them learn to the side of actual learning, and if you ask my girls it is fun!

I’ll take entries from now until Monday Oct 27th at midnight eastern time.  Only one entry per households in the United States only please.  No hitting, biting, throwing things or screaming…wait that’s the rules for in the car…sorry! 

To enter:  Tell me, what was your favorite all-time Christmas gift as a child?  I’ll start, I got my first REAL piece of jewelry when I was 9 or so.  It was a birthstone ring that I still have today.  I wasn’t a normal child.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday along with ANOTHER giveaway, so be sure to check back.

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Giveaway TOMORROW!

After my recent post about preparing ahead for Christmas, I decided I wanted to do more than inspire you.  I want to help you prepare for Christmas, the season of giving.  As I re-read that post, I have to tell you that I love Christmas even if I may have sounded a bit weird about it.  I like to get the tedious (to me) parts out of the way so I can sit back and enjoy.  Sure the lights, the food, and the decorations are great.  But I absolutely love spending time with family, friends, and people from church.  The thought of a Christmas party gets me giddy…yes, I said giddy.  People I know and care for gathered together to enjoy each other’s company.  I’m not talking your standard office party (unless you happen to work with a great bunch of people that you really care for so much that you look forward to seeing them all AGAIN outside of work hours.)  I’m talking the ones that are people sipping coffee by the tree, sharing great stories of gatherings past, etc. 

Randomness: My best friend had a party last year that I minimally helped with.   She also had one while I was in Vietnam…I thought about them that whole night (day for them) and wishing I was there with the twins.  She throws the best parties.  Great food, a few fun games, a little skit even!  I’m trying to remember, there is always good food at her place, but I know her Carmel Apple Crisp was one thing and I think her White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle was the other (if not it’s just wishful thinking on behalf of my stomach.)  Did I ever mention her cinnamon rolls…if not, I should.  They are so wonderful that an entire page of my blog should be dedicated to them…they are better than Cinnabons!  Okay, enough talk of food.  Can you tell I have an awful sweet tooth today?  Enough Christmas randomness…I could go on forever and a day.

So, this year, I want to help you get started with a giveaway.  Check in tomorrow or the next day, I’ll keep it open for a few days.  Just a hint for you too.  This was one of my girls’ favorite gifts last year.  I would say it is appropriate for ages 2-102 because…well…I’m a tad envious and want one for myself!

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CSA (oops)

For the last two weeks I have not posted a CSA report.  I am so sorry and am not sure where my head is.  Well, I do, my FIL is in his last days and fielding questions from the girls is nearly a full time job.  Death is so hard, even when you are “prepared” for it coming. 

For the last two weeks our boc has been nearly the same.  Here is what was in each box:

  • head of cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • 8 tomatoes
  • 2 butternut squash
  • 12 turnips (not big ones)
  • 6-8 sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggplant
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 12 apples

Needless to say we have enough squash to fill a whole freezer and ours is full.  Thankfully, they store well in our unfinished basement in milk crates.  They will keep nicely down there for months on end.  When I manuver my way down there (ick, we have a low ceiling, through the end of the garage, trap door, yucky (but dry!) basement) I get 2 or 3 of them.  They get cooked all at once and the extra frozen for in pancakes, soups, etc.  1 cup at a time works well as that seems to be the smallest quantity I use. 

I am pretty sure we will get a CSA tomorrow as well, but I do expect it to be the last or next to last.  We had two nights this week that dipped below 30.  I feel completely un-prepared for winter and it seems to be knocking on my door.  Food-wise I am good.  It’s more the garden, boots, coats, mittens/hats, etc. that I really need to get cracking on.

These next two weeks, I am once again going to be “boycotting” the grocery again with all my might.  Things are so tight, too tight and I can either whine about it or do something.  Since the food budget is the only  flexible one it is the one that goes on a diet.  Tomorrow I’ll head there for cheese, bananas, and other odds and ends necessary for the next couple weeks, but I plan on spending less tham $50.  Other than that I plan on buying my produce/eggs/milk from the farm and that is it.  I find in doing this that I pull things out of the back of my cupboards to use as well as planning ahead more.   If I am able togive our budget a $100-$200 cushion it will be well worth it.

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looking ahead

I’m trying very hard to plan ahead for Christmas this year and to make some things from fabrics in my stash.   I always try to plan ahead for the holidays to keep from burning out once they finally get here, but this year finances dictate moderation and planning.  My goal every year is to be done shopping by Thanksgiving and most years the majority of it is done by then.  The thought of going to the malls and stores with lists of what I want to buy with the vast majority of America is enough to make my head hurt.  I really do not like crowds, I get frustrated when the items I want are out of stock, and the likelihood of four little girls going along in the mix and you get one grumpy gal.  Yeah, I sound like a retailer’s nightmare (in all fairness I worked retail at the holidays for many of my high school years and that in itself is enough to just make a person want to stay away!)

So, in an effort to save a little cash and also appease my craft side, I am making a few gifts from scratch this year.  Let’s start with the twins, shall we.

They are HARD to buy for! 

This is round three through age 2 for us.  We have enough Little People to put on a feature length production.  Some people step on Lego’s all the time, I’m tripping over Little People.  I even catch the older two sneaking them to their room every now and then!  We also have baby dolls enough to mimic a city-wide plague.  There are enough children’s books to fill a 3ft, 4ft, and two shelves of a 7ft bookcase (that’s just the girls’ books, ours are on their own bookshelf.)  We have a V-smile video game for the TV, there are tons of crayons, clay, markers, and coloring books.  There is a trunk that all four of my girls can fit in (kids do things, just because they can don’t they) that is overflowing with dress-up clothes.  We have tons of little girl stuff to put it mildly.  So what have they shown interest in that they do not have?  Purses and shoes.  I can sew a purse, I’ve  sewn a couple for myself, actually, and am thinking it could be great fun to sew a couple for the twins.  So add that onto my list of things to sew, two adorable purses.

My mom is next.  She is harder than the twins to buy for.  They just drastically downsized to a small house (as if you all haven’t read about that) and she does not need “stuff” or pictures or anything for that matter.  But, I happened across this:

a post about a Bedside Organizer and thought that was something that takes no space, would help with the fact that she hates her nightstand because it doesn’t fit and she doesn’t need a light there anyway, and I could make it really cute or simple as all get out.  So add that to my list, one bedside organizer. 

Next stop is Jane and Liz.  They are getting to the age where they have expensive tastes and being in sports has introduced them to girls who have high-tech stuff.  On an bit of a tangent here, I can not believe how many 6 and 7 year old girls have cell phones, personal gaming systems, and the like.  I’m in the dark ages and practically live like the Amish, well…not that bad, but still: How do parent’s afford these things and when do kids like this read or just play!?!?!?  Back on track.  We are in the car to the farm  once a week, take trips to see family often, and then pay homage to the mouse (aka, Disney) at least once a year coutesy of a very kind and obsessed grandma.  My girls are needing some portable fun that will not break the bank!  Enter this:

The girls love to draw and make stories so this will fit the bill nicely.  I plan on using only things frommy existing stash to save on money as I could go wild with fun fabric on this.  I know they will love it, that is the best part and Craft Apple’s patterns are so well laid out with pictures and directions that I know they will be a snap to make.  Two Mini-Portfolios added to the list.

Wait, I just though of my niece.  She is 4 and I think would like one of these as well.  I got my nephew radio controlled helicopters (they are 5 and 7) and wasn’t sure what to get her.  She loves purple and bling…I should be able to handle that.  Make that three Mini Portfolios on the list.

So there you have it, my plans for the holidays…or shall I say prior to the holidays.  I would like to have all of this done before Thanksgiving.  My best friend and I are really hoping to have a craft and junk-food day soon.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  You know, eating lots of junk while sewing and crafting.  When we do (I won’t say if, because we WILL do this she says as she stomps her foot) I plan on having all my pattern pieces cut so I can show up at her house with my sewing machine, homemade junk food, and not have to do the tedious cutting and planning while there.  The cutting and planning is something I have to focus on, otherwise I mess it all up and have to rip seams.  If it’s just sewing it together, usually (snort, ha ha) I can do it without too much problem.

I’m sure I’ll add to the list, it’s bound to happen.  For instance:

The women in my dad’s family do dollar gifts.  There are 12 of us and with inflation the limit you are allowed to spend on the gift is $1.25 not including tax.  We’ve gotten some really nice things (Liz Claiborn wallets) and some odd things (junky dollar store trinkets.)  I’m hoping to make homemade vanilla or something remotely useful this year.  It might involve sewing, might not, depending on what I decide to give.

Then there are the coaches, Sunday school teachers, etc. that are all so wonderful to our girls.  I feel like I should do something for them, but what?  I did cookies in a jar one year, but you can’t buy jars around here right now to save your life.  If you live in the country and there is a downturn in the economy, people can like no one’s business.  I’ve heard people discussing that they drove to the next state (!!!) for jars.  There likely will not be jars to be found anywhere for a good couple of months and that is not in my master plan.

Blah, enough going on and on about what we are doing for Christmas.  Time to start sorting fabric and finding a purse pattern!  I’ll try to update as I progress.

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Carnival Time Again

Time for a fall food carnival!  Hosted by The Nourishing Gourmet here.

There is no mistaking it, fall is here.  When I think fall recipes I think of chili, soups, stews, anything apple, and of course pumpkins and squash.  The other day, I threw some sweet potatoes into my crockpot with a roast, broth, onion, carrots, and garlic.  It was wonderful and different. 

Speaking of sweet potatoes.  For a tasty treat make a hot pudding (none of the instant stuff you buy at the store.)  A real cooked on the stove vanilla pudding.  Pour it while still hot over a baked sweet potato and sprinkle with blueberries.  My aunt used to eat these and I always thought it such an odd combination until I tried it. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods.  My aunt also taught me about quilting and when I am in the middle of a project, I find myself thinking of her and those darn sweet potatoes!  Don’t get me wrong, with a nourishing pudding recipe they aren’t bad for you, but still, they are high in starches and would need to be balanced properly in your diet.  It has been awhile since I had one and I am thinking it might do the trick for lunch tomorrow along with some green beans. 

Back to the topic at hand (amazing how we connect memories and food isn’t it…that’s a post all in it’s own!)

For this carnival, I want to contribute pancakes.  There is something wonderful about pancakes on a crisp fall morning.  Most of the time we eat them just plain, but on occasion we mix them up.  A sprinkle of blueberries, sliced bananas or strawberries, even some diced up apple.  My favorite though is to make pumpkin pancakes. 

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour (from sprouted wheat berries)
  • 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice (or other favorite pumpkin seasoning)
  • water as needed

(If you do not have sprouted flour, combine flour with yogurt the night before to soak.) 

Combine all ingredients.  Add water to get the proper consistency for pancakes (this varies greatly depending on your pumpkin puree, yogurt vs buttermilk, etc.)  You want the pancakes to be able to pour onto the griddle, but not be runny.  My goal is always a happy medium…a batter that will form a round circle, but still puff up when cooking.  Best with lots of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and warm maple (not pancake!) syrup.

I have recipes posted here and there on my blog.  Some specifically speak fall to me, Apple oatmeal is one one of them.  Also, if you go to this post, look for the Cabbage Roll Casserole, it is one of my favorites and is a great hot dish for cool evenings.

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