Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How I saved $40 yesterday and our new chore chart.

The boys’ ears were disappearing and I almost couldn’t see their eyes, so after dinner I had Ace go get the clippers and I trimmed, no, mowed their heads. I could see them again! They actually had ears! Maybe that’s why they didn’t follow directions so well, they couldn’t hear me!

Then after the boys’ heads, I did Bear’s hair too. So I’m calculating $11 per kid’s haircut and $7 for a military cut. That saved me $40 in haircuts last night. The girls need their bangs trimmed which I’ll do when I get brave. Miss Busy’s isn’t so hard, but Chel’s hair is so thick and coarse, it is hard to get them straight. Maybe I’ll tape it to her forehead!
We also implemented a new chore chart; I stole the idea from a friend of mine. Amy uses clothes pins to write the chores, then the kids clip them to their shirt hem until they finish the job, then they have a constant reminder that they have a job to finish. My kids have a tendency to “get lost” while they are working so I thought we would give this a try.
The problem with chore chart is that whenever we start one, Miss Busy wants to write absolutely everything on the list so she can “check it off” She is very much like me. If I did something that wasn’t on the list, I’ll write it down so I can check it off. I know, I need help.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ABC meme

Gayle over at Grace for Gayle was having the same problem as me. No original blogging material. So I'm grabbing her meme. You can check out hers.

A. Attached or single? Very attached! 21 years, swee-eet!
B. Best friend? Well, my Bear, the one I'm attached to.
C. Cake or pie? Pie. Chocolate cream, with a touch of espresso thrown in for good measure.
D. Day of choice? Friday night, date night.
E. Essential item? Chapstick. hate dry lips.
F. Favorite color? Pink, pink, pink.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Neither, licorice jelly beans.
H. Hometown? Po-Dunk, Idaho.
I. Indulgence? Um, chocolate anything.
J. January or July? July, lower power bills.
K. Kids? Six. Jewels of my life.
L. Life isn’t complete without? Jesus!
M. Marriage date? May 13th, right in the middle of finals week in college. I know, silly.
N. Number of brothers & sisters? Four brothers, two sisters, I'm the baby.
O. Oranges or apples? Hmm, oranges.
P. Phobias? Public places with all my kids, they run, and there are scary people out there.
Q. Quotes? My Momma's, "Kill them with Kindness."
R. Reasons to smile? My sweetheart's sense of humor.
S. Season of choice? Spring, new life, love to see tulips and crocuses poking their little heads out of the cold earth.
T. Tag seven peeps! You!
U. Unknown fact about me? I know the alphabet backwards, courtesy of my brothers.
V. Vegetable? Tomatoes
W. Worst habits? Nail biting, my nails are in rough shape.
X. X-ray or ultrasound? I tend to agree with Gayle, x-ray = bad news, ultrasound = baby, so I choose ultrasound.
Y. Your favorite food? Pizza.
Z. Zodiac sign? The Virgin.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Movie and Pizza Night on the Grill!

Well, the pizza, not the movies.

Each Friday night, the kids and I have movie and pizza night. It started when Bear was deployed about 5 years ago. It gave the kids something to look forward to while Daddy was away.

Back then I called and had it delivered or got a take and bake from the store. It was also a break for mommy, not to have to fix a meal each night.

Now that Daddy is home again, we still continue the tradition. But not so much with delivery anymore, now we make our own at home.

Making homemade pizza is not a new thing for me; I’ve been perfecting my own crust and sauce for quite some time. My sauce usually varies by what I have in the cupboard at the time, tomato sauce or paste, chunks or smooth, sometimes garlic, sometimes not; spices always.

The pizza crust is usually the same each time but I don’t go by a recipe. I start with one cup of water for each crust I’m making. Then I add one tablespoon of yeast for each cup of water. A tablespoon of sugar or so, and then I shake the salt into my hand until it covers about a quarter size area of my slightly closed palm. (About a teaspoon and a half if you are measuring.) Then I add a good sized drizzle of olive oil and a generous shake of Italian seasoning. Then I add a couple scoops of flour and start it mixing in my mixer. I add flour until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and then let it knead for about 5 minutes.

I spread it out on my pizza stone and add the sauce and toppings. My kids like turkey bacon cut into triangles and half pineapple, topped with two big handfuls of mozzarella cheese.

Tonight I had no desire to turn on the oven at all. Our house was 97 today. Bear suggested I do pizza on the grill. So I googled it and found a bunch of recipes. I followed the examples and used medium heat to preheat my grill.

I rolled the dough out in a rectangle on an oiled piece of foil and had my toppings ready. I had a yellow pepper and an onion, sliced, the turkey bacon and some tomato slices too.

The instructions said to oil the grill grate. Carefully use a brush or spray Pam BEFORE you preheat the grill. Don’t make flaming torch out of the spray can. Then flip the rolled crust onto the grill and peel back the foil. Close the lid but keep a close eye on the underside. The dough will start to bubble and firm up.

Carefully using two pancake turners flip the crust over and oil the top. Spread your sauce, (it should be thick) and add your toppings quickly, close the lid until the cheese melts.

We pushed it off the grill onto our cutting board and brought it inside. The kids dug into it so quickly I didn’t have a chance to get a good, uncut picture. We made two pizzas one with lots of veggies for the grownups. Here’s what was left after the first round.
Fabulous!! Do this! This is the only way to make pizza in the summer! The kids loved it; the grill imparted a fabulous outdoorsy taste to the pizza.
We’ll be enjoying pizza like this until the rain starts to fall in October, no more hot kitchens!

Friday, August 8, 2008

OCD Family

I am the youngest of 7 children. I have two older sisters and 4 older brothers, we have all married and have anywhere from four to seven children each. So there is a great number of nieces and nephews thrown in the pot as well. We are all a bit quirky in our own way. The other day there was a quite a bit of discussion about our quirkiness amongst our family email list.

The discussion centered on who might have been the most Obsessive Compulsive. It went something like this:

Sister Silver: “Doc says I have sleep apnea, so I’m sleep deprived OCD. He wondered how I manage to function at times.”

Nephew Joe: “There’s nothing wrong with OCD, I function quite well. My bed is rarely made, but God help the one who messes up my movies, cd’s or music. Or refolds my washcloths or bath towels!”

Brother CLC: “My wife says I’m OCD because I organize the dishwasher when loading it. But it is not compulsive; I do it because the dishes get cleaner if they are in just the right place. I can stop any time I want. No, really I can.”

Nephew Lee: He has a compulsive obsession with disorder. (Psst… he’s just a messy, but don’t tell him I said that.)

Sister Silver, (again): “I have to say that I also organize the dishwasher and I redo how other people put stuff in it—but only because it works better having all the plates lined up at the back and all the bowls in the front and all the glasses on the right of the top shelf and all the knives handle up in the first basket and the forks and spoons handle down in the middle basket and all the serving utensils biggest end up in the third basket.

And I don’t fold the towels in fifths anymore, (this is in reference to how Mother has folded the towels for 50 years)—as of last year I am able to fold the towels in fourths, however you must fold the towel in half lengthwise first and then in half crosswise and when you put them on the shelf the folded side has to be out and all the towels have to stack the same direction—and all the green ones in one pile and the blue ones in another.. But that’s not OCD—that’s just organized.

Nephew Joe, (again): “I have to fold my bath towel the same way, so that the tag is in the same spot every time while it's hanging up. No matter how late I am. It must be done this way. My washcloth too. The tag must be in a certain spot. I've been late to work a couple of times because of it. But that’s not OCD…”

Mother’s turn: “Okay, I guess it's my turn. When Dad and I lived in a trailer house from 1949 to 1954 we adopted the axiom of "A place for everything and everything in its place." We only had 20 foot by 8 foot and that included the tongue on the trailer. So for us to have any semblance of order in our lives, we had to eliminate the excess, throw out the junk and keep everything put where it belonged. We could not afford extra "things" and we had no room for extra "things" so we didn't collect any of those extras.

Living more simply certainly has its benefits…And this, it seems, is the time for confessions. I am the guilty one, because I began folding towels in five because they fit the drawers that way. My drawers in the bathroom were small and I had to fold the towels to fit. So, my recommendation is that you adapt to your own needs and whether it’s the dish washer or the towel drawers or hanging your clothes in the closet or whatever, I feel the important thing is keeping your priorities in order. And those "things" that do not have celestial consequences are closer to the bottom of the priority list in my book. But, remember that "mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord." And you don't have to be OCD to keep your house clean and to have your life orderly and under control. So, am I OCD?”

My towel folding technique has changed in this latest house we live in. They fit the drawers, they are in sixths. But they must all face the same way, the colors stacked together, and the folded side always out. But that's not OCD, that's just visually calming. Right?

Brother G: “You people are all crazy.” (whispered: He’s in denial…he’s related, he’s got it, I’m sure!)

Brother CLC: In defense of his dishwasher loading technique: “One day I noticed 2 spoons that were kind of stuck together in the dishwasher because they were both side by side in the same basket. Neither spoon got completely clean because the water did not get between them. Rather than take my chances and risk not having a clean spoon, I now distribute the spoons, forks and knives across all the baskets, and when two have to be together, I try to scatter them so they don't touch. I maintain that is not OCD it is efficiency. My wife and daughters claim it is OCD because, they say, a non-OCD person wouldn't have noticed there was a cause for the dirty spoon.” (He’s an engineer, there is always a cause and effect.)

Me: “Well, I don’t have OCD, at all. I have CDO. Because it’s alphabetical. The way it should be.”

Please tell me I'm not alone in all of this madness!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Pluots to do...

Last week at the food bank where I volunteer, I got two more boxes of Pluots. These are little larger than the first boxes, (the fruit themselves, not the boxes) so I decided with Sadge's recommendation, to just dry these this time.

I have dried fruit in the past, in fact, I love my American Harvest Snackmaster and use it all summer. I have expended it to 12 trays and love to hear it humming away on the counter, filling the house with warm, fruity smells. (I recently did a bunch of onions though and moved it to the garage, ha ha!)

I halved the fruit and then sliced them into 1/4 inch slies so they would uniformaly dry.

One batch took about 8 hours in the dryer, then I picked about one tray-full that needed a few more hours. The rest were done; chewy and full of flavor.

One box of pluots is finished and filled a gallon size ziplock bag.

We are going to make fruit leather out of the next box. I have the solid trays that fit in my Snackmaster and the kids are excited to help with this project.

I must admit, though, I am a bit disappointed in only seeing one gallon size bag for my efforts on Saturday, I do love to see the rows and rows of clean labeled jars after a day of canning. Sigh...

Thank you to all the comments on my recent canning project. I do appreciate all the advise you have given. I live about 15 hours from my mother and sometimes I just need a second opinion in the kitchen. Lately, more often than not, ha ha!

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