Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things I've Said To My Children: A Review

I'm sure we all, those of us who have children, have said things.  Things that, upon reflection, seem ridiculous.  Things that, if someone overheard them, would make that someone wonder if we are entirely sane.  Things like

Don't put the zebra in the blender


Asparagus is not a weapon


Don't kiss your brother while he is on the toilet.

Father of five Nathan Ripperger said all of those things, and more to his children, and he actually wrote them down.  And then he illustrated them and published them in a book entitled Things I've Said To My Children.

It's a cute concept and a cute book, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, because the things Nathan Ripperger has said to his children don't seem all that strange or ridiculous to me.  I can see myself needing to say many of these same things.  I was expecting something more.

I wouldn't recommend buying the book for yourself, but it would make a cute gag gift for an expectant parent.

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 28

Whoa, y'all.  I thought the summer flew by, but that was nothing compared to September.  Do you realize that October starts this week?  Yeah, me neither.  I was thinking I had one more week until my bubble burst this weekend.

This is also the last week of my month-long (which was actually 5 weeks long) menu plan. On balance, it was nice to not have to think of ideas of what to serve my family this month, but it annoyed me that I still did have to rearrange several meals because life happened.  I'm going to try some other things to see if I can find a planning method I like better, but keep this one in my back pocket.

Wait.  I'm not wearing any pockets.  Hmm.

So last week our Monday and Wednesday night activities started (you're right--we already had football on Mondays, but the other Monday activity started, which gives us a small window of time on Monday in which to eat).  Blessings.  We're managing blessings.

Here's what I've got for this week (compare to week 5):

Next Monday:

  • Hamburgers, buns, greens, carrots, mandarin oranges
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple crisp
  • Apple pie filling (maybe)

Friday, September 25, 2015

{Improved} AKD's 7 Layer Bars

My oldest son, AKD, is, quite simply, awesome.  Really and truly, he is such a blessing to me and to our family.  I may have told you this before, but here it is again.

When I was pregnant with AKD I was sick.  I was nauseous pretty much all the time, except for the 30 minutes or so after vomiting. So I would throw up, and then immediately eat, because I knew whatever I ate then would stay down.  My morning all-day sickness lasted from about 7 weeks until about 15 weeks, and it was not fun.  I threw up 2-3 times a day during that time.

When I was pregnant with my second child, MC, I was even sicker.  I was nauseous all the time, even immediately after vomiting, and I threw up 4-5 times a day from 5 weeks until 17 weeks.  It was horrible.  There were times when I would just be laying curled up on the floor in 2 year old AKD's bedroom, watching him play, because I couldn't do anything else.  I remember AKD putting himself to bed one night because Hubby was working late and I was hunched over the toilet.  I also remember leaning over the toilet, heaving, while my sweet little 2 year old rubbed my back and told me it was going to be OK.  Seriously.  He was responsible, kind, and compassionate at 2 years old, and he's still responsible, kind, and compassionate at 15.  Love him.  So much.

Anyway, there are a few things about which AKD is passionate.  Kayaking.  Biking.  And sweets.  Oh, yes, the poor boy inherited his mama's (and grand-dad's) sweet tooth.

Years ago ... five and a half years ago ... AKD developed a recipe for 7 layer bars.  We don't make them often, but AKD has made improvements on the recipe over the years, and he thinks he's hit on the perfect combination.  I think so too.

You may recall that the original recipe called for caramel.  Now, instead of caramel, AKD uses rolo candies.  And yes, that little change makes these bars over the top amazing.

AKD's Seven Layer Bars
Here's what you need:

  • Chocolate chip cookie dough (we use this recipe without the nuts)
  • Rolos candies (about 36)
  • Sweetened shredded coconut (about 1/4 c.)
  • Chocolate chips (about 1/2 c.)
  • Milk chocolate m&ms candies (about 1/2 c.)
  • Heath bits o'brickle toffee bits (about 1/4 c.)

Here's what you do:

  • Press a layer of cookie dough into a 9x13" pan, about 1/2" thick.  We use about 1/2 of our recipe.  Since recipes vary, you might use more or less.  
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven until the edges are lightly brown and set, but the center is still not done, about 15 minutes.
  • Immediately throw unwrapped rolos candies at the cookie dough in the pan.  You want them to sink into the dough a bit and start to melt, so use a little bit of force.  We use about 36.
  • Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top, as much as you think looks good.  We use 1/4 to 1/2 c. of each.
  • Crumble bits of the remaining cookie dough over the top.  We use about 1/2 of what's left, or 1/4 of the whole recipe.
  • Bake the bars until they are cooked through and the cookie dough on top is lightly brown, about 15 minutes.

I made these the other day for AKD's bike race.  And then, because I had leftover rolos and leftover cookie dough, I made rolo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  Yes I did.  Because that's how I roll ... o.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fingertip Tight

If you've ever canned anything, you're familiar with the term "fingertip tight."  For those of you who are not canners, jars are sealed with a 2 piece system consisting of a lid and a band.

Band on the left, lid on the right.
Virtually every canning recipe includes the instruction to tighten bands fingertip tight.  If you tighten the bands too tight, the jars won't seal properly.  If you don't tighten enough, the jars won't seal properly.  It's a classic case of not too tight, not too loose, but just right.  But how to find that elusive just right middle ground?
I have been canning now for at least 6 years, and I still have no idea what the heck fingertip tight means.

Well ... I thought I knew what it meant ...

I rarely have trouble with my water bath seals (in fact, I can't remember any of my water bath canned jars not sealing.  Ever)--they're a bit more forgiving, but I've had inconsistent results with the pressure canner.  And who knows if my bands are too tight or too loose?  Not me!

So I did a little research and learned ... no one else seems to know, either.  Or, rather, everyone knows, and everyone thinks it means something a little different.


The most useful answer I found was from Carolina Canning:
A practical way to determine if the lid is fingertip tight is to place the band on the jar, turn it just until you feel resistance, then turn the band one-quarter turn more. 

So, I guess that's what I'll do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Garden update: the squash harvest

The garden is looking a little sad these days.  The nights are cooler and the plants are dying.  It's all as it should be, though, the circle of life...

I still have honeydew melons and zucchini growing, and I'll leave them out there as long as I can.  The gnawed-upon honeydew suddenly started growing again, and developed a new crack, maybe because of the 5 inches of rain we got in about 12 hours last week?  So I'm not sure what to say about that.  I think I might be picking that one soon.  There are also two watermelons and two baby pumpkins that I'm doubtful will make it to maturity (but maybe--as long as they're alive, there's hope.  There's a lesson in that somewhere...)

I successfully canned the pumpkin last week, and I think we have about a 3 or 4 year supply of pumpkin over here.  Which is good, 'cause I think the boys want to grow jack-o-lantern pumpkins next year.

My helpers and I harvested spaghetti squash earlier this week, and I'll be dealing with it early next week. Hopefully.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homemade Applesauce {for canning}

The other day, my sis asked for my applesauce recipe.  I had to laugh, because I was remembering when I asked Grandma B for her recipe.  She looked at me like I was a little nutty, and then told me there really wasn't a recipe.  You just put apples and sugar in a pot and simmer it until it's mushy.

And that really is all there is to it.

I was kind of disappointed in that answer, though.  I wanted an actual recipe, with specific amounts, because I had never made applesauce before, and I couldn't believe that it really was just that simple.

I never noticed before--Bubby must have dropped an apple right as this picture was being taken.
In this picture, AKD was about the same age Bubby is now.
These days, we make a lot of applesauce.  We own 2 apple trees, and making applesauce is an easy and delicious way to preserve the apples.  We all know by now that our freezer space is ... limited, so several years ago I started canning applesauce.  In fact, applesauce was the first thing I ever canned--another thing that seemed too complicated, but turned out to be simple.

I experimented with two recipes I found in cookbooks, until we hit on a combination that we love.  Then I wrote it down.  And here it is.

Homemade Applesauce {for canning}
To print this recipe, click here.
You will need:
  • apples.  Grandma preferred Macintosh; we just use the kind that grows on our trees
  • sugar.  Grandma used liquid sugar concentrate; we use granulated white sugar
  • cinnamon & nutmeg. (optional)
  • water.
What you do:
  • Fill a 5 quart pot* with peeled, cored, and sliced apples.  We use a nifty little gadget like this.
  • On top of the apples, dump 2 c. sugar (more or less to taste), 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 3 c. water.  
  • Cover, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until apples are tender, about 12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, mash with a spoon or potato masher (if you want it chunky) or give it a whir in a food processor (if you want a smoother texture).
To can:
  • Immediately ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Adjust and tighten 2 piece lids.
  • Process pints and quarts in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.
* For a 3 quart pot of apples, add 1 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 t nutmeg, and 2 c. water.  Makes about 2 quarts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 21

Well, I did it.  I canned pumpkin last week.  And, boy do we ever have canned pumpkin over here.  I thought I would get 1 canner load, maybe, out of our 6 small pumpkins. I actually got 2 full canner loads, and truthfully, I probably could have (and should have) had another partial load.  So now?  We will eat pumpkin.

What's your favorite way to eat pumpkin?  It's so good for you, full of vitamin A, fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamin C, but most people's experience with eating pumpkin is limited to pumpkin pie and various seasonal pumpkin flavored items which may or may not actually contain any real pumpkin.  My fav?  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I know.  The sugar tends to negate the pumpkin's benefits, but ... it's still my fav.

My Hubby and oldest boy have been asking for pumpkin pie, so I guess that's what's happening this week.  Here's how AKD eats his:

Proper way to eat pumpkin pie
Ha!  That's how I prefer my pumpkin pie, as well.

Here's what else is on the menu this week:

Next week Monday:
  • Beef & potato casserole, green beans, pineapple or peaches


Friday, September 18, 2015

Reading with Bubby

I read with Bubby, pretty much every day.  Yes, as a second grader, he is required to read or be read to for a certain number of minutes each day, but I also enjoy reading with and to him.  I would read out loud to all of my children if they weren't so busy being teenagers and going all maaaah-om, I'm too old for that on me.

But here's the thing about reading with Bubby.  He keeps talking.  About the story, about his previous knowledge, about what he would do in that situation.

It's all good, because he's making text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.  He's making predictions and backing them up with clues from the text.  He's retelling the story and clarifying in his own mind what's going on.  These are all good things, things that teachers like to talk about (I know this, because for 3 years, I have listened to students reading to me, and my supervising teachers are always talking about these things).

But it takes. so. flippin'. long.

I read a sentence, and then Bubby starts talking.  For 2 or 3 or 5 minutes.  And then he says, "OK, go."  I read another sentence or maybe two, and he's off again.  Every once in a great while I'll get a whole paragraph in before the commentary starts.  Maybe it was the subject matter last night (Magic Tree House's Titanic research guide), but holy camolies.  We were "reading" for about 45 minutes, but I honestly think the actual reading part was about 15, in between all the interruptions.

I now know all about what Bubby would do differently, starting with more lifeboats, and having two sister boats traveling together (so that if one sinks, the lifeboats can head to the sister boat, drop off passengers, and go back for more).  Nerd that I am, I got in a lesson on momentum, which prompted Bubby to change his design so that it was both smaller and slower (but still capable of going very fast, because fast is important).

I'm sure he's still thinking about it, and I'll hear more tonight.

Some days, I approach reading with Bubby as a task, something that needs to get done so we can move on to the next thing (and the next thing is Bubby-goes-to-sleep, so you know how motivated I am to get there).  Every interruption rankles, like so many little pinpricks.  I find myself taking a lot of deep breaths, and consciously practicing patience.

and this is the most important thing,

Bubby is growing and learning through all the interruptions, and I am, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Garden update--harvesting pumpkins

My helpers and I harvested the pie pumpkins this past weekend, and I'll be canning them this week.  You know, if I get to it.

Six little pumpkins, sitting on a fence...
Aren't they pretty?  Bubby named his Spikey and Spikey Junior, because of the spikiness of the stems.  I'm not sure how he's going to feel about eating them.  Although he did ask if we can roast the seeds, so, on some level at least, he's aware that these things are food, not friends.

Two female pumpkin flowers appeared on the vines last week, and then another appeared early this week, and even though it's really late in the season, I went ahead and pollinated them.  With squash pollen.  Because there wasn't any pumpkin pollen available.  This kind of thing happens in nature all the time.  Bees don't care which kind of flower they visit in what order, so they deliver different species pollen at least sometimes, especially when the plants are in such close proximity to each other.

If these pumpkins reach maturity, they will be just that: pumpkins.  If I were to plant the seeds from these pumpkins, and they were viable, they would produce a pumpkin/spaghetti squash hybrid, which would be really interesting.  I'm going to do that, if ...

The spaghetti squash is really close to being harvest-ready, which is good, because I'm seeing my sis soon, and I need to give her one.  Yes, I need.  Also good is the fact that I don't have to deal with preserving pumpkins and spaghetti squash in the same week.

My poor little zucchini plant doesn't quite know what to do with itself now that its out from under the tyranny of the tomatoes.  It currently has 4 maturing fruits on it, and many more female flowers developing.  Not sure if that's good for it.

The honeydews, although smaller than the honeydews I'm used to, seem to not be getting any bigger, which is kind of a sign that they're done growing.  Just...kind of.  I keep thumping them to see if they sound hollow (even though I've heard it's a myth that you can tell melon-ripeness by listening to the thump), and they do not.  So they're going to stay on the vines for a bit longer.

My watermelons continue to grow.  One is about the size of a softball, the other is just a little bigger than a golf ball.

As I stand and gaze upon my melons and those three baby pumpkins, I find my thoughts straying to substantial, straight sticks and clear plastic and building a hot house.  I am not aware of any clear plastic currently on our property, but let's just say there might be some soon.  Note to self: check Menards ad for clear plastic.

And then there's these.  Gonna have to deal with them soon, that is, if the deer don't get them first.  We have a mama deer who has perfected a two-legged stance.  She stands on her back legs and knocks the apples off for her babies (twins--so cute).

What's growing at your house?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The chewing gum conspiracy

It started with Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie flavor.

I had always been a purist when it came to gum flavors.  A purely mint or bubble gum flavor kinda girl.  Until one fateful day when I tried this new apple pie flavored gum.

I didn't expect to like it, and in fact, it took a while for me to decide I did.  But once I passed that threshold, I was hooked.  Apple pie became my favorite gum flavor, and I was rarely without it.

And then one day, without warning, I couldn't find it anymore.  I kept looking, day after day, week after week, while my supply was steadily dwindling down to nothing.

Eventually, I had to face the truth: Wrigley's had discontinued my favorite flavor.  The search was on to find my new favorite.

It was another one I didn't expect to like, lemon square, but something about the spike of tart lemon flavor followed by a wave of sweetness spoke to me.  I had found my new favorite gum.

And then do you know what happened?  

They discontinued it.

Next was peach cobbler.  Discontinued.  I'm starting to take this personally.  Every time I find and declare a new favorite gum, Wrigley's discontinues it.  And it's happening faster and faster each time.

This time, I was savvy.  I found a new favorite, but was careful to not express the true nature of my relationship to the gum.  In fact, I went out of my way, on several occasions, to tell various people (and therefore Wrigley's, who I'm sure has me bugged) that it was just OK, and definitely not my favorite.  I reasoned that, if Wrigley's didn't know it was my favorite, they wouldn't discontinue it.
It hasn't been discontinued yet, because I can still find it on Extra's flavor page, but the last several times I've attempted to buy my new favorite, I haven't been able to find it on the shelves.  

I think they might be able to read my mind.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 14

Well, here I am, plugging away at my September menu plan.  I'm looking at this weeks' meals and wondering if I'm being overly optimistic to think that I'm actually going to be serving dinner 7 times this week.  Yup, it's gonna be another one of those kind of weeks.  Thank goodness our Wednesday activities haven't started up yet.

Here's what's on the menu this week (compare to week 3 of the plan):

Next Monday:



Yup.  I'm definitely being overly optimistic.  What's cooking at your house this week?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself: A Review

To the outside world, TV meteorologist Carmen Hart has it all together.  Inside, she's drowning in grief, mourning for the child she fears she may never bear.  She's lost herself, and is in the process of losing her faith and her marriage as well.  In the midst of all this loss, Carmen's seventeen year old run-away half sister, Gracie, shows up, and Carmen takes her in.

Gracie is also drowning, in her own way, abandoned emotionally by her alcoholic mother, and physically by her absent half-sister.

Katie Ganshert masterfully steers her characters, and her readers, through real-life, heart-breaking issues of infertility, miscarriage, marital problems, mental breakdowns, alcoholism, dementia, and teenage angst.  The characters are real and broken, but woven throughout all this heartbreak are grace and hope.

I loved this book--it was hard to put down.  And the end?  Was perfect.

Bottom line: this book is not about easy answers, but you will encounter grace and hope in its pages.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Garden update

It's blight.  My tomatoes had blight, and the plants were unsalvageable.  If I had known what it was sooner, I might have been able to save them.  If they had been better supported, it might not have spread so quickly.  So disappointed.

I picked all the tomatoes, kept the unaffected ones to ripen on the counter, and threw the rest into the field behind our house.  Maybe there will be wild tomatoes growing out there next year.  I pulled out the plants and put them on the burn pile.  So that's it for us for tomatoes this year.  I managed to get 9 pints of salsa and 2 pints of diced tomatoes, plus I think I have about enough for another 3 quarts.  If they ripen.  Disappointing.

Some of my green tomatoes where their plants used to be.
Those were some pretty impressive roots, I must say.
That's my poor little zucchini plant in the background--
it's got a better chance at life now :)
On the bright side, now that the tomatoes are gone, the zucchini has more room to grow.  My scrawny little plant actually has two fruits on it right now.  At one time!  Whew hoo!  We are super-producing, now.

I have 2 watermelons that are about the size of golf balls.  They are, quite frankly, gorgeous.  They look like dinosaur eggs.  As much as I hate warm weather, I'm praying for an extended summer this year so these cuties can mature.

I have 3 honeydews that look like they might make it to maturity, including the scarred one that was gnawed upon.

My supported honeydew <3
By far the best producers in the garden this year have been the pumpkins and spaghetti squash.  We have 6 of each, many of which are close to ripe.  I'm planning to can the pumpkin (well, after I make a pie or two), and freezing the spaghetti squash.  I found a method that I think might work better than my cook-it-then-freeze-in-one-cup-portions method.  Squash has too much water in it to freeze without removing some of the water.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

It's turning a golden color--almost done!
I'm continuing to get pickling cucumbers, one at a time. I made some refrigerator pickles, but no one likes them, because they don't taste like pickles from the store.  Yes, my beautiful family, that's because they're fresh.  Oh well.  I decided not to do pickles next year.  Maybe I'll try again at some point in the future.

I also decided not to do green beans next year. My family doesn't really like the taste of fresh beans, I don't like the texture (they're hairy! Ugh!), and forcing the issue just doesn't seem worth it.

So what am I growing next year?  Tomatoes, zucchini, melons, and pumpkins, and possibly broccoli or Brussels sprouts.  That might be it.  Oh, and strawberries, if we can find a spot to put another bed.

What's growing at your house?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Menu plan for the week of September 7

You guys!  I'm still reserving judgement, but ... I'm spending about half the time, tweaking and rearranging each week's menu, that I would normally spend each week planning meals.  That's saving me time each week.  Unfortunately, I already spent 100% of the time I would normally spend planning each week's menu times five.  Humph.  So in order for this endeavor to be a time saver, I will have to save and reuse my menus.  We'll see.

I have another idea that might work better for me, but I'm gonna see this one through first.  Don't worry--I'll keep you posted ... whether you want me to or not ...

It's the second week of school, and my slow cooker is being called into service.  Love that thing, because it saves me.  Aside from the fact that on Tuesdays it's not possible for us to all sit down for supper together until 8:30 p.m. (which actually isn't possible, since 1 of my kiddos goes to bed at 8), so we need a slow cooker to keep food hot and ready to be eaten in shifts, I have a lot more energy in the morning than I do at supper-making time.  When I use the slow cooker, I'm preparing supper in the morning, instead of at 5 p.m. when I'm tired and cranky (and not there because I'm picking a kid up from practice).

Here's what's on the menu this week (compare to week 2 here):

Next Monday:
  • Meatballs, beef gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, mandarin oranges



What's cookin' at your house this week?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Guard your wallet

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know it's Friday.  But it is completely acceptable to post Tuesday's Tip on a Friday.

Because I said so.  And I'm in charge around here.

So, because I'm all about serving the public, here's a tip for ya.  On Friday.  Because this one's just too indispensable to wait.

Don't leave your wallet 
in the vehicle 
that someone will be 
parking at the airport 
for the next 4 days.

when you have no cash and 
you promised to take your kids to the pool 
with the climbing wall and zipline, 
but you also need to buy gas, 
because whoever drove the big ol' 'burban last left it near empty
and drive children 
all over creation
because it's the first week of school
and sports happened.

You are so welcome for that helpful hint.

OK, so maybe that tip is just a tad bit narrow in focus.  Maybe you don't have access to a vehicle that gets parked at the airport frequently.  Or ever.  In that case, here's another tip.  Again, on Friday.  Because it's still Friday and I'm still talking.

Photocopy (or scan or take a picture of) the contents of your wallet, front and back, and leave a copy somewhere secure, but accessible.

Here's why.  If you are ever unfortunate enough to misplace your wallet, or your wallet is stolen, having a copy of all of your cards and identification will make it easier to 1. call everyone who needs to be notified that your info is stolen and/or possibly compromised and 2. work on replacing said items.

Here's the deal.  All of your debit and credit cards, insurance cards, even your library card, have your account information and a phone number to call if you need assistance.  If those things are not in your possession, how quickly will you be able to assemble that information?  And will you even remember everything that's in your wallet when you're all flustered about not knowing where it is or knowing that it's in the hands of some criminal?  Yeah.  Didn't think so.  Photocopying the contents of your wallet is a quick and easy way to get all that information together in the same place, just in case you need it.

Also?  It's a good idea to keep cash somewhere other than your (or your 15 year old son's) wallet.  Just in case you are temporarily separated from said wallet.  For four days while it's at the airport.  And you can't get in to retrieve it because you need a credit card to get in to the parking ramp.  *ahem*

I hope you enjoyed this helpful non-Tuesday tip.

That is all.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ten slow cooker meals that your family *might* tolerate

My slow cooker is about to become my best friend for the next several weeks, at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I'm on the lookout for nutritious crock pot recipes that my family will like.

Have you come across blog posts that are titled something like:

12 Crock Pot Meals Your Family Will Love


20 Kid-Friendly Crock Pot Meals?

Yeah, me too.  And I always click on them.  And I'm always disappointed.  More often than not, I look at the linked recipes and think, nope.  My family won't like any of them.  Occasionally, there will be 1 recipe in the collection that I'm willing to try.  Once, there were 2.

My family is unique.  With unique food cravings and aversions.  I'm willing to bet that yours is, too.

So I decided to do my own round-up of Crock Pot recipes.  My family likes them, but I'm not going to promise yours will.

You're welcome.

Chicken Chili Verde
Chicken Chili Verde

Herbed Chicken with Wild Rice Recipe
Herbed Chicken with Wild Rice

Southwest Chicken with Beans

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
Crock Pot Chicken and Rice

Hot Beef Sandwiches--Place a 3 lb chuck roast in a slow cooker. Dump in 1 (15 oz) can beef broth and 1 package onion soup mix.  Cover and heat on low until meat is done and shreds easily.  Shred with 2 forks.  Serve on rolls with provolone cheese and cooking liquid for dipping.

And because my friends are the best, here is a selection of crock pot recipes that I think my family might tolerate.  As a special bonus.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (these might be too spicy for my crew.  The Helpful Boy Scout suggested using BBQ sauce and grape jelly instead of hot sauce and ranch).

Picture of Food
Sausage, Potatoes, and Green Beans (the Helpful Boy Scout did not say to add water, and she uses bouillon granules instead of cubes)

Porcupine Meatballs (my crew would not like the tomato soup, so I think I'll try this substituting beef gravy for tomato soup)

Slow Cooker Shredded Turkey Sandwiches Recipe
Shredded Turkey Sandwiches (my mama friend says she uses bone-in turkey breast because it's more tender, and skips the bun)

Shredded Pork Tacos

So there you have it: 10 slow cooker meals that your family might tolerate.  What do you think?  Will they?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I'm not a failure. But I am.

 It was the first day of school yesterday, and to prove that I'm not a failure, here are the first day of school pics.

AKD - 10th; MC - 7th

Bubby - 2nd

I even made a collage and added words to it.  I am so not a failure.

Yeah, right.  

Day 1 and I've already experienced schedule failure.  Thursdays are rough, but Tuesdays are going to be downright brutal for the next several weeks.  Here's how it all goes down.  MC has football practice after school until 5.  AKD gets home at 3, and Bubby gets home at 4:30.  AKD has bike practice 5:30-7.  On Tuesdays, MC has Boy Scouts at 6:30-8.

In order to get to the school to pick MC up on time, we need to leave home by 4:50.
In order to get to bike practice on time, we need to leave the middle school by 5:15 at the latest.  And that's if the traffic lights are with us.
In order to get back to bike practice to pick AKD up on time, I need to leave home by 6:35.  But wait.  I need to drop MC off at 6:30.

Notice I didn't even mention food in all that.

AKD's team.  He's the 3rd from the left in the 2nd to last row, AKA the tallest one.
It is a carefully choreographed balancing act that depends on everything running smoothly to succeed.  And yesterday...not so smooth.  Bubby came home from school late.  MC came out of football practice late and forgot his backpack.  AKD got to practice just barely in time (he was actually late, but they hadn't started yet--whew), and then we had to go back for MC's backpack.  The school was locked by the time we got back so we had to find a custodian.  By the time we got home and I sat down to eat, it was 6:20, which is when we would have had to leave if we were going to get MC to Scouts.  And I really don't mind dropping him off a little late, since everyone's always late anyway, but in order for me to get back to bike practice, MC needs to be on time to Scouts.

MC and his Scout cohort. 
No big deal.  MC didn't mind missing Scouts (I think his exact words were "yip" and "ee"), but this experience revealed just how precarious the whole situation is.  If one little thing goes wrong, the whole operation is in jeopardy.  Also?  It literally makes me feel sick when I know I'm going to be late for something.  Even more so when it's one of my kids' activities.

Oh, and guess what.  Football games are on Tuesdays and Fridays.  And the team travels.  Hopefully we'll have 2 parents around by then?

Are your kids back in school?  How was their first day?
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