Friday, December 4, 2009

Preparing for the Holiday Season

So, preparing for the holiday season is well underway. I have Big Guy all shopped for and we’re working on Little Guy. I have a major weakness when it comes to Christmas shopping though. I like to keep going. Big Guy gets upset with me every year and tries to limit how much I can buy for him. This year, when I made my first purchase, he immediately got irritated and told me I spent too much, even though it was under $25. I think it’s because he’s somewhat flustered, having a wife who tries to dote on him on the holidays.
I have to figure out what we’re getting everyone else for the holidays and work from there. It’s a different type of holiday than last year. It will be our first Christmas without the kids. Luckily, we have Little Guy to focus on and we can work to make it good for him.

Right now, I am also trying to plan my Christmas Eve dinner and breakfast. For breakfast on Christmas day, I am strongly considering a meal of “Night Before French toast” (recipe to follow), sausage, bacon, coffee, and biscuits. But dinner the night before is usually a good meal. My mom comes over and we have our Christmas Eve family gift exchange. This year, it looks like I am making a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes… I’ll have a few finger food snacks and we’ll have a wonderful night. I am excited and looking forward to it.

The big meal the night before enables me to play around the next day and not have to worry about meals. And Christmas Day is one of my favorite things to do.

Night Before French Toast

1 loaf Texas Toast
lots of brown sugar
about 1 stick butter
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg


Melt butter and brown sugar together stirring frequently.

Spray a 9×13 pan (important!) with cooking spray. Pour mixture on the bottom so it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Lay the bread slices on top of it.

Mix together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour egg mix over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 and uncover the baking dish. Bake for 30 min. You can serve with toppings of your choice.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m still alive and kicking. And around here, we’re preparing for the holiday season. The past couple months have been exceedingly busy and involved classes, Halloween, and a dead computer. Now, though, things seem to be settling down and I am trying to get a hold of myself in an attempt to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

For Thanksgiving, we’re visiting family and eating heartily. I made “Russian Tea Cakes” to take to both Big Guy’s parents and my mom’s meals. These things are delectable, delicious, and completely fattening. The recipe I follow is the same one my mom uses from Betty Crocker , with our own little differences of course. We can never make a recipe without improving it somehow.

And on Friday, we did participate in the rampant consumerism that is Black Friday, but we also got something good out of it. We ended up NOT buying at any of the major stores, for by the time we arrived, all the deals were gone. What they had left was not enough to tempt us to brave those lines. So, we went to breakfast and then went to Big Lots where there weren’t as many people and the deals were much better. While there, we did find some good gifts for Little Guy to open Christmas Morning.

For the rest of the evening, I imagine we’ll play games, watch movies, and eat pizza. And for that, I am truly thankful.

Russian Tea Cakes
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. (If it still seems dry, cover and place in a warm spot for a few minutes. The butter will start to bind the dough together a bit more.)
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 10 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Nearly Frigid Fall

A chill is in the air as fall and winter begin to descend on Northern Indiana. I should consider myself lucky that we had such pleasant weather lasting through September, but now I can see the leaves go from green to the yellow and red shades for fall. The warm colors belie the coolness in the air though. We had our first frost this week.

My tomatoes never did well, nor did anything else I planted this year. I know part of it was the sheer distraction we experienced with the losses we suffered this summer, but I also blame the groundhog for eating my beans and the ground for sucking so hard. There just isn’t enough good dirt to grow anything useful. So, next year, Big Guy is building me a raised bed and we’re going to go through and add real dirt to the soul and hopefully do much better.

I finished my super secret project, which was a 9 square blanket for my sister-in-law for her birthday. It turned out much better than I could have hoped for, considering the crunch I was under. 9 granny squares of 9 rounds, with each grouping 3 sets of triple stitches. Clever enough for a birthday that occurred on September 9, 2009.

I’ve also been busy teaching. I just finished a round of Composition 2 and am preparing to start a class for the basics. This will be my first time teaching this particular class, so wish me luck! I was telling Big Guy, I really do love teaching and it is rewarding to see people connect with the language.

We received our Angel Food Ministries box and already have made some tasty meals from it. My personal favorite involved pork chops, pears and fresh sage from my garden. It was truly delicious and the pears complemented the pork beautifully. I also made chicken and beans in the crock-pot because we received two HUGE chicken breasts so I used one breast with beans and I think the other might be slated for some homemade chicken soup. Yum!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Half Time Work, Full Time Life

Well, Big Guy’s job situation was finally clarified and his hours were cut. Down to practically half. He’s now on contractor status but can only work a total of 24 hours per week, no benefits. So, we’re implementing some serious budgeting measures.

We’ve gone back to ordering from Angel Food Ministries and I am going to prepare weekly menus. Angel Food Ministries is an excellent source for good cheap food. $30 and you get an order of food that is billed as “enough to feed a family of four for a week”. This month’s order comes with steaks, chicken, pork chops, ground beef, veggies and fruit, eggs and a dessert. It’s pretty well balanced and you can come up with ways to stretch it. We order one box at a time and can generally make it last the whole month.

I’ve also got a running tally of our funds on an excel spreadsheet to keep track of our budget. We’re going to run into some issues because what we’re bringing in is less than what we need per month. If we’re careful with the payout for his vacation time, we may be able to limp along until he either gets another job or they decide they need him full time.

He is looking for another job, both full and part time, and I’m working on teaching. If we can keep it up, things should be OK.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Life and Lions

I know I’ve been gone for a while but life and work have taken up most of my attention.  Our garden, despite late breaking efforts, has not fared so well this summer.  Big Guy and I both think that our difficulties this summer had something to do with it.  I am able to harvest some very delicious tomatoes which are FINALLY turning red.  The coolness of the weather this year affected their color and I still have more green tomatoes than red ones.

We’re coming to the end of the August class.  Starting next week, I have another class of students and the cycle starts all over again. I’ve decided to go in a different direction in some cases, especially since I have access to a nice computer and a projector.

However, in the meantime, I need to finish up my OMGSUPERSECRET project because I lost a week I thought I had to work on it.  And that is what I am doing today.  I am over 2/3rds done, I just need to get that final push done and finish it this week.  Once that’s done, I can breathe a little easier and actually have some free time.  Go me!

Right now, Little Guy and I are watching MSNBC’s coverage of the death of Senator Kennedy.  It truly is a sad day.  I can only hope the health care bill doesn’t fail because of this.  That would truly be horrible.  Something that man worked so hard for, he got so close to seeing the frution of his life’s work…  And then he dies.  It’s truly a tragic story, and perhaps another chapter of the Kennedy Curse.  I’ll post more thoughts on this later, particularly my reactions to the disgusting comments the Rabid Right have posted across the internet.

On the humerous side of this story.  Senator Kennedy was known as the “Lion of the Senate.”  Every time that moniker is placed on the screen, Little Guy exclaims: “Oh!  A Lion!”  He recognizes the word.  My sweet boy, so smart and turning in to such a good reader!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Turn the Page

It’s been a busy week. I have to admit, I am glad it’s almost over.  For me, it really is.  I don’t have class tomorrow because they are moving to the new building and that means no teaching at all until Monday.  What a break!

Now, aside from grading, I really have time to focus on some other things…  Like writing in my blog and working on my OMGSOSUPERSOSECRETPROJECT and working on my novel. It’s been a rough summer, and it is probably only just beginning to hit us exactly how rough a summer it was.  I am going through, getting rid of clothes and gathering up toys, now that the house is mostly empty.  We’re still trying to adjust to life without the kids and it’s beginning to hit me exactly how much I put into the kids.

When Big Guy and I got together, I was determined to be the best step-mom ever.  I read books, made sure I didn’t overstep my bounds, and tried to follow the best, most rational advice available.  I offered support and guidance to my husband when he tired of the games his ex was playing and really devoted a lot of time and effort into both the battle and making sure the kids had the best chance at sanity that I could provide. So, for six years, I threw myself whole-heartedly into being a step-parent, to the exclusion of many things that I really should have been doing for myself.  And this May, when that effort was revealed to be useless, I really felt betrayed and destroyed by it.  But, through June and July, other things occupied my thoughts and time.  And now, I’m left with myself, Big Guy and Little Guy.  And it’s leaving me feeling a bit jittery.

So, where do I go from here?  Well, I work on something else.  I focus on the things that are important, like Big Guy and Little Guy.  I work on my projects.  And I sit back and breathe, take stock of where I am and figure out what I am feeling (aside from the surface emotions).  This is a new chapter in my life, let’s see what it says…

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cooking and Cleaning

I recently dumped the photos from my camera.  It had been a while and now my batteries are dead so it’s time to recharge them.  Luckily, I managed to get pictures of a great, relatively cheap meal that Big Guy and I partook in.

We had taken our friend shopping since her car quit working.  While we were at Kroger’s, we looked at some of the stuff that was “priced for quick sale”.  They had to get rid of it or else it was going to go bad.  This included 2 salmon filets and 2 portabello caps. We also had 3 bell peppers in the fridge, which we sliced with some onion and then grilled the entire set.  We used olive oil and went very light on the seasonings.

It was amazingly fresh and delicious.

I also spent most of today cleaning.  I managed to get our family room in reletively OK shape.  I vacuumed, picked up, and threw out all the excess papers that we seem to hang on to, “just in case”.  We’ve got company tomorrow, arriving for a D&D game.  And there was no way I was going to have company in our house when it looked like a tornado had decimated the place.

We’re going to start buckling down now that things are slowing down, and hopefully, we’ll be able to come to some sort of peace in the house as well.  We’ll pack up some of the kids’ clothes and toys and take them to Goodwill.  It’s important that we start reclaiming our lives and moving forward.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting out of the rut

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
” - U2

Last month, I decided, was a wash.  Between Big Guy’s toes and my aunt passing away and the class I was teaching, the month got away from me and nothing got done.  It was all I could do to keep up with Little Guy and the class I was teaching.  Hence, my absence from my blog.

However, I am trying to get back in to the swing of things.  I have a class this month, teaching Comp II.  I am working on a super secret project for September.  And still planning on the Harvest Market with my mom.  Sadly, though, my Garden is not thriving.  It’s growing, slowly… But I am really going to need to either add to or replace some of the dirt I have.

When we got back from Ohio in Mid July, we notice that we had a serious fly problem.  They had gotten in the house and were extremely annoying.  So, we made sure all screens were closed and began to come up with ways to get rid of the flies.

Unlike my mom, we have no chickens to get rid of flies, so we needed to come up with something less alive.  I finally settled on a homemade fly trap.  I took an empty beer bottle, water, sugar, a part of a banana peel, and dish soap and combine them.  The idea is that the water, sugar, and banana peel interest the flies and they will fly into the beer bottle to get some food to eat where it becomes a “Fly Motel” of sorts.  The narrow neck of the beer bottle ensures that it’s a one way trip and the dish soap prevents the flies from being able to land on the water and they drown instead.

Getting back into the swing of things, being creative, it’s still difficult…  But, as with most things, life rolls on whether or not you want it to, whether or not you feel ready.  Do you take part or do you sit at the side?

And if the night runs over
And if the day won’t last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass
It’s just a moment
This time will pass
” - U2, Stuck in a Moment

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Planting

So, we’re already getting ready for the Spring planting season, in fact, I’ve already sown a good set of seeds for the garden area. I tried some new peat potting greenhouse thingy and planted Bachelor Buttons, Snapdragons, and Catnip. As I told my husband, Big Guy, I wanted to try it out on something I wasn’t going to be heartbroken about not sprouting. I love flowers, but I love fresh veggies more. So, I now have 72 potential plants growing.

Living in a trailer isn’t the easiest, especially for a storm wuss like me. But, it has its upside. Namely, we can grow as big a garden as we want. We just can’t build anything permanent. This year, the kids and I get to grow pumpkins, cantaloupe, beans, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and more. Due to it being Indiana, we can’t really grow corn without upsetting someone. Cross-pollination of crops is taken very seriously here.

Once the plants start to sprout, I’ll be able to take pictures and we’ll see how it goes!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Introduction

I go by kittencaboodle on most things I do online, but I also answer to “Mommy” or “Emily”. Though, depending on circumstances, I threaten to change both my names or tell my kids: “There is no mommy, there is only Zuul.”

They don’t get it yet.

I am a mom, step-mom, wife, daughter, writer, crocheter, gardener and the list goes on. In my spare time, I teach composition and literature classes.

I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures and outcomes with all of you!