Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Got a Nook, Now I Have to Feed the Family Better

My husband got me a Nook Tablet for Christmas!  I asked for the Color, he got me the Tablet, and it is the shiz-ite.  It comes with Hulu installed, and one morning when I couldn't sleep, I fired it up and watched "Supersize Me."  Yes, I am a little behind the crowd here, having never seen it, and I've got to tell you, I found the movie horrifying.


Like the majority of Americans, I like fast food.  I don't eat it every day, but I do eat it more than I should.  A refresher for those of you who haven't seen the movie in a while: Spurlock ate McDonald's for every meal for a month.  He had to have everything on the menu once.  If they asked him, "would you like to supersize that?" he had to answer yes.  In the process, he gained 24.5 lbs (11.1kg), his cholesterol went from a very healthy 168 to 240 (!), his liver profile showed signs of encroaching liver failure, he started spilling protein into his urine, and he experienced decreased energy, depression, lowered sex drive, and general ickiness.

Another disturbing part of the film was how fast food companies and lobbying groups grab our children's focus from the time they are wee ones so that fast food becomes a regular part of their lives and one they crave.  In one scene, none of the children could identify a picture of Jesus, but all of them knew who Ronald McDonald was.  Brand imprinting and loyalty lobbying is scary stuff and adversely affects the health of our families.

After watching "Supersize Me" I made a series of resolutions.  First, when I take William out to eat I will look for restaurants with healthier food choices.  The other day we went to Panera.  On my little town, the only healthy fast food we have is Chipotle.  Guess we'll be eating a lot of burritos.


Second, and I'm not sure how this is going to happen, meal toys have got to go.  Rewarding a child for eating chicken nuggets and french fries has always seemed all higgeldy piggeldy to me.  Instead, why don't we reward kids for trying new, healthy things?  I gave William a Hot Wheels car when he tried apples.  He didn't like them (it happened to be a REALLY sour apple), but he tried it.  Then again, I can't bribe my kid to try all of his food, so again, I'll have to think this one out.

Third, when I cook I've got to go old school and get away from prepackaging or at least cut down on it.  It's easier to cook with prepacked stuff, but it's not as healthy.

Fourth, "meat and two veg" is going to be my new mantra.  This isn't going to be the easiest because there is very little meat that this family likes (we love beef, you'd think we were cattle ranchers), so on a lot of days, this will turn into "legume, grain, and two veg."  To that end, when I do buy meat I will buy grain fed, antibiotic free, free range meat.  Have you noticed how horrifying chicken tastes these days?  I suppose if you live in  a cage that you couldn't move in eating your own excrement and were pumped full of antibiotics constantly you'd taste bad, too.  Fortunately, we live near a lot of Amish people so Amish free range chicken isn't hard to come buy, but it is a wee bit pricey.


Why is it that we have to spend more money to eat well?  Why is it that Panera is SO much more expensive than McDonald's?  It's not that eating healthier is really all that more difficult, but it does cost more.

So there you go.  I've got my subscription to Taste of Home on my Nook and I'm going to see if they have any other healthy cooking with normal food magazines available.  No braised baby sweetbreads with capers and cilantro (wouldn't that be terrible?!) for this family, this Bon Appetite is out.


And all of this because I got a Nook.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joyeux Nöel (semi-wordless Wednesday)

We are having a swampy Christmas in Central Ohio this year; it has left me dreaming of celebrating Christmas in a more picturesque setting.  And what could be more lovely than Paris at Christmas?


La cathédrale de Notre Dame à Noël


Menu de Père Noël


Bûche de Noël

Les lumières de Noël de Paris

Tour Eiffel neigeux

Macaron à Noël? Pourquoi pas?


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas and the Introvert.

This may shock you (and I am also being a bit facetious), but I am a HUGE introvert. I'm a Myers-Briggs INFJ, which is like the height of introversion. Christmas is not the easiest time of year for me. Please don't misunderstand me. I love to give presents and watch the kids rip into their packages. I Love celebrating the birth of my Savior. My nativity, passed down from my grandmother to my mom to me is one of my most valued possessions. I have an inordinate love of Christmas music (if you have Spotify, look up my Christmas list. It's not mixed well, but it has songs I love on it, there's a bit of everything, and there's 7 hours of music). I love the lights and decorations and fluffy snowfalls.


But here's the thing about Christmas. The shops become overwhelmingly crowded. Everyone is out finding the perfect gift. Black Friday is positively frightening. The pace becomes more frenetic. Then there are the parties. If you are an extrovert it is important to understand that parties are a bit like putting a toe into the lake of hell for the introvert. We aren't especially good at the schmooze. We can't stand being interrupted, not because we are offended but because it makes us feel undervalued, and this happens quite frequently at gatherings. There are lots and lots of people, some who will probably be obnoxious and drunk. This is true even if you are friends with everyone who will be at the party. Parties are exhausting. I spend my time at the daydreaming about being at home knitting.


My daughter is the polar opposite of me in that she is the most extroverted extrovert in the world. She thrives on being surrounded by people and needs to be always busy. She can't be silent. And if she has to be, she texts. When Christmas rolls around and she gets to decorate she tends to go into overdrive. For the most introverted introvert this can be a bit overwhelming. This year, I let her do her thing with her boyfriend and William and hid in my bedroom.

Introverts need to take special care to make time for themselves during the holidays. This is a time of reflection, grace, love, and miracles; we introverts need to be still and quiet to appreciate the wonder of this season. The best Christmases I have ever had weren't rushed or over-scheduled, my shopping was done well in advance of the crowds, adequate time was spent in the morning opening presents and savoring the day before family visits were even considered, and, imagine this, I took a nap.


This time of year is too special to be dreaded. There was a time that I really didn't like Christmas because I was thrust into situations that are too much for any introvert. It wasn't until I realized how to be an introvert at Christmas and not compromise my needs that Christmas became alive for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Knitterly Christmasy Goodness

I have been a knitting fool this Christmas season. I have finished a mystery project (can't speak of it as recipient reads the blog) and two hats that came out so fab! The first is the Jacques Cousteau hat, chosen first because of the cool decrease pattern on the crown and second because the recipient will appreciate that it is the Jacques Cousteau hat.


It was an easy knit and I love the crown so much that this may be my go to hat pattern from now on.

I also made the Striped Hat from Debbie Bliss Knitting, Fall/Winter 2011. It is shown on a woman, but I made it for a boy. It is a slouchy hat and really on trend and a really quick knit. I didn't make it as long as the pattern called for because I didn't want it to look like Goofy's hat, and I'm happy with the way it came out.

© mahrle

I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and I LOVE it! I am a total Knit Picks convert. Great low prices, quality yarns, fast shipping, a huge variety of colors, what's not to love? I find myself stroking the hats because they are so alpaca soft. I am in love.

I have cast on Somerset vs. Norway, a gorgeous set of Norwegian design mittens featuring hares. I am using some of the Knit Picks yarns that I bought with chocolate brown as the background color and avacado green as the pattern color. This is my first set of these mittens and I am excited.



And some future project ideas:

If I get some cash for Christmas it is earmarked to go toward a Season 14 Doctor Who scarf (it's the shortest, at 8-10 feet long). From my elementary years, when I would run home to watch Dr. Who on PBS, I have coveted this scarf. It is the ENTIRE reason that I learned how to knit. I've been knitting around 10 years now, but do I have my cherished scarf to show for it? No, dear reader, I do not. It is time to remedy this situation. I will be using the Original Pattern from Chris Brimelow's The Witty Little Knitter also has a great database for knitters wishing to make The Scarf.


I have some Brown Sheep Company chunky wool/nylon blend in a sunny yellow and black. It was earmarked for a new earflap hat for Will, but the hat is too tight and William has taken to wearing a prefab OSU hat that looks quite natty. So I have decided to make myself some slippers out of the frogged yarn. After searching and searching for a pattern that resembled moccasins I found these Non-Felted Slippers done by Yuko Nakamura. I love Japanese knits. They tend to be so clean and streamlined. Again, I'm excited about these!


And finally, a Great stash-busting project!

This is for all those bits and bobs of worsted weight wool that you have lying around OR the striped and solid color sweaters that you bought to frog but found that the yarn was too worn or itchy or lacy. It's The Ron Weasley Blanket and you don't have to be a Harry Potter fan to understand it's glory. Composed of mismatched randomly striped and solid 7in squares attached 8 across and 10 down, it should fit any bed you wish to place it on. And think of how warm it would be if you backed it with flannel or velvet and did a tied quilt. I would truly be an heirloom piece.
Here's Ron with his blanket at Hogwarts


So there you go. Happy knitting. I hope I've given you all some inspiration and the push to pick up the sticks!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Love You All, Thank You So Much

I would like to offer a very heartfelt


to all of my readers.

Your outpouring of condolences after Ellie's death made the adjustment to life without her easier.

How could I have thought for even a second that I would quit blogging?

It is moments like these that help me remember how wonderful this community is.

I truly love all of you.

We got her back today. This poem, which has meant so much to me in the past, was given to me by the kind people at Rutherford Funeral home in Columbus, OH.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodbye, Ellie Belly

This is going to be a difficult post.  Remember the puppy that I complained about having in our house because it was supposed to be my daughter's but I was the one taking care of it?  Well, she became my dog and despite being a bad dog I have never loved a dog so much in my life.  She just turned 18 months old.

She chewed up Everything she could get to.  She destroyed one of our chairs, countless shoes, many of William's toys, and anything else that seemed chewable to her.  She escaped from the house on many occasions and got into multiple neighbor's trash.  She domineered over our beagle, who completely gave up ever having a dog toy of her own.

But she would curl up in my lap and tilt her head just so.  She was a dachshund/cocker spaniel mix so was little, but I think she would have killed anyone who tried to do anything to any member of our family.  A few days ago when I was trying to get our beagle, Carly, to come to me, she looked at me, ran to Carly, chomped onto her ear and tried to drag her to me.  She was too smart for her own good.  She could jump up until her eyes were level with mine and was the fastest dog I have ever seen. She was soft and loved to have her belly scratched.  She loved to lick my nose.  I loved her.

On Sunday before church she made one of her escapes and ran right into the path of a van.  I saw the whole thing.  And there was nothing I could do.  She tried to pick up her head once and then she was dead.  The couple was so apologetic, but it wasn't their fault.  She just ran right in front of them.  I hugged the woman, who was horrified, and sent them on their way.  And then I wrapped up my Ellie in a towel and sat on the porch holding her and sobbing for about an hour.  A local funeral home took her to be cremated and the men who met me there held me while I pet and said goodbye to her.  My son sat on my lap and held me for hours while we both cried. He loved her, too.

I miss my bad dog.  I haven't been in this big of a funk about losing a pet in years and years.  Carly is confused and alternates between sniffing around for Ellie and looking at me like I can explain where Ellie went.  She wont leave my side.  She still won't go near the pet toys.  They were never hers.

I loved you so much, little Ellie.  Wait for me across the bridge.  I can't wait to scratch your belly again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Disenchanted with my Blog

So I am having a difficult time writing new posts. I am disenchanted. I started blogging with such zeal. Now, after four years, I feel stagnant and a bit tired of it all. About a year ago, I spent up to 12 hours a day working on the blog, commenting, doing blog hops, working with sponsors, etc. Back then, I got up to 30 comments with each post. I was on top of the blogging world. Except I was bitterly unhappy in MY world, my children made comments about mom never being off of the computer, my husband knew that in between cooking and cleaning I wouldn't be available to anything but the blog.


Then I got my head together and my priorities in order. I started spending lots of time with other people. I wasn't rolling in angst. Sure, there are worse days than other, but by and large I am able to manage my psyche pretty well. I quit responding to 50 blogs a day. I no longer participate in blog hops. Instead of writing posts about how difficult life can be, I write recipes and observations. And I've lost readers, comments are down, I have no sponsors.

At some point I had to face the fact that blogging simply is not going to pay the bills. God bless those who have been able to turn it into a career, but just like any form of media blogging is competitive and the people with the money like other bloggers more than me. So then if blogging isn't going to be my job it is a hobby and it should be fun, enjoyable, something I look forward to doing.

But lately it isn't. I realize I haven't posted for days and I don't have a problem with it mostly because it feels so "blah." I would like to get my blogging mojo back; I think I maintain a good space. So help me, my blogging friends. What do you do when you want to call it quits? How do you get the spark back? How do you banish the disenchantment and start with new vigor?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Save some Cash on Glasses - Buy them Online

This IS NOT a sponsored post. You see, I have the Medical Card, and while I am grateful for the medical care and eye care that it provides, one on the Medical Card rarely has much choice when it comes to glasses at the Optometrist. And while my Optometrist offers a discount on non-Medicaid approved frames for those that want to look a bit more stylish, glasses are still above $100 dollars and thus out of our price range.


Imagine my happiness when I learned that one can obtain glasses at steeply discounted prices online. All you need is your lens prescription and you are off to the races. I decided to go with EyeBuyDirect, but there are any number of places that you can buy from such as Frames Direct which has a huge selection of designer frames, 39 Dollar Glasses where glasses start at, you guessed it, $39, and Glasses Market.

There were a TON of styles to choose from but the sites make the work easier by letting you narrow down choices by shape, size, color, plastic, metal, etc, fully rimmed, rimless, etc, and price. They all have a tool where you can upload a picture (or use one of their models, which doesn't seem all that helpful to me) and "try on" different glasses. Here's my photo of the glasses I chose:

They are called "Cad" and with shipping and a new customer discount cost me just above $30.00. Thirty Dollars! You will have to add more for features like anti-glare, UV protection, transition lenses, ultra-thin, bifocals, etc., but the prices are still less that I have ever paid out of pocket for a pair of glasses (for the record, I had corrective eye surgery in 1998, when I was considered legally blind. I know how much ultra thin lenses with funky prisms, etc, cost. After I had William, my vision got blurry again, thus the new need for glasses).

I'm supposed to get the glasses in about 14 days. I'll let you know more about them when I actually get them. Thus far, however, the process has been easy and fun, and at prices like these, why not buy several different pairs and have an eye glasses wardrobe? More to come!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Quotes, Some Hymns

I've always loved those stylized quotes that you find all over pinterest and decided to try my hand at a few of my own. This first one sits in front of my computer on a small plaque that was given to me by my mom during one of the darkest stages of my depression.


The Little Prince is a book that amazes me every time I read it. As a child it was a cool adventure with a sad ending. As an adult it plumbs the depths of our souls and speaks truths that are difficult to put into words.


This is from my favorite prayer. If you are a long-time reader, you may have noticed that I admire Mother Teresa greatly.


This song just slays me. Right to the heart.


I grew up Methodist. The doxology is part of me. It may be my favorite hymn (besides "In The Garden," which I like to sing with a country twang, and "The Old Rugged Cross," which I used to sing to William when I was nursing him).


That's all I have for tonight. If you've never designed one of these, you crafty bloggers you, I encourage you to do so. It's lots of fun. What would your picture-quote say?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Strawberry Bavarian Cream Cake

The leftover-day-after-Thanksgiving dinner is over; I made turkey sloppy joes and they were great. But that's not what you are here for, so here we go!


Like I said in the last post, I saw a Strawberry Bavarian Cream Cake on $40 a Day with Rachael Ray and got the inspiration for this cake. It's sloppy but easy to make, and there are several ways that you can construct it.

You will need:

Butter cake mix
Butter cream frosting (optional, read recipe to help you decide)
2 packages of strawberries
1 can Thank You brand vanilla pudding
1 small container of Kool Whip
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Bake cake as per package directions in round cake tins (this is a layer cake). Let cool completely.
2. While cake is cooling, combine entire can of pudding, an equal portion of Kool Whip, and the 2 cups of powdered sugar. This is your Bavarian Cream.
3. Also while cake is cooling slice one container of strawberries and cut off the leaves from the other package.
4. After cake has cooled, take one of your layers and remove a shallow bowl shaped section from the top of the cake. Pour about half of the cream mixture into this section. Then top with sliced strawberries
5. Place second layer on top of first.

Here's where your options come in. At this point you can either
A. Frost cake with butter cream frosting (messy but do-able; just make sure you fill in the entire space between the two layers with frosting) and top cake with remaining strawberries. Refrigerate if not serving immediately. This will help harden the cream a bit.
B. Pour the remaining cream mixture over the cake and top with strawberries (you will have to chill this cake until the cream is harder if you aren't going to serve the cake immediately).

It is super good and drew rave reviews. My son ate close to 3/4 of the cake over the course of yesterday and today and everyone else ate the rest and was satisfied with their servings. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Aftermath


istock photos

Thanksgiving dinner is over, my parents and aunt have gone home, all is well. We actually ended up eating with very little turkey as my turkey breast was quite on the pink side even though the meat thermometer said it was done. With all of the side dishes the lack of turkey wasn't missed.

Which means that I have a huge amount of leftover turkey. This isn't a problem that I'm used to dealing with and I'll be trolling the recipe sites for leftover turkey suggestions that go beyone sandwiches, tetrazini, and hash. Anyone out there have any great recipes?

The dessert was met with much enthusiasm. Yesterday was my mom's birthday and I decided that I would make her a strawberry bavarian cream cake. I saw one on $40 a Day with Rachael Ray and thought "I could make that" and the rest is culinary history. My son ate about half of it and everyone else raved. I'll share the recipe with you soon!


istock photo

I also served blueberry cobbler, which my dad took home, kentucky derby pie (super recipes for this are available all over the web; I left out the bourbon), and pumpkin pie (which didn't get eaten at all). It was nice to sit at the table with my parents and aunt chatting for hours, watching everyone enjoy my cooking. I really do enjoy hosting Thanksgiving, even though it is a lot of cooking.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays and to all of you braving Black Friday, Good Luck and Godspeed!


Sunday, November 20, 2011


Love has a hem to her garment
That reaches the very dust.
It sweeps the stains
From the streets and lanes,
And because it can, it must.

-Mother Teresa

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cassoulet a Faux-Faux

Alright.  So this isn't really a cassoulet.  You don't bake it, it's a one-skillet dish.  And there's no duck confit; instead smoked sausage and prosciutto add depth of flavor.  BUT it utilizes classic elements of French cooking such as a mirepoix (a blend of carrot, celery, and onion), thyme, bay leaves, there are beans, and so it's a sort of faux cassoulet.  A cassoulet a faux-faux!

You will need:

One length of smoked sausage, sliced in bite sized pieces
8 oz of finely diced prosciutto
1-8 oz can of tomato sauce (NOT Italian, plain tomatoes)
1-8 oz can of cannellini or Great White Northern beans
1-8 oz can of navy beans
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 TBSP dried parsley
Salt to taste

Make it:

1. Saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and prouscioutto in a dollop of olive oil until onion start to clear.

2. Add smoked sausage and continue to fry until the sausage starts to render its juices into the pan, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add everything else (except salt) to the pan, stir, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. Remove the bay leaves and salt to taste.

I like to serve this with naan or a similar flat bread to sop up all of the delicious tomato sauce from the bowl.  Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Yarn shopping plans and a kitchen update

So the dishwasher and garbage disposal or in BUT the dishwasher was plugged into the same line as the garbage disposal and, therefore, the dishwasher cannot be run unless the disposal is on, too.  It will be fixed very soon, I am assured.  So today I had to do a HUGE load of dishes by hand.  I also have been engulfed in moving around everything in the kitchen since I lost a large cabinet and drawer and have to find a place to put all of the displaced bowls and mixing spoons.  The kitchen is still a bit typhoonish, so no picture yet.

I also was given the green light to go YARN SHOPPING(!) Hubs is letting me go buy expensive yarn store yarn for a few Christmas presents.  I am so excited!  I have a randomly striped scarf, ssimple pattern, in grey tones and a Jacques Cousteau hat in mind (but not in red, probably also in a coal or slate grey), but I can't say for whom.  I think I'm going to use Brown Sheep Company yarn, but of course I will have to check out all of my options!  I'm also involved in another project that I can't say a thing about but you can get details on Ravelry (I'm droppedstitches72, feel free to friend me!).  Will post some photos of YARN after I go shopping!

What are you knitting right now?  I'd love to know!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marysville Horror Story

About 4 months ago a church friend of ours found a brand new FREE dishwasher and asked my husband if we were interested in it.  My 1961 kitchen wasn't built with a dishwasher in it so for the last 10 years we've been doing the dishes old school- by hand.  Things also tend to break in old homes and ours is no exception.  We haven't had a garbage disposal for about 7 months and have had to close off that side of the sink because there was a large leak below the dead disposal.  We've had a new disposal for several months but it hasn't been installed for one reason or another.

Today is installation day.  The sink and area where the dishwasher will go has been gutted.  The entire kitchen looks like a tornado went through it.  And it's dusty and dirty.  Just look at those pictures- I know, they are scary!

BUT, I will feel like I am living in the lap of luxury when the job is done.  No more hand washing the dishes!  A working garbage disposal!  Two sides of the sink to work with!  I'll make sure to share photos of the finished product.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 wishes


what have you wished for?

An end to hunger?

a happy child?

a PS3?

a college degree?

someone to love?

a Dodge Viper?

Happy Holidays?

a writing gig?

Whatever you have wished for,

may all your wishes come true

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photographs of Beautiful Camp Wilson

At the beginning of October I attended a women's church retreat at Bellefountaine, Ohio's Camp Wilson. I had heard a lot about the camp from my son who attended summer camp for a week there; he thought it was fantastic. I was excited to have a bit of time away from the homestead and a bit of time for contemplation and it turned out that this little patch of Ohio was the perfect spot for a mommy time out.

We had our teaching, social times, and camp activities (I learned that with a bit of practice I might be a pretty fair archer), but what I loved the most was the time that I found to walk and wander the property, which was gorgeous. The lake was one of the most peaceful places I have been in a long time. Usually when I attend a retreat I am itching to get home. This time, though, I could have used a bit more time to enjoy this slice of heaven here on earth.








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