Monday, November 30, 2009

Friends



Angel and Carly have decided to be friends. Mostly this involves Carly trying her darndest to sneak up and attack Angel and Angel looking down at her like, "that's all you've got, runt?" while sending her rolling across the room with one paw. But tails wag the entire time, so I'll take it as a good thing.

Off to convince my hubby to lose play a few rounds of Mille Bornes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boo Hoo

I'm lamenting the end of the long weekend. I think. On the one hand, the kids go back to school tomorrow (I've got 6 more months until they're both homeschooled full-time, I'm soaking up the "me time" while I can!). On the other hand, that means I need to get back to doing that little thing called "cleaning". I hate cleaning. I have friends who love to clean and I wish they could share their secret. I never feel like I've accomplished anything because it just gets all messy again. And when you're not starting with a clean slate, how do you even get started? Because if you spend a day deep cleaning one room, then move through each room of the house, everything else is trashed by the time you get done. Laundry and dishes--the bane of my existence. Repetitive work that is never ever done.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"The Holidays" are here!

It's that time of year!! My brother and sister-in-law graciously hosted Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. It's fun to be at my own house, but it sure was a nice change of pace to have a lazy morning with no cooking or planning!!!! We had fun...good food, good company!

This morning I truly participated in black Friday for the first time. A couple of years ago I hit some of the stores well after opening time, but I've never gotten up early and waited in line and all that. The big draw this year was a king-sized down comforter for $30 (regularly $160, and even with cheaper brands, I don't think I've seen less than $60). So, I actually got up at 3am and waited outside in the dark for a 4am opening and got my comforter. We felt like we needed to buy the girls one before we move to Montana anyway, so I had to have the sale. Then I headed on over to Target for the 5am opening to pick up some other gifts. I felt a little out of place since I wasn't going for a TV, GPS, ipod or computer, but I got things we needed to get for good prices. The only flaw in my planning--I was done at 5:30 and realized I couldn't come home because I'd wake everyone up! So I went ahead and walked the mall, but didn't really get anything there.

Wanting to get the tree up this weekend and what few decorations we have. Maybe I'll have the girls make handprint wreaths to put up since we never got around to handprint turkeys.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Holiday Taste of Sam's Club

Remember when I won the plasma car? Well, the same great lady is a sharing the savings blogger and has been doings LOTS of great Sam's Club gift card giveaways. Most recently, she put up this post to let us all know about the Holiday Taste of Sam's Club going on this weekend. She is giving away more Sam's Club gift cards and if any bloggers attend the event and blog about it, they get 10 extra entries. Free food and a chance to win gift cards? Of course, I was there!

So here's the deal: Head on over to Sam's 11am-6pm Friday through Sunday and taste all the great food in the Holiday Taste Of Sam's Guide. If you aren't a Sam's club member, there is a guest membership in the guide. I had grand intentions of taking a lot of pictures, but outside it was raining and inside there was a bit of "traffic" near each sampling station, so I abandoned that plan and only have this picture of Sierra in the car (if you look close, you can see the Sam's sign. You can also see the line around her lips where she's been scraping her teeth and completely chapped the skin--any idea on how to make her stop that??) YES, she was buckled in her carseat, in the back, for the entire drive. The car was parked and off when I took this picture!


Inside, we were treated to all sorts of goodies....one station had plates of ham, mashed potatoes with gravy and green bean casserole. Another had absolutely WONDERFUL spiced apple pork loin. Further down we got to Sierra's favorite station--cinnamon rolls with orange frosting. I was skeptical, but they were very very yummy. We also picked up a plate with a sampling of cheeses---I'm not sure what all there was because Sedona scarfed down the whole plate, but I did get to taste a little brie. Another station had a different kind of cracker and cracker barrel cheese. I'm sad to report the cheesecake station was set up, but no one (and more importantly no cheesecake) was there :-( Last, we swung by and picked up a sample of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider. It's one of Josh's favorites and he'll be happy to know his girls love it too! I might just have to go back Sunday--I can pick up a Sunday paper (only $0.95 at my Sam's!) and that's when they're holding the Chocolate Dipping Event.

When you're out shopping this weekend, swing by and check it out!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Street smarts and book learnin'

When I was 15, I (along with all my friends) took driver's ed. It wasn't offered at our school, you had to go through a private company. In my course (in the suburbs of Houston), there was a lecture series and a driving series you had to complete. For the driving series, there were 7 one-hour practice drives. They were standardized, you went certain places and did certain things on each lesson. When lesson 7 came around, it was pretty much up to the student what they wanted to do. Parallel parking was NOT a requirement (and is not tested in your driving test in Texas, at least for me it wasn't) and it seemed scary and not too useful at the time, so I opted to skip it and take an extra hour of practice on the construction clogged Houston freeways. Reasonable choice at the time.

Fast forward 6 years...I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and rented a basement apartment very near downtown. There was a small parking lot, but with 5 apartments (it was a house converted into apartments), it wasn't uncommon to have to park on the street. Not to mention going to visit anyone involved parking on the street, and quite a bit of shopping required parking on the street. So I learned to parallel park the hard way, the way that ingrains it into you....by doing it, in traffic, with people waiting. I'd like to think I got pretty good at it.

Today the library parking lot was full. I parallel parked the minivan (which I've never done before). On the first try. My spacing from the curb and the other cars was as perfect as it gets. I will always credit Utah for my parallel parking skills (and an awesome street numbering/address system). Real world learning rocks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carly

Having a new puppy is like a mini-dose of having a new baby. A doctor once told my mom that if she wanted to have a baby, she should try a puppy first. Good advice, I say! I only have two caveats: start with a young pup and do it right. That means you take the time to use positive reinforcement, you "puppy proof" the house, and you make the effort to get up in the night for potty breaks. Well, okay, Josh is making the effort to get up in the night for potty breaks, but I did nurse through the night for over 2 years total, so I've put in a fair amount of time already.

After two human babies, canine baby isn't such a difficult job. I've found out a set of cloth diapers will last through two babies and one puppy (she's doing great on house breaking, but there are still plenty of puddles to soak up throughout the day). It gets a bit crazy when both girls are home and Josh is gone. That's a little worse than just having a human baby. A 7 week old human baby doesn't run laps through the house grabbing kids by their pant legs and occasionally catching skin with a needle-like tooth. So the canine baby requires either constant supervision or kenneling at this point, which is doable, just a bit busy.

Carly wants so badly to play with Angel (my 11 year old labrador), but Angel wants nothing to do with her. She's not mean, just indifferent. Carly pounces on Angel's tail and tries to gnaw on it, Angel just flicks it away. Carly jumps up and paws at Angel's shoulder, Angel just looks down like, "why is this runt jumping on me?" For now, they're mostly leading separate lives. I think Angel is a bit jealous of the attention Carly gets from the kids, but then she is definitely gloating about the fact that she is always free to roam the house while Carly is kenneled whenever we're gone or sleeping.





Saturday, November 14, 2009

Applesauce

Apples got down to $0.77/pound, so we bought 24 pounds and made applesauce.

First step, if you're going to be processing apples on a regular basis, a peeler/corer/slicer is a worthy investment. We found ours at the grocery store for about $12 one year.

Prepare your jars. For every 12 pounds of apples you will get about 4 quarts or 8 pints of applesauce.

Next, wash, peel and core the apples. Since our handy gadget slices them also, we quarter the apple and are left with smallish chunks.




Treat the apples to prevent discoloring. I mix 1/2 cup of lemon juice with 8 cups of water to do this. Josh and Sierra do the peeling/coring and I quarter the apples and cut out any little pieces of core that might have been left behind and dump the pieces in the lemon juice/water.

Drain the apples and put in a large pot with enough water to prevent sticking. I find using my hands to scoop the apples out of the lemon water and just giving them a quick shake leaves enough water to not have to worry about adding any.


Cook apples over medium to medium-high heat until soft, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Working in batches, scoop the apples into a food processor and process to desired smoothness.



Add 4 tablespoons lemon juice (per 12 pounds of apples) and reheat the applesauce to boiling (be careful, it'll sputter and splatter). If you want, you can add some sugar and/or spices at this stage. We used gala apples, so we didn't add sugar. We did make some of it spiced though--just mix up to 4tsp of ground spices per 12 pounds of apples (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice). Your spices are less likely to clump if you mix them in with a little bit of sugar before adding to the applesauce(1/4 cup should do it).


Ladle the hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space, put on your lids and bands (see link above about preparing jars).

Process by boiling water bath for 20 minutes (for pints and quarts)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Puppied

We took the plunge, we got the puppy. We picked her up last night and Sierra is very very excited. Her name is Carly, she had her first trip to the vet this morning and she's just under 7 pounds. I still can't believe my human babies were this size at one point in time!

Given the lifespan of a dog, this is pretty much a one time shot at a childhood dog for the girls and we want to do it right, so we had a big talk with Sierra about what's involved with taking care of a dog. She will be spending some of the money she's saved up to contribute towards the cost of the vet, food, collar, leash, toys and puppy classes. She will be attending puppy training classes too(as much for her as the puppy). There wasn't much time last night to do much, but starting today, she will be putting food out and taking her outside and poop scooping. I know she's just a kid and at the end of the day, I'm the one who has to make sure the puppy's taken care of, but I've learned kids are largely capable of meeting your expectations, so I'm setting them slightly high. Obviously, we'll do the middle of the night potty breaks and things like that and she will handle (with guidance and supervision) all the daytime stuff she's physically capable of.

So, without further ado....Carly!




Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Puppy or Not to Puppy?

It's the great puppy debate of 2009 over here!! Some neighbors down the street accidentally ended up with a big litter of puppies (that problem has since been "fixed" heh...). Sierra saw them last weekend and wants a puppy. Josh and I are on the fence.

The facts:
  • We already have one dog. She's a lab/red heeler mix and just turned 11 years old. She's not super friendly to other grown dogs, but has good maternal instincts and I think she would take on a puppy as her own (we would introduce her and see how it went before making a final decision)
  • Sierra isn't very interested in the dog we have, though she was mine before I even met Josh, so in all fairness to Sierra, it's not really HER dog. Angel doesn't obey commands from Sierra and while she guards the girl's room at night, she stays away from them during the day.
  • The puppies are 1/2 britney spaniel, 1/4 border collie and 1/4 aussie and were born Sept. 25, so they're just about 7 weeks old.
  • We have priced out all of the puppy shots, spaying and "puppy education" classes and can handle the expense, though if it's going to be the girl's dog, they will have to contribute to the costs from their savings.
  • We will be moving next year, which is hard enough with ONE dog.
  • Maybe having her own dog to take along will ease the transition for Sierra (she's not thrilled to move, to put it mildly).
  • My biggest hesitation is not the daily house breaking, poop cleaning, letting the dog out in the night stuff, it's the difficulty of traveling when you have dogs---expensive (and depending on the time, mean) to leave them, very hard to take them with you.
  • The one we would take is a little girl with a freckly nose and calm disposition. The other pups would nip at my fingers and all that. This one played just fine with her litter-mates, but when I picked her up and held her, she sat there (not shaking-scared, just sat there) and snuggled down and let Sierra pet her. Even when I tried to get her to, she wouldn't bite me. Like every puppy, she's very very cute ;-)
But the question remains....to puppy or not to puppy?? One Acre Homestead---maybe you can weigh in!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Montana, eh?

Yeah, 'cause Montana's close enough to Canada that I can throw around "eh", right? FYI, right now it's 68 here and 39 in Montana. Forecast to get down to 29 tonight up there and they'll be having snow later this week. We enjoyed a snowy Christmas when we were in Utah and that was cool and all, but a snowy Thanksgiving is pushing it. There's a silver lining to everything, right? And there are two very specific silver linings to this whole weather scenario: First, the girls can build real snowmen Second, I get to buy them entire winter wardrobes. Too bad I also have to pay for those wardrobes, but I'm hoping to find some good sales next spring on clothes and a down comforter for them. Josh also pointed out that I could finally have a use for flannel lined jeans, which I have ALWAYS wanted....they just seem so comfy. In all fairness, I did get a pair one year, but they didn't quite fit and had to be returned, now that I've had kids and therefore have hips, maybe they'll fit (see? silver lining...pretty good, eh?)

So how's this for trust and faith in your spouse? Josh is going to head up to Montana at the end of March and get settled and started on the job. Then he'll come back mid-May sometime and the rest of us will go up. That's right, I've never even set foot in Montana and will be moving there based solely on his opinion of the town and whatever living arrangements he comes up with. That's love.

At the end of the day, it's all just a grand adventure--new place, new people, new things to see and learn. If we could just do something about all that cold weather...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Day in the Life...

Yes, just ONE day with Sierra...

Sierra (after finding out some neighbors have a litter of puppies): Can I get a puppy?!?!
Me: You don't take care of the dog we have now
Sierra: But she's not a puppy
Me: Puppies turn into dogs
Sierra: But she's like a kid dog and then a momma dog and....can I have a puppy??

Josh: Sierra, what vegetable do you want with dinner?
Sierra: ummm.......sausage!
Me: Sausage is not a vegetable
Sierra: Yes it is!!! It tastes like a vegetable to me!!

(After Josh and I explaining that she needs to quit waking Sedona up in the morning and let her sleep longer)
Sierra: But then she'll miss cartoons!
Me: She can watch cartoons when she does get up
Sierra: But she'll miss Curious George, she LOVES Curious George! (for the record, SIERRA loves Curious George, Sedona very very rarely watches anything on TV)

And a Sedona funny from a few days ago...

We were reading a "colors" book. For the orange page, there is a pumpkin:
Me: Orange
Sedona: No! Pumpkin!
Me: Orange pumpkin
Sedona: Momma, no! Pumpkin!
Me: Yes, it's a pumpkin, but it's an orange pump--
Sedona: STOP! (pointing emphatically at the page) pumpkin!

At least the girl's got the confidence to know when she's right!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hey, I have a blog!

Wow, been a few days. Let's see, everyone's healthy and we're moving.

Huh, what? Moving?

Yup, Josh was offered a post-doc position at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. Let me repeat that---this Texas girl (born and raised, y'all) is expected to move to Montana. It was 22 degrees in Hamilton this morning, we hit 79 here at home this afternoon. Largely because of the weather and partly because of the shortage of major airports and 28 hour drive time to get back home, I'm floatin' down a big ol' river in Egypt (you may know it as "de nile"). I've got several months to adjust to the idea and we're toying with the idea of the girls and I doing some extensive road trips since this means they will both be homeschooled starting next fall and we will be free to set our own schedule of events. A post-doc is, by definition, a temporary thing (kind of like a continuation of your schooling, with MUCH better pay), so the plan is to come back here when he's done. In the meantime, I gotta survive 2 or 3 Montana winters...brrrrrrrr

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