Monday, August 25, 2008

Cookie Count

A while back I was nabbed to host the Opening Night Reception at our community theatre. Apparently it's not enough that I write press releases and help with box office and work on the occasional set. They tell me a well-rounded volunteer also hosts opening night receptions. If they start asking me to scrub toilets, I'm out.

Actually, I have scrubbed toilets there. But don't worry, not on the same night I hosted the reception. Ahem.
Anyhoo, for that particular reception, I decided to do a meat-and-cheese tray,a fruit tray, and cookies, candies, and Mung Chowder Gumbo. Yep, a weird combination to be sure, but the show - Love, Sex and the IRS - mentioned Mung Chowder Gumbo and a particular diva actor suggested I make it. Nevermind that there is no such thing as Mung Chowder Gumbo. Sure, I'll just whip up a kettle or two, just because the star of the play asked me to. I'm that easy. Riiiiight.
It turns out I AM that easy. But you know what? It was GOOD. Those brave enough to try it came back for seconds, thirds and even fourths. Yay me.

But the funny part of this story is the cookies.

Nevermind that in that first photo you might've spied pre-made dough. Listen - I was on a tight budget, ok? And I had to create a recipe for Mung Chowder Gumbo. Cut a grrl some slack, yo.

Now, I had a very precise count in mind when I made these cookies. Because I'm uptight like that. So as I baked, I kept track on a yellow sticky note of how many I'd made. Things were going along swimmingly, my kitchen in its usual state of...

total chaos... When I noticed something...

I seemed to be missing a cookie.
I'm sure there was one there in that slot.
There is definitely a missing cookie. I don't like missing cookies. I don't like my cookie rows to be uneven. I don't like my precise cookie calculations to be off. And because of my repeated ranting warnings, the kids knew these were for a JOB and NOT. TO. BE. EATEN.

But then I looked more closely at my sticky note:

At least the sneaky cookie stealer was gracious enough to modify my count.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Project Done! One Still Unfinished

Perhaps you remember when I pimped out my brother on my blog? Well, that post wasn't just a desperate attempt to get a new sister-in-law and more nieces and nephews, although that might be nice seeing as my kids are getting older and are going to leave me and I'll be all alone and nobody will need me and I won't know what to do with myself. No, it wasn't. It was also about the family quilt project that I forced invited everyone to do with me when we were up north at the lake house last winter. And don't bother clicking on that-there second link if you clicked on the first. They take you to the same post.

This is not my (still single) brother. This is Jonathan. And no, I'm not going to pimp out Jonathan on my blog. He's only 12, for pete's sake.

Jonathan is helping his cousins finish the family quilt project. The quilt we started in December. Yes, that would be of 2007. I'm not much of a crafter. Does it show?

My nieces finally started calling me on my proscrastination. They're not ones to let me slide from my familial obligations, no they're not. Once, they were relentless in making me
go shoe shopping. The quilt project was no different.

Speaking of procrastination, my younger, employed, handsome brother who drives a Maxima and volunteers as a Big Brother, is still single.But this post is about the quilt, not my brother's dating prospects.

So finally, the other day, we got busy on the quilt. We tied quilt corners with pretty ribbons

after arranging and rearranging the squares to get the color scheme just right.

I just loved watching their little hands tie the knots.
Speaking of tying the knot...

Oh, nevermind.
Sometimes it helped to get our faces right down into the quilt, for perspective.

But sometimes we needed a foot for help, too.

Ain't it purty?

But see the blank square in the bottom left corner? BRADY! You come here right now, young man. You can run, but you cannot hide. You will do a quilt square. You hear me? I'm hopeful Brady will still do his square.

Oh, and little brother? I'm just trying to help. Really.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

P-Dub Ain't Got Nuthin' on my Sister

I've been a reader of The Pioneer Woman for several months now. Lawd knows she doesn't need any endorsements to boost her popularity but I find her writing both witty and entertaining, even if I can't figure out for the life of me how she writes so many dadgum blog posts and ever manages to step away from the screen. I've got a theory - I think they've got a secret lab on their ranch where they've mastered the art of cloning. But that's just my guess. I enjoy seeing her pictures of ranch life and wide, open spaces. I enjoy hearing about the ways of farmers, homeschooling kids, and potluck meals. I might even sometimes feel a little envious of what seems to be quite the idyllic life.

But then my phone rings, and it's my sister calling, the one who took over the family farm in Dad's stead, looking for Rob to help mow a hayfield or me to watch her kids. And then I grab my camera, and I gaze at my beautiful, wide-open view to the east, and as I ready to venture over to the family farm, I think to myself: P-Dub ain't got nuthin' on my sister.

Everything is new to us on the farm right now - it's a learning year. Everything we do, we do for the first time, and if neighbor farmers and farm extension offices and seed companies get a little frustrated with our incessant questioning and lack of basic knowledge, well, that's just too bad. For every bit of knowledge we don't have yet, we pony up 10 times as much in effort and commitment to learning.

And like P-Dub, I mean "we" in a very loose sense. When I say "we" I really mean "they", but who's counting, right? I mean, I understand that someone's gotta wield the camera and get all this craziness on film.

So, let's take a look at my sister, farmer extraordinaire. Here she is, last winter, preparing to release some cattle from a trailer. They moved them to mom's barn from the main farm so they could trap them, one by one, in that green contraption you see there on the right. That contraption holds a cow in place so the vet can, um, check for something. Pregnancy, I think. And if you've ever read PW's blog, well, you'll know precisely what that entails. As it is, I just ate and I'd rather not go into such things at the moment.

The vet wasn't coming that day. Jackie wanted to do a trial run - practice trapping (trapping? Or is it cinching? Wedging? Holding?) a cow in the chute so they'd know how to do it and be ready when the vet came out. There's a fine art to using that contraption, and if you don't do it right there are some fairly dire consequences - such as suffocation.
And Jackie doesn't have a bunch of chaps-wearin' cowboys to assist her, either. Though she does, sometimes, have this:

That would be a Lands End jacket-wearing, UW-Wisconsin headband-sporting, rubber boot-shod brother-in-law. For sexyness sake, let's just call him "Insurance Man." Hm, doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "Marlboro Man", does it. Let's see:
"Lawsie mercy I can't get enough of watching you fill out those med supp forms."
Nope. It doesn't.

We might not have the right attire, but it works nonetheless. Though I wouldn't mind lusting after some Levi-clad behinds in chaps, no I wouldn't.
(Not that your sweatpants aren't sexy, honey. I'm just sayin'.)
So let's see, what else does my sister have in common with PW?

Wide open spaces...
Adorable bovine friends...

And a very neurotic pesky attentive border collie, to name a few.

And far as I can tell, there's something we have that P-Dub don't:
A big, beautiful red barn built by our ancestors. My father grew up working on this farm, and that would explain the rock-solid forearms he maintained even through decades of insurance work. (It seems insurance work, just like farming, runs in the family.) But seeing as it was my Dad, I won't be lusting over any forearms on this site.
While we do have some men contributing to the success of this family farm operation (Hi Marcel! Hi Honey!), it's my little sister who *really* wears the chaps around here. She can be found hauling wagons of corn...
Mowing fields of hay...
And tagging cattle. In fact, word is, they've been lasso-ing calves, pinning them to the ground, and applying pink eye medicine every day for two weeks now. Now *that* is something that needs to be captured on film. I'm on it.
I know, I wouldn't like that either. "Moo" right back atcha, my brown friend.
And while we don't have any calf-nut shenanigans to share on this site, there is something we can show that makes me giggle every time I see it:

Har har har.

And what do I have in common with P-Dub? Besides homeschooling, a killer corn casserole recipe, and a passion obsession love of blogging? That might be my preference for being behind the camera rather than behind the wheel of a tractor.

I might not be the most helpful person on the farm - in fact, I might even be the least helpful - but somebody's gotta archive these adventures. And I'm just the grrrl to do it.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

BAM! We have Salsa

Don't you just love this time of summer.... When your garden bounty covers every available inch of your counter, farmers' market stands are full of the most amazing-tasting vegetables ever, and every meal is better than the last?

Jonathan made the first batch of garden salsa. I asked him to narrate how he did it, and here's his story.

I picked 8 tomatoes, 1 bell pepper, and 1 jalapeno from the garden.

Then I washed them.
And then, I "bammed" the tomatoes. (That's how Jonathan describes his chopping technique. As in, "Bam!" when he hacks through another one.)
Next I "bam" some green pepper...

And "kerplunk" them into the blender.Onion is next. "Jigga-Bam!"And "kerplunk," into the blender goes the onion.Here goes the "hot-lapeno"...
And "kerplunk" into the blender it goes with a shake of salt."Super-scoop" goes a tablespoon of sugar...Along with "splishity splashity" 3 TBS of red wine vinegar. We're set to blend!"Chop chop" goes the blender."Munch munch" go the teeth.

"Sell-sa is served!"

Bon appetit!

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