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Saturday, March 31, 2012

My favorite books

It's coming to the end of reading season around the farm (aka spring is here) so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite books.  Now, keep in mind that I read A LOT!  And therefore, these recommendations are the best of the best.  These are the ones I read every year.  These are the ones that I give as gifts.  These are the ones that if our house was on fire, I would grab on my way out the door.

The Cherokee Trail by Louis L'Amour is my favorite of the L'Amour westerns.  (A close second is any book that has Chick Bowdrie in it.)  This one tells the story of Mary Breydon who heads west with her young daughter to run a stage station after the Civil War destroys her family's plantation.  I love strong women characters and Mrs. Breydon is one of the best!  Even if you're not a western genre fan, this book crosses those borders.



 At Home In Mitford is the first book of the Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  My mom, sister and I will quote these books often with Mitford-isms.  Father Tim is the main character and an Episcopal priest in the mountain town of Mitford, North Carolina.  These books will make you laugh, cry and giggle out loud.  Jan Karon does an excellent job of character development and her dialog is absolutely awesome! All of the books in the series are wonderful, you'll be transported to Mitford!


If I'm forced to choose just one Janette Oke series (SERIES, mind you, not just book) it would be the Seasons of the Heart series.  The story of Joshua is so sweet and tender and heartwarming, you just can't but laugh and groan and cry at his life experiences.  It's wonderful tale to read aloud to your kids. I also love the Canadian Rocky series and the Love series.  My mom read these books aloud to us multiple times in the car as we drove to various places.  There were no DVD players in cars back then, just my mom and great books!


Debbie Macomber writes romance novels, but the sweet kind.  No smut here, thank you very much.  Her stories are captivating, her characters endearing, the love stories sweet.  I love her stories on a cold winters night snuggled in with Hubby.  And they almost always talk about knitting, even better!

I'm a book lover more than a movie lover.  So I had read The Notebook long before the movie was released.  And I do like the movie.  But I LOVE the book.  It's a tear jerker every time.  I read it on a busride with my science olympiad students back in my teaching days and scared them a bit with my tears.  The sequel The Wedding, is just about as good.  This one is dog eared and the cover is a bit worn, the best kind of book!

And lastly, my new favorite!  Ann Voskamp will change your life.  You will see your life in a new way, a better way, they way it was meant to be lived.  I couldn't read this book straight through.  I had to read it bit by bit and process what she was saying and how it related to me right now.  I can't wait to read it again and absorb more.  I love when I am changed by a book.  You need this one.

So, there you have it, a wonderful reading list to get you through the summer reading season.  (My current reading season has me reading seed packets.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breakfast (or lunch) Burritos

Kiddo1 is booked for her preschool screening next month.  And we, as parents, have to fill out an assessment of her skills.  One question threw me for a loop:  "Pours own cereal and milk".  

I had to answer no.  Not because Kiddo1 can't do it, but because we don't eat cold cereal.  I think she could do it, but in all honesty I've never seen her do it.

So what do we eat if we don't eat cold cereal?

As pastured egg producers, we eat a lot of eggs in all shapes and forms.  Here's a quick recipe that we love for breakfast or lunch - BURRITOS

I started sweating some veggies in 4 Tbsp of butter.  Yes, butter.  Only butter.
I grated one carrot, chopped up some red and orange bell pepper and mushrooms.
Cook until crisp tender.

While the veggies are cooking, whip up some eggs (there 16 in there) and some milk (1/2 cup of whole milk).

 When the veggies are crisp tender, pour in the eggs.  Err on the side of not quite done at this point.  The veggies will continue to cook with the eggs and we don't want them to be mushy when we're done.  

Don't stir/flip the eggs until you see steam pockets along the edge of your pan.

If you were worried we didn't have anything green in our eggs, these babies are waiting until the eggs are cooked.  Nothing tastes like spring more than fresh chives from the herb garden!

 I added a generous portion of seasoning salt to my eggs.  Not too much, because these wonderful eggs have a great flavor all their own.

Almost done, but still "wet".  I'll let them cook another minute or two.

There, now that's just perfect!  If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a scale-y egg.  ICK!  Hubby was making eggs the other morning and put 6 of them on his plate and none on mine.  When I questioned him he replied, "I got them scale-y.  I'll make you new ones."  Ahhhh, I love that man.
 Pull your eggs off the burner (and turn it off as well) so they don't continue to cook on the bottom.  The residual heat from the pan is plenty.

I had some tortillas languishing in my cupboard.  They were a little stiff.  I dampened a papertowel, laid it on the stack-o-tortillas and put them in the microwave for a minute.  Perfectly steamed tortillas!

Lay some of your egg mixture in the middle of your tortilla.

Sprinkle on the fresh chives.

Add some cheese.  This is Jack and Cheddar, but Pepper Jack would be wonderful!

Fold the bottom side up.

And the sides in.

And fold the whole thing over the top.

Spray your griddle with non-stick spray and lay them top-side-down.  My griddle is at 300-325 degrees.  I want the burritos to get crispy, they don't have to "cook".
 I made 7 fajita sized burritos for the kiddos.  When the first side is done, (see upper right corner) spray the pale side with non-stick spray and flip.

And 5 burrito sized ones for Hubby and I.  (And thereby used up all the tortillas in my cupboard.)
We ended up with leftovers, which is great because I just popped them in the freezer.  You can reheat them in the oven at 350 for a ready-made breakfast.

The verdict?  

These veggie packed burritos were a big hit with eaters young and old.
Kiddo3 loved her own kid-sized burrito.

And of course, burritos are great cowboy food.

And that's just one of the many things we eat that don't come from a box.  

Now, if the pre-school screening had questions like this:
"Cracks a dozen eggs for scrambled eggs and doesn't get any shells in the bowl." - YES
"Flips her own pancakes." - YES
"Gathers all the eggs" - YES

Kiddo1 would be at the top of the class!!



Monday, March 26, 2012

Mancakes

No, that isn't my new nickname for Hubby (good grief, Manfriend was bad enough).

Instead, it's the latest breakfast rage in our house.

It all started innocently enough with the nightly ritual of reading aloud to my kiddos.  


We are now on to Little House on the Prairie, but in "The Big Woods and the Little House" (as Kiddo1 refers to it) Ma makes man-shaped pancakes.  My kiddos recognized that right off as something THEIR mother should do.  

Obviously, these children do not know about my artistic disability...

But how can a mother say she won't even try when there are cherubic faces saying "Please, mama, please?"

First, start with your pancake batter.  I use my homemade mix found HERE.
It should be a little on the thin side for easy mancake making.
The only tool required is a teaspoon.

Now, I'm fully aware that there are fancy-smancy pancake batter squirters on the market.  However, until my lack of pancake artistry is an issue, I'll be using my trusty teaspoon.  (Which means that when the kiddos are 5, 4, and 3...I'm sure the jig will be up.)

1 teaspoonful forms the head.

Another the body.

One more for the arms and legs.  Yes, those are drips.  They make tiny pancakes that my kiddos also love to have.  Score one for sloppiness!!

Three mancakes for three kiddos.

Kiddo1 got a pancake flipper for her birthday last year and we don't make pancakes or mancakes without it.

Well, there they are!  Three mancakes for my three kiddos, just like Ma Ingalls.












Thursday, March 22, 2012

A tale of two bunnies

It was the best of rabbits, it was the worst of rabbits...

Two years ago, I took Kiddo2 to Tennessee to visit my family there.  Mainly because he could fly for free and I'm all about the free.  While we were there, my mom and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby where I found a very soft, light pink chenille bunny for Kiddo1.  


"Trixie" as she came to be known, is Kiddo1's constant companion.  And by constant, I do mean CONSTANT.  We don't do anything without Trixie.

Trixie is learning to play the piano.


She sleeps with Kiddo1 every night.  (The insides of Trixie's ears are very soft and Kiddo1 likes to rub them on her cheek as she falls asleep.)


But over time, Trixie has started to fade.  It could have something to do with the fact that she's spent so much time outside falling into things like a pan of oil.  That was not her finest hour.  But it was a fine hour for mama's stain fighting skills and a bit of chemistry.


Kiddo2 has his own bunny, BunBun.  
(Does anyone find it highly ironic that a woman who gardens for a living has children whose constant companions are rabbits??  Just checking...)


Trixie dresses up in pajamas and swimsuits.


She is a well-loved rabbit.


And well-fed!  She always wants to taste what we're cooking in the kitchen.


We have been told often that "Trixie is growing up." in regard to various life skills that Kiddo1 thinks are important.  Trixie doesn't need a nap.  Trixie can wear clothes.  And more recently, Trixie has to use the toilet.


Since the arrival of Trixie and her immediate status as CONSTANT companion, I've been on the look-out for another Trixie.  For two years I have searched high and low (and by high and low, I mean Hobby Lobby and eBay).  No Trixies to be found.  

Until last week...

The whole family went into Hobby Lobby because mama needed a yarn fix.  As we were cruising the Easter aisle, Kiddo1 screams out "TRIXIE!!!!"  Sure enough, there was not just one, or two, but THREE Trixie's, all different colors.  After a quick consultation with Hubby, huddled behind the display, as to whether we should purchase another Trixie, we agreed that Kiddo1 could choose another rabbit.

She chose the purple version.  (And her mama rejoiced in the darker color.)  Kiddo1 was very proud that Trixie now had a sister just like she did and decided to name her "Sister".  




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The first crop of the year

A year ago on the vernal equinox (first day of spring for all you non-science nerds), this was the scene in my yard.
That is my yard swing and yes, that's about 5 feet of snow.


2012 is a little different...

This year, on the first day of spring, we harvested our first crop!  

Egyptian or walking onions are already up and at 'em.  We eat the greens as green onions all summer long.  This time we ate them on frybread tacos (it was bread day).  Oh my!  What a burst of fresh and spring time!!

These delicious chives will go on scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, oatmeal.  
 Just kidding about the oatmeal...maybe...I love the first taste of spring so much, I'm tempted to put them in everything!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What do they do all day?

I may have mentioned that our kids don't go to daycare.  I only work part-time and Hubby is full-time on the farm so the kids stay home with us with the occasional visit to Grandma's just 8.5 miles away.  Strangely enough, I am often asked what our kids do all day.

Ummmm, well, they play and learn and play and eat and play and read and play and nap...oh, and they play.

Here's just a few snapshots of life during the winter, here on the farm:

Kiddo1 loves to watercolor paint!  She does a pretty good job and likes to send things to her grandmas.
 Watercolor is just a bit much for Kiddo2, the whole water-paint-paper concept is a couple steps too many.  He prefers the bingo dobber and does a mighty fine job of it.
 One of the best things I have ever scored on eBay is this wooden track train set.  Hours and hours of endless fun setting up this track...and the kids like it as well!  Hubby enjoys the setting up, must be his mechanical mind!
 We read a lot of books.  Kiddo2 is reading his favorite "Cowboy Sam" books.  He doesn't read, he has the stories memorized.  It's quite entertaining to hear his version.  Notice that Cowboy Sam books must be read with hat and pistol at the ready!
 Hubby sets a good example for reading!
 Kiddo1 repairing a box.  She with the tucking problem, probably tucked one too many things into this box.
 This is Kiddo3's version of peek-a-boo.  She stands flatfooted and puts her head on the floor.  Now that's a yoga pose!!
 More trains.
 Look!  SNOW!  We took advantage of our one snow day to play.
 Dad helped them to dig a tunnel.
 And they played and played and played.
 Then we got out the tractors to move some bales.  We also wear our cowboy hats, ride our stick horses and move the cows on a daily basis.  Usually in the morning.  Kiddo2 yells "Head 'em up!"  Hubby or I yell "Move 'em out" and Kiddo1 yells "Vaminos!"  (Apparently, Dora the Explorer is on this cattle drive.)
 Kiddo3 loves the books her aunt sent her for her birthday.  Thanks Auntie Colleen!!
 And we do silly things like wear boxes like peg-legs!
 And we sleep just like the cowboys do:  pistol at the ready, a good book and our stuffed bunny.
 And when we wake up, we're ready for action!
 I don't dress this child.  I take no responsibility for the last year's Easter dress, tights and Dora crocs...
Lots of fun with our buddies.
 And Kiddo3 wants to make sure that if Mom leaves again on a trip, she is going along in the suitcase!

And that is just a little snippet of what our kids do all day.