Saturday, September 8, 2018

Friday Family Fun: Minus the Family. And the Fun.

So I guess that means it was just a Friday. A Friday in which I drove 150 miles by myself to go here.


Thanks to Dr. Google, I was pretty sure yesterday morning that the rash, pain, and general ickiness that had been coming upon me for a few days was shingles. 

My knowledge of shingles was exactly zero up until yesterday morning's self-diagnosing computer session. Except for the fact that I was pretty sure only old people got it, and I do not actually consider myself old at 38 years of age.

Turns out, more and more adults are getting shingles in their thirties. Nice to know I'm not alone, I guess.

Anyway, diagnosing myself online was all well and good, but getting the antiviral medication that is used to lessen and shorten the progression of the virus was another, more complicated matter. Because the nearest pharmacy is a 75-mile drive from our house. So was the doctor.

Thankfully, the clinic could get me in at 3 p.m., so I gave myself extra time in case of getting lost--seeing as I hadn't ever been to this small city, and I am very good at getting lost--and started driving.

At least I can always count on dramatic scenery.

I didn't get lost, and I did get there early. So I got to go to the grocery store before my appointment, which is actually unreasonably exciting for me*. I also, despite my less-than-stellar physical condition, kind of enjoyed the drive, if only because I was by myself. No kids demanding water bottles or anything. Just me and Johnny Cash rolling along in the wide open spaces.

I also treated myself to a Sonic milkshake while I was waiting for the crazy-busy pharmacy to fill my prescription. It was gratifyingly thick--I don't see the point in thin milkshakes; why not just drink flavored milk?--but the "chocolate" label was a bit misleading. Sonic needs to step up its chocolate milkshakes with some actual chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla with an anemic squirt of chocolate sauce.


I returned five and a half hours after leaving, in possession of the precious prescription. So now I just have to tough it out for a few days, at which point the doctor promised me the symptoms would be greatly reduced.

Here's hoping.

* If you are wondering how I manage to grocery shop and get perishables home when they have to sit in the car for hours: A giant marine cooler is always in residence in the back of the van, and a big bag of ice stays in the freezer to be put in the cooler when I leave. The cooler is insulating enough that the ice bag had barely melted after four hours, and so we just keep re-using the same bag of ice.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday Food: Randomness Abounds

I don't feel I was really at the top of my cooking game this week. Whatever that means. But we all ate, so that's a win.


Short version: Fajitas, green salad

Long version: I actually had bell peppers this time, which is why I made fajitas with my thin steak instead of just plain tacos.

And then, of course, the children refused to eat the onions and peppers anyway, so I may as well not have bothered.


Short version: Party crashing food

Long version: There's a ranch in the vicinity that was having a centennial celebration and a big family reunion. Apparently, this is a small enough community that they ended up just inviting the entire population for the festivities. So there was a story-telling event where a bunch of the older people talked about the history of their families and ranches. Then there was a dinner catered by the local restaurant--featuring green and red enchiladas and spanish rice, among many other things--and then there was a street dance with a very good live band.

The band was in a tent, but the dancers were literally in the street. It was a small side street. I guess the dancers just stopped and moved aside if a car had to go by.

There was also a bouncy house, where our children literally jumped for two hours straight. Craziness.

Anyway. Upshot was, I didn't have to cook. Yay.

Random photo break!

Just hangin' out.


Short version: Signature sausage skillet, sauteed zucchini/tomato/onion

Long version: Yeah. This was random. Some of that too-spicy sage sausage A. bought that I browned in a skillet with diced onion and garlic, then some tomato juice, then some of the chicken broth that didn't seal, then rice. I simmered it, covered, until the rice was cooked, then added some frozen green peas.

I don't know what it was, but everyone ate it. Even though it was still too spicy. I cannot subdue the New Mexico chili peppers, so we'd all better just get tougher mouths, I guess.


Short version: Scrambled eggs, leftover mashed potatoes with cheese, tortillas and cheese, cucumbers

Long version: We got back at 3:30 p.m. from our Labor Day outing. I spent the next hour cleaning out the van and cleaning up the remains of Charlie's vomit. And then it was time to make dinner.

Uncharacteristically, I hadn't taken any meat out to thaw, so we had eggs. The mashed potatoes microwaved with cheese made the eggs much more exciting.

I mean, as exciting as eggs ever are. Which is not very. Especially for my children. Luckily, I had a giant bag of parade candy with which to bribe them into eating their unexciting dinner.

God bless America and giant bags of candy.


Short version: Pork steaks, potato chunks, pan-fried sweet potatoes, cucumber/tomato/asadero salad

Long version: The oven in this house has a literal broiling drawer. It's weird.

Low-down pork.

The broiler pan fits on a track in the drawer, and that's the only place with a broiling element. I find it disconcerting to be cooking my food at foot-level, but I suppose that's what people did with open fires for thousands of years.

I made some random zucchini and onions in the sweet potato pan after they were done because there was still quite a bit of olive oil, and we had a visit from Rafael earlier in the day. Thus, I had a LOT of zucchini on hand.

Also cucumbers. Two of which I put in the salad, leaving me with . . . still a lot of cucumbers.

People can joke all they want about too many zucchini and cucumbers, but those people probably don't routinely have a refrigerator that looks like this. There have been many times I would have given a lot for a zucchini in my refrigerator, and I'm sure there will be times in the future that I'll think wistfully of my glut of cucurbits.


Short version: Barbecue meatballs, roasted potatoes, roasted carrots and onions, cucumbers with salt and vinegar

Long version: Boy howdy, I sure do have a lot of time to do things with all three boys in school all day. On this, Jack's first day of school, I vacuumed, mopped, defrosted and cleaned the freezer, and made meatballs for dinner.

For the meatballs, I mixed together some of the overly spicy sage sausage with ground beef--about a third sausage with two-thirds beef--in an attempt to tame the spice. I also mixed the slightly-too-spicy Texas barbecue sauce with ketchup for the same reason.

The diluting of spice seems to be a recurring theme in my kitchen lately.

The meatballs were still a little too spicy, but not a single child remarked on it and they all cleaned their plates.

Maybe their palates are adjusting to their new, spicier environment? I can only hope.

I made the carrots because I realized I had two and a half bags of carrots in the refrigerator. Carrots are nice to have on hand in quantity because they last forever, but that seemed like an excessive quantity. So I roasted the half bag, leaving me with only two.

The cucumbers were mostly for Charlie, who refuses cooked carrots in any form. I wouldn't hold my breath on his palate changing that much.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fried leftover potatoes, assorted vegetables

Long version: I found the package of hot dogs when I was defrosting the freezer. A. bought them when he was here at the beginning of July moving most of our things into the house. I thought I should use them up. I don't like hot dogs--neither does Charlie--so I made the cheeseburgers too.

We all had different vegetables. A. ate the remainder of the leftover cucumber and tomato salad. The kids ate frozen peas. I finished the leftover zucchini, carrots, and onions.

It was a very customized meal. Which is, of course, a fancier way of saying random. Definitely this week's theme.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Jack's First Day

Three lunch bags.

Three backpacks*.

Three schoolboys (one of whom is being a jackass, as you can see.)

One brand-new preschooler.

Go get 'em, Jack.

* This was not meant to be an advertisement for L.L. Bean, but I obviously deliberately choose their products for my sons. The backpack Jack is using was Cubby's when he started school, and Cubby has the same lunch bag that is now going into its fourth year of daily use, so I can vouch that L.L. Bean school things hold up to boy abuse.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Bonus Family Fun: Labor Day Edition

Labor Day means a longer weekend and yet another opportunity for family fun. Today we went to a small village about an hour away that hosts a very large festival every Labor Day weekend.

They've been doing this for over a hundred years, and it features a beef and bean feed. They cook the food overnight underground in a huge pit at the rodeo grounds, then dig it up in the morning and feed the crowd that comes. For free.


Unfortunately, we kicked off the festivities with Charlie throwing up in the car literally as we were looking for a parking spot in the village. At least he managed to get it off to the side of his seat and not all over himself. And it was just car sickness from the windy mountain road, not a debilitating virus.

He was recovered enough by the time the parade started about ten minutes later to chase down the incredible quantities of candy thrown from the floats.

I only got one photo at the beginning, because I spent the rest of the parade helping the children collect and store their ridiculous candy haul.

There were a LOT of political candidates in the parade, handing out campaign materials. (And more candy.) One of them, however, went the patriotic route and handed out little flags.

Patriotic Poppy.

After the parade, we wandered down towards the village park for the foot races. They had separate races for boys and girls in various age categories. So Jack ran with 3-5 year olds; Charlie ran with 5-7 year olds; and Cubby ran with 8-10 year olds.

I have no idea where Charlie learned this starting position, but he takes his races very seriously.

Charlie came in second in his race, and got a prize of two dollars*.

Cubby was very disappointed that he didn't place, but he was at the lower end of his age category, and the winners were all older and taller.

He got off to a good start, though. Next year.

After that, we went to stand in line for the food. We stood, and stood, and stood. We were in line for about 40 minutes. Luckily, we were in the shade most of the time, and the boys amused themselves with dirt, sticks, and rocks, creating pretend fires. Charlie tried to convince A. to light one of their fires with the matches one of the political candidates had handed out. A. declined. 

After we ate, we wandered back to the van, stopping so Charlie could buy a Coke with some of his prize money and so we could see the mobile museum the state of New Mexico drives around with exhibits in a big RV all about native people, plants, etc.

I have to admit that I did not have as much fun at this event as I usually do on Family Fun Days. It was just too many people, and too many vendors. I really dislike going to events at which I have to tell my children "no" over and over again when they ask if we can do or buy various things that cost money. And the crowds make it hard to keep track of three roaming boys.

But we got out of the house, and the boys had a good time, I think.

I guess I'm better off in the remote canyons. Luckily, there are plenty of those.

* I've never heard of cash prizes for children's races, but I think it's great. A couple of dollars is way more exciting to a kid than a useless ribbon.