Saturday, October 20, 2018

Friday Family Fun: All Fun and Games Until Mom Busts the Tire

Let's just get the bad news over with, shall we? I popped a tire on the Honda.

Yeah. Like, completely wrecked it.

I don't have a great excuse for this. It was mostly stupidity. We were all up at our new house. The van was parked behind the Honda, and I didn't want to have to maneuver around it, so I went forward. Unfortunately, in front of me was the concrete ramp that leads up to this mechanic's pit thing in front of the shop. I thought the high curb was further towards the house. It wasn't.

The offending curb, now more crumbling than it was.

A. came running over when he heard the bang of me hitting the curb. He directed me to pull far enough forward so the Honda was on flat ground. Then he spent some time getting off the spare from under the Honda and changing the tire. He was quite kind about this, noting that two of the four tires had slow leaks (though OF COURSE not the one I ruined) and we were probably due a new set of tires anyway.

A. had to stay up at that house to wait for the guy who was coming to look at installing a dishwasher for us (hooray!), so I left the wounded Honda with him and loaded all the children in the van to drive home with my figurative tail between my legs.

Not so fun.

However! Before that we had SO much fun!

We ran the rolling magnet to pick up more of the hundreds of nails that litter the back pasture of our new property.

The boys love doing this. Better them than me.

This same pasture is also littered with broken glass. It's all thick glass without really sharp edges, so it can be picked up without injury, but there is so much of it. SO MUCH. A. thinks some previous owners used that area to dismantle the wooden houses in town for scrap wood. And possibly do a lot of beer drinking out of bottles so they could use the bottles for target practice. So the back pasture* is pretty much the remnants of a junk yard.


I started picking up the glass. Cubby and Jack took turns helping me when they weren't using the magnet. After about an hour and a half of stooping and crouching down to pick up many, many handfuls of glass, we had picked up about a gallon. 

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, right? Right.

This was obviously not ideal territory for a crawling baby, so while we were picking up nails and glass, Poppy was chilling in her stroller.

With the occasional re-positioning by her brothers.

And what was A. doing while the rest of us were occupied with junk? He was planting the world's longest row of garlic outside of an actual farm.

I was standing at the start of the row to take this photo, and there's Farmer A. waaay down there at the 

After we'd all done enough labor to feel the need for re-fueling, there was much hand-washing and then the traditional Fun Friday picnic lunch.

Because everyone knows Fridays aren't fun unless you eat lunch outside.

So that was this week's Fun Friday, which unfortunately ended on a distinctly Unfun note. Boo me.

* It's a bit generous to call it a pasture, as it doesn't have any grass. It's too big to be a yard, though, and it is all fenced in with some old animal pens in it, so I'm going with pasture.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Food: All About the Baby

The poor, neglected fourth child isn't supposed to have any photos of him or herself, but I seem to take way more of Poppy than her brothers. And three of them are right here in this post. Sorry, boys.


Short version: Pot roast, carrots, potatoes, tomato/cucumber/feta salad, baked apples and cream

Long version: When I unwrapped the "seven-bone*" roast given to us by the teacher and her rancher husband, I found a three-inch thick roast that must have weighed eight pounds. The MiL thought maybe it was a chuck roast.

Wherever it came from, it was definitely meant for pot roasting. So I browned it in the morning and put it in my enameled Dutch oven with onion, tomato, and a bay leaf to cook at 250 in the oven for several hours.

I also made a casserole of baked apples to cook at the same time.

About an hour before dinner, I put in some peeled carrots and potatoes to cook, too.

It was very good meat. I have hopes that the whole cow we just arranged to buy from a local rancher will be just as good.


Short version: Chicken tacos, pinto beans, apple pie

Long version: When I was a kid, my mom always made enchiladas when we had out-of-town visitors. Apparently, my meals for out-of-town visitors are pizza and chicken tacos with pinto beans. They are awfully good, though. Convenient, too, as the chicken and beans can be made in the morning, leaving the rest of the day free for exciting activities with the guests.

Or, in this case, leaving the rest of the day free for going to the playground and going up to our new house so A. could plant garlic and I could clean the kitchen cabinets. That's exciting, right? Right.

What is definitely exciting was the apple pie the MiL made for us. The MiL is the pie master. She can whip out an apple pie like I would make scrambled eggs. She made a deep-dish apple pie with just a top crust (so there was more filling for those who don't eat the crust) and it was delicious. Of course.


Short version: Pork chops, rice, green peas, pan-fried sweet potatoes, collard greens with garlic

Long version: An unremarkable meal, except for the fact that I cooked four separate things in one pot.

See, I had my big stock pot out to blanch collard greens for freezing. After I did that, I made the collard greens for dinner.

When I took the collard greens out, I used the same pot to make the sweet potatoes. Already had olive oil in there. Might as well, right?

Then I remembered the head of cauliflower in the refrigerator that was not improving with age, so I used the stock pot to blanch the whole head at once. (Although I didn't make that part of our meal, as I feared cauliflower and collard greens in the same meal might be a bit taxing on the digestion.)

And then, it was time to make rice for dinner, and why dirty another pot?

I find this sort of thing to be very satisfying. Especially when I'm washing dishes and only have one pot to wash instead of four.

Unrelated photo of Poppy exhibiting her pizza, with a large pink bow on her stomach. Because why not?


Short version: Burned brisket, baked potatoes, green salad

Long version: Yeah. I had a piece of beef brisket in the oven in the morning. Then I took Poppy up to the new house with me to do some more spackling and cleaning and forgot to turn the oven temperature down. I came home to a brisket that was quite charred on one side, as all the liquid in the dish had evaporated and the barbecue sauce that was in there had gone past carmelization to . . . well, to burned.

I transferred the meat to another dish and mixed it with more barbecue sauce and chicken stock to reheat later. It was edible, if you don't mind chewing for a really long time on exceptionally dry meat. Luckily, the boys don't notice things like sub-standard meat when there are baked potatoes with butter and sour cream on their plates.


Short version: Shepherd's pie, sauteed zucchini

Long version: Several years ago, I actually followed the recipe in a cookbook I have by Christopher Kimball for shepherd's pie. Though I no longer look at the recipe, I have retained the two ingredients that would not have occurred to me for shepherd's pie: brandy and Worcestershire sauce.

Also, I believe corn and peas are traditional in shepherd's pie, but I never have corn. Instead I use chopped carrots in large enough pieces that Charlie-the-cooked-carrot-hater can pick them out.

Kids are fun.


Short version: Oven-fried chicken, leftover rice, roasted cauliflower, green salad

Long version: Poppy was delighted to have one of her beloved chicken bones. However, the combination of grease from the bone and the snot that had been free-flowing due to her cold meant that she was definitely headed for a bath after dinner.

Jack wasn't quite so greasy (or snotty), but he never passes up an opportunity to have a bath.


Short version: Birthday fajitas, sauteed zucchini, cake

Long version: Poppy is still too young to make her birthday dinner request, so I made fajitas. Because the bag of fajita meat was the first one I grabbed from the freezer.

And because I had peppers. And because I like fajitas.

Even using my big griddle, I still had to cook three separate batches. We eat a lot.

Poppy seemed to enjoy her small bits of meat, cheese, and zucchini. And she really enjoyed her cake.

No need for a fork to get between the cake and the mouth. 

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

* I don't know why it was called this, as there were only two bones in it. The MiL suggested perhaps one of the bones was in the shape of a seven. I can't say I saw that, but maybe I was looking at it from the wrong angle.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Happy birthday to

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The War on Paneling

I am proud to announce that all of the atrocious fake paneling in our new house has either been removed or painted over.

It was a big moment for me when I realized that today. I completed the conquest of the paneling by priming Poppy's soon-to-be room for painting.

Her room, which I didn't get a picture of before I started, was covered floor to ceiling with even uglier paneling than the kind in the living room. You might think that is not possible. It is. This paneling had little dark spots all over it that I guess were supposed to be fake knot holes or something. I don't know. It was awful.

The room is also tiny and, worst of all, it has no window. So try to imagine a miniscule room with no natural light, fake paneling on every surface, and brown carpet.

This is the only picture I got of the wretched paneling. It is, of course, blurry, because there's no light in there. Because there's no window.

I can't put my bubbly little girl in a depressing brown cave.

Not a bear cub; doesn't need to live in a cave.

Anyway, I got it all primed today in preparation for painting, and it occurred to me while I was toiling away in this nasty brown cave-room that we could cut a window in the door for her to get some light in. There's actually a window right across from her door in the hallway, so this would help. We'd have to cover it with Plexiglass or something. I haven't figured out the details, but I'm working on it.

The living room has also been completely primed and is ready for painting.

Overwhelmingly white at the moment, but a vast improvement from overwhelmingly brown.

So the next small chunk of time I have, I can start cutting in by the ceilings and floors, and then it's only a swish (or several dozen swishes) of the roller and I will have a fully painted living room. And Poppy won't have to sleep in a cave.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Girl

When I had just the three boys, people would not infrequently ask me if I was "done," or if I was going to "try for a girl."

This is, of course, a ridiculous query. As if I had any say in the matter. You don't "try" for a baby of a specific sex. You try for a baby.

My decision to have another child was not because I wanted a girl. I said that at the time, and I say it now. I meant it then, and I mean it now. I would not have been sad if I had another boy. All I wanted was another child.

And I got one. Which happened to be a girl.

So now people say, "You must be so happy to have a girl!"

Well, no. I'm not happy to have a girl. I'm happy to have this girl. My girl.

I'll let The Temptations take it from here.