Monday, August 27, 2012


Our beaches are wide with plenty of room to spread out. This was what it looked like when we went out yesterday morning. By lunchtime the beach was dotted with brightly colored umbrellas and lots of families playing in the sand. The water was cooler than usual for this time of year.

So there were more folks like me, just enjoying the edge of the ocean. Yep, that's as far into the water as I ventured.

My beach activity of choice yesterday was settling in with a good book. The first full day at the beach is supposed to be a lazy one. We are watching the weather forecasts regularly to see what effects Hurricane Isaac will have here. The hurricane is not coming this way but the outer bands of rain are. Think we will be looking for rainy day activities this week.

Vacations should be a time for rest, relaxation and renewal. We are off to a good start.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012


We arrived last night, just in time to see the sunset. Gorgeous weather today. The rest of the week is uncertain. All depends on how Hurricane Isaac tracks. We shall see. In the meantime, we will enjoy the moment.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hitting The Road

I went almost to the midwest and stayed for three weeks with less "stuff."  

Leaving Daddy-O here to tend the cows and the farm while Jessica and I head to one of our beautiful beaches on the other side of the state. The temperatures have cooled off. Kids have gone back to school. Should be a perfect week for us to be there.

I might post something from there and I might not. It's supposed to be a lazy week of walking in the sand, reading on the beach, enjoying the best crab cakes ever at our favorite little tavern and ordering grouper and creek shrimp at the restaurant with the giant fish coming out of the roof. We've eaten at the "fish in the roof" restaurant since our girls were small enough to choose a plastic sea creature from the box the owner brings around to the kids. He's still there and still passing that box around to all the children. (Baby Sister got to pick one out last year.)

Come to think of it, maybe you should see a couple of photos of our favorite places. We'll see if I manage to get the camera out at all. This vacation is all about resting up. And keeping up the traditions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Root Beer? Really?

Oh, my. Oh, my my. This was good. Pulled pork barbecue is a favorite around here and I've tried making it several ways in the slow cooker (Yes, slow cooker---I admit that I'm not competing with the serious BBQ guys.) They are all good. I haven't made any that we didn't eat. But last night's recipe ranks right up at the top.

The root beer gives the meat a subtle flavor. And by sheer luck, the brands of root beer and barbecue sauce I bought were a perfect combination. The many choices of barbecue sauces lined up on the store shelf were overwhelming. I just picked one that sounded like it would taste good. And it did. The only extra thing I did was to poke holes in the pork loin with a big fork before pouring on the root beer. I read that others had done it because the meat gets more flavor into it, so I stabbed mine a few times, too. Have no clue if it makes much difference. 

Here is what I did:

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1  pork loin half (3 to 4 lb)
House Seasoning* (or salt & pepper)
1 12-oz bottle root beer (I used IBC root beer)
1 18-oz. bottle barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce)

Trim the white fat/tissue off the bottom of the pork loin if there is any. Place it in a large slow cooker and rub with House Seasoning (or sprinkle with salt & pepper.) Pour root beer over pork. Cover and cook on LOW for about 7-8 hours. 

Remove from slow cooker and, using two forks, shred meat. Pour root beer and juices from cooker and discard. Return meat to slow cook and stir in the whole bottle of BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for about 30-60 minutes. Serve on toasted buns.

*House Seasoning:  Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1 tbsp. black pepper & 1 tbsp. garlic powder. Store in an air-tight container, such as an empty spice bottle.

Still working on re-stocking our freezer with quick meals, so after supper I packed the remainder of the pork into 2 pint containers, labeled them, and popped them into the freezer for later.

I posted a ginger ale version of slow cooker pulled pork a few months ago and it's really good, too. I will likely decide which one to make based on which soft drink is in the pantry. We liked them both.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

High Tech Grandmama

There is a person I know who says often, "If my grandchildren want to talk to me, they can call me on the phone or write me a letter. I'm not doing that email stuff." And he means call him on his house phone, not on his cell phone that's in a drawer somewhere. Text messages are not even in his vocabulary. On the other hand, I'm happy to hear from my family any way they want to communicate. 

I was delighted to get this text message last night as I was waiting to start our program. (Big Sister just got her own phone!) Sounds like Big Sister survived her first day of middle school. We are all glad to be past that first day.

Baby Sister had her own big day---her car seat was finally turned around to the forward facing position. In a two-year-old world, that's a big step, too. Thanks to Mommy for emailing me a photo. Personally, I'm thankful for all the technologies that let us keep in touch. 

I always wonder if there were people many years ago who resisted things like the telephone---"If you want to talk to me, don't expect me to get one of those new-fangled telephone things! You can just come knock on my door." I'm betting there were.

Note: If you wondered about the text message above, yes--I lead a ukulele band. The Yesterukes band is made of mostly grandparents who primarily play for audience filled with more grandparents. You can learn more about us here

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back To School

School started today for Big Sister. I can't wait to hear how it went. Or, maybe I can. Starting middle school in a place where you know no one has to be hard. So while I'm wondering how she is today, I decided to cook. Keeping busy.

Here on the farm, our electricity comes from a rural electric co-operative. And the electric co-ops across the state send out a magazine each month. The first page I always look at is in the back. It's the one with recipes from co-op members. (The pineapple cake last week came from an old issue.) I didn't realize that other states do the same thing. Imagine my surprise when I first arrived at Mommy's new house and there was a copy of their new electric co-op magazine, complete with recipes! I copied those two back pages and packed them in my suitcase days before I left so I would be sure not to forget them. Today I'm trying the first of those recipes from that far-away state.

Since in the last couple of weeks, we pretty much cleaned out all of the foods I had stashed in the freezer earlier in the summer, I divided this recipe in two square pans and I put one in the freezer for later. I'll let you know if it survives the freeze-thaw-bake process. There's no way to find out except to try.

Taco Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup water
1 envelope taco seasoning
15-oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
14.5-oz. Mexican diced tomatoes, undrained (I used Del Monte Diced Tomatoes w/Zesty Mild Green Chilies)
6 flour tortillas ((8-inch)
16-oz. can refried beans
3-4 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a large skillet, cook beef, green peppers and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add water and taco seasoning and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Stir in black beans and tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Place two tortillas in a greased 9x13-inch dish. Spread with half of refried beans and half of beef mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Update: I should really start typing out the recipes before I make them. I baked this uncovered. Not sure it matters. This is really good. At least the first pan--won't know about the one in the freezer until later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

At Last

I did it. I finally made it to the grocery store. That means I'm obligated to start cooking again. Daddy-O will be happy. Very happy.

For supper tonight, I made an easy recipe that I've made several times before. It came from Prevention magazine years ago. We were overdue for a little healthy cooking. 

The recipe only calls for asparagus, but when you shop at a store where the check-out girl has to ask, "What is this?" as she looks at it, the asparagus might not be the freshest. Apparently not much asparagus is purchased there. So I used the best looking spears and filled in with zucchini---which the check-out girl thought were cucumbers. I shop in a very small town. 

Easy Asparagus Chicken Stir-Fry

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut on diagonal into 1" pieces
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. bottled minced garlic)
2 cups sliced cooked chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Combine soy sauce and honey in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and garlic; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Toss in chicken and soy sauce-honey mixture. Heat thoroughly. Serve with brown rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

This is good just as the recipe is written, but unlike what you order at your local Chinese restaurant, it's not swimming in sauce. This sauce is more like seasoning. Next time I'll probably double the amounts of the soy sauce-honey mix--three teaspoons is not much "sauce" or seasoning for this amount of vegetables and chicken. And tonight I threw in a handful of roasted peanuts (instead of sesame seeds) just because there was an open jar on the counter. That added some nice texture. 

It has been so long since I have cooked a real meal, I forgot about the sink-full-of-dirty-dishes part of cooking. Wonder if Daddy-O will surprise me tonight and do the dishes?  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Emptier Nest

I guess we could call this the "emptier nest" stage. Still getting used to our different schedule. On the upside, I do have more time for some projects that have languished for a while. And I have spent hours cleaning out cabinets and drawers that were years overdue. Clearing out clutter and cobwebs in my house also helps me clear out clutter and cobwebs in my mind. Do you find that to be true? I'm not done, but it's well on the way.

School starts on Monday--both here and five states away. Can't wait to hear how it goes for Big Sister. She starts middle school which is a huge change. Plus, she is in a new state. I'll be saying a prayer for her that she finds a friend quickly.

I have promised Daddy-O that I will actually buy groceries today. And I guess he assumes that means I'll cook something, too. Better get moving before I decide we can go "just one more day" without shopping. I've said that a lot lately.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do Nothing

You can ask Daddy-O. He'll tell you. I've lost my kitchen mojo. With all that we've done this summer, all the changes that we are adjusting to, the urge to cook just disappeared. Mind you, we are still eating, thanks to a stash of things I put in the freezer at the beginning of summer.

Instead of cooking, I've been cleaning--that deep kind where you empty the whole cabinet, wonder why you ever kept the stuff, and then throw most of it away. And in all this cleaning, I came across a recipe in a South Carolina Living magazine laying on the desk under a pile of papers. It was dated 2010. It's been a while since I cleaned to the bottom.

The name of the cake spoke to me. And to my current mood. I had all the ingredients for the cake on hand. Instead of the icing in the recipe (it called for nuts and coconut which I didn't have,) I found an even easier one.

So when you are in a "do nothing" mood, do what I did and bake one of these:

Do Nothing Cake

2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large can (15-oz.) crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients together with a spoon. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

1/2 stick butter
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Blend well. Pour over hot cake.

They say confession is good for the soul... As I was typing this recipe, I realized that I forgot to add the vanilla. (Told you I've lost my mojo.) But this cake is wonderful as is. I just ate the piece in the photo. Can't wait to taste it next time with all five ingredients instead of just four!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby

Baby Sister is two years old today. 
Wonder if it's time to rethink the "Baby" part of her name?

Happy birthday! 
Wish I could give you a birthday hug.
Love, Mimi

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

While I was getting ready to travel, one thing I planned (probably better than the rest of my trip) was what knitting to take. I started a shawl just before we left and I knitted during much of the 17-hour drive west. I knitted a little most days I was out there, usually before anyone else woke up. I knitted in the airport as I made my way home. And I knitted at the lake last week. All those little dabs of time here and there added up. The shawl is done. If I counted correctly, this shawl was knitted in six different states! Now I'll have to wait for cool weather so that I can wear it.

Pattern:  Aestlight Shawl
Yarn:  Dream In Color Smooshy
Needles:  Size 6

While I was in the midwest (I know they claim to be "south" but it's not), I also managed to whip out a baby hat and ship it to Jessica just in time for a baby shower for a co-worker. 

Pattern:  Kid's Fruit Hat by Ann Norling
Yarn:  Debbie Bliss Cashmerino
Needles: Size 6

And Jessica made one of our favorite party treats for the baby shower. We got the recipe from her college roommate. It's an easy recipe and makes enough for a party. They are somewhere between a cupcake and a brownie. Can't go wrong with that combination. The roommate didn't have a name for the recipe, so we named them after her!


4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 sticks butter or margarine
¼ tsp. butter flavoring
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup plain flour
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt chocolate, margarine.  Stir in nuts and butter flavoring.
Mix sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. 
Add chocolate mixture and fold together.
Add paper liners to mini- muffin pans. Fill with batter.  
Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.  (It usually doesn’t take 35 minutes for them to bake, especially if you make miniature cupcakes.  It’s best to check with a toothpick to see if they’re done starting at about 25 minutes.)

Yield:  about 5 dozen miniature cupcakes

You should really try these. It's a "bet you can't eat just one" kind of recipe.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Approaching Normal

After weeks away, helping Mommy and her young family get settled in a new house, a new neighborhood, and a new town, I have made it home. I took a week off to rest before getting back to the farm. And rest, I did.

On hot days, I stayed inside and watched movies and read and knitted. 

On pleasant days, I kayaked and swam. And I slept and slept.

Many years ago when I was a young woman, I heard a speaker at an inservice training talk about the importance of "keeping your bucket full." He said that we all have many people who need to "dip out of our buckets" and that we couldn't be of help anyone unless we kept our own buckets full. 

My bucket is filled to the top now!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Resting & Relaxing

After lots of work unpacking and unpacking and unpacking and then leaving everyone a million states away, we came to the lake for a little rest. And to give my heart time to catch up with my body.

A whole day in my pajamas is a rare occurrence for me. But it is supper time and, yes, I still have on my pjs. Finding our new normal will take a little time. But as fall schedules start back we will settle into things. But for right now, I'm taking a break.

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