Monthly Archives: October 2011

Date Day!

I played hooky from school yesterday. πŸ™‚

My husband surprised me on Thursday night with the news that he had to take off for the eastern part of the state in the morning to pick up some parts for work.

And he asked me to go along.

I think I actually squealed! An entire day with my husband! Whee!

Even the 6:00 AM departure didn’t lessen my excitement – it just meant sharing an amazing sunrise with him as we traveled east.

I didn’t even mind the almost 2 hour wait while Jan had the parts cut and loaded. I got to sit in the quiet van and read. What a treat!

While our kids were home eating left-overs for lunchΒ  – we were sitting on a park bench by the river shared a sub sandwich and soaking up the sunshine.

Things just got better and better!

Our first stop of the afternoon was at the famous Dutchman’s Store in Cantril. Think an Amish Wal-Mart. It takes almost an entire city-block and sells everything from food to quilting supplies. It’s like our little Amish store on steroids.

StoreWe obviously found some things we just couldn’t live without!

My favorite purchase was the carton of fresh chocolate/peanut butter. We ate it by the spoonful all afternoon!

Our next stop was the Milton Dairy where we had to sample every variety before finally choosing a package of tomato/garlic cheese curds.

Amazing!

We stopped at several thrift stores before heading back west as the sun was setting.

The weather was perfect.

The autumn landscape beautiful.

The company ideal.

Jan said it was the best day of work he’s had all week.

Yeah, me too! πŸ™‚

A Stroke of Brilliance?

Jan did a double take when he walked in the kitchen the other day.

There I was – sitting at the table with four of the kids surrounded by a pile of blocks and Duplo people.

A few years ago that sight would have been commonplace – but now that 3 of those 4 kids are teenagers – it was a little unusual.

So unusual that it made him pause and ask, “What are you doing?!”

“I am being brilliant!” was my reply.

ToysHe looked at me quizzically.

Okay – so maybe brilliant isn’t the best word. Maybe creative would be better.

I explained that it was time to stage the Children’s Christmas Program – and since that was traditionally a very confusing and noisy rehearsal – I had the brilliant idea to use Duplo people and stage it on the kitchen table before using live children.

The kids found the right number of Duploes and helped me name them. We added a few blocks to act as the piano and the riser and my cell phone became the manger.

We went through the script scene by scene, moving our Duplo characters across the stage.

It went pretty well except that I often forgot who was who and would occasionally call them “carrot nose” and “fireman” and “mustache dude” instead of Eli, Jotham and Levi.

Funny thing was – because of my large hand maneuvering them – those plastic kids still fell off the riser and often knocked each other over!

But at least they didn’t talk out of turn!

I still think it was brilliant. πŸ™‚

Sweet and Sour Chicken

ChickenWe had never really tried sweet and sour chicken as a family until we attended a family business conference a few years back.

Every day during the 3 day conference we would walk across the parking lot from the conference room to the food court of a nearby mall to eat our lunch.

Every day – without fail – the two rival Chinese stands would be hawking free samples of sweet and sour chicken.

We would know we were near the food court when we heard the Oriental girls calling out, “Sweet and sour chick -en”

Of course we never pass up a free sample – and one bite had us hooked!

It has become a family favorite and even now, we can’t say the name without using an Oriental accent!

“Sweet and Sour Chick- en

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in chunks
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 can pineapple chunks, drained (save the juice)
1 green pepper, sliced (optional)
1 onion, sliced (optional)

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water

Mix egg white, salt, and corn starch. Coat the chicken with the mixture and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients for the Sweet and Sour Sauce in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

Fry chicken until brown. Add pineapple chunks and other vegetables if desired.

Pour Sweet and Sour Sauce over all and heat through.

Eat over rice.

Chopsticks are optional!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Packing and theTeenage Male

PackingI spent a goodly part of one week helping Pedro pack for his 10 day trip to Teen Pact Venture in Tennessee.

With 5 days on the road there and back and another 5 days at camp – it seemed to me that he needed a little guidance.

I helped him find more jeans, a suit coat, dress slacks, a outfit for golf and raided his dad’s t-shirts to make sure he had enough.

I carefully counted and folded and made nice piles for him.

I even bought him new underwear.

All the while there was this annoying little thought that kept coming back – “Why am I doing this? Pedro is a teenage boy who has been known to wear the same clothes for days at time…”

But the mother in me couldn’t let it go.

I was even kinda proud as he drove off on his adventure because I knew that he was prepared.

It didn’t last long.

I was brought back to reality within minutes of picking him up after his return trip.

He looked good and was sharing story after story of his time away – laughing and joking with his siblings.

Finally the mother in me just couldn’t wait any longer – so I asked him, “How did your clothes work out? Did you have enough of everything?”

“Well”, he responded, “I basically wore these jeans pretty much all week.”

(His sisters slide further away from him on the van seat.)

“What!” (I’m remembering all those trips up and down the attic stairs digging through his winter clothes to find enough jeans) “How about t-shirts? Did you have enough t-shirts?”

“I had way too many – I really only needed a couple.”

“A couple!” (You were gone 10 days! What about my neat little piles of carefully folded and counted shirts?!)

“Oh dear. What about your underwear? Did you have enough… No! Stop! Don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.”

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Next time I’ll let him pack himself. πŸ™‚

Mutant Gourds

PumpkinsA spotty frost finally wiped out the mess of vines that had taken over the lower half of the garden – leaving the produce in full view.

Instead of a giant game of seek and find – we now had a recovery mission.

I sent Angel Girl and Buddy in the patch on a beautiful fall afternoon to find and harvest all the pumpkin and squash.

They gathered over 50 sugar pumpkins and about the same number of butternut squash.

Oh. my.

At least our squash-loving wood chuck left us a few! Ha!

I guess I need to find some friends or we’ll be eating a lot of pumpkin pie this winter. πŸ™‚

But that number was nothing compared to the real surprise we found under the dead vines –

Gourdsornamental gourds.

Millions and millions of them.

And we didn’t even plant them this year.

We obviously missed a few gourds in our cleaning up last fall and they seeded themselves and came up as volunteers.

We also obviously missed the fact that they were gourds when we were weeding. But then – it’s amazing how similar the leaves look to both pumpkins and squash. Really it is. πŸ˜‰

But we are determined to not make the same mistake again. No sir.

We spent hours picking up gourds this week and composting them FAR away from the garden on the wood pile in the north pasture.

Pedro dumped over 10 wheelbarrows full of gourds.

We’re talking thousands of the pesky things.

At one point, as we were braving the cold north wind on our hands and knees picking up the mutant gourds,Β  Dagmar looked at me and said, “We’re never planting these things again, right Mom?”

Never again! Although if we miss one of these this fall – we may not have to plant them!

And if we don’t burn that compost pile in the north pasture soon enough, by next fall they may have overtaken it, too.

Oh well. We’ll worry about that next fall.

But for now we have free ornamental gourds! All you can use! Come early for the best selection and bring your own wheelbarrow! πŸ™‚