Monthly Archives: October 2013

Break Downs and Collisions

Having teenagers driving older vehicles inevitably means break downs. So it was no surprise when Dagmar’s Ford Escape broke down on the way to church a few weeks ago.

But to add insult to injury – that same night Pedro hit a deer on the way home from youth group.

Now we had one car down for the count, one car with a missing headlight, the family van, the Suburban (which burns a ten dollar bill every time you start the engine)  and – of course –  the Geo.


I guess you could call it a compact car.

I would call it a tin can on wheels.

Top speed is 60 miles an hour – but only downhill and with a tail wind. If you go much faster than that parts start flying off. We have proven this to be a true fact.

It has a cracked windshield and some funky engine sounds – but boy does it get good mileage!

But it’s definitely not the first choice of teenagers.

Nor is the Suburban – because on their wages they can barely afford to open the door.

This has made for a few very interesting weeks, especially on the days that I needed wheels.

Things got really crazy though, after Dagmar got pulled over while driving Pedro’s car after dark  for missing a headlight.

Every night Jan and Pedro would concoct the elaborate vehicle schedule for the next day – putting the right people in the right vehicle to get them where they need to go – which often including switching cars in town so that nobody had to drive Pedro’s car after dark or burn through their night’s wages driving the Suburban.

Pedro’s car was a cheap and easy fix – it just took time to get in the body shop (we weren’t the only ones to hit a deer!)

Dagmar’s – on the other hand – proved to be more serious.  It’s a tough fix and would cost her a pretty penny at the local mechanic. More than she could spend – or the vehicle was worth.

So – Jan and Pedro are once again moving Pedro’s truck and it’s engine parts out of the shop and moving Dagmar’s wheels in. Because of course – Jan’s going to fix it for her.

So she can save her money for a replacement.

Because that’s what Daddy’s do for the daughters.

He’s a keeper that man of mine.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

DSC_0399‘Tis cold my friends.

There’s frost on the pumpkins in the mornings! Oh wait – there are no pumpkins in my garden because those evil squash bugs killed them!!

But I digress.

It is cold enough to start craving some tummy-warming soups, like this family favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup. (Especially after a cold day outside cleaning up the remains of the pathetic, pumpkin-less garden! :))

I was able to use some of the bits and pieces of remaining garden produce to make this already cheap meal even cheaper.

For the can of crushed tomatoes, I took the skin off some fresh tomatoes and quartered them.

For the can of chile peppers, I used fresh jalapenos and sauteed them with the onion.

I added more chicken broth in place of the water for more flavor.

It’s a great way to use up some left-over chicken and can be made in advance and kept warm in a crock pot!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken, cooked and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 can (10.5 ounce) chicken broth
1-1/4 cups water
1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional but yummy!)
1 package corn tortillas

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cut corn tortillas into strips. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Watch them carefully!

To serve, scoop the soup into bowls and top with corn tortillas. You may also add sour cream, cheddar cheese, onion, peppers, or even black olives.

This is really yummy over a pile of rice, or with a hunk of homemade bread!

For you THMer’s  – this would be a solid E with either the baked corn tortillas, a side of brown rice or a piece of plan approved bread. Substitute 0% fat free yogurt and a wedge of laughing cow cheese for the sour cream and cheddar.


I’ve linked this post up with the THM Tuesday at Gwen’s Nest.

Laundry Lessons

DSC_0005I had the most enlightening conversation with my oldest daughter, the EMT, recently.

We were discussing Christmas gift ideas when she mentioned that somebody could always give her another laundry basket so that she would never have to put laundry away again.

I looked at her puzzled.

She said, “What?! I have an entire laundry system!

“There’s the very dirty that I can wear maybe one more time,

“And the semi-dirty that I can wear a couple more times,

“And the kinda clean that I can wear a few more times,

“And the totally clean that I haven’t worn since I washed clothes the last time.”

“Oh – and then there’s my hoodies – I never wash them.”

I shake my head in disbelief and ask,”These are all in one basket?”

“Oh yeah.  But I know where every pile is. I have a system, mom.”

I shake my head in disbelief.

She went on, “Well, except for my work clothes,  they usually have blood or vomit on them so I wash those right away.”

Wow. I’m glad for that.

I think.

So – if all of her clothes are kept in a laundry basket on the floor – just what can be found in her dressers?

Wait. Strike that. I don’t really want to know.

The Night Before the Killer Frost

apple harvestTwas the night before the killing frost,

and all thru the house,

not a creature was stirring,

because they were all outside frantically picking apples!

And jalapenos and tomatoes and green beans.

But mostly apples.

Red Delicious. Golden Delicious. Red Rome. Granny Smith.

It was a bumper crop – limb breaking actually.

We filled every box and bucket we could find.

And still we had apples.

We’ve been slowly picking apples for the last two months, picking a box or bag as needed. There are several bags in the freezer, several quarts of apple pie filling on the shelf, and many, many crisps and pies consumed.

I see many, many more pies and crisps in our future.

But not tonight.

Tonight I want a hot shower, and a big cup of tea.

And maybe some chocolate.

The 18 Inch Hoe

on your kneesAs I was writing my last blog post about my neighbor Rose and her famous sugar cookies, I got to remembering what a character she was and how much she taught me.

Thin and wiry, she was one of the hardest working people I have ever met.  She moved quickly, slightly slumped over as if by making part of her body get there first, she would get more done.

And frugal! Even though her husband left her with enough money to live comfortably, she still sold eggs and her famous sugar cookies in town every week.

She would, of course, never throw anything away if it could still be used, so she would frequently bring objects for my husband to fix.

An avid gardener, one morning several years ago she broke her favorite hoe while weeding. She tore into our yard in her ancient car (she drove like she did everything else – fast!) and showed Jan a well-used hoe, the paint long gone,  with about 18 inches left of a broken handle. It was obvious that she had used the tool for years.

She showed Jan where the handle was cracking a second time at the point where it attached to the metal and asked him if he could fix it.

Although it looked hopeless, Jan said he would try and she could come back later to pick it up.

But when the handle literally fell apart in his hands, he knew there was no fixing it. The only solution was to put on a new handle. Thankfully we had one on hand because Rose didn’t like to wait.

He had the new handle on and the hoe sharpened when Rose returned, expected that she would be pleased.
18 inch hoe

She was not.

Actually, she was quite upset! She kept saying over and over, “But I don’t want a long handle! That handle broke years ago and it’s what I’m used to!”

So Jan – seeing that she would not be reconciled to what we considered an improvement – cut off that beautiful new wooden handle, although it pained him to do so.

When it was sanded smooth – Rose took her 18 inch hoe and drove away smiling.

We just shook our heads.

At the time it seemed like craziness – cutting off a brand new handle because she used to using a broken one.

I thought to myself how foolish to bend over to weed with an 18 inch hoe when you could stand up and use a full length one.

But now I know differently.

You see, Rose wasn’t bending over to use an 18 inch hoe.

She had learned through the years that the best way to get at the problem weeds in her garden was to get right down there with them.

On her knees.

She learned this the hard way, when the handle of her hoe broke years ago.

Isn’t wasn’t until some time later that I saw the life lesson found in that 18 inch hoe.

And like Rose , it took some brokenness before I discovered that the best way of getting at those problem areas in my life is –

On my knees.

How long is your hoe?