Monthly Archives: April 2014

It Worked!

Do you remember my crazy “early-February there is snow on the ground” attempt at planting my sale bulbs that should have been planted in October?

You know – the 400 bulbs we put on the ground and covered with the frozen blocks of top soil we got on clearance?

Yep – that crazy idea.

Would you believe –


It worked!

Well – kind of.

I didn’t get 400 beautiful flowers – not even a hundred.

Okay – barely 25.

But the ones that came are beautiful.

And it makes me happy.

Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Wait…don’t answer that.


Of Teens and Ticking Time Bombs

promSometimes our kids drop bomb shells – but this this time Pedro gave us a ticking time bomb.

He told us months ago that he had agreed to bring a friend to her senior prom. I registered the information and quickly forgot it.

So did he.

Until this week when he realized the event was Saturday night.

After mentally kicking myself for missing this one, I took a deep breath, then started firing questions (as only we mothers can do!)

Me: “But son – you are scheduled to work Saturday! And did you get her a corsage? And what are wearing?”

Pedro: “What’s a corsage? And I’m wearing jeans.”

Oh my.

Me: “First – a corsage is an arrangement of flower that girls wear, they expect the guy to bring it when he picks them up. It should match her dress.”

Pedro: “Where do I get one and is this going to cost money?”

Me: “Yes, this will cost money. First find out the color of her dress and we’ll go from there. Oh and ask about the jeans. I don’t think that idea will fly.”

He started texting. A few minutes passed.

Pedro: “She said NO to the jeans. Now what I’m going to wear?”

I am not surprised.

But still – this is a problem. The kid doesn’t own a suit. His dad has a very nice suit – but Pedro’s at least an inch taller.

It’s Thursday. The nearest men’s store is 2 hours away. Ditto for a  place to rent a tuxedo. Not that we wanted to spend much money on this.

Why, oh why didn’t I remember this date!

Then I remember the two suits I picked up at the thrift store over a year ago for the Valentine Banquet. One was too big and one was too small. They were in the boxes that were supposed to be donated last Friday – but the thrift store was closed.

Divine intervention?

He found them and tried them on. One suit coat was much too big – but the pants could be taken in.

The other coat fit well – but the pants were so tight he couldn’t even button them.

Not to worry! I could let out several inches in the waist.

He could now get them buttoned – but still couldn’t breathe. He thought breathing was important – so I let even more out – taking it to the very edge.

He could now breath and speak – but only in a high shrill voice.

This wasn’t going to work.

I took a few minutes to study out the situation.

There was no way I wanted to tackle altering the suit coat from suit number one. No way. But the pants I could easily take in.

And then it hit me! What if he wore the pants from the first suit and the suit coat from the second? They were both a dark gray pin strip and the the strips were almost identical.

Almost – but not quite. But still – you would have to look pretty close to find the difference.

And it would be at night.

Who would notice? Right?

I tested my theory with both of his sisters and it passed.

A ten minute sewing job and the kid had a suit that would pass on prom night.

We’ll just keep that switcheroo our little secret – okay?

Now onto the corsage.

But first – I need chocolate.

And a secretary.

Sweet Potato Fries

DSC_0004Please don’t tell my boys that sweet potatoes are a vegetable!


Because I’ve tricked them into eating them.


I bake them up as fries.

Super easy. Super yummy. And -since we bake them and don’t fry them – they are super good for you.

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, are a slow burning carb, and (here’s the kicker) –  they are full of beta carotene which the experts say will help ward of the effects of aging.

Sounds good to me – bring ’em on!

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Scrub the sweet potatoes well; then slice them into wedges. (The smaller your wedges – they faster they bake.) Place in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil and spice mix over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Place in a single layer on a greased baking dish and bake at 400 degrees till you get the desired crispness. We usually figure about 30 minutes to make a softer fry; 45 minutes or more if you want it crispier.

This should serve 2 people, unless one is really hungry.

But if you’re like me and are serving a family, or have people who eat meals at odd hours – you may appreciate a short cut.

We make the spice mix up in bulk and store it in a container in the cupboard. Then we can whip up a batch of fries without having to haul out all the spice jars.

Master Spice Mix

6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons cumin
6 teaspoons chili powder
6 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons black pepper

We figure about a teaspoon of spice mix per sweet potato – but if you like it spicy – add more!


Bobby Pins

bobby pinsI thought that once my kids were past the Lego and Polly Pockets phase of life that our plumbing would be safe from foreign objects.

I was wrong.

Nobody warned me about teenage girls and bobby pins.

When I was a teenager bobby pins were something that Grandma wore to hold her “set” until her next appointment with Edna.

My mom had some – a remnant of her teenage years in the 1950’s.  These were stored in the back of her dresser drawer and pulled out once or twice a year as needed to use in our high school plays.

They were not cool.

They were to be avoided at all costs.

But not any more.

Now they are hot commodities; much needed for the casual “updo” that my girls love.

And they are all over my house.

I find them in every room – on the floor, in the couch, on the counter, on the table, in the sink. I think the girls must shed them as they walk or something since I’ve even found bobby pins in their brothers’ room.

They leave rust stains in the shower, get stuck under the baseboards and have babies in the bathroom vanity. I cleaned out the drawers recently and found enough bobby pins to curl and set an entire nursing home wing.

I guess I should count my blessings.

Like the fact that my girls do their own hair now – and it’s beautiful.

And hey – at least bobby pins don’t hurt like a Lego when you step on it on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Have you tried the Greek yogurt that’s all over the store shelves now?

I must admit that I’m really addicted!

But buying Greek yogurt can be pricey – at least double the price of regular yogurt.  Talk about budget busting.

DSC_0004So when I discovered that the fancy pants Greek yogurt in the stores is actually just plain yogurt with some of the whey drained off – I started researching ways to make it myself.

I could buy a large container of plain yogurt and strain it – but that would only save me a few cents. I wanted a lot of yogurt -cheap.

Like $1.39 gallon of sale milk – cheap.

And easy, too!

And I found it!

All I needed was a heavy bottomed pot, a thermometer, 2 quart sized jars with lids, a small cooler, a strainer, a bowl and a dishtowel.

So far – so good.

The actual yogurt is just 8 cups of milk – any kind. Whole milk makes a really rich and creamy yogurt – but everything works right down to skim.

And 4 tablespoons plain yogurt with live and active cultures.

That’s it. No fancy weird stuff you can’t pronounce.

Put the milk in the heavy bottomed pot and heat to 180 degrees, stirring regularly so that it doesn’t scorch.

As soon as the milk comes to temperature, take it off the heat and let it cool to 110 degrees.

Then add your plain yogurt and whisk well.


Pour this mixture into two quart jars and screw on the lids. Place this jars in the small insulated cooler and pour 120 degree water into the cooler until the jars are submerged nearly to their lids.

Then close the cooler, set it aside and don’t touch it for at least 6 hours. (The longer you leave it in the cooler the more tang your yogurt will have.)

Viola! Six hours later you can remove the jars and have 8 cups of perfectly set plain yogurt.

Now – to make it into Greek yogurt – place the dishtowel in the strainer and set it over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into it and put it in the fridge for several hours. (I have left it on the counter before and it was fine – but don’t tell anybody!)The whey will strain out leaving you with a thick delicious Greek style yogurt.

DSC_0003Whole milk will have less whey and leave you more yogurt while the skim will reduce up to half but will be the equivalent of the 0% fat Greek yogurt you buy at the store.

The longer you let it strain, the thicker the end product.  I’ve heard that if you let it go for 24 hours you will get a product with cream cheese consistency.  You can add a little salt or spices and spread it on a bagel.

I normally go 4-6 hours, depending on when I remember it.

Some people use the whey in their cooking – but I choose to turn it into pork chops and feed it to the pigs. 🙂

So easy!

Heat the milk. Cool the milk slightly. Mix in the yogurt as a starter. Put them in jars. Incubate in the cooler. Strain. And bingo – you just saved yourself some serious cash.

Happy day!