Saturday, December 26, 2009

My New Popcorn Popper

My Dad got me something for Christmas that I have wanted for a while.  A real popcorn popper. I have never owned one of these myself. My dad had a big metal pan with a lid that he used when I was a kid.  He made popcorn by shaking the pan over the flame. He would get so mad when we ate all his popcorn.  He even added things like excessive pepper to try and keep us out of it.  We just learned to like peppered popcorn.

I first started thinking about getting my own awhile back when I read a Prevention Article about foods that food experts wouldn't eat.  I was surprised to see that microwave popcorn was on the list.  Evidently, the lining of the bag contains a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can possibly cause infertility, plus liver, testicular, or pancreatic cancer.  When you heat up the bag to pop the popcorn, the chemicals vaporize, but some of them go into your food.  These chemicals can accumulate in your body over time to levels that can cause these health problems.  Scary!

There is also danger in the fake butter flavoring.  A chemical called diacetyl causes a respiratory disease, known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or popcorn workers' lung.  The people that work in the microwave popcorn factory are getting sick from BREATHING this chemical, and we are EATING it.  It seriously makes you rethink that bag of popcorn you have while watching a movie. 

However, there is a way to avoid these chemicals. You can use an airpopper or use a cool oil popper like the one my Dad got me.  You turn a crank while the oil heats up (think shaking the foil wrapped popcorn over the burner).  You can add seasoning or have it plain, depending on your taste. 

I am psyched to try out some of the recipes in the book that came with it.  I just did plain buttered popcorn the first time.  I learned that a full batch is TOO much for me eating by myself.  Even I cannot eat that much in one sitting.  Popcorn can be a very healthful snack when made with a little oil or airpopped.  It makes for excellent fiber and aids in digestion.  Kids love it and it is much better than most chips.  Do you know of any great flavored recipes for popcorn?  I would love to hear about them...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Okay, this is really annoying, but I couldn't help myself.  And yes, that is a meowing guinea pig.

Note, because I don't want the singing kitties and guinea pig on my blog for the next month, I took off the widget.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visited by Old Man Winter

We went home from school early on Tuesday to beat the storm, and we knew we were in for it, but I don't know if we really expected this... Every door we opened had snow blown up to it like a wall...The winds started blowing up to 50 mph gusts Tuesday night.  In addition to the snow that was still falling, all the snow nearby was blown against our house.  This happened to everyone, in greater and lesser degrees.  Huge 3, 4, and 5 foot drifts were created...several of them in our driveway.  We do NOT own a snow blower.

I had school canceled not only for Wednesday, but for Thursday as well, because of the blizzard like conditions.  Out on the interstate, that I would have to take 35 miles to get to work, visibility was almost nothing.  As the weather guy said, travel was near 'impossible'.  So, we had time to dig out, but we had another problem...The extreme cold.  Here, you can see how I attempted to compensate for that.  I have two pairs of pants, boots, two shirts, my cabela's down-filled coat, a wrap on my head, and the hood pulled down so only my eyes and the top of my nose is visible.  Attractive, eh?

So, we went out and started digging.  The temperature was below zero when we went out. We waited until Thursday, when the winds were done, but the cold was there with a vengeance.  You can see, it is sunny and clear, but the wind chill was -17.  This picture is when we finished shoveling.  Three hours later with two people working fairly steadily. 

The front of the house ended up being rather dramatic.  I have never seen that much snow piled up around the front steps. There is a retaining wall under there, and many plants I tucked against it and the steps as well.  At least I know they are insulated.  All I could see of my Santa decoration was the top couple of inches.  I reached in, dragged him out, and placed him on top of the mountain!

My son begged me to go out and play...I didn't want to let him because it was so cold outside.  Finally, on Thursday, we had been inside for 2 days straight.  I relented, and bundled him up to go out for just a little bit.  In addition to the stuff he has on now, I also wrapped a scarf around most of his face.

Right after he went out, the wind started to whip up he didn't get to stay out too long.  Only about half an hour.  At one point, I had to straighten his snow pants, snow was getting down into his boots.  I told him to go back the way he came so I could fix his boots.  He told me that there was 'really bad snow' that way.  I told him, no, it was the same on the other side of the house and to get going.  He scooted along, and I followed him.  Unfortunately, he was correct.  I walked after him, and plunged hip deep into snow!  

I had to thrash my way out.  He was so was 'really bad snow'!  And look at him, he is so light he just scooted along on top of the drift.  He doesn't even sink into the crust!  Anyways, we know for sure we will have a white Christmas this year.  My son got to spend a lot of time playing outside this weekend, the temperatures got up to around 34 degrees.  Much safer for outdoor play. 
What a way to start the winter!  And winter doesn't technically start for another week and a half... How are you coping with the winter weather so far?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas

Putting up the Christmas tree is a magical experience for me.  At least it's supposed to be.  I have fantasies about getting out the ornaments and oohing and aahing over each sentimental piece with the kids, and we watch old Christmas movies and have warm, fuzzy feelings.  In reality, we spend an hour sorting out all the branches by size, then putting them on layer by layer while spreading them out. I am usually exhausted after this.  All the while, I am trying to keep my son from knocking the entire thing over.  Then, I put the lights on, with my son hovering just under my elbows the entire time, asking, "Now can we put the ornaments on?  What about now?  Now?  Ornaments, now?" until I scream. 

By the time I get out the ornaments, my patience is shot, and my son is hyper as heck.  Of course, he wants to put on all the breakable ornaments, and he moves at the speed of light. By the time my fiance gets home, he hears, "Stop that!  Put that down!  Don't put that over there!" Be careful!"  He takes one look at me and says, "Well, aren't you festive?"  Then I feel bad.  I don't mean to snap, but I think the pressure of having this 'perfect' moment gets to me.  But the tree did turn out pretty good, and I think my son still had fun. It must be something about the tree, because I don't think I get so snippy duirng other Christmas activites. 

My fiance has some really cool antique decorations he got from his Grandma.  One is a ceramic Christmas tree with little colored bulbs you put into the holes yourself.  My son loves to help out with this job.  It is very pretty when it is lit up.

We also have a neat old light-up Santa face.  My fiance is absolutely fascinated with these things, and was
delighted to find this one a few years ago.  He leaves it on all night, because that is one of the only decorations his family had when he was growing up, and that is what they did with it.

I am living in a split-foyer home right now, and there is a wall by the steps leading to the upper level that just begs to be decorated.  I hang lights and plants from this wall whatever the season.   I love to walk inside and come up next to the twinkling icicle lights and the beautiful wreath. 

Now, I am mostly done with the decorating, and we are on to baking and shopping this week.  I am going to have to start exercising or I am going to gain weight with all this holiday eating.  Today I noshed on homemade chex mix.  I hope all the outside work I did today will help burn that off.  I love Christmas though, in spite of the extra stress, and I look forward to spending the holidays with my friends and family. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Curry Turkey Soup

Tonight, in an effort to use up turkey in the fridge, we prepared curry turkey soup.  My son loves to help peel potatoes, though he is very slow.  I can do 10 for every 1 he does, but the point is, he is helping.  I found this interesting recipe in a magazine and made a few modifications to accommodate what was in my fridge.

Curry Turkey Soup

3 large peeled and baked sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp curry powder, or more to taste
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced scallions (green part, or use whole and omit chopped onion)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cup milk (I used skim, but fuller fat milk would have a creamier taste)
1 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted turkey
Shredded cheese (to taste)
Hot sauce or wing sauce (to taste)

1) Mash up or process the soft potatoes with the flour, add in 2 cups of the milk, blending.  Set aside.
2) Heat oil, curry powder, ginger, and salt to taste in a pot over medium high heat until it sizzles.  Add broccoli, onions, and scallions and allow to sizzle again.  Toss often while heating it up, about 3 minutes.

Add the potato mixture and the extra milk, stir until smooth.

3) Turn down the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the broccoli is tender, but still a little crisp.
4) Add the turkey in and simmer until heated through.  After dishing it up, add hot sauce or wing sauce (I prefer buffalo wing sauce) along with any desired shredded cheese.  Enjoy!

You could add more or less milk depending on how thick you like your soup. The really bright orange color comes from a combination of sweet potatoes, curry, and the hot sauce.  It is a delicious blend of sweet and hot tastes, plus an excellent way to use up your leftover turkey.

My son approved of the dinner, after he got past the fact that it contained broccoli.  Then he decided to dress up in some of my clothes.  Hmmm, don't think I will be wearing that outfit out anytime soon.

Soups are one of my favorite things to cook during the colder months.  What kind of soups do you like to make?  I would love to hear about your favorite recipes. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


(The so-enthused helper, removing the turkey from the bones, did not want his picture taken)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Starting to Feel a Bit like Christmas...

We haven't started decorating at our house yet, but the feel in the air has definitely changed to a Christmasy feel. There also has been a shift to indoor activities. For one, family pig-pile wrestling. Our 14-year old just started wrestling at school, and he likes to talk a little smack on his dad. As you can see, his dad proved that he is still number one. Then the 6-year old jumped on top for good effect.

This is my new advent calendar. I ordered it online. It somewhat reminded me of one we had as children. My brother and I would fight to put up the embroidered pieces on the tree. My mom still has it, she refuses to show favoritism by giving it to one or the other of us. I think she will probably pass away before one of us gets it, that way she doesn't make somebody upset. Naturally, I think I should get it since I am the oldest. If it came down to it, we would probably have a fight like the wrestling pictures above to get it. For now, this is the next best thing...I can't wait for my son to try it out.

Like I said, there has definitely been a shift to indoor activities...such as napping. Here, the 14-year old takes a nap on the couch...actually, he fell asleep at 830. What a party animal! He must be growing.

Before decorating, we have to get the house clean. Of course, my son is always willing to lend a hand with the vacuum. I'm sure most of the crumbs in the couch are from him anyways...

Today, we were even in the mood to bake...we made chocolate chocolate chip cookies. As you can see, my son enjoyed himself. Note the ring of chocolate around his mouth.

We did eat just a little batter....hey, everybody does it. There are actually quite a few cookies left tonight. I think we did pretty good. Gotta save some room for all those Christmas cookies coming up soon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pregnancy Memories

Here you go mommies - a different kind of survey for a change - it's all about your first born! Just copy and paste it in a new note for yourself! My friend Melissa over at C'est la Vie did this in celebration of her son's 1st birthday, and I thought I'd try it myself!

1. WAS YOUR PREGNANCY PLANNED? Yes, I had been off my depo shot for over a year before I got pregnant. I took birth control pills to start my cycle again, and then my husband caught it before I did. I was totally exhausted. I would come home from work and go to sleep at 6 o'clock, and sleep the night through. My husband told me I was probably pregnant, so I tried a home test, and we were shocked that it actually was positive.

2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Yes, were married at that time. We are divorced now. At that time, we had been married for 4 years.

3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? Excitement, but fear. We had never done this before, so we had no idea what to expect. My son's dad didn't get really excited until he found out we were having a boy.

4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? Never. I believe in a woman's right to choose, but that would never be my choice.

5. HOW OLD WERE YOU? 24...I turned 25 while I was pregnant.

6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? Like I said, my exhusband suspected my extreme tiredness was actually pregnancy. I took a home pregnancy test, got in the shower, and while I was showering, he came in, looked at the test and told me it was positive.

7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? My ex knew before me, I actually don't remember who I told in what order after that. I was too excited to wait too long to tell people.

8. DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? We went back and forth on that. Finally, we decided to know the first time and not find out on future children. That worked out well (sarcasm).

9. DUE DATE? July 4th, 2003.

10. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? I had so much morning sickness you couldn't even call it that. It was more like all-day sickness. I had to carry plastic bags around with me in the car in case I got sick while driving. I had to snack constantly to try and keep my stomach calm, which caused me to gain weight early in the pregnancy.

11. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? I was totally turned off by chicken the first few months. I don't remember having many cravings, but one time I called my ex and told him I wanted kraft mac'n'cheese with jalapenos mixed into it.

12. WHAT IRRITATED YOU? I basically didn't sleep the whole third trimester. My son danced around and had a good old time every night while I tried to sleep, I was so uncomfortable, I basically couldn't find a position to sleep in that worked.


14. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? Nope. I was happy to have a boy. Sometimes I wished to have a girl, but I am actually glad I didn't have to do all the ribbons and hair bows and tights.


16. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? I had 2 baby showers, one with my work friends, and one at my mother-in-law's house in Kansas City. A lot of people came to both.

17. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? I did know about both of them.

18. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? I had some spotting early in my pregnancy, so I got to have a lot of ultrasounds. Other than that, it was pretty routine.

19. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.

20. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? I was induced 3 days before I was due because I was huge and very uncomfortable. I had one of those doctors that was okay with that, and I wanted the baby OUT. I went in at midnight, got induced, and had my son and was finishing up by 10 am.


22. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? The nurses and my ex. My mother-in-law got there shortly after my son was born. The doctor barely got there in time to catch. I had to laugh, because my water waited really far into the labor to break, and they were going to break it for me, but then it kind of popped. It sprayed everyone on that end of me, and they all yelled. Yes, gross, but in a way kind of hilarious.

23. WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? It was a vaginal birth, if that is what you mean. My son's head was so huge, they used the vacuum to help him down and out. He didn't even have a conehead afterwards.

24. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? Yes, I tried one medicine early on, but it just made me sleepy and didn't really cut the pain. I progressed so fast, the anesthesiologist barely got there in time to get the epidural in. After that, it was a piece of cake!

25. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 8 lbs 11 oz. . He was 20½ inches long.

26. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN 10:11 a.m. on July 1st.

27. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? I won't give that information out, but it is a traditional name. It was the only one we could agree on.

Feel free to copy this survey into your own blog and change the info to share your pregnancy story!

Wednesday of Few Words

A really cool squash I found at Gateway market. They told me it is called a Peanut Squash.

My son playing quietly in his room...

Gardenmom in her natural habitat, during the cold season.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall Gardening...and Bloom Day?

In Iowa, less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, outdoor blooms are hard to come by. I guess if I had planned ahead a little more, I could have planted pansies or something else to be blooming at this time, but I didn't think about that. I did manage to find my speedwell, still making pretty purple blooms, though the rest of the plant doesn't look so hot. Later I realized that my sedum technically still has blooms, but I forgot to get a picture of that. I have never done fall or winter gardening before. I guess I just always assumed that once the frost came in the fall, that was it, game over. I am actually shocked at how many things are still growing and surviving this close to the holidays. I did plant a few things at the end of the summer, to see if I could do a little fall gardening, and though my success rate is not nearly 100%, I am pleased with the results.

Here lies my sleeping garlic. Three kinds of heirloom varieties, planted over a month ago. I suppose they are starting to grow under their bed of straw. The straw certainly stimulated the growth of some grass that is poking up through, but I'll deal with that later. I am excited to make pesto with the scapes in the spring.

I dug two kinds of carrots today, still growing in my vegetable garden. These are the oxheart heirloom variety I planted. They are very round and squat, like a turnip. They are a lovely pale orange, and have a light, sweet taste. The seed packet says they can get up to a pound in weight each. There are still many carrots growing. I expect that if I cover them, I will have carrots until the new year.

These are all the carrots I dug today, planning to make carrot soup and have some leftover. The oxhearts are on the left, and a long, thick red variety on the right. I am happy with the size these carrots achieved after I left them in the soil so much longer than usual. Supposedly the frost gives them a sweetness, as well.

The parsley that I planted in the back corner has really taken off since the frost. Also, the chard seems to be replenishing itself from heavy harvesting in September.

Here, you can see I have little tiny broccoli heads forming. They are going slow, but I can only hope that they make broccoli big enough to eat before the temps get cold enough to stop the plant completely.

My guy had the idea to put the sunflower heads into the empty bird bath that I never remember to fill. We have 3 pairs of blue jays and at least a couple cardinals out in our yard that have been dining on them, along with a very portly squirrel. My guy moved these in direct view of the kitchen window, so perhaps I will be able to get some good pictures of the birds. When this runs out, I will start putting out the store bought seed again. I didn't put any out all spring or summer because the birds pooped all over my patio. I suppose in the winter I don't care, so the bird feeder will be filled again.

Fall and winter gardening has been a new, interesting experience for me, and I expect I will do even more next year. What's going on in your garden right now?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moms Don't Get Sick Leave

I bought this sign while I was on my trip to Eureka Springs. It is still sitting on my counter, because my son got sick shortly after I returned, and then I got sick, and I haven't got around to putting it up. This must be the explanation for why I am sick and still doing the housework. I didn't 'officially' post the rule.

My son went through the prior week with most of the symptoms of H1N1. He missed an entire week of school. His dad stayed home with him on Monday and Tuesday, and I got Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then, lucky me, I got sick last Sunday. First my chest got tight and it was harder to breathe. By the evening, I had ear pressure, a fever, a nasty cough, and all over achiness. I woke up Monday morning and felt so much better that I felt silly staying home from work. I no longer had a fever, so I went in. Throughout the day my energy sank. My neck was painful from my swollen lymph nodes. I suffered through a church meeting and went home and went straight to bed.

Tuesday I stayed home. I got plenty of rest so I would feel better for the rest of the week. Little did I know what was coming. By Thursday I was starting to itch. My ears got bright read and my scalp itched first. I started sneezing and my nose was running. I felt like I fell face first into a pit of ragweed. Then I started getting hives on my midsection. By 7 that evening I was covered with them. I rolled in benadryl cream, and begged my fiance to bring me home benadryl pills. Even that didn't stop this rash. By one in the morning, it looked like I had a terrible sunburn. I was really close to going to the emergency room to get a shot.

This was me last night AFTER taking benadryl for a day and starting the other meds the doctor gave me. Friday morning I woke feeling a little better, but as the day went on, the hives came back full force. I didn't think I had any choice but to go to the walk in clinic (torture) because otherwise I was going to rip my skin off from the itchiness. After 3 hours (!!!!!!) I had a steroid, more benadryl, an antibiotic and more hives. The doctor was awesome, except for the part where she kept showing the med student my hives and saying things like, "Wow, this is a classic case," or "How interesting!" I let her know that I found it less than interesting. They thought I might even have walking pneumonia... but an x ray revealed I did not. The doctor determined that it must be a viral rash, as a result of the virus I was fighting. Not a common symptom to be sure, but it was one of the ways it manifested itself in my body.

I think the worst part was my hands. They got really sore and irritated from the red patches. You can't really see it well in this picture, but at least 1/2 my hand was affected. Today I am feeling better, especially as the steroid is taking over. I still have some sore patches, but as long as I keep taking the meds, it should be okay now.

The medicines I am taking for this rash make me really tired. I keep having to sit down and rest, which is what I should be doing anyway, but any mom knows that is almost impossible. Kids still have homework, baths, and need dinners. If the kitchen goes neglected for more than a day, it turns into a pit. Heck, there were even apples waiting on me to cook them, threatening to rot. A mom can't waste a Saturday to be would take all week to catch up. Moms don't get sick days. So, if anybody wants to send me free maid service, that would be great....if you can't, oh well, I guess I'll manage.
Related Posts with Thumbnails