Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day Three

The third day is always the hardest for me on any type of diet change, even just cutting back on something such as caffeine or salt.  Even though we decided April 1 for cutting out gluten as a family, it's been 3 full days since I have eaten any amount myself. 

It has not been hard at all, I thought I would be feeling some type of withdrawal or...something. 

Today I made these things Heather posted about last week.  Mash up a ripe banana and add an egg, mix all together and fry like a pancake.  We added blueberry, it was REALLY good.  Not eggy in the least, which is good because I don't like eggs.  Next time, flax seeds.  It would be good with almond butter or chocolate chips...had the same consistency of pancakes, 140 calories (plus a few blueberries, so...175?) and one was enough.  Not an every day food (though one banana and one egg per person for one week is less than $4.50 each, even getting organic), but after Chex cereal and grits for the past 3 weeks, I am happy to have another option!  And one with protein is even better.

For elevensies, I made a watercress and spinach salad with cilantro and parsley.  The Asian market has huge bunches of cress right now for .99 a bunch!  That's SO freaking cheap for cress.  I am going to try to root some, though to be honest keeping it watered every day will be an issue for me.  I am horrible about remembering things like that.  Maybe I can just grow it in the kiddie pool the dogs use as a trough.

For lunch, I made brown rice cooked in broth with curry and coconut and flaked salmon.  It's so good, I am eating it while I type.  For tea, we have the rice cereal treats I made last night and dinner will be lentil tamale casserole.  I will post how to make that tomorrow.  It was the very first thing I learned to cook via assembling ingredients and not just opening cans of boxes.  :)  Well, okay, there IS a can involved.

I am dreaming of summer squashes.  I think after the first week they are in, I will be thinking of apples instead.  I am a fickle lover of things.

Here is a pic from yesterday I managed to fail to post with the rest.  I have not taken any today, though I did go out and wash the inside of the van-windows, doors, dash and seats.  It was so dusty and covered in sticky little drips and spills and some of the windows actually had toe prints on them.  It's raining again, but I refuse to take the blame as I did not wash the outside of the van. 

That small dog is in every photo I took, she's like a lens smudge. 
I did not even notice her at the time, I was concerned with
making sure the umbrella was covering Chan's rear!
It was a minor miracle that she agreed to show that much leg,
if I had gotten cheek in there, she would have resigned from being my model.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Like what I did there with the title?

Today, I have overcome an issue that has been plaguing me for over a week. 
I think I have it fixed anyhow.  Anyway, here it is.

Homemade marshmallows:

I used:
4 cups of sweet
(you can use sugar and/or honey in any or no combo)

1 1/2 cups of water
a little salt

one box of gelatin (4 packets)
1 cup cool water
2 teaspoons of liquid flavor OR
1 packet of frosting flavor

butter (or non-stick spray)
powdered sugar

candy thermometer
big bowl (metal is best)
2 9x11 glass pans lined with a coat of butter and a light layer of powdered sugar

Mix all the blue stuff together in a saucepan and stir until mixed and then again until it fully heats up.  The key is to get it to 240 degrees without getting it any hotter or it will scorch/turn to hard sugar/become too thick/be horrible

While it's heating, mix the gelatin and cool water in a big bowl and get the mixer ready.

As soon as it hits 240, pour the mix on top of the gelatin and water and start mixing.  You will stand there for up to 10 minutes while it goes from liquid to mallow.

Boil!  But beware, for candy it does not have to be on high

Flavor, water and gelatin

Pour the boiled mix into your mixing bowl and turn on the mixers!

 Liquid to thicker

I used frosting flavor (caramel), which also had dye and even though it started off brown, it's white by the end

I did one pan lightly dusted with powdered sugar and one just covered with a light layer of butter

Spread half the mallow into the powdered pan

I am sure there's some way to make this neat and pretty, but I have not gotten that far yet.

This time, I opted to try out adding rice cereal.  Moms Best organic cocoa rice cereal is on sale this week 2 for $4!  It took the better part of a box and it was not really enough, but it got too hard to stir.  hahaha  So then I added chocolate chips

All spread out!  They need to sit out overnight and tomorrow I will cut them, the marchmallows will be dusted with powdered sugar and popped in an airtight container, the cereal mixture can hold it's own after a few hours.  We already ate a second, smaller pan.  hehe

The mallows will keep for a couple of weeks at room temp, though...good luck leaving them alone that long.

Waiting for Spring...

Yesterday started the weekend off very well, Matt's mom was up north with us hill folk and we got to hang out with her a while yesterday afternoon and she stayed over last night before heading back to the flatlands.  While she was here, she bought the kids (and me!) some new shoes and took us all out for dinner.  We planned dinner, but the shoes were unexpected and very welcome!  I have never seen the kids so geeked about footwear.  :) 

After she headed out this morning, Matt and I took Jake to a birthday shin-dig and went to pick up the last of our groceries (TOTALLY forgetting the Farm and Fleece Day we planned to go to, grrrr!), when we got home we stuffed the fridge with fruits and veggies.  I had a list, but I could not help adding strawberries and blackberries and blueberries to it among other things.  The salmon was a great deal, too.  I am finally stocked up on everything we were running low or out of.  Now to sit back and enjoy the home life until next Friday-our next planned outing.  Luckily the weather is going to be helpful with the staying home aspect of things.  Nettlevan had a check engine light and the AC was acting up yesterday, but today neither thing was an issue.

When we got home, I tackled making marshmallows again and FAILED.  It was awful and to make it worse, I did not clean the kitchen before I started so I was bumping into the dirty dishes and having to move things around.  I hate that.  So I was in a minor funk, everyone else was busy, it was raining.  I did not want to sit and read, I could not get in my big hammock because I did not want it to get wet and did not want to lay in the little hammock inside.  Whine whine.  Nothing to do.  So, I had to think what the one thing I always love to do is.  Yes, take a hot bath!  But also, moon around with the camera.  There are times when I have not picked it up in a week or even longer and when I do, it's the most amazing feeling of being complete and excited.  The only other 'thing' I feel like that about is sliding on my backpack.  Or getting behind the wheel for a long drive.

Matt and Nini

Matt quickly grew bored and went back in, so I held a toboggan over my head with one hand and took pictures with the other.  It was POURING when I took these of Chan.

I have decided to take at least one black and white photo every time I take a series of shots for the rest of the year.

When I got in from taking pictures, I jumped on making marshmallows again and nailed it.  In fact, I think I figured out exactly what I was getting wrong.  In fact, I am a professional marshmallow person now.  Yep.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Slow Week

We have been home for a week, it's been cold and rainy and not very exciting.  I spent yesterday running a fever for no reason, again.  That's the 4th time this year I have spiked a fever out of the blue.

Mr. Holmes and I got to talking (huge surprise there) and he said he had more space tilled than he could use this year, so I volunteered to use it for him and he was very happy to agree.  So now I have a waiting-for-me garden plot, I am hoping it will really help with the grocery budget this year.  If it will stop freezing and raining long enough to plant stuff, that is.

We are officially out of gluten in the house, everything here is gluten free now.  I had a mild panic because gf alternatives like bread and cookies are $$$, but if we stick with mostly veggies and so on, it won't really affect the budget too much.  Leave the gf stuff for treats and just eat rice when we need a starchy side, which, we really don't.  Plus, toast made from tapioca bread tastes like butter on Styrofoam.  If the Styrofoam was particularly dry and flavorless and hard.  Maybe washed up on a riverbank and laid in the sun for a week.

Today it was sunny and warmer, so I took the kids shoe shopping and discovered Chan is a size 9.5 and Ben needs an 11.5.  He's 13!  Jake wears a 10!  We did not come home with shoes because my children are, well, my children and Matt's and after wearing a few pairs around, they decided to just wait a few weeks and move into sandals full time.  No one could stand anything on their toes.  They are currently wearing combinations of Crocs and deck shoes an ratty tennis shoes with the stitching coming off.  They all have good hiking shoes at least-well, Ben needs a bigger size now that I think of it.  Dang.

While out, we had lunch and hit Big Lots, which had a nice variety of Bob's Red Mill's gluten free mixes and flours.  I made it out with various ways to make baked goods along with several different types of rice and curry.  The kids got jellybeans. 

Back home, Jake and I finished cleaning up the fallen tree (the crabapple partially bit the dust, forever altering my view) and Ben came out and...well, he climbed the huge pine and threw down broken branches.  I raked them all up and put them on the burn pile.  Still don't know what he was thinking.  When Matt got home, we went to take advantage of a particularly decent sale at the local grocery store and stocked up on staples.

Tomorrow will be another exciting day for us, we are heading to get the car tags renewed!  It will include a trip to the library and dining out with Matt and his mom.  Afterward, I will get the rest of our groceries, then we will be broke again.  But hey, only 2 weeks until the next paycheck!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Marching On...

Today we opted to head over to Albertville to check out the organic grocery store, Cardinal Rose.  I can't imagine making it part of our bi-monthly grocery runs, but it was really nice to get over there and check it out.  We bought some Blue Sky soda and gf graham crackers for camping, we picked up a couple snacks and drinks for today and came home with brownies, sugar cookies and snickerdoodles, all gluten free!  The snickerdoodles were dry, but the brownies were SO good.  The sugar cookies were quite delicious as well and had a dollop of muscadine jelly sandwiched between them.  Oh yeah.  And, I still have a chocolate chip banana bread loaf tucked away.  Squee  I may not make the drive regularly, but I will be back over there again!

From there, we went to walk at Guntersville because we have not walked in what feels like weeks.  We did about 3.5 miles, just over 10k steps in one haul along the lakeside trail.  It would have been lovely if it had been even just 10 degrees warmer, but 40 degree grey sky day and that wind coming off the lake, eeeee!  I was QUITE cool and I was not dressed for lake weather.  Matt assured me I was burning loads more calories in the cold, and I did warm up pretty quickly. 

On the way home, I saw a sign for local honey, so we whipped around and followed the signs and discovered a little road-side stand that had an assortment of local-grown and market fruits and veggies and local eggs and jelly.  The jelly was made with strawberries, pectin and cane sugar and that's all.  I wanted blueberry too, but they just had blackberry.  We made it out with 2 pounds of huge black grapes, a pound of strawberries, a dozen brown eggs, jelly, 2 pounds of honey, a big basket of tomatoes that smelled like summer sun, I have no idea how they were grown locally in the winter and still smell exactly right, but I had a hard time not just eating them in the store.  Oh, and cucumbers!  Matt's in there now making tomato cucumber salad, I have to stay in here to keep from eating things as fast as he can slice them.  I am like a little vacuum today.  It's all that cold, I burned so many calories. ;)

I'd like to share some lovely photos I took, but my camera lens jammed and it ate my batteries.  By the time I got it working again, the batteries were totally dead.  This is the 2nd time in a week that has happened.  I will beat this one until it's totally dead, there are so many things I would rather spend my money on that are not ANOTHER point and shoot camera.  Though Woot had a Nikon with an 18x optical zoom for under $100...

Here, I will tell you what I tried to get pictures of.  A pear tree in bloom, some of the blooms had not opened and were that pretty pink blush color.  The other thing was a statue of an angel, but she was tattered.  You could see bone and driftwood, her wings were ragged and she was very wind-blown.  She was made that way, though it fit the lakeside surrounding very well, as if she had weathered and worn down over the decades.

After I got home, Nia was in the yard and had managed to dig 4 huge holes that involved getting her front legs and whole head as covered in mud as possible.  I beat her to death gave her a bath, though if she told it, it would be the beaten to death version.  I have never seen a dog love to swim and HATE to bathe like she does.  Even Kuma, who hates water will at least suffer through.  Nia tries escape at every angle and when she gives up hope, she wants love and tries to crawl into your lap.  I could just as easily spray dirty water all over the bathroom and skip the puppy torture.  She does not learn not to get re-muddy, she just had a bath YESTERDAY.

Speaking of Nia, she did not go with us today because she has a little limp in her rear leg.  She's getting around fine, still thinks she part gator and eats and plays and even runs, but as she runs, she couples her back legs together and holds the one off the ground and rabbits around.  She won't jump on or off any of the furniture.  This all started yesterday, we think the dingbat pulled a muscle squeezing through the fence to play in the sink drain.  Or maybe Kuma landed on her or she fell off the porch, there are so many things that could hurt a growing baby, even landing wrong jumping off the bed, she's not even a foot tall, but she is built like a brick, she's freaky heavy.  Matt toted her around and was teary-eyed all afternoon yesterday, he went in to call the vet and she started moving more easily.  This morning, she was about 85% back to normal, this afternoon-after marathon digging all day-she's moving with nearly no trouble.  So I hope by this time next week, it will be all but forgotten as she bullets around like a crazy thing again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Here!

It's the first day of spring's kind of gray and dull.  Hmmm

My personal goal back in 2010 was to be debt free by the first day of spring 2013.  I didn't make it, though we are close!  We have less than $400 in debt left, so one more payment on the last credit card and one more partial payment on the van.  And of course, Ben's braces have only just begun, though they are interest-free, so while still a monthly debt payment for the rest of this year, it's still all going to the balance, which helps.  After our camping trip/Matt's vacation in May, starting in June, we will be funneling our extra money 2 ways.  Half into savings and half into the house.  *sigh* so dull.  hahaha  I can't wait!

Take a moment and really look at the photo.  She's wet, covered in ash and mud and laying IN a fire pit.
I love this dog.

It was a great day to be out, but a horrible day for photos of flowing water!  Yay

We went with the teen group, I am really enjoying this group!  They are active and enjoy a variety of things and take turns hosting.  It's pretty awesome.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Okay, it's not until Wednesday, but there are people here with Christmas decorations still up, so I can be excited 2 days early if they can be 3 months lazy.  But SPRING is practically here!

The weekend was very productive, I got a LOT of brush cut and burned in prep for moving the fence, Jake and I covered the sink drain area with a huge sheet of glass to help dry out the ground faster and rocked around the edge to make it look a little nicer (and keep Niabutt OUT of the stinky water!).  The end plan is to extend the pipe further out into the pasture and possibly have it drain into a buried cistern much like the septic tank, but for now, it's in what will soon be the extended back yard. 

Friday evening, I had the migraine of the decade.  If I had been home with just the kids, I would have called an ambulance or at the very least, Suzette to come up-I was that sure I was not going to make it through the evening.  I pretty well decided it was an aneurism and after it let up a little, I had the worst dream I have had in years.  Saturday I got dizzy every time I moved faster than a slug.  Which is how I ended up sitting on my butt in the back, sawing privet with the limb saw all afternoon. 

Matt had taken Ben and Chandler into town for things they had planned with friends.  Jake stayed about 3 feet away all day, he's such a good kid.  Which...did not keep him from being a mouthy so and so yesterday!  He's entered a new phase I like to call 'backtalk 101'.  He is not good at it, so his approach is to simply disagree with me or totally change what I said into what he would rather hear.  He was difficult at 3, 9 and again at 13, I really thought I was 'done' seeing how he will be 18 in 6 months, but no.  I don't fully understand why he's flexing this particular muscle, having an annoyed mama has never served him well at all.  Maybe he's doing some of that 'prepping to be on his own' nonsense.  Cutting ties or whatever the psych books call it.  He won't graduate until NEXT spring, he's not going anywhere any time soon.  (I foresee looking back in a year and moaning about how fast the time went).

At any rate, this is shaping up to be a light week.  I still feel pretty bad, my headache has not fully abated and sometimes it gives a little jolt, plus I feel a little nauseated still from throwing up Friday night.  I doubt the smokey burn pile helped either issue at all.  This morning, I already hear the thunder off in the distance.  I am looking forward to hanging out most of the day and reading.  Right now I can see a squirrel in the walnut tree outside my window.  He's sitting there on a branch, eating.  The wind has picked up and the branch is moving around in big circles and he's just peeling his breakfast and throwing the shell down, not paying any attention to the fact that he's blowing around.  He must be new, since he's spent the last half hour running to the end of every branch up there.  Just stay off the ground, squirrel!  We buried 3 voles and a squirrel in the past week, 2 rabbits and a raccoon.  With the dogs going after bigger animals and the cats taking out every mouse and bird they can catch, I think of the fenced yard as 'death acre' sometimes...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Field Day!

Normally we don't go out for competitive games, we went to one homeschool field day and the kids did not enjoy themselves because there was so much yelling and it felt bad to lose, even if all the kids got ribbons or trophies, it was pretty obvious even still in single digit numbers, that it was not from winning anything.

The kids do love to play, though and over the years they have developed a few big group games and I have looked up some and of course there's always spontaneous play. 

Yesterday was our first field day with the teen group and the kids were kind of excited.  We spent all of Monday with Suzette and Michelle and their kids, celebrating their combined birthday with lots of yummy food and laughing so hard my stomach muscles were sore.  So they had already had some 'friend time' and today Emily will be here for the day and Britney for the night-it's been a very social week around here!

Still, we got up and headed out, I grabbed some protein bars as I was leaving and everyone made a water bottle, though not everyone brought theirs...We got there at noon and finally peeled the kids apart (literally-they were playing elbow tag again!) and got them in their own vehicles at 6.  By the time we got home, we were ready to eat anything that stood still-though the kids slept the whole drive back other than when we passed Taco Bell and there was a resurgence of life.  We just ate out the day before!  I had to claim budget woes, but if they want to go camping with friends next week, we have to plan ahead for that...

Anyway, we had a great time.  I was a little bummed that there are 10 families in the teen group and I have only met 4 of them and only 3 of those came, so we have not met anyone new yet-the other folk seem to have joined in a rush of 'I will be more social' and then crawled back in their hole.  One mom seems to have joined to get us to remotely fund her lifestyle via online sale parties. 

But the kids that were there all get along great, so that was a huge plus, even if there were smaller numbers.  They had a blast.  This morning, I have heard 'I'm so SORE' about a dozen times.  Yay!

 The kids were throwing pinecones at each other and Nia was making sure the girls were well stocked.  She would run and get the ones they threw, too.

 THIS is the happiest dog in the world.  Kids running and running, new people to love her, smells and best of all, snacks all day long!

In the 6 hours together, the kids ran half of that time and sat the other half, there were many piles and reconfigurations during the day.  I bet next time, my kids won't forget to pack some food for themselves!  There was a gas station about a block away, so I DID offer to get them something to snack on, but they declined.

 They are playing telephone!