Saturday, January 31, 2009

Crazy Nachos!

So on Martha's show yesterday she and Emeril made what he called his Crazy Nachos! They used a Boston Butt pork roast they prepared in the Very same slow cooker I own so it was a Must-try. I planned to repeat Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Nachos and serve them as the main-Munchy for tomorrow's Cardinals victory over the Steelers (I hope, I hope, I hope) because they were such a hit a couple of weeks ago... But I decided to spread the Love around and give Martha and Emeril's Crazy Nachos a try. So before I hit the Hay I'm doing this...
see those Avocados? I'm making pico and Guacamole tomorrow too!
patting my Boston Butt dry...
I've tried them all and there's Nothing better than John Pisto's
Old California Seasoning to rub on just about any kind of Meat... Yes,
that'll be me you see next week at Monte Vista market in Monterey buying
up another 10 jars to bring back to North Carolina with me!
a little Kosher salt, cracked Black pepper and we're ready!
Nite nite... see you in Eight hours!
How cute is this? I've been watching for a Crock to store the
cooking Utensils/tools I use the most and Look at this! I have
never seen a Crock like this with the American flag on it... It's
not painted on either, the Flag design is molded into the
stoneware... the Dealer had $98 on it but by the time we
were done Chatting, it was mine for only $52 with tax!
It's in Mint condition and I will have it Forever!
See the stamp imprint on the Back of my crock...
the China cabinet we bought
is Very nice, but this was my Find of day! 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Class of 2009 Senior Day

Today is Senior Day at Ronald Wilson Reagan High School, and while William generally regards me as a disease, I went any way. And, I stood next to him... Despite the advanced Warnings I received not to!

Very nice!

things sure have Improved since I went to High School... JCHS had
a pretty decent Cafeteria (although I cannot recall ever seeing it); however,
that dark, basement Cafeteria at St. Xavier's was just archaic!
I waited in line to Order his announcements, name and Thank you
cards but I resisted the commemorative Flip flops, Bling and Fuzzy dice
Just in case you thought Bling was my word, take a look
at the Order form... (click to enlarge) - I also find the $10.00
packaging fee rather odd. I mean, how else could they sell it?
I must be Getting old. I'll just shut up and Write my check now...
a young Lady having her Cap & Gown portrait taken
My Senior!
Just before I took this photo he said, You know
you don't have to be here any more, right? I know,
son, but we're Bonding... Now, just smile for me!
William with Mr. Stan Elrod, the Principal of Reagan high
school and pretty much all-around-Good guy!
Mr. Elrod telling William how much he's Looking forward
to handing William his diploma... I am too!

The next Rush Limbaugh?

a Mother can dream, can't she?
I'm actually pretty Glad I went to William's school today
because until I saw it on other kids, I thought this wind-
blown Liza Minnelli look was Unique to just my son...
...but it's not. And now I don't feel so alone!
no, William doesn't wear
Glasses - not that I'm aware of...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mail is Motivation!

You know what's Coming...
Mail from Fort Benning... And, not just Mail from
my Brandon but mail from the Commander too!
I haven't even read Brandon's letter because I received an Excited phone
call from T, saying that WE GET TO VISIT WITH BRANDON during
what the Commander calls Family Day/Mid Cycle Pass, March 21-22
so the Minute I got home I called USAir and Booked our flights!
Yup! We are headed to Atlanta and then Columbus, GA to
visit with Brandon in just Fifty days and a Wake-up!
Click on Brandon's letter above to read about the Obstacle and confidence course. The Best part of this page, and really, the Whole letter, is that Brandon says at the beginning, Today was a good day. Knowing that he is coping better since the letter we got last weekend helps Me cope better!

I will scan and e-mail Brandon's letter to you in the morning (it is Full of good stuff!) and I'll share with you the Commander's letter too. For now though, let me just quote you a little from the Commander's letter:

Dear Family Member and Friends:

    Hello, I am Captain Erik Schefstad, your Soldier's Company Commander. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Army Family, and to thank you for entrusting us with your loved one. The decision he has made to join the Army in an important one. This is especially true as we prepare to defend our country against those that would threaten our way of life. Obviously you have instilled pride and patriotism in your soldier, for he has chosen a very important and honorable profession. I salute him for his decision and you for supporting him! I take the responsibility of caring for and training Soldiers for military service extremely seriously. It is a great responsibility that is accomplished with great pride through specially selected and trained Drill Sergeants. 

    Please let me address your concerns about the welfare of your Soldier. I assure you that I have a competent and professional staff of Drill Sergeants and Cadre to train and assist him. It is normal for a Soldier to call home and complain about the discipline, lack of privileges, and hard work. In time, he will learn to adapt to the Army lifestyle. Eventually, your Soldier will look back upon this journey with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment, having successfully met the Army's standards.

I know this is just an Army form letter but it is Comforting to know, at least as far as their form Letters go, that the Army recognizes there are moms and dads out there Worried about their son or daughter. Brandon is a Blessing I did nothing to Deserve but have done/continue to do Everything in my power to keep. All I ask of the Army is that they understand how Special he is, and what a Gift his patriotism and willingness to serve his Country truly are. And, it looks like they do! As far as their Form letter goes...

In terms of mail, Captain Schefstad says:  

    We deliver mail to the Soldiers nightly and your Soldier will receive mail throughout his stay here in Charlie Company. Mail typically takes a couple of days to get through processing, but will make sure he receives your letters. Please do not send packages to your Soldier at this time. He will write or call when he is allowed to receive them. Remember MAIL IS MOTIVATION

That last line really Struck me because although I know the Captain means that OUR mail to Brandon serves to motivate HIM, the truth is that his sweet little letters Motivate me to get out of bed every morning. These three weeks since Brandon left home have been Rough and without his mail I probably wouldn't be doing as well...

You will find me sitting in Seat 8D, next to my sweetie, on Flight #973 out of Charlotte for Atlanta on Friday March 20th! 

GO Cardinals!!

photo by my friend, Leslie Pullum

Tell me... how Fantastic is this photo? I think it's pretty Darn fantastic. In fact, I love it! Thanks, Leslie!

So now that you know that I am so NOT a Steeler's fan and that I would very Much ENJOY seeing the Cardinals win this Sunday, I'll tell you that Poor Leslie (and the rest of our Hanesbrands Bentonville team) is Freezing her buns off today following a rather Nasty ice storm that hit that area yesterday. Leslie feeds pancakes to the Birds that come to her backyard deck, another reason we are friends, and she said that when she saw this Fat little Cardinal she just had to take his picture for me!

Ice storms. Yuck! It's exactly the kind of Winter weather we usually get here too, and exactly why we Invested in three things immediately after we experiencing our first North Carolina ice storm... a Big chainsaw, a set of Gas logs for the den fireplace and a standby Generator, because four days without Power only happens to this California girl once!

Sending you Warm hugs in Bentonville, Leslie... And, please do keep the Photos coming!

From now on...

... William's going to be checking
his shoes Before he puts them on!

You already know that I go out of my way every evening to Feed table scraps, leftovers and/or any culinary experiments that go awry, to the raccoon and Possum that live in our back yard... And, that we also run through fifty pound sacks of black oil sunflower seeds every couple of weeks because our Eight backyard bird feeders also serve as Grand buffets to more squirrels and Chipmunks than I could possibly count - but Love to watch! Indeed, nothing makes me Happier than to provide food and shelter and to be Surrounded by all the cute, furry and feathered Wildlife we have living here, out in the Country.

But now it seems there's Trouble... Because it seems that my Circle of furry friends is expanding without any deliberate Help from me. I mean, I don't do anything on purpose to Encourage the mouse population living on our property... It's not like I dump the boxes of old cereal outside for the Raccoon hoping that some of the cocoa-Puffs will be enjoyed by the mice too... Nevertheless, it seems the mice have been Helping themselves to the less obvious Foody things we have stored in the garage that is helping them live happily and Multiplying right under our noses. Yup! It's all that bird seed and Suet cakes we keep in the storage room off the garage... How do we know? Because we've recently been finding these tiny piles of empty sunflower seeds in the oddest places around the garage and well, Suet cakes don't unwrap themselves. Perhaps worse, we've found that old Stuffed animals, our ski pants, gloves and piles of knit Hats have also been chewed on by furries hunting for Cushy nesting material. Ut-Oh!

So last Saturday when I asked T to pull out our Luggage from the storage room in the garage and he discovered that his old Army field jacket was also claimed by a mouse, (or four?) for nesting Fluff, he said it was time to get Serious about wiping out this problem.

Wiping out, as in kill them? I asked... Yes! He said. But, don't they make those Live trap thingees that don't kill them? I wondered aloud... Rolling his eyes as he grabbed his truck keys, he answered, Yes, but then what do I do with them, Janet? Give them to You? Look! I'm not interested in starting a Mickey relocation program here, I want to Kill them! Hum... Obviously, someone was more attached to that Field jacket than he's admitting. 

Then maybe he should have hung it Up in the hall closet! I'm just saying...

So fast Forward 48-hours after that conversation to Monday afternoon when William rushes out to the garage to put his Shoes on for work. Yup! You guess it... One of T's tiniest victims must have dined on a bit of killer-mouse-bait before crawling into William's shoe for what turned out to be an Eternal nap! Because that cute little Mickey up there is the one William shook out of his shoe. Kinda looks like he just went to sleep... with his eyes open. Poor thing.

Now, if you ask me I would rather discover little piles of empty Sunflower seeds than to find a deceased Mouse in my shoe. But that's just me! The man I love however, says that when they finish Munching through everything in the Garage they might just Move into the house. And, while I love all God's furry creatures and think mice are kinda Cute, I don't love them That much!

Now, we don't wear shoes in the house, and I keep mine in my Gym lockers out in the garage... But William fell victim to this Unfortunate incident because he Refuses to pick up his shoes and do the same. And, I know that as Icky as finding a dead mouse in his shoe was, I know it's not enough to make William pick up his shoes and put them into a locker! Maybe one day when he's buying his own shoes... But not today.

Monday, January 26, 2009

my Heart is better tonight...

Came home this evening to find a New letter from Brandon!

Finding his little letters in the Mailbox always makes my Heart sing, and I was sure Hoping for good things from this one... Thankfully, this letter was about Good things!

I'm lying... This letter was nothing short of a huge Gift! As you know, Brandon's last letter we received over the Weekend was almost too much. To hear him so down, discouraged and Missing us and home so much just devastated me. As a parent, you Wish for that day when your child admits you did a Good job... When he gets it. When he volunteers that the things you said and Taught him mean something to him, and that he appreciates you... But whatever happiness I might have felt hearing those precious things from our Brandon was wiped out by the pain and Loneliness he also expressed in that letter.

So I was down after that Letter this weekend (way down) and I guess it showed because someone Looked at me first this morning and asked if I took Blood pressure medication because she said it looked like I needed some. It's true that I was wound a little tight, and that I didn't have time to apply the spoons I keep in my bedroom refrigerator to de-Puff my eyes before I left the house... And, the fact that my nose was bleeding when she walked up to my desk, combined with all the other things, probably worked against me to give away my Broken heart. Plus, this lady knows about Brandon... And, on top of that, the grandson she and her husband raised joined the Air Force last year, so she knows.

So... Good news! This new letter today from Brandon was MUCH more positive and sounded much more like my sweet son... before the Army!

always a Treat to come home and find Mail on my desk!
enlarge (click) photo to read Brandon's things to do list
a dear, Dear friend wrote this morning to Encourage me to start
a Memory box with Brandon's letters about his Army experience...
Well, great Minds think alike because I have already started one!

in Search of Pioneer Woman's Jadite collection!

I was searching for Jadite on Craig's List and found a listing nearby in Winston-Salem for what looked like a pretty promising collection. The ad indicated the pieces could be seen at the NC Antique Mall on Peter's Creek so I went down there to check it out. On my way through the shop to find the Jadite I came across these lovely casserole dishes - not bad at just $10 for the small and $15 for the larger one. But I need those like I need another Teenager living in my house and besides, we were there for Jadite! I'm on a Quest to build that Jadite collection The Pioneer Woman has!

Nice, and Fireking... but NOT our precious Jadite!
Don't you just Love how I balanced the small dish on the Rim of
its bigger mate for my photo? I managed to take the photo and put
them back the way they were before I broke (and had to buy) them!
Oh, oh, oh... There it is!
There they are! Five, Jadite charm square plates, just waiting for Me!
Unfortunately, as nice as they looked all Stacked up there, most of these
plates are in Horrible condition... Loaded with utensil marks and three of
the Five plates have some weird dark markings in the glass. Poop! Besides,
before I pay $30.00 per plate (yes, they are marked $30, EACH), I will just
take the plunge and buy a service for Eight of these - I've wanted these dishes
and matching platter for far too long. So, while I REALLY want a huge Collection
of Jadite, I'll just have to wait until a Big set, in perfect condition, of course, falls
into my lap! Yup! That's how it'll happen... right out of the Sky and into my lap! 
$40 for this Charm platter wasn't a bad price; however, its condition
is also less than ideal, just like the plates. So it's still there at the shop
$50 for this Platter is doable, but there is that same Strange dark
discoloration in the glass I noticed in the Charm plates... Not good. Not
good enough for any Collection of mine. I'll just hold out for Perfect!  
While I was there I took a stroll around to check out the other vendors because
You never know what Interesting things you might find in these Antique
malls. Like this for instance, this Russian uniform and hat. Hum...
...or this! Who would expect to find a Desk set that belonged to Kaiser
Wilhelm II, grandson of Queen Victoria and the last German emperor
and King of Prussia here in NC? Dated 1913 and Only $1,395, Firm!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

After dinner...

... it was Cake time!
Well, hello there, Mr. Bing!
I can't believe how Moist this cake is! So squishy
spongy, and soft as I cut away this slice...
my Ganache experiment is holding up just fine too!
nothing wrong with this one - it's Great! Although, I can't imagine
improvising a ganache this way again, you just Never know!

Patience...

My american-Star bundt cake pan gave up its Prize without a fight! Ina always says to Slip small pieces of Parchment paper under your cake before you Decorate because it will help keep your cake stand or Platter clean. Pretty good idea... However, I think I'll conserve my precious parchment paper and use my pop-up Foil sheets instead. 

Why? Because before I left California I bought 20 boxes of these handy, pop-Up foil sheets I always use to wrap my whole baked or sweet potatoes before putting them on the Grill or into the oven. I don't know, I somehow thought I'd never find them in North Carolina, and I still don't know if I could find them if I looked, but I wasn't taking any chances so I bought Smart & Final out! I realize now that I probably won't Live long enough to use 50,000 sheets of foil so I'm finding others uses for them, and this one is just as Good as any!

Wow!
Very pretty! But now that she's out of the pan... How to Decorate? I'm thinking
it will have to be a Quick sprinkle of Powdered sugar through my sifter. Or...
... a Ganache?
That's it! How about Hazelnut ganache? I don't know if it'll work but
I cannot think of a better way to Use this stuff... It was part of the very
nice Harry & David gift basket someone at work sent me for Christmas
but it's not something I would Normally buy or eat - So let's try it, Shall we?
Hum... Maybe not!
I heated and mixed and then mixed some more but it wasn't looking
very Promising... Maybe a touch more Heavy cream will help?
and then, just as I was about to Give up and
donate my Bright idea to the Sink disposal...
a funny thing Happened and Ganache began to appear!
smooth, Shiny, pourable and very Tasty, ganache!
Ha!
then for Ina's trick! Removing the Foil from my platter after
the ganache sets up... Works perfectly Every time!
Yum!
someone just asked me if he could have Desert before dinner!
I said No, but I'll get right on dinner now...
So much for my nap, huh?