Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The final count down

The count down:
Five days of school left

Zero!!! Let's have cake!!

Happy Summer Vacation Everybody!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Finger food frenzy

Raw meat wimp-out update: Things are looking up. Just a few months ago, I wouldn't have entertained the thought of making these chicken fingers.

Sure, I would cook chicken breasts in the oven, not that I wanted to. The family kept demanding to be fed, though. What's a mom to do?

"Ick, ick, ick," I'd repeat to release some raw meat heebie-jeebies as I draped chicken breasts one by one into the pan and then into the oven. 

A puddle of dish soap and a paper towel would be waiting for me at the sink. I couldn't get my hands clean fast enough.

I still don't enjoy the process but look at me go! This chicken fingers recipe is pretty hands-on, but if I can do it, you can do it.

Everyone agreed it was yummy. I think I'll do it again sometime!

Chicken Fingers

2 1/2 cups flour
1/8 cup baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 pounds of chicken breasts, thawed
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick of butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease it. I used olive oil.
  3. Mix the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Beat the eggs in a shallow dish.
  5. Cut the chicken breasts into 1/2" strips.
      I used kitchen scissors and didn't even wear food handling gloves!
  6. Roll some chicken pieces in the egg.
  7. Then coat each piece with the flour mixture. Shake off excess.
  8. Put chicken pieces on the foil-lined sheet. 
  9. Drizzle with some butter.
  10. Bake about 7 minutes. 
  11. Turn the chicken over and bake another 7 minutes.
  12. They should be white inside, not pink.
  13. If they are at all pink, bake a few minutes more.
We had a finger food frenzy on Friday! 

On the menu: 
chicken fingers, cheese and crackers, pineapple chunks, pickles and green olives.
 No big whoop.

Hope you're having a lovely day! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Inside, outside, inside, outside

I had a feeling my days were overrun with dog duties, so I documented it.

Conclusion: Dogs rule my life.

Mr. Cool (pictured above, pre-wheelchair, at a local dog park) is so lazy he rarely makes trouble. He'd rather sleep than go outside. Or watch a movie. Or talk on the phone.

He goes outside three times a day but doesn't go by himself. We take strolls together.

Mr. Cool is leisurely. Go-with-the-flow. Slothful. 
The Little Weirdo standing still for once

The Little Weirdo, however, abounds with energy. The house is not able to absorb all his happiness. He must go outside or he'll explode.

Then he barks. 

He doesn't bark to come inside. He barks at squirrels. He barks at people. He barks at leaves. 

The Little Weirdo: "I love to bark."

The neighbors DON'T love him to bark.

So, I bring him inside.

According to my findings, I let him out six times in a day. When you figure he must come back inside as well, I go to the door 12 times a day in his honor.

Add Mr. Cool's trips, and you arrive at a tally of 15 times.

Is this correct? My dogs boss me around 15 times each day?

Kitty Baby: "That's why all dogs should be cats."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Playing house or um, camping

Recently, my husband and I took a walk in a local park which offers camping. 

The views were breathtaking and the walking trails exhilarating; but the cabins were most intriguing.  I think every little girl or grown-up little girl will find something magical in these teeny “homes.”

As we peeked inside one of the structures, my husband probably thought something along the lines of: “Electricity for laptop. Bring hot dogs.”

This is what I thought…

“Wouldn’t a vase of daisies on the dining room table be lovely? Oh, let’s sew window curtains in a fabric of pink and green and, of course, stitch bed quilts to match! We will sit in rocking chairs on the front porch and that’s where we will knit and sing.”

“We will roll out pie crust and then bake our masterpiece over coals outside. After chasing kitty from the windowsill, we will place our pie there instead. Fresh air will dance with delicious aroma, filling the room with a homey scent.”

“Our kitty will be calico and her name shall be Pinky. She will be adorned with a hot pink collar studded with diamonds--and she will sleep with us.”

“If any extra boys want to play, they can be the dogs. If they don’t like being dogs, then they can just go home.”

The daydream ended as we headed back to the car.  Real-life kitchens, laundry and pets aren’t nearly as much fun to contemplate as the possibilities found in these playhouses.

Yes, these playhouses happen to be located in the woods and, no, they do not have bathrooms or running water; so using them is, technically, camping.

But, isn’t it way more fun to pretend?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Man's work is from sun to sun

Armloads of dishes head into and out of the dishwasher a few times a day. Mountains of laundry pile into the washing machine--ugh--then the dryer.

To put our daily toils into perspective, check out this archived copy of Mrs. Owens’ Cook Book and Useful Household Hints.

Mrs. Owens, who originally copyrighted the book in 1884, uses personal voice and humor. Her household manual reads like a personal letter.

One of the book’s purposes is to eliminate unnecessary work and make the homemaker more efficient. 

“It is worse than folly to devote ten hours to a task which may be accomplished in five. These aids will make that difference,” she says.

She speaks of skimping on the ironing stating that no one will ever know if you only ironed the fronts of your husband’s nightshirts. 

The section on road-making was intended, along with the proper way to butcher meat, as reference for the farmer in the family. Believe me, this book is thorough.

Its advice for treatment of whooping cough prompted me to research the disease’s history. A vaccine for whooping cough had not been developed at the time of writing. 

Housekeeping was not so much about aesthetics or vanity, but a pursuit largely dedicated to disease prevention and survival.

Just when I figured there was no time for fun, I discovered a page regarding children’s parties. Though I don’t know many children who would cheer about panned oysters, the rest of the menu sounded appealing.

Listening to Mrs. Owens through her writing reveals wasted hours in modern day. I mean, our household does not rely on me to prepare fire kindlers, make ink or clean kerosene lamps.

But I never slack when ironing my husband's nightshirts! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rainy days and beagles

Don't those eyes make ya melt?

This photo of Mr. Cool is from about four years ago. Though he has become a mature, wise old sage, he still goes goofy during storms. 

I used to give him extra cuddles and baby talk to him during thunder storms. Our veterinarian told me this is exactly the wrong thing to do. By going out of my way to console Mr. Cool, he most certainly thinks the worst.

"She never pauses Doctor Who to lay on the floor and goop all over me," he probably thinks.

I was gently stroking Mr. Cool's face during a storm the other day while gazing deeply into his eyes and whispering slowly, "Woows a goowd bwoooy? Woows a goowd bwoooy?"

He immediately sat upright, composed himself and requested I go to the safe deposit box at the bank. He also instructed me to buy him a stack of pancakes soaked in bacon grease.

"But why?" I asked.

He said he needed to "make some changes" to his will (probably because of this and this) and that he didn't have much time. In addition, he said a stack would take too long. He probably had enough time left for *sniffle* only one pancake.

The vet was right. I had been conditioning Mr. Cool to think doom is upon him instead of just a little rain.

The next time I hear thunder, I shall resist all urges to swaddle him and give him a pacifier and baby bonnet. I will muster up some very tough love and bark at him:

"What's with you? Don't you know Doctor Who is on?"

It'll break my heart.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sunny Spot Survivor

It's a battle of wills at the sunny patio door window. 

Who will win the crown and claim the sweetest spot in the house?

It's a fight to the finish!

 "I'm finished," says Mr. Cool. He forfeits yet still manages to leave quite an impression.

This post was shared on:
Snoopy's Dog Blog

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ladybug mug, ladybug mug

The summers I spent as a pre-teen at my aunt’s house will forever be snuggled in my memory. We did exciting, empowering things I never did at home. We would move furniture--just for the heck of it. We would eat lunch meat straight from the package, sort books and pick strawberries.

Whatever Aunt Susan had going on was sure to be giggle-infested and always interesting.

As we were having flavored hot tea for breakfast, my aunt asked me which mug I would like to use for my flavored hot tea. I spotted a mug sporting orderly rows of blue ladybugs.

I had never seen blue ladybugs. Are there such things? I still don’t know. At Susan’s house, though, finding magical blue ladybugs adorning a cup were just one of many surprises.

“Oh, you can keep that if you want," she said, recognizing my enthusiasm for the wacky cup. 

Of course I wanted it!

I still treasure that crazy ladybug mug and use it regularly. I would be heartbroken if it cracked but I’m careful.

You know, she might not even remember giving it to me. It’s one of those memories which means so much to one person while fading quickly from another’s recollection.

I’ll have to ask her one day if she remembers sharing flavored hot tea while her niece sipped from the most awesome mug ever.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jelly jar jamboree

Jubilation! It's a jelly jar jamboree.

The only thing I love more than red and white gingham? Jelly jars, of course.

You got me on a technicality. These aren't all jelly jars. Some used to contain pickles, hot peppers, marshmallow fluff--all kinds of things. 

Enjoy the parade!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Like a biscuit in a loaf costume

Doesn't this loaf of bread look delicious?

Well, it wasn't.

I have been searching for a quick bread recipe to use as sandwich bread. Yeast breads are awesome and everything, but a concoction that can be mixed, dumped into a pan and baked immediately sounds like a dream. 

Kneading, rising, kneading, rising. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood.

So I tried this Irish soda bread recipe. 

Concealing its true biscuit identity in a loaf costume, it gave everyone a start--kind of like taking a drink expecting soda but getting an iced tea surprise instead. 

"It's OK, I guess, just not what I was expecting," seemed to be the collective opinion around the dinner table. The remains of this thing hung around the kitchen for days. No one would give it another chance. 

I believe baking powder is my ticket out of kneading and rising but this recipe wasn't it.

The search continues.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Obligatory laundry soap recipe

I know. I know. 

You've seen this recipe all over the Internet. Please forgive me as I add it to my recipe collection here. 

As a bonus, I have done the math about cost savings of making laundry soap vs. buying detergent. 

Here is how I make homemade laundry soap. It only takes me five minutes to prepare a batch.

Homemade Laundry Soap


Bar of Ivory Soap, unscented
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
Essential oil (optional)


You may wish to wear rubber gloves but I don't.

1. Get a plastic bucket with lid (like an empty ice cream tub).

2. Shred one bath bar of plain Ivory soap—not scented, with a cheese grater.
    (Beware of any soap or beauty bars with perfumes or oils. They may stain 
    your clothes!)

3. Combine the Ivory soap shreds with:
    2 cups of Borax
    2 cups of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

Don’t inhale the cloud of powder while stirring. It’s not too much of a cloud, but still the same…keep your distance. 

Use 2 tablespoons of this soap per load. Some loads I use double (dog blankets) and some loads I add a couple drops of essential oil (um, dog blankets).

If you use cold water and hang your laundry to dry (way to go!), then you might notice white soap spots, just a few. These brush off with a toothbrush, hair brush or fingernail. No big deal, really. Shredding the bar soap finer may remedy this. If you use cold water and dry clothes in the dryer, you probably won’t notice any white spots.

This soap does not make suds and that’s OK. It also doesn't have a scent other than the Ivory soap scent, which is nice. For more of a laundry smell, tumble dry load with a dryer sheet or hang clothes outside for a fresh air scent.

The math:            
Borax (76 oz.—11.5 cups) costs $2.98 at WalMart.
Washing Soda (55 oz.—5.5 cups) costs $2.79 at Schnucks.
Ivory soap costs about 35 cents per bar.

There are 16 tablespoons in one cup.
One bar of Ivory soap shreds into about 4 cups.

To make 44 cups of laundry soap (704 tablespoons):
(1) Box of Borax, 11.5 cups - $2.98
(2) Boxes of Washing Soda, 11 cups - $5.58
(5.5) Bars of Ivory Soap, shreds into 22 cups - $1.93
Total -$10.49

$10.49 should do approximately 352 loads of laundry (704 tablespoons divided by 2…to reflect using 2 tablespoons per load). Compare this to brand name laundry detergent selling for $11 to do only 80 loads.

This method is only smidge more effort but a lot of cost savings!

*Disclaimers: I am not an expert. Your results may vary. Keep out of reach of children. This recipe was not tested on a high efficiency washer. This recipe was used in a home with a sewer system as opposed to a septic system. Prices may change and vary from store to store.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kitty Baby loves those seeds

As I was taking photos for yesterday's post, Kitty Baby's affection for seed packets became apparent.

 He sure is curious about these seeds.

Kitty Baby cuddles the seeds. Awww. He LOVES them. 

Kitty Baby tries to climb in with the seeds. What?

Good thing he won't fit inside the seed container. 

I don't think Kitty Baby's intentions are pure.