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I saw Jesus (or Caramel Apple Salad)

October 19, 2012 2 comments

I served this tonight at a birthday party for my daughter. Upon tasting it, one of my dearest friends announced “I saw Jesus.” This is a variation of the popular snickers salad. This is what happens when you live in a rural area and the store you drove 10 miles to get to doesn’t have the right flavor of pudding mix. Apparently it was meant to be, because it was a religious experience.
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 tbsp vanilla
15 miniature snickers, diced
6 taffy apples with nuts, sticks removed, cored, and diced
1/2 c miniature marshmallows

In heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Slowly add in milk while whisking and turn stove on to medium heat. Whisk often until pudding thickens and coats the back of a spoon. You don’t want it to be really runny but it won’t get as thick as packaged pudding either. Cool for a few minutes so that the snickers bars don’t melt when they hit the sauce.

Place snickers, apples, and marshmallows in a large bowl and stir in pudding mixture. Chill at least two hours, covered.
This was part of a My Little Pony party. We also served fruit arranged in a rainbow (Strawberries, peaches, pineapple chunks, green grapes, blueberries, purple grapes), white cheese cubes to signify sugar cubes, carrots and dip, and hot dogs. Then of course there was cake and cupcakes. We had lemonade with orange slices floating in it and coffee to drink.

Christmahanukwanzukkah

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday was a really nice day. My mom came over in the morning and we had lunch together. It was a bacon wrapped pork roast, broccoli slaw, deviled eggs, and au gratin potatoes, then we had candy cane cheese pie and homemade cookies for dessert. It was simple and I only made about half of the above list.

The kids got a ton of loot between us and both sets of grandparents, and also two of their aunts. With five kids, there’s too much to list everything. Santa ended up giving them (from oldest to youngest) a phone, another phone, a baby doll, a marching drum and sticks with other instruments, and a vacuum. There is much, much more, but I’ll spare you.

I got some really nice gifts, too. I would have been happy to just make others happy but it was nice to be thought of. I got a better sewing machine, a 52 ounce refillable mug for the gas station by our house, a container of English Breakfast Tea, an immersion blender (always wanted one of those even though I didn’t ask), a wok (again, didn’t ask but always wanted one), storage bowls, a gardening set, an oven mitt with a brownie mix inside, and a lottery ticket. I didn’t win anything on the ticket but that’s okay. I’m content with what I did get.

Dinner at my mother-in-law’s ran late as always and we didn’t eat until 8:00 so nobody really wanted to hang around for dessert by the time presents were opened. We brought our whole pie home, as well as a big chunk of pineapple upside down cake, a lot of our cookies that we took with, and a mess of other leftovers. I didn’t cook at all today and tomorrow there will be a big salad to go with whatever I do cook.

We got home at around 11:00 and Kid #5 had trouble going back to sleep. Once we got him down, I went to bed and didn’t get up again until 9:30. Then I ended up taking a nap this afternoon. I finally feel a little more human. I just needed the rest. The cold I’ve been dealing with the past few days is easing up and I think with another night of sleep, I’ll really be on the mend.

We missed lighting candles last night for Hanukkah so we made up for that tonight. We have one more night tomorrow night so tomorrow is when the kids get their “big” gifts. It’s not anything that big, really, but they got plenty for Christmas.

We did the first night of Kwanzaa tonight, also. We didn’t do the exact traditions as outlined by my friend and the internet when I consulted them, but we made it work. We worked together to weave mats out of construction paper. There were 4 so we’re using them as regular placemats. We don’t have a Kinara either so I cut one out of construction paper and taped it to a door. We also didn’t have the right color of paper for the candles (no green) so I used white and wrote the English words for the principles on them in the appropriate color crayon. Tonight’s principle was unity and I think working together to make those mats signified unity more than anything else I would have come up with. From here on, we’ll do an activity each night, talk about the principle, and add a yellow “flame” to the paper Kinara. It’s the best I could do on the fly when I’m broke from Christmas, but it was definitely something that brought us together and that’s the point of Kwanzaa (at least partly).

I really feel like I’m offering the kids a lot here by offering them knowledge about other cultures and making these traditions a part of our family. They like it, they enjoy the experience, and we’re making family memories together. All in all, I really like this, even if 11 days with overlapping holidays does get pretty hectic!

I guess I wasn’t done shopping after all.

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I finished the quilt I made for my mother-in-law last night, and started cutting pieces for Kid 3’s quilt after that. I’m doing another 1600 quilt, just because they’re so fast, and I’m about out of time. I don’t think I’m going to get their socks done any time soon. Maybe by their birthdays next Fall. Ha.

Hubby cashed in some PTO and the check came over the weekend, so we used that to get an oil change and do a little shopping. We stopped for breakfast first and had a nice meal with the little ones. Then we hit up Goodwill.

I got a bag full of different fabrics (roughly 7 yards), a couple of winter hats, some socks, 3 books, a dustpan, and a sit ‘n spin for $26. Then hubby went to get the oil change so I went to the grocery store. I grabbed a few things we needed and some stuff to do some Christmas baking. The kids were making a scene but we made it out alive and hubby picked us up.

Then we stopped at the hardware store so hubby could get a few things he needed for his wood shop, and I found a sale on toys. All of their toys and Christmas stuff was half off. I didn’t really need anything that they had for Christmas decorating, but I couldn’t pass up the toys.

We got 2 Melissa and Doug chunky puzzles for $4 each, 2 barbies for $4 each, 2 construction trucks for $2 each, and 2 Melissa and Doug craft kits (paint your own jewelry box and piggy bank) for $3 each. We let kid #5 have one of the trucks now since sister got the sit ‘n spin, but the rest is going under the Christmas tree.

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In other news, my cousin had tendon surgery the other day and her husband was home with her, but she seemed to be better so he went back to work. When he came home last night, he found her so weak she couldn’t move, so he called the ambulance and when she got to the hospital, they found internal bleeding. It’s unrelated to the surgery, possibly a laceration in her stomach or something, but she has a very rare blood disorder and there were only 3 bags of the appropriate hemoglobin in all of Canada, where they live. It got flown in to her last night and they started her on it as soon as possible. Her hemoglobin is going up and she’s feeling better. They’ve also found 3 more bags since then but any kind thoughts you can spare would still be appreciated. She’s only 35 and has 4 kids under the age of 10 that need her.

My aunt is updating me as she finds things out but there’s not much more to know than that right now.

So anyway, any good vibes or prayers you have would be appreciated.

Several tidbits of update

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Kid 5 had a check up with the orthopedic doctor today. He had an x-ray of his hips and it came back pretty close to normal. There’s a little bit if turning on the growth plates but nothing to worry about, especially since we have him in braces and such. We’re to return in a year.

We visited the in laws today. Kid 5 spent a long time with his abuelo. He did really well with being held by him. I was surprised. It probably helped that his grandpa turned on Dora for him, but he sat there and made an old man’s day.

Apparently, sister in law is getting married in January. She is sending out invitations for an engagement party and they’re getting married there. It’s supposed to be a surprise and we’re not supposed to know but mother in law told us anyway to make sure that hubby takes the day off and doesn’t blow off what he thinks is an engagement party. I think a lot of people are going to end up doing that, actually… but whatever.

When we got home, I rearranged the two downstairs “bedrooms” and swapped them out, so the old toy room is now a room with a table in it for sewing. The old guest room that gradually became known as the wii room is now a toy room for the little ones with a ton of space. I was even able to get the parallel bars and table and chair out of my dining room. Oh, and the rocking cow. All of their crap fits into that room comfortably and there’s still room for a bed when we’re ready to separate Kid 4 and Kid 5. We also have a more spacious place to do weekly therapy for Kid 5 so that’s exciting. We’ve been doing it in the dining room and there just hasn’t been any space to work.

We also went to Kid 1’s very first high school choir concert today. I am so proud of her. She looked so pretty in her choir robe that it made this mama melt, and she did a great job singing, as well. The little ones behaved fairly well and Kid 5 didn’t scream through the band part of the performance this time, either. It also made me beam with pride over my husband, the wonderful stepfather that he is, sitting in the front row of the gym, tapping his foot to the music. The ex that chose to abandon his kids and move to Arkansas can go ahead and try to pretend like he’s a dad in conversations with others all he wants, but Kid 1 knows who her dad is, and he isn’t it.

I’m almost done with a quilt for mother in law for Christmas, which I’m going to try to finish tonight, and then I’m going to have a glass of wine and relax with my wonderful husband.

Norman Rockwell must have smoked crack.

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I said I’d let my readers know about the extra margarine inside the turkey cavity.  I honestly didn’t notice a difference, so it didn’t hurt to stick it in there since it was contaminated by raw skin and couldn’t be used for anything else. The turkey, as well as everything else, was amazing. The company that was eating said turkey was not so amazing.

So I decided I’m not doing the cooking for Christmas. I had husband tell mother-in-law that they should figure out somewhere else to do Christmas for their family when she called to wish us a happy Thanksgiving, and I’m thinking I’ll just put out a cheese and cracker tray for when my mom comes with presents. I’ll throw some soup in the crockpot on Christmas Day, and I’ll make whatever dishes I have to make for my in laws’ get-together.

I can’t think of a single holiday this year that didn’t have some sort of drama associated with it and I don’t see the point in making all of that food if the thanks I get in return is physical fights about racist opinions at my table. If people can’t be in a jovial mood because of the food I cooked, I pretty much cooked it for nothing. I could have just made sandwiches if that were the case.

I know everyone says it’s not a family get-together without some kind of drama, but not like this. Arguing over sports teams? Fine. Dropping the bird on the floor because a kid ran into you? Fine. Grandma falling asleep in the mashed potatoes? Fine. Being pissed off that you didn’t get your grandfather’s watch and you see your delinquent cousin wearing it instead? Fine. This is just ridiculous, though. I’m honestly crushed.

Anyway, all of this was my way of getting around to saying I hope you have a happier Thanksgiving than I have so far. Much love to you all. I wish I could be with you, my secondary “family”, this weekend. I’ll just have to settle for being there in spirit.

 

Turkey Timeline

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Today is our Thanksgiving dinner because my husband works tomorrow. My turkey is going in the roaster oven and smells divine. Dinner is planned for 3:00.

I hate blogs that tell you what to do, but my turkeys are always amazing so I’m going to make an exception. Besides, someday my kids will want to know how Mom made the turkey. Here it is.

I bought a 16 pound frozen turkey and put it in the bottom of the fridge Friday. I’m feeding nine people, 3 of which are children. The guideline is a pound per adult and half a pound for a kid. I have two teenagers so they’ve been counted as needing two pounds. If you feed a teenager, you understand. Really, I only need 10.5 pounds but I want leftovers.

The guideline for cooking is 20 minutes per pound, and the guideline for thawing is a day for every four pounds but 5 days later, and there were still some ice crystals inside so 4 days wouldn’t have been enough. I can say, though, that once it’s thawed, you have four days to use it. I figure a week is a safe timeframe if you have a frozen turkey. Of course payday plays a role in that too. I don’t know squat about fresh turkeys so it is what it is.

Anyway, the turkey was thawed so at 8:00, I got up and preheated the roaster oven to 450. If it were in the oven, I’d go to 500 but my roaster doesn’t go that high. Don’t fret. It won’t stay this hot all day.

I removed the plastic thing holding the legs closed. That’s probably one of the hardest parts on some turkeys. I had to cut away some of the fat, and then I had to wiggle and pinch and I finally broke it free. Then I pulled the neck out, set it aside, and dug deep for the bag of giblets. It’s in there, somewhere. If you can’t find it, check the neck hole.

Then you carefully loosen the membranes that old the skin to the turkey. Be very gentle or you’ll rip the skin. I sprinkle handfuls of Mrs. Dash into my other hand after that, though you can use any seasoning blend you wish, and I rub it on the meat, under the skin. Try as best as you can to get into the leg area too but there won’t be a lot of room to move so just get what you can. Then take three pats of butter. Put one under the skin in the body area and one in each leg area. You can use margarine, but butter is better. [channels inner Paula Deen]

You can stuff the bird at this point but I don’t. I use aromatics. This time, it was half an onion, a lemon sliced in half, a stalk of celery broken in half, and a carrot broken in half. Give it all a rinse but don’t worry about removing skin and stems because they won’t be eaten anyway. Then stick it in the cavity. I also used a stick of margarine in there this year because I followed someone else’s advice and tried to grease the skin with it but it didn’t work and I didn’t know what else to do with it. I’ll let you know…

Then take oil – olive oil is best but any oil will do if you don’t have any – and massage the outside of the turkey’s skin with it. When the whole bird is covered and the roaster or oven is preheated, you’ll put the bird in to start cooking. Use an oven-proof rack in the bottom of your roasting pan/oven (I use a small cooling rack that my husband’s ex left behind many years ago) to lift the bird a bit, so the bottom can crisp. Put the bird in and cook…

After a half hour, tent the bird with foil and decrease the heat to 325. Subtract a half hour from your total cooking time, because you just did that, and wait.

A half hour before you’re ready to remove the bird from the oven, take the tent off. Then when you remove the bird from the oven, you’re going to tent it with foil again and let it sit for 30-60 minutes. This will help the juices settle in the meat and not on the platter.

There’s plenty of other things to tackle in the meantime – gravy, dressing, potatoes, etc. – but I’ll leave you to google for those, but this is how I cook a turkey that my family can’t get enough of. That includes my mom and she hates poultry.

 

 

My own open letter (contains profanity)

October 12, 2011 4 comments

I was just reading someone else’s open letter and it made me want to write my own to the same person holding that sign in that picture and looking intimidating as he tells us all to quit whining.

Here we go with the entitlement crap again. How easy it is to say “Just work harder…”

Let me tell you something about working harder.

My mom was born in 1950. She dropped out of high school at 16, because back then, a diploma was just a nice thing to have. She was married at 18, abandoned by her husband, divorced, and married again at 19. She was expected to stay home and make babies because women’s lib was just getting started. She didn’t grow up at a time where everyone took out a loan and went to college. A lot of women did, sure, but more did not.

She worked a few jobs over the years, until I was born in 1979. Then she stayed home with me while my father worked. She did have a job here and there, but she wasn’t the breadwinner. She was earning money for Christmas gifts, clothes, and so on. On the outside, we were pretty privileged, except that my father was an alcoholic domestic abuser with a wandering eye.

After having enough of his abuse, she left him with me in tow in 1987. She worked at a nursing home for a while, struggling to put food on the table. She often went without eating and there were many nights that we had peanut butter and crackers for dinner. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with this. I didn’t know there was anything missing when I ate plain hamburger with a spoon. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with drinking powdered milk. My mom made a game of it all, because at that time, they wouldn’t approve my mom for food stamps because she was still legally married to my dad and he made too much money. Bootstraps, blah blah. More like trying not to starve to death.

My mom took a job in August of 1988 at a screw manufacturing company. She was a temp for a year, then she got hired on. She had a 401k. She had insurance. She busted her ass. She worked 10 hours a day during the week,  and 6 hours on Saturday, every single week for 18 years. Granted, the overtime did fizzle out toward the end, but it wasn’t because she wasn’t willing. She is diabetic and the job physically took the life out of her legs and the rest of her body. I watched her, in later years, walk out of that factory crying because she hurt so bad from doing her job, but you know what? She got up the next morning and did it all over again.

In 2007, the factory closed and Rockford’s screw products became China’s screw products. Along with that, between the CEO of the company and the bank in charge, the employees’ 401k match from the company disappeared into thin air. So did a large portion of what was paid in. My mother’s retirement went from $23,000 to $5,000. She had no insurance. She had no job. She had nothing. Fortunately, she lives/lived with her boyfriend so she wasn’t homeless, but she lost everything else. After 18 years of dedication and literally giving her health to her employer because she wasn’t afraid of a hard day’s work, she was left with shit. Absolute shit.

Then her health got even worse. She had no way to pay doctor bills, so she just didn’t go. She couldn’t afford all of her medications, so she just didn’t take them. Or if she did, she’d take partial doses. Obviously, her health got even worse from there. She was eventually approved for social security, and eventually she got medicaid, but at 61 years old, she’s inches away from renal failure. Part of that is because of her own stubbornness, but most of it is because of the damage that was done with some asshole in a suit stole everything she worked for her entire life and left her with no way to take care of herself. Remember, part of that was because of the bank itself. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money there initially. It was taken from her, along with her co-workers.

My mother has 34% of her kidney function left. She can barely walk. I’m scared to death to go around her when I have a cold because if she gets pneumonia again, she could die. There’s not a damn thing I can do about any of it. I don’t know if she’s 1%, 53%, 99%, or any other number, and frankly, I don’t care. I only care that she’s my mother and I can’t help her because the economy hasn’t been kind to me either.

So don’t tell me or my mom to suck it up, because this could be you someday. All it takes is one bad illness or one oops in your endocrine system and you’ll be walking the very path my mom is on. It’s easy for you to say to stop whining now. You have nothing to whine about.

In the meantime, come here and bend over so I can shove 53% of that sign up your ass.