Thursday, June 24, 2010

Butter Makes Everything Better

Today I made my first batch of butter. I picked up some heavy cream at the local diary, then I literally just whipped it up!

I have made whip cream before, and for butter you just keep whipping until all of the sudden the whipped cream looking stuff turns to chunks with what appears to be water but is actually butter milk!
Next you have to wash the butter to get all the butter milk out of it (the butter milk is what makes butter turn rancid quicker). This step requires a bit of muscle, as your mixture is the texture of firm butter and you have to mix in ice water and mush it around, rinse and repeat. You continue this process until the ice water drains off clear. I used my mixer for the first several washes then used a spatula to really mush it around.

For my final step I added just a bit of salt and stirred again. And Voila...BUTTER!!!

I pressed it into my old butter container and put it in the freezer till we use up what is in the fridge. I ordered a butter bell from a friend who does pottery, so when that comes in I'll put it in there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

...and I was going for subtle....

I have PINK hair... yeah I know... totally crazy...right?

Here's the story! Last week at the lake Alison and I saw a girl with the cutest hair.. black with blue under layer and blue bangs... WAY cute! So yesterday we decided to do it too.

At Sally's we got the bleach kit and picke out our color, Alison chose blue, and I chose a deep red because it looked more subtle (ha ha) than all the other colors.

It was kinda like de-ja-voo bleaching Allison's hair. Years ago she used to go platinum blond and I would always bleach it for her... Now here we are (almost 31 and not yet 30) bleaching and going for crazy hair color like we are 17 again!

When we finished and I saw the color of mine I almost freaked out...almost.... everyone said they liked it (including Jim, Seth, and the kids) and Allison LOVED it -- recommending that I keep it for a day and if I still was not sure about it we could change it later.

Allison's turned out just how we were planning (though it took an extra session of blue dye). In the end I think we both would have been completely happy if we could have traded hair.

It is the next day, and it is growing on me. It is definitely wild and bold, but it is kinda fun and crazy for the summer.

It seems that I am making a tradition of doing something completely out of character for myself each summer. Last year it was a nose piercing, this year pink hair, next year...who knows!!

Learned: It is kinda fun to do something out of the ordinary, and hair (for me) is a great choice because I know I can always change it.

Something Old

I have had this old sewing machine since my grandma moved out of her house a few years ago. I love it and have wanted to put it in the house somewhere, but we have a small house that is overcrowded already. AND I wanted to find the perfect spot for it. Needless to say it has since sat in my garage..., buried under boxes of books, sitting dejected behind many other forgotten treasures.

Alas yesterday was a special day, the day it found the beginning of its purpose...

I unearthed it from is lowly spot in the garage, and hauled (it is quite heavy...)it into the house. Then disassembled the tangled web that was the computer/phone/modem/wireless router, cleaned the disgusting accumulation of dust from every surface in that corner, as well as ever surface of the sewing machine, and tossed the old computer desk making room for the antique sewing machine...

I dreaded reconnecting all the wires, sure that I would mess up and not be able to use the phone or Internet... amazingly I did it!
I am not sure if this will be the final placement of this piece of furniture or not, but I am so happy to finally have it in the house where I can enjoy its design and sentimental value.

Learned: Sometimes you just need to DO it and not worry about it being perfect.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dead in the Family

Reading the newest book in the Sookie Stackhouse series was a lot of fun. It was a quick read that I enjoyed over the weekend at the cabin. I was so taken away by the story that I didn't even notice the amount of sun I was getting on only one side of my face... OOPS!

This story finds Sookie on the mend after the Fae found and tortured her in the last book. Trouble still persists for Eric (Sookie's love flame) after the hostile take over of his state by the Nevada vampires, and he is concerned for himself, his faithful employees, and of course Sookie. After consenting to let the Shreveport Wolf pack hunt on her land during one of the full moons, a fresh body is found buried in Sookies back yard and Sookie finds herself in typical trouble. Someone is trying to frame her, or frame the wolf pack (who happen to be seeking societial freedom), or possibly discredit Eric in preparation for a take over of their own. To make matters worse for Sookie, strange fae have been tracked through her woods, and at the worst time Eric, has a visitor who only adds to his current troubles.

Learned: Once again I was well entertained, though this one seemed to take a bit longer to get into the action, I enjoyed the story on the way.. I give it a 3...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Girlie Grown Up

We came to another milestone today... Madison shaved her legs for the first time... Several of her friends already shave their legs (or wax them), and I remember that being a big thing I got to do when I started middle school.

She picked out her own razor and shaving cream and we indulged in a mini lesson during some quality mom-daughter time.

Of course (as with anything concerning Madison) I am only sharing this with her permission to do so...

Learned: I really expected this milestone to be a lot more difficult for me, but it was actually kinda fun!

Yogurt and Fruit Sauces

My family LOVES yogurt, and Allison made some home made yogurt the other day. I thought it sounded really easy and at least worth a try. So last night I started the LONG process of making yogurt. It was super easy and it turned out pretty good for the first attempt. The whole process takes about 14 hours and about 13 hours and 55 minutes of that time is waiting... to bring milk up to temperature, to bring milk back down to temperature, then allowing yogurt to metamorphosis.

I followed Allison's recipe(scroll down once you open page), but I used skim milk and fat free Greek yogurt. I was a bit worried it wouldn't turn out because of that but it didn't seem to matter. I also put the crock pot with yogurt mix inside a cooler with some of our water bottles filled with HOT tap water then stuffed the open spaces with towels. I drained mine for about an hour (which is way less than what she recommended...) and dumped the whey before I actually saw the consistency of the yogurt. I wish I would have kept it to mix some back in, as minr is pretty thick.

For the fruit sauces I just put the fruit and a little sugar in a sauce pan and cooked on medium till it was a little soupy. For the Blueberry sauce I took half of this soupy stuff and blended it then returned it back to the batch. I blended all of the cherry batch because I only cut the cherries in half. If I were to do a larger batch of cherry sauce I might invest in a cherry pitter, that took a while to do by hand.

Learned: It was a great process to go through, and one that I may continue... at least until I go back to work...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Horse Camp

Madison and Emma have gone to Camp Redcloud Adventure Camps for the past two years, this year they decided to go to the Horse Camp they offer. They had a full week of learning how to care for, saddle, ride, trot, canter, and everything else that goes with horse riding. They even took their horses on an over night camping trip where they had to pack the saddle bags with all the gear and food need for them and their horses, and sleep out under the stars.

When we picked up the girls from the horse camp they did a horse show to demonstrate all they had learned about riding. Madison got a Welsh pony, who was new to the herd and quite ornery. They played several games that showed us how they learned to mount, dismount, trot, lead, turn, and some other stuff that I don't know what its called. They played Red Light Green Light that showcased their ability to start and stop their horses. They played a game where they had to fill a cup with water and go to the other end of the arena and fill a container to overflowing; this game showcased their ability to maneuver their horses. Madison's horse was afraid of the cups and took off across the arena, Madison did a good job of getting her horse, named Jericho, to calm down. They also bobbed for apples, they would ride to the other end dismount bob for the apple then feed it to their horse, or take two bites. Madison's horse wouldn't eat the apple and she couldn't bite it with her braces so the counselor ate it.

When the show was over the girls took the horses into the barn and took the saddle off and away, took off the bridles and led the horses out to the pasture.

Learned: It was impressive how much they learned during the week about the care of horses and riding technique.

Lake City via Corkscrew and Cinnamon Pass

Thursday we headed out of town with the Mueller's for a Jeep trip. We were due in Lake City on Friday morning to pick up our girls from horse camp at Camp Red Cloud, and thought we would take a mini adult vaca... It was absolutely beautiful and incredibly fun! We met in Ouray, where John and Anne rented their Jeep and headed out of town making our way up Corkscrew. The views were breathtaking! We were headed over Hurricane Ridge and California Gulch when a snow drift forced us to turn around and head into Silverton to get to Cinnamon Pass. It was a pretty detour, and we got to see the ghost town of Animus Forks too! Then we made our way over Cinnamon. Several years ago John wanted to take Cinnamon Pass home from Redcloud but they were in the mini van. On our way down they showed us how far they had made it in the mini van, and we were SHOCKED!!! They were almost to the summit when Jeep coming the other way ogled at them and said they should turn around. It is an ongoing joke now that always gets a good laugh!

We got into Lake City and checked into the lodge and had an amazing dinner! We also got a good laugh about the diversity of our stay: Lake City is a dominantly Texan town, the owners of the lodge were French (complete with thick accent and all), they made (amazing) Italian food, and had a Mongolian exchange worker for the summer who was trying to learn English from people speaking French or Texan accented English.

It was a great time with some great friends, in the GREAT outdoors!

Learned: I miss our Jeep....

Happy 4th Birthday Maddox... (Last Month)

I can not believe that I have not posted about Maddox's birthday and it is now well over a month since the big day! We had a great time with the family, all of my brothers were there or represented in some way (Alix couldn't get home but his wife was in town for graduation so she came), as well as all the grand parents, Brian's sister, and Christie (Dillon had to work). So there were plenty of kids to make it a fun party for the birthday boy: Malia, Rider, Tenley, Tessa, Myla, and Madison.

Here are some pics of the special day.

It is really had to believe that it has been four years since Maddox was born, it has gone so fast... This past year has brought on a lot of growth and change in him. He has really changed into a boy and not a toddler, he started school which (thank GOD) he loves, his imagination has gone wild, and he continues to be full of energy always running, throwing, MMA-ing, wrestling -- basically be a full on boy. He also has a very intuitive and loving side, caring for those around him including the dogs. He has his mother's strong will (thankfully mine is stronger), and his father's fun loving and carefree perspective on life. I don't think a day goes by that he doesn't do something to make us all laugh, smile, or bring us joy.

All of our lives have been so blessed and enriched because of him. Though I don't wish the years away, I am excited to see his life unfold.

Learned: Reminded of how much meaning children bring to your life...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

So delicious I devoured it...

As the ripe old age of 30 looms in Liz's ever nearing future, she comes face to face with the realization that the life she has is not the life she wants. Depressed and lonely, feelings of failure send Liz on a journey of self discovery, one that spans three countries and one year, and a life time of eye opening, heart softening, soul calming enlightenment.

Visiting Italy to fully indulge in the art of pleasure... for Liz this means food, wine, and language. Visiting India Liz fully immerses herself in devotion and seeking God. Finally in Indonesia, Bali to be precise, Liz discovers the balance between the two and discovers that the heart is a place of infinite love.

Gilbert's wit and humor, and honest portrayal of even the darkest places within herself, make this memoir read with the ease of the most captivating novels. Spoiled by her poetic writing and insights into the culture, language, and spiritual aspects of her travels, I just ate and ate and ate it up, never feeling full, always hungry for more.

Admittedly Gilbert says that she is not sure which "religion" she would claim, but she knows that her God is "magnificent". When they converse the words are filled with compassion, wisdom, overflowing with infinite love. Through her entire seeking and finding, and drawing near to God, it becomes more evident to me that the God she is discovering and falling in love with is the same God that I love, one that can not be bound by a religion, but only defined by relationship, a relationship (as with all relationships) that requires time spent together... through meditation (the listening time of the conversation) and prayer (the talking time of the conversation.)

LEARNED: I don't know what others will get out of this book... whether it will reveal itself as a vacation for the couch tourist, a spiritual awakening, or just a book to enjoy, but for me it has never been more clear....Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you, self discovery is directly linked to God discovery... (and I am not talking religion here...)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dear Target,

I a writing to complain about the terrible service I received at your store last night. This is what happened:

I just had to grab a couple of things and I was already annoyed because my daughter wanted this LAME looking headphones and music player set that looked like a baby bottle, and I just couldn't come to terms with buying it. So my friend, Anne and I headed to the check out stands and the store was SO busy that I thought it was Christmas time. I mean we were weaving through people and then the lines were so long. We ended up getting in line behind a friend of mine that I had not seen since high school, Chantalle. She looks the same just older, as I suppose I do too. But what shocked me the most was here total lack of fashion sense! She used to dress so cute and trendy, and here she is at 30 something in the middle of target wearing pattern jeans... they were a blue background with tiny little flower bouquets all over it, and it didn't stop there, she had on a matching shirt! Here in front of me stands not the friend I remember but a denim flower princess from the early 90's!

As Chantalle is finished the people behind us, who apparently know her, hand her two drinks, a new flavor Mt. Dew (the white one) and an Aquifina, to check out and she finishes. Then the lady just comes up to check out in front of Anne and I saying, "Since we are together, I don't think you will mind if I just move up here." Now remember that I am already a bit annoyed and in a hurry so I am not my usual forgiving, considerate self, so I speak up and say... "Ummm, actually I do mind, we are in a bit of a hurry." So off Chantalle goes herding her children out the door, and the lady behind me harrumphs.

Anne is quickly finished, having only a two things. Now it is my turn. I set all my stuff down, and the cashier, I mean Sales Associate, who heard the whole exchange about us being in a hurry just ups and leaves with her trash can. Sauntering slowly to the larger trash receptacle, taking her time emptying and making sure to converse with her coworkers on the way back. During this whole exchange I am looking around fuming, trying to find a different line to join, but they are all several deep. I also notice the lady who tried to cut in front of us is in the next lane and already paying and heading out the door!!! Now I am beyond fuming!!!

The sales associate, then slowly starts ringing my stuff up, taking her time, talking to her co workers. Finally I can't stand it anymore and I ask her, "Excuse me, did you not hear my earlier confrontation, I am in a hurry, could you please go faster." Now she gets an attitude, and welcomes me to join a different line, of course they are all full now, which I dutifully point out to her. She then consults a fellow sales associate who recommends that she take a moment to "step out", which apparently means she steps out of the cash register area to take a minute and calm down. I guess I have been so rude that now I have upset her!!! So she stands there just looking at me with malicious thoughts, almost like... "ha ha ha, how is your hurry now... I have got the power now lady." Finally I can't stand it any more so I request to see a manager. Instead they call up the sheriff, who ends up being the husband of my eye doctor. I try to politely tell him that we are having a confrontation, and I am in a hurry. He tries to be the good guy to both of us, which only frustrates me more... because OBVIOUSLY I am in the right! Through his mediation attempts I only get more pissed, and finally storm out of the store buying nothing.

Anne and our kids had left ahead of me to get loaded in the car, so I begin searching the parking lot...

Then I hear "Beep! Beep! Beep!" thinking it is a car backing up I frantically search around to avoid being flattened, but it doesn't stop, this annoying beeping continues. Then I look over my shoulder, it is quite cloudy, and fuzzy around the edges and I see a glowing blob and as my eyes focus better I see a 5:45 in the center of the glowing blob, and the beeping seems to be coming from that direction...

Learned: Brian is just thankful that I had this dream about Target and not him... He is usually the one I wake up pissed at after a vivid confrontational dream.

ALSO NOTE: Even though it was a dream I am still pissed at Target, and pretty sure I will be boycotting it for a while... (till I need something there).