It goes on and on and on….

Life has been incredibly busy. This year just started out with a bang and hasn’t slowed down….no, that is a lie, it started out slow and accelerated to the current pace and hasn’t slowed down. Instead of being shot out of a cannon it’s been more of short highway on-ramp and I’m still traveling on that freeway. So because of that let’s talk about all the things that I seem to have slacked off on. 

1) blog updates. Let’s face it there just isn’t time for me to sit down and compose anything on the computer. It’s not say haven’t written hundred of blog posts in my head only to vanish into thin air when I have the time to commit something to the screen. I should try and get my husband to start writing about his experiences in cooking…but he thinks he can’t write (sigh). I’m also trying to make him do more of the meal planing. Do you understand how silly it is to have one person plan a meal and the other person cook it? Silly, and I always pick out meals that are too complicated or Hamburger Helper for him. 

2) Other blog updates. Yes, I have another blog….kinda. It consists of a place holder photo and a terrible template design. I used to put all the randomness in my head there, then decided to clean it up to showcase the things I’m working on – business stuff. Even though I’m working and producing stuff finding the time to talk about it (even though I would really like to) is just once again falling to the way-side. 

3) My house cleanliness. It’s a catastrophe, my house. Clutter all over, construction remnants dragged about the house and no time to do much of any picking up. I tried once and in 1.5 seconds a box of art supplies – large box – and a tub of Legos were dumped and then strew about the place. My first thought was “Well, I’m not making that mistake again.” The mistake being that I picked up all the blocks and art supplies in the first place. My house would still be an utter disaster but my mother-in-law picked it up and vacuumed – Vacuumed! I love a vacuumed house! – when I was off on the other side of the state going to a funeral. 

4) Grocery shopping. I have no food left to make a meal. I’m pretty fantastic as throwing together a meal out of nothing. There are plenty of days where Husband will be lamenting about how we have nothing to make for dinner and in 30 minutes or less I have something good to eat on the table. By the time he’s saying there is nothing that we can eat I can whip up something for a good week. This time, I am completely out of food. I have food but nothing to pull together any type of a meal and no time to go grocery shopping. 

And here is what’s not getting slacked off

1) Work – Yay work! The brunt of it has slowed down. I’m a little sad about this and I hope I will get revisions soon. This should give me the time to get back into some of the other projects that I’ve been working on which I don’t get paid for, such as personal projects. I started a new project for a calendar project for an animal rescue society. It’s all donation. A friend of mine sent me the request, when I read it I was thinking I’m very busy right now and probably should not take a project of this magnitude, however that voice was squashed as I hit reply and offered my services. It’s been two years and I guess I must just miss the utter drudgery and 7 levels of hell that calendar projects produce. When I communicated with the rescue society they mentioned that they had another designer that just stopped communicating with them half way though the project last year. I told them that unless they designer had created a calendar of this nature in the past most don’t know what they are getting into. So far this project is looking good compared to my other calendars they have everything ready! Fantastic. 

2) Death. People die all the time, currently it’s people I know or parents of people I know. In one week I had three people die. One was a close friends mother. The other a former co-worker who was only 34 and left behind two young children and was also one of the most sweetest, caring people ever. I know stuff like that is always said about the dead but with this person it is the absolute truth. That was utterly heart wrenching. I did skip out on the funeral, mostly because after a weekend of funerealing I needed a personal break. I wanted to go to the visitation but the roads were awful, and when you are doing a whole bunch of funeraling and people your own age die you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Traveling in terrible conditions was what I felt to be an unnecessary risk. Then on Monday night I found out that my last remaining aunt on my dad’s sided aunt had died. Rather unexpectedly too. She died of a blood infection. She wasn’t in the best of health but still this was pretty unexpected. She went into the hospital on Saturday and died Sunday night. That funeral is on Saturday. Since the funeral is Saturday I’m honestly wondering how I’m going to get grocery shopping completed and go to the funeral (life with small children) before the store is sold out of everything. The living go on living and people need to eat. 

The only reason I can whip up this little write up is because I made both the kids take a nap. I was quite sick of the overly emotional reactions to everything by the three-year-old. She’s been sleeping for a few hours, which means she’ll be up all night not sleeping, but I decided that having a cranky kid all night was worse than one that doesn’t sleep. 

 

Rabbits!

As the snow gets deeper the woodland creatures have a harder time finding food, and one thing that these woodland creatures can turn to for food are bushes. I remember reading this about five years ago when we had an unprecedented amount of snow. The article I read happened to be about rabbits eating burning bushes. The rabbits will eat the bark around the lower branches of burning bushes, ringing the branches and thus killing off the entire branch. This happened to my grandma’s gigantic burning bushes from rabbits. She thought the snow killed them but when I went for a closer inspection you could see the rabbit damage just above the snow line. Her bushes were taller than me, reduced to a about two feet. Then her yard guy did them in the rest of the way. He ran them over with a lawn tractor. 

Side note: This guy is seriously not a very good yard guy. Who drives a lawn tractor over a burning bush even if it is hacked back by rabbits. 

Since this winter has given us ample amounts of snow, allowing rabbits to get at the tender branches of bushes I’ve been monitoring my burning bushes for any rabbit damage. My burning bush made it almost all winter….until yesterday. I woke up early on Saturday and saw a rabbit sitting outside of my picture window. Eh, a rabbit, no distraction on the bushes, so no worries…that was until yesterday (Wednesday), when I went to look out the window and multiple piles of rabbit turds were surrounding my burning bush. 

Rabbit shit looks like cat food, by the way. Even after I went outside to get a better look I still had trouble figuring out if it was random cat food that some other rodent deposited by my bush when they might have been eating it or rabbit turds. 

In the evening we saw a rabbit once again hanging out in front of the window, where we have the bird feeder…which is really more of a squirrel feeder. There is rabbit poop all over my yard. When Husband informed me of this rabbit hanging out in front of our house I started to curse. I inspected my burning bush, many of the new branches had all of the little twigs chewed off. Some of the larger branches were chewed right through leaving just the tops sticking up out of the snow. Husband made the comment that it was the screwiest rabbit he’s ever seen. I said “Well, it’s probably starving to death….and eating my bushes to try and stop from starving.” I then went on to say “What do we have to feed it,” because in my mind the best way to keep it from eating my bushes to find it some other source of food – even if I have to provide that food source until spring decides to show up. 

I found a half a cabbage that was going bad. I pulled it out to grab a few leaves off of it and tell Husband to make corned beef and cabbage but instead said “Uh…no, we have no cabbage, it’s gone bad.” I also pulled out my parsley that although was still good would really start to wane by the time I could use it since I’m leaving for the weekend and Husband is surly not going to be doing any major cooking that would need fresh parsley. That also went into the lawn.

Once the half a cabbage and the parsley was in the lawn I sat on the couch to see if the rabbit would come back. It did not. I never saw it but I did see that my cabbage was moved and the two large cabbage leaves that fell off the cabbage had some major chew marks taken out of them. Yes, success rabbit is eating something that is NOT my bushes. However, the squirrels once again thwarted my efforts of feeding other wildlife when I caught it having a smorgasbord on the cabbage leaves. I never knew squirrels at cabbage, but when the snow is three feet deep I guess any time of food is better than nothing. 

The 10 day forecast is showing temperatures in the high 30’s, with two days hitting 41 degrees as a high! I’m trying to not get too excited as it is the long range forecast and well…the forecast changes every 15 minutes here. I have honestly witnessed the weather cast change between a commercial break, and heard three different forecasts on the same radio station in a 45 minute drive. As long as it doesn’t change to being subzero again I’ll be happy. 

How to Brown Meat

How does the Husband not know how to brown hamburger you ask? Ah that is a good story as well.

Many…many many many year ago now Husband and I started dating. A very strange courtship that I laugh about to this day. I don’t think Husband is as amused by it as I am. Maybe he wanted something more traditional than me drinking 1/2 a fifth of Burrent’s and going to his fraternity house and stating to him “You can ask me out on a date if you want to, but you deleted my phone number so here it is again……. come on get out your phone…”

Truth.

One night I get a phone call and he asks me to come over for dinner. I asked who was making dinner, figuring it was one of his other room mates. Both of his room mates were good cooks and sometimes the roommates would cook a family style meal and invite over random people for dinner. I figured it was pasta night. In their tiny tiny kitchen that had no cabinetry to story anything they had a shelving unit. One of those wire racks that typically are used in garages (oh hay, guess where that shelving rack happens to be…in my garage). Each roommate had a “food shelf” on the other roommates designated food area were ingredients to make meals, spices, seasoning packs, typical grocery items. My husbands shelf consisted of nothing but box meals. Betty Crocker came out with a product that was litterly a meal in a box. You didn’t even need to supply meat, it came in a can with everything else. In the mood for beef stroganoff, open a can of canned meat and gravy mix with noodles and this other can of condensed milk. All you needed was water for these things. (Amazingly they were actually pretty good.) That’s all he ate, or macaroni and cheese or other similar box-esq meals. Naturally when he called to ask me for dinner I assumed he wouldn’t be the one cooking.

He insisted that he wasted to make me dinner and that he was cooking. I asked him what he was making for dinner, tacos. I then asked “do you even know how to brown meat?” Which is kind of a trick question because it’s just cooking the meat. It was dead silent on the other end. I then said I would come over and help him make dinner. The response was a resounding NOOOOOOOO and that he knew what he was doing. ooookay, call me if you need help with the instructions. He said he would call me when it was done.

I get a phone call some time later, and walk over for dinner. Upon arrival I hear his room mate’s girlfriend (and my future roommate) shout out “Hey! You need to work on that man of your’s he doesn’t know what browning meat is!” Then the room mate came wheeling out on his his desk chair laughing and telling me that as soon as I got off the phone with Husband he had to ask his room mate how to brown meat and roommate had to explain that browning meat as per the instructions was nothing more than just cooking the meat in a pan.

None of the taco shells were warmed up either. He even had a friend helping him in this taco adventure both were dumfounded with I told them that they should be heated through, but the kicker was when one of them pulled out sliced american cheese instead of the shredded. They did have the shredded.

The Husband

My husband said the most ridiculous things. Really, he does. There are many times where we will be having a conversation and I’m honestly in my head thinking “Are we really having this conversation…yep, we are.”

Today we had a gem of a conversation the product of which started the previous night. I made “Chicken” buffalo meat balls. They are made with turkey instead of chicken because ground chicken is kind of hard to get a hold of for some reason, so whatever, they’re pretty tasty. These little suckers are hot. I  mean HOT HOT HOT. The last time I made them I didn’t remember them being that hot, later in the night I was reading my bottle of Frank’s Red Hot to make sure I didn’t buy the extra hot kind. I did not they were just extra hot for some reason.

I had to go to the doctor’s office so the Husband come home early. He asked if I was going to eat. No, because my stomach was upset…it’s not very wise to eat spicy meatballs for breakfast, and only spicy meatballs. <queue strange conversation>

Husband: I was doing alright until I left for work and then OMG it was so bad. I farted in the car.

o_O

Husband: It was awful, I thought I was going to have to pull over!

Me: Why didn’t you just roll down the window?

Husband: Because it’s like 10 degrees out.

Me: And what were you going to do if you pulled over.

Husband: Uh…get out of the car.

Me: It’s like 10 degrees out!

Husband: …..

…..

Husband: I thought it might make it [the fart] all the way home and then you would have to smell it when you got in the car to go to your appointment.

 

So, in conclusion the real reason Husband wouldn’t roll down the window to air out his own rotten fart was the hope that it would make it the 20 or so mile drive for the chance it might linger long enough and I would step into an inclosed car full of fart smell.

 

Some time later that day….

Me: Hey, was it you or me that forgot to take the little plastic thing off the ham and it started to melt in the oven?

Husband: Must have been you, I know how to cook.

Me: Says the man who doesn’t know how to make mashed potatoes.

Husband: I know how to make them now and their waaaaay better then yours.

 

They’re just mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy. A few years ago Husband was laid off of work, well partially. They were cut back to four days a week, he had Friday off. His dream plan as he said it was that he was going to get up laid watch T.V. all day and do nothing. I was having none of it. I told him that if he was going to be home that entire day when I was work that I expected the house to be clean and dinner to be ready when I got home. For someone who had to ask his room mate in college “how do you brown hamburger” making something other than a box meal was a challenge. One day he has a recipe he has decided to try. One that was a bit challenging and include mashed potatoes. He asks me “How do you make mashed potatoes.” Thinking it was a bit of a dur question I replied “You put them in water and boil them.” I then looked over and saw him standing with a pot of water and a whole potato – unwashed, un peeled, straight from the bag – in the other hand. He stood there a few moments as I watched, then the look on his face looked like it had just dawned on him how to make mashed potatoes. He plopped the potato with a splash of water in the pot and set it on the stove. Ta-da! mashed potatoes. After I had a good laugh I altered my directions to be “First peel, then cut in to chunks, then pot w/ water, boil until tender, mash with butter and milk.” Then we had mashed potatoes every time he cooked anything. The same thing happened after I taught him how to make gravy using bullion, flour, butter and water. Gravy…on EVERYTHING for over a month.

 

 

Indiana Kitchen Bacon

I am a self proclaimed bacon snob. I am loyal to the Schwan’s pepper bacon. Once you taste it you’ll never want anything else. I even rank it above the butcher’s bacon. I will honestly forego eating bacon if it’s not up to bacon-y quality.

I was seeing a number of advertisements for a bacon called “Indiana Kitchen Bacon.” The advertisements stated that it was the best bacon you could get and it was available at a grocery store. Well, the pictures in the ads did make the bacon look like it was a much higher quality than the average paper thin see through bacon that is typically found at a grocery store. Oh! These ads also came with a coupon. I decided that I would give it a try…that is if I ever found the bacon. When I would go grocery shopping I would stroll by the bacon section looking for this fabled thick cut bacon. Months went by and yet this bacon was never seen. Then at one of the meat store stops I noticed they had a new bacon variety for sale tucked in amongst their typical fair of bacons. This bacon’s card read “Box” bacon.’ I read the box it was sitting in, printed across the side was “Indiana Kitchen.” Ha Ah!

I ask the poor meat guy (he is poor because he got stuck with me) about their “box” bacon. To confirm that it was from a supplier. This butcher has always done all their own meats it was pretty surprising to find that they even carry a supplier meat. Well, it was in fact from Indiana Kitchen, I asked for a pound of the bacon. Husband looked at me questioning why I would buy something supplied pre-readied to the meat store. He actually asked me about why I got the bacon after we left the store.

I cooked up the bacon that night. I was using it for a Beer and Cheddar soup recipe I had found and wanted to try. I was not about to use an un-tested bacon for just eating. It was getting tossed in or on something. The recipe did call for a 1/2 pound and I did get a whole pound of bacon. That gave me plenty of bacon to sample as well has having enough for the soup.

My first thoughts on the bacon. It was thick cut…and actual thick cut. Not the sorry sad excuse that is typically called “thick cut” bacon. It was thicker than I cut my brisket so that right away won points from me for the bacon. It did cook down a it from it’s thickness, which was a little disappointing compared to what I normally get for bacon. Once cooked it had a nice crispness to it with a good “snap” but not over cooked, and didn’t just crumble to itty bitty pieces when trying to eat it. The bacon itself was a touch salty for me, but it’s bacon and bacon is meant to be salty. It wasn’t over powernigly salty just had more of a salt taste. It was a nice salt taste not like the kind of bacon where you take a bite and you feel like you just dipped moistened spoon in a pile of salt and then stuck the whole thing in your mouth. The bacon did not have extreme amounts of shrinkage either. It kept it’s color nicely and looked really pretty. It looked like bacon you might want to take pictures of for a photo contest about bacon.

In the end I really liked the bacon. I was a little sad that I used it in a soup in the end. I thought it was a great bacon for just eating. I really wanted to put it on a burger. Every bacon bite I took I imagined it topping a bacon and avocado topped hamburger one a toasted jalapeño roll.

The burger hasn’t happened yet, but someday soon I hope. I have yet to find Indiana Kitchen products in an actual grocer or any of their other products. I would recommend the bacon. I liked it and will be buying it again and not because I don’t have any other options for bacon.

Cranky and looking to travel

Alright, so where to began. Today I am feeling very very angry. In fact seething. I’ve been here for a very long time, and right now it does not take a whole lot of anything to set me off. I’m also probably suffering from a case of the SADs. Yes, it’s for real. I used to laugh about it in college when I had to make up fancy bulletin boards and talk to residents about the effects of S.A.D. This shitty winter that has had me trapped in the house with two screaming children from sub-zero temperatures combined with wonky as hormones as got me majorly on edge. Oh, I’m also exhausted all the time, just adding to the issues as stated before.

I’m looking forward to spring but truth be told I might just check into a hotel for a weekend. Maybe find a hotel with a spa someplace close, so when another massive storm rolls in the weekend (ruining all of my plans for the weekend again) I can trudge my way for bit of relaxation.

And that brings me to a question…what are some good hotel points programs? Years ago I was invited by a retailer that I had a credit card with to take surveys for points. Well, after years of doing these surveys for the fun of it I’ve built up a fair amount of points that are needing to be cashed in….however the company that originally sent me the invitation no longer offers any points programs. It’s all hotel points or travel points – super fantastic if I actually had an account with any of them, but I don’t. I have flying so the travel frequent flier points are out as well.