Sunday, November 28, 2010

So Long Thanksgiving

We had a nice, and not-so-nice, Thanksgiving weekend.  For many families, at least according to the sitcoms, having the in-laws over is the not so nice part and going to your families is the nice one.  Not this year. 

For the first time, in what we estimated at a decade, Jeff's family was together for Thanksgiving.  He is the oldest of seven, five boys and two girls.  All but the youngest made it.  His significant other had just had a baby and they stayed at home.  Jeff's mom made it as well as his dad and his dad's wife.  We also had three extra students from our daughters college attend.  Two from Florida and one from Canada.  All total we had twenty-seven in our home!  A recipe for disaster, but one Thanksgiving recipe that I am happy to report, failed. 

The Burks clan

Now for the not-so-nice.  Saturday evening we headed out to have Thanksgiving with my family.  Tabitha came home with us from church, we changed, loaded the car and left to get my brother.  Then we were on the road.  We wanted to get to Elk City in time to watch most of the OU/OSU bedlam game and were making good time.  As we came close to the end of the turnpike the car started to rattle loudly.  Then the oil light came on.  It was 6 p.m. so it was already dark and that made me even less happy to have to pull over to the side of the road.  Jeff had stayed home to catch up on some work that naturally piles up during the holiday season.  I called him and got the "I put wood together with nails and glue" speech.  I then called his dad, he is a mechanic and I just should have called him first.  He brought us some oil, we started the car and it sounded like gremlins were attacking it with hammers.  Not good.  This was about 7:30.  After calling our insurance and setting up a tow, we sat there for another hour and a half.  My brother had stayed with me and we sent Tabitha and Elijah back with Cecil.  Jeff then met us at the dealership and took us home. 

Now, not that it sounds like it could get much worse, but in a way it does.  When we arrived at my brother's apartment, I sat down the dog carrier and then heard water running.  I asked my brother if he had left it on somewhere.  Then I realized it was coming from the wall.  His water heater was gushing water.  Not sure how long that had been going on, the floor was not wet yet, so not too long.  He lives on the bottom floor, with no neighbors and in the very back.  Had we not gotten back until tonight, as planned, his whole apartment would have been flooded.  I guess our silver lining was that we caught it in time.  Just another reason to be thankful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lessons Learned

Okay, this is not some profound or life changing lesson that has bee learned.  But to an 8 year-old it is one that showed him you can be rewarded by doing what you are told to do and not arguing about it.  Last night we ent to the OKC Thunder game.  It was "Blue Out" night.  Everyone was encouraged to wear Thunder blue to show support for the team.  Jeff and I got our Thunder gear on and told Elijah to go do the same.  He first came in with just his Thunder hat.  We told him to go put on his Durant jersey.  "Why? I look dumb in it."  To that we quickly let him know it was because we told him to do it.  Well, we got no more arguing and reluctantly put it on along with his Kid's Club lanyard.  He was Thundered up!  Out the door we went.

We stopped to eat on the way.  While we were waiting for our food he asked us how all the kids who get to go on the court in the pregame were able to do that.  )These kids get to be honorary co-captains or give the game ball to ref.  The co-captains then get a small ball autographed by the Thunder's captains.  Usually Keven Durant and Russell Westbrook.  The ball delivery kid gets a picture taken with the ref.)  We told him they chose kids who were dressed to show they support the Thunder by wearing a jersey or hat or other items with Thunder logos.  We then said they don't pick kids who come in a white t-shirt, which is what he originally had on, and that maybe sometime he would be picked.  After we ate, the two of them ran to the arena while I had a nice little stroll in the cold. 

When I arrived at the arena went to my seat.  We don't sit together, but that's another story.  I could not see them at there seats.  We were about 45 minutes early and there weren't many people there.  I saw them walking to their seats just a few minutes later and waved to them.  The next time I looked back, they were gone.  Then I saw the coming up to my seat.  Elijah came running up to me with a huge smile.  I just assumed he was glad to see me.  No, he let me know right away that was not the case.  "Mom, I get to be the game ball delivery boy!", was his excited remark.  They had seen him come in with not just a jersey or hat, but both and a kids club badge as well.  They knew he was a real fan and that is why they chose him.  See, minding can pay off.  He got to go down court side while the players were warming up.  Then his turn came to take the ball to the ref and get his picture taken.  The ref then asked him who his favorite player was.  "Kevin Durant," he told him.  "Kev, come over here," yelled the ref at Kevin Durant.  He came and shook Elijah's hand and then took a picture with him!  Cool!  Jeff had taken him down to the waiting area and when the guy brought him back to Jeff he told him that getting to meet a player was not normally part of being the game ball delivery kid.  That ref just happened to ask Elijah and get Kevin Durant's attention.  We told him that was an extra blessing for being willing to mind, even though he may not have wanted to.  He had changed his attitude quickly about wearing the jersey.  (He thinks he looks dumb because it is so big.)  Hopefully this will serve to help him to remember to be much more willing to just mind.

Kevin Durant is the tall one.  Just in case you weren't sure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Thanks giving has always been my favorite holiday.  Even when I was growing up it out ranked Christmas as my favorite.  This year we are celebrating twice.  Once on Thanksgiving with Jeff's family at our house and then again on Sunday with my family in Elk City.  We will also have a couple of Tabitha's friends from college come over for the day.  They are both from Florida, so they won't be able to get home to spend it with their families.  For one, it is her first Thanksgiving away from home.  I'll try to make each one a dish they would normally have at home.

We haven't spent the holiday with his family in at least 8 years.  I thought it was about time to do so and invited them to our house.  We'll see how it goes.  Out of the 7 siblings, I'm not sure who will be here.  One brother we haven't heard from and one's girl friend (wife?) just had a baby by C-section yesterday.  Yeah, I don't know if they are married or not, that's how distant we are from them. 

To get a head start on the two days of feasting, I started my cooking today.  Well, I haven't really cooked anything yet, but I figure if Mrs. Smith and the Jolly Green Giant can prepare things and freeze them to cook later, then so can I.  I have two pumpkin pies sitting in the freezer and a roasting pan of dressing as well.  I will get a few more things ready to freeze for later preparation and set it out next Wednesday.  Now if a magic fairy would come and clean the house, I'd be set!


Pumpkin Pies

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Another Tequila Sunrise-Almost

When I was younger, The Eagle were one of my favorite bands.  Tequila Sunrise was one of my favorite songs.  However, this is not about The Eagles or their song, it is about grenadine.  How exactly am I making this connection.  Well, anyone who know what a Tequila sunrise is, knows grenadine is one of the major components.

Courtesy Wikipedia-The Tequila Sunrise is a cocktail made in two different ways, the original (tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda water) and the more popular concoction (tequila, orange juice, and grenadine syrup). Originally served at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, where it was created by Gene Sulit in the 1930s or 1940s,[1] the cocktail is named for the way it looks after it has been poured into a glass. The denser ingredients (cassis or grenadine) settle, creating gradations in color that mimic a sunrise.

Now, if you are familiar with the commercially available grenadines, you realize that they are mostly corn syrup, citric acid, and coloring.  This has not always been true.  True grenadine is made from the juice of pomegranates.  You can do it the hard way, by seeding a pomegranate, covering the seeds with water, bringing to a boil, running through a sieve and mashing out any extra juice, adding sugar and simmering for another 15-20 minutes.  Or just buy some POM and adding the sugar, etc.

I had three pomegranates that were going to go bad if I didn't do something with them, so I went about making my grenadine the "hard" way.  One question you might have is' "How did it get its name?", well, the French word for pomegranate is grenade.  The artillery you might be familiar with is so named because of its resemblance to the fruit.

Well, now I have my grenadine, I guess it's time to make myself a beautiful sunrise!  It has been a pretty dreary day, after all.


Seeds ready to cook

The mess from just cutting the fruit in half.  Glad I was wearing a red shirt!

After cooking

Strained and thickening.  That is just a reflection of something in the juice, not anything floating in it.  I strained it 3 times.

Just waiting for oj and tequila!

A Few of My Favorite Things!

I have a lot of favorite things.  Some are guilty pleasures, some are found in nature, others involve family and friends.  There are too many areas to really list.  Here are pics of the three that are mentioned.

First, my two favorite guys in the world., Jeff and Elijah.  One is my friend and one is my buddy.  We have so much fun together.  Jeff and I have been married for 21 years.  Even though we didn't grow up together we did.  We didn't know each other as kids but we weren't much more than that when we got married.  We both had a lot of growing to do.  We have been blessed enough to grow together through some tough times, raise two kids, travel to see things that 21 years ago we would never had dreamed of seeing.  Getting married at 18 and 20 is not ideal, but I really would change it.   My buddy, Elijah, is our later in marriage surprise.  He keeps things lively around here.  While he is a rough and tumble boy, he also has quite the soft spot for animals.  He loves his cat, KC.  We had been married for 13 years when he came along.  While many of our friends were starting families around age 30, we already had one and she was 10.  We are in two different groups of parents.  If they have children Tabitha's age, they are generally 5-15 years older than we are and if they have kids Elijah's age the are around 5-7 years younger than us.  We have two generation gaps to fill.  For all of these differences we are blessed with two very smart, good-looking, and fun kids.  If I do say so myself.

Here they are at the Thunder-76er's game.  How did I get this picture?  I sit in a different section!

My guilty pleasure is our hot tub!  This is so great to just get in and relax.  Even though it is on our back deck, we use it way more in the winter than any other time.  It is just a great way to relax before we go to bed.  One thing I don't like about it is the way you smell after you get out.  Chemicals!  While we don't use chlorine, the other alternatives are just as smelly.  To combat this some, Jeff like to put fragrance in the water.  The only problem with that is spa fragrances are full of chemicals as well and they choke me up.  They also have essential oils, so yesterday I went and bought a couple to try out.  We'll see how they work.

I may need to go out there right now.

My last favorite.  My favorite tree in our yard.  There are more beautiful trees, bigger trees, more colorful trees, but I like ours and right now it is  lovely color.

I love autumn!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I made these this morning and they are really good!  I have a great recipe for cottage cheese pancakes that we all really like.  I just substituted pumpkin for part of the cottage cheese.  If you add a little brown sugar to the batter, you can just butter them and forgo the syrup.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons almond meal **
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Blend the cottage cheese and eggs in a blender until smooth.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.  Add chopped nuts, if using, after all is blended.  Cook on hot griddle like regular pancakes.
Pour yourself some coffee and enjoy!
**If you don't have almond meal, you can replace it with the same amount of flour or any other meal.  Do not try to replace the flour though.  The batter will be too thin and make a pancake that is very hard to turn with out falling apart.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Beauty of Home School

There are so many ways that you can go about homeschooling your child(ren).  You can go the traditional public school curriculum done at home all the way to unschooling.  We are happily somewhere in the middle.  Most days we get through the 3 R's and the rest of the traditional fare and just call it good.  Other days we may focus on only one subject or topic.  Most days we are finished before lunch, sometimes its is an all day venture.  The latter of those two generally occurs when one or both of us are in a not-so-good mood.  We make family trips a long field trip, learning about where we are going, stopping to check out the area.  It may just be one long PE trip too.  We try to use every opportunity we can to teach.

Today we went very nontraditional, at least by today's standards.  After Elijah took care of all the birds, he went with Jeff to install cabinets.  He didn't do any installing himself but he did clear the floors so the cabinets would sit level.  That's a pretty important step.  When he got home, we decided to make some lip balm.  I had the idea a few weeks back to do this, then I got an email from a friend who had started making it to sell.  They have a small apiary and I had even thought of asking her what she had planned to do with the beeswax.  (You can buy from her here.)  I started to just give that up, but decided it would be fun to do to give as gifts.  Also, if you have several dozen tubes of it around the house it increases your chances of finding one when you need it ;-).  I digress.  Anyway, I went ahead and ordered some things.  Elijah thought it was really coll last night when I was making it, so today we made some more.  It was math and science with a little economics thrown in.  I made some that I figure isn't a girlie flavor, Chocolate Mint.  Wow, did we make a lot!  I figured it would be about 15 tubes, try 23.  Good thing it turned out pretty well because I'll have enough to last at least a month now.  I really can't keep up with lip balm tubes :-{

Measuring precisely
After lip balming we decided to play a little Trivial Pursuit.  This is the first edition game, so even the most recent questions are over 25 years old.  He actually did quite well.  He knew what tree are traditionally grown in English churchyards (Dangerous Book for Boys taught him that), how many years are in "four score and seven" (he remembered me telling him how many years are in a score and went on to calculate it from there), and what a West Indies steel band is playing as an instrument (We've been to Tobago 4 times and that is where they were invented).  It was pretty fun and he learned that sometimes a guess is as good as knowing.

Combining Trivial Pursuit and checkers, I think?
It was a pretty fun school day.  I bet most of his friends didn't have nearly the same fun.
Oh, in case you didn't know.  Yew trees are traditionally grown in English churchyards,  87 years, and oil drums are used to make the steal pan!