Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RTT: Hot Grapefruit And A Mystery House Guest


It's been so incredibly long since I've done the Random Tuesday thing. Good thing it's one of those things you really never forget. Kind of like how you can remember your phone number from childhood (Back when there was one phone number for an entire house full of people and the phone had a cord on it.) but often forget your current phone number. Wait, perhaps that's just me. 222-8896. ???-???? Anyhow, Random Tuesday Thoughts it is! Go visit Keely for the whole RTT line-up.

*For those of you paying attention, November was NaBloPoMo which plainly means National Blog Posting Month. I had pledged to post something (anything!) to my blog each day in the month of November, but as you can tell by the post count under the month of November in my sidebar, that didn't happen. FAIL. To be fair though, November was one hell of a sucky month. So much going on, and even when I did have time to post, I wasn't feeling it and usually ended up fooling around on Facebook instead of coming here to post such gems as:
I awoke to an asshole on a 4 wheeler tearing around the yard and his girlfriend peeking in the living room windows, making faces at Binny and Mae. No intruder, just Uncle B doing what Uncle B does best.

I should really be editing photos and cleaning my house, instead I'm off to buy a snow plow blade from some guy off of craigslist. The shit I do for family...

Binny requested an orange for snack, then spit it out claiming it was "too bony."
*Thanksgiving was fine. Not bad, not great, but fine. I cleaned, I cooked, I ate, I cleaned some more and everyone else pretty much just ate. Actually, the Gardener was quite helpful but still the majority of the work was mine. Not that I mind entirely. You do remember what Thanksgiving at my in-law's is like, right?

*I'm enjoying my first Hot Grapefruit of the season. Yumm! Hot grapefruit is basically just warmed grapefruit juice, but I always squeeze a fresh grapefruit for this special drink. I also add about a tablespoon of sugar to my warm cup of pulpy goodness to offset the tartness.

*After finishing up the heating project we were working on upstairs, we decided to finally finish off the last bedroom in the house for the Gardener and I. We spent the last 2 days clearing out the room (our current storage area) and painting the previously bare walls. Not a drop of paint has ever touched those walls in the 100 years this house has been standing, so we were extra careful to tape up all of the woodwork making sure not to slop it up full of paint splatter. Today, I will finish by removing all of the tape and giving all of the woodwork a good cleaning and hang some blinds in the windows. Then to move the contents of our bedroom up there. Oh boy. All in preparation for a very special house guest who will be arriving on Sunday and staying with us for 2 weeks. Any ideas who our guest will be? Here's a hint: I've been checking around to get the dates and times for all of the local BINGO games for something fun to do while he/she is here.

* Our puppy Flash is growing like a weed! Or maybe he's growing like a flash... or in a flash. We had him to the vet on Friday and he weighed in at a whopping 23 pounds at 12 weeks old. That means he has gained 13 pounds in only 4 weeks. I don't think he's even eaten that much food in the 4 weeks he's been here! A healthy rambunctious pup with an insatiable chewing habit. He seems to have a thing for socks and underwear. Doesn't matter if they are clean or dirty, he'll pull them right out of the laundry basket and shred them before we even notice he's left our sight. Little shit.

That's about it for me today now that my Hot Grapefruit is gone, but I'm seriously considering making another cup because it was THAT good.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Mom Is A Farmer

Mae's sentence writing practice.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Fools

Our puppy, Flash had an appointment at the vet's office today for his second of three round of vaccines, so we were forced to go into town on this cold and windy day after Thanksgiving. While we were in town, we decided to return some leftover duct work from a recent heating project the Gardener is working on. Basically, he's adding heat to the upstairs of our 100 year old farmhouse. We installed some electric baseboard heat in the girls' rooms when we moved in 4 years ago, but the intention was to always add duct work to tie in to our furnace that currently heats the first floor. Long story short, after a week of cutting holes in the plaster ceilings and banging on metal tubes and lots and lots of mess, we now have some heat upstairs. Hooray! Anyhow, we had stuff to return to Menards. Since we were in town anyway, we thought we would quick take care of our non black Friday shopping on the biggest retail day of the year. Not smart.

First of all, the driving was madness. Why must these self described bargain hunters all park their huge SUVs at the entrance of the store or in the middle of the aisle of the parking lot and just assume that the other drivers (all about as brilliant) will drive their equally ridiculous vehicles* around them? JUST TO GET A BRITA WATER PITCHER AT HALF PRICE. Insanity, I tell you! I can only assume that was the big sale item because after driving around the parking lot looking for a parking space and failing to find one, I dropped off the Gardener at the main entrance with his returns and headed over to the loading area to wait for him and noticed that almost every person leaving the store had a Brita box in their carts. Everyone but my husband, who went to the HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE with the sole intention of buying items to IMPROVE OUR HOME. What fools are we?

It's going to be a long holiday season.

*I apologize to drivers of SUVs for my wild outburst, but honestly, your cars are DAMN big and a little obnoxious, especially when occupied by only one person.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Menu

I was hoping to sleep in today considering our Thanksgiving meal won't be until this evening and I'll have all day to cook and prep, but at 3:30 this morning, my eyes popped open. I tried rolling around a while hoping I could drift back off to sleep, but that didn't happen. Once I made a trip to the bathroom, Flash must have heard me, then let out a few loud barks to let me know that he would like to empty his bladder too. After a cold and rainy trip outside, he was ready to play and wouldn't even consider going back to his bed for a few hours. Damn dog needs to learn how to tell time! Anyhow, I'm up and since I've been a very bad blogger this month, not meeting my NaBloPoMo goals, I thought now while the rest of my family is sound asleep and not requesting that I make them something to eat, or clean something, or play Candy Land for the millionth time, I would take a few minutes and share our Thanksgiving day menu.

Once again, the Gardener and I are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for his family. We usually eat late in the day on Thanksgiving as not to upset the deer hunters in the family who are still searching for a prize buck in the fields. So far no one I know has been successful in bagging a deer yet, but there are still a few days to go before Wisconsin's gun deer season comes to an end. So, once the boys head out of the field, they will be coming over here, undoubtedly hungry for a big meal of Turkey and all the fixings. Not that they'll actually find a turkey on the table at our house.

For the second year in a row, I have decided to go with a local free-range chicken instead of a turkey. I guess, if our local egg lady grew turkeys, we might have gone that route but since her chickens are out of this world, it was a no brainer. She saved a big 11 pounder for me the last time she and her husband butchered and that's what we will be eating today. I initially froze the fresh chicken, then thawed it out in the fridge earlier this week and made the brine yesterday. The chicken is currently out in the garage soaking away in this brine mixture. Normally I would be bitching about the cold snap that has overtaken our area in the last few days, but outdoor refrigeration is quite handy during the holidays.

Most store bought frozen turkeys (or chickens) do not need to be brined since the manufacturer usually brines them before freezing, but fresh birds like ours have not been treated with anything (but love!) and need to be soaked in a salt water brine for 16-24 hours for a most delicious flavor. I had planned on grilling a red wine chicken like I did last year, but with the cold and windy weather, I decided that running outside to check the bird on the grill every 30 minutes was not something I wanted to do, so I 'm going to roast it in the oven.

Besides chicken, I'm making whipped mashed potatoes with butter and cream cheese mixed in, grandma Dee's stuffing- traditional dried bread stuffing with sauteed onions, celery, carrots, apple, dried cranberries, and chicken stock to hold it all together. she always used raisins, but we prefer craisins in this house. Squash from the garden with butter and either brown sugar or a drizzling of maple syrup, cranberry sauce (made by Mae yesterday), a fresh fruit salad and roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar and bacon. For dessert my father-in-law is bringing pumpkin pie, and if I get time later today, I'll make an apple pie with some home canned apple pie filling leftover from last year that I need to use up, and pie crust made with lard from the pig we bought from the same local farmer from which the chicken (and bacon) came. I can't wait to get cooking and EATING!

So, for my American readers, what are your Thanksgiving plans today? Are you cooking or enjoying someone else's cooking today? I'd love to hear your Thanksgiving favorites, or even your least favorite. My least favorite is when cooks pollute the stuffing with the bag of Turkey innards that comes with most frozen birds. You know, the gizzard, neck, heart and liver? Talk about a quick way to ruin one of the best Thanksgiving day sides. That and anything with cream of _____ soup mixed in. Yuck! But that's just my opinion.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Perfect Timing

My family was due for some good news after the recent passing of our dear Grandpa Conrad. Overdue even.

My cousin and his wife were expecting a baby due sometime this November. And actually, my cousin's wife was not able to attend the funeral because she was overdue and it was not a good idea for her to be traveling 300 miles to be with her husband and the rest of us. The night of the funeral she went to the hospital to be induced but after 4 tries to try and coax her body into labor and nothing happening, the doctor sent her home and said they could try again in a few days.

The whole family was on pins and needles, checking Facebook daily for any news on the baby, and finally, last Thursday on what would have been our grandfather's 93rd birthday, little (or should I say not so little since she was a whopping 9lbs, 3 oz) Baby B was born! The news spread quickly and with each communication came an overwhelmingly emotional response. Mine was "Hell Yeah" followed by a few happy tears.

No one was happier than Grandma Dee. An emotional day for her since it was the first time in over 60 years that she wasn't able to wish her husband a happy birthday, or make his favorite chocolate cake, but she was able to go and visit her newest great-grandbaby.

Thanks to some great timing on behalf of baby B (and her mom!), November 18 will continue to be a special day for our family.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Plans

Tomorrow is the first of 2 (possibly 3) Thanksgiving feasts our family will stuffing our faces with this year. The best part is that at the first one all I have to bring is the cranberry sauce. That and a stack of containers for leftovers to take home. I love it when Grandma N cooks for us!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mae's Garden Plan

A few weeks back Mae handed this to me and told me this was how she wanted to lay out the garden next year.
Beyond cute, right? I love her spelling of zucchini. Who needs all those Cs and Is anyway?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wardrobe Wednesday- Link Up!

My glasses broke a few weeks ago. Not like we had an earthquake and all of our drinking glasses came crashing out of the kitchen cabinets. No, my eyeglasses, the things that make life around me visible finally bit the dust. The Gardener had fixed them once before 2 summers ago with a soldering iron when we were out visiting my brother-in-law, but this time there wasn't anything left to solder. Believe me, he tried. Besides, big chunks of metal hanging off the ends of my eyewear isn't my favorite look. Around the house, I wear my glasses but at the farm and pretty much any other time I leave the house, I wear contact lenses.

Thankfully, I had an old pair (by old, I mean I think I got them when I was in high school) lying around that was not by any means the correct prescription anymore, but they were better than nothing. So after putting it off for so long and after receiving a reminder from my eye doctor's office that I haven't had an exam in over 4 YEARS, I decided to take them up on their offer of %20 off my next eye exam, and get new glasses and contact lenses.

The shape and dark color are going to take some getting used to, but so far I like them. I just hope they hold up to my abuses.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apparently It's Never Too Early For Snow In Minnesota

So, of course on Saturday, the day we drove home from North Dakota, there was a big ass snowstorm going on right smack dab in the middle of our route. Not funny, Mother Nature!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye

It's been 6 days since I was here last, and in a month that I pledged to post everyday, no less. Let's just say that November has been a rough one. Rough like the toilet paper in a public bathroom.

So, once again on Thursday I found myself in the backseat of my brother's Subaru on our way back to North Dakota for the second time in a month's worth of days. This time it was to say goodbye to my dear, sweet Grandpa Conrad. Although I feel that last month when we said goodbye in person (not knowing it would be our last), sealed with one last hug and saw the tears in his 92 year old, still as blue as the day he was born, eyes, that it was really goodbye. A goodbye I will never forget.

I had all last week to prepare myself for the funeral. I thought that perhaps I had dealt with it all so well that tears and sad thoughts were completely unnecessary. All last week, family members and friends seemed a little shocked that I had no tears when they offered crackly voice condolences to me. I thanked them and wondered what everyone was so weepy about. He had 92 years of life, and love, and banjo pickin', for crying out loud! Why should I be sad?

About 10 minutes before the service started, I was standing with the Gardener in the gathering area of the church where family and friends were milling around, when all of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. I'm not even sure of the initial trigger since everyone was fairly upbeat yet. Perhaps it was seeing the flowers our good friends had sent for the service, or seeing the hundreds of pictures assembled on large poster size foam boards on easels on either side of my grandfather's jacket from back when he was in the Army during World War II, or just the reality of it all. I found myself weeping in the bathroom, blowing my nose into a wad of toilet paper, finally letting the sad out.

The service was beautiful, though more religious than I ever remember my grandfather. Although I couldn't entirely appreciate the religious portion of it, I do appreciate that so much attention to detail was shown by the pastor. He included and recited the words of the song that Grandpa sang first at my wedding then at the weddings of 2 of my cousins and again at my grandmother's birthday party last summer. My cousin Kevan gave the most fitting eulogy for our grandfather, including some of our 90 favorite things from 2 years ago when my grandfather turned 90. Nobody was left out, just the way Grandpa would have wanted it. He had so much love for us all that it was hard to cry even if my body wouldn't listen and did it anyway, because I know he would have said to all of us, "Don't cry, Grandpa loves you."

After the church service, we all gathered outside for the military service complete with a 21 gun salute and flag presentation. Since my grandfather so generously donated his body to the University of North Dakota medical school, there was no flag draped coffin, but other than that, the funeral was quite traditional. Very emotional too. I don't think there was one dry eye in the whole crowd while the bugler played Taps.

After the service, my brother mentioned that the day before (Veteran's Day) he heard a statistic that WWII veterans are dying at a rate of 1000 per day. I just did a quick Internet check to verify that figure, and found that:
According to statistics released by the Veteran’s Administration, our World War II vets are dying at a rate of 900 a day (previous studies listed 1,200 but the number has declined due to a decrease in the total number of World War II veterans). This means that there were approximately 16,000,000 veterans at the end of the war and there are just under 2,000,000 still with us today.
Soon they will all be gone, but never forgotten.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flash's Close Up

It's a good thing we picked up this mutt a few weeks ago. If not, I'd really have nothing to blog about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grandpa Playing The Wii!

First off, I want to thank everyone who has offered their condolences to our family since my grandfather's passing. It means the world to us to have such supportive family and friends. Even those of you who never met him in person, but could see his kind and gentle soul through photos and stories. Thank you.

As I was going through some pictures on my computer (you thought my kitchen drawer was a mess, my hard drive is MUCH worse), I found these from 2 years ago when my grandparents came for a visit right after Mae was released from the hospital.

Since I heard the news of Grandpa's passing, I've been feeling a bit nostalgic, going through old photos and such, and couldn't resist posting this youtube video once again. It's hard to cry when I'm smiling from ear to ear at his contagious laugh.

Grandpa's obituary was in today's Grand Forks Herald and available online here. If you personally knew my grandparents, I ask that you please sign the online guestbook on the funeral home's site. I plan to print them all out for my grandmother.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Grandpa Conrad 1917-2010

Just 2 weeks shy of his 93rd birthday, my dear grandfather Conrad passed away yesterday. I called my grandparents yesterday afternoon for a quick hello before the girls arrived home from school and was surprised to hear my cousin answer the phone instead of my grandmother. Quickly, I learned what had happened just minutes before. I spoke with my grandmother briefly who was accompanied by my cousin and the pastor from her church. She was crying and quite understandably heartbroken over the loss of her husband of 60 years.

My grandfather was many things. He was a proud Norwegian, a World War II veteran, a devoted husband, a loving father, an unbelievably talented musician, a fisherman, a handy man, as sharp as a tack, and the most wonderful grandfather anyone could ever ask for.

I love him and I'll miss him dearly. At this time of loss, it is most comforting to know he loved me (and all of us), and that he knew that I (and all of us) loved him. We ended almost every conversation with the exchange of I love you and it means a great deal to me now that he's gone.

I miss you already Gramps!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Goodness- Cleaning Out A Cluttered Drawer

My friend, Wild Child has been doing a thing over at her blog called Thursday Goodness, and this week, since I'm posting anyway for NaBloPoMo, I'm throwing in my something good.

So, it's only day 4 of Posting every day this month and I'm already doing before and after mini makeovers to fill blog space. If this is any indication of things to come, days 29 and 30 might be pretty interesting, or pretty uninteresting. It could go either way.

So first up is the top drawer in the kitchen right next to the sink. I give you my silverware drawer:
No really, take it. Ha, ha, just kidding, but seriously it has been way too long since the drawer where we keep the forks and knives and spoons we eat with every single day had been cleaned. Grrrr-oss. I'm not even going to guess when the last time was. Perhaps the top picture doesn't look so bad. You've seen worse, right? Well look what I found inside as I started disassembling.

My age in wine bottle corks.
Not all of it goes directly down my gullet, I use 2 bottles of red wine every time I grill a purple chicken. Although I haven't made 15 purple chickens.

Liquid medication dispensing stuff. We have cups, syringes (most of them missing a part or two), and spoons. Every time Mae was sick in the last 2 years and needed an antibiotic or some other meds, the pharmacist threw one or two in the bag before I could even blurt out "We have something at home to measure it out!"

And other assorted junk.
Twist ties, clothespins, rubber bands, sharp knives, lost toothpicks, and a container that used to hold toothpicks until someone slammed the overfull drawer on it and broke it.

I threw out all of the corks (into our paper, burnable garbage for the burn barrel outside) and most of the medication measuring stuff went in the trash. I did save a few for when the girls get sick, or in case I ever get the urge to make jello shots. The silverware tray got a good scrubbing and the drawer wiped out before I put it all back together.

It was about time, and hopefully the boost I need to tackle some other drawers (and the closet under the stairs) in just as bad, if not worse condition.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wardrobe Wednesday- Link Up!

I keep telling the girls they need to put their stuff away, or the puppy will claim it for his own...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trick or Treat 2010


Here you go.
So, besides training a new puppy (who is very slowly learning that shitting in my living room is not okay) and photographing and editing thousands of family photos for other people and making lots of phone calls to our insurance company after last week's wind storm that ripped apart a sizable section of shingles from our roof, I also had 2 Halloween costumes to make before the weekend.

As much as I like to make fun of my mom here on MY blog, and as much as she drives me crazy (love you, Mom!), I always appreciate that she took the time to make Halloween costumes for us when we were kids. As Halloween would approach, she would stay up all hours of the night at the sewing machine and ironing board making sure that our costumes were ready for the big day. I have carried on the same tradition with my kids. Well, the stressing about it and staying up all hours of the night to finish part, at least. The fabric I ordered for Binny's pumpkin costume came 1 day before the Halloween parties at school, which left me very little time to make my own pattern and sew it all together. Also, I thought I ordered two yards of the orange corduroy but turns out I only ordered one. That would be why Binny is wearing her Arctic Cat snowmobile hat instead of a cute pumpkin stem hat. I just barely had enough for the pumpkin itself!
Mae's ghost costume required very little effort as far as assembly went, just a few seams and an easy hood. Putting the damn thing on proved to be more of a challenge since it seemed to keep getting smaller even after I added extra inches for seam allowance and warm weather clothing underneath.
We went Trick-or-Treating with the same bunch as last year, and this time the little frog was big enough to participate and walked the whole way unassisted with a firm grip on his candy bucket.
Even Flash got into the Halloween spirit and dressed up in a last minute costume put together by the Gardener.