Thursday, April 20, 2017

So Happy It's Thursday

There is nothing more heartbreaking than to have to stand by as your autistic child or, in our case, grandchild, has a major meltdown. It was my fault, in a way, especially knowing how important it is for there to be structure and nothing to disrupt that. What happened? We ran out of milk.

Yes. We ran out of milk, and that brought on a 40 minute mega-meltdown. At 6;30 a.m., with two others to manage, as well, there was nothing we could do to rectify the situation. So, after listening to him for about 10 of those horrible minutes, I broke down. I was so consumed with overwhelming helplessness.

There is no reasoning with a child with autism while in the midst of a meltdown. The episode must just run its course. So, with my heart in pieces, I sat and wept...for his pain and inability to just snap out of it. There was no listening to options for breakfast; he simply could not let go of the fact we had no milk.

The resolution was that he finally took his medication for the morning, and in a matter of minutes, he calmly dumped orange juice on his cereal, and ate it. He left for school, happy and carefree. It's mind-boggling.

There is so much out there about autism awareness, but no one shares the agony of witnessing behavior you can't "fix".  It's a little embarrassing to admit that I'm so relieved to know their parents will be home from their trip today.

I'm still recovering from the beginning of the morning by scrubbing my kitchen floor, washing a load of the Grands' clothing, and running after a very busy toddler. Cleaning is how I deal with stressful situations. My home will look amazing by the end of the day.

I'll also be making a trip to the store for milk.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Not So "Good" Thins

I don't make a habit of reviewing products, but feel pretty strongly about this.

I love beets; fresh beets, canned beets, pickled beets. So when Nabisco came out with these Good Thins beet chips, I was excited, thinking there was actually a snack out there that I could eat without guilt. Here is what I found.

Now, in all fairness, my expectations may have been too high for this snack. I foolishly thought that perhaps they'd be thinly sliced real beets, slightly flavored and salted. What I got were potato chips, made with some beet flour,  flavored with balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and sea salt.

There was no hint of the earthy taste of beet. No indication that they were, in fact, beet chips, except for the red color.

Not that they were bad...just not "beety". I won't buy them again. Actually, I've never thrown anything away before they were gone, albeit the occasionally spoiled item, I threw these away.

So, if you think as I do, save your money. These are not worth it. Oh, if only I'd read the ingredients list!

If you crave potato chips, buy kettle-cooked chips. Those never disappoint!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lovin' from the Oven

I love being in my kitchen.

Okay, maybe not as much as when my kids were home, but still. Cooking for two is a whole different ballgame than cooking for a family of five, especially when three of them are men!

So, I thought I'd share just a couple of simple things I have picked up to make my kitchen adventures easier.

I must give my girl, Mollie Barlow Kirby, The Frugal Hausfrau, as the inspiration for much of what I use, and do, in my kitchen. My new favorite ingredient to use is her recipe for Homemade Onion Soup Mix. I use it for several of my select recipes, in place of Lipton Onion Soup mix. It's SO much better!
I multiply the recipe, and store it in a Ball jar in my pantry. I use my labeler to mark the jar, with the proper proportions. And, here is the recipe:

*This is the equivalent to 2 pkts. of Lipton*

1/2 C. dried onion
2 tsp. beef boullion granules
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt *(optional)*

Make sure to shake up the jar well before measuring the dry ingredients. Use 1/4 C. per recipe.

This mixture will save your life! It's delicious!

Check out Mollie's blog. She can give new life to your kitchen! Find her here.

Another dry mix I keep in my pantry is Cream of Anything Soup mix. This saves from having to store cans of cream of something soup in your cupboard. **Add more onion for onion soup mix; fresh celery for celery get the drift! Add dried mushrooms (or fresh), as well as any other ingredient(s) to change  or modify the flavors as you use this.**

1/4 C chicken bouillon granules
3 Tbs. dried minced onions
1 1/2 celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 C. non-fat dried milk
3/4 C. cornstarch

Place the bouillon granules in an M&P, and grind them until fine. Add onion and spices. Then add the cornstarch and milk, whisk together and add to the container. Make sure the container is well-sealed.
As with the other, make sure you shake up the mixture before using.
1/3 C. of dry mix + 1 1/4 C. water = a 10 oz. can of condensed soup


And finally, my amazing discovery of fresh pasta! You will never eat the dry boxed stuff again, I promise.

Now, this does require some special equipment, unless you plan to just make noodles. You can roll the dough out and cut it. If you want spaghetti or ravioli noodles, I'd recommend the attachment for your Kitchenaid mixer. So easy....and fun!

Anyway, here is the recipe (courtesy of the Food Network) I have found to work the best, especially if you have the necessary attachments:

3 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
4 lg. eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Tbs. water
Kosher salt

I mix this in the bread machine. I have a special setting for pasta; you should, as well. If not, use your mixer, or do it by hand.

This makes A LOT of pasta! I can usually get six meals out of this for Randy and me. I have used this from everything from chicken noodle soup to spaghetti and meatballs. It can be used immediately, or dried a bit, then frozen for later use. It's rated 5*** from my family. I am anxious to try ravioli.

It's my hope this helps pare down the ingredients in your pantry, makes your life in the kitchen easier, and introduces you to a fresher way of cooking!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Putting Lipstick on the Pig

The last two weeks have been a frenzied blur of work, taking care of the Grands and Great-Grandma, celebrating St. Patrick's Day here in the Sister City of Dublin, and all the usual daily chores and demands. Honestly, I almost forgot I had these pictures on my camera! 

So, here we are, back to the restoration of our old girl...

The black pieces are the new parts to replace the parts that had rusted clear through. The red is a sample of her new color.

The doors had to be removed so they could be reinstalled for a better fit, as well as to have new gaskets applied around the inside.

Once the doors were off, Randy decided to repaint the interior its original bronze; part of the Harley Davidson feature of this particular truck.

The fenders have been put back on, missing the headlights and trim. There has, as you can see, a lot of grinding to remove as much of the white paint as possible.

The biggest issue with the doors was getting them to shut perfectly flush with the body of the cab.

With the fenders both on, it's time to put the hood back on...

The Old Chev is beginning to look like a truck again, instead of the skeleton of one.

Lots of grinding to get almost 1/4" of white paint off, finally revealing the original blue, or going clear down to metal.

And, there she goes, off for priming and painting. I don't think I'll see her again until she's done, but if I get the chance, I'll be sure to get more photos! The bed of the truck is already at the painter, as well as the back fenders. The end gate is still in the shop, for now.

A true example of how it has to look worse before it looks better.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Progress Report

I am doing my best to document the progress of our old truck's makeover. Having her raised up on the hoist makes working and repairing underneath so much easier.

All the black you see is undercoating, applied with a brush. It's purpose is to seal the metal in order to discourage rusting.

As you can see, there is a lot of rust to be ground, or cut, away.  The piece in front of the door, where the worst of the decay is, will be completely replaced.

Randy is also undercoating the inside of both bumpers and the fenders.

Here is a sneak peek of the color he chose for her, but also to show an adjustment he made to the original design. He moved the battery from its standard place behind the seat inside, to under the hood. Randy feels this is a safer, and more convenient place for it to be installed.

A patch of the original blue on the back of the cab.

This is the passenger side, with the rusted panel already removed. Randy also had to fabricate and install a frame mount on both sides, to keep the cab solidly attached to the chassis.

One of the new pieces installed.

One of the doors, the hood, and fenders.

The old girl is getting some major surgery by Doc Randy to make her solid before she's pretty again.

As soon as the doors are aligned to our painter's specifications, and all the undercoating finished, she'll be moved for her coat of primer, then the finish coat of red. There is still some tweeking to be done on the frame, but I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Some Days Are Just Hard

I showed up for work yesterday; did you? I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by people who make me feel needed and valued every day. To let them down, even for a day, would not prove my worth to anyone. I was proud to celebrate International Women's Day by showing up.

That said, to be honest, if left to my own devices, I'd have showered, changed into a fresh pair of pajamas, and turtled in for the day. It was just "one of those days" where I felt so weighed down, I didn't think I could manage much more than that.

Instead, I got my hour walk in, adding in three sets of 10 push-ups to my routine. *I'm feeling those push-ups today!* The endorphins did their best, but not quite enough to shed that gray cloud following me. Breakfast was light, as I had no appetite. I hate those days.

Since I had others counting on me, I got my shower, got dressed, and even put on makeup. Big deal? For me, yes.

At the end of the day, I'd come through for those who needed me, my desk was cleared, home vacuumed, and the nose art cleaned off the doors. Randy even treated me to Chinese for supper; not because of IWD, but just because I told him I was hungry for it. He's the best.

I'm avoiding the scale for a week or two. I'm beginning to feel how the walking is helping, and noticing how my clothes fit just that little bit better. It's come to me that even if my body doesn't change that much, it's all about being more healthy. So, for now, I'm going to go by how I feel.

So far, so good.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Love Story

For those of you who know my husband, you know how he loves old John Deere tractors and making them beautiful again. He's even done one just for me!

He's recently embarked on a new project, with the help of a friend with experience painting vehicles.

Meet the Old Chevy (or Chebby, as the Grands call her). She's a 1954 Harley Davidson model. The following pictures were taken when we'd just bought her; we hadn't even brought her home yet. Now, we had a discussion on how long ago this happened, and we agreed that it's been 6-7 years ago.

Since that time, she's been our date night ride, our home improvement hauler, and conversation starter, mostly at the gas station, where people come right up and ask about her. I especially am entertained by the younger men who will call out, "Cool truck!". On the flip side of that, Randy's brothers have no trouble asking whose piece of shit is taking up space in the driveway.

We didn't buy her to be a showpiece. She works hard for us! While her chassis isn't very pretty, she runs like a top, with a four-on-the-floor manual transmission. No power steering for her; it takes both hands and all the strength in them to get her to turn.
Randy also uses the old girl to haul his antique tractors to the several rides he tries to get in each summer. The old pulling the older; he's so proud of that.

She's also been featured in several years' worth of family pictures. This one was from 2012.

The Chevy gets stored over the winter. She does get pampered at least that much. Zeus thinks she belongs to him, and loves riding, with his head out the window. That way, I get to sit right by Randy, like I did when we were dating.

So, where's the love story here? This has been a slow winter in Randy's shop, so he's had some time to think about projects to finish, or in this case, begin. He always swore he wouldn't think about fixing the Chevy up until he retired, and like all reasonable men, he changed his mind. And, we are not talking about slapping some lipstick on the pig!

Our old girl is semi-dismantled. The box is off, as are the fenders and wheel wells. UPS will be delivering about six boxes of parts next week. In the meantime, Randy and our friend, Dave, are repairing, priming, undercoating, and removing rust. Her original color was blue, then got a coat of white. When her renovation is complete, she'll be a glorious, shiny red.

I hope you don't mind if I share the progress of the Old Chev from time to time. I think it's important to document her return to beauty, each step done with love!