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Friday, March 25, 2011


We got much more than the 1-2" of snow that was forecast last night.  One of Jessi's FB friends posted "Welcome to Sprinter".  The perfect moniker for this time of year and the reason that March is my least favorite month...

This photo is what greeted me out my back door this morning. It is very wet snow and I drove to work through many inches of slushy, icky-ness that wanted to suck me off the side of the road.

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Pretty? Yes.

Fun? Notsomuch.

There is another inch forecast for overnight tonight, then more next week. In the overall scheme of what's going on in the world, I cannot complain about a Spring snow. I am blessed to have a warm home, abundant food, reliable vehicle, and the means with which to fill it with fuel.

I also will not complain when it’s gone and we’re enjoying sunshine and 70°!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Scenes from the Back Seat

There are some days when Bradley is none too fond of going into the car seat, and even less so when the straps get buckled and snapped into place.

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See? He’s loud, too. Makes it tough to drive while trying to soothe the tantrum with songs or stories. The other day a light bulb went off and I dug my digital camera out of my purse. I keep a small, inexpensive one tucked away in case I need a quick photo.

Bradley was ecstatic when I turned it on and handed it back to him. He giggled and chattered and our drive to town became instantly a thousand times more pleasant. Happened again today. I think we’ve hit on the lucky charm for the moment to have that car seat be not such a horror.

Here are a few things Brad saw through the camera lens from the back seat:

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Yep, the back of Grammy’s seat and a little bit of her hair. Whoo. No wonder he’s not excited about being back there!

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A self-portrait of the bottom half of his face. I think watching the flash was the fun thing here.

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Gotta love the ceiling. Look! There’s a light! And a handle so Grammy can get all the way up into the car when she has to get into the back seat!

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Ooooh. A finger.

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Can’t forget to look down! Gotta love the tennies!

Now don’t be horrified that I gave a digital camera to a toddler. It’s a really inexpensive one and the entertainment value for him is priceless!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are We Blue? Oh, Yeah!

A few years ago Greg had to go to Newton, Iowa for several days for work. During his time there he visited the Maytag Dairy Farms store and was able to sample several kinds of cheese. He brought home a few samples for us, not the least of which was the blue cheese.
Maytag Blue Cheese is made from homogenized cow’s milk as opposed to the usual sheep’s milk. You can read about the process here. It is sharp and pungent, and so flavorful.
Along with the cheese sample, Greg also brought home a handout from the store with recipes for using their product. I glanced at them, then tucked the handout into my recipe binder and left it for “someday”. In the meantime, we used the blue cheese to top grilled steaks, to sprinkle into salads, and sliced with a drizzle of honey to go with our wine. And it was good – really good. Then on Food Network there was a chef using wedges of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing as their salad course and I thought that looked pretty tasty.
About that same time I went through the recipe binders and came across the old handout. I happened to have a small wedge of Maytag Blue Cheese in the frig, so on Saturday I picked up a head of lettuce, then that afternoon, handed the paper to Greg and told him to choose which of the three recipes for blue cheese dressing he wanted me to make. I think he must’ve chosen the best one because it is thick and rich and tastes just like what you get at Chances R and PK’s. YUM!
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Here you go, straight from Maytag Dairy Farms:
“Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing”
Place in mixing bowl:
1 C sour cream (I actually used part light sour cream and part homemade yogurt)
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. black pepper (fresh ground would be best)
scant 1/3 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Blend two minutes at low speed (I used a hand mixer). Add 1 1/3 C mayonnaise (NOT SALAD DRESSING); blend 30 seconds at low speed to mix, then blend two minutes at medium speed. Crumble 8 ounces Maytag Blue Cheese; add half to blended mixture; blend well at low speed. Add rest of crumbles, stir in by hand. Refrigerate 24 hours before using. Yield: 3 Cups
Since my wedge of cheese was only 4 ounces, I halved this recipe. We went ahead and ate some of this about an hour and a half after I made it, and it was good. We ate some tonight, 24 hours later, and it was amazing! It had thickened up noticeably and the flavor was much stronger.
Okay, now that I showed you how delicious it looks, and given you the recipe, I’ll give you the bad news. Maytag Blue Cheese is expen$ive and it’s not easy to find. Every now and then our local WalMart has the foil wrapped wedges. Usually we pick it up when we’re at a HyVee in either Lincoln or Grand Island. It is not something I usually have in the frig, rather a splurge for every once in awhile. I was looking forward to grilling steaks in the near future, so that’s why I had picked up a 4 oz. wedge a couple of weeks ago.
We’re having a big family spaghetti dinner next weekend with all of my siblings and most of our kids. I plan to offer a big bowl of salad to go along with the pasta, and with the salad, we’ll be having homemade blue cheese dressing. Yeah, we’ll use Maytag, this one time. Cuz I love ‘em and want to share the deliciousness.
Now to find a homemade Ranch recipe we love…

Monday, March 07, 2011

Entertainment for The Boy

Everyone knows that the key to keeping a toddler (or child or teen) out of trouble is to keep them busy. If you don’t provide constructive activities, they’ll find something themselves to occupy their time – and it’s not always desirable…

I just want to share a few things we’ve been up to lately to keep Bradley occupied for a few minutes here and there while I do housework:

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First, the old stand-by where you  build a tent from a card table and a (rather raggedy, but I love it) blanket. We piled sofa pillows inside and snuggled up to watch Dinosaur Train for a few minutes. He would lay his head on the pillow and fake-snore, then giggle. :o)

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Now this activity might not be for everyone, because, yes, we did vacuum quite a lot of this dyed rice off the floor, but let me tell you, he LOVES this. I used a two pound bag of plain white rice, liquid food coloring, rubbing alcohol, and white vinegar. You just mix either 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol or vinegar with the food coloring and the rice. I let the rice sit in the dye mixture for several hours, until it had soaked up most of the liquid. Then I let it dry on paper towels overnight before storing in jars. You can see I also left a bit of it white.

Of course, by the time we cleaned up and put it away, the colors were all mixed up and now we have a jar of beautiful rainbow rice. That’s okay – he’s more into the whole scooping and dumping and pouring thing right now. I will confess that he tried one bite of the rice and promptly spit it out. Didn’t try that again.

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These are stickers made into magnets to use on the magnetic whiteboard that hangs on the wall between the kitchen and dining room. We have whiteboard crayons, too, so we drew an ocean and beach for the fish and sea-life to play in. (Fortunately, Bradley doesn’t mind my rudimentary artwork…)

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The stickers are part of a package from Dollar General that were priced at just $1. They’re plastic and kind of “bubbly” and have held up well to Bradley’s carrying them around and wanting to bend them. I stuck them to black scrapbook cardstock, cut them out, then stuck them onto a sheet magnet and cut them out again. Lots of cutting, but that’s what made them sturdy. He says “fish”, and when I ask which is the crab, and which is the turtle, he knows those, too. The seahorse is a bit difficult, because he knows what a horse is, and this doesn’t look like one! :o)

So these things help keep him busy and me sane. Totally worth any effort to put them together. There are lots more fun things to come as he grows!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

He Knows Alot About That!

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. When I taught preschool we used to have green eggs and ham for either breakfast or lunch. Many of the kids thought this was wonderful, but every single year there was at least one child who would not eat those green eggs!

I never much got into Dr. Seuss until Nick was learning to read and Nanny had the book “Hop on Pop”. He enjoyed having that book read to him, then it was the first one he read by himself. And he truly read it, instead of just reciting the words from memory. His journey to reading was on a bumpy road, one I shan’t travel down again to explain here, so when he read that book, I was ecstatic. I became an instant fan of Dr. S.! Jess also had regular access to that book when she was learning to read, and it was the first one for her to read alone, too.

On to preschool where we used Dr. Seuss to learn about rhyming and the beginning sounds of words. I often recommended his books to parents and took them along when I made home visits.

Now, Bradley has discovered “The Cat in the Hat” cartoon on PBS and he just loves “Cat”. I don’t think he really grasps what they’re talking about in the episodes, but he loves Martin Short’s voice (as The Cat) and the “thingamajigger”, and the music. One day a couple of weeks ago, we were sorting toys and rearranging things in the playroom when we found a little stuffed toy of The Cat. He was thrilled and carried it around all day, sleeping with it for nap, and taking it home with him that evening. Jess said he plays with it all the time at their house.

One thing he was frustrated with was that the hat didn’t come off the toy. In the cartoon, Cat takes off his hat and finds all sorts of interesting things inside. :o)  I knew Bradley needed his own Cat in the Hat hat, so on Monday I dug out my box of felt to make him one. There was a huge piece of nice red felt, but only scrap pieces of white, so those had to be patched together to make the stripes. I followed this easy tutorial and it took a couple of hours, just because I had to keep stopping and take care of Brad. If he hadn’t been here, my bet is it would have taken under an hour.

He knew what I was making and was happy to keep trying it on as I put it together. When it was finished, he was thrilled!

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Yes, the living room is a mess in this photo – that’s what happens when I try to work on projects while Bradley is here. He trashes the place. Oh well, it cleans up. (And yes, that is a Barbie on the floor. He loves her. Don’t judge.)

When Greg got home, he made him try on the hat. Sorry, no photo was allowed. Greg didn’t love it as much as Brad did, but he’ll do anything for that boy. :o)

I’m happy to give tribute to the wise Dr. S. and his funny rhyming books, green eggs and ham, and The Cat in the Hat. They’ve entertained many a child in my life and that’s given me extremely good memories.