Monday, June 27, 2011

A good ending to a great Monday

Well, the crew is slowly rolling in. Right now, this moment is one of my favorite things about camping. We just finished a simple but extremely yummy dinner, Cousin Chan and neighbor Alec are between campsites playing a variety of outdoor games, Alec's dad is sitting nearby watching the boys, and his mom just returned from a run. Friends across are finishing their dinner. It's quiet evening. And I love it. My brother and his family are finally finished with baseball and on their way. There have been several texts and calls to confirm the impending arrival.

Today we lounged on floaties in a secluded little cove. A few passing waves gave us the occasional wave action. Carolyn just told me that I've got my lake raccoon eyes started. Every year my tan gets all jacked up from sunglasses. I have white circles around my eyes and my nose gets very brown. Imagine a jack o'lantern nose. I do sunscreen, but it still happens.

Tonight's dinner included stuffed mushrooms. They were very simple and oh so tasty. I browner a pound of sausage with 1/2 red onion and 3 garlic cloves. Mixed this with softened cream cheese, one can of green chilis, a bit of oregano, Greek seasoning and salt and pepper. Then stuffed several medium portebello mushrooms. I planned to grill them, but it was just so hot and we didn't have anything else to grill, so I cooked them in the electric skillet with the lid on.

Now to do some dishes. Haven't really done any since I got here on Thursday.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Confessions from the Lake

I'm still blogging from my so please ignore typos and cross your fingers that I actually get this to link up with Melissa.

I'm looking forward to the campers getting here. Baby Jus, Cousin Chan and I are having a good time, but it's not fun to cook for three people. I'm ready for a good camping meal. I can't seem to get organized either. The boys wanted s'mores tonight so I thought we'd roast hot dogs then do s'mores. I can't find my long forks. I guess they are at home somewhere.
This past week has been busy. I spent Monday afternoon sewing with a new friend. Then Tuesday I had to go buy a new phone. Mine just wasn't dependable. It would freeze up after a call or text. And maybe take an hour to come back on. When it wasn't frozen, I could answer a call but couldn't hear anything. I spent more time trying to reboot it than actually talking or texting. Then Wednesday I used my Mother's day gift certificate. A two hour massage and facial. It was heavenly. It required a trip to Little Rock so we did some baby and wedding shopping also. Then Thursday morning Baby Jus and I were packing when Lovey called. He needed help with a cow and baby calf. We tried to help. But things did t go as planned. More o. That later.

My brother will be here sometime tomorrow to set up his camper. Then Baby Jus has to go home. Lovey needs him. I'm sending the dogs home too. I guess Chan and I will have it a to ourselves for a while.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A quiet morning

Because I'm at the lake, I'm blogging from my phone. Please ignore all typing errors.

This trip is so different from years past. Because of baby-waiting, wedding planning, new jobs, and softball and baseball tournaments, our normal routines have been disturbed, no - thrown out the window. My brother and his family are watching his son in all-stars this weekend, my sister is watching her youngest daughter in a softball tournament and awaiting her first grandchild, and a few of the kids have new jobs which keep them from packing up and coming on. I cooked breakfast for three this morning. Just three. That doesn't happen often; it's usually more like 15.

Baby Jus and cousin Chan are at the swimming hole now. They changed in and out of trunks about twenty times yesterday. I think I'll really count today. This is currently. Their second trip. But I think he first time they just went to throw the football and didn't dress for swimming. Boys are strange. When I put my suit on, I'm in it for the day. I can't stand changing into a wet suit.

I've been reading. Lucy and Jacob are sleeping off their morning walk. I was tempted to nap also but decided to save my napping for the floatie this afternoon. I think it's time to put on a suit and head that way.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting a Little Crafty

Before the boys came, I had several nieces and nephews and lots of time and energy. And I used that time and energy to spoil said nieces and nephews. I went to ballgames, school programs, birthday parties, you name it. But one of my favorite things to do for them was sew. Over the years I have made Christening gowns, school clothes, and lots and lots of costumes. If they wanted it; I tried my best to make it. There were occasional small failures, like the year my brother's oldest wanted to be Simba from The Lion King. The Simba costume was so cute. But her little sister was still just a baby, and we decided it would be cute to dress her as Rafiki. The material I chose to make this costume was strange. It really did look like a monkey should - but it grew and grew as I sewed. The costume was gigantic by the time I finished. The more I tried to work it; the bigger it got. I think Simba might have Trick or Treated with a standard baby pumpkin that year. When JodyBoy was about two, I made him a tiny Elvis costume. It was precious. And some of the costumes were magical. When Dusty put on the Ninja Turtle costume, he transformed into a karate chopping, spinning, kicking machine. Unfortunate for his big sister. As the kids have gotten older the costume requests have dwindled. I do occasionally make something for a school project. My last one was Hazel Walker who played for The All American Red Heads.

My family is not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of a new baby. My sister's first grandchild, my mother's first great-grandchild. And we have completed a few crafty projects while waiting. He has the cutest cowboy room ready for him to come home to. And a momma that is so excited to meet him. We covered these letters a few weeks ago, and hung them a few days ago. Cuteness!

His momma may kill me for posting this picture, but I think she is cute as a button!
And I broke out the sewing machine too. When I saw this pattern, I knew that the baby cowboy just had to have a few horses.

I made a gray, a black, and a paint. In that order. And they got fatter as I went. The fatter they are; the cuter they are.

I might just have to make one more. I think Baby E needs a brown horse. And rest assured, come Halloween, he won't be a standard baby pumpkin. My crafty wheels are just a turning.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Confession Time

1.  I've been on summer vacation for two weeks now and haven't done anything on my list of house chores. I just can't make myself do it. If I don't get busy soon, school will be starting and my house will still be a disorganized mess.

2.  I've been on summer vacation for two weeks now. And I've spent four days at the lake, two days at the pool, and two days shopping. Sort of explains #1 doesn't it?

3.  Last night Lovey and I went to a man shower for my nephew. Afterwards we went to my niece's house for a while. Tonight we to my momma's for a fish fry. Family time is one of my favorite things.

4.  I've been sewing for the last few days. If I would get busy, I could get a craft/sewing room set up before I go back to school. Right now I have my sewing project spread out across the living room. Messy.

5.  I got a gift certificate for a massage and facial for mother's day. I have an appointment to use it on Wednesday. One minute I'm really excited and the next, not so much. I do think it will be great, but I keep thinking of other things I could be doing with two hours. Why is it that I fell guilty for taking an day to go use the gift certificate that was given to me?

A Man Shower

Last night Lovey and I went to a Man Shower for my nephew and his bride-to-be. As much as I dislike showers, this one was great. Nothing stuffy. No silly games. No introducing yourself. No passing of gifts.

Everyone piled the gifts on the table as they came in the door.

We had a GREAT meal. Pork loin, potato salad, slaw, beans, stuffed peppers, cake, and lemon ice box pie. Yummy! The stuffed peppers were my favorite. They were awesome. I think I'll make some tonight. As we were getting ready for bed, Lovey said, "Those peppers were really good, weren't they."

Looking at the pile of gifts, my nephew, who married into the family a few years ago, and Lovey, who's wedding was almost 21 years ago, wanted to know why they didn't have a man shower when they got married. I think all of the men were a little jealous of Dusty and his man shower.

Except this little guy. He told Dusty, "I don't want to give you a shower because I don't want to see you naked." Love that!

I loved watching Dusty's face as he opened each gift. It was like watching a little one on Christmas morning; he did love every present.

He will have to guard his loot carefully. His little sister has her eyes on a fancy flashlight that he got. His soon to be father-in-law was eyeballing several of the gifts. And his Daddy really liked the grilling tools.

Two more showers this weekend - hope they are this fun.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Is it Friday? No really, is it?

I just updated my Facebook status with something about forgetting the day of the week during summer vacation. I may get ugly comments - if it was Monday, I KNOW I would. Summer vacation is a much loved perk of being a teacher. Just like the students, I countdown those last few weeks and days of school. And I relish those first few days of no bell, no duty, no lesson plans, no schedule! But isn't there some law of science that states where ever there is a void, nature will fill it? That's what happens with my summer vacation.{You know I teach English, not science. If that's not a law of science, then it should be.} 

Because of many more snow days than we have had in a long time and a new law allowing schools to start a few days earlier, summer will be very short this year. Only 9 weeks. But with required summer workshops, I'll only have 8 weeks. And those 8 weeks are quickly filled. Lovey does get a few days of work out of me each summer. When he is cutting and baling hay, I sometimes help with egg pickup. And I do become his errand girl not just during summer vacation but any time that I'm out of school. This week my mother and my mother-in-law have both called to ask if I want them to get me a bag of corn when they get theirs. I appreciate that they ask, but I don't have time to put up corn this week. I have projects scheduled that must get done. I'll try to make time for corn later on in the summer.

Another important part of my summer is planning for the next school year. I read, I research, I write lesson plans. There are very few days that I don't do some type of school related projects. Before I can teach a novel, I have to read it. Preferably more than once. But I am always reading something hoping that I can recommend it to my students, even if I am not going to teach it. Students are always asking me for a good book to read, and I have to read all the time to stay ahead of them. And this summer's planning is really taking a lot of my thought because our jr/sr high school is transitioning to Common Core.

This is an especially exciting summer for my family. My niece is expecting her first baby very soon, and my nephew is getting married on July 16. We have had lots of showers to attend. And as I've said before, those aren't my favorite things. But I would do just about anything for these two, so I go. Tonight Lovey and I are going to a "honey-do" shower for my nephew; I don't think it will be like a regular shower, so I am looking forward to it. (Don't tell but we got him a weedeater. I think he will like it!) The baby will be here before the wedding. I'm working on special project for him this morning. I've got to have it ready by Sunday afternoon - she has a shower.

Yesterday Baby Jus and I went to town to finish shopping for Father's day. We did manage to squeeze in a short swim before the shopping trip. It was a great afternoon, lounging in the pool, watching the clouds build for an early evening thunderstorm. I don't get many of those days any more - just me and one of my boys. And it was quite a treat.

Earlier this week I took Lucy and Jacob to the vet. After the puppy fiasco, I wanted to get them spayed and neutered. I dropped them off one morning and picked them up the next. Lucy has an infection from the c-section and will have to be on antibiotics for a few days. Jacob tested positive for heartworms (we caught it early). He will start meds when we go back to get the stitches out in a week or so. It never ends!

I ordered a much needed part for my truck. It should be here one day next week. Lovey and Baby Just are going to install it, but it may take an entire day. I will have to pick up eggs that day. This and the vet visits are messing up my camping schedule. I have postponed my next trip. Hopefully for just a few days - we'll see.

So you see, my summer fills up quickly. I don't just lounge around watching TV all summer. I have many, many things that fill my precious few weeks away from school. And I work that must be done. And I soon as I can pull myself from the computer, I will get right on it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cooking on the Camping Trip

Ahhhh, the lake life. Relaxing. Soaking up the sun. Time to unwind. The biggest worry being did I cover everything that needed to be covered with sunscreen. But the most conversation about what to cook next. When I am at home, I like to cook - but get so tired of making decisions about WHAT to cook. Maybe that's why I like the lake so much. There is conversation about the menu for each meal. We decide one thing, then everyone adds to the menu with items from their stash. When I'm camping with family, we really have some great meals. We plan very little before we go. Everyone just brings what he/she has, and we mix and match our menus. For the girl's trip, there was a little more planning; they try to know what each person is bringing so that there is variety without too much duplication. A good idea for a short trip.

Each morning we had bacon or sausage, fried eggs, and biscuits. We cooked the meat and eggs in an electric skillet. Most of the time when camping with my family, we use the electric skillet to cook the biscuits. Turn it on very low temp and flip the biscuits about halfway through cooking time. They turn out just right.

But Liz has a toaster oven, and for our small group, it was just the right size to bake the biscuits. Whop biscuits are really good for camping breakfasts. Just whop 'em, pop 'em in to cook, and by the time everything else is done they are ready.

I made a chicken salad before I left home and packed it in the cooler. This made for an easy lunch each day.

I'm all about easy for supper too. One night we had pork loin, baked beans, salad, and bread. Yummy.

Liz put the beans in the crock pot that morning. Notice the liner? After supper she just tossed the liner and no cleaning a dirty crock pot! At lunch I put the pork loin in the rotisserie and let in turn all afternoon. My sister and I both have rotisserie ovens - they are great for camping. Just like the commercial says, "Set it; and forget it!"

Just before we ate, I mixed up a strawberry salad. Spring mix greens, sliced strawberries, yellow grape tomatoes, a red onion, feta cheese, and a vinagrette (I had almonds to go in too, but left them at my camper and was too lazy to walk back and get them).

We had friends come for supper that night. And Belle brought some great bread. These cheesy jalapeno rolls were my fav. And we heated the bread in Liz's toaster oven.

For our supper on the last night, everyone brought steaks. We grilled them on the fire. I packed a potato casserole from a local market, and brought some veggies to grill. Liz had some garlic bread to heat on the grill too.

I just pulled up a chair and did the grilling sitting down.

How 'bout that camping hair? Fresh out of the shower, trying to let it dry before pulling it up. And here is another camping tip - go sleeveless. It's amazing how much cooler you are with no sleeves.

Do you camp? What do you cook? Share some ideas.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday Confessions and the PTF

After reading Melissa's confessions about her visit to the Pink Tomato Festival, I have to confess that I am jealous. I, too, visited the festival, but I only went for a few minutes on Friday night. At one time, I made it a point to visit the festival during the day, but for the last several years I have only gone at night. And after seeing Melissa's pictures, I wish I had gone during the day. I have been thinking about when and why I stopped going during the day, and I do believe it was for some of the reasons Melissa mentioned - too much to wrestle in such heat. However, my boys have been long since outgrown going places with me, so next year I will visit during the day.

If there are any secrets you are keeping from your children, don't let me near them. I stopped by Melissa's to get a picture order for my sister-in-law. During our visit, I might have blown Melissa's cover. We were discussing my visit to the festival the previous night. I mentioned that the rides had been moved to a new location. Rides. I said it. And of course, little ears hear words like that when they don't hear anything else. And the crafty, little seamstress immediately chimed in, "Rides? They have RIDES at the Pink Tomato Festival?" I am publicly apologizing to Melissa for the terrible slip, and also bowing to her greatness for being able to keep this fact a secret from her crew. Amazing!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Water Water Everywhere

I'm just back from my girls only camping trip. New camping area, new lake, new friends - and it was a great time. I have camped on this lake before, but it has been many years ago and not in this area. The camp sites were easy to find. I had a beautiful site with a great view of the sunrise each morning. Lucy and I got up early each morning and went for a walk, so I got to enjoy the great view everyday.

Our spring weather has been crazy. In my part of the state we are experiencing a drought, but in other parts of the state severe flooding has been disastrous. Many campsites have been flooded. We camped at Old Highway 25. The campground is divided into several circles. We camped in G circle - it was the only one open. And some sites in this circle were still under water. Because of this we were not able to get adjoining sites. The bath house closest to us was closed because of the high water. A little inconvenient, but definitely not enough to ruin the trip. We designated one site as the cook area, everything sort of took off from there. Most of our time was spent in the water. That was what was most important to us so right away we got the island and floaties ready.

While I got my camper set up, Dora put air in one floating island. But the girls quickly decided that island just wouldn't do - not when everyone knew there was a bigger one still in the box just sitting there waiting to be inflated. So Liz and Dora got to work.

Notice the one island already floating in the water? Just wouldn't work. Bigger is always better.

Liz had a battle with the sun shade. It took all of us to get it on correctly. Of course, no one read the instructions.

We did finally get things in the correct place, then hauled the island out into the lake, tied it to a tree, and we were set for the week. We then just used the smaller floaties to get from the bank to the island and back.

When we weren't floating, we relaxed at the camp site. I was the only person not a nurse; at times I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. But we did occasionally discuss current books and movies. And of course, we discussed husbands and kids.

Meals also allowed time for conversation. I did a lot of the cooking, but I am happy to say, very little cleaning afterwards. We were a pretty good team.

And now comes unpacking. Isn't that always the worst part of any trip? 

What's your favorite camping meal? Have any secrets/hints to make unpacking less tedious?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ready for an Adventure

I. Love. Camping. Time at the lake with family and friends. Time to relax. Time to throw schedules out the window. I have no schedule when I'm camping - I think that is one of the biggest reasons I love it so much. If I want to stay up all night reading, I do. If I want to lounge on a floatie all day, I do. If I want to nap in the afternoon, I do.

My camping routine usually includes a bit of all of that. Lots of late night reading. I take a variety of books - some for school and some for pure enjoyment. I am looking forward to reading and reading and reading this week. Even with the late nights, I usually get up pretty early, and Lucy and I go for a long walk around the quiet campgrounds. When I get back to the camper, it's start the coffee and do some reading while waiting on everyone else to wake up. Then it's time to cook breakfast. Pancakes and bacon. Sausage and biscuits. Omelets and toast. Or maybe a little of it all. Believe it or not, a favorite at our breakfast tent is fried weenies.

After breakfast, I usually take Lucy for a swim. She loves it! After about 45 minutes, she is worn out, and I take her back to the camper. She sleeps until I come back for a late lunch. Then we take another walk and usually another swim. I might climb in a hammock or even go to the camper to read/nap before supper. That's the big meal of the day; the one we plan for and talk about all day long. We always have enough to feed friends and neighbors. Everyone pitches in, and the cooking is a huge part of the fun.

This week, I'm camping with a new group. My sister-in-law invited me to her annual all-girl trip. I don't know how much cooking they usually do. I know we are grilling steaks one night, and SIL has a pork loin to cook another night. I've got some yummy dishes planned. This trip will be fun, but I am so looking forward to the next trip with family. We are already discussing what we will cook.

I'm taking my camera and will post pictures of our meals when I get home. If you are a traditionalist about camping, eating granola and drinking spring water - you won't call our camp-cooking camping but you will secretly wish you could eat with us. If you only eat soggy sandwiches and poptarts, you will be amazed and hungry.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday Confessions (Yes, it's Sunday - I'm late again)

This is not the first time that I have joined Melissa's Saturday Confessions on Sunday - I'm a rebel like that. Actually, by the time I got home and sat down yesterday, I considered logging on and posting but just decided not too. So I guess I'm not a rebel after all - just lazy independent. I'll count this as confession #1.

2.  As I went to my blog to post this, I noticed a typo on my last post. I am a good speller - but a horrible typist. And I don't always use spellcheck. I know I should. I have experienced the agony of my non-nimble fingers over and over, but I just won't learn. And scanning isn't enough for me. My eyes are enablers. They know what my fingers SHOULD have typed, and they only see that. I can read over something I just typed a million times and never see the typos. I can pick up another person's writing, and typos jump off the page like fleas. Don't think that I have some complex where I think I'm perfect and can't find any flaws in something I create. I do see the flaws - just as soon as I hit the publish post button or just as soon as the last test comes out of the copy machine.

3.  I hate packing for camping (and unpacking when I get home). My little popup camper has been sitting in my driveway all week. I put it up last weekend, so that I could clean it and get everything packed for this summer's camping. It is still there, not quite ready. And I leave for my first adventure Tuesday morning. Monday will be a busy day of running last minute errands and packing my truck, so today I've got to get the camper done.

4.  Lately, I have been so torn over my boys being grown, missing them being younger and always around. Today, I am enjoying my empty nest. A quiet house, the dogs napping after tracking dewy, muddy feet everywhere, a cup of coffee, and only the click-clack of computer keys.

5. I have random OCD. My house is a mess, my desk is rarely clean, I'm never "put together" when I leave the house; yet I have crazy moments of OCD. Like if I number my Saturday Confessions - there needs to be five things to confess. And I might not get all of my Christmas decorations down until spring, but no one can help me decorate the tree because the ornaments have to be done my way. When I bring groceries home, I may not get them all put away for several days, but said groceries must go from buggy to conveyor belt in a particular order - cold things together, can goods grouped, non-food items separately. And I can't stand it when the checker/bagger mixes things from my designated groups as he/she bags my stuff. I really wish some of my OCD was about cleaning; I can happily go to sleep with a sinkful of dirty dishes or clothes that need folding.

What do you need to confess?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hauling Hay

Today was a good day. School work this morning - gathering materials for summer study/review and lesson planning. A baby shower for a co-worker after the last few kids left. And when I got home, Lovey popped his head in the door and asked me to give him a little help. I think it's just because I'm a little giddy that tomorrow is the last day of school, but I was happy to lend a hand. It wasn't until I was in the truck, and we were on our way that I realized what we were going to do. After several days of cutting, raking, and baling, today was hay moving day.

Lovey and his borther cut hay from fields scattered here and yonder. This means that once the hay is baled, it must be moved to a barn somewhere near the cattle who will gobble it up next winter.

To make loading it easier, the hay is moved into lines so that the truck/trailer can be pulled alongside and the tractor/loader can work as quickly as possible.

Here comes Lovey with the next bale.

He sets it on the trailer in just the right spot. He wants to get as many as he possibly can on the trailer each time.

Once the first row is in place, he begins the second row. Gotta be careful here - don't want to knock the first row off on the other side.

Isn't Lovey the cutest little farmer boy you ever did see? He even dresses the part.

This one was making me nervous. Just a little crooked.

And now for the top row. I'm hoping that one holds that crooked one on the trailer.

Last one on! This is not the first load, but it is the first one that I got out to watch him load. I was thinking, "Really, you expect me to drive without losing that one?" But after many years of loading and moving hay, I guess he knows what he's doing.

That's about all it's going to hold. Time to take it to the barn.

Off I go! I made several of these trips today, and I didn't lose one bale - not even that crookedy one.