Monday, December 31, 2007

The last day of 2007

Thank goodness the man is off to work. I'm feeling very irritated today.

I woke up, took the yellow dog out so she could do her morning business, and walked around, getting some very cool photos of the 6 inches of snow that we got last night.

Anyway, I fired up the snowblower (that right now, I hate using). I used it on roughly 90% of the stuff that needed to be blown, and then Dan comes out and does the last bit. THEN I come inside after shoveling the driveway (because the blower isn't working left a lot of snow behind) to find him sitting at the table, reading the paper and eating breakfast.

Did the dogs get fed?
His coffee cup was sitting in front of the coffee pot...
Was his sandwich made for lunch?

SO...I fill the water dishes, feed the dogs, pour his coffee and make his sandwich while cleaning up from dinner last night because Naomi didn't bother to finish her chore.

As he leaves he says "get a lot done around here today." It was all I could do not to scream at him. I said "I've already done a lot here today." He said, "So that's it for the day?" I just said that wasn't what I'd said. I don't feel like putting up with him right now. What a wonderful man, eh? My neighbors were all asking me where he was...I told them the truth, "In bed!". I am so freaking irritated right now. Grrrrr.

Anyway, today I'm going to "get a lot done" here today. Asshole.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Page

I just finished up with a new scrapbook page.

It's my very first digital page!

I like it quite a bit!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A little giggle

This made me giggle. Thought that I would share it with you all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Deep Breath of Air

* The hardwood kitchen floor and the stairs to the upstairs have been mopped with vinegar and water, and then polished to a high shine.

*The laundry is all caught up.

*The toilets are cleaned. (3 of 'em!)

*The bathrooms are cleaned.

*Bedrooms are dusted with mirrors cleaned. (3 out of 4... I refuse to touch Naomi's room.)

*I've wrapped over 100 Christmas Presents

*I Mod Podged the letters that my neighbor wants to put on the walls in her daughters rooms.

*I've also helped her decorate them up with buttons and ribbons.

*I've finished the scrapbook for my friend.

*I finished the planner that I was making for myself too!

*Did I mention all the vacuuming?

Tomorrow morning the kids arrive. I AM THRILLED. I'm REALLY tired tonight, and at 8:30 I'm feeling like I've been running a marathon all day.

I think that I'm going to go to bed in a few minutes.

Oh yeah. Happy Birthday to my sister Lisa and my brother Bill. They both turn the big 5-0 today. I hope that they have a wonderful year. They are both pretty darn cool!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Whenever I think about winter, I immediately pull up memories from my childhood. It's funny, because as an adult most of my memories center around the work that winter has. But the wistful memories that come up are the ones where you bundle up and run outside and play in the snow.

I grew up in North Dakota, and I remember my mom coming outside and helping me build a snow horse, and a couple cowboy snowmen. I remember the way the cold would make my cheeks feel tight. I remember wrapping up in a blanket and sitting in front of the cast iron fireplace in the basement getting warm.

I think that the earliest adult memories I have were when I was in college. I worked for a local high school as a debate judge and I would have to drive to their school and then ride the bus with the debaters to whatever school they were going to for the weekend tournaments.

Getting into my car in the morning was always a little tense. I drove a 1973 Toyota Celica. It's nickname was Wheezer, because when I turned it off, the engine would cough and wheeze a little before finally resting. Anyway, Wheezer had a lovely vinyl/leather trimmed seat, and being dressed for work, you'd sit in the car, and your leg muscles would immediately contract from the cold.

I would coax the car to life, and then turn on the blowers and start digging for my scraper. I remember once I couldn't find it, so I used the front of a cassette tape case. Remember, this was in the mid 80's, so I also had the option of using one of my large earrings as a scraper too.

I would scrape like crazy, then get back in, and my muscles would once again contract, jamming my knees up into the steering wheel. I remember rocking my car back and forth to get it out of whatever snowy predicament it was in, and then finally getting on the streets.

In the land before Anti-lock braking systems, this meant that there was an awful lot of brake pumpking. Anyway, the car would usually get warm about 3 blocks off campus, and then by the time I'd get to my destination, it would be hot enough inside to melt steel.

Ahh, the joys of winter!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A few photos of my morning

I wanted to do a quick little photo blog of about a half hour of my morning today. It really made me laugh to think about how much of my mornings are the exact same from day to day.

So, here you go!

This is Molly. Molly is an 8 year old English Square head Labrador Retriever. She's "curvy", not fat. Molly is my little yellow shadow. EVERYWHERE I go, Molly goes. She gets annoyed if I don't take her in the car with me.

Molly loves to get her photo taken.

This Mike. Mike is in the natural habitat of the wild Labrador. He really loves to sleep on the sofa. He's over there snoring loudly as I type this. Mike is 11, his father was a very busy dog. Mike is also an English Square Head Labrador. Mike is also Molly's uncle.

The requisite photo of the trees from the deck. Only I just stuck the camera out the sliding door and pointed it at the trees and took the photo. I wasn't going out in THAT stuff.

The slider is open here, that's the snow that collected on the deck since Friday, when I shoveled the entire deck off and found a tarp to put over the deck furniture. Next year we are buying fitted covers for those guys.

The snowy neighborhood. The tree in the foreground is one of those lighted 4 foot trees that ACMoore had on sale a few weeks ago for $29.00 for a set of them. Also, note that the snow bank around my neighbors mailbox is threatening to cover the mailbox.

Molly loves snow. She really does. Mike is more of a water dog, but Molly loves herself some snow.

It doesn't look like much when they stay on the sidewalk. It just covers their feet. They don't go winkie on the sidewalk though. What they are doing is looking for an easy way to get to the bathroom...

Ahh yes, we found a way in. Yes, the snow is up to our tummies.

It's fun to make mom nervous. We like to go behind the house when we know she's only got her nightshirt on under her coat.

This is me, at 7:30 in the morning. I haven't even showered.

Mike loves to sniff. So he stuffs his face into the snow so he can smell things. I'm trying to lure him into the house with a dog cookie.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

A letter to my oldest child

To my dear child,

Now that you are a couple months from turning 20, I want you to know that I love you. I think that you still have so much growing up to do though. You need to learn that the amount of freedom you have isn't something that comes without strings. The more freedoms you have, the more responsibilities you have. They are not always equal to each other.

I know that you think that it's ok for you to go traipsing off to the Cayman's because your friend Ashley's parents purchased you a ticket. I know that you think that it is your decision. I just caution you about making these types of decisions. Your goals do not lend themselves well to messing up. You need to pay attention and focus hard.

I'm offended by your attitudes towards me and Dan. We love you, and we ask from you that you participate in the house. While you are living here we expect you to pay attention to your messes and to clean them up. You are old enough to take care of your own messes now. I don't think that leaving a sink full of water behind is is cleaning your bathroom. I don't think that a dirty bathroom floor is having cleaned your bathroom.

I should expect you to do what you say you are going to do around here. In reasonable time. I am not a freak where I expect you to have a pristine room and bathroom, I do expect for you to keep them tidy and to clean your bathroom every week.

I expect you to communicate with me, and in the future, when it comes to picking you up from work, if you don't reach me by 1opm I will not come pick you up. If we expect you home at a certain time, and you do not show up, we will lock the doors, and you better have a good reason why things didn't happen.

I will not be treated the way you treat me any longer. You will behave in a manner that is respectful towards this home and those who live here.

I love you, it's hard to grow up, believe me, I know this, but it's gotta happen. The world does NOT revolve around you and your charm. We see through it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How to make Spaghetti Sauce

The usual cast of characters for making a nice, simple sauce for spaghetti:

This is a nice deep pot, it's often referred to as a "Chef's pot", you can use a large stew pot also, but I'm partial to using the handle on the pot. I have cooked my hands on the small handles on stew pots too many times.

Spices: Garlic Powder, and Basil. I know it says Italian Herb Mix on that bottle, but I'm a believer in simplicity, and adding flavor as you cook, so start with a nice simple base and go from there. That being said, if you are going to buy spices, check out Penzeys Spices. FANTASTIC spices. The McCormick Garlic Powder is O.K. We just bought it because we were waiting on getting another large order for Penzeys together.

I don't have a favorite brand for tomatoes here in town. If you can find Pastene Kitchen Ground tomatoes, use those, they seem to have a taste that I like...your mileage may vary. You just need a big can of crushed tomatoes, a medium can of diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.

Whoops, I forgot the star of the show. Garlic. I was lazy today and used a jar. I use a lot. I prefer to mince my garlic myself, but this will do in a pinch.

Pour your OliveOil into your large pan. Don't waste your Extra Virgin Olive Oil on cooking, the heat kind of ruins the extra flavor. Use your Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dressings or for dipping crusty bread in to go along with your meal.

Rougly two Tablespoons of oil will do the job. Make sure your burner is turned up to almost medium heat on your stove.

I use a LOT of garlic. We like garlic here. This is probably 1 1/2 Tablespoons of garlic. Stir it up in the oil, pay attention, you want it to get a little bit of color, but you don't want it to burn. If you burn it, wash out your pot and start over. Burned garlic is NASTY.

See that nice garlic cooking there? Yes, it's a little golden, I took it off the heat so that I could show you that you should put in about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Basil or Italian Seasoning. Rub it between your palms as you add it to your garlic. It helps release the aromatics.

Stir, stir, stir. I let it cook almost a minute after adding in the spices. You are working on getting layers of flavor here.

Now, use a skinny rubber scraper and help that tomato paste into your spices. This needs to cook a little bit, too.

Stir well to combine it with the flavors in your pan. I like to make sure it is stirred all over the bottom of the pan to pick up all the flavors from cooking up those spices.

Yes, add more Garlic. I use about a Tablespoon of Garlic Powder here. The tomato paste has started to change it's form, from a sticky, clumpy substance, and now it's a little softer. It spreads out in the bottom of the pan nicely.

Add your can of ground tomatoes. Stir it up really well. Add your can of diced tomatoes.

Stir them in too. Pay attention to the thickness of your sauce here. If you like it a little runnier, add some water. That can of diced tomatoes is a good measure of water. I like to add water as it cooks now and then. I was going to use this sauce for a lasagne, so I wanted it somewhat thick.

Taste the sauce, if you want, add some more Basil. Rub it between your hands again. If anything it will make you smell like you've been working very, very hard that day. No one needs to know how easy this really is!'s now just started to boil. Time to turn it down.

Set the temperature just above low. Put a lid on your pot, and stir it every now and then until it's simmered for a while. I like to cook my sauce for a few hours. I let this simmer until after we had dinner, and the popped the mixture into the fridge. The next morning I put together my lasagne and refrigerated it until an hour before I baked it.

Once you do this, you'll never buy a jarred sauce again. It's so easy to make this up and freeze it or save it for all your spaghetti/pizza sauce needs.

A photo update

The beauty of snow

The front of the house and walkway to the front door.
You can see my footprints in the snow where I ran to take the picture.

This is just after 3 hours of snowfall.

I thought this was pretty.

We still need to bring that furniture into the basement...OR find some covers.

I guess the horse is already out of the barn for this season, but it certainly was pretty yesterday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The weather here has been wintry. The weather forecast for today had been "SNOW!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!!" I laughed it off. Last night, ONE FLAKE floated down when I was out with Molly at 2:30am because she had a sudden craving to eat yellow snow. (That's another story)

So this morning. NO SNOW. I toss my head in disdain towards the weather forecasters. Dan and Naomi leave and head off to work and school. I go upstairs and get dressed to take the dogs for a walk. The snow starts to come down a little slow. It's just a dusting.

I bring them in, run across the street and clean up the gift Molly left for the neighbors in their pristine, white, snowy front yard, and grab the keys and go down the mountain towards town.

As I drive down the hill I'm really loving Dan's car. He took the Expedition into town, even though I scoffed at his optimism that we were going to have any kind of bad weather. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill the anti-lock brakes kicked in twice. I'm feeling a little nervous, and by now the snow is starting to stick.

I decide against running to the big grocery store and instead run to the high priced, small neighborhood grocery that has a great deli and always has fun things in their pre-made food case. ANYWAY, I go in, get some deli ham, and a frozen french bread pizza ( yes, I like those, but have to eat them only for lunch because they give me bad heart burn). I also grab some sour cream and cream cheese (if it turns into a real storm, we'll need that fat for body warmth, right?).

By the time I checked out at this place (and I was REALLY only in there for 5 minutes, tops). The snow was collecting in the street. My car tracks in their parking lot had disappeared. I headed up the street and made a left to get up the mountain. While taking that left, I SPUN almost a complete circle, and just drove up the hill as if I meant to do it.

Now, I'm getting a little uncomfortable as I climb the mountain, after having wet myself after that exciting bit of creative driving. Then I reach the point of no more forward driving. I'm not so thrilled with this either. I CAN SEE the street that I need to turn on to get into our little housing for goodness sake. So, I call my neighbors, yes the ones that I'm making the scrapbook for as a surprise for Christmas, and now you know why.

They drive down and pick me up, and Jim drives the car home for me, only he drove it back down the mountain, and around the other side, and then down to our housing area. As he made the corner, he saw a car slide into the ditch on the other side.

SO, to make a very long story short...

1. Warm weather before SNOW!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! Makes for warm ground.

2. Warm ground means snow melts before it collects.

3. Melted snow under collecting snow means ice.

Oh yeah. It's REALLY coming down, too... SNOW!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! (or at least make some coffee and snuggle in and watch the View. I can't believe that it's still morning!

On my to-do list today:
Finish scrapbook.
Wash laundry. Especially after my little adventure today.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

So, at the end of the day, I am pleased to look back on my list. I did everything on it except do a load of laundry.
Not too bad.

I also made an excel spreadsheet of all of our spices in our lazy susan. I still have a couple cupboards to look into and log those spices. I think that I threw out about 20 bottles of old spices, or empty bottles of spices from combining partial bottles.

That feels good. I no longer have bottles stacked on bottles in that shelf. I am going to get some of those dot stickers so that I can see what's in the bottles by looking at the top of the container instead of pulling the bottle up and out to see what it is.

I think that we are total foodies. We have 84 bottles of spices in that one cabinet. It's totally off the hook!

And the list...mostly completed!
1. Shower! done

2. Feed dogs. done x2
3. Send in Penzeys order. done
4. Unload dishwasher. done
5. Plan out pages for the album that I'm giving to Lynn for Christmas. done
6. Wake up Naomi and have her do some chores...walk dogs, vacuum tv room and living room/dining room. done, done, done and then Danny and I walked dogs tonight.
7. Laundry. DOES IT EVER END? Gaah. I didn't even look at the laundry.
8.Lunch with Lynn. Done and it was wonderful.
9. Plan dinner tonight. ( I need to check out what I've got in the freezer first. If I can, I'm going to do a crock pot dinner so I can focus on scrapping.) We had pork chops and spanish rice.
10. Take Naomi to work and pick her up. Done.
11. Find ways to tolerate mr.grumpy pants when he gets home...he's fighting depression. done

My list for today

1. Shower!
2. Feed dogs.
3. Send in Penzeys order.
4. Unload dishwasher.
5. Plan out pages for the album that I'm giving to Lynn for Christmas.
6. Wake up Naomi and have her do some chores...walk dogs, vacuum tv room and living room/dining room.
7. Laundry. DOES IT EVER END?
8.Lunch with Lynn.
9. Plan dinner tonight. ( I need to check out what I've got in the freezer first. If I can, I'm going to do a crock pot dinner so I can focus on scrapping.)
10. Take Naomi to work and pick her up.
11. Find ways to tolerate mr.grumpy pants when he gets home...he's fighting depression.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Recipe

Yesterday with all the snow, I just wanted something that reminded me of home. When I say "home" I usually mean North Dakota type home.

When it's all snowy and cold and shivery, I just want comfort food. I didn't grow up in an area of the country known for it's gourmet food. Since I've been with Dan, and have taken several series' of classes at Cambridge Culinary Institute, I've really learned how to cook and make food that's "ok" into food that is delicious!.

So here are two recipes. The first is the original. A good ol bland midwestern recipe.

Stew Meat and Rice

Brown the stew meat ( 1lb) in a pan. You can use a little flour on the chunks of meat first.

Salt and pepper the meat, and then stir in a can of Golden Mushroom soup.
Serve hot over white rice.

(Honestly, this is a nice, mild tasting comfort food.)

Now for the sexed up version:

Katy's Savory Stew Meat Comfort Food

12-14 oz package sliced mushrooms
Stew Meat, sliced up into even sized strips or chunks
1 Can Campbells Golden Mushroom soup
1 shallot or 1 small onion if you don't have a shallot on hand
Vermouth or ANY kind of leftover wine from a previous meal
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Cayenne pepper ( a small, eentsy pinch)
1 quick shake or grating of Nutmeg
Pepper (to taste)
Kosher Salt (to taste)
Butter (1 or 2 Tablespoons...used only to saute' the mushrooms)

1. Saute' mushrooms in a large frying pan. I put a tablespoon of butter into the pan and let it melt while the pan heats up over medium heat. When I hear the sizzle, I put the container of mushrooms into the pan, and give them a quick stir. Then I sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt on them, and give a good grind of nutmeg over the pan. Nutmeg is a good trick to add to vegetables that tend to lose their flavor in a heavy sauce. In this case, the sauce is going to be the soup, but it works well with creamed spinach, too.

2. While the mushrooms start to cook down, I quickly mince the shallot. I said just one, but in my book, there is no such thing as too many shallots in a meal, so go for it. Use your common sense detector. When you finish with the mince (this should take less than a couple minutes), the mushrooms will be ready for a stir. Stir the mushrooms and add the shallots to the mixture. Let this cook for a few minutes until it looks good to you. You'll know when the mushrooms look done, they will have a bit of a liquid around them in the pan, and they will be an even browny looking color. The shallots will be clear by this time, too. If not, don't worry. It's all good.

3. Remove the mushrooms and shallots to a bowl and keep it warm. A small mixing bowl works, since you aren't going to do anything but put a plate on the top to keep it warm while you cook the meat.

4. Toss the meat into the pan. Give it a good stir and start shaking your Montreal Seasoning on top. This seasoning is WONDERFUL on steaks when you grill, so here's a quick tip...if you use a spice blend that you love when you grill, sprinkle that over the meat while it cooks instead of the Montreal Seasoning. I like this blend quite a bit if you haven't tried it yet. I season this as it cooks, remember it's cooking in the butter and juices from the mushrooms and shallots. So sprinkle a half teaspoon of seasoning on it, and let it cook for a while, then sprinkle more. Don't be afraid to taste the food as it cooks. I am one who tastes the juices more than the meats. Dan tastes the meat. It all works out in the end. When the meat is to the point of it being cooked to your liking, carefully put it in the bowl with the mushrooms and shallots. Leave all the drippings in the pan and the little nubbins.

5. Turn the heat up on the pan for just a few seconds, and then pour your alcohol of choice ( red or white wine or vermouth) into the pan ( about 1/4 of a cup) and scrape the pan with your wooden spoon. This is called deglazing the pan, and it makes for an extra layer of flavor and helps to carry the spices in the food through the cream sauce. You can do this with a little water if you avoid alcohol, but it's just not going to make your palate sing, and it's going to take a little longer.

6. Now, you should have poured the wine, done a quick scrape, scrape. This shouldn't take long at all, maybe 30 seconds. Now put the meat, mushrooms and shallots into the pan. Turn the heat down to low. Pull that tab on the can of Golden Mushroom soup. Use your wooden spoon to scrape it out of the can and stir it into your food in the pan. Take out your jar of cayenne or red pepper and give it a little tap over the fry pan. I don't use it for the heat, I use it for the flavor lifting. The vermouth does a good job of lifting the flavor, and for some reason the cayenne really helps. Now heat the mixture, I add about a 1/4 cup of water to the mixture to help it get to a consistency that I think is appealing. (Think thick gravy)

Serve over rice ( any type you like....I LOVE brown rice always... Dan doesn't) or serve over egg noodles or any type of pasta that you love to eat.

This is so easy. Don't let all my words scare you.

This passed the food snob test in our household.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar!

As the snow softly falls, settling into a sweet sugary surface, I take a deep breath of air. I'm thankful for the beautiful, and changing scenes that I'm given on a daily basis here.

I truly love this place. More than I ever thought I could. I love the people who are friendly and kind, and the weather which is more than eager to present me with 4 solid, unique seasons.

Today I fired up the snowblower. We had more than a dusting of snow on the driveway, and I had a blast wrestling around Dan's big machine. I felt so freaking CAPABLE! I got the entire driveway cleared off, and then cleared the street down to the drain. I am so thrilled that I kept up my attitude of "getting things done". After I used the big, manly machine, I used the shovel and got what didn't get scooped up by the blower.

Aaaargh! I am woman, hear me ROAR!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Life, or something like it.

Today was one of those days.

You know, the kind where you get up and start on a project that you have been wanting to do for a while, and you have aspirations to get even more done than what you've got going?


So I wake up, and do a load of laundry, and then start cleaning the kitchen. I had a heck of a messy kitchen. So I clean the stove, and the counters, and unload and then load the dishwasher. I even manage to get the dirty liner from a longaberger into the laundry. I'm productive!

I start the oven on it's cleaning cycle. It's smoky and nasty smelling. I tell Naomi that when she leaves for school, that I need for her to put the dogs in the garage. I had this fear that smoke from the oven would make the dogs sick.

Anyway, I come home to the dogs in the garage like I expected, but also to ALL of our smoke detectors pulled down. I would have liked to have strangled my child. So, I put them all back where they belong. I go off to pick up Naomi for lunch, she left her lab book at home, and needed me to bring it to her, so I offered to give her lunch. We have a very nasty lunch a Quiznos. I take her back to school. I come home and work on my project, and then I have to go get her again. She's sick.

We come home, and she takes a hot tub, I finish the oven project, and clean up from my scrapping mess. I then make dinner, and am sitting here, in a stupor. Very nearly NOTHING is done, except for the oven. I am exhausted though.

Gotta love days like this. I am NOT going to be driving anywhere tomorrow. What she forgets at home, she forgets. I want to pull up the decorations that I want to put on the tree, and then start on another project. I REALLY want to get some other things done around here too.

Wednesday the electrician is supposed to come. I'll believe it when I believe it. They have been doing a good job of not showing lately. I'm sick of dealing with that stuff!