Oodles of Noodles!

I’m not sure if I mentioned here, or not, that the kids have begun a tradition of having a small group of “local” friends over about once every month.  They come mid-afternoon and stay until about 9 pm. The group is comprised of about 7 kids, including ours.

Last night, we were discussing the meal I would serve. The majority of the kids turn their noses up at salad, so no problem there. They also seem a bit reluctant to eat vegetables, which would cause me to be concerned….our kids eat veggies of all sorts….even brussel sprouts!

Michelle was sittting in the living room, pondering her favorite dishes, when she suddenly jumped up and said she knew exactly what I should make! She began describing a dish I used to make many years ago….”you know, Mom, the one where you made your own noodles?” Yes, I did know! She wants me to make Beef Stroganoff.  When we told Ben, he was disappointed, wanting Shepherd’s Pie instead.  So, I decided to make both today.

As soon as we settled on the stroganoff, I got out (what else?) the trusty Kitchen Aid and made two batches of  egg noodles. As I cut them, Michelle took them into the living room and hung them on towels hung on the drying rack in front of the woodstove.

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This morning,  I removed the noodles from the rack and placed them into a large bowl. They had dried nicely overnight.  As I was taking them from the rack, they had become brittle, so little pieces would fall to the carpet below.  I tried to be very careful not to drop any, but every now and then a piece would fall. The Scottie boys scampered under the rack, racing to beat out the other out for the fallen tidbit.  It was so funny…..crunch, crunch, crunch…..as they chomped down the dry noodles!

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On another note, I went shopping on Wednesday evening while Michelle was at her Bible study.  I have been keeping my eyes open for a new purse for months now, as the one I had was just like a large cavern inside. There were only pockets inside for a cell phone,(but not one as thick as the one I have now)  three pockets for pens, and a narrow slot that I think must be for lipstick.  Everything else that went into the purse just rattled about and every time my cell phone rang, I would have to dig out my wallet and anything else that might be in the way.

So, I found this……

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Mark has given me the ultimate insult, saying it looks like a “Biker Babe’s” saddlebag for the back of a motorcycle. Try as I might to explain “bling”, he refutes me, asking where the Harley is….Every time I was wondering where something was yesterday, he suggested I look in my “bag”! Harrumph!  This purse is only slightly larger than the former one, and the two front pockets are terrific. One holds my hand cleaner and rewetting drops for the contacts, and the other holds a small contact case. Inside, there is a generous pouch for the cell, as well as several others for random little things I carry.  It is so nice not to have things rattling about!

So, what do you think? Biker Babe or Bling?

The Eyes Have It!

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I have been wearing contacts now for a few weeks, and I cannot even begin to convey how thrilling it is! I actually look forward to getting up and putting them in each morning.

The first lenses the doctor gave me weren’t that close to the prescription that I now have.  When  I went in this past Monday to get the new prescription, I was hoping we were getting closer to the solution. I put the lenses in and the doctor first asked how my reading vision was. I looked at a “reading card” and was able to read to the line marked “20/20”.  I was certainly impressed….then the doctor asked how far down I could read on a distance chart. I am not sure what the line was marked there, but he exclaimed that it is very rare that someone can put in multifocal contacts and be able to see both near and far as well as I was!

I had talked to Carly and another girl, who both wear contacts, and they told me the solutions  (cleaning fluids) they use. Even though my first and second pairs of lenses were fabulous, the transition between closeup and far away took a few seconds to adjust my eyes.  It also seemed like they were “juicy”….like there was too much liquid in my eye.

I bought one of the solutions that both Carly and the other girl recommended, and I couldn’t believe the difference. I can now see very clearly and there isn’t even an adjustment time between near and far away!

The downside to all of this is that when I went to an eye exam two years earlier,  the doctor had suggested that I try “mono-vision”. This is basically using one eye to read and the other for distance. I was very excited about it, but the doctor suggested doing this through Lasik surgery.  As I thought about that option, it just seemed less and less appealing.  There was no way I wanted to compromise the vision in one of my eyes.  After seeing the doctor,  we talked to a guy who fixed the pair of glasses I was then wearing for reading, and he told us that his mother was using mono-vision, but with a contact in one eye for reading.  I was a little displeased that the doctor never even mentioned this method to me.  I got busy with other “stuff”, then  forgot about it all together, and wore “cheaters” purchased at the drugstore.

Since our insurance only pays for eye exams every two years,  I was anxious as the time grew closer for the exam this year. I looked around on the computer, Googling every piece of information I could regarding glasses, mono-vision, and vision in general. It was so surprising when I turned up a site that explained about multifocal contacts!  I told Mark that was what I wanted and he called and made the appointment.  How terribly disappointing that I suffered through two years of anguishing  over whether mono-vision would work, or not….

The internet is such a fantastic source of information, if we use it wisely! For now, as I said above, the eyes have it!!!

The Key Word Here is….

Weather! It would seem in the past two or three years, our weather pattern has shifted to the point that we receive the bulk of our cold and snowy weather in February and March, rather than in November, December, and January.  This trend is a bit disconcerting for those winter-weary folks who anxiously anticipate the arrival of spring….as well as those who enjoy the white stuff and would love to jostle about in it during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks!

True to form these past years, we are now getting pummeled with a winter storm, complete with a good deal of snow. It really is beautiful (from the inside, anyway) but quite precarious for those who must travel in it.

I had a dental appointment yesterday for a crown fitting for the tooth that had the root canal.  We also had to drop off the truck once again for warranty work, so we dropped it at the Chevy garage, then traveled to the dentist.  The snow seemed harmless when we left midday, and Mark and Ben dropped Michelle and me at the dentist, then went to a nearby store.  By the time we were done, about 1 1/2 hours later, Mark said the roads were getting quite bad.

We picked the truck up again and headed home…..about 16 or 17 miles.  We left the garage shortly after 5.  As we headed into the driveway, I was so happy to be back home once again!  I pulled up the driveway, but when I swung to turn around, the Explorer just slid.  I went back down the driveway and tried to back up, but the tires were spinning like they were bald!  Mark immediately hopped on the ATV and plowed. I was able to back up onto the road, then I just pulled up the driveway and parked.  By the time we came in, it was after 7!  Needless to say, those tires will be replaced before next winter!  (I buy Nokian tires made in Finland….they are the *best* for snow!)

I cannot tell exactly how much it has snowed, but there is a good amount on the ground. Maybe roughly about 8 inches thus far.  It is currently snowing as well.  It seems somewhat strange that two or three days ago, there was no snow on the ground. I was talking to Mark about how I was getting a bit antsy to begin cutting firewood for the fall! Those plans are now buried….literally!

To top all of this off, the man who sold me the doggie cookies yesterday told me that on Monday, we are supposed to be seeing highs in the 40’s!

Tale of Twa Scots

It all began so innocently……

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Michelle, being of the female persuasion, enjoys shopping.  Every store she enters, she combs through each department,  sorting out items and looking for the best of the best buys! Being a super shopper, she keeps others in mind as she shops, knowing she can always stash little things away for special times such as birthdays and such….

As she was shopping at the Dollar Tree a couple of weeks ago, Michelle seems to have lost her senses!  She found the little slippers shown above…..little “cow” slippers…..and instantly thought not of precious little baby piggies (for whom they were made!), but of Murphy!

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As you can see by his pose, Murphy was less than ecstatic when Michelle presented the laddie with her great little find.  If one were to ask, I would venture to say that Murphy even seemed a little “depressed” by his present!

Michelle carefully placed the little green cow slippers on Murphy’s two front paws and what followed was pure hysteria! Poor little Murphy slowly edged his way across the room, carefully lifting each slipper-clad paw and looking hopelessly toward me as though begging me through telepathy to remove the slippers!

I have never been the sort to enjoy teasing….so I lunged forward and removed the offending bovines from the little fellow’s paws. I do think he was smiling as I removed them!

The little footwear ended up downstairs in the living room yesterday….

For some unknown reason, Angus (King Angus) who never, ever plays with toys!, spotted the slippers and decided they would best be kept under his close eye.  He clutched one in his teeth and dropped it to the floor…..then flopped himself down next to it as though to guard it with his life!

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The interraction between the Scots that followed left Michelle and I greatly entertained. Murphy, not to be outdone, grabbed up the second slipper and took it over to the big soft doggie pillow.  Once there, he dropped it and then went over to tease Angus, distracting him in such an obvious fashion to catch him off guard!  He even bit at Angus’s ear, trying to get the elder Scot to lose his concentration regarding the little slipper. Angus, not easily fooled, sneared at Murphy, warning him to leave instantly!

Angus finally left and Murphy brought the other slipper onto the pillow, as though “putting them away”.  What would we do without this entertainment?

My mother said that little Fritz has a whole treasure trove of toys and he refuses to share them with anyone…..not even his “people”……

Fritz…Need I Say More?

Today’s weather picked up right where yesterday’s left off. It was such a bright and sunny beautiful day….And so, we traveled to meet my parents and brother to celebrate Ben’s belated birthday.

My parents had such a hard time deciding whether they wanted to get another pup or not…after their Brandy died, everyone was so sad, as he had lived a very long life and was such a good little companion.

Now that little Fritz is on the scene, it is so awesome how a tiny little fellow, weighing less than 8 /12 pounds could have such an impact on my family’s lives.  Since they got Fritz when he was a wee little pupkin,  the bond is just tremendous. He has grown into a very handsome and debonair fellow…a real charmer, with a tail that waggles faster than a metronome keeping time to Flight of the Bumblebee….

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This is Kind of Exciting!

For several years, when Mark and I drove northward on route 64, we passed a largish garage-looking building that had pickup trucks parked there with the name “Radiantmax” on the sides. We always wondered what it was all about. As time progressed, it seemed like this business was growing larger and larger, judging from the number of vehicles parked outside the building.

Across the road from this building and slightly south, we saw new construction beginning late last fall.  Not too long ago, I read an article in a local newspaper about the new building. It seems the business that we saw growing was building! And, this isn’t just another new building….the business, called Eagle Mountain, is in the business of heating.  The big difference is, they do things like geothermal heating systems utilizing ponds for heating!  They have a short, concise press release here.

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I took this photo late this afternoon….sorry about the poor lighting.  In reading the press release, I cannot wait until this project is completed!

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A Nikon Moment….

As I was working on transferring my photos from the SD card onto my laptop, my little “Lapscot” tried to jump up onto my lap.  Once he realized my lap was taken by the computer, he snuggled up close to me, placing his front paws inside my camera bag and resting his head across the top…

I called to Michelle to grab the Olympus camera to capture the moment, but he moved as she got closer. Guess he kinda thought he should pose for the camera!

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A Splendid Winter’s Day

The past few days, we have had some bone-chillin’ days that were best spent indoors.  Yesterday, we got a couple of inches of snow, but today, the sun came out and we had the most sparkling blue skies…nearly sapphire at some points.

I had planned to visit at the home of our friends today and thought I would take along the camera.  Our friends’ home is built high into the side of a hill, making for some stunning views. With the clear blue skies, bright sun…..well, you can certainly see where I am going! You can even catch glimpses of the lake!

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I have stated numerous times that we live in one of the prettiest areas on earth! I will let you be the judge….

Let ‘Em Eat Bread

When I first mentioned buying my Kitchen Aid food processor, I *think* I said in passing that it is able to make up bread dough.  My family loves freshly-baked bread….don’t we all?  If the truth be told, after buying the processor, it sat alone and lonely on the counter for probably a week.  I have a tendency to not “touch” new appliances until I read their manuals thoroughly and feel more comfortable using them.

After reading the sequence for making bread, I decided to start small. I gathered ingredients for dinner rolls. Instant success! Then, a few days ago, it was fresh English muffins. Bingo!  Then, I got really brave and made up a loaf of white bread from the recipe on the back of a bag of King Arthur Flour.  That loaf had barely made it out of the oven before the kids gathered like vultures, imploring me to cut them slices.

This morning, I decided to try another type of bread.  We are fortunate to live about 35 miles from a Mennonite store that sells all types of baking needs.  They sell a delightful multi-grain flour that contains all kinds of goodies in it….cracked wheat, cracked barley flour, cornmeal, and soy grits.  There are more, but those are some I remember.  Anyway, I used part all-purpose flour, and part of the Mennonite mix.  Ben loves “crunchy” things in his bread, and this certainly has some good texture.

The best part about using the food processor for making bread is that it is so easy!  I need only measure the dry ingredients into the processor bowl, then add the lightly heated wet ingredients through the top as the processor is running. I let it run for 1 1/4 minutes, then remove the perfect bread dough.  The dough *is* for all intents and purposes, perfect!

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Oh, and while I am at it….I never buy those little packages of yeast. They are so expensive and to me, a waste of time.  It is so much cheaper to buy the “bricks” of yeast. I buy mine from the Mennonite store. (and if you enlarge the photo below, you can see it is about $2.75 per pound) I believe that BJ’s and Sam’s Club  sells yeast in a two pack of one pound bags as well.

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And while I am at it, I cannot sing enough praises for my Bosch stove we bought last May. After my Thanksgiving fiasco with that poor unit billowing out black clouds of smoke from every orifice,  I was so nervous about using its self-cleaning feature! However, a few days ago, I bravely set the dial to “self-clean” and stood by…..watching in utter amazement as all traces of that fateful day were melted away, only leaving indelible memories in my mind!

As you can see in the photo below, it also proofs the goodies I make with the processor.  I am only too happy to bid adieu to the bread machine that I loved several years ago when I placed it on the counter and was fascinated as it dazzled me with a loaf of bread in about three hours!  My new method takes less time, (and it is cleaner) and there is no hole in the base of my loaf from the little paddle!

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You cannot visit my blog without knowing that I am quite a fan of technology.  My kitchen, however, contains few gadgets, as I have always been somewhat skeptical of gadgetry….but give me that food processor and my stove…….