Thankful Stepford

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.

So this is my thankful post.

I have tried writing it three times, hence why it is so late getting posted. But I just can’t make the words get typed correctly.

I am thankful that Wonderful Husband got to be home for the holiday. We went to his parents for a few days and I got to experience a true family holiday.

Arriving at his parents house is like something out of a Hallmark movie. They have a huge beautiful old house that is impeccably decorated for whatever season is happening, their house is warm and cozy and welcoming. They meet you at the door with hugs and kisses and there is a solid five minutes of crazy while we try to get the car emptied and coats and shoes off and juggling Little Darling. We always bring Pixie to play with their two dogs and there is a furry gauntlet to be run every time you come back with a load from the vehicle.

Once we are in and settled, there is coffee and beer and everything in between while we meander around the kitchen and dining room discussing what has happened since we last saw each other. Being that it was a holiday, MIL, FIL, and I ended up in the kitchen prepping food with soft chatter while Wonderful Husband caught up on some sleep in the living room recliner. We made cranberry jello, and a strange orange cabbage jello that I have been reassured multiple times is a family tradition. We ripped up bread for stuffing, and I was regaled with stories of how MIL puts so much stuffing in the turkey that she has to stand on it and stomp it in. We drank and talked and worked on food for several hours and then sat around the dining room table while FIL told stories about growing up and his family history.

Thanksgiving morning, I stumbled downstairs to find the kitchen filled with smells of turkey, gravy, and all things holiday. Greeted warmly by the In-laws we sat and drank coffee while discussing who was coming for dinner and what time they would arrive. Then we took turns going to get dressed with the others watched Little Darling, who was happily playing in the dogs water bowl as if it was a tiny swimming pool.

The boys went to split wood and work in the garage while me and MIL got down to business. We washed dishes, we dried dishes, we made food, we set the table, we laughed, we drank. The atmosphere was nothing but warm and comforting and a snapshot of exactly what family should be. When the other guests arrived there was hugging and laughter and good times. We all gathered around the table and passed food around until our plates were more than full and then we ate until we couldn’t manage another single bite. People slowly filed out until it was just us and the in-laws again. We watched tv and the boys took naps. We slowly packed up and got ready to head home.

Sunday I will go to my dads parents for their Thanksgiving dinner, I won’t see my mom for this holiday. And, while the atmosphere will be warm and welcoming at my family’s house, it won’t have the same air of family that is so potent at my husbands family home. This is the only time of year that I ever feel a twinge of regret at my parents divorce. I will never have the childhood home to return to, I will never have the family sleep overs and late night history lessons. I can never again have my two parents in the same room without an awkwardness and tension that makes everyone uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not sad or mad or anything negative about my parents divorce. Everyone is waayy happier now and I am thankful that both of my parents are genuinely happy, even though it means they aren’t together anymore.

I am thankful that I get the best of both worlds. I am a child of a broken home with parents who no longer love each other, but I am the daughter in law of two parents who love each other very much and I get to experience wonderful holidays with all 3 of my family’s.

I am thankful for a wonderful holiday spent with my amazing family. I am thankful that I married into a wonderful family who loves me like their own and fulfills the needs my own family can’t. I am thankful that my own family was true to themselves and did what was best for them. I am thankful for such fantastic people in my life. I am truly blessed.

I am thankful for my husband and my daughter. I am thankful for my husbands job that provides for our family and puts food on our table. I am thankful for our warm house and our vehicles that, while they may not be the fanciest, they are still reliable and run. I am thankful for my furbabies who snuggle me at night and purr on my lap.

I am thankful for this life that I worked very hard for and have been rewarded with fully.

I am thankful.

Are you?

 

Crockpot Apple Butter

With all my ventures into jelly making this summer, I never got the chance to make any type of butters. I have grape juice in my freezer that is for grape butter, and my FIL told me that I could use some of the apples he gave me to make apple butter, the pears for pear butter etc. But to me, “butter” is a scary term. Like it is somehow harder than making jelly, more time consuming, easier to mess up?

I don’t know, maybe I am just scared because FIL and Nana make apple butter to sell at the local craft festival every year and I don’t think mine would be up to par? (as my food is so rarely up to par with these people who have been doing it for decades)

However, I still had about 30 apples in my kitchen and they were getting to that sad soft state where neither the peeler nor the corer want to go through them easily and they are mushing everywhere. Little Darling has been eating apples for breakfast and lunch and snack for weeks now, and I couldn’t handle to peeling and coring and slicing necessary to continue with the dehydrator much longer. So, I decided to make apple butter.

I, obviously, found my recipe on Pinterest. You can find the original link here.

It was easy, straight forward, and I had all of the ingredients already hanging out in my kitchen. Yay!

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

 

Recipe:

  1. Core the apples and give them a rough chop.
  2. Place in slow cooker.
  3. Add cinnamon, water and both sugars.
  4. Gently stir.
  5. Close the lid and let this cook away for about 4½ hours on low.
  6. Check it periodicaly to make sure it is still moist and the apples are not dried out. Add more water as needed.
  7. Remove from Crock Pot after 4½ hours and place in a food processor or blender.
  8. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.
  9. Puree until smooth.
  10. If the apple butter looks more like applesauce and doesn’t have the rich brown color, just place back in the crock pot and cook for another hour or so on high heat. Leave the Crock uncovered and check it often.

 

I doubled the recipe and used about 15 smallish apples. I let it go in my slow cooker almost all day on a low/warm setting. I didn’t have to add any extra water and I even ended up leaving my lid off for a couple hours to let some of the steam evaporate and get it to thicken up. It browned up perfectly and looked like a delicious crock full of awesome when I realized that our blender broke last week and I had no way to puree the apples. Whoops.

It still tasted amazing, and I am so excited to use it in the future. I bagged it in a gallon ziplock bag and made a note on the baggie to blend it before we use it. Then I stuck it in the freezer for later.

So happy I didn’t have to waste any apples and very glad that I found a yummy, easy recipe to use them on! In the future I won’t be as scared to make butters. Pear season next year will be DELICIOUS!

 

 

The Roasty Toasty Bake and Freeze Day

I know it will come as absolutely no shock to anyone here that my in-laws gave me more food this weekend.

We are seriously so lucky. Our freezer is packed full and we have tons of dried goods in the cupboards. It is so nice to have family that is so willing to share their garden harvest with us, and to share their super market deals with us.

I never could have kept up with all of these things while I was working, so I count myself incredibly lucky to be home and be able to dedicate time to prepping food to freeze or dry and store. It truly saves us a fortune in groceries.

This week it was pumpkins and squash. I got two large pink pumpkins, two large spaghetti squash, and one small thing that might be a pumpkin or might be a squash but no one was really sure.

I also had my own pumpkin that I had grown in my garden.

Today I decided it was time to prep all the squash varieties living in my house and get them stored for winter.

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That huge green pumpkin? It is supposed to be pink, but for some reason it never turned. No one is really sure why, or even if it is going to taste ok. But far be it for me to turn down anything green.. or free… or pumpkin flavored.

I absolutely forgot to take any pictures after this. I got so involved in the process and getting things done that before I knew it the last pumpkin was in the oven and I don’t have a single picture to prove what I did. #firstworldproblems

I chopped the tops off the spaghetti squash and then split them in half and cleaned out the seeds. I roasted them for about an hour in the oven at 350 degrees

I did the same thing with the small pumpkin that nobody is even sure if it is a pumpkin.

When they were done and cooled I scraped the flesh out of the spaghetti squash and froze it, and I pureed the small pumpkin and froze it.

The large orange pumpkin got sliced and skinned and de-seeded and chopped into small pieces which I coated with a lemon salt/pink Himalayan salt mixture and put into the dehydrator. It isn’t done yet, so I have no idea if it is going to taste good or not.

The two pink pumpkins got cut in half (I had to have Wonderful Husband do this for me, and he actually chipped our super nice, expensive ceramic knife, so be careful!), cleaned out, and roasted at 400 degrees for an hour each. Then they got pureed and frozen.

I saved a small amount of seeds from each vegetable and put them in baggies to be planted next spring. The rest of the seeds are drying and will get roasted tomorrow. Yummmm!

Now, this winter I can make a pumpkin soup, and pumpkin pies and really anything else pumpkin I need or want to make. And we can have spaghetti squash for dinner several nights! We will have a nice satisfying snack with the seeds, and If the dried pumpkin works out then we will have a healthy snack food, if not then I will know not to dry pumpkin ever again.

I am so excited that I was able to use these pumpkins and squash! It makes me feel so good to know that they didn’t go to waste and that we were able to save some money by being self sufficient. It is truly worth the time and effort (although, my fingers are really aching from cleaning so many seeds out of all those pumpkin guts) to know where your food is coming from and to use every possible part of a food.

These pumpkins would have been $4 a piece at the store, and spaghetti squash is a dollar a piece itself. That is a savings of about $20, just from the generosity of my family. And the ability to make snacks, meals, desserts, and more.

I will make sure I report back on the dried pumpkin and whether or not it is worth trying again!

Stained Glass Pirvacy Film

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Ooohhh! Aaaaahhh!

Isn’t that just so pretty?

This post goes along with my doomsday prepping that has been taking up so much of my time recently. I have been looking into ways to fortify the house and make sure we will be ready in case we need to hunker down here, but also make sure that we are safe on a regular daily basis.

It may come as a shock to some readers out there, but, in general, I do not feel very safe in my house. I am home alone the majority of the time, my neighbors hate me (with good reason) and are constantly some new type of passive aggression, our house is in a not so good neighborhood in a not so good town, and we live on a corner lot where our front door is about 30 feet from the road and the side of our house is about one foot from the road. It is very normal to have some strange person or hear some strange sound around the house pretty regularly.

We did install security cameras after someone broke into our truck and stole my hospital bag when I was pregnant (seriously, who steals from a pregnant woman and an unborn child?? Jokes on you, asshole, that bag was full of newborn onsies and depends protective underwear), so I can see who is around the house on the bedroom tv just by changing the input, and it records, so if I come home and something has been messed with I can rewind and see who did it. Very handy! We got 4 cameras with a DVR type recording device all in one set at WalMart, the cameras have cords that we ran along the house and up the roof and in through our bedroom window. I think it was around $300? I know they have cheaper systems and they also have more expensive systems depending on what you want. If we were to do it over again, I think we would have splurged and gotten the wireless cameras. Nothing says “love” like standing in the freezing cold, 9 months pregnant, screaming through your wide open front door “THIS IS ALL THE FURTHER THE WIRE GOES!! IS THAT ANGLE BETTER?? CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?? HOW ABOUT THE ROAD?? CAN YOU SEE THE ROAD??” while your husband yells back down “NO BUT I CAN SEE DOWN YOUR SHIRT” Good times.

We do enjoy having our privacy fence around the back yard as well. It is about 8 ft tall and made out of wood with no gaps where people can see in. Each side does have a gate in it, but the ones we don’t use regularly are padlocked closed, the one we do use is the one that leads to and from the garage and we just leave it latched. We used to padlock it but the lock kept freezing in winter and I was stuck looking like an idiot trying to climb over the gate. Not a good look for me really.

With all of these security measures, along with Pixie who barks any time someone is around the property, and our home defense weapons, I still don’t feel safe very often. I worry a lot about break ins or other shenanigans, and one of the things that bothers me a lot is the window in our front door. Our front door opens into our hallway and steps, so when someone knocks on the front door, they can look in and see anything going on inside. If I am in the living room I am unable to get upstairs to check the cameras without the person on the porch seeing me skitter up the steps, if I am in the kitchen I am unable to get into the living room without them seeing me come down the hallway. There is no way to hide from someone who wants to see me and I don’t want to see them.

That being said, I am not really THAT anti-social, in fact, I really enjoy having company. But my company always calls before arriving, my family and friends mostly all life over an hour away and would not make that drive without telling me they were coming. The only reason someone knocks on my door is if they want to sell me something, if they want to leave something, or if they are crazy and want to murder me.

The mail man and I had a good talk a few weeks ago where I was like listen dude, I know you probably hate me because my husband and I shop online as if we are paid for it, and you are dropping off about 6 packages a day at my house and its heavy and there are steps and stuff. But please, stop knocking on my door because you make my dog go insane, and honestly she starts barking the minute you pull up, so knocking on the door just makes her even more angry. I promise, I hear you, I will come get my stuff. Don’t knock. He agreed and we haven’t had any more USPS door knockings.

So that leaves the options of people selling things, and people wanting to kill me. While I am ignoring these people and prepping my weapons, I would prefer they not be able to see inside my house and watch me. I once had someone on my front porch, I will not mention any names, but she wanted me to answer the door, and I wouldn’t, so she stood and stared in my front window like some total creepazoid. Luckily, that was right after LD was born and we were basically living in the bedroom so I just sat and watched her on the camera with faint amusement. Now we are much more mobile, and I don’t ever want to be caught in the situation where I come down my stairs or hallway and see a face peering in. Seriously, that mental image is going to give me nightmares tonight.

So, I ordered some “privacy window film” on Amazon (haha poor mail man). It was about $15 per sheet and each sheet is 24x36in. There are about a gazillion different designs to pick from. The picture at the top of the post is in my first floor bathroom with faces my angry neighbors house. The toilet literally sits directly in front of the window which directly faces their kitchen, bedroom, hallway, and play room. I have curtains up but they are not black out curtains and so you can still see the outlines of their house and windows…I am pretty sure if I can see them, they can see me. So I ordered a “magnolia” pattern window film and put it up. It is beautiful and looks just like stained glass! It was also super easy to put up.

Here is my front door:

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Yay! No more weird people looking in my house!

I am seriously so happy with how this turned out. The only issue I ran into was that each sheet is 24×36, and my bathroom windows are 19.5×19 so I while I had enough square footage, I couldn’t do it with one piece each. I ended up having to cut strips off the extra and fill in the gaps. It is noticeable, but the curtain will cover it. If you order some, be sure you measure first and order enough sheets to cover what you need.

The install is very simple:

  • clean the window
  • measure and trim film
  • spray window with warm soapy water (i used regular water and it worked fine)
  • peel film off backing
  • apply film to window
  • squeegee out any bubbles

I was able to put all of mine up within about a half hour and that was even when Little Darling was awake and I was on the phone for some of it.

Very easy way to spruce up a house and add a little extra privacy/security!

 

Doomsday Prepper Stepford

So lets talk about the attacks in Paris last week.

For anyone who isn’t watching the news (Seriously, turn on the news for an hour a day, it won’t kill you) Isis ran rampant in Paris on Friday the 13th and killed over 100 people. They opened fire in a crowded concert hall, they blew up suicide bombers outside of a soccer game, they fired guns out of cars into street cafes, and they gunned down shoppers at a mall. It was horrible, and it was terrible, and it left everyone with a sick feeling in their gut.

Then President Obama came out and said it was a setback in the containment of Isis (eye roll) and we should start letting Syrian refugees into the country so they can be safe. Because they are running from these same terrorists who are committing attacks across the world.

I call bull shit on that.

These refugees are all strapping young lads who are well fed and well dressed and don’t look a thing like war torn orphans trying to escape the terror of Isis and Assad. They look slightly more like Isis members in plain clothes trying to infiltrate countries so they can better commit more acts of terror. In fact, one of the terrorists that was killed after he murdered people in Paris was.. you guessed it…a Syrian refugee!!

So how are we going to protect our country if we are openly letting the threat into our country? Would we have opened our borders to the Nazi’s? What did we do to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor? I mean seriously, the Japanese were already American citizens and we rounded them up and marched them into Fema camps to hang out until the war was over. Now here we are welcoming the wolves in sheep clothing with open arms. How stupid are we?

Well I guess the real question is, how stupid is the president, and the general public? Pretty effing stupid obviously.

I refuse to be a victim. For months now, I have had a BOB (bug out bag) ready and waiting for both me and Wonderful Husband should we ever need to evacuate the house in a hurry. Up until now I just had basic items, some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), a flint fire starter, a flexible saw, some wet naps. Just enough that if we had to hike out of town we would probably make it. But after last weeks events, I am redoubling my efforts to be prepared for any situation.

Here is a little peak into some things I am working on, I am not posting all details, because in the event of an emergency I don’t want to be targeted because I am well prepared…

Wonderful Husband and I each have a BOB that either already contains, or will contain by the end of the month, the following items:

  • change of clothes (pants, long sleeve shirt, t shirt, socks x2, undies x3)
  • MREs x6
  • baby wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • lighters
  • flint
  • saw
  • eye glasses
  • hair ties
  • bobby pins
  • duct tape
  • compass
  • maps
  • tarp
  • mylar blankets
  • rain poncho
  • flashlights
  • batteries
  • watch
  • band aids
  • lotion
  • chapstick
  • pens
  • notebook
  • pads/tampons
  • ib profen
  • vitamin c
  • vitamins
  • anti nausea meds
  • napkins
  • knife
  • ammo
  • multitool
  • life straw (water filter)
  • stainless steel canteen
  • foil wrapped gum
  • bungee cords
  • personal documents
  • dryer lint (for fire starter)
  • hatchet

This is not an all inclusive list, and all BOBs should be customized for what each person needs. I tried to include things that would allow us the basic needs or food, water, and shelter.

The house is being stocked with both food and water in case we have to hunker down and stay here, and the vehicles will have some supplies as well.

I don’t talk about this to scare people, I talk about it to inform people. It doesn’t have to be a terror attack, it could be a natural disaster, or a house fire or something. Everyone needs to have to skills, and supplies to protect themselves and their family in the event of an emergency. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, but it definitely hurts to not be prepared.

The future of the country, and the world itself, is really looking bleak currently. If we can’t get  handle on this terror organization, and get our president to step up and stop being a pansy, we are in a world of trouble. They will come for us, and they will show us no mercy.

In Islam women have no rights, they are subjected to female genital mutilation, they are murdered for shaming their family for simple things like showing their ankles or taking off their veil. They are forced into marriage with men who will rape them and beat them and force them to do unthinkable things up to and including wearing suicide vests and blowing themselves up in crowded courtyards. Is that what you would want for your daughter? I know I don’t want it for mine. And I will do WHATEVER it takes to keep her from being put into a life like that.

In a world where whites are now the minority and are targeted for hate, and crime, where illegal mexicans are flooding into sanctuary cities where they can commit crime and not be deported, where college students can whine and complain about a swastika in poop on a bathroom wall and actually force a president to resign.. We need to be ever diligent and protect ourselves. It is obvious the government is not our friend and they are not going to be there when we need them.

Not only is the country tearing itself apart from the inside out, but we are actively allowing terrorists to destroy us from the outside.

Get ready. It is only going to get worse.

Wake up America!

Maple Sugar Candy

When I was growing up, any time we ended up in a store that sold maple sugar candy, we all went bat shit crazy.

For some reason, I always remember buying it at Gettysburg when we would go down for a day trip. My mom was a huge history buff and loved marching us around teaching us things… I honestly don’t remember a bit of it. Sad really. But I do remember the maple sugar candy. The giant, palm sized maple leaves that would melt in your mouth. My brother and I would immediately snarf ours down in the car without any hesitation, but moms would sit happily in its little paper bag until we got home. She would take a small nibble and then put it away. Months later you would walk into the kitchen and catch her in the act. Sneaking a mouthful of her carefully rationed addiction, kept on the top shelf of the tea cupboard. We forgot it was there. She never did. And she rarely shared.

Fast forward to the day I am meeting Wonderful Husbands parents, back when he was still Wonderful Boyfriend, and he is repeatedly telling me to make sure I ask his dad about maple syrup. Yea, ok. Yadda Yadda. Whatever.

Halfway into our conversation, Future FIL asks what I know about maple syrup and I say I love maple sugar candy. He begins to explain how every spring when the weather gets really warm during the day and really cold at night he tromps around town and taps all the maple trees he can find. Then for the next week or so he drives around emptying buckets into his water tank in his truck and bringing it back to his “sugar camp” where he boils it down into maple syrup. Some of it he bottles, some of it he sells, some of it he turns into Spotza (a delicacy I had not yet been introduced to), and some of it… some of it he turns into maple sugar candy.

I was sold. I was meant to be in this family. They single handedly manufacture the object of my dreams. THEY HAVE BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF MAPLE SUGAR CANDY LIVING IN THEIR BASEMENT.

Ever since then, I have received countless gifts of maple sugar candy, maple syrup, and spotza. They even made maple sugar candies for my wedding favors, complete with an adorable little poem (sorry to anyone who didn’t get one, but I found out later a few of the guests were hoarding them). What was once a precious commodity in my house is now free flowing and readily available. While Wonderful Husband is burned out on all things maple from years and years of exposure, I still eat it until I am sick.

I decided it would be a good idea to gift some maple sugar candy this year, stick a bag into a couple of my gift baskets for my friends and family who are just as addicted as I am and don’t have quite the hook up I do. So I sheepishly asked my FIL if I could have a couple baggies of the leaf shaped gold. He refused.

He said the only way I was going to get maple sugar candy was if I learned how to make it myself. He offered to bring the supplies and ingredients down the next weekend. HOT DAMN! I am no longer gonna be just a dealer, I am not gonna be a manufacturer! Be still my heart.

I am not going to post the instructions on how to make the sugar cakes here, because it is actually really easy, but also because it is kind of not my place, you can ask FIL to help you out. We spent an hour or so in my kitchen and at the end of it I had more than enough Maple Sugar Candy to support my habit for the next few months and still have enough to gift to a select few friends and family.

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Cheers to a long and happy future of eating sugar cakes until my teeth fall out.

Jillian Michaels Detox Water

We are constantly trying to be healthy. Always looking for ways to supplement and swap and make healthier choices.

I am normally pretty good about taking my vitamins and eating pretty healthy with lots of vegetables and lean protein. It is easy since I am strict about what I feed Little Darling. However, Wonderful Husband often gets stuck eating junk food and take out and whatever is available to him on location. He is constantly complaining about not feeling well and having digestion problems, which I directly contribute to his lack of a nutritional diet.

I got him a probiotic and searched around for good detox ideas. No surprise, most of them involved laxatives, liquid diets, and words like “cleanse”. No thanks. I am in a house with an 11 month old all day, I can’t be sitting on the toilet dying while she is happily eating extension cords and ripping out the cats fur. Wonderful Husband is on location at a gas well and has only intermittent access to a port-o-potty, need I say more?

I finally came across the Jillian Michaels Detox Water, which boasted the ability to help you drop 8lbs in 7 days and cleanse your system without shitting your guts out. Sounds too good to be true?

The recipe is very simple to follow:

60 oz of purified water
2 T lemon juice
2 T unsweetened cranberry juice
1 teabag dandelion root tea

I found all of my ingredients at Wal-Mart. The unsweetened cranberry juice was in the juice aisle in a glass bottle and it was called something along the lines of “100% plain cranberry juice” It only has about 9 g of sugar in it and it is really hard to drink straight, believe me, I tried. The Lemon juice is also in the juice aisle, or you can use fresh lemons. The dandelion root tea was in the tea/coffee aisle and I bought the Yogi brand Detox tea with dandelion root and a bunch of other cleansing spices.

All you do is drink the water and eat healthy for 7 days. You make and drink the 60 oz each day.

We did it! We made it the full 7 days of drinking the bitter tasting water.

And….

Nothing.

Not a damn thing. I didn’t feel any better, I didn’t lose any weight, I didn’t have a delightful glow to my skin. Nothing for Wonderful Husband either.

Nothing.

Nadda.

Waste of time.

So now I have tested it, you don’t have to!