"No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best" -something I saw on my mom's kitchen wall as a kid, author unknown

Tacos is a favorite in our household… and while my dad always made them the best, I’ve improvised some…

You see, my dad always used REAL ingredients, and you can’t beat REAL ingredients – you know like, green chili’s, jalapenos all finely chopped and added to the filling with many other great choices. Me on the other hand, I take the easy way out and use ‘taco seasoning’ that has all that stuff mixed up and ground into a fine powder that I can add to my filling. I call it the lazy taco…

I can’t wait to get home and make these tonight:

The Lazy Taco:

1 lb ground beef (I use a lean mix of 90/10)

1can refried beans

1can chopped black olives (these come in a small can)

1 onion (I use yellow)

2 packets of taco seasoning (I mix a mild pack and a hot or medium pack)

Any taco toppings that you like!

Brown the ground beef do not drain as the stock will assist in mixing in the taco seasoning. As the ground beef becomes mostly cooked, add the seasoning and mix well. Once the seasoning is well mixed, add the refried beans, olives and onions. Let cook for about 10 more minutes over low to medium heat – keep an eye on it and add a TINY bit of water if necessary to keep it from drying.

There you have it – a quick, easy to cook dinner that everyone can enjoy (IF they like tacos, that is)

Thanks for coming out today! Tomorrow is Scrap book day!! Look out for faire pics and maybe a few other fun choices.

Is It Monday Again?

I could have used a glass  bottle glass of wine yesterday, I think…

Michael’s car is crashed. It’s in the body shop as we speak – so far we are aware that the hood looks like the nose of a bull dog, and are assuming that there is something wrong with the cooling system – considering the awful syrupy sweet smell and constant overheating. This, my friends, is not so good. I had to run the little one to school yesterday so that he could attempt to help his poor Crunchy limp to the shop. School is close to where Michael works, which incidentally is about an hour in the opposite direction of where I work. So, I was late. Fortunately, I have understanding bosses.

The fun part in all of this was finding out the hard way that our car insurance coverage wasn’t quite what we thought it was. No towing, and no rental car… what?! The policy I had with my previous company covered all of that – and before we switched, I told the new agent that I wanted identical coverage and if he could offer me a better price, then and ONLY then would I switch. Apparently to the new agent that meant he could shave off things like towing and rental coverage…  It kind of makes me want to call the company and give them a piece of my mind however, now I just feel like a dopey consumer. MY BAD for not reading the policy very thoroughly, MY BAD for trusting someone who could understand the insurance jargon so that I didn’t have to. All I can say is that this will be an expensive lesson, but one that I won’t make in the future.

Michael says we can still call the company and explain our position – not as enraged, victimized customers, but as rational customers who thought they had one product, but were really assigned to another. He would like to see them add these features to our existing plan without an additional cost – I don’t hold much hope of that happening. If it doesn’t, he is prepared to tromp back to our previous agent with heart-shaped chocolates and a bouquet of flowers, and ask them to take us back. I suspect that they will – I just hope that they can offer us the amazing coverage at the amazing price we used to pay. We shall see.

On happy notes! Tomorrow Phoebs and I head out for the last day of the faire. Just her and me – I’m excited. It will be a really fun mommy-daughter day of playing, and shopping, and show seeing. (Oh, and funnel cake eating! – there WILL be funnel cake, make no mistake.) I’m considering taking my camera… we shall see. (I consider it every time and end up leaving it in the trunk of my car)

Here’s to looking forward to a great weekend and a better week next week. Thanks for coming out  today – and hopefully I’ll have some fun pics to share from the faire in the next scrap-book!

Photo Op!

It’s scrap-book day!! =) Inspired by Debra’s amazing photos, I’ve decided to make today my scrap-book day. I may make every Wednesday scrap book day – I haven’t yet decided. You guys can let me know with your feedback, whether or not it’s a good idea. ❤

Something that I adore doing to destress and find myself among the sometimes chaotic debris of life is to take my camera and shoot things. (Which, I think is a better solution than shooting things with a gun?) I’m striving to take more and more interesting pictures as I grow my inner artist. These are a few of the pictures I took just after Michael got me my first Nikon.

…Except the first one… since Debra asked, and because I don’t have my faire pictures yet, here is a shot taken with a cell phone of me out at Rend Lake while I was in Illinois this past year.

Early morning at Lake Rend - Loving the icy breeze

My go-to place that I found some years ago, is a small, secluded lake near(ish) where I hail from. Here is a shot of where I usually stand to shoot photos over the lake.

I usually set my case and such on the picnic table and carry my tripod as close to the lake as I can get.

These cattails are actually in the photo above as well… they are just mixed in with all of the other brush.

These are some lovely, frozen cattails I shot while experimenting with focus.

Earlier in the year when I was staying in Illinois, I would get up very early to watch the sunrise over Rend Lake and watch the wildlife begin to stir. (Whatever wildlife was willing to come out in the icy weather) One of my favorite mornings was when I was early enough to watch the sun slide lazily up over the horizon as if struggling to wake. Here is just one shot that I took as it was finally almost completely over the horizon.

There's nothing more peaceful than listening to the tiny waves of a lake wash gently over the rocks of the shore while silently watching the sun rise.

Here is a photo I shot in early January while visiting my friends in Colorado Springs. I am very very excited to be moving to a place where I have such great friends and that it is so full of amazing beauty is a major bonus.

Breath taking view of the Rocky Mountains from a small road... somewhere... near(ish) Pike's Peak

Speaking of great friends… Here is Mark feeding his poor poor Jeep my Fiji water…

Please note that the car ran VERY WELL after consuming my Water of OSM

I do have more photos to share, but I think I’ll leave them for another day. Let me know if you enjoyed this feature, and I’ll see about posting 4-5 photos each Wednesday from the digital scrap-book.

Thanks for visiting today!

Back to Baking

I finally remembered! The Legendary Snickerdoodle Recipe™

I grew up in an area that was heavily influenced by the Mennonite/Amish-type culture and as such many fantastic ‘family’ recipes were made into books and available locally. My mom always baked her cookies and pies from these books and always they were the best. Several of my guild members across the country can even vouch for this, as one year I baked and sent them out to some of them around the holidays. I always thought these books came from somewhere local, but I’ve just found them out on the interwebs; I highly recommend checking out Cook Books by Good Books for some really amazing recipes.

One other thing… for those of you who have trouble getting those “perfectly browned on the bottom” cookies (something I was NEVER able to do) – try a baking stone. Really! And season it well… the more seasoned, the better the cookies turn out. My stone is mostly black now, with only the clay color coming through in a few areas (and on the bottom, of course). It was the ultimate cure for my burnt cookies… I never baked a cookie I didn’t burn, until I got my baking stone. If you’re a lover of cooking with cast iron – you’ll love baking stones, and likely never go back to those metal pan thingies.

And without further ado, The Legendary Snickerdoodle Recipe™

(Makes 4 dozen)

1 cup Shortening

1½ cups sugar

2¾ cups flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

  1. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.
  2. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt. Gradually stir into creamed mixture.
  3. Chill dough 2 hours or more. Form into balls the size of walnuts. Roll each ball in a mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.
  4. Bake at 400° for about 10 minutes. (Cookies should be lightly browned but still soft)

And there you have it folks… the best cookie recipe you will ever own. Please, please let me know if you try it. I’d love to hear feedback.

Please remember, this is not my own recipe and the book may be found by following the link above.

Thanks for coming out today – happy baking!

Adopting Dragons

So, I owe you all apologies! As you can see, the maintenance is still underway. However – it’s for good cause!

Friday evening, Michael and I went out with friends and family and had those grape bomb things, remember? They also come in cherry, fyi. I will say this… if you don’t like either grape flavored Dimetapp or cherry flavored Robitussin – I don’t recommend trying these. (I, for the record, don’t like either.) Suffices to say that my drink of choice for the remainder of the evening was NOT anything related to any flavored-bombs. I swapped between Corona and water. Sadly, whether it was a virus or perhaps the mixing of alcohol, Michael became very ill and we headed for home… unfortunately stopping several times along the way. I felt horrible for him. It certainly wasn’t the volume of alcohol, because to be truthful, he didn’t drink all that much. After tucking him into bed, I began to wonder if we’d be hitting the faire at all on Saturday with him feeling like he did.

Saturday morning came and Michael was groggy and ‘meh’ – so I let him sleep. I went to check on him late in the morning and he said he was feeling better and ready to head to the faire! I was excited! We headed out, me in full faire garb and Michael in his jeans and /spit t-shirt. Upon arrival, our first priority was to get that man dressed! And so we did…

(Forgive the poor quality of the picture – it was taken in horrid lighting and with my phone)

He’s adorable, I think. All he needs is a good pair of boots so that he doesn’t feel like Aladdin anymore. (Also missing in this shot is his belt and pouch.) We arrived late to the faire and spent a good deal of time getting him all set and finding proper accessories – such as a pouch to hold our magic pixie toys (i.e. cell phones) and I.D., money etc. Once we had finished and put all of his clothes in the car, we wandered about looking for a good place to eat and then settled into ‘our’ seats at the pub. (I say ‘our’ seats because it seems to be the same place we sit every time we visit.) As last call approached, we decided to find a place nearby and crash for the night so that we could come back in the morning and maybe see some shows (for a change).

The highlight of my Sunday trip to the faire, was the visit to the Dragon Hatchery. Oh, they were so very adorable! These darlings have very expressive faces and jeweled eyes. There were so many and in a rainbow of colors. I had my eye on a black and red. These adorable pets also love to sit comfortably on your shoulder and take in the sights while making the most darling little noises in your ear. I wish I had been able to snap a picture, but alas, I didn’t take my camera along.

I wanted so badly to adopt one of my very own. Unfortunately, dragons come at a pretty penny and I wasn’t able to. However, I have confirmed that the good folks from the hatchery also set up shop at the faire in Colorado – so all is not lost! I’m very much looking forward to giving a home to an orphan dragon next season – and hoping that Mark’s cat doesn’t much mind.

The busy weekend ended nicely with spending some time with my friends slaying some Seriously Angry internet dragons and introducing a new friend to the Lich King. (Also, Evie is now officially a King Slayer – F.T.W.)

I’m really promising to get faire pictures up – this weekend coming, Phoebs and I are going back… her outfit nearly complete! So, perhaps pictures at the house before heading out. Also… that Snickerdoodle recipe? ARGH, if I don’t keep forgetting it at home. It’s sitting out on my kitchen counter and I walk by it nearly 20 times each evening. Maybe tonight I will manage to remember to place it in my bag… or my car even.

Thanks for coming out today! ❤

Under Construction

Hey everyone! Watch your step as the kitchen is undergoing some maintainence this weekend…

Pardon the dust

 

There is a new, customizable theme called Spectrum available – I’m excited! I’m out much of the weekend, kicking it off with Happy Hour this evening with a group of friends. (Yes, the evening of grape bombs is upon me.) Tomorrow Michael and I are returning to the faire – have I mentioned that I love the faire? (heehe)

Hopefully by Monday, you will see a new, plesant look to the Kitchen – and with being able to add custom backgrounds and headers, it may change often! (Like changing the curtains – I’m so excited!)

Have a great weekend, and if I can manage to remember (sorry!) I WILL provide the recipe for Snickerdoodles on Monday.

Autumn Is…

Splashes of color – watercolors if you will, as it tends to be rainy.

Time for sweaters and sweatshirts and snuggly, warm blankets.

Camp fires and marshmallows.

Harvest celebrations.

Earthy tones and smells reminding us where we came from and enriching the spirit.

Apples – both crisp and cooked – and even pressed for cider mmmm…

Leaves that have fallen provide endless hours of entertainment for children.

Time for family and friends coming together closely, intimately.

A season to reflect back on the events of the year; learn from our mistakes and celebrate our victories.

A time to begin change, so that when her sister Spring arrives, there can be fresh growth.

A time when the earth’s children give back to her to help her rejuvenate.

One of my favorite times of year…

Thanks for coming out today and thank you to Apple for the Autumn Inspiration – what is your favorite time of year, and why?