We Are Deep In the Heart of Texas

Nomadic seasons of farming adventures with nature thrown in to include; a pinch of family, snippets of friends, counting our blessings, paying IT forward, home school, and the spicy things I decide to rant about.







Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Dark Stranger Keeps Startling Me

Each time I walk into the kitchen. I have not had time to organize or fill it yet.  This model runs much more quietly than our last one.  That is the form I have to mail in on Monday for the $225 rebate on the door.  Thank you hubby for the new fridge!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From Henny Clampett to Poultry of the Manor

Hubby gave me two wonderful gifts for Christmas. A new refridgerator which was delivered this morning.  The second is pictured below .  A 1981 Volvo 242.  I know I know --- a thirty year old car.  See I am not your usual hen; I love cars with real metal bodies and ooomph.

Take me to a car show; and I would be content to look, dream, remember all the models I have loved in the passed: Saab, Jaguars, Volvos, VW Bugs, VW campers, Corvettes, Renaults, or classics -- Nash, Model Ts, Thunderbirds, Cadillacs as long as it was a model from the 80s or earlier.  

That is why I could not part with the Ford farm truck nor, did I want to buy a newer model car. To me they all look alike with no character. But, we sorely needed a car or extended cab truck to get around. My farm truck has only a bench seat and a stick shift --- not conducive to a six year old straddling the gear shift with car seat in tow and a teenager.


I found a listing on Craigslist and just got that feeling it was going to be a winner.  So with cash in hand; off we went to San Antonio.  While my Volvo has high mileage; I drove it home a hundred miles with the a/c on with no troubles. It is a straight shift, all original parts to include windows. The interior has been well taken care of and has a few dings in the back -- this car is 16 feet long so no wonder.  There are a few cosmetic items to be  addressed like balancing tires, window tinting, new tail light covers, and speakers etc.

One day I hope to have my new baby which I am calling 'Shiekh' purring (inside joke with my husband) just like he did in his hey day because he has spunk. Thank you, Hubby.





This is hubby trying to find the short in our phone lines in the attic.  Grrrrrrrrrr, he was getting frustrated and has to now check all the junction boxes because he could not get the inside line to 'hang up.'  I don't blame hubby, going up in the attic makes me feel whoozy.  I would not want to be up there either. 

We have plans for the rest of the year with hubby.  So, if I don't see ya'll who pass this way.  Happy New Years and Best Wishes in the new decade / year.

///////signed//////
Hot Rod Chicken
~:>

Monday, December 27, 2010

Before and After: Silver Bullet 2 Maybe?

We bought this Honda Civic in 2004 in Maryland.  This car was an excellent choice at the time because we needed something affordable and large enough to accommodate a 6 year old boy and teenaged girl.  Flash forward to 2011 and now hubby will be driving this Honda Accord.  In an effort to make their car models more fuel efficient; Honda shrunk their car sizes.   
This is his Accord which has enough back seat space for a 12 year stretching giant, 20 year old woman, and a 6 year old cubby.  Wooo Hooo! It rides so much more smoother than the Civic; we will miss the original Silver Bullet who had driven us around for over 240,000 miles.

This week will be busy our plans are to take the boys fishing, installing new phone cable, and hopefully visiting either the San Antonio Zoo or Texas State Aquarium.  How about that for homeschool fun?  The added bonus is Dad has this week off and will lend his take on our adventures.  Waaaaaaaaaaaaay cool in my book. I was wondering do ya'll have any traditions you ring in the New Year with.... say like a party or fireworks?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Leaves, Gifts, Dinner Oh My

Merry Christmas to all who pass, we have been enjoying the time hubby has off from work.  We have him home another week ---- yeah. 





Cubby Bear has already used his tool set Grumpy Gramps to put together the bird house you sent him.  I will take pictures of it after he paints it.  Those are real tools, Dear Reader and not plastic.  A truly inspired gift for a hard working Cub. ~:> 
I believe all was excited by their gifts.  We had fun watching the boys zip through the wrapping paper and such while drinking our morning coffee in front of the tree. Yesterday, I spent the day baking and made: 6 buttermilk pies, 3 pumpkin cheese cakes, 2 lemon angel food cakes and 4 dozen cookies.  Then today, we shared our table with Mrs. Lily and her mom both are excellent friends and I hope this becomes a tradition for us.  Our Christmas dinner was as follows:
I made 'Dana' the duck and the spiral ham Grumpy Gramps sent to us as our main course.  Doesn't she look absolutely yummy?  She has a orange glaze and was stuffed with mushrooms, apples, carrots, oinions, celery, and spices from Flartopia. 
Our side dishes were: a kicked up Stove Top Stuffing with Dana's leftover diced items, mashed sweet potatoes, Greek salad above, 3 veg medley, tsatzki, hot crab & bacon dip,  
Deviled eggs provided by our hens, biscuits, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and rolls served with iced tea.   It was such a good meal and so special having the ladies over we sent them each home with their own pies.  We also gave the neighbors two pies, a cake, and cheese cake since, they had family coming in for a visit.  My motto -- "Take care of your neighbors and perhaps they will take care of you when help is needed."

Tomorrow will be another long day for hubby and I since, we are going to a car dealership to buy a new car.  Hubby's has 240K miles on his Honda so it's best to get him a car since he puts a 1,000 miles a week to and from work. 

Whelppers peeps, I am eggshausted.  I just wanted to wish all who pass this way a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Much love and well wishes I send to all on this most beautiful night.

)))HUGS(((
Mal

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Been 3 Years Today, 372 Years Ago

Jo Jo, I miss you more now than ever and just wanted to shout out to the universe how much I valued our friendship.  I am still angry cancer took you from the lives of your family and friends.

Tonight while watching the first winter lunar solstice eclipse in 372 years; I will think of you. JoJo, I love you.

----------------

Just some interesting facts I will teach my sons tonight. 

1. There are usually two lunar eclipses (partial) each year.

2. This eclipse is special since the Earth's shadow will block Moon from the Sun. The moon's glow may change colors due to indirect sunlight.

3. While this will mark the first day of winter for the Northern hemisphere, it is now summer in the Southern.

4.  The Earth axis is tilted farthest away from the Sun.

5.  There is always a full moon on the night of an eclipse.

6.  The last time there was a total lunar eclipse on winter solstice, Galileo was living under house arrest.

We will honor his memory and science tonight by observing this eclipse by use of telescope. I have set the alarm to wake us at 1:30 to observe this event and plan to take pictures.  It is a beautiful cloudless night here in South Texas.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Texas Powerful Smart Appliance Rebate Part 2

YEAH!!!!!!!!!

Seems the government is at it again with trying to stimulate the American consumer to spend monies this holiday. It is a good thing since, this program has many facets.


1. Appliances purchased will put less of a strain on an already struggling Texas power grid.

2. Appliance sales means someone has as a job in your community such as salesman or deliveryman, managers so on and such.

3. Lower electric bills for consumers.

4. Recycled appliances don't litter the roadways or landfills.


Applications are available online for Texas state residents with all the rules and policies. It is crucial to pay attention to the 2 page application with all the instructions. This program is available to all Texans. If you have participated in the April and want to participate in this round -- the total number of rebates which can be earned is TWO per house hold address.

This is a much better thought out process and does not require the much agonizing horror; I went through in April with the website and the phone in procedures. Nope --- you buy the correct appliance or/after the 20th of December, have the application filled out properly, have the installation completed, appropriate signatures, the recycling done by appliance seller, and mail in the application to the Austin address. First come, first rebate checks are mailed by date received until monies are distributed.
Here is the website:

http://www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/

Appliances approved for this program are:

air-source heat pumps, central air conditioners, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, room air conditioners, and water heaters.

I still love the lovely washing machine we purchased for $500 then with the rebate it cost us only $275.  I wash less loads now which is a huge blessing.

For those participating please pay extra close attention to the size or capacity of the item you wish to purchase.  It has to be Energy Star rated and be of a particular size for instance:

refrigerators need to be of at least 14.5 cubic feet 

washers need to be rated with Modified Energy Factor (MEF) 2.0 or greater in addition to Water Factor (WF) 6.0 or less.

For those bloggers not a Texas state resident; just check your state's comptroller general's web page.  This 'grant' was part of a federal program so, each state has its own similiar program.

Crosses feathers, this mother hen needs a new refrigerator since ours is about 10 years old.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cooking, Cleaning, Just A Normal Life

It's been another busy week with the boys, their school work, critters,  planning a larger garden, Mrs. Lilly's visit, and of course baking. 


This week we had to call in Verizon repairman; our phone line went nuts and basically kept a busy signal on the line.  The phone line connection runs through the attic and we must have some really hungry Hippo Rats up there gnawing about again.  Instead of paying Verizon $95 the first hour and  then $45 for each additional 15 minutes PLUS --- supplies. 


Hubby will have to get up there to install new wiring, dang it.  Plus he will have to find the rats entry points and lock them out good it was the phone and not the electric wiring. (We hope and pray.)
This week's adventures in cooking has been the storage of eggs in the freezer. Just whisk three eggs, pour into a snack size bag, lay flat in a container freeze then put into storage.  I do this too with separated yolks and whites for later baking and is an easy way to build up a supply.   For whole eggs you can use large ice trays then transfer them into a freezer container.
Saenz calls this egg pie but, I learned how to make fritattas while serving in Europe.  Easy  to do, start by whisking six eggs, add a bit of chopped ham and veg like onion or broccoli with some cheese thrown to a pie shell pour eggs over and bake til set on 350. 
I got myself a treat this week and purchased 8 corningware ramekins plus a roasting pan and set on the adventure of making baked vanilla custard.  It must have been pretty darn good because, I did not get to even try it.  LOL I found the recipe on Mahalo.com

"• Step 2: How to Make Baked Custard


3 cups milk, heated
2 egg yolks
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
 Nutmeg, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare some boiling water for adding to baking dish
Mix the egg yolks, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl.
Add the hot milk slowly, stirring constantly.
Divide custard among 8 buttered 4 oz. ramekins.
Place ramekins in a baking dish, add boiling water to halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Sprinkle custard with nutmeg.
Bake for about 45 minutes.
A knife inserted into the center of the custard should come out clean.
Serve warm or chilled"
I don't like to dirty my hands when busy prepping so I take a sandwich bag, turn it inside out, grab a pat of butter, buttered the ramekins, then turned the bag right side out with butter safely inside, seal bag, place in refridgerator for the next time.  Waaa laaa no stopping to clean your hands.

I did not use any salt but, I did sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the mixture just before baking for color.  Saenz likes the custard cold.  Zephyr says it tastes like egg nog basically meaning -- he doesn't like it.  So today's experiment had me trying the same recipe but, I substituted buttermilk instead or regular. 

Will let you know if it is a hit or not.  I am going to have to switch to cakes for a bit, I think the boys are getting tired of my pies. So tomorrow we will be making Angel Food cake. YEAH! One of my all time favorites to make from scratch.
I wanted to post this picture for Jan over at My Brother AndrewTex here is too old and fragile to touch but, wanted to help spread the word about Fighting Progressive Bulbar Palsy (MND).  He allowed me to place one of the support bracelets on his still broad shoulders for a picture.  He asked me to remind all ya'll to help others by reaching out and making donations to the causes you care about. 


Squawk at ya later,
Mal

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Heroes I Have Never Met

It is amazing to sit and think who may have influences your lives without even having to met them in person.  I have been encouraged by many authors whom I admire like Maya Angelou, Emily Dickerson, Walt Whitman and many others.

Here is others I admire and respect:

Oprah Winfrey (she got the world reading again),

Queen Latifah (so multi-talented and spunky),

Ellen Degeneres been following her career since the 90s,

Prince (his amazing range and talent as a musician,

Hiliary Clinton
     (I named a goat after her and would now vote for her as President of the US.  Simply because she has learned how to be more diplomatic by being Secretary of State.)

Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Melissa Ethridge

Shartey my adopted eBay blog mother

Grumpy Gramps gives so much of himself and inspires our boys

Kelley the amazing cat rescue woman

Jan raising awareness for MND,

Julia Childs, I remember watching her cooking shows (in black and white) as a child thus sparking my love of cooking.

Kat for reasons that are personal and dear as she is begining her life again.

Judy for her ability to bounce back after being tossed about.

Then again I have taken inspiration and hope from all the bloggers I read.  I  also thoroughly enjoy my Facebook account thanks Mr. Zuckerman.  Just think of all the folks who touch your lives silently everyday. Perhaps if we all took time out to think of more positive thoughts and send those thoughts up --our world would not be as angry....?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Shout Out to the Universe

I just feel this needed to be reposted from last year...........

"Pet Pevee: Indecision



YES, one of my biggest pet pevees is indecision. While there are other areas of behavior that drives me to distraction like LYING AND STEALING both are huge 'sins' in my mind.


Indecision cripples not only the person who chooses not to make a decision but -- also the folks who depend on the decision maker. NOTHING can go forward until a person "BALLS UP" and moves on down the road.


Instead of sitting on one's hands and doing 'nothing' just take a leap of faith once in awhile. True, occassionally a person will fail; those are the odds of playing this game called, LIFE. But not to take a chance or change direction is just as crippling. No matter what -- folks will survive and if not, big freaking deal, start over.


Without change a spirit dies,


Without the thrill of a hard fought and well deserved victory: a warrior grows old,


Without faith in self and those who love you -- Death is sure to follow.

There is nothing sadder than to see or know a person who lives with regrets.......

Take a leap of faith; we (family and true friends) are here as a safety net in case things don't work out as hoped.


Thoughts from inside the coop....."

Calms self down walks outside to take a break.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SERIOUSLY? Wikileaks

Assange has been arrested despite the promise to spill the POISON PEN (another dump) and will fight extradiction to Sweden for allegations of rape.  Do you, gentle reader really believe one lowly solider (Manning) downloaded 100s of thousands of classified documents onto a disc and gave it to Wikileaks?

It is just a little too convienant and very James Bond to think of only one culprit bringing down a government let alone twenty of them.  What I do know from working with Communications Squadrons, they have monitoring devices of downloads (going to hard drives or discs) and uploads (info going to another source).

Here is a few points to consider:

Security clearances have become a dime a dozen. 

(It used to be a rare occurence to need a clearance, took FOREVER and a day to get one, and was super easy to lose it for just about anything to include: DUI, DWI, seeking mental health counseling, marriage without approval to a foreign national, fights, not paying bills, assualts, domestic violence and a few other life events.)

With advance in techonology it's foolish to believe secure is SECURE.

Secure is only as secure as the last disgruntled employee who has been fired. 

Hacking is more prevelant and is harder to dectect which is why commands have been built to combat cyber terrorism.

------------
Once, a long time ago as an inspector I asked a security police man at the ECP (entry control point);  'How would you know if something is classified?'  To which he replied, 'It would be marked as classified.'

Normally this would be a correct answer.

Then I asked him, 'Who do you believe does the marking of classified documents?' His answer, 'I do not know.'  This in itself is a problem because basically anyone could mark a document or not mark a document as classifed. 
--------------

From watching this unfold from the warmth of my home; I have come to realize that our security programs are still a reactionary one.  Yes, I do know we have built cyber warfare systems but, those are only as good as the imagination of 'good hackers.'

Honest folks just have a hard time imagining someone within their 'family' willing to do harm. What puzzles me is; why has there not been a investigation (public) of hackers because the shape of this event is just too large in scope.  Another point, there are too many hands in the pot and in this case our muddling government got burned by an wayward child?

I guess the emperor needed new clothes -- just too easy of an explanation in my opinion. 

Steps off the bits and bytes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kicking It Old School, Chores, and Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

I love playing some vintage (if you can call the 90s vintage) video games with my boys.  We still have Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis, Playstation, Playstation 2, XBOX and XBox 360 consoles.  On really boring evenings after chores are done; we hook up one of the older games and play Banjo Kazooie, Mario Racing Cart or some other games that doesn't have violence or gore. (not my style)


This week was time to refill our feed holders here little Banjo was trying to help Lisa off load the truck while his brother Sonic chased the hens about.  Next month both pups will be having a gender altering surgery.  YEAH! Less male agression is good.
Just look at those WOMAN muscles. :O) 
Our supervisor, Cubby Bear. 
Our shotgun, Banjo (Da Killah).

 These birds are called Caracara (Mexican Eagles) and are vultures.  If I see them on the ground, I know they have found a nest of chicken eggs I need to gather.
Next, Chocolate Buttermilk Piejust click the name get the recipe.  I just added 1/3 cup coco baking powder. Yummy, creamy -- great eats. 
 above is without a crust just as a custard.
This one had a store bought crust of which I am not fond of at all but, it came out well.  The top layer was crusty with a brownie texture.  My next baking foray will be sweet potato pie, butter, and breads. Another item I want to try my hand at is Chicken Pies. Yes, I know I have been baking quite a bit but, in the summer it is just way too hot. If any of ya'll who pass by here have a great flakey layered crust recipe let me know. I don't like the store bought crusts and need to learn how to make my own.

Enjoy the pie!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Phew, What a Week

I am so glad hubby's stint on second shift is over! Yeah, we are returning to normalcy.  The last two months have been kinda tough because of the shift change.  The boys wanting to suck up as much time with their dad (can't say that I blame them) would wait up until he got home near midnight. We would fall asleep around 1 a.m.; this was not conducive to regular school hours, farm chores, and our small garden.

Yeppers! we still have tomatos, peppers, cabbage and broccoli  thriving ---- can you believe it even after two freezes?

Thank goodness we homeschool and I can tailor their lessons around schedule changes.  However, we did not progress as far as needed.  So, this day shift will get us back on track and hubby will be off the last two weeks of the year.  CAN YOU SAY GUEST INSTRUCTOR????  Hee hee, he just doesn't know it yet.

Another issue, Lisa has it in her head she is moving to California.  No plans as to how she is going to get there or live there --- just a wish to stay with some phantom people she apparently knows from who knows where.  But what can you do?  She is nearly 20 years of age and if she buys an airline, bus, or train ticket -- we can not stop her.   I wish her well but, will not make her transit out of our safe environment easy on her. (i.e. We are not providing the pathway out.)  She will have to make her own way there and if need be; back. 

Seems our daughter is under the impression that LIFE is easier in Southern California and a change of location will make her LIFE better and she will be happier.  Sadly, I have tried to explain to her; the only happiness you can find is within yourself.  If you are not happy here, and if you are not happy with your mom in San Antonio; 'You WILL NOT be happy in California for any length of time --- because you are only changing locations.'   Why is it, adult children do not learn nowadays from the paths their parents have already walked?  Godsped my daughter, just know the nest is still here if you fall out of the tree.

The last two days, I spent time riding the couch with a vicious cold.  One thing hubby does bring home quite often is viruses from work.  It hit Saenz and Zephyr but, nearly wiped me out.  Luckily, I recovered enough to be back up and running today with a vengeance.  I have a pile of laundry that would pack the epic TROJAN HORSE and allow the Greeks (chores) to over take Troy (our humble home).  LOL can you tell I have been reading again?

One thing I plan to do later is take the buttermilk pie recipe below and see if I can modify it to include chocolate.  If it does turn out well I will post a picture and description ---- my muddled mind while waylaid had me thinking of baking and building new recipes.  If chocolate doesn't work I will try coconut which is always great in custard pies.  We have lots of eggs again since, I have barely been cooking for the family this week.  Baking is a great way of using up eggs.

For those who commented on my post dealing with bi-polar. 

Thank you,

I will be adding to that post and if you see the labels (at the bottom of each post) and then click on 'bi-polar' then the other posts associated with the topic chosen will pop up on the same page.  It is important I resolve my issues and understand my own disorder so, if our son has to walk in my path.  I can at least reason with him by reviewing how I coped with the stressors as a teen.  Thing is.....boys and girls do not act the same way when dealing with puberty so, I have another sticky wicket to deal with as he progresses.

Hope Ya'll are enjoying your slices of heaven as you prepare for the approaching holidays.
Peace and Joy,
Mal

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Truths: Bipolar Mania

This may ramble and drift a bit but here goes:

Looking back and talking with family members; my onset with bipolar was in childhood.  I had uncontrollable rages as a small child and sudden outbursts of crying jags.  I would hit and throw things - my mother not knowing how to deal with me; tied and gagged me to a pole out in the backyard.  This was a story told often at family gatherings and very humiliating.  I was very young around 3 to 4 years old.

Later, my parents divorced and custody was given to my mom with visitation with my father.  This alone is traumatic to a child and then the regular beatings took place. Yes, it was beatings not just spankings.  Eventually, I was brought under the control through fear of getting hit or worse. 

Who wants to be hit or debased for crying................ At the age of five, I learned how to lie to avoid being hit by lying very well.  I also learned early; men were not to be trusted as my mother married again soon after her divorce was finalized.

Funny this is; we were told as children.  'ALWAYS tell the truth, I may get mad but --- not as mad if you lie to me.'  No matter what though, we were hit for small thing like: unclean rooms, grades, notes home from teachers, toys left out, lost items, dirty dishes, dust, laundry being left on the floor and all the other house keeping chores we were given.   (Talk about a mix messages, why tell the truth if you are still going to be humiliated or hit?) 

I used to think, I was the problem.  I was the cause of my mother's anger issues. That if I was only good enough; she would not be bothered by me quite so much and could possibly be happy.  Little did I know then but, I suspect she is bipolar as well.  It explains a lot --- just I don't excuse it.

Another thing that drove my mother to distraction was tears.  How can a person expect an upset child to stop crying if they are being spanked? Yet, there were times I was in trouble -- with that sickening feeling in my stomach -- trying to stop crying -- only to be hit again -- such a vicious cycle. 

Here is a kicker folks,  persons with bipolar are highly creative, outgoing, charming, and bright.  People pleasers in a crowd --- look around --- we are every where.  In a crowd of folks usually the loudest or obnoxious folks are in the middle of rapid cycling and God forbid they are drinking.  Those folks who self medicate to excess have a tendancy to become abusive or do self harming behavior they pay for later in life (drinking / driving).

One thing is becoming apparent in our family home, we may have a son with bipolar disorder.  Seems there is a genetic connection and I may have passed this on to him.  I am not feeling unhappy about it though I do worry.  I do know I am better equiped to deal with the highs and lows than a 'normal' parent and he is my child.  I waited forever to have children mostly out of fear of harming them.

At age 16, I made a conscience decision not to harm my own future children.  I was laying on the floor whilst my mother sat atop me choking and hitting my head against the floor.  I made the decision then to get out of her house and make my own way.  It was the best decision I ever made.

Though, my story with my mother in her house ended basically there on that floor.  I was not diagnosed with bipolar until I was in my late twenties.  How I survived in such a strict environment on active duty for 20 years is shocking to me as I look back but, I did it. 

Another thing, I am blessed to have our children and will teach him ways of coping even doctors are not aware of; 'remember that creativity?'  I am so very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to raise such lovely boys though I am flawed.  Just now, we will have another platform from which to form a tighter bond. I am forever in debt and blessed our boys come to me when they are in pain or trouble.  This is all possible because of my husband and Our Creator.

Peace and Joy be with all who pass here