Molly’s Transfer to ISU

Molly’s Transfer to ISU
Molly’s Transfer to ISU

Last weekend My Tom and I moved my daughter Molly to Ames Iowa.  She transferred from our local community college in Illinois to Iowa State University.

In the last couple of years leading up to this point I have felt pretty confident that I was ready for this move.  Then moving week came. . . .

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List of items we came up with to take to college:

Keep in mind that Molly is living in a college owned 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with a full kitchen and laundry room rather than a dorm room .  So your list may need to be tweaked a little.

  • computer/printer/cords/ink/paper/usb drives/power surge cord
  • phone/charger
  • envelopes/stamps/addresses/calendar/personal organizer
  • pens/pencils/highlighters
  • post it notes/rubber bands/paper clips/3 hole punch
  • ruler/scissors/stapler/staples/staple remover
  • waste basket/fan (mostly for noise control)/alarm
  • white out/calculator/erasers
  • folders/notebooks/paper/index cards
  • something to store books on or in (book shelf/crates)
  • sports equip (in Molly’s case her bike complete with allen wrenches, extra inner tube, pump, and tire changing tools all of which fit in the seat bag or attach to the bike frame)
  • back pack/water bottle
  • bank card/checks/insurance cards/license/student ID
  • camera/charger
  • cleaning supplies for kitchen and bath/light bulbs/mini vacuum
  • dishes/drinking glasses/silverware
  • pans (and in Molly’s case cupcake pans) she’s a cupcake baker from way back.
  • toaster/coffee pot/mini slow cooker for nacho cheese dip
  • ziplock bags/food storage containers
  • dish soap/cascade/paper towels/trash bags
  • dish towels/dish cloths/scrubbers/pot holders
  • kitchen cooking utensils/sharp kitchen knife/can opener/pizza cutter
  • food
  • BLENDER (after we went to get her groceries, bought things for smoothies and discovered she had no way to make them)
  • clothing . . . .underclothes/ shorts/ tops/ jeans/ sweaters/sweatshirts/light jacket/winter coat/ gloves/mittens/scarf; hat/boots/PJ’s/robe/ flip flop/ shoes/sock/ dresses/accessories
  • Sewing kit (just enough to do minor repairs or sew on a button)/safety pins
  • laundry basket/hangers/hamper/laundry soap/dryer sheets/ stain remover
  • iron/mini board
  • toothbrush/paste/floss
  • hair dryer/straightener/hair supplies/shampoo/conditioner
  • tampons/pads (if you’re a girl Cap’t Obvious)
  • contacts/solution/glasses
  • razors/soap/first aid kit/meds/sunscreen/skin care items
  • toilet paper/tissues
  • bath towels/ washcloths
  • bedding/pillows
  • hammer/screwdriver/duct tape/flash light/batteries AA/AAA/flashlight size
  • entertainment : games/TV/DVD’s/ipod (we skipped the TV)

then moving day came. . . .

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It’s actually a pretty nice apartment . . .

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3 bedrooms . . . so all 3 of the girls living there will have their own personal space.

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Kitchen . . . .

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Living room . . . .

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It really is a lovely campus . . .

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but still . . .

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I had to leave my baby there with all those strangers . . . and with only a bicycle for transportation back and forth to campus and work (the grocery store she worked at here has a branch in Ames where she transferred to).

Even though we pimped out her bike with flashing lights and reflectors, and bought her a helmet and a fluorescent vest(which I’m sure makes her feel pretty Pee Wee Herman-ish) I can’t help but feel she is a bit vulnerable out there on the street.  Yeah she even has a bell on that Trek bike of hers.  An original on campus I’m sure.

I cried like a baby the day we left her standing in the bathroom putting up her new shower curtain (the last of the moving in duty’s).  Trying to console myself with a little humor, I told her not to miss me too much and I’m sure at that point she couldn’t wait for us to get out of there.

It was just last week when I brought her home from the hospital and she kept me up night after night . . . . for the next 21 years.

She never was a good sleeper.

I’m sure I’ve driven her crazy with all my text messages since.  And when I don’t hear back as soon as I think I should, I automatically assume she’s been kidnapped off her bike while on her way to school or work. So I copy, paste, and resend the same texts over and over till she (with an exasperated tone in her text) responds back.

I’m sure it will get easier but it’s a mother’s curse to never stop worrying about our children no matter how old they are.

 

 

 

The Garden Update

The Garden Update
The Garden Update

The last couple of weeks have been very busy between work, keeping up with the gardens, family stuff, and getting my daughter Molly ready to move to college.

But here is just a sampling of the vegetable garden happenings . . .

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The garlic has completed it’s curing time.  Now it’s time to store it in the cool basement for winter and for use in canning with tomatoes.

I also save the very biggest and best bulbs to divide and plant in September for next years crop.

We won’t have to worry much about the vampires on Turkey Hollow Road!

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A tiny sample of onions curing in the garage.

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Still getting a few peas.  The rabbits did some major damage to these but we still managed to get a few.

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Raspberries are coming on strong!  Can’t wait till they ripen!

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The first eggplant blossom.  I had no idea how lovely these are!

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The beets also took a “beeting”  from the rabbits but a few remain.

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The leeks are doing well.  These I will leave in the ground and pull as I use them. They can stay there till the ground freezes.

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Green beans galore!

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Cucumbers.  These are pickling cucumbers.  I have no plans to pickle these this year because of an over abundance of them last year.  But they taste the same as any other cuc and, in my opinion, they’re a little crispier.

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Roma tomatoes.  These are gonna make great sauce and salsa!

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Heirloom tomatoes for slicing.  It’s officially BLT season!

These are delicious alone but . . . everything tastes better with bacon!

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Peppers of all kinds.

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Both sweet . . .

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Which will eventually be red, green, yellow and orange . . .

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And hot!

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The zucchini . . .

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and yellow summer squash that just won’t go away!  Note to self . . . plant less zucchini and yellow squash next year . . .

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Butternut squash . . .

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and spaghetti squash are looking good!

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The pie pumpkins are starting to turn orange!  A sign that fall will be here before we know it.  Something that I am very ambivalent about.

I feel like I totally missed summer.  Life is just too busy!

Another sign of needed change. . . but that’s another post entirely.

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The broccoli is getting bigger!  Still waiting for signs of cauliflower heads . . . more to come on that one.

The carrots are growing taller and will soon be ready to dig.  The leaves on the potatoes are starting to curl so we’ll find out how the potato towers turn out when the times comes.

Today I will be my first tomato canning day with many more to follow over the next month or two.

I didn’t plant as many this year because there were so many last year I ran out of canning jars and had to freeze some of them.  I made anything and everything I could think of to make from a tomato.  So I still have a lot left from last season to use up first.

However, judging by the number of tomatoes on the plants this year . . . well . . . it’s a good thing I planted fewer plants!

This is my happiest place of all!

 

Random Garden Photo’s Part 3

Random Garden Photo’s Part 3
Random Garden Photo’s Part 3

Part 3 of my Random Garden Photo’s is pretty much just the leftover photo’s that didn’t fit anywhere in particular.  So I’m sorry in advance to have to put you through the randomness of the Random Garden Photo’s . . .

well in fact some of them aren’t garden photo’s at all . . .

some of them are just stuff in my yard photo’s . . .

but here they are in no particular order or fashion . . .

and this is by no means the total compilation of all that’s here.  Just what I happened to have pics of.

Remember this photo a few months back?  The 20 year old table and chairs I planned to rid myself of this year?

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I’ve been trying to be better about the amount of things that go into the landfill these days.  So I had a change of heart on throwing the entire set out.

With the help of My Tom, I up-cycled instead.

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When the winter was over, the top of the table looked like this.  Believe it or not this table, when new, had the appearance of faux marble.  20 years later the marble appearance is long gone and the faux is peeling off the particle board.  I’m sure the fact that it hasn’t been taken out of the winter elements for the last 10 years or so had a little something to do with that.

But rather than throw the whole thing away.  I took the top off the base of the table, and My Tom and I fashioned a table top out of wood he had in his garage and attached it to the top.

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It’s not fancy, but after I applied a few coats of paint, it’s perfectly fine to have out next to the garden for a place to rest or relax!

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Compost bins we made out of pallets . . .

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These are in the back corner of my property, near the garden, not even visible to the unsuspecting passerby.

The next winter eyesore was the boxwoods in front of my house.  Usually, they look pretty nice but the winter was brutal and this happened. . .

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to 14 of the 15 boxwoods I have.

I waited a bit to see if they would come out of it.  Then I trimmed them a little to see if they would come out of it.

I waited a little longer to see if they would come out of it.

They didn’t.

So I cut all the dead appearing parts out of them leaving huge gapping craters in all of them.

But after a couple of months, they look like this.

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Still a little misshapen but a big improvement over the dead spots.

Then there’s the spot in the corner of my property that had, at one time, been a major eyesore.

My neighbors pushed me and my tractor out of deep mud in this corner more than once before I finally did something to make it a useful part of my yard.

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It’s now home to my brick BBQ grill and fire pit that I built a few years ago.

Then the picnic table moved in and about 3 years ago the plants happened.

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My friend Cathy gave me a few slips of these iris’s 2 years ago.  I have purple ones too but didn’t manage to get a close up of them.  If you squint real hard you can see them in the back ground.

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Bee Balm and Arborvitae’s.

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Shasta Daisies.

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Potentilla’s.

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Hanging pots with petunia’s.

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Other random flowering things in my yard . . .

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Black Eyed Susan’s at the corner of my fence.

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A transplant from my Aunt Ginger’s garden.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the name of this.

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Shown here with Coral Bell’s and Climbing Hydrangea.

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Hostas

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Hostas

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and more Hostas.

Oh yes, and one more spot with more Hosta’s . . .

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Can you tell I like Hostas?

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Okay, I’ll let it go already . . .

Then there are the day lilies . . .

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Yeah, I like those too. . .

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My new little Cortland apple tree.

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My neighbor has 2 apple trees so it will be sure to get pollinated and produce in a few years.  However, I’m still debating on buying another just to be sure.

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The herb garden. One way of taming one of my slippery slopes in the yard.

Holly . . .

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Later in the year the berries will come.  I have two of these.  You have to have a boy and a girl to have baby berries.  It’s a fact of life.

The back patio . . .

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This is where the pergola will be built later this summer.  My Tom has to help me on this one.  He’s currently helping his neighbor side a house so as soon as that project is done, mine will begin.

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These geranium’s are some that I wintered over from last year.

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This is what they looked like when I planted them this year.

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I just took them out of the pots last fall and hung them upside down in a cool place.  I soaked the roots for about an hour 2 or 3 times during the winter, hung them back up and planted them this spring.

These particular geranium’s were a little pricey so I was happy that they came back to enjoy this year.

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The Clematis by the patio. . .

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The table I made out of the bottom of a treadle sewing machine and scrap wood from my garage.

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My lovey Abbey . . .

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My antisocial Montoya . . .

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My Tom’s slobberingly sweet Maggie . . .

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A hoarder of chews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Garden Photo’s (including my no dig garden progress) Part 2

Random Garden Photo’s (including my no dig garden progress) Part 2
Random Garden Photo’s (including my no dig garden progress) Part 2

Part 2 of my random garden photo’s revolves around the vegetable garden.

Mother Earth News” was my inspiration on how to start a garden without the use of a spade or a rototiller.  I have no desire to dig up sod if I don’t have to.

I did mine slightly different then they suggest but the idea originated with an article from Mother Earth News Magazine.

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These bags of dirt became the newest expansion of my garden this year.  In fact, this is how I started all of the veggie plots and have gradually added more over the last 4 or 5 years.

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You just cut them open, leaving the bags to block and kill the existing grass,

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Spread out the dirt,

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and like magic, you have a garden bed.  At the end of the season, just pull the bags out and you would never know you didn’t dig or till up the grass.

I usually have some new experiment going on.  Sometimes they work and sometimes not.  So we’ll see how the new experiments go this year.

One of them was that I planted potatoes using the potato tower method.  I had never seen this done till I read about it recently on One Hundred Dollars a Month and thought I would give it a try.

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I used chicken wire and rebar to fence in a circular area.  Then put straw around the outside against the wire.  Inside the straw I layered dirt and seed potatoes.

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Eventually, the plants started growing out the sides and top of the towers.  Since this photo was taken, the plants have gotten much bigger and now have tons of blossoms.

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I’m hoping that means lots of potatoes!

The idea is that I will get more produce from my small space and less back breaking digging when it’s time to harvest them.

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Just an early overview . . . those tomatoes and peppers are much taller now with green tomatoes and peppers of all kinds starting to form.

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And another . . . with various kinds of onions, shallots, leeks, carrots, and beets . . .

Then there was the green bean dilemma.  They started to come up quite nicely.  Then . . . the rabbits moved in and this happened.  They also ate off all the peas which did not recover as well.

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Those cute little furry varmints are not so cute when they come uninvited to dinner.

A fence went up around the beans and they came back and now look like this . . .

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Now this may not look like a lot of beans . . . but let me just tell you . . . last year we had more than enough to keep us satisfied in fresh green beans and I still have some in the freezer.

They produced till the first killing frost of fall.  And I saved some to plant these this year.

The lettuce crop proved to be more than we could consume ourselves.

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But you can always find someone to take a good head of romaine off your hands.  I hope to have the ambition to plant a fall crop.

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These are the trellises I built for the spaghetti and butternut squash, the cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelon.

They started out looking like this . . .

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I used 2×4′s that I already had in my garage, 1×4′s and, rope.

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They just keep growing . . .

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and growing . . .

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A baby spaghetti squash . . .

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A baby watermelon . . .

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A baby pumpkin . . .

Early photo’s of scallions and radishes . . .

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Yellow squash and zucchini . . .

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Much bigger now and producing lots of goodness . . .

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This was just one days bounty . . .

The garlic I planted last fall is ready to cure from the garage rafters for a couple of weeks . . .

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And then the broccoli . . . another new one for me.

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Every day something new has happened . . .

I feel sorry for those who come to visit because I drag every last one of them out to look at the wonderment of my garden.

Some share the excitement . . . some see it and want free stuff . . . and some just roll their eyes at my childlike amusement.  But that’s ok.  I’ll be feasting off this little garden all winter!

 

 

Random Garden Photo’s Part 1

Random Garden Photo’s Part 1
Random Garden Photo’s Part 1

It’s been a crazy, busy  spring and summer this year.  Not that every year isn’t busy but it seems that this one has been particularly and unusually hectic.

Part of this is likely due to family happenings that don’t usually happen.  And also the fact that I have spent several years working multiple jobs, and it has all taken it’s toll on my surroundings.  Both indoors and out.

The spring clean up seemed to last well into the first part of the summer.  Every time I think I see the end of the tunnel, the tunnel takes a turn around a bend that I didn’t see coming.

I have made an attempt to shoot a few photos of the progression of things outdoors in the gardens so this is my random summer photo’s post of things so far.

I am dividing the pic’s up into several posts just because of the number of photo’s I have.  This is NOT all inclusive. . . just the moments I happened to remember I own a camera.

Since spring comes first there are just a few pics of my favorite spring event. . . the blooming of the Viburnum.

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I think it’s the most fragrant bush in my yard.  If there’s a breeze in the air, my viburnum makes it’s presence known from anywhere in the yard.  You don’t even have to be near it to know it’s there.  Just follow the scent to the other side of the house and enjoy the magnificence.

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Then, of course, there are the Lilacs.  These lilac’s actually belong to my neighbor.  But since they are right on the property line, I get as much enjoyment from them as they do.

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They are right next to my vegetable garden so, in the spring while I’m prepping the garden, I get to enjoy these too.

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Then the Crabapple trees.

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I have two of these.  One white . . .

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and one pink . .

 

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And then shot of all three . . . a beautiful spring sight when I wake up and look out my bedroom window in the morning.

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So here’s the before and after.  The crabapple blooms are gone but now replaced with the day lilies.

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More before and after. . .

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And now just the after. . . my favorite spot to rest after a good run.

Moving on to another spot in the yard.  This is the south side of my garage.  It’s been ignored most of the time I have lived here.  But about 3 years ago, I decided to throw down a few wild flower seeds.  It was just a mixed bag of random seeds that I bought at Menards.

For a couple of years, the plants just kept coming back in random spots wherever the original seed had fallen.  As the plants got bigger and spread they looked just that way. . . with no particular order that made sense.

So this year I dug everything up and transplanted things to make sense.  So, essentially, this is a new flower bed.

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This is the post transplant appearance and I have added a few more perennials to the original mix.  My hope is that over the next 1 or 2 years the plants will fill in more for less weeding and more color.

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Black eyed Susan’s multiply quickly so I moved some of these to other areas in my yard.  I’m sure by next year there will be more to divide and give away.

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This lily was a transplant from my mom’s garden this year.  Tons of blooms already!

 

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This Verbena is something I expected to be taller but fortunately it’s near the front of the flower bed so . . . it’s fine.  It does, however, spread more than I anticipated so we’ll see how well it fits here in a year or two.  The great thing about a perennial is that you can always dig it up and put it somewhere else.

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This Aster was a Mother’s Day gift from my mom.  Not sure why she thought she needed to give me a gift but I’ll enjoy it for many years to come.

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Autumn Fire Sedum . . . Anxiously awaiting it’s bloom . . .

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This is one of those things that is very unique and pretty when it’s in bloom but once it’s done. . . yeah. . . it’s done.  The foliage isn’t very showy.  I’m not even sure what it is.  It was in the bag of mixed seed. But it’s one of the first things to flower in the spring.

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Who doesn’t love a purple cone flower?

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Hiding under big hollyhock leaves.

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Annual Snap Dragons.

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Coreopsis . . .

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Marigolds . . .

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Dianthus . . .

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Shasta Daisies . . .

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Moss Rose . . .

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Dusty Miller . . .

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Black Magic Petunia.  Molly calls it the goth flower.

So since these are newly planted/transplanted plants, I’ll be watching them evolve over the next couple of years.

There are other plants in the flower bed that are waiting to flower as the season progresses.  Always something new to look forward to!

 

 

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Rolls
I made these cinnamon rolls for my daughter to have for breakfast, and for Tommy to take on his weekend with the guys.  You can make them with a basic homemade white bread dough, or you can buy frozen bread dough which is what my late, Great-Aunt began doing for a shortcut.

I did use a homemade recipe but don’t let that stop you from using the frozen stuff.  It’s good either way and, once the bread dough is made, the rest is a piece of cake. . . or a cinnamon roll.

Basic White Bread Dough Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour

Combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a saucepan and heat on low heat till butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water while milk mixture is cooling.

Add milk mixture and yeast mixture to a mixing bowl and add 4 1/2 cups flour.  If you are using a mixer with a dough hook mix for 1 minute or, if mixing by hand, stir with a spoon till combined.

Add remaining flour a little at a time till dough forms a ball.

Knead by hand about 10 minutes or if using a mixer with dough hook mix about 2 more minutes.

Place kneaded dough in a bowl that has been coated with oil and turn to coat all sides of the dough.

Cover and place somewhere warm to rise for about an hour or till it doubles in size.  You can turn the oven on to about 350F for 1 minute, then turn the oven off and place the bread inside to let it rise if your house is on the cool side.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into 2 loaves.  You can bake this as 2 loaves of bread, or . . . make cinnamon rolls.

I usually make one loaf of bread, because Molly likes to make french toast for breakfast with white bread, and then I use the rest for rolls.

If you’re making bread, let it rise in pans about an hour, or till doubled again, and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes or till golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

 

For the Cinnamon Rolls:

Take one half of the bread dough (or you can use it all for rolls and double the rest of the ingredients below), or you can use frozen bread dough from the store, after it has risen, and roll it out into a rectangle on a floured surface.  A 9×12 inch rectangle will give you about 12 rolls.

I’m not real good about measuring my rectangle so I get what I get.

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Mix together about 3/4 cup sugar and 2 – 2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon or in amounts suited to your taste.  WARNING!!!  SUGAR HIGH!

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Brush the dough with melted butter (about 1/2 a stick or so)

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and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

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You can also add chopped pecans if you like.  I like . . . but some of my family does not, so I just sprinkle them on top of the frosting when they are done.  Them seem to like them that way better.

Once you have the cinnamon sugar mixture sprinkled on, roll the dough up tightly starting with the log side.

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Seal the edge when completely rolled.

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Slice about 1 inch thick.  To do this, I use unflavored dental floss.  Just wrap it around the roll, cross the floss and quickly pull it tight.

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I usually save the little travel sample size ones my dentist gives me for when I travel or for such an occasion as making cinnamon rolls.

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Did you know that dental floss has an expiration date?  It’s right there on the bottom of the container.  Who knew?  I wonder what is supposed to happen if it expires?  I’m sure I have use expired dental floss and . . .  guess what? . . . I still have all my teeth!

Okay . . . back to the rolls.  Once they have been sliced.  Place them in a baking pan.  Or, if you like, you can freeze them for later use.  Just take them out of the freezer, place them in a greased pan, and continue as normal.  These were actually in the freezer that’s why they appear a little misshapen. But don’t worry they’ll look normal when they’re done!  I took them out of the freezer, turned my oven to 350F for 1 minute, then turned the oven off and put them in to rise till doubled.

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12 will fit nicely in a 9x13x2 cake pan.  Or you can use a round pan.  it doesn’t really matter.  Let them rise till doubled in size

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and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

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Once they have cooled, frost with your favorite frosting.  I usually use a basic butter cream frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans but you can use cream cheese frosting, or caramel frosting, or just a simple glaze drizzled over warm rolls.  Whatever you like.  The sky’s the limit!

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My Great-Aunt used to twist her rolls all fancy looking.  Maybe someday I’ll take the time to learn how to do that.  But, for now, these will do.

 

Cinnamon Rolls:

Take one half of the bread dough, homemade or frozen bread dough from the store (or you can use the whole recipe and double the rest of the ingredients below), and after it has risen, roll it out into a rectangle on a floured surface.  About a 9×12 rectangle will make about 12 rolls.

Mix together about 3/4 cup sugar and 2 – 2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon or in amounts suited to your taste.

Brush the dough with melted butter (about 1/2 a stick or so) and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

You can also add chopped pecans if you like.  I like . . . but some of my family does not, so I just sprinkle them on top of the frosting when they are done.  Them seem to like them that way better.

Once you have the cinnamon sugar mixture sprinkled on, roll the dough up tightly starting with the log side and seal the edge when complete rolled.

Slice about 1 inch thick.  To do this, I use unflavored dental floss.  Just wrap it around the roll, cross the floss and quickly pull it tight.  I usually save the little travel sample size ones my dentist gives me for when I travel or for such an occasion as making cinnamon rolls.

Once they have been sliced.  Place them in a baking pan.  12 will fit nicely in a 9x13x2 cake pan.  Or you can use a round pan.  it doesn’t really matter.  Let them rise till doubled in size and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Once they have cooled, frost with your favorite frosting.  I usually use a basic butter cream frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans but you can use cream cheese frosting, or caramel frosting, or just a simple glaze drizzled over warm rolls.  Whatever you like.

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Amazing Banana Cake

Amazing Banana Cake
Amazing Banana Cake
This banana cake recipe is one that is very close to my heart.  It came from my Grandma who passed away when I was only 3 years old.  I have only one memory of her from my childhood so whenever I make this I remember that memory and the stories of the memories of others.

Recipes back in the day sometimes left a little to the imagination.  I think women believed that any good cook would just know certain things and so it wasn’t necessary to write them down.  So here’s how I do this cake and, hopefully, it would meet with her approval.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease and flour a 9x13x2 cake pan.  The recipe doesn’t say to do this but, sometimes, common sense prevails.

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Sift together 2 3/4 cake flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 3/4 tsp nutmeg.  Now here’s the thing about cake flour.  I never have that in my house.  So I learned how to improvise.

You can use regular all purpose flour by subtracting 2 Tbsp for each cup of flour.  So this case, I measure out the 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour, them remove 5 1/2 Tbsp before I mix it with anything else.  I’m sure cake flour has it’s purpose, but I think this cake turns out just fine without it.

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Set aside.

Cream together 2/3 cup shortening and 1 1/3 cups sugar.  Then add 2 well beaten eggs and mix well.

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The original recipe says to mash up bananas to make 1 2/3 cup.  I think this is a pain to do.  I did it once and then improvised.

I have learned that 4 average sized bananas cut up into slices is what works for me.  Mashing bananas is messy and then you have to clean the measuring cups.  So 4 average sized very ripe sliced bananas is what I do.

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Now start adding the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with banana, till it’s all mixed together,  Then mix in 2 tsp vanilla.

Pour cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake till done.

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Grandma doesn’t indicate how long, but I can tell you it’s about 30 – 35 minutes or till toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Again . . . common sense cooking.

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The other thing my grandma didn’t mention was what she put on top of the cake.

Over the years, I have used vanilla butter cream frosting or cream cheese frosting.  Sometimes I top the frosting with chopped pecans or toasted coconut or just leave the frosting plain.

This time I tried something different.

I still had 2 more bananas I wanted to use up so I incorporated those into the frosting.  I was a little afraid it would be too much banana but it turned out that it wasn’t at all.

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So here’s the frosting recipe I used:

Banana Cream Frosting

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • a little more than 1/2 pound powdered sugar.
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • Milk if needed (I didn’t need it)
  • Toasted coconut

Mix all the ingredients together with a mixer adjusting the powdered sugar or adding milk to get it to the consistency you like.

Honestly, I’m not even sure it’s necessary to add the butter and shortening.  I just added a little of each because my daughter just couldn’t imagine frosting without them.  So feel free to experiment with that!

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Spread it on the cake.  Top with toasted coconut if desired.

To toast the coconut, place desired amount on a cookie sheet and place in an oven preheated to about 350F just a few minutes till coconut begins to brown.

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Let it cool before putting it on the frosting.

There is just no comparison between a cake made from scratch and a cake made from a mix.  Not that mixes don’t have their place.  I use them sometimes.  But this banana cake is hard to beat.  It’s super moist with just the right amount of density.

And so my Grandma’s legacy lives on in my kitchen.

 

Banana Cake Recipe

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups mashed banana (4 average ripe bananas sliced)

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, soda, and spices together.

Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well.

Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternating with bananas.

Add and mix in vanilla.

Bake at 350F till toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  About 30 to 35 minutes.

*Cake flour substitution: 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour minus 2 Tbsp.

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Enchiladas

Enchiladas
Enchiladas
I’ve been making this enchilada recipe for many years and it’s still always a treat to have them!  Over the years I’ve altered things a little to get it just the way we like it.

Seriously . . . they’re really good!

Grate up (or buy pre-shredded) cheese (enough to equal 2 1/2 to 3 cups and set aside.  I usually use Monterey jack and sharp cheddar.

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In a large skillet brown 2 pounds ground beef, 3 cloves minced garlic, and about 2/3 cups sliced scallions.

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Add chili powder to the meat and cook another minute or so.

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Stir in 1 – 2 cans of enchilada sauce.  I know . . . what you see below is not canned.  I made that from my veggie garden last year and froze it in 10 oz portions.

The difference is that I need to use a total of 3 of these because the recipe I have makes a sauce that is thicker than what you buy in a can.  So you may not need a full 3 cans.  Just use your best Julia Childs judgment when you mix it together.

So at this point I would add 2 ten ounce bags of sauce to the ground beef reserving the 3rd for later in the recipe.

And you can make it as mild or spicy as you like.  We just happen to like a little somethin’ somethin’ so I make it on the spicy side. . . the sauce I mean.

Now that I’ve made this more complicated than it needs to be . . . let’s just move on to the next step shall we?

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Cover and simmer or about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Warm the tortillas in the oven or (gasp!!) in the microwave prior to filling.  If you use corn tortillas cook them in a skillet with hot oil for about 10 seconds each prior to filling.  I’m guilty of using the microwave for this.

I’m sure the good people of Mexico are cringing right now that I would dare to put a perfectly good tortilla in a microwave.  Sorry . . .

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Spoon about 1/3 cup filling down the middle of each tortilla and sprinkle with a rounded Tbsp of the blended cheese.

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Fold the sides over the filling and secure with a toothpick.

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Mix the rest of the enchilada sauce in to the skillet with any remaining meat.  Remember how I said my sauce is thicker than most canned sauces?  Well, because of that I also pour in just a little dry red wine (whatever I will be drinking with dinner) till it’s the consistency I want at this point in the recipe,

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and pour or spread it over enchiladas.

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Cover with foil and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, uncover and top with remaining cheese and bake another 5 minutes till cheese is melted.

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Top with additional scallions, remove toothpicks, and serve with sour cream and, if you like, jalapenos.

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I’m just sayin’  . . . well actually . . . there are no words . . .

Beef Enchiladas:

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or you can substitute with chicken)
  • 2/3 cups scallions sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder or more if you like it a little spicier
  • 2-3  10 ounce cans enchilada sauce.
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  •  12 flour tortillas (you can use corn tortillas if you prefer)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups total grated cheese of choice (I usually use half sharp cheddar and half Monterey jack)
  • Additional sliced scallions for garnish
  • Serve with sour cream and jalapenos if you wish.

In a large skillet cook the ground beef, garlic, and the 2/3 cup scallions till the meat is brown and green onions are tender.  Drain off fat.

Add chili powder to meat and cook for about a minute or so.

Stir in 1 to 2 cans of enchilada sauce( depending how thick your sauce is you may need up to 2 cans), salt and pepper.  Bring to boiling and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Warm the tortillas a little in the oven wrapped in foil or in the microwave for just a few seconds. just prior to filling.

To assemble, spoon about about 1/3 cup filling down the center of each tortilla.  Sprinkle each with a rounded Tbsp of the 2 cheeses (half and half).

Fold the tortilla sides over the meat filling and secure with a wooden toothpick.

If you choose to use corn tortillas, you can cook them in a skillet with hot oil for about 10 seconds prior to filling.

Arrange the tortillas in a baking pan.

Add the remaining enchilada sauce to the meat that is left in the skillet and pour/spread over the rolled up enchiladas.

Bake covered with foil at 350F about 20 minutes or till heated through.

Remove the cover.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake another 5 minutes till cheese melts.

Remove the toothpicks from the tortillas before serving.  Garnish with additional sliced onion and serve with sour cream and jalapenos if you like.

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Graduation Day!

Graduation Day!
Graduation Day!

Last week my oldest baby, Jennifer, graduated from nursing school.

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Not only did she graduate from nursing school, she graduated with honors!

She’s a pretty smart cookie.

All this was accomplished while working full-time until her last year of school when she cut her hours to part-time, and as a single mom of two beautiful girls.

This is one of the people who was very instrumental in helping her with babysitting (seen here with my two lovely granddaughters Brooke and Kierstin).  Vicky is Jennifer’s ex-sister-in-law.  Thankfully, Jennifer’s ex- in-laws have remained close to our family and were a big help in doing a lot of babysitting for her.

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I’m so proud of Jennifer and all the hard work and determination she put in to getting her degree.  Having gone through the same program, I can relate to how difficult it was.

It was a lovely ceremony, even though the speaker giving the commencement address did drone on a bit.

Here she is.  Ready to rock the nursing world!

Graduation Day for Jen

Here with a couple of her good friends and nursing school comrades.

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This man was part of the Quad City Brass Quintet performing at the graduation.  Interestingly enough, he was also her band director back in the early years of learning the alto saxophone.  Yay Mr. Hamburg!

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Jennifer with her paternal grandmother (aka Nana).  My parents were unable to attend due to my dad’s recent illness.  They were very disappointed about having to miss it.

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More family photo’s.  Adrienne, Jilena, and me (aka Mom).

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This is not a graduation day photo but I had to throw in a photo of my other daughter, Molly, who was MIA because she had to work that night.

Jen and Molly May 2014

My very dear ex-sister-in-law Denise. She’ll always be my “sister” in my heart.  Love her!

Denise and Jennifer at Jens Graduation 2014

And the cake, “Class of 2014.  It’s about time”!  You got that right sister!

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We partied till long past my bedtime and I was feelin’ it when I arrived at work at 6:30 am the next morning.  I use the term “partied” loosely.  At my age that means 2 glasses of wine.  I was driving after all.

Nursing school is different from most other college curriculum formats in that the art of intimidation is still alive and well.  Something similar to boot camp . . . and it doesn’t end till you graduate.  It’s an unchanging environment that has persevered since long before I was in college.  I would have thought that we would be past all that in 2014.  So you see?  You really have to be crazy want to be a nurse to get through it.

One thing that has changed in the last 29 years is that now, they actually get to wear a cap and gown at graduation!  Yay!

When I graduated we all had to buy identical white uniform dresses to wear, along with white support hose, white nursing shoes, and of course, our nursing caps (It goes without saying that white underwear was involved here).  We all looked like “Nurse Ratchet”.

Of course that was back in the 80′s when we all had bad hair and, if you wore them, gigantically huge glasses.  It was quite a sight.  Unfortunately, my parents keep that graduation photo of me right out in the family room for all to see despite my request that they put it away.

And last but not least, a selfie of Jen and me at the after party.

Jen and Pam at Jens graduation 2014

I’m so happy for her that it’s finally over!  Well, at least till she starts working on advancing her degree in the fall!

Now get out there and get a job!  Student loan payments wait for no one!

Love you Jitter Bug!  Here’s to a fulfilling and rewarding career!

 

 

 

Mexican Cheese Bread

Mexican Cheese Bread
Mexican Cheese Bread
If you’re looking for a cheese bread recipe with a little kick to it, this is the one!

Great for a little nontraditional Mexican twist with BBQ.

The best part is it’s super easy to make.

I made my own French bread but it’s okay to buy a loaf at the store.

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Slice the bread in half lengthwise.

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Spread a little butter over both sides.

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Using part of a can of refried beans (No I’m not promoting this brand.  I just bought it when there was a sale too good to pass up). . . .

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spread it onto the bread.  You probably won’t use the whole can but you can put it in the fridge for use in the next couple of days or, like I sometimes do, freeze it to use in the future.

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Take a jar of pickled jalapeno’s (these are home pickled but it’s ok to buy them at the store).

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Chop them up and sprinkle onto the beans.  Just chop as many as you think you can handle.  They are jalapeno’s after all!

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Grate up about 2 cups of the cheese of your choice.  I used a white sharp cheddar but use whatever you like that will melt well.

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Sprinkle a cup on each side of the bread.

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Bake at 350F till bread is warm and cheese is melted.

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Slice them up and transfer to the bread basket.

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YUM!

 

Mexican Cheese Bread

  • 1 loaf of French or Italian bread
  • Butter
  • 1 can of refried beans (you will probably only need part of the can so you can freeze what you don’t use)
  • Pickled jalapeno’s chopped
  • 2 cups grated cheese.  Use whatever kind you like.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise.

Spread both halves with butter.

Spread on the refried beans.

Sprinkle on the chopped jalapeno’s

Top with grated cheese.

Bake at 350F till bread is warm and cheese is melted.

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