Sunday, November 1, 2020

Heat Day 2020

This morning the inside temperature was 65F, and it was absolutely no problem. After church we decided to visit my father and cook supper for him. My husband and I knew we would be coming home to a very cold house since the dryer wouldn't be running, the oven wouldn't be cooking, and the 9 living bodies wouldn't be maintaining a few spots of heat in the house for the entire day. So, we made the decision to name today, November 1, the official Heat Day of 2020. We turned the heat on as we scurried about to fill water bottles and as we reminded everybody to visit the little girls'/boys' room. 

I don't feel shame, especially since we were driving through blowing snow on the way home. Snow outside equals heat inside, right?

BUT there could have been an interesting turn of events in the game; we discussed during the drive home that the wind was blowing so hard that perhaps our electricity had gone out. Now, as long-time readers know,  I occasionally change the rules of this heat game on a whim. My husband and I reasoned that if the electricity had indeed gone out, then we technically wouldn't have benefitted at all from the heat being turned on. SO, if the electricity was out, today wouldn't actually be Heat Day since we would still be shivering in the cold until the power was back; Heat Day could have been delayed a whole day (or even two).

But we had lights and heat and very tired children when we got home. The game is over, and we made it to November! Yay! 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Heat Game Update

 Temperature outside: 26 F

Temperature inside: 65 F

We woke to these chilly temps, but the heat is still not on! Will we make it to November with no heat? We will try! That means biscuits in a hot oven for breakfast, heating up leftover beans in the oven for lunch, and something piping hot for supper, too! One son has volunteered to make granola today, and that takes a long time in the oven. Warmer clothes are out of storage for everybody, so we can bundle up a bit, if necessary.

I think our chances are good of getting at least to midnight tonight before turning on the heat. Still not going to make a record (November 23rd is my record), but I count anything in November as decent.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fall Update--Cakes (and more!)

Fall is here, and we've recently wrapped up our family's birthday season. As always, I like to post pictures of my homemade cakes (and sometimes not cakes) to encourage folks who don't have the time/talent/money to make each birthday "pinterest-perfect." 

First up is a Zoey Zebra cake. The 5-year-old requested a zebra ice cream cake. 

Zebra toy + ice cream + fudge stripe = Zebra ice cream cake

All I had to do was melt ice cream a little bit and smoosh it into the lid of a cake carrier. Then I crumbled up off-brand chocolate sandwich cookies and threw them on the ice cream and drizzled some homemade fudge topping. Last I added another layer of very soft ice cream. I covered the whole thing and put it in the freezer. Just before cake time, I flopped the cake out onto a cutting board and put on zebra stripes (cold hot fudge sauce in a zip plastic bag with the corner cut off). The toy doubled as one of the birthday presents. 

The next cake wasn't a cake at all. The new teenager requested skillet cookies. I decorated the top with the rest of the fudge sauce.

The next birthday boy wasn't really sure what he wanted, but he didn't want a decorated cake. He was more interested in flavors. So I suggested a spice cake and a carrot cake.

Looks plain but tasted good!

The cake on the left is a spice cake with a maple cream cheese frosting, and the cake on the right was Grandma's carrot cake recipe. Those are toasted pecans in that cream frosting, and, yes, they WERE tasty.

And last, and certainly the sweetest, was a repeat request. My youngest son wanted another construction cake with a toy on top and candy. I'm not sure this was actually a construction toy, but he liked it. And it was so easy; I frosted the cake with chocolate frosting, dumped a bunch of candy on top, and placed the toy. 

But there was a problem. The birthday boy took a bite and declared it too sweet. The poor child didn't even eat his own cake. To tell the truth, he wasn't the only one who couldn't eat it because it was too sweet. I felt horrible, and I learned a lesson.

And that wraps up the Fall Birthday Season of 2020.


***If you are a regular reader, you might be curious about how my heat game is going this year. So far, no heat! However, I am not optimistic that we'll last the entire week. Today was chilly and damp, but I countered nature's move by baking a pumpkin, dressing the beds with flannel sheets, and digging out the warmer pajamas.

In a strange turn of events, my 15-year-old is attempting to sabotage my game by purposefully leaving the front door open. I countered his move by threatening a grounding from all electronics for the rest of his life. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

(Is anybody else playing along with my insane game?)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sideling Hill Sunset

 Tonight we saw a beautiful sunset. It is the time of year that the sun sets right in the cut in the mountain. The picture doesn't do the colors justice, but I'll post it anyway.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Ugly Truth and Quick Cookies

Is it just me, or does it seem that the truth is hard to come by lately? With an election year in full swing and with all the COVID-19 and riot confusions, I just don’t know what to believe. Maybe you’re feeling as ill as I am from the honesty deficiency surrounding us. If so, I’ll try to help you out and give you a dose of the cold, the hard, and the ugly truth.

I hate the hot days of summer. I hate the heat. I detest the humidity. I love air conditioning. That’s the cold truth.

I can’t stand my garden looking wilted, but sometimes I am just too l lazy to water it. I complain about my tomatoes being too small, but it’s probably all my fault because I don’t fertilize enough. The poor crop of green beans, on the other hand, is entirely the fault of the bunnies. And the most prolific crop in my garden is the rocks; that’s the hard truth I was talking about. 


I like bacon. I like bacon grease. And although my kids scold me for it all the time, I even lick the bacon grease off of the cookie sheet using my finger as a spoon. This is, most definitely, the ugly truth.

That’s not my only bad habit. I also enjoy kicking my socks off in bed. My husband scolds me when he finds several pairs of my socks under the sheets at the bottom of the bed.

Small tomatoes

While I’m being honest, I might as well tell you that sometimes I neglect my family in order to read a book I just can’t put down. Don’t misunderstand; the kids are fed and clothed and loved. But sometimes I do hide in the bathroom to read when I should be grading school papers or folding clothes. Or washing the bacon grease from the cookie sheets (with soap and water).

Snack for caterpillars

When I was a little kid, I stole a pistachio nut from an open basket in theproduce department at the A & P. I loved green pistachio pudding, but I’d never tried the nut. My mother was certain I wouldn’t like them and refused to buy any, so I slipped a single pistachio into the pocket of my jeans when she wasn’t looking. Later I closeted myself in my bedroom, took out the contraband, and felt so guilty that I didn’t even attempt to eat it. I don’t remember how I got rid of the evidence, but I do know that I didn’t try pistachios until I was an adult. To be completely honest, I still feel guilty about that.

So many rocks

And finally, because I have no desire to run for public office ever, I will come out and say it. I am a racist, but not in the way you might think. I am prejudiced in favor of the human race. Truthfully, I have been disappointed by people and their actions and words over the last several months, but I still love them. I can’t help it. I enjoy watching people, listening to people, and even complaining about people. I love big people, little people, ugly and pretty people, stupid and smart people. 

An entire garden full of rocks!

We are all so different, with different concerns and ideas and hopes and fears. But folks, we are being pitted against each other in this day and age; the media calls us maskers and anti-maskers, vaxxers and and anti-vaxxers, racists and anti-racists. How easy it is for us to forget the big truth— that we are (most of us) just people doing the best we can in a world full of controversy and confusion. 

And here’s my last truth: we need each other. I can’t think of anybody I know who hasn’t felt isolated in some way this year. Bridge that divide however you feel comfortable because we are, all of us, mired in this sometimes mucky life and need a connection to solid ground.


I’ll never be a politician because I am a little too open and honest. But it is the political season, and the mud-slinging has commenced. It just so happens that one of my favorite cookies looks just like mud. The church cookbook from North Dakota that I use calls them Five Minute Cookies, but most people I know call them No Bake Cookies. I see them in convenience stores all the time, but the only reason I know why somebody wouldn’t make this simple recipe at home is that she doesn’t want to gain a few extra pounds by eating them all. Enjoy.

Five Minute Cookies

2 cups sugar

5 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

3 cups quick oats

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large pot, stir together the sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by tablespoon onto waxed paper and allow to cool until set.

 *This column was printed in the April 1, 2020, issue of the Hancock News.

**I hope you enjoy all of the garden pictures that show just how ugly my garden can be. If you are like me and have weeds over-powering the food stuff, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! At least we tried.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

My Nemesis

This is the face of my summer nemesis.

The tomato hornworm

Tomato hornworms are evil.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Playing Catch Up

It's been so long since I've touched this blog. It's time to play catch-up. First up should definitely be birthday cakes because y'all know how I love showing the world that birthday cakes don't need to be professional (or even cakes) for a birthday to be special. Also, the pictures don't need to be wonderful.

First up is an 11-year-old's watermelon cake. This was an easy one since there was no piping necessary. Is there runny food coloring at the bottom? Yes! Are some of the chocolate chip "seeds" smeared with frosting? Yes! Was the birthday girl happy? Yes!

Watermelon cake just in time for the summer weather.

The second birthday was a big one-- sweet 16 for my eldest. He chose to have a variety of pies-- vinegar, pumpkin, and cherry (the only one captured on camera). It's possible there was another kind of pie, but I can't remember.

Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

No frosting. Filling bubbled up on top of crust. Still a happy birthday boy (or young man). 

And now I must gear up for September's three birthdays!