Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Chillin on a Cold Night

 Gladys has been doing a lot of back snoozing of late. Last night she raised both arms and held that pose for a bit. I think she looks a lot like an alligator at gator shows where they flip the gator over and rub it's neck to "hypnotize" it. Not sure what the arms up in the air were all about. But I'm pretty sure it's all about the cuteness factor. Cuz she definitely has that. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Teeny Christmas Recap

 I hope your Christmas was wonderful. Mine was rich and full. Christmas Day itself seemed to last 50 hours, but, in a good way. We got some serious kid time in and it was so fun to have little ones around. Noisy, of course, but fun. We simplified our big family gathering by doing finger foods and the traditional soup meal for Christmas Eve was pretty tasty. I conjured up a new soup that I'll likely be sharing here sometime soon. Gotta remake it to make sure I got the measurements down (bummer...if it's any indication my daughter-in-law who doesn't like soup went for two bowls of it). 

I might be hit and miss this week. It's kind of nice to take a little break. But then, who knows, I may be super on top of posting. Guess you'll just have to stay tuned. 

I can't not share puppy pics. I was going for a cute 8 week/8 month side by side of puppies in things. But the pups were having NOTHING to do with entering the sled. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Bake-A-Fun

My weekend agenda included an epic baking marathon. 

We made Crack Bars and Vegan Butterfingers and mint meltaways and Gooey Pecan Bars

And then we just went off the road and started looking through cookbooks and on line for more recipes to make. Whoopie Pies ended up being perfect. Pecan Brittle ended up becoming Turtle balls dipped in chocolate due to bit too short in the boiling department. The fail I couldn't save was Chocolate Crinkle cookies. See photo. This dough was to chill for 8 hours. Well, we didn't have that so it got 3. 

I held the flattened solid sheet of cookies up and asked & if she wanted an 8 x 11 sheet of cookies for any gifts. Then we laughed like maniacs because we had entered the cookie mania phase and had consumed a few morsels of sugar.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Rolicking Blast from the Past

Not the nostalgic stairwell. I was a little concerned about stopping and snapping pictures in the sea of people. And  I also didn't want to be the only grandma taken to the principal's office for snapping pictures outside of the kid's music program. 
 Yesterday was a kindergarten Christmas (holiday) program. 

Can I just say that there may not be one thing cuter than a gaggle of kindergarteners. Nor more energetic. 

The kids had choreography and dance partners. There was a little swing dancing, a little Hanukkah number and a nod to Kwanza. Santa and Rudolph got shout outs and even Jesus got a mention. All musical numbers were performed with enthusiasm unleashed. Our little guy has some sweet skillz. And apparently his little dance partner was quite gaga over him. 

The school was actually the elementary school I attended. I've been in it recently picking up kiddos. It has changed quite a bit. But as I walked down the stairwell from the gym where the program was and the exit I got slapped with a bit of nostalgia. The stair well had not changed. Same pebbled floor tile. I remembered trudging up and down those staircases with the herds of other children. Now I was trudging around with a sea of grandparents and parents. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Christmas Cheer

I love how God uses our own thoughts and the innocent words of others to give us periodic attitude checks. After all, we all see the world uniquely and the internal monologue/dialogue makes sense to our own brain. 

Case in point. I'm standing next to someone helping at a kids Christmas party booth. I'm aware that another volunteer swings by and grabs a ziploc bag from our table but have no concern for its intended purpose. A few minutes later my co-worker growls, "put it in the bag already!" I slowly (no sudden moves, right?) turn to her and whisper, "what?" She then went on to tell me about the plastic bag. Through the body language 3 tables down she had figured out the volunteer had taken one of our bags for a woman who needed to put something small in it. Said woman was hanging on to the small object while talking and gesturing while the volunteer held out the bag. Meanwhile my fellow volunteer became immersed in this bag, the item and the clueless woman with the "verbal diarrhea." I, on the other hand, couldn't have cared less. Two people, identical surroundings, same purpose and vastly different takes and takeaways. Yeah. Our brains are complicated and unique machines. 

So now back to the attitude check thing. A friend told me about a hilarious attitude check she got. She had a list of Christmas gifts for families in need. Two pairs of boots. She also needed candy canes for another couple of same type situation. She chose a store that she rarely shops in because of past experiences because boots were a couple bucks cheaper in the ad. While standing in line the cash register crashed. A second cashier came over to help, when that didn't work she went to another register and did a call out so all the people behind my friend rushed over. She followed, and said her frustration meter started to clang. The first register finally kicked back on and the gal called out, my friend made one more move, nearly a half an hour after getting in line. She was behind one person and saw light at the end of the tunnel. And then another hitch. The gal in front of her couldn't get her card to work, and then tried another, and my friend, in a spirit of Christmas selfishness just wanted out of the store, so she said, "Let me" and swiped her own card. The shocked woman thanked her and called her a Christmas angel. The cashier, likewise, couldn't stop wowing. My friend wisely (Isn't it lovely when wisdom teaches us that a mouth kept shut and comments silenced can be a true friend indeed?) said nothing and took her leave. Fuming, she arrived at her location and then just had to laugh at her own craziness. And also realized that her attempt to save a few bucks actually cost her a whole lot more. But at least she kept her thoughts to herself in the store and at least two people were touched by a Christmas angel. And my friend learned a few things in line.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ In Hind Sight...

 In hind sight, if I had known it would take two long years of fiddling around with my fiddle before I ever felt confident to play in church, I probably would've run the other direction. Okay. Walked real fast, like I was being pulled by super charged beagles, cuz I've pretty much decided I'm not a runner. K? 

When I thought I'd just pick up this wooden instrument and end up where I left off, I was WAY wrong. I've whined (or shared my insights, that sounds better, let's go with that) about the difficulty I'm having with coordinating my right hand, left hand and brain pathways. 

To be fair to any wannabes out there whom I do not want to discourage...I'm also not practicing an hour a day. So there's that. And there are days that are just too short to do any practicing, at all. Had I jumped fully into the white-capped waves and sank or swam, did or DOA, I'm sure my results would be different. Had I studied music theory separately, or immersed myself in all things rhythm maybe I'd have grasped it sooner. And I know if I followed everything my teacher taught me, I'd probably be playing regularly with others. (Plays well with others...ha ha, remember that from report cards?) 

On a whim I took a simple chord based piano class with a friend. She kinda talked me into it and I thought it might help to forge another avenue of music into my gray matter. I don't have a piano so I've gone over to my friend's to practice now and again. My violin teacher wanted me to jam with other musicians over the summer to help broaden my skills and I asked a friend here and there and got a "yeah, sure" response, but really, nothing happened. But naturally, through this music side class, a couple of us brought other instruments and we played along with some Christmas carols. And guess what I found out? There are magic things called key signatures, and when you understand them it's like the Rosetta Stone for music, or some such legendary stuff. My friend and I are also working out some songs together and she is struggling right along side of me. I guess this new epiphinus moment has made me bolder. My pastor has been asking for months when I'm ready to play. I finally told him I could play along with a Christmas carol. The worship team chose Silent Night. (BTW there are a LOT of variations, in every key I'm guessing, whew.) I got the official music from the pianist and then searched until I found the simplest version of it. Then I practiced. And practiced and learned more notes because there are a lot of notes on a violin and they are all about a flea shadow away from each other. Too high by a fraction of an inch and you are sharp, too low, flat, baby, flat. 

On Sunday, I played the three stanzas and didn't freeze, didn't get lost, didn't lag behind and I didn't embarrass myself. Granted, I was praying real hard as I picked up the violin that God would stop the shaking of my hands and keep the food in my stomach. I get to play again during Christmas Eve service and you know what, I'm okay with that. And now I think I can regularly start playing with others. The patient ones. And maybe one day I'll think what I play is beautiful. 

Two years. And had I looked at the song I eventually played in public I would have thought I could play it in lesson two. And doesn't that sum up a whole lot about human nature? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ 1,000

Some of my photos from yesterday were cryptic. Okay, maybe not  cryptic, maybe just weird. But, honestly, you would expect what? 

I started one of my resolutions for 2015 early. Why wait till January 1? 

I flipped through a series of articles one random day and read about a woman who decided to purge clutter to the tune of 1,000 items. She was inspired by this blog.  She said it was freeing and between her four immediate family members they found 1,000 excess items and none of them missed a single one. 

I decided right then and there that losing 1,000 items seemed like a brilliant idea and my 2015 goal. 

But then, while doing some cleaning in my pantry I couldn't wait. I declared my resolution to begin December 1, 2014 and end November 30, 2015. Then I started tossing things into bags. 

Rob caught the bug, too. He didn't count his items and I did not count his in my total. I am the one who will personally purge 1,000 items of excess. (My rules = pairs count as 1 item.) My personal count?  I'm a 1/3 of the way to my goal. 339 things which includes useful items I don't want, need or use. The homeless shelter we donated to weighs the contributions. Rob and I removed 228 pounds out of our lives and boy does that feel great!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Weekend Highlights

Gertie Wanted What I Had, REAL BAD!!!

Magic Number...To Be Explained Later...

Weather = AMAZING. Sunday was lowkey after church. Leisure and snow boots.

Cool Ice Sculpture at Rob's Office Christmas Party

First Performance - To Be Continued

Proof that I don't kill every plant I touch. My Christmas Cactus Bloomed

New Ottomans = pup favorites. New slipcovers. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Banana Bread (Best Ever Said My Co-Worker) Vegan/Dairy Free

Best Ever Banana Bread (Seriously, my co-worker, Iowa farm girl born and bred said this. So it must be true. Iowa farm girls know their banana bread. ) 

1/2 Cup coconut oil
1 Cup sugar
1 TBSP Ener-G egg replacer (instructions for homemade here)
2 TBSPs non-dairy milk
2 ripe bananas
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 Cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry) 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bread pan, mini muffin pan or small loaf pans.

Melt the coconut oil and defrost* bananas (if using frozen ones) in preheating oven in medium glass or stainless steel bowl. Prepare the milk and egg replacer in small bowl. When the coconut oil is melted and bananas squishable remove from oven and add the sugar mixing well. Then add the cinnamon, salt and baking powder and mix until combined. Finally add the egg and vanilla and stir. 

If you want mix-ins add them now (chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruit.) 

This will make one full loaf, 4 minis or about 60 mini muffins or little squares. You will bake the minis for about 40-45 minutes, the mini muffins for about 13-15 and the full sized about 50-60. 
Crumb topping: 
3/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sugar
3 TBSP coconut oil (solid)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
pulverized nuts (1/4 Cup or so) (optional)
Mix flour, sugar (and cinnamon and/or nuts) well, cut in the coconut oil with a fork, two knives a pastry blender. Sprinkle this over the top of the unbaked bread, muffins etc. 
* in case you don't do this. When bananas get too ripe, peel them and place them in a designated zipper bag or container in the freezer. Then use them for such a time as this. Peeling is important unless you want to dig banana membrane off a frozen banana later. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Spanish Quinoa

Super Easy Meal

1 Cup  uncooked quinoa (Rinsed if you don't have a pre rinsed one. )
1 1/2 Cup vegetable broth
2 - 14ish oz cans of  diced tomatoes
1 - 4 ounce can of diced jalapenos
1 Cup of hamburger substitute

Put all in a pan. Stir.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer and simmer about 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir as needed. Serve in tortilla shells, as a nacho topping with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, avocado, sour cream etc. 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Ooops!

So. You probably know that blogging doesn't pay well. Occasionally, I'll get something free. Yay! And I get about 7 cents a month for clicks on ads. But yesterday it cost me. Wait. No, not really. But I'm going to use a costly lil incident and turn it into an amusing (I hope) anecdote. 

If you've read my blog for any length of time, or know me, you probably know I STINK at parallel parking. some people stink worse (I won't name any one in particular, Michelle Griep, because I've never actually wounded one of my children and a friend while attempting, however, I came close.) 
I went to downtown Omaha on a quick trip to meet & and tiny Bean (the 3 year old) for lunch. Omaha is a big city and has lots of parking meters and parallel parking. 

I pulled in. The wrong way, front loading. I know this is improper parallel parking technique. I know that what one must do is line up your tire and crank backwards into this incredibly short slot.  When people I'm with are parallel parking in the proper manner I hold my breath and break out in a sweat. It's almost like they are magical, intelligent beings who know the secrets to the universe. 
Well, the secret to confidently wheeling a vehicle backwards into a twisty rectangular slot. 

When I returned to my vehicle a lovely woman, wearing a vest with official looking identity marks looked up and made eye contact. "Oh, Honey, I'm so sorry. I just ticketed your vehicle." 

"Dang it. I knew time was a tickin." I said and snapped my fingers. 

"Well, that's not why you got a ticket. Do you know why I ticketed you?" 

"Because I parked like an IDIOT?!?" I asked

She hooted. "Ha, I didn't say that... but..." She handed me the ticket. It said "violation - parking more than a foot from the curb."

aka parking like an idiot. Okay to be fair. My entire car was NOT a foot away from the curb, more like the butt of my car was a full three feet away from the curb. 

Here's the really sad part. I had a blast bantering with the nice lady as she passed me the ticket. It helped considerably that she thought I was HILARIOUS. And that she thought Bean was adorable. Bean sat in the car seat cracking up watching the two crazy ladies laugh. 

Hey. I've blown $16.00 in far worse ways. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Quirk Alert

Gladys is either a wannabe hunter or nurturer. Not sure which. She routinely disappears into a different room and we'll hear whining. The first few times I took her out to go potty. But then we figured out it was part of her gathering behavior. She attempts to collect all of her toys in one trip. She scoops everything into her mouth, whining until it's full and then trots happily back into the room with us. 

She doesn't rip her toys to shreds, even though she and Gertie do remove the stuffing because that's fun to play with. Oh, and the squeakers, those get excised as well. 

Here is Gladys's proud catch of the day. A record of three items, one of which is the rubber bone. She's got a personal goal of adding the brown owl/monkey toy and the skinned shark to her personal best.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

Serials and Scenarios ~ Looking for a Good Family or Kid's Gift?

Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect Hardcover – September 1, 2012
by Richard H. Schneider (Author)
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press; Stk edition (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426754868

We used to read this book when the kids were little. 

It's always been one of my favorites. 

Last night I got to read it to my little ones. Ok. Two of the three of them were mostly distracted. But I remembered why I loved the book so much. A message we all need during the Christmas season. Of note, Toad-Boy and & remember it as a favorite book, too, so maybe, eventually, the little bits will share that sentiment. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ My Dollar Cabinet Makeover

 I've had this broken three drawer cabinet around for about two years now. It was a solid built ugly little thing that cost a whole buck. So I grabbed it and then let it sit in one of our ugly rooms. We have three of those ugly rooms, little works in progress that have become catch alls for crapola. I decided I needed to do something with this cabinet, though, now that we have a few toys and games and kid odds and ends around, drawers and storage are great. And a bamboo television tray is not the most attractive side table. 

So I pulled out the broken drawer to use as a shelf for books and magazines and painted it up. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Shepherds Pie

I decided to put some vegan leftovers to use and recreate a whole different delivery system. 

Mashed Potatoes
Leftover Seitan Roast

Added. Chopped Veggies. 
What and How.

I had a few cups of dirty, garlic mashed potatoes (dirty = skin on) (garlic mash = garlic cloves boiled in the potato water and whipped into the potatoes. I thinned them out a bit with vegetable broth so I could spread them easily. 
I chopped up the seitan roast. There were about 6 meatloaf sized slices and I crumbled them in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. 
I sauteed diced celery (2-3 stalks small dice), carrot (1 small dice) and onion (1 small) until caramelized. 

I placed the veggies over the crumbled seitan and covered that with the potatoes. I added salt and pepper to the top of the casserole along with a few shakes of paprika and dried onion. 

I baked it in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Yum. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lazy Wednesday...

So here's a 7 week vs. 7 month picture series of the hounds. 

Significant changes have occurred. 

I did google how much more to expect regarding growth cycles. And the sources estimate another 2 pounds. But not much more in height. The little stinkers need to chill out.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Just a Few Things I Wanted to Show You....

It's real cold in Iowa. But we don't have snow and ice (currently) so I'm embracing that truth with these pictures. 


And here's something useful to do inside on a cold winter day...er, season.


Since perception is 9/10's of communication (79% of statistics are made up on the spot)  here's a good old laugh. The milky one makes the most sense to me, but I did breastfeed two babies back in the day. 


Monday, December 01, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Full Holiday Weekend

I haven't had such a fun weekend in a long time. I'm tired, and a little shell-shocked by temperature extremes, but, hey, that's not uncommon around these parts. 

Wednesday night Rob put in a new floor in the mud room/aka puppy room. They have a room. :  ) With a nice big back door entrance and lots of easily swept and/wiped up flooring. 

The girls have been alone in their room a few hours at a time with just a couple barricades and plenty of room to roam. So far they are respecting "the crib." This move opened up more room in the living room where the kennel has been resting since May. So we rearranged the living room furniture a little bit and I finished up a functional project I've been working on. 

Thursday was a wonderfully laid back day. We had a simple brunch with & and her little ones and a couple of friends. Thanksgiving was the 5 month anniversary of the little ones moving in with & and it was a cherry on the top of the sundae. The kids have bloomed under her mothering and we all love them. They spent the day and we pulled out all the Christmas items and we decorated and loaded up the Christmas tree. I tipped it over and broke two ornaments. But a good time was had by all. And my house feels festive. & and I cooked all the goodies we were going to be eating later that night. 

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my folks house. Another lovely get together. And of course the food was pretty amazing. & and I made several vegan options (our main dish was mushroom seitan loaf that was perfect but which I will add maybe a bit more garlic to next time I make it.)  and my new sister-in-law and brother made a delish pumpkin cheesecake.  Super delish. 

Friday night found me at &'s helping them decorate their place. The kids had so much fun. The 5 and 3 year olds especially got into decorating little Christmas trees for their rooms. So cute. Pure excitement. 

Saturday night we headed over again to decorate gingerbread houses with Toad Boy and the Mrs. One more Christmas thing on Sunday night at church rounded out the whole kid centric weekend. But. In exchange for all the work, I got lots of hugs and kisses, and a raging cold. Ha. Ha. I'm good with that.