Bison Bluff Farm

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The twins' final kindergarten fieldtrip was a visit to Bison Bluff in Cobden. It was a miserably hot day, but we had a fun time. I think both of my girls have such great teachers--in another clever move, the entire kindergarten tie-dyed shirts in class colors to prepare for the trip, so they could easily tell which child belonged where. Most of these pics are on FB, but I thought I'd share a few more here.

CeCee wasn't in the mood for pictures,
but humored me a bit

Doodle kept asking for more pics and poses

Louie was hot and wanted my lap more than anything

Viva Mexico!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I spent the last weekend in May on a girlfriends' trip to Maya Riveria. After all the storm drama, I definitely needed the break.

Thanks to the swine flu scare, the area was empty. Our resort closed up two thirds of the place, and we definitely had no trouble finding an empty chair beachside.

The weather was unseasonably hot, but luckily, the sea breezes were strong.

We spent pretty much the whole time on the beach, but I did take a little solo trip to Tulum the day before we flew back.

Tulum was beautiful, and the beach was incredible.

I have more pics on Facebook, if you want to see the collection. Unfortunately, I was forbidden to post pics of the girlfriends--apparently censorship is alive and well in Mexico.

Last Month's Storm

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On May 8th, we had the worst storm I hope never to experience again. The day started out with a tornado watch (hardly a big deal around here). I was in Louie's class attending a Mother's Day party when they announce the storm was coming and that they were going to lock down the school. I remembered I'd left the windows open, so I quickly decided to pick up all the girls and go home before the storm hit.

View down our street

The first wave of the storm was simply rain, rain, and rain. The news reports say we got between 4-5 inches of rain in about an hour. We had a break in the storm, for about an hour. Then the wind came. For more than 20 minutes, we had sustained winds between 70-100 MPH. When the power went out, I gave the girls flashlights and they played in the windowless, basement toy room, while I stupidly stood by the window to watch our trees snap or uproot entirely and debris fly about the back yard. At one point, our patio umbrella flew up about 3 feet from where I'd laid it on the table, and I tucked it under the metal table to keep it from smashing the french doors. I was soaking wet, but too panicked to care.

Our mailbox

As soon as the storm let up, James came home to check on the damage. We lost more than a dozen trees, but the only damage to our house was one screen flew off a window and ripped.

Our ponderosa pines completely uprooted

I piled the kids into the car and drove to town immediately--I knew we'd be without power for a while, and I had just stocked the freezer! I got to town and saw that all of Carbondale was a mess. Nobody had electricity. I got the second-to-last generator Lowes had in stock and a chainsaw that I figured would get lots of use. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy gas anywhere. The storm had hit all of the towns in our vicinity. Everywhere I went there were lines of cars hoping for gas, but without power, the pumps wouldn't work.

Powerlines were down everywhere

The next morning, I learned that Anna, a town about 30 minutes south of us, had power. There were gas lines, but it was nice to be able to fill up the gas cans and the kids learned that McDonald's has pancakes (so exciting!) as we ate breakfast out.

Altogether, we had no power for a week, and no cable-tv-internet for 2.5 weeks. We're still working to clean up the trees, but considering that other people lost entire houses, we got off easy.

The tree service originally wanted
$6k to remove this tree
James talked them down to $400 cash

"The Storm" is a part of everyday talk around here. The area is seeking federal disaster assistance and many still haven't recovered from it. This comma shaped storm is officially called a "derecho", Spanish for straight, but it had at least 8 documented tornadoes in it. Amazingly, only 2 people died from the storm.

For more information about "The Storm," including some amazing (admittedly geeky) satellite images, check this blog.

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Mom--I'm glad you were mine.

I love you!

What's for Lunch

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

After a nearly a year of kindergarten, CeCee and Doodle have come to love reading and words in every form. They've graduated from asking me how to spell everything to sounding out their words. This image is a school lunch menu Doodle wrote out while pretending to be the teacher.

I think my favorite thing about reading their creations is realizing how much I visualize words as I say them, and I find it interesting how they construct words. Who can argue that "wodr" isn't every bit as good as "water"?

No Wonder I Always Hate Photos of Myself

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When I can't help but compare them to this:

Rural King

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Ladies Discount Day at Rural King! It's also Senior Citizen day (perhaps they're synonyms at the farm store?) but since I have a few years to qualify for that discount (and they won't let me combine them), I'll take what I can get.

One of the downsides of living in a small town is the limited shopping. Our small mall is half full (the optimist's way of saying it's half empty--the food court has 2 vendors!) and Target is 30 minutes away. I do have 4 Super-Walmarts within 30 minutes of my house, but that hardly makes for fun shopping. Luckily, I also have 3 Rural Kings within 30 minutes of my house.

Rural King is a traditional farm/home store. They have live chicks, just about every kind of seed and feed imaginable (I first went in to buy 50 lb bags of pond fish food), hunting and fishing supplies, hardware, toys, clothes, food, appliances, lawn furniture, and all kinds of odd things, all a store the size of an average supermarket. They have free coffee and popcorn, both self-serve. I can easily kill an hour munching on popcorn and browsing the store with my cart loaded up with a giant bag of fish feed and whatever else I stumble upon and instantly need.

James bought a windmill from them last weekend. After he finds the time to install it, I'll post more on it and hopefully will have pictures of how it transforms our pond.

In the meantime, I think I need another 50 lbs of pond fish food.

Prize-Winning Recipe

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Unity Point School had a vegetable recipe contest yesterday. CeCee and Doodle each "submitted" recipes (I picked out a couple of my favorites and typed them up for each to bring to school). CeCee's recipe won second place, with a 10$ gift card and a printout of all the recipes submitted.

I like both of the recipes we sent. I'll let you guess which one won the prize :-)

Three Cheese Baked Ziti with Spinach

1 package (16 ounces) ziti
1 bag (6 ounces) spinach leaves (about 4 cups), washed
1 jar (25 ounces) red pasta sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Add the spinach during the last minute of the cooking time. Drain the pasta and spinach will in a colander, then return them to the sauce pot.

Stir the pasta sauce, ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, garlic powder, and black pepper into the pasta mixture. Spoon everything into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Black Bean Lasagna

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (26 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded cojack or pepperjack cheese

In a large bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, salsa, chili powder, and cumin and mix well. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, and 1/2 cup Parmesan and beat until combined.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread one third of the tomato and bean mix in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Top with half of the noodles, overlapping slightly and breaking noodles as necessary to fit. Top with the second third of the tomato-bean mix. Spoon the ricotta mix over the top, spreading carefully. Sprinkle with 1/2 shredded cheese. Layer remaining noodles and tomato-bean mix over the casserole. Top with last of the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish tightly with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-65 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer, until casserole is bubbling and cheese begins to brown. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.