Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Busting Snack Time Boredom

I have about run out of ideas for snack time for my little bus load of children. It's not really a bus load, but the way they move around, sometimes it feels like there's 15 or 20 of them. There's really only four.

Yesterday I broke down and BOUGHT strawberries. I just can't wait for my June berries to grow, so I jumped the gun and bought a half flat at the store. I decided to try to pull things out of my kitchen that we could dip the berries in, without it being called "Chocolate" or "Cream" or anything else really fattening or loaded with calories that would just wrap around my hips and stay there for years. Like the cookies I just made. Life is all about balance here. The lovely part about this dip is you can use it for just about anything. I served mine with strawberries, banana chunks and Bare N*aked Pita chips and it was gooood. It's relatively low fat and low calorie, unless of course you just prefer to eat the whole thing with a spoon.


Quick & Easy Sour Cream Fruit Dip
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Makes 8 2-Tbsp servings

1/2 C Reduced Fat Sour Cream
1/4 C Crushed Pineapple
1 Tbsp Sugar
3-4 Whole Strawberries, hulled and diced
1 Tsp Cinnamon (optional)

In a small bowl, combine reduced fat sour cream, crushed pineapple and sugar.
Stir until blended.
Mix in sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Dice 3 or 4 strawberries (or more) and fold into mixture.
Serve immediately with strawberries, bananas, pita chips or any other fruit or cracker that may need a pick-me-up, or just serve it as a topping over a bowl of diced fruit.

For thicker consistency, drain the pineapple before using.

 Nutrition facts calculated at

Nutrition Facts 
(Dip Only)

  8 Servings                           Serving Size: 2 Tbsp

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 33.7
  Total Fat 1.9 g
      Saturated Fat 1.1 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Cholesterol 5.9 mg
  Sodium 7.0 mg
  Potassium 40.3 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 3.9 g
      Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
      Sugars 2.7 g
  Protein 0.5 g

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not The Mayflower

A week or so ago, Sue posted a funny piece about her almost Amish children. You should go read it. But first you should hear about how my children want to be good little Marches. You know, I never set out to have the Little Women household, but it sure is looking more like that every day.

We have no television, so the girls are forced to entertain themselves. And it's not like they didn't do so before we cut the cable cord; none of them has ever had that tv addiction thing where they couldn't pull themselves away ... or where we could use tv time as a reward/consequence currency. They'd rather be outside. If you tell Sarah she can't go outside because, for instance, she has a bad cough, she'll cry and whine -- I mean -- she'll logically explain how important fresh air is to her recovery. Whatever.

What I'm trying to say is, the girls would way rather read or create huge crafty messes with permanent paints (oilcloth is my friend) and hot glue guns than watch television. They would way rather create a new game (their latest board game is called "Uh-Oh") or write a play and rehearse it all day and then wheedle Daddy into buying tickets to the performance.

They get a little confused when they go to friends' houses where tv is the main event. But what're we gonna do?!

And I'm aware this makes me sound like a beyond-PBS mother. I'm fully cognizant that this could be construed in that hyper-competitive parenting way that some folks have fun with. Trust me, I'm not judging. The girls still fight over computer time, if that makes anyone feel better. The Marches had to share gloves to go to a dressy party, and my girls won't share clothing unless forced (or, in a pinch, if Grandma's watching).

So when my beloved white Suburban gave up last week (I know: broken hip + chicken massacre + family car demise = fantastic seven days) it was time to buy a new one. We really need a Suburban because it's the only vehicle to seat our whole family and to haul a horse trailer. Just in case you're worried about the minivan dilemma.

I had narrowed my choices to a couple of used Suburbans. The final contender seats nine (one more than the old one!) and has low miles, snappy red paint (cop magnet, anyone?), FlexFuel, heavy duty towing package, etc. It doesn't have only one thing on my wish list: leather. I decided that I could give up the leather for a car we could afford that also drives. Down the road.

It also has highly embarrassing Fresno-style blindingly bright chrome 18-inch wheels.

And a television.

So Madeleine knew about the new car one day earlier than anyone else. She was torturing her sisters-- I mean -- she was handing out hints about our big "appointment" like the tiny niblets of power that she knew them to be. It is so awesome to be in the know, isn't it? She gave Sarah the news that "you can watch movies in it."

Sarah thought. And thought.

"We're buying a THEATER?"

They still haven't watched any tv in the car. They already have colored pencils and notebooks all over the back two rows.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Forgetful Katie

Well, while I was out enjoying a bit of this:

I forgot all about this:

and this:


Umm, this was supposed to be my yoghurt. Not so much. I am not sure what one would call this. Maybe YO-cheese?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yo' Mamma

Yesterday I decided to try my hand at some homemade yoghurt .

So, I dug out the starter.

I had bought this yoghurt a while back, for the sole purpose of making my own yoghurt but I am a procrastinator by nature and I just hadn't got to it. I knew that this little gem had been in the back of my fridge for some time, the exact amount of time I was unsure.

So, when I caught a glimpse of the "Best by" date, I was slightly shocked. I say only slightly, because I don't like to clean out the fridge that often. And this little number was expensive, that much I did remember. But really, 08-18-07!

So I peeled back the plastic to reveal the most beautiful sight. Staring back at me was lovely plain yoghurt, teeming with probiotic life and only the tiniest bit of whey pooled on the top.

I sniffed. Smelled like yoghurt. I gave it the taste test. Tasted like yoghurt. (Then, I waited to make sure I didn't die.)

After a few hours, of no food poisoning effects I broke out my supplies.
Clean quart jars. Check. Stainless steel pot. Check. Thermometer. Check. Milk and starter. Check.

I called my smart tres' chic, hippy farm friend to get directions. Heat milk ever so slowly, to 100F (or till bubbles form around edges). Add 2 Tbsp starter and 2 Tbsp Powdered Milk. Mix well. Pour into jars.


(read: note the placement of the cell phone, just in case I needed technical support)

Jars were filled, capped and placed in this insulated bag covered with towels and placed on top of my water heater to incubate. Where it is to remain untouched and undisturbed for a few days.


I am such a mother hen. I want to peek and shake and poke these little jars, just to see how things are going. It's taking all of my will power not to mess with them. Just the idea of all that homemade goodness just sitting there.... It is going to be a long few days while I patiently wait for my little concoction to be ready for consumption.

I will let you know how it all turns out!

Monday, September 29, 2008

End of Summer Blues

As we were going through all of the summer clothes and putting them away for the winter, I decided to take a stroll down memory the hot sunny day when my daughter and I spent a fabulous afternoon together making Sunny Day Dresses.

Take my hand as we stroll down the lane, reminiscing the days of summer past.


::Post re-published from June 9 2008::

So the sun decided to shine yesterday and I was so smart as to make a commitment to spend the day inside. SEWING. After begging for sunshine for weeks, can you imagine! I am NOT bitter, not in the slightest. :)

I spent the day sewing with, and for my girls. I thought that, at some point (HA!) the sun'll come out (TOOmorRrOW! whoa, channeling Annie there for a sec) and the temperature will rise (like, this very minute) so, why not make some (boy, I am so brilliant) sun dresses?

First we chose the music................... A little, Fiona Apple to help us get into a groovy mood.

Next we dug through the bins, and bins, and yes, more bins, for the perfect fabric.
(notice the sun streaming through my window, how wonderfully it illuminates the bins?)

Then we fluffed them in the dryer, but they still were too wrinkly, so...........

(doesn't the sun do wonders for my heap of fabric?)

I set my minion to work with the iron.

(Oh look, there, yes it is more sunshine)

Because my minion did such a good job ironing all the fabric, I let her pick out the fixin's for her dress.

She chose this cute pillowcase. YES, that's right I said pillowcase. I made my minion a dress from one of the zillions of pillowcases I have in my secret stash.

(isn't the sun shining beautifully in my back yard?)

She is very proud of her new swimsuit cover-up.

I felt this particular pillowcase has, well, the look of a pillowcase (minus the big greasy head print, of course). So for my next dress making adventure, I am going to attempt to make one from a vintage pillowcase and add some more foo-fa-rah and see if that will help make the pillowcase look less pillow-casey. Since I have only slightly less than a bazillion (this is no lie) vintage pillowcases, I am going to be making lots (well maybe, if the rain keeps up) more of these little cutie pies (mmm, did someone say PIE!). BUT, I am going to save this project for a rainy day.

(I spent a SUNNY day inside, with children, sewing things, I might have gone a little nuts, O.K.! )

Monday, August 4, 2008

Better Than Hitchhiking

Hitch-hiking is of course very dangerous and not within the repertoire of my farmgirl self.

However, I learned from farmgirl Carri a neat new trick using my thumbs to help back up a horse (or any other) trailer.

You may remember that I only recently got brave and learned to drive with our vintage (old, heavy, short-tongue-so-hard-to-tow) horse trailer hitched to the Sub. It was a necessary skill for me to learn since Madeleine will start Horse 4-H in the fall and I will have to drive the girls and horses to a nearby arena a couple of times a week. Ah, the fuel bill. But that's another post.

Today I had to pick up some hay at a neighboring ranch. No problem. I did think ahead to the particular driveway's peculiarities, and discussed them with my husband. I was worried because there is a triangle of farm roads that intersect at this barn, and gates at each side. I would have to do some tricky backing up. My smart husband said to just pull into the driveway on the right of the barn to straighten out and then back straight up to the barn. Simple, right?

There's the barn I'm aiming for. Backwards.

There's the view when I got out to make sure I was straight. Pretty straight. Oh, and those people are building a really nice fence there. I'll try not to hit it.

There's what happened when I tried to back up straight. Oh. Not so straight, you say? We shouldn't see the whole side of the trailer like that if we're going straight? That's not the barn behind the trailer at all?! Fret not. We will not hit the lovely fence on the other side. Nay, we will not hit the expensive remote control gate opener thingy either.

We will call our husband in a farmpanic. He will be in a VIM, or Very Important Meeting, and unavailable to help us beyond reminding us that it is a "pace not a race." Or, in English, "go slow and you'll be okay."

Crikey. Too bad I'm not the queen or I could continue thinking in the Royal We and someone else would be driving my horse trailer and picking up my horse hay.

Then I remembered that chicks rule. So sorry to be such a confused feminist and all. My friend Carri told me that if I got confused while backing up the horse trailer, I could simply put my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel with my thumbs pointing to one another.

Like this (oh, look, my pedicure is still cute):

It's kind of hard to take a picture of both of your hands on the steering wheel, but I want to be sure you see how to do this:

After your hands (mine really aren't that pudgy. It's gotta be the camera) are in the correct position, steer the trailer by the direction your THUMBS are pointing. It's a mirror-reading backwards thing. And it's genius. Because before I knew it:

This was in my side view mirror!

And this was in my trailer. Whew. Good to know we can count on our farm friends. And our thumbs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Little bit of country in the Golden State

I'm on vacation! I suppose if you'd managed to read my posts on my personal blog, you'd already know that. I'm certainly not hard up for COUNTRIFIED things to see and photograph around here in the old gold country of Calaveras County. Unfortunatly, most of those things are whizzing by me at 60 miles an hour (or rather I'm whizzing by THEM) so I'm going to work harder at doing the "PULL OVER HONEY!" maneuver to get some decent shots. I'd like pictures of my favorite subjects: Old barns, windmills, outhouses... oh wait, I got one of those.

This outhouse lived in the old gold mining town of Columbia in California. It's a beautiful drive to get there from nearly any direction, and there is lots to see for the kids. We didn't pay a dime for anything, except the sarsaparilla and a couple postcards.

Look what else I found. CHICKENS!!
Pretty little bunch of Dominiques hanging out enjoying the company. What a treat for the kids - they even had nest boxes you could spy into to see if there were hens laying or eggs left behind. Fun! My kids, who live with a ton (give or take) of chickens thought this was one of the best parts of our visit. It was a short lived visit, however, which I will explain further over at Tales from the Back Acher.
I also found this gorgeous old house with delightful gardens and the most peaceful picket fence ever. *sigh* Wouldn't you just want to live here for awhile??

Happy Summer everyone!