Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sew Buttons On Your....

Both my boys are in Cub Scouts.  We love Cub Scouts, it's such great skills, friendship and brotherhood that they are learning.  One of Little Red's skills he needs to learn to get his Tiger Cub patch is sewing on a button.  Now, I don't know about you, but I believe that's a skill everyone should know how to do.  I don't remember how I learned, or who taught me (though I'm gonna guess it was my grandmother).  We picked out the buttons he wanted to use from my vast collection of buttons that have fallen off other things, or been removed from clothes we recycled into something else.  You never know when you might need the stray button for just this sort of thing.

First we had a safety lesson about how sharp needles are and why you don't want to jab that into your finger by mistake.  I once sewed my finger with my sewing machine.  Yes, you can just imagine how much that hurt.  I had to cut the thread out of my finger, went right straight through.  So, we learned about why NOT to sew your finger first and foremost.

Then we really got into how you match the needle with the hole in the button, and sew up and back, up and back, then tying off, which he was actually really good at!

I took the moment to appreciate that I was teaching my child to sew a button.  I enjoy sewing quite a bit and it was fun to be able to teach him how to do this. Now, he will never need to rely on someone else to fix a button for him, he's gained a skill that will serve him well throughout his life.

And he was proud to be able to do this himself.  Really gave him a sense of accomplishment and confidence. 

Tiger Cub Scout patch, here we come, ~Peacemom

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Trusted Friend

Now, I know you may think I'm a little cracked to be writing about a shovel as a trusted friend.  No, I have not overdosed on the antibiotics or cough medicine.  I promise, I'm not nuts...let me introduce you to my shovel.

Back in 1993, I was living alone in a big city with a parking space and for the first time I was responsible for my own snow removal.  That's was a daunting process as this was one of the winters we had an enormous amount of snow, and I literally had no where else to put it.  It was up to the windows in the tiny front square we called the lawn and the banks by the sidewalks were over our heads.  It was unreal.  So, when the second snow storm caught me without a shovel, I walked over to a department store that was close to my home.  I searched the shovels to find just the right one (read: within my incredibly limited budget) and saw many that were the cadillac of shovels, metal, shiny, and very well made.  Then, I came across my little shovel.

This green, plastic shovel with the wood handle was more or less a Charlie Brown tree in the midst of some pretty handsome competition.  That was okay with me because the price was just right.  About $7.50 as I remember now.  I lifted it and tried it out in the store, I liked the feel of it, so I took it home.  And shovel that little workhorse has done.  It has been with me when I was single, engaged, married and is now the favorite of my husband and oldest son.  It has shoveled, I would guess, a literal ton of snow.  It's great because it's not too heavy on it's own, the all wood handle flexes just enough when the bucket part is full of snow, and the bucket is shallow so doesn't let you lift too much for your back.

Yes, the old boy is showing his age and wear now.  The tip of his bucket is cracking back some because of how much ice and snow he's scraped.  His edge is no longer straight, having been worn back enough to let the ribs of the bucket be all that remain on the edge.
 It's been a great and true friend and has gotten me out of many snowy situations.  One of my fondest is the time I got my car stuck in a bank and shoveled and shoveled to get it out.  That shovel was a lifesaver, perhaps many times over.  Someday I will retire him, but for now, we're working on 18 years together and the fact that his edge isn't smooth, and his varnish is gone from the handle won't discourage us from keep on keeping on.  It's a good partnership, and let's face it, those are hard to find.

Wishing you some dependable help of your own, ~Peacemom

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Hello All!  I needed some chicken broth and chicken soup while laid up with pneumonia.  (I'm feeling slightly better, thanks for all the well wishes to family and friends).  So, I took a chicken out of the freezer and made some fresh, organic chicken soup last week.  Well, lots of chicken left over, so decided to make a chicken pot pie.  Now, I took the short cut method and used biscuits on top, because, I am sick after all.  Upright time is precious when you've been feeling like I do and so biscuits were the easiest solution, pie crust just took too much time and well, vertical maneuvering.  So, biscuits it was.  Came out pretty daggone yummy...even Little Red gobbled his up and he doesn't like any sauce on his all. Or sauce on much of anything, he's a strange little man.  He'll eat it on pasta and pizza, but that's about it.  So, I was happy that this time around, he dug right in with gusto and almost cleaned his plate.  In case you want to try this super easy pot pie, I'll post the recipe for ya'll.  Enjoy!

Mama's Got Pneumonia Shortcut Chicken Pot Pie
Makes about 6 servings

2 cups chicken
2 cups chicken broth, fresh is best!
1/2 cup white wine (optional use more broth if you don't want to use wine)
1 large sprig rosemary, or 1 tsp dried, separated
4 sage leaves or 1 tsp dried, separated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 stalks of celery, sliced thinly
3 carrots, either small cubes or sliced thinly
5 or 6 mushrooms (which I also had to leave out as Music Man is allergic)
1/2 c frozen green peas (you can use more, I'm the only pea liker in our house, so I have to go skimpy on them), run under warm water to thaw
1/2 c frozen corn (I used corn frozen last fall from the local harvest), also run under warm water to thaw
3 T flour (I use white whole wheat, but any will do)
5 oz fat-free evaporated milk

Make your favorite biscuit recipe to accompany, add a little sage to the biscuits for a nice accent to the filling.  Pat them a bit thin or they may be gummy.  Place biscuit dough on top of filling just prior to baking.

1.  Place the chicken, broth, wine (if using) 1/2 rosemary & 1/2 sage in medium pan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook uncovered for 15 minutes at a gentle boil.  Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.  Set aside one cup of broth mixture and chop chicken into bit size chunks, or pull if preferred.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a deep 8" or so inch pie plate with cooking spray. 

3.  In deep sauce pan (or dutch oven like I use), add onion, celery, mushrooms and carrots with olive oil.  Saute until crisp tender.  Stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk and reserved broth, adding reserved spices. Add peas and corn.  Return to heat and cook stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens.  Add chicken chunks.

5.  Pour chicken into prepared dish.  Place biscuits over top.  Lightly spray with cooking spray.  Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake until the biscuits are golden, about 20 additional minutes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Hams

Hello All,

As my side of the family gathered together on New Year's Eve to celebrate our belated Christmas, excitement was high.  We have not seen my parents since July when we were downeast for our annual family lobsterfest.  So it was wonderful to see them.  Bringing all of our family together tends to be a bit on shall we say...boisterous side.  It's a little crazy and loud, but a good time was had by all.  Another highlight for me was being able to see a family member who is very ill with cancer looking much better then I thought he would.  .

Speaking of those two hams, I thought I'd give a little recipe for them that will be guaranteed to knock your socks off.  This is not my recipe, it is the brainchild of the people who own and run our wonderful meat, egg & milk CSA.  Last year, when we ordered pork from them, we only got the bacon smoked.  This year, I asked them to smoke bacon, a ham steak or two, a shoulder and a ham.  So, for Christmas, I prepared a smoked butt and a roasted shoulder.  The differences in the flavor were many obviously as the shoulder was not smoked and the butt was.  But, they both had their serious charms. 

This is the smoked ham, nothing unusual about it's appearance. 

The prep is just as it would be for a store bought ham, except this one is not fully cooked, which is what most folks are used to getting from the store.  It also isn't injected with salt water solution  and chemicals which can be up to 15% of the weight you are paying for.  Do you like pineapple slices on yours?  Or maybe a glaze?  This recipe is a combination of rub and glaze...totally outstanding flavors!

Place ham skin side up in a large dutch oven.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Take knife and poke about 15 holes all over the ham.  Slide in cloves of garlic into the slits to deeply flavor the meat.

Take your favorite rubbing spice.  Apply 4 tablespoons to the pork and massage into the meat.

Pour apple sauce (about 12-24oz) or last year's peach or apricot preserve over the pork. I used this year's applesauce canned earlier in the season.

Sprinkle w/ 1-2 table spoons of kosher salt
Place in the now very hot oven, uncovered, at 450*F for the next 45 mins.

After 45 mins, cover the pot, turn the oven temperature down to 300*F and walk away.

Come back when the smell of your roast is making everyone in the house drool (3hrs unsually) and peek

It will be ready to serve with mashed potatoes or rice when the meat pulls away from the bone with the greatest of ease.

Let the meat sit about 30 mins. in the, by now, heavenly gravy so it might draw up some of the juices.

Slice and serve! 

Ohhhh so yummy!  Give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Wishing you some heavenly pork dinner of your own, ~Peacemom

Monday, January 10, 2011

Little Readers

This was the scene that met me when I got up on Friday morning.  The boys were already up (you can see the windows are was E-A-R-L-Y) and deep into their respective books.  Quiet as little churchmice is not their usual state,  but here they were, reading away.  It was a lovely site for my fever addled brain.  Both of them are really great and voracious readers.  Maestro can finish a Matt Christopher sports book in literally a few hours (these are about 150 pages or so), he just loves to read and always has since he learned at 3.  Little Red has really come into the joy of reading chapter books in his own right in the last 4 or so months.  He really enjoys them a lot.  I'm so happy that the boys enjoy this past time, as both Music Man and I are also insatiable readers.  They discovered the joy of going to neat places in a book and using your mental imagination to put yourself there.  Love this about them both, life is so much deeper and richer when you can read, not really sure why that is, but sure know it's the truth.

Wishing you a good book of your own, ~Peacemom


The above is a wonderfully fun new game that my parents got the boys for Christmas.  This is Qwirkle, my friends.  It is a super fun way to pass quarantine while I am laid up with pneumonia.  This is an addictive game that you just want to keep playing, we are really enjoying it.  Little Red has yet to get brave enough to try it out yet (he doesn't love games anyways, but we'll get him to play, I know he'll love it once he does).  Basically, you just match either all one shape or all one color with 6 tiles that you hold to build with.  Once you use them, you replenish from a bag until all tiles are gone.  There's a bit of strategy, a bit of luck and a whole lot of paying attention.  Since I'm under the weather, my attention is not as great as it could be and so Maestro seriously kicked my butt yesterday 237 to 183....yep, kicked it bad.  And he's ultra competitive, and I'm totally NOT, so it didn't matter to me much that he whipped me so badly, but he sure enjoyed getting one on Mom.  See, I can always win at Connect Four and that drives him batty. 

Yep, I don't get sick often, but for some reason when I do, it's always a doozy.  The boys have all had bronchitis, which is where mine started, but then the lungs get to crackling and there's no going back.  Those of you who know me, also know that I don't go to the doctor at the drop of a hat, I really gotta have something no right to go unless it's my annual check up.  But, by Friday night when the fever was 102.6 again for the 5th night in a row, that was enough for me.  No more waiting and seeing, time was up.  So, I went and yep, it's pneumonia and I'm on antibiotics and feeling a little better now on day two of those.

So, you'll forgive me please that last week I was absent, I was pretty sick and will get back in the swing of things soon.  Until then, you can pass the time by playing Qwirkle if you've a mind to.  It's great for family game night in the middle of January in New England. 

Wishing you a Qwrikle butt kicking of your own, ~Peacemom

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And So Dawns A New Year...

Good Morning All,

Of course, this is the day to reflect on the passed year, is it not?  So, I'll do just that.  We had one heck of a year in 2010. I, for one, am not sad to see it go, it's been one of way too much stress for our family.  Beginning with Music Man's lay off which lasted 10 months, then losing power again for 6 days in the midst of a hurricane in NH in February.  February also brought a flooded basement, loss of a large amount of our belongings in that flood, and water running through the basement for 3 solid months with a landlord who did not care and only told us of his troubles when we asked for a solution.  Consequently came another move which was unexpected, unwanted and very challenging, haven't sweated or been that physically tired in so long.  The serious illness of a family member, divorce of dear friends, bullies in school...yes a year with too much stress and anxiety that taxed us in ways you can't imagine if you've not lived it.  And then all in one year to boot.

But along with this year came lots of things to be thankful for as well.  Music Man has a great new job (which we're hoping will go permanent in February) doing something he feels is beneficial and worthwhile, we've made new friends who quickly have become very dear to us, we've landed in a great new house (and outside of the vertical driveway, is wonderful), have our health (well, mostly) and were able to get through 10 months of unemployment without incurring too much further debt, thankful for the job that I have that allowed that to happen (though it's far from perfect, the opportunity to help my family through this large hurdle was), the boys are doing very well, mostly happy, mostly healthy, the reconnection with a friend too long missing from my life, opportunities to be together with family members, the sources of fresh and local food I've found and the friendships formed because of it...the list could go on and on.

So, for 2011, I'm hoping for some peace, some status quo if you will.  Don't want to move, don't want to worry about Music Man having to find a new job, kids happy and healthy and carving out some time for myself in there as well.  Hoping to find the time to get on an exercise routine, get a nice garden in and hear chickens clucking while I'm weeding.  Hoping that family members dealing with serious illness will find the peace and strength they need to continue, that family peace that seemed to prevail this year will remain with other members and that all will just be okay for the year.  I pray for peace in the world, the ability for all of us to come together, no matter what politics or religion you follow and heal the planet and so much of what is in discord with humankind.  I know, big hopes and dreams, but if I'm gonna dream, I'm gonna make it big. 

Wishing you all a year filled with happiness, health and grace, ~Peacemom