Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Times A Comin'

Well, it certainly seems to come faster each year, doesn't it? Is anyone else annoyed by the way the "big box" stores push the holidays now? Literally this year at our local Walmart there was Halloween stuff out in August even before the Back to School stuff, and then a week into October they started shuffling Halloween stuff out and Thanksgiving in, then a week before Halloween you could hardly find Thanksgiving stuff and they were bringing out Christmas stuff...and no one in the store knows where anything else is, or is supposed to is insane!

The kids and I went out on Friday night to get stuff to make a gingerbread house. I also planned to let them each pick one special treat thing besides the candy decorations so they could enjoy them after the house was made...and it was next to impossible to find anything besides candy canes!! They were moving all that stuff nearer to the front of the store...and so I asked the store manager, who was actually doing to the moving, "why?" Well, the answer was that Christmas was less than two weeks away so their "edibles" department was being moved nearer to the checkout to encourage "impulse", mind you, I parked the complete opposite end of the parking lot from the main entrance because ALL the Christmas stuff is down in Lawn & Garden, which has their own doors! WHY would I, a shopper who PLANNED to buy that type of stuff, hike my butt and 3 kids all the other way to the end of the store where someone who DIDN'T plan to buy that type of item be encouraged to just by seeing it?!? Our Walmart has always been screwed up...for the last ten years, it seems! I did work there a little over 9 years ago and I was in Sporting Goods...I can't tell you how many customers were shocked that there was actually an associate in that department WHEN one was needed...and I understood because usually someone has to paged because SG is like hardwares and fabrics/notions, they are "covered" by someone from L&G or Automotive/TLE...nuts, huh?

Anyhow, I was less than thrilled at the you know the manager's "helpful" suggestion? A free movie rental from the store's Redbox kiosk, which again, is at the MAIN entrance of the store, a good haul from where the kids and I were, it was FREEZING outside, so we definitely would not checkout at the front, get the film, then walk to the car OUTSIDE the store! I asked how this helped me, I didn't even plan to rent a movie that evening and didn't know if I had my credit card on me!

Well, instead, he offered to have an associate walk to the front of the store, bring back what the kids and I wanted, and that way we didn't have to fight through the crowd...oh, yeah, sure, make a lady with three kids wait for someone to walk there, and back, and risk them not having the right thing? What did we end up doing? WE LEFT. I took the kids to McDonald's instead, we got a Redbox there using the Walmart given code, had a nice dinner, I was a little upset that they have AVATAR the movie toys in the Happy Meals, I don't think it's appropriate, especially since the movie is rated PG-13, and my kids are 9, 6, and 5...I spoke with a manager about that and she was actually able to get some Space Boy and My Little Ponies out of their storage for the kids, and my kids liked them better anyway. She also gave us apple pies and eggnog milkshakes...what a nice lady!! I didn't intend for the kids to get "bonuses" but I just wanted to let the lady know that I felt the toys were inappropriate in a food meal aimed to please kids under 10...and she agreed. She also gave me the info for contacting the office of the gentlemen who is the local Mickey D's franchiser to let him know my feelings, because they have the option of extending the current toys' run, re-running a previous toy, or taking the new toy. She had apparently had a lot of concerned parents comment on it, and hopefully we will make a difference.

Well, that is my rant for the day, which I didn't intend to be a rant at all. If I don't get to post again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a very, very Merry Christmas. To my friends Sue Groffman, Adele Lofthaus, and of course the always amazing man of my dreams, and only in my dreams, Geddy Lee Happy Chanukah and Adele, where's my latkes?!?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wow, its great to be back!

Well, I took a LONG absence from the internet. Basically, I got truly fed up with waiting around on dial up after having, and losing, cable internet. It really affected me in a negative way and so I avoided the net instead of embracing it as I once did.

Well, after cutting costs and saving up we have cable internet back. I am back on track with my online college courses, communicating with family and friends once again, and re-discovering CafeMom and Facebook.

I also renewed my love of Club Pogo at and am laughing out loud again on YouTube. I have fully embraced the audiobook and podcast features of my Sansa Fuze, which have been sorely overlooked.

So, on top of that we have bought our parcel of land. It is located in Piscataquis County and that's as much depth as to location as I am willing to go online, simply because there are some people we don't wish to know the exact location of the land and they could find out if I disclosed more. If you are really interested, email me or leave a note on my wall at Facebook and I'll tell you all you wanna know privately.

We have bought plans for our temporary house which will become a workshop or guest house, possibly even housing for two on-farm apprentices next growing season, who knows.

However, I will post more about the plans in tomorrow's post. Tonight I am going to finish menu planning, check in with my classes, and have a calm night.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We ARE Off The Grid!!!

Sudden lifestyle changes can usually throw people for a having the power company come and disconnect our service. We have been facing serious financial problems for a bit through no fault of our own. I was thrust into supporting a fully grown family member who has means and, just like everyone else in Maine pretty much, opportunity, to support their household on their own....well, long story short-moved to Maine at a cold time of year, refused to get propane service hooked up, and the trailer they are living in was "piggyback powered" years ago from a double-breaker in my circuit power bill at most runs at $120 a month for a family of five because most of what we own appliance-wise is propane operated...all of the stuff in this trailer across the driveway is power bill has been skyrocketing since May and we now owe nearly $2000 on it. I have been celebrating our new-found freedom of being off grid. We have a generator with instructions for hardwiring it safely, as well as a mega-inverter to use with 12v (volt) batteries. We have two big marine batteries and this inverter can run my drip coffeemaker (I can't live without my coffee!), my computer, and stereo all at once. We are getting rid of our big, giant, "vampire" fridge and getting a smaller one.
Now, it might sound like I am complaining but I am NOT!! I am REJOICING!!! The Lord put a tremendous emissary in place for me to do something that I could not on my cut this relative off...and basically they will now have to sink, or swim, on their own. They will really need to get down to the brass tacks of prioritizing in their life. Will they scrape up money for their "habits" or will they scrape up money to put gas in the generator my uncle is willing to loan them and have lights and power to cook with? Will they sell their "priceless" electronics to get propane service installed so they can cook and have heat? Or not? I am praying that the Lord will touch their hearts to straighten out their lives because CMP will not be turning my power back on for any amount of money. It is possible to live without electricity. We have had plans to go off the grid for a while but this just hastened the change. We went out and bought our generator, bought our battery bank, our invertor, it is a start and we are getting there. We have money for the first payment on our new land. We are going to sign papers and send them back today. It feels tremendous to finally move forward with our lives!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jazz Up Your Wrap Ups!

Okay, as promised in Month-By-Month Produce Savers Guide, here is a way to make lunch, or even dinner on a hot and muggy night like we've been having here in Maine the past couple weeks, a little different and delicious.

Most people use tortillas, or those special rectangle shaped flatbreads with tons of different grain combos and flavors like Sun Dried Tomato and Herb or Spinach and Basil, for their lunch wraps. I got kind of tired of carb loading at lunch because face it, there are only so many days you can have a wrap, or a sandwich on bread, a bagel, a roll or a bun before it gets kind of tiresome, I don't care how many varities there are. So one day at the beginning of the summer when Red Leaf lettuce was on sale for $1.59 at my local market I bought two heads planning to make salads with them and treat our bunny Bella to some nummies. I was looking at these big leaves and thought to myself, "Why can't I spread my egg salad on one of those leaves instead of tearing one up and putting it on my sandwich?" So I tried it and it was awesome! Cool, crisp, refreshing, a totally new treat. I made some Cape Cod Chicken Salad and slipped it to the kids the same way for dinner and a new hit was born. Since then I have done Iceburg lettuce cups filled with Waldorf salad, used Green Leaf and Red Leaf lettuces for salad wraps, made "dinner boats" with Endive leaves, did a Diced BLT Bowl in iceburg lettuce...the possibilities are endless. So below is a list of the different lettuces and some ideas for using them, as well as my kids' (and my hubby's, and mine!) favorite recipes for some chicken salads, an egg salad, and a Loaded Baked Potato Salad that goes great as a main dish! Really!

Iceburg Lettuce: The outer leave are kind of large and loose and have no real shape. They can be used as a base for a wrap instead of a tortilla or flatbread. They are also good for tearing up and using in regular tossed salads. The tighter inner leaves have a sort-of bowl shape and are great for dishing up chicken salad or the baked potato salad for a main dish. They are also good for a "solid Gazpacho." Use your favorite recipe for gazpacho and eliminate the liquid called for. Season as directed and chill, then serve up with a nice crusty bread, some good dipping oil, and a cold drink...perfection!

Red or Green Leaf lettuce: Has slightly curled, or ruffled, edges. These are excellent for making wraps with. Spread your favorite meat spread or salad within an inch of the edges and then tuck in the top and bottom over the filling, roll up like a regular wrap from a long edge, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in fridge until lunch or dinner. These can be made the night before for lunches, just make sure a cold pack is placed in your insulated lunch cooler.

Endive: These are a very small head of lettuce, usually you can find just the "heart" of the head for sale. The leaves are like a long, shallow "boat." Kids love these and they are elegant if you are having some friends over for a light luncheon or want to have a "tea party" style get together. Fill the cavities with whatever you like, even fruit salad goes great in endive.

Cape Cod Chicken Salad:
Combine 1 cup cold, diced, cooked chicken; 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/8 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup chopped celery, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp dried basil and 1/4-1/2 cup Hellman's (East of the Rockies this is Best Foods) Salad Dressing (like mayonnaise-you can use regular mayo if that's what you have, too). Let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour for flavors to combine

Chicken Salad Veronique: Exchange dried cranberries for halved green seedless grapes and pecans for walnuts in above recipe. Change cinnamon to allspice and omit basil.

Asian Chicken Salad: Instead of cranberries and pecans use drained canned mandarin oranges (1 small can) and 1/4 cup crunchy Chinese noodles (like La Choy brand). Use an Asian salad dressing (I love Marie's Sesame Ginger dressing-find it in the refrigerated produce section! They have a killer Super Blue Cheese, too...)

Bombay Curry Chicken Salad: Swap out cranberries for raisins-regular or golden and peanuts. Change cinnamon and basil for curry powder to your taste, this could be 1 tsp or more, I use 2 tsps.

Overnight Egg Salad: Boil 2 eggs per person the night you want to make this. Dump the boiling egg water and fill the pot with cold. Let it sit for about 20 minutes until you can handle the eggs. While the eggs are peeling dice one small onion or half of a medium onion and 2 stalks of celery (you can omit if you don't have any, it's just as good without). Peel the eggs, chop them coarsely and combine with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp mustard (your choice what kind), the onions, celery if using, 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Dump in a bowl that you can put in the fridge and let it sit overnight. I make this when I'm watching America's Got Talent or some other show on TV because I can tend to it at the commercials and not miss any of my show!

Loaded Baked Potato Salad (A vegetarian option): Make your favorite regular potato salad without adding anything like green beans, peas, etc. My mom used to put either one of those in and her potato salad was the first one gone at family barbecues...I've never understood it...LOL! When you get the potatoes boiled, the onions chopped and get ready to mix in the mayo/salad dressing, add 1/4 cup of the vegetarian bacon bits, the hard crunchy kind like "Bac-O's." Ya know, the "bacon" flavored TVP ones!! Add 1 cup of your favorite cheese, I use an organic cheddar; chopped green onions or snipped chives, about 1/8 cup; and replace 1 cup of the mayonnaise with sour cream...reduced fat works fine but fat free isn't too good for some reason in it. Add salt and pepper to taste and let chill in the fridge for flavors to blend. It's awesome!

So, get on in the kitchen and jazz up those wraps!

Hi Everyone, and welcome to my blog!

Hi all!
Glitter Girl Waving
Well, it is that time again...the near change from Summer to Autumn. My favorite season of all. I love the crisp air, the beauty of the changing leaves, the fresh apples and squash. I am going to be blogging about stuff as it happens, things that I think are worth noting. This is really just a way to get out some of the clutter in my mind and share what I think would help others to know.

Look for new posts, or better yet subscribe to stay on top of things. I will be passing on sale info from my favorite soap and other body-goodies supply shop Southern Soapers. I will also post info on sales from Fire Mountain for all you jewelry makers and beaders and deals and steals from Rocky Mountain Hobbies for the other scrappers, goodness knows I have LOADS of pics to scrap that I snapped over the summer!
Here's looking forward to chatting later!