Thursday, July 31, 2014

I am being held hostage

We went camping for a week and upon our return we have been taken hostage...

By our laundry!!!!!

All joking aside, I have been held hostage; by our laundry; for the past 36 hours and that is why I haven't posted a story sooner.  This laundry is mean, heartless and only feeds us bread and water.  It demands my undivided attention and is a whole lot nastier than this grumpy old catfish we landed while camping last week.

The MONSTER catfish from Lake William

Yes, the laundry has completely taken over.  It is everywhere: In the kitchen.  On all bedroom and bathroom floors. The laundry is literally on every piece of our furniture, in our vehicles and it is even in the most unlikely place, our laundry room.  It is COMPLETELY out of control.

So yesterday I wanted to go to run club for myriad reasons, but mainly because I like to run.  But also we had been gone camping for 6 days and I didn't go running at all for that entire stretch of time which for someone like myself who is helplessly addicted to running is kind of a big deal.  When I pitched the idea of leaving (just three hours after returning from our camping adventure) to my husband he got all Cinderella on me as he said, "sure as long as you have all of the laundry done and the house is clean (and you've done all your stepsisters work too)".  After some serious negotiations with both my husband and the dirty laundry, I left and enjoyed run club.

The Most Interesting Team in the World!  
Also known as My Great Lakes Relay Family!

When I returned home I found that my husband had turned into a Prince Charming of his own making! Seriously, it was incredible, nothing short of a miracle really.  The kids had eaten dinner, been bathed and had helped to somewhat picked up the house. The dishes were even in the dishwasher people!  Other than the laundry still clearly in control of the situation (ie everywhere in our house and I swear it reproduces asexually or something too because it seemed like there was actually more than when I had left to run)  it was truly a fairy tale ending to my day.

Vern Out 
(or technically in because I am held captive by the laundry!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sweet birthday redemptions

After the mostly successful, but slightly snafu-like sleepover party for my daughter back in May, I pulled off a couple amazing birthday parties so I just had to share!  On June 7th we had a bounce party for my son.  Complete with the amazing  camouflage cake  I didn't take a picture of the cake, but I did capture the bounce house check it out!  We also made a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's pool next door and it was a 100% fun time for all. Even his two meddling sisters couldn't ruin that good time!

 Fun was had by all!  The proof is in the bounce!

 Grandma gave AJ all the scrabble snack sized cheez-its and a family friend gave us leftover snack packs of doritos so we even had fun snacks for the kiddos without having to break the shopping rule!

I found a random picture of the leftover cake.  It was actually tie dyed for the family party and camouflage colored for the friends party so this piece is a family one and the camouflage cake blended in too much so no pics!

Fast forward exactly a month from AJ's party and you will find me totally spoiling my husband on his birthday, July 7th.  We threw him a surprise party; A party that got off to a rocky start, but which ended up being... totally AWESOME baby! He then spent a lazy day recovering from his surprise party after eating  his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce, which I cooked to perfection for the first time ever despite its high degree of difficulty (like an 13 or 14 on a scale of 1-10) and despite my nearly fifty prior failed attempts. And we had his family over for dinner on his actual birthday too for shrimp carbonara which is excellent! I am exhausted just remembering all of this stuff.  My husband  is such a lucky man.

Eggs Benedict is one of the most difficult dishes to prepare, not because it is hard to stack ham and eggs a top an english muffin, but because of the timing...Timing really is everything and if you don't have all of the food hot at the same time that the sauce magically thickens up, then you have a MAJOR problem because the sauce will begin to separate as it cools and then you are SCREWED.  So the fact that this actually looks like what Eggs Benedict is supposed to look like is nothing short of a miracle.
Bon Appetit!

For the record, I did actually wrap these up in a big fancy gift bag that I bought at the Goodwill for fifty cents...and I tied it with pretty ribbon (not that a man cares about such trivial things), but still I wanted you to know. In case you care and so that the gift seems slightly less lame. 

His birthday gift was $18.04 worth of chips for his lunch that I pack him with TLC each and every morning before he heads off to work!

Vern Out

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The details are in...

Generally speaking I am not really much of a details person (with a couple exceptions running (because I love it so much) and grammar editing (because I had a really excellent high school English teacher (thanks Z)) otherwise I kind of suck at details. I can drive somewhere fifteen times and still not notice the "details" of the "landmarks" that others notice the first time they drive the route.  I can't tell you how many times I have said, "I don't know" or "I didn't notice" to commonly asked, detail-related, questions.   It drives my husband (and possibly other "type A" people) crazy and to be completely honest it is kind of a pain in the ass sometimes, but I just don't notice details.  And my therapist said I shouldn't sweat the small stuff and details are always small so...

For this reason, I would make a horrible witness to a crime. I would be all, "Officer all I know is the dude (or it might have been an old lady. It was hard to tell) was between the ages of 12 and 73 and he/she was  black or possibly white or maybe yellow it was hard to tell and he/she was definitely between 5'2 and 6'4.  Kind of bulky and a little scrawny all at once.  He/she had some facial hair or maybe their face was just dirty I dunno...Oh and I think he/she was possibly gay, but honestly my gaydar isn't the best and I am still not sure if it was a man or a woman...That's all I've got! I hope it helps with your investigation"...

Anyhow, the details to our camping trip are few and far between probably because I don't remember most of them (and not because I was drunk the entire time either because I totally wasn't).  Here's what I can recall...  

On the Northbound road trip we saw the following along the roadways:
14 different states license plates(I won't bore you with the details of which ones).  We also saw 5 MSU License Plates and 4 Michigan License Plates (eat that wolverine fans!)  We saw more than a hundred semis, two dump trucks, four motorcycles, six tractors and here's where things get somewhat interesting, or possibly disturbing, or (if you are adventurous like me) both...

In an act of sheer desperation (because I had outright refused to bring portable DVD players or laptops, and because kids started to drive me crazy within the first five minutes of the trip with questions like, "how much longer before we stop for lunch?" and "are we almost there?") we played a little game of roadkill bingo (or something along those lines).  We basically watched for all the dead animals along the highway so we also know details about all the carcasses between Nunica and Onaway Michigan.  Possibly, the most disturbing part about this was that the kids ate it up!  They LOVED it!  It totally entertained them all the way to lunch break and we had so much fun playing this gruesome game!

We saw 5 opposums, 4 squirrels, 6 raccoons, 6 deer, 2 skunks, 3 birds, 2 turtles and 13 unidentified dead animals (which made me think of the Rodents of Unusual Size in The Princess Bride which made me happy because that is such an epic movie, but which has nothing to do with the details of this story). See I would make a horrible witness!  These are the details I recall from the trip to Onaway State Park!

Here is another little detail:  Before we left, I made foil dinners for everyone out of venison steaks (circa 2011), fresh veggies and spices.
Unfortunately this is the best the foil meals ever looked because we overcooked or maybe burned them (I can't recall that detail) ...At least we got another package of meat out of Chester! So I am a happy camper (no pun intended)!

The kids became campfire cooking experts!
Smokey Bear is turning over in his grave...
Or is he still alive?
I cant remember that detail either...

Okay so this looks disgusting, even I recognize that detail, but it was actually really, really yummy.  This dish consists of pudding and Lady Fingers that I made for dessert a few days before we left for camping!  The lady fingers were old, frozen and found among the contents of Chester (thanks to the evacuation last month) so we are one step (or technically one pack of lady fingers) closer to an empty freezer.  Hallelujah! And the chickens feasted on the leftovers when we returned from camping to find the remnants still in the fridge!

We took all of the camping groceries that I mentioned in my posting entitled "Gone" and ate every last crumb of them (with the exception of a few yogurts and a package or two of hot dogs).  We may need to have our cholesterol checked after all!  In our defense, we did try to catch healthy fresh seafood. We went fishing every day and we attempted to catch crayfish with no luck on either front; all we managed to catch out of Black Lake was a serious case of Swimmer's Itch which is quite possibly the most disgusting health ailment I have faced. EVER. Parasites from the feces of birds (and there is some involvement with snails, but despite my four year Biology degree I don't totally understand the entire biological cycle involved) anyhow these parasites burrow into your skin and die and cause the most irritating, God awful, itch known to mankind.  All of us caught it except for our youngest child!?  And when we called to report it to the State Park they said, "Yeah we know. We have had that going around a lot this year".  Mind you nobody bothered to warn us before we went swimming and there were no signs posted at the beach. GRRR.

 Trying to catch crayfish for Jumbalaya!  All we scooped up were some itchy legs!

Kara stands guard over our fierce fire!

As I mentioned before, the best part of camping is having no technological distractions and I also love that my husband does the dishes.  We had a great time and now we are back to our regular old, boring no shopping challenge!

PS if you go to Torch Lake or Black Lake both are majorly infected with swimmers itch so stay out of the water

PPS If Smokey is still alive please don't tell him our kids were in charge of the fire for the better part of a week.  We might get a ticket or get banned from state parks or something.

PPPS I take back what I said about me being a good details editor in regards to writing after reviewing this story because there are all kinds of grammatical issues found within it!  Sorry but I don't have time to fix it all.

Vern Out

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let freedom ring!

I have been as happy as a clam lately...but also as busy as a beaver so I have not had time to get my camping story put is still a scrambled mess inside my head...that will be published later next week; Possibly in the form of scrambled eggs since that is what we have been living off recently.  No, I am not kidding.  The chickens have been laying lots of fresh eggs for us  to enjoy! Suffice it to say, "We love egg sandwiches!"  So everyone at our house is as happy as a witch in a broom factory (stole that one from Geiko but since I gave them credit I think it is okay). ***Egg sandwiches are especially delightful with home-made mustard and gouda cheese on top!

The chickens were nestled all snug in their coop while visions of breadcrumbs danced in their heads!

On a somewhat related note, we cleaned the work refrigerator a few weeks ago while my boss was on vacation and I will say that the experience left me feeling much better about all of the expired foods that I have fed my family during the past six months.  There were a LOT of expired items in there and some of them were YEARS expired.  Of course, I don't believe anyone one was actually eating these vastly outdated foods, but still it was somewhat comforting to me.

I have not grocery shopped much lately because of the busy status that I mentioned earlier. I seriously have not had time to shop.  However,  I will be buying the items necessary to make this recipe from one of my favorite modern country ladies Ree Drummond, author of High Heels to Tractor Wheels,  I do loathe traditional potato salad so terribly much so I am offering up this nutritional alternative for those at our annual family Independence Day gathering!  Quinoa with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella!  And I can't wait to try it!  I seriously just had to wipe drool off my keyboard.  While I hate potato salad, I find this quote to be spot on and hilarious and man do I love Erma. Check it out!

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

and Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Vern Out