Things my big sister taught me.

Things my big sister taught me.

Well, I have to say that I can’t imagine my life without my big sister.  I have learned so many valuable lessons over the years from her.  Now that I am 40 she still continues to teach me new things.  Three new things I recently learned:

1.  People love getting mail!  She mails everything.  Since she moved to Arkansas, she has mailed me books, banners and most recently Halloween costumes. The fact is that she would have mailed these things to me if she still lived in Fenton (35 minutes away).  I don’t know what it is.  There is just something she loves about it.  She likes writing and stationery and has always had an appreciation for proper etiquette.  She particularly loves sending unexpected treats.  Just yesterday my girls received homemade Halloween cards with sticker sheets inside.  You would have thought they won the lottery.  They ran in from school and these beautiful pieces of mail, addressed personally to each of them sat right by their afternoon snack.  They tore into them and were thrilled to have a hand written message from their Aunt Kim.  So lesson learned. . . receiving mail truly can make a person’s day!


2.  It’s good to feed your dog a raw food diet.  This one I admit I was a bit skeptical about.  However, she is a smart girl who does her research, so I listened.  She has been telling me for years how horrible it is to feed your dog store bought dog food.  She buys whole chickens and feeds them to her dog RAW 😦 .  Anyway, the other night I was making chicken tortilla soup.  To make it easier on myself I bought a rotisserie chicken.  As my dog stood diligently at my side, I decided to give this chicken diet a try.  I threw him a chicken leg.  Now, she told me that they eat the bones and all . . . and he did!  He loved it!  In fact he loved it so much I saved the other one for the next day.  My husband was really concerned when he saw our little dog going to town on this chicken leg.  “Is he really supposed to eat the bones?”

“Yep,” I replied, “Kim said the whole thing.”

I was pretty proud of myself, and when I called my sister a few days later I told her how I was getting on the raw food bandwagon.  She yelled through the phone, “What?  You gave him cooked chicken bones?”

“Yes, you said I could give him the bones.”

“I said RAW chicken bones!  You can’t feed a dog cooked chicken bones!!!  They splinter and could tear his internal organs.”

“Oh.  He seems okay to me though.”

A couple hours later I received a text from my sister that said, “I’m worried about Bogey.  You sure he’s okay?”

What’s the lesson here?  While a raw food diet may be good for your dog, the real lesson learned here is SMALL words matter too.  RAW really was the key!

3.  How to lock down your itunes account so your kids can’t buy things without your permission.  A few weeks ago I posted on facebook that I was a bit surprised when I got my itunes receipt via e-mail and there was a $1.99 charge for a game called “Pou.”  When I asked my kids about it, they explained that it was a game where you have to take care of a piece of poop.  Yes, apparently nothing is free these days.  Anyway my sister attended a PTO meeting the other night and called me on the way home.  During the meeting she had learned that there is a way to lock your child’s iphone/ipod so that they are unable to make purchases.  She quickly walked me through the steps.  The irony in this is that yesterday my sister received her i-tunes receipt and it had over $60 worth of charges that her daughter had made.  Lesson learned. . . don’t laugh at me for paying $2 for shit when you just spent $60 on your own pile.

It’s good to have a sister to teach you these things!

Love you, Sis!

Oh and on a side note.  I sent this entry to my sister to edit for me before I posted.  Usually she calls me up, and walks me through the edits explaining why the change is needed.  This time she called me, and as I went to my computer to make changes she said “Forget it!  I’ve explained the comma rules to you a million times and you still don’t get it.  I’ll make the changes myself and send you the finished copy.”  Lesson learned….Not paying attention can pay off!  BTW – I threw some extra commas in this last paragraph for good measure. 

Gluten-Free Vegan Quinoa Chili?

So I volunteered to make a main dish for my daughter’s teachers’ monthly luncheon/treat. One of the teachers requires gluten-free food, and no one had signed up for that spot. I’ve never cooked gluten-free before, but how hard could it be?

Searching for recipes on Pinterest, I found one for “The Best Ever Quinoa Chili (vegan and gluten-free).” Now I happen to know that another one or two of the teachers are vegetarians, so thought this might kill two birds with one stone. Of course, the gluten-free gal is a full on carnivore, but, hey, one dish can only meet so many needs. And I’ve been meaning to try quinoa.

I was caught by surprise while shopping for ingredients. Had to be choosy on brands of diced tomatoes, for instance. Some had garlic powder, I think, and therefore, gluten. And my grocery did not carry a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, so I left it out. Bet I could have found it at the health food store, but no time. A few ingredients were pricey: over $5 for the box of quinoa, though it was enough for a double batch. And over $4 for ground chili chipotle, but I’ll use that for other dishes. And, of course, I had to buy organic beans to make sure they were vegetarian.

As I described this experiment to my sister (the gourmand) over the phone, she started laughing. “What’s so funny about quinoa chili?” I demanded.

“I just hope it tastes good,” she worried. “You don’t want to ruin your reputation.”

Ha! I happen to know from experience that hungry people at work enjoy food that arrives, unbidden and free, regardless of how experimental or vegan it might be.

And. . . it was good! Well, I liked it anyway. I used yellow, orange, and red peppers, and, combined with the quinoa, they gave it a great texture that I enjoyed more than ground beef.  And beef production is bad for the planet, anyway. So there. Try it if you dare.


Thanks to Sarah at Making Thyme for Health for the recipe:

A Few Things I Love. . .

1. Never, never going to the bank anymore. In fact, I can’t go to the bank bc my bank is in another state. All of my banking is done via Smartphone, even the deposits. I just endorse, photograph each side, and bing! Depo made! I love it.

2. Chalk paint. Not chalkboard paint. Paint with chalk in it. Annie Sloan or Cece Caldwell or Make Your Own; it’s amazing stuff because you don’t have to sand or prime. I am a very lazy painter.

3. Tea. I now understand why those European explorers just had to find a way to get tea. Sounded so strange to me in grade school. My preference is hot, green tea, but I’ll try anything. . . it never fails to cheer me up.

4. Modern art. I was sad to leave the St. Louis Art Museum’s modern art collection, but so lucky to find myself 10 minutes away from Alice Walton’s modern art collection! I think I’ll do a whole blog post on Crystal Bridges and my favorite pieces. Coming soon. .

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5. Haribo Gummi Bears. Feels a little weird putting that gummy substance in your body, but yum! Tastes so good — and probably reminds me of my teen years in Germany.

I could go on and on, but these are the things I love today. More on another day when I am feeling reflective.


Pumpkin carving?

Pumpkin carving really isn’t as much fun as it sounds. I used to throw pumpkin carving parties, but it turns out that kids get pretty bored watching adults wield knives, and adults get pretty bored cleaning the guts out of pumpkins. The best part is the picture taking when all is said and done.

This year I’ve been inspired to go glitzy and pin sequins to craft pumpkins. I’ll still have them next year! Woohoo!

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It took a while, but I had plenty of good Missouri football and Cardinals playoff ball to watch while I pinned. My right thumb felt like I had poked a hole through it, but, hey. . . we’ve got thimbles, right? I don’t have any pretty ones like Kristin, but I found a plastic one in an old sewing kit, and it was invaluable. Next up. . .St. Louis Blues?

Eating in these United States


Having grown up in the Air Force, I have often observed the “homogenization” of the United States. It seemed to me that regional differences were disappearing, and you could get a Big Mac and fries pretty much anywhere. Sad.

My husband and I moved to Utah in 1996, and I kept my eyes open for foods that were special to that area.  We didn’t find much. And, man, did we miss St. Louis pizza! I know St. Louis pizza has gotten a bad rap in the media lately, and, please believe me, most of us who enjoy that thin-crust specialty also like the occasional deep dish delicacy from Chicago or drippy slice from NYC. It’s just that no one wants to eat predictable franchise pizza every Friday night.

I was disappointed earlier this week when I was unable to find Louisa frozen cannelloni (or ravioli) in the grocery store here in NW Arkansas.  After begging my sister for dinner ideas, she came up with adding a nice marinara and provel cheese to frozen cannelloni for a good “fake it” weeknight dinner. Now I knew it would be a stretch to find the St. Louis brand Louisa here, but not even a substitute! (And we can’t find any decent Italian restaurants, either.)

However, you’ve got to take the bad with the good, and the lovely surprise is that this area is teeming with Mexican specialty food. So I switched Italian night to Mexican night and picked up fresh tortillas, real chipotle peppers, and even that crumbly white cheese, cotija. These things are not easy to find in St. Louis. I decided to try to make a more authentic enchilada, using red sauce and corn tortillas rather than white sauce and flour tortillas, which have far less flavor (and nutritional value!). Ended up using mostly this recipe from Tyler Florence, and it actually smelled like a Taqueria in the kitchen!  The whole family and an extra teenager were pleased. Yum! and Yay for regional differences!



“Hope”ing to make this old chest new again

When I was 18 years old my Mom took me out and bought me a “hope chest.” At the time I picked it out I just loved it and thought, “Well,  this will never go out of style.”


Fast forward 22 years later. It sits at the end of my bed looking so 80’s to me. However, it still serves a purpose. We store our warm blankets in there and sit on it to tie our shoes, so I wasn’t ready to get rid of it. But I did think it could use a little sprucing up or down as the case may be. I first decided to try and “white wash” it. It didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped.

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I needed to fix my mistake fast.  So I slapped some Milk paint on that bad boy and watched it begin to distress itself. I love the way that the Milk paint naturally bubbles up and peels off.  Here you can see what I mean.

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I was much happier with this finished product.  I do have to admit I have a bit of hesitation putting this post up in fear my poor mother will have a heart attack.  I love it, though!  Makes me feel like I have a new piece of furniture and my kids can’t do a thing to it to jack it up!

See what I mean?  Can’t even get the kids out of my pictures much less my room.


Fall is the time for soup

Fall is the time for soup! I just love this time of year. It’s perfect for cooking soup. About a year ago my sister gave me a great idea. I was constantly throwing old packages of shriveled grape tomatoes away. She said that she had a friend who found a way to save those crinkled up little suckers. Set your oven to 500 degrees. On a foil lined baking sheet, pour out your tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. You can add some chopped garlic and dried basil or oregano as well. Put them in the oven before you go to bed. BE SURE AND TURN THE OVEN OFF. Let them sit in the oven over night. In the morning you will have perfect roasted tomatoes. I use these revived beauties on everything from pasta to soup. I love a recycled vegetable or fruit! So yesterday I decided to invent a soup! I like to call it Roasted Tomato and Black Bean soup. Here is what you will need: 1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce ½ yellow onion chopped 1 pound of lean ground beef 1 bottle of beer (non alcoholic is fine too) 1 package of ranch seasoning 2 cups of oven roasted tomatoes 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained) Brown the ground beef and chopped onion in a skillet. Drain any excess fat from the beef and add to crockpot. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Turn crockpot on low. Cover. Let cook for 6 hours. If it needs more liquid, you could always add some beef broth. I served mine over a bed of fresh spinach leaves with fresh Parmesan cheese shavings. You could serve over rice or pasta as well. Tastes just fine by itself too! Add some crusty French bread and enjoy. Yes! Kids like it too. My 8-year-old looked up as she was shoveling it in last night and said, “Mom save this for me to eat tomorrow night for dinner too. Don’t eat it for lunch. Okay?” soup

Storing Scarves


I usually keep my scares as neatly folded as possible because I don’t like them to be all wrinkly when I wear them. But my collection is growing (again–after purging the ones I wore as a restaurant hostess circa 1991). And they keep sliding off their shelf.

How about this? I like it because it reminds me of the way they display them in stores. But — two issues — they take up a lot of precious hanging space, and they will be wrinkled where they’re “tied” onto the rod. Hmmm. . . back to the drawing board. Anyone got the perfect solution?


A forgotten household task . . .


I don’t keep a “to be ironed pile” like my mother did. In fact, I rarely iron anymore. I grab things out of the dryer or sometimes even the washer and hang them up in hopes of avoiding wrinkles. Then I pull out the ironing board to touch things up right before I wear them. And on busy mornings you go for something that doesn’t need ironing, right?

Since starting my burlap obsession, I’ve had the ironing board up and given it a workout. Finally perfected the pennant technique to include ironing Wonder Under between two pieces for sturdiness and to avoid fraying edges. Then I iron the top down into a half-inch fold, giving a nicer place to glue the twine than across the front of the pennant.

All of this “fun with burlap” has left my ironing board and my iron a mess. My Dear One, who actually likes ironing, is the one who purchased both of these. He’s pretty meticulous about his clothes and loves that Rowenta Professional iron (even bought his mother one!).

Thought I’d press a few things for my girls and myself this rainy Saturday morning but have to Google “how to clean an iron” first. And then consider going to Target for a second ironing board cover; maybe I can switch them out for clothes vs. burlap?

The School Equestrian Team

DSC_0076 DSC_0217My youngest daughter is obsessed with horses. This may or may not be my fault. For the record, I have been afraid of horses since one bit me at Girl Scout camp in the sixth grade.

However, I was determined never to transfer my fears to my children, so I signed them up for horseback riding lessons when they were little. The older one moved on to dance, musical theater, student council, and boys. The younger one still thinks of nothing but horses.

So I hang out at smelly barns, reading my books and shooing flies away. In St. Louis we drove out into the country where she leased a sweet horse named Dimples. She’d trudge into hip high grass to fetch the horse, pick her muddy hooves out with a scary looking thing, spray her with fly spray, saddle up, and ride off into the distance, grinning with joy.  Easy peasy.

Big tears when we moved to Arkansas last year, but I told her that there were bound to be lots of horses just like Dimples.  Hmmm. . .nope. The girls here ride English, which means that they sport $300 helmets on their heads, $300 boots on their feet, and fancy threads in between. They still pick the hooves clean, but then they trot those ponies around a ring, leaping over fences with posture I can only dream of. It would be kind of cute if I weren’t writing the checks and biting my nails in the grandstand.

Fast forward a year, and C has joined an Interscholastic Equestrian Association riding team made up of middle and high school girls who practice together and then go to shows to challenge themselves to ride horses other than their own, using tack other than their own. That might not sound like a big deal, but in the usual shows they ride horses they know and are basically showing what the horse can do. In these team shows, they show what they can do as riders in completely unfamiliar circumstances. Not only do they draw horses from a hat, their coach has to choose which of them will place before the show, and they only earn points for the ones that she chooses correctly! It’s crazy challenging! But, it turns out, super fun, too. Despite the cold, windy day, I enjoyed seeing these athletes and horses work together. And the comaraderie! The girls helped each other get up to speed on which horse tends to (oh, how would I know?) act which way, and they acted as grooms for each other, and just generally supported one another in ways you wouldn’t see at a show where they are competitors. It was really neat to see horseback riding as a team sport.

When I was in high school, we were trying to convince the Powers That Be that cheerleading and dance team deserved to earn varsity letters. Now I’d like to see my daughter earn one in the IEA! Go Team!

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