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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Uncle Carl's Potato Soup

My uncle Carl is an amazing cook!  He lives by himself and enjoys cooking for everyone. He gave me this recipe about 10 years ago and it is my all time favorite, go-to comfort food.  And he happens to be, my all time favorite Uncle!
By the Way, my Uncle Carl is king in his kitchen, you don't ever stir his beans, season his dishes nor wash his dishes (no challenge here)! 
Love him!! 
My Uncle Carl's Potato Soup

  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 plus cups of peeled, cubed potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh chives
  • Grated cheddar cheese
1. Cook bacon in a dutch oven until done
2. Remove bacon and chop saving the bacon grease in the dutch oven
3. Saute celery and onion in the bacon grease until tender
4. Add potatoes, water, bay leaves and boil until potatoes are tender and water is almost gone.
5. Remove bay leaves and add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
6. Using an immersible blender, puree until smooth
7. Milk can be added as needed at this point
8. Serve with the chopped bacon, grated cheddar cheese and fresh chives sprinkled on top.
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Other great family dishes that I know you will enjoy:

Other Soups:


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Las Vegas

Just returned from a trip to Las Vegas with some friends of ours.  What can I say but agree with "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas".  I don't know what is in the air in Vegas but I seem to do exactly what numerous other people do in Vegas, act like a kid in a candy store without proper supervision.  But I did, finally like most children, get tired and slow down.  After my fellow and I kicked up our heels we did see some of the more tamer sights in Las Vegas.

We visited the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home of the TV series "Pawn Stars".  I enjoyed it but I expected more items on display.  I never thought it would be important or I would take a picture of myself outside a pawn shop.   Lol   But it was fun to walk around in the shop that we felt we knew so well from watching the show.   Apparently it has turned into a must see in Vegas these days.

At the Golden Nugget Hotel we viewed the largest gold nugget on display.  It weights 61 lbs, 11 oz and The Golden Nugget paid 1 million for it. With gold prices what they are today, it was a fantastic investment for the Golden Nugget.

It was found in Australia by a metal detector in 1980 and since my fellow received a metal detector for his retirement, we had to know more about it.  Apparently it was found only about 12 inches below the surface and was resting vertically. 
One of our dreams/plans is to search for gold in our travels.  He also received a gold sluice at his retirement party.  So we had to stop and droll over this gorgeous Gold Nugget!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tie Dye Fun

                    Tie Dye T-Shirts

We made tie dye shirts for the family reunion last summer.  My Fellow's family gets together every two years for an awesome family reunion and  each branch of the family designs matching t-shirts for them and their offspring.  It is so much fun and we know who belongs to whom.  This year my Fellows family decided on Tie Dye Shirts.     Since my daughters live so far away, my son and his young lady joined me in designing and dyeing them.  We had  so much fun and the shirts had such vivid colors. 
  We purchased a cheap plastic drop cloth from the hardware store and covered our table. (Just threw it in the trash afterwards) and started tying white t-shirts with rubber bands.  It didn't get too messy and all the shirts came out great!

My daughter and I talking to a favorite cousin. Our shirts really pop!  Of course my son's young lady tweaked them with a pair of scissors to make them more fashionable and girly:)

My son and I taking a break in the shade and watching my grandson's:) There is no hiding with these awesome shirts.

I so totally cheated.  We just purchased a tie dye kit from Walmart that came with the little plastic squirt bottles and different dye packages and plenty of rubber bands. I also purchased plain white inexpensive cotton t-shirts at Walmart.   We just followed the instructions for one of the designs (this kit has several different choices of designs).  Basically we just placed the t-shirt on the table and grabbed the middle of the shirt and  pulled it back placing rubber bands every inch or so.  Using the little squirt bottles we dyed each segment a different color. Shirts came out beautiful and the kit makes several, so this is a must do activity again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana

2 boneless, Skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
6 oz whole wheat Penne
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 whole carrot
1-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 can 15 oz tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 slices mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper chicken breast and roll it in the panko bread crumbs.

 Fry Chicken Breasts in  oil in skillet until brown. Remove and keep warm.  Using the same skillet, saute onions until tender, add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  

Pour in tomatoes, tomato sauce and wine.  Add the carrot to neutralize acid. (you can use a handful of baby carrots). Cook until wine is reduced.  The more the sauce is cooked, the better the flavors come together.   

Add 3-4 tablespoons of sauce to a 9 X 9 baking dish, place chicken breasts on sauce. Remove Carrot and dispose.   Spoon additional sauce over chicken saving enough for the penne.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Place slice of mozzarella cheese on each chicken breast and bake an addition 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  

 While chicken is cooking bring water to boil and cook the penne according to package directions. Drain penne and serve with the remaining sauce, adding shaved Mozzarella cheese on top. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium

My sweet hubby and I attended the 2011 Cowboy Symposium and Chuck Wagon cook off at Ruidoza Downs in Ruidoza New Mexico.  What an event!  It was three full days of chuck wagon cooking, county music, dutch oven demonstrations, western arts and crafts.  We attended a Mel Tillis Concert and Mel did an amazing job along with the Texas Playboys.  This happens every year in October so if anyone gets a chance, make plans to go.

This little wagon that is pulled behind the bigger Chuck wagon is called a "hoodlum"

Just setting up camp!

Everything on the wagon is authentic and each camp is judged and awarded points for each item such as ax, water barrel, tools, bedrolls and even shaving items of the era.

One of the Chuck Wagon Trucks for the All American Chuck Wagon Truck Race.

 Model TT Ford Truck Chuck Wagon

Pressure Cooker!

I am so glad I have my own kitchen. This is fun to visit but had to have been hard work, very hard.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Free Barbie Tutu Pattern

I have been crocheting Barbie clothes for my granddaughter.  I have made several of these adorable outfits and believe I have tweaked the pattern to my satisfaction.  
There are two pieces to this outfit, the leotard and the tutu (see below). You will need two of  the little 1 inch in diameter pony tail holders in the same colors of your yarn of choice:) for each outfit.  
 I used size C crochet hook. 


Round one: Work 30 single crochet stitches around one of the pony tail holders, join with a sl st in the first sc.
Next round: Chain 2 then Double crochet in the next two stitches, dc2 tog: continue this same pattern: At the end of the round, you should have decreased to a total of 21 stitches.
Continue double crocheting until leotard measures 3 inches.  Sew together 1/4 inch in center to make the crotch. Tie off and weave in ends. 


Round One: Work 37 stitch on the second ponytail holder, join with slip stitch, Chain 3
Round Two:  Three Triple Crochet in each stitch, chain 2
Round Three:  Double Crochet in each stitch, tie off weave in ends.

This is how the two pieces should look off the doll.

Please visit these awesome parties that I am linking to:

                                       The Best Parties on the Block


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Barbie Tutu

I have spent this week crocheting Barbie Tutus for my granddaughter's  Barbies.  I will be sharing the instructions for this later today.  I love these and have become addicted to crocheting this week.  
This all came about when I spent the Thanksgiving Holiday with my daughter and we started making Barbie swim suits. 
 Apparently swim suits are hard to find but after an extensive  online search I was able to locate instructions.  We decided to make a swim suit for each of Kimmie's barbies but we were unaware that she had 17  Barbies (Oh yes! 17).  We didn't think about the princesses  having to have one but we both decided it would be cruel  for each Barbie and/or princesses  to not be able to attend the Big Swim Party.  (my granddaughter has a new swimming pool for the Barbies).

  I am planning on making one more swimsuit and will write the instructions down so I will be able to post them also.  I am not an expert on reading crochet or knitting instructions so I do tweak them a little.  I did buy myself a Barbie in order to have a model to insure these fit and are little hands friendly. So far so good!

Update:   Click here for this pattern

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Retirement Party

Last night (Friday the 13th, lol) we attended my Fellow's Retirement Party   My fellow is a humble fellow and is not comfortable being the "headliner"of the show.  We had a blast!  My son was off work and was able to go with us and that made the night even more special:)  My Fellow's boss from 13 years ago was in attendance with his lovely wife.  A letter was read from Leo, a dear friend who retired years ago and lives in Montana. Three other retired Border Patrol Agents were also there.  And of course the room was full of outstanding agents that had worked for or with my Fellow.   Just about every picture I took we were either laughing or smiling so big.  Among the gifts my Fellow received was a metal detector and a sluice box for mining gold. I can hardly wait to get on the road and use these items.  It was just an informal get together with plenty food, friends and adult beverages.  What a perfect send off for my Fellow!!  Now I don't have to share him.

Retired agents.  These guys are heroes.  They went to work each day and worked hard to protect our country, day after day for years.  They survived adversity, politics and personal challenges and continued to be good men each and every day.

The Three Kings.  These gentleman were Watch Commanders for the station. They were in charge of each of the three shifts and the agents assigned to that shift. They ran the day to day operations and they outranked everyone in the station at that time except two   The troops nicknamed them the three kings.    How awesome they have continued to be great friends also.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Exercise-Bad Word/Good Wood

In January, exercise is in your face everywhere!  Yes, I do need to exercise regularly and try to.  Since I have quit smoking I have gained weight so I am trying to work hard to exercise.  I also like beer which is a major factor in weight gain.  I do love to say exercise when I am finished with my workout and that makes it a good word, but when I say I need to exercise then it just sours the word. Hahaha.  So the timing of the word determines how the word sits on my stomach (in more ways than one).  And of course being over fifty, exercise needs to really become a part of each day and not just because of vanity.
Going to the gym to a twenty-something or thirty-something person is classy and cool,  but going to the gym after fifty makes one realize it's comparable to that pill case (you know the one that has the days of the week on it, so we remember to take our meds).  It becomes part of that fight to stay moving and to attempt to overcome gravity (not just my bust line being lower but everything is trying to slide down also).   I have several sneaky ways to help sneak up on exercise, one is the WI, with any and all the  fun games to play, I am able to exercise without having to say it. I can also challenge my Fellow to a game or two and sneak in an exercise routine for him without his knowledge (I think?).  Also so exercise doesn't have to overcome one, I have discovered several apps for my iPhone to log in my exercises and my foodies.  This helps ever so much by making me more aware the balance of a good diet and exercise.      My favorite is "Lose it" which has the ability to scan the bar code on most foods to record the calories and saves it under my favorites for ease in logging it in the next time.  I know the advantages of a diet diary but usually the inconvenience prevents one from continuing this great habit. This app makes it quick and easy and I have been more successful using it.   You can also use it on the web at   So just check this site/app out and I believe you will find it very user friendly.  Happy Exercising!!  (Or as my granddaughter used to say "ebercising").

This is the little icon (do they still say icon?) that represents lose it.

And it is so much smaller but I am unable to shrink it any more than I have:(

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Shoot

We have been trying to get together and just target practice for the last month but with the Holidays, we have been unable to accomplish this.  Finally everything fell into place on Sunday.  My Fellow and I loaded my expedition with numerous firearms and lots of ammo.  I packed hamburger fixings and we grabbed the gas grill and headed out.  We stopped in town and picked up my son and his lovely lady and after making a couple stops for forgotten items (one a return to their home to pick up a gun belt with ammo) we arrived at the range.  The shooting range is out of town and has numerous areas to safely    practice with any and all firearms. We found the perfect location and started killing paper targets and clay pigeons.  My son's lady had never shot most of the weapons but was excited and eager to learn. 

My son and I having a shoot off with 12 gauges and clay pigeons.   I love my new pink cap!

Jessica loving a scope on a good rifle!

My son coaching Jessica while my Fellow and I were cooking burgers.   Oh Yes, it was getting colder by the minute.

A cold front moved in just about the time the burgers were done and we had an awesome picnic lunch in my truck.   Rain and freezing wind but it was snug and fun inside the truck with the heater running. I do believe those were the "Best Burgers Ever".

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Ride

It's funny when you are not limited for time and how the smallest turn of events can be awesome. 

 Today because its Saturday, most of the metal sheet stores were either closed or didn't have the metal my Fellow needed to work on the bed of the Big Truck.
  So we packed some sandwiches and adult beverages in a couple of coolers and strapped them on the quads aka 4 wheelers and went to the desert.  We followed old trails and explored new ones and just enjoyed the day. 

The view that we enjoyed.  My Fellow spying on an old mine at the top of the peak.

Looking up at the mine that we will explore one day but not today!

Going down the mountain:) On to explore other trails.  What a perfect day!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Day After

OK, I didn't write anything yesterday:)  It always seems I need a day off when I visit my mother in the Alzheimer's Home or sometimes I can't get my thoughts together (Alzheimer's is contagious, LOL).  Anyway one thing I have learned to survive is  to laugh, my Fellow and I try and do see the humor in everything! We have been through a tough two years and one way to survive stress is to laugh, laugh often and laugh loudly.
The day before yesterday I went to town, (about a 10-15 drive) and ran a few errands. I always have to accomplish my errands prior to seeing my mother because my brain is mush afterwards.  Let me explain:
My mother lives in a home with 20-23 people that all suffer from the same disease.  That means when I visit my mother, I visit with several other residents.  Yes, we have gotten to know all these wonderful and funny people:)  And Yes, it is depressing but that's where the need for laughter comes in.  There is one lovely concerned little lady, Miss A who is constantly asking " Where's George?", " Where's Buck?" and "Have you seen Evolow?"  Over that last few months we have learned that these people have all passed away which I know is sad but remember Miss A doesn't remember that;)  So we have learned to always tell her that George is with Buck working on a truck in Silver City. And any guilt I have for lying goes away when she just smiles and tells us that George and Buck are like two peas in a pod, where you see one, you see the other.  And she is happy!! How cruel would it to be to tell her the truth each time, (sometimes she asks three to six times in just one of our visits).  It takes a whole bunch of patience and a whole bunch of restraint not to laugh out loud.   And this is just one of the lovely residents that we have contact with on a visit with mother.
So when I arrived Tuesday and went to my mother's room, she was lying down. She sat up and told me that she had went to work that morning and came home and was tired and she laid down.  She also told me there was nothing in the kitchen to eat.  She seems to think the kitchen is the bathroom and I have even found food stashed in the medicine cabinet.   I explained to her as I do often that she eats at the "cafe".  As she was getting ready to go have coffee with me, I searched her room for any items she has stolen from the laundry room.   She is still a hoarder and if the laundry room is left unlocked she will sneak in and take, sheets, towels and other peoples clothes.   I separate the items so I can replace them in the laundry room when she is not looking.  I got her moving and  we went to sit down in the dinning area/cafe to have coffee. As always , others join us and I begin serving them coffee and answering questions....  One of the residents Miss M is a lovely lady who is prim and proper and always tells me "Oh we need to do this again" and "its just lovely".   Another lady, Miss D comes by and asks me if I have seen her children.  (You have to be careful when answering questions so not to alarm them).  I usually tell Miss D that her children are at school or at the movies.   My mother sits and worries about where she is gonna eat, because she has already forgotten that she eats here everyday, three times everyday.  Apparently some patients have their hunger button stuck on and some have it stuck off.  Some like my mother never get enough and she has been known to sneak in the kitchen and steal food. I had arrived last week and found a half loaf of bread and a huge jar of salsa in her bathroom and she had made a salsa sandwich.  I  try to keep fruit and snacks in her room to soothe her and along with three meals, the residents get three snacks plus there are always cereal, crackers and other snack items in the kitchen for them, in spite of all this my mother is always hungry.   I always sit and drink coffee until my mother says  "You Ready!"  I usually take Mother and  we sit on the patio and I try  to keep conversation going. (did I explain, my mother is hard of hearing and loses all hearing aids we have purchased for her). The other residents come out and go back in and sometimes ask the same things each time:)    On Tuesday I looked over at the other patio and noticed Mr T was helping another resident stand up from her wheelchair.  I ran over and asked him if I could help, he then told me that "thing" was in her way.  Oh No, she can't walk!  Thank Goodness for the staff members, they always show up in the neck of time. After a staff member placed Miss G back in her chair and sent Mr T off in another pursuit, I returned to Mother who complained about being left.  We went back inside and I start to explain to Mother, I must leave to return to work. Sometimes, she thanks me for the visit and other times she asks me "What are I supposed to do?" and "Are you going to just leave me here?"  She has already forgotten that she lives there.  On these times I stay and explain to her this is her home and wait until she calms down before I leave.  It is hard but I have learned to handle it by texting my children and laughing with them via text.    My mother knows I am her daughter but she doesn't remember my name, she knows my Fellow's name but doesn't know who he is.  We will continue to visit with my Mother as often as possible even if she knows us or not.   We never know what to expect on each visit and we will try to just laugh and survive one day/visit at at time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


My mother has Alzheimer's.  What an illogical disease!  I am not sure if I could explain to anyone the trauma that happens to family members of someone that has the disease. (No, I am not being selfish, I am also acknowledging the trauma it has on my mother)  I always thought that when one has Alzheimer's, they would just  forget people or what they did that day.    It is so much more than that!
My mother was always a hard woman and her only drive in life was to make more money.  She was also a hoarder (possession and money hoarding).  She lived in a run down house in a small run down west Texas town.  When my father passed away in 1988, they had a roadside business that fixed truck flats (Big Diesel Trucks) and my mother had worked side by side with him.  They also had several tow trucks.  Mother continued to operate the business'  upon his death and actually made more money than he did. Of course it may be she didn't ever spend any.   She had employees that she drove into the ground until they left her. Only one employee stayed with her, Paul.  I believe he had been kicked around by his family and he found a purpose and had someone that needed him.  They worked 24/7 and I believe neither had a personal life.  I lived in California when my father passed away and for the next 10 years after that. So I saw her only about once a year when we returned on vacation and she only came to see us once or twice.  She said she couldn't be away from the business very long (I believe now that missing a customer to her was like one of us losing $100 plus).  She never watched TV except the weather and totally enclosed herself in this bubble. She really didn't socialize in this small town even though she knew all 50-55 people that lived there for the last 25 years.  I called and sometimes she was too busy to talk which I thought was good that she was staying busy.  She brought run down buildings and continued to fill them with items that  she obtained either from donations from garage sells and from items that people would leave in vehicles she bought when their cars broke down and they didn't have the money to repair them. I knew her house was filled but she had so many options to move things out prior to our arrival, we did not realize the extent of the hoarding.
She never trusted anyone so we didn't have power of attorney when she became unable to deal with her finances or to take care of herself.  Thank goodness, the county seat is also a small town and everyone knew of her disability and also she was the victim of a con man that she had hired (another story another time)  So we obtain a Guardianship over her and her estate.   My sweet Fellow and I started the monument tasks of locating and securing her assets.  Since she was not happy with me (Alzheimer's patients can be very abusive, verbal and physical), we moved her into her house in town.  This home that she owned was clean, not cluttered and was close to hospitals, doctors and an awesome group of home caregivers.  We hired them to stay with her 24/7 to cook, clean and drive her to the stores and for companionship.  We had taken her to a neurologist, who said she didn't need to be cooking, driving, or making business decisions so we knew 24/7 care was needed.  My Fellow and I had full time jobs here (5 hours away) so we traveled back and forth.  We attended every doctors appointment with her and every holiday. We were even able to fly with her to her birthplace in Arkansas for her birthday.  No, it wasn't easy, it was the hardest, roughest and most stressful time in my life. I started smoking again and since I handle stress by throwing up, I promptly lost 13 lbs but with my Fellow by my side we survived.  We had to make the decision to move her into a Alzheimer's Care Facility after a year had gone by.  We visited several facilities in this area and in August we put her in our car and started the stressful 5 hour drive and left her at the facility.   Neither of us slept that night, overcome with guilt, apprehension and exhaustion.   She was very angry for the next two weeks but as the doctor predicted, she forgot she had lived anywhere else by that time.  Now I know it is a better place for her, there are other patients there and the staff are trained to keep the residents busy.  She is 15 minutes from us and we can visit anytime. Don't get me wrong, it is still very stressful and I am still on a emotional roller coaster ride.  I know she is being taken care of very well but I never know how the visit will go upon my arrival.  I have always heard the old saying " throw your hat in the door and if no one shots it, then its safe to go in"   except after my hat gets shot, I still have to go in.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Daughter's Birthday

My youngest daughter turns 33 today!  (Was it yesterday that I was 33??). 

  My daughter, Michelle is a loving, strong, very open girl (and has always been) and one of the best mother's I have ever met.  I often wish I could have been or was as secure in my decisions of Motherhood as she is.  

She has endured numerous challenges in her life.  She is currently raising three rumbustious boys by herself.   Michelle was a stay at home mother for the last 12 years and now that her situation in life has changed, she is struggling with several decisions.   She is attempting to obtain employment not only in one of the worst economic atmospheres in our lifetime but she doesn't have employment history.  She is fighting fears for her children, her future and financial stability.   Even in this day and age, forcing an ex-spouse to pay child support and/or alimony is time consuming, pocketbook draining and so very emotional.  It takes years for the state's Attorney General to work on your case, they are apparently overloaded and if you do as we are, private attorney's are very costly.

On this day, I pray for Michelle and just ask what I have always asked, health and happiness for her and her children.   I know (even if she doesn't now) that she will survive and conquer these challenges and become a better and richer (not just $$$) person because of this time in her life.  She has already learned that she has become so much closer to her boys and they are happy, secure and very respectfully young men in spite of their current situation.  That reinforces the statement that Michelle is one of the best mothers I have ever known.  I love her and the boys ever so much and will always be on her side.  To quote Michelle "I have your back, Sweetie". 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Looking forward to 2012, it brings such great changes to our lives.  Now to plan (or not to plan) our days ourselves.  And to celebrate today with a new  little  baby in our home.  My nephew and his wife are visiting with their 4 month old little baby boy named Shane.  He is a so cute, plump, smiley and reminds me of his dad when he was that age.

Shane Sanchez
Who could not enjoy this great day with this little guy?