This post says move a lot…

We didn’t make it to the trailer over the weekend, so I don’t have any pictures to share with you. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you have probably seen that I have been working on a few new recipes.

I have started to amass quite the collection of recipes, actually. I am still tweaking and working on many of them. We are working on our plans to get our move moved along. We are fairly certain that we can be moved within the next month.

You’re probably asking yourself, what do moving and my collection of recipes have in common? For one thing, there is that kitchen. I was telling you about it in Moving on the other day. I can imagine how prep work, cooking and baking are all going to flow in that kitchen. It’s important for a chef to be comfortable in their kitchen and have a work space that flows seamlessly from prep to cook to serve. Being able to move around your kitchen and never miss a beat can mean the difference between delicious and ruined.

The other important thing for any good chef is to have utensils, cookware, and appliances they know and love. Your tools are an extension of you in the kitchen. All of my tools have been in storage these last couple of years. When we moved in to Granny’s house, almost everything we own went into storage.

When we are finally moved into our own space again, we will have everything out of storage. I will finally have all of my kitchenware. I will have everything I need to finally start putting together the cookbook. If I’m lucky, I may be able to release it in time for Christmas. How awesome would that be?


Moving on

Recently, we’ve been faced with a few hard choices to make. My husband won in court, proving that he was the rightful heir to his grandmother’s house and belongings. At the same time, the estate let the house fall into foreclosure. It sold in a sheriff’s sale around the same time as the judge made his final ruling.

We had to decide if we wanted to fight for the house, redeem the house, or relinquish the house to the gentleman who won it at auction. While we were debating which was our best option, we received a call from our back up plan. They have a trailer, it’s totally free with a $250 security deposit for the lot. The catch; it needs a bit of work.

Knowing we need to keep our options open, we decided to go and check it out. It was a mess. There was trash from one end of the trailer to the other. There was food left in the fridge and on the floors. Ultimately, it took almost a dozen trash bags when my husband headed over there to clean it out. Bless his heart that he went alone and not once has he complained.

Looking past the garbage, there was a collection of unfinished home improvement projects. They had started to lay Pergo flooring in the kitchen. It’s beautiful. They didn’t know what they were doing. There are gaps and skipped sections and loose boards allover.

The carpet in the front bedroom looks fairly new. It’s tacked down, but it’s not tucked. This carpet may be salvageable. The little half bath needs new tile and it needed a new faucet. The toilet leans a little to the left. There is a nice cabinet hung above the toilet. The french doors hang a little crooked and one falls off whenever you open it towards the bathroom. In the bedroom, a mini wall has been erected to divide the closet in half, leaving an alcove perfect for a dresser on one side and a nice sized closet on the other. The doors are gone but the tracks remained. I removed the tracks and we will be leaving it as an open alcove style closet for now. We always have the option to change our minds. There is a beautiful window composed of square foot blocks of glass. This will be a perfect room for our daughter.

Leaving her room, you enter the living room. It’s a decently sized square room. There is a window looking out over the porch and the front door. A little coat closet sits adjacent to the front door. The carpet is beat up and doesn’t cover the entire room. The little entry way features missing and broken tiles. There is another window directly across from the front entrance. It almost covers the entire wall.

From there, you enter the kitchen and dining area. Picture the kitchen as the tall part of an L and the dining area as the short horizontal piece. This is where my dreams start to come true. I can start to imagine working in this room. The dining room features this beautiful alcove with cabinets on the bottom, a counter, and then open shelves above. There is a wall socket above the counter. I can picture storing all of my wonderful kitchen appliances in this alcove. The counter is a perfect place to set up my slow cooker or my bread machine. With a good tub, I could even set my ice cream maker up over there.

The kitchen is long and efficient. On the right hand side, just around the corner from that beautiful alcove, is a decent sized counter with a large open cabinet below. A small shelf has been placed inside, but it’s not connected to anything. This space will be perfect for all my pots and pans, large and small. Above is regular cabinets with shelving. There is an electrical outlet.

To the left, walking into the kitchen with the dining room to your right, is the stove alcove. There is a hood with working fan and light and small cabinets above it. There is a counter with open space beneath. We assume they were considering putting in a dishwasher or perhaps stored a connect to the sink portable dishwasher in the space. It will be used to keep Bear B out of the trash until we do install a dishwasher. There are standard kitchen cabinets above the counter. There is a double sink after that. There is a window above the sink and florescent lighting hidden behind the paneling. There is an outlet on either side of the sink. There’s more counter space after that with cabinets above and below. The fridge is nestled between that counter and the wall. The fridge is a dream, featuring a right side fridge and a left side double freezer. There are tubs and baskets and storage spaces galore in there. Adjacent to the fridge at the very top of the L is a walk in pantry with shelving galore. The panel to the like new water heater is in this pantry.

From the kitchen, you go around the corner to the hallway. Just before you turn into the hallway, there is a closet with floor to ceiling shelving. Perfect for a linen closet and perhaps the copious amount of board games that we own. As you turn down the hall, the furnace closet is to the left. Beside that is the washer hook-up followed by the dryer hook-up. Unfortunately, I will need a new dryer because it is electric hook-up and mine is gas. Above that is standard laundry room cabinetry. Across from the laundry area is a nice sized window.

To the right is a second door to outside. The backdoor, so to speak. This will probably be Bear B’s door. To the left is the bathroom and straight ahead is a bedroom. When you walk into the bathroom, the toilet is to the left and the shower against the far wall after that. Directly across from the doorway is the sink. It has decent counter space. The selling point is the corner cabinets with lots of shelving inside and mirrored doors. The floor is covered in mismatched tiles and a few of them are missing. The shower has two shower heads, and I look forward to giving it a try.

Lastly, we come to the back bedroom. This will be my husband’s and mine. Currently, the carpet covers about 3/4ths of the room. They were attempting to build some strange platform in the closet. I’m not really sure what that’s about, but the building materials for it are good, and they never actually nailed it into place, so my husband will be able to repurpose a lot of it.

When they turned the water on, plumbing started to blow from the pressure. We will need to replace most if not all of it. The ceiling is soft in places and there have definitely been some leaks. My husband is just going to replace all of the ceiling. Taking it down will allow him to check for mold and leaks from the inside. Almost all of the windows and frames need to be replaced.

You have to be able to see the dream. As you can tell by my colorful description, the kitchen is where I live my dream in a home. Everyone has that one spot that makes a home theirs. This kitchen is absolutely perfect to me, or so I’m imagining. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we move in. The plumbing needs to be fixed, the ceilings need to be removed so we can be certain there is no mold, and the place needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom. Everything else can be done after we move in.

I am blessed to have a husband who knows what he’s doing. He’s worked on many crews over the years learning many different bits of the trade. Those jobs may not have been the perfect fit for him, but they prepared him for this next project.

It’s sad to be walking away from his grandmother’s home. It’s hard to decide to let it go. I know that it must be incredibly painful and difficult for him. Our daughter is going to have a hard time leaving behind the place that holds all her memories with her great-grandmother. This is all especially hard having spent the last year of her life living here and caring for her.

But we know that we have to move on. It’s time to leave that part of our lives behind us. It’s time to get on with rebuilding our lives and starting over. Does our new place have its downfalls? Sure. There is a lot of work that needs to go into it. There is only two bedrooms, leaving our son to crash in the living room for the time being. It’s  a fresh start. It’s a new beginning. It’s what we need.

I will try to remember to take some pictures this weekend when we head out there to (hopefully) get some more work done. Keep an eye on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for updates on our progress.


TBT: Have you seen Blue?

You know me. I’m not very trendy. I don’t participate in things like Throwback Thursday very often. I just don’t think about it, really.

Last night, I came across this video in my Facebook newsfeed. If you had a child in the nineties or were born in the nineties, chances are you know the iconic blue puppy and her owner Steve.

My son was born in ’97. Nick Jr. was often on the TV while my toddler son played on the living room floor. Being honest, it was mostly me watching. He’d occasionally look up from his line of toys, usually matchbox cars or blocks and occasionally both. That’s how he played. Making perfect lines as far around the house as they could go, lining up each toy and adjusting until it was absolutely perfect before moving on to the next.

He didn’t really engage in the TV shows the way they were intended. He didn’t sing for Backpack as Dora and Boots asked for help, though Backpack was definitely his favorite character. He rolled his eyes and went back to playing while the map sang it’s annoying ditty. He had a good laugh when they encountered things like the giant chicken, and he always wanted Mom to do the chicken dance, but he never participated himself.

Blue’s Clues Intro

As soon as they announced that it was time for Blue’s Clues, he’d abandon whatever he was into. He’d be glued to the TV. He’d respond to Steve’s questions, he’d shout when he found a clue, and he’d get up and skidoo with Steve regularly. He was engaged. He even had  his own designated thinking chair. Steve Burns did an awesome job of reaching out through the TV and making it feel like you were a part of something. Often times, I’d find myself replying, too.

The Moth Presents Steve Burns: Fameishness

Steve Burns talks about being that person to millions of kids around the world and what happened when he became one of People Magazine‘s most eligible bachelors including his date with a Playboy Bunny.  Steve Burns is still an awesome entertainer.

Now it’s time for so long

My son’s nineteen now, but he still gets a smile on his face whenever something Blue’s Clues related comes up. It’s that same grin he had when he was just a toddler. I hope I have put a similar smile on many of your faces.

Now it’s time for so long, but we’ll sing just one more song. Thanks for doing your part, you sure are smart…

Recipe: Cheesy Potatoes

I am feeling a bit better about things today. I thought I’d stop by and share the recipe for the cheesy potatoes I made for Easter this year.

Normally, I spend weeks planning my holiday menu and grocery shopping list. This year, aside from purchasing a ham, I did not make any such menu plans.

To be honest, I just used the glaze packet that was included with our spiral sliced ham. The rest of the menu was built from things I had on hand. I ended up serving the ham, these cheesy potatoes, dinner rolls, and pineapple tidbits. I made from scratch brownies for dessert.

Funny story about the dinner rolls. I thought I had a canister of flour behind the current canister, which only had about a cup and a half of flour in it. When I pulled out the canister, it contained a half a bag of powdered sugar. My yeast was already proofing in the bowl, and my husband had to make an emergency run to the grocery store. The yeast proofed in warm water/milk and a little bit of sugar for almost an hour. They were large, but kind of dense. I’m not sure if it was the recipe (a new recipe I nabbed off Facebook) or if it was the yeast over-proofing.

So, needless to say, these from scratch cheesy potatoes were the shining star of Easter dinner this year. The recipe was so very easy to pull together and it was made entirely from ingredients I almost always have on hand.

Cheesy Potatoes

3 lbs potatoes, cubed (I used a blend of red and yellow potatoes)

4 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced (I used a large yellow onion)
1 tsp garlic, minced (I like to keep a jar of minced garlic in olive oil on hand)

3 tbsp Wondra (you can substitute all-purpose flour)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika

2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I had colby jack and sharp cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9×13 baking dish. (I like to use coconut oil)

Place potatoes in a pot and cover them with water. Toss in some kosher salt if desired. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for about 8-10 minutes. Potatoes will still be firm. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add in garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Whisk in Wondra and seasonings. Cook, whisking constantly, until golden in color. Whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking often to prevent sticking. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in 2 cups of cheese. Continue whisking and simmering until cheese is full melted and incorporated.

Pour cheese sauce over potatoes and stir gently to coat. Pour cheesy potatoes into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly, potatoes are cooked through, and the top is starting to golden.

Cook’s Note:  You can make these cheesy potatoes ahead. Follow recipe all the way until you cover them with foil. Place covered potatoes in refrigerator until ready to make. For best results, leave refrigerated potatoes on the counter for about 30 minutes before placing them in the preheated oven.

I apologize that I don’t have any pictures of these delicious potatoes. As you know, I’m terrible about remembering to take pictures, especially before I dig into my plate. My family said that these were the best cheesy potatoes I have ever made. Some of the best recipes are inspired by what the cook had on hand at the moment.


Just another black sheep story…

Hi guys. I hope everyone who celebrates had a nice Easter. Sorry I haven’t been on much lately. It seems like everything that can go wrong will go wrong over at the trailer right now. Mostly, it’s a plumbing issue. They connected pipes with wrong size fittings. The pipes themselves consist of a collection of galvanized steel, copper, pvc, rubber hoses, and hoses meant for rv/camper plumbing. It’s a mess, so the husband is having to start at one end and basically repipe almost the entire system. He sees a vision, I see a lot of work I don’t know how to do. Life is definitely an adventure married to that man.

I’ve told you before that holidays are hard for me. It’s down to just the four of us now. For me, it’s mostly just cooking an extra fancy meal for the same three people I’ve been feeding for what seems like forever now.

I’ve been disowned by essentially my entire family. I don’t know why. None of them even have the decency to tell me why. They just don’t talk to me anymore. I still talk to my father on a semi regular basis. He tries to fix the rift between my mother and I. The thing is, I think it’s always been there. Maybe she suffered from postpartum depression when she had me. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure she never bonded with me. I’ve always known that my relationship with my mother was different than her relationship with my sisters.

I have four sisters. One of them is older than me. I remember her and mom being like best friends when I was a kid. They talked about everything. They had so much in common. I’m the second oldest. We are almost four years apart. I was almost seven when our middle sister was born. She was mom’s favorite. She was like a little doll. She clung to mom and hated to let her out of her site. Mom says I pushed her away when I was a baby, never wanting her to hold me. I bet that a child who never wanted to be put down was a refreshing change. She was also mom’s right hand man after my parents divorced shortly following my eighteenth birthday.

I was twelve when the twins were born. The older twin is the only of my four sisters that I still talk to. When the twins were born, there was an emergency between their births. The first twin was born vaginally while the second came by emergency c-section. This brought the older one home earlier than our baby sister. She was mine. I babysat a lot. I spent a lot of time with her. I was present for the birth of her son. I was holding one of her legs while the father held the other one. My relationship with her has always been different, but it didn’t mean I loved the rest of my sisters any less.

A while back, I had deleted the one sister I still talk to off of my Facebook. It was hurting too much to watch my family’s lives go on without me. It was a wrong choice to make. It served it’s purpose, though. I missed knowing that the other twin had gotten married, and I hadn’t gotten so much as an announcement. I hated missing out on my niece and nephew’s moments as they were shared on Facebook. I hated not seeing their cute pics and videos.

Recently, my sister added me back on her Facebook. I’d missed them terribly, so, of course, I accepted. Which brings me to why I am writing this post now. I was having a hard time with Easter. I was feeling sad and lonely and missing the large holidays of my childhood surrounded by laughter and conversation. I was missing being a part of something bigger than me. I was scrolling through Facebook (a place I wouldn’t have been if I were surrounded by family and fun) when that baby sister I still talk to posted pictures from our middle sister’s wedding.

It was like being stabbed through the heart. I didn’t know there could be a pain so great. By the time dinner rolled around, I was telling my husband and kids that this might just be the last Easter I ever do. It was just too painful.

Yesterday, the pain was still so great. I had a conversation via text with my dad. Mostly, I did the talking. I told him he has to stop trying to push me back into that family. I told him that he needs to not include me in those group chats anymore. I told him that I love him and he’s my dad and he’s so important to me. I told him he needs to just accept and understand that my family is just smaller than his family is.

At the peak of the pain, I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. I called my baby sister. The one I still talk to. She answered the phone and I immediately asked her, will I be invited to your wedding? I had to ask her three times because I was crying so hard she couldn’t even understand me. By the end of my conversation with her, I felt much better. The cry and the chat were a cathartic blend for me.