A trip to the store

walmart 3 A couple of days ago, I posted the above picture on my Facebook and Instagram. Fellow moms were sympathetic to my overflowing cart and let me know I’m not alone. So I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the actual trip behind the cart.

I’m going to start off by saying I have a serious love/hate relationship with Walmart. Yes, that was at Walmart! What do I love about that place? Well, it’s a one stop shop. Not only can I get food, but I can also get toilet paper and 12 gauge shotgun shells. All at the same store! Pretty amazing, right?!?! On to the hate part….. well, I hate that it’s always so crowded. And crowded with people who are quite the characters. Not everyone shopping there is “out there” but come on, we’ve all seen the “People of Walmart” pictures. And it’s totally true! Second, they seem to constantly be out of stock of specific items I go there to get. And third, it’s crowded. I know I already said that, but I really hate fighting my way down the aisles and waiting in long lines. I’m kind of a germaphobe and being so close to strangers freaks me out just a tad.

Aside from that, on this recent trip I knew I needed a lot of stuff because I hadn’t gone grocery shopping for at least a week and a half. My kids were pleading with me to go shopping because we had “nothing” in the house. So I knew I was in for picking up a big haul at the store. And since my kids were at school, I was all alone pushing the cart and the possibility of a second cart was completely out.

One item on my list was chicken food. And of course Walmart carries that!!! So I loaded that 40 pound bag under the cart but I was a little off and it was hanging off a bit. So I pulled on the bottom of the bag and tried to get it onto the cart better and lo and behold, the bag ripped off at the label and I slammed my arm into the cart. Let me back up a little and say that the day prior, Adam and I had played in the mom/pop softball tournament for our oldest daughter’s softball league. And who knew that playing softball was a full body exercise! I didn’t. So my whole entire body was aching. And slamming my already super sore arm on the cart just made me feel angry and like crying all at the same time. I hate you Walmart.

Next, I needed tissues. You know, Kleenex (but I like Puffs). And at this exact time, about 10 employees were rearranging that whole aisle and had put away the ENTIRE stock of tissue. So I had to ask and they had to go back and get it not only for me, but another woman who appeared as dismayed as I was that they’d removed the tissue!

On, and on I can go (they were out of stock of so many things I went there for) but it wasn’t my best shopping trip. I ended up spending $300+ and still wasn’t able to get everything I needed, simply because there was just no more room in my cart. It was miraculous that I got it all back into the cart after it was bagged up, but I do attribute that to my neat and orderly loading of the belt and packing of the cart.

But I did end up picking up a couple of items that are to die for!!! This frozen custard is bound to make me gain some unwanted pounds and these mini naans are perfect for little pizzas for the kids to take to school.

walmartwalmart 2Anyway, there’s always next week for more grocery shopping. #ihategroceryshopping Do you love grocery shopping as much as I do?

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Eating our way to & through Texas

donkeyHope you all had a wonderful Easter! I know I ate to my heart’s content.

So let me start out by saying that my blog has been a little neglected lately. As I recently mentioned, I’ve been a busy bee! We’ve been so fortunate that Hanky Planky has been keeping us incredibly busy!!! Plus, my kids were just on Spring Break and we took a trip to Texas. Again!! Simply put, we love Texas! And my brain has been on vacation mode and it’s been quite the chore to get back into the swing of things.

But since eating and food is a huge part of our lives, I thought I’d share with y’all (<—-see what I did right there) a little bit of our culinary adventures.

Our first night we stayed in Las Cruces, New Mexico where we ate some incredibly outstanding Mexican food. Can I get a holla for GREEN CHILE?!?! OMG, that stuff is good! We tried a new restaurant that happened to have a lot of cars out front and our bet paid off. For $10.95 I got a combo plate which included a chicken taco, chile verde, cheese enchilada, chile relleno (all smothered in green chile), rice & beans. It was a great deal and I ate almost everything!!! #gorge

new mexicanAfter that we headed over to Caliche’s Frozen Custard. Heavenly, creamy, delicious, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in my life. I’d make the drive there JUST to eat that custard. Seriously! Words almost can’t describe.

custardOur next stop was East Texas where we enjoyed the scenery on Lake Cypress Springs, as well as time with family. Our kids stayed outside almost the whole time and we were fortunate to have some really nice weather!!! Plus, we ate the best catfish I’ve ever tasted in my whole entire life! I’m not a big fish person because honestly, catfish tastes like dirt, but what we had there tasted nothing like what I’ve had in California! The whole time we were there, we spent our time canoeing on the lake, catching turtles, fishing, finding petrified wood, and just exploring.

lakelake 2catfishfish kissAfter that, we headed to North Texas to visit my BFF. To celebrate her husband’s birthday, it was requested that Adam make panko fried shrimp one night. He ended up cooking 51 HUGE shrimp. We did have 12 people there but 8 were little kids and surprisingly, we ate almost all of that. #gorgesomemore See how happy he looks to be wearing my friend’s apron? 🙂

adam shrimpme & laceyOn our last night, us adults had a date night and went to our favorite restaurant in Texas, Pappadeaux. Cajun seafood restaurant with huge portions and the best fondeux I’ve ever had in my LIFE! It has shrimp, crawfish, mushrooms and is creamy and decadent.

pappadeuxme & adamAnd of course, since we don’t have Cracker Barrel where we live and it’s pretty much a tradition that you have to eat there on a road trip, we ate there not once, but TWICE.

cracker barrel

And keeping with what seems to be our new annual tradition, we stopped at Rooster Cogburn Ranch in Arizona on our way home, hence the donkey at the top of the post! I’ve decided I must own a donkey one day.

I kept it short and sweet because honestly, we did so much and had such a great time, that I really couldn’t cover it all. But you get the idea. And how many pounds did I gain on this trip? Don’t know, but whatever it was, it was totally worth it!

It’s a New Year

13332015….. how did that happen?!?! For me, every year feels like it passes so much faster than the last. And this year came and went so quickly. So how did we end 2014?

Well, on New Year’s Eve, I was woken up at 3:30 am to an extremely excited, giant man child telling me that it was snowing outside. I’ve lived in So Cal for the last 25 years and have only seen it snow ONCE, and it barely stuck to the ground. So my grumpy self got up and looked out the window and saw, yes a little bit of snow. I got back in bed only for Adam (aka giant man child) to come back in 10 minutes later and tell me to look again. And it was snowing, like really snowing out. Fast forward to 5am and I’m woken up by my house phone ringing and it’s Adam. Except when I pick up the phone, he’s not there so I figured his stupid, once again broken phone accidentally called me. Back to sleep I went only to have my middle child come in at 6am and say it’s snowing. Yes, I heard that at 3:30am. I told her that was really cool (even though I thought there was barely anything on the ground) and I’d get up soon. 7am rolls around and Adam calls, AGAIN. He tells me to go outside and that when he left in the morning, it had really snowed a lot. I was not the happiest to say the least since I didn’t go to bed until almost midnight and was woken up repeatedly. After hanging up though, I finally dragged my ass out of bed and looked outside and WHAT THE HELL?!?! There was major snow in my neck of the woods!!! 1321We don’t own snow gear of course so we just went outside in our pajamas and boots. It really was like nothing I’ve ever seen. At least not here. I’ve been to the snow but my kids never have. And they absolutely loved it. The day was spent with them outside off and on because their little hands were turning red and frozen. So they kept coming back in to warm up. But it’s something we’ll never forget.

1346134313411329133413701366As for ringing in the New Year, we were of course pretty tired from the lack of sleep and the day’s activities so after spending an evening hanging out with some good friends, we headed home and I was out like a light. Dead asleep just after 11pm.

New Year’s Day brought some major changes in our house. We split up our two oldest girls who’ve shared a room for many years and moved our oldest into her own room. That was almost an all day affair because after having kids for 9 years, you accumulate an enormous amount of crap. We donated and threw away so much stuff. But the end result? Two happy girls who are excited for “bigger” rooms and their very own space.

And our annual New Year’s Day tradition of going to my parents house for fried pork chops, collard greens, black eyed peas and mashed potatoes continued. We stuffed ourselves (as we always do when we go over there) and were in bed watching TV by 8pm. It was a tiring couple of days!

Hoping you had a good NYE and New Year’s Day. 2015. Yep, it’s here!

Monster Hens in the Hen House

Over the summer, our backyard chickens really slowed down on their egg production. I figured it was the heat. But lo and behold, they started molting. This is when they lose a lot of feathers and egg laying slows down because it takes a lot of energy to grow new feathers. Well, at first I thought they were dying. They looked awful and well, they had lost a lot of feathers so they were looking skinny and unhealthy. And I guess they’d molted before because we’d noticed loss of feathers in the past, but not to this degree. A little research (Google answers all my questions!) and I discovered this was completely normal for the time of year.

Well, we patiently waited for them to start laying again. And then we impatiently waited. Adam wanted to cook them up for Thanksgiving. Seriously, if I’d allowed it, he would’ve made it happen. But no way! We’ve had these chickens for a few years now and they’re more pets than anything. Unless a zombie apocalypse happens and I run out of food. Then it’s winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Anyways, they finally stopped losing feathers and grew back their new ones and now they basically look like hens on steroids. They are huge and healthy looking and complete monsters now. They bock incredibly loud. So loud that I’m afraid my neighbors will call the police on my confused hens who seem to think they’re roosters. And they’ve been bocking early. Like 6:30 am early, and then bock off and on for like an hour. It’s pretty annoying. I’ve discovered that means they want to be let out of their coop to roam. And eat. They eat incessantly. And they started laying eggs again. And their eggs are enormous. And the shells are strong. I read that after molting, the quality of the eggs is much better. And it’s so true! Before, their shells were getting thin but now, it’s such a difference. They’re like whole new hens! It makes me wonder if someone experimented on them while I wasn’t looking because these hens are vocal, hungry and huge.

hens

Our flock of New Hampshire Reds

This is Large Marge. She lives up to her name and is our biggest hen and lays the BIGGEST eggs. She's pretty. Pretty freakin huge.

This is Large Marge. She lives up to her name and is our biggest hen and lays the BIGGEST eggs. She’s pretty. Pretty freakin huge.

Now that I have an abundance of eggs again, it’s time to make more egg dishes. Here are some of my favorite recipes to use eggs in:

Chilaquiles

Breakfast Quesadillas

Vanilla Bean Croissant French Toast

Chicken Apple Hash with Fried Eggs

eggs

This is the first egg they laid after molting was over. And that white one is a store bought large egg.

eggs 2

Monster eggs

eggs 3

This is only half of what I currently have. Eggs for days!

And for those of you who’ve thought about trying out the backyard chicken thing, I recommend it! If you have cool neighbors. And if you don’t, a carton of eggs will usually put a smile on their face. But seriously, they’re an easy, manageable pet, and their poop makes great fertilizer!

What’s Old Is New

It’s take many years to build up your kitchen inventory. One thing that was lacking for me for a long time was serving dishes/platters. I mean I had plates and stuff, but very few platters that I felt were really worthy of serving to company. Well, this year, I was gifted with the most beautiful platters and serving pieces, EVER. These things are old. And used. Maybe you’re turning your nose up at this, but I’m not. They may be old and used, but really, that’s code for vintage and well loved. And these awesome pieces are made of milk glass! It’s become my little obsession.

If you’re interested in having some gorgeous milk glass of your own, check out some local antique shops or as I’m fond of, shopping on a local exchange on Facebook. I think these pieces make great gifts also! So with Christmas right around the corner, milk glass may be that perfect, unique gift you’re looking for. Plus, it’s classic and timeless and will never go out of style. And the history of having an old piece is just an added bonus!

These two bowls are actually a punch bowl and base that function as smaller bowls as well.

These two bowls are actually a punch bowl and base that function as smaller bowls as well.

Now if this isn't the most beautiful punch bowl....

Now if this isn’t the most beautiful punch bowl….

My 9 year old arranged those flowers for me!

My 9 year old arranged those flowers for me!

And this is my most favorite platter, EVER. Love the scalloped edging.

And this is my most favorite platter, EVER. Love the scalloped edging.

Are You Thankful?

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. A lot of you are out shopping those awesome Black Friday deals. Which I’ll admit, I’ve never gone out and experienced because it seems pretty crazy out there. I’m more of an online person and I’ve gotten some great deals from the comfort of my office at home.

Aside from the shopping, I wanted to talk about being thankful and I’m going to be honest here. I feel like a lot of blogs are full of sunshine and rainbows. Simply put, the person penning the blog looks like they have a perfect life. I know I don’t want to read ALL of the negative going ons in your life, but I LOVE honesty. And a little more of it would be much appreciated so us normal people will actually feel normal, and not like our lives are so incredibly imperfect. So here’s a little honesty for you. And I hope you feel it’s refreshing.

I’m thankful for my smart, healthy and beautiful children. But you know what? They drive me crazy! You identify with that, don’t you? I know we all don’t have the patience of Michelle Duggar. I sure don’t. Bless her heart, but I wish I did. Not so though! The little people in my life cause gray hairs to sprout, give me splitting headaches and cause me to yell loud enough that my neighbors must think I’m on the edge. Sometimes, I feel close to it! But beneath all that, I love those little girls. I’d do anything for them. I’m grateful they’re mine.

I’m thankful for my husband and the health of myself and the people I love. I think these are two things that people overlook all the time. I really could go on and on about these subjects so I’ll leave it at that.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. We’ve had quite the interesting year. Family has exited our lives and old friends have returned. These situations have caused a lot of strong emotions to run high but I’ll say this… For the people who choose to be in my life and who I choose to include in my life, I’m thankful for them. And I think it’s a two way street for them as well.

I’m thankful for the roof over my head. Throughout the year, I complain about what’s broken, what needs fixing and so on. If you’re a homeowner, you understand. But really, I could have no home that needs updating, needs fixing or anything of the sort. So yes, I’m thankful to have a home.

Those are just a few things I wanted to mention. Here’s the thing though. Although it was Thanksgiving and I was reminded of what I needed to be thankful for, I’m not thankful everyday of the year. And I should be.

Are You Thankful?

What’s that smell?

drainWe’d been living with the strangest odor in our house for almost two weeks. And I was pretty sure it was coming from the kitchen sink. Now let me give you a little back story here real quick so you can understand why I had come to that conclusion.

Our kitchen sink has clogged and backed up a few times in recent months and this last time was the worst of all. Long story short, my very handy husband saved us $500 by chiseling out the stucco on the OUTSIDE of our house to find the clean out valve for the kitchen sink. Seems like 20+ years ago, the builder of our house decided to stucco OVER the clean out valve. After getting some plumbing quotes and discovering that we had a more serious problem than just a standard clog, my hubs took the matter into his own hands and knocked out the stucco and found the clean out valve in the wall. He was able to use an auger and put it in the clean out valve (which we were told is the proper way to clean a clog) and he even installed a little door over the valve on the outside wall to make it look nice. Of course this all could’ve been avoided if the builder had done their job properly…..

Anyways, shortly after that incident, I noticed a horrid odor coming out of the sink area. Like sweet, rotten, nasty dirty dog smell. We figured it was rotten food remnants stuck in the pipes or the disposal so we tried a drain cleaner. Didn’t work. I even tried the trusty old school method of baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. In case you’re not familiar with this, it really does work great for small clogs and odors.

1/2 cup of baking soda is poured into the drain. Followed by about 1 cup of white vinegar. Let that sit awhile (maybe half an hour) then pour in a small pot of boiling water. If the clog’s not too bad, it should clear it right out as well as freshen things up odor wise.

So anyways, that method didn’t do anything either. I used those lemon plink balls. Nada! I finally resorted to using lots of air fresheners which really did nothing but add to the “sweet” rotten smell. I really didn’t know where to go from there.

Sunday morning rolls around and we’ve had a busy weekend and my husband is wanting a nice breakfast. So I get up early and start cooking so we can have a big breakfast before church. Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy. That was on the menu. So I’ve got the bacon and biscuits in the oven. Getting ready to start the gravy on the stovetop and needed to break my eggs into a bowl because I really wanted scrambled eggs. Well if you didn’t know this, we have chickens in our backyard so we always have fresh eggs. Unfortunately it’s been so hot here and my girls haven’t been laying that much. So I only had four eggs in my basket (which I keep on the counter) but I figured that was enough. I started rinsing them off and cracking them into the bowl and when I get to the last egg, it’s stuck to the basket. Weird. I grab it a little harder and it just explodes! But not like yolk and all that splatters me. Just a huge puff of air, like it had been compressed. This is followed by the most horrible odor I could have ever imagined. Then black liquid starts oozing out of the egg and onto the countertop.

I tried my best to clean it up but I started dry heaving uncontrollably. So loud in fact that my husband yells down the stairs and wants to know what is wrong with me! I tell him there’s black stuff coming out of the egg and it smells disgusting. He comes down and like my knight in shining armor, cleans it all up. The smell is so bad we have to open all the windows and turn the fan on. He also comes to the conclusion that the egg was cracked on the bottom and air had gotten in, causing the egg to slowly rot and reach a point somewhere past rancid.

After the clean up, my hubs asks me if I thought the egg was the smell and not actually the sink. Hmmm….. good idea! The smell is so bad though that I figure once it all clears out and we get home from church, we’ll be able to tell.

Fast forward a couple hours later and we walk into a stink free kitchen. So almost two weeks of enduring rotten kitchen stink funk, only for it to end up being a rotten egg sitting on the counter next to the sink.

And just like that, there went my dreams of being a detective….