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Life as Lou

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The Lazy Chef: Laid Back Cooking For Hot Summer Days!

  • June 29, 2012 10:48 pm

Today I am doing another cooking with Augason Farms post! It has been a hard post to write, not because I can’t put my thoughts together, but because it is summer and I don’t feel like cooking!  So I decided to do my post around the theme of not wanting to cook, because I know I can’t be alone in that thought.  The only real problem with my not wanting to cook is that I still want to eat. And my children REALLY want to eat, pretty much all of the time.

I looked through my pantry at all of my food storage and I tried to find the very most simple, yet satisfying products.  I started out with this yummy blueberry muffin mix.  My kids can inhale muffins in seconds, and always want more, so I really like how you can make as many or as few muffins as you want with the number ten can mix.  Also, this mix is simple enough that my ten year old can make the muffins while I put my feet up in the backyard and enjoy summer.  I love that the only ingredient you need is water because it keeps the mess low, and it keeps me from making any last minute trips to the store. It is also easy to dress up with fresh blueberries- just drop them into the muffin cups and they go from good to amazing!

We have been doing a lot of traveling this summer, visiting grandparents and spending time at our cabin. The funny thing about the cabin is that it is so remotely located that if you get caught up there in a rain storm, you can’t leave.  My husband’s cousin spent three days up there once before finally sliding down the mountain roads (dangerous) and leaving huge ruts in the road (destructive and expensive to fix!).  While some food is always kept up a the cabin, it would quickly get to be slim pickin’s with a family my size. So I brought up two Augason Farms mixes- one for Almond Poppy Seed Muffins and one for Scrambled Eggs.  I chose these two items because almost everybody likes these two foods, and both mixes were very simple to make and only required water. There aren’t a lot of stores up at the top of an almost uninhabited mountain, so running out for that extra ingredient is not an option.  I added these to the mountain cupboards with a note written in sharpie across the top “For Emergency Only- Only Eat This If You Cannot Get Off The Mountain”.  Just having those two cans there would be enough for two or three good meals if we were to get stranded in a storm.

Also handy for traveling are the snack items!  I can put together great, inexpensive road treats for my kids just by cracking open granola, banana slices and freeze fried pineapple chunks.  Any of the fruits would be tasty, but we are fond of the pineapple.  This picture is a little dark because I was packing these treats at ten o’clock at night the day before we left town.  That is the beauty of food storage!  It can be ten o’clock at night when you realize you need something NOW and it is already there.

My last super fast meal idea for you is Chili Cheese Dogs.  I love these, as do my children. I’m vacationing at my in-laws and since it is nice for me to cook at least a few of the meals while we are here, I brought an every day sized can of the Augason Farms Southwest Chili Mix.  This is really good stuff.  It also comes in a number 10 can, great for if you are cooking for a large group.  (Think family reunion). I love making chili from scratch, but that takes forever.  This sets up in fifteen minutes, and is a major crowd pleaser. It also makes me look like I worked harder than I did.  I slather the hot dog in chili and garnish with shredded cheese and chopped onions. SO good. It also cleans up in seconds since it is all in one can and one pot.  In fact, it cleans up so quickly that before i was done serving dinner yesterday, my mother in-law had already cleared away my can, so it isn’t in the picture.  You’ll have to check it out with the above links instead.

This edition of Cookin’ With Augason Farms brought to you by one seriously lazy summer cook- because finger lickin’ food shouldn’t take all day!  Go check out their 40th Anniversary Celebration and give yourself a break this summer!

Bamboletta Hair: French Braided Styles

  • June 15, 2012 2:32 pm

Today we are looking at french braiding yarn hair and using this pretty Bamboletta doll, Maggie, as our model.  This doll was created to look just like my daughter Maggie- and when Maggie got her for Christmas way back in 2008, Maggie named her Maggie, because, “Mom! It’s ME!!!!!”  Pretty cute. I thought Christina at Bamboletta got the doll made perfectly- super sweet with a discernible dab of mischief and ardent intelligence.

This style is really pretty simple, and you can dress up a lot of styles by french braining parts or all of the hair. If you already know how to do french braids, you will find this tutorial very easy. If not, don’t despair- for some reason, I can’t french braid people hair to save my life, but I’m just fine on dolls.  So there is hope! Dolls are don’t wiggle, yelp and are totally willing to stand upside down if that position makes it easier for you. As with all yarn styles, the trick is to keep the seams hidden, and the hair looking as full as possible.

To get started, pull small sections of hair from all three main seams (top, middle, bottom) and do one initial three strand, criss cross rotation to form the beginning of a basic braid.   With each new strand that you move into the braid, pick up just a few bits of yarn and add it to the three main pieces you are making the braid from.  You will want to make sure you grab them from the top and bottom- you can get some from the center, but I usually go for more from the sides.  If you leave the center alone, the non-braided part will look fuller.

You can see how I am adding just a bit with each new twist, and see how the sides are being pulled into the braid down the center.

Keep this going until you get the front section braided, and then tie it off with a ribbon or band or just wrap a few strands of the yarn around it snugly.  If you want to do braids all the way down, then keep going until you reach the bottom of the hair.

At this point, if you want to top it off with messy buns, pull the braided section behind and around, then twist the hair until it forms a bun and secure.

You can add ribbons or flowers to dress it up or down.

 

Or you can just leave it down.  I like to wrap some hair around the band holding the front bits, and then tighten it up so it forms two little fountains.  I actually really like this style- it seem very spunky, Punky Brewster to me. (Now you know how old I am!)

I know it was similar to last week’s fishtail, but don’t despair- next week we will do something funky and fun- cornrows and cornrow styles!

In Which I Most Certainly Will NOT Include A Photo

  • June 11, 2012 10:48 pm

I love my mother dearly.

I also love her mother, my strong, sharp, flippin’ hilarious grandmother, who I sometimes miss so much I can’t breathe.

And today I was thinking about something that happened with them back when Jonas was just barely one year old- that’s almost nine years ago, people.

There is the most beautiful beach in Pacifica, CA.  It is about a mile away from another nice, but super crowded beach that I liked to go walking on in what now seems like a past life.  Chris was trying to take me to the second beach when we stopped too early and found the first beach.  There are about a hundred old wooden steps down from the highway to this very secluded, very private beach, nestled between two cliffs. It is picture perfect, serene, and utterly unspoiled- and there is almost never anyone there.

That’s because it’s a clothing-optional beach.

So, with this information, I couldn’t help but take my mother on a little trip over there when she visited. Because- there was never anyone there when we visited before, and it was truly lovely, and wouldn’t it be so fun to watch my mom’s face when I told her what kind of beach she was at?  Never miss an opportunity to shock your mama- especially if you are really pretty straitlaced and not very shocking at all, like my goodie two shoes self.  I don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to see my mom’s eyebrows jump all the way to her hairline.

So down the stairs we went, me, mom and my baby boy, all the way to the bottom, and we were rewarded for our efforts because, indeed, it was as perfectly pristine as remembered.

And then Mr. Naked As A Jaybird walked around the corner of the cliff.

Cue MY eyebrows hitting my hairline, and my mother giggling at MY expression (I honestly don’t know why I try).

Well, this guy was awfully naked.  All he had on was a floppy hat covering his balding head. I have no idea why he bothered with that cap. I’d be considerably more worried about a sunburned willy than skin cancer on my ears, but what do I know? The guy wasn’t anything special to view in the nude, but also not disgusting, and it was, after all, the kind of beach where guys go when they have a thing for airing out their privates, so not really all that shocking.  So, I figured- well, what the heck.  Why let one wanker ruin a perfectly good beach trip?

We continued to enjoy our afternoon, snapping a few pictures, taking in the ocean lapping at the shoreline, and watching (because we really had no choice, and honestly, how can you NOT look), at this guy meandering around the beach, with his dopey Gilligan hat on, sand between his toes and heaven only knows where else, and his Johnson flying at what can only be described as. . .half mast.  At least, for his sake, I hope it was half mast.

It was a great day for a few beach pictures, and since my mother and I just can’t help ourselves when it comes to photo-taking, we had to bring out the camera and get a few cute shots of me and my little boy, and grandma at the beach, waves hitting the shoreline, the beautiful cliffs.

Figuring that I could still have the last laugh, I took the camera and with great stealth and deception, I pretended to take a picture of my very nice family members, but instead- I took a picture of our nude friend.  With my mother’s camera.  And I didn’t tell her about it.

This was not a digital camera.

I can only imagine what the North Dakota developer thought when he processed my mother’s California vacation photos.

She picked up the photos on the way to meet my grandmother for lunch, flipped through the stack and was shocked.  Mission accomplished.

Then she intentionally put the naked guy back into the pile of respectable vacation memories, sat down with Grandma for lunch and handed her the stack of photos. (Certain traits seem to be genetic.)

Well, Grandma was having a great time remarking on the cuteness of the baby, the pretty daughter and grand daughter, the picturesque beach. . .and then she yelped, pressed the photos to her chest to hide them from view, and looked around wildly to see if anyone saw that she was looking at dirty pictures in the middle of a restaurant.

It is one of my deepest regrets that I was not there to see this.

My mom said they both had a good laugh over it.  Then they mailed me a copy of the picture.

To this day I can’t picture it without giggling.

 

Whatever Blows Your Dress Up. . .Or Your Hair

  • June 9, 2012 11:01 pm

Fishtail Doll Braids

  • June 7, 2012 10:39 pm

double fishtail braids modeled by Peony

Maggie likes to have me do her dolly’s hair, and is forever requesting more and more complex styles, far above the usual pony tails and simple braids.  I don’t mind this because I actually find doing doll hair really relaxing, which might be kind of weird, but what can you do?  I also like to keep her dolls’ hair styled because dolls with crazy, free flowing locks usually turn into dolls with nasty, matted, broken, snarl bombs that take forever to de-tangle and de-crud. I fix Maggie’s bum length blonde hair for the exact same reason.

Doll hair is different from people hair in that is typically doesn’t come straight out of the scalp, but is often sewn in in layers, and that can make it challenging to translate your usual hair-dos, because when you pull hair from one area, it exposes the “scalp”.  It can look particularly weird on dolls with yarn locks, like this pretty Bamboletta. I’ve sat down and figured out a few ways to make some fun styles work, and I figured, what the heck- my blog readers are used to me being totally random-so I’ll just do a post or three on some of these styles I’ve worked up while doing my mothering duty.

I’m going to start with this fishtail braid, because it is quite simple, but looks neat enough to make people wonder how you did it.  I do Maggie’s hair like this from time to time.  The main trick is to take just a very small amount of hair from the back each time.  I would love to see how this looks on a doll with rainbow tresses!

Start by getting a firm grip on your doll.  My chubby thighs work great for this.  Then part your doll’s hair down the center using your fingers, and work with just one section at a time. You can see how the yarn is stitched in there in layers that you don’t really want to have showing.  There is a layer dead center of the forehead, at the “ear” and one right in the middle. On a people-style fishtail braid, you would grab a huge section of hair, divide it all into two and go to town, on this, you need to be a little more strategic, and start off with a bit of a french braid style fishtail.  Take a small amount of hair on each side, and divide the center into two equal parts, as shown above.

At this point, you want to grab a very small amount of hair from one side (2-3 strands of yarn) and cross it over to the other hand.

Then do it again but from the other side.  Don’t worry if this looks odd now, it takes a few repetitions to make this start looking like a braid.

Keep taking just a little hair from one side and crossing it over into your other hand, left hair to right hand, right hair to left hand. Your hands will slowly have more hair in them with each repetition.

It won’t take too long before you see the fishtail pattern, and all the seams are hidden under the pretty braid.  You can decide now if you want to fishtail all the way to the ends, or if you just want to stylishly pull the front back.  I like to just do the front.

Once you get a good start, you will realize that you are holding two very large hunks of hair, and that there isn’t much to cover the seams in the back, on top of which, your braids are getting a little chunky and slightly out of control. Just reach underneath (while keeping the strands separated) and gently pull the bottom half of the hair away from the braid, as shown.  This will make her hair much fuller looking, and cover seam lines.

Doesn’t she look pretty?  Nice and full in the back, but spunky and ready for action in the front!

Up next- french braided messy buns- or as we like to call it, “Flower Girl Hair”.

 

Thoughts On The Dead, As Penned By The Living

  • June 6, 2012 9:58 pm

bleeding hearts, grown in my mother's garden

The day after school got out I packed up the kids and headed home to North Dakota.  It was a quiet trip, relaxing and free from so many of the obligations that usually exist when a person goes home, and I had time to do some things I had wanted to do for a long time.

I got to visit the cemeteries where my family is buried and that was really wonderful, but also emotional.  I haven’t been out there in many years, not since before my grandmother passed away, and it used to be something I did yearly.  You know how when you grow up you move away and find you miss the oddest things?  Well, I have found every Memorial Day especially hard because we always spent them visiting these graves and remembering and honoring our ancestors and those who served our country, and being so disconnected from all these people I loved stirred something in me that was really uncomfortable to deal with.

I feel a responsibility to take care of these graves and to pass that knowledge and memory down to younger generations. I understood the sacredness of grave sites as a very little girl, piece by piece, maturing through countless visits with generations of my family’s women by my side, sharing histories and tears, silently teaching the stoic acceptance I’ve come to find comfort in. This dedication is something born in me- and not something I know how to pass on any other way.

My children visited with us this trip and I was pleased to see them interested and respectful at an appropriate level to their age, particularly my daughter, who expressed such fascination with the engravings and the names and dates.  These hallowed grounds are perfectly mitered into my heart, into the reality of who I am and where I came from. At one cemetery alone, I find myself surrounded by two sets of grandparents, great grandparents and my brother. At another, the generations go back much farther. It makes sense to me that I would eventually end up resting there as well- the cowboy song lyrics, “bury me not on the lone prairie,” always made me laugh a bit- because the lone prairie outside of Enderlin, ND is precisely where I wanted to be buried.

Of course, I am a grown married woman.  I have moved away, and it is likely that even my own parents will end up in a different plot of land all together . My husband wants to be interred in Manti- and I understand that desire- his family are all there. I am part of that family now, and so it follows I would rest there as well. As macabre as it sounds, I find myself wondering if they could just cut me in half- just as split between families in death as I am in life.  It would be gory, yes, but fitting nonetheless.

What bothers me most is that I will someday be left motherless and likely live too far away to visit those graves.  This ancient practice of respect and connectedness for one’s ancestors will lie squarely on my shoulders, and I will almost undoubtedly default on those responsibilities due to the practicalities of the living.  I do have siblings who could be there, but they will both likely live even farther away, and have even less reason to return to a home with no living relatives, and I feel that the responsibility has always been mine, as if assigned in some predetermined destiny.

The scriptures say to let the dead take care of the dead- and I get that. You can’t sacrifice your life on the alters of the dead.  It isn’t right or reasonable, and certainly wouldn’t reflect what my family would want. But I feel that someday all this will be forgotten, and that much of that forgetfulness will stem from my own choices to leave the land I was raised in. The sod generations of my family broke and planted and created lives on year after year will cease to be home, and the graves will become overgrown, cracked in the harsh winters, and ultimately forgotten.

I’m sure many of the people whose mortal shells lie in these graves understand why my heart is wrenched by this.  After all, they left their native homes in Norway and Germany, places where generations go back hundreds of years, to immigrate to America. They knew they would never return, and I can’t imagine saying goodbye to both the living and the dead with such a sense of finality.  I wonder how deeply they ached when they received news of their parents passing. I wonder if they wept because they couldn’t press flowers into the mounds of earth that covered so much of what they held dear. An ocean must have seemed like an eternity, as unreachable as heaven from earth.

Sometimes I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle of that ocean, reality steering me to safe moorings, but with pieces of myself left wandering on distant shores.