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Put It Away


My BLog


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Spring babies, Spring projects

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (104)
Baby chicks! My husband bought an incubator at the flea market. he tried it for the first time this year and it worked!
Same chicks, but now they are bigger.
Spring has come! We have had many spring days in the 60s and 70s. The daffodils have bloomed and now the Irises are starting to bloom. However, here in Oklahoma, nature never gives in easily…it snowed last week! And then had a late freeze and all our corn peeking up about four inches high…froze. The tips of many of the flowers froze as well. And the peach and pear trees were blooming during the freeze so that probably means no or little fruit.
The grass is greening up, though; leaves are growing on the trees, and even the air smells different. We have been doing a lot of work outside. We have a round garden with a large River Birch in it in the front of the house. We have tried different plants, but nothing has done well in that garden, so we decided to just turn it into a rock garden.
Actually, we have been down-sizing on the gardens in the past few years. I love my flowers and like to create flower arrangements, but I am simply tired of weeding. Time to have fewer gardens.
We also took out another garden in the backyard. There was a garden right next to the patio and we are building stairs up the balcony…the garden is now gone and there are stairs there. The plants were moved to a place where there is erosion, so that should help that area.
And I am so excited about the stairs. We have a balcony, but never use it because the only way to get to it is to go upstairs, into one of the bedrooms, and then out the door. That is not practical when we have company.
The balcony has a great view. It overlooks our property, out over the lake, and at night you see all the lights of Oklahoma City. It will be fun to use it.
We also extended the roof by the living room where our fireplace is. We stack wood there every winter and have to cover it with plastic to keep it dry. Now there is a roof. Yay! Another patio for the summer and protection in the winter.
We also brought manure and put it on the vegetable garden. Fito and the children planted strawberries (we lost all our plants in the drought), cabbage, potatoes, onions, corn, carrots, squash, and radishes.  He has tomatoes and pepper plants inside to plant when it is a little warmer. (And a late freeze just killed almost all the corn).
He also built a zip line. We used to have one, but the tornado took the tree down. This new one is better. And he just put in permanent poles for volleyball. The older siblings have been coming two to three times a week to eat and to play games or volleyball. We have lots of fun and as the family grows, we have more volleyball players.
Ashley (Matthew’s wife) is expecting and they just found out that they are having a boy. They are so excited. I remember the excitement and joy that Fito and I felt with each pregnancy. There are so many hopes, dreams, and expectations with each one.
There is so much going on, that is why I had not blogged for so long. I hadn’t even made bread for about a month. Cooking had even been ignored (well…I only cooked about 4 times a week). But now I am back to my routine. Sunday, for Easter, I made a Spanish Turkey, a Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Spanish Rice, Beans, Peas, Salsa with Cilantro…there was sliced tomato and shredded lettuce, Spanish Cream, and I had chips, and Croissants, and Bolios (a type of bread…like a small sub).
This is the third time I have done a meal like this. That way if someone wants a traditional meal, they can have it, or if they want a Spanish meal, it is available as well, or if they want to make a turkey or ham sandwich (Bolios or Tortas), they can as well. This also allows me to feed more people with less money.
If you have “filler” foods, such as: chips and salsa, bread, vegetables, rice, and beans, then they eat less meat and you save money. It is actually healthier as well.
I made Apple- Coconut Bread today. I made 21 small loaves. I made the bread while the Geek Squad was here getting us Internet to the whole house. I have tried various routers, combinations of extenders and routers and have never been able to get the Internet to the far end of the house. I should have paid somebody a long time ago to do so.
Now, back to the balcony…have you ever noticed that when you start a project that many times another project evolves from the first project? Well…we finished the stair case up to the balcony and then realized that the door from the upstairs to the balcony was not closing properly.
It turned out that water had been pooling under the door and not only is the frame rotten, but the wood under the floor, under the doorframe, etc. now we have the door ribbed out, the framing ripped out and are going to have to put posts under the balcony while we rip out where it attaches to the house and replace all that wood. We also need to redo how the flashing was done as this created the problem in the first place.
(Sigh) It seems that just about every other project goes the same. You start to fix something and once you tear down a wall or move a cabinet, then you see something else that needs fixing. It used to really bother me, but now I realize that it is just a normal occurrence in the contracting/remodeling world. No house is perfect…time and weather will damagethings….so repair is a constant.
Have you noticed people are the same? We are always in need of repair? Relationships are always tricky and as you remove one wall, another problem or dilemma pops up? Welcome to life. Every single persons will have problems and trials; it is not that we have problems, but how we react to our problems that make us who we are.
It is my prayer that we may always react with courage and patience.

In and out. Mom burns her feet.

Posted on April 18, 2014 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (99)
In and out. That small phrase explains my life this past 6 weeks. First of all, my mom burned her feet and shins in the bathtub. We have 4 and ½ baths and plenty of people here all the time. Therefore, in order to have enough hot water, we keep the water tank on hot.

I have always taught the children to start with cold, add hot water and to always check the water before you get into it. However, my mom has become, I guess, as a two-year old. She never takes a bath on her own, but this day she went to take a bath by herself.

One of the children heard her yelling and ran to get me. By the time I got there from the other end of the house she was in 8 inches of hot water. I immediately turned off the hot, turned on the cold, and tried to hold her feet up into the cold water. (Still to this day, I do not know why in this moment, I did not pull the plug and empty the water.)

After a few moments, I pulled the plug, but kept the cold water on her. Then dried her off and she made it to the bed. Once at the bed with her feet up, I realized that they were not just first degree burns which they were on top. The bottom of her right foot and the heel of the left had blistered. I then called 911.

She ended up in the emergency room at the burn center. When I arrived at the hospital, it was a mad house. There were five ambulances lined up, people were in the hallways, it was a busy, busy, Friday night in the ER.

I waited more than an hour and a half before they even let me go to her. She hadn’t been admitted so she must have been in the ambulance waiting all that time. The whole night was a horrible example of our health care system. Over worked people, too little help, too many policies and procedures that make things worse.

The paramedics had gotten permission to give her a shot of morphine in the ambulance, but she had not received any other medication or care. It took several calls before I finally got her another shot of morphine, but then it made it itch and anxious. She kept pulling at her IV and the various wires attached to her. She scratched at her skin till it bled. She pulled out her IV.

For several hours I just stood by her bed just holding her hands. I finally looked around in cabinets, found some wash cloths, wrapped them around her hands, and taped them so she could not scratch and pull. At one point, I even taped them to the sides of the railings because a medication they gave her made her anxious and she kept trying to get out of bed.

She would throw her legs to one side and then I would put them back up. Her burns hadn’t even been dressed yet. When they did finally send someone to dress the burn, they rubbed t the cream directly on the skin. At home, I rub the cream onto a piece of gauze and then I gently put the gauze on the wound. That way it hurts much less.

Hospitals are also notorious (dumb, in my opinion) for not letting anyone have water…not even ice chips. I do not know how many times I have been with someone or myself a patient…laboring to have a baby, trying to heal after surgery, overcoming sickness…

All these things…the body needs water. Water heals. We are water. And yet they say no water. I would get paper towels, drench them in water, and let my mom suck the moisture out of them. I did this again and again. I wiped her face, her eyes, and her lips. Moisture is soothing. I have done the same with other people. I have even snuck water or apple juice in to patients. I have seen people immediately improve after having had life-saving water enter their system. An IV is not as effective as simply just drinking water.

(yes, I know that at certain times, a person cannot drink…but I am talking about their blanket policy that the second you enter their walls you cannot drink….just dumb…having a baby is like running a marathon. 

Can you imagine telling a marathon runner to not drink water?
Well back to mom. Finally after eight hours in the ER, her wounds were dressed. Then I was told they would not admit her. An 82 year-old woman who walks with a walker. Both feet are burned and they are sending her home? Thanks to Obamacare and the cuts to Medicare. We then talked about moving her to a nursing home until she could walk again…

But I took mom out of a nursing home. I just couldn’t put her back into one, even if just for a short time. So at 4:00am, I call home about 10 times until I am able to wake up Fito and tell him to get things moved away from the back door, get her wheel chair, and be ready to help me get her out of the car.

Her nurse had tried all evening to help, he was just too busy to do much, but he did help me to get her into the car which was a very difficult task. It was even more difficult to get her out of the car and into bed. I thought for a while that we were going to have to call the fire department and have those men come and help us.

We finally made it and she immediately relaxed. She did so well once she was home and in her bed. It was the right decision.

The burns are almost healed. Just a little sloughing off of skin still going on. She has fallen down three times since coming home. One day, I had to call the firemen to come help me get her back up as none of the men were home. The third day she had been home, I found her taking a bath with all her clothes on and the dressings still on her feet.

She still is scratching though, and we have tried just about everything to keep her from scratching her skin. She scratches so much that she creates sores. Lately, though, I have been using diaper rash cream with cod liver oil. It has helped with the itchiness and the sores are healing as well.

She also developed a condition on her shin that is an auto-immune disease where huge blister form, weep, then leave large open sores. 

Again, we have tried many things, but the diaper rash medicine seems to be helping. I have also started putting a lamp on it to dry out the sores.
I told the college I needed to cut back hours so I could stay home more and boy I did. I probably spend two to four hours more each day being with my mom than I did before. It just depends day to day. Some days she needs me more, some less.

We also have some projects going on. We added a staircase outside to the balcony and extended the roof behind the living room (so the wood for the fireplace is covered in the winter). This meant workers, trips to the store, questions, etc. I also had home-health care come to help with mom. Now we have workers coming and going throughout the week. (In and out).

I have felt more than overwhelmed many days. However, I must say that there is always a silver lining to every cloud. As I have spent more time with my mother, we have talked more than we have in years. As the workers have come and spent time with her, I have again been reminded of her pleasant nature and patience. May I be so pleasant is my wish as I age; to age graciously not only physically, but personality-wise as well.

Blooming Daffodils in Ice

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 6:28 PM Comments comments (83)
My goodness, my life has not slowed down since before Christmas. Christmas is always incredibly busy, but my family is growing each year and Christmas just becomes more and more work, but also more enjoyable, as we now have grandchildren. Little children are the best at Christmas. No one gets more excited than them.

Then after Christmas, we had Matthew and Ashley’s wedding. Then after the wedding, it took almost 2 weeks before I had everything borrowed; returned, everything cleaned, everything put away.

Then we found out we were going to Federal Civil Court. We had problems with our insurance company after the May 2011 tornado. They didn’t pay us for certain items. We had used a public adjuster and he said in all the years he had been doing claims that he had never seen a company do what they did with us.

He sent us to a lawyer, who said the same thing. He said he would send them a letter and that would be the end of it. We didn’t hear anything for almost a year, then it was…we will take a statement…

All this time, we are just expecting the insurance company to realize the mistake their employee made and just make things right. But that never happens and now we find ourselves in federal court.

I will blog about the whole ordeal another day, but suffice it to say that after one of the most stressful weeks ever, the jury rules in our favor, and finally this whole episode finally concludes.

The following week, I make plans to write and catch up on other things when a friend calls me and asks me to go to Laredo, Texas with her. Her husband was deported the week before to Mexico. She is a US citizen and they have been married for more than 5 years and have a little girl.

However, she was never able to do the paper work for her husband as he had been deported previously and was in the country illegally. But immigration won’t allow him to become legal so what in the world are they to do.

They paid several lawyers and tried and tried, but to no avail. They own two properties in OKC. They own their own businesses, hire workers, pay their taxes, etc. They do not drink or smoke, work hard, try to their best for their family and community.

I see this again and again. Immigration deports a hard working family man, but the single guy who has 4 or more DUI’s, has gotten into fights, has ties to gangs….somehow gets to stay…what a complete mess.

Well anyway, she wanted to drive his truck, trailer, and tools down to him in Mexico. He is a contractor and needs those things to make a living. She does taxes, so they talked and decided that she would work half the year here then go and live in Mexico the other half of the year. They plan to do so until things can be worked out.

And in a way, it might have worked out for the best, for he had been really worried about his aging parents and now he is with them and able to care for them.

We drove the 500 plus mile down to Laredo. It took 14 hours as it was the first time for her to drive pulling a trailer. The trailer was really loaded and therefore, we also went slower for that reason.

I could’ve driven it for her and let her drive my car, but I told her I would do the same with my children. As you do something new for the first time, and then realize you can do it, it gives you such a sense of accomplishment. Then you can add to your list; one more thing you are capable of, one more thing you know how to do.

We reached the border late in the day. Her husband met her there. She crossed the border, though I didn’t. I stayed at a hotel in Laredo. It was 83 degrees and it was so incredibly warm that when I got to the hotel I dived into the pool. It was surround by beautiful green gardens with flowers and the blue clear water looked so inviting after being in the car for 14 hours.

It was so cold, I could hardly breathe. I swam to the edge, pulled myself out and was immediately warmed by the hot air. I did feel refreshed, still, I could never be a polar bear swimmer…I do not like cold water at all.

My friend woke me up the next morning at 7:00am. I was expecting the paper work to take longer; nonetheless, she was at the border, ready to be picked up. Good thing I had showered the night before.
I got ready, picked her up, and we made it home in 10 hours (with me driving all the way).

I have gone to Mexico many times. I have been to Laredo, Matamoros, Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, and Tampico. We used to go to Mexico every six months to pick up a cancer drug for my father that hadn’t been approved in the US.

This time was different. We haven’t gone to Mexico in more than 8 years and for good reason: kidnappings, human trafficking, ransoms, false imprisonment.

How is it that an American citizen is fearful while in her own country just simply because she is nearing the border? This shouldn’t happen. Our border needs to be secured.

I didn’t even feel safe until I was north of San Antonio (San Antonio’s crime rate is 115% higher than national.

Back home, tired and safe, and now cold weather and the stomach flu. We have passed this virus back and forth and have been living off popsicles, soda pop, and crackers.

We have four of the cousins here, so we have had fun even though we have taken turns being sick.

I do need to conclude in that although court was stressful; my husband is here beside me. And although I haven’t had any solid food in more than two days, my minds works, and I know my strong and healthy body will kick this illness. The cold will end. Spring will come. I have a beautiful family and live in a country where we still enjoy more security and freedom than just about anywhere else.

My Daffodils started blooming last week. They are currently covered in ice, but will endure, survive, and keep blooming, which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings:

Bloom Where You Are Planted.


The children and cousins enjoying the snow day, today. I know this isn't much snow, but the problem in Oklahoma is it starts raining, then while it is raining (with thunder and lightening) then it turns to sleet, ice pellets, and then snow. And ice is much different than snow when it comes to driving.

I sent Nick out to take a pic of the daffodils and this is what he did...

Snow, cold, and stress, stress, stress...

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (229)

Oh, I had to write something today before I go crazy. Writing is very calming for me and at times once I put something down on paper, it helps to release the tension I am feeling and helps me to have a better perspective on things.

As the rest of the US, we have been locked into frigid temperatures, snow, ice, and cold, gloomy, cloudy days. I think most people are stir crazy and are ready for a peek of spring.

But worse, is that we have an ongoing issue that has reached its climax and has me distraught, feeling frustrated, and let down. This issue is now robbing me of my ability to sleep, has raised my blood pressure, and has given me a backache that will not go away.

Even my husband is upset. He spent the whole day cleaning the house and has been working outside like crazy. This is his way to deal with stress, but I know he hasn’t slept well, either.

Usually, I handle stress really well. Nine children and all that accompanies that, taking care of my mom, etc. has given me many opportunities through the years to learn patience and to accept things that I thought I could never accept.

However, all the normal stress relievers that I normally employ, such as: exercise, breathing techniques, stretching, long hot baths, and so on are not working at all. I am teary eyed, want to cry at the smallest things, and am exhausted by troubled thoughts and dreams.

The thing that bothers me the most is that this issue could have been resolved long ago, but the blame game started and now it has reached a point where any conclusion is difficult.

I write about this in my book on Critical Thinking –that for some; blaming others for poor judgment becomes their escape and then they try to find new ways to blame or hide their own poor decision making.

And then the issue becomes that such judgments hurt others or makes their lives more difficult. Everything we do affects others and has an impact. Just as when we throw a rock in a lake the ripples continue outward and keep moving…the ripples we create in our lives touch and affect others as well.

I am trying to stay calm, but writing this has actually upset me more. I am so frustrated at this point that I just had a spasm in my back. I think I will just go the chiropractor, try to find a good book to take my mind off the whole thing (maybe it is time to reread, Pride and Prejudice…will Mr. Darcy take my mind off this?)

Well, one more week and this issue will have resolved itself; for either the good or the bad. And then I will just have to accept whatever outcome was wrought and then move on from there. Se la vie. 

I do have to admit the snow is pretty and does clean the air.

And the children have really enjoyed their snow days...

Matthew and Ashley's Wedding.

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 5:56 PM Comments comments (95)

Today is Fito’s birthday and I got up early and made crepes and bacon. I already have the table set with the china and will make shrimp and rice for supper. Tomorrow is our 30 Wedding Anniversary. Wow. I do not even know how to respond to that. On one hand it seems like an eternity and on the other hand, it feels as though it all went by in a flash.

Matthew and Ashley were married last Saturday on the 18 of January. It was a lovely wedding and an incredibly fun reception. Everyone was there.

It has been more than a year when we were last together and the last family picture did not have Ashley, nor Greyson (Maria’s baby). We took plenty of pics after the wedding, so hopefully one will be presentable (with no one being goofy, yawning, picking their nose….). believe me, after taking family pics all these years with nine children… and now adding 3 in-laws, and four grandchildren. It just gets tougher every time to get a good pic.

Of course, we all are better looking each year and act more mature, so hummm, it does get easier in some aspects. At least now I don’t have a pouty one all mad over taking pictures, although, I am sure, eventually, a grandchild will do just that.

The day before the wedding, we drove to Edmond to the chapel where we were to have the reception. I had my Ford Flex full of wedding stuff, and had our small enclosed trailer behind it, also full of stuff.

Some family friends had come followed me in their car. We walked into the gym and there were about seven, 3 feet by 17 feet or so rolls of carpet lying there. There were also buckets of glue, workers, tools, and so forth. It was obvious that there was no possible way we were going to have the reception in that building.

It turns out that the wrong carpet had arrived and that mix-up had put the workers behind schedule. No problem, we thought. Matthew had reserved another one of the church buildings months ago and had never called them back to cancel.

My friends and I headed that way. Then Matthew called again. That church was being used for a conference for the youth. He then started calling people to try to find a location for the reception. We finally pulled the cars over and I sent my friends home. We then spent several hours looking for a place.

I don’t know if Ashley or Matthew cried during this time, but one tear slipped down my face, and I had to breathe deeply and keep telling myself that everything would work out. It wasn’t until after 3:00 pm that we found a building and someone to come unlock it for us. It was over in Midwest City which is a suburb east of OKC.

I drove over there and started unloading everything. There were two missionaries there that helped me and the gentleman that came to unlock the building, actually stayed the whole time I was there and helped me even after everyone else had gone on.

Matthew and several of his friends showed up and started putting up wire and stringing up clear Christmas lights. Several of my other sons and friends showed up to help. Tables and chairs had to be set up. Table cloths, chair covers, ribbons, bows, table coverings, table decorations, kitchen stuff, etc. All had to be unloaded, set up, and turn a gym into a crystal wonderland.  

We did it, and in less time than I thought. I missed the wedding rehearsal as I had to stay and finish and everyone else left. I also had to return to the building 2 more times after I left it as I remembered items that needed to be at the wedding which was at a different church. Also, I did not have a key, so I had to find someone to unlock the building each time.

I didn’t arrive home until after 9:00 pm and I still had to leave to do two more errands. By now, we had family at the house from Canada, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri. 21 people spent the night at our house with more at Maria’s, and some at Felipe’s apartment.

I still had the cake to decorate. I had purchased a simple two-tiered cake from Wal-mart. I had picked it up earlier that day (and also bought bread for bolios, cilantro, sour cream, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream with which to make Spanish Cream, and ice for the reception.)

Earlier in the week, Rebeca and I had been a Hobby Lobby and they had all the Wedding stuff for 50% off. I had already bought a floral spray paint to paint real flowers a different color, previously, but did not like the color. It was turquoise, not teal. I needed to find a different way to decorate the cake.

Vickie owns peacocks and brought us some white and teal Peacock feathers. I had already bought a Teal vase and made an arrangement for the wedding.

Becca saw a small peacock that had real feathers in the tail. We bought that for the cake topper. We also bought some white and silver flowers, and teal ribbon. We used a combination of things to decorate the cake and it came out really pretty.

Fito had fed our company food which was for the reception, but that was fine as I had realized about a week earlier that not only was I cooking for the wedding, but that with that many out-of-town guests that we would need even more food prepared.

Two weeks before the wedding, I made 3 Spanish Turkeys on 2 different days. I then de-boned them the next day, put all the meat into one large roaster pan and stuck it in the freezer.

By-the-way, when I make a Turkey, even though, it is for another event, I always let my family eat off it. Sometimes we make Bolios (a sandwich) or other times we eat it with Mashed Potatoes or Guatemalan Potatoes. Sometimes Rice or beans…just whatever I have and feel like cooking and/or eating.

I was then going to make Taco meat, as well, but my friend Vickie brought me two large pieces of wild pig meat. I decided to make Carne Guisada instead. I washed the meat really well, then got my largest stainless steel pan from the pantry.

This is a huge 40 quart pan that I use when canning, making salsa, etc. I put the meat and about 6 inches of water in the pan. I added dehydrated onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and lots of cumin. I then cooked the meat for two days until it fell completely off the bones.

When you have wild meat, a cheaper cut of meat, or an older animal that you slaughtered, you simply have to understand that it will need to be cooked for a longer period of time. It is the same with older beans; they will need more cooking time.

Any meat will eventually become soft and delectable if you cook it long enough. And if you cook it in water with seasonings, it will be juicy and have a great flavor.

After I de-boned it and cut it into small pieces, I cooked it another day, and added Ragu Traditional, a can of diced tomatoes with chilies, more cumin, some Goya Sazon flavorings, until I had juicy, soft, well flavored Carne Guisada.

Also, three days before the wedding, I made a roaster pan of beans. I did 8 pounds which filled the pan. I added a ham bone that I had saved from Thanksgiving. I bought bags of mixed beans. There are about 16 types of beans in this bag. They are really yummy.

Then two days before the wedding, I made 22 loaves of Poppy Seed Bread, and 19 loaves of Apple-Coconut bread.

When I do this much bread, I pull two large mixing bowls out onto the counter. I then put both recipes in front of their respective bowl. I then get out the flour, sugar, etc. and measure into each bowl. I use a large 4 cup glass measuring cup so I can go quicker.

I also use a baking spray that has flour and oil in it. I spray the bread pans, use them, take the bread out, spray it again (without washing them), and then use it a second time. I do not have double ovens, therefore it takes a while to bake it all.

The Saturday before the wedding, Maria and I spent the whole day doing errands. She had bought her bridesmaid dress online and the sleeves were too tight. We had to take it to get it altered. We also  picked up Ashley’s wedding dress, drove to a friend’s house and picked up the table cloths and chair covers that she was lending us, plus many more wedding errands.

The chair covers had a light blue and silver bow already sewed into them. I spent the next two nights with a seam ripper taking the bows out. I then spent Monday afternoon re-sewing the seams shut. We used silver sheer bows on the back of the chairs.

Normally, I would not have gone through so much work to re-sew something that does not belong to me. However, this friend will let me borrow them again, I have six more weddings to do, and now the covers are plain white and can be used with any other color.

I had not sewed for years, as I do not enjoy sewing, but was amazed at how quickly I do sew and actually might start sewing again. Strange, how our preferences change through the years.

I could go on and on about the two weeks before the wedding. The trips to Sam’s and other stores to buy paper goods, food, borrowing items from others, making lists to make sure I did not forget something…

Thinking you are completely ready and prepared and having the venue changed at the last moment and finding yourself at Staples on the morning of the wedding to have flyers printed out telling people how to get to the “new” reception hall. Frustration taken to a whole new level…

But as always, it all came together. My dearest friends helping me when I needed it most. One family not even attending the wedding to stay and make rice and get the food ready for the reception. Others staying to clean up. Others lending us items, and others coming to eat, dance, and enjoy the day with us; while others who could not come sent notes or gifts, thoughts, or prayers.

All are forms of friendship and service, and we thank each one of you for your love and service to our family.

Weddings, just like marriage and children are a lot of work. But as the event occurs and the day is spent with loved ones and filled with so much fun, joy, love, and fellowship…the joy is definitely worth the effort.

And just think…I still have six more children to marry…how lucky is that!

Celeste was a flower girl, and so was Rebeca and another of Ashley's friends. Ashley was so gracious to allow these girls' dreams to come true.

Xander just walked down the aisle just cause he is so cute...

Getting each other with cake. The Poppy Seed and Apple-Coconut Bread is cut in front. What do you think of the Peacocks....?

Such a beautiful couple. Such a fun night! We danced and danced and danced! The DJ was excellent and everyone who came were party people! Oh my, did we dance! and have fun.

Good food, good friends, loving family...what a day!

The church where the wedding was performed is very beautiful. we decorated very simply by tying these sheer sliver bows at the ends of the pews.

Here is Isabella. I bought hers and Celeste's matching dresses at Christmas.

What a joy to have all our children and grandchildren together.

Christmas, a concert, and an ice storm (a crystal winter wonderland).

Posted on December 26, 2013 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (157)
Christmas has past and it was a very nice one for our family. I think I surprised Rebeca the most. She likes all kinds of animals, but likes Zebras a lot. I bought her a Zebra bank, a Zebra pillow pet, a Zebra stuffed animal, two zebra figurines, and a Zebra night lite that shines stars on the ceiling. She was so happy with her “Zebra” Christmas.

The other children seemed pleased, too, but the older they are, it seems to be harder and harder to buy things for them. I just mainly do gift cards and let them go get their own gifts.

The weekend before Christmas was our Christmas Concert. We had been practicing since September and little by little everything started to come together: one, to get me excited about the concert, and two, to actually make a great concert.

I wasn’t that excited about singing this year until we had a practice with the OKC Choral Bell Choir. They did two pieces for the concert and also accompanied the choir on three pieces. It was incredible to have them participate. They made the music ring (pardon the pun), but it is true, that they made a huge difference in how the songs came together and the sound.

We also had an incredible guest conductor, a guest pianist, organ player, soloist, rhythm section, flute player, and cellist.

Together, each person’s expertise added another dimension to the overall sound and quality of the concert. It ended up being a truly lovely concert. The only thing is a major ice storm hit OKC about an hour before the first concert. Attendance was dismal, to say the least. And that was really sad because it was a Christmas concert to bring the spirit of Christmas and bring peace to the soul.

I made several new friends through the course of the practices. One in particular, became a really good friend. One afternoon during a break, she found out that I spoke Spanish, and told me that she had a friend that lived in Honduras. She explained that this was a childhood friend and that she was from a wealthy family and had a resort in Honduras. She said her friend had always wanted her to go down there and visit, but she had never wanted to go alone.

I told her my husband and I would love to go with her to visit her friend. We even got online to look at the resort, to check out things, and make plans. Then two days later, she calls me frantically and wants me to go online and translate some Spanish news articles. Apparently, the same friend that we had been talking about was murdered…and she was worth around $800 million.

A very strange déjà vu type occurrence as we had just been talking about her and my new friend had been ready to contact her.

The week before the concert had been crazy for me. I was so busy, and with extra errands and responsibilities that weren’t planned that I was feeling really frustrated. I took one day to drive to Manhattan, Kansas to take a car to Benjamin. His car’s engine had died completely. He wired us some money and Fito bought him a car. He found him a 2004 Dodge Stratus with only 140,000 miles.

Fito and David loaded it on our 16 foot trailer, tied it down, and I drove it to Manhattan using our 2009 Ford Flex. We were afraid, but it did a really good job towing. When I got to Manhattan, Ben had to find a ride to meet me. Then the mechanic where his broken down car was kept informed me that they were all out to lunch, but in an hour and a half, he could help push the car into the trailer with his truck.

I really didn’t have an hour and half as I had to get back to go to choir practice. I was also worried that in pushing the car with a truck that it could be damaged.

I called a couple of tow companies, but they couldn’t help. I then started to take the ties off by myself. Two men saw me and offered to help. They were done working for the day. They wouldn’t take any money and just stayed the whole time and helped up unload the Status and load up the Pontiac.

The men and Benjamin pushed the Pontiac up on the trailer after only two tries. They stayed and helped us to tie it down properly. I told them they were my Christmas angels. The only payment they would take was some homemade cookies I had brought for Ben (but really, he shouldn’t eat as he is diabetic).

I arrived to choir practice late with the car and trailer still hooked up. Manhattan is just at 300 miles. It had been a long day and an even longer week. As I was entering, a friend came up to me worried about a text she had just received from her son. He was suicidal (as he has been in the past) and she did not know where he was or how to find him.
We did the only thing we could; we gathered in a circle and prayed for him. I offered the prayer and at one point felt a complete calm, peace, and assurance that he would be okay. I told his mom that after the prayer. (And he ended up okay).

But how that one text changed my whole perspective of the week and my life; all the busyness and stress I had felt simply vanished. My children were all okay. Christmas was coming. We were singing beautiful songs, and for one moment in time complete peace. May each of you too, feel peace and count your blessings. May each of you be so blessed.

Coming home on Sunday, the sun came out and turned the ice into a crystal winter wonderland.

It was so beautiful and yet the highways were really never that bad and we did not lose electricity...a true Christmas miracle. However, many trees and bushes were damaged.

Our home with the evening sun. This is ice, not snow.

This is our back yard. See the River Birch down by the lake that is completely bent over? It was damaged by the tornado and now this...poor tree.

Our back porch.

Our vegetable garden.

My birthday and a recipe for crepes.

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 2:43 PM Comments comments (221)
Friday was my birthday. It had stormed and school was cancelled so everyone was at home. I woke up about 8:30 (which is sleeping in around here) and could not go back to sleep.

I went to the kitchen and made crepes. They came out perfectly. They were thin and cooked to a perfect brown. I put butter on mine, then sprinkled powdered sugar on it, then dribbled frozen strawberry jam on it, then rolled it up and ate it. Super yum.

Crepes are basically a pancake recipe; however, they are very thin and delicate and can be filled with just about anything.

Tammy's Crepes

1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
Just a sprinkle of salt
In one bowl or a large glass measuring cup, mix these three ingredients together.
3 eggs
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter
Then in another bowl, beat these three ingredients together. You want it smooth and frothy.
Now pour the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Beat or whisk the mixture until it is smooth.
I use an electric griddle and I set it to the highest temperature: 400 degrees.
I pour a small amount of oil on the griddle, then use a paper towel to spread it evenly around.
I also pour all the batter into a large 4 cup glass measuring cup with a lip. The lip allows you to pour the batter on the griddle and not make a mess.
Brown the crepe on both sides. I flip it when it starts to bubble on the first side, then I lift it a little to see if it is brown. When it is, I flip it.
After I made the crepes, I pulled all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and started canning them. I canned 4 quarts of beans, 4 quarts of turkey broth, 3 pints of pumpkin, and 2 pints of stew.
While I was canning the food and washing the dishes, I made Snicker Doodles. I also made some Cake Mix Cookies. Elizabeth had been asking for them for some time, so I decided to surprise her.
We did some cleaning and made supper. Then I took the rest of the day off and watched TV and worked on a project. It was a really nice day. It is always a good day when one accomplishes a lot.
May each of you enjoy such days.


Feeding 140 people.

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (69)
I did a meal for 140 missionaries about two weeks ago. The first thing I did was about a week before the meal, I bought two turkeys, each around 25 pounds, and I cooked them in roasters pans using my Spanish Turkey recipe.  We had turkey for dinner that night, along with mashed potatoes, corn and peas, and rolls.

Later in the evening, when they had cooled down, I de-boned them, putting all the meat into one of the roaster pans, putting it into the freezer, and freezing the broth from the other turkey.

Then three days before the meal, I went to Sam’s Club and bought everything else that was needed. I bought around 50 pounds of hamburger and several #5 cans of pinto beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and corn. The next day, I pulled out my other three roaster pans and my large canning pot and I cooked all the hamburger. I then added all the ingredients to make Tammy’s Taco Pile-Ons.

The Taco Pile-On recipe is a real easy and inexpensive meal to make that I use when I have to feed a large group. We had a version of it in our buffet at the restaurant that we owned; only we had small cubed potatoes mixed in with it. Actually, you can make any variety that you like, but canned beans are the easiest and cheapest to add.

All of these pans went into the fridges. Then I mixed together two large mixing bowls of bread. One bowl was for Poppy Seed bread. The other bowl was for Apple Coconut Bread. Measuring is the most difficult part of baking for me, so if I am making a large batch, I just pull out my two large metal bowls and measure flour into one, and then measure flour into the second. Then do the same with the sugar, eggs, etc.

It is less work than making one batch and then turning around and making a second batch. That way, I only have the flour, etc. out only once, and use only the measuring cups one time. It goes faster and is easier. I also doubled my recipes and then doubled them again. So one batch of bread uses 12 cups of flour and 10 cups of sugar. I bought the large glass measuring cup that measures 4 cups at a time. That way if I need 12 cups, I only fill my cup 3 times (as 3 x 4 = 12). See how this is easier and faster? I can make 21 small loaves in almost the same amount of time someone can make 4 loaves…so why not make more and give bread away?

I also use baking spray, (which is different than cooking spray…it has flour mixed in with it) to spray the pans as this makes the whole process go faster, and makes sure the bread does not stick. After the bread is done. I leave it in the pans to cool down. In fact, I leave it in the pans until I am ready to cut and serve it. I do not put the bread in plastic or other containers. (If you think of a bakery…their products are not covered or in a container).

Sweet breads do best not covered, especially, my recipes as the top is crunchy. However, I do not want the bottom to dry out, which is the reason I leave it in the pans. I put all the pans of bread to the church in boxes (leaving the bread in the pans) and only took the bread out of the pans when I was ready to serve it.

Another thing I did, was to gather up all my utensils, knives, soap, sponges, etc. and put it in the car the night before. You never know when you go to a different kitchen if they will have exactly what you need…I just plan accordingly and take everything I think I will need.
I made a list of every dish I was serving then gathered and put into the car everything item I thought I would need. That way, the morning of the event, the only thing I had to put in the car were the food items from the fridges.

As you can see, I broke the work up over several days, and did things step by step. This is the way to do any large task.

The morning of the meal, four other individuals came to help me. I had asked 4 people who were real easy going, but good cooks and hard workers. We chopped up the lettuce and tomatoes. We put the shredded cheese and sour cream in containers with serving spoons. We opened the many packages of chips I bought and filled baskets and set them out on the tables.

I also brought 8 quarts of my home made salsa and we put it into small bowls with serving spoons and put it out on all the tables.

We put all the other food on 3 long tables where serving lines could go down both sides of the tables. We had the plates, bowls, etc. first, and then the bread cut up in trays, then the turkey and hamburger, then the cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and chips.

Two other tables against the wall had small plates with strawberry shortcake on it.

I do not believe in serving people at events such as this. When you put the same amount of food on each plate and serve it to people, I can guarantee that you will throw away a vast amount of food afterwards.
People are not cattle. They do not all eat the same amount of food. Some will eat more, some will eat less. Some are vegetarians and will not eat the meat. With our meal, they could easily make a salad and eat salsa with chips. Those who are glutton-free could actually eat everything except the desserts.

I had three types of meat combinations. Individuals could choose what they prefer and only take food that they like, thereby eliminating waste. It also goes faster to let them go through the lines and the food stays hotter in the big roaster pans. I have been to many events where I was served cold food…not ever a good thing.

Yes, I do have to admit that being served is always nice and does make you feel important…but as the host or person in charge of the meal…I have to ask myself this question, “What is more important? To make them feel good that I served them? Or to allow them their choice to choose how much food and what items they want and that the food is hot.”

I go with the latter and it has served me well through the years. People always leave full, happy, and say they felt welcome and comfortable. AND, I did not kill myself serving them and therefore do not mind entertaining because I haven’t made it such a chore. (A secret to life and entertaining that took me years to learn, but sure has made my life easier…relax, chill out, and enjoy your friends…)

Seek to Bless; Not Impress


A New Christmas Tree

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 11:13 PM Comments comments (153)

Six years ago when we moved to Newcastle, we lost the top of our Christmas tree. I kept thinking…it will show up, but it never did. I ended up cutting off two of the lowest branches, tying them together with wire, and then stringing new lights on them.

Then last year, the middle section of lights would not work. I tried new fuses, light bulbs, etc., however, nothing worked. I finally gave up and just strung some new lights in that section.

After Christmas, I looked and looked for a new tree. I checked online, at after Christmas sales, and so on, but I couldn’t find the type of tree I wanted for a price I could afford.

Then, this year, we were at Hobby Lobby looking for wedding stuff and wonderfully, they had their Christmas items on sale…not just on sale, but 50 percent off. I ended up buying a 9 foot tall, 4 foot wide tree for $249. The tree has pine cones, and three different types of branches, plus 900 lights. The branches are connected to the tree and it is really easy to put up. It is a beautiful tree and the lowest price I could find for the same tree last year was over $500 so I was really pleased.

I wanted the tall thinner tree so I could put the tree by the stairway and not have to put it in the living room and have to rearrange the furniture. It looks really well there and I wrapped the stairway with star lights and greenery. I also used some lace ribbon that I have saved for years.

It is really funny how you can want something for so long and when you finally get it, how much pleasure it brings you. I had plywood counters for more than six months and to this day when I run my fingers across our marble counters, I realize how blessed we are.

I love the glowing lights and sparkling of Christmas as it reminds us of the Light of the World. May each of you be blessed with finding the righteous desires of your hearts in this Christmas season.

Cooking cheaply, easily, and yummy(ly)

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 5:03 PM Comments comments (60)
I wanted to share some ideas of how I cook for a lot of people, but do it in a quick, easy, and inexpensive way.
First of all, I buy bigger items which tend to be cheaper. For example, I buy a whole frozen turkey which is usually the cheapest way to buy poultry. I also have two upright freezers that I can fill, so I will buy many turkeys when they go on sale, which typically happens around holidays.
I then make a Spanish turkey (and many times I just simply peel the wrapping off and stick the whole big frozen turkey in the roaster pan with the liquid). Later, when it is partially cooked, I pull out he inside stuff (on both ends) cut off excess fat and skin, and keep cooking it.
I keep the roaster pan on high until the meat is falling off the bones (even at the breast bone as well). Then I know it is truly done the way I like it. Tender, soft meat that is juicy and has the flavor of the juice cooked into the meat.
Sometimes, this first meal will be turned into Bolios /Tortas, which is a Spanish submarine sandwich or perhaps I will just make mashed potatoes, Spanish corn, maybe heat up some peas or green beans, make or buy some rolls, and so on. Almost like a Thanksgiving meal, except a turkey cooked this way is much moister and has more flavor.
After the meal, and when the turkey has cooled down, I de-bone the turkey. I take a couple of paper plates and begin to grab the bones, veins, fat, pieces of skin, etc. put them on the plates then throw them away. This does not go to the chickens or in the compost.
Turkey is 10 times easier to de-bone than a chicken as the bones are larger and it goes very quickly. Likewise, as I cooked it until the meat separated from the bones makes de-boning it much easier.
I put the pieces of meat in a large metal bowl, add some of the broth so that the meat stays extra moist and then put the rest of the broth into quart jars, wipe off the rims with a Clorox wipe, put a lid and rim on it, and either can it that night or stick the jars in the fridge to can another day.
I put foil on top of the metal bowl and the turkey goes into the fridge for future meals. Any of the following will do: Enchiladas, Chicken (Turkey) Quesadillas, Tamales, Bolios, Parmesan Chicken Pasta, or Chicken Spaghetti; as each of these uses pieces of chicken/turkey.
This way, one large turkey that costs around $20+ will provide 3-5 meals for 7 people or so. Not only is this a cheap way to feed your family, it is less work to de-bone a large turkey one time than to have to prepare the meat for every meal.
I also buy large hams (with the bone) when I can find them on sale. I bake them in the oven in a large baking dish. I put an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and add some brown sugar and pineapple to it for flavor. I then completely cover it with heavy duty foil so no air can escape, thereby, keeping in the moisture and ensuring a very moist and tasty ham.
This first meal, I do the same as the turkey…perhaps some Guatemalan New Potatoes, Spanish corn, or sweet potatoes and maybe green beans. Beets or peas. Whatever one feels like at the time. I must add though, that I always drain vegetables then add butter, salt, and pepper for flavor. I also add a little bacon grease to green beans, and sometimes the corn. Bacon grease and butter can make just about any vegetable taste better.
Then I do the same as the turkey. After the meal, I cut off all the remaining meat, cut it into small pieces, and put it into a freezer bag or bowl to use for future meals. The bone and skin I save in another bag to use with a pot of beans started from scratch for another meal.
I use the ham pieces for pizza, baked potatoes, ham and eggs, with Ramen Noodles, Guatemalan New potatoes with pieces of ham, perhaps a soup or sandwiches.
Then in between these time periods is when I use pork and perhaps make Pupusas, Posole, or a Spanish pork chop or I use beef and make Carne Guisado or a stew.
This is also when I would use hamburger in one of my Hamburger Recipes or when the children cook as it is easier for them to learn with the hamburger recipes as these are easier.