Trading the bullet for a rocket

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I mentioned in my previous post that I would tell the story of my new car, so here it is.

I have not owned many cars in my life. Actually when I moved to Wyoming in 1995 as a sophomore in college, I did not own a car. I was brought out to Central Wyoming College in Riverton by my mom and aunt. I was staying on campus and really didn’t need one.  

In 1996 they gave me my sisters ford tempo. Let me just say it didn’t last long. Then after we married in 1998, we inherited my husband’s mom’s car. She had passed away suddenly in November only a couple months from our wedding. 

These were all inherited cars. After graduating college in 2001, the transmission went out of his mom’s oldsmobile. I decided it was time to buy and I purchased a 2002 Saturn sl with 50 miles on it. It was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. Plus it was a stick. 

Well driving from the ranch to my teaching job in Wright was 60 miles one way. I racked up the miles plus the yearly trips to Tennessee to see my parents and numerous other ventures. The little Saturn was great on gas mileage at 38-40mpg. It was awesome.  

Now between my house and Wright are several coal mines. They do shift work and me driving and then driving. You get where you recognize the cars. I didn’t know any of the people but the cars I knew and unfortunately they knew me and my driving. 

You see I had an hour to work. No matter what it was an hour. On snowy slick days it might be 2 hours. For me why get up early to put on makeup when I could do that on the way. My far became my office. Plus I had two kids in there with me. 

I unfortunately had friends who worked at the mine and they told me that my car had been named the bullet by the miners. Don’t ask me why, well yes there are a few stories about swerving, speeding, and reading while driving. I know bad, bad. But that is how it got its name.

The bullet was my first real car. I bought it. Well over the years and the miles it developed a severely bad problem that I could not cure. I tried and tried. I cleaned and cleaned. I even took the seats out and put steel wool in every hole I saw and covered it with silicone. But it was to no avail. The mice would comeback. It was awful. Whole families would be in there. I would get my oil changed and they would be in the air filter. It was gross. 

This summer since I had made the decision to not return to teaching, I decided that at 217,000 miles I was selling the Saturn. Believe it or not I sold it within 2 days of posting it for sale, and got a darn good price for it. I was honest about its problem but they were okay and assured me they would handle it.

In this process I decided I was getting a convertible. I know it’s crazy, I love on miles of dirt. However it was fate. The week I had decided to let the bullet go someone posted a car that was perfect. It is older, but the price was just for me. Okay it was cheap. I grabbed it up. The kids loved it.

It has been so much fun. The kids and I decided on the rocket. It will make its first venture to Tennessee soon and it is going to be a fun ride.  

Now the downfall. It has been in the garage at the hunting house ft since the big snow storm hit on the first week of October. We don’t have a garage at our house so our big truck and now the rocket will store over there when needed. I brought the rocket out on Friday and it did well on the roads. I was a little worried about clearance and the ruts hut it did fine. 

So midlife crisis or just fun here I come. 

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What a Ham!

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This summer at the local county fair market sale, we bought a 4-H pig from one of the kids. It is a great sale and the kids get a wonderful price for their animals. Most kids use this money for college. Our kids have sold steers the last couple of years and it is a great learning experience. Sometimes the buyers will donate the animal back to 4-H and they sale it at actual market price for buy backs. This is when most people can actually afford to buy one of the animals. The businesses will pay way above average to help the kids out.

Some animals are taken right away to be processed, However some go on to enter the Wyoming State fair. If they go to state then the processing plant will contact us when it is ready.

We had bought a lamb the year before and still had some left, so I pushed my husband toward the pig. He would rather have more lamb, but I wanted to get something else. So hence we have a pig in the freezer. Next year we will probably get another lamb, but for now we have some of both to eat.

At our place I keep all of the meat at the hunting house in two deep freezes. As I need it I go over and bring back what I want. It is just easier. In the deep freeze here at the house I keep all the other freezer items such as veggies, bread, ice cream, etc.

Well yesterday when I was digging in the freeze I found the fresh ham roast. I had never cooked one before, but why put it off. So out it came and I put it in the sink overnight to thaw. I am a terrible planner, so having it thaw in the fridge would have taken days, and I don’t plan that well. So overnight in the sink works well.

This morning we headed into town for church. It was a nice day and I was able to drive my new little car that the kids named the rocket. It’s a blast. I will share that story soon. Anyway on the way home I was searching different recipes for fresh ham. I found a couple and as usual did my own thing. I have to. It is what works with my pantry and what works for me.

I put this huge roast on my roasting rack. Oh My! It is easily 15 pounds if not more. I scored it and put cloves all over it.  My son wanted to know what was sticking out of it. LOL..  I let it cook at 350 for about 5 hours and then began basting it with sauce.  I basted it about every 15-20 mintues for around an hour. Then I poured what was left over the roast and cooked it another 15 minutes.  At this point I took it out and let it sit while I prepared some mashed potatoes to go with it.

Usually I try to do the southern traditional thing of something green, white, and yellow at every meal. However tonight it was just mashed potatoes and ham. That was plenty.  It turned out great and received reviews from all the family.

I will say I am going to have to come up with some recipes to use up this huge ham besides sandwiches.

Dr. Pepper Glazed Fresh Ham

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

  • 1 large fresh ham, 15 pounds
  • 2 cans of Dr. pepper or similar beverage
  • 3 tsp ground mustard
  • 6 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • cloves

Score the ham in a criss cross pattern. Insert cloves where they meet.  Cook at 350 degrees for about 5 hours or 20 minutes per pound.

In the meantime combine coke, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to simmer until it reduces.

Brush the ham with the sauce every 15-20 minutes. Pour the additional sauce over the ham and let it cook for 10-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!IMG_00000523

Maybe Minestrone

I am not a huge TV watcher. I can take it or leave it and I would say 98% of the time I leave it.  However there is one exception. I do DVR Pioneer Woman, Barefoot Contessa, and Trisha Yearwood. There is one more but I haven’t watched any of the shows yet, so I can’t even remember the name.  Oh well, these are my big three. Everyone in my house knows that if Mom sits down and turns TV on, it is going to cooking shows.  Well it is what I do.

This morning started much the same as usual, take the kids to the bus stop and come back here for my breakfast before I begin cleaning or tackling any other to do items.  I have been eating the Pioneer Woman’s Spinach Artichoke dip for breakfast. I made it a couple of days ago. Look that one up on her blog. It is amazing!!!

Well I decided to catch up with Mrs. Ina.  She was making a great soup called Minestrone. Never made it before. However lots of chopping, lots of cooking. The longer I watched the more I thought I can make this. I have NEARLY all the ingredients. Well Decision made. The end of the show Ina and her husband were in front of the cozy fire and that topped it for me. I want to be warm and cozy enjoying this soup.

As I looked at Ina’s recipe, it immediately became apparent that I was going to have to improvise. I did not have a lot of the ingredients and since I live 33 miles from civilization, I would not be getting them anytime soon.  However I was already invested so here we go. Check hers out at www.foodnetwork.com. Hopefully next time I will have all the stuff to make it her way. When living on the ranch the main lesson I have learned is flexibility in all things. You gotta make things work.

Here we go. Her recipe uses pancetta. I don’t have any, never have. So I am going for bacon. Is that the same. I hope so. Maybe they are close and it will give a similar taste. I chopped it up with my handy-dandy kitchen shears and cooked it until almost crumbly, but not crunchy. I have a high hate for crunchy bacon. EWWW!

The next couple of items goes extremely well. I have carrots, onions, celery, but no squash. I figure potatoes will do. So I chop up a couple of those and throw them in. I let them cook with garlic, thyme. I do not have any canned tomatoes. But what I do have is a can of tomato sauce and some fresh tomatoes. I throw that in with about half a can of water. I add the 4 cups of chicken stock from my freezer. (Darn if I had thought ahead. I just made it and put in the freezer yesterday.) I let it all cook for about 30 minutes until the veggies were tender.

I then added 2 cups of dry elbow noodles. That was all I had besides rainbow spirals. I do not have any beans what so ever. I have never been out of beans. I am not sure what has happened to my cabinets. I am usually overly stocked on everything. I am thinking a major shopping endeavor is going to happen soon in my future.

I add 1 block of frozen chopped spinach and let it melt in the pot. I add some more chicken stock. Yep the rest of what I made. At this point my pot is almost to the spilling point. However I add just another handful of noodles. I figure they will soak up some extra moisture.  My chicken stock also has some chicken that came off the bones. So I do have some of that floating in my pot. Not sure how this is going to turn out.

It begins to thicken. The noodles are done. I add just a little more salt and pepper. Ladle myself a bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese. Not bad. Not bad at all. Wow, I can only imagine if I had made it properly as in her recipe, but this is pretty good.

Here is my recipe. If you make it let me know it I need to adjust something. Sometimes I forget my exact substitutions.

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How many utensils can I fit in that pot? I know crazy.

Connie's Substitution Minestrone

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 5-7 pieces of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, washed and diced with skins on
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can of water
  • 4 tomatoes, washed, and diced
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry pasta
  • 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
  • Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon over medium heat until brown, but not crunchy. (unless you like crunchy)  Add the onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, tomato sauce, water, tomatoes, and 4-5 cups of the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce and cook uncovered at a simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the dry pasta and spinach.  Cook at a simmer until the pasta is done. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve in large bowls, with parmesan sprinkled over the top.

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Oh, it’s yummy. Hopefully the hubby will agree when he arrives home off the mountain.

That One Magical Place. SCOTLAND!!!

I don’t know about you, but most people I talk to have one place  in their heart and mind that is their magical place. Maybe it was a place they used to live, a place that the celebrated a great memory, maybe a place their family lived at one point, or just a place they have visited or want to visit.  It is that one place that when we think of it, our worlds fade. Our hearts begin to slow their beating, and we can feel it. We can smell the scent of the air. AHHHH! It is purely magical. Is it not?

For me it is a place that I had always wanted to visit. I had dreamed for years, lets say decades. I can date myself. Yes decades. I just imagined how lovely it would be. And then we went. In 2010, I was able to convince my ranching husband that the cattle would be fine. We had grass that summer. The weather was great, so hopefully no fires. Things were good to go to the place of my dreams. I booked our vacation and in August we boarded a plane for SCOTLAND!! Oh, I threw in a visit to a cattle ranch so that he would be getting his rancher needs met. It was going to be glorious.

I am an avid romance novel reader. I have always been a reader, but highland romance novels as corny as they sound are just fabulous. I can read it in one night and enjoy a little mind vacation to the place of my dreams.

When we arrived it was just as I had imagined only better. It was the most glorious place my eyes have every witnessed. It was so green, with sheep grazing on the hillsides. The coast was amazing. In our 8 days of driving, we only had rain once. It was just awesome.  I took over 700 pictures, and not a one does the country justice. I hope one day to return to take my kids, when they are grown.

The people, although hard to understand at first, were downright the nicest ever. I felt right at home even though I was a silly tourist. There is not one bad thing I have to say from our experience, except that we weren’t there long enough.

Scotland is definitely one place that has never left me and I find myself going their in my mind as often as I can. I have told my husband that when he dies, which will surely be before me, that I am going to move there and live out my days.

Do you  have a place like that? A place that pulls to you. A place that you can never full shake out of your system. It seems to creep up in one too many conversations, until you know you begin to annoy people with your fascination with it.

Oh, even now. I can see it, I can feel the damp air, smell that aroma of stone and history. I don’t have family from Scotland. So sad for me. Irish yes and Wales, but no Scottish. Lots of German and some English, but no Scottish. Oh to be a proud clan from Scotland. Don’t get me wrong I am very proud of where my ancestors have come. But they are different there. To be a member of a clan and to have that heritage on your shoulders. Oh, Heaven would be mine. I dare say it would.

I think I am going to have to settle for a romance novel tonight and dream of my Magical Place!!!

First Time Potato and Ham Soup!

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When it’s cold out I want soup. When I am stressed I want soup. (Well I want to chop stuff up and soup lets me do that.)Last week was just cold, damp and gloomy. So I was in the soup making mood.

When our last week of hunters drive away. That is my cue to begin cleaning out the hunting house and bringing all the food back to my house. With the power outage, I had more than my usual amount of food to bring home and some needed cooked. I had two bags of the diced ham. I use it for a ham, egg, cheese, and hash brown breakfast casserole. My kids won’t eat it, and I hate eggs. (Yes, long story, but I detest them.)  So I needed to use it up.

Searching online I found several ham and potato soup recipes. I am notorious for reading 10 recipes and then using parts of all of them. It usually works out okay, until I go to make it again and have no idea what I did. This is one of those instances, but I think I remember pretty good.

Well I pulled out the pot and away we went.  I actually turned out delicious. My overly picky son, devoured it. He even took it to school in his lunch the next day and wanted it for supper. So it is a make again recipe.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Ham and Potato Soup

  • 3-4 large potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 6 cups water, or enough to cover the potatoes
  • 1-2 pkgs diced ham,
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Watkins Chicken flavoring or bullion granules
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp flour to thicken
  • 3 cups, milk or more to thin

1. Combine the potatoes, onion, ham, and water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, cook over medium heat until tender.  Stir in the chicken flavoring, salt, and pepper.

2. Stir together butter and flour until combined. Add to the soup mixture.  Stir until dissolved. Add the milk. Stir over medium low heat until thick and soup is heated through.

3. Adjust with more thickening or thinning until you reach the desired consistency. Season to taste.

This is a great soup because you can add to it with more ham, maybe cheese. Serve it as thick or as thin as you desire.

John’s Pajama Project

How many times do I need to start a new project? Who knows? But it is often. I have baskets of yarn that I was crocheting and knitting last fall. However quilting has been my latest craze. It is time consuming, mind boggling, extremely tedious, and absolutely fun!

My dear son, who has the sweetest soul, has been saving all the pajamas his Grandmother Tennessee has made him over his ten years of life. (I am originally from Tennessee and the kids started calling my parents Pop Tennessee and Grandmother Tennessee when they were little. It has just stuck) All for his mother to make into a quilt someday.  He has worn all of these. Some are thread bare in areas, while others were only on his little body for one short lived slumber.  They are all sorts of patterns from Christmas, to western with horses,  to pink with skunks for Valentine’s Day and everything in between.IMG_00000504

Look at that pile of pajamas! And the Mess! I should have cleaned that up. But sewing is messy right?

After I finished my mom’s Christmas present of the Carpenter’s Star quilt. John set me up to begin his quilt.  Oh dear I have dreaded this. We went through pattern after pattern on the internet and he finally decided on what he wanted.  I gathered up all the pajamas and took them down stairs to the table.

Oh Dear!! The kids were upstairs and I must say I was a sight to behold.  I unfolded those little pants and tops. I can remember him wearing each one and how adorable he looked.  The more I looked I found smaller and smaller ones and the tears just flowed and flowed. Is he really almost 10! Has he really outgrown these. Surely not!

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See this little shirt. I mean could you cut that up.

I look at that and I can see that little boy wearing it. I’m crying again.

I laid the spiderman pants down on the cutting board. Your kidding me! I have to cut these up!! I really have to cut these up.  I can’t. I couldn’t. They are perfect. They are not even worn out. Someone could wear these. John can surely wear these. It was a hideous battle in my head.  Then I took the cutter and Zip. Away went the elastic and it started. I cut up the pants into as many six inch squares as I could.

Then I looked at the top. I don’t think that I need that much. So the tops were spared. Yes I know it is silly. But I just couldn’t do it. What is it about being a mother and keeping these baby clothes.

Pajama Squares

I made progress. I cut up three different ones.

It’s amazing I got that far with all the crying and holding and crying. Did I mention I was crying.

As I began to sew them into half squares. I realized that the little pajamas would be made into something that would last much  longer than his ability to wear them. Once the quilt is finished, he will be able to take Grandmomma Tennessee with him always and see all that she made for him. He will look at those squares and remember that outfit. (and if he forgets, I can show him the pictures). He will snuggle under the warmth that is provided by all those years of winter night garments.  How could I not see that it is even better than storing them just to take out of the box and cry over. I will be giving new life to his little clothes.

I admit progress is slow on this one. I will keep you updated, but for now I am at least cutting!

It will be interesting to see if he sticks with the pinwheel design. I think I will keep all the squares free before I sew them together. Just in case he changes his mind.

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Poor Joe with his cast January 2013

Poor Joe with his cast January 2013

Joe was jumping off a 4- wheeler to gather cattle, when his front leg snapped in half. He yelped once and that was it, he never made another sound. He spent months being locked up and becoming a house buddy. ( which by the way be loved.) He has healed and although he can’t go as long out trailing he does go, but catches a ride from someone on the 4-wheelers when he needs it.

Here we go.

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Can I rant a little? Well of course it’s my little blog, in my little world. We live on miles, I mean Miles of dirt roads. It’s awesome. Who doesn’t love a good dirt road. No one comes down our road unless it’s the UPS driver or oilfield traffic. Basically we are in our own little civilization here. What could be better? What could be bad about it right? Wrong.

Dirt roads bring dust. Not really an issue until there are 30 or more semi trucks delivering water to the wells. Let’s just say going slow is not one of their finer skills. I will say dust I can handle. It could be worse.

Oh wait it is. Next comes mud. That’s right when the snow melts as it has this last few days, it seeps into our tired deprived ground and creates a wonderful layer of slippery goo. If mud bogging was a skill, let me say I am up there. I can rooster tail with the best of them. Well mine is not on purpose, but I can do it. Mud also creates ruts. Deep truck rocking ruts. When the road is driven on over and over and then the mud dries the ruts are deep. They pull your tires in and keep you in the tracks. It can rattle your teeth at times let me just say. I could slow down a little more, but I am also racing something. Usually it’s beating the clock to get somewhere on time.

Well yesterday our road had basically dried up. You could walk outside with out the need for muck boots. But that tricky mother nature, she loves me. I can tell she does. Last might it started raining and it rained, and it rained. So that it was a muddy, sticky, gooey mess outside.

Today was vet day. Yes I scheduled all four dogs to go in and see my amazing Dr. Root. (aka best vet ever). I let the dogs in at about 4:30 am when the rain got bad. Of course my Jipsey was already in, snuggled up on our bed. It’s awful I know.

When the kids were ready, I went out in my trusty Muck boots and started the truck and spread out a sheet on the back seat. I could not have my dogs getting the truck muddy. I then realized that one of the kids would have to sit on back with the dogs. So I devised a plan. Yes, it’s possible. I decided to carry each dog individually out to the truck, so that they would not have muddy feet. Oh my gosh. The three females were no problem. Our big red and white border was different. Since breaking his leg in half. Yes completely compound fractured and completely disgusting. He has healed, but in his confinement of about 10 months, he has gained some weight.  Now he is a large dog anyway.

Let me say I am small. Yes, I will admit I am vertically challenged. At 5 foot 2 inches, this dog is about as long as me. So you can just picture me trying to carry this dog in slippery gooey mud to the truck and once there I had to open the door. My goodness that was a task. I am surprised we didn’t fall and both of us roll in that muck.

We made it to the vet. The kids made it to school. They even remember to switch shoes before they got out of the truck. Oh the life!