GrammyCare Day 1…plus a recipe.

Today I officially become Peanut’s babysitter….Her Mommy is pretty sick of paying an exorbitant fee for so-so care, we’re all sick of our Baby constantly having a runny nose and cough, and in all honesty, her Mommy can use a bit of time to dig out of a financial hole. So….Grammy to the rescue.

I’ve been pretty adamant that I didn’t want to ever become Peanut’s full time daycare, Poppa and I both agree that we want her to feel like coming to our house is a treat. I still feel that way but sometimes concessions have to be made, ya know? It’s temporary, and with free daycare comes mandatory budget counseling. Hopefully the next few months before I leave for Seattle again will be enough…

I’m grateful to be in a position to do it. It’s nice to be able to offer a solution instead of just trudging to a real job only to spend my work day worrying about the situation. It’s going to take some adjusting however…

No more days spent watching “My Name is Earl” or “Army Wives” marathons on Netflix, or hours wasted spent on Pinterest for no reason other than I  just don’t feel like being productive. Ditto for whole days lost in my craft room just piddling around….and I’m pretty sure my back is going to protest vehemently some days (as it’s been doing for the last 3. Oy.) I’ll just have to be careful, and probably step up my physical therapy exercises that I’ve pretty much slacked off on doing lately. If it helps, and her Mommy learns some budgeting skills that allow her to provide a better life for Peanut in the future then it will totally be worth it.

So in light of my new “job”, I’ve been Googling ways to keep a toddler entertained, developing vocal skills, and *gulp*….potty training. Yikes! (although we’re several months away from that, it never hurts to see what new methods have been invented in the 26 years since I last had to do it!)…

I want Miss Peanut Butter Baby to learn stuff while she’s here, not just hang out on my lap contemplating the next fun thing she can go get into and demolish! Her Poppa keeps telling her to “use her words” when she’s frustrated and squawks at him but she doesn’t really have any yet besides “Mama, dog, NO and occasionally Baby” , so we’re gonna work on that…AND I found a recipe for homemade finger paint and play dough so just imagine the fun we can have with those!


And by distract I mean “occupy so Grammy can take a break from chasing you”…











Have no fear, I’ll keep ya posted on how things are going here at “Grammy’s Institute of Learning and Superior Daycare”…

There’s just no telling what 2013 is going to bring us. Here’s hoping that whatever else it brings, that happiness and contentment are high on the list for all of us. And if you’re going out tonight, have a blast but be super careful!

PS…if y’all are superstitious like me and never fail to serve Black-eyed Peas for luck on New Year’s Day, here’s a new recipe for you to try. I made it up last year and it was super tasty!

Gram’s Lucky New Year Black-Eyed Peas and Pork Steak

  • 2-3 Pork steaks, untrimmed
  • 1 cup black eyed peas or 9 bean mix, covered in boiling water and then soaked 2 hrs
  • 2 whole carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 small to medium potatoes, unpeeled and quarter diced
  • ½ cup green onion, diced
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • ¾ tsp fennel seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ½ c. beef broth
  • ½ c white wine
  • Season-salt and white pepper to taste
  • flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2.  Heat oil and butter in dutch oven (Or any heavy bottomed oven proof pan with a lid, large enough to hold the steaks in a single layer). Season steaks with seasoned salt and pepper on both sides, dredge in flour. Brown on both sides, remove to plate.
  3.  Add veggies and potatoes to pan, cook for 2-3 minutes, add broth and wine to deglaze the pan. Bring to slight boil scraping up browned bits from bottom. Add fennel and bay leaf, put steaks back on top of veggies and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
  4.  Bake, covered for 2 hour 15 minutes. Let rest covered for 15 minutes before serving.

Tip: Don’t use pork chops, they’re too lean and will dry out…

Happy New Year Peeps!


Sneeze candies anyone?

This years Holiday Treat List:

  • Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
  • Tiger Cookies (Peanut butter cookies with a mini Reeses cup baked inside)
  • Gingerbread Cheesecake bites
  • Kris’s Damn Peanut Butter Balls (The official name)
  • Oreo Truffles
  • Toffee
  • Turtle Pecan Candies
  • “Mounds” Candy
  • Lemon Cake Balls
  • Salted Nut Bars
  • Funfetti Truffles
  • Butterfinger Fudge

And I was going to cut down on the list this year….

All I really wanna do is this:











I’m exhausted already

So far I have the Turtles and Toffee made. We’re not going to discuss the failed Peanut Brittle….

Nope. Not talking about it except to say I hate Peanut Brittle and the feeling is mutual….


Holy yum Batman….

This weekend I made heaven for my face….

In the crock-pot….

And it was gooooooood…

THANK YOU sweet Lindsay at Pinch of Yum, once again you have shared a recipe of pure delight that is now one of our favs! Kudos….

I heart Lindsay. I get BUNCHES of dinner ideas from her because she knows what the heck she’s doing in the kitchen….Also, she faithfully checks in here to see what I’m up to. She never comments, but just about every day I see 2 hits from Pinch of Yum (not from a specific post that I left a comment on. I get a few of those from different blogs occasionally, you can tell the difference) so I can only assume it’s Lindsay and her cutie-patootie Hubby Bjork. It makes me smile, really big smiles!  If more than a few days go by without them checking in, I start to worry about ’em….

Cuz I heart them….

Anyhoo, back to the yumminess…..

Photo courtesy of Pinch of Yum. Cuz Lindsay is also a much better food photographer than me!














I made Carnitas. And when that tender, juicy, heavenly meat was done, I put it on fry bread with re-fried black beans, caramelized onions, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and shoved it all into my mouth with a most unladylike enthusiasm!

To say it was frikkin’ amazing is kinda an insult to how amazing this stuff was….Lindsay also has a recipe for tamale pie made out of the leftover carnitas pork but we ate so much of it that there’s not enough left over to make another meal! Dammit…..I was looking forward to some tamale pie….Note to Self: next time actually use the size pork shoulder Lindsay says to use SO YOU HAVE LEFTOVER MEAT!


Go get the stuff to make this. You’ll thank me… I mean Lindsay! And then when you make the Tamale pie you can tell me how dumb I am for not using a bigger roast….

PS…I got 2 of the handmade Christmas gifts made so Go Me!


I think I’m becoming a Hippie…maybe.

What exactly is a Hippie these days? When I was a kid it meant someone who smoked pot, believed in free love (meaning they were slutty no-no’s), didn’t necessarily shower on a regular basis, put flowers in their hair, wore a lot of tie dyed clothes, chanted and believe in natural organic products….

OK, I really only have the last bit of criteria covered. Lately I’ve kinda gotten obsessed with homemade health/beauty products (also cleaning but that’s mostly cuz I’m cheap frugal these days)…

I’ve always had dry skin but beginning in my 40’s I’ve had SUPER dry skin, bordering on the flaky scaly. Ick. I remember my Mom’s legs always being flaky, even as a kid I was not a fan. I’ve used a million different body lotions and creams over the last decade and even with slathering the stuff on after my shower my skin will still feel a little itchy once the lotion has absorbed. So I did what I do best; I Googled it. I found a DIY Body Butter recipe and I’ll never go back! No more itchy skin! I also made a sugar scrub using finely ground coffee, brown sugar and olive oil that is heavenly in my morning shower! I keep a jar of lavender hand scrub by my kitchen sink that’s made from white sugar, almond oil, Palmolive dish soap and lavender essential oil that makes my hands feel super silky…











I’m a fan….

My obsession started with this super simple recipe for Vitamin C Serum that I saw on Pinterest. I know the store bought versions of this serum are uber spendy and also very effective for aging skin so when I saw a DIY version I was intrigued. I order the 2 ingredients needed and I’ve been using it daily for the last couple of months. I’ve noticed a decrease in red spotchiness, but mostly what I like is that my face stays hydrated all day without getting that tight feeling I used to get about halfway through the day.

After that came the Body Butter success and after that IT WAS ON! What else can I make myself??? Potions, elixirs, and cures OH MY!

The clincher for me was the diaper rash ointment I made this weekend for Peanut who woke up Saturday morning with a terrible, horrible rash on her bottom that I suspect was a yeast infection. We’ve been using Corona ointment all her life for the minor little rashes she’s gotten because even though it’s made for use on livestock it came highly recommended by Auntie Bambi. It’s worked fine but after researching (googling) yeast infection diaper rash I discovered that an anti-fungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial treatment was needed. Coconut oil to the rescue! I found several recipes for coconut oil diaper cream, some of which I didn’t have all the ingredients for (namely shea butter and comfrey). What I did have was the Coconut oil which was the main component, and lavender essential oil which is good for healing wounds and burns as well as a couple other essential oils with healing properties so I whipped up a batch of my own creation. I really wanted Tea Tree oil but I don’t have any  so I went with what I had….I used it on her pitiful raw little bottom twice before she went home yesterday and sent a jar (empty baby food!) home with her Mommy who used it the rest of the evening. This morning the rash was 75% better! I wouldn’t kid ya….

Grammy’s Baby Butt Miracle Ointment

  • 1/2 cup Organic Coconut Oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 Tablespoons almond oil (optional)

I heated the coconut oil in a double boiler until it melted and added my essential oils then poured it into 2 empty baby food jars and stuck it in the fridge to re-harden and boy did it ever! So I reheated it by putting the closed jars in a bowl of hot water until it was liquefied again and added the almond oil to make it a bit more pliable when it hardened. Worked like a charm! ***Note: Avery’s Mom said her jar turned to liquid in their house because they keep their house a lot warmer than I do. If your house is really warm you can skip the almond oil. Hubs and I prefer our house on the cool side so I needed it. Totally optional either way**

A little bit of this ointment goes a LONG WAY. I just scooped out about half of a dime sized amount and rubbed it between my hands, the warmth liquefied it almost immediately which made it very easy to spread on a tender little tushy. The bonus?? When you’re done spreading it on super precious baby butts, you can just rub in whatever is left on your hands to moisturize! It absorbs very quickly and I love the smell!

Not all of my homeopathic remedies are welcomed with open arms around my house, when made my first batch of body butter I excitedly told Hubs about it and his sceptical reply was “I’ll stick to store bought lotion, thanks” because he’s a non-believer. Ditto for this morning when I offered Avery’s Mom (we’re both coming down with the crude Avery had last week) some of my newly made cough, sore throat and general cold symptom remedy she quickly changed the subject to evade having to try it….I took a spoonful this morning and I felt better so there!

Scoff if they will, I’m a fanatical new believer that natural relief is better and I can’t wait to get my order of different wonderful healing essential oils this week! Oh the potions I’ll be able to concoct….







Maybe my next Hippie move will be to try chanting….


In a jam…again.

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble….

It’s not what you think….

It’s jam. It’s really yummy jam!

My Mom made jellies and jams every summer of my childhood, she’d always put the foam in a bowl for me after she skimmed it off the top of the jelly as it cooked. That warm foamy jam was my favorite part of her jelly making as well as my reward for helping wash and peel all the fruit!

I never made jam on my own until this summer, even though I had a copy of Mom’s beloved Peach and Pineapple jam. It skeered me a little….

It shouldn’t have, turns out jam/jelly making is super easy, albeit a  little labor intensive.

I’m addicted….

It started with our trip to Washington state in July, I brought back 4 lbs each of gorgeous cherries and peaches. I was determined to teach myself the art of jelly making!

And I did….I SOOOOO DID!

My first try was the Bing Cherry (my new favorite). It turned out so good I made Strawberry Peach and Peach/Pineapple that same day!

I took a break for a few weeks, then found some lovely red plums and nectarines at the grocery store, I bought 2 pounds of each, came home and Googled a jam that would use them all. Ended up combining 2 different recipes as I couldn’t find one that suited my needs; the result was Stone Fruit Honey Jam (Hubs new favorite). It was also my first attempt at making a jam that used no powdered pectin. It’s a little less firmly set than some of the others (my Bing Cherry set up a little TOO firmly and needs to set out on the counter for a few minutes).

It’s all a learning experience. Chef Vivi has been jamming for years, she jumped right in her first Fall that she was out of the Navy and made Apple Butter for her Dad. She followed up with Pomegranate Jelly, a favorite of everyone! This year she made Spiced Golden Plum Jam (made from yellow plums picked right off a tree in her yard!) and also Roasted Golden Plum with Sage and Honey (she’s a show off!) and Blackberry from the kajillion of blackberry brambles growing on her property! They are all fabulous!

From the Left: Caramel Apple Jam, Stone Fruit Honey Jam, Peach and Pineapple Jam, Strawberry Peach Jam and Bing Cherry Jam.

Aren’t they gorgeous??? I’m kinda obsessed with them…today I made the Caramel Apple Jam from the Macintosh and Sweet 16 variety apples I bought at the Farmers Market on Saturday. It’s yummy! AND…..I found an intriguing recipe for Apple Rosemary Jelly that proclaims to be quite fabulous and uses all the cores, seeds and peels from the apples I used for the Caramel Apple! It’s like a friggin’ bonus Jelly!!! Well…..except for the fact that I had to go to THREE DIFFERENT grocery stores to find fresh Rosemary (ahhh the joys of small town living!)

The apple garbage is simmering on my stove as we speak and I gotta say, it smells heavenly….

I’ve given away a lot of jam, even mailed some to special friends. I’m sure I’ll give away more with some homemade scones or a loaf of homemade bread for Christmas. I’ve made way more than Hubs and I need and I’m having so much fun making the stuff that I just gotta share!

I’m keeping a close watch at the Farmers Market for Pears. I’ve got my eye on a recipe for Vanilla Bean Pear Butter……

I will happily share any of my Jam/Jelly recipes mentioned,  just leave me a comment requesting any (or all) and I’ll email them to ya!

Happy Jamming!