Tag Archives: summer

{FF} Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot in the Kitchen

This post could also be titled, “It’s Getting Hot in Here, So Stop Cooking With The Oven”. (I. am. getting so hot, I need to turn my oven off!!)

As we’re coming into July with all the festivities of the fourth looming in the very near future, I wanted to share some of my favorite summer meals. The decision was also inspired by a monthly meal plan I saw on Pinterest last night. I thought, oh goody!, some quick and easy meals for a busy summer. And then I realized almost every dinner required significant oven time: meatloaf, pot roast, baked chicken. Now don’t get me wrong, these are all great meals but clearly this woman lives in a house where you can run an oven for two hours and not totally offset the effects of the air conditioner. (Old homes FTW!) Plus, I don’t like to run the air conditioner unless absolutely necessary, and on warm days, as much as I love summer, I do not love smoldering in the kitchen for a heavy meal. Lastly, my family may work up at appetite in the pool or at the beach, but we rarely want to sit down to a meal of mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed vegetables and pot roast in July. January; yes please, but not this month.

I think the menu plan also showed how far our society has come from eating seasonally. Since we can eat the same food year round, in climate controlled homes, we do. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I think some families may miss out on some seasonal favorites because they’re locked into a regular meal plan.

summer cooking button

This month, as you plan out your meals and write your grocery shopping list, consider preparing a few of these summer favorites to keep your house cooler.

1. Beer can chicken – My absolute favorite summer meal. I’ve made beer can chicken in our oven before, but I much prefer the grill version. Plus, the leftovers are great for chicken salad or just eating cold. Who says you need to reheat? Chicken tacos and quesadillas are also great summer meals with little heat output, unless you use the ultra hot and spicy salsa.

2. Cool pasta salad – My family likes one made with imitation crab. I cook the noodles and prepare the salad in the morning before things heat up. After sitting in the fridge all day, the flavors have melded beautifully and it’s the perfect meal to sit down to after a day of running around.

If I can’t even bring myself to cook noodles, I’ll sometimes make an Asian Slaw with some extra nuts or leftover chicken tossed in.

3.  Slow cooker meals – My cooker can still put out a lot of heat, so in the summer I usually park it someone other than the kitchen, such as the basement. The trick is to not over fill it before carrying it to another room. Pulled pork is always a hit.

Same thing with your rice cooker; don’t hesitate to use it and move it to keep heat at a minimum in your living spaces. After a busy day, you can’t go wrong with stir fry and rice. Heck, have your kids make it for you.

4.  Pizza, on the grill- I enjoy making pizza, but there is no way I’m jacking my oven up to 450 for an hour in July.

5. Hearty salads – Even if all the lettuce in your garden has bolted, salads can make a great summer dinner, with or without the green.

Corn Salad

Broccoli Salad

Black Bean Salad

Cucumber Salad

Bonus – We also sometimes splurge on sweets for dinner. Strawberry shortcake for dinner? It’s happened. In the winter on snow days, it’s not uncommon for me to bake apple pies for supper. Don’t be afraid to prepare something special featuring fresh, seasonal produce. Grilled peaches anyone??

Need more ideas?

Follow Kelly’s board Summer Cooking on Pinterest.

Once you’re done writing up your meal plan, swing back to Mama’s for more of the Favorites.

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The Musical Truck I Want To Meet

I see Dorian is living it up in France; eating crepes and sipping mulled wine right out in the open. Since I just went to confession, I’m not going to write about how jealous I am, because I’m totally not. Hey, I have a really great package of gluten-free pancake mix and a bottle of Cupcake wine if I want to start living all high-brow. Who needs Paris? DO YOU HEAR ME DORIAN??? I DON’T NEED FRANCE!!!

Now that we’ve cleared that up; I was inspired however to write about a great business idea I had a while back not related to quiche. The alcohol truck.

Behold:

Every summer, the tinkle, tinkle of the ice cream truck sends children screaming into the street, much to the horror of their parents and oncoming traffic. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. By August, they hear the truck when it’s still in another county and immediately start salivating.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get that same childhood rush again? To hear maybe, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and know the alcohol truck was turning onto your street? After a long day at the office or cooped up at home, wouldn’t you tear out your front door to meet Mr. Boozy and his colorful truck of adult treats? And the best thing is, it doesn’t have to end with summer. Imagine Mr. Boozy slowly canvasing your block with warm cider, hot toddys and hot chocolate topped off with Whipahol once the snow starts flying. Who’s salivating now?

Unfortunately, it seems most localities frown upon roaming bands of middle-aged parents consuming alcohol in open containers outdoors. Like hordes of sugared up kids isn’t a public nuisance. If someone knows a magical place, that’s not France, where I could make this dream a reality, please let me know. Thank you.

 

 

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Summer Ramblings Of The Blah, Blah, Blah Variety

Did you ever have that feeling on a Monday night that your week was shaping up to be one of the longest yet one of the fastest weeks in you life? Like you would feel all 168 hours of it in the marrow of your bones, yet you would see and remember none of it as it zipped by at lightning speed?

It’s the kind of day that two glasses of wine at dinner does nothing to relax and an iced coffee at 6:30 p.m. does nothing to invigorate.

But I can’t complain, because, ignoring the 5 hours I logged behind the wheel yesterday, I think my fatigue is related to all things rather stellar. And honestly, any time I need a pick me up I just glance at the new clock I bought for our kitchen. I’m going to devote an entire post to ‘the clock’ at a future date, but let me entice you by saying, on a scale of one to ten it’s ninja awesome. Like, a ninja tossing chocolate-covered bacon throwing stars right into my mouth awesome.

We’re also enjoying another influx of out-of-town family visitors. The kids are in their glory between the break from school and the amount of new people in the house who take a genuine interest in all the things I can no longer pretend to understand/ appreciate. I am so tired of being lectured on Star Wars characters or the rules for their homemade basement carnival games. Finally there is fresh blood willing to listen to the character differences between episodes and the finer points of Byron’s game called “I’m Starving” which to me, looks like a big mouth hacked out of cardboard propped against an old shelf, but apparently, is on par with Dungeons and Dragons in strategy.

I’m also at the apex of school planning. You know that giddy, delicious feeling when you open all the new boxes of curriculum, stoke the glossy covers, inhale the scent of fresh paper,  then scream at the kids to stop playing with the packing peanuts. Cracking open the crisp binding on a new workbook makes me stroke my knuckles and cackle with delight. In the works is a trip to the dollar store to pick up school supplies which we’re all pretty stoked about. Plus, I have the added excitement of pimping out a new school room. It’s small, but I’ve got a whole cabinet packed to the ceiling with books and three used school desks ordered off of ebay. (Aw yeah, some old school bling in da house!)  I cannot wait to push each child’s desk into its own corner and let them work beyond arms length of one another for a change. Tony thinks it’s not going to go as smoothly as I imagine. I keep putting my fingers in my ears and singing “La,la,la,la, la, independent work spaces are the answer,la, la, la, la now cook your own dinner.”

Summer is slipping through our fingers like so many melted creamcicles, but we’re licking off each drip and savoring every moment. I should be ready for September, and all its looming responsibilities, despite the distractions. Namely a playdate bonanza. Two weeks, plus all the families I’ve been meaning to schedule stuff with all summer, equals exhaustion! Yay for procrastination! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to kill myself in order to full-fill all my half-hearted promises. I can’t wait. And I know Tony is pumped for two weeks of   last-minute dinner attempts scraped together from food-like substances currently trapped at the bottom of our freezer.

I would call this a summer to remember, if I thought I would have any brain cells left by the end of August.

How are you wrapping up your summer and easing into school?

 

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{SQT} First World Problems

This week I’ve been dealing with the greatest of all first world problems; no internet. Okay, I’m still technically able to get online through my neighbor’s unsecured wireless network but only the desktop can pick up the signal, and not reliably. That’s meant no photo uploads or downloads and no video streaming. And normally we’re not a huge online video family, but of course, this was the week I planned to show some Bill Nye clips for science.

I actually had to write this post offline and if you’re reading it, I guess that means I was able to upload it when my neighbor wasn’t eating up all his bandwidth. Next week, we’ll be vacationing at the beach and relying on the signal from the hotel next to my grandmother’s condo for internet access. It’s reminiscent of 2001; I click on a page, and go make a sandwich while I wait for it to load.

I debated whether to write about all the topics without pictures, or just go all crazy the week I return from the beach (because I won’t have tons of unpacking or laundry to do.) So because I didn’t really debate it that long, here are seven things that have been going on that I’m going to write about (with pictures!) once this damn unfortunate internet issue gets straightened out.

 

#1 And by straightened out I mean, my husband used it as an excuse to buy the fanciest new modem, router and surge protector money can buy. Plus I saw he threw some special wire in the Amazon basket so I think it’s safe to say that once the new supplies arrive, our house will look like a scene out of Tron.

 

#2  We went to a monster truck show last Saturday as a belated birthday present to Fulton. Last year’s trip for his third was the first time any of us had set foot at such an event and we all became instant fans.  I got a couple of good shots but to appreciate the awe of oversized pickups, you really need to attend at least one Monster Truck show. Deep down, don’t we all have a carnal desire to watch things get completely smashed and destroyed? It’s like the Colosseum except instead of lions, it’s trucks and instead of Christians it’s cars.

 

#3 Our kitchen is inching closer to completion. Tomorrow the electrician will come and, fingers crossed, hook up everything (and not find any fire hazards.) Being the type who loves to organize, I’m totally pumped about the opportunity to spend most of August organizing the new kitchen, which includes a small school room. Then I get to design and organize the new mudroom which will rise from the ruins of the old kitchen! The fact that I can’t get on Pintrest and save ideas is maddening.

 

#4 Tony’s family left town last weekend and already the kids are clamoring to make the 17 hour + car ride to Wisconsin. For smaller families in sports cars with super bladders, the trip can be made in about 14 hours. I’m amazed at how quickly our kids can forget all the time in the car because during the drive it seems like an eternity to us all. However, until then we made some great memories and got a lot of great family photos, including the first of all of us since Teddy’s birth I think. Somehow, in all of them except the ones where I’m purposely opening my eyes wide, I look ready to fall over and go to sleep. I really think smiling accentuates the bags under my eyes so from now on, I’m going with a more serious face and see how I look. Should make for interesting beach photos.

 

#5 Our bedroom is the hottest room in the house, but somehow our bed is still the go to place for scared children. Tony and I can’t even touch each other without perspiring and yet Addie wants to cuddle with her blanket next to us after watching a “freaky” episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

#6 One of our chickens made a nest under the ramp leading up to our deck and was trying to hatch 20 eggs. Twenty!!! However we don’t have any roosters (mature roosters anyway) so they’re all duds. Or twenty stink bombs waiting to happen. We had to pry up boards on the deck to retrieve the eggs and try to get her out.

 

#7 While at the beach I’m going to try surfing lessons. Addie has agreed to come along too, and not just to laugh. Stay tuned for the photo hilarity that is sure to come from my lack of common sense.

 

If your internet is still up and running, you’d better go catch it! And be sure to check out the rest of the Seven Quick Take posts over at Conversion Diary.

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{p,h,f,r} Entertaining

This week we are entertaining my husband’s brother and family from Wisconsin. The cousins quickly create adventures to fill the days, picking up where they left off a year ago.  Of course a shore trip was inevitable, multiple games of Stratigo plus one long ongoing game of Risk, lots of talking smack amongst the men folk and many nights of going to bed late and dropping quickly into an exhausted summer sleep. Tonight we’ll hopefully get a bonfire in (I know, total shock) and tomorrow my husband’s oldest brother will drive up from Virginia to join the fun. It will the first time all of us have been together since Tony’s grandmother died last year, and the first we’re hosting everyone. Despite the sunburn, periodic childhood spats and glut of ice cream, it is everything a family reunion should be. Maybe someday we’ll all be geographically closer, but until then, we’re making the most of the time we have.

{pretty}

Edie, who was shortchanged by a low camera battery last week.

{happy}

Fulton, who agreed to acknowledge his love of the beach.

{funny}

Tony and Teddy taking a couple of moments to work in the kitchen.

{real}

It’s not just a lemonade stand, it’s a travelling bazaar! My father-in-law constructed a lemonade stand on a wagon for the kids to pull around in the neighboring development. They took it one step further by making jewelry, homemade crayons and shinky dinks to sell, plus then added a box of free goodies to entice buyers. The dads chaperoned, but hung really far back so as to not be associated with the screaming children. Oh, and Byron took his electronics kit and hooked it up to play an annoying song over and over, like an ice cream truck, to help garner attention.

They made a dollar.

{BONUS!}

And because the gorgeous sunsets just keep coming I leave you with this. But look I added a spiritual quote to keep it fresh!

 

And it that doesn’t inspire you, be sure to head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real} photos.

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Give me an H! Homestretch Pep-talk. Rah, Rah, Rah!

Ohmywordit’sMondayandIcan’tbelieveeverythingIhavetodo.

That was my train of thought yesterday morning as I tried to gear up for the coming week; our second to last week of school. Next week family is in from out-of-town, then we  have our last week. Followed by a week at the beach. Naturally, everyone is coming down with ADHD.

All my kids activities, except piano lesson for the oldest, are done. All their friends are done. All my friends are done. But we persevere. Just two more weeks; I can do this! (I want you to imagine me jumping on the couch in full Arsenio Hall fist pump action. That is what I do to freak out the kids and let them know I mean business.)

It’s been a rough trimester what with me nearly succumbing to a salivary gland infection/ brush with death, Fulton’s surgery hopscotch and the ongoing Tower of Babel construction , I mean, new kitchen project we’re still plugging away at.

I know that if my kids were in school, their last two weeks would be full of games, track and field days, picnics and very little actual work. But we’re playing catch up and I’m hoping to squeeze a lot of actual education stuff into 9 full days (yes, we’re off 4th of July too.) And I’ve scaled back my original expectations. I know full well we’re not going to construct anything else in that Physics kit (because it hates me and I hate it)  so I’ve X’ed it out. Same with the WWII troop movement maps, color coded by battle. I will take some of Byron’s drawings of soldiers with X eyes surrounded by explosions and aliens and just stick that in the portfolio.

So, deep breath in, slow breath out. I can do this. I, and everyone else, can stay healthy. We will not stray from our bare bones daily routine, ever. We are like a crazy homeschooling post office that is going to wrap up this year and deliver the goods;  neither sun, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these homeschoolers from the swift completion of their appointed studies.

Despite the call of the warm outdoors and the green pool with its murky, yet cool water the baby insists on drinking, we will persevere. When grandma shows up with ice cream, we will persevere. When we wake up Monday sleep deprived and sunburnt from the weekend’s full social agenda, we will persevere. Cataclysmic thunder storms that fry our wireless router? We laugh in your face Mother Nature! I will finish this school year if I have to hardwire this computer all 2001.

(Despite my husbands best effort with the sledgehammer, he was unable to fix the Mac Airport, though he did comment on the durability of it’s construction.)

But my biggest motivation is just to be finished. To have another year under my belt. To compile the work from September to now and know, with some amount of certainty that my kids learned something. It is worth it in the end. Would I get the same satisfaction if my children were in school? I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure I will be able to take that pride that comes from a job well done and use it as fuel to feed the frenzy of planning that August brings. And coffee. Lot’s of coffee fuels my planning. I like to think that if you add enough creamer, it’s sort of a meal replacement shake.

Are you finished with school? How do you motivate yourself through those final weeks and days? Do you view the new school year with apprehension and dread or with giddy joy and renewed ‘I can do it!’ attitude? Confess it all in the comments!

Perhaps I need to create a homeschool mom pep squad or cheerleading team. “You can do it, you can do it, rah, rah rah! Drink your coffee plan your lessons, sis boom bah!” And then if I really knew my stuff, I’d translate the cheers into Latin. The construction of pom poms would constitute 3 art credits. I might be on to something…

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Sweaty Summer Hand-Wringing Broken Into Seven Quick Takes

I don’t even know if these really qualify as seven quick takes since they’re all related. Can Jen disqualify people for not keeping things distinct and succinct?  If she asks, let’s all pretend I’m following protocol mmmmmkay? Because it’s really too hot here for me to work any harder than I have.

1. While most kids have left behind thoughts of books and homework, homeschooling moms are now sweating out thoughts of planning next years lesson plans. Glossy catalogues are arriving, two-day homeschooling conferences are in full swing. You ask your child to divide his brother’s sandwich into quarters and he gives you a glassy-eyed stare, they’re already forgetting everything you’ve taught them, and it’s only June! Maybe it was last years curriculum, maybe you need to switch it all up. Before you know it, you’re sitting pool, lake or beachside with an iced coffee, no less than three curriculum catalogues, two legal pads and a husband so desperate for your undivided attention he’s taking off his t-shirt and exposing his bright white chest to the world.

2. In what I considered to be a stroke of genius, I made the decision from the get go to school year round; three months on, one month off. The children would never suffer from the summer brain drain, I’d get December off for Christmas prep and a whole month for spring break in April. Why isn’t everyone on board with this?

3. Because when it’s hot as the Mohave, no one wants to do school. I go to pick my arm up from the lesson plans and they’re sticking. I can only motivate the kids to do their work in a timely manner by bribing them with Fudgesicles. Now there’s brown finger prints everywhere. Ignore every indication they’re not just from the Fudgesicles by eating more Fudgesicles.

4. An old house with central air is as cool and inviting as having a fat man sit on your lap and fan you with the folds of meaty flesh on his arm. Or maybe it just feels that way to me since I’m always got a child or four clinging to my sweaty body.

5. It takes a long time to fill a pool with water when your husband demands giving the well pump a break after an hour. Yes, I know it’s old and could give out at any minute but I don’t think I can keep the kids from jumping in our 3/8 filled pool and breaking their legs for much longer.

6. I’m trying to use up food from our freezer and pass it off to the kids undefrosted as a cool dinner alternative.

7. So while I’m trying to wrap up this school year and not dehydrate, I’m freaking out about next year’s school work as are many of my friends. We’re as helpful to one another a flock of cackling hens before the slaughter. “What are you using for spelling? Aaackkk, spelling, who said spelling?? I forgot about spelling? Aaackkk! I was all concerned about grammar! Aaaacckkk! Grammar, who said grammar! Aaaccckkk! I forgot about grammar! And what about transcripts?? Aaacck!”  waddle, waddle, waddle

At the local homeschool conference, moms are bombarded with a dizzying array of curriculum choices. Most are lucky to emerge at day’s end without their heads exploding.

So if you’re off to a conference this weekend, keep your wits about you! Keep calm and enjoy the central air and whatever you do, don’t buy the first glossy book you see. Or you could avoid planning a bit longer by heading over to Conversion Diary for more Seven Quick Takes.

 

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