Friday, May 29, 2009


Earlier this month, my husband's step-mom became a U.S. citizen (congratulations Judy!). I was so glad I was able to attend the Naturalization ceremony. I couldn't help but get a little emotional as I watched over 140 people from the Phillipines, Uganda, Russia, India, Mexico, Sweden, and many other countries take that final step in their long journey to citizenship. It made me very proud to be an American. And where does a native New Zealander go to celebrate this significant event in her life? To Cracker Barrel and Krispy Kreme, of course! Yep, I love America...AND doughnuts.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset fates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Croque Monsieur

I was going through my odds-and-ends box on my desk one day, trying to thin it out a bit, and I came across this postcard from my brother. It was from one of his trips to Paris and just in case you can't make out the writing, I will translate:

Bonjour! I spent yesterday at the Palace of Versailles and you didn't! Today, maybe I will go to the Louvre...and you won't! See ya, sucker!

That was a little rude, wasn't it? I'll show him, though. I'll make my own ham and cheese sandwich, French style. The Croque Monsieur. It's a delicious hot sandwich made with ham and lots of swiss and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. It's a little taste of France in the middle of Arkansas.

Croque Monsieur (original recipe from Ina Garten)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hot And Cold

You know how after you have a baby, you have to watch a video on the basics of caring for a child before you can leave the hospital? Well, I would like to submit this video to hospitals to show parents exactly what they're up against.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Mood Meter

Three months ago, a neighbor down the road threw a birthday party and put balloons up, every couple of hundred feet, leading to their house. I first noticed them as I drove home from school one afternoon. There was one on a bridge, then a stop sign, then several electrical poles, then their mailbox. I noticed them the following day, then the next day, and then the day after that. After 3 months, they're still up.

Often, you can judge what kind of mood I'm in by how I react when I see these lifeless balloons hanging by a string. If I'm having a good day then I hardly pay them any mind but if I'm in a bad mood I start making covert plans to cut them all down and cram them in the neighbor's mailbox.

Today? It's a good day.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just Cover It In Cheese

This is Big pup. He's 7, loves babies, and wants to be a policeman/truckdriver/train conductor/race car driver when he grows up. He's also a picky eater.

He likes spaghetti, but with no sauce. He will only eat hamburger buns, no meat. He loves McDonald's chicken nuggets but spits them out anywhere else. Goldfish are yummy, Cheez Its are gross. And don't even think of trying to trick him into eating Great Value blueberry muffins, it has to be Martha White. Actually, I'll let him slide on that one, I can tell a difference too. My point? HE IS PICKY!

So when I noticed that the topic of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals yesterday was called Parent's Best Friend, I was very interested.
But then she made battered fish fillets topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and lots of basil. And then she made pita chips topped with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and spinach. And then she said if you cover it with cheese, kids won't even notice the spinach. She also said that I'm a bad mother and I'm the one preventing him from trying new foods and he really, really wants to eat an octopus because he's braver than I think and just because I'm his mother doesn't mean I know what he likes and dislikes because, hello, what kid doesn't like chicken parm?!

Mine, Rachael. Trust me.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Have To Know

Why won't Ruby let Max have strawberries for breakfast? It seems like a perfectly healthy breakfast to me. Not everyone likes their eggs sunny side up, Ruby.

I've seen Clifford the Big Red Dog eat. He eats a lot. But what about the whole poopy situation? I mean, where does it all go?

Spongebob already lives underwater so how is he still able to go the beach--underwater?

Is Caillou okay? Shouldn't he have hair by now?

Can someone tell me what "uh-you-nuh-may" means? I've watched Go, Diego, Go over and over and I have no idea what he's saying. I wish the words would pop up on the bottom of the screen because it's so hard to read animated cartoon characters' lips.

And last but not least---Boohbah. What in the world was that about?

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Confessions And Stuff

Remember my post about poke salad? I had a very mild panic attack after fixing it for dinner. I was positive that I was going to drop dead from eating pokeweeds from the backyard and I begged my husband not to go to the boxing gym that night. He wasn't too sympathetic, though, so I gathered up the young 'uns and went with him. And I survived!

Oh, and remember when I told Little pup to never, ever let me leave the house wearing a Hooters t-shirt? I was wearing a Captain Morgan t-shirt at the time. That's okay isn't it?

And you know how I only posted 3 times last week? Well, I only read about 3 of your posts, too:( My sister was visiting and I didn't get anything done last week. But I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone this week!

And I totally don't deserve these awards but...

...look what I got! Thank you Whitney from Whitney Inspired! She recently posted a picture of her studying at the college library--take a look. Wow, does that ever bring back memories---minus the laptop. And...
...Brandi from The Life of a Small Town Girl gave me this award, thank you Brandi! She's an Alabama girl but everytime I see her in that hat I just pretend that 'A' is for Arkansas. And...

...Rae Ann from Critical Mass gave me the zombie chicken award! How cool is that?! Thanks Rae Ann! I'm still 'awwwwing' over the cuteness of her Easter post. Don't look if you can't handle cute bunnies, kitties, and puppies. I mean it--that fourth pic is lethal.
Thank you all for thinking of me!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

"Respect. Honor. Remember."

It's still Friday, isn't it? I've been meaning to post this edition of Poetry Friday all day but then I got sucked in by a couple of Lifetime movies and before I knew it, the whole day was gone. But I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that this week has been National Police Week. You still have one more day to show your support by tying a blue ribbon around the antenna of your car or replacing your porch light with a blue lightbulb. But if you really want to show your support for police officers you can come over and wash my husband's uniforms and cook him dinner. I--I mean he--would really appreciate that.

And maybe you could mow the yard, too? That would be really nice.

A Nation's Strength by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

Law Enforcement Memorial Service 2009

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Life Lessons

Time for more transcripts of conversations--you're welcome!

Cashier, ringing up my groceries: I hope those eggs are good. They're really expensive.
Me: They're cage-free.
Cashier: What's that mean?
Me: Well, the chickens aren't kept in cages.
Cashier: Oh.

Me, watching a Mom in a Hooters t-shirt pick up her child from school: If I ever try to leave the house in Hooters t-shirt, please take away my keys, okay?
Little pup: Okay.
Me: Thanks.
Little pup: What's Hooters?

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Friday, May 8, 2009

The Chosen Mother

In this edition of Poetry Friday I'm paying to tribute to the original mom--Eve. I know, she gets kind of bum rap for that whole eating from the Tree of Knowledge thing which resulted in the excruciating pain in childbirth but what mom hasn't made mistakes in her life, huh? I know I have. Of course, none of my mistakes led to the fall of Man but who am I to judge? So here's to Eve and to all the mom's out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Mrs. Adam by Kathleen Norris

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Poke Salad

Once upon a time, when my daddy was a boy, he walked all the way into town to see a movie with a friend. But before they could set off for the matinee, his friend had to pick a mess of poke salad for his mother. So the kid grabbed a bag, quickly stuffed it full of dead leaves and then put some poke salad on the top. He left it for his momma to find and they took off down the road heading into town. Sneaky, huh?

I'm not sure what kind of punishment the kid ended up getting--maybe he wasn't allowed to watch Howdy Doody for a week, or worse, maybe he had to give up Dragnet altogether--but I do know he missed out on some yummy greens for dinner.

We're fortunate to have quite a bit of poke growing in the backyard out by our burn pile. It's very poisonous so don't pick it if it's too big--you want to make sure that the leaves are from young shoots, less than 6 inches long, and don't have any red color to them. I've heard that you can peel the stalks and fry them like okra but I'm not brave enough to try it. I'll just stick to the leaves, thank you.

Poke Salad

a mess of poke
1 or 2 eggs
bacon fat
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add poke. Let boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse leaves in a colander and rinse out the cooking pot. Add more water to the pot and bring to second boil. Add poke and boil for another 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse leaves again and squeeze out the excess water like you would with spinach. Add to a skillet with some bacon fat, scramble an egg into the greens, and season with salt and pepper.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

She's Baaaaaacckk!

Last year, a bird showed up on the back porch, flitting around looking for the best spot to build a nest. She settled on a narrow ledge right where the column connects to the ceiling. At first, I didn't think it was such a smart choice because the dog house is directly below it and can you imagine the huskies' excitement when baby birds would start to drop out of the sky? It would be like Christmas for them! But for the momma bird? Not so much. I was worried. But this location did have its perks--her nest would be directly visible from my living room window and I would have a front row seat to nature at its finest. And eventually, all the babies flew away, alive and well.

And look who showed up last month!
I don't know if it's the same momma bird--or one of her babies--but it's a momma bird, nonetheless. She built her nest in the same spot and I've been enjoying watching her prepare for the arrival of her babies. She works hard during the day getting everything just right, making sure that her little ones will have a safe and nurturing environment. She keeps her nest warm and guards and protects it. It kind of reminds me of this...
I know I'm a week early but all of those Teleflora, ProFlowers, and FTD Florists commercials are getting to me. Happy Mother's Day!

(Edited to add: That's a picture of me pregnant with Little pup 5 years ago--I'm not pregnant!)

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