Of good BBQ and found blessings

Yesterday The Flirt and I went to The Monster Truck Show at the ND State Fair grounds, which was part of Ribfest. Ribfest is a good time, as there is always something going on, and you get to eat delicious pulled pork, ribs, or some other smoked goodness. This year, they invited the Monster Trucks to come, and we thought it would be a good show.

It turns out we were wrong, and it was an expensive mistake because it was $20/ticket. They brought 3 trucks, one of which died early, and all they did is drive back and forth and jump over a few cars, with large gaps of time in between. There’s more disappointment dripping from this experience, but I won’t belabor the point. Long story short, it wasn’t what was advertised.

Here’s the good news.

We went to the Monster Truck Show with friends, and even though the show was a complete bust, we had a good time chatting with them.

It gets even better.

Later we came back for supper and to listen to an Eagles Tribute band called The Long Run, and they were awesome. We met a couple in line to get supper, and ended up sitting together. We’d not met them before, but we hit it off and spent the entire eventing chatting with them.

I think that was the best part of the whole day, was meeting Bob and Sue. They were really awesome, and I hope I run into them again.

The lesson I took away from this experience was that just because one part of the day was a huge disappointing flop, it doesn’t mean your day is ruined. It’s a good lesson to always seek out the good things in any situation, no matter how small. Little things do add up.

Faithful Readers, life is too short. Here’s hoping we can all have the presence of mind to be aware that there are blessings to be found in most situations, and actively seek those out. Also, eat good BBQ… hmmm!!! Blessings all!

Make big plans…

…so sayeth my fortune cookie.

I get a charge out of fortune cookies, and always look forward to opening one upon having finished a meal at my local Chinese restaurant. Yesterday we ordered out from work, and I had the Kung Pao Chicken..Yummy!

Even better than the meal, I got this fabulous fortune cookie. Let me back up a bit…I’m taking the fortune as fabulous, and not ominous. On first sight, I was reminded of a curse I heard once: “may you live in interesting times.”  Personally, I prefer my times boring and smooth. If I want life to get interesting I’ll make arrangements for that myself, thanks. Big plans don’t necessarily mean plans for a trip or for anything fun. And, what the heck is big? I’m sure that means something a little different to everyone.

Make big plans…I can do that. Have done that. Will continue to do that. I have plans of all shapes and sizes. Big plans belong on bucket lists, and on lists for preparation, and lists for rainy days. Big plans can be made ahead of time, or be a spur of the moment idea.

You might wonder why I’m making such a big deal out of three words I randomly received in a fortune cookie. I guess I was having such a rough day, and this little fortune showed up like a ray of sunshine in a dark dingy room. You could say that I found a small blessing, and clung to it.

I’m don’t necessarily believe that fortunes in cookies automatically come true, but I think allowing something positive to plant a seed of positivity in your mind is very worthwhile.

Here’s hoping you have lovely fortunes in your cookies, and that you live in times only as interesting as makes you happy. Have a great day, all!



Younger Son: “I make baking manly!”

Periodically, Younger Son will bake something. Being a teen age boy he’s perpetually starving, so his interest in baking serves him well.  Today he baked chocolate chip cookies, and did so without much in the way of coaching from me. He’s getting better at it as time goes on, which I’m grateful for. Not only will he be able to bake for himself when he gets out on his own, but I get to reap the benefits of his interest in baking now.

There’s nothing like chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven…especially when someone else bakes them!

The interesting part of this story (well, to me anyway) is that as Younger Son stood around proudly eating one of his fresh cookies, he announced to me: “I make baking manly”. I just nearly fell out of my chair trying desperately not to laugh out loud. I did manage to say, “Yes, honey…you certainly do”  between bites of a hot cookie.

He watches a lot of cooking shows, most of which are hosted by men, and I’m kind of glad for that. I want both of my boys to be able to cook for themselves when they get out on their own.  Older Son is taking a class at school all about food, and loves it. I wish I could get him to cook more at home. I’m going to have to corral him in the kitchen and teach him his favorite recipes whether he likes it or not.

What I really need to do is write down all of the boys’ favorite recipes. Many of them I have stashed in the computer, or on various smudged recipe cards…or they are just recipes that are stored in my head. I really need to get those written down. Both Older and Younger made me promise to compile all of my recipes for them for when they go out on their own. The last time we talked about it was a couple of years ago, and pretty soon Older Son will be off to college. I need to get the lead out and get this project rolling.

But, for now…I think there’s a warm cookie calling my name!

Garden update – only two months and producing!

My camera was out of batteries for a while, so I couldn’t take any pictures of the garden. Now I’ve got it all juiced up and have been documenting its progress again. I didn’t get to put my garden in until almost the end of June due to all the stuff that was going on with having to move the shed and getting the tree chopped down. Truthfully, I despaired that I would have planted in vain…not so! I am pleasantly surprised to report that I’ve already been eating grape tomatoes every day…they don’t even make it in the house. That’s my favorite snack while I’m outside.  Here are the latest pictures:

First day after planting, June 19th

As you can see, it looked pretty sparse the first day of planting, but the garden really has taken off, even though it didn’t get near enough water as it should have.

I took this today, almost two months later, August 15th

Something that was nice to see is that I have quite a few volunteers. The tall thing to the right of the bird bath is a sunflower that just sprouted by itself. The tomatoes, on the left, have really suffered and aren’t as big as they should be, but as long as there are tomatoes coming from them, I don’t mind.

The big bushy stuff in the back is all the volunteer tomatoes that grew in my compost heap! Younger Son came in from checking his pumpkins one day and let me know that there were two tomato plants growing  in the compost heap, and I just let them keep growing. They’ve got tomatoes on them, and I see no reason to get rid of them, even though

I love these grape tomatoes...they are like garden candy!

they are siphoning nutrients out of my compost. There will be time enough to build the compost heap up in the future.

Younger son so badly wanted to grow his own pumpkins, and didn’t have very good luck with it last year. This year, he’s had much better luck, though the leaves seem to have some kind of powdery mold on them that causes them to turn white and die off the vine. The main trunk of the vine seems to be ok, and now he has at least one pumpkin on the way, and a couple of others that

Younger's pumpkins have started to take over the yard, and they are flowering like crazy!

appear to be developing.

I only lost two pepper plants, which leaves me with 20 plants left, of varying types, all of which are producing!  Not only do I have some peppers that are almost ready to be picked, but the plants are flowering like there’s no tomorrow. As long as it stays warm, I’ll have a really good crop of peppers.

My one big regret is that the herb garden Older Son and I had planned never did get planted. Next year I’ll be able to get my garden in on time and we will have more time to putz with the gardening. I can’t wait to see how the harvest is going this time next year!

These are cherry peppers. I can't wait to try them!

Did you ever wonder what goes on in your fridge?

I’m cleaning my fridge, and  have to wonder what the heck happens in a fridge. Fridge Things are supposed to sit still and wait patiently for you to return and give them purpose. Fridge Things are not supposed to cavort with wild abandon. They are not supposed to jump off of shelves or act like they’ve been drinking and fall down. They are supposed to sit upright, quietly.

Courtesy of Delaware Online

I’m pretty sure that there’s been some kind of party going on in my fridge. As I’ve been really busy and have neglected the inside of my fridge, the Fridge Things, I believe, took entertainment matters in their own hands. I do also suspect they had help from Older and Younger as well. I’ll have to give the young’uns a chat about having too much fun with the Fridge Things.

I’m taking a quick break as I am expecting a big fight with a particularly nasty Fridge Thing, which protested mightily when notified that it had worn out its welcome. I’m now rested up, I’ve got my bleach, my scrubby and my armor. I probably should have made sure I had a rabies shot too.

If nobody hears from me by tomorrow, call for help!

Time for the State Fair

Today is the first day of the North Dakota State Fair, and it’s going to be a doozy this year. Not only did we get a brand new grand stand, but KISS is playing at the fair. For some of you readers from big cities, that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in North Dakota having KISS come to the State Fair is a big deal. We live close enough to the Fairgrounds that we can walk there, and it provides a lot of entertainment when the traffic for the big shows is backed up all the way to my house…makes for interesting people watching. The funny thing about people in their cars is that they do a lot of stuff in their cars they don’t think people will see them do. Oddly enough, most cars are mostly all windows on top, and you can see everything going on in the car. Silly people!

Older Son will be working all nine days of the Fair. Younger Son isn’t working yet, being only 15, so he’s going to spend all nine days riding rides, meeting friends and eating Fair Food.

Behold the luscious goodness of mini donuts!

Hmmm…Fair Food is the best part of the State Fair!  Buffalo Burgers, Mini Donuts, fresh lemonade, fresh cherry lime-ade, Gyros…and let’s not forget that at the State Fair you can get anything, and everything, deep-fried. It’s a mind-blowing, heart exploding, junk food orgy. The Buffalo Burgers are the best, and so good, you don’t even need ketchup.

Having been going to the North Dakota State Fair since I was very small, it’s lost a little bit of it’s luster for me. I’m not much for rides anymore. I’d actually rather go through all the 4H exhibits and the commercial buildings. I also love to people watch. Last year, during the Motley Crew concert, two guys dressing in 80’s Hair Band garb walked up and down all the main drags all night long. The catch here was that the longer they walked, the more of their back sides became exposed. At the beginning of the evening, they each had one rip in the back sides of their jeans, and by the end of the night, each guy had a full cheek exposed. It was also interesting to see the people streaming out of the concert afterwards…there were many, many kids holding up their drunk 40-something parents, which was sad.  There were a lot of drunk 40-something people holding each other up on the way out. Lots of people dress up in 80’s Hair Band regalia.  It was a people-watching-palooza that night.

Something we always do every year is watch the State Fair Parade. Last year, I took my boys and my Favorite Nephews to watch. This year we’ll do the same thing, thought I’m going to try hard to get my Dad to go too. Usually it’s a lot of farm equipment, fire engines and clowns that go by, but it’s still a good time. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived just two blocks from the Fair Grounds, right on the parade route. Usually the parade fell on or around my Grandma’s birthday, so parade day was always a big deal. Lots of food, family, friends and parade watching. Good times, and I miss them. That’s ok…we’ll make new memories and take lots of pictures.

One of my oldest friends had an extra ticket to see Sugarland on the last day of the Fair, and asked me if I would like to go. So, she’s coming down next Friday night, and staying the weekend. I can’t wait!

What a beautiful day in the park…

Rental for a picnic shelter at the park for a day: $30

Chips, dips and beverages: $20

Availability of sunshine and nice breezes: Spot on!

Cost of good times with old friends, and new, on a lovely Sunday afternoon: PRICELESS!

Today, I met my friends at Oak Park, and some great new people joined in. It was a fabulous afternoon with lots of sunshine, bubble blowing, foot ball throwing, joke telling, and food eating. It’s been so long since I’ve had a nice day like that, I’d forgotten what it’s like to just get away for a while and forget about everything else. I feel so relaxed right now, I could just noodle out and go to sleep. In fact, I was so relaxed, I left completely forgetting to take my stuff with me! (thanks for grabbing my stuff for me Brea!)

Ah, but it’s back to reality time. I managed to get a little housework done before I left today, so now it’s time to get some more laundry rolling and get the rest of the housework done. Before I know it, Monday will have dawned and it’s back to the grind again. Oh, but it was a lovely time while it lasted!

Confessions of a Snack Smuggler

Today Mom and I took all of the boys to see Despicable Me.

Everyone of us liked it, and we ranged in age from 8 to 64. There’s a little something in it for everyone. I think my favorite part of the movie had to be The Minions...I’ve got to find myself a mini minion for my new desk!  You can get the gist of the story from the trailer, so I won’t go into it here, but I will say that it’s worth going to see in the theater.

Speaking of seeing movies in the theater, what the heck is up with the high-priced tickets!? It’s now $9 for an evening adult ticket, and $6.50 for a matinée ticket, all ages. When we moved here in 1998, it was only $5 a ticket and $3.50 for a matinée. Yeah, I know that was a long time ago, but gee whiz.

Not only are the tickets to get in outrageous, but the snacks and drinks are so cost prohibitive that I’ve had to take up smuggling in order to support my moving-going habit. That’s right, I said it. I’m a snack smuggler.

Last night the boys and I went shopping at Wally World in preparation for our big movie day. They have a whole section in the Candy Isle labeled “Movie Candy”. No joking, I picked up enough movie candy to feed three people at three movies for just $12. That wouldn’t completely buy snacks and drinks at the theater for three people going to one movie.  Today, before we left, I emptied out my big shoulder bag, and stuffed it full of enough snacks and drinks for the six of us. I have to admit, my bag looked like carry on luggage by the time I got it stuffed full and zipped up, but it did the job.

Should I feel guilty for not having purchased the exorbitantly priced snacks and beverages at the theater? No, I don’t think so. It’s not illegal. Until they enforce any “no outside food or drinks” rules, I’ll be packing my own. That will probably happen right after they enforce the “no on under 17 allowed without a parent or guardian” rule. Yeah, like that’s going to happen any time soon.

Younger’s cooking supper tonight

I had the hankering for something barbequed, so I told Younger Son to find a recipe and we’d have something grilled tonight. Of course he’s the one cooking the beef ribs. He’s been so excited to use our new grill, and he has insisted on charcoal. It takes forever to cook anything, but it sure does taste good. So, I showed him how to make the sauce and he took the meat outside and commenced to cooking. I can smell it in here, and it smells heavenly.

Along with the grilled beef ribs, we’re having chips and corn on the cob. Nice summer time meal!  After that, we plant the garden…just in time too. It’s supposed to rain tonight!

NOTE: Younger just came in and it’s raining already. So much for gardening!

Nothing like a bonfire and good company

I was invited to spend the evening at a friend’s house in the country last night. In this particular housing area every home sits on no less than two acres of beautiful North Dakota rolling prairie…gorgeous wide open spaces!

We stood outside trying to get the bonfire going, but then a storm rolled in and we had to go inside. That was ok, because we all had a good time just chatting, no matter where we were standing or sitting. There was a lot of good food and good company, and I was able to catch up with some old friends, which was fabulous.  Eventually, the skies cleared and we all piled back around the bonfire (which burned brightly through the storm).

It may sound a little silly, but it seems to me that there’s something very primal and essential about the activity of standing around a fire with other people. Yes, I said essential, and I used that word very purposefully. Sitting around a fire with others is something I used to take for granted when I was growing up, as we spent a lot of Summer weekends at a cabin and always had a fire burning.  I love the smell of wood smoke, and the sight and sounds of the embers burning and the sparks popping off the logs. I love the heat of it and how the luminescence of the flames lights up people’s faces. I love sharing a fire with others, whether we’re talking or not. For me a campfire is a total mind/body experience, and I thirst for it. I didn’t realize how badly I missed it until last night.  It’s been many years too long without.

So, I stayed until about 1am and drank in all the fire and good companion ship I could.  Being able to sit around with other adults in a non-work setting was a complete balm on my soul, and the fire was the big fat icing on the cake. I hear from my friends that they are planning to have a bonfire once a month, and I’m invited back.

I just can’t wait!

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