Friday, March 29, 2013

Spice up Your Pancakes!

Easter Sunday always brought with it a great breakfast feast.  This would include bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, grits, oatmeal and of course, pancakes.  My father tended to make pancakes every Sunday, but Easter Sunday he always tried to make them extra special.  Now that I have a child of my own, I am always thinking of ways to spice up our pancakes.  I have compiled a list of different ingredients you can add to make your typical pancakes just a little bit better.  Some of these additions are basic, and others are a bit harder to come by.  Give them all a try and choose your favorites.

-          Any fruit.  Fresh is best but frozen certainly works too.  Either dice it up very small and mix right into the batter, or slice and add to the top of the half cooked pancake befor flipping.

-          Chocolate chips.  Or butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips.  These can also either be added to the batter befor pouring, or to the pancake befor flipping

-           Cinnamon.  I have always put cinnamon in my pancake batter.  It adds amazing flavor

-          Cardamom.  My Aunt suggested I add cardamom to my pancakes after I complained at Christmas about how expensive the spice is.  I do not suggest you go out and purchase cardamom for the sole purpose of pancakes unless you plan to use it very often.  But if you happen to have a jar of it in your house, this is a great use.

-          Bacon.  Crisp cooked bacon, crumbled into pancake batter adds flavor and gives you two breakfast flavors in one!

-          Brown Sugar.  Sprinkle this on to your pancake batter just befor flipping.  It adds a caramelized flavor that doesn’t need any syrup.

       Jams or Jellies.  Rather than the typical syrup on pancakes, add your favorite jam or jelly to add some more flavor and texture.  Or get creative and make a PB&J pancake.  

-           Flavor infused butter or syrup.  There are so many recipes and ideas to infuse flavors into your butters or syrups that I cannot list them all here.   A quick internet search will yield a multitude of options

I hope you all have a happy Easter, and enjoy some new pancake ideas!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

From Housewife to Handyman

Last week was an adventure to say the least.  On Friday (the 15th) I realized we were very low on propane.  So low, in fact, that we could not run the furnace or water heater.  After our busy weekend, my mother convinced me to break out the space heater.  On Monday I tried to light the pilot on the water heater and a breaker popped.  Now a third of my electricity is out and there are no lights in my family room or kitchen.  I tried to fix it that night and again Tuesday morning, but I had no luck.  Of course, a friend stops by to help and he has everything fixed in seconds.  I finally got propane Thursday morning and I still couldn’t get the pilot lit on my water heater.  After trying all day, I finally take the darn thing apart and light it by hand.  Not the safest idea, but I needed a real shower more than you can imagine.  

That week tested my resourcefulness more than I was prepared for, but we made it through.  I stocked up on foods than can be prepared in the toaster oven so we had plenty to eat.  I made sure we used paper plates and plastic spoons so dirty dishes didn’t pile up in the sink (It was already full so there weren’t realy any clean dishes to use anyways).  I broke out the space heater so our family room was at least a little warmer than the rest of the house (this one was a little scary because the space heater is older than I am).  I let my son sleep in my bed since I have an electric blanket so my bed was much warmer than his.  And I took a shower via coffee pot.

While my husband is home, he tends to most of the household maintenance while I stick to maintaining the farm.  I can repair fences with the best of them, but ask me to unclog the sink and I am as lost as a field mouse on Broadway.  Over a year ago my dishwasher quit draining, so I just stopped using it.  My husband came home from deployment and looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told him I didn’t even try to fix it.  He couldn’t get it running properly either, so my idea wasn’t so bad after all. 

But just giving up on things that break is not an option for most of us.  I do not need my dish washer, and I am perfectly happy washing dishes by hand, so I got off easy with that one.  But when my electricity went wonky, I had to do something about it.  As many times as I tried to fix the breakers, I had to call a friend to bail me out.  I can’t even flip a switch properly.  Once we got the propane tank filled, I had to get the furnace restarted and get the water heater running.  Last time I needed to turn on the furnace I needed help, luckily I got it all by myself this time.  The water heater was a bit trickier.  I after trying all day, I ended up calling my husband for help.  He talked me through it, but I was terrified of blowing up my house the entire time.

I have lived on my own as a home owner for 2.5 years, with small stretches of time in there with my husband, and I still feel like a mess when it comes to house repairs.  As military wives, we need to be able to hold down the fort while our spouses are away.  We need to be able to fix the toilet, unclog the drains, repair the washer and dryer, run and maintain the lawn mower… the list never ends.  It is always beneficial to have a support system for help when things get out of hand, but that is not always the case.  I love to think of myself as an independent country girl who can take care of herself.  But in reality I need help sometimes.  As much as we want to be able to do it all, that is just not true most of the time.  And of course, most of us can not afford to call in the professionals all the time.  What I would love to see, is more classes offered on how to maintain things around the house.  I am not saying we need classes in cooking and cleaning, but unclogging the kitchen sink is a skill we could all use.  The same goes for breaker boxes, washer and dryer maintenance, and lawn mower maintenance.  If any of you happen to know of classes like these in your area, pleas share them so others can enjoy.  I will look up what I can and compile a list.  Until then, wish me luck that my house stays standing until my husband is home again.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Busy Busy Busy

It has been quite a weekend here.  Saturday morning my son and I got up early to feed the horses befor heading out.  We started our adventure getting lost on the way to a 4H tack sale.  When we finaly arrived there was a ton of stuff to look through and we made out pretty good.  Then it was off to Camillus so I could get a few hours of work in befor a birthday party for one of Eli’s classmates.  We got a bit lost on the way to the party but we made it and Eli had a blast.
My thought for this post stems from that busy weekend.  What do you do to get out of the house?  Do you plan trips around your kids or around yourself?  Or both?  When there is something you want to do, do you bring the kids or leave them with a sitter?  These are all questions we, as military wives, have to ask ourselves every time we are left as *single parents*.  It is particularly important for those of us that live in more rural areas. 
I have to plan every trip out very carefully so I am sure to hit all the locations I need in one day.  I can’t afford the time or gas money to travel to the city every day, or even every week.  I am lucky enough to work in the city once a week so I can plan shopping on that day.  But if I realize I need something from Target on Wednesday, I have to wait until Saturday to get it. 

Planning trips out just for fun rarely happens around here.  If it had not been on a Saturday, we would not have attended the birthday party.  We were fortunate enough to have 2 other things to do in the city that day so everything worked out.  Emma’s father made the comment when we got there that he wasn’t even sure I went anywhere other than the Elementary school and the Grocery store.  I politely laughed but that statement is pretty tru, I don’t realy go anywhere else.  This summer, I hope to get out to the zoo in each of our close cities (we are pretty much dead center between two cities but they are both still pretty far away).  We also have a ton of stuff to do around the farm and I want my son riding his pony all by himself befor autumn gets here.

So, what do y’all do to get out of the house?  Do the kids come along every time?  How do you plan trips?  I would love to hear stories of your adventures!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I know it's a bit late in the season to be posting about Taxes but it happens to be on my mind at the moment.  I hope by now that most of you have finished filing your 2012 taxes or at least started them.  If not, I strongly suggest you get that ball rolling.  

Being a military wife, tax season can be a bigger hassle than normal.  With our husbands away on deployment or training, it is hard to collect all the information we need.  Especially since his W2 is electronic and we need all sorts of usernames and pass codes to get access to it.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to have an opportunity to have him print it out, or even get an extension on filing, but that is rarely the case.  

This year, my husband and I are trying to file taxes from 1700 miles apart.  Most of our tax paperwork gets mailed to me, I either mail or fax it to him, then he collects it all for filing.  For the most part this has been working, but it helps when I know what he is looking for.  I had been bugging him for weeks to start filing but he kept putting it off.  Finally, he told me that he didn't have our mortgage information.  For all I knew, we had all the information and he was just procrastinating.  Cue me feeling like a total jerk for being on his case for weeks.  I finally get the paper we need and continue to forget to send it to him.  So, we have decided that I will just read him the necessary info over the phone this weekend and we will get our taxes done.  My concern now is that I will give him the wrong information and everything will get screwed up.  That is just how my karma rolls sometimes.  I will be so relieved when this process is over.  

It is hard enough filing taxes on our own.  Throw in a husband, some kids, and a mortgage and things get a bit more complicated.  Then ship our husband off to another country, or state, and scatter the paperwork all over the place and it's likely our heads will pop off befor taxes get filed.  

As military wives, we are taught to take care of everything on the home front while our soldier is deployed. But when the time comes, it can all be a bit overwhelming.  Try to keep a system for things like this.  Collect all your receipts in one central location, preferably something more organized than a shoe box, and organize tax paperwork as soon as you get it.  If you do your taxes yourself, get started early so you can take your time.  If you have someone else do them for you, try to be as organized as possible when you walk in their office so there job is as simple as possible.  And don't forget any deductions!    

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breakfast Bowl

I am always looking for new breakfast ideas.  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, to eat and to cook.  I prefer breakfast foods for dinner over any other time of the day tho. 

This particular recipe is super fast and easy and perfect for anyone who needs to start the day with a hardy meal in a hurry.

3 or 4 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into bite size chunks)
1 tbsp butter
1/3 pound turkey breakfast sausage
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet, saute potatoes until they are cooked through(when you can easily insert a fork into the largest piece).  Add sausage and cook until done.  
While that is simmering, scramble eggs with a splash of milk and salt/pepper.  
Add eggs to skillet and cook.
Serve and enjoy!  Makes about 3 servings.

When you add the eggs, you can either push other ingredients to the side and cook the eggs separately or you can pour them right over the potatoes and sausage.  Which ever you prefer.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Young Love

When you hear the phrase *young love*, most people think of kids in their early teens.  In this instance, I mean 4-5 year olds.  My son has a girlfriend in his Pre-Kindergarten class.  I think it is adorable and her parents don’t seem to disagree.  Her birthday party is coming up and my son is so excited that he got invited.  This is his first invitation so it is kind of a big deal. 

I had my first boyfriend when I was in the first grade.  We sat next to each other during story time.   My husband had a crush when he was in second grade but I don’t think he had a girlfriend until much later.  At that age, all you know about relationships is that they exist and that people call each other boyfriend and girlfriend when they are very close.  

I think the best part of this whole situation tho is that my son has told me that this girl has said she loves him.  Of course this is not the *I am in love with you* kind of love but rather the *you are an amazing friend* kind of love but still, it’s too cute.  

What will be amazing is if the two of them actually end up dating in the future, the distant future.  I will have to remember these moments so that I can embarrass my son in the future.  I’m his mother, that’s my job!