Thursday, September 29, 2011

Arizona -- The Beautiful and the Bizarre

As you know if you read this blog--I love to drive. This love translates into encouraging road trips--I have an unwritten rule that if a destination is under 15 hours or so, we get to have some family togetherness in the car!

My husband loves music and often I combine my love for driving with his love for music.  When a band he likes isn't coming to Utah, but is coming within that 15 hour zone of fun I try to get tickets. For Dan's birthday I bought tickets to Jethro Tull in Phoenix (12 hours or so! Yippeee!) I know getting tickets to Jethro Tull dates us and is geeky proof that we are stuck in a music time warp, but there you are. (The Jethro Tull concert is a whole different blog post.)

I have never driven to Phoenix (I am not counting the debate tournament in high school--because we drove all night and it was winter--and I was in a school bus!). We approached from the Las Vegas side, after having a nice visit with some family there. Then after the rocking concert we drove home the other way through  Sedona and Flagstaff.

I came to one major conclusion, besides the fact that Arizona is beautiful, they have freaking strange plants! I kept having to pull over and take pictures. It had been an unusually wet spring in Arizona and almost every plant decided to bloom.

Do you think there could have been a few more prickles added to this stem?

This flower only bloomed at night and it was truly astonishing.

Doesn't this look like it needs to be growing on the ocean floor.

Time to grow--I know--sideways!

 Thumbs up!

I had to pull about thirty of these lovely little prickles out of running shoe with tweazers.

We're not in Kansas anymore.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And the lucky Everneath ARC winner is. . . .

I really have to thank you all for making this week fun.  I had a great time and cannot wait to have more contests. I plan on giving out more books soon including Everneath when it's published in January 2012.

I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I had to use my University of Utah hat--it has never failed me.

To be fair I wrote the names on paper, checked to see if you commented on Brodi's and my blog and then underlined the name if you followed my blog too.  Then I cut them into exactly the same size strips and folded each in half.  I was trying to be unbiased and professional -- like those accountants they always introduce at the Academy Awards. 

And the winner is . . .

Donna K. Weaver!!! Yippeeee!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's for lunch and Sunday dinner? & 2 days left to win an Everneath ARC!

To all you Everneath ARC hopefuls just today and tomorrow until midnight to enter!  The clock is tick, tick, ticking away.

Now on to Grandma Florence's cookbook!.

September begins in my grandmother's cookbook with a discussion of the school year looming in front of all those homemakers and what to make for those pesky lunch boxes.
"Nine months of lunches lie ahead--lunches to be carried to school! These lunches must contain all the nourishment of a good home 'sit down at the table' lunch.'" 
My sit down at the table lunches this summer have been mac and cheese, hot pockets and noodles prepared by my own dear children--so I am actually hoping school lunch is a bit more nutritious. In my defense I do supply fruit for them to snack on too--will that save me in the motherhood department!?  Will I still have nutrition services knocking at my door?

I love her suggestions--but if you are going make these sandwiches make sure you buy a meat grinder--because it is used alarmingly often:
Big Boy Sandwich:  Rye bread, butter, Swiss cheese, chopped mustard pickle.
Mock Ham Sandwich: Ground bologna, mixed with sweet relish and mayonnaise.
Meat Loaf Sandwich: Hamburger roll, meat loaf, sliced dill pickle, lettuce
Peppy Sandwich: (Don't you just love that name!) Whole wheat bread. Add 1/3 cup evaporated milk to 2/3 cup soft yellow cheese, cream well.  Add 1 cup shredded dried beef, 2 tablespoons drained horseradish. Makes 6 large sandwiches. (Where do I buy dried beef? Is it just beef jerky? Oh the mystery.)
Salad Sandwich: Whole wheat bread, grind 1/2 pound of bologna or cooked ham and 3 hard-cooked eggs, mix with 2 T chopped pimento, 1/2 cup drained sweet relish, 1/2 cup salad dressing. Makes 6 sandwiches.
Irish Sandwich: Put through meat grinder 1 1/2 cup corned beef, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 slice day old bread, 5 sweet pickles and mix with 2/3 cup salad dressing and 1/4 cup dry mustard, pepper, 1/4 cup shopped ripe olives, and about 1/4 cup salad dressing (I think that is Miracle Whip).
Deviled egg sandwich:  Whole wheat bread. Mix together 6 chopped hard-cooked eggs, 1 teaspoon grated onion, salt, pepper and about 1/4 cup salad dressing.
Ham and Peanut sandwich: Grind 1/2 pound of ham or bologna, add 1/4 cup finely chopped salted peanuts, 3 T drained sweet relish, about 1/2 cup salad dressing. (Ham and peanut, who would have thunk it.)
Beanie Sandwich:  Whole wheat bread, try mixing drained cooked navy beans, ground ham, grated raw carrots and salad dressing.
Although I find these recipes intriguing and kind of want to try them, (the same way I want to try nachos at the movie theater--did that sound snobby and rude?) the one thing the sandwich creations have in common is--my kids would not eat a single one of them! (Well, maybe my older kids would eat the Deviled Egg Sandwich, maybe.)

Later in the same chapter grandma moves onto safer ground--event meals, but most specifically, Sunday Dinners.  I found the recipe below old fashiony yummy!

Pork Chops on Rice

6 loin or rib pork chops cut 1 inch think (I just used the Costco boneless pork chops--I just love them!)
1 T fat
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 cup rice (okay so I did 2 because my family loves rice)
1/2 cup raisins (I used dried cherries--family still inexplicably hates raisins)
3 cups water (6 if you double the rice)
3 bouillon cubes (I did 5 for doubling --in the future I would only do half of the bouillon, it was too salty)
Dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups milk (3 if you double the rice)

Brown the chops in the fat, seasoning with salt and pepper.

The meat would have been prettier if I had just browned it a bit longer!
I wanted to make this a one pot meal so I used a pan I could put in the oven and wiped it out after browning the chops to prepare for the rice.

Add the rice to the water and bouillon cubes.

Bring to boil and stir, cover tightly, and simmer about 15 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

Add nutmeg and raisins (dried cherries)

Add milk, and season to taste.  

Pour into baking dish--In my case I just kept using the same pan.  Place seasoned chops on rice mixture.

Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for about 15 minutes.

I let the meat rest for a minute and then sliced the pork to serve. You could serve the pork chops whole--they were very tender. This was an old fashioned dinner, but quite yummy. It was also definitely a guilty pleasure meal because the rice was creamy and trending towards mushy--but good mushy (if you can imagine that).

I loved the dried cherries, but I think the raisins would have been better. The sweetness of the fruit added a nice counterpoint to the salty rice (a little too salty--I will take out one of the bouillon cubes when I cook this int the future).  I paired it with broccoli and butter braised figs. Everyone loved the dinner.

By the way what was your favorite lunch to lug to school?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Know I'm Crazy When. . .& 4 more days for you to win an Everneath ARC!

All right everyone 4 more days left in our "Everneath Arc Giveaway Extravaganza." Here is a quick recap of the rules:

1. Comment on Brodi's Blog
2. Comment on My Blog
3. Become a follower of my Blog

Then you are in the hat! I will choose a name out of said hat Friday at Midnight!!! (I thought midnight added quite a bit of drama.)  I will post immediately thereafter.

Now onto "I Know I'm Crazy When:"

1.  I become part of a fruit co-op and every Saturday morning I have to wake up at 6:15am to go get fruit and veggies.

2.  I blow dry my hair on my way to work by opening all the car windows and sun-roof. When I arrive at work I close my office door to curl my hair, hoping no one will notice I went in with fly-away, disheveled hair and came out perfectly coiffed.

3.  I keep getting optical migraines where I see glimmering, iridescent triangles and I don't think they are all that bad, kind of pretty.

4.  I join Weight Watchers and immediately have an unshakable craving for Carl's Jr. Jalapeno Burger (20 points), KFC Mashed Potato Bowl (18 points) and pizza (10 points a slice). There are about 30 points allocated a day. Who needs to eat the rest of the day?

5.  I like to jog, but it hurts my back.  I like to jog, but it hurts my back.

6.  I decide at 4:00pm on a beautiful fall-ish Saturday that I have to see Wendover, Nevada.  I wake up normal, buy my fruit, do my chores, go grocery shopping, watch a Lacrosse game, take a little nap and then have an unquenchable desire to see the Great Salt Lake, Salt Flats and Wendover, Nevada. I even try to talk my husband into it, but for some strange reason he wants to watch a football game--lame! (Because if I can talk him into it for some reason I seem less crazy!)

So, I set off on my own. Wendover is the arm pit of the west dessert, but it is wonderful in its unapologetic pandering to the vices of wayward Utahns--because no one else in the Universe would find it convenient to go to Wendover, Nevada.   It was just a 4 hour round trip--that's not too crazy--is it?

Take a gander at Wendover Will with his cigarette in his mouth. You would have to be crazy not to want to make the trip!

Now tell me when you know you are crazy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Everneath Contest--Because I care for you that much!

I know if you  have stopped by my blog over the past couple of months all you have seen or heard has been  crickets--my mind has been empty and my life has been distracting. I know--excuses, excuses.  I have to tell you that I have been thinking of you and trying to find a way to kick off the blog again, well this weekend an opportunity of a lifetime arose.

Last Friday my brother nonchalantly stops by my office at work and sets a book down on my desk.  Nothing unusual there because he is quite the avid reader and likes to share his favorites. I look over and see that it is an advanced reader copy (ARC for those of us in the know) of my sister-in-law, Brodi Ashton's book, Everneath.  I became really excited, because I had yet to read the fully edited, gone to the presses version and I thought he was letting me borrow it! (I've been in a family line waiting for the ARC for weeks.)

Then he said "This is yours."

I look up in disbelief--"Mine" I ask in a muted whisper, my voice stolen by unbelief.

"Yes, yours to do with what you will!"

(The above version of events is dramatized because in reality there was some embarrassing squealing.)

So, after reading it greedily and letting my daughters read it greedily it is now up for grabs to you--because I just have to share the joy!

Thumbs up from Daughter L
Not only am I excited that I know someone who has an agent, editor, and publishing powerhouse behind her book, but I am excited because it is a truly, truly, truly exceptional book. It is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance. While that industry description says a lot it doesn't say nearly enough.  It is beautifully written (as good as any literary fiction), it has soul, wonderful characters, absorbing plot, consuming twists and turns and it makes you cry, smile and sigh.

I loved it from beginning to end and the first time I finished it (after I had that moment of sadness when you finish a book you love and know that you have to leave that wonderful world) the hair on the back of my neck stood up on end--yes, it was that good--it was as if I could see it being published and loved by millions.  I also was a little sad because now everyone would know what a great person Brodi was and I would have to share her.

So, I have this crazy good, signed by the author, book to give away.  It has already been read by some reviewers, so it has the slightly worn look of a beloved book shared by a few respectful readers.

Here's the deal--I am giving this ARC away--but not for free. You have to do three things:

1.  Make a comment on my blog--any comment on any of my posts in the past or until Friday the 23rd of September, 2011.

2. Make a comment on Brodi's blog.

3. Become a follower of my blog.  (If you are already a follower--then good for you and you are already a step ahead!)

Then I will put the names in a hat and choose!

Stay tuned because the countdown to release has just begun--other prizes coming soon!

Sunflower at Wheeler Farm