Family Tradition

I never met my grandfather, but I heard stories of him from the time I was little. He was a war hero who had died long before I was born, testing new planes for the US Air Force. The first time I watched The Right Stuff with my dad, he pointed at Chuck Yeager and said, “That’s what your granddad did after the war.” He’s one of the reasons I joined the USAF when it was my turn to serve my country.

During WWII, he gained some notoriety for shooting down the 1000th plane over Malta. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and later earned an additional bar for his DFC. He was apparently equal parts hotshot and hothead (think Maverick from Top Gun).

I knew that he had joined the war before the US entered the fray because he flew with the RAF’s Eagle Squadron, which was made up of American (and other non-British) pilots who were stepping up to the plate. What I didn’t know until I was an adult is that when he chose to do that, he was committing what was considered an act of treason.

At the time, you see, the US had some pretty stringent “neutrality laws.” These, among other things, prohibited American citizens from serving in the armed forces of other countries, no matter which side those other countries were on. The American pilots who joined the RAF did so at the very real risk of imprisonment and even losing their US citizenship. But my grandfather and the other men he served with joined because “the USA didn’t enter the war soon enough for [them].” He knew what was happening was wrong and horrible, and he signed up to fight Nazis at the risk of never being able to return home, or being thrown in jail if he did.

I don’t know what the future holds for this country. It looks pretty bleak right about now. If it is soon declared treasonous to act against Nazis and other white supremacist groups, I won’t be particularly surprised. But I tell you right now, I do not care. I will ALWAYS stand up to Nazis and their ilk, up to and including Donald J. Trump. Because I know what my grandfather knew: getting involved and standing up for the right thing is what you do, no matter what your government says. Fighting Nazis and those like them is always the right thing.

If you’d like to read more about my grandfather and the pilots he flew with, here are some links:

Cowboy Casserole

[Placeholder text because this isn’t a real post; I’m just getting the recipe up quick and dirty.]

Cowboy Casserole
Print Recipe
Prep Time
10-20 minutes
Cook Time
35-40 minutes
Prep Time
10-20 minutes
Cook Time
35-40 minutes
Cowboy Casserole
Print Recipe
Prep Time
10-20 minutes
Cook Time
35-40 minutes
Prep Time
10-20 minutes
Cook Time
35-40 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place frozen tots in 9x13 pan.
  3. Beat together eggs, milk, and spices.
  4. Stir in cheese and any meat or veggies.
  5. Pour egg mixture over frozen tots.
  6. Bake in 350° oven for 35-40 minutes, until cheese is melted, tots are browned, and egg is solidified.
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Forever Young

It occurs to me that I somehow have not shown you the majestic costume I put together for Becky’s 5th grade Explorer Museum project. I say “put together” rather than “designed” because truthfully, she did all the research and all the designing. I just made the patterns and sewed the thing together.

Her school does this neat project where each kid picks an explorer and then does a whole living museum exhibit kind of thing (I think it would be even more cool if they did this with a group that wasn’t largely European dudes who were responsible for an awful lot of mass genocide and slavery but I digress). They put together reports and “artifacts” and journals, and then the parents show up and the kids all have to tell us about their explorers. It’s very involved.

Ponce de Leon, proud member of the Ministry of Silly Hats.

Becky decided to be Ponce de León. I may have strongly suggested ol’ Ponce because I was under the misconception that he had the cool hat and 1/2 cape outfit. Not true. His hat is totally dumb, and no cape at all (okay, he’s wearing a cape in this picture, but in most renderings there’s no cape). I don’t know who I was thinking of, but it sure wasn’t Ponce de León. There’s a fairly ubiquitous rendering of the man wearing a chest plate with a fancy slash-sleeve shirt underneath. Several statues of him also show him wearing matching shorts. That Florida heat, I guess.

So we went to the fabric store and picked out a heavy blue-gray upholstery fabric for the tunic/armor, and yellow and red fabric for the sleeves. The kid’s a stickler for accuracy. We got home and I started planning this thing out, and I quickly realized that I had never done slash sleeves before. A quick whirl around Pinterest and I was all set with a nifty tutorial for Snow White sleeves.

We had already decided that the sleeves would be connected to the “armor” rather than part of an undershirt, and after some discussion we decided to go with short sleeves rather than long.  We rounded up a pair of plain black boots (her feet are almost as big as mine already!!!) and I whipped up a quick crocheted beard. I am super, super pleased at how it came out. But more importantly, Becky was really happy with it, which was the goal.

I give you: Juan Becky Ponce de León!

I was later informed that the scowl was because Juan was always in a bad mood and she was trying to be realistic. I told you, stickler.

A couple more shots:

Habit building

For the past few months, I’d been habit tracking on a monthly basis, which was pretty, and made it easy to see a big picture of how I was doing at building particular habits. The only thing was, I’d forget to do it for a couple of days. Some months, I let it go completely for the last week or so of the month. Which made it much less useful as both a track and as a reminder. So when I decided I needed to jump back on the habit building wagon in order to make this blogging thing happen, I thought about ways to track weekly. This is my first attempt.

As you can see, it’s not pretty. I’ve already screwed up (guess I better eat some fruit tomorrow!) because it’s hard to tell where stuff goes. But, I do like that it’s immediately available. I think next week I’ll try adding it to my weekly plan page. In the meantime, I’m going to go make a dot for today on the “blog” row.

Ugh. I’m the worst.

I mean, not really. Compared to, say, Bill O’Reilly I’m actually pretty awesome. But I just can’t seem to remember to write blog posts. Typically what has happened in the past is I have post ideas but technical issues. Or I don’t have any post ideas at all and I just stare at the screen and then post something short and silly…kind of the blog-post equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Which isn’t super great, but at least it’s something. I’m genuinely not sure what my issue right now is — I’m completely flaking out on posting at all.

Maybe because I stopped doing my habit tracker in my journal, which had a little square for me to color in every day when I blogged. On the days I remembered to fill out my habit tracker, that is. Although…I’ve switched to a different notebook system for my journal, one that allows me to move pages around. Maybe I’ll try habit tracking again and just move the tracker to “today” so it’s right there in front of me… It’s worth a shot, right?

Today’s BuJo page. Yes, I have already drunk all my water. No, I have not gotten much else done. YET.

 

Almost Summer

I had strawberry shortcake for breakfast today. I’m not super proud of it, but I wanted to blog about strawberry shortcake and the other day when I made it for me and the kids, I made these gorgeous, decadent towers that fell over long before I had a chance to capture their majesty.

So I had just enough cake left for one​ more go, and I thought to myself, 

The very empty can of Redi-Whip. Breakfast was delayed for a few minutes while I went and had a very calm (okay, it wasn’t particularly calm but I didn’t completely lose my shit on her, either) discussion with my 10 year old about a) not eating whipped cream straight out of the can and b) more importantly, not putting empty containers back in the fridge so that people would get two-thirds of the way to a delicious breakfast and then discover they’re missing a key ingredient.

I dimly recalled buying some “shelf stable” cream from Trader Joe’s to make ice cream with, and it turned out I still had a box, so the 10 year old gets to live. I whipped it up, threw some sugar and vanilla in, and called it a day. You’ll see in the pic that it could have used more whipping, but I was about to starve at that point and still had to take the photos so I just served it up. Still delicious.

The strawberries were the big disappointment: they looked so pretty and juicy, but they were just kind of flavorless. I can hardly wait until we get the fresh-off-the-vine strawberries we pick ourselves…that’s when I’ll know it’s really summer.

 

Super Great

Good grief! I finally fix my posting issues and then forget all about posting! I’m not gonna lie — I’m a little disappointed in myself. BUT, I am now re-committing to this 365 project. I’m not going to start over, I’m just going to move ahead from here. And I’m going to post my very favorite motivational poster here, just to remind myself that we all stumble sometimes. What matters is that we get back up and keep going.

And also that faces are high in protein.

 

 

Meat Sauce

Up here in the Dirty Jerz, people seem to be all about the red sauce. Which I get — it’s very versatile. You can have it plain, with meatballs, with sausage, whatever you want. But growing up, we always had meat sauce, and I vastly prefer its richer flavor. Plus, it eliminates a step from things like lasagna and pizza…I don’t have to make meat for those, because it’s already in the sauce!

There are many, many variations on meat sauce. This one is mine.

 

Meat Sauce
Print Recipe
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
1-5 hours
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
1-5 hours
Meat Sauce
Print Recipe
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
1-5 hours
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
1-5 hours
Ingredients
Servings: many
Instructions
  1. Sautée garlic & mushrooms until mushrooms are cooked through. Add beef, veal and pork. Brown. Drain. Return to pot. Puree tomatoes. Add to meat. Add tomato paste, wine, stock and herbs. Boil until alcohol is evaporated. Simmer on low for 1-5 hours. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and cinnamon. Serve over pasta.
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I am typing this from my phone…

I may have found a workaround so that I can upload pics from my phone, which has been the big killer on this whole blog-every-day thing I was trying to do. Basically, if I can’t upload directly (or mostly directly) from my phone, it means it’s something like a 5 step process just to get the photos. That’s not even including the writing part. So, here goes. :: holding breath::

YEAH, BABY! Looks like we’re back in business!

Unicorny Goodness!

Lion Brand recently released a series of long-repeat cakes called Mandala, and it’s pretty gorgeous (full disclosure: I work for Lion Brand, but they didn’t ask me to write this). It’s 100% acrylic, which is not always usually my favorite, but this one doesn’t have that plasticky feel that acrylic can have, and has a nice bounce to it, similar to what you’d expect from a wool or wool blend. I picked up a couple of colors to try out (working next door to the warehouse has its benefits), and decided to use Unicorn to make a new version of my old Sangria Swirl, which I was never super happy with.

 

The original was way too long and not nearly as wide as I wanted. The color was gorgeous, but was stash yarn I’d long ago lost the labels for. So. I’m trying it again with the Mandala, which is quite a bit thinner (the original was more like a bulky/category 5, while Mandala is a nice DK/category 3). It’s working up beautifully, if I do say so myself.