The Clan

checking the photo booth

checking the photo booth

We are Scottish, Irish, English, and some sort of ancestry with high cheekbones in their DNA from somewhere.  Our sense of humor and love for pranks and making up musical ditties attest to at least part of the origin of the clan.  The DNA test that Ancestry.com offers may solve the mystery to the rest.  I’ve been contemplating swabbing my mouth and sending my DNA off to be analyzed just to see where my ancestors trod once upon a time.  Just for the heck of it, the fun of solving the origin mystery and maybe creating a couple more mysteries.

All of us, the siblings and the young’ns, (most of them anyway) got together for a New Year’s Day Reunion/late Christmas Get-Together.  It was great!!

Ava unloading presents

Ava unloading presents

Santa had left a bunch of presents!!  So Ava helped put them under the BIG tree.  It was a madhouse for just a bit as the girls passed out gifts to everyone.

Darla with hubby Dave

Darla with hubby Dave

The talent show was exceptional this year with blues singers accompanied by the guitar as well as acapella; original songs written by the participants; a hover board exhibition; Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae dance routines; a chorus of girls singing Jingle Bells; gymnastics and ballet.  I am expecting more to be on the program for next year.  We are a talented bunch in this clan.

It took a little coaxing to get some of the kiddos out there while  others had two or three things planned to do.  We had no agenda and no idea who would do what.  Most of it was spur of the moment and turned out awesome!

Kate and Nia

Kate and Nia

Hover board hotties

Hover board hotties

IMG_3604

Charlotte, Kate, Nia, Maci, Ava

Blues Player Dave

Blues Player Dave with Henry taking everything in.

IMG_3610

“Sant Won’t You Give Me the Scoop”

IMG_3620

This girl rocks!!

IMG_3584

watch me whip

Stanky Leg

Stanky Leg

IMG_3586

Maci gets down to Watch me Whip.  Her brother, Owen, was awesome as well, but somehow I don’t have his picture.  Charlotte, the ballerina in the clan, was also  whipping and nae-naeing.  Yeah.  That doesn’t look like a word to me either.  Even little Henry, the pre-K kid, was stanky-legging!

Then there is always the game of “Write Down One Thing Nobody Knows About You.”  Little Ava won this year with her “I have been a mile underground.”  We have a few coal miners, so of course everyone guessed all of them first.  Nos abounded.  They were clueless, and would never have guessed if not for the big grin on Ava’s face and her sister seeing it.  Sisters just know when the other one is up to something.  We had gone to Ruby Falls in Tennessee last summer which had taken  us deep into the earth. Darla used the same one she used last year (she has to have some excitement in her life this year!).  And we should have all gotten “I am a word Nazi” right off the bat (Keely) but had to guess a while for some reason.  We all know how she loves to read!  Mike returned the joke “fact” Davy put in the pot about Mike last year with a “fact” of his own about Davy this year.  We were all staring at Davy in disbelief for just a brief minute!

Rutherford clan

Rutherford clan

Donny and Keely

Donny and Keely

Benna and Amanda

Benna and Amanda

Part of the Martin clan, Wes, Darla and Will

Part of the Martin clan, Wes, Darla and Will

Nate and KaLee

Nate and KaLee

Mike, Steve, Julie, Amanda, Benna eating, drinking, and being merry

Mike, Steve, Benny, Julie, Amanda, Benna eating, drinking, and being merry

Turning the garage into a party zone wasn’t too hard with the help of the cheap 25-cent red plastic tablecloths for the “stage” and some white disposable tablecloths for covering up all the garage junk.  Wah-la!!  Pristine white temporary walls!

There was enough food for the 30 people and enough desserts to fill our tummies.  We started the year off right with black-eyed peas and cornbread and cabbage on the menu as well. (Thanks to Donny, the cook, for the latter two.)

It was good to catch up, to see how the kiddos had grown, to reminisce, to laugh at each other and with each other, to tell tales of old and some of new on one another, to meet some of the new people in the clan this year and yell a little louder at some of the older people in the clan.

We are a clan of game players, a clan of laughers.  So after the last game that involved some  fast and furious thinking up sounds, one-word clues, and actions, we were beginning to settle down.  That’s when the grown-ups ventured over to the photo booth.  The kids found it early on and had already created images and movies galore!  I would so love to put the video of Nia on here with Owen:  he pretending to pick his nose and she, well, it was just interesting.

And kind of gross.

Photo on 1-1-16 at 12.41 PM #2

Photo on 1-1-16 at 5.12 PM #2Photo on 1-1-16 at 5.16 PMPhoto on 1-1-16 at 5.11 PMPhoto on 1-1-16 at 5.14 PMPhoto on 1-1-16 at 12.38 PMFullSizeRender-2

Nia putting on her mustache

Nia putting on her mustache

Photo on 1-1-16 at 4.08 PM

Looking back… Taking Kate to School

It’s the end of yet another year, and I am going through WordPress, looking at anything left undone.

Because I am very very good at undone whether it’s leaving a project in such a state or getting myself into such a state.  Here is what I found, and I thought it worthy to post.  Even if it was nailed up and left to linger on the blog tree — oops — I mean post for, um, about four years:

 

Hula Hoedown

Kate in the first grade

This week I have only taken Kate to school one day.  It is a treat to take her… but I suppose it wouldn’t be if it was my job every morning to get her up and fight with her about her clothes and try to get her little sis ready to go as well.

She came bebopping out of the house, all pink and brown, with her little skirt and boots with the tassle balls, .  Her boots were pink with the Disney princesses.  We had gone shopping a few days earlier and she had new clothes and new shoes.  Adorable.  I should have taken a pic, but didn’t have my camera.

On the way to school we sing “Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s off to school we go.”  Then I make up verses, but her favorite part, she says, is the chorus.  We walk in the school together — unless she sees some of her friends.  Then it’s a kiss and hug and off to walk in with the other kids.  Kate is very social this year.  She started last year in Pre-K getting a little more social, wanting to talk to people.  She will be the traveling reporter who finds out all kinds of things about people because she is full of questions and interested in them.  She also has a concern for everyone.

The trees will talk to us as we travel down the road; sometimes in a voice that sounds a lot like Gigi and sometimes in a voice that sounds a lot like Kate.  They say things such as, “oooh, what a pretty little girl; I want her bear.”  Because sometimes she takes her little blue bear with her in the car to school, leaving him to wait on her return trip home.  Then a tree will respond with “No, I don’t want her bear.”  Those trees are real talkers.  And on every curve the wheels on my vehicle go “Errrrk.”

This year, she loves school.  She loves her teacher and her classmates, and she loves learning the letters and numbers, sounding out the letters, making rhyming words.

Kate this year with Santa

Kate this year with Santa

We still hear the trees talk to us every once in awhile.  Not as often as before because Kate is now in the fourth grade and Ava is in the first grade.  Little blue bear stays at home now, replaced with her Ipod or IPhone.  She is still very social.  I am thinking politician.  So is Ava.  I am still thinking politician.

There are now two little girls bebopping out to the car.  Kate has chosen the comfy jogging pants and comfy shirts over her cute little first-grade outfits.  Ava choosing her cute little first-grade outfits.  They both love school:  A tribute to the teachers and staff at our school.  And they both are good students, although Kate is still more interested in what’s going on around her, I think, than the school work, itself.

It is still a treat to get to take them to school, and we still listen to our Sunday School songs on the CD and make up little ditties to go along with songs we know, and  we still look for things of interest along the highway.  Of course, this is mixed in with the bickering.  Ugh!!

Now, instead of one little girl there are two.  Now, instead of walking them both in like I have up until this year, I stop at the door, and they grab their stuff and hop out, catching up with friends, forgetting they have a granny in the vehicle watching them with a heart full of love.

Thinking about Thanking

Today at my brother’s house, my little niece, Charlotte Ann, had a prayer/speech she had prepared.  In it she wanted us all to think about what we were thankful for, and the plan was then to share those thoughts.Brenda in thought

We never did get around to sharing our thankful thoughts.  We were too busy eating and playing games and eating and yelling over each other to try to be heard and eating and laughing and eating and accusing the guys of cheating and eating and actually cheating ourselves.  Until we were so full and so hoarse and so tired that we all scattered and went our own ways to our own abodes or wherever else we had planned to go.

The thing we didn’t do, of course, was share in our bounty of thankfulness.  And bounty is an accurate description of the list of things to be thankful about:

1.  My salvation through Jesus the Christ.

2.  Family who love and fight and play and strive to make time to get together as our families expand and that time is more precious.

3.  A home.

4.  Plenty of food.

5.  Work that provides me with a paycheck and work that must be done in order to keep a clean house, grow a garden, have a lawn… you get the drift.

6.  The opportunity to help others whether it is monetarily or hands on.

7.  Good choices.

8.  Good doctors and staff that actually care about one’s health.

9.  My church.

10.  You guys who read my blog.  🙂

As I ponder on my good life, my heart cries for those who are in real struggles right now:  mental health, the fight for life as they struggle with a disease, the loss of a loved one, drug addiction, sexual abuse, hunger, oppression of different forms…

God, pour mercy and grace upon these people.  Give me direction to turn my thanksgiving into theirs as well.

All Potential Fathers, Please Stand Up

The counties in which I work may be small in population, but our courthouses are large in their history and stand rather regal in our rural towns.

courthouse 2We have over the last few years begun to designate certain days of the week for certain types of court hearings.  Monday, for instance, may be traffic day when all the traffic cases from parking tickets to DUIs are heard.  Tuesday may be the day that all the felony cases are before the judge.  Wednesday may be civil cases such as divorce or probate or small claims.  All the counties in my circuit have done or are perfecting this regulated system of scheduling court cases on certain days.

Of coucourtroom joke 1rse, we are a circuit in a rural area, therefore, we don’t have the volume of cases that a city or bigger town may have.  Everyone knows each other in most of the counties, and although things are run professionally, we are just friendlier with everyone from defendants to their lawyers.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have some high profile cases or some heinous cases or even some very busy days.  It does mean we have some downright hilarious incidences.

One such particular incident happened a few years back when we still had a variety of cases on the docket for that day.  There was a room full of people waiting their turn, watching the proceedings until their own cases were called.  courtroom audience

At the particular moment we were having a paternity hearing with the mother sitting at counsel table along with two putative fathers also sitting at the table.  The case had been before the Court on several other occasions since she had already named some men who had been dismissed from the proceedings for one reason or another.

She was a likeable gal, someone in the community the attorneys and the judge knew, a bit of a rounder perhaps.  She had several children but tried as best she could to take care of them. courtroom judge 2 Before beginning the hearing, the judge looked at her and ever so kindly said, “Ms. So-and-So, are there any other prospective fathers you want to name?” 

Ms. So-and-So turns around to the gallery and looks at all the men seated there.  She then says, “Yeah, maybe him,” and points to a gentleman sitting in the pew, waiting to have his case called.

courtroom surprised man

His surprised response — “I’m just here for a traffic case!”  — didn’t keep him from being asked to come up and sit at the counsel table to be a part of the putative father hearing.

His shock lingered throughout the hearing.

It was hilarious.court reporter laughing

New Blog – New Theme Day

In my quest for just the right theme for my dear-to-me-yet-mostly-neglected blog in the last year or two, I am changing the theme (background and set-up of the page) about as often as I post a blog.  I want something clear and easy-to-read.

This one looks promising.

IMG_8489

I WILL find the perfect theme!

It’s bright; it states the name and purpose of the blog well at the top; I kind of like the apron signature on the top left with my mission statement and AAA, etc., at the top so anyone curious can click on them to find out a little more about me.

I haven’t changed much or any since I started blogging, so no need to update.  Maybe I’ll swing by there to make sure.  Maybe I should put an updated photo, but I haven’t changed too much there either:  a few more wrinkles perhaps, a few extra pounds that will be gone by spring or sooner.

summer in a nutshell

               OOPS!  NOT ME!  MY DAUGHTER!             But isn’t she beautiful?

Keep going all the way to the bottom, and it very precisely and easily lets you leave a message–

I LOVE MESSAGES! 

— as well as gives you other sites to visit, “Tasty Tidbits,” or topics from which to choose to read, “Whet Your Appetite,” or how to subscribe to my blog.  Free.  You can subscribe to something for FREE!  Now isn’t that an incentive?cropped-cropped-blogger-bren-20111.jpg

 

 

Ewwww, YUCK….

My sweet little pumpkin (it IS Thanksgiving time, pumpkin time), Ava, comes over to play with me.  She is a game player, and this year, since she is now the ripe old age of six, she has caught on rather nicely to the intricacies of the games with all the skill that goes into blocking your opponent and planning the strategy for the big win.Ava & Callie halloween 2015 (2)

We play Animal Sequence, Uno Mooo, Bingo, Mickey Dominoes, War, Spoons, anything we have on hand or thatIMG_0367 looks interesting.

Sometimes we go for playing house, taking turns at who is Mom.  Or we play school where she is always the teacher.  Last year, in kindergarten, she was such a sweet, demure, kind, soft-spoken teacher, but this year in first grade she has an edge to her while she points her finger and says, “I’m not telling you again.”

Then there are the days I am not really quite sure what we are supposed to be playing.  She usually centers her make-believe whatevIMG_0369er-we-are around my working in the yard.  I tell her that, no, I can’t play house today because I am working in the yard.  She in her very matter-of-fact voice says, “I know!  You can be the daughter that works at the plant-selling place, and I will be the mom.”

No excuse will suffice.  She comes back with some other angle in her tenacious we-are-going-to-play attitude.

I, of course, always give in.

IMG_1352

How could I not?!!!  Just look at her!!!

Sunday, after I had beat her once again at Bingo, she jumps up on the couch and does a big raspberry in my face.  Spit everywhere!  So I jump up and pull her hands away from her face (she fought fiercely) and raspberried her right back!

The big coup for this old Granny?

Ava says “Ewwwwww!  YUCK!  Grandma spit!”

I can remember how I hated when my mom took her cloth hankie (it was all in super slow motion) and brought it up to her puckered lips glistening with spit and put a big glob of spit on the hankie.  Then her arm and hand with the spit-globbed hankie would so slowly (oh the dread, the dread) come toward my face to wipe off (I’m almost certain) an invisible spot of dirt or food or snot off of me.

Ewwwwww!  YUCK!

I’m still laughing about doing it to Ava.  Only it’s twice as bad.

GRANDMA SPIT!!!!

On Being Me

cropped-cropped-blogger-bren-20111.jpgSoooooo I haven’t blogged in awhile.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to or I don’t have ideas flying around my brain in the middle of the night (when I really don’t want to get up and get on the computer because I would really like to sleep).

Soooooo I have chosen to change the theme of the blog periodically until I decide if I am going to keep blogging (more than sporadically) or chuck the whole project that I started those years ago.  Annnnndddd, since I can never make up my mind about almost everything, I need your help, you faithful few.  Check on me every now and then and tell me which theme you like best.

This one is One Strange Town (or something like that).  I really liked it for a few minutes.  Now, I’m not so sure.

Old Gringo Women's Sora boot

Old Gringo Women’s Sora boot

The winner will receive an awesome prize.  A prize worthy of Blogville.  A prize-almost-not-quite-sort-of-like the prizes my favorite blogger Pioneer Woman gives away.  She gives away the neatest stuff.  Do you know she has a line of dishes at Walmart?!!  And it is so cool.

She blogs about her dog a lot.  And her cows.  She even has a basset something-or-other in the dishwear.  Is dishwear a word?  It pops up with a red underline.

I need a dog… or some cows… I want to market my dishwear or underwear or whateverwear at Target.

My goal is to look around here and see what I have of interest to blog about (according to my college English classes that should really be “of which to blog”) (at least I think that’s what they taught me – it’s been a long time since I was in college).

My garage!!!  I have so very much stuff in there with BIG personality.

I’m going to go check it out!

I Miss…

Mom

Mom

I miss my mom.  Even though she was 90 and had lived a good, long life, sometimes I want to just have a little sit-down like we did those last few years of her life.  Those years when she was forced to sit still.  Those years after she had fallen so many times she finally let us help; she finally laid it down.

Of course, it wasn’t long after that she took up residence in her new, finer home:  heaven.

Dad

Dad

I miss my dad.  There are so many times, after all these years that he has been gone, I still think, “I’ll ask Dad about that.”  We finally got to know him better those last months when we were staying round the clock with him, taking turns caring for him.  Enjoying his stories, the time with him, the good moments.  Like Mom, he didn’t care to live in this realm after he got really down, not able to care for himself.

He moved, too, soon after we started that round-the-clock care.

Where's my cigar?

Where’s my cigar?

I miss being a child.  We strive so hard, and seems so long, to become an “adult.”  My grandchildren are doing that right now.  How I would love to go back and walk on that hot, gooey pavement up the hill to play with friends again, run around and catch lightening bugs (at least that’s what we called them), get excited over things that I don’t seem to get so excited about anymore.  Look forward to going back to grade school in the fall as Kate is.  She is excited about going back this year.  She’s ready for it just as I was when I was her age.I Miss

I miss making pizza, Chef Boyardee in the box, with my sister and brother on Saturdays and eating ice cream, New York Vanilla.  I can’t count how many half gallons we ate of that delicious ice cream.  There is no ice cream that good anymore.  Covered in chocolate syrup.  There were a few perks to being children of the owners of a grocery store.  I can’t eat ice cream like that anymore.  Not unless I want to buy new clothes all the time.

I miss things I’ve lost, friends I haven’t seen or talked to in a while or have moved on like my mom and dad, stamina, seeing without glasses…

the list goes on and on.

What do you miss?

Cookin’ It Up

My Blue Apron meals have been entertaining and delicious!  For $59 a week I get three different meals for two people. The first one arrived to much excitement and anticipation.Cookin it up  I couldn’t wait to get into it to see what was cookin’ for the next week.Cookin it up

Once I got it opened, I was greeted with a letter from Blue Apron and all the recipes on these beautiful, big, easy-to-read cards.  Nice people.  Underneath the welcome letter was all the produce and knickknacks (spices, butter, vinegar, cream, etc.) for the meals.  Everything is measured, with just the right amounts being sent:  certain amount in ounces of greens, the required amount of veggies whether it’s one onion or several fingerling potatoes, enough meat for two, fresh herbs all packaged and labeled.Cookin it upcookin it up

cookin it up

The packaging is eco friendly, with an insulated storage bag that could be reused to go to the grocery store (which comes in very handy in rural areas where the grocery store is at least 20 miles away).  In the bottom of the box are two frozen ice bags keeping the meats cold.  The whole kit and caboodle can be recycled.

 

cookin it up

cookin it upIngredients so far have included shrimp, cod, ground lamb and beef, ground turkey, chicken, and flank steak.  Along with the vegetables I normally use such as garlic, onions, potatoes, and carrots, I’ve also been introduced to adding kale and spinach and Swiss chard and fava leaves and epazote and pea tips to the skillet to cook in with the recipe.  Then there’s the red rice and barley that I have found are delicious as well as filling, making a meal satisfy all evening.

Time to start cookin’ it up!!!

the recipe cards

the recipe cards

knickknacks

knickknacks

ingredients

ingredients

Tonight’s meal was turkey meatballs in pita bread.  I lined the pita with a vanilla yogurt, lemon juice, and diced cucumber dressing; added some of the lettuce from the salad, then placed the spiced meatballs in the middle.  Not bad but it wasn’t one of our favorites.  We aren’t big fans of ground turkey — too bland.

 

Cookin it up

Spiced Turkey Meatball Pitas with Sugar Snap Pea & Bibb Lettuce Salad

The Navarin-style lamb meatball stew was one of our favorites.

Navarin-style lamb stew

Navarin-Style Lamb Meatball Stew with Pea Tips & Carrots

The chili blackened cod just needs a little tweaking for our tastes.  Just a little less grapefruit cut up in it and little more finely chopped.

chili blackened cod

Chile-Blackened Cod with Epazote, Avocado & Red Rice Salad

The flank steak with peppercorn sauce, creamed spinach, and fingerling potatoes was super.  Definitely will be making that one again.

cookin it up

Pan-Seared Steaks with Green Peppercorn Sauce & Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Since the shrimp and fresh pasta meal, I may have to invest in a pasta machine.  I had no idea the difference fresh pasta makes in a dish!

Lemon & Black Pepper Shrimp with Fresh Linguine di Cavolo & Fava Leaves

Lemon & Black Pepper Shrimp
with Fresh Linguine di Cavolo & Fava Leaves

The chicken was very good as well.  The barley added flavor as well as kept us satisfied.

Pan-Seared Chicken Verjus with Pearled Barley & Mushrooms à la Grecque

Pan-Seared Chicken Verjus
with Pearled Barley & Mushrooms à la Grecque

Blue Apron has raised my awareness of how I cook and how I eat.  Only one dish has had much fat in it, and then not excessive.  Learning to cook for two with no leftovers or very little leftover is a plus as well.  The mingling of flavors of the herbs and vegetables and meats combinations has been a learning experience, things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing together.

The next shipment is Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to it.  None of the meals have taken much time to prepare nor more than two pans.  We have enjoyed critiquing each dish together.  A “foodie” date night.

Sometimes I freeze the meat if I am not going to get to it within a couple of days, but the dishes are much better the quicker the use of the ingredients is.  The meals turn out like the pictures on the cards (my nephew thought I was posting the web site pictures instead of my own when he saw them on Facebook) after you “plate” them.

I just need a chef hat… a really cool chef hat.