Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Family Out of Braces!

We've had someone in braces for about 10 years. It all began with my husband. When I married him he had crooked teeth. His teeth were white, he only had one tiny filling and they were pretty crooked. His uncle had been his dentist. I asked my husband why hadn't his uncle and parents had his teeth straighten. His response... a shrug and an "I don't know." Crooked teeth being a minor thing he was a catch and I married him. After we married I asked him if he had ever thought of having his teeth straightened. "Not really," he answered. After all they were his teeth and they were very healthy. He was still a very handsome man and I determine they were his department and said no more.

We were married about 7 years when at a Renaissance dinner with delicious roasted pork skin he broke a bottom front tooth. The dentist was able to bond it and make it look as good as new. 2 weeks later it broke again. Thinking the bond was faulty the dentist fixed it. 1 week later it broke again. My husband went right back to the dentist. This time he came home with a referral to an Orthodontist. Between the dentist and the Orthodontist it was determined that over the years hubbies crooked teeth had shifted just enough that his upper teeth were breaking off the bottom tooth. Dear hubby was very discourage with this news. Mainly because we really didn't have the money for this kind of expense. It would be around $3500 to put braces on his teeth. I looked at it from the point of view that it wasn't a luxury item. It would be a medical expense. If he needed an operation no question we would do it. I felt if his teeth needed adjusting we would adjust the budget and do it. I think he felt much better looking at it from a necessity point of view, which it clearly was. On went the braces. The broken tooth wouldn't be fixed until the braces were done adjusting his bite. He came home discouraged again. Why I asked? He said, "Just look at me I'm going to have braces and a broken tooth for the next 3 or so years!" I said, "Good thing you're already married and you don't have to impress anyone." He and I chuckled and life went on.

Just about the time his braces were to come off my son needed to get them put on. When my son was about 6 the dentist said that he might need braces, because of how his jaw was in relation to the teeth. We got a consultation from our friendly Orthodontist and he said yes he'll need braces. The Doctor said what usually happens to cause problems is kids get their father's teeth and their mother's jaw. That was good and bad for my kids. Good in that my DH has strong teeth mine are riddle with fillings from my childhood. Bad in that I have a lot of jaw pain, because my teeth aren't aligned correctly for my small jaw. Wouldn't you know it ... both my kids had the small jaw. So, both kids were to get a phase one and phase two of braces. Doing it this way would eliminate the possibility of them needing surgery on their jaw later down the line.

So, the years of food deprivation began. Years of adjusting food, so someone with braces won't feel completely left out. Then there were some foods that they all just had to skip, because there was no way to eat it and not break a brace. With my son I started something called the "Crunch Party." Anytime he pined for a food I say, "Go put it on your Crunch list." Parental distraction at it's best. The idea was when his braces came off we would have a party where all the crunchy, gooey, gummy foods would be allowed. After phase one we had his Crunch Party. We had such a good time. Party goers were instructed to bring one of their favorite crunchy, gooey, or gummy foods to share. There were Nachos, popcorn, peanut brittle, red licorice, Gummy bears, to just name a few.

While my son was in between phases my daughter began phase one. By now we were pros at what one could eat and how they could eat it. My daughter started her crunch list. When her phase one ended there was a glitch in our Crunch Party plan. She needed a permanent retainer glued to her teeth and once again she was on food lock down. No Crunch party for her. I just told her to keep adding to the list as we'd have a huge Crunch party for her at the end.

As she ended phase one my son began phase two. By the end of his sophomore year the braces were off. He now had freedom and beautiful functioning teeth. By now he was a teenager and wasn't interested in a "Crunch party." I was a tiny bit disappointed, but reminded myself he's a teenage boy and he can celebrate his freedom however he wants.

Now it's my daughter's turn. Her phase two braces came off today! A month ago when we found out her diligent work with the rubber bands on her braces earned her a 9 month early release from her braces I asked if she still wanted a Crunch Party. She said, "Heck yeah!!!!" She'd lost her crunch list years ago, but promptly began work on another crunch list.

I'm so excited that the braces are off for everyone. I'm off to make caramel apples the number one thing my daughter said she wanted to bite into when the braces came off.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If I were younger I would have DIED of embarrassment!!!!

It was a lovely cool summer morning. I had slept in a bit and it felt delicious. I awoke with basically no responsibilities. I have teenagers now and they were off on their own schedules. The dog had been fed and was soft and cuddly. My son was off to summer school until 1pm. My daughter was off riding her bike with a friend and wouldn't be back until noon. My husband was at work until 3pm. So, I decided to have a leisurely morning. About 10am I popped into the shower. As I was getting out of the shower I heard the phone ringing. Darn, I hadn't brought a phone into the bathroom with me. I had just wrapped my towel around my hair turban style. I ran to the closest room with a ringing phone... the computer room. I checked the caller ID and thank goodness no children with an emergency. It was my friend from Portland.

She was trying to get her iPod to download music and was having problems. Since I was already in the computer room I decided to unwrap the towel from my head and throw it on the chair seat. I sat down at the computer to help her. As you might have imagine.... yes I'm naked. What the heck nobody is home. What is pretty unusual is I'm not a naked person. I wear pajamas. I stay dressed all day UNTIL I put on pajamas. I'm just more comfortable dressed for many reasons. Who knows what got into me on this day. I was feeling free enjoying my morning of no responsibilities.

After talking with my friend and walking her through iTunes she had her iPod just about where she wanted it when I hear, "MOM!" Then some laughter. Another "MOM! I can't believe you have no clothes on!" More giggling. Thank goodness it's my daughter and she's home early. I still have my friend on the line and she hears the ruckus and now she knows I'm naked. Both of them are naked people and both know I'm not. They are both having a chuckle as I sputter and try and explain my situation. Both are having WAY too much fun giving me a lighthearted hard time.

THEN the doorbell rings. I tell my friend I really need to go now, because I'm naked and now there is someone at my front door. My relaxing morning is now completely gone. I'm thinking it might be the mailman at the door and I don't want him to leave with a package. I'm torn... get dressed and risk the mailman leaving. I thought I'd save myself $4 worth of gas and just crack the door and tell him just give me a second. He says, "No problem." I shut the door and start quickly down the hall. My daughter passes me as I leave the door and I turned to tell her to just sign for the package if need be. As I'm speaking to her I notice the closed door is standing wide open. CRAP! The latch didn't catch! I had held the towel in front of me just in case as I spoke to the mailman. It wasn't covering anything in the back. I just BA-ed the mailman!

I ran and got dressed all the while convincing myself that the special sun blocking screen we have on the front screen door had blocked all view. When my husband came home and asked how the day went. I relayed the funny story of being caught naked by our daughter in the computer room. I also told the story of the mailman and how we saved his package from being returned to the post office. And of how if we didn't have the special sun blocking screen on the screen door I might have BA-ed the mailman. Dear hubby's eyes conveyed sympathy, but his mouth grinned really big and he said, "I hate to tell you this honey, but your back side is SO white there are no sun screens strong enough to prevent it from glowing through." He began to laugh. I was mortified! Being in my 40's though it only lasted a day. Then I got to thinking had I been in my 20's I would have had to move!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Raley's Something Extra

This is a little magazine my local grocery store puts out. My friends and family just love this magazine. It's really well done. One feels they should have to pay for it. It always has a delicious photo on the front. So, clear and crisp you feel like you could just take a bite out of it. The rest of the magazine is filled with more beautiful pictures, comments, tips and recipes. I feel a bit greedy when the new one comes out, because I grab 5. One for me, one for my mom, and 3 I mail to my California friend and her in-laws, who have relocated to Portland, Oregon.

Raley's is a big chain store, so it's not as little as it sounds. It is a very quaint store though. They do put the time into making the store have a down home feel. It's clean, the staff is friendly, when I'm looking for odd ingredients they have them and they have this great magazine. Another thing they do that I just love is when they reorganize the store they have extra staff in the aisles there just to help you find things and get reacquainted with the store. Reorganizing a grocery is one of my pet peeves. It will actually make me not shop there any more if I have to start hunting for the things I need. I walked into Raley's a few years ago and they had done a remodel and reorganized the whole store. I just didn't have time to play "scavenger hunt" with my grocery list. The look of bewilderment rising to anger on my face was seen immediately by a Raley's employee and they walked right over and offered me their assistance. They took me all over the store to find the things I needed. It was GREAT!

The issue I'm talking about today is Fall 2008. There was a recipe in it that looked good and easy. 2 nights ago I made it. It's called Pulled Pork.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make and how delicious it was. Leftovers still had a great flavor, but not as juicy as the night before. That didn't stop anyone from finishing them off. All the ingredients in the recipe were things I had on hand except the 4 pound boneless pork shoulder roast, which I promptly put on the grocery list.

There is one ingredient I left out on purpose liquid smoke. Ever since I was a child liquid smoke has not agreed with me. Nothing worse than a liquid smoke stomachache. This recipe was still great. Did I take any pictures...NO! Busy day with kids, soccer, homework, guitar lessons and I still got this on the store and cooking AND we ate at a reasonable time. So, I'm using Raley's picture. That's exactly how we ate it. Pulled pork sandwich with a green salad. Trying to use up as many of the tomatoes from garden. Who knows how many more we'll get to enjoy as the growing season comes to an end.

Pulled Pork

1(4-lb.) boneless pork shoulder roast
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. oil
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2-1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
Sandwich rolls

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cut pork into cubes, discarding any large pieces of fat. Cook pork, onion and garlic in oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients except rolls and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil; cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Remove cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Shred pork using 2 forks. Spoon onto warm rolls to serve.
Makes 6 servings.

Lynne's Note: To make shredding the pork easier I used a gadget I bought from my friendly Pampered Chef lady a few years ago. It's called the Mix 'N Chop. It worked great. The pork was so tender it shredded right up with my Mix 'N Chop. This gadget is so handy for chopping and crumbling food right in your non stick pan without scratching it.

Nutrition Per Serving: 760 calories, 58 g protein, 33 g total fat (12 g sat.), 55 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 175 mg cholesterol, 1000 mg sodium, 17 points
© 2008 Raley's Family of Fine Stores

Friday, September 5, 2008

August CCC

If you've forgotten CCC stands for Christmas Card Challenge. This year I challenge myself and about 10 friends to make a minimum of 3 Christmas cards a month for 11 months. I figured for myself I'd make 6 a month. That way I would have 66 handmade cards by the end of November. It's always been my dream to make Christmas cards for everyone. Last year I tried starting after Thanksgiving and I made cards until about December 15th before I realized I couldn't make enough in the time I allowed. I needed about 50 cards and I got 30 made. Not too bad, but I didn't enjoy making about the last 15 as I rushed to get them done. Then I went through my list to see who would get a handmade card and who would get a store bought. Hated doing it, but had no choice. Then there are always a few more cards sent out as you received cards or meet new friends or remember someone you had forgotten. So, thought 66 would be a good bet. August has just past and I have 48 CARDS MADE! I was SO excited as I counted them out and admired them. I almost wanted to play out THE scene from "Indecent Proposal" where they roll around on the bed in the money. Except my version would be the Christmas cards. I restrained myself and put them neatly with their envelopes into the two tins I have set aside for this year long project. So, here's a picture of August's cards. These cards were fairly simple. I had purchased fairly cheaply some envelopes and cards at big lots... red cards with green envelopes. I already knew I wanted to use my new Stampin' Up stamp set ... the tree any how. I found some lovely burgundy paper to back up the tree. While looking for some other matching paper I stumbled upon the plaid paper the colors just worked so well. I added 2 strips of ribbon for a little more embellishment and was done.

6X6 recipe swaps

This was a new size for a recipe LO for me. I wasn't sure how I'd like the size. The first one I did I could barely get the recipe on the page in a font size one could read and have room for an embellishment. I used a green background that was 6X6. I used my Jumbo Snowflake roller and rolled over red paper with white ink. After it dried I cut 5 3/4X5 3/4 inch squares out of it. I printed the recipe on laser vellum using brown ink, which I think helped emphasize it's chocolateness. (is this a word?) I used a snowflake punch on white paper. Then accented each snowflake with a snowflake eyelet. To finish I had a piece of ribbon and glued on the snowflake.

This swap was for Chocolate Christmas goodies. I ended up putting my notes about the recipe on the back of the card. This gave me about an inch more room. I thought of just leaving my notes off for the special shortcut I like to do with the recipe. I like it so much I wanted to share it and just glued it on the back. Keeping the recipe pure and giving me room for creativity.So, I wasn't sure about the size. After I received my swap back I was really loving the size.

I decided to participate in another 6X6 swap this time involving smoothies. I had a recipe that I knew would fit nicely.

I printed it on off white paper. For some reason I envisioned this recipe on orange paper. Maybe because I love to use orange sherbet in the recipe. I found so lovely citrus paper to make a strip down the side. Again I added ribbon and eyelets. This time I put fruit and vegetable stickers on the LO. I wanted to put 2 fruit and 1 vegetable sticker on each LO to emphasize the 2 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables in each smoothie, but it just seemed too cluttered. I think the point still gets across that this smoothie has a healthy aspect.

I've joined another swap. This time a cowboy themed swap on a 6X6 LO. I'm really looking forward to getting creative with that one.