Showing Cattle

Yet another gem from the childhood summer adventures of cousins Lauren and Emily, here we have documentation of our days showing cattle.

In preparation for our debut at the fair, Granny took us to the big city of Bowling Green to get some matching outfits.  We landed on these precious denim vests, black shorts and black boots. Naturally, we chose to coordinate our socks with our t-shirts.  And in case you missed them, we were wearing gigantic black bows.  We kind of had a double layer Oreo thing going with the black and white.  Granny added a nice touch by sewing little sunflower patches onto our vests.  I think they really pulled the look together.

Here we are posing with our trophy cow. She was just thrilled to have a couple of little girls around.

This young lady certainly wasn’t going anywhere with all of us anchoring her rope.  We were so much help.  For all I know, this cow might have been a young man.

That’s my dad in the red cap.

I can’t help but notice that this calf and I have nearly the same leg shape: knobby.

Man was I happy to be there.

We don’t seem to have any pictures of me and Lauren showing our calves individually.  Poor cousin Lauren got a wild one and I think he stepped on her foot a time or two.  She persevered.

Granny and Eugene cheered us on from the stands as we won a few ribbons for our efforts.   The event concluded with a celebratory Sippy cup of apple juice.

Today, cousin Lauren turned 22.  In the 17 years since these photos were taken, she has learned a tremendous amount about cattle and showing them.  Regrettably, the same cannot be said for me.  Maybe someday we’ll get back out there in our sunflower vests and cousin Lauren can give me a few pointers.

Happy Birthday, Lauren!  I will always treasure our summer adventures.

Y’all hurry back,

Sugarlump

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An Exciting Morning

This morning started out much more exciting than I like mornings to be.   And I’m not talking about the giddy type of excitement typical of Christmas mornings, because I’m all about that.  No, this morning was more of a panicked excitement type of morning.

You see, the problem is that my alarm clock is too smart for its own good.  It automatically adjusts for Daylight Savings; however, it neglected to consult with the calendar to determine that the date to set the clocks back this year is next Sunday morning, not this Saturday morning.

My alarm went off at 8:00AM and I stretched and groaned and patted Gus on that head as I reached for my phone to check my messages.  Imagine my surprise to discover that an hour had passed in what had felt like seconds.  I stared at my phone in disbelief as I read 9:01AM.  I then looked at my watch and discovered that my phone ain’t no liar.

Chaos ensued shortly thereafter as I needed to be at work at 9:00AM, as in one minute before I realized that I was already late to work.  I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes, brushed my hair and my teeth as I served Gus his breakfast, stuffed my makeup bag, a yogurt and a granola bar in my purse and dashed out the door.  I arrived at work at 9:16AM.

Until about noon today, my brain felt as organized as my linens in this picture.

I wanted to crawl up in a pile of comfort and start the day over again, preferable on time.

Let the record show that my alarm clock is not too smart for Gus.  He was all up in my grill at 6:30AM, meowing for attention/food/the heck of it.

Maybe I’ll listen to him next time and get my rear end out of bed.

I can’t say for sure, but I’m convinced that Scarlett was behind the alarm clock scandal of October 27, 2012.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Hearty Turkey Chili

I love a hearty chili in the winter.  I do not, however, enjoy the taste/aroma of cumin, which is an ingredient found in most chili so I have come up with my own recipe.  I also tried to make it a little bit healthier than the standard chili by using ground turkey and chicken sausage.

Here’s what you’ll need.  Just about everything.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1lb ground turkey

2 links hot chicken sausage, casings removed

2 cans cannellini beans

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

½ can tomato paste

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

2 cubes/packets beef bouillon

1 cup beer

1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon white sugar

2 cups chicken broth diluted with 2 cups water

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

This recipe is especially healthy because you also get a workout chopping vegetables.

Chop the celery and put it in a bowl large enough for all of the chopped vegetables.

Then chop the bell pepper.

And then chop the onion.

Fight back the tears.

And then chop the jalapeno, seeds, ribs and all.  This chili is not for sissies.

This photo is slightly blurry because I was still crying from chopping the onion.

Like I said, this chili is not for sissies.

Finally, chop the garlic.

Behold that bowl of healthiness.

Then prepare your ingredients for battle.

I recommend pre-measuring all of your herbs and spices to make the dumping into the pot process go a little smoother.  I would also go ahead and open all of your canned goods and beer.

Speaking of beer…

I don’t drink beer so I made a special trip to Whole Foods nearby where they sell beer by the bottle instead of by the 6-24 pack.  I went and picked out Sam Adams’ Octoberfest and headed to the register.  The young guy at the register asked me if that was all.  I said yes.  He then kind of smirked at me and asked if I wanted him to open my beer for me.  I said no.  He didn’t know what to make of me.   I don’t either.

As it was time for me to prepare the beer to be poured into the pot, I realized that I don’t own a bottle opener.  I have an electric wine opener, but nothing to open this pesky bottle of beer.  I looked to see if my can opener had the grooves in it like some of them do to open a bottle.  Nope.  I searched all around my utensil drawer for something that might work.  Nothing.  I dug around in my tool box and tried using a screwdriver.  Not happening.  I was about to give up hope when I remembered I had a paint can opener from the last time I bought paint at Home Depot.  Wouldn’t you know that the other end of the paint can opener is a bottle opener?  I’m a little late to the party on this realization, but at least I was able to open that darn bottle of beer.

Ok, back to business.  Unpack the meat.  This means you must remove the raw chicken sausage from the casing.  I promise, it will be worth it in the end.

Heat up the olive oil and then throw the ground turkey and the chicken sausage into a large stock pot to brown it up real good.

Here’s what it will look like.  Yum!

Not.

I promise it gets better from here.

Throw in the beans…

The diced tomatoes…

The tomato paste…

All of those glorious vegetables that you chopped for hours…

The seasonings…

The tabasco sauce…

The Worcestershire sauce…

The be-ah….

Some of the chicken broth and water…

And by now your pot should be very full.

Put the lid on and let her go for 2-3 hours on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding chicken broth and or water.

When it’s done, it should look like this.

Yum!

Serve it up with a nice, healthy dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cheese.

Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

Here’s a more compact version without all of my helpful commentary:

Hearty Turkey Chili

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1lb ground turkey

2 links hot chicken sausage, casings removed

2 cans cannellini beans

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

½ can tomato paste

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

2 cubes/packets beef bouillon

1 cup beer

1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon white sugar

2 cups chicken broth diluted with 2 cups water

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Chop and pre-measure all ingredients.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, break up ground turkey and chicken sausage in pot and cook until browned.

Add rest of ingredients to pot and stir.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 2-3 hours, adding 1 cup of chicken broth mixture and stirring every 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Furball Fate

I vacuum almost every day.

And yet, my apartment is in a constant state of fuzz.

…thanks to this little guy…

…and this heifer…

Until I figure out how to make my cats self-vacuuming, I’m afraid this is my fate.

At least my cats have cute little feet.

Upon closer inspection of this photo, I noticed yet another furball lurking to the right of Gus’ foot.

Don’t give me that look.

That’s not my fur on the sofa, sir.

His furballs frustrate me, but then he gives me the puss in boots eyes.

And the intense stare-down.

And a scowl.

Sometimes I forget whose apartment this is…and thankfully my cats are here to remind me.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Very Inspiring Blogger Award II

A gigantic thank you to the Meandering Matriarch for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I always enjoy your blog and I am so flattered that you frequent mine!

In accepting this award, it is my pleasure to complete the following:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated me.
  2. Post the blog award image on my page.
  3. Tell 7 facts about myself.
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs and let the nominees know they been chosen.

7 Things About Me:

  1. I love regional sayings.   One of my new favorites is “a hitch in your giddy-up.”
  2. I collect aprons.  I try to buy one whenever I travel to a new place as a memento.
  3. It’s on my bucket list to see the Northern Lights.
  4. I don’t like to exercise.  I like to have exercised.
  5. My favorite magazine is Real Simple.  The older I get, the more I like to keep it real and simplify my life.
  6. I love cars and have since I was a little girl.  I even collected diecast models in 1/24th and 1/18th scales for several years.
  7. I’m almost always hungry.

To my nominees:  thank you for inspiring me with your stories of all varieties.  You teach me new things, you make me laugh, and you help me to get more out of my day.

  1. http://whyilovewesttexas.com/
  2. http://samanthajuneblog.wordpress.com/
  3. http://littleblogontheprairie.com/
  4. http://workhomebalance.wordpress.com/
  5. http://wherethegreengrassgrows.org/
  6. http://hgriffin.wordpress.com/
  7. http://diaryofacookiecutter.wordpress.com/
  8. http://piewithsparkles.com/
  9. http://healthyeatsandsweets.wordpress.com/
  10. http://sweetspellbaking.wordpress.com/
  11. http://forkmeetspoon.wordpress.com/
  12. http://outtakesontheoutskirts.wordpress.com/
  13. http://awhiskandaspoon.com/
  14. http://mrspenpen.wordpress.com/
  15. http://gingymakesstuff.wordpress.com/

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Sugarlump

Big Stuff

I was big stuff when I was little.

Here I am showing the foundation of my childhood home in Philadelphia who’s boss.   (The reality is that my dad probably asked me to go stand out in the middle of the foundation for a sense of scale.)

Prior to living in Philadelphia, we lived in Maryland, where my sister and I were born.  Here I am standing at the front door ready to head out for doubles.  I always hiked up one pant leg for good measure.

I don’t know what I am waving around in my hand in this photo.  My hypothesis is that it was a VHS that I wanted my dad to come put in the VCR in the sunroom.

After my baby doll had worn out her welcome, I used her as a pillow when watching TV on the floor.  I was a very resourceful toddler.

When I was even smaller, I used to help Papa check on the cattle.

I was taller than Papa.

Granny and I would sit on the front walk and have serious discussions about all kinds of things…like Barbie, Barney, and the Berenstain bears.

I even wrote letters to Granny before I could read.  Here is one written the year my sister, who is now a junior in college, was born.  It appears that I wrote largely in code, except for Granny’s name.

Man, I sure got my money’s worth out of childhood.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Sweet Tooth

I have a serious sweet tooth.  Actually, I like sweets so much that I would say I have sweet teeth.  I think I have 4.  Sweet teeth that is.  Not 4 teeth.  I have a lot more than 4 teeth in case you were getting the wrong idea.  However, if I continue to eat so many sweets, my teeth may start to fall out and I may someday have only 4 teeth.  But let’s not think about that.

I have no idea where I got my sweet tooth.  It might have to do with the fact that there are a lot of excellent, and I mean top-notch, bakers in my family.   As you can see, I served as designated bowl-licker as a toddler.  I’ve excelled in this role over the years.

I was often quite involved in the baking process so it was only natural that I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I was very adventurous in trying new sweets, like Papa’s ice cream Popsicle.

My grandparents made the mistake of building cabinets accessible to toddlers.  If you couldn’t find me, I was likely in the cabinet, foraging for cookies.

I sure love me some sweets.  I also, however, really like savory food.  I guess what it boils down to is that I just don’t like bland food.  Can you blame me?

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I once had a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie at a local restaurant in the town I grew up in.

It changed my life forever.

After that day, it became my mission to perfect a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe.

It took many a flop for me to get to where I am today.  I tried several recipes I found online and none was peanut-buttery enough.  So I tinkered with this and that and I think I’ve got a good thing going.   The trick is to put in A LOT of peanut butter.  Shocking, I know.  Also, take the cookies out of the oven before they look done.  I mean it. If you leave them in there until they look done, they will turn into bricks.  And no one likes to eat peanut butter chocolate chip bricks.

If you want to become instantly popular among your younger sister’s high school pals, I would suggest making these cookies.  After I made the cookies for the youngsters the first time, I was hit up for a double batch almost every time they came over.  I nearly broke my mixer once when I received a triple batch request.

There were never any cookies left by the time Eugene’s friends went home.

Here’s how to become instantly popular among your sister’s friends:

Assemble butter, peanut butter, sugar, light brown sugar, eggs, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips but NOT vanilla extract.  I don’t know what that was doing there.

Ingredients (recap):

1)      1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

2)      ¾ cup of peanut butter

3)      1/3 cup of light brown sugar

4)      2/3 cup of sugar

5)      1 egg

6)      1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

7)      ½ teaspoon baking powder

8)      ½ teaspoon baking soda

9)      ¼ teaspoon salt

10)   1 cup chocolate chips (preferably 60% bittersweet)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Measure out the first 4 ingredients and throw them into a mixing bowl.

I would highly recommend spraying your measuring cup with cooking spray to help that peanut butter slide right into the bowl.  Keep a spatula handy in case the peanut butter gets pesky.

Cream the butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars until light in color.

Add the egg and mix until incorporated.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix until just combined.

Stir in chocolate chips by hand.  I would have taken a picture but I was stirring.

Drop the dough onto a baking sheet using a large spring-loaded cookie/ice-cream scoop for even cookies.  Press down to flatten the cookies to ¾” thick.  The cookies should be about 3″ in diameter.  If you only have a medium size cookie/ice-cream scoop like the one pictured above, your cookies will be about 2″ in diameter.    Press any straggler dough into the sides of the cookies so they look prettier and more uniform when they come out of the oven.

Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on your scoop size) or until just barely starting to brown.  The cookies will look underdone.  Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet and then serve or finish cooling them on wire rack.

I tidied up the edges of the dough for the cookies on the left and neglected to do so for the batch on the right.  The ones on the left are much more attractive.   However, I over-baked the cookies on the left and the ones on the right were just right.  You really have the watch these suckers.  The MOMENT you see just a hint of brown on the cookies, remove them from the oven to cool IMMEDIATELY.

I mean it.

You’ll thank me.

Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

Childhood Campfires

When we were little, Papa used to take us grandbabies camping on the top of the hill behind Granny and Papa’s house.  We would haul the kids’ picnic table to the top of the hill (read: Papa would put it in the back of his truck and drive it to the top of the hill for us) and Granny would load us up with hotdogs, buns and marshmallows for a lunch by the campfire.  We always had a big time.  I can smell the marshmallows burning just thinking about it.  Oh man, those were the days.

I recently found some photos of these camping adventures in some old family albums.

Here’s my sister Eugene at age 3, roasting a branch and channeling her inner Pocahontas.  She was wearing her idol’s shirt for good vibes.

On this particular afternoon, it appears I was thrilled to be roughing it in the backyard at the Fisher-Price picnic table.  Cousin Lauren looks significantly less thrilled.

A few minutes later, there was quite a shift in the mood.  Cousin Lauren is proudly displaying a walnut as I manage a smirk and continue to slouch.  My dad would be so displeased with my posture in these pictures.

And, for Pocahontas, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.

Here is Pocahontas doing a little interpretive dance after her beverage.  Or maybe she had to go to the bathroom.  Either way, she was really getting the most out of our afternoon in the wilderness.

Always an adventure “camping” with Papa.

Y’all keep it real,

Sugarlump

A Series of Sunsets

Lately, the sun has been setting not long after I get home from work.  The temperatures have been pleasant so I usually walk in the front door and towards my sliding door to open it and let in some fresh air.  As I open the door to my west-facing porch, I catch the reds and oranges of the sunset beginning to flood the sky.  I almost always go and grab my camera to take a picture of yet another lovely sunset.

I have countless photos of sunsets taken from my porch just in the last month or so.  All of them were taken at roughly the same time and roughly the same angle (note the ever-present evergreen), and yet none of them is alike.  In fact, it amazes how different they are.

Clear and bright.

Warm and radiant.

Rich and painterly.

Soft and resilient.

Steadfast and soothing.

Dark and dueling.

I think the two low spots where the sunset is poking through the clouds look like a pair of demonic eyes.

And today’s shot as the storms roll through:

Muted and obscured.

I’ll never tire of watching and capturing the sunset.   I’m sure I would feel the same way about the sunrise if I were up early enough to witness it.  Don’t be expecting a post entitled “A Series of Sunrises” any time soon.   Partly because I don’t have a clear view to the east to capture the sunrise and mostly because I don’t like getting up in the dark.

I’ll stick to sunsets for now.

Y’all hurry back,

Sugarlump