Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Husband Chow...

Back when I was in high school we had our own pond about 15 feet from the house. In fact, I had a room with a sliding glass door that looked out over the pond and I loved to watch the red-winged blackbirds, the muskrats, turtles, frogs and the various other wild life that visited our pond. [Maybe another time I will tell about the time the neighbor's hogs enjoyed the pond and how my mom fought them off!]

My dad stocked the pond with bass and trout-and there were a ton of little bluegill everywhere. There wasn't enough natural food for all the fish, so every once in a while, Dad would buy a 50# bag of Purina Trout Chow and we would feed the fish every day.

For years I have thought how wonderful it would be to have Purina Teen Chow or Purina Family Chow. I guess pasta, rice and potatoes got us through the teen years, but they weren't quite as easy as to make as just grabbing a cup of some chow and tossing it to the teens. In the past year I have made what I lovingly call "husband chow"-- but Bob just calls it granola.

For at least a year, every single morning, Bob scoops out some husband chow for breakfast. He covers it with milk and he is good to go. And that's it. If I am not around to make him something for lunch, he eats it again for lunch. I thought you might want to know how to make this fantastic, whole grain, all natural food for your husband, kids or for yourself.

I guess we could call it Family Chow, or just plain ole granola.
Husband Chow

In a large bowl, combine the following with a wooden spoon:

6 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
6 Cups Rolled 7 grain [available in bulk or health-food stores, or just use more rolled oats]
1-2 Cups Coconut [if you like it]
1-2 Cups of various nuts, like slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, etc.
1-2 Cups of shelled sunflower seeds
2 T Cinnamon

Then mix together and pour over the grains, mix well.
1 C vegetable oil
1 C honey or pure maple syrup
1 T vanilla

Line a two 9 x 13 cake pans with parchment paper or grease well. Put granola in the pans, put in 300 degree oven for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool. [To boost nutritional value, you may want to add 1/2 to 1 C of ground flax seed after you remove from the oven, and stir well. If you want dried fruit in your chow, add and stir it in after you remove from the oven.]

Enjoy and Take care,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My sister's gift--taming the TV Monster

About 21 years ago, while we were living in Florida, we were driving by a field and one of our boys said, "Hey--it looks like some kind of animal or something." It was a cow!

Bob and I were horrified. How had two country kids like us, raised city kids who didn't even know what a cow was? We started talking after that about what is important and we decided that we needed to move back to Michigan to give our kids the kind of childhood we both had--complete with cows.

So, that started our pilgrimage back to Michigan. Bob secured a job transfer and we were ready to go--but, the house just would not sell. Convinced that it would sell fairly quickly, we loaded our four kids and my 4 1/2 month pregnant body, and headed north. But, since we hadn't sold our house, we really couldn't afford to buy another, so we decided we would stay with my younger sister Joy for a few weeks till our house sold and we could buy another.

You guessed it. The house did not sell. We ended up staying in Ken and Joy's basement with our four--I mean five kids-- for five months. It will take a few blog posts to tell you all we learned that year of our wandering, but for now let us concentrate on the gift of no TV.

Joy and Ken did not own a TV and did not want one in their home, so although we weren't really TV addicts, we did learn to do without it. It was a good lesson. The kids played outside more, we talked more, we spent more time on the deck after supper rather than huddled around a blue screen. It was inconvenient as it pertained to getting news, but other than that, it was great. I highly recommend taking your TV out to the garage or unplugging it for a period of time if you are addicted or if you think it steals too much time. I really do think that TV's steal a lot of time--and they are relentless, stealing from you day after day after day.

When we finally got a place of our own, we were much more intentional about what we watched and how much we watched. No more mindless TV playing in the back ground, no more TV interfering with our family life [except maybe during Football Season!]

We found that by limiting TV to about 1 hour or so in the evening, we--not the programming directors-- were calling the shots. Mostly, we left the TV off during the day [Saturday cartoons were OK], and then turned it on from 7:30-8:30 or 9 at night. At that time we watched TV or Videos/DVDs together as a family. Most of the time we watched what we lovingly referred to as "Old Shows" which were things like Andy of Mayberry, Gomer Pyle, My Three Sons and others. A lot of the time I made popcorn, so it really seemed like an event.

Years have gone by since our TV-FREE living, but we still keep to the hour or so in the evening of TV. Bob and I almost never watch regular TV, but we do work our way through various DVD's. Our current favorites are the BBC rendition of Sherlock Holmes, Psyche and some old Everybody Loves Raymond.

I really am thankful to my sister's gift of no TV. It changed our family dynamics, made TV time more of a family event and gave us back the time it loved to steal.

Take care,

Photo: Our kids on Joy's porch during our no TV living. Notice Kari holding Scotty.

[As a note, when we were homeschooling we did not allow the kids to do anything non-educational before 2:00 pm on school days. They could read, do crafts or projects, play board games, etc. Another suggestion is to employ a timer. Let a child play a computer game, for instance for 20 minutes. He sets a timer [keep on by the computer or TV] and when it goes off so is he. ] I know it is hard to do this at first, but if you make a few rules and stick to them, the kids will learn what to expect and it will be easy to limit TV and Computer time. I promise!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Matches and Salt Substitute...

I have an acquaintance who is a RN and recently went to an Emergency Preparedness workshop about pandemics in general. She had some great advice that I thought I would share with you.

I am not an alarmist, but I am very practical and I like to be prepared. When we had the ice storm here in February, my father-in-law's power went out and we had to put two kerosene heaters in his house to keep the pipes from freezing [he stayed with us, and also was in the hospital part of the time]. We had matches, but only one box, so I thought I would pick up another box to keep at his house. Do you know I could not find ANY matches at Kroger, Wal-Mart, Dollar General or our local IGA? They were totally sold out. So, after the storm when things were restocked, you can believe I stocked up on matches.

So, that leads me to this list of what you should buy now, to have on hand if you need it. Because, if you do need it, and lots of other people do too, you may not be able to get it.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS [Electrolyte formula and essentials]

I recommend that everyone get a stash of these supplies and keep them in a plastic tub or bucket in a handy place. I put mine in a 6 gallon bucket with a lid, labeled it, and put it in my basement. Most of these things you probably have.

* Thermometer
* Soap {I have a lot of this}
* Box of disposable gloves (They sell these at Wal-Mart and pharmacies; a 50 count box was about $5.50]
* Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
* Ibuprofen (Advil)
* Bleach (REAL...chlorine bleach--UNSCENTED!)
* Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (those little pumps are great next to a sick one's bed
* Paper towels
* Tissues
* Surgical face masks ( Wal-Mart or pharmacies; 20 count for under $3.00)

Ingredients to make homemade electrolyte fluid:

* Sugar [I bought a plastic container with a screw lid so it will not get clumpy]
* Baking soda [I tucked this into a large zip-loc]
* salt
* sugar free Kool-Aid packages [I tucked these into a zip-loc]
* Salt Substitute(highlighted because most households do not have this on hand.) It is sold next to the salt. I paid $4.52 for a rather large canister, smaller salt shaker size was about $2.50. {This gives the drink potassium, which is essential}
Electrolyte Recipe:

1 qt water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
3-4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt substitute

Mix well. Can be flavored with lemon juice or sugar free Kool-Aid.

If a family member is having trouble keeping down any fluids, this can be spoon fed. Some will prefer it cold...others just room temperature. KEEP SPOONING. This is the mix that is used in crisis situations world-wide, when IVs are not available. It can save lives.

NOTE: Check with your pediatrician or other MD regarding their opinion on the situation. In normal circumstances...a MD will want to see a child who is dehydrated. This mix is for when things go bad in society or the weather is too bad to reach medical help or when there is an epidemic...and a doctor visit may not be possible.

To make a good disinfectant...mix 1 gallon of water with 1/4 cup of bleach. Make a fresh batch every time it is used.
Compile these supplies and keep the two recipes with the supplies...and you will be prepared to help others...It is not too expensive and not a difficult thing to do.

My old Girl Scout training comes to mind: Be Prepared

Take care,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alzheimer poem...

My mom died from Alzheimer's a few years ago, and as I was cleaning my computer files I ran across this poem I wrote when she was failing...


The stranger comes silently
like a wisp, or a vapor
seeing who it can devour
not all at once, in a gulp,
but in tiny little bites
It creeps in, uninvited
robbing memories
robbing personalities
robbing families
without a conscience

Mom and Dad--this is one of my favorite pictures of them. I think it was an anniversary and they are out west somewhere. Dad put his camera on a post or something, then ran around and got in the picture. It makes me smile.

Take care,

Saturday, June 6, 2009


My mom died from Alzheimer's a few years ago, and as I was cleaning my computer files I ran across this poem I wrote when she was first failing--or I should say, when we first realized she was failing-it was September 2003.


The stranger comes silently

like a wisp, or a vapor

seeing who it can devour

not all at once, in a gulp,

but in tiny little bites

It creeps in, uninvited

robbing memories

robbing personalities

robbing families

without a conscience

Mom and Dad--this is one of my favorite pictures of them. I think it was an anniversary and they are out west somewhere. Dad put his camera on a post or something, then ran around and got in the picture. It makes me smile. :0)

Almost a movie star...

I had a dream come true a couple of weeks ago; but let me back up about 45 years ago, back when I was 8 years old.

I was a real tom-boy with a pixie haircut and I usually had bruises and scrapes on every appendage. I could jump rope and pogo-stick circles around all the girls in our neighborhood.

In our town there was a dentist named Dr. McKinley and he had teen age daughters that I thought were akin to movie stars. They had long legs and hair like Californian girls. And, the thing that made these girls so much more than just girls, was that they had a pink jeep. Yep, that's right, a pink jeep--the Wrangler type that looks like you could go on a safari, and it had a pink and white stripe canvas top for summer. Oh, my, how I loved it when every once in a while I caught a glimpse of that jeep on a hot summer day. The girls were laughing and their perfect movie star hair was blowing in the breeze. From that time on, I fancied myself in a jeep. [Maybe I could be practically-a-movie-star if I had one?]

But, it seemed once I got old enough to get a car, I was also married and then children were coming and what I needed was a mom-mobile. I have had a series of mom-mobiles that have served me well. We had a little Reliant K car wagon, a big-full size brown van [seated 9] and 3 mini-vans. They were all very sensible and just the thing for a family with five kids.

But the kids are pretty much grown now. Scotty will be 20 next month and our current mini van has pretty high mileage so Bob and I decided to buy a low mileage car that would seat five. So, we went looking for a sensible little car. Since everyone says that in this economy we could get a deal, we headed out of town and to the Chrysler dealer. Because my father in law retired from Chrysler we can get an even better deal, and with the bankruptcy, maybe they would pay us just to take one off their lot? As we were on our way there, we saw the makings of a terrible traffic jam, so we made a detour we decided to stop by a nice family run used car lot, just to see what they had.

As the friendly salesman was showing us the rather boring silver cars--and tell me, why does every car seem to be silver these days?--I spotted a jeep off to the side. A shiny red [did I mention that red is my favorite color?] Jeep. I swear it had my name on it. My husband says it is harder to negotiate a good price when your wife is drooling. I swear, I couldn't help it.

At any rate, it was in our price range-and did I mention it was red?- had only 21,000 miles on it and was a 2005. Perfect! The test drive went well, and so now I am the proud owner of my dream vehicle!

I have already driven through the creek three times and to the top of the hill at our farm once. No more mom-mobiles for me-and it only took 45 years! [As a note, I look great with my hair flying behind me as a drive with all the windows down--almost like a movie star!]