Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Living in the Kern River Valley

“Now I live in the mountains, I drifted up here with the wind. I grew up in an oil town, but my gusher never came in” ~ Merle Haggard, “Kern River”

      Well, originally I didn’t have a theme. I didn’t understand when I signed up what they meant by adding abbreviations for my theme. I didn’t know that people had themes. I already planned out my 26 posts, in alphabetical order but I still felt like something was missing. Then yesterday, I saw posts about everyone’s theme reveals. I had no idea there was
supposed to be a theme reveal on March 23rd. I feel kind of bad about not being more involved with the site and other bloggers, but in my defense I’ve had my hands full.
            If my original posts had any sort of a theme, it was ‘how random I am’, but I thought, what if I did do a theme? What would it be? Could I do enough prep work between now and April 1st to be able to keep up with the A-Z Challenge? And then it dawned on me. Like a light bulb over my head. I had been considering doing a month long series on the Kern River Valley, or KRV, where we’ve been living for the past two years.
            As I’ve said before, I live in a tiny town, one of many strung along the 178 that winds through the valley. It’s a small, quiet place, tucked away in the mountains, near Isabella Lake. And I really love it here! I love living here, I love my children growing up here, there are a few things I don’t like but the small inconveniences of living in a mountain town are not enough for me to consider moving.

            So, I know I’m a day late and I can’t link to the website, but I wanted to write my Theme Reveal anyway! My theme is going to be Living in the Kern River Valley. I hope it will be interesting for others and I look forward to all the creative themes!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Faking Fancy; Breaded Chicken Italiano

                    10 minute Breaded Chicken Italiano

Fakin' Fancy
       While I love fixing fancy meals for my family, we often have so much going on that it’s hard to come up with something culinary every night. So, most of the time I do my best to fake it. 
          Last night, I faked Breaded Chicken Italiano, with Marsala wine and parmesan cheese. I also made a creamy Southern White gravy to go on top. Sided with hash browns and a salad fresh from our back yard garden and I was able to fake fancy in less than a half hour. And everyone loved it! 

Salad fresh from our garden
            As well as being super easy and quick to make, this dish is also really cheap. I love saving money and one of the main ways I do that is through grocery shopping. I like to buy from the bulk section of WinCo, a discount grocery store in the nearest city. The parmesan cheese and breading mix were both bought in bulk. I'll be discussing how I shop cheap and feed my family of 5 on a tight budget in later posts. 


                   Breaded Chicken Italiano

            1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
            ½ cup Italian breading mix
            ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
            ¼ cup marsala wine
            1 medium white onion
            1 bunch of green onion

1.     Cut up onion, in half, then slice the two halves into wedges. Cut green onions and simmer both in pan with 1 tbsp. butter or margarine until soft and starting to lightly brown

2.     Slice up chicken breast to ½ - ¼ inch thick, add to cooking onion mixture. Let cook a few minutes on one side on medium-high heat until it begins to turn white. Add marsala, salt and pepper and stir everything together until it’s cooked.

3.     When the chicken is completely cooked through (about 5 minutes) add Italian breading, and mix to coat well. Top with parmesan cheese and voila you have a tasty, easy and very fancy looking main dish!

   Jaime’s Simple White Gravy

          2 cups milk
          5 tbsp. bacon grease
          ¼ cup flour
         Salt and pepper (for seasoning)

1.     Melt bacon grease in pan on medium-low heat, stir in flour, salt and pepper and mix well until all the flour is soaked up.

2.     Slowly pour in milk as you continue to stir. Make sure you stir, stir, stir! The flour will burn to the bottom of the pan and become very goopey if you don’t keep an eye on it. 

3.     Continue stirring until it’s a consistency you want. Feel free to add more milk, if you want a thinner gravy. This gravy will continue to thicken up, even after it’s removed from the heat, so if it sits too long and gets too thick, just add a little milk or water and stir stir stir!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No One Told Me About Curly Haired Babies!!!

               Some of the worst mistakes in my life were haircuts ~Jim Morrison
               From what I have seen in pictures, I was a curly haired baby and toddler. However, when I was two I went into the hospital for many months. When I was released, my hair was such a matted mess from being in bed for so long, that my mom couldn’t comb it, so she cut it all off into a cute little bob. After that, it grew back blonde and straight.
               When I was young, my mom would spray No More Tangles into my hair after my shower and comb it out, straight and smooth. There was never much fuss made over my hair. My sons also had straight hair. For most of their lives, I’ve kept it cut short, but it’s always been easy to manage, being so straight and fine. Lovebug was born with a head full of hair, which fell out at about 4 weeks old. It grew back pretty quickly and before I realized it, she had a thick mass of hair
Lovebug before I do her hair
And after all is said and done :)
               At almost two her hair is about seven inches long but curls up to about half that length. It is constantly frizzing up and turning into a giant afro. I thought about cutting it off. Actually I had decided to. But my resolve gave out in the end and my fear that her curls won’t come back won out. So I                                 spend the time every day to try and maintain her hair. 

         So, let me tell you how I managed to tame my toddler’s crazy locks.

   This is what her hair usually looked like before I figured how to properly condition and maintain her hair:
               It was unruly to say the least. It tangled almost to the point of dreadlocks, from root to tip, no matter what I tried to do. It would look gorgeous right after her bath, but the rest of the time I could not get a brush through her hair. I felt terrible! I didn’t know what to do! I searched several websites, looking for find advice and tips for taking care of a curly haired toddler. 
I was surprised at how few there were. One that proved to be really helpful was: The Study of Styling the Curly Haired Toddler by a Straight Haired Mom, where Rachel Callahan explains how she tamed her toddler’s curls in three minutes. (It takes me a lot longer than 3 minutes to do Lovebug’s hair, if you include all the time it takes to chase and capture her) Here is a link to her blog:http://www.graspingforobjectivity.com/2009/05/study-of-styling-curly-haired-toddler.html

It was while I was removing the dreadlocks from my hair that I found a conditioner that works great for her very dry hair! And through trial and error, we found a hair management schedule that works well. I shampoo her hair once to twice a week (depending on how much dirt she gets into it) and I condition every other day. After her bath, her hair is blow dried on low/cool, then brushed and twisted into curls.
However, when she wakes up in the morning she inevitably looks like this: 
               I wait until she’s in a mood to let me do her hair, usually when she’s eating her morning snack or watching cartoons (or both). I use my large paddle brush and slowly brush through her hair, one small section at a time. Don’t start from the roots! That is a good way to pull and tug and break hair. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Even after all the tangles are brushed out, I still can’t run a brush straight through her hair. It is too thick and course. 

     So, once it’s brushed out, it looks like this: 

              Now, it’s very bushy, not tangled anymore but we’re not done yet! After it’s brushed, I spray her hair with a “no more tangles” creation of my own. I swirl the bottle to make sure everything is mixed up, and spray a light mist on her hair. 

Once it’s been misted down, (which she usually finds amusing but wasn’t happy about me doing her hair and taking pictures today) I gently twist the hair, so that it follows its natural curl pattern. I usually end up with four or five large twisted sections of hair. 

Then I just let it all air dry and it will dry into large spiral curls. This lasts her for just a few hours before her hair starts to stick out and frizz and just generally be wild and crazy, but that’s how my daughter is. 
Sorry about the bad resolution but my daughter HAAATES getting her picture taken!

               I bought a bottle of that “detangling spray” and I did not care for it at all. It was sticky and left a residue in her hair, not to mention the fact that it didn’t detangle but actually made her tangles even worse!  So I dumped out the bottle and rinsed both the bottle and the sprayer out with hot water. 

I filled the bottle half way with bottled water (our tap-water is too harsh for her hair), poured in two squirts of her conditioner, and added a few drops each of Vitamin E oil and Tea Tree Oil (which I used to use on my dreads). I filled the bottle up with a little more water, then swirled and shook the bottle until it was all mixed up. You may want to use more or less oil, depending on how dry or oily your child’s hair and scalp are. I use a little extra because her hair dries out so quickly, it needs extra moisturizing.