Monday, January 25, 2010

2010: The Year of the Toy

One of the many things my son inherited from his daddy is his love of tractor magazines. And farm newspapers. And farm classifieds. And tractor brochures. You get the idea.

Wednesdays are especially important around here as the weekly Farm World is delivered. I'm not sure who looks forward to it more.

But the most exciting day of the year is when the annual Ertl toy catalog arrives. When Cole gets his grubby little hands on it, he is content for hours.

We still have remnants of the 2008 and 2009 catalogs. Folded edges, creased pages, circled favorites, well-loved little pages of possibilities.

After looking through this year's catalog, he exclaimed, "This is going to be the best year of toys ever."

I have to admit, Learning Curve is coming out with some amazing new toys for the spring. The little man cannot wait to get his hands on the Power Drive Lift and Load Barn with Power Drive vehicles and the Gator Pit Adventure.

But the toy that really got him going? The 12 volt riding limited edition Gator HPX. It matches our real Gator! And he just "cannot live without it!"

If you would like your very own copy of the 2010 Ertl John Deere toy catalog, you can view and print one from here. You can get one from here for $0.99 with free shipping. Or most likely, you can get one from your local John Deere dealer.

Happy toy shopping!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Award Winning Chili Recipe

I found this recipe some time ago in an old farming magazine. This is definitely not the Indiana chili that I am used to as it uses a ton of ingredients without an ounce of macaroni! However, I tweaked the original recipe a bit to my liking and am pretty sure this is the best chili around.

You may think I am exaggerating a bit with "award winning chili recipe." But I promise you...I am not. Not only is this chili that good, but my cousin really did make this recipe for a chili cook-off and won! If that's not proof, I don't know what is.

You need:

ground beef, onion, baked beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, green pepper, red pepper, shredded cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, chili powder, corn muffin mix, milk, cream corn, and sugar

Now let's get cookin'!

1. Brown 2 lbs. ground beef with a little onion, salt, and pepper.

2. Transfer the meat to a large pot and add one large onion, chopped.

3. Add 1/2 C each green pepper and red pepper.

4. Add 1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes and 1 can (16 oz) tomato juice.

5. Add both 16 oz. cans of undrained beans, kidney and baked (I prefer Bush's Homestyle Baked Beans.)

6. Add 1 tsp. salt.

7. Add 1/2 TBS garlic powder.

8. Add 1/2 TBS chili powder.*

9. Add 1/2 TBS crushed red pepper.*

*Notice that I am a big wiener and did not add the full tablespoon of the chili powder or crushed red pepper. To each his own.

10. Stir the mixture well and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

11. In a separate bowl, add 2 cups of Jiffy corn muffin mix. (That's just about 2 boxes.)

12. Add one can of creamed corn.

13. Add 1/2 C sugar.

14. Add 1/2 C milk.

15. Mix the corn muffin mixture well.

16. Once the chili has cooked about 30 minutes, transfer it to a DEEP 13 X 9 baking dish.

17. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese on top.

18. Pour the corn muffin mixture evenly over the top and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Oh, my. This stuff is so good. You get the perfect mix of heat, spice, flavor, and sweetness in every single bite. It's the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night.

If you decide to try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think! And if you would like a printable copy of the recipe, just email me at

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Help Me, Rhonda


I love coffee. I can't live without it. I must have a cup first thing in the morning. The bigger the cup, the better.

I like regular coffee with cream. Starbucks is an occasional treat. I get my daily coffee on the way to school each morning. On the weekends, I use Folger's singles.


Because I cannot make a pot of coffee.

This is where you come in.

I need help, people. Every pot of coffee I make smells and tastes like plastic. I have purchased and tried several different coffee pots/makers with the same results. I have tried different brands of coffee...still plastic-y.

I bought yet another new coffee pot this week after having given up the notion of actually being able to make coffee. But I SO want a big, delicious pot of coffee on the weekends, without having to make every.single.cup. I thought maybe this time would be different.

It wasn't.

Am I rushing it? Do I need to make several pots of coffee to rid the maker of the plastic taste? Is it my water? Have I not found the magic non-plastic brand of coffee? Should I try bottled water?

Have you had similar issues? Do you know that smell? That taste?

What do I do?!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day #1

You know how much I love a snow day. But I have to admit, this week wouldn't have been my choice for the first snow day of the season. We just came back from Christmas break on Tuesday. I am not in that "I need a day away from these kids before I lose it" state of mind yet. That won't come until WAY later in the next Thursday.

With an inch on the ground and another 4-5 inches expected during the day, my school was canceled at 5:30 this morning, followed by nearly every school system in the state.

The one school that wasn't closed today?


How unfair is that? His mommy and sister get to stay home all day eating fresh-baked cookies, watching cartoons in our jammies, playing games, and he has to go to school?!

And I have a feeling this will happen quite a bit this winter. It's not that my school system cancels at the first threat of a snowflake, but it takes a Level 5 disaster for his school to cancel. I hate that. I just feel so guilty that he has to go and we don't.

However, when the Little Miss is in school and they BOTH have to go to school while I have a snow day...I will not hate that. Nor will I feel guilty. I might even feel a bit giddy.

Mother of the Year, indeed.

Edited to add: They just canceled my school again for tomorrow. There goes our two built-in snow days. Anything more will be made up at the end of the year. Grrrr.

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Celebrating I Heart Faces

I haven't had time to submit anything to i Heart Faces recently...but with my surprise snow day today...I did!

This week's theme is celebrating i Heart Face's one year birthday! Each picture has to include the i Heart Faces logo. Here are my entries!

Entry #1:

Entry #2:

Entry #3:

Entry #4:

“I am submitting this photo into the I Heart Faces logo photo contest. By entering, I am granting I Heart Faces LLC permission to consider my photo for use in the marketing and promotion of their website.”

If you want to submit your own pictures or check out the other entries, just click on the button below!

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