Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ruidoso or Bust! Part 1

I have to say the trip to NM wasn't bad at all. Contrary to the night before with its storms and hail and tornados, Friday morning was lovely! I got the Monkey Bunch all settled in for the long trip ahead and off we went. Admittedly we did make a quick pit stop to grab donuts. I know, donuts. But seriously, I can't start a trip without donuts, it's sacreligious! Because of the donut stop, I managed to bypass rush hour traffic and zoomed out of town. After the rain from the night before, the Hill Country was gorgeous... fresh air, dewey sun-kissed leaves and a general feeling of life and well-being. We made a quick stop just west of Stonewall to pick up a basket of Texas peaches and some okra. There is nothing like fresh produce straight from a roadside stand! The peaches were luscious, absolutely dripping with sweetness, YUM!

Shortly thereafter, the kids started hollerin' for a potty break. And just so you can understand my pain, I took this trip right smack in the middle of potty-training the Piggy-Poo, and yes, I am the "Queen of Shitty Timing"! Anyhow... we saw a sign for a rest stop just before Fredericksburg. As I pulled into the parking area I was stunned! That was the most gorgeous rest stop I have ever seen in my life! It was a limestone building with solid wood doors, flowers everywhere, a nice little playground, picnic tables, a HIKING TRAIL!?! The actual restrooms were unbelievably clean, so much so I didn't even cringe once when the Piggy sat on the toilet! So if you're traveling that direction, I highly recommend you bypass the gas stations in Johnson City and hold "it" until you reach the rest stop, it will be a much more pleasant experience I assure you!

And then we were off again, enjoying the sights of the Hill Country. We saw deer, antelope and buffalo, not to mention a couple of camels! Camels, I shit you not! I wish I could have stopped for a photo, but we had already wasted entirely too much time and I had to motor on to that big ol' interstate. We stopped for lunch at the DQ in Junction and I have to say, it was a decent place. I'm not one for fast food and most certainly not a DQ fan, but it was clean, the food was hot and fresh and they were snappy! With lunch out of the way, I hopped on I-10 and discovered something quite amazing. That freeway has a speed limit of 80 mph! Oh my lead foot was so happy! I put the pedal to the metal and the scenery faded to a blur. I have to admit, I prefer the slower, more relaxed pace of the backroads, but when you've got a potty-training toddler and a bored 7 y.o. making all sorts of annoying and obnoxious noises, all you want to do is get to your ultimate destination at warp speed!

All that speed aside, we had to take a couple of potty breaks, one of which landed us at the busiest 7-11 on I-10! This is where I had the pleasure of meeting a nice lady traveling from Florida to California with her mother and her 7 kids! At that very moment I realized traveling with my two twerps was child's play! My hat is off to the woman who can man the 15-passenger van and organize 5 boys and 2 girls into an orderly triage line for potty necessities, get all their hands washed and marched back out of the store with snacks and drinks in tow, all with a smile on her face! I'm not worthy! The last potty break before the kids passed out was at a Fina station between Ozona and Ft. Stockton. I've been to this one before and it's a craphole in the middle of stinkin' nowhere, but its one saving grace is a picture autographed by Johnny Depp when he was driving through one time. Oh how I wish I'd been traveling in the armpit of Texas on that day! (Please cue my own sick version of the infamous "Fast Times" scene, but with Johnny Depp instead of Phoebe Cates--oh shut up, a girl can dream!)

With the kids finally passed out and the iPod on shuffle, I FINALLY passed the New Mexico state line. And no, we weren't stopped by the border patrol! ;)

We finally pulled into my cousin's house in Carlsbad around 5pm. The kids and I were completely tuckered out! My cousin and his beautiful wife took good care of us though. They threw some awesome chicken on the grill and made homemade, let me re-iterate, HOMEMADE macaroni and cheese and he even bought me a sixer of Negra Modelo (the closest thing to a "dark beer" that Carlsbad has to offer)! So we kicked back, swam a little in his pool, drank beer, chowed down and went to bed at the respectable hour of 10pm. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, packed up the car and headed off to Roswell to visit with my grandmother.

My Ma-Maw is a hoot! She is 93 years young and is ornery as hell! She doesn't use the computer any more, but when she did, she used to send me the foulest jokes I'd ever seen! I love that about her. She tells me all the time that she's gonna die soon, but then again, she's been telling me this for 20 years. My bet is she's gonna outlive us all! She and the Monkey Man played the Wii. She's not able to do the baseball or tennis, but the two of them have some fierce bowling competitions. I love that she still plays with him. The only great-grandparent I ever knew never played with me and hell, hardly spoke to me, so I cherish the relationship that she has with my kids. Unfortunately, by the time I left, I was loaded down with Cabbage Patch dolls and ancient Furby's. The Furby's aren't so bad, but I'm pretty sure one of those Cabbage Patch dolls is gonna go all freakin' "Chucky" on us some night! It was a great visit though, I LOVE my Ma-Maw!

Finally, we were on the last leg of the trip, the winding roads from Roswell to Ruidoso. The weather was pleasant and I noticed the temps on my thermometer dropping the closer we got to Ruidoso. One last pit stop in Picacho for cherry cider! If you've never had Carrizozo Cherry Cider, you need to get some! It's amazing! Just be forewarned that children who drink cherry cider from cups end up with "Joker Mouth" worse than Heath Ledger! Aahh, but it's so worth it!

We rolled into Ruidoso with a late afternoon breeze and temps in the mid 80's, SOOO NICE! The kids were a big help unpacking and I opened all of the windows of the cabin, brought all the chairs out on the deck and got ready to just chill. Just as I was ready to settle down and prop my feet up, the Piggy pointed and yelled, "Mama, what's that?!?" Well, the welcoming committee of course...


More trip tales coming soon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fruits of my labor!

OK, really it's vegetables of my labor. The Monkey Man and I harvested a small batch of black-eyed peas and 2 okra. Not really enough to make a full dish of anything, so it was time to put on my thinking cap. I remembered a dish that was served at a family reunion several years ago that combined little red potatoes and black-eyed peas and figured, "What the hell, I've got peas, I've got potatoes, why not give it a shot?" So I did. I added the two okra as well and the result was amazing! The peas and okra were tender but with a little crunch and the potatoes did nothing but enhance the flavor. I threw in a couple of strips of turkey bacon, which worked fine, a ham hock might have been nicer though. But all in all, it was just a thrill to have a dish straight from my garden! YUMMY!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This morning's harvest...

After a week away I was elated to see that my garden had survived the 100+ degree weather and Big Daddy! Not that my sweetie didn't attend to the garden's basic need, he did water it, but he isn't known for having that warm, fuzzy feeling for it that I do! He doesn't harvest, he doesn't patiently pick caterpillars and squash borers off plants and he certainly doesn't beam at it and tell it that it's beautiful and thank it daily for its bounty! In fact, I'm pretty sure my little garden was duly ignored except for a quick morning soak! Therefore I was quite surprised to see that not only did my eggplants survive, they actually rallied and are now twice the size and flowering (even though they are being picked on by pesky flea beetles, little bastards)!

My black-eyed peas are out of control! Twisting, twining, flowering, producing and basically taking over one bed! I hope they don't choke out the okra!

I literally have basil coming out of my ears at this time and the tomatoes, well, the grape tomatoes fell to one of the wilts. I am treating the other three with an organic fungicide in hopes of saving them, trying to be as optimistic as possible. I will be heart-broken of the maters kick, after all, they are the whole reason a summer gardener does this! Summer garden = luscious, juicy tomatoes! Without them the season is damn near a total loss!

The Monkey Man and I spent time harvesting this morning and we were quite pleased with the booty... black-eyed peas, a couple of okra, the last of the grape tomatoes before I pulled the vine and two little golden boys, and did I mention BASIL COMING OUT OF MY EARS! Seriously folks, if you need a basil fix, I'm the one to call. "Hello! Badass Basil Bitch at your service!" ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back to work!

Well, we managed to make it home safe and sound. It took 3 hours longer than I would have preferred, but what can you do when you're traveling with kids? I am still unpacking and trying to get back into the swing of things. I am also checking out my photos and trying to put together a nice little trip journal. So please check back over the next couple of days, hopefully I will be fully recuperated and ready to write!

Friday, June 12, 2009

And we're off!

The car is packed and in about 20 minutes the Monkey Bunch and I will be heading over to Ruidoso for a week! Yea! I'm looking forward to the cooler weather and an entire week hanging out on the deck, watching my children do art projects, feeding and watching all the birds and deer, visiting the petroglyphs and going to see a sunset at White Sands. You won't hear from me for about a week (no internet connection at the cabin) but I will post a full trip report and a bunch of cool pics when I get back! Hasta la vista!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Morning visitor

I just saw a little hummingbird visiting my salvia and turk's cap! I don't see hummingbirds around here too often, so it was a pleasant surprise!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First Tomato!

I am thankful for the first luscious summer tomato! This is a Golden Boy, a juicy, sweet tomato with just a slight tartness that makes your tongue tingle with joy! Can I get a "HELL YEAH!"

Monday, June 8, 2009

And that's the way it grows!

Well, a little over a month ago I got started on my summer garden. At this time things are going pretty well. Some veggies are doing better than others, but everything is still alive and not completely overrun with aphids and squash borers like last year! I'm hitting the road in the next couple of days and the thought of leaving my little urban farm for a week makes me sad! I've worked so hard to get it this far and hate relinquishing its care to Big Daddy, who has too much on his plate already! I know he'll water it, but he won't go out and check for ripe produce or aphids or fertilize or love it and tell it how wonderful it is everyday. I worry most about the aphids, you have to keep on top of those little bastards!

I am seeing definite progress though, just look at all the flowers! I predict a salad full of juicy grape tomatoes in the near future! And look at this awesome Golden Boy, it will be ripe and yummy by Friday and oh so worth the wait! The black-eyed peas and okra are also doing well. I can't wait to make gumbo this summer and some ass-kickin' Hoppin' John! Oh the possibilities! The eggplants seem to be rebounding (I hope), but the green beans and peppers are still kinda puny. Wish I knew what the problem was. That's the sucky thing about gardening, you win some, and you lose some! The Monkey Man did find an interesting visitor on one of our tomato vines... so cool! Wish we would have seen it emerge!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Latest Pet!

I seem to have a knack for taking on new and unusual pets. First it was the tad-trolls, they died. Then it was the multitude of butterflies and moths! Then it happened, at Monkey Man's science co-op, I was given...


I was so excited, it sounded so yummy! Little did I know I'd have a bagful of slime that I'd have to feed milk, sugar and flour to every few days. Not only that, but it multiplies! It's worse than freakin' rabbits people! One bag of starter begets 2 loaves of bread AND 4 new bags of starter! Holy crap! I have alot of friends and all, but after you hit someone up once, it's over, then you're fighting with each other as to who gets to give their bag to the next friend! Luckily I have discovered you can freeze the starter, but at some point my freezer will overflow and there will be Amish Friendship cake starter flowing through the suburban streets of Austin, Texas! There needs to be a magic word, "Ibbity, abbity, STOP!"

I do admit though, the cake is damn good and rather addicting, so I am now on my third or fourth (I've lost count) run! I mean look at it...
it's moist, it's flaky on top, covered on all sides with cinnamon-y, sugary goodness! Cue picture of Homer Simpson with his mouth open and drooling! So hey, if this sounds good to you, by all means, let me know. I'm sure I could find a bag of starter around here somewhere!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's on the Menu? On the fly soft tacos!

This post is for Nelson... you wanted to see my taco, so here it is!

Scenario: Hungry kids, 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, and a time crunch!

I stripped the chicken, cut it up and threw it in a pan with some onions and a little bit of oil. Sprinkled chicken liberally with chili powder, salt, cumin and black pepper and added a little bit of water to coat the chicken with the seasonings, then let it simmer low. Drained and rinsed a can of black beans and added them to the chicken to simmer. Sprinkle with some fresh cilantro and stir in just before serving.

I served it on warm tortillas with shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a good salsa and fresh greens from my garden. Quick (less than 20 minutes from start to table), easy and totally yummy! Kids loved it!