Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best Potato Soup Ever...Ever...Ever

There used to be this little privately owned restaurant/gift and coffee shop in Jeffersonville. They got so busy that they were able to move to the big town of Mount Sterling, on Maysville Street, which is the happening street to be on! For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of that place...

Anyway, I CRAVED the potato soup they served there. It was like no potato soup I had ever put in my belly. Now, I need to give a shout out to my momma. Her potato soup is yummy. I grew up eating and loving her potato soup, but (I hope I don't get spanked for saying this) the soup this little mom and pop restaurant served was "perfection".

A few years ago, they closed shop. I'm sure they economy took a toll.

Anyway, I began dreaming of that potato soup, I *needed* it. I began to lust after the potato soup, nothing could satisfy me. It was like a hole in my heart...ur, my stomach.

So my quest to recreate the recipe began. I made it several times and flopped, but with each try I tweaked and added ingredients, and to my utter happiness... it got better and better.

Now, I'm not claiming this is THE recipe. But it has got to be pretty close! So, I won't keep you any longer. This is the copycat recipe for the best potato soup I have ever put in my mouth.

The Best Potato Soup Ever...Ever...Ever


5 lb bag of red potatoes-cubed, leave the skin on
1 stick of butter
4 cans of sliced carrots-drained
1 qt of heavy cream
12 cups of chicken broth
2 cans of creamed soup (chicken, celery, or mushroom...your choice)
1 package of real bacon bits
1 cup of shredded cheddar
2 stalks of celery-diced
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of parsley
dash of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of pepper
2 tbsp of all-purpose flour


bacon bits
shredded mild cheddar

1. Boil potatoes until tender, then drain.
2. Cook celery over medium heat with a pat of butter for 5 minutes, to soften.
3. Combine all ingredients and bring soup to a low boil for 5 minutes, stir several times during boiling. Then simmer on Low/Med heat for at least an hour.
4. Top with cheese and bacon bits.

**For a heartier soup, simply add more potatoes and carrots.

Now I have to cook in bulk, so be prepared to half this recipe or have company...or just over indulge and buy a new wardrobe in a larger size.

Much love,
from The Wooden Spoon (that's the name of my kitchen)!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I avoided Kroger for 6 months

Oh my goodness, I can't believe I'm posting this!

I have come to a point in my life that I feel the need to purge my soul of some utterly embarrassing, humiliating, less than *Mother-of-the-Year* moments. Because, well, they're funny.

I have so enjoyed snickering at my past, I thought others should get a good laugh as well. AND, I'm also trying to teach my daughter that those horrible junior high moments, ya know the ones that you just want to crawl under a rock and die, well, they just continue on into adulthood. So she might as well get used to it...I mean, if everyone else is laughing at you, you might as well laugh too.

Sydney and Colton are almost 16 months apart. You can imagine how devastated I was when I found out I was pregnant again, and Colton was only 6 months old. I had barely recovered from the life changing routine of having a third child, then out popped Sydney.

And Colton was a handful, God love his heart. He was NOT an easy baby, I loved him just the same but recognized very quickly that this was "The One". Any woman who has "one of those" type of kids, knows exactly what I'm talking about. Demanding (from day one), busy, never settled, relentless kind of child. I *had* an easy baby, and I was an experienced mom, I *knew* Colton was not easy! And subsequently, I was a a scatter-brained, frazzled sleep-deprived wreck!

I tell you all of this so that you will begin to feel pity on me. Is it working?

When Sydney was two weeks old I took my first outing to the grocery store with all my kids in tow. I'm sure my grandmother or mom would have been happy to keep the kids for me, but I had resolved in my mind that I MUST get used to this. I had to figure out how to operate functionally with four little ones under my feet. And the grocery store was one of my regular stomping grounds, so I had to make it work.

I had a short list and a sleeping baby, so I felt confident that I could get in and out quickly. I grabbed 2 carts, one I would push with Colton in the kiddie seat, and one Summer would push with Sydney sleeping in her carrier. I moved quickly and efficiently through the store, knowing that I had a limited amount of time before Sydney woke and wanted "bo-bo", or Colton had a toddler meltdown. I purposefully avoided the cookie aisle and decided to do self-checkout to avoid the candy tantrum that JD and Colton would have when I told them "No candy".

I can't believe I'm admitting to this.

I paid for my groceries, turned to do a quick head count then smiling and feeling very confident of my motherly capabilities, I headed for the door. I had a skip in my step, and a haughty attitude. Look out Michelle I come. You ain't got nothin' on me!

I walked out the first and second double doors, past the sidewalk garden section, and looked both ways as I crossed the crosswalk chatting with JD and Summer who were close at my side. I bent over and gave Colton a kiss on his forehead and complimented him for being such a good boy in the grocery store, fully expecting my 16 month old to rave about what a loving and organized mother I was.

Just then I heard a voice...

Young Kroger employee: "Ma'am?"

(I turn around with a pleasant expression on my face, one that reflects my confidence and self-assurance)

Me: "Yes?"

Young Kroger Employee: "Um, I know this is a strange question, but...uh, um...did you leave a baby in the store?"

Me: "Oh, $#*+!" (Insert a very loud 4 letter word... in front of my children and a parking lot full of strangers, may I add!)

It seems that as we walked out of the self-check out area, I failed to make sure someone was pushing the cart with Sydney in it. Don't worry, the Kroger employees were very understanding (to my face, anyway) and after showing them my fake ID and bribing them all with $20 bills, they agreed not to call social services.

As I think back on that incident, I wonder... had the sweet little Kroger employee not chased me out the door, who would be raising Sydney today?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Reality of Failures

Last night Jeff and I made the announcement to our children that our current (and failing) laundry routine was going to change drastically! I have decided to remove all of the laundry baskets from the bedrooms, and thus squash the surprise accumulation of dirty laundry. From today forward any article of dirty clothing needs to be taken straight to the laundry room and immediately sorted into the correct basket (red, white, towels, darks, or colors). By doing it this way I feel like I will gain some control over our laundry situation. When I see that a basket in the laundry room is full, I can go ahead and put it in the wash. What *was* happening was quite different...let me explain.

Any given day: With the help of my mother, grandmother and myself, the clothes, linens, and towels are now clean and piled on the couch waiting to be sorted and put in the bedrooms.

Day 2: I am committed to keeping the dirty laundry washed up. I may not have it sorted at the moment, but commit to start on that as soon as I throw a load in the washer. I call for everyone to bring their laundry baskets into the utility room, and within moments, I realize that I am double-behind, because not only do I have a couch full of clean clothes to be sorted, I once again have a mountain-sized pile of dirty clothes that has been accumulating in the bedrooms. I sigh in defeat, collapse down onto the laundry room floor and begin sorting. I put the first of many loads into the washer and shuffle in sadness out of the laundry room, taking my position in front of the couch where I separate the clothes by person into heaping piles. Sometime later that day each person takes their clothes to their room in baskets or armfuls. They each have a designated place for clean clothes, because the truth is, the final step of "putting away" rarely ever gets done. Or it may get done in Summer's room because I make her...and I do mean MAKE her...hang her clothes, but I am too exhausted to get to the other kids. So I promise myself I will do it tomorrow, and keep up washing and drying the dirty clothes as well.

Day 3: As I continue to wash and dry, I notice that the clothes are, once again, accumulating on the couch so I sort the clothes on the couch into the infamous "piles", then realize how busy my afternoon is going to be. Doesn't look like I will be able to put away any one's clothes today. I comfort myself in knowing that at least they are clean, and I don't mind ironing.

Day 4 thru 10 (or more): Too much to do...can't worry about the laundry today.

Day 11: Call my mom and grandmother in tears and ask them if they would mind helping me catch up. I haven't seen the laundry room floor in over a week. We have resorted to wearing socks two days in a row and underwear that we hate because nothing is clean!

Day 12 and 13: I take several baskets each to my mother and grandmother. They are gracious and understanding of my predicament. They quickly wash, dry, and fold the laundry, and call me when it is done.

Day 14: Repeat "Any given day".

I know from the outside looking in, it may not seem that my new method is going to help much. But it makes sense to me that this is really where the failure of my current system begins. When I get bombarded with 7 large and overflowing laundry baskets (one for each person plus towels and washcloths), that is when my situation feels overwhelming and hopeless. And, what I am really excited about is that this is actually step 1 of a three step laundry renovation! Step two being the highly controversial implementation of the family closet. And step three being the even more controversial implementation of the "changing of the guard", where I will release the bulk of the laundry duty to my children...and I will simply be the overseer. There is also a hidden step that I will share with you, but I haven't shared with my kids yet...the downsizing of our mass of clothing!

I decided to blog about this because housekeeping is truly not my strong point as a stay-at-home mom. And laundry is the one area that I have been running behind in for YEARS...I kid you not! Sometimes it helps to tell others of your failures in order to truly be able to release those shortcoming. I mean really, what good does it do me to continue to keep working at a system that is failing, my current laundry system simply doesn't work the way it is suppose to. I think that over the years I have tried to tweak and change it, but all I've really done is add more steps to an already failing system.

I know that God has plans for my life and it doesn't include sitting in tears on the laundry room floor for years to come! Somethings got to give... I am chucking our laundry system out the door! I don't know if this new system will work, it seems drastic, but I am hopeful because it feels like I am simplifying.

In closing, I have to say that I LOVE the changing and shedding of old habits from one year to the next. I NEVER set resolutions, but I do set goals for myself, things that I will work toward changing in the new year. Laundry is one of the things that I am committed to making better in 2011. Here are a few more of my goals:

-The kitchen is closed! There will be three meals a day and an afternoon snack where you may eat and drink until your belly is full. After that there will be no in-between grazing. No eating leftovers or snacking...not even drinks.

-We will eat at the table only. No eating in the bedrooms, living room, computer desk, or the vehicle.

-Back-to-basics parenting. I've been far too "liberal" this year due to some bad counsel, and it has produced the exact fruit that I was worried about to begin with...back talking, interrupting, blowing off household responsibilities, arguing, etc. So here are the tried and true parenting techniques that I will be returning to:

*3D parenting: (ANYTHING that is considered disrespectful, dishonest, or disobedient...anything)

*First response: (I speak, you acknowledge that you heard me. If you don't acknowledge, I
will say it again and give you another chance to respectfully acknowledge me. You do not
walk away, heave loudly, or roll your eyes unless you want to feel my wrath.)

*No means no...every time and until I tell you differently: (I will not change my mind out of
guilt or continuing to ask me. I only change my mind in the case of extreme improvement
in behavior.)

*Lessons in conversing with adults: (We will be practicing using respectful tones, words,
and manners. I feel like children these days are far to casual in the way they speak to
adults, mine included, and these lessons start in the home. I am beginning to think that my generation is the last to call adults by their last names, or even use the simple words, ma'am and sir.)

*It's all in the tone: (I intend on spending some time reprogramming my children in the
tone that they use when they are speaking to me. I read of a great way to do this was to
simply look at your children and say with a stern voice, "Why don't you try that again."
You keep saying that until they are speaking to you in a sweet, compliant, respectful tone
of voice.)

May your Christmas be focused on Christ, and may your New Year be focused on improvements!