Recipe of the Week – Grandma Shack’s Meatloaf

Fall conjures up so many images for different folks. Some think of vibrantly shaded maple leaves, Macintosh apples and cider. Others think of pumpkin bread, jack o’ lanterns and crisp, dewy mornings. Avery told me the other day that “Fall means I have to start bringing my coat to school.” But to me, this seasonbrings an altogether different image.

I think of meatloaf.

My grandma was famous for her meatloaf. Well, sort of famous. Definitely famous in the family sense of the word. She could whip up a loaf of meat with the finesse of the Barefoot Contessa and the passion of Paula Deen. Everyone loved that meatloaf.

And I hated meatloaf.

Grandma passed away in 1989 and it wasn’t until I married in 2000 and started making some strides toward culinary endeavors that I gave Grandma Shack’s meatloaf the attention it deserved. And, man is it good. I really wish I had praised this dish while she was still alive but she made plenty of other things that tickled my fancy. And I definitely told her that. We will always have her chicken and dumplings and I will never forget Malt O’ Meal breakfasts. Hey…it wasn’t fancy but it meant something to me.

And I say, thank you Grandma!

Here it goes…

Grandma Shackelford’s Dutch Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together; form a loaf and place in casserole dish.
  3. Make topping **and pour all over meat loaf. Reserve some of the sauce for basting.
  4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, basting with sauce occasionally.

**To make topping, mix the below ingredients well:

  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tbs. prepared mustard
  • 2 tbs brown sugar

I’ve got a cold…or maybe it’s the swine flu?

Uggghhh. I’m sick. Not the kind of sick where I want to snuggle into my bedcovers and watch soap operas or evenreruns of “The Nanny” or “Little House on the Prairie”. The kind of sick where I want to snuggle into my bedcovers and sleep until it’s 2012. Are you hearing me? No reruns? Not even any soap operas? In my world, that’s sick.

My hubby just got home from a week-long elk hunt last night. THANK GOD. I was seriously contemplating assigning some sort of temporary guardianship for my kids so I could get over this stupid cold in peace. He got home right in time. He walked in the door, I said “Buh bye” and retreated into my cave-like bedroom, hunkered down into my bed and…proceeded to listen to every single thing that was going on out in the living room.

Do you remember the good ol’ days of being sick? Man, a cold could buy you all kinds of attention and a one-way ticket to LazyLand. If you weren’t quite sick enough to stay home from school you could eek out a lot of sympathy from friends and a pass from some teachers.But, if you were lucky enough to be so sick you stayed home from school, well, you hit paydirt. My parents both worked so I had the entire day at my disposal. I could stay in my jammies all day, sleep, watch movies, sleep, read a trashy novel and no one was home to bother me! And better yet, I was always granted a temporary reprieve from chores. Those were the days.

Well, being sick now, that’s an entirely different picture. You can rarely detach and just be sick. This morning, for instance. I had to still get out of bed and get Avery ready for school. I knew that it would actually be more beneficial to my recovery (and Jeremy’s overall health) if I helpedout. Laying there knowing Jer was attemping to orchestrate a ponytail of some sort was more painful to me than forcing myself to get out of bed and move my limbs. And it’s a good thing Iintervened.Apparently Jeremywas under the impression that youcould hide a botched uppony job with abarrage of various barrettes. Not good.Crisis averted.Andthen once Avery wasout the door for the bus, there was still the other one to contend with.

Jack.

I spent the morning laying in bed with a pillow over my head, he spent the morning repeatedly knocking on my door.

“Mommy.”

“Go away, Jack.”

“Mommy, you door is wocked.”

“I know, Jack. Mommy’s sick.”

“You sick? Is it your tummy? I fink you have gas.”

“It’s not gas, Jack. Can you go away so mommy can sleep?”

“It’s not my bedtime, yet.”

“Not you, Jack. Me. Mommy needs to sleep.”

“I not going to sleep.It’s not my bedtime, yet!”

“Jack, where’s your dad?”

“Daddy’s working.”

“Go find him.”

“Iwant to come in! You have gas?”

“JER!!!!!”

Ahhhh…so restful.

I am slowly feeling a little bit better and am sure when I wake up tomorrow morning this cough/cold will be but a memory. God, I hope. Unless it’s the swine flu. In which case I could very well be in the hospital. Alone. With no kids. Just me and room service. Hmmm.

Love to all, Mindy

Alright…so this is why I do it.

In case you’ve been following my blog you’ve probably heard me whine a little (okay, a whole lot) about my unpaid stay-at-home mom job. To quickly recap: I love my kids and feel grateful that I get to be home with them…but I sometimes question whether I had a lapse in sanity when I made the decision to quit the world of the duly employed in exchange for full-time mommy-hood, i.e. poopy diaper duty.

And with my hubby out of town, I’ve been ever so reminded at how hard this job can be. I’ve been trying to kill some time and stay busy, thereby alleviating the immense feeling I have to count down theminutesdays until Jer gets home.

So, last night Idecided to organize our digital pictures. Oh. My. God. My husband has an addiction to the shutter releasebutton on his camera. It’s like he can’t physically stop himself from taking a picture.So I saw A LOT of pictures. Some of the kids, some of weird-looking bugs. Some of the house, some of a dandelion. Some <ahem> not real flattering ones of me, but I digress. With most,I clicked onby, but then I found this.

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And she used to be this…

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Yet, she was also this…aptly named “The Unfortunate Baby Powder Incident of 2005.”

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And, I washere for almost every moment in between.

And then there’s this little guy.

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Who used to be this wittle guy…

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And now, is more like this guy…

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And, I am here for all of it. (Thank God, or that Tupperware would probably still be sitting there.)

I learned some valuable lessons while looking through pictures, old and new.

1) Mindy, stay away from the CheezIts.They are not your friend.

2) For the love of God clean out your cabinets.You obviously have more baby powder than any home could possibly ever need. Or, at least, you used to.

But most importantly…

3)Value who you are and what you are doing. Right now, you are meant to be exactly where you are.

One little caveat to this epiphany-of-sorts:I am extremely happy being an “at home” mom but that doesn’t mean that I have to love every aspect of it. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to stop and have a little pity-party for yourself, no matter what situation you may find yourself in. The funny thing about these little “feel sorry for me” sessions…they more often than not lead to a little self-reevaluation. They may cause you to make some life changes, or stay smack-dab right where you are. Some day in the future when I reevaluate, maybe I’ll decide to make a change. And that will be okay. But for now? I’ll continue to clean up baby powder, put away Tupperware and change those dreaded poopy diapers. Shoot, at the rate potty training is going at this point in time I’m fairly certain Jack will be about 36 years old when I can check that off the list. Pray for me. Please.

Love to all, Mindy

To Sleep Like a Baby

Avery Sleep Baby

I remember when Avery was a baby and we’d take her to parties. That little munchkin wouldsleep the entire time! She was never the type of baby who required Jeremy and I to take her home in lieu of spending an entire evening with friends or family. That kid could just sleep, anywhere and everywhere. It worried me a little at first and then I started paying closer attention and noticed a pattern. Whenever things got especially noisy she would drift off. I had heard about this before.

This was her defense mechanism. If she started getting the teensiest bit overwhelmed she would force herself to fall asleep and transform into a blissfully unaware tiny littlepile of peace.

Don’t you wish adults could do that?

“Oh, I’m sorry, Officer. I realize I was going 10 miles over the speed limit but I’m incredibly sleepy right now. I’ll catch ya in about 20.” Zzzzz.

“How many times doI have to ask you to put your dirty clothes into the laundry room and not all over the floor? You know what? Just a minute…I have a nap to take.” Zzzzz.

Now, I realize this wouldn’t be a terribly efficient way of handling our overwhelming lives but…God, wouldn’t it feel wonderful to know you could check out for a few minutes every time smoke was beginning to pour out of your ears in the style of Fred Flinstone? Man, I know I do.

So, Mindy, you may ask. Are you feeling so…say…overwhelmed lately that you feel the need to blog about it and your apparent desire for more nap-taking opportunities?

Why, yes, readers, I am. Thank you for asking! Allow me to explain.

My husband is a hunter/fisher/videographer extraordinnaire. He and two other men are partners in, Pursue the Outdoors, a web-driven community for all things outdoors. Really though, they are outdoor enthusiasts who have come up witha way to turn their hobbies into a business leaving their wives with no choice but to support their frequent need to leave home and hunt poor precious Bambis. (Jer assures me there are no Bambis being pursued but, still.)

So, he has been gone all week long on one of these extremely important trips. Leaving me alone. All week. Just me and the kids. And school volunteering. And snotty noses. And poopy pants. And early morning nightmares. That’s just me…the kids have their own sets of issues.

And, in case you haven’t been following my blog (which, by the way, what’s wrong with you?), I’m a bit of a chicken and HATE being alone in my house at night. You can read about all of that here. And because I’m so sure that an axe-murderer or space alien is hovering outside my bedroom door all night long, I’m not getting much sleep. So, I’ve been a little bit overwhelmed this week and definitely not operating at full function.

And, yes, I realize that people do the single parent thing all the time and I admire you for it, I truly do. In fact, and I am being 100% honest here, I cannot imagine more hardworking or dedicated people than single parents. But I am, admittedly, ill-equipped for single parentingand am ready for that man to get his camoflauged-behind home.

And I still have 3 more days to go.

Alone. With the kids.

And I really want to take a nap, like a little baby, and forget for 30 blessed minutes that I have laundry to fold, dishes to wash, breakfast to pulltogether, lunch to prepare,dinner to make,fights to break-up, Candyland to play, teeth to brush, baths to administer, axe-murderer/space aliens to conquer andlastly…my sanity to maintain.

Sleeping like a baby

Three more days.

Love to all, Mindy

Little Beauty Queens

I believe I have confessed to an unnatural obsession with reality shows. And, still, I am not proud. I know that there are so many other more enlightening things I could expose my psyche to. Like reading a dictionary, for instance. Or, studying Birkram yoga. But, I just can’t help myself. And lately? Well, it’s gotten even worse. I’ve delved into an area of reality TV that disgusted me upon my very first viewing. Little Beauty Queens.

I’m basing most of my judgment from one show, Toddlers and Tiaras, currently airing on TLC. The weekly program showcases different pageant families as they prepare for and compete in beauty pageants across the country. There are typically two types of pageants: natural and glitz. The “glitz” pageants require hair extensions, manicures and pedicures, full face makeup, flippers (temporary veneers), false eyelashes and even spray tanning. And I’m sure you can guess at what I’m going to say next. More often than not, the poor child subjected to all of these various treatments Doesn’t Even Want To Be There. The parents are more than open about the necessity to occasionally bribe their child into performing with money, candy and in one instance, a dog. This is just one example of when bad parenting makes for some great television. Which, unfortunately, does not speak highly of society in general. Or me, for that matter.

Okay, so I am going to hop on down from my soapbox for a moment so I can explain what prompted me to even write this post in the first place. My daughter, Avery, happened to be reading a book in the family room while I was watching Toddlers and Tiaras. (Admittedly, not very smart parenting on my part but I’m all about full disclosure here.) She looked up at the screen and said, “I wonder what I would look like with all that makeup and hair.”

I looked at my little natural beauty and thought, “Hmm…I wonder what she would look like with all that makeup on.” So I grabbed up my makeup bag and went to work on her. I will admit it was kind of fun. I used face powder, blush, lipstick, eye shadow and even a little mascara. I absolutely drew the line at false eyelashes, though. Besides, I didn’t have any.

Avery Beauty Queen 2

Okay. She looked beautiful. And that’s with makeup applied by my own untrained hand. And for a moment, I’m all “Oh, my God. With some eyelashes and hair pieces this kid could win! She could be a serious contender at a pageant and maybe we could win some cash. Yeah. We’d save it for college. EAT MY DUST PAGEANT MOMS!”

Avery silly Beauty Queen

And then she did this. And I was snapped back into reality. Maybe, someday,if there were a natural beauty pageant in the area I would consider letting her enter. I see nothing wrong with a little healthy competition for boosting confidence and self-esteem. Butthere is absolutely no way I would ever subject this kid to a pageant which required her to”glam up” and lose sight of the natural beauty that she exudes.It is too easy to hide behind all of that makeup and lose sight of yourself, even at a young age.

Besides, I have a hard enough time getting all of my mascara off every night. I don’t need theadded pressure of preventing an extra set of raccoon eyes at the breakfast table in the morning.

Love to all, Mindy