Friday, January 16, 2009

What A Difference A Week Makes!

Wow.... So this time last week, it was starting to warm up a bit, but it was still pretty cold. And as of last Thursday, it was still ice-foggy as hell.

Today, I went out at just before 11 am, and it was 45 degrees ABOVE zero, Fahrenheit. That's a difference of 90 degrees in a week's time. The snow's melting off the roofs, there's a constant dripping sound in the back of the house as the water drips down the downspout. (In fact, I need to find out from the hubby where the bottom half of the downspout is, so we can keep any more water-dug ruts from forming along the back of the house.) The outside freezer has been plugged back in for the duration of this warm spell. It's also windy as hell. The christmas lights are tapping against the front of the house constantly. The roads are slicker than snot on a doornob. Really, it's a good thing I've not gone to work this week. Scott said he's glad that I'm not out on the roads with them in this condition.

The oddest part of it all though, is to step outside you'd think it was March. And yet, I haven't had my birthday yet. My middle sis hasn't had her birthday yet. This just isn't normal. It's really unnerving. To let the dogs out needing little more than a jacket (and only that, today, because of the wind). It's a definite Chinook blew in, and as nice as it feels, and as nice as it is to be able to get back outside after that long cold-spell, it just doesn't feel "right". It feels odd, and wrong.

But, the dogs and kid are loving it. This means they can go outside and play and stretch their legs again. *sigh* Pros, and Cons. Always pros & cons.

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Speaking of pros & cons, here's a list I've written up in my head, the past couple of days:

Pros of going back to work:

* I need to pay off my car
* still making enough money to make it worth my while to work
* will get to apply for the NP job again if it opens, as an "internal" applicant
* Should something happen to Scott or his job, I'd have at least SOME funds to fall back on, and a job already in place.
* It does give me at least the appearance of some minimal financial self-security.

Cons of going back to work:

* I realized that the reasons I STARTED working all those years ago are gone or changed. (I started because I had little other way or reason to leave the house and be around other adults, I needed a break from my child.)
* I'm getting stuff done around the house here that I haven't had time to do in a long time.
* I'm not feeling stressed, my back doesn't hurt, my head doesn't hurt.
* I'm getting to sleep in every morning, therefore I'm well rested, FINALLY.
* I'm enjoying getting to do "optional" things, like cooking real meals for dinner, baking goodies and bread, and planning for my garden BEFORE it becomes a "must do now" stressor.
* Tay and I have time to work through her school work at a more leasurely pace. (She's still fighting me somewhat, but that's just Tay, not the school work.)
* I'm not constantly upset and bitter over the politics of the workplace. Not ranting every night to the hubby about "You wouldn't believe what so-and-so did today!"
* My insurance through my work is now pretty much worthless, with Scott's co insurance being so much better than mine.
* If/when prices go higher again, it will eventually come to the point where I'm spending more to go to work than I'm actually bringing home every paycheck.
* I will have to drive to & fro every day again, on often-nasty road conditions.

What it comes down to is that I realize that if I have the chance to quit, I think I'm going to take it. The Pros of staying home, being a SAHM again, far out-weigh the Pros of going back to work. I DO still want a job over here at North Pole Branch. That would be ideal for me: 20 hours outside of the house every week, close enough that driving time is nil (or, even walking time for that matter), and less co-worker angst & politiking to deal with. But, at this point, I'm wondering why I don't just say "fug it" and try for a position there as a 10 hour page again, if the possibility comes open to me again. We don't need my insurance, it's close enough I can forgo the car for all except shopping and dr's appointments, and it's light enough hours that I could return to being the mostly-homebody that I am.

Of course, the reality is that we DO need to get my car paid off first. And even WITH my car paid off, I'm still making enough right now that it's almost infeasible for me to quit my job. That loss of approx. $800 a month WOULD set us back a bit, and it buys some of the nicities that Scott, Tay and I have gotten used to having.

But..... This week have definitely opened my eyes to my change in priorities. I still don't thoroughly ENJOY homeschooling Tay. But it'd be nice to have the actual time to do a truly decent job at it, as I have this week. I DO still enjoy working around other people, but that doesn't mean I "need" to spend 30 hours a week at it, with another 10 spent driving on often-nasty road conditions. Now, I'm realizing that yeah, I don't want to quit working altogether, but a definite decrease in hours would be fantastic, and much appreciated by those who matter most (my family, my home).

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In the mean time, what have I gotten done this week? Not a lot, and yet a couple of large-ish (for me) projects that have sat un-done for quite a while now as I didn't have a good, solid block of time to focus on them.

I have, since last winter, wanted to un-pack one of my biggest kitchen cabinets, and shift the 2 shelves, making space for a third level of shelving, and refill the 2 shelves, tossing what isn't needed or wanted, and getting some of my counter-top "clutter" up onto that third shelf. I did that yesterday.

For a good long while now I've wanted to go through the 8-foot-tall cabinet outside Tay's bathroom and clean it out. Tuesday I did that. The top 1/5th was full of a mish-mash of old toys, crafting materials for Tay (play-dough, watercolors), some cleaning rags, and old school pages and activities that got thrown up there for some odd reason. The next 2/5 were full, one shelf with my candle and incense supplies. (*grin* Those jar candles take up a lot of room!) The next shelf had an old box full again of odd crafting bits & pieces, a ball of crochet thread, some spools of sewing thread, buttons, a string of decorative foam apples (don't ask), just odds & ends. That shelf also had a mix of bath towels and hand towels for Tay's bathroom. It was a mess. Except for the shelf with my candle-stuffs (that gets reorganized about twice yearly anyway), I unpacked that section of cabinet and organized, and tossed, and folded and got it looking nice and orderly. The last 2/5 of the cabinet are where I've usually kept the bulk of my yarn and fabric crafting supplies. Now it's where most of my fabric crafting supplies are, as most of my yarn crafting supplies are in the shrenk here in the computer room. I went through, tossed some stuff, reorganized it altogether. It's much neater now, and has room for some of my crafting patterns, as I'll hopefully get those better organized today.

Today's plan is to go through my cookbooks. I've got far more than I'll ever use, and some I don't know why I bother with. Mom and Dad and Scott have given me some cookbooks in the past couple years that I know have recipes that I CAN and WILL use more often, but I also need to weed through and get rid of the cookbooks that I've never used and have no real intention of ever using. I also hope to go through my crafting pattern print-outs and hole-punch them and get them into one of the 3-ring binders I have, and put them into my crafting cabinet for storage.

This weekend, I'd LOVE to disassemble a bookcase in my room, weed out what's there (and all that's piled in front of it) and re-stabilize the bookshelf itself before re-filling it. (The shelf needs a new backing to "cross-brace it" as Scott years ago removed the backing to use that shelving unit as a TV & entertainment stand. It's about ready to fall over, at this point. But with a stabilizing piece of ply-wood or such will be sturdy enough to be safe again.)

Then, Tuesday it's back to work for me.

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Since I haven't talked much about food lately, I'll spill on what I'm making for supper tonight.

Great-Grandma's Chicken "Noodle" Soup. It's really more like Amish style chicken & dumplings. Scott's Grandma (Tay's one remaining Great Grandma) used to make this all the time, from what I've been told. I know it'd be an easy way to feed a family as large as hers was on relatively little. One chicken carcass makes a VAT of chicken noodle soup. And she made the noodles from scratch on her kitchen table. Anyway, she stopped making it about a year or two after Scott and I got together. She just became too frail to deal with lifting the vat and straining the chicken from the stock in order to remove bones and such, and roll out the noodles..... (She only became too frail to do any cooking at all in the last 2 or so years. But this soup takes more muscle and strength than Grandma's had in a long time.)

And that's really all it is. One chicken carcass, placed in a big ol (3? 5? gallon) stock-pot. Covered with enough water to gently float the pieces. Maybe a bay leaf or two. (I add them to mine, Grandma had nothing but chicken and water in hers to start. I now know also that a dash of vinegar helps to draw necessary calcium from the bones, for added nutrient to your soup.) Simmer till the chicken is falling off the bone. Strain the chicken from the stock and set the stock to cool, making the fat more easily collected off the top. Once the meat cools sufficiently, seperate the meat from the bones & skin. Toss or dispose of the bones & skin in whatever way seems most appropriate to you. Shred the meat reasonably well by hand, and put it back in your vat, ready to have the chicken stock added back in once it's had the fat strained off. While the stock and chicken ar cooling, make your noodles.

Literally, Grandma would just add flour and egg and a bit of water to help bind, and mix it together till she had a workable dough, then she'd roll it out on her kitchen table. No oil, no salt. Just flour, egg and water. She'd slice the noodle dough into reasonably thin noodles, but she had a deft hand for getting consistently sized noodles with her pizza cutter. *grin* I can't cut a straight line to save my life. I've found that domino-shaped rectangles are a good compromize, and they don't wind up all "rat's-nest of noodles in the stock pot" when they're stirred about. These noodles also absorb QUITE A LOT of the stock, and become more dumpling-like anyway. So less, noodle-shaped and more "domino" shaped, it is.

Once you have the chicken and the stock back in the vat together, you can add diced carrot and celery and onion, if you'd like. I know Grandma would occasionally add come celery or a bit of onion if she had it to hand, but she didn't ever put in carrots. I'd prefer carrots myself, but Scott doesn't like cooked carrots at all. So I don't add them. (Once or twice, Grandma had just the chicken, the "stock" and the noodles, no veggies what-so-ever.) I prefer a bit of veggie in mine, but this isn't a "brothy" soup. It's really much sturdier, and thicker. Simmer the soup a good bit with the veggies (if you do add them) before you put the noodles in.

Don't add the noodles till about 20 minutes before the soup is done. The noodles thicken the stock quite a bit, giving it a real heft. Also, try not to stir the soup too much after you've added the noodles.

And seasoning wise, Grandma only ever used a bit of salt & pepper. I've added a bit of sage, a bit of savory, some thyme if I've got it, and those couple of bay leafs. But, it still shouldn't be STRONGLY flavored. (Ok, so Scott occasionally adds a dash of Tobasco sauce to his bowl for a bit of heat if he's in the mood. Tay likes a dash of lemon-pepper, as she doesn't like this soup much and thinks lemon-pepper makes EVERYTHING taste better.) Should be good old fashioned comfort food at it's best and sturdiest.

Anyway, those are the directions, as best I can give them, for Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup.

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I think that pretty well covers it for today. Gotta get back to school work.

Have a Blessed Day!

6 comments:

LadyStyx said...

You might think of getting some of those top loader sleeves for the craft pages. It'll protect the pages and you wont risk ripping the punched holes.

That soup recipe sounds yummy...I doubt I'd have the patience to do the homemade noodles though.

Kati said...

LadyStyx: *chuckle* The noodles are the easy part! It's the pouring of the chicken stock through a colander -to strain off the chicken- into another stock pot that's the hard part. The noodles, just start with an egg or two, enough flour to make a dough, maybe a Tbsp of water per egg.... And mix. Certainly not as hard as bread. And roll it out to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness, then slice, and slice, and slice. Pile them on cookie sheets till you're ready for them. (Grandma draped hers over the back of kitchen chairs, a laundry rack would work better if you're doing real noodles instead of the "dumplings" I do.) The thing about the homemade noodles is that unlike store-bought noodles, they don't have oil. Because they don't have oil, they aren't slick. You don't want slick noodles. You want noodles that really bulk up and absorb a lot of stock, and at the same time have some excess flour give off into the stock to form more of a gravy. Really, that's what makes this a chicken & dumpling style meal, instead of a brothy soup. And it should be darned near thick enough to stand a spoon in. *grin*

Thanks for the suggestion about the plastic sleeves. *shrug* I'm not worried about the patterns ripping, though. They're just print-offs from the computer. If I use them so often that they rip, then I'm probably pretty well on my way to having them memorized anyway. (And, they're more inspiration than actually worked from. So long as I can turn the pages, I'm good.) Thank you for the suggestion, though.

Tori_z said...

Sounds like you got a lot done this past week. Hope you manage to get the rest of the things you want to get done finished before you have to go back to work. :)

Celticspirit said...

I'm kinda afraid to make noodles....without using a recipe anyhow. And that's funny cause I often wing it in a lot of recipes. Maybe I have a noodle-a-phobia. ;)haha. You sure have been busy. I've been cleaning and organizing as I've been painting. I have to move stuff anyhow so might as well clean it out before I put it back.
I do understand the pros and cons of not going back to work. For many years I stayed home with my kids. I did do day care and got paid for that but I was still home. I wish you the best in discovering what works best for you.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

You may never know just how hard I found it to get past that "The roads are slicker than snot on a doornob" line!

whimsical brainpan said...

Sounds to me like you got a lot done.

I hope you are able to get the job at North Pole Branch.

I bet 45 degrees feels like a heat wave to you.