Baked

Cornbread Casserole

By now, most people have seen the yummy recipe videos online. This recipe sort of came from one of those, but I’ve changed it so many times, I don’t even remember what it originally had in it. I do remember it was supposed to be chicken, but ground beef is easier and I’m lazy.

Cornbread casserole is easy, reheats well, and you can make it anything you want.

Ingredients:

  • Ground beef
  • Taco or burrito seasoning
  • Cheese
  • Cornbread
  • Beans
  • Ro-tel tomatoes with peppers
  • Corn

Ingredients

You’ll notice I didn’t say what kind of cheese, beans or corn. That’s because you can use whatever kind you want. I like to use chipotle beans, southwest corn and Mexican blend cheese. You can also use as much ground beef as you want. If you’re making a 9 x 13 pan, 2 lbs. makes it good and meaty.

  1. Brown ground beef – drain if needed
  2. Add taco/burrito seasoning and stir
  3. Drain corn and beans if you want. If you like your casserole extra saucy just dump the cans in
  4. Add corn, beans and tomatoes
  5. Stir it all together and let it simmer while you make the cornbread.

In the pan     Simmering

You can either make cornbread from scratch, or use a packaged cornbread mix. The cornbread batter will be poured on top, so make it as thick or thin as you like. A single batch of cornbread batter makes a thin, even layer. If you double the recipe, it cooks up to about the same thickness as cornbread in a 9 x 9 pan.

  1. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray
  2. Pour in meat mixture
  3. OR pour in half the meat mixture, add a layer of cheese, then add the rest of the meat mixture.
  4. Pour cornbread on top
  5. Sprinkle cheese over cornbread.
  6. Bake according to cornbread instructions – probably something along the lines of 400 for 25 minutes.

layers   Topping

I like to serve it with sour cream, but I think it would probably be good with guacamole, too.

Baked

As the kids would say, easy peasy! Have fun making it whatever you want, adding or changing anything you want.

 

Beats recital

Dancing With Beats

Reta Jean is a ball of energy wrapped up in pink, glittery fluff! Mommy started calling her “Reta Bita”, which eventually shortened up to “Beats.” Now, she insists on just about everyone calling her Beats, including all her dance friends. (It’s easy to call her Beats, but it was a little harder to figure out how to write it out. Bits doesn’t “read” Beats. If I spelled it Beets, that’s just kind of weird. So, Beats it is.)

She’s been dancing since before her little legs could even hold her up. Whenever music would come on, she’d start shaking her little booty, sitting on the floor. When she turned 3 it seemed like it was time to sign her up for dance class. Stanza PAC offers a “Creative Movement” class, taught by Miss Molly, who is the studio co-owner. Beats LOVES Miss Molly, and she loves being in dance class with her friends. She also loves that we stop at the donut shop after class every week for donut holes and pink donuts.

At Beats’s first recital in December all the kids were kind of doing their own thing. For the June recital I noticed all the other kids were starting to follow choreography much better, but Beats was still doing it her own way. It was like the choreography was whole notes, and Beats was dancing in 8th notes. The other kids are working on their high kicks, and Beats is kicking like a can-can girl. A few weeks before the recital I mentioned to her that in dance class she’s actually supposed to try to move like Miss Molly and the other kids. Her response, “Oh.” Apparently, that was a totally new idea to her. She tried to follow along. For about 5 minutes. It was just more fun to do it her own way.

The day of the recital all the kids are in costumes and makeup back stage, and they all look adorable. A couple are nervous, but mostly they’re excited. The “big girls” will be along the sides of the stage doing the choreography so the little kids could follow along if necessary. pre recitalAnd, they’re on! Beats started out in the back row, but somehow was in the front when the dancing started. Just like in class, the other kids are doing a really good job following choreography, and Beats is over there on the end dancing her little heart out. She was doing most of the right steps, she just had to shake her booty 8 times while the others shook theirs 4. She was awesome and she knew it! The last few steps were point-point-passe, and that’s when Beats found us in the audience. She stops and waves, “Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! Hi, Gabba! Hi, Papa!”

Later on, at the grocery store, I mentioned to the cashier that we had been at our granddaughter’s dance recital. She says, “Oh, how fun! I probably shouldn’t say it, but there’s always that ONE kid.” Yeah, we know and love that kid.

Next season: Tap!

 

Ray and Esmeralda

The Simple Things

 

 

It was beautiful outside today. Most of the day was sunny and warm, with some clouds passing through to keep things interesting.

I never know what may happen here, and today was no exception. I started my morning by finding a little mole in the mudroom. He was very cute, so I put him in a cleaned sour cream tub, with some chicken feed, while I decided what to do. Just one mole can dig up a whole pasture. When we see one of the dogs or cats has “eliminated” one it tends to be a good thing. But I couldn’t just kill it. It was REALLY cute!Mole tub

So, I set him free in one of the flower beds we haven’t planted this year. When Charlie got home he said it would have been smarter to take him farther out into the woods to release him, and he’s right, but I didn’t. I thought his mama might be nearby, and I didn’t want him to be afraid, alone in the woods.

Mole

Then, it was time to head to town. I was out of 7-Up, and it was a gorgeous day for a drive.  Between the rain and the sun, everything has been growing like crazy. This means getting caught behind brush cutters on a pretty regular basis. Since I didn’t grow up around these, I always get a kick out of them. There’s a huge mower-type thing off the side of the tractor that cuts down all the green along the side of the road. This is why Washington folks consider double yellow lines a mere suggestion. I have about 4 miles of curvy 2-lane road heading into town. Brush cutters and tractors go about 10 miles an hour. Once you see an opportunity to pass safely, you take it.

Brush cutterWhen I got home Carly, Joe and the kids came up for a little bit. Carly comes to clean the house for me once a week because I don’t like doing it, and she likes the extra money. Besides, somebody has to play with the kids while the housecleaning is happening. Win-win-win.

I decided we needed to move the bird feeders to the other end of the yard. It seems like we’re going to be spending a lot of time under the tree by the trampoline, so I wanted the feeders where we can see them. Both kids were going to help, but Reta Jean decided she could carry all the empty feeders by herself. She did allow Raymond and I to help fill them up. Now, we just have to wait for the birds to find them.

Once we were done with the feeders, Raymond played on the trampoline, Reta Jean played in the dirt, and I got ice cream cones for everybody.

Reta Jean has been keeping her eyes on the raspberries, just waiting for them to be ripe. She couldn’t resist trying one today. They aren’t ripe yet.

Beats and berries

We’ve been seeing rats around the animal yard, and during afternoon chores I found their nest. Now, I’m not a shrieky, sissy-girl, but when you reach for a flake of hay and a dozen rats rush to their escape by running over your hand and around your feet, it’s pretty hard to not let just a little scream slip out. The bad news is they scared the crap out of me, the good news is now I know where they’re living.

I may do what I can to save most little critters that cross my path, but rats don’t fall on my “to save” list. A standard trap really wouldn’t work because rats are smart. As soon as one rat got caught, the others would know to stay away. The cats and dogs, not to mention the chickens and the turkey might try to eat a dead rat, so poison isn’t an option. Farm folk say try a bucket, so I’m going to try a bucket. I set it up against a full bale of hay, next to their nest. My hope is they’ll run across the bale, heading for their nest and, gaaaaaaaaaaa, fall into the bucket. I put a little chicken scratch in the bucket. Once one rat falls in, I want it to tell its friends there’s food in there, not that it’s a trap. I don’t know what I’ll do if I catch any. I may just leave that executive decision to Charlie.

Rat trap

 

 

 

There was nothing super-special or extra-exciting about today. No art projects or big meals. It was just a day. We were lucky enough to wake up and enjoy a beautiful, peaceful day in the country. Life is good.

Out of the Woods

Redmon Woods is a happy place. The animals get along, the garden grows, the kids run and play and laugh, and I spend my days loving it all. Lately, though, I’ve made a mistake. I let the world in. And the world right now is not a happy place.

I thought of naming  the bombings and mass shootings, from this year alone, but I knew I wouldn’t get them all. I don’t want to leave anybody out because they are all heartbreaking. With every report I feel like I want to cry, or throw up, or hit something. And I don’t hit. The worst, though, is feeling helpless. I want a bad guy, I want a target, I want there to be somebody we can stop!

Yes, I know: ISIS. But it feels like trying to stop ISIS is like trying to stop everybody with green eyes. (I just picked green eyes randomly. I love many people with green eyes.) There may be more in some places than others, but they’re everywhere. And we know that everyone with green eyes isn’t evil, but how do we know who is who? And what about the evil people with green eyes who wear brown contacts, so we can’t even tell they might be evil. I would never want to see everyone with green eyes targeted, just like I would never want to see all Muslims targeted.

And then there are the local, everyday, mentally ill, unstable individuals, who feel like they want to die, but they want to take as many people as possible with them first. These shootings we actually do have the possibility of stopping, but that would mean some major changes to gun rights, and those rights are more important to some people than protecting the lives of others. Yep, I mean gun control. Not eliminating the 2nd Amendment, not taking away everybody’s guns, not allowing bad guys to have black market guns while good guys get shot in their sleep. I mean not allowing mentally unstable people to easily buy guns. I mean banning guns that have been designed to kill as many people as possible. I mean not allowing the gun industry to sell kits that allow consumers to buy a legal gun, then modify it to something that should be illegal. And don’t tell me that if I had a gun I could protect myself. I DON’T WANT A GUN! I want people who want to hurt people to NOT have guns.

And then, of course, there’s Trump. He’s going to make everything better by threatening to blow up innocent people. He’ll just eliminate everybody with  green eyes. That will fix everything. He knows he’s great, and he expects everybody else to know that, too. If you dare to do anything but agree with him, he’ll call you names, mock you, encourage others to hurt you, or simply take away your press credentials. He frames it as being tough enough or smart enough to not be politically correct. The things he says aren’t politically incorrect, they’re dangerous. He can’t expect the rest of the world to understand that when he says he wants to bomb the shit out of a country, he really means something else. Nobody knows what he means because he doesn’t speak in complete thoughts. And yet, he’s the Republican nominee for president. Why do the majority of Republicans not see what he is?

These things have invaded my little world, and they took my voice. How do I write about ducklings, and spring flowers, and the kids gathering dandelions and blowing wishes into the wind, when there is so much pain and anger and fear in the world? The ugliness has kept me awake at night. I’ve felt angry and sad and helpless. And now, I’m done!

Redmon Woods is a happy place. And even if a lot of the world isn’t happy right now, my little corner of the world is. And, maybe, if I take my voice back, I can help the world be a little happier. Redmon Woods is one small place, and I have just one voice, but my voice is going to be happy again.