On My Mind 11/20/2012

I love this. That is all.

Under the heading of Social Media:

Since I never post anything of interest on it, I am giving up my Frantically Simple Facebook page. You are all invited to subscribe to my author page instead, if you like. I hope to have good news to share there sometime in the near future.
Sidebar link has been updated to reflect the change.
Also: I have a Tumblr now.

Chalking. Adorable form of self expression and so much nicer than a tattoo to the face.

We use pastel chalks on dry hair. It washes out after one or two washes.

Newt also wears lipstick and mascara now. She is really growing up.
I really like who she is growing up to be.

This happened…

…and it made me very happy. (Don’t grow up too fast, Newt.)

We will be making this again:
edible Thanksgiving centerpiece

You can make one too!

Or, a fun tablerunner.
Or learn how to cook a turkey.
Or learn how to ruin a turkey. Twice.

We don’t have books in the dining room any more, but maybe this is a mistake? Books should live everywhere!

Speaking of Thanksgiving: I’m thankful for you!
Have a lovely holiday.

In Which Heidi Pretends to Be the Butterball Hotline

You guys, it’s almost time.

(If you are reading via email, you may want to click over and watch that video and laugh a little. It would be good for you. Hat tip to Ali.)

It occurred to me today that this is my sixteenth Thanksgiving as a married woman. (That made me feel old in a way that nothing else ever has. Even though I was practically a child bride.) With the exception of a few sad notable restaurant years, I have cooked every Thanksgiving meal. As such, I have built up some kitchen cred.
Since I am a giver, I thought it would be nice to share my knowledge. I turned to social media and asked:

Carol asked:

I had no idea. Remember when I tried going vegan and my hair started falling out? I can’t find a link, but I’m sure I mentioned it…
Anyway, thankfully, Barbara fielded that one:


And then she swore at me:

Tough crowd.

Over on facebook Sara asked: Will I survive Thanksgiving?
My answer? Yes, but just barely.

And Sarah (with an h) asked: Why do people make “traditions” out of food no one actually likes?
My reply: The same reason we spend holidays with people we don’t like*, doing things we don’t like: because it makes us happy. Right? Right? *cries*

Sarah also asked about stuffing. Hurray, something I actually know about. I referred her to this post.

Tara** wanted to know how to cook a turkey breast without it drying out. The answer is the same for a whole turkey. Use a brown paper bag.

How to Cook a Turkey in a Paper Bag

  • Prepare your turkey as you normally would: thaw; brine, if that’s your thing, or don’t, if it is not; rinse and pat dry; rub with olive oil and/or melted butter and whatever herbs and seasonings you prefer.
  • Place turkey in a large, new paper grocery bag.
  • Poke a meat thermometer through the bag into the meatiest part of the thigh (make sure not to touch the any bone).
  • Fold over bag opening and staple shut.
  • Place, breast side up, on a roasting pan with rack and place in oven, making sure that bag does not touch sides or heating elements.
  • Roast as usual. (I cook it at 350 until the internal temperature is 180 degrees.) Here is a handy chart, if you need it. And one for turkey breast only.
  • Cut open your paper bag and allow turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

I promise, it will not be dry. Also most of the drippings will have filtered through the bottom of the bag to the roasting pan. These make wonderful gravy.

Here is a picture of last year’s masterpiece, taken moments too late to be very pretty.

Sorry. We were hungry.

Any other questions? Drop me a comment and I’ll see what I can do.



*Note: I like all my people. Don’t cry, Mom.

**Sara, Sarah, and Tara are not my only friends, but they should be. We would be a little like Heathers.
Note to self: find a scrunchy and start wearing it immediately.

Guess? Who.

Guess what Newt is going to be for Halloween:

Besides the big night, Newt also has a costume contest for a 4H animal show she’s competing in.
I have an only child. How is it that I am having to make three Halloween costumes? One for a chicken?
Oh how I wish I were kidding.

Sidenote: I just shampooed that rug and it looks terrible again. I thought of trying to edit it out, but there is a nasty rumor going around that I am perfect. Untrue, as you can now clearly see.
Also: I have things currently growing in my fridge that may require a bio-hazard suit to safely dispose of them. And, I didn’t bother to wash my face in the shower this morning.
Take that, rumor-mongers.

PS: If you like Doctor Who, check out our freezer paper stenciled tee-shirts, free printable Valentines, and Newt’s bedroom makeover.

Muy Bueno Chicken Tortilla Soup

There is a sweet little lady at my church that I adore. She looks like the perfect ideal of a grandmother – with her white hair, glasses, twinkly eyes, and ready smile. She plays the organ in our main service and the piano for the children in Sunday School. She is wonderful.
Last week, I heard that she was home sick, so I came home from church and scrounged through my pantry and freezer. I found quite a few “Mexican-style” ingredients so I made a huge batch of chicken tortilla soup to share with my friend. I didn’t use a recipe, but I did pay attention to what I put in it, just in case I wanted to make it again.
Well, guess what? I do want to make it again.
I loved it.
Newt loved it.
Walt even loved it, and he is not a soup guy.
Best of all, my dear friend loved it.
This recipe is for her.


Muy Bueno Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Ole! In minutes you can have a huge pot of yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup - plenty to freeze or share.
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 - 4 oz. cans roasted green chiles
  • 1 - 15 oz. can corn
  • 2 - 15 oz. cans black beans
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 14 oz. can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 10 corn tortillas, cut into one inch squares
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I use homemade)
  • Salt to taste
  • garnish: cheddar or Cotija cheese, sour cream
  1. Saute onions, pepper, and garlic until browned.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Garnish with cheese and/or sour cream.

Recipe for my homemade chicken stock

On My Mind – 10/01/2012

This girl (the one on the right):

My little Newt is turning twelve in just a few short weeks. Yes, being a tweenager means a bit of drama, but my goodness how I love that girl.
Last week, at swim practice, a boy did something that annoyed her. I’m not sure what his offense was, but she told me, “I just glared at him and thought: I hope you really want chocolate sometime and can’t find any.” Do not cross that girl.
She recently declared that she is a writer, just like her mama. I can’t tell you how proud I felt. She carries a notebook around and writes whenever she has a spare moment. Her stories are just like her: fresh, funny, and a little bit quirky. I adore them.
Also, if you must know, the girl on the right is lovely as well. She is giving us four to five eggs a week.

I love to write in our studio/schoolroom. The words flow better there. However, it is not the quietest room in the house. I’ve taken to wearing headphones and listening to this. I’m an Oregonian. I bleed rain.

My hair. It’s been awhile since I’ve given you an update, no? As of this writing I have used shampoo one time in the last 15 months. I was out of baking soda. It was a short-lived disaster. Thankfully things went back to normal after my next No ‘Poo wash.
In other hair news, I recently had eight inches cut off. I did not donate it because I had no conception of it being that long. I just didn’t see it until it was a pile on the floor. Sorry.

I love the new cut. I’m also trying out a new color. We’ll see how it lasts with my washing habits. On one hand, baking soda may strip the color. On the other, I only wash 2-3 times a week, which may preserve the color. I know you will be on the edge of your seat. I’ll report my findings once I find them.

Walt and Newt went – are you ready for this? – Christmas shopping on Saturday. For me. Walt has never bought a Christmas gift before mid-December. I don’t know what to make of this new development.

This. It fascinates me.

What’s on your mind today?

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping

Disclaimer: I am not a big ice-creamer. I like it, but I don’t love it. Ice cream has never sung me a siren song. Instead it hums a tuneless little ditty under it’s frosty breath.
Easy to ignore.
That is until I add a delightfully yummy chocolate shell:

Then I’ll go back for seconds. Or thirds…

Two ingredients and no* dishes to wash. It really is magic.

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping
Recipe type: Dessert
Liquid at room temperature. Solid on ice cream. Easy to make and no mess. Make it and feel like a kitchen witch. Magic.
  • 1¼ cups chocolate, cut from a block or use chips - I use half dark, half milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  1. Place all ingredients into a pint sized mason jar.
  2. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted.
  3. Stir/whisk with a fork until smooth and well blended.
  4. Pour over ice cream. Allow a minute or so to harden.
  5. Cap leftover Magic Shell. Lick your fork. Dishes are done.
Store at room temperature. If sauce hardens, just microwave for a few seconds until pourable.

*Heidi does not actually advocate licking your dishes clean, but she won’t judge you if you do.

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