Adventures of Mrs Pen

Musings from a Very Lucky Penny


November 2012

WAHOOO! This is a give-away!


It’s Christmastime! It’s Hanukkahtime! It’s Kwanzaatime! Wahoo! Happy Christma-Hanu-Kwanzaa to all! To kick off our holiday season, I am holding my very first giveaway!

The inspiration behind this is that I was recently was cleaning my house and came across a folder with several gift cards in it. Some of them have been used once or twice, some not at all. Many of them I’ve had for years but always forgot to use when I was at the establishment they were intended for. Sooooo to spread the Christmas cheer, I would like to give a lucky someone an envelope with 5 mystery gift cards. Here are some details-

1. I’m not telling you what they are for, but I will say one or maybe two can be redeemed for ice cream. And one of them rhymes with Charbucks.

2. None of the gift cards can be redeemed for carrots. Or sardines.

3. I personally do not know the value of the gift cards but I do know they’re somewhere between .25 and $25 each. Unless I throw in my Blockbuster card, which holds a value of approx -$3.00.

4. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling us what your favorite Christmas movie is. If you don’t have a favorite Christmas movie, just say something like, “Bah-hum-bug!” Or “I like cherry pie!” Or something like that.
NOTE- you DO NOT have to sign into WordPress to leave a comment, just leave the login fields blank.

5. My favorite Christmas movie this year is Elf. My baby has an Elf costume. And he loves to smile. Smiling is his favorite!


6. Here’s another cute picture of my little elf.

7. This giveaway closes next Thursday, Dec 6 at midnight. I hope every single person who reads this participates.

Alright that is all and good luck to all!


PS- These awesome pictures of my baby were provided by my very good friends at Two Mothers McGill. Thanks Teri and Ashleigh for the great pictures!


My Country Life, Week 8

Holy Macaroni I cannot believe its been nearly 2 months since we moved out here. Here are the highlights of last week…

1. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in town and then came back to the country to celebrate with my hub’s family and then went back into town for a bonfire at my parent’s. I put approximately one battrillion miles on the truck that day.

2. Someone who shall remain nameless learned an important lesson this week about making sure there’s gas in the truck so you don’t run out of gas when you’re on a dirt road nice and far from anything that resembles a gas station, for the second week in a row. And that person shall remain nameless because it’s me.


3. This is my baby and his Abuelo having a good ‘ol fashioned Thanksgiving staring contest.



5. I totally copied that picture from my friend Andi. I swear, I wish it wouldn’t be weird for me to put a picture of her daughter in a Santa hat. It’s so adorable it’s dangerous.


6. My baby had a good chat with Santa. He knows he’s on the Nice list. He’s smug about it.


7. All my baby wants for Christmas is a horsey. Or a ceiling fan. Or something crinkly, like news paper.


8. I’m not sure I’m ready for the upkeep of a horse, but if I accidentally leave the gate open and a cow wonders in and decides to become my baby’s Christmas present, then so be it.

9. All I want for Christmas is for my tomato plant to bloom. Hint hint Mother Nature.


10. Happy Christmas from our family to yours!


To the Man of My Dreams…

If you know my husband, you know this is the last thing he would want broadcasted for the world to see. But he’s just so awesome I can’t resist.













13 is an unlucky number.




Apparently 18 is an unlucky number too.




Nov 22- I don’t know where to begin. You’re my hero, my love, my handyman, my best friend, my roommate, my suga daddy, my mechanic, and my fairy tale. Marrying you was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love you so much and I can’t wait to share a hundred more Thanksgivings with you.

My Country Life , Week 7

I just don’t know where to begin this week..


1. Yesterday I came home to find 4 cows pacing back and forth on the road leading to our house. Were they staging a protest? Practicing the dramatization of their “How did the cow cross the road?” jokes? I’m not really sure.

2. We got a dishwasher this week! My friend Meredith pointed out we’re not exactly roughing it anymore. I feel no guilt. I feel no guilt.

3. A few weeks ago I mentioned I took a back road and nearly killed myself (read about it here). Well now that’s my favorite shortcut into town. Thank God for Ford pickup trucks.


4. This sign indicates that you are on a dirt road. It is approximately 2 miles from any paved roads, in every direction. I appreciate the head’s up.

5. With a heavy heart I must tell you one of our neighborhood cows went to be with the Lord this week. That’s how I learned that if a cow is laying on the side of the road, they put one of those neon stickers on their hiney, like they do for abandoned vehicles.


6. These gals had a little less pep in their step that day. Betsy, you’re always in our hearts and memories. Gone but not forgotten.


7. In more sad news, I’m sure everyone knows about the loss of one of America’s most beloved snack companies. In other words, I don’t have any room on my freezer at the moment.


8. My baby experienced his first and probably last Hostess Cupcake this week. Well at least he got a good taste of the wrapper.


9. He got a taste of a lot of things this week. He also said his first words. It sounded like “GUH-BUH-THhBt” but I’m pretty sure that means “I love you mama.”


10. As I already mentioned, we had a couple of our great friends over for a Pre-thanksgiving practice feast this week. It was the highlight of my week. I’m not kidding y’all, each and every one of you is invited over to the ranch for dinner! Just shout me a hollar.

11. Most importantly, I hope every single one of you has a safe and freakin awesome Thanksgiving and you stuff your face and you get so full you can’t look at a turkey for a whole year without feeling full again. That’s what I’ll be doing on Thursday.

In loving memory of Betsy, Twinkies, and our Thanksgiving turkey.


More Thxgiving Stuff – Killa Sweet Potato Casserole


Sweet Potatoes are consumed at our dinner table almost every night. That is because they are the only vegetable my hubs will consent to eat. If you put something green on his plate, no sir, he will not eat it. So every night we have roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, or sweet potato hash browns (raise your hand if you’re hearing this in Bubba’s voice from Forrest Gump)… Anyways, my favorite of all our sweet potato escapades is sweet potato casserole. I got the recipe from my friend Bethany’s mom years ago and I know he won’t admit this, but I think it’s what made my husband fall in love with me. Its the perfect balance if sweet and buttery and crunchy (Yes that does sound healthy). I made it for our Pre-thxgiving practice feast a few days ago, and I am making it for both Thanksgiving dinners we’re attending this year. And if you ever have surgery or something and need me to make you dinner, I’m probably going to make you this. Wow I’m really starting to sound like a grandma, with her prize casserole. At any rate, this is how my prize casserole is made:


First, I get my sweet potatoes. I usually use about three medium size taters, but these ones were galactic size so I only used two. If they’re tiny, I use 4.

Then, I soften them up. This time I did this by boiling them for about 40 mins and then letting them cool to peel them. Sometimes I just poke a bunch of holes in them with a fork and then pop em in the microwave for 15 minutes, and then peel them once they’re cool. If I’m in a hurry, I peel them first and then boil them for about 30 min, then I don’t have to cool em down afterwards.

The skin pretty much falls off if you boil them first.


Then I put the sweet potaters in my mixer and blend them up real good like.


Then I add the following ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and a healthy amount of pumpkin pie spice and mix it up gooder.


Then I spread my whole mix into a pan.


I sprinkle brown sugar (about a quarter cup) and walnuts all over, then I sprinkle another 1/4 cup of melted margarine all over it.

Next I put the whole shebang in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until the brown sugar is bubbly and it’s done!


So that’s one of the dishes we will be serving on turkey day. Monday I’m planning to talk about two more important dishes that help us eat too much on T-day.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving day dish? More importantly, what is your favorite kind of pie??

I’m so excited for Thanksgiving I could die!

Turkey Roasting for the First Timer

This year I have so much to be thankful for. I’m so thankful for my husband, our baby, our friends, our church, our town, our police officer who just apologized for giving me a speeding ticket and said my baby was cute, and most of all I’m thankful for my husband again. I swear I love that man so much. Anyways, since we both have awesome families that really live it up on Thanksgiving and therefore get two feasts on T-day, I realized the only way I’ll ever learn how to cook a turkey is if I do it on a day that ain’t Thanksgiving. And that is how our First Annual Pre-Thx-Giving Practice Feast came to be.


Last night, a handful of our favorite people braved our cow-infested dirt roads to come eat and draw on our table with crayons and spread the Thanksgiving cheer with us.


We drank tea from mason jars. My hubs tried to give our fine mason jar collection away as party favors. I don’t know why he doesn’t like them.


The men-folk discussed rifle-building in the Man-Cave. I went behind enemy lines to get this picture.


Mostly we ate ourselves silly. I had so much fun that I weigh at least 5 lbs more today. And I have no regrets.

Annnyways, here is an account of my first turkey-makin experience.


To start out, I thawed my frozen bird out in a 5 gallon bucket of cold water the night before. You must be VERY careful thawing a turkey out because bacteria monsters thrive at room temperature so if the outside thaws out before the inside does, you will end up with a very unhappy turkey.


Next, I watched a hundred thousand of YouTube videos to learn about turkey roasting science. My favorite is Hilah Cooking’s video. I love Hilah; she taught me how to fry a chicken, how to sear a steak, how to grill a pork chop, and best of all she bears the uncanny resemblance to Pheobe from Friends. So this recipe closely resembles Hilah/Pheobe’s, with a few adjustments based on the ingredients I had on hand.


I put together the seasoning for inside the bird- red onions, parsley, salt, garlic, and butter. Hilah added apples, which I would have been delighted to do if the grocery store weren’t so dang far away.


Then I put together the basting sauce- chicken broth, garlic, paprika, butter, and orange juice. This odd combo of ingredients made for a sweet, tangy, juicy turkey. I used this scary looking contraption to inject the turkey with the juice, since basting really only flavors the skin. Notice, the turkey is not in sight yet. That is because once I started messing with that bad boy I didn’t touch anything else to take pictures. I prepped all this first, then prepared the operating table.


Once I got the turkey out, I took every precaution I could think of to prevent contamination. I didn’t want any sick people, man!

This is the part where me and the turkey got friendly. To make a long story short, his name was Melvin, but you can call him SpaceRocketMan for short. This part includes zero pictures because I wasn’t touching anything besides the bird. This is what we did:

1. I rinsed and dried SpaceRocketMan off.
2. I sprinkled him with salt and pepper
3. I rubbed the cavity with half the parsley/garlic/onion mix
4. I put the rest of that mix in a bowl of more butter, and rubbed it all up under his skin. Mmmm this part was disgusting.
5. I used the syringe looking thing to inject my basting sauce all throughout SpaceRocketMan, especially in the thickest spots.
6. I put him in my roaster and poured the rest of the basting sauce all over him.
7. Right before he went in the oven, I loosely filled him with stuffing. It’s important to stuff the bird immediately before putting it in the oven to prevent contamination. Also, the stuffing was awesome! The recipe is to be shared tomorrow.
8. I stuck the thermometer in the thickest part and then put him in the oven at 375 degrees.


After one hour, I opened the oven and basted the turkey, and then put it back in. I continued doing this every 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours. Every time I took it out, I rotated it when I put it back in, to help it cook evenly. I knew it was done when the thermometer read 180 degrees.

When it was done, I pulled it out, covered it with tin foil, and let it “rest” for 30 minutes. And then it was ready!


And then we ate the heck out of that bird!


These two beautiful ladies washed all my dishes afterwards. They are welcome in my house any day, day or night.

And that was all there was to it! I would LOVE to know any hints you might have for turkey making. Thanks for reading this whole long thing and you are cordially invited to the ranch for dinner!


My Country Life, Week 6

1. We had a special event today, so both my guys wore their best flannel. Apparently they have the same best flannel. Awkward.


2. We survived our first rainstorm this week. Storms are a big deal because the road to our house turns into the Great Lakes in the rain. I love this adventure more when I can pretend I’m a pioneer roughing it in the olden days. (Well sorta… Don’t take away my indoor plumbing)

3. My nephews go to school not far from us. Their school got put on alert because there was a black bear siting nearby. So there’s that.


4. The biggest deal this week was our town’s Pecan Festival. Our pecan orchard is the largest in the world. It was converted from a cotton farm in the late 60’s when synthetic fiber was developed and cotton farms were no longer as necessary. Did you know that? Me neither until I read the brochure a few minutes ago.


5. My baby wore his Batman hat to the festivities. A lady asked me why he was dressed like a teddy bear. Um… Lady…


6. This is an ice cream maker made out of a super old tractor engine from this farm. This is scientifical proof that God created me to live here.


7. This is a goat at the Pecan Festival.

8. The Pecan Festival happened to be on my husband’s parent’s front lawn. There were some chickens running around that were part of the pecan festivities, and they were mistaken for renegade chickens that belonged to my in-laws and were thrown into their chicken coop. My mother-in-law had to sort out which chickens belonged to them and which were part of the festival. That’s a problem I never thought I’d encounter.

9. If you did the math, you might have figured out that my hubs grew up in the middle of the world’s largest pecan farm. He hates pecan pie. The irony kills me.


10. There was a George Strait cover band at the festival. George Strait will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first concert my hubs and I went to. The next one will be Reba and the next one will be Johnny Cash. I swear.


11. In conclusion here is a freakin adorable picture of my baby. He is not dressed like a teddy bear.

DIY Chair Reupholstery for Beginners (Or: If you give a girl a staple gun, the world is her oyster)

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

If you are a upholstery-ologist, stop reading now. You don’t want to see how I did this. The entire extent of my research for this project consisted of watching part of a YouTube video until the spotty satellite Internet we get out here went on the fritz. Well, my dad and my brother are in the furniture-making biz so they gave me some pointers. But mostly, I just made this up. Eh, it’s not rocket science, this got the job done. But let that be a warning to any furniture-ologists that might be reading this.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
This is Uncle Davey and my baby discussing refinishing options.

It all started when I found an awesome and extremely cheap table on Craigslist. The table has 3 extensions, so it can fit approximately one thousand people at it at one time! I refinished it a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t very difficult (thanks to my brother’s guidance) or interesting, so that’s why this is the first time you’re hearing about this.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

The downside to this awesome table is the chairs that came with it looked like something I’d find in my grandma’s house.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

I knew that I didn’t care for the chairs, but didn’t have much inspiration until yesterday when I stumbled upon a store downtown that sells mexican imported building materials and furniture at outlet prices. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for them, but this store is so cool. Anyways, I found some awesome vinyl there for $5/yard and immediately knew what I needed to do.

I happened to have all the tools I needed for this on hand: A hammer, a phillips-head screwdriver, a staple gun, and scissors.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-UpholsteryThanks for the floral print toolset mom!

To start out, I just flipped the chairs over and unscrewed the little screws that were holding the seat on to the chair.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Next, I put the seat face-down on the vinyl and traced the shape of the seat, giving it about 3 inches of slack on each side.


I contemplated removing the old upholstery and replacing the foam, however the foam was still in good shape and that would have been a pain in the rump, so I opted to just cover the upholstery with my new vinyl.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

Next, I just pulled one side of vinyl over the edge of my seat and stapled it right in the middle.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Then I pulled the vinyl over the side parallel to the side I just stapled, pulled it nice and taught and put a staple square in the middle on that side. I did the same with the two other sides, so that my vinyl was stretched nice and tight over the seat.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Then I went to town with my staple gun and made sure that vinyl was stuck to that chair for all of eternity (leaving the corners unstapled til the end).

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
I’m not sure how to describe the corners other than that I wrapped them like I would a Christmas present and then put a few staples in there to hold it down. Then I cut away the excess vinyl and my seat was ready to be reunited with its chair!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

A little more work with my screwdriver, and my chair was done!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

After I finished the first chair, my baby woke from his nap, so I gave him a good page-turner to keep him busy.


Then I just followed the previous steps 3 more times, and that’s how my set of chairs came to be!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

I learned how to spell “upholstery” and “vinyl” today!

A Healthy Meal for Those of Us Who Think Salad is for the Birds

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

My dear friend Channa came for a visit last week. Now I normally have a penchant for feeding people, especially when they take time out of their day to come the way the heck out to my house. However, in this case, making food for Channa was going to be a challenge. That is because she has been following the paleo diet philosophy. That means she doesn’t eat no bread, no dairy, no sugar, no nothing the God blessed mankind with so that we would enjoy life. The diet has done her well and she looks awesome, but this was particularly difficult to me because bread, dairy, and sugar are my favorite food groups. So instead of making her lunch, I asked her to teach me how to make a paleo meal. This ended up being a win-win situation because I got an awesome lunch made for me and I learned how to make a meal so delish and guilt-free that I’ve already made it 3 times since then. (yes, when I say “win-win” I mean that I won twice, not that Channa won once and I won once.) Anyways, what she made was Spicy Cilantro Turkey Burgers and Garlic Roasted Broccoli with Lemon. It’s SO good. I’m excited to share it with y’all now!

Spicy Cilantro Turkey Burgers

First, we chopped up a quarter cup of red onions, a plump jalapeƱo, a cup of cilantro, and two cloves of garlic. I have a Pamper Chef chopper, so this took like 2 seconds, but if you’re looking for a shortcut, I think this could be lightly blended in a blender or food processor.

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

Then we added all our choppings to a bowl with 1 pound of lean ground turkey, squeezed a lime all over it and squished it up with our hands. When I say we, I mean Channa did that.

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

Then we (and I mean just Channa again) formed the meat into patties. We (excluding me) poured some olive oil into a skillet. Once the oil was hot, we put our little patties in the skillet and cooked them about 3 minutes on each side, or until brown all the way through.

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli
Yep, this is a picture of me and Channa both equally cooking the hamburger patties.

Roasted Garlic and Lemon Broccoli

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

Meanwhile we made the broccoli. Now let me tell you, I’ve never been one to get excited over vegetables but this broccoli is to DIE for. Seriously its the best broccoli I ever had. I think my husband would even like it if he would give broccoli a chance.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli with Lemon

First, we preheated the oven at 400. Then a chopped up a bushel of broccoli (It’s called a bushel, right?) and 3 cloves a garlic. Now I recently made dinner for 9 people, and to save time I just bought a bag of fresh broccoli florets from Dole and then I could save some time and skip chopping and cleaning the broccoli (if you choose to clean the broccoli you have to dry it thoroughly or it will get soggy in the oven).

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

We spread the broccoli and garlic out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled a little salt and pepper on it, and coated it with a little olive oil. And it went in the oven for 20 minutes.

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

When it was done, we squeezed the juice of one lemon and the zest of one lemon peel on it. (I have a confession- when I’ve made this since then, I couldn’t be bothered to do the lemon zest, just the juice. Channa will be disappointed in me for my lack of fanciness.)

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

Once the burgers and broccoli were done, Channa plated them with a few slices of avocado and we thoroughly enjoyed out healthy meal.

Cilantro Turkey Burgers with Roasted Garlic and Broccoli

I did convince her to lay her paleo convictions aside for a bowl of homemade pumpkin ice cream afterwards. I don’t think she regretted it.

This is my lil cutie checking the situation out.

I feel skinnier already!

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