The Crazy Hat Box

there's a hat for that!

Spider! or Put Your Glasses on First

I’m terrified of spiders.  Not just, I don’t like them, they creep me out. T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.  That is how the following paragraph came about.

I’m not just terrified, I’m paranoid.  Every single morning, before my shower, I check the bathroom for spiders.  I look up along the walls and across the ceiling.  Then it’s a check on the floor, then on to the sink.  I’ve gotten lulled into a sense of security and slacked on this before, but I will not fall for that again.  Whenever I decide that I don’t need to check anymore, they know it.  And they show up.  One morning I was doing my usual spider check.  I finished up, feeling satisfied that those little creepy creatures had stayed away.  So, I pull back the shower curtain to start the water.  THERE. IT. WAS.  Now, I’m not going to exaggerate and say that it was the biggest spider I’d ever seen.  Although, it might as well have been, considering the fear in my heart.  I would have been paralyzed if my ‘fight or flight’ instinct hadn’t kicked in.  I did freeze for a moment though.  Then IT MOVED!  That was it.  Forget fight.  It was flight.  And scream.  Yes, that’s right.  Flight and scream.  I went running to the bedroom.  My poor husband was ripped from a sound sleep by me screaming through the house.  Spider, spider, SPIDER!!  We have a strict rule in our house that he is the spider slayer.  So, he sat up in bed, put his feet on the cold floor and headed for the bathroom.  I might add that he was entirely too calm.  “Poor man.  He doesn’t understand the gravity of this situation”, I thought to myself.  As I was walking behind him several steps he reached the bathroom door.  “Where is it?” he asked, with his very first words of the day voice.  “In the tub” I said, feeling another rush of adrenaline.  He walked in and I heard him pull the shower curtain back.  I peeked around the corner and he looked up at me, with the “spider” in his hand and said, “New rule.  If you want me to kill spiders, you have to put your glasses on first.”  I grabbed my glasses and put them on my face.  Yep, it was lent.  I took my shower and he went back to bed.

Spider!

Spider!

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Herb Gardening Part 1 – Perennial Herbs

Herbs are one of the easiest things to grow.  They tolerate drought, most of them prefer full sun, and they even thrive in the heat.  And, since a lot of herbs are perennial, it is a one-time investment that yields years of harvest!

If you’re thinking of planting an herb garden, here are some things to consider.  First, start with things you know you’ll use and are comfortable using.  For example, I love using oregano and basil in cooking.  It adds great flavor to almost any dish, and nothing beats using it fresh (although I dry herbs to use in the winter, too).  Some herbs sound exotic, like Pineapple Sage and Chocolate Mint, but will you use them, or would you be giving up garden space for something that, although it smells good, may not be very practical for you?

Second, think about the space you have.  If you don’t have a lot of garden space to work with, pick herbs that don’t take up a lot of room.  Rosemary, thyme, chives, and tarragon are some of these.  If you have more room, add oregano and sage, both of which grow to take up several square feet.  If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry, herbs do great in container gardening, too!

Here are a few perennial herbs to consider:

 Oregano is a hearty herb that requires little maintenance.  And it tastes amazing in red sauce and pizza crust!  Oregano can grow to be pretty big – mine takes up a space of about two feet in diameter.

IMG_8968

 Sage is another hearty herb that grows in a more bush-like form.  It’s great with chicken and pork, and the purple flowers it puts on bring color to your garden.  Sage is another garden hog – mine is about 18 inches in diameter.

IMG_8980

Chives are amazing in salads and as toppings on baked potatoes.  A word of caution – they really multiply!  But, they’re pretty easy to dig up and thin out.

IMG_8977

Tarragon is another perennial herb, but it is not quite as hearty as others, in my experience.  It is less heat tolerant, and requires a little more water.  It’s wispy branches grow more up than out, so it doesn’t take up a lot of room.   It tastes wonderful in chicken and in cream sauces!

IMG_8973

Thyme is another great perennial addition to your garden.  It tastes wonderful in eggs and chicken, and it’s a great, low maintenance ground cover for any garden!

IMG_8970

Mint – I love mint, but here’s the thing: it would survive a nuclear blast.  Don’t be deceived in thinking it won’t take over.  It will.  I had mint in my garden, then is started to multiply, so I moved it to it’s own five foot section of garden.  In the last 4 years, it has completely filled that spot and crept into the yard (it sends out roots underground and comes up pretty much wherever it wants).  And the place I moved it from still has mint coming up at random places.  But, I love how it smells (so does my husband when he mows the part of our yard that is mint-infested).  I often add mint to bouquets of flowers for added scent, and adding mint to a pitcher of water or brewing it in tea is wonderful!  Bottom line, if you want to grow mint, plant it in a container!

IMG_9036

Lavender is another perennial with a great scent!  Depending on the kind you get, it can get pretty big, but it’s easy to trim back.  It also puts on either white or purple blooms, depending on the type.  Lavender is also great in flower bouquets.  I know you can cook with it, too, but I’ve never done so.

IMG_9039

Catnip is a part of the mint family, but isn’t quite as prolific.  I’m sure there are other ways to use it, but I just grow it to make my cats crazy.

IMG_9040

Rosemary is technically a perennial, however, if your winters get too cold, it won’t come back the next year.   Burpee says rosemary is a perennial in zones 7-10, and since I live in zone 6, I have occasionally had rosemary come back in the Spring, but it’s not a guarantee. Rosemary is amazing when baked in breads and sauces!

Perennial herbs are a great addition to any garden, and their heartiness and beauty can be a great, functional addition to landscaping.  Start small, and slowly add to your garden; and don’t forget to save room for the annual herbs!  Happy gardening!

Leave a comment »

We Gather Together for Thanksgiving in April

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving in April.  This is how it all started:

Every year for several years Ali, her husband, her sister Rachel and her husband, me and my husband have Thanksgiving in April. It all started because of Rachel. One year over Thanksgiving season, Rachel was very sick. She ended up needing her tonsils removed. So, over Thanksgiving she couldn’t eat the food. It was very sad and she was very vocal about the fact that she missed out on Thanksgiving food. Now, I’m not judging. I would have complained a lot too. Plus, it started our new awesome tradition. She wouldn’t let it go. So, sorta to be funny and sorta cause we love Thanksgiving food, we had Thanksgiving in April. It was delicious and it was fun! It didn’t have all the pressure of Christmas being right around the corner. We all contributed food. We burned a fall smelling candle, we ate, and we laughed. We know a great, new tradition when we see one, so it began. Now we take turns hosting. We all sign up for what to bring. We set a date. And we are thankful. It’s always in season to be with friends, to eat delicious food together, to laugh and to be thankful to our Provider for His great gifts.

Ali hosted this year and did a great job on the decorating.

IMG_8945

IMG_8949

A very festive table.

IMG_8946

A verse about Thanksgiving at each place setting.

This time happened to be on the same weekend at Easter.  We didn’t plan it that way on purpose, it just worked out with everyone’s schedule.

IMG_9012

Some fun for the kids.

Here are the some of the yummy side dishes.

IMG_9022 IMG_9018

IMG_9020

I don’t think there was one bite of Rachel’s sinful potatoes left!

IMG_9017

My hubby’s famous deviled eggs.

Now for the main attraction!

IMG_8950

Ali’s turkey was delicious!

Of course, we had to finish off with dessert.

IMG_9026 IMG_9024

We left happy and miserably full!  It was a good day.

Leave a comment »

Upset Tummy Tip for Dogs

This is one of the best tips I’ve ever received from a Veterinarian for a dog with upset stomach (she said it would work on cats as well). Before I tell you though, always check with your vet before giving anything to your pet.

Canned pumpkin. That’s it. Just give them a couple of spoonfuls of canned pumpkin. I’m lucky, all of my dogs LOVE it. In fact, when I give it to the pup that’s not feeling so well, I give it to the other two as a treat. I don’t know if you could convince a cat to take it. Maybe if they have no hint that they are cooperating with you in any way, shape, or form.

It works like a charm. It works quickly. It’s cheap. They think it’s a treat. I have used it on a regular basis since I’ve gotten this tip. I even use it proactively sometimes. There has been more than once when a dog came in chewing on something or licking her chops. I don’t ask because I don’t want to know. I just go get the pumpkin.

Frodo and his canned pumpkin

Frodo and his canned pumpkin

 

Leave a comment »

Mommy’s Girl

photo (1)

 

I’m not sure why but for the last month or so my little girl has really been a mommy’s girl. Only wanting mommy to help her brush her hair, push her in the shopping cart, or carry her and so on. As I am now down to single digit number of weeks left in my pregnancy I find myself totally giving in to my little girl’s mommy wants.  I know that all too soon I will not be able to give her all the attention that I can now. While I am very excited to meet this new little person that I have growing inside of me, part of me is sad that things will be changing soon. I know that giving my daughter a sibling is one of the best things that I can give her. I adore my siblings and really don’t know how I would have made it through parts of my life without them.

After our new little one arrives some of the things that she counts on mommy to do will have to be done by daddy. I know that a time will come when she will need something while I am nursing the new baby. She will have to wait or will have to have someone else help her. I know that these things are not bad and that they are part of the process but they will be a big change for her.  She is going from an only child to a big sister. I think that she will be a wonderful big sister! She loves talking about the baby in mommy’s tummy. She gives the baby kiss and soft high fives. We have done all that we can to help her get ready for the new baby.

So In these last few weeks of her being an only child I’m going to spoil her and let her get as much mommy time as she wants! I am going to cherish the time just as much as she is! Embracing what we have now…In a few weeks we will be a family of 4 and she will be a great big sister!

1 Comment »

Winner, Winner, (Crock Pot) Chicken Dinner

I’m always looking for ways to help my family eat healthier.  With all the scary information about preservatives, GMOs, hormones, etc. floating around,  I figure one of the best ways to avoid some of the scariness is to make most things from scratch – plus, it usually tastes better.

There is one problem with this, though – I really don’t enjoy cooking.

Don’t get me wrong, I cook almost all of our dinners.  We rarely eat out, and I’m not big on frozen dinners, so I really don’t have another choice.  But, it’s not my passion.  Maybe it’s because it usually takes longer to make it than to eat it.  Maybe I just don’t like being in the kitchen that long.  Or, maybe I just hate reading directions.  Whatever it is, I gravitate more toward quick meals or things I can throw in the crock pot and not worry about until it’s time to eat.

Thus, Crock Pot Chicken is one of my favorites.  We seriously have it about once a month.  It’s so easy and inexpensive and non-wasteful.  You can usually find two whole chickens at Costco or Sam’s for around $12, and we always have leftovers from the meal, which I can use to make chicken salad or soup later that week or freeze to use later.  And, I make my own chicken broth from the bones and juices, which tastes so much better than canned, I can’t even explain it.


Crock Pot Chicken

Ingredients:

1 Whole, thawed chicken with innards removed

1 Tbs Garlic Powder

1 Tbs Oregano

1 Tbs Basil

1 Tbs Sage

1 tsp Salt

2 Tbs Butter

1 C Water

Mix herbs and seasonings together in a bowl.

With a knife, loosen, but don’t remove, the skin on the breast and legs of the chicken.  Then, put butter under the skin.  Next, put the herbs under the skin.

Place the whole chicken in the crock pot with the cup of water, and cook on low all day.

IMG_8657

It’s that easy!!


Homemade Chicken Broth

After you’ve taken the leftover chicken out of the crock pot (I shred mine and freeze or refrigerate to use in recipes later), put some of the larger bones and meatier pieces back in the crock pot.  Add whatever herbs and seasonings you like – sage, basil, oregano, garlic powder, etc.  Add a few vegetables, such as carrots, celery or onion – really whatever you happen to have on-hand is probably fine.  Finally, add water.  How much water you add depends on how strong you like your broth.  I usually add 8 cups to whatever juices are already there.  Cook your broth on low all night.

IMG_8660     IMG_8664

In the morning, turn off your crock pot and let the broth cool.  When it’s cool enough, strain out the veggies and bones,

IMG_8665

then, put the broth into freezer bags (I do this in one-cup measurements), and put it in the freezer!

IMG_8666

If you don’t have time to mess with the broth in the morning, just put the whole crock pot in the fridge (after it’s cooled a bit) until you do!

I usually get about 10 cups of broth from doing this.  And the broth is so good in chicken noodle soup, tomato soup – really whatever calls for chicken broth or stock.

You just got at least one meal (but probably more than that) and 10 cups of broth out of a $6 chicken!

 

1 Comment »

Welcome to The Crazy Hat Box Blog!

Welcome to our blog site! The Crazy Hat Box is a site about the many crazy hats we wear! You’ll see blogs about throwing parties (The Party Hat), gardening (The Sun Hat), cooking (The Chef’s Hat), DIY projects (The Hard Hat), and a lot more! We’re so excited to start this new journey!

To see a listing of our hats, go to the Our Hats page.

Thanks for joining us!

IMG_8705_2

 

Leave a comment »