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Southern Snow

Our backyard this morning.
Our backyard this morning.

The Guy and I are both Yankees, transplanted to North Carolina. Technically that makes us damn Yankees, because we stuck around. The truth is that us Yankees only get a hard time down here if we follow the Yankee stereotype of always pointing out how much better everything is done up North. While our progressive views do clash with the ideology of a lot of folks down here, for the most part the Guy and I really like living here (ok, the Guy does have a bit of disdain for hot, muggy summers).

So we don’t make fun of the dialect, and when we actually get a substantial amount of snow, we don’t make (too many) jokes about Southerners not being able to drive in this stuff and the mass hysteria that surrounds even the forecast of winter weather. We are entitled to make at least a few jokes, because at this point, the natives even make light of themselves. The most well known joke is that if you go to the grocery store right before a predicted snowstorm, you’ll find only empty shelves where the bread and milk once were–presumably so everyone will have ready supplies for milk “sammiches” should they be snowed in for a week.

While it is all a bit entertaining, I learned my lesson pretty early why you really do need to be prepared for the worst around here. We all know that weather forecasts are less than perfect, but for some reason, when it comes to predicting snow in the South, the forecasters have the worst time getting it right. If they call for a couple of inches of snow, the actual result could range from a dusting to half an inch of ice to a foot of snow that locks everything up for a week. The latter was my first real introduction to winter weather in the Carolinas. I came down here for college. One afternoon in my junior year–after seeing no more than a quarter inch of snow in my first two years there–big fluffy flakes started falling. Within an hour there was some decent accumulation and 90 percent of students on campus were either sliding down hills in makeshift sleds (note–Southerners can make a sled out of anything), having a snowball fight or building a snowball.

Being the damn Yankee that I am, and never really being a fan of winter anyway, I ignored the hoopla and went back to my warm apartment, shaking my head. But by the time the snow stopped falling the next night, we had 14 inches of snow outside, and no power inside. The power wouldn’t come back on for four days. Luckily, living on a college campus, we were able to trek on foot to the dining hall for food–where we had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on propane grills nearly every night for the rest of the week. If it weren’t for that option, we’d have been awful hungry, since we’d failed to properly stock up on the oh-so-precious bread and milk, our cars were completely snowed in, and all the stores nearby were closed. When the roads did finally get plowed after a couple days and we’d heard word that a nearby convenience store was open, we used pots and pans to shovel my roommates car out of her parking space. Because, um, it’s North Carolina–do you really think we had shovels?!?

A few days ago, snow started showing up in the forecast for last night. Since then, predicted amounts have swung wildly from two inches to 10 inches and anywhere in between. Being good adopted Southerners that we are, we made sure we had shovels at the ready and picked up a few essentials at the grocery store (including milk, but no bread since we already had a loaf at home). Luckily, the result this morning was somewhere around five inches of snow–enough to paint the beautiful landscape you see above, but not enough to shut everything down for weeks. As I type this, most of the roads have already been plowed, the sun is shining brightly, and the temperature has warmed enough that the snow has been quickly melting throughout the afternoon.

If North Carolina weather holds true, we’ll be going for a swim next weekend.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Make your own taco seasoning

*Note: This recipe is a repeat of one previously published on this site. I am using a new recipe plugin to present recipes in a print-friendly format, and am re-publishing old recipes to make this feature available.

This “make your own” version of taco seasoning takes just a few minutes of mixing and measuring some everyday spices that are probably already in your cupboard. It’s tastier than what you’d find in a packet, and one recipe will make quite a few tacos (and it makes a great seasoning base for many other recipes).

Make your own taco seasoning
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
10 pounds of taco meat 5 minutes
Cook Time
0
Servings Prep Time
10 pounds of taco meat 5 minutes
Cook Time
0
Make your own taco seasoning
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
10 pounds of taco meat 5 minutes
Cook Time
0
Servings Prep Time
10 pounds of taco meat 5 minutes
Cook Time
0
Ingredients
Servings: pounds of taco meat
Instructions
  1. Combine all spices in an airtight plastic storage container (if you have an empty used spice bottle, that would work great). Seal your container and shake until everything is well-blended. Add one to two tablespoons of seasoning blend, depending on your taste preference, to one pound of cooked ground beef and 1/2 cup water and simmer until thickened. This mix makes up to 10 pounds of taco meat, and you can easily scale the recipe up or down, depending on how frequently you make tacos. This makes a fairly mild seasoning mix, so if you like some extra kick, turn the dial up a bit on the cayenne pepper.
Recipe Notes

Cornstarch is listed as optional because it provides thickening to the taco sauce. If you plan to use this seasoning for other recipes that don't require thickening, you may prefer to leave it out and simply stir in a bit of cornstarch when you are using it specifically for tacos.

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Time to Weed

The weeds are pretty  high right now.  So high, you probably thought I’d disappeared, right? After all, it’s been 18 months since my last post.

18 months. Hard to believe it’s been that long since my whole world was turned on it head. In a good way. In a good, but extraordinarily challenging, sorry-but-there’s-no-time-for-blogging way.

On August 26, 2013, the Guy was awarded emergency custody of the Kiddo, and I went from being a part-time stepmom to a full-time one. Since the change in custody was completely unexpected, we were both thrilled and overwhelmed at the same time–especially since it happened on the first day of school and two weeks before moving to a new home. Clearly, there were a lot of adjustments to be made, and I now have a new appreciation for working moms everywhere–especially those with more than one child. I really don’t know how they manage it.



The Kiddo is 12 at this point, so he’s fairly self-sufficient in many respects, but he’s also had a lot of emotional needs that the Guy and I have been trying to help him work through (with professional assistance, of course). And then there’s getting him to baseball, karate, football–whatever the sport of the week is. Luckily he tends to stick to one activity at a time.

Our little family has gone through a lot of transition in the past year and half, and not just because of the Kiddo coming to live with us full-time. There is no way you’d read this entire post if I bored you with all the details, but I will say that since that day in August, we moved a second time (last August, after buying our first home), added a dog and a cat to our household (we already had one dog), suffered some personal losses and pushed through some personal challenges.

I’m almost afraid to say it, but it seems as if, for the moment, things have settled down. At least as much as they can settle down, with this new life we have. So I’m trying to bring this blog back to life. I’m starting out by weeding, of course–going through old comments, trying to update some of the technical things that need addressed on the back end and working to find a better look.

I’m not a professional web designer/techie in way. I have just enough understanding of this kind of stuff to be dangerous, and that’s about all, so it takes me awhile to experiment with WordPress templates, plugins, etc., to get this site looking in a way I’m okay with, and functioning in a way that’s useful to both me and my readers.

Right before I disappeared amid all the weeds, I discovered a plugin that will simplify how any recipes I share are presented, and will make it easier for you to print and save those recipes that interest you. Over the next month or two, I’ll be working to re-publish some of my old recipes in this new format, so forgive me if you see some repeats. I’ll try to throw some new material in there from time to time.

I’ll be honest that I’m not sure what direction this blog will go from here. I started it with somewhat of a vague premise to start with–finding balance in this messy life, and sharing some of things I enjoy along the way–mainly cooking and photography. It will still be that, but as my family has grown and changed, I’m sure there will be other things of interest to me that I’ll choose to share–perhaps items related to emotional health, parenting, etc. I’ll just keep meandering my way along life’s path, seeing what it brings me, and trying to keep the weeds in check enough that I can always find some zen.