Family Ties (and no, we are not talking about Steve Urkel!)

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I stole this from my sister’s Facebook. My nephew Gavin waves as he leaves for Afganistan.

 

I have been thinking about family a lot lately. My oldest nephew has just been deployed to Afganistan, he’s a helicopter mechanic that in my mind is still such a young boy. I can’t believe he is 22, it makes me feel so old. I did have the absolute joy of spending time with him this winter while he was doing some high altitude training here in Colorado. He went snowboarding for the first time ever, and we had dinner. It was so fun to spend time with him and his crew. Here are a few pics from our time together:

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Gavin’s first time snowboarding. Auntie J works at a snowboard shop, so he got a good rental and a lesson!

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Matt, Gavin, myself and Jay at Moes BBQ, Eagle, CO.

 

 

My thoughts and prayers will be with these boys, and I hope yours will be too! I am so thankful that I have family giving so much for our country, and I appreciate all the risk they take to keep our country safe. Love you Gav, stay safe!

I also got an email today that made me think about my grandmother. I received an email from BeautySage.com about Mother’s Day, listing some great gifts. The first thing listed was a Lily of the Valley perfume from C.O. Bigelow. While this didn’t make me think of my mother it did make me think of Grammy Dot, who passed away last year. My Stepdad’s mom, Grammy Dot was my real Grandma. Even though I was a granddaughter by marriage and not blood she never treated me as less than my cousins who were related by blood. Even my friends called her Grammy Dot. Every day after school we would go to the farm to feed the horses and cattle and visit with Grammy D. She always had cookie jars filled with oatmeal cream pies, swiss cake rolls, and donut holes. And she had candy dishes with Canada mints, those pink wintergreen candies. Usually we would find her doing a crossword puzzle and sitting with her beloved cats, and after I visited with my horses I would spend an hour or so with her and my cousins, Aunt, Uncle, and Dad Dave. Those are some of my favorite memories of childhood.

Grammy always smelled like Lily of the Valley, they were some of her favorite flowers. My Mom grows them in her garden, and would bring Grammy bouquets occasionally. Whenever I think of Gram I think of Lily of the Valley. When she passed away a little over a year ago, after a thankfully brief illness following a stroke, I went home for her funeral. My cousin Travis spoke at the funeral about how he would always remember her smell, and I feel the same. She always wore a great Lily of the Valley perfume. While visiting her house after the funeral I found the perfect thing to remember her by, a Lily of the Valley candle that was on her mantle. I smell it and it reminds me of Gram. I haven’t been able to burn it, because I want to hold onto her smell forever.

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Gram’s Lily of the Valley candle

 

When I got the email from Beauty Sage today I immediately got out my credit card and placed an order. I can’t wait to get my Lily of the Valley perfume, and I am sure I will tear up as soon as I smell it, just like I do with the candle. Grammy Dot was such an amazing woman, and she will always be missed. I just hope wherever she is that she is surrounded by Lily of the Valley, and that she is playing with her kitties. She is greatly missed down here, although her laughter will never be forgotten!

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Ok, I am such a facebook thief. This is from my Aunt Louise Roy’s photos, and it is one of my favorite photos! Grammy’s hands and autumn leaves.

 

 

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This is another favorite photo of me and Gram, taken by Aunt Louise.

 What are your favorite memories of loved ones? Leave me some stories in the comments below!

love and lily of the valley,

J

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Thriftin’ n Chick’n

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I love days off! After a few painfully slow days at work it was nice to have a day to entertain myself. I enjoyed a (late) morning cup of coffee while watching “What Not to Wear-Biggest Meltdown” episode (it was awesome) then took the dogs out for a wrestle in the snow. There were elk all over the hillside! Ollie gave chase but soon gave up, since running up hill in the snow is hard!

Then like every Thursday I visited the local Thrifty Shop. I usually spend about an hour looking at every rack and trying a lot on. Today was no different. I found a great grey Converse sweater that is loose and comfy, and looks almost like a poncho. And I love a good poncho sweater! They also had all women’s short sleeves on sale so I was able to snag a black and white wide striped tee and a white Bongo tee for about $10.

I also noticed a few short sleeve tops with tags still on, brand new, and bought those as well. The two sporty black polo shirts and coral colored flower embellished tunic/dress I bought retailed for over $300! They were immediately brought to the consignment shop so I hope I can at least make back the $22.50 I paid for the three!

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After working up an appetite shopping I decided to roast a whole chicken for dinner. I usually make one every month, it’s cheap and the leftovers make great chicken salad or soup for the next few days. I also like to make my own chicken stock from the bones, which is pretty easy to do but rather time consuming. That will be a lesson for another day!

I looked at some recipes on line before settling on the Pioneer Woman‘s roast chicken recipe. Click the link for this entire recipe and more! I used only one lemon zested into the butter (I only used 3/4 stick) and added about 1/2 tbsp Herbes de Provence in addition to rosemary and thyme. I then rubbed the butter on the skin, under the skin, and into the chest cavity. I added a shallot and three cloves of garlic into the cavity as well. I put the bird in a roasting pan with some carrots, celery and one medium shallot and roasted at 450 for about an hour and a half. It came out with delicious roasted skin and nice juicy meat.

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Totally delish! But I think what made this meal special was the sides I made to go with the chicken. Carrots boiled with some shallot until crisp-tender and some mashed potatoes really made this dish sing! My mom made these carrots pretty often when I was a kid, it was a recipe she got from my Grandma Lena. It makes me think of home every time I make them!

*Again, I am kind of estimating my measurements since I tend to cook by taste. Tweak the amounts of seasonings until it suits YOUR taste!

Brown Sugar Carrots with Onions and Truffle Salt 

2 cups carrots, cut into rounds

One shallot, diced

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp brown sugar

parsley

truffle salt and pepper to taste.

Boil carrots and shallot until carrots are tender but still crisp. You could also steam them, I just don’t own a steamer (my mom would even cook them in the microwave sometimes). Drain the water out and stir in butter and brown sugar. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some parsley and think of Grandma Lena, the greatest German lady who ever lived.

Mashed Potatoes with Horseradish and Boursin

4-5 Red potatoes, diced but not peeled

2 Tbsp butter

Milk, enough to get texture you desire. I use about 1/2 cup.

1/4 5.oz box shallot and chive boursin cheese

1 cup sharp cheddar

1 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish

salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in lightly salted water. Cook until fork tender then mash with butter and milk until smooth. Stir in boursin and cheddar until melted. Add horseradish 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until desired flavor. Add salt and pepper. You could add some bacon too if you are feeling sassy and want a true calorie fest. Just do not stir the potatoes too much or they might get a little gummy.

So this might not be the healthiest meal, considering the amount of cheese and butter needed to create the amazing flavors, but it is the ultimate comfort meal on a cold wintry Spring day. You could healthy it up, but sometimes you just have to splurge!

Anyway, thanks for spending my day off with me. Let me know how your chicken turns out, or just make a meal out of Lena’s delicious glazed carrots.

stay hungry,

J