Recipe: Sacred Heart Walking Tacos

Yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart!

I’ve personally had a crazy week, but all I say is thank God for Octaves.  They are the disorganized housewife’s way to still make the living the Liturgical Year possible.
For you non-Catholics out there, you may be asking a few questions.  I’ll try to answer…
What is an Octave? An Octave is an Eight Day celebration, a complete week.  So, for example, the Octave Day of Christmas is New Year’s Day. Christmas, the days in between and New Year’s Day are all considered part of the Christmas Octave.  It’s kind of like the movie Eight Crazy Nights, but the Catholic version.  The major feast days have Octaves.  Even if a certain holiday does not have an Octave, we make one because of my husband’s crazy work schedule, because of my inability to plan, because life gets in the way.
What is the Liturgical Year? The Liturgical Year is pretty much the calendar of the Catholic Church.  We celebrate Christmas on Christmas and Easter on Easter but then extend a lot around those.  For example, St. John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus, so we celebrate his birthday June 24th, six months before Christmas.  (And I have no idea why we celebrate St. John the Baptist’s birthday on June 24th and not 25th.)
So, since yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I will share my recipe for Sacred Heart Walking Tacos.  We ate them today as a picnic in the park.

cooked ground beef
grated cheddar cheese
Rotel or salsa, or a homemade version
pretzel sticks
corn chips

Cook ground beef to liking.  (Add taco seasoning if that’s your thing.  We put in onions and a bit of cheese we grated.)  Shape the ground beef like a heart, or cheat like I did and put it in a heart shaped cake pan.
Make the cheddar cheese a flame.  (I totally would have grated it myself, but as I said it’s been a crazy week.)
Arrange pretzel sticks to make Crown of Thorns across Heart.
Add Rotel or Salsa to make heart look red.
Arrange corn chips around Heart.  I use blue corn chips because blue corn is not GMO (yet).  (The oil that they’re fried in is GMO.)
Take a picture of your work and then let everyone dig in.

Oh, let me make sure to give credit where credit is due.  I was inspired by this recipe, but made it beef since my husband does not like cream cheese.

Posted in Eating Catholic Calendar Appropriate Meals Will Not Help Get Us to Heaven But We'll Try Anyway, Laura's Little Kitchen On the Prairie by with no comments yet.

Tee-ball and Line Dancing

When I was about seven, my father signed me up for soccer through our town’s recreation department.  I think I went to two practices. They were Saturday mornings.  My dad was very enthusiastic about it.  I remember standing in a field.  Other children were kicking a ball around.  I think I was supposed to kick it if it came near me, but I dared not move because I was also supposed to stay in that spot.  They had given me shin guards.  A few days later, my father fell while he was carrying my sister down the stairs.  My sister was seven months at the time and fractured her skull.  My dad shattered his left leg, needing surgery, a plate, screws, a two week hospital stay, a wheelchair temporarily, etc.  That was the end of my soccer career.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided I wanted to run Spring Track.  I went to the information meeting at the beginning of the season.  It was after school.  I remember the coach, who was also a gym teacher, talking about buying certain sneakers.  I had some problem that they eventually called vasovagal syndrome.  My blood pressure would get really low and I’d get dizzy and faint.   This was at the same time I was to begin track practice, so needless to say I never went.  (In retrospect, I really think that I just wasn’t ingesting enough salt, but that’s maybe a subject of another future blog post.) That was the end of my track career.

So I guess it suffices to say that I don’t have much experience with kids’ sports.


When I was maybe 19, I started going to a country line dance club called, ironically enough, the Colorado Cafe, or just Colorado.  It was actually the butt of jokes.  Remember this was Jersey and a good 1600 miles from the Colorado border.
“I’m driving to Colorado.”
“Last night, when I was in Colorado…”
“I danced with a guy in Colorado.”
You get the picture.
I would go to Colorado on some Sunday nights with some friends.  This would be after I got out of work.   Sunday was Family Night, so they let in people who were not yet 21.  There were even little kids there up until maybe a certain point.  They taught the line dancing earlier in the evening, but I never was there on time for the line dancing because I was at work.
You might ask why I went to Colorado when I hated (and still do hate) country music.  I guess it was something to do.  I spent time with my friends there.  I liked to line dance, in spite of line dancing being to country music.  And maybe I was even looking for love in all the wrong places, places like Colorado.  (Isn’t life ironic?)
I really didn’t know a lot of line dances.  I knew a few of the steps from learning a handful of round dances in my 4-H club.  I knew maybe two line dances.
I would usually decide that I wanted to dance after the song began.  I’d rush out to the floor.  I would be on the edge of the dance floor.  I would fake my way through it.  I was probably a half a beat behind.
There were some serious line dancers there.  I was not one of them.
There is nothing more frightening then when I was standing behind the line dancers, following along, and they turn 180 degrees (which is common in line dancing) and I miss it and don’t turn and a hundred line dancers come skipping towards me.  I speak from experience.  This would happen all. the. time.
I finally learned to stand in the middle of the floor this way I’d have someone to follow no matter which way I turned.  Sometimes it was hard to get to the middle, if the floor was crowded enough. I don’t think I ever went to Colorado again once I turned 21. Colorado lost its appeal.  I could go to other clubs that had more enjoyable music.  It took me until I was nearly 21 to figure out to stand in the middle of the floor.  It was too late.
I was just clueless, though, on the line dancing.  That half beat behind, following along, standing behind everyone…


My line dancing experiences in Colorado were really a foreshadowing of a lot of my experiences in life in general.  Latin Mass is the perfect example.  It’s was initially just like line dancing.  Standing in the back behind everyone, a half a beat behind, not having a clue what was really going on.   Yeah, Latin Mass was just like Colorado.
I eventually learned the Latin Mass.  It’s my preferred Mass now.  I suppose Colorado is my preferred state now.


My oldest son, SonOne, is now five years old.  I signed him up for tee-ball through our local town.  I thought it would be a good experience for him.

I think it was a mistake.

I can’t get there on time.
My son lacks talent.  My son also has a bone deformity in his leg, so he really can’t physically run.  He got out his first game.  He caused a kid to get out this last game. No talent and no ability to run.  Poor SonOne.
The team has played three games so far.  I missed one because I was late.  SonOne missed most of the second one because I was late.  SonOne missed half of today’s because I was late.
I have no idea if our team even won or lost any of the games.  I really don’t.  Sure I’ve watched the games.  But I’ve been late, so I send SonOne to the game right away.  It takes me another ten minutes at least to get everyone out of car seats and loaded into the stroller.  Of course my babies always decide to pooh at these times, too, which further delays me getting to the point where I can actually watch the game.  And then even though I’m watching the game, I’m with the other kids, so it’s not like I can even actually watch the game.
Because I’ve been late, I have been unable to even get a seat in the correct bleachers.  I guess I’m cheering for the other side.
The other mothers are very nice and pleasant.  I just don’t have a clue who they are.  Let alone their kids.  “How are you, Laura?” they ask.  I smile and say OK, even though I want to say, “I really have no idea who you are.  My name is Laura and I live in a little house on the prairie.  It’s nice to meet you.”

I feel like I’m line dancing in Colorado.  I’m a half a beat behind, following along, standing behind everyone.

My wonderful husband signed me up to bring snacks today.  He should have known not to sign me up for anything for a morning game.  I’m not a morning person.  After I finally loaded my kids and snacks into the stroller, I tried to bring them to the dugout.  “You can’t bring them in here,” some lady said, pleasantly.  She went on the explain that they are in and out of the dugout too quickly.  OK.  “Would you mind bringing them over there?” she asked.  “Sure.  I don’t care.” I said and I put them down on the ground where she pointed.  That lady is another lady who seems to know me and is very pleasant all the time, yet I don’t have a clue who she is or who her kid is or even if her kid is a boy or girl or even on the team.  The lady knows my name, SonOne’s name and probably where I live and my husband.

Even the baseball glove.  I never read where the kids are required to have baseball glove.  I read through the rules they handed to me the first day, but I didn’t see it there.  Maybe I missed it.  I had purchased a kids baseball glove years ago for maybe 25 cents.  I didn’t know I needed a glove for tee-ball.  Maybe it’s common sense, but I don’t have much experience with sports.  During their first practice, they hit the ball, so SonOne didn’t need a glove.  I think I figured out that he needed the glove by the second practice, but it took me another few practices to actually locate it.  Again, it’s like I’m line dancing in Colorado.

I don’t get out much.  Neither do my kids.  That’s why I thought tee-ball would be such a good thing for my son.
I really regret it now.  I just can’t handle it.  I feel like I’m line dancing in Colorado.


Posted in Laura by with 3 comments.

Saturday Smidgen Series, Part Seven: June 7, 2014

In my Saturday Smidgen Series posts, I offer you a smidgen sized glance at life on the prairie.  We do this in theory every Saturday, at least for the alliteration, but I think it’s more of a theory.

Homesteader Problems

Homesteader Problems

Here's a close-up of GirlOne's pocket...

Here’s a close-up into GirlOne’s pocket…

On Wednesday night there was a small tornado that hit the town of Hugo.  We’re OK as well as all the residents of Hugo.  The tornado made the news.  We didn’t even get the tornado right here, just a lot of wind.  The wind blew some branches down.  The downed branches put out the electricity in part of our house. I’m not even really sure how that works, that half of the electric was out and not the other half.  Kevin spent Thursday morning taking some branches down and fixing the electric.  My father-in-law came over with his tractor to help, and also to lift Kevin up to cut the branches.  All those downed branches are still a mess.  I’ll get to it.


I used my photo editor software to block out my father-in-law who probably doesn’t want his picture on the world wide web.


Here, too. I didn’t get Kevin way up in the air, but you get the idea.

mouse tigereye

As Ma Ingalls said, “There is never any great loss without some gain.” Tiger Eye and Mouse love eating the downed branches.

Kevin has been teaching the kids to milk to goats.

PicMonkey goatmilk

Kevin’s been trying to teach the children to milk the goats.

BoyOne, who is five years old now, plays tee-ball.  It is the first sport that any of my kids have ever played.  Thursday evening was supposed to be the first actual game.  They cancelled the game because the rain and tornado the night before flooded the field.  That meant that BoyOne’s first actual game ever was today in Simla.  Simla is around 40 minutes away.  It’s a dinky little town on the prairie and is pretty simla to here.  Apparently I read the paper wrong with the game times.  I was planning to be really early anyway, but with the five kids that didn’t happen.  So we drove all the way to Simla, through the muddy dirt roads only to arrive just as the game was finishing up.  Oops!  Can we say major parenting fail?  I missed my first child’s first sporting game ever and wasted the morning.

I took this picture to at least prove that we were there.   I took the camera with me and then realized that I left the battery charging.  I took this picture with my prepaid flip phone and it cost me 25 cents to email it to myself.   You can also see the mud that I parked the car in.  It took me two tries to get out of the spot.  That mud is now all over my minivan, inside and out.  It was all over my children, too, before bath time.

I took this picture to at least prove that we were there.
I took the camera with me and then realized that I left the battery charging at home. I took this picture with my prepaid flip phone and it cost me 25 cents to email it to myself.
You can also see the mud that I parked the car in. It took me two tries to get out of the spot. That mud is now all over my minivan, inside and out. It was all over my children, too, before bath time. Oh, and those children you see in the background who are actually playing ball are not on BoyOne’s team. They’re the older bunch who played later.

Yesterday (Friday) we went to Children’s Hospital to have Vince’s follow-up MRI.  It has been three months from his surgery, three months today actually.  The brain is healing well and the tumor has not shown any signs of growing back.    What a blessing and a miracle!  I was super nervous.  I forgot my camera at home.  Going to Denver is always an adventure.

I also gave blood yesterday.  I haven’t given blood in around ten years.  I feel giving blood is a good thing to do, but I’m usually pregnant and not able to.  My son Vince did get a unit of blood when he had his surgery.  It’s probably a good idea to “replace” it even if we’re not compatible.  I have the rarest blood type that there is- AB Negative.

And, yes, this is for real. This is a gigantic miller moth. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. That’s a nickel.


These are Kevin’s jean.

Posted in Saturday Smidgen by with no comments yet.

The Brooklyn Bridge and Other Things That Don’t Make Sense on the Prairie

Last week when I was visiting my relatives, I drove on the Brooklyn Bridge.  It would have been a simpler drive if I had chosen the Verrazano Bridge, but the Verrazano Bridge is $15.00.  Yes, that is right.  $15.00 for one bridge.

Yes, this bridge is really $15.00.

Yes, this bridge really costs $15.00 to drive on from Brooklyn to Staten Island. And, yes, if you’ve ever seen the movie Saturday Night Fever, this is that same bridge.


My bridge adventures made me think of some sayings that don’t apply out here.  My husband, for example, was born and raised here in Lincoln County.  He lived a short time in a town just over the border of Lincoln County and a short time in Colorado Springs, so he is really a Lincoln County boy.  Lincoln County and Brooklyn are different.  Sometimes I want to use a phrase and I have to stop myself.

I took this picture last week from my rental car.

I took this picture last week from my rental car.

If [Donnie] jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you? New York children have heard this expression for generations.  A parent will usually say this in response to a child whining that they are prohibited from doing something that their friend is allowed to do.  The Brooklyn Bridge is about 1700 miles from Lincoln County.  It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City.  The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country.  It is free for cars and has a pedestrian portion.  Lincoln County children, including my own, will just not understand.


This is a super-rare event, last August. The Big Sandy Creek actually had water in it. I really do live five minutes from this bridge. Well, maybe ten.

I live five minutes from the bridge.  My father said that in 1964, when they opened the Verrazano Bridge to connect Staten Island and Brooklyn, there was a population boom in Staten Island.  Die-hard Brooklyn residents would complain when their loved ones moved to Staten Island.  “I live five minutes from the bridge,” is what the new Staten Island resident would say, regardless if they were really five minutes away or at the very opposite end of Staten Island.  As New Yorkers continued to move and moved to New Jersey, “I live five minutes from the bridge” came to mean they lived in New Jersey up to a half hour from the Goethals Bridge or Outerbridge.  When they pass out brochures in Brooklyn about Manalapan, they describe Manalapan as five minutes from the bridge, which would only be true if you had a helicopter.

They love so close that I can see their front porch from my backyard.  I suppose that this is a Jersey phrase rather than a Brooklyn one.  The Lincoln County version of this saying should be They live so close that if I stand on my roof, cock my head and squint, I can kind of see the trees by their house.

He’s a dems and dose kinda guy.  This is an expression to describe an individual who isn’t very bright.  There is an untrue connotation that people who have very thick New York accents aren’t very smart.  Did I mention that this is untrue?  Many people with thick New York accents are really smart and many people without New York accents are idiots.  When someone pronounces a “th” sound in New York, it frequently comes out as a “d” sound.  If someone did not know the name for people or things, he could perhaps call the people “them” and the things “those”.  Except with a New York accent, it would sound like “dem” and “dose”.  We make “them” incorrectly plural for further insult.
So a few months ago when I was telling my husband about a Lincoln County resident and said “He’s a dems and dose kinda guy,” my husband did not have a clue what I was saying, and understandably so.  I was really a dems and dose kinda gal to be using that saying here on the prairie.

And that’s the thing that gets me, again and again, when I bite my tongue when these sayings come into my mind and then sigh in frustration, I have to remember that I’m really the one who is an outsider here.

And then I’ll tell you that I live five minutes from the bridge anyway.

Posted in Culture Clashes of a Jersey Girl on the Colorado Prairie by with 2 comments.

Fixing a Foundation With Shotcrete

Our house has had foundation issues.

Some different "before" shots...

Some different “before” shots…

We knew about them since before we moved in.  We finally had them fixed in May.

Our house was built in 1906.  Typical of houses in this area, our house was built without a very deep foundation.  Somewhere along the way, someone came along and dug out a basement.  The basement digger left a shelf of dirt around the foundation and plastered it in.

Although it sounds like a tragedy waiting to happen, it worked well enough that the house has stood for 108 years.  It must be strong, right?  I guess, but I was scared.  I was scared a windstorm would blow the house to Oz or have the house collapse or it would take on a Charlie’s-house-from-the-Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-movie look.  Every month perhaps was pushing our luck.

The crumbling basement walls had become worse.  They were becoming worse and worse every day.  The chief reason for this worsening was probably just time, but I’m sure water was a factor, too.  I had a washing machine output pipe that I unsuccessfully tried to reroute to water trees.  That pipe had come apart where it comes out of the house and the water had gone into the basement.  It was a brief time but it was enough time to wreak some havoc.  There was also a pipe in the wall behind the bathtub that had corroded and leaked.  We didn’t know about this leak until some damage was done.   The time was just up for what should have been a temporary fix (the dirt walls covered by plaster) perhaps 75 years ago.  And really, if you think about how long it actually lasted, it lasted well.  It outlasted the basement digger.

It looks like the pressure tank never made it into the picture.

This is before…

We researched a few different ways to fix the foundation.

We had another foundation man come and look at it.  He had a different approach, an approach to put in wall anchors.  The problem was that there was not enough wall for that.

We decided on Shotcrete.  Shotcrete is pneumatically applied concrete.  The house should now stand for another 108 years.

I’ll explain a little bit about the Shotcrete process here.

The first step was to clean out the basement.  You may remember that that was an interesting process in and of itself.  As we were Kevin was cleaning out the basement, more and more dirt kept falling and falling.  It was almost impossible to keep up with.

And then last month, the foundation man, Joe Kodiak from Kodiak Concrete out of Colorado Springs came here with his crew.  They braced up the house.  They made forms.

The cement truck arrived.

Joe and his crew went to work on the actually shotcreting.

They even dug out one of our windows to give the house more support.

This shows some of the process that Kodiak Joe and his crew used to fix our basement.

This shows some of the process that Kodiak Joe and his crew used to fix our basement.

We had to stay out of the house while they were working because the dust from the shotcrete can be toxic.

Yes, our house was one of the worst ones that they’ve done, and this is their profession.

But, yes, the foundation is fixed!  Our house should stand another 108 years!  The result is a beautiful basement.  Perhaps it can be a man cave in the future or a whatever.

It wasn't really snowing.  I'm just not a good photographer.

It wasn’t really snowing. I’m just not a good photographer.

What a relief to know that the house will not be falling down anytime soon!

The water leak that was coming from the bathroom is fixed now, too.

The water leak that was coming from the bathroom is fixed now, too.

Posted in Laura's Little House on the Prairie by with no comments yet.

Saturday Smidgen Series, Part Six: May 31, 2014

Life is good sometimes. Last Saturday, Kevin got off from work early. We got to have a little barbecue. Bratwursts from a friend’s pastured pig grilled on a cast iron griddle, a glass of wine, smores, and a beer for my husband makes for an absolutely perfect evening.

Life is good.

Life is good.

This week I went to New Jersey. It was a quick trip. Kevin had some extra days off so I went when he could watch the children. I brought Baby4 with me because she’s free as a lap child.  Our luggage was late coming in.  Here we are at Newark Airport, when we finally did get the luggage (and car seat).

Here we are in Newark Airport when we finally did get our luggage.

Here we are in Newark Airport when we finally did get our luggage.

I knocked on my mother’s door, as a surprise.  She said “Who is it?” and I said “[Baby4’s name]”.  (If you remember, Baby4’s name is a derivative of my mom’s name.) My mom thought I said her name and said “Yes” and opened the door.  You should have seen the look on her face.  Laura’s little house on the prairie is 1699 miles away from my mother’s house.

The main purpose of my visit was to see my grandmother, Grandma Rose.  Grandma Rose isn’t doing too well and it breaks my heart.  I had a very hard time taking a picture that I’d even want to take, if that makes sense.  I don’t want to remember my grandma in her frailty and unawareness.  I want to remember Grandma Rose as the Grandma Rose I know and love.  She had a moment of lucidity where she was at least aware of the baby.  I don’t think she knows or understands that Baby4 is her great granddaughter. Saying goodbye to Grandma Rose was really really hard.  I am fearful that it was my last goodbye to her.  I guess there’s not much I can do, besides pray.


I also visited my other grandmother.  She is not very aware, but she’s doing OK physically.  My sainted aunt takes very very good care of Grandma Loretta.  Again, it’s hard to get a picture that seems like something I want to remember.  I did get a picture of Manhattan from the BQE.  It’s not a very good picture.  I was driving.  The new World Trade Center is very visible, although I mourn seeing it.

BQE stands for Brooklyn Queens Expressway.  It's a misnomer because it's not usually very express.

BQE stands for Brooklyn Queens Expressway. It’s a misnomer because it’s not usually very express.

On Thursday, I went to Mass at St.Somebody Church.  St.Somebody Church was very, um, educational, and not in a good way.  I fulfilled my obligation.  St.Somebody is under jurisdiction of the local Bishop.  Father is a validly ordained priest with faculties.  It was a valid Mass.  St.Somebody is case and point of why I prefer the Traditional Latin Mass.  I’m a snob with ADD.  I need all the seriousness and “smells and bells” of the TLM.  I’m unable to get through my head that St.Somebody Parish really has the representation of Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary.  I’m a bo-bo Catholic. The precept of the Church is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays, not to attend TLM Mass.

St.Somebody is a church in the round.

St.Somebody is a church in the round.

Saturday when I was back home, I passed this bull. I thought he looked so funny standing there, actually guarding the cattle guard. Cattle guards are metal slats in roadways that cars can drive over but cattle will not walk over. They have different depth perception than us and they fear the cattle guards. Quite a contrast to two days before, my BQE picture above.

He is not mine.

He is not mine.

I also took snapped this picture Saturday of this cute calf who is not mine. I find it mind boggling that the BQE and this road are even in the same country.

Is this the same country?

Is this the same country?

I came home to a new bathroom. I am in love. I have hated my tub ever since I moved here. I think I’ll be showering just for fun now.

I'm in love.

This looks like a different house, forget about a new tub and toilet.

While I was in New Jersey, Kevin and the kids had their own fun.

Kevin and the kids were having their own fun.

Kevin and the kids were having their own fun.

Posted in Saturday Smidgen by with no comments yet.