The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor

April

The Architect

Clay

Everyone needs a Melanie

We’re headed to Missouri to meet up with our friends Bryan and Melanie for a long weekend.  The problem is our friends have just returned from a very long vacation and are still recovering from travel fatigue.  Clay and I are in the thick of work, school, house project, animals…you know…life.  So, the conversation I’ve been having with Melanie over the details of this weekend are pretty funny.

Melanie enjoying her enormous treat from Ted Drewes this summer.This was also the weekend that she broke her foot and kept walking around on it wearing high-heeled flip-flops.

I’m certain that the only thing we really need to pack is booze and chocolate.  Booze for Melanie, chocolate for me.

Here’s the email Melanie sent me in its entirety, it was too good not to share.  If you don’t have a Melanie in your life, you need to go find one.

Well at least you had a goal of intending to take a shower. I didn’t even add that one to my to-do list for the day. 
How about snacks? I’ll bring almonds, hummus and broccoli, some chips, and s’mores. Can we have s’mores every night? I like s’mores. I like chocolate. I also like those cheese curds you bought last time from that Amish store. I didn’t like the pies though. Please do not buy their pies again. I will be tempted to try them and they will taste bad.  I think we need an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen too. Are you bringing your dog? We are bringing a dog with us. I will also probably bring a whole slew of wrong items. We are going grocery shopping on our way down and we usually end up with an odd assortment of stuff like cereal boxes but no milk, smokies but no bbq sauce, and pork steaks but no breakfast items. It just depends on our mood as we walk down the aisles and at what point we decide our cart is full before we’ve made it all the way through the store. I’m hoping to hit the alcohol aisle first. Don’t tell anyone, but we bought Isabelle a shot glass from Cozumel because it was really cute. My second aisle will be the candy aisle. It’s all about priorities. I will buy all the candy my heart desires and I will justify it because I know that Clay will like it all even more than I do. When we get to the cabin, I will hide it all from the children. I will put it up high. Where only, well, never mind. Maybe I’ll hide it down low. This is a problem. Where can we hide the candy? I’ve seen our children all together. A full bag on candy deflates within seconds. It’s almost amazing, if it wasn’t so depressing that all the chocolate is then gone.

Pie Prep

“OMG! I get to eat pie all day!”

After staying up way too late on Friday night talking and laughing and being ornery (that story later), we all got up to see that Pam was already up getting everything ready for the pie workshop.

This is Meseidy from The Noshery, she is a culinary student in Tulsa.  Her instructor and she are friends with Ree and they came down to help prepare everything for Pie Fest 2011.

This is what Pam and her daughters had prepared on Friday.  Pam made little cut outs of different pie crusts using different fats for everyone to taste.  Ree has a post on it today.  I thought this was such a great idea, we all got to taste the different ways people make pie crust and there is a HUGE difference when it comes to using different fats.  I will never stray from butter and Crisco, that’s what I’ve used and I’ll continue to do so.  Pam uses a really high end butter that she orders from a restaurant, I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point in my pie making.

Pam makes slab pies for many of her customers.  They are just beautiful.  I informed Ellen that she will have pie at her graduation in the spring, because who wants a cupcake tower when you can have slab PIE!  Pam made an apple pie which won her $1000 in a contest, a summer berry pie which I thought was hands down the best pie I’ve ever eaten and a chicken pot pie.

 

The table was set with all the ingredients the guests could use to make their pies: fruits, cheeses, herbs, olives, meats, and Ree Drummond were just some of what could be plopped in a crust and baked.

Little Evan and Charlie were busy swapping slobber stories.

This is Pam with Tiffany talking pie strategy.  Tiffany is a chef from Tulsa, she teaches culinary classes at a college.  I really enjoyed talking with her and Meseidy about food and about what famous chefs they enjoy.  Tiffany is not a food snob, she just loves good food whether it’s 5 star cuisine or made in grandma’s kitchen.  She told me she rarely cooks for her family unless it’s something simple and rustic.  Kind of like when you’re married to a landscaper, but your yard never gets mowed.  Guess what Tiffany’s husband does?  Yep, landscaper.  I had to laugh, good thing I’m not married to an architect, cuz it would be a little embarrassing if our porch was caving in or if only one light bulb worked in our dining room.  Wait.  Never mind.  I guess it’s true that when professionals come home, they leave their work at the office.

The girls and Evan waited by the window eagerly awaiting the guests.  No, not really, they were watching ranch dogs, Charlie and Yo-Yo, bounce around in the yard.

The guests started trickling in around 8:45am.  Ree did introductions, “This is Ellen, she thinks she lives here.”

After everyone was properly introduced, Pam started the workshop with an eager class awaiting their pie instructions.

Pam is the mother of 7 children and she’s home educated most of her kids through high school.  She’s also a profesional potter and baker.   Fleur Cakes is the name of Pam’s wedding cake business.  I think she makes the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever seen.  She decorates them with natures bounty, check out some of her cake photos.  Pam also makes pies for a lot of weddings and parties and in her spare time she makes billions of apple turnovers for a farmer that sells his apples at a farm stand, the farmer gives her all the apples from his orchard.  I don’t know when she has time to breath.

Alyssa, Tiffany, Meseidy, Katie, Ellen and I worked in the back ground cutting more apples, making more pie dough, prepping lunch and washing dishes.  The benefit was we could sneak in and out of the kitchen as much as we wanted and take nibbles of food without having to make a pie.

We may have goofed off a little bit too, I’m just sayin’.

Okay, that’s all I can share today.  I think Ellen dislocated her shoulder yesterday playing basketball, so I need to get her in to the doctor.  I started chopping trees down yesterday and I have a huge mess to clean up in our yard.  Clay took half the day off to catch up on farm work, so I better get off this computer and save the world!

Pie in Oklahoma

We’re going to Ree’s house!  This is the face Ellen gets when we go to Oklahoma to visit the Lodge and it stays like that until we leave.  We’ve visited Ree a few times this year each time we have a better time than the last.  Our family went out for a fun weekend in March and then we went with a group of friends in May and then this time which was very unexpected.

A couple weeks ago Ree, you know…The Pioneer Woman?  She emailed me and asked if I knew a lady from Oregon named Pam and if so, Pam asked if I could bring Ellen and come out during the pie workshop that Pam was teaching at the Lodge.  I was so excited!  I have known Pam online for years, but I never dreamed that I would get the chance to meet her in person and at the lodge!  So I casually responded, “Yeah, I know her, what of it?”  and, “Let me check my schedule.”  and, “Maybe, we’ll see what I can do, no promises.”

Then I screamed, “HELL YES!”

We had a heck of a storm Thursday night before we left that knocked out our power, so when I woke up Friday morning to pack for the trip there was no taking a shower because when the power is out, the well pump is out too.  Ellen and I pulled our hair back and dressed casually for the trip hoping we wouldn’t offend anyone with our ripeness.

This is me greeting Pam in the flesh.   Her first words to me were, “You’re not that tall.  I was expecting you to be a GIANT!”

I knew right then we would get along just fine.  She had been working hard prepping everything for the pie workshop.  Ellen and I jumped in and started peeling apples and washing dishes.  You should know that pretty much all the photos of me from the weekend look like this, the mouth is always running whether it’s laughing or talking.

This is Katie and little Evan.  Katie is Pam’s oldest daughter, she’s expecting her 3rd baby in about a month….no really, she’s pregnant, I swear that’s not a beach ball shoved under her shirt.  She is going to shoot me for posting this picture, but I think she’s just so cute that I had to.  I never looked that cute when I was pregnant.  I just looked like a large square person with an enormous butt.

Yes that’s a hole in the back of my shirt, my hair sticking out of a stained ball cap and a rubber band around my wrist.  I went all out to impress folks that day.

 

Ree and Paige came down with dinner and then we all went down to Josh’s house to ride horses.  I made Paige point to the poop stain on the back of the seat.  Yes, Paige drove us.  Speaking of poop,  Ree stayed at the Lodge and babysat little Evan so Katie could come with us to watch the horse riding, but she decided not to ride since she wasn’t too sure she was ready to give birth that day.  Little Evan had a massive blow out in his diaper that Ree got to change and she said, “I think he feels better, I know I feel better for him.”  Katie was rather pleased and thankful to have missed it.

This is my Ellen and Pam’s youngest daughter, Alyssa.  They were a bit stoked about getting to ride horses and they were both hoping that two strapping young cowboys would mosey across their paths while they were in Oklahoma.  They both have recently read Ree’s book “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” which has skewed their reality on romance entirely.  To say these girls became fast friends would be an understatement.  We’ll get back to them later.  Just know, they are not as innocent as they look.

Josh had three horses saddled to ride.  Did you know that Josh trains all the horses on the ranch?  He does.  Did you know that all the horses used on the ranch are born on the ranch?  They are.  Josh rides horses nearly everyday and not just one horse, he rides several horses each day to make sure they all stay in shape and are well trained to do their jobs.  All of  his horses are in various stages of training, some are younger, some are older.  He knows all their personalities, when they were born (without looking at the brand on their butt that tells the year) and how well they’re trained.  He uses different horses depending on what he’s doing on the ranch.  Some of the horses will work harder, some separate cattle better, some have more endurance, some are more stubborn and on and on.  He saddled these three because he had already ridden them earlier and knew they wouldn’t be anxious to run or work.  Josh matches the ability of the rider with the horse.  He wasn’t sure who was coming down to ride, so he picked horses that wouldn’t mind having an inexperienced rider on them.  He also puts everyone in the ring so he doesn’t have to worry about horses running off across the prairie.  The last time we visited the ranch Ellen may have had a little incident with a horse named Might Mouse that decided to sprint toward a pond…I’m just sayin’.  And Josh may have had ten thousand heart attacks when he saw her and that horse flying across the field….I’m just sayin’, that might have happened.

Anyway, when Josh saw Ellen and I he said, “Hey!  I didn’t know you were comin’!  We’re riding in the ring for sure, you scared the #%*! out of me last time!”

Poor Josh, stuck with all these women.  He tolerates it well.

And doesn’t he wear cool boots?

Every time I see Josh he has a new dog, that little blob of blond hair behind him is Maggie.  She’s a very fat Golden Retriever that Josh found dumped on the side of the road.  He’s been nursing her back to health, but swears he doesn’t need another dog.  While we were there I never saw that dog leave Josh’s side and I saw him treat a wound on her and give her a bath and brag that she’s lost some weight.  I don’t see Maggie going anywhere anytime soon.

Josh, Paige, Katie and I sat up on the observation deck and watched the riders.  Actually, Josh, Katie and I watched the riders, Paige picked on Josh.

 

 

“Paige….you better watch it.”

 

The pestering continued.  Paige took my camera to document her handiwork.  She was cracking me up with stinker skills.

“Josh, I think you have some trash on your hat.”

Josh took it as long as he could.  Then he threw Paige into the riding ring and buried her in the sand.  I’m kidding, he just flung her around and then sat on her and made her say, “I eat dog poop” and “Uncle” all with a giant smile on his face.  She got him back later though, I’m certain they will continue to pick on each other for the next 40 years.

Josh hopped on one of the horses to show off for a bit.  He can make those horses spin and stop on a dime.  They back up effortlessly for him.  Watching Josh on a horse is amazing.

I also took a turn showing off my horse skills.  As you can see, I can do all kinds of amazing things like making my horse turn his head to the left.  I can also make all my butt fat slide up on my back in order to fit in the saddle.  Nothing like a butt shot to make it clear that I’m not done dieting.  Geez.

More about the pie weekend later.