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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Good Tuesday morning!

There are more nature pics in the Gallery today. What can I say? With temps in the 70s and 80s this week, it's all about the nature!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I made the Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff this past weekend, and it was good. The kids liked it. I liked it. Mikie kinda liked it. He's partial to the Beef Stroganoff he makes (one of his culinary contributions to our family)... without cream cheese.

He cannot quite put his finger on it, but cream cheese doesn't go with everything. And definitely not Beef Stroganoff.

Oh, well. It was worth a try. (It's always worth a try.)

RANDOMNESS #2 - I'll be voting today, along with many other Alabamians. While I do not take the right to vote lightly, it is always a nice reminder when I see a new voter (Josh) eager to head over to polls after school today.

It's a really big deal, and I need to remember how big EVERY time I vote!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Spring Break is right around the corner which means the last nine-week period for this school year is about to begin.

In our family, this translates into Roxie becoming a Sophomore, Josh graduating high school and Austin becoming a Senior in college.

Wow. I'll say it again. Wow.

Pastor Kevin preached a sermon a few weeks ago, and he had some interesting things to say about "time." Other than saying "life is but a vapor," he touched on something I have always firmly believed. The older the kids get, the faster this roller coaster called life becomes.

I well remember the slow-paced life of the baby years. I was happy to stay at the house with the obligatory "two stroller walks a day." I would run to the grocery store when Mike came home to pick up a little of this and that, and return to the nice, simple, SLOW routine which belonged to me and Austin.

Then we added Josh to the mix. I wanted him to enjoy the same slow-pace life as Austin, but it was a little trickier as Austin was now an active preschooler with a three-morning-a-week schedule. Afternoons and evenings became our "down" time, and Josh, not knowing what he had missed, was content.

But time was starting to speed up a bit. I could feel it.

Throw a little Roxie into toddler/kindergarten world, and more adjustments had to be made. Mikie gladly picked up a couple of "parental" duties so Roxie could sleep in and enjoy some mornings at home. He took Austin to Kindergarten and later to his first grade class each day. Since Josh didn't go to school every morning, Roxie was able to sleep until she woke up several mornings a week... which was a good thing.

But time was starting to speed up even more.

I was so surprised how quickly Austin's elementary years passed. And then Josh's. And then Roxie's.

"Middle School will be different," I told myself. I would still be Room Mother for two different classes in the Elementary School, but Middle School would a be a "slowing down" time for at least one of my kiddos.

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

If anything, the roller coaster was now going over 100 miles per hour... and no one was putting on the brakes.

Mike and I had already limited the kids to one extracurricular a year (each), and we kept summer extracurricular-free for family time. However, summers started becoming shorter and shorter, and fall extracurricular activities started before school began.

The roller coaster, which had been totally shut down during June, July and part of August, was now running 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day... or so it seemed to me.

Austin was in High School. Josh was in Middle School. Roxie was finishing Elementary School.

"High School will go more slowly," I told myself. "There will be days of laundry, cleaning and fixing dinner. My Room Mother days are over. I will attend ball games, concerts and other activities, but for the most part life will become more simple. I will breathe again."

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

Josh became incredibly ill. Mike and I juggled two kids in school and one at home, and for a while time wasn't the big issue any longer. Balancing was the issue. Surviving was the issue. And it was difficult.

Three years went by in a blur, and Austin graduated from High School. While time wasn't the big issue in our own lives, the roller coaster had never stopped or slowed down, even though The Faulkner Five had stopped thinking about it all the time.

"Okay. Austin is in college. Josh is in High School. Roxie is in Middle School. Things can slow down. We can start to breathe again."

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

And that brings us to today.

"All right. Josh graduates this year. Austin is supposed to graduate from college next Spring. Roxie will be a Sophomore. Thank goodness. Things can finally start slowing down, and we can breathe again."

Even as I type it, I know it isn't true. Things are speeding up. If I'm not careful, one day can literally melt into another... and another.

Making each day count is intentional. It is important. It is necessary.

Otherwise, one day you'll wake up and you'll be 50!

I know. It happened to me!

Easy Shepherd's Pie

I'm making this tonight. You'll understand when you see the ingredients. Meat and potatoes (and a few veggies thrown in for good measure). It's everything in one dish... and I like that.

You will need the following:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 to 2 cups vegetables (I'm going to use Veg-All, drained.)
3 large potatoes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper and other seasonings of choice

1. Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

2. While potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons butter in large frying pan.

3. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (about 10 minutes). If you are using Veg-All, add at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.

4. Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce.

5. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

6. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, and season to taste.

7. Place beef, vegetables and onions in baking dish.

8. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.

9. Cook at 400 degree until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes).

Serve it with sweet tea and a salad, and you're done, Baby! I'll let you know if this recipe is a keeper or not tomorrow.

I hope you have a totally terrific Tuesday (imagine Roxie's eyes rolling way in the back of her head here). I'll be back tomorrow with a Seasonal Tradition, Wednesday Wisdom, a pic or two of the new voter in the family and a bit more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

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