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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Using my New Nesco Electric Pressure Cooker

In my last blog I mentioned going to Menards for a goofy Black Friday sale.  We are NOT Black Friday shoppers otherwise.

Well.....  Steve had been telling a co-worker about the great electric pressure cooker meals I have been making in my 8 qt GoWise USA cooker.  Turns out his co-worker saw a bigger 11 qt one going on Black Friday Sale at Menards.  He asked Steve if we were going out shopping (he had to work) if we could pick one up for him.

On the Nesco website they are $149.99
Menards says regular price $129.99 
but they do not carry them other than for this sale.

We talked about it, and I love the one I have... but having one a bit bigger would be nicer when cooking for larger family gatherings or things like frozen ribs that take up a lot of room.  We DO cook a lot of ribs in ours.  Or big roasts, or turkey breasts, or lumps of six frozen chicken breasts....  we cook with ours a lot and it is very handy, quick, and makes food taste better with pressure cooking. It pushes the flavorings into the meat, not just on the surface.

This one will also hold 4 quart canning jars instead of three. I checked the stats and it is a bit taller, so the jars will set in there better.  The one I have now I have to kinda jam the jars in and be sure the little peg of the upper liner isn't on a jar lid. It is so nice to do tomatoes or pickled beets in the pressure cooker instead of a hot water bath canning kettle on the stove. Less steam and heat buildup canning in a hot summer kitchen.

Soooooo  ----- after researching this Nesco model, we decided we could use the larger 11 qt one in the house and put our 8 qt in the motorhome. It would be our Christmas present to each other. If we get one.  We kinda doubted it because it was Black Friday, afterall.

On our way to Steve's dad's house Friday morning, we swung by Menards. I said it would be a quick in and out---- just to check if they still had any pressure cookers left. (it was already 10 am and the store had opened at 6 for the sale).  The parking lot was filled and people crawling through each row looking for empty spots.  Cars were following people out of the store and going to wait while the shoppers unloaded their carts into their cars, and take their parking space as soon as it was vacated.  LOL   Steve dropped me at the door and went to go find a spot to park.

The store was crowded with shoppers and as I worked my way back to the appliances (at the rear of the store of course) I nabbed a few other specials as I went by. Isn't that what stores want you to do? Haha

Steve found a spot quickly and joined me in the store.  He got to the back area with the kitchen appliances and found four of them, stuck around a corner!!!! Kinda outta site.  He grabbed two, one for us and one for his co-worker.  We worked our way back up to the front of the store. My goodness people are not polite, nor caring to move out of the way, and just seemed to be in a daze. ARGGHHH  I tried to smile brightly and say ''excuse me''  over and over as we wound our way through the crowds. Yes, with two huge boxes and a variety of other items in my arms for the grandkids.  We got into a line for checkout that was moving along slowly, but faster than the ones around us.

It took us just about an hour to do all this!  Oh gosh I can not imagine doing what most Black Friday Shoppers do, going to multiple stores and doing this over and over for the doorbuster deals?!?!?!?

All in all, we saved $70 on ours and $70 for Steve's coworker, .... so I guess it was okay. I found a few other things while trying to make our way through the store, so that was good too.


We did not want to wait till Christmas to try it out.  What if it didn't work? What if it was defective? Last night I took it out of the box and washed it up.  I decided to make a quick meal in it .... chicken and rice casserole.

 Turned it on the browning setting
Tossed in chunks of boneless chicken breast 
with some olive oil

Added chopped up vidalia sweet onions
and had some frozen mushrooms, butter and onions leftover from steaks

Put in a dollop of minced garlic
and stirred it up all it was browning (about 10 minutes)

I pull out an array of spices and toss in a bit of each
(pepper on the left) 
I LOVE those mixed dried vegetables from Piggly Wiggly

A dollop of Andrias (from O Fallon Missouri) 
and a can of good ole cream of celery soup.
The recipe calls for cream of mushroom, but we like celery better. 

Now add 2 cups of white jasmine rice (rinsed)
and 3 cups of water
I also tossed in a bunch of frozen peas

Shut the lid, make sure the little pressure lever is closed, and set the time to 10 minutes (I did 15 and it was a bit mushier... 10 would have been better) .

10 minutes to brown chicken
10 minutes to cook
release the pressure

Steve's coworker was so happy
that he bought Steve a growler of beer for getting it for him! 

Here are some other recipes:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad P, Rescue Transport and Christmas Decor

On Friday, Steve's dad was having a Happy Birthday.  We made plans for taking him out for lunch, But first, yes, first, we foolishly stopped for a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping at Menards.  It was crazy, but we got what we came for (more on that in next blog)  and waded through the lines of people checking out and got on the road to Waupaca.

We were a bit late to get to the planned place for lunch, and missed out on an interesting buffet with pilots at an airport.  We did not know he had planned that. Sigh. We will have to go that another time with him. Instead Dad P chose a nice little lounge in downtown Waupaca called Simpsons.  It has a very rustic appeal, great choice of foods on the menu and the waitresses knew Steve's Dad well! LOL
The staff was stoking a cheery fire in the dining area fireplace,
so great on wet damp icky day! 

We were seated nearby and had such a nice long lunch. There was only one other table of people in the lounge area by us, and the food was served in a very fast manner. We enjoyed a long leisurely lunch with lots of fun stories and laughter.  On our way out, Dad P was chatting about birthdays with the other folks who were also leaving.  The lady said a quote that we repeated a few more times on friday.....  



On our way back home, we swung by the International Headquarters of Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue to do a bit of help. We picked up a transport vehicle with five crates to help pick up five groggy sleepy drugged up dogs that had been spayed or neutered at the local vet in Chilton. They were so groggy that we carried each one out and placed them carefully in their crates and transported them back to the rescue.  It was fun to do, and give each one a snuggle and pat on the head.  Soon they will be in loving homes to be spoiled and cherished. Homes with clean beds, full doggy dishes and a fenced in yard to be safe.  Never to want or need again.  They have NO idea what a great life they have ahead of them in a few short days as soon as each one is adopted.

P.S. the dogs are only in crates for meals and sleeping,
they have safe indoor and outdoor play areas the rest of the time at the rescue

The Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue recently took in 23 dogs from Michigan due to a seizure of someone with wayyy too many shelties and they were overwhelmed. We helped with the unloading of each of the dogs on late Tuesday night with getting them safe and sound at the rescue. Once they were all unloaded and Lisa evaluated them, the real work begins for her. The Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue chapter takes over with the vetting and rehoming.  Also grooming and bathing and evaluating for behavior issues. The job of our group is to help by relocating them to homes with approved applications. Some of these approved applicants have been waiting a year or more for a rescue sheltie that fit their home, style, personality and needs.  If someone is interested in adopting, an application can gotten by going through this website: http://www.wisheltierescue.com/    If you are looking to donate to a good cause, please check out their website too. 

Tuesday I am going to help transport two more dogs to another vet in the area.  With all these dogs needing spay, neuter, dental and other health issues, the trips back and forth to all the vets need to be coordinated and we rescue volunteers are appreciated.   Someone did all of this for our dogs back when they were rescued, and now it is time for us to repay that kindness--- with helping to pay it forward.


We had such amazingly warm weather on Saturday that we decided to start decorating the outside of the house. We had all of the decorations ready from the last three years, so it was easy to put everything up.  I even have the bows pre-tied in the exact sections of each scallop or garland. We have permanent hooks mounted on the house to hook them onto. I put those hooks on the first year and left them all in place. Steve takes care of the cords and timer while I arrange the garland and lights.  It was done toot sweet and we stood back to admire our work. 

Even the new little spruce tree I got for Mothers Day got some lights.

Once the lights were on the outside of the house,
we took a little break and then did the inside of the front porch.

Here it is all lit up in the early evening....

After a light supper (and a little nap)  I kept thinking about our tree.....  every year we always have done a fresh cut live tree. This year we are going to do something different.  Remember the blog post I wrote last summer???  Here it is:

Last Christmas, we ended up paying $45 for a live tree and all the needles were falling off in just a few days. We decided then and there that we were going to give up on live trees, and switch over to an artificial tree for 2016.  Got a nice used one for $20 from Craigslist.

I have never cared for the looks of fake trees before. This one has real looking needles and is the right height and width for our livingroom.

Steve brought in the stand and piece number one.... hmmmmmmmmm shaped kinda funny huh?  Not really a stately Christmas Tree.

after a little fluffing up
and letting the branches drop
 (they are hinged and already attached to the trunk)

He brought in section two
Now that looks strange. Kinda woman-like?
Could be an interesting Christmas Dress?

ahhhhh ruffled up the fluffles

this is kinda looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family?

Here comes my Brawny Lumberjack in his red plaid flannel shirt
to add the top section!
9 feet up but he is tall enough to do the job.

Star on top just touches the ceiling.
Yup.. it's a TREE!!!!
 I really like this one because it is narrow around the base
and doesn't spread so far into the livingroom.

''Don't smell like no tree to us''

We were just going to let it set for the night...
but someone had to start putting on the lights.
 (bit blurry but he was moving so fast!)

At 9:30 p.m.
Someone decided we needed MORE lights...
and a new toaster he found on sale.

We got the new LED lights home and they were TOO bright! Our original lights were from Menards four years ago and are LED but more muted and softer than the ones out on the market now. Menards no longer carries the ones we have had for the last four years. Steve just had to rearrange the ones we have to make them go far enough,  and I will return the new ones he just bought.

I found a lovely hand crocheted tree skirt a while back at a thrift shop.
I didn't use it with a live tree because of the sap and water which would stain it.

I hope the person who worked so hard to create it 
is happy it is going to be used and loved and cherished again! 

Last night I added the decorations.

Steve likes his lights because he can change them from multicolored
to all white with a click of his little remote.
Yes, remote controlled tree lights.  Sigh.

(he can also make them flicker, flash, fade from one to the other etc.)
Know as:  *Guy Holiday Entertainment*


In my next blog, I will write about the thing we just HAD to go and buy at the Black Friday sale....

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Our Happy Family Thanksgiving

This year we happened to do something different ----

Our son and his wife always spend Thanksgiving with her family, and Easter with ours.  That is a good trade-off and a nice way to share the holidays.  They make time for both families on Christmas so we are very happy with that too. We will see them soon for Christmas and that will be good for all.

Our daughters Erin and Heather both have young babies this year to consider. They decided between the two of them that one would do Thanksgiving (Heather) and one would do Christmas (Erin).  That sounds good too!  They only live five miles apart and do not need to travel so far with little babies. Especially if the roads get bad this time of year. I do not want to force them to trek 75 miles to my house with small children to make it a holiday at my home.  I would rather go to their homes and let them be in comfort with the small ones in their own environment.

It is a bit of a change-up for us because we usually try to attend the Pfundtner Thanksgiving Gathering every year with Steve's family. But we are feeling the pull to the faraway homes with the newest little granddaughters---- especially after both of their difficult entries to this world. Both babies were preemies, and have some health concerns as they grow.  We need to be close.....

Heather and Jesse, along with our oldest grandson Jameson and baby Whitney, graciously opened their wonderful home to the family to attend this year. Jesse's brother Tyler and his wife (also a Heather!) and little girl Scarlett came for the day too... along with our daughter Erin, Waylen and their family of little Chelsea, Clayton and new baby Claire. What a wonderful houseful of family love.

We arrived early to visit and share and see if we could help with the cooking. Nope, not needed... our wonderful soninlaw Jesse had the turkey all under control.  His first bird!!!  And daughter Heather was busy with her delicious sides and desserts.  She had the house all set up for company and we felt welcomed and included.

We all brought dishes to pass and it was going to be one fine feast!  The turkey came out like a picture from a magazine-----

We had everything ready for a feast:
Cranberry stuffing, cheezy red potatoes, corn
 and who can forget the Green Bean Casserole with 
crunchy onions on top! 

I brought my famous calico beans, the traditional Grandma Van's fruit salad and my two homemade pumpkin pies.  OH, and a bowl of Cool Whip.  Can't forget the Cool Whip! LOL  Heather did up a pistachio torte and we brought some cookies for the kiddos too. (Thanks Hillary for the recipe!)

My girls have always loved cranberry sauce right from the can, the jellied kind. No other will do.  Heather showed her supreme skill in removing the delightful dish from the cans... haha

The kids shared a toast with the grownups. Heather was sure to buy non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice for them. It is a tradition when they were little girls to join in on the toasts. I am so glad to see them continuing the tradition with our grandchildren.

They have learned table manners, graceful dining, and 
how to have a dinner conversation. 
They are a pleasure to be around for meals.
Our children are raising their children well.

I parked myself at the Children's Table---- to help supervise a bit, of course.  But also to talk with the kids.  We retold the story of the Pilgrims and Indians... and oh the things that they came up with on sharing and being nice neighbors to each other as the Pilgrims came to the New World.  It was a good ''kid version'' without the harsh realities of some of the details that we adults are aware of.  The kids talked about what they were thankful for.  I loved all their spontaneous answers and enthusiastic input.   They sure are a creative bunch!

With the new babies, I got in some snuggles and play...

Heather was sure to have out some creative crafts and games to
keep the kids busy while the grownups had a chance to visit.

We got to bring along our dogs so they were not left at home alone for so long. It is 75 miles up and 75 miles back to their home, plus a long day of family fun.  Our dogs are very quiet and stay in their crate and out of the way. They were welcome guests in the home too.

The sugar high set in after dessert.  
The grandtots did some silly dancing
and then dive-bombing onto the cool beanbag loveseat they have.

After full bellies, lots of laughter and lots of grandtot noise, we needed to toddle on home. I helped with some of the cleanup and Heather doled out leftovers to everyone.  We are really most thankful for our wonderful families... and for each other.