It is almost the end of 2011.  I thought I would do a quick review of our life this year.

Decorated Christmas Tree

Happy Holidays!

Rogan started working this year for the State Library.  He was named a Mover and Shaker by the Library Journal.  He has published several articles and even cowrote an RPG book.  He has presented at several conferences, and has been asked to speak at more in the next year.  He is working too many hours and has too much stress, but I am proud of all of his accomplishments.  Rogan was in the parking lot of Walmart one day this fall and saw a man with a box of puppies.  He brought two of them home.  We are now up to five dogs in the house and I am officially sick of house training dogs.


Rhiannon finished 12th grade this fall.  She has changed hairstyles at least four times.  She is not sure what she wants to do with her life, so is in the process of “finding herself.”  Currently she watches the girls for me four hours per day during the week, so I can get some work done that requires concentration.  We also let Rhiannon pick out a cat from the humane society, where she volunteers on Saturdays, as an early Christmas present this year.  We are now up to two cats and my allergies are not amused.


Rowan started kindergarten this fall.  She is smart as a tack, picking up her ABCs, learning to write, learning about new animals in the documentaries and learning programs on the iPad.  She isn’t reading yet, but that is only a matter of time.  I cut Rowan’s hair this summer, so it is shoulder length and much easier to brush now.  Unfortunately, when I cut it most of her curls went away😦


River thinks Rowan doing school is interesting at times, but she never wants to join in.  Maybe next year she will garner some interest in learning herself.  We may need an extra iPad or two!  River didn’t want me to cut her hair when I cut Rowan’s, so I am still struggling with hair brushing with River and her tangle of curls.  Would help if she would let me brush it more often.


Me?  I’ve been working more hours, picked up extra work from one client and in the last month gained a new client.  Things are looking up in the work at home front.  I also started testing recipes for a website for a cookbook author.  (I haven’t been keeping up with the recipe testing very well the last six months, I hope they don’t kick me from the program.)  The last few months have also seen a significant improvement in how I feel with the PPD/A.  I am on an upward curve and hope this means the end of the evilness that is my hormones.


I am sure I have missed a lot of what has gone on in our lives, but that is a broad overview.  I hope you and yours are all happy and healthy and that this continues on into the New Year!

Is it time for rebranding???

super girl

I can no longer be a super blogger

I started Behind the Stall Door when I was breastfeeding and pumping milk at work.  Since then, I have been all over the board with my posts, never having a clear and concise idea of what this blog should be to me and my readers.  I’ve posted about my battles with PPD/A, attachment parenting, photography, cooking, gardening, homeschooling, homesteading efforts….

What it comes down to is this:  I need to decide what it is I want to write about, and stick to only one or two subjects (that are in the same category).


So, my faithful readers – if anyone is still reading this after my hiatus since April – what is it that you have enjoyed reading about the most on this blog?

White Chicken

My White Zombie

Home Ec 101’s Weekly Menu a few weeks ago called for a Lentil Casserole for Meatless Monday, which is something I haven’t made before but am going to try out soon. I recently discovered I love lentils, so I am on the hunt for great lentil menu ideas.

Something I sometimes run into when trying out a new recipe is buying an ingredient just for that recipe.  I make the recipe, but it doesn’t use all of that ingredient.  So, what do you do with the remaining lentils in the bag you buy to make Heather’s dish?  Try making today’s recipe as a side dish during the week, or add to next week’s Meatless Monday meal – leaving out the bacon, of course.

This dish was inspired by the dish Sautéed Bacon, Mushrooms, and Lentils, which I recently tested for Leite’s Culinaria, and it was a big hit with myself and my husband.  Of the kids, our 2yo, the lover of all things bean, was the most impressed.

Step One: Cook Your Lentils

If you have never had lentils before, I will warn you they are not anything like a pinto or a navy bean.  They are just a bit more firm when fully cooked.  They do not get to that consistency of being able to easily mash them up with a fork so you can feed them to the baby.

Veggies on a Cutting Board

Some variations I have made:  I cook my lentils for about 45 minutes (the recommended time is about 30 minutes on the bag, but I like my lentils a bit softer), I use two onions and five cloves of garlic.  If I am cooking for our friend who has dairy allergies, I use olive oil instead of butter.  I also chop the mushrooms into tiny pieces, to hide them from the 17 and 4 year olds who don’t like the look of mushrooms and will not eat the dish if they see them.  I also sometimes will add diced carrots to the dish, to give it some colour. Sometimes I fry chopped chicken pieces (you can also use leftover chicken) with the bacon and add to the dish to make a whole meal.

Mushrooms Sweat, So Don't Be Alarmed When Your Veggies Get Watery, Just Keep Cooking Until Liquid Is Reabsorbed

Bacon gives extra flavor AND colour - A two-fer!

You get the idea, though, right?  Take a recipe, make it the way it is written, and then add your own flare(s)!  Make the recipe your own.  This is what cooks do, adapt to suit your own tastes.  Try recipes with ingredients you have never tried before, or haven’t had in a really long time.  Stretch your palate.  If you don’t like the ingredient, find a substitute, or leave it out entirely!  Bob and weave, bob and weave! And not all of your variations are going to be home runs.  You will have some strikeouts (we do not mention peanut sauce and noodles in this house without shuddering) and you may end up ordering pizza out instead of what you cooked, but don’t let those speed bumps stop you from trying!

Cooking doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t have to take hours of prep followed by hours of cook time.  I love spending time in the kitchen cooking, it relaxes me, takes away a lot of my daily stress.  But I still don’t like to spend more than 45 minutes to an hour on dinner (unless I am making Peruvian Roasted Chicken, cause then the extra time is totally worth it!)  I like to take my iPad in the kitchen with me, put on Pandora Radio (Eagles and Carole King are my two favorite stations to cook along with) and dance and chop and stir away the time – sometimes I even stream a tv show through Netflix while I’m doing the prep.

So, as Heather recommends, plan your menus around what activities will hinder your schedule.  This will determine the amount of time you have to prepare meals.  Consider this, and the amount of time you want to spend preparing a meal.  If you all about twenty to thirty minute meals, this is totally not a problem.  Hamburger Helper?  Brown your own meat, add your own spices and cheese, boil your own pasta and you have a hamburger helper meal without the preservatives in the same amount of time.  Kraft Mac and Cheese?  While your macaroni is boiling, make a rue with 1/4 tsp butter and 3 Tbsp of flour, cook on medium high about 3 minutes, add 2 1/2 cups of milk and cook until the rue is incorporated and the mixture is bubbling) and add the cheese (about 3 cups) to make the sauce (this only takes a max of three to four minutes!) and you have something that actually tastes BETTER in just a minute or two longer than the boxed version (add tuna or chicken and some peas or other boiled or steamed veggies and you have a whole meal free of preservatives!).  Change it up a bit, put this mixture in a casserole dish sprinkle shredded cheese and bread crumbs on the top and bake for 20 minutes at 375F.

Dinner does not have to be a four course event.  Casseroles are truly amazing things to behold.  One pot dishes you can make on the stove, oven or crockpot are nothing to sneeze at because they are simple.  One of my secrets is chopping veggies and meat ahead of time, usually on a Saturday when we get back from Sam’s Club with our bulk purchases of stew meat, carrots, etc.  I divvy up the spoils into meal sized portions (I use Ziplock gallon sized bags, due to the space limits of our freezer).  Veggies stay in the crisper drawer of our fridge, though.  I try to thaw out the protein in the fridge for a day or two before I know I am going to cook with them (this is where a weekly menu plan comes in handy).  I also try to keep some marinara sauce (or the ingredients for it) on hand, for those days I don’t feel like doing much of anything, so we can have spaghetti – or else I let Rogan loose in my kitchen.  Rogan is a good cook, especially Asian meals, even though people don’t seem to want to believe it – he makes a mean Tandoori Chicken!

Now it’s your turn.  What meals would you like make simpler (more simple?), or what is your simple go to meal?

Note:  I was given a copy of this book by F+W Media for review purposes.  But, as always, I never agree on a positive review and my opinions are not compromised because I love Heather to death!

I grew up in a Southern family.  I remember I could not watch General Hospital after school if I hadn’t made my bed before leaving for school that morning (I missed a lot of episodes of General Hospital).  I remember watching my Mawmaw clean and dust.  Dusting was odd to me.  But then, because she did it regularly, I never saw it so thought it silly to dust when we never had dust.  As a grown up, with kids and a husband of my own, I do the laundry.  The dishes eventually get washed.  The floor is swept at least once a week.  I cook at least one meal a day.  I swipe at cobwebs in the corners of rooms when I notice them.  I do not own a vacuum cleaner (we have tile or hardwood floors).  Let’s just say, I am not my Mawmaw.  There is noticeable dust.  My bed still isn’t made in the mornings – but that’s ok, since I haven’t watched General Hospital since high school.

Reading Heather’s book made me feel guilty.  Heather’s book made me feel EXTREMELY guilty.  I now have a schedule laid out on the white board in my office.  To clean my house.  On a regular basis.  Yes, dusting is on the list.  Making my bed is not (I’m a rebel, ya know).

There are parts in the book where I had to put it down and go into a room and look.  I felt a little nauseated.  And thankful no one has ever refused food or drink while in my house (no worries, I am not destined to be on any reality shows where they show how bad a housecleaner I am, but I also am not going to win any great housekeeping awards, either  I just suck at getting off my bum and cleaning the house thoroughly).  Did you know if you have jets in your bath tub you are supposed to clean them out a few times a year?  Or they get groddy inside and will leave floating mold and germs in your bath tub????  Did you know the pink rings around your tub and toilet was actually a mold which contributes to urinary tract infections and you can only get rid of it with a weak solution of bleach???  Better yet, did you know there was a lint trap in the hose of your washing machine?? I didn’t until I called a repairman because the washer wasn’t draining (“Did you turn off and then back on again?” is the DUH of the tech world, the lint hose must be the DUH of the washer repair world).

Heather also tells us about the mixing of cleaning chemicals.  Which ones to use on what kinds of surfaces, which ones NOT to use on a certain kinds of surfaces.  Did you know if there were any splashes of urine on the sides of the bowl in your toilet, you will release toxic gases if you put bleach inside to clean it??  Yeah…um…I knew that….yeah.

This book doesn’t just talk about cleaning your house, though, it also helps you with laundry (stains are the bane of everyone’s existence), minor repairs (ever spill fingernail polish remover on good furniture or had a toilet you have to jiggle the handle on?) around the house (Did your ring, or anything else, drop down the sink?  There’s a section for that!) and cooking (do you burn water?  Heather gives you hope and encouragement, and help with menu planning and weekly shopping/pantry stocking).

I think I may turn into a hybrid of Heather and my Mawmaw now.  My mom cleaned, but she also worked full time and had three kids.  I don’t remember ever seeing her dust, either, but that could just be selective memory or memory amnesia.  I am now looking around my home with a whole new outlook – and wondering if I can afford to take a few weeks off, ship the kids out somewhere during this time, and do some deep, deep cleaning…..yeah, that’s not gonna happen.  But Heather let’s us know, if you only have 15 minutes, you can still get a lot accomplished.  Now, who wants to hold the ladder so I can dust the ceiling fans???

F+W Media have given me a wonderful opportunity to give away a copy of Heather’s book to my readers!!!

Required for entering:  Go to Heather’s blog, Home-Ec 101, look around.  Tell me what you best love about her site (don’t forget to browse the forums!).

Optional additional entries:
Follow me on Twitter – tell me your Twitter handle below so I can follow you back, and so your entry will be counted!

Do you RSS or get my newsletter?  Let me know here (and tell your friends!).

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Tweet this giveaway:  “Enter to win a copy of  @HeatherSolos new book Home-Ec 101 at Behind The Stall Door” and enter your tweet url in the comments section.

This giveaway ends Sunday, April 10th, at midnight.  Winner will be announced Monday at noon.  The book will be sent to the winner via F+W Media.

Originally submitted at Greenfeet – The Planet’s Homestore

Norpro Butter Keeper keeps butter fresh and spreadable without refrigeration. Love butter but wish there was an easier way to make it more spreadable? You could leave it on the counter, but doing so invites harmful bacteria. Perhaps, it's time you were introduced to the Porcelain Butter Keepe…

Love, Love, Love

By Melinda from SC on 3/31/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Easy To Assemble, Durable, Attractive Design

Best Uses: Kitchen

Describe Yourself: Budget Shopper

I Am A: Family Young Kids

I love our local, grassfed cows, organic butter rolls but it made buttering bread in the morning for toast hard. I didn’t want the whole roll to be left out and maybe forgotten and go bad, so I gave this keeper a try. This is awesome and I love it! (However, do not leave it on the stove and forget it’s there and let the cooktop get hot, it will get melty – not that I’ve done anything like that, oh no).


I don’t know about all my pet owners out there, but the last few weeks of warmth we’ve had has made the fleas around here go nuts!  My poor pooches have been itching and bitting and basically driving me batty by waking me up in the middle of the night scratching at the fleas.  So I am going to have to head out and grab some of the really good flea killer for them.  Normal homeopathic remedies have not worked at all in our time here in the PeeDee area of SC, so I have to grab the Rx stuff.  We use K9 Advantix II, this stuff works really well on our dogs and cat. 

And for all of my loyal readers (Hi, Mom, hi sis!  Anyone else out there??? lol) I have teamed up with PetSmart and 1-800-PetMeds to bring your bank account AND your pets some relief during the upcoming flea season! Until March 28th, you can save $10 from PetSmart on all K9 Advantix II and Advantage II Flea and Tick 6 pk at PetSmart!  Click this link to grab your savings now!  You can also get a special deal from 1-800 -PetMeds on the K9 Advantage red box!  Just click this link: