SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











It’s an ongoing argument in my house: how to eat meat.  I can’t stand any pink while the Griz has the Woody Harrelson approach – wipe its hiney, etc.  In a restaurant or with store bought meat, it’s easily resolved.  However, most of the meat that comes in my house is game.

After a few years of hunting, Griz has come to my way of thinking, more bang for my buck at the processor with ground venison.  But we always end up with “cuts” as well – back strap, round steak, cutlets, etc.  To cook these cuts to make mama happy dries out this lean meat, leaving it more like jerky than the juicy steak my husband seeks.  But again, the first glimpse of pink and I’m done, son.

He refuses to budge on back strap, his favorite part of the deer.  It will always be “grilled” (um, barely seared!) medium rare.  And I’ll eat pb&j that night.

Cutlets we have found to be fabulous in a stew.  Otherwise, we really haven’t figured out a great option.

The round steaks, I googled and was frustrated with the results.  Even in a slow cooker, people report over drying.  The temp on most modern crock pots, even on the lowest setting, is too high.

Grrr.  Y’all know I love my crockpot.  Time to experiment.  This is how I did it:

A few packages of round steaks – not sure an exact amount, I just eyeball it.

Several splashes of Worcestershire

1 can cola

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 can beef consommé

A healthy sprinkle of Chicago steak seasoning

Add water till the pile of meat is covered

I set my crockpot on low for 8 hours and hoped for the best.

Results:  smelled like pot roast.  Tender, juicy, falling apart.  Monkey #1 and I barely had any because Grizzly and Monkey #2 devoured it. 

I’m trying it out again today.  Monkeys have karate and church, Grizzly has an 8-ball tournament, so dinner will probably be on the run.  This way, it’s ready when folks get hungry.  All I have to do now is fix some rice and brown gravy, cook up some broccoli, and call it a meal!

What cooking experiments have you tried lately? Any successes that should’ve been fails?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android

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{April 9, 2015}   On to New Adventures!

When I went to my family doc on March 29, I was very disappointed in myself.  More specifically, my weight.

Weight has been a struggle my entire life.  I remember being a size 22 at one point in high school.  I lost a lot of that weight in college and seemed to settle in comfortably around a 14/16, with a few fluctuations (a month of slim fast for Yo-Yo’s wedding when my dress was a size 8?? Two pregnancies. And so on.)

So when I realized how much I’d gained over the course of the past year, I decided it was time to do something about it.  And if I’m unhappy, I’m the only one who can fix it.

Problem #1: I really enjoy food. Especially Rolos. Milk chocolate is food, right?
Fix #1: watch my portions more closely.   

Problem #2: I really love my colas. Caffeine in general, but a good coca-cola in specific.
Fix #2: drink more coffee for the caffeine fix. Switch to water. Something!

Problem #3: the queen here does not run, do push ups, etc. Her Highness, in fact, doesn’t like to sweat.
Fix #3: plastic surgery?

One of my teacher friends told me about a program our insurance is offering for those with high risk of Type 2 diabetes. Boy, should I qualify! Health issues in my family along with my unhealthy 12 year-old habits? Put me in, Coach!

The Prevent program is the brainchild of Omada Health. The Core program is a 16 week program, with a health coach, support group, and weekly lessons. They provide some kind of equipment, as well. I like the idea of the accountability!

** Update 7/27/15 **

It’s been a busy summer! I’ve been accepted into the Prevent program and am currently in the final quarter of the Core. I’ve weighed in daily (sometimes several times!), am logging everything that goes in my mouth (much to Car Guy’s unending amusement), and am walking 3-5 miles each day. I’m drinking at least 95 ounces of water each day. I’ve also started some of the challenges from blogilates.com and set up my Skinny Binder, with everything from tracking sheets to recipes to motivation – you name it!

4 months ago my weight had me in tears. Today, I’m 27 pounds lighter, and have lost 4 inches in each of my target areas. My BMI is in the healthy range!

Did I go on a diet? No. I eat the same crockpot, comfort foods i love, with the occasional new recipe thrown in. But I keep up with proper portions and track calories in the MyFitnessPal app. I rarely drink a soda now and Rolos? Forget about it. But if I eat a cookie, it’s not the end of the world.

I didn’t expect much when I started this back in April. I’ve been pleasantly surprised! And now that I’ve started, I’m not ready to stop.

~Katie

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{April 4, 2015}   Aging Less Than Gracefully

I know people who dread birthdays.  They lie about their age, color their hair, shop in teeny bopper stores to feel younger. They know the newest music, fashion, dance moves. They want to be 20 forever.

20 was a great year for me, but that’s not me.

Monkey #2 tells people I’m 23 and I don’t correct her.  My students ask my age and I tell them not to be rude.  But apart from that?  It’s not a big deal.

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I turned 39 – the big four-oh is looming.  I find new gray hairs daily.  I get reminders for mammograms and catalogs from companies for the “mature” woman.  My doc says I probably should get more exercise. I probably should be flipping out.

I’m not. Pioneer Woman tells me things get better at 40 and I believe her.  Is there a little more hell to pay for too many adult beverages?  Do I have to work a little harder to not have that Snickers bar take up residence on my thighs?  Yes indeedy do, neighbor.  Is it worth it? Yes.

I’m relatively healthy.  Monkey #2 thinks my gray is beautiful and calls it tinsel – like a Christmas tree? I still wake up every morning, full of plans and ideas and life to live.

And that’s why I’m OK with growing older. And I don’t worry about being graceful.  Every day is a day to celebrate another day on this earth.  I’d rather age than deal with the alternative.

How do you feel about growing older?

~ Katie

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{March 25, 2015}   Organizing: Schedules

The older I get, the crazier my schedule seems to be.  The monkeys have more going on at school, church, karate, grandparents.  My husband has work obligations and pool league.  I’ve taken on the school yearbook this year, as well as regular 8th grade activities and school obligations.  Hubby and I, now that the monkeys are more self-sufficient, have a lot more social doings as well.

How in the crap do we keep it all straight?

I have a calendar with my Google account on my phone.  It makes the grands nuts, but EVERYTHING goes in that calendar.

I have my paper planner.  I love love love it.  My mother-in-law ordered it for Christmas from a blogger I adore.  I had it printed and spiral bound at Office Depot and it’s probably my favorite Christmas gift this year.

I also keep a calendar in the kitchen, where everyone in the house has easy reference.  The monkeys have learned that if it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t happening.  Everyone has their own color on the calendar, just my CDO in overdrive, but I love it.

I’ve noticed the monkeys write things now, too.  “Military Ball.”. ” Sleepover with Karate BFF.” They know. They don’t color code, but that’s coming.

Do I still get overwhelmed, over worked, and over extended? Of course.  I’m a mom and I forget to ask for help.  But this system is working for me.

How do you organize schedules?

~ Katie

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{March 17, 2015}   Why I Don’t Hate….

I’m not what one would call a people person.  It takes me a minute to decide if I like a person or not. When I like someone, they have a ride-or-die friend for life, unless they do me wrong.  When I don’t like someone, it’s not any strong feeling.  They’re just not my cuppa Joe.

I’ve been accused of being bitter and holding grudges.  No lie, I can own that. Those feelings I tend to reserve for the most odious offenders, though. And I’ve moved past a lot of that.  I recognize that it’s really not healthy. Hatred gives me a headache, gray hair, and wrinkles.  Hatred causes one to lose sleep and focus.

I do not claim to be perfect.  I’m definitely a work in progress.  I’ll even own the occasional social media spying.  But I only do that to gauge levels of other individuals’ cray-cray.  And when I’m bored.  Better to be prepared, a wise woman told me.  That’ll go away soon, as well.

In general, I don’t feel strongly about non-friends or non-family.  I have enough going on that if someone is not a positive in my life, I view them as a waste of time, and a bother. Hate takes way too much time and energy to waste on the insignificant. Is this cold?  Maybe.  But it works for me.

The past year has been rough, and I don’t want to have negative energy around me and mine anymore.  People I’ve been social with in the past wouldn’t make the cut list today.  I don’t hate them.  There’s just no room in my life for them anymore. And that should be OK.

How do you keep the Debbie Downers away?

~ k



{December 29, 2014}   2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 960 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.



{December 29, 2014}   The Clearance Buggy

Some women love shopping for clothes, shoes, make up.  I love shopping for food and toilet seats.  If I could spend half the day at the home improvement store, I’d be one happy mama.  If I could spend an entire day grocery shopping – oh my!  Are you familiar with the saying about a pig in slop?  Yep, that would be me. 

Groceries are a game, a challenge.  How do I get the most yummy/useful stuff for the least amount of money and still stay within my miniscule budget?  I love it.  I’m always looking for a new way to squeeze extra pennies into my buggy.  The latest trick?  The clearance cart in the produce section.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are really pricey.  I try to buy things that are in season, buying extra on the cheap to can or freeze for later. Recently, I saw a cart at the back of the produce department in my local Brookshire’s, full of produce bags.  Upon closer inspection, I found every bag was marked $2!  Extra ripe bananas, apples, and oranges were my very first haul.

I often tell people Monkey #2 can eat 5 pounds in a sitting. For once, this was a bit of an exaggeration. Banana bread, banana muffins, and applesauce were side benefits of the clearance buggy. Anything to pack the freezer!

Now when we go to the grocery, the monkeys make a beeline for that back corner. They know if the price is right, mommy will bake.

What’s your favorite grocery trick?

~ Katie

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{December 6, 2014}   So I’m Not Mary Poppins

Lately, I feel like I’m trying to swim an Olympic pool filled with jello. I’m getting nowhere and exhausting myself in the process.

I came home from work today and realized what a wreck my house is.  I can’t keep up with the chores like I want to.

I have a totebag full of assessments to analyze before professional development tomorrow, that should’ve been done already, but I’ve been trying really hard to teach.

I have to finish putting together the conference for the Louisiana Council of Teachers of English.  Thankfully, it’s in NoBo so I don’t have to travel. Unfortunately, it’s the day after Grizzly has surgery, so guess where my mind will be?

I’m a walking acronym these days.  My brain is overflowing with PGP, SLT, RTI, STAR, CCSS, and enough data to choke an elephant.

I really need to get back to good.  Organization, lists, etc.  I’ll get there.  I just can’t expect to be Mary Poppins.

Posted from WordPress for Android



In the early, NoBo, kiddo-free days of my marriage, my husband and I discovered Pizza Pizza.  There was a Little Caesar’s right by the grocery by our house, and for $8 we could get 2 pizzas, providing our dinner as well as lunches for a few days.  It was lovely. It was filling. It was cheap.

Once we moved to South Bossier, our dining choices became more limited.  First, we had two monkeys and not as much money.  Also, there weren’t many options in our part of town. A diner,  McDonald’s, and a few other fast food options, but nothing too exciting.  Especially since I didn’t care to cross the bridge to Shreveport often.

Our part of town is developing, though, and with more residents comes more shopping and food.  Most exciting for the House of Cheaptitude was when a new shopping center opened less than a mile away and the first store? Little Caesar’s.

A basic pizza had gone up to $5, but they had a great family meal deal, and we started getting these on a regular basis. 

Grizzly and I ran to Caesar’s a few weeks back because we were out of dinner ideas and wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  It was the night of the Homecoming parade and maybe we weren’t the only ones with that plan, but….

1. No more family meal deal. That was the first disappointment.
2. We sat for more than 45 minutes, waiting for a pepperoni pizza and a cheese pizza. Several people came in, visited with the lady behind the counter, got their pizzas, and left in this time.
3. When we got home, our “cheese” pizza was sausage. Monkey #2 and I picked off pepperoni.

I’ll give a restaurant another chance, because anyone can have an off shift. Unfortunately, our Caesar’s has not improved. I’ve actually placed my pretzel crust orders ahead of time and not had any better luck.

Little Caesar’s is now at the bottom of our list of “fast” food choices. Due to poor customer service and value, I’ll give them a score of 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 5.

What is your favorite go to when you need a night off? Have you been extra disappointed in a fast food restaurant?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{September 28, 2014}   Applesauce Autumn

I don’t recall ever having store bought applesauce as a kid.  I never ate the soupy yellow slop in the school cafeteria that was touted to be applesauce. I’m spoiled.  I ate homemade applesauce.

I remember chunky, not too sweet,  applesauce in quart jars from Gram’s fruit room in the basement. Sometimes, she’d make a fresh batch to go with dinner, and I’d sneak chunks of apple from the dishpan. I wasn’t so slick – she knew exactly what I was doing. And I never saw her canning it, but she must have, because there were always jars downstairs, pretty and golden and full. These days, canning is too much bother and she freezes containers instead.

My absolute favorite was always Great Grandma Sweitzer’s pink applesauce. Was it sweeter? More cinnamon flavored? Or was it simply that it was an infrequent treat? And I may be the only one who really liked it. I never can get Gram to make it for me.

When the weather turns a little cooler, my comfort cravings arrive. I watch for good prices on acorn squash and roasts. And as apples go on sale, I walk through the grocery, Droid to my ear, asking Gram which ones and how many I should get for a batch of applesauce.

Honeycrisps are good for eating, but no good for applesauce, and too pricey by far, she advised yesterday as I strolled through my Brookshire’s.

So I purchased several McIntosh, a few Red Delicious, and some Braeburns.  It takes a variety to get a good flavor, according to Gram.

As forty lurks in the not too distant future, and I’ve been away from home over twenty years, one might think these phone calls unnecessary. After all, I’ve made applesauce, baked Mac & cheese, and acorn squash on my own hundreds of times now. And I probably don’t have to call her every time. (“Don’t you ever write things down, Katherine?” “Do you have your pencil and paper ready?” I always lie and say I do, and she always knows it’s a lie). By this point, I do it out of habit. It’s an extra excuse to call my grandma.  She’s getting older, and someday I won’t be able to call and bother her with silly kitchen questions that I can answer myself or Google. So I’ll do it as long as I can.

So here is the off the top of my head because I never really write it down instructions for easy applesauce:

Easy Applesauce
3-4 varieties of apples, totaling about ten pounds
Sweetener and cinnamon, to taste

Peel, core, and cut your apples into chunks. You can run through the blender, but you may as well buy it at the grocery for that.

Place your chunks into a good-sized pot.  Add some water till your chunks are just barely covered. They should not float.

Bring to a good boil for a few minutes. Turn down and simmer till soft.  I test mine once in a while with my potato smasher.

Once soft, you can mash them easily. Give a taste and start sweetening. With the right apples, it won’t take much.

I live hot applesauce on a little ice cream.  I like it chunky and tangy. You just can’t buy it like that.

We will eat some of it, but I’ll can the rest.  It’s one of my autumn routines.

What are some of yours?

~ Katie

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et cetera
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