Saturday, December 31, 2011


As the end of 2011 fast approaches, it seems everywhere I look I see articles about resolutions for 2012, how to resolve to change this-or-that, top 20 resolutions, resolve to get fit,thinner, healthier, etc. You name it, someone is probably making a resolution regarding it.
I will not be making any resolutions for next year,simply because I don't think they work.
What I will be doing is setting goals for next year, for both myself and my household.
What's the difference between a resolution and a goal, you ask?
Well, to me, a resolution is something we desire to change in our life, usually something large like better health, weight loss, fitness, a more secure financial future, etc.  All good things,right? But what a resolution lacks for the most part is the details on how you're going to accomplish said large change. Sure you resolve to lose 40 pounds next year,but if you don't change your diet, never exercise and continue on as you did before, you're not going to accomplish your resolution. You'll just be disappointed.
A goal, on the other hand, is to me, a detailed list of what not just what I want to change, but a road map of how I intend to get there as well. Not to detailed, of course! More than 3 steps and I lose interest.
For example, we want to eat better this year and increase our physical fitness. A great idea,but if I just tell myself I resolve to eat better and get physically fit, the likelihood is my success will be mixed at best. What does increased fitness look like? If I walk down to check the mail everyday instead of driving, does that count? What if I only eat half a bag of Cheetos instead of the entire thing? Not that that has ever happened.We're talking hypothetical here. *cough,cough.*
What I need is a set, concrete thing to aim for, something small but doable. Something I can easily accomplish, won't cost me a fortune, and won't make myself or my house think I'm either depriving them or trying to kill them.
 What I need is a goal.
So with that in mind, we are setting ourselves 3 main goals this year: one for school, one for health, and one for fitness. I can do 3!
Here are our 3 goals for 2012:

1. School-The kids will complete a foreign language class this year. We will be working on Spanish this year, with the promise that if they complete it, next year they can choose another language if they want. Both kids want to learn Japanese.

2.Health-We are continuing to slowly work towards a better, healthier lifestyle, with less processed foods and more made-from-scratch foods. Our goal for this will be to eat 2 fruits or veggies everyday.
I cheated and added a second goal to reduce my use of prepackaged dessert items. If you have to make it from scratch, you tend to only make it if you really want it-and even if you do eat oh, say, eat 16 cookies,it's probably better to eat 16 home made ones than 16 premade over processed ones.Probably.

3.Our fitness goal is one Girl came up with-30 minutes of exercise everyday. It doesn't matter if it's yoga, a hike, bike riding-heck, even Wii Sports can count! So long as it's 30 minutes of some kind of physical motion, it counts. This one might be a bit of a challenge in this winter,but come spring, we do a lot of walking,biking and hiking. I'm looking at a few short yoga classes I found free online.

A fourth goal for this year is to increase our little garden for the coming year. I really enjoy getting down and dirty,so this one will be no problem. It feels more like a reward than a goal to work towards for me, in fact! I can't wait for the warm weather!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shelter Horse

This is a new arrival we have at the horse shelter. Isn't she a beauty?  Just take a look at that gorgeous face!
Her name is Alivie(ah-lee-vee). She is 3 years old,a Thoroughbred, who had spent every day being brushed,groomed, bathed and worked by professionals, fed the highest quality food 3 times daily, and kept in a heated/air-conditioned facility with her own personal vet and groom.
That is, until she broke her knee during a race 3 months ago. After that, it was determined she could no longer run,nor win any longer, she was no longer wanted by the facility. She couldn't run, and could no longer pay for her keep by winning, so she was no longer valuable,a sad fact of the racing industry.
If she had not come to the shelter, she most likely would have gone to an auction house, and still lame from her injuries, almost certainly would have been bought by a kill buyer and sent to a slaughterhouse. A tragic end for a young athlete.
After 3 months of rest and relaxation, she is doing fantastic, her injuries healing quickly and her gentle nature winning everyone over.
She is even learning what treats are! The first time someone gave her an apple, Alivie bumped it around her stall for several minutes like a ball-she didn't know how to bite it-we had to smash the apple into bits so she could taste it and realize it was good! She still won't eat anything unless you break it into tiny bits and show it to her first. Girl has true Southern manners.
She is slowly learning basic ground skills, like lunging and other ground work. Being a race horse, she has spent very little time in an arena and still has to learn there are other speeds besides walk and race!
We are also introducing her to other horses, socializing her, as most former race horses don't have much experience with other horses, other than on the track, of course. She is a natural social diva, making herself friends with any horse that she meets, or people for that matter. She has taken to nickering when you enter the barn, and if you don't greet her, she will hold up her injured leg as if she's lame.
This little diva has won over everyone at the shelter-and soon she will be available to someone willing to giver her a second chance.
No that's a pretty good happy ending if you ask me!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Day of Winter!

...And it's 70 degrees outside today! That's ain't right, I tell you.
 I woke up to a nice heavy fog,the winter trees all shrouded and cold looking, the ground partially hidden under a thick blanket of white.It looked a proper cold wintry day outside
 But as soon as I opened the back door, I was hit with not a chilly winter breeze, but a rather warm and very muggy breath of air that felt more like mid May then mid December. Even after being here in the Deep South for 3 years, it still shocks me to go outside in the middle of December and think man, it's warm out here. My strawberries are confused and have started blooming again-we even got two tiny berries off the everlasting ones yesterday. Weird.
Today everyone is going barefoot,too. Like I said, weird.
I had planned to do some much needed inventory of our freezer,but despite the still foggy weather, it's just to warm for that, so outside I will go instead to do prep for this coming springs garden.
We want to add two more raised beds and try lasagna gardening in another bed,plus add to the herbs. Meaning, of course, I want Hubby to dig the beds, build the frames, sink the supports and haul the dirt,compost,manure and wood chips for me. I'll watch and tell him when he messes up. I'm nice like that.
But I'm afraid those plans might have gotten derailed, for you see I've just received my first seed catalog, this one from Seed Savers Exchange, and I love almost nothing better than curling up with a nice catalog(or magazine, or book) and dreaming of all the wonderful things I will create and grow next year!
That I can do this while barefoot on the back porch is a nice bonus,too!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Chuckle

I saw this the other day and just couldn't resist!
I can only hope to get this much action for Christmas. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Wants Fudge?

Notice I did not say who needs fudge-although chocolate is now doubt what I would call a necessary luxury, technically it can't be called a need. But it's pretty darn close.
And this is pretty darn close to one of the easiest,yummiest chocolate treats you can give yourself-but what is chocolate without peanut butter to back it up? It's like cake without the frosting,jingle without the bells, whiskey without the drunken inappropriateness. I mean ice.
So here is my lazy fudge recipe:
Note-I stole this from the Internet last year,so I have no idea who to thank for this delicious recipe. Al Gore maybe?

Fudge Recipe
1 can(14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 bag peanut butter chips
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips(I used Nestle chocolate chips)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 inch pan
microwave safe bowl
wax paper.

1. Line pan with wax paper and set aside
2. In the microwave safe bowl,mix peanut butter chips, 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Microwave on high 1 1/2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds or so.
3. Stir mixture until smooth and spread over wax paper in pan. Refrigerate to set.
4. While this is setting,pour chocolate chips into microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 1/2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds or so.
5. Stir until smooth and spread over peanut butter layer.
6. Chill to set, at least 30 minutes. Top will be really firm.
7. Cut into squares or chunks and enjoy!

I want to start posting recipes every week or so,hopefully on Mondays,so if you want to see something special, just let me know. Most of what I put out will be basic, traditional foods, as that's what we eat. We believe food should taste good, so I will be using full fat,milk, cream and butter and sweeteners .Lots of butter!
But we also try to eat fresh foods and less processed foods, so as we start eating more(and hopefully better), I'll try and put those recipes that pass muster out here as well.
I already use quite a lot of whole wheat and recently I bought Sucanat. It's basically less refined cane sugar, sometimes with the molasses kept in, and it tastes delicious to me. Apparently the kids like it too, since I caught Youngest Boy eating it out of the 3 gallon bucket with a serving spoon. Organic or not, I'm pretty sure 8 tablespoons of unrefined sugar will still make a 10 year old boy go off like a bottle rocket!
Also if anyone happens to take an interest in disaster preparedness, I have quite a bit of good, basic information on that. here in Tornado land, it's always good to be prepared. not to mention in the past 3 year our house has been struck, or almost struck by lightening 3 times and had it's roof destroyed by softball sized hail-thankfully before we moved in.
And someday soon, I'm going to take some pictures of the sweet horses at the shelter,especially the two Mustangs who have a special place in my heart, as well as three 3 miniature dwarf ponies my kids love so much!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It's official-the Christmas season is here!
We spent the weekend finding, hauling out and setting up our Christmas tree and decorating the tree and the living room. Other than concluding this will definitely be the very last year our poor fake tree will be with us, the were no unexpected surprises.Ok, one long dead scorpion created a minor panic among the kids, but once determined it was, in fact dead, everyone lost interest.
I absolutely love this time of year! Although I mostly prefer the warmer months,there is something deeply satisfying to curling up on the couch with a big cup of homemade hot chocolate,no lights but those of the Christmas tree. Or in our case,half the lights from the Christmas tree. The other half gave up the ghost-like I said, this is our trees last year,for sure.
Hot chocolate,Christmas lights and a crackling fire-a perfect way to spend a cold weekend to me!And a little something extra in the tree!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Ok, Blogger,or myself or some unfortunate combination has zapped my previous blog, so since there were a few changes I wanted to make anyway, I decided to just start fresh!
Welcome to the new blog, Not Quite Vanillas. I hope you like it in our neck of the woods.
I'll start off by explaining the name choice for this little blog.
As you may or may not know, vanilla refers to a person or a lifestyle that's unexciting or conventional, with little interest in spicing things up.
I'm not sure we're very exciting on the norm-I mean I did set my kitchen a little bit on fire the other day, but for the most part we're pretty typical. No sky diving Granny's or ex-government operatives in our house.
On the other hand, being Libertarian homeschoolers in the Deep South, with a child on the autism spectrum and another with anxiety issues,a slightly agoraphobic engineering husband, and a cat who has been know to attack strangers,not to mention Yours Truly, we do veer a little off the path of normal. Sometimes soooo far off the beaten path we make our own trials!
I hope to begin adding a few more areas to the blog, such as recipes,homeschooling and the like,so I am looking forward to getting this thing up and started and keeping in touch with everyone! Feel free to drop me a line anytime-just remember-keep it clean,keep it nice and I'll keep you around! ;)