Diversity

If you ask any of my three kids where they live they will shout “Mills, New Mexico” with all the gusto of a rodeo announcer.  When we stop by the post office four miles down the road, the only business in Mills proper, the kids sometimes ask, “What town are we in?”.  When I tell them we are in Mills they say, “No we’re not!  WE live in Mills!”  In their little minds, Mills ends at our fence line. 

I’ve had the opportunity to venture away from Mills and travel around Harding County over the last several weeks and explore many of the nooks and crannies I had never been able to see up close before.  Harding County is deep and wide, 2,138 square miles to be exact.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet or get reacquainted with fine folks everywhere from the Canadian River Canyon area to the high rolling plains of the east side to the sand hills “below the hill”.  Each stop that I have made along the campaign trail has reiterated the fact that we live in an incredibly diverse segment of the world.

Our diverse terrain and and the many miles that separate the residents of Harding County makes our area special, beautiful, peaceful, and an ideal place to raise livestock (and kids, in my opinion).  However, in visiting with residents from the farthest north end of the county to the farthest south stretches, it is apparent that our diversity also lends itself to some serious challenges for local government.  There are a lot of concerns out there that are a function of being on the far edges of Harding County.  Neglected mail and school bus routes, ambulance service issues, and 911 address concerns are just some examples of the legitimate problems brought up during my campaign tour of the county. 

I am running for Harding County Commissioner.  I am not a politician by nature.  This is my very first go round with politics but I am savvy enough to know not to make promises or claim that I will be able to please everyone.  But let me tell you something that even an someone with as little governmental experience as me can see with crystal clarity.  There are some serious issues that need attention no matter the physical location of the problem or if the solution goes against the way things have always been done.   I think that it is high time for a fresh perspective, some open and attentive ears, and a person with a healthy respect and appreciation for the diversity of Harding County.  

Unlike my kids, we have to remember that the county does not end at the end of our driveway.  Harding County is not just Mills, or Solono, or Gallegos, or Bueyeros, or Roy, or Mosquero, or any point in between.  Harding County is an interesting and intricate combination of us all.  I am not in this race to to give my personal neck of the woods an unfair leg up, for personal notoriety or power, to clear a personal vendetta, or reap the perks of the position.  I don’t have a dog in the age old fight of “That’s the way it’s always been done so that’s the way it should always be done”.  I am ready to SERVE, willing to SERVE, and equipped to SERVE.  Will you help me be in a position to serve?

Remember to vote on June 5th and vote Rebecca K. Smith for Harding County Commissioner!

Authenticity

A few weeks ago I did something I never envisioned myself doing.  I got in my car, drove to the court house, and signed up to run for Harding County Commissioner.  Gulp.  No more sitting on the sidelines.  Put me in coach!  I’m ready to play!

So far, the process of campaigning has been very pleasant.  I’ve be able to go to parts of the county I’ve never been, meet people I’ve never met, and put my hopes, goals, and expectations of myself into words in a way I’ve never done before.  The learning curve is steep but I sure am enjoying the ride.

But some things never change.  When my campaign handouts didn’t arrive when expected I decided not to panic and just do what I do best…  make something yummy.

Hard at work at campaign headquarters.

Is this a typical scene the morning before a candidate goes door to door to meet the voters of the county?  Probably not.  Does handing out homemade chocolate chip cookies portray me as a shrewd and suave politico?  Nope.  But I’m going to let you in on the biggest secret of my campaign.  I am a cookie-baking, hard-working, doting wife and mother with a servant’s heart and a vested interest in the prosperity and stability of this county.  Whew.  There I said it.  Now I’m off to load my kids up in our family car and hit the campaign trail.  And yes, there will be cookies involved.

Vote for REBECCA K. SMITH for Harding County Commissioner!

Quick Tip for Dry Hair

I am a minimalist.  Clutter drives me insane.  Now, you might not be able to derive that on your own if you walked into my less-than-perfectly-organized home right at this moment, but it is the truth.  Therefore, I really appreciate dual purpose products.  The fewer bottles, jars, and containers to crowd up my cabinets and shelves the better.  Face moisturizer with built-in sunscreen, laundry soap with added fabric softener, wood stain plus polyurethane, are just a few examples of products I appreciate for their time and space saving features.  Last week, my sister, Kat, added another dual purpose product to my list of favorites.

Quick Tip:  Apply Cetaphil lotion to wet hair to turn dry hair into normal hair without weighing it down.

I have used Cetaphil lotion for my kids’ sensitive skin for a long time now but this is a new use I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.  And it works like a charm!

Thanks, Kat!

Old Holey Socks

I am fortunate enough to have two older sisters who have eight kids between them.  That equates to a lot of hand-me-down clothes for my kids.  When Natalie was a tiny baby and just outgrowing her 3-6 month sized clothing, my sisters delivered the toddler sized girl clothes.  As I packed away the outgrown newborn things and made room for the larger sizes, I was a little shocked at how, well, um, used they appeared in comparison.  The tiny clothes we had received as gifts were pristine as they had hardly been worn before Natalie’s rapidly growing little body had them busting at the seams.   I remember thinking that my sisters must be raising animals to have put such obvious wear and tear on the clothes I was adding to my daughters dresser.  I would always take much better care of my kids’ things.  Haughty and naïve?  Yes, without a doubt.

Fast forward five years and two more kids later.  Now I know that indeed it wasn’t my sisters’ kids who were animals.  It’s kids in general.  Now we have more socks in our house that look like this

than socks that wouldn’t embarrass their mother if my kids had to take their shoes off in public.

So what is a mother to do with all those holey socks?  Well the obvious answer is to make rags out of them.  They are perfect for washing windows, dusting furniture, polishing silver, saddle-soaping boots, and probably countless other things.  Problem solved right?  Nope because the little buggers kept ending up back in the sock drawer after I had evicted them to the rag basket.  So here’s my quick tip for you today.

Quick Tip:  Snip the top of old socks with pinking shears to differentiate rag socks from those that are still wearable.

I’m sure that you could use regular scissors of course but the pinking shears seem to help keep raveling at a minimum.

Now next time I don’t have to cringe (as much) when I see my kids kick their shoes off at the McDonald’s Play Place.  At least I know they’re not wearing rags on their cute little animal feet.

My fear in posting these quick tips is that someone is going to think, “Gosh what’s she going to teach us next week, how to turn on a light switch?”.  Remember, I would love to get quick tips from my readers!

Intentional Observance of Lent

“…and thank you for our family.  Please keep us safe and healthy.  Please watch over PaPa and make his body strong again…”

Mama, don’t forget about my bike.

“…and thank you for Ike’s bike…”

And the trashcan.

“…and thank you for the trashcan…”

And Nat’s finger.

“…and thank you that Nat’s finger is all better..”

And the semi.

“…and thank you for the semi…”

That’s all.

“…in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

This is an excerpt from the bedtime prayers I helped my son, Ike, say last night.  It is pretty much the same every night.  Sometimes it takes quite a long time because his list of thank yous and concerns goes on for seemingly ever.  His innocent and sincere gratitude for even the most trivial (to me) things me makes my heart happy.  Ike’s immediate reaction to thank God for everything in his little life that he loves is so sweet to hear.  A real life example of “Praise God from who ALL blessings flow…”

As the sun is rising on this Ash Wednesday, I have the prayers of my children on my mind.  Rather than simply giving up sweets in observance of Lent as I have done every year since I can remember, I want to concentrate on praying the way my kids pray; constantly, consistently, unabashedly.  The sacrifice of sweets will just be a reminder to pray, an outwardly sign of an inwardly faith.  I want to emerge from this season of penance, reflection, and fasting with a new habit of continually saying “thank you” for the many, many blessings that surround me and often go unrecognized.

“Pray without ceasing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17

How will you be observing Lent?

Shine On

I have mentioned before how much I adore the FLYLady. (You can read about that here.)   As part of the evening routine I developed through the FLYLady’s program, I always start the dishwasher right before I turn out the lights to go to bed.  I love the thought of any chore being done while I’m sleeping!  Thank heavens for modern technology!

But you know what I do not love?  I do not love to wake up in the morning and open the dishwasher only to find dishes that are not sparkling clean despite a being run through a full cycle during the night.  This has been happening a lot lately.  We have very hard water and I don’t own a top of the line dishwasher but I still expect it to do its job.  I went through countless different types of detergent, added rinse aid of every variety, and even tried doing a more thorough job of pre-rinsing but the spots and leftover residue would not go away.  But never fear!  I have discovered the solution to the grubby dishwasher dilemma!

Quick Tip #4:  Run a dishwasher cycle with regular vinegar in place of dishwasher detergent to remove spots and residue buildup.

Simply fill your detergent dispenser with plain old white vinegar and run the cycle as usual.  Voila!  Sparkling clean dishes and a nice tidy dishwasher that will run spot free for many cycles depending on the hardness of your water.  I usually use the vinegar trick about once a week.

I’ve used this method with everything from glassware only to very soiled dinner plates with the same squeaky clean results so it is a good tip to keep in mind if you ever run out of regular dishwasher detergent.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

No Rolling Required

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My kitchen looks like a war zone at the moment.  I really should go clean it up before my Valentine gets home but I have to share a quick tip with you before Quick Tip Tuesday slips by me!  It came to me while cranking out many treats for all my “sweets” today for our family celebration tonight.

One of my husband’s all time favorite treats is Girl Scout cookies, “Samoas” in particular.  I searched the entire north eastern quadrant of New Mexico but was not able to locate a Girl Scout to sell me some of these beloved confections.  Okay.  Searched might be a little bit of a stretch but I did ask around at church and a few of my friends but apparently Girl Scouts are an endangered species around here.

So I did the next best thing and Googled (isn’t it funny that is a verb now?) “Homemade Girl Scout Cookies”.  My internet search lead me to Amanda’s Cookin’ and her take on Samoas.  I reviewed the recipe a few days ago and noted that the recipe called for rolling out the dough that makes up the bottom layer of the cookie.  That is all fine and dandy except I really don’t like the hassle of rolling out dough.  It makes a mess on the counter, takes a long time, and we all know about the dreaded Gluten Monster that might be release should you handle to dough too much.   What’s that you say?  You don’t know about the Gluten Monster?  Then you have obviously never met my mother.  She is a very talented baker.  Her bread is divine and her pie crust is to die for.  To this day, each time my sisters and I help her bake she reminds us to be gentle with the dough so as not to “release the gluten.”  Cue spooky music and lightening flashes.  I’m not exactly sure what happens when one releases the gluten but I do know it is not something I want to experience.  (I’m just teasing, Mom.)

So I came up with this quick tip in order to bypass the whole tough cookie issue.

Quick Tip #3:  Roll cookie dough into a log for future use.

First, I placed the blob of dough onto a piece of wax paper.

Then, I used the wax paper to shape the dough into the shape of a log.  I wrapped the wax paper around the log and put it in a food storage bag.

I had to feed cattle this morning so I put the bag in the fridge while I was gone.   When I got home I sliced the dough into 1/4″ slices.

Perfect little cookies and no rolling required!  And don’t quote me on this because I haven’t tried it yet, but I think this would work for any type of cookie dough.  I often keep cookie dough balls in my freezer for last minute company or a potluck at church that slipped my mind but the act of rolling the dough into balls is tedious and they mysteriously disappear at an alarming rate.  I blame the disappearing cookie dough on my kids’ thieving ways because I would never do such a thing.  Having a log of cookie dough at the ready might just be the ticket!

And here is the finished product of the Samoas I made for my husband.  They didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the cookies I was trying to emulate but I made sure to sprinkle in lots of extra love so that wouldn’t matter.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all a good night!

Find the recipe here.