Thursday, June 30, 2011

On the Up Side

Lots of good kinds of news:
  • My aunt had surgery and is doing 100% better. I won't disturb you with the details, except to say the surgeon had said they risked her life to do the surgery (because of her potassium levels) but also risked her life if they did not do the surgery. And he was glad they did it. She was so much improved that I even spoke to her on the phone today.
  • My mom is now down with my dad at the hospital. They'll be in the area at least through the weekend and, knowing Dad, beyond.
  • My sore throat is decreasing. I'm wondering if I've had a lingering cold and not some rare food sensitivity tied to the NSAID allergy.
We're looking forward to a great 3-day weekend, though we have nothing specific planned. Just some good family time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Faerie House Season Has Begun!





Our first village of faerie houses were built yesterday, mostly of huge shells from Ma and Gong's beach. The kids hid them in rose bushes and weeds all along our rock wall, decorating them with pink rose petals. It's all very sweet.

So, when the lawn guys came this morning, we rushed out to protect the dwellings as best we could. And then the guy with the weedwacker actually put it in our garden box and took out our new rhubarb plant! I got to him before he got rid of the horseradish, too. I hope the rhubarb survives. It's from our friend Miss M, whom we cherish and who has given us the horseradish and the tulips, too.

Maybe the faeries can help . . . .

This Morning

My aunt's surgery was postponed from yesterday because she wasn't strong enough. I don't know if it's happening this morning or not.

By the way, I know I've been up north too long when I pronounce aunt in my head as "ont!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sending Love

. . . all the way down to Corpus Christi, where my aunt is having surgery today to help with the infection. Let's hope it all goes well. Pop is down there by his sister's side and will stay in the area as long as he's needed.

Just like he (and Gommie) did last summer for me . . . .

Allergies R Me

I went to the allergist today, who confirmed that I won't be having anymore NSAIDs, which wasn't much of a surprise. He couldn't explain the birth control pill reaction and suggested I check with the OB/Gyn. He thought all my hives were from overactive skin reactions from the NSAIDs, which could last for the next 6 months. As for the sore throat and post-nasal drip, he wasn't sure. But he did a skin test of some 40 common allergens--wheat, milk, nuts, pollen, strawberries, etc etc--and I wasn't allergic to any of them.

So, half answers. I have an appointment with the ENT about my sore throat--at the end of July!!! (He's very popular). And I also found a naturopath who addresses food sensitivities that aren't official allergies.

Because, see, some internet self-diagnosis has led me to wonder if I have what is called a salicytate sensitivity. The allergist said it doesn't exist, has been totally disproven. But it's listed on several reputable websites like the Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, and Livestrong. There's even a forum, and the description of NSAID allergies, birth control allergies, and food allergies replicates what I've experienced. I mean, when I eat blueberries and apples my throat hurts . . . and then it responds to benadryl. So I'm just not sure. (C'mon, Goo and Aunt Banana, my medical relatives, weigh in here!)

But I do know that it's not over yet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Breathe In, Breathe Out

With so much sadness, illness, and the like, I've been meditating, praying, breathing in and out, for friends and loved ones, even though I know that the circle of suffering and sunshine will always spin . . . .
  • my aunt, in the hospital, and her immediate and extended family;
  • my friend, whose father is suffering, and by extension the whole family (and she's been sick too);
  • my friend, Miss M, who was just diagnosed with cancer, again;
  • my friend, another Miss M, whose son is still in the hospital after a fall three weeks ago;
  • my MIL, whose knee is bothering her greatly;
  • my neighbor, who is going through a bitter divorce that just keeps getting uglier;
  • the woman who cleans my house, who was robbed of all her electronics and jewellery.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thoughts

. . . for my beloved Aunt, after whom Sis is named. Aunt is in the hospital, dehydrated, with an infection, weak. She's not critical but it sounds like she'll be there a few weeks. We love her very much and hope she is well enough to go home soon.

A Birthday Recipe for Mama

A Recipe for Mama

2 cups practicality and rationality
2 cups artistry, especially drawing and music (playing herself or listening to Indigo Girls and B'way)
1 1/2 cups romance
1 cup shyness
3/4 cup loyalty and devotion
1/2 cup feline-ophilia
1/3 cup spatial reasoning
1/3 cup fix-it-ness
1/3 cup gadgety-ness
1/4 cup food lover, anything, especially spicy, except green olives or fruit in main entrees
1/4 cup unfamiliarity (or call it righteousness) with popular culture
3 tablespoons travel lust, especially to Civil War sites and lighthouses
a pinch of cute (especially when smirking or blushing)
Add-ins: short hair, round glasses, sensible shoes, long-sleeve button-down shirts, long socks, tattered wallet, Blackberry and 'droid, chewing gum

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Grill until crispy exterior and warm interior. Serve immediately.

Mommy Hungry


Friday, June 24, 2011

They're Getting Married in the Morning!


Congrats to lesbigay citizens of NY State--you can now get married!!!

It's been a long time coming (and not just the frustratingly slow pace of the last few days).

But it's a wonderful, fairy-tale ending, especially here on Pride Weekend . . . may you get married and live happily ever after!

(And a great early birthday present for native NYer Mama!)

Updates

Just a quick email to catch you all up-to-date on things, since I'm sure I sound like a blubbery mess about the end of school.
  • The last day of school has always been bittersweet for me. So, yeah, today's a turning point. I'll be fine. And, no, I'm not crying in front of the kiddos.
  • My back. Always my back. Overdid it this week tie-dying with the kids, which was wonderful fun (the t-shirts, that is). Took about 24 hours to recover. Remember, I'm not on any kind of meds, so 24 hours feels long but isn't really. I spoke to my doc and he says if I'm not better by early next week to come in. I'm already better. Am I at 70% here in mid-to-late June? Almost, with a week or so delay because of the plantar fasciitis . . .
  • which has almost totally gone away with some ice and my night splint. YAY! So I can walk about 20-30 minutes an hour straight without any trouble from my foot (and only minor fatigue in my back, wearing my lighter brace or NONE AT ALL).
  • Allergies: after allergic reactions, I think, to three NSAIDs, I'm still itchy and having a few hives. Is it food? Is it supplements? I go to see an allergist to start getting the answers on Tuesday.
  • Vegan cleanse: still mostly following the aforementioned food plan, with low to no dairy, eggs, wheat, refined sugar, or caffeine. I've lost more than 5 lbs, which is great because weight loss is a very proactive back-healing step (yeah, yeah, I've known this a long time, but sometimes it takes awhile to mean something). I also just read this fascinating article on a study that practically reversed diabetes in patients diagnosed in the last 2-4 years by reducing their intake to 600 calories a day for 2 months which eliminates the fat from their liver and pancreas (which has to do with insulin production). Now, I'm not doing that, of course, but it's something to keep in mind.
  • Childcare: we have Babysitter for the summer and she'll be doing approximately 5-6 hours a day as needed, leaving me the other 5-6 hours (particularly in the morning). We're trying to line up easy-on-the-back activities for me to do with the kids, beyond watching "Glee" and Star Wars! I'll leave the tie-dye to Babysitter.
  • Camp: Yep, we have camp. And swimming (thanks to Mrs. S for doing the driving!). And maybe even some playdates.
  • Birthday: it's coming. Big Lego birthday party bash! Mama is obsessed and lovin' all the planning. Because you gotta plan when 40 classmates are invited along!! (Yep, we invited all of both of their kindergarten classes.)
  • Otherwise, not much else going on. No planned outings, since I don't travel well, which is a bummer because we love day trips. But we'll catch up when we can.

At the End of the Day*

. . . they're another year older!

Yep, school is out!

Summer has begun!

And so what are they doing right now?

Yep.

Playing school.

Meanwhile, I'm upstairs having my own little cry because school is out--I can't believe Bud and Sis are first graders, almost six years old! I loved (trusted, was supported by, was inspired by) their teachers and will miss them next year (just like I missed the preschool teachers at the end of last year). And the kids will be in school full day, which seems so strange. But it's official: they're in the same class, which should then loop to second grade together. On the downside, I'm worried that I ended the year the way I started it, on my back (well, I'm further along than I was in early September!), and have concerns about being fun Mommy (or even capable Mommy, since I can't drive yet--I'm told sitting and driving is really hard on the back) this summer . . . and so am outsourcing a lot of my role. Nothing a good crying jag won't relieve. But better the change be hard for me than for them.

Happy first day of summer!

(really, I'm happy. In that weird conflicted happy way, which I remember well from last days of school of my childhood, 'cos I really always liked school.)

-=-=-=-=-=
*Are you catching all these Les Mis references? First "One Day More," and now "At the End of the Day." Sure, it has nothing to do with school, but it fits . . . .

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Day More

. . . until school is done. Yep, tomorrow is the last day of kindergarten (and we're reading Junie B. Jones, Graduation Girl, to mark the occasion). Sis and Bud are pretty much first graders. And almost six years old on top of it. It's amazing, really this passage of time. So quick, yet so slow, but with so much change along the way. Because in a year they've learned to write in upper and lower case, recognize dozens of sight words, read beginner books all by themselves, write several sentences to create stories, complete simple arithmetic. Beyond academics, there are all the other social intangibles, like functioning in a classroom setting, being responsible for their own things (most of the time), following directions, getting along with others (usually), etc. And they've loved it all--their teachers, their specials like P.E, snacktime, the bus, writing time, library books, classroom friends--EXCEPT homework. Though, oddly, they also complained most days about going, preferring to stay home to play, only to hop up and get their backpacks and leave in the morning without any real delay. I guess kids are funny that way.

Happy end-of-school, whenever it ended for you!

Go, Pip, Go!

"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky."
--George Gershwin, "Summertime"

If you've been following the New York baby hawk, Pip, she took flight today! Yay!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good For a Laugh

Here's a funny collection of UU humor, including almost every joke about UUs I've ever heard, excepting, "What do you call an atheist with children? A UU."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Longest Day

Happy Summer Solstice, all!

It's a beautiful, bright day here in CT.

It's also the last full day of school (with short days on W/Th/F).

So to celebrate both occasions, the kids are going to paint shirts today, kind of a pseudo tie-dye. They'll rubber band the shirts and then squirt fabric paint on them. (And later in the summer, we're going to try Kool-Aid tie-dye (1 packet dry drink mix to 1 oz vinegar).)

I hope your day is as bright and colorful.


Happy Birthday and Anniversary!

To Mama Teacher . . . . have a wonderful vacation and birthday celebration! You deserve it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vegan Pledge Review

I ended my vegan cleanse today with a bowl of blueberries in yogurt, with a drizzle of honey. Delicious and divine.

But the effects linger. I lost about 4 lbs in two weeks. My blood pressure dropped 20 points. My palate is reoriented to fresh fruits and vegetables, away from refined and processed foods. Is my liver happier? Are there less toxins in my body? I don't know. But I realized that I can do without so much--coffee, breads, refined sugar--and not feel deprived.

And so, we're going to continue, in a way. Nothing is off limits, as it has been for two weeks, but I want to continue the trend of limiting dairy, eggs, wheat, and sugar and focusing on fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains. The goal is a continued focus on whole, natural foods, but also with an eye towards decreasing inflammation, especially since I can't take anti-inflammatories anymore.

After two weeks of doing completely without, it might be a challenge to actually balance small amounts--it's easier to say no outright. But it's worth it, I know. I might even make "vegan week" a monthly activity. We'll just have to see. But I highly recommend the experience to anyone who thinks seriously about food and health. Try it . . . I liked it.

A Loser Like Me

Yesterday, while Bud and Mama were at the dance party, Sis stayed home with me. We didn't have plans, but we had options--we could do arts and crafts, play games, or watch any movie she wanted.

But in the end, what she wanted, was to play water balloons with Neighbor Boy, who was outside having a blast when we were saying goodbye to Bud. I could never compete.

Of course, I let her go, checking in several times to make sure things were okay; they were, the mom was helping fill the balloons and the dad was outside and thus nearby. She played with him for two hours, and then another hour after Bud got home and joined them, until dinner.

And I was so upset. I've had real struggles with losing my sense of being "Mommy" while I temporarily can't play everything I used to, knowing that two months doesn't feel temporary to them. I battle the feeling of uselessness. And yesterday, I lost.

I know, of course, that kids choosing other kids over parents is the natural progression of childhood. But I also know that, in the past, with baking or a more involved arts and crafts, I'd have had a fighting chance of being the winner, of being more fun and entertaining, of being of use. I understand, though, that I probably would've chosen water balloons in her place, too, especially since Bud was off having fun with kids his own age.

But I mourn the mother-daughter time we didn't get to have yesterday.

I mourn all the Mommy time I haven't gotten . . . . and won't get in the future.

The Silent Piano

We had long used the piano, but not as a piano. It held family photos and knick-knacks. It functioned admirably as a fort when sheets were spread between it and the bench.

But we never played it. Even with books of sheet music on top.

And a silent piano is a sad burden.

Of course, we had grand intentions, when we got the piano for free, plus the cost of moving it, when the kids were about a year old. We wanted to bring live music into the house. I wanted to learn to play. Mama wanted to improve her playing. We wanted the kids to play. We had images of singalongs and lessons and recitals.

The piano was old. 1916. An American-made version of a German piano, I believe. It weighed more than any piano our movers had moved. At some point it had been painted white and green but was stripped and left unvarnished, with bits of white and green still visible in places. It was not in tune. The tuner who had tuned it for the previous tuner said it would be impossible to restore completely without huge expense. Still, it didn't sound off to me because I don't have much of an ear. And we figured it would be okay. It was our starter piano.

Except we never really started. Music came from our iPod or from our box of other musical instruments or from our voices. We tried a few times but couldn't interest the kids in playing. And Mama and I never found the time. Or had the inclination.

And so we realized it was time to let it go . . . so it could be used by someone, so we could have the space back. The kids were reluctant and spent a whole day enthralled by the inner-workings of the hammers hitting the strings, something we'd never shown them. We wavered. Maybe we had them hooked. Until we asked outright if they wanted to take lessons AND practice. Nope. Not at all. Not even a consideration.

Done. The piano left this morning, free to anyone who would have it moved. The kids were intrigued by seeing it wheeled out of the house and into the truck. I wasn't sad, which meant I felt it was the right decision. Mama was conflicted with regret, longing, hope; even though it was her idea, I think it's always going to make her a bit sad.

We moved a bookcase, sorted through some games and puzzles, shifted couches (no, I didn't). It looks different, sending the cats into a tizzy. Not right, not wrong. We'll get used to it. Eventually.

And it we have another longing for a piano, we can try again. Perhaps with a keyboard first. Until then, I'm glad that the old piano will sing again, even if it's for someone else.


Our Bud Bieber

Yesterday, Bud went to a dance birthday party, complete with dj, disco lights, karaoke, and music. For the 6-year old set. Mama said he danced for two hours straight, a combo of me (listening to the speed of the music to determine pace of movement), "Glee" moves, and kung fu forms. He even did the splits in the middle of the dance floor! And several other moves that really did look like breakdancing. The DJ called all the kids by various pop/rock star names.

Bud proudly told me when he got home, with two medals for his dancing, that he was "Beaver."

"Who is Justin Beaver, Mom?"

To Pop, With Love

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

"To Sir, With Love"
by Don Black and Mark London

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,
But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn't easy, but I'll try,

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love

The time has come,
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That's a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I, would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love

Happy Father's Day!

"Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

-=-=-=-=-

And if you strive for that, Bud and Sis, then you will be like the beloved men in our lives . . .

  • my dad, Pop;
  • your uncle, Goo;
  • Gong, Mama's dad;
  • and Uncle Soccer, on his first Father's Day!
  • Friday, June 17, 2011

    Pride: Ups and Downs


    I always get a bit down when there is a battle for LGBT rights in a legislature or at the ballot box. I suppose my reaction should be hope or celebration that we're moving forward, making progress. But instead I am sad, or "smad," that a). there have to be extraordinary measures to grant me and my family even just some of the rights that straight people have (do you know we paid $10,000 more in taxes this year because we're lesbians?!!!!) and b). that people fight it so vehemently with whatever arguments, always religious, that they have against us--it's just disheartening to be called dirty and immoral and disgusting and an aberration and etc etc etc.

    I wonder how my grandmother, who was 18 at the time, felt about the vote on the 19th amendment, giving her the right to vote. Was she pleased that she was granted this right? Or did she feel patronized that she had to be given a right that others possessed by virtue of existing?

    And I can't even begin to touch on the understandable rage of the African-American community at the repeated votes and laws and court cases that denied and granted them rights and protections over and over again, with slow progress and little effect on the culture at large for so long. Even still, especially if you believe the recent story (much-debated) that an African-American woman was denied shelter in Cordova, Alabama and died in the tornado.

    So, I'm watching the struggle in New York's Senate to get just one more person to vote "aye" so that millions of people can feel like full citizens and I'm just smad. (I say "feel like" because they still are full citizens federally.)

    But then I read today about the new UN declaration expressing concern about abuse of LGBT people (who are illegal in something like 76 countries) and affirming the support of our rights. And I was hopeful that there was progress internationally, with South Africa introducing the measure, and 23 countries supporting it, even though there 19 against as well as more of those awful kinds of hurtful comments. I wonder if the UN can sway just one more NY Senator?

    I just try to remember, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the arc of human history bends towards justice . . .

    For All the Teachers: Thank You

    This is for Sis and Bud's teachers and all the teachers we know (especially the one who didn't get a single thank-you note or appreciation gift this year).


    WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?
    Author Unknown

    "Whose child is this?" I asked one day
    Seeing a little one out at play
    "Mine", said the parent with a tender smile
    "Mine to keep a little while
    To bathe his hands and comb his hair
    To tell him what he is to wear
    To prepare him that he may always be good
    And each day do the things he should"

    "Whose child is this?" I asked again
    As the door opened and someone came in
    "Mine", said the teacher with the same tender smile
    "Mine, to keep just for a little while
    To teach him how to be gentle and kind
    To train and direct his dear little mind
    To help him live by every rule
    And get the best he can from school"

    "Whose child is this?" I ask once more
    Just as the little one entered the door
    "Ours" said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
    And each took the hand of the little child
    "Ours to love and train together
    Ours this blessed task forever."

    -=-=-=-=-=-
    Unity
    By Cleo V. Swarat

    I dreamed I stood in a studio
    And watched two sculptors there,
    The clay they used was a young child’s mind
    And they fashioned it with care.
    One was a teacher:
    the tools she used were books and music and art;
    One was a parent
    With a guiding hand and gentle loving heart.
    And when at last their work was done,
    They were proud of what they had wrought.
    For the things they had worked into the child
    Could never be sold or bought!
    And each agreed she would have failed
    if she had worked alone.
    For behind the parent stood the school,
    and behind the teacher stood the home!

    -=-=-=-=-=-
    A Loving Teacher
    by Pat McClain

    Things our grown-up mind defies
    Appear as giants in children's eyes.
    A gentle touch upon her head
    A simple word when kindly said.
    Complete attention when she calls.
    Her knowing you have given all.
    Correcting in a loving way.
    Instilling trust in what you say.

    Making her believe unique
    The tiny flaw upon her cheek.
    Admiring old and faded dresses.
    Reminding her we all make messes.
    Words of comfort you've softly spoken
    A promise you've made she knows won't be broken.
    Your knowing her doll that was lost today
    Is just as important as bills you can't pay.

    Helping make her plans and schemes
    Giving her hope and building her dreams.
    All of this and so much more
    Is in her mind forever stored.
    They who touch her life awhile
    Can either make or break that child.
    Education is important, true,

    But so much more, her faith in you.
    You've weathered through the storm and strife;
    You helped to build a small girl's life.
    You're truly one to be admired.
    For you gave more than was required.

    -=-=-=-=-
    Tribute To A Teacher
    by Myrna Beth Lambert

    We held their hands the first day of school.
    Our hearts were filled with pride.
    There was an aura of fear and apprehension
    As we stood close to their side.
    We deposited our children at your door,
    Our most precious and prized possessions.
    We trusted that you would give them more
    Then Reading and Writing lessons.
    Our unspoken words were, give them self worth.
    They are little children, respect their rights.
    Teach them with love and remember compassion.
    Use a firm hand to break up their fights.
    As the years went by, you did us proud
    With your guiding hand and understanding smile.
    You gave much more then we expected.
    That was your way, your undeniable style.
    What higher tribute can we pay a teacher?
    To what greater heights can he ascend?
    Than to have his students praise his work,
    And to say "He is my friend."
    -=-=-=-=-=-

    You Are My Special Teacher
    Author unknown

    You are my special teacher
    I just want you to know
    I always had fun in your class
    How the time has flown!

    Thank you for helping me
    To learn all that I know
    I will always remember you
    Even when I'm grown!

    I'll miss you being my teacher
    I know the reason why
    I am feeling very sad
    Because it's time to say goodbye

    -=-=-=-=-=-

    When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
    by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you displayed my first report, and I wanted to do another.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you fed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you gave me a sticker, and I knew that things were special things.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you put your arm around me, and I felt loved.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt--but that it’s all right to cry.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you smiled, and it made me want to look that pretty too.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking, you cared, and I wanted to be everything I could be.
    When you thought I wasn’t looking--I looked...and wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn’t looking.

    -=-=-=-=-=

    Where do all the teachers go?
    by Peter Dixon

    Where do all the teachers go
    When its four o’clock?
    Do they live in houses
    And do they wash their socks?

    Do they wear pajamas?
    And do they watch TV?
    And do they pick their noses
    The same as you and me?

    Do they live with other people
    Have they mums and dads?
    And were they ever children
    And were they ever bad?

    Did they ever, never spell right
    Did they ever make mistakes?
    Were they punished in the corner
    If they pinched the chocolate flakes?

    Did they ever lose their hymn books
    Did they ever leave their greens?
    Did they ever scribble on the desktop
    Did they wear old dirty jeans?

    I’ll follow one back home today
    I’ll find out what they do
    Then I’ll put it in a poem
    That they can read to you.

    Singin' Out the Year

    Today was the kiddos' end-of-year kindergarten concert. And I got to go! It was wonderful--to be out, to be back at the kids' school, to celebrate their wonderful first year of elementary school, to feel "normal" again. Sure, I had on my huge brace and was moving slowly and spent lots of time on the nurse's couch to rest and everyone who hadn't seen me in two months kindly asked how I was, so it wasn't that normal but it was totally do-able.

    There was a slide show (that I missed and will see later, cos Mama recorded it) and then the kids all marched in. They did a poem altogether, which each class chanting a line in unison--Sis was proud that her class went first. Then each class sang approximately two songs. Sis happily danced with her music teacher for "Jump Jim Joe." And Bud wiggled his body with happy abandon during his class's songs. Then the whole kindergarten sang a few together. So sweet! They ended with a survey and Bud was one of four children (and the only boy!) to read (READ!) the survey results. His line was, "Our favorite book was Froggy." Other results--as a whole, they like pink (there are more girls than boys), writing centers, and goldfish crackers. There were thank-yous around and it was over.

    Afterwards, we took pictures with their kindergarten teachers, even though the kids have a week more of school. But it's the last time Mama and I will be there for kindergarten so we said our goodbyes and thank yous. Well, sort of. I choked up and couldn't quite manage it. Probably because I'd managed not to need the tissues I'd brought with me (because the night before I had demonstrated my proclivity for tears when Sis recited her line and I burst into tears) during the show.

    It's not a goodbye in the sense of final, but a goodbye in the sense of the end of a particular time. We'll see everybody next year, but it's just never the same. Impermanence again. But that's okay. First grade will have great parts too.

    But isn't there something special about the end of kindergarten? Just like there was about the beginning . . . .

    Keeps Going


    Well, today I said goodbye to ibuprofen, after a quick-onset itchy throat (NOT a tight throat--I had not trouble breathing) an hour or so after taking some advil. And then it responded to benadryl.

    So I made an appointment with an allergist who can test for medicinal allergies.

    Then I'll be buying one of those swanky medical bracelets.

    And taking double fish oil everyday for inflammation, a la my physiatrist. Plus continuing with the anti-inflammation diet (which is a lot like our vegan cleanse; article here, specifics here), especially because it can take a few weeks to kick in.

    I have to admit, it makes me pretty nervous to lose out on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have gotten me through several bouts of back pain and enabled me to get back on my feet, literally, each time.

    As the bracelet above says, you gotta have hope . . . .


    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Mommy's in the Kitchen . . .

    It's that time of year again: teacher gifts. This morning, the kiddos delivered four pounds of Italian butter cookies (from a bakery) to school to thank all their specials teachers, aides, consultants, staff, and administrators.

    Next week, they'll deliver gifts (actually, gift cards) to their own classroom teachers to thank them for a wonderful year.

    And today they worked on their class gift. Both classes are making recipe scrapbooks for the teachers, with each child in charge of a two-sided page. One side has a recipe, the other a note to the teacher. There can be pictures, decorations, whatever else. Sis opted to include her favorite chocolate crinkle cookie recipe, while Bud wanted to include the recipe for chicken and dumplings. While both of them could've written out their version of how to make it, they chose to use the actual recipes, which I printed out, saying they didn't know the exact directions. Sis wrote, "I like this cookie. I hope you do too." Bud noted, "This is my favorite meal." Well, his favorite meal is probably sushi, but I don't have a recipe for that! But still, he chose it himself. The glued down pictures of them in the kitchen and Sis stamped some images of food.

    On the other side, they both wrote "I love you!" and included stamped images of their favorite things, mainly bunnies and penguins.

    Helping them do this--and I did help some, or, well, I helped Babysitter, who helped--was wonderful on many levels. First, I got to spend some real quality time with them, instead of a kiss or hug here and there (though, I have read to them every night). Second, I was being useful, which is a rare thing these days and is probably the biggest factor in my recurring ennui--I can amuse myself all day but it doesn't mean much unless I'm contributing somehow, which I haven't been much. Third, for the 45-60 minutes I was downstairs, I didn't notice my foot at all and only my back intermittently. Yay!!!!!

    And lastly, I was reminded of something from my own kindergarten year. It wasn't a teacher's gift but a Mother's Day gift. My beloved old teacher (and she probably was "old," and not just an adult, at least in her 60s, which was ancient to a five year old) Mrs. Felch, went around to each student and had them describe their favorite recipe. She then compiled them all and mimeographed them on long sheets--can you just smell that smudgy purple ink?? And we gave the cookbook to our moms. I remember reading it some years later and laughing at descriptions of how to make "psghetti" or "cake." But I actually got my recipe fairly correct--boil a chicken for a long time and add dumplings.

    Yep, I had chosen chicken and dumplings too.

    Another Allergy

    This time to Naproxen.

    Itchiness and raised welts on arms, then neck, back, and chest.

    Looks like I'm working my way to an allergy to all NSAIDs, meaning all anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen. Not a good thing for someone like me with back trouble. I'm not allergic to ibuprofen yet but the pharmacist thinks it's a matter of time. So I'm on the lookout for itchiness and welts. And taking benadryl.

    I think I'll be heading to an allergist soon to try to get a handle on these new medicine allergies.

    Blah.

    At least there's Tylenol??

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    "I Don't Like Change"

    Just as I'm learning more about impermanence in Buddhist thought (as I'm currently reading Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart), we seem to be experiencing quite a spate of examples. And it's driving us all, well, mainly poor Bud, to tears.

    Today was Nanny's last day, after almost two months, because I'm going to be able to start doing more with the kids. And because Babysitter will be helping out instead. But saying goodbye was hard. They really enjoyed and cared about her, and she did about them--they went to "Goose Poop Park" almost everyday, had deli picnics, did piggyback rides, learned to sew and worked on pillowcases, had special icy treats, painted, practiced kung fu (Bud was teaching her the forms!), gardened, played games, read, and so many other things. Goodbyes are always difficult. Which is why Bud came running up to my room midday crying, "Mommy, I don't like change!"

    Earlier in the week, they'd both been upset about the end of school and saying goodbye to their teachers soon. They are nervous about first grade, a new teacher, new classmates, possibly not seeing old friends. Sis particularly cried about missing the friends she's come to enjoy. Bud doesn't want to change teachers.

    I try to reassure them that change is hard, but it's not always bad. In fact, with summer comes camp, swimming, Babysitter, a visit (unscheduled) from Gommie, their birthday party. But, because they pretty much live in the moment, they can't be enticed with visions of future fun. (Though, conversely, it also means they recover more quickly than we do because they exist so much in the present.)

    Of course, all this new change is on top of the last two months of changes and stressors--my injury and continued recovery, a long bout with stomach flu, Gommie staying and then leaving, learning new forms and going to their first kung fu competition, Nanny coming and now going.

    So we muddle through, but it's hard to convince kids that change is okay, a part of life, that it is, in that familiar aphorism, the only constant, especially when it's a lesson I'm obviously still studying myself.

    A Trip to Bunny-ful

    We don't have one bunny. Or even two. We have at least three beautiful wild brown rabbits.

    We spotted what we presume was Mommy Bunny last night, bigger than our small cat, eating clover in our side yard, happy as can be. When I accidentally tapped the window glass with my camera, she headed to the roses where she stayed until Mama got home.

    Today, we saw her two babies, hiding in our next door neighbor's boxwood bush. This must be their home because it's where we saw the little bunny last week. But today there were definitely two, small enough to fit in my hand. Baby bunnies. Twin baby bunnies.

    Sis is just beside herself.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    I am a Real Lesbian Blogger

    I want to set the record straight--yes, pun intended--that I am

    a). real, in the sense that my first name starts with a J, I have a female partner, called here Mama Hungry, and twin children known here as Bud and Sis, that we live in Connecticut, that all the descriptors of me--the Ph.D., Unitarian Universalism, vegetarian, museum educator, stay-at-home-mom--on the sidebars are true, and that everything I blog about has happened. There is some poetic or literary license with descriptions and hyperbole, sometimes with skewed timelines (I get this indifferent relationship to time and numbers from my mom), mainly because I'm a Texan and we always exaggerate and embellish our stories.

    b). a lesbian. Yep, a real female lesbian. I've been a lesbian since I was born, no doubt, but didn't quite realize it until my mid-20s, despite several girl crushes and kissing my lesbian best friend in high school. Call me slow. But it was the 1980s--we didn't have Ellen, just Jo on the "Facts of Life." I had a few very platonic, probably gay boyfriends, that didn't amount to much. And I've been in a monogamous lesbian relationship with another lesbian since 1997, having met and started dating her, after a fashion, in 1994.

    c.) a blogger. I write this blog. Unless I quote or attribute the words, ideas, or recipes to others, they are my own to the best of my knowledge (recognizing that I might not realize influences I've absorbed). I've been blogging since August 2007--almost four years now--practically every day, sometimes several times a day. I do it for fun, for posterity, for keeping in touch with friends and family, for working out my ideas, but not much else like fame, money, or a book contract.

    I mention this because in the last few days not one but two lesbian bloggers have revealed themselves to be straight men. And get this: unbeknownst to them, they corresponded and even flirted with each other! Tom McMasters took the pen name Amina Arraf and lied about being a lesbian Syrian-American in Damascus being persecuted by the government but protected by her father. And Bill Graber lied about being a lesbian and edited Lez Get Real under the name Paula Brooks, which is his wife's name--and she apparently knew nothing about it! I suppose I can appreciate that these two straight men cared enough about lesbian (and Syrian) issues to fully appropriate a fake identity to get the story out. Except now the story is about straight white male entitlement--and not lesbians and/or Syrians--and, really, don't we hear enough about straight white men in the news everyday already?

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Breakfast Bonanza

    Mama really is embracing the Sunday brunch tradition we've started. When it's not bacon and eggs, there's an array of pancakes, waffles, crepes, French toast, and the like. This is especially remarkable this week because she's doing the vegan pledge with me and still made the kids pancakes, this time new Swedish pancakes. So, to help things along, I'm compiling here all of our favorite breakfast dishes (including, in addition to those dishes above, grits, "milk toast," "old English Cheese Bits!!", quick breads, granola, various casseroles, muffins, various oatmeals etc. But oddly no coffee cakes or cinnamon buns . . . yet.)

    -=-=-=-=-=-

    Emeril Lagasse's Swedish Pancakes

    1 large egg

    1 cup milk

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoons melted butter

    Oil, for griddle

    Sour Cream, as accompaniment

    Lingonberry jam, as accompaniment

    Preheat a Swedish pancake pan (round, cast-iron pan with shallow 3-inch indentations for pancakes) over medium heat.

    Beat the egg and milk in a small bowl.

    In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the milk mixture, stirring to make a thin batter, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the melted butter.

    Grease each round cup in the pan with oil. Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into each of the greased cups and cook until bubbles form on the top, about 1 minute. Turn with a spatula and cook on the second side until golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.

    Serve hot with sour cream, or lingonberry jam.

    Foodtv.com

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    Nigella Lawson's Pancake Mix

    4 cups all-purpose flour

    3 tablespoons baking powder

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar

    Pancake batter:

    1 egg

    1 cup milk

    1 tablespoon melted butter

    For the pancake mix:

    Mix the above ingredients together and store in a jar.

    For the pancake batter:

    For each 1 cup pancake mix add 1 egg, 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Do not overmix.

    Heat a flat griddle or pan over medium-high heat.

    Spoon drops of 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of batter onto the hot griddle and when bubbles appear on the surface of the little pancakes, flip them over to make them golden brown on both sides. A minute or so a side should do it.

    Nigella Lawson

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    Alton Brown's French Toast

    1 cup half-and-half

    3 large eggs

    2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread

    4 tablespoons butter

    In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

    Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

    Foodtv.com

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    Suzette's Crepes

    2 eggs

    1 cup milk

    1 cup flour

    1 tablespoon melted butter

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Combine eggs and milk in a blender, food processor, or by hand. Add flour and mix until smooth. Add butter, sugar, and salt. It should be the consistency of heavy cream. The batter can be used immediately, but is even better chilled 1 hour or overnight (I had to add a little milk to lighten the consistency after 2 hours in the fridge).

    Heat the pan and brush lightly with melted butter. Pour in a ladleful of batter (about 3 tablespoons). Quickly swirl the pan around to spread out the batter. Cook over medium-high heat until the crepe is set and the edges are lightly browned and lift up easily, about 2 minutes. Flip it, spread it with your favorite filling, and cook for about another minute. Fold in half and then half again, creating a triangle, then serve.

    Monica Wellington, Crepes By Suzette

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    Dutch Baby Pancake

    2 eggs

    1 teaspoon vegetable oil

    1/2 cup low fat milk

    1/2 cup flour

    2 tablespoons sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a 9" nonstick cake pan, shallow baking dish, or skillet with an ovenproof handle.

    Crack the eggs into a bowl. Then use a fork to beat together the eggs, oil, and milk until smooth. Stir until well-blended.

    Add the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Stir until a smooth batter forms. A few lumps are okay. Pour the batter into the greased dish.

    Bake the pancake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F. Bake until the pancake is very puffy and lightly browned all over, about 5-8 minutes.

    Note: it will deflate upon leaving the oven, so be sure the kids get a look before you take it out! Also, it is easiest to cut with scissors.

    C is for Cooking: Recipes form the Street

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    Mark Bittman's Muffins, Infinite Ways

    Makes: 12 medium or 8 large muffins

    Time: About 40 minutes

    The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in. But those little muffin cups allow for a lot more potential variation, depending on what you do at the last minute before baking.

    Anything goes when it comes to varying this master recipe. See the variations below for more ways to spike the recipe. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

    3 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for the muffin tin

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    3 teaspoons baking powder

    1 egg

    1 cup milk, plus more if needed

    1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and line it with paper or foil muffin cups if you like.

    2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter or oil in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.

    3. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. (If you prefer bigger muffins, fill 8 cups almost to the top; pour 1/4 cup water into the empty cups.) Bake for about 20 minutes (about 30 minutes for larger muffins) or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.

    **Sis and Bud's Variations: We halved the batter, adding a 1/2 cup fresh blueberries and dusting with sugar for Bud and 1/2 cup chocolate chips and topping with more chips for Sis. Perfection.

    Banana-Nut Muffins. These are good with half bran or whole wheat flour: Add 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews to the dry ingredients. Substitute 1 cup mashed very ripe banana for 3/4 cup of the milk. Use honey or maple syrup in place of sugar if possible.

    Bran Muffins. Substitute 1 cup oat or wheat bran for 1 cup of the flour (you can use whole wheat flour for the remainder if you like). Use 2 eggs and honey, molasses, or maple syrup as the sweetener. Add 1/2 cup raisins to the prepared batter if you like.

    Sour Cream or Yogurt Muffins. Reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients. Substitute 11/4 cups sour cream or yogurt for the milk and cut the butter or oil back to 1 tablespoon.

    Spice Muffins. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each ground allspice and ground ginger, and 1 pinch ground cloves and mace or nutmeg to the dry ingredients; use 1 cup whole wheat flour in place of 1 cup all-purpose flour. Add 1/2 cup raisins, currants, dates, or dried figs to the prepared batter if you like.

    Blueberry or Cranberry Muffins. Try substituting cornmeal for up to 1/2 cup of the flour: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients; increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. Stir 1 cup fresh blueberries or cranberries into the batter at the last minute. You can also use frozen blueberries or cranberries here; do not defrost them first. Blueberry muffins are good with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest added to the batter along with the wet ingredients. Cranberry muffins are excellent with 1/2 cup chopped nuts and/or 1 tablespoon minced orange zest added to the prepared batter.

    Sweet and Rich Muffins. Like cake: Use butter and increase the quantity to 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick); increase the sugar to 3/4 cup. Use 2 eggs and decrease the milk to 1/2 cup, or more if needed. In Step 2, after mixing together the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer and in a small bowl beat together the eggs with the milk. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, then moisten with a little of the milk. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, taking care not to over-mix. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.

    Lighter Muffins. A little more work, with noticeable results: Use 2 eggs and separate them. Add the yolks as usual; beat the whites until stiff but not dry and fold in very gently at the last moment.

    Coffee Cake Muffins. Mix together 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews; and 2 extra tablespoons melted butter. Stir half of this mixture into the original batter with the wet ingredients and sprinkle the rest on top before baking.

    Savory Muffins. Cut the sugar back to 1 tablespoon. Add up to 1 cup of cooked minced onion or leek and shredded cheese to the batter just before baking.

    Mark Bittman

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    All-Star Muffins

    3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose or cake flour

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    1 teaspoon salt

    8 tablespoons butter

    1 cup sugar

    3 large eggs

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1 cup sour cream

    (Note: the KA cookbook mentions all sorts of add-ins, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 cups of whatever you desire)

    Preheat oven to 400F and lightly grease 16 muffin cups or use paper liners.

    In medium bowl, whisk flour, powder, soda, and salt, then set aside.

    In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and almost white in color. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth. Fill muffin cups and bake 18-24 minutes , until tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to finish cooling on a rack (muffins left in pan with become touch from steaming).

    (1 basic muffin, 274 calories)

    King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

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    Sis and Bud's Muffins, a la Martha Stewart

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

    2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    2 cups fresh blueberries (we used 1 cup frozen strawberries, defrosted, for Bud; 1/2 cup chocolate chips for Sis)

    1 cups sugar

    2 large eggs

    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    1/2 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Working over the bowl, toss blueberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons flour mixture to lightly coat; set aside the flour mixture and the blueberries. (Or skip this part.)

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.

    With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add milk, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries.

    Or, for our muffins, divide batter into two separate bowls. In one, stir in the strawberries; in the other, the chocolate. Continue . . .

    Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    adapted from blueberry muffins in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (except, online, she adds 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg for crunchy topping; commentors suggest adding a bit of lemon zest to batter)

    =-=-=-=-=-=-

    Bran Muffins

    1 cup boiling water

    2 ½ teaspoon baking soda

    ½ cup crisco

    2 cups sugar

    2 eggs

    2 cups buttermilk

    2 ½ cup flour

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 cups All-Bran cereal

    1 cup 40% Bran Flakes cereal

    1 cup dates

    ½ cup pecans

    Add soda to boiling water and cool.

    Cream shortening and sugars.

    Add eggs one at a time.

    Stir in buttermilk, flour, salt, water with soda.

    Mix and then add cereal, dates, and nuts.

    Store covered in refrigerator, up to 6 weeks. Do not stir

    Spoon out.

    Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.

    Gommie Hungry

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    Orange Biscuits

    1 can refrigerator biscuits

    ½ stick oleo

    2/3 cup sugar

    ½ cup orange juice

    Melt oleo and sugar; add juice and coat biscuits. Bake at 350°F til brown (15 minutes).

    Gommie Hungry

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    Bohemian Coffee Cake

    1 cup oil

    1 cup brown sugar

    1 cup granulated sugar

    1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar added)

    1 cup shredded coconut

    1 cup chopped pecans

    2 eggs

    2 1/2 cups flour

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1 teaspoon nutmeg

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Mix all ingredients. Pour into greased and floured pan (I think it's 9 x 13). Bake 1 hour at 350F.

    teaching colleague in Texas

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    Sherried Eggs


    18 eggs
    ¾ cups milk
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can mushrooms (drained)
    2 tablespoons dry Sherry
    1 cup grated cheddar cheese

    Beat eggs and milk together well. Scramble until soft.
    Place in large greased casserole.
    Mix soup, mushrooms, and sherry together. Spread on top of the scrambled eggs, mixing in slightly.
    Top with cheddar cheese. Refrigerate overnight.
    Place in cold oven at low temperature (250°F) and bake for 1 ½ hours. Served 8-10.

    Frederick-Talbott Inn, Indiana

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    Hashbrown Casserole

    32 oz. bag frozen hash browns
    10-1/2 oz cream of mushroom
    1 pint sour cream
    2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup chopped onions
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 cup melted butter

    Mix and spread into 13 x 9” baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-


    Pumpkin Bread

    Makes 2 loaves

    3 cups sugar

    3 ½ cups flour

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    ½ teaspoon salt

    2 teaspoons each nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon

    4 eggs

    2 cups fresh or canned cooked pumpkin

    1 cup oil

    ½ cup water plus ½ cup apricot or peach brandy (or another ½ cup water)

    1 cup each chopped pecans and raisins (optional)

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine sugar, flour, soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in large electric mixer bowl. Mix eggs pumpkin, oil, water (or brandy) and combine with dry ingredients; beat until well mixed. Fold in pecans and raisins. Bake in large greased Bundt pan until cake tests done, about 1 hours and 30-45 minutes.

    Gommie Hungry
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    Banana Bread

    Beat:

    1 ½ cups sugar

    ½ cup butter

    ½ cup shortening

    Add:

    2 eggs

    4 tablespoons milk

    Sift and add:

    2 cups flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Add:

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    3 cups mashed bananas (appx. 6 bananas)

    1 cup nuts

    Grease and flour pan. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes. For miniature muffins, bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.

    Makes 2 loaves


    Gommie Hungry

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    Strawberry Bread

    3 cups all purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    2 cups sugar

    4 eggs, well beaten

    1 cup vegetable oil

    1 cup chopped pecans

    1 ½ pints strawberries, washed and stemmed (Note: 2-10 oz. packages frozen

    strawberries, thawed, may be substituted for fresh.)

    Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar; mix well.

    In a separate bowl, mix eggs and oil; add to dry ingredients. Stir in pecans. Fold in strawberries until moistened. Pour into 2 greased 9 x 5 x 3 in. loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

    Gommie Hungry

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    Church Cake Lady Chocolate Cake

    Devils Food Cake mix

    8oz sour cream

    4 eggs

    1/2 cup oil

    1/2 cup water

    1/4 cup coffee or liquor

    2 tablespoons grated orange peel

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    12 oz chocolate chips




    Mix all that together and pour in a greased and floured pan. I usually flour it with unsweetened cocoa powder, that way the flour doesn't leave a white mess on the fininshed cake. Bake at 350 for around an hour.

    If you are so inclined, when the cake comes out of the oven, pour on the following.

    1 cup sugar

    1/2 cup butter

    1/4 cup orange juice or orange liquor

    1/4 cup water.

    Heat this together until the sugar melts and pour in over the cake while it is still in the baking pan.

    Happy baking! J.W.

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    Apricot Bread

    2 cups self-rising flour (or 2 cups all purpose plus 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder and 2 pinches of salt)

    2 cups sugar

    1 cup oil

    1 cup pecans

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1 teaspoon cloves

    2 small jars baby apricots

    3 eggs

    Glaze:

    juice of ½ lemon

    2 cup powdered sugar

    add water to liquify and then heat

    Combine sugar, oil, spices. Add eggs 1 at a time. Add flour and apricots. Stir in nuts. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Bake in greased loaf pan at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Turn out and glaze.

    Gommie Hungry

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    Golden Sourdough Biscuits

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    1/2 cup cold butter

    1 cup Sourdough Starter

    1/2 cup buttermilk (I substituted dry buttermilk powder and water, adding the powder to the flour and the water to the starter)

    In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine Sourdough Starter and buttermilk; stir into crumb mixture with a fork until dough forms a ball.

    Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead 10-12 times. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. Place 2 in. apart on a greased baking sheet.

    Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.

    Taste of Home

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    Miss B (in PA)'s Oatmeal Scones

    1 ½ cups flour

    1 ¼ cups quick cooking rolled oats

    ¼ cup sugar

    1 tablespoon baking powder (slightly less than)

    1 teaspoon cream of tartar (slightly less than)

    ½ teaspoon salt (slightly less than)

    2/3 cup butter, melted (1 stick butter also works well)

    1/3 cup milk

    1 egg, slightly beaten (Eggbeaters also work)

    ½ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)

    In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add butter, milk, and egg, stirring until just moistened. Shape into a ball, flatten into 8” circle, score into wedges. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 425°F for 12-15 minutes.

    Note: we have also made chocolate chip scones, which are very good.

    B.S.

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    Creamy Oatmeal with Dried Fruit

    1 cup steel-cut oats

    2/3 cups dried tart cherries or sweetened dried

    cranberries

    1/3 cup chopped dried figs

    1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

    4 1/2 cups water

    1/2 cup half and half or evaporated milk

    Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and

    cook on LOW for

    8-9 hours, or overnight, until tender.

    Serve the oatmeal straight from the pot with no

    embellishment but a

    sprinkling of sea salt, a pat of butter, and milk.

    Beth Hensperger, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

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    Maple Oatmeal with Dried Fruit and Sweet Spices

    1 cup steel-cut oats

    1/2 cup raisins or dried cherries, dried blueberries, or sweetened dried cranberries (or mixed fruit bits)

    1 teaspoon apple pie spice, or ground cinnamon mixed with a pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg, and allspice (we used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon--needs more, up to 1 teaspoon)

    4 cups water

    2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or granulated maple sugar, plus extra for serving (doesn't seem to be quite enough--better with syrup than sugar)

    Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-9 hours, or overnight, until tender.

    Stir oatmeal well and scoop into bowls with an oversized spoon. Serve with milk and maple syrup or sugar.

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    Baked Oatmeal

    2 cups uncooked oatmeal
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup skim milk
    1/2 cup egg beaters, or 3 egg whites (we used 2 eggs)
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tbsp ground cinnamon
    Add chopped nuts, raisins, if desired

    Combine ingredients. Bake in sprayed 8" square pan and bake at 350 deg. 35-45 min. Keeps well in refrig. or freezer. Eat cold or warm. Great for quick breakfast. 6 servings

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    Holiday Baked Oatmeal

    1 cup eggnog
    3 cups oatmeal
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup chunky applesauce
    1/4 cup honey
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup raisins

    Preheat oven to 350. Mix oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl.In another bowl mix Eggnog, applesauce, honey, vanilla and eggs. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix bowl and combine them. Add raisins. Coat a 9 X 9 baking pan with non stick spray. Pour the mixture into the pan and bakefor 25-30 minutes. (I doubled the recipe and used a 9 X 13 pan) ENJOY!

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    Breakfast Oatmeal Pudding

    2 1/4 cup quick cooking oats or 2 3/4 old-fashioned oats, uncooked

    3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

    3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

    3 1/2 cups skim milk

    4 egg whites, lightly beaten, or 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 3 whole eggs)

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil

    1 tablespoon vanilla

    3/4 cup sunflower seeds or nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc) optional

    skim milk or nonfat yogurt and fruit (optional)

    Heat oven to 350F. Spray 8" square pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, raisins/cranberries, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.

    In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, oil and vanilla; mix well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 45-60 minutes or until center is set and firm to the touch.

    Cool slightly. Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit, if desired. Store leftover pudding covered in fridge.

    Note: To reheat, place single serving in microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for about 30 seconds. Great warmed and then with yogurt on top!

    Miss D

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    Chocolate Monkey Bread


    2 rolls store-bought buttermilk biscuits (or homemade bread dough)

    1/2 cup white sugar

    1 tablespoon cocoa

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2 cup chocolate chips

    1/2 cup butter

    1/2 cup brown sugar

    Preheat oven to 350F. Spray Bundt or similar pan with cooking spray.

    Combine sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa in a large zipper bag or bowl. Cut buttermilk biscuits into quarters. Shake or toss biscuit quarters in the sugar-cinnamon-cocoa mixture. Distribute them evenly in Bundt pan. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips (note: you can also try to stuff 1-3 chips in each quarter of dough. But this is time consuming. The chips don't burn and the bread is not messy if you just sprinkle, especially if you do one layer of dough and then chips and then dough and then chips again).

    Melt butter and brown sugar on stovetop or in microwave. Pour over dough in Bundt pan.

    Bake approximately 30 minutes or until dough is puffy and brown--check for doughy, uncooked bits and continue cooking in 5 minute increments until done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto serving plate. Pull apart to eat.

    Mommy Hungry

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    Mama Teacher's Monkey Bread

    1/2 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 cans (16.3 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
    1/2 cup raisins, if desired
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan. 2. In large plastic food-storage bag, mix sugar and cinnamon. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces. 3. Mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces. 4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

    Pillsbury website

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    Apple Butter Monkey Bread

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 (12 ounce) cans refrigerated biscuits

    2/3 cup sugar

    2 tablespoons cinnamon

    1/2 cup butter

    1/2 cup brown sugar

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 cup Apple Butter

    3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Separate biscuits and cut in quarters. In a bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Roll biscuit pieces and chopped apples in cinnamon sugar to coat, and drop them in a greased Bundt pan. Make sure they are distributed evenly.

    2. On the stove top, heat the butter, brown sugar and sugar to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in Apple Butter. Pour mixture over the dough, and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, turn upside down onto serving plate, and remove pan.

    allrecipes.com adapted by Mommy Hungry

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    Blueberry Crumble French Toast

    bread sliced ¾ inch thick (they use Italian)

    8 eggs

    1 cup milk

    ¾ teaspoon vanilla

    ½ cup butter, softened

    1 cup brown sugar

    ¼ cup flour

    1 cup dry oats

    1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

    1 to 2 cups blueberries

    Grease a 6 x 10 baking dish. Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice bread in ¾ inch thick slices and place in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Cut additional bread into small pieces to fill in spaces around slices.

    Beat together eggs and milk. Add vanilla.

    Pour egg mixture over bread. There should be enough liquid to cover bread. Let sit one to two minutes to allow bread to absorb egg mixture. Turn bread slices to evenly soak both sides.

    For topping, blend together with a pastry cutter the butter, brown sugar and flour or use your fingers to work the butter into the sugar and flour; stir in oats. Sprinkle over soaked bread in baking dish. Top evenly with nuts and blueberries.

    Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is puffy and bubbles rise around the sides of the pan. Let sit 5 minutes before cutting into rectangles to serve. Peaches or apples may be substituted for the blueberries. Serve with maple syrup or blueberry syrup.

    Frederick-Talbott Inn

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    French Toast

    This one is from Better Homes and Gardens.

    2 beaten eggs

    ½ cup milk

    ¼ teaspoon vanilla

    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    5-1 inch thick slices French bread or 6 slices dry white bread

    In a shallow bowl, beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. dip bread into egg mixture, coating both sides (30 seconds for French bread).

    In a skillet, cook bread on both sides in a small amount of hot butter for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Serve with syrup.

    Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

    Alternate: French Toast.

    ¼ cup milk

    1 egg

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoon sugar

    2 slices of bread

    Dip day-old bread into mixture. Fry in small amount of butter.

    Gommie Hungry

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    Holiday Morning French Toast

    1 cup brown sugar

    ½ cup butter, melted

    3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

    ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins

    1 loaf Italian or French bread, cut into 1-inch slices

    6 large eggs

    1 ½ cups milk

    1 tablespoons vanilla extract

    Combine brown sugar, butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Add apples and cranberries; toss to coat well. Spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of baking dish. Arrange slices of bread on top.

    Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread, soaking bread completely. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

    Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 375°F oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

    Frederick-Talbott Inn, Indiana

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    Stuffed French Toast

    4 pieces bread

    2-4 tablespoons cherry butter

    2-4 tablespoons cream cheese

    1/4 cup milk

    1 egg

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoon sugar

    2 slices of bread

    Beat egg with milk, sugar, and salt.

    Mix cherry butter and cream cheese.

    Heat skillet coated in nonstick spray.

    Make cherry-cream cheese sandwich with 2 pieces of bread. Dip in egg mixture. Place in skillet. Repeat.

    Cook until browned and warm on the inside (mixture will begin to ooze).

    Serve with butter and maple syrup.

    inspired by White Gull Inn, Door County, Wisconsin

    ==-=-=-=--

    Granola

    4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

    2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

    2 cups sliced almonds

    ¾ cup vegetable oil (1/2 cup oil works better—less oily and more crunchy)

    ½ cup honey

    1 cup diced dried apricots

    1 cup diced dried figs

    1 cup dried cherries

    1 cup dried cranberries

    1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

    Preheat oven to 35O°F. Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Pour oil and honey (if you do oil first, honey slides out more easily) over the oat mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until all oats and nuts are coated.

    Spread mixture out onto baking sheet. Bake stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

    Remove granola from oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews (or any combo of dried fruits and nuts you prefer); stir to combine. Store granola in an airtight container.

    Martha Stewart, inspired by the Contessa Cafe

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    Great Granola

    3 cups rolled oats

    ½ cup raisins

    ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate

    ¾ cup wheat germ

    ¼ cup unsalted soy nuts

    ¼ cup unsalted sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

    2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Spread the oats in a nonstick baking pan, 11 x 9” or larger. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 300°F.

    Meanwhile, combine the raisins and ½ cup of the juice concentrate in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid and raisins separately.

    Add the raisin liquid and remaining ingredients except the raisins to the oats; combine well with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to the oven and toast for 20 minutes, stirring twice during baking.

    Stir in the raisins well and press the mixture firmly into the pan. Bake another 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Break up the granola and store in a tightly covered container.

    What to Eat When You’re Expecting

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    Granola Bars

    1 cup raisins

    6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

    1 cup wheat germ

    1 cup diced dried fruit

    ½ cup shredded coconut

    ½ cup chopped nuts

    ¼ cup sesame seeds

    ¼ cup light brown sugar

    2 tablespoons flour

    1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    ¾ teaspoon salt

    5 large egg whites

    ¾ cup honey

    1/3 cup apple juice

    ¼ cup vegetable oil

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Heat oven to 300°F. Put raisins in small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let soak 10 minutes. Drain.

    Combine raisins, oats, wheat germ, fruit, coconut, nuts, sesame seeds, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and slat in large bowl; stir to mix.

    Whisk together egg whites, honey, apple juice, oil, and vanilla in medium bowl. Pour liquid over dry ingredients; stir well.

    Form bars on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray using 1/3 cup mixture per bar. Bake until golden brown and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes on baking sheet; remove to wire rack to cool.

    *Instead, we made a large flat granola “loaf,” scoring it into bars. Hand-formed logs were just too messy and didn’t stick well.

    Chicago Tribune

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    Cheese Grits

    2 ¼ cups water

    ½ cup grits

    4 oz. Velveeta, cubed (or equivalent of grated cheddar)

    dash garlic powder (optional)

    Boil water. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 12-14 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and garlic powder; continue cooking until cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes.

    Quaker Oats Grits box

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    Milk Toast

    1 tablespoon butter

    1 tablespoon flour

    milk

    hard boiled egg

    toast

    Brown flour in melted butter, until thick paste. Add milk slowly, forming white sauce. Pour over toast, grate egg, add salt and pepper to taste.

    Gommie Hungry

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    Old English Cheese Bits

    ½ stick melted butter

    1-5 oz. jar Kraft Old English Cheese Spread

    1 can real bacon bits

    1 tablespoon mayonnaise

    1 package 6 English Muffins

    Mix together first four ingredients. Split muffin and spread on mixture. Quarter each half. Freeze. When ready to serve broil 5 minutes.

    Gommie Hungry