Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Fun 2013: Off to a Good Start

Not bad for only 4 days:
  1. Join swimming pool.  Well, more like we've been mooching off friends, like Mrs. S and Miss K!  And swim lessons start tomorrow.
  2. Start Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Yep, started today--June 30.  
  3. Help at historic house.  They helped prep for a program and even posed for publicity shots!  Then Sis helped out at the event, which several friends attended.  We made silhouettes!
  4. Work on woven placemats on loom.  Does weaving potholders count??
  5. Make brandied fruit a la Bloodroot.  I started this before our summer, technically.  But we've added to it and also stirred it everyday.
  6. Celebrate Solstice.  The kids celebrated Solstice on their last day of school by staying up as late as they could; they even put on a performance of Grease for us at 9 p.m.!
  7. Celebrate Mama's birthday.  We ate rainbow cake and played a Lego game.  Oh, and that Supreme Court thing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Fun 2013: Summer Suppers

So, the trick for me in the summer is meal preparation . . . and not cooking three meals a day!   The kids like hot food and always ask for something cooked--or at least that's what I hear when they ask, "What's for breakfast/lunch/dinner?"  I know my great-greats did it, but I think it's a bit much.  So I told them we'd cook one meal a day.  If I'm cooking dinner, then we'll do something simple for lunch, which honestly I have no good ideas for (I could say sandwiches, but we only allow deli meats a few times a month--which they'll use up in two weeks at camp.  Maybe simple soups, grilled cheeses, quesadillas--sure, that's all cooking but it's more like heating than actually cooking.)  If there are leftovers for dinner, we can cook a special lunch.  Together.  (I should have put cooking lessons on our Summer Fun list.)  Breakfast is mostly catch as catch can, though I will occasionally make biscuits or, as this morning, crumb cake.   And Sis can make her own scrambled eggs.

Meanwhile, for me, I'm also experimenting with canned beans.

Ahh, I know, you're shocked.  We gave up canned goods for the BPA a few years ago and have almost none in our house.  And I always cook my own beans.

But with summer, I find that canned beans are a better option than a frozen meal, and just as quick.   I've made two delicious salads with them in the last few days, a Tortellini Bean Salad and a Mexican Black-Bean Salad.  So tonight while the kids ate leftover Brisket--T's choice, but with just a bit of the tomato that the original called for (and she liked it!)--I had a delicious salad.

Now, if I could only get them both to eat bean salads, I'd be all set!

-=-=-=-=-

Tortellini Bean Salad
1 can pink beans
1 small container Butoni cheese tortellinis, cooked according to package
1 small can sliced olives
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
(a red onion, chopped, would have been nice)
Italian dressing

Combine hot tortellini with beans, olives, and pepper.  Add dressing to taste.  Cover and chill in refrigerator for a few hours.  Serve.

Mommy Hungry

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Mexican Black-Bean Salad
1 can black beans (or Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans)
1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange), seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Pace picante sauce
1/2 cup guacamole
several cups of mixed greens, washed
Fritos, as desired

Combine beans, pepper, corn, cheese, and picante sauce; set aside.  Place greens in large salad bowl.  Top with bean mixture.  Add guacamole and Fritos.

Mommy Hungry

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Brisket
4-5 lb brisket
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
3-4 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 cups broth (chicken or beef)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Layer carrots, onions, and potatoes in large slow cooker; lay brisket on top.  Combine broth, tomatoes, and garlic and then pour over beef and vegetables.  Add three bay leaves.  Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours until brisket is tender.

Mommy Hungry, adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thoughts and Prayers

Please keep my little sister Aunt Banana in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow as she undergoes an outpatient procedure.  Get well soon, Banana!

Summer Fun 2013: Summer Stock

Last night, their first night of summer, the kids were allowed to stay up as late as they wanted and do whatever they wanted.  Downstairs.  And at 9 p.m. they invited us to a free show (mind you, they usually charge us a buck each and have real tickets, so this was a bargain), their abridged "Grease Suite."

Seriously, they knew the word "suite."

(And now I realize where Bud gets his "seriously" habit from.)

All in all, it was adorable, with Sis playing Sandy, Rizzo, and Kenickie and Bud taking on Danny and Frenchie.  They had costume changes and scene changes, even an intermission (and snacks at our seats for us.)  They chose "Summer Lovin'," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Greased Lightnin'," "Blue Moon," "You're the One That I Want," and "We Go Together," and not the "boring" songs. Nothing like watching young kids try to sing these songs to have the actual lyrics sink in (and wish you'd never ever shown it to them, even if it is catchy!)   When you boil the plot down that far, it becomes "girl takes up drinking, smoking, and sex to get boy."  Bud even taught Sis--as Frenchie and Sandy--how to smoke, which was hilarious and comforting because he told her that she had the cigarette backwards (it was a pencil) and that the smoke came out the end and not out of her mouth because that would be gross!!

Just what you want your seven-year-olds to absorb.

But they danced together, lip-synched, climbed around on the couches, and even mimicked certain moves in the movie, which they've only seen once--the raised fist of Danny at the end of "Summer Lovin'" and the snuffing of the cigarette with Sandy's food in "You're the One That I Want."

In fact, even as I type, they are downstairs adding more dialogue to the show and perfecting the motions I showed them to "Hand Jive" . . . maybe they'll be taking it on a national tour to Texas later this summer.

I'll have to remember the iPod.


Summer Fun 2013: Pool, Pool Party

With drizzles and clouds, we headed to the store to get goggles with the understanding that we probably wouldn't get to use them; still, it was nice to get out to see these friends (and because our neighbor's broken tree was being cut down--all 80' tall and 50' in diameter of it--and chipped noisily and the scent of brisket in the crockpot would have made us hungry all day.)  We got the goggles and some new swim shoes (both of which will be great for our trip to Texas later), piling back into the van which had the snacks we were taking, swimsuits, and swim noodles.

And the weather held!  Sis and Bud swam with their friends for almost 5 1/2 wonderful hours, with a break for tasty grilled cheeses and potato chips.  They played Marco Polo and Toothpaste (a categories game with a race component), dove for rockets and rings, and did flips and handstands, with trips to the table for Goldfish and grapes in between.  Meanwhile, Mrs. S and I chatted about pretty much everything, which was delightful (daytime adult company usually is!).  We also had a surprise visit from their great swim teacher (who we met through Mrs. S) and her grandson.

When I thought I heard thunder, after so many hours in the pool, the pruny kiddos reluctantly headed inside for watercolor-painting and Legos.  We left soon after.

It was really the perfect start to summer vacation.  Thanks, Mrs. and "Mr. Mrs-S" and girls!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy Same-Sex Marriage and Birthday, Mama!!





The Wait is Over

The wait is over.

And so is (some of) the inequality and discrimination.

The Supreme Court has struck down DOMA, making same-sex marriages in states where they are legal also  legal on the federal level.

Mama and I are well and truly married.

I cried on the phone with Mama and with Pop.  Then went to school for the last-day party and was teary when I got hugs from several of the teachers (who asked if I were teary for the last day).

And then I told the kiddos and cried some more.

It's all good.  And now I'm baking a big celebratory rainbow birthday cake!  Thank you, Supreme Court, for Mama's wonderful birthday presents.

Waiting

I'm waiting to see if we're legally married and legally a family on a federal level today.  It's weird.  And really rather helpless feeling.

Early this week, Sis asked if the Supreme Court could make a family move, could make them separate.  She was asking because she knows about the two cases before SCOTUS.  I assured her that, no matter what, we were a family, we were staying together, that the Supreme Court didn't have that kind of power.

Yes, thank heavens we live here in Connecticut.

Even if both cases don't go our way, the worst we suffer, practically, is the continued loss of thousands of dollars in taxes.  That and a continued sense of inequality.  And righteousness.

Still, it would be wonderful if DOMA were struck down.

I've been saving some rainbow paper goods to celebrate.  And it's Mama's birthday.  Wouldn't striking down DOMA be a great birthday present from the Supreme Court?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Math Competition

Guess what the kiddos did yesterday on their first half-day of school?

Their summer math packets!

Sis started hers when she got home, running upstairs to her desk to work on it in quiet.  Bud, of course, had to start his immediately lest she get ahead of him.

At some point, she decided she was done for the day and came down.  But, upon hearing he was one page from being finished, she went back to doing hers!

So now they're both done and summer hasn't even started yet!!  Nothing like sibling rivalry to get a job done.

(Of course, a math-teacher friend pointed out that it was a mistake to let them do the packets, that they needed them as refreshers later this summer.  Blah.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Too Hot to Cook

We're having sandwiches for dinner--ciabatta bread with ham, turkey, and/or cheese slices, plus a cold tortellini salad (that I made up on the fly),  pickles, Fritos, grapes, watermelon, frozen coconut-mango Smoozers, and whatever else we happen upon.  I must say, given that it's 92F or something outside, it sounds like the perfect dinner.

The kids were home early and are using up their 1 hour of screen time playing Minecraft (yes, I know, it's a weekday, but we're already on summer rules here.) They love Minecraft and play in sync every chance they get.  Recently, they've been creating lava and then dousing it with water, "lava-inating" I think they call it. After their done in a bit, they have some birthday-party thank-you notes to write and some teacher notes to write.  Then it's free time until Bud has kung fu.

I'm glad I don't have to go jump around with weapons in an un-air-conditioned studio today!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sweet Endings

I've been trying to think of a way to commemorate my hospice patients, a way to mark in some ritual our meetings and their deaths.  I thought of a vase filled with rocks with their names, plants in the yard, a granny square for an afghan.  I don't want more things, though.  I realized perhaps an experience would be better, something to do with my family not so much about my hospice patients, but a way to enjoy ourselves together.  You know, embrace life in light of death.

And then I had an idea:  baking!  For each hospice patient, sometime after her or his death, I'm going to choose something (probably something baked) I've always wanted to make and then take the time to prepare it and enjoy it with my family.  Something special, something new, something decadent even.  We'll gather together, I might say a few words, and then we'll feast.  I think it will be lovely.  Besides, eating and funeralizing go hand in hand in many cultures (see Being Dead is No Excuse:  The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalf and Charlotte Hays.)

I have some ideas:
  • Some kind of fancy new ice cream for my first patient, to represent our talks of Coney Island in the 1940s and 50s.  
  • A fruit galette for my second patient, who was apparently a talented cook and baker (though, she made poppyseed rolls and the like; I would've chosen kolaches for her, but I'm not quite ready to try those.)
  • A lemon meringue pie or lemon poppyseed cake for my last patient, who was cheerful and kind and sympathetic.
Baked Alaska, cheesecake, homemade pudding, flourless chocolate cake, German chocolate cake, poundcake, hand pies, challah, different ice creams, traditional fruitcake, coconut cream pie, flan, chocolat pot de creme, beignets, and the list goes on.  It'll be a sweet end to a sometimes bittersweet experience.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Double Happiness

Happy Birthday, Mama Teacher!

And Happy Solstice, too!

A song today for you (but not "Happy Birthday" because it's copyrighted!), something from the 13th-century:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing, cuccu!
Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu
Bulloc sterteth, bucke ferteth.
Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu.
Ne swik thu naver nu!
(for a recording, see here or here or here.)

A Take-Away

I have a new project, something different from my usual prayer shawls but not completely unfamiliar.  I've made two "take away" afghans before, one in teals and mauves during my commute to and from NYC and one in rainbow colors outlined in black when the babies were little.  Now I do my favorite, pink and green, but with a lacier stitch than the last two, using Homespun and my M hook.  It's oh-so-soft.


Take-Away Afghan,
pattern by Donna Kooler, with adaptations in yarn and hook size (and thus gauge and stitch count)

6 skeins Lion Brand homespun in one color A
3 skeins Lion Brand homespun in another color B
Size M hook

Ch 15, sc in 3rd ch from hook.  *Ch 1, skip 1 ch, and sc in next ch*.  Rep across ending in top of ch 2 turning st:  7 sc and 6 ch 1 spaces.  *Ch 2  Turn.  Sc in first ch 1 sp, ch 1 and sc in each ch 1 sp across ending in top of ch 2 turning st*.  Rep until you have 52 row or strip measures 44".  Make 15 strips altogether.

Assembly:  Align bottom edges of two strips with WS tog ad attach Color B to bottom row with a sl st.  Sc in next st, *ch 1, skip 1 st and sc in next*.  Rep to top of strips, cut yarn and weave in ends.  Rep until all strips are joined

Edging:  Attach Color B yard at any outside point with a sl st and *ch 1, skip 1 sc and sc in next st*.  Rep all around afghan.  Put 3 sc in each corner so it will lay flat.  After completing Color B edge, join with a sl st, cut yarn, and FO.  Weave in ends.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Fun 2013: An Early Starter

Our new brandied fruit jar, begun with starter I got at Bloodroot today.  Chemistry never tasted so boozy!  And it's trendy, too, because it's fermented.  And great over ice cream.  We'll watch and feed it and eat it later in the summer, maybe mix it into cake this winter.  Bloodroot has had theirs for years in a jar in the counter (it's rarely on the menu but you can ask for it.).

Back in the Swing

I find I remember things better when I write them down and that I can find what I write down if I put it in this blog, like recipes or games for Girl Scouts or crocheting patterns.

So here's another list, of my Pilates exercises, which I imagine you'll just want to skip right over; go ahead, I just need them somewhere so I can have them handy.  I went back today, after a hiatus, and freshened my memory of all my moves.  I don't have much body memory for such things so it was good to revisit it.  My instructor said I looked good, which was nice to hear since I've had aches and pains since Memorial Day and I haven't been as comfortable moving (actually, she thinks this stiffness/tightness is good because it's a balance against my "loosy-goosy" hypermobility.)  So, it was good to get back in the swing of things, with these:

  1. Piriformis stretch--leg bent perpendicular to body and pressed forward with other leg
  2. Laying-down "schlump"--touch small of lower back to surface in reclining position 
  3. Knee squeeze, using yoga block between bent knees
  4. Yoga Block Press--press block between bent knees, then lift butt off surface in reclining position (anchor with big toes!  lead with butt!)
  5. Pelvic Tilt or Bridge--similar to #4, but without block
  6. Leg lifts--with one knee bent
  7. Upper Body Crunch--flatten abdomen (think of pulling it down and in) and do small crunch with hands behind head
  8. Sitting up "Schlump"--roll back into a slump and come up
  9. Sitting Yoga Block Squeeze--with block between kneeds
  10. Piriformis sit, or the "guy sit," one leg crossed
  11. Standing "schlump"--up and down like a pull-string stick figure
  12. All-fours push against floor (for core)
  13. Wall push, in lunge position (also for core)
  14. Alternating hands wall "dance" (ditto)
You should see all he little drawings!  I think all PTs etc take the same stick-figure drawing course.

Less Than a Week

Though solstice is tomorrow, our summer doesn't really start until next Wednesday afternoon.  I'm soaking up the last few days of quiet and calm while also pursuing those last few chores--like annual doctors' appointments (ugh, the dentist was awful.)  It's a  pretty relaxed summer, all things considered, with our trip to Texas and a few weeks of day camps for the kids, plus more swim lessons and piano for both.  And then there's our list of 61 things we might do.

For now, we're finishing off the year.  The kids are taking various teachers' gifts each day, this week for their specials and next week for their teacher and some of the staff.  I'm hoping to make brownies this afternoon for the kids to leave in the teacher's lounge tomorrow.  We'll see if we manage it.

I'm really working on not making it a big deal that they change schools next year and will also be in separate classes for the first time in two years.  They are excited, about the new school and especially the summer, though I'm not sure they have actual plans beyond staying up late, sleeping in, and no homework.

It's almost time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some Nights

Some nights, especially recently, the kids struggle against bedtime.  All is well through baths and jammies, through bedtime stories and SQUIRT (silent reading) time.  But at lights out, all manner of ills fall:  the blanket is cattywampus; the light is too bright;  a bug bite emerges; a leg aches; a funny or loud noise is heard; the door is open; the door is shut.  Last night, Sis's nose stung.

I've noticed that these nights now tend to coincide with Mama's working late.  I think they are staying up until she comes home.  Indeed, last night, Sis directly asked when that would be.  Alas, it was close on 10 p.m. and, yes, they were both still awake.  I had given up trying last night--it does no good to yell or cajole, though sometimes it is very tempting and I have succumbed.  By 8 p.m., I am ready for them to be in bed; by  10 p.m., I'm quite beside myself.  Now, though I close my door and do what I will.

There was a funny new excuse last night:  the cat had used the litter box and Bud came down complaining of the smell.  See, his room was the "cat room" and it's conversion into a bedroom is incomplete--the litter box is still in there.  Well, I think the cats are not too fond of their new roommate, much less being usurped.  They aren't covering their waste anymore!   Once Mama came home and I got it all cleaned up (because, yes, it would keep me up, too), Bud went back to bed.  And eventually, they were both asleep.

I wonder what the next new excuses will be?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Cake on My Plate

We are having the kiddos' birthday party early, before school is out (hoping it is easier to get RSVPs and guests.)  They had considered an at-home party with just a few friends, but then decided on a bigger dance party at a local place.  With a luau theme!  They will greet their guests with leis, with some candy and a music CD in the favor bag.  There are tiki centerpieces and even an inflatable Tiki pole (Mama took them to buy supplies, of course.  It's reminiscent of Disney and the Polynesian; I try not to think of cultural appropriation!)  They'll dance to all their favorite current pop hits--oh, how they love to dance right now, putting on shows for us almost nightly to "Gangnam Style" and "I Knew You Were Trouble"--and play games, then have pizza (and chicken fingers for Sis.)  And, after much back and forth about the birthday dessert, the kiddos decided on vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, to be decorated with crushed vanilla wafers for sand and little beach umbrellas.  Today, they helped me make the cupcakes; tomorrow, I'll frost and decorate them.  And then we'll party!

-=-=-=-=-=-

Yellow Cake
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Martha Stewart


Chocolate Frosting
24 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Turn off heat; stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Set bowl on countertop, and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until cocoa is dissolved.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture.
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; brush off crumbs. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting. Place the second layer on top, bottom side up, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting; repeat process with the third layer. Place the remaining layer on top of the third layer, bottom-side up; insert a dowel into the center of cakes if necessary. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Martha Stewart

Rain Makes the Garden Grow

It has rained so much we have barely had to take any effort to keep our garden of new plants (or the colonial herb garden at the historic house) watered.  And today when we learned it was going to rain, again, we rushed out and planted the green beans the kiddos got from the historic farm and the pole beans our friend Miss Mary brought over.  Of course, the kids won't eat the beans, but at least they liked planting them!

Monday, June 17, 2013

She Takes the Cake

Mama Teacher is having a birthday and I'm making a cake, Bundts being my new favorites.  I have a few tried and true recipes, below, and she has chosen the first one with rum syrup.  I share all of them with you.

If you have a favorite lemon (or lemon poppyseed) poundcake or plain poundcake, do share.


Happy birthday!


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My favorite Bundt cakes, with additions since the original post.

Rum Cake with Chocolate Frosting

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs
2 teaspoons rum

            Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease a 10 inch bundt pan.  Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat together butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well.  Beat in rum.  Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Spoon batter into pan.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Do not overbake

Rum Syrup
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons rum

            Prepare syrup meanwhile.  In a saucepan, heat together sugar and water over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat; cool completely.  Stir in rum.
            Transfer cake pan to a wire rack.  Pierce cake top all over.  Spoon syrup over cake.  Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes.  Turn cake out onto rack to cool.

Chocolate Frosting
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon rum

            Prepare frosting by melting chocolate with cream in double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in corn syrup and rum.  Cool frosting until slightly thickened.  Place cake on serving plate.  Spread frosting over cake.


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Chocolate Almond Toffee Chunk Cake

1 (1 lb. 2.25 oz.) Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food Cake Mix with pudding in the mix (or any devil’s food cake)
1-3.9 oz. box instant chocolate pudding
8-1.4 oz. bars Skor or Heath chocolate covered toffee, chopped in small chunks
½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted and thoroughly cooled
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream


            Preheat the oven to 35O°F.  Generously coat the inside of a 10” bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. 
Place the cake mix and chocolate pudding in the large bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low for 1 minute to combine ingredients.  Place the almond toffee chunks and slivered almonds in a bowl; toss with 1 ½ tablespoons of the cake mix mixture.  Set aside.
Add the sour cream, eggs, oil, almond extract, vanilla extract, and heavy cream to the dry ingredients in that order; beat on low speed for 1 minute to combine, scraping down the sides.  Increase speed to moderately low and beat the batter for 4 minutes.  Stir in the almond toffee chunks and slivered almonds. 
Spoon the batter into bundt pan.  Shake the pan gently two or three times to level the top.  Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully place another cooling rack on top and invert the cake.  Let stand for 10 minutes (cake will fall slightly).

Almond Glaze
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Amaretto
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

            Place the butter, Amaretto, and sugar in a small saucepan, over moderate heat, and cook until butter melts.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Using a dry pastry brush, paint hot glaze over top and sides of cake.  Let cool completely.

Chocolatier

 Wellesley Fudge Icing 

6-1 oz. squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
1-16 oz. package powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
½ cup butter, softened, divided
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

            Melt chocolate.  Beat in sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, milk, and vanilla with electric mixer on low until well blended.  Beat in remaining butter until smooth.  If frosting becomes too thick, beat in additional milk by teaspoonfuls until desired consistency.

Baker’s Chocolate box

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Bittersweet Chocolate Pound Cake

6 oz.  Nestle Unsweetened Chocolate baking bars (3 foil-wrapped bars)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons freeze dried instant coffee
2 tablespoons hot water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
confectioner’s sugar
cold water

            Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease and flour 10 inch fluted tube or angel food cake pan.  Melt unsweetened chocolate baking bars.
            In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.  In 2-cup measure, dissolve instant coffee in hot water; add cold water to measure 1 ½ cups.
            In large mixer bowl, beat granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in melted chocolate.  Add flour mixture alternately with coffee mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.

            Bake one hour or until skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool 30 minutes; remove from pan.  Cool completely.  Drizzle with Rich Chocolate Glaze (see below); sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Rich Chocolate Glaze

2 oz. Nestle unsweetened chocolate baking bar (one foil wrapped bar)
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            In medium saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat .  Stir in confectioner’s sugar, alternately with water until desired consistency.  Stir in vanilla extract.
(makes about ¾ cup glaze)

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HERSHEY'S "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" Chocolate Cake


2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING(recipe follows)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

VARIATIONS:
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Hershey's Cocoa box

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Hershey Special Dark Picnic Cake

1 cup Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Chips (regular semisweet work too!)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1-1/3 cups boiling water
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Special Dark Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Combine chocolate chips, butter and water in large mixer bowl; stir with spoon until chocolate is melted and mixture is blended. Gradually add flour, sugar, sour cream, eggs, baking soda, salt and vanilla; beat on low speed of electric mixer until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost with Special Dark Frosting. 12 to 15 servings.

Special Dark Frosting

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Chips
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place butter and chocolate chips in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. If necessary, refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes or until of desired spreading consistency. About 1-2/3 cups frosting.

VARIATION: For a stronger chocolate flavored cake, decrease flour to 2 cups and add 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa.

 Hershey's

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Solo Almond Bundt Cake

Almond Glaze Topping
1 cup confectioners sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoon light cream

Cake



1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3  eggs
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 can Solo Almond Cake and Pastry Filling or 1 jar of any other fruit filling
1⁄4 cup milk



Chocolate Glaze Topping (no chocolate on the one at church)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa
1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoon buttermilk or low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in almond filling until blended. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt until mixed. Add to almond mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Beat until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack. To make glaze, combine ingredients in small bowl, and stir until blended and smooth. Spoon or drizzle over top of cake. Let stand until glaze is set. Or top with fresh fruit and whipped cream!
  

Rawhide's Whiskey Cake from Taste of Home1 package spice cake mix with pudding (regular size)
1 package (3.40 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup canola oil (I used grapeseed oil)
3/4 cup whiskey (I used bourbon)
4 large eggs
1-1/3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, divided 

GLAZE:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup whiskey

Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and flour a 10-in. tube pan.
Combine the first six ingredients; beat on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes; fold in 1 cup nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes. Cool in pan.
For glaze, mix all ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes. Pour one-third of glaze over top of cake, allowing some to flow over sides. Let stand 1 hour. Remove from pan to cool completely; cover.
The next day, reheat glaze; brush half over cake, cooling before covering. Repeat the following day, using remaining glaze. 

Yield: 16 servings.

Thunder Bundt Cake
Cream together, one at a time
1 cup shortening (we used coconut oil)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
*3 eggs, separated (Blend yolks in.  Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold  in.*Do this first?  Unless you have more than one bowl.)
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup pureed tomatoes

Sift together
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture.
Bake in greased and floured Bundt pan for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Optional--frost with chocolate buttercream and decorate with strawberries.

Patricia Polacco, Thunder Cake


Apple Cake a la Alton Brown
The creamed:
1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but not melting (70°F)
2 cups sugar
The eggs:
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
The dry goods:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
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The extras:
1 lb/4 cups apples, cored and roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces or smaller; don’t peel (I like Galas)
2 cups pecans, chopped
Baker’s Joy or AB’s Kustom Kitchen Lube for the pan (see Notes)

Place an oven rack in position C (second position from the top) and preheat the oven to 275°F.

Prepare the Bundt pan (see Notes) and set aside.

Assemble the ingredients via the Creaming Method, folding in the apples and pecans last.

The Creaming Method:

1. Scale or measure all ingredients. Fats should be pliable but solid (no sign of melting). If kitchen temp is over 70°F, chill the mixing bowl.

2. Combine all Dry Goods (except sugar) by pulsing in food processor.

3. In a small bowl, beat eggs together along with any extracts.

4. Using a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, mix the fat(s) alone for a minute to spread them around the bowl. Add sugar(s) slowly and beat until mixture lightens noticeably in texture and increases slightly in volume.

5. Reduce the speed to “stir” and add the eggs very slowly, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

6. Work in the Dry Goods in three installments alternating with any additional liquids, such as milk. Always start with the dry ingredients and finish with the wet for a smoother batter.

7. Stir in any bits and/or pieces (chocolate chips, nuts, etc.).

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake until the internal temperature reaches 212°F, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Wrapped tightly, this will keep for 5 days.


Apple Cake a la Smitten Kitchen
6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.


Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake 
2 1/2 cups KAF flour
2 tablespoons gingerbread spice; or 2 1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup water

Glaze
1/3 cup rum or water
1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice or 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt-style pan.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, gingerbread spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the molasses.
Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 
While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the water spice and sugar. Set aside.
Remove the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack. 
Brush the cake with the glaze, and allow it to cool completely before serving.

King Arthur Flour


NYTimes All-in-one-Holiday Bundt
*Full confession:  I haven't made this yet but can't wait to try it.  

1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Maple icing (optional; see Note)


Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger powder, if you’re using it instead of the grated ginger.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the remaining butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, apple and grated ginger, if using it. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake directly on the oven rack for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack. Serve in thick slices.

Music Hath the Power to Wake a Crying Beast

We had a special church service yesterday, our end-of-year Flower Communion, when everyone brings a flower and puts them in communal vases and leaves with a different flower, representing the beautiful diversity of shared community.  We took red roses, a yellow day lily, and some purple spiderwort; we left with three peonies and an interesting maroon wildflower.

At one point in the service, the minister instructed us to pull out our pens because we needed to correct some lyrics, changing "bear our troubles" to "bare our troubles," albeit at the request of the composer.  Only in a Unitarian Universalist church!  It reminds me of the Garrison Keillor joke, something about "Bible Study at 7 p.m..  Bring your Bible and your scissors."

The rest of service was a "hymnal romp," with many favorite songs--"Come, Come Whoever You Are," "For the Beauty of the Earth," "Let it be a Dance," "We'll Build a Land," "Spirit of Life," Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire," "For the Earth Forever Turning," and others (impromptu versions of "Forward through the Ages" and "Lo the Earth Awakens Again")--and I cried through them all!  Peri-menopause hit hard yesterday and I went to boo-hooing, crying through church and then again at a school performance (and our kids were NOT performing!), for no reason.  Blah.

But I was fine once the singing was over and enjoyed the church potluck.  We took Seed Savers Heritage Bean Salad and Marmalade Shortbread Bars, which were well-liked.  There was a great fluffy strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, but I didn't get the recipe, and some yummy Saltine "Toffee" with sliced almonds.  It was a nice little picnic on a beautiful day.

But I'm glad we won't be at church for awhile; I'm too overwhelmed by the singing and crying.

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Marmalade Shortbread Bars
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons preserves (any flavor)--orange marmalade was great!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Work in the butter with your fingers to make a crumbly dough.

Refrigerate 2 tablespoons of the dough for topping. Press the remaining dough into the baking dish; freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Bake the crust, 15 minutes. Spread the preserves on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border; crumble the reserved dough on top. Return to the oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, 25 more minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then lift out of the pan and cut into squares.

Food Network


Saltine "Toffee"
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 (11 ounce) packages chocolate chips ( 1 1/2 cups)
40 saltine crackers
1 cup sliced almonds
nonstick cooking spray

Line jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Lay crackers out flat on foil.  Melt sugar and butter until foamy (3 minutes).  Pour over crackers and spread to coat.
Bake 10 minutes in 350ºF oven.  Remove from oven.  While hot, sprinkle with chocolate chips, let soften and melt, then spread.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Let cool.  Refrigerate until hardened.  Break into pieces like peanut brittle.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Good Day, Sunshine!

After what feels like days of chilly rain, which I do like, it is sunny and breezy, in the low 70s--a beautiful day!  The kids and Mama are currently shopping, both for groceries and for party supplies.  They've picked a luau theme (a la our Disney trip) for their upcoming birthday party.  They've also gotten food for grilling outside today, all manner of who knows what, but some pizza dough for me to make grilled pizzas.  While they were out, our friend the gardener Miss Mary, from our first church, brought over some kale and dill plants for our burgeoning raised bed and advised me on how to harvest horseradish (snip the part of the root you want and put the rest back) and also rhubarb (when it's nice and tall, snap off the stalks), both of which she had gifted us previously.  Sis will love putting in new plants (weeding around them, not as much.)  Miss Mary, who is always encouraging and kind, said ours was an English garden, which is a generous compliment considering how little we work on it--but we do have colorful spiderwort and Stella Dora day lilies and other things.  So we'll be outside some today, enjoying this beautiful June day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Growing Season

I went to the kiddos' school today for their Whole School Meeting (WSM) because Sis and her friends were singing Cookie Monster's version of "Call Me Maybe" a.k.a. "Share it Maybe" in front of everyone. They did a wonderful job, especially with enunciating the lyrics.  Quite a tickle!

At some point in the program of "shares," the principal had the second grade stand up so everyone could wish them luck as they head to their new school next year, here at their last WSM.

Last.

It was my last official visit to their school, unless I make an unscheduled visit with brownies or something (and brownies have been requested by more than one of the teachers and staff!)

I am so sad.  I love this school.  The teachers supported us as we all got acclimated to school and had questions about routines, curriculum, pedagogic theory, whatever.  They have been nothing if not completely supportive, if not even blase, about the whole lesbian-parents thing, even though we were the first (or so I'm told.)  They loved our kids and liked us.  You probably recall that the transition into daily, albeit half-day kindergarten just three years ago was rough.  I herniated a disk about a month beforehand.  Was it the stress?  Probably not entirely given my physical anomalies from birth.

Still, I see the stress even now.

As they are acting more and more like older kids everyday.  There is more sass.  More attitude.  Not quite eye-rolling, but almost.  More complaining.  Fewer hugs.  Fewer requests to play.  Less interest in bedtime stories.  Things have been a little tense.

It doesn't help that I'm peri-menopausal, officially.  I know people say it's worse to go through menopause when you have teenagers--and I imagine they are right, but this is no picnic either.  And depending on how long it lasts, they might be tweens when I'm done.

We knew eventually that they would be less devoted to us, more separated, even more embarrassed.  And all things considered, they developed sass later than many (I have friends who complained about it in kindergarten!).  Still, I can totally see that they are closer to 10 than they are to 5 and the difference is powerful.  (Even if they sang a Cookie Monster song.)  The fact that they are going to the "big school" (and it is bigger, more than twice as many kids and staff) only serves to underscore the changes.

And so it took all my efforts not to sob during the WSM today.

Because I do want them to grow up and grow independent.

And I really don't want to herniate another disk.

Because that was harder than kindergarten.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's a Twin Thing

Even with the separate rooms, they are still very much twins.  This morning, unbeknownst to each other, they put on the exact same clothes--same shirt, same color shorts, and same baseball hat for field day!

And then this evening, again without prior planning, they both put on the same Perry the Platypus pajama tops!


Happy Double Birthday!

A big happy birthday wish for health and happiness to father-son co-celebrants today, Gong (my father-in-law) and Goo (my brother-in-law)!!!  I hope you have a wonderful day.

Your birthday presents are late.  :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The End

My hospice patient died today.  Alone.  I know because I'm the one who found her, not breathing, but still somewhat warm.  I'm sad not because she died, which is a relief from her suffering, but because she died alone.  I'm glad I could be there for her in the days before her death, even if I wasn't there for the end.  Still sad, though.  I hope I am able to be there for my friends and loved ones when their times come, and they for me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Fun 2013

With the kids making bracelets and baking cookies, I'm reminded of all the fun things we can do everyday this summer.  Last year, there were 70 days of summer; this year, just 61, if I've counted correctly.  Here's what we're thinking of doing, starting with all of the activity kits we've stockpiled (mind you, we won't get to all of them; it's more for inspiration):
  1. Activity-kit-a day:  Make a snow globe
  2. Activity-kit-a day:  Make your own birdhouse.
  3. Activity-kit-a day:  spin art
  4. Activity-kit-a day:  My first Chemistry set
  5. Activity-kit-a day:  Magic Science kit
  6. Activity-kit-a day:  Make a stepping stone
  7. Activity-kit-a day:  Etch a tag engraver set
  8. Activity-kit-a day:  Pottery kit
  9. Activity-kit-a day:  Potato Clock
  10. Activity-kit-a day:  Mandala maker
  11. Activity-kit-a day:  Lava Volcano kit
  12. Activity-kit-a day:  Disgusting Science kit
  13. Activity-kit-a day:  tie-dye kit
  14. Activity-kit-a day:  Eco crafts kit
  15. Activity-kit-a day:  Sound studio kit
  16. Activity-kit-a day:  drawing kit
  17. Activity-kit-a day:  light kit
  18. Activity-kit-a day:  Sun prints kit
  19. Activity-kit-a day:  friendship bracelets
  20. Host a sleepover with friends.
  21. Join swimming pool.
  22. Start Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  23. Make ice cream in a roly ball.
  24. Have a no-electricity day.
  25. Have a backwards day.
  26. Have a pajama day.
  27. Paint like Jackson Pollock.
  28. Help at historic house.
  29. Work on woven placemats on loom.
  30. Learn how to clean bathrooms.
  31. Learn how to weed garden.
  32. Practice scooping litter boxes.
  33. Play putt-putt golf.
  34. Sort and donate books.
  35. Go strawberry picking.
  36. Go blueberry picking.
  37. Make jam.
  38. Purge and donate toys in basement.
  39. Visit Miss S.
  40. Write to a pen pal.
  41. Organize school papers.
  42. Go see a movie in a theater.
  43. Go to one library event.
  44. Make popsicles.
  45. Have an astronomy night.
  46. Have a lemonade stand.
  47. Host a Luau/Hawaii party.
  48. Build fairy houses.
  49. Scrapbook.  
  50. Make brandied fruit a la Bloodroot.
  51. Go on a sketching outing.
  52. Celebrate July 4th.
  53. Celebrate Solstice.
  54. Celebrate Mama's birthday.
  55. Make ice cube candles.
  56. Host a culture night.
  57. Make fudge.
  58. Go to concert in the park.
  59. Visit a new museum.
  60. Hang pictures.
  61. Make treats for animal shelter.
Bonus:  make soap, go to a local festival, do 1000 piece puzzle, have a backyard weenie/s'mores roast, make a family songbook, have a kids-in-charge day, have a no-cooking day, have an all-outside day, and did I mention go to Texas?!