Friday, August 29, 2014

First Days

School started yesterday and we're all adjusting to the new schedule.  Only the cats seem perfectly adjusted--and totally exhausted from summer days full of running up and down stairs in the opposite direction of the kiddos.  They are curled up together as I type, tired and a bit chilly from the overnight high of 60F.

Yesterday started early, with the kids awaking quite cheerfully to their alarms.  They were dressed and ready to go by 7:15. Sis immediately inquired about our traditional school "cornucopia," the Schultute. This year, instead of school supplies, candy, or little toys, we made coupons--extra 30 minutes of computer time, staying up late, their choice for dinner, movie night.  It's the tradition more than anything else, but I think they liked the coupons.

Then they helped pack their lunches, ate breakfast, and heading outside to our bus stop-cum-driveway.  Soon we were joined by a couple of other kiddos, a first grader whose grandparents speak to us in Mandarin on their daily walks (we say "ni hao" and do a lot of smiling) and a fourth grader in Sis and Bud's class who transferred schools to be in the gifted program. They all chatted happily until the bus arrived--with our same driver from last year!!

They got home similarly cheerful about eight hours later.  They liked seeing their friends and liked their new teachers--they have three of them in this program--for math, science, and writing--and even change classrooms.  I think they get their lockers today.

They had some forms for me and a get-to-know-you questionnaire for one teacher.  One of the questions was to name five wishes.  Bud said, "I wish my sister would be nice to me."

"Not gonna happen," she said.

Funny, but not always what a mom wants to hear.

They were sound asleep by 9 p.m.

The were similarly excited this morning. But my enthusiasm soon dampened a little.  The other 4th grader, a girl, at the bus stop was pushing and grabbing Bud, especially his favorite jacket, even when he said no.  I had to intervene. (Her mom had already left.)  It didn't help that Sis thought this was fun and was pushing him too.

And then, as the bus arrived, that girl called Bud a name.

I told her that was unacceptable.  It took a minute for me to realize how mean she'd been to Bud and, by then, both of them were on the bus.  I spent the morning wondering what I should have done, what I should do.  But I think the teachable moment has passed.  (I admit to emailing the teacher a heads up, since they're in the same class and I want to shut the name-calling down.)

However, if that girl says anything again . . . .

Not how I wanted school to start.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lost My Cookies

The recipe had nuts, cardamom, and orange zest.  And it was a snowball cookie, with which I like to experiment.

And I promptly forgot where it was.

I remember seeing the recipe in a magazine, or could it have been on FB?  Definitely not Pinterest. Well, almost definite.  But I knew it was in the house or that I had access to it.  I started looking--Saveur, Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, NYTimes, Taste of Home--both hard copy and online without finding anything.  And similar versions I found online through general searches weren't as tempting.

Today, I found it.  By accident.

I was sorting through magazines today, including a new subscription to Tea Time, and found the recipe.  It was walnuts, not almonds, as I had thought; I probably made the substitution in my head, because I like almonds better.

And so here it is.

I imagine I'll be making them for Christmas this year.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-cookies

Walnut-Cardamom Snowball Cookies
2 cups salted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon orange extract
3 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (NB substitute almonds!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Fun: Last Day

Is the day before school really the last day of summer, or has the fun of summer disappeared a few days beforehand?

While we are certainly sleeping in, lazing about, and doing what we want, in general, we have in the back of our minds all the necessary preparations for school.  Bud did sleep in this morning, the first time this summer, and awoke, stating, "Gee, I finally figure out how to sleep in and school comes tomorrow to crush it."  And then he moved right into questions about his new class, including worries that he won't be able to find it.  He was not thinking of all the summer-y things he could do today.

Maybe because we'd done many items on our list already:
  1. Go swimming
  2. Attend town festival.
  3. Go to Broadway show (s)
  4. Beach trip
  5. Putt-putt golf
  6. Eat Dole Whip
  7. Have a barbecue
  8. Have a lemonade stand 
  9. Picnic
  10. Go berry picking
  11. Minecraft-athon
  12. Go to farmer's market
  13. See fireworks
  14. Movie night
  15. Game night
  16. Dance night
  17. Old tv show marathon (ours or theirs)
  18. Play in sprinkler
  19. Go to culture festival (Scottish and Greek)
  20. Go to Renaissance festival
  21. Make jam
  22. Build fairy houses
  23. Sketching outing
  24. Biking 
  25. Celebrate 4th of July
  26. Celebrate Solstice
  27. Birthday parties
  28. Try a new craft/art project
  29. Decorate chalkboard
  30. Purge and donate toys and books
  31. Backwards day
  32. Pajamas day
  33. Tie dye sheets
  34. Wash cars
  35. Try new CSA vegetable in recipe
  36. Community service project
  37. Do nothing special
I'd say that was a pretty good summer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Fun: Huzzah!

Mama and I celebrated our 17th anniversary this weekend--and in high style, by going to the NY Renaissance Festival.  This was particularly meaningful because Mama and I had one of our earliest outings to the faire the summer we met 20 years ago (I've written about my love affair with fairs here.)  With Goo in tow!  And he was the age then that the kiddos are now.  If you'd told me then that 20 years later, Mama and I would re-visit the fair with our twins, with a life in the CT suburbs and be LEGALLY married, I never would have believed it.   It was a wonderful weekend (save one thing I'll get to.)

Costumes:  We always like to dress up for the Ren fest.  And this year the kids also got into the act.  Sis wore a cloak, sword, and carried a bow (Bud's, from Texas), with a special LOTR leaf pendant we purchased for her and plastic attachable elf ears, for she is Legolas, the elf archer.  Bud is Frodo, with his colonial vest, a cloak, the One Ring on a silver chain, and his little silver dagger that he was handed during the parade at the Ren Fest in Texas.  He's used it in a lot of play these last 5 years.  Mama and I were just general shire folk, me in a vest and skirt, Mama in a vest and jeans.  We added to our costumes while we were there, half the fun of the festival.  I got a flower garland, along with a belt and pouch.  Mama got leather shoulder armor called a paldron.  Bud got a belt and sword, plus real halfling ears.  Sis added archer gauntlets.  We were quite the well-dressed crew.   It certainly makes the festival more fun.  And we got things we can wear again for other faires, for Halloween, even for Comic Con.  (Speaking of the latter, we saw several Doctors--three Tenth and one Fourth, all in costume!  The first Ten was the best, English accent and all, and posed gamely for a picture with the kids.)

Food:  Snacking always plays a huge part in the faire experience and we like to eat.  We had the requisite huge turkey leg and funnel cakes, of course.  We also really liked the fried macaroni and cheese in little triangles on a stick.  Mama and I enjoyed the florentine quesadilla, with spinach, feta, mozzarella, and pesto; we also liked the little doughnuts glazed in orange juice and apple cider.  Bud liked the cherry limeade, while I had a yummy orange float, like an Orange Julius only less chemically--just orange juice, ice, and vanilla ice cream.

Shows and Activities:  Between snacks, we wandered the faire and enjoyed all the entertainment.  My favorite, by far, was the archery.  I'm not great at it, even as a Level 1 instructor, but I enjoy it; Mama and the kids do, too.  We all even managed to hit near the center of the targets.  We watched two chess games--somewhat like wizard chess, with human "pieces" fighting for the spots--something I keenly remember from 20 years ago.  Sis really liked the sparring.  She also liked the horses in the joust.  We all laughed heartily at the Vixens En Garde-version of Hamlet, with a little Star Wars thrown in for fun.  And of course, we saw the Birds of Prey show, with the Master Falconer showing off his Andean Condor, Black Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, and Harris Hawk.  The show was extra-special after our own English falconry experience where we flew our own vultures and Gyr-falcon.  On our own, we had a few sword fights with all of our weapons.  We didn't stop for too many musicians (there actually weren't too many), though we danced to the drums of Wolgemut at the end of the first day.

Which brings me to the sad bit:  Bud's special silver-colored dagger went missing at some point in the last hour of our two-day visit.  We don't know where--and he and Mama searched high and low--and we don't hold out hope that it will be found.  I was very sad, not only because he was very sad, but also because it was such a big part of his childhood these last five years.  Sure, that probably means we shouldn't have taken it--I'm not sure I realized how attached I was to it until after the fact, though I knew he was--or at least tied it to him; lots of guilt to go with the sadness because I didn't notice that he'd set it down.  Hindsight is 20-20.  And up to that point, two whole days, he'd kept track of it.  But then it was gone . . . as Ar-Ma recently said about Gong's shoes and expensive new orthotics stolen from a local temple while they were praying, somebody else needed them more than he did and it was time for them to move on (sorta like a less-evil version of the One Ring, I suppose.)  That wasn't much comfort, though.  But as FB often reminds us about Mr. Rogers's "look for the helpers," we were amazed at the kindness of strangers.  The first let Mama and Bud back into the faire to search for the dagger, which we only found missing after we got to the car, even though they hadn't gotten their hands stamped.  Several shop owners tried to help them, until the last, seeing how upset Bud was, walked them over to her boyfriend's stall where they gave him, without accepting payment, a special as yet unpainted Elvish blade.  On the walk back to the car, he apparently planned how he would decorate it with runes and Celtic knots.

Shopping:  Before the dagger incident, we'd picked up a few other things.  The kids had a budget, but I'm the one who did most of the shopping.  I always favor candles and lotions--and I actually got a candle that melts into lotion!!  The other candle is one of those multi-dip/multi-colored ones that are then carved to reveal the layers--a staple of 70s living rooms, if I recall correctly; Sis chose a pink and purple one with little rainbow layers.  We also really enjoyed experimenting at Nixi Stix, with professional grade juggling balls, pins, dancing wands, dancing sticks, and these Toroflex things that the kids like--think of it as a perpetual-motion Slinky.  There wasn't as much great shopping as i'd expected so it took awhile to find something to send to Aunt Sis, who loved the Ren Fest and went every year; my Christmas present always came from the craftspeople.  

So, all in all, we had a wonderful time, though the loss of the dagger overshadowed the end a bit.  On the way home, we talked about going to faires in Pennsylvania and Maryland sometime; we laughed that later, Sis and Bud could even work them--on horseback, on violin, juggling, swordplay.  It was the perfect anniversary weekend.

Summer Fun: Not So Much

We have bed bugs.

Or more specifically, by mid last week, I had 15 bites on my arms, many in a straight row.

That's the tell-tale sign of bed bugs, the so-called "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" bites.

I noticed them by Wednesday ish, but didn't think much of them, though I did think it was odd that there were so many, especially because I'm not really oudoorsy.

By the weekend, the bites were a plague I had itched raw.  I even dreamt of being itchy and woke in the night scratching.  I've never been so itchy.  It's worse that chicken pox, poison ivy, and PUPS, the itchiness I had at the end of my pregnancy.  And it wasn't getting better.

So this morning I went to the doctor and sure enough, as we had begun to suspect:  bed bugs.  The doctor suspects they're from our hotel from last weekend, in NYC, since I haven't gotten any new ones.  And NYC is a known epidemic hot spot.

For me, that means steroid cream and constant Benadryl but no danger of any illnesses, like with ticks or mosquitoes.

For the whole house, it means a lot of laundry (I'm following these directions)--30 minutes in the dryer on high heat for anything fabric we've touched since last week--and exterminators coming to look for the bugs with a dog this afternoon.

And I called the hotel.  Of course, they don't really believe me, since I wasn't itchy the night I was there.  But the CDC says it can take 14 days for the bites to show up.  And this hotel was the only one I'd been in before the bites showed up.

Luckily, I'm the only one with bites, so far.  Well, everyone has one or two but we think those are unrelated mosquito bites.  For now.

So, we're home, surrounded by huge black garbage bags of laundry.  I figure there are 20 obvious loads . . . and then we have to discuss steam-cleaning the carpet, doing something to the couches, and what to do with the mattresses.  UGH.

My skin crawls just thinking about it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Frustration

I've lost my glasses.

We were at the swimming pool and I'd removed them to use my new snorkel (that way I can swim without having to rotate my lumbar spine right now.)

At some point between then and the shower, I realized I didn't have my glasses.

And they were gone.

Not in pool area, not in locker room, not in lost and found.

I checked with lifeguards, cleaning staff, office staff.  Even my physical therapist looked around.  I left my name at the front desk.  I called back later.  And looked again and checked back today.

Later, that is, after I found my spare pair in my car--the frames were broken, some of the UV coatings were coming off, and my depth perspective was off because of the crooked glasses.  But thankfully, I had the spare, because I'm still wearing them.

Apparently, I hadn't seen the eye doctor in almost two years so my prescription had expired.  So, I'll wear the spare for two weeks--the eye doctor is very busy with back-to-school--then get the prescription and get new glasses.

Could be worse, surely, but it is a bit annoying.

Almost has me considering Lasik.

Summer Fun: Barbecue

The kids love pulled pork!  They eat it anywhere we get the chance, which has been twice at Virgil's recently, once in NYC and once at Mohegan Sun casino.   Being a Texan, I had never made pulled pork before (we're a brisket people.)  So, with one anti-sauce kid and one pro-sauce kid, I made up a rub based on one I found at Epicurious.  And they loved it!  Sis even specifically asked me to put it on my "kids' favorite meals crib sheet."

Will do.

-=-=-=-=-=-

My Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Rub

2.5+ lb pork loin roast 
1 tablespoon brown sugar
approx. 1/2-1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, Lawry's seasoned salt, salt, dry mustard
1/2-1 cup water

Rub seasonings on both sides of the pork and place in slow cooker.  Add water.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or until done.   

Separate meat--"pull"--into pieces and serve.

Mommy Hungry

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Fun: Wicked Fun

We had another Broadway weekend.  Some people like camping or beaches during the summer; we often aim for museums and cultural locales.  NYC in August isn't my favorite place by far--stinky smells, sweltering suways, crowds everywhere--but summer is when we do have a more relaxed schedule and can swing a late-night weekend without many repercussions (except for tired Mama.)  And so, we went to town last weekend.  Literally and figuratively.

After checking into our hotel--another great room high above Times Square, this time with a few of the Statue of Liberty in the far distance--we walked around my old neighborhood.  We even got to go into my old building and up to my old floor, now an expensive hotel (that a friend calls a Euro-trash spot.)  There was also the old diner but otherwise not a lot of my hangouts.  Gone are Fresco Tortilla Mexican hole-in-the-wall, the Sam Bok Korean grocery, the coffee shop that made great strawberry iced drinks.

The Algonquin Hotel was next.  We looked around inside and even met the very stand-offish cat.  And we told the kids about our night at the Algonquin, during the blackout of 2003.  We even talked to one of the staff, who had been there that night, too.

Our main destination was Bryant Park, which has changed so much in twenty some-odd years.  It was always a popular shady spot for lunchtime, but now it's packed with people and activities.  Besides the movie screen, there are now permanent kiosks for expensive sandwiches and gelato and such.  We played a bit of putt-putt before heading over to Le Carrousel. We all rode once, and then Sis waited a long time to ride the bunny.  Bud and I went off and played some board games--checkers, Mancala.  There was also a juggling program--and so I juggled both bags and clubs.  Fun, fun, fun.  It was a beautiful afternoon in the city--gentle breezes, time together.

As usual, late lunch/early dinner at Sapporo for wonderful ramen and Japanese potato salad.

And then it was Wicked.  Sis and Bud are becoming quite the little theater-goers.  In fact, I think they might be becoming theater geeks.  And they loved Wicked!!  It was the first new show Mama and I had seen in awhile; we didn't even know all the songs.   And it was amazing--very fantastical and theatrical; visually and musically rich in the best Broadway sense.   So many talented dancers and singers.  Interestingly, we both didn't like the ending so much (Why was Elphaba leaving?  Was it really the only solution?  After all of her struggles and protests, she just walked away?  For love?  Seemed out of character.  Sis just said, "Mom, what else could she do?  She realized everything she was doing wasn't working."  Of course, we recognize that they couldn't have Elphaba defeat the Wizard and help Oz, goes against all the original material.  But we'll never see the movie the same way again.)  And we both thought the story was actually more about Glinda's transformation; she was much more sympathetic in the show than we had gleaned from the soundtrack.  We liked that--gave more depth to the story.  We loved all the inside Wizard of Oz references, the flying monkeys, Oswald the dragon, costumes, sets.  All the gears--very steampunk.  The kids said it was their favorite, with Phantom; both are the best shows, apparently.  Well, except neither liked the slow love song in Wicked as much as they liked the slow one in Phantom (and I have to say that the staging of the Wicked love song of Elphaba and Fiyero, which name I forget, was much more sexually suggestive, with their bodies separating and coming together rhythmically for the whole song--very distracting to us adults, though unrecognizable to the kids.)  They're still singing the songs--"Defying Gravity," "Popular," For Good,"--and finding something new they liked everyday.  They NEVER liked the movie this much.

Afterwards, we stage-doored.  Goo met us--he was trying to readjust his body clock to work at the hospital overnight the next night--and hung out the rest of the night.  The kids met the Wizard, Nessa Rose, Elphaba, and Glinda, or more specifically the actors who portray them.  Everyone was so nice to them, especially the two female leads.  Bud is an enthusiastic fan, while Sis hangs back and smiles.  They always get the autographs and photos.

We had late-night snacks afterwards--trash ribs from Virgil's and cheesecake from Junior's--and stayed up late talking to Goo.  The kids lasted an hour or two, but Mama and I were up chatting with Goo til almost 4 a.m.

Which made waking up for breakfast and going to "Wicked: Behind the Emerald Curtain" the behind-the-scenes program a little challenging.  But we made it and it was fabulous!  Two members of the ensemble talked about the display of costumes, props, and photos in the "pop-up" museum and then led us into the theater where we saw films about the making of the show from conception to curtain.  We learned

  • some of the costumes cost upwards of $30K;
  • in some productions around the world, the wardrobe manager has to don Glinda's bubble dress and wash it by taking a shower in it; 
  • that one of the quickest costume changes in the show is only 10 seconds long;
  • each actor has costumes made specifically for him or her--and if an actor has to be replaced quickly, sometimes it comes down to who fits in the costume; 
  • there is "wing etiquette" backstage for not running into people or sets with the flying monkey costumes;
  • that because of trademarks, Elphaba's hat is really navy blue and the magic slippers are silver--in a red spotlight.  I think that also must be why they don't refer to Dorothy by name and call her dog "Dodo."  Also, I'm not sure they reference the Yellow Brick Road either;
  • all of the gears and clockworks mechanisms are from the book, as is the dragon;
  • seeing the dragon puppeteers at the beginning is supposed to alert us to the idea that the world of Oz is being controlled behind the scenes, while the asymmetrical costumes and such are supposed to indicate the world being a fantasy;
  • and so many more things I can't recall right now.
We bought some books and t-shirts and headed home, picking up pizza on the way.  

As the t-shirt says, "One Fine Day in New York City."

(As I type, the kids are re-creating Wicked with penguins and bunnies downstairs.  They've even made green masks and compromised so that both a bunny and a penguin get a shot at the lead!)

Next up, Les Mis and Comic Con.

Summer Fun: Winding Down

Dentists.  Annual physicals.  Orthodontist.  Haircuts.

Clothes buying.  School-supply shopping.  Menu adjusting for school.

Last ice skating outing.  Last swimming pool visit.  Last sleeping in.

Watching all three LOTR movies. Making banana bread.  Redecorating our kitchen chalkboard wall.

Oh, yeah, and our weekend in NYC seeing Wicked and the behind-the-scenes program about the show, plus other fun NYC things (more later.)

It's been a typical late August here at the Hungry household, except the morning temperatures hover around 60F, which is just abnormal.  But I love it.  Except the kids can't swim in their friends' frigid pools.

We have one week.  And I'm not even sure what we'll do with it.   Maybe that's best, something unstructured and unscheduled.

Because the school year, with all of its activities, is busy enough:  Ice skating.  Kung fu.  Book club.  Girl Scouts.  Religious education.  Piano lessons.  Cello and violin practice.  Homework.  Hospice.  Historic house tours.

But also fall leaves, sweaters, apples and pumpkins, open windows, Halloween costumes.  My favorite season.

All things considered, I really can't wait.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer?

It's 60F outside.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams

I'm saddened by the death of Robin Williams this week.  I remember him, like most of my generation, going all the way back to "Mork & Mindy," which I watched every week.  I loved his Comic Relief appearances with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal and found his performances in so many movies either touching (Dead Poets Society, Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam) or funny (Popeye, Hook.) I have to admit to never having seen Mrs. Doubtfire or many of his other films, like that one with Matt Damon, so I would say I appreciated his work when I found it more than being a full fan.  Still, he was always there, making us laugh AND think.

And now he's not.

I think it's telling that his death has dominated social media while the death of Lauren Bacall, also this week, has received little attention, except in mainstream media outlets like the NYTimes.  Perhaps that is because his fans are on the internet, hers aren't so much?  Or because his death was a shock and . . . . well, I couldn't have said one way or the other if she were alive.

There has been much discussion of mental health issues, mainly respectful and compassionate (though, perhaps too much ignoring of the guidelines set out to decrease the contagion of suicide after a celebrity's suicide--like focusing on how it happened.  Poorly done, NYTimes to run a whole article detailing the report.  See article on guidelines here.)  I'm glad to see that the dominant mood is sensitive, treating depression and mental illness as diseases and not as failures of will and character.  Ditto the discussion of his battle with addiction.  Now that it has come to light that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease perhaps the Death with Dignity folks should speak up about right to die laws, especially for those with chronic or terminal illnesses.  I mean, coincidentally lots of people are taking the ALS ice bucket challenge to promote awareness of the disease--it's funny, but I rather think if people really understand ALS (from which my maternal grandmother died) it would be more helpful to send it the donation, even if it's not the requested $100.  And perhaps support those assisted suicide laws.

So, deep thoughts here at the end of summer.

Nanu nanu

Summer Fun: Not So Summer-y

I've been feeling the beginning of fall all week, an odd occurrence for the middle of August.  But with some overnight lows around 60F, some overcast days, and torrential downpours one night (nothing like the 13" in Long Island, though), it's been soup weather.  It's actually been too cool for the kids to go swimming at friends' houses because their outdoor pools just aren't warm enough.   We've even turned off the air conditioner.  Again.  Of course, thinking about school starting in less than two weeks--with all the shopping for supplies and clothes, getting haircuts, doing last-minute appointments, and squeezing in the last of our summer to-do list--also brings back ideas of autumn.

Plus, I swear I've seen leaves changing on a couple of trees.  Not drought brown leaves, but actual yellow and orange--a few on the side of the road as we drove to see the CT Sun game on Sunday (whew, double overtime!!  What a fun game!!  And we had lunch at Virgil's and dinner take-out at Summer Shake and Bobby Flay's Burger Place.  Plus Krispy Kreme for the ride home)--and even a branch or two in our neighborhood.

But I haven't gotten out sweaters and flannel sheets yet.  There's always a week of 90F days in September, when the poor kids swelter in the un-cooled school buildings.  Still, I'm getting excited about my favorite two seasons coming up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Fun: Color Us Happy

Our project for today was messy but fun:  tie dye!  We dyed t-shirts, sheets, pillowcases, plus our hands.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Fun: Twofer

Yesterday was a two-for-one activity-from-our-list day:  the kids hosted a lemonade stand which money they donated to charity.  We spent all day preparing:   a trip to the grocery; long baking session--both Dark Chocolate Brownies and Chocolate Chip Bar cookies; poster-making session; lemonade prep; and, finally, stand set up.  Beloved Babysitter came over to help out, everything from hauling the Lucy van Pelt-like lemonade stand to the curb to drawing great 3D lemons on the sign.   I advertised on FB and we had lots of visitors, both neighbors (those we knew and those we didn't) and those who drove over special (thanks, Mama Teacher, for being our first customer!)  Sis made a fancy lemonade, dressing up store-bought drinks with a lemon juice-sugar rim and a lemon slice!  Yes, my idea, but she carefully dipped and swirled for each customer.  We went through more than 3 gallons of lemonade and a neighbor was nice enough to finally fetch some Country Time powder when we were out of the three bottles I had prepared.

For more than two hours, they sold lemonade while I chatted with neighbors, raising $43!!  Best of all, Sis called Pop and he contributed matching funds.  I added the remainder so that we could donate an even $100 to the local cat rescue group from which we got our two cats.  The kids were pleased to help me make the donation online and think of the kitties they had helped.

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

Dark Chocolate Brownies


Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate Morselsdivided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 325º F. Grease 8-inch-square baking pan. Set aside 1/3 cup morsels.

HEAT 1 1/3 cups morsels, sugar, butter and water in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate and butter are melted. Pour into medium bowl. Stir in eggs, one at a time, with wire whisk until blended. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour and salt; stir well. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup morsels and nuts. Pour into prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 38 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 

Nestle chocolate chip bag

Summer Fun: Marco, Polo!

We spent hours at the local pool today--and I swam the whole time.  We played good ol' Marco Polo, as well as Toothpaste, Monkey in the Middle (aka keepaway--with those plastic ball-pit balls the pool had), and basketball.  Such fun.  Lots of laughs.  And even now at the end of the day, I'm still mobile!!!  This, folks, is progress.  Very pleased.

What, Me Worry?

"It's International Cat Day.  Why are you bothering me?"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Fun: Supplies

We stocked up on supplies for the last few weeks of summer.  We got a bunch of tie-dye supplies--we have sheets and t-shirts we've wanted to do--plus a body paint set for Sis, and a bubble gum science kit for Bud, some yarn for me as well as some buttons, both for some projects I'm finishing.

And then on the way home we got some ice cream.  Bud had his favorite black raspberry and I had a wonderfully huge Fluffernutter sundae:  vanilla ice cream, peanut butter sauce, marshmallow topping, crushed peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.  Oh, divine.  Salty sweet goodness.

And for all of us, two pints of DOLE WHIP!!!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Fun: Art--a-thon, 3

Sis and I are seeing patterns everywhere now, drawing inspiration for our doodles from bedspreads, carpet, wallpaper, and the like.  Don't be surprised if these show up in another form soon.




Summer

Such a beautiful day outside.

Summer Fun: August

We haven't done so well on our list this summer, but it's still been a great summer.  I doubt we'll do too many more of these in the 3 1/2 weeks we have left.
  1. Go swimming
  2. Attend town festival.
  3. Boat cruise to Sheffield Island or Thimble Island
  4. Visit historic house
  5. Visit historical society
  6. Go to Broadway show--this weekend and in two weeks
  7. Beach trip
  8. Take lighthouse tour
  9. Visit a children's museum
  10. Putt-putt golf
  11. Go to driving range
  12. Visit arcade
  13. Eat Dole Whip
  14. Make ice cream
  15. Go to outdoor concert
  16. Participate in Home Depot/Joann's workshop
  17. Have a barbecue
  18. Raise butterflies
  19. Have a lemonade stand (cookies for cancer?)--this week?
  20. Picnic
  21. Go berry picking
  22. Minecraft-athon
  23. Attend music festival
  24. Go to farmer's market
  25. See fireworks
  26. Movie night
  27. Game night
  28. Dance night
  29. Old tv show marathon (ours or theirs)
  30. Play in sprinkler
  31. Go to culture festival (Scottish, Irish, Greek, etc.)
  32. Go to Renaissance festival--in the fall
  33. Go to hot air balloon festival
  34. Go to county fair
  35. Stargazing
  36. Activity kits day
  37. Make jam
  38. Go to movie in theater
  39. Build fairy houses
  40. Sketching outing
  41. Biking 
  42. Hiking (Audubon/Nature Center?)
  43. Celebrate 4th of July
  44. Celebrate Solstice
  45. Birthday parties
  46. Build Lego city
  47. Try a new craft/art project
  48. Decorate chalkboard for summer
  49. Learn to cook favorite meal
  50. Visit Miss S
  51. Make ice cube candles
  52. Organize school papers
  53. Purge and donate toys and books
  54. Backwards day
  55. Pajamas day
  56. No electricity day
  57. Tie dye sheets
  58. Practice knot tying
  59. Do a 1000 piece puzzle
  60. Kite flying
  61. Wash cars
  62. Try new CSA vegetable in recipe
  63. Write to a pen pal
  64. Community service project
  65. Do nothing special
UPDATE:  The kids have added some new ideas:  70s childhood day (i.e. no computers or DVR/DVDs etc); make your own sushi day, Meringue-day with cookies and pie and Eton Mess; baby day, with old videos and pictures; another CT Sun day.

Summer Fun: Broadway!!

It was our Broadway weekend!  We were in the city to see Phantom of the Opera, last year's Christmas present.  We had Saturday night tickets instead of matinee because we wanted to see Sierra Boggess as Christine, having watched her on the Royal Albert Hall 25th anniversary Phantom performance.  We also waited til summer so we could see Norm Lewis, the first African-American Phantom on Broadway.  And was it worth the wait!  We loved the show.  Lewis was phenomenal--rich, warm voice that could also handle the high bits and his interpretation of both the needy and angry aspects of the Phantom was spot on.  I think I might have liked him better than the others I've seen (I saw Phantom in 1990 in London!  It is one of my very favorite shows.)  Bud, who can play some of the songs on the piano, was mesmerized by the music and the stagecraft, staring wide-eyed through the whole show.  Sis liked it, too, though she was sitting further from me so I couldn't watch her reactions.  Afterwards, we "stage-doored," which involves waiting, Sharpie marker and programs in hand, for autographs and pictures.  Sierra Boggess actually came out quite quickly and signed the kids' programs and stood for a picture with us and others before getting in her car.  Norm Lewis was later, after we talked to "Carlotta" and "Monsieur Fermin," but he graciously talked, signed, and stood for pictures with everyone.  Bud gushed, "You were awesome!" and Lewis fist-bumped him.  So cute.  Sis is quieter but he stooped to talk to her.  Such a thrill!  It's great to be able to take the kids to Broadway shows and other activities in the city.  I love the city; Mama, a native, does too.  It also reminds me of how Gommie took me to dozens of shows on tour in Houston, to museums, to historic sites, to festivals--it was such a gift of art, history, and culture, involvement in a broader sphere beyond suburbia; we try to do the same.  Thanks, Gommie!  Maybe next time you come to the northeast, you can take the kids to a show--they've mentioned Matilda!  

We did some of our other favorite things:  we ate at Sapporo's off Times Square--Japanese ramen shop (Bud likes the seafood Tokyo Ramen, I like the vegetable ramen, Sis gets the katsu and gyoza.  Mama got some spicy noodles.  And we love their egg and potato salad with this great dressing.); we went to the M&M store (so many new flavors--raspberry, coconut, I wish they had orange chocolate); and Juniors for cheesecake, egg creams, and breakfast the next morning.



And we stayed in our favorite place, with an incredible view of Times Square; I could even see my old street.  Hard to believe I moved to NYC 21 years ago, to 44th Street exactly 19 years ago.  Mercy, how the area has changed.  Mama and I talked about the old stores and restaurants--Phantom of Broadway (which was where Toys R Us is now; there's actually still a Phantom of Broadway down 43rd), the Virgin Megastore, the Sam Bok Korean grocery on 43rd, Fresco Tortilla, the Thai restaurant, the Greek diner--and people, like the man who danced salsa with a doll in the subway station, the Sons of Israel or something like that who would wear  robes like the Three Wise Men in a play and spouted identity politics and religion on the corner, the old couple who ran my local pizza place.  There were the Coca-Cola sign with the straw that went  up and down, the steaming Lipton cup of soup, the huge Cats billboard with just the eyes at Winter Garden.  I love my old stomping grounds, even though they are quite changed.

We'll actually go back in a few weeks to see another show.  And we'll hang out in Times Square again.