Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tidbits and Kidbits

We continue our 70s show diet--we watched two episodes of "The Brady Bunch" yesterday and I think that has to be the kids' favorite.  They couldn't comprehend "The Love Boat" and weren't that impressed with "Happy Days."  And "Gilligan's Island" is just ridiculous.  In reserve, we have "Laverne and Shirley," "The Carol Burnett Show," "I Love Lucy," "Lost in Space," "Wonder Woman," and "Batman." I just deleted "CHiPS" and "M.A.S.H."--I don't think they'd enjoy either.  Wish we could find "Land of the Lost."

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We took that vocabulary test that has been floating around FB.  I got the top .01%, with a score of 30325 (I think), knowing I missed "avulse," which I now will never forget is a medical term meaning "to tear."  Mama scored in the top 1% or so (I forget.  Well, except I know I beat her.)  And Bud made it in the top 7%, on par with a white-collar professional, it said.  Sis was normal for her age (which I somehow doubt, but she also said she went through it pretty quickly.)  Pretty fun.

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Bud is watching me as I type this. And adding his edits.  Especially about Sis's score above.  "What? Don't type that!" he just said.  :)  This might be the last power I have!  Actually, both kids have actually started reading Mommy, Hungry!, which I hadn't expected for many years to come; I'm kinda surprised they're interested.  Maybe we're in the sweet spot when they're interested but not too embarrassed.  Sis started with the first posts back in August 2007 while Bud is reading backwards from the present day.    I guess they'll cross sometime around 2011, in first grade.  It's been fun to reminisce about the old stuff, but now I find myself self-censoring some of the more recent stuff (police shootings, racism, descriptions of giving Mo fluids which Bud hates.)  

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Bud and I tried to watch Footloose today.  I think he'd love the music and dancing.  But he couldn't get past all the discussion of sex and dating.  I can't blame him.  And this was PG?  One of the characters even made the hand sign for masturbating!  I guess there was more sex then, just like there's more violence in PG films now.  Also, we didn't have PG-13 then.

Speaking of which, there was a song--can't recall which one--on the radio in the car and Bud commented that it was "inappropriate."  I hadn't heard the lyric--I almost never do--but it was "they always want to come, but they never wanna leave."  And he got it.  Uh oh.  I better start listening.  Funny to watch the beginning of Footloose on the same day--all about music and easy sexuality.  Maybe the preacher in the film was right!  But banning it never does any good . . . and today's music would have just killed him.

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I feel like we're living in Captain America:  Civil War.  Or perhaps WWI.  Mo, Albus, and Hermione had staked a claim to our room, but Eris had infiltrated.  They've been going back and forth all day, with the hallway as some kind of battle line.  I have a feeling that Eris will win in the end, though for now she is down here.  

We've been calling Eris "Bumble-cat" because she gets all thick like a fuzzy striped bee when you pet her--and she is striped, too.  And she stings/bites!  Or, when she gets territorial, "Prissy McKitty Kitten."  What is it with pet nicknames?

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I hate this heat.  Hate hate hate.  It read 103F in my car today, though I think that was a mis-read from sitting in the sun.  But it was still 96 at 9 pm.  UGH.  I'm dreaming of deep fall--cold, gray, November days.  I daren't dream of snow--we just didn't get much last year.  At least it's snowing in my Dragonvale.

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Zentangle on the Brain

I've been practicing Zentangle everyday, both for my own personal edification and in preparation for upcoming classes.  It's still my favorite way to start the day (even if sometimes, I get so caught up in it that the actual start is delayed!  Some of those tiles take awhile.)


My thoughts o Trump and the RNC

Today's tiles, inspired by a tile I saw online.


A serendipitous photo of one of the tiles with a rainbow from my prism.


And, then quite by happenstance, I came across this bag on clearance at the store.  It's perfect, inside and out, for lugging my Zentangle supplies to and from class.  Can't wait to try it out this week!


First 24 Hours

We've ended the first day of our bifurcated weekend--Mama and Sis are taking a family sailing workshop while Bud and I stay home.  I haven't gotten many details about their day, only that they did go out on their JY45s this morning--sans smartphone, on purpose--and had a lot of fun.  This evening, they took a cruise around some of the Sound.  Then went swimming!  I'm sure they're exhausted.

Bud and I haven't been quite so busy.  Last night, we went to see the new Ghostbusters.  He had so enjoyed it that he wanted me to see it ASAP.  And I loved it!  More than the original, even.  I thought it was cleverly written, smartly acted, with great references to and appearances by the first Ghostbusters.  I definitely liked Holtzman, his favorite character, with her wacky science and "blowtorch dance."  I also liked Abigail, played by Melissa McCarthy, whom I'd watched way back in "Gilmore Girls."  We spent the rest of the evening discussing it--parallels to the first film, cameos, cool special effects, favorite parts, favorite ghosts, the bonus scenes at the end.  We even practiced the  "handshake!"  We got Chinese on the way home and hung out playing Dragonvale for awhile.  He also played Learn to Fly, which he'd learned about at camp, which ended Friday (he loved it and looks forward to going back for his overnight week soon.)

Today has been quieter, both because of kung fu and the excessive heat.  I ran errands while he was at practice.  We had lunch at Smashburger (note for the future:  he does NOT like truffle oil) and then have been playing computer games and watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."  It's the last "Splatfest" on his Splatoon game, probably because they'll introduce Splatoon 2.0.  Still, we're sorry to see it go.  And the game will still be there.

Tomorrow is probably much of the same, especially because it will be just as hot.  But with pie.  I made the crust today and have the cherry filling from Trader Joe's.  Mmm, mmm good.  And we can share it with Mama and Sis (well, she'll eat the crust), when they get home in the afternoon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Wildtree to the Rescue!

Been cooking in the slow cooker these hots days--we're inside hiding from the heat.  Wildtree to the rescue!  The kids liked each one.  


Pork Carnita Wraps 

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed
1 small white onion, chopped OR ½ bag frozen chopped onions (6 oz)
4 oz can diced green chilies (optional)
¾ cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons Wildtree Agave Margarita Mixer
2 Tablespoons Wildtree Garlic Galore Seasoning Blend
1 teaspoon Wildtree Fiesta Salsa Mix
1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Combine ingredients, marinate in fridge (or place in freezer.)  Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  Serve as soft tacos. 


Apple Balsamic Chicken



21⁄2 lbs chicken breasts
11⁄2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons Wildtree Apple Balsamic Vinegar 


Combine ingredients, marinate in fridge (or place in freezer.)  Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  I liked it over rice, with cabbage cooked with it.


Apple BBQ Bacon-wrapped Chicken
1½ to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
12 or 16 oz package turkey bacon (20 slices) OR center cut bacon
¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce OR 3 apples (peeled, cored & cubed)
½ cup Wildtree Cactus Pete’s Agave BBQ Sauce
1 Tablespoon lemon juice 
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Wrap 2-3 bacon slices around chicken before putting in freezer bag.  Put wrapped chicken in bag & add other ingredients into freezer bag.  Remove air, seal & attach label.  Double bag and freeze or marinate overnight.   Defrost bag in fridge before cooking.  Place bag contents in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Picnic

Had a great picnic, all sorts of yummy food--quesadillas, empanadas, burritos, chips and guac, macaroons, chicken sliders, ahi tacos, farro salad, meatballs, caesar salad, chicken tenders, onion rings, soda, seafood salad, lobster roll, clam chowder, pizza . . .  we didn't do too much else, but we did have some fun making rings with pipe cleaners.  It was a lovely night.  We love our annual picnic!

Happy Trails

Today, we visited the local horse riding academy.  Sis has been going to Girl Scout camp with a horseback riding academy for three years; now, she's taking weekly lessons.  We arrived at the barn and she knew all of the horses by name, both of the dogs, and some of the staff.  She glowed from ear to ear, so excited--more so after she donned her new boots and riding pants!  She's going to love taking lessons.  We're so proud of her--first, ice skating, now horseback riding.  This weekend, sailing lessons (with Mama); next week, rock climbing camp!  Sis tries many new things and pushes her limits--she's just so amazing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wedding Bells

Sixty-four years ago, my dear Lambeth and Mrs. Lambeth were married.  They are special people and a wonderful couple together--an inspiration for long married life!  We are so pleased and proud to know them both.  Love you, Lambeths!!!

Ups and Downs



Let's start with downs.  Our ol' man Mojito has lost 2 lbs and is starting to have kidney problems.  I've been giving him subcutaneous fluids a couple of times a week, which isn't fun for anyone, but should forestall problems for awhile.  He is 17 or so, which is 84 in people years.   He's been braver, even going upstairs. He now sleeps between our pillows and has taken over Albus's spot in the window by the dresser.  He still hisses at Hermione but doesn't run away so much.  All in all, he seems fine; if it weren't for the weight loss, we wouldn't have suspected a thing.

We think Mo has found his courage from Eris, our new 6-year-old silver tabby.  She doesn't take any gruff from Hermione--Eris stares her down and Hermione just backs up.   Albus gives Eris wide berth.  And Mo has taken advantage of the household upheaval to move around.  Eris lives in the front corner of the house by the couch.  She switches from Mr. P's (and before him, Morgan's) black cat tree, to the tall cat tree, to the short tan cat tree.  Apparently, at night, she sleeps on the arms of the couches or on the ottoman.  She loves to have her ears scratched, and sometimes her belly, but only just a tiny bit.  She apparently was an abused kitten in the very beginning and, despite a loving home for the last 6 years, she's still skittish about unexpected noises or people moving around by her.

All told, things are going well in the house cat-wise.  One day at a time.  And right now, they're all asleep in their spots.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A New Toy

Yep, the family has a new toy.

Actually, I have two new toys.

All of us are playing Pokemon, the app that's taken the world by storm.  I should specify that I'm not really playing--Sis is playing on my phone.  It certainly makes riding in the car more fun--she plays in the backseat while I drive.  But we've also walked around the neighborhood and the town green a few times, with dozens of other people, staring into their phones, not talking to anyone.  It looks like a scene out of Doctor Who, when everyone stops to listen to their ear pieces; it's kind of creepy.  Mama has played with Bud and Sis, too.

The other new toy I have is the DragonVale app.  Mama and the kids have been playing for a long time, years even, for Mama.  But I'm not much for games.  The only other ones I've even tried are Mario Kart and Splattoon.  But Bud was so excited to show me how it all worked that I downloaded it on my phone and have been dabbling ever since.  I'm not really into advantageous breeding of dragons or the like, but I do like decorating the little island--I have a rose garden, flower beds, a thatched cottage, and a half-timbered building.  And the dragons are cute when they're small.

I guess I've finally entered the 21st century.

Peace


Thursday, July 14, 2016

In Memoriam

My first public Zentangle art class is tonight; the anticipation has been building all week, as I plan tiles and tangles, prep supplies, and pack the student kits.  I chose the date, partially for convenience and partially in memoriam--it's Aunt Sis's birthday.  She loved art and encouraged my love of art, starting with Botticelli and then moving on to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  (I never could quite love Gauguin or Picasso as much as she did, though.)  I'm not exactly sure she would have embraced the Zentangle method of combining patterns--probably too many rules (dots, borders, strings), too much like a cult (that side of the family is not into joining anything), but she would have appreciated the mindfulness, though I doubt she'd have called it that.

Anyway, class is tonight and I'm very excited.  I spent yesterday working on a big Opus (10.5 x 10.5") tile made completely with basic tangles students learn in the beginning; the Zentangle names of the tangles are written along the edges.  I'll use it as a demo tonight.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Tangled Heart

"Tangled Heart" canvas

I'm teaching some introductory Zentangle classes over the next two months and practicing my own art everyday.  I did this design first as a 3.5 x 3.5" tile and then as a larger 10" x 10" canvas.  I'm using the design for the postcards advertising my Zentangle classes.  I'm so excited!

original tile

Monday, July 11, 2016

Few Words

Black Lives Matter.

Blue Lives Matter.

Driving while black.

The Talk.

Racism.

Privilege.

Reverse racism.

Allyhood.

Protests.

Snipers.

What could I possibly add to all the words, emotions, even blood that have spilled and been spilled this week?

I see the racism within me.  I see my own privilege.  I'm afraid for the future.  I'm angry about the present.   I don't think all the easy talk of kindness, love, and unity is the answer.

But I don't know what is.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Fun: First Full Week

This first like our first full week of summer together, with 4th of July on one end and birthday celebrations on this one; plus, both kids were home in between, unlike last week when Sis was at Camp.  With Bud at camp the next two weeks, then Sis, then them both, it'll be a month or more before we're all home together for a week.

And we did the week up right, I'd say.

  1. Birthday parties for kids--Bud had his birthday party last night.
  2. Meet friends at ice rink--well, we went ice skating but no one came with us.
  3. Have a lemonade stand --we did it for a special ed charity
  4. See Secret Life of Pets--saw it today as part of the kiddos' birthday celebration
We also watched those 70s shows ("Gilligan's Island," "Happy Days," and "Love Boat," with several more set to tape.  For the kids, it was like watching the proverbial train wreck--they thought the shows were horrible, but they couldn't turn them off, especially because they recognized some people (like Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell on the "Love Boat"!!!!  Plus "Mr Miyagi" and "Winthrop" in Music Man on "Happy Days." Mama and I were pretty horrified, too--so sexist and cliche, but our childhoods nonetheless--I could sing all the theme songs.  And we've been watching another season of the Great British Bake Off.  I'm hoping it helps get us in the mood for that weekly tea party idea.

The rest of the list . . . .
  1. Party/activity in honor of Aunt Sis
  2. Go swimming at Y with friends
  3. Playgroup Open House idea
  4. Beach trip in city
  5. Look for sea glass at beaches
  6. Create Minecraft server
  7. Play in sprinkler
  8. Go to zoo
  9. Biking
  10. Decorate chalkboard for summer
  11. Learn to cook weekly dinners
  12. Make ice cube candles
  13. Make soap
  14. Learn an ASL sign a day
  15. Create a Zentangle tile-a-day--I'm doing it; they aren't.
  16. Make friendship bread starter and share

  17. Start afternoon tea party tradition
  18. Kite flying
  19. Wash car
  20. See Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  21. Harry Potter and the Curse Child book party (we might have other plans)
  22. Set up tent in backyard
  23. Zentangle classes with Sis and Bud helping--I set the dates!
  24. Gather all the coins in the house and take to Coinstar

Bud's Birthday

We had Bud's birthday party last night--at the local rope course!  Luckily, the rain went both north and south of us (unlike the great storm the night before that dropped 4.75" on us.)  The park wasn't crowded, probably because of the threat of rain, and so Bud and his friends got four rounds on the course (instead of the usual three.)  Several had never done a rope course before and were nervous to start, but they all had a great time.  Bud was grinning ear to ear the whole time.  They finally stopped around 8 pm and had lemonade, pizza, and homemade Victoria Sponge Cake (his request) amid all the twinkle lights, chatting and laughing between bites.  A very happy 11th birthday party!


Summer Fun 2016: If Life Gives You Lemons . . .


In truth, we used a mix to make the lemonade for our lemonade stand.  But we did put slices of lemon in each glass we sold.  And Bud offered a special sugar rim, which only the under-10 set wanted!

Yes, we had our annual summer lemonade stand.  Bud wanted to raise money for causes that support people with Autism, and so we raised funds for a local parent group that aids teachers, parents, and children.

It was the hottest day so far, about 90F at 4 pm.  And the kids sold $76 worth of lemonade, chocolate chunk bars, and cherry jam oatmeal bars.  Many of our neighbors came out and several friends from around town.  Even some strangers--one remarked that, at a dollar a cup, prices had gone up!  Well, it was a fundraiser.

And fun.  It was lots of fun.

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Chocolate Chunk Oat Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9” square baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, water, and vanilla; beat until well blended.

Stir in the flour mixture and oats; mix well. Stir in ½ cup chocolate chunks. Spread the dough in the pan with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle wit the remaining ½ cup chocolate chunks.

Bake for about 30 minutes or just until the center feels firm. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sesame Street Yummy Cookies: Baking with Kids



Oatmeal Jam Bars

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter
1-10 oz. jar of preserve

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda.  Cut in butter til mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Reserve ½ cup of the flour mixture.  Press remaining flour mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.  Spread with desired filling.  Sprinkle with reserved flour mixture.

Bake in 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or til the top is golden.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

We're in our living room watching "A Capitol Fourth" with Sutton Foster, Christopher Jackson (of Hamilton), and others, and will later flip back and forth with the Macy's fireworks on NBC--our traditional July 4th activities!

We're not much for celebrating (being too cynical for most jingoistic patriotism--especially this election year!--and too averse to hot weather to for beaches and barbecue), but this year saw us do more than usual.  On Saturday, we attended a wonderful lakeside picnic at the summer home of one of Bud's kung fu buddies.  There was a lot of tasty food--pasta salad, baked ziti, roasted corn, my Tex-Mex chocolate sheet cake, lasagna, various catered Indian curries and dishes, a fresh fruit salad (complete with cored and halved cherries!), this great couscous salad with pine nuts and dried fruits (I hope to get this recipe later), etc etc etc--and we all had our fill.

I talked with various other guests--two women owned horses and compared notes with Sis, one couple had a new 10-week-old baby, others went to a private school that Mama and I have our eyes on, one dad had left our kung fu school a couple of years ago and had stories to tell.  A nice group.

Best of all, the kids got to hang out with some of the older kids (from 14-18 years old.)  They went swimming in the lake together, playing on the standing paddle boards and the water trampoline.  The kids were like fish!  And, while there were life jackets to be had, they didn't need them.  Mama and I sat on the dock in the shade watching them, the ducks (Mr. and Mrs. Mallard), the Canada geese, the Red-Shouldered hawk screeching overhead most of the day, the various birds flitting back and forth, and the sun glinting off of the green water while the trees swayed in the light breeze.  It was a beautiful day.  Later, the kids made music together inside, each showing off various piano pieces and singing karaoke together.  Then they hung out upstairs, exploring the nooks and crannies of the old house.

After the party, we stopped for ice cream at our favorite local place.  The lines were long, but it was worth the wait.  Black raspberry.  Coffee.  Cherry Vanilla.  Toasted Almond.  A chocolate milkshake. Mmmmmmm!

Then we went to play putt-putt!  It was a lovely little course surrounded by shrubs and a stream.  It wasn't kitschy, just some good old fun.  We were pretty wiped after that, grabbing some burgers on the way home that night.

On Sunday, Mama and the kids went to NYC for dim sum with the grandparents, while I went to lunch to celebrate the birthday of Mama Teacher.  Then, we spent the evening together watching "The Great British Bake-off."

Today, we celebrated Mama's birthday belatedly by going to see Finding Dory at the fancy theater with the reserved and big reclining seats.  It was a cute film--especially those otters and the two whales.

Which brings us full circle to the 4th of July tv shows right now, while real fireworks are going off in yards around town.

Happy Independence Day!

And may we continue to be the land of the free . . . . with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.


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And so we finished more of our list in one weekend:
  1. Putt-putt golf
  2. Celebrate 4th of July--we've been invited to a picnic.
  3. Celebrate Mama's birthday--we're doing it this coming weekend!
And let's add to the movie list 
    4.  See Finding Dory

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From “ Field of Greens” cookbook:

Couscous Salad with Apricots, Pine Nuts and Ginger

1 cup instant couscous
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoon vinegar (I usually use some kind of fruity vinegar, but basically anything works)
8 dried apricots thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried raisin, cherries, currents, cranberries (whatever you have around)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Salt
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 Tablespoon pine nuts

Pour couscous into small mixing bowl.  Mix water, orange juice, olive oil and vinegar in saucepan and bring to boil.  Stir in dried fruit, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; immediately pour over couscous and then cover bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

Bring small pt of water to boil and drop in red onion for 15 seconds.  Drain.


When couscous is ready, fluff it with fork and then add pine nuts and onion.