Friday, November 28, 2008

So Big

Why does it surprise me that the boys are getting so tall? You can see the changes in just four months
Ben is now about 5'6"-- both boys are clearly taller than me and I feel so protected when I walk between them. They are such kind boys and take good care of me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you, Ron Popeil and Nancy

Today I was grateful for my ginsu knife, a gift from friend Nancy many years ago. No other knife in my kitchen was up to the challenge of finely dicing an unpeeled tomato.
My contribution to the meal hosted by Amanda and Ash was the spaghetti squash dish discovered with Colleen and Valery during my October trip to California. One of the ingredients is a tomato. The dish was as good as I remembered it and is quite easy to prepare so long as you have a ginsu knife. You can find the recipe at . For the ginsu knife, I guess you have to go to a State Fair.
The meal was lovely; Amanda sets a beautiful table as you can see. Her home was quite festive -- all decorated for Christmas. Here's one of her four Christmas trees. Yes, the tree is upside down, not the picture.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marching to a Merry Christmas

Ben marched with his school band and his quads in the local Christmas parade yesterday evening. I didn't get a picture at the parade, but here he is the morning after. If you ever want to experience small town life in the Ozarks, come to our Christmas parade. Throngs line the 1.6 mile length of the parade -- most of the town turns out. I really don't quite understand why it is such a big deal, but I tried to get in the spirit of the season. Bundled up in long johns, scarf, gloves, boots and a few other typical items of clothing, I watched from the parade's end at the town square. Leading the parade was this year's marshall riding in a 1956 Lincoln. Chlorine Hedgepeth (I don't make this stuff up), the octogenarian local bank president/owner/founder who still goes to work every day, had the honor this year. She was followed by a bevy of beauties from each year's class at the high school, who shivered and waved from the back of various convertibles. Then all the local muscle cars, Mustangs, and classic cars drove by, followed by the two school marching bands. Several churches had "floats" (trailers with hay and people in robes) depicting of the true meaning of Christmas and several merchants depicted the other true meaning of Christmas. All the participants hurled wrapped hard candies at the crowd and failed to put out anyone's eye, but did startle and bruise this observer. Ah, great fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Abby and Jack

I've been in a quilting frenzy again. Sister Valery asked me to make quilts for the twin babies of her friend Kelly (born October 25 -- Valery's birthday). So I said I would do it as a birthday gift to Valery and I've been frantically at it ever since -- about 200 hours worth. Today they went into the mail.

Today is the deadline for Open Enrollment for my IBM health insurance. I swear, making decisions gets more complicated every year. I'm not sure if the choices are more complex and convoluted, or if my brain is wearing out.

The cold weather makes me want to stay home and get ready for the holidays. We'll have Thanksgiving with the local relatives (at Amanda and Ash's) and Christmas at our house with whoever shows up. Let me know if you plan to be here! I have lots of extra beds and love company.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crop Circles

This mysterious perfect circle of dead lawn appeared in our side yard a couple of weeks ago and led me to an internet search of Ozarks crop circles. Turns out there have been a whole bunch of UFO and Crop Circle events in the Ozarks. Determined not to join this woooo woooo crowd, I resolved to get to the root of the problem. The solution was no further away than the youngest member of our household. On the morning after the first freeze, he stomped around in a circle on the frozen grass. When the weather warmed up, the grass grew everywhere but the circle he had etched.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red Alert

Seventy-mile-an-hour winds from the southwest left most trees bare. Our dogwood was spared because the house shelters it. I figure Missouri's State Tree will fare better in this spot than the exotic Japanese Maple we lost in a late season freeze a couple of years ago. I'm hoping it blooms next spring -- it was planted too late for blossoms this year.

The kids and I spent from 3:00 to 3:45 in the tornado shelter (with the dogs) last night while the sirens wailed, but no tornadoes materialized. That's three times this year: one in January, one in July and now this one in November -- so I conclude there is no such thing as tornado season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ah u eeehuh eeee?

One picture is worth $5,604.00

Logan talked through the whole 40 minute process of installing his braces, except for the time he spent making a video with his phone camera. Of course, no one could understand a word he said.
He was a wonderful cheerful patient and I think he looks so much more mature with a mouth full of metal, don't you?

He's been quite uncomfortable the past 30 hours or so, but still a good sport.

Ah, the election! Missouri will probably lose its place as a bellweather state. Results are still inconclusive with McCain leading by about 6,000 votes and 7,000 provisional votes still to be counted. What the hell is a provisional vote???

Today as I went about my business, (mammogram, Target, and the quilt store) I was struck by an aura of gentle kindness surrounding the people I encountered, kind of like the way it is after a major earthquake or other disaster. I feel fortunate to have participated in this historic event and I am filled with hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

'Fessin' Up

We don't always eat politically correct, organic, CSA food. Tonight the boys had Mac and Cheese from Boston Market which has to be one of the vilest concoctions. Flabby noodles are soaked in runny bright orange sauce that pretends to be cheese -- it makes Velveeta look good. But, I let them eat it every Monday night on the way to music lessons because their mother used to manage a Boston Market and would bring it home for dinner from time to time. So, for the sake of a cozy memory, I surrender to Boston Market's mac and cheese once a week.

I don't have recipes for the veggies I have prepared. I took a batch of greens (may have been mustard), chopped them in bite-size chunks, lightly tossed them in EVOO that had garlic and rosemary soaking in it and stirred them around the frying pan until they were slightly wilted. Then I tossed in some pine nuts and shaved Parmesan. Yum.

The next night's stir fry was chunks of leftover pork loin, julienned raw turnips, green peppers, and onions stir fried in the same EVOO mixture. I tossed in the leftover greens from the night before and it was really good. I hate the taste of turnips in traditional stews, but I couldn't taste them at all in this mixture -- I think the secret is young turnips cut into very fine slivers so that the EVOO, garlic, and herbs can work their charm.

I always keep a cup of EVOO ready with minced garlic and some herb, basil, or rosemary or thyme chopped up into it.

We have too many sweet potatoes and will probably get plenty more, so I'm going to try making sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin pie -- we'll see if I get away with it.

Tomorrow is the official day that Logan's braces get installed. He won't miss any school because the school's are closed for election day -- they use the schools as polling places and don't want the public mingling with the kids for security and safety reasons. Like most of the nation, I'll be glad when this election is over -- I've been getting three to five robo-calls a day for the past week. 95% of them from the Republicans -- that alone would drive me to voting democrat!

Ben's ( and a hundred or so other people's) Veteran's Day Public Service Announcement should start airing on Wednesday. Let me know if you see it. It's sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and should show old vets, town square, Junior High marching band, and parade spectators, and possibly a certain 13 year-old redheaded boy sitting on the curb.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Things Go Better With . . .

These help us eat those weird vegetables:
1. Nuts: walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
2.Garlic and onions
3. Cheese: grated cheddar, shaved parmesan, crumbled bleu cheese
4. Sauces: spaghetti sauce, pesto, alfredo, chutneys, and salsas
5. Condiments: mayonnaise, catsup, sour cream, ranch dressing, balsamic vinegar, EVOO, butter
6. Diced or crumbled meats: bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, ham
7. Fresh lemon juice
8. Herbs: rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, cilantro, parsley, dill
9. Seasoning: Spike, salt, pepper, other salt-free blends
10. Bread crumbs

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CSA -- Week 1

Lettuce, three other kinds of greens, radishes, egg plant, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, cheese, spaghetti squash, and turnips filled our first CSA garden basket. It's going to be a challenge to eat it all and to make it all edible this week. I figure we'll have to have one green and one root or squash each day. I know I can make most of them palatable with nuts, bacon, EVOO, herbs, or balsamic vinegar and either stir frying or roasting the veggies. Will the kids eat it? Stay tuned.

The point of all this is to reduce the cost of transportation in the production of the food we eat. We can get all of our veggies, meat, eggs, dairy, and most of the grains locally, but there are some things I'm not willing to give up: bananas, nuts, boxed cereal, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, and good wine.

Tonight we'll have roast pork, some kind of greens tossed with pine nuts, EVOO and balsamic vinegar, tossed salad, and sweet potatoes. Leftover pork will form the basis of stir fry with more green veggies tomorrow. We'll also have fritatas, cheese dishes and other meatless meals at some point during the week. I try to use as little salt as possible, but other than that, I'm throwing dietary caution to the wind until I get the hang of using up the veggies. I'm hoping that it will turn out to be some kind of self-regulating phenomenon.

Washing and storing the produce is one of the biggest chores. If I can get it all done on Saturday, I'll be set for the rest of the week.