Friday, December 30, 2011

Logan's Big Day

November 5, 2008

December 29, 2011 -- the $5,600 grimace

 Thanks to this crew, featuring the smiling orthodontist with a piece of chewing gum visible in the right side of his mouth!It was a big deal. Everybody clapped and he got his picture taken wearing a silly hat:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From Soup to Nuts!

                       Soup day falls three days after Christmas in my house. Anything left in the refrigerator either goes in the soup pot or the garbage today. And I think it is my favorite day of the season. No planning, no presents, no parties, no panic. I love the Christmas send-up, but by the time the day itself arrives, I'm done with it. Then I fall into a chair and veg out for a couple of days. By the 28th, I'm back in harness, ready to toss the Christmas wrapping and the leftovers. And that's where I am today.

The washing machine has been running at full tilt (which is very descriptive of the way our machine operates -- "running" across the laundry room floor and ended up at an odd angle to it's home base). The house is filled with yummy soup smells, the refrigerator is nearly empty. The tree looks sad and lonely. The gifts have all been settled in their new homes. Most of the sticky stuff has been cleaned up and the empty soda containers are in the recycle bin.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, Yum!

This is my adaptation of a recipe Valery sent me. Our CSA share included a nice big leek and a butternut squash this week, so this worked out perfectly. I'm sure the original was just as good, but my spin added some meat and saved me the fuss of cutting up the bread. Here's what I did to make this:
Savory Bread Pudding

1 Med Butternut squash cut into 3/4" cubes. Put in a plastic bag with
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Shake to coat squash and dump squash onto a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides)
Roast in 375 degree oven about 30 minutes, until tender, but not squishy

While squash is roasting:
Saute leeks and
4 cloves garlic in
2 Tbsp butter
add 1 Cup cooked meat (I used diced ham)

Set aside and whisk
4 eggs
3 Cups milk (I used 1 1/2 cups 2 % milk and 1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir leeks, garlic, and meat mixture into the egg and milk mixture

Pour over
6 cups cubed stale bread (3/4 in. cubes) (I used garlic croutons) spread in the bottom of a 9x 13 inch pan

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes — until custard is set.

It smelled really good while it was cooking and it was yummy.

Logan is generally averse to new food or any kind of change and he did say he doesn't care for butternut squash, but he ate it all.

I would have enjoyed it more if my "Pine Nut Mouth" were gone. I developed a bitter taste in my mouth last week and thinking it must be a symptom of something dreadful, I googled and found a number of references to a bitter taste developing a few days after eating roasted pine nuts imported from Asia by Trader Joe's! No kidding. Just a week ago, I fixed Brussels sprouts with parmesan, garlic, and pine nuts (guess where I got my pine nuts). I was fine tuning the recipe I planned to serve for Christmas dinner. About four days ago, I developed the bitter taste and learned about "Pine Nut Mouth." What I don't know is whether it is an allergy and only a few of us lucky folks will get it, or if everyone who eats the same pine nuts will get it. Unfortunately, I used the rest of the pine nuts to make a huge batch of pesto which I froze in cute little containers with the intention of passing out Italian themed Christmas gifts. Today I pitched the pesto. Let them eat Marinara!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where's Ben?

 Last night's Madrigal was magnificent! Of course the kids sang like angels and looked splendid in their Renaissance costumes. The program was tremendously enhanced by Mrs. Jameson's exuberant directing and Mr. Davidson's enormous piano talent.
Can you find Ben in the kingdom of assembled choristers below?

 After the performance, as the audience and performers mingled in the foyer, the air pulsed with the energy still being discharged by the singers. The combination of their voices raised in joy and wearing fancy clothes generated warmth and happiness that spilled over all of us.

And so, the semester ends. Ben has only three more to go before graduation. Both boys continue to earn excellent grades and get lots of praise and recognition from their teachers. And I continue to bore people to death with my bragging. Get used to it -- I'm not cutting back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

See Hear

Last night I dreamed I was at the movies watching a graphic sex scene. The dream cinematography was amazing, mostly done in silhouettes of blues and blacks, occasionally lapsing into full form and then fading back to solid silhouettes. Clearly it's a sign you're over the hill when sex dreams are all about the cinematography.

And then I was awakened at 4 A.M. by Logan depositing a load of clean laundry in my room. He needed the dryer space because he was washing his clothes. AT 4 IN THE MORNING! The kid runs on 23 hour days, like a toddler who is not quite ready to give up napping. Logan goes to bed earlier every night (last night it was 7:30) and gets up earlier, until one day a week he takes a long afternoon nap, goes to bed late, sleeps in, and then begins the cycle all over again.

Today I'm going to a Christmas luncheon at the lah-de-dah country club with a bunch of local quilters. Four of the names on the guest list are women who are Paducah winners with quilts hanging the American Quilting Society's permanent collection. Exalted company, snazzy setting. A day of pretension. And I'll be able to see and hear it all. I picked up my new glasses yesterday and the new prescription is wonderful! I also replaced my hearing aid which had failed to survive a cycle in the dishwasher. It came out clean, but didn't improve my hearing. Now with two functioning hearing aids, new retention straps so they don't fall out, and increased gain, I hear pretty well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Passing the Baton

It's time to pass the baton. Christmas 2011 will be the last time I host Christmas dinner. And of course, I am overcome by conflicting thoughts as I make this decision. I think it is a good thing for Ben and Logan to know that Christmas happens in other houses. I also think it is good for them to acknowledge that their grandmother is aging and her limitations are increasing. Next year the remodeling of Julia's house will be complete and she will take over.

I'm finding that decorating the house becomes more difficult each year. I've given up outdoor decorations all together except for two fake potted poinsettias. The indoor (fake) tree is up, but not completely decorated. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care and their toes hold chocolate coins (a tradition with us). I won't give up some of our traditions. I will continue to make a Christmas stocking for each new family member and will hang ours with care and chocolate.

Guess why lots of the decorations stay up year round:
a) I have Christmas in my heart all year
b) I like the way they look
c) I have nothing to put in their place
d)I'm too lazy to take them down
e) I have no place to put them
f) All of the above

Cooking the Christmas feast takes more energy than I have. I want to enjoy the day, not collapse in the recliner with exhaustion. My stamina took a big hit with this year's surgery and it just hasn't rebounded. I can still get lots done, but the pace is different. However, I promise you, there will always be Brussels Sprouts, no matter where I dine!

Make no mistake, I'm not depressed, simply getting a bit tired. Friend and former pastor, Mary Maaga, has written a Christmas story where she describes approaching each day like a Christmas stocking ready to reveal its small joys. That struck a chord with me; I awaken each morning with joy and anticipation, eager to see the wonders of the day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soap Box

I went to the snazzy new supermarket in Springfield a few days ago to see what I could see and by the way, I needed laundry detergent. I saw beautiful produce, both organic and conventionally grown (isn't it ironic that "conventional" means the use of chemical fertilizer, genetic mutations, hormones, and insecticides?), lots of tempting and interesting cheeses, aisles of health products and laundry detergent in plastic bottles. No cardboard boxes of powdered detergent. I like powdered detergent for several reasons:
  • Transportation and storage issues: water weighs 8 -1/3 pounds per gallon. The liquid in liquid detergent is water. Heavy stuff costs more to transport than lighter stuff. Plastic bottles are odd-shaped and difficult to store efficiently. Cardboard boxes are cubes and store and stack with ease. Much easier to warehouse! The plastic bottles have to be placed in a cardboard box to stack and store -- redundant packaging!
  • Clean up: I'd much rather clean up spilled powder than spilled liquid.
  • The environment: Cardboard boxes are much easier to recycle and  if not recycled are easier on the landfill than plastic containers.
I'm going to let the spiffy new store know about my concerns, but I'm afraid I'm getting a glimpse into the future. Is powdered detergent an endangered species?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let It Snow

I was surprised to awaken to this first dusting of snow -- and I love it! I am shocked that my neighbor hasn't shoveled her driveway yet, in fact, I don't see any tire marks on it either, maybe they are out of town. I hope they are well. Normally she would clear her driveway and create neat little snow banks on either side by this time on a snowy day.

School is in session, but I have declared a personal snow day. After a very busy day yesterday, I'm happy to sit back and pick at the housework today. I love days when I'm home alone and just drift from reading a few pages to sorting a pile of laundry, sewing a few stitches, and straightening up a room. I will go out later this afternoon to mail Kathy and Rick's quilts and even later to attend the high school's winter concert featuring Ben on Glockenspiel. He's excited about it and so am I.

Yesterday I taught a complicated quilting technique to one of my quilting clubs. I confused several people and a few caught on, so I guess that's OK. I learned a lot about how to teach a quilting technique and think I will do much better next time.

After our Christmas pot luck luncheon, I picked up the boys at school for Logan's dental appointment and Ben's eye exam. Logan had a couple of cavities, the first in his permanent teeth (boo hoo) which he will get filled after his braces are removed later this month (yay!). Ben's eyes are unchanged and he didn't need new glasses -- no out-of-pocket cost, all covered by insurance (which is an out-of-pocket cost the first of each month!).