Monday, March 31, 2014

the quotidian (3.31.14)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace


Flowers (not ours, but at this point I'm not being picky) and raindrops: spring!


Oh, fudge.


Sink jungle.


Music prop: a wigged out pumpkin as choir director.
To use, stare at pumpkin with laser focus while singing music from memory.


After-work snack(s).


When regular words didn't grab my attention, my son resorted to taking pictures of me. 
(I was intent on writing an email to a friendhey, Sarah!on the other side of the world.)


Truly quotidian.


Untangling a (very complicated) yarny knot.


When a soggy world blurs and runs together.

Friday, March 28, 2014

wuv, tru wuv...



The cord for our handheld mixer is cracked and broken. The wires are poking out. It got so bad that this past Sunday, when it came time to make the whipped cream for the waffles, the mixer refused to run unless the cord was held just so. So my husband held the wire while I beat the cream. Raising or lowering the cord even the tiniest bit resulted in less electricity and slower-running beaters.

Him: This is stupid. We’re going to be electrocuted. In front of the children.

Me: It’s kitchen fireworks! If sparks are gonna fly, then we should kiss!

Him: I am not kissing you. Just beat the cream.

Me: Hey kids! Someone get the camera and take a picture!

Him: I’m risking my life for whipped cream.

Me: Aw honey. It’s sooo worth it.

Actually, this picture pretty much sums up our entire marriage: making do, him helping me (he’s always helping me), idiotic risk, whipped cream, humor, working together, and bickering.

P.S. Mom, calm down. No one got injured—not even a twinge of a zap—and the mixer is now out of commission until it is properly repaired. (Though he better get it fixed before next Sunday, or else.)

P.P.S. When whipping cream, I cover the bowl and beaters with an old dishtowel to eliminate splatters. Thus the reason it looks like I'm holding a wired towel.

P.P.P.S. Title from Princess Bride, the movie that forever altered how I articulate "true love" in my head.

P.P.P.P.S. The beater wires are now fixed (kinda) so whipping the cream is once again a one-person job, nostalgic sigh.

This same time, years previous: on being together, warts and all, cream puffs (for Kirsten) (who had twins last week!!!), and oatmeal crackers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

our oaf

My older son, now 14, is in what I (mostly) fondly call The Oafish Stage. He’s too big to delve into dress-up and play-acting but too young to have a real job. It’s an awkward, in-between stage. It’s also—I’m starting to notice—perhaps the perfect age for piling on the work, both academic and otherwise.


I’m a novice at these teen years so I really don’t know anything. Experienced parents, what do you think? Have you noticed that young teens have a particular aptitude for grunt work and straight-up knowledge acquisition?

This same time, years previous: the visit, a spat, the thumb thucker (who still is, by the way), and brandied-bacony roast chicken.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

maple pecan scones

Today’s Facts (which are actually yesterday’s facts because that’s when this post was written):

*It’s snowing (hardly, but still).

*I’m in my pajamas and it’s 2 pm.

*My daughter’s friend has been living with us since Sunday. Her parents kicked her out.

(Kidding! It's just easier to keep her than to do the town run that a drop-off requires. Plus, it's spring break [for the friend] so soak up the friend time! Plus, the girls are attached at the hip.)

*Flies are dancing through the air. It's like we live on a cattle farm or something.

*Our neighbors gave—GAVE—us four—FOUR—of their freshly butchered, organic chickens.

*I ate a giant salad for lunch: mixed greens (thank you, Costco), craisins (thank you, Costco), honey-roasted sunflower seeds, feta (thank you, Costco), and Ranch.

*My son is learning to balance chemical equations. The way he acts, you’d think I was asking him to dig the Grand Canyon in our backyard. With his fingers.

*We finished our "Spanish unit": the Harry Potter series in Spanish.

*I just ate a scone.


Let’s stop a minute and talk about that scone, shall we?

I have a soft spot for scones. There's the process: a quick blitz in the blender, and the patting of dough, all nubbly with butter, into disks. And then there’s the snatching of that disk of now-chilled dough from the fridge, slicing it into wedges, slipping the pan into a hot oven for a couple dozen minutes, and then—oo la la, pulling out a tray of puffy triangles, all golden and fragrant and kind of slumpy, like a gorgeous woman in sweats, her messy hair pulled high in a sloppy bun. Glamorous but comfy. That’s my take on scones.


So anyway. Last week when I spied Ree’s recipe for maple oat nut scones, my heart gave a little pitter-patter because it knew, right then and there, that a new love had just been discovered.

It took a few days till I got a chance to buy the pecans and put the recipe through its paces. And you know what? That little pitterpat of a premonition was spot on. The scones were magnificent. Top of the line. Maybe—dare I say it?—my favorite scone ever.


The scones are tender but substantial, thanks to the oats (and butter and cream, but those are a given). The pecans add a gentle crunch. And the glaze puts the whole affair completely over the top. The glaze is not to be tampered with. Don't even think about it.



I am feeling possessive of my newest discovery. I ate two yesterday (one when the glaze was still wet and another when it was dry—in the name of Experimentation and Recipe Development) and two today (the first to go with my mid-morning mug of tea and the second to go with my mid afternoon cup of coffee). (And then another half to go with the writing of this post.) I let my husband eat one. The children have yet to taste them.

There's second disk of dough sitting in the fridge at the ready. Knowing it is there gives me peace. When these are gone, there will be more.


Maple Pecan Scones
Adapted from Ree at The Pioneer Woman.

I like to make my scones smaller than most recipes call for by dividing the dough into two disks and then cutting each disk into eight pieces. I like the smaller, less obnoxious serving size. Plus, then I can eat two and not feel so bad because I’ve really only eaten one. (Don’t question my logic. It’s perfectly sound.)

The other thing I really like about these scones is that they rely on maple extract instead of maple syrup. Maple syrup is cost prohibitive. Extract I can do.

The recipe makes a lot of glaze. Make it all and then drizzle the leftover on anything that strikes your fancy. Like waffles.

for the dough:
½ cup rolled oats
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 sticks butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 egg, beaten
½ cup pecans, chopped

Put the oats in the food processor and pulse until ground. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and pulse a couple times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand (with a few pebbles). Dump the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the cream, extract, and egg.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Add the pecans. The dough will be fairly crumbly. As long as it sticks together when you squeeze it with your fingers (like pie pastry), there is no need to add any extra cream.

Divide the dough into two parts. Press each half into a disk about three-quarters of an inch high. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate. (Alternately, you can cut each disk into wedges, place the wedges on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet, freeze, and then pop the frozen wedges into a bag and store in the freezer until ready to bake. There is no need to thaw the wedges before baking—just add a couple minutes to the baking time.)

When ready to bake, cut each disk into eight pieces. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Drizzle with the glaze (below), sprinkle with more chopped pecans, and then let the scones sit for a couple more hours until the icing is completely dry.

for the glaze:
5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 teaspoons maple extract
chopped pecans, for garnish

Whisk together the sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and extract. Drizzle over the cooled scones. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Let set until the glaze is hard. Eat.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (3.26.12), my brother's weirdnesses, and damning four-wheelers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

applied mathematics

The other night at supper, my younger son piped up—completely out of the blue—with the following statement:

“Mom, in 16 years you’ll be 54 and Dad will be 56.”

I stopped chewing. After a painstakingly slow mental math check—yes, he ran the numbers correctly—I looked at my husband and exclaimed, “Why, that’s nothing! Fifty-four is ... young!

My oldest is two years shy of sixteen. Just think what all a person can do! learn! experience! in sixteen years. Why, I could practically live an entire lifetime in sixteen years!

Suddenly, my aging angst was violently reconfigured. “Sixteen years more and I’ll still be young” is an entirely different perspective from “Thirty-eight and one foot in the grave.”

Moral of the story: teach your children math.

***

Photo series, courtesy of my older son.

This same time, years previous: my nieces, fatira, whoopie pies, and snickerdoodles.

Monday, March 24, 2014

the quotidian (3.24.14)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace


Snowy entrance.


No matter how sick I am of it, it's still magic. 


Potato Gnocchi: I made a huge batch, froze it on trays (we eventually nixed the traditional fork-print 
in favor of non-smushed, simplfied gnocchi), then popped them into quart containers. 
Now I have several meals of fresh gnocchi ready for the eating: just boil and serve.


Butternut squash minis, from her birthday cookbook.


Twin knee mountains: grandmother, granddaughter, and a reading lesson.


Chemistry: the other mole.


"Let it go, oh, let it go...." 
 The "Frozen" infatuation playing itself out. 
(And this was pre-movie viewing.)


The new nephew: perfecting his presidential wave.



I went to Costco. 'Nuff said.


Sunday supper: to go with Frozen.


This same time, years previous: of a moody Sunday, oatmeal toffee bars, snappy happy, playing Martha, and I won.

Friday, March 21, 2014

an accidental expert

Today I’m going into town to talk to some college students about sex. I’m no expert (at least no more than anyone else), but, in this case, Willingness to Talk equals Expert.

I actually enjoy speaking on the subject. Sex education is so much more than just sex: it’s about relationships, self-awareness, compassion, biology, ethics, beauty, drive and passion, love, and the meaning of life in general. It doesn’t get much more fun than this!

Actually, I’m not supposed to talk about sex sex, but about sex education from a homeschooler’s perspective. Which pretty much means, I think, how parents teach their children about sex. Because all parents teach their children about sex, whether or not they are intentional about it.

That not a new idea, right?

Right?






In preparation for the class, I assembled a few of my most favorite books, including a new one that I pulled off the library shelf a couple weeks ago. While I tapped away at the computer, my younger son curled up beside me and started flipping through the pages. He found the naked cartoon characters most entertaining.


And then when he got up to leave the room, he spied two flies in a love tangle and said, “Ha, two flies on top of each other! They’re fighting!”

“Honey, they’re not fighting. They’re mating.”

His ignorance about our prolific fly population’s mating habits kinda surprised me. Animals and insects are forever humping and bumping right under our noses (think that one rooster and a couple dozen hens we used to have, there is no shame)—I thought it’d be a given for him. But it’s not. It takes a while for kids to pick up the information. Bit and pieces fall into place in different ways and at different times.

In fact, yesterday afternoon when I was actually reading the aforementioned library book to one very interested little boy, he told me that he thought mating had something to do with dying (because of the fly battles?). Which proves my point: you never know what kids are thinking. It is for this very reason parents must give the information straight-up. When it comes to talking about sex, there is no place for beating around the bush. My mantra: say it straight and say it again. And again and again and again.

So anyway, back to this class. In preparation for the discussion, I sent the prof some material to send out to the students ahead of time: this link to my sex talk post, as well as a speech I gave to some high school students a few years back. (Warning: it's longish. Put your feet up.) I’m eager to hear what these university students think about these issues. Is what I think relevant? Do they know all this stuff already?

How do you feel about children and sex education?

This same time, years previous: no buffer, over the moon, the walk home, roasted vegetables, big businesses read little blogs, nutty therapy, and caramelized onions

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the creative norm

I recently came across an article about the 13 (or 17 or 15 or whatever) traits of highly creative people. I read through it and was like, Oh wow, I’m a highly creative person. I like to people watch and I have a knack for shaking things up and I'm religious about my recharge time. Go me.

But then I thought of all the people I know, and they were all highly creative, too.

Oh.

So I flipped it around (because I’m a highly creative person) and asked, “Who do I know who’s not creative?”

I couldn’t come up with a single name! I mean, sure, there are people who have been dulled by screens, systems, and lack of opportunities. But that’s not the case with most people I know.

Which led me wonder, isn’t creativity simply part of the human condition? Is there anything even very special about it?

P.S. Here's the article! And it's 18 traits, my bad.

Monday, March 17, 2014

the quotidian (3.17.14)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace


Sucking lemons.


How the-kid-who-is-always-in-motion sits.


My kitchen station: phone, scones, (empty) wine glass, knitting.


Slice and bake: works like a charm.
I've started freezing my cookie dough in logs. No mess, no pain, ALL gain.


Applesauce popsicles: a favorite from my childhood.
That they're in the exact same kind of popsicle molds makes me exceedingly happy.


The better to see you with, my dear: practicing her music for choir
(And yes, she does have a wee bit of trouble focusing. Why do you ask?)


First book.
Can you guess what word the "E" picture stands for?


Reading lesson, from my younger son's perspective.


The same reading lesson, from my perspective.


The view from my window.


Work? Play?
You decide.


In hope of fruit.


In the night kitchen.


This same time, years previous: our house lately, and oatmeal pancakes

Sunday, March 16, 2014

smiling for dimples

On a Saturday afternoon, a girl and her papa. 
He has dimples and she wants 'em.













We may not always get exactly what we want. 
But there can sure be a whole lotta fun in the trying!