Archive for the month “January, 2010”

turnips and dishtowel dementia

those were turnips in that picture below of chicken-pot-a-feu. one of my culinary accomplishments of last week. (tonite and for the next week we’ll probably just be having tired mama soup.)

it was the first time i made something with turnips. and guess what? all. my. kids. like. turnips!

that’s the kind of week i’ve had. where the revelation that my children like turnips is about the only exciting thing that has happened to me.

i am very involved in homeschooling these days. i say that as if i am not always involved in homeschooling my children. but for some time there has been this disconnected feeling and it was really bothering me. 

disconnected as in sending these four souls under my care off to different “corners” of this great big house. handing out “busy work”. without much feeling. or caring on my part.

do you do that too?

it happens to the best of us.

i am not a newbie to this homeschooling thing. i should know better. but when things get overwhelming i tend to want to run. far. far. away.

far away to a place that doesn’t care about endoplasmic reticulum or the napoleonic wars.

i’m a good little person mama. but it’s all the big stuff that really frightens me.

luckily the love for my children is so strong that i never run far. the running really only happens in my mind and in my heart. hence that disconnection.

luckily the love of my God is so strong that He pulls me back to where i need to be.

here. in the here and now. not just merely present as some disinterested spectator.

with a head full of fresh ideas and a dishtowel tucked under my arm. i wander to and fro like a mother duck. correcting english homework. cutting out paper snowflakes. listening attentively to loose tooth woes. making lists of science experiment supplies.

i feel good.

and then humbly and contritely i look everywhere for that dishtowel. i know it was here somewhere….

oh! there it is. it was there all along. right under my arm.

that darn dishtowel dementia.

what a work in progress am i. changing constantly.

so it is with the chemistry of salvation and vocations.

i never will “get” it.

salvation is not something we “get“.

it is something that for now, as a mother, i will continue to work out, with fear and trembling. sadness and joy. dishtowel under my arm. rejoicing in the simplicity of turnips!


right now

i’d just like to say i love you to the person who left the lid off of the blue glitter.

and the gold glitter.

and the star confetti.

you just made my job more colorful………

ps. i’ll be back soon with a real post. i’m still smiling at all of your comments. and great ideas.

with love from the land of glitter and mud.


why hello there blogland friends. have you missed me?

i have been trying to keep myself dry. and sane. as we were hit with a really bad storm last week. which kept us pretty much inside for days upon days. which is interesting. to say the least. when 3 out of my 4 children are rambunctious boys.

luckily my girl and i had some much needed girl time with a dear friend and her sweet daughters. she introduced me to this book. we drank tea and sweet milk. there was lots of doll playing and fashion talk. they took pictures and laughed. we did a bit of knitting together and she brought me an apron made by her very own hands out of the prettiest bird fabric as a gift. because she knows how much i love birds. how blessed am i to have found a real life friend. after all. these. years. who loves to sew like i do. (but she’s much better at it than i am!)

i am sort of in an overwhelming homeschooling funk. could be winter blahs. but i am feeling pressure. praying for grace and peace. and playing around with lesson plans and ideas. but i won’t bore you with the details of that.

that dough recipe we discussed last week is here. i did add more flour. and more butter. and then some boxed cornbread mix from trader joes (because i was out of plain cornmeal). that was how the sweetness was achieved and it worked out well. everyone loved them. they were flaky and soft. i even wrapped the dough. stored it for fresh morning corn tortillas and those, too were yummy.

rachel ray, i am not. all this cooking has me tuckered out.

and feeling fat. i think i’ll be taking a “bread” break and plan some low-cal/lower maintenence meals.

my “sourdough” wasn’t sour. i feel like i wasted 6 days of my life “caring” for starter. and it flopped. the freezing cold temperatures we’ve been having could have something to do with it. but who knows.

don’t get me wrong. it was still good bread. it just wasn’t the sour i had hoped for.

well, wishing you all a lovely week.

hope i’ll find something nice to say about the next few days….as i anticipate another storm. 

oh, spring…where are you?

bits and pieces

so it was one of those days where my husband was home because of the weather. we take so much longer to get going in the mornings when he is home.

at one point i found myself back in bed with a small black and white rabbit cuddled up next to me. my mother thought this was hilarious for some reason. as i relayed it to her over the phone. “what would your husband say?’ she laughed. and i said, well, actually he thinks pepper mcfizz (the bunny) is so soft and sweet ’cause he’s right here petting her. but we did wonder if she was scared of us….the bunny. not my mom.

anyhow. i played hide-n-seek with a cup of tea all morning. boiled the water. forgot about it. re-heated it. put the tea bag to steep. left it again. it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that we were finally able to meet up again. that cup of tea and i. but when we did i sipped it quietly. whilst watching  raindrops race down my bedroom window. avoiding a confrontational teen. a reluctant writer and thinking about the two little ones who still needed me to be a happy mama.

and so we headed to the kitchen to tackle the venezualan empanadas.

i had to play around with the dough as the food network recipe called for pre-made cornmeal. but that’s just not how we do things around here. so instead we called butter in. because butter makes everything better!

and so i think i have discovered, what just might be, the yummiest dough ever. it had a little bit of cornmeal. and was just a tad sweet. in fact tonite, when my hubby and i lay snuggled watching AI, we, actually he, dreamily told me all the things he thought might be really good stuffed in those little pouches of soft, flaky minute he was talking chorizo with potatoes. i suggested vanilla pudding. then he mentioned chocolate. we really are a match made in heaven….

tomorrow i’ll try to post the dough recipe. but probably not the tomatillo salsa though because it was HOT.

we’ve lots to do tomorrow as some of our favorite friends are coming over for crafts. and our town is turning 100 years old so there will be a celebration at the library…

you know it’s not everyday that your town turns 100!

good-nite friends! i so enjoyed all your comments yesterday. especially the ones about taking kids to the store. i ended up taking my girl with me. she is my shadow these days.

a cooking plan

i am sure most of you agree that meal planning makes everything run a little more smoothly during the week.

it takes time. sifting through recipes. thinking about everyone’s likes and dislikes. but i always feel so much better when the meals are all tucked in my notebook. listed in columns like dairy, meats, veggies, etc.

last week i picked up the newest food network magazine and was pleasantly surprised at some of the different, yummy recipes i discovered.

so between cooking light and food network here is the dinner/lunch menu i have come up with for the next week:

main courses-

asian beef stew

white bean chili


turkey meatballs

venezualan empanadas

stuffed cabbage soup


moroccan couscous

cucumber yogurt dip

carrot coconut salad

chickpea and cauliflower curry

hot crab and cream cheese dip

roasted squash, apples & cashews

tomatillo salsa with corn chips


sourdough flax

indian flatbread

greek pitas


depending on how things turn out, maybe i’ll post some recipes if anyone is interested.

so i’m off to finish my shopping. albeit in the rain.

i have kids so bored they want to come with me to the store.

that is never good. i’d really rather they stay and keep an eye on the bunny. who we had to bring in from the cold.

i’ll probably come home to some sort of mischief….and wish i’d just taken them with me.

or not.


the calm

before the storm.

the weather has been far too pleasant for january. it felt like spring. and now we are expecting rain all next week. *sigh*. i know we need it. i just wish cloudy weather didn’t make me feel so blue.

as if the weather should be a certain way in order to accommodate my needs.

we woke up to a horrible rumbling this morning around 4 am. it was an earthquake. not too bad. but unsettling. i never sleep well after we’ve had one. they still scare me even after all these years.


i am trying out a sourdough starter. i’ve never made sourdough bread before but after tasting a loaf of yummy sourdough flax from trader joe’s last week- and me being the bread hog that i am-i couldn’t get it out of my mind- so now seemed like the perfect time to give it a whirl.

i had to move these bulbs outside because swarms of little bugs kept buzzing around them when they were in the kitchen. and frankly, they were bugging me. no pun intended.

this lavender begged to come home with me the other day. it wanted to live with the violets. i couldn’t say no. so here it is. sitting on my back porch. waiting to be planted.

but i am too cold to do any such thing. and tired. we had family game nite here last night with two of my husbands’ sisters and their families. we played balderdash. ate mexican food and had quite a few laughs.

so i guess now i’ll go snuggle up on the couch and watch this. catch up on my rest and maybe try knitting something.

ps. isn’t playing with picnik fun?

we’ve been

way down deep.

“I will begin in March of 1944,” Miss Arbutus said at last. “As many of you remember, my dear father, Lucas Ward passed away that month. He was the last member of my family, and I had spent the previous ten years of my life taking care of him. We were very close, and I was more grief-stricken than I can say. I had no family, no husband or children who needed me. I was the last Ward left in Way Down, and I could hardly bear the emptiness. So I fell into a deep depression.

“In fact, I found it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. I felt I no longer had a purpose in life. That was the state I found myself in as summer approached. I knew that I could not go on this way. I wanted to die.”


“From the time I was very young, I have had vivid dreams, and in this time of trouble, they were even more so. For three nights in a row I heard a young child crying for its mother. It was a very troubling, touching cry, and in my dreams, I searched and searched, but to no avail.

“Finally, on the fourth night, as I drifted into dreams, I slipped way down deep inside myself for answers. And there I found the other me. Let me explain: I have learned that inside each of us are two beings. One is the conscious self, the one we present to the world. And the other is the wiser self, the one who slumbers in the heart with the wisdom of the ages.

“That night the wise one told me that a treasure lay waiting for me. And she would show me where it was. I mistakenly supposed that she was going to take me to the legendary treasure of Way Down, and I was thrilled. But suddenly I found myself in a strange place away from here.

“I was on the top of a mountain right under the stars. Before me was a weather-beaten house with a large porch, and on the porch were seven children sleeping in the moonlight. But I had eyes only for the smallest one. I knew I had found my treasure……


 and :

de-cluttering.  catching up on laundry. grading papers. and doing tons of other glamorous activities.

 like oohing and aahhing over new pillowcases made out of thrifted sheets i’ve been holding onto forever.

 and eating outside.

and inside.

it seems all i ever do is cook!

oatmeal cookie recipe is here. h/t barb. and i have to add that my husband said those were, and i quote, “the best cookies you have ever made.” 

entertaining guests.

and finally, trying to finish up the back of that quilt with a little bit of his own art. embroidered by me.

he so loves that he is a part of it. and i do too.

well, that’s it. nothing earth shatteringly important to report. but that is ok.

we are so blessed. God is SO good.

signing off to say my prayers. for all those poor people suffering in haiti right now. and, well, everywhere…

good nite friends.


he reminded me a little of johnny tremain. with that big long gun propped on his shoulder.

is he really going to be 16 in less than a month? is he really driving me around? yes. yes, he is.


for better


first of all i am overwhelmed by your kindness. sometimes when i write what is on my mind and it is something that goes deeper than the usual light-hearted banter i try to keep going here, i worry that maybe i have revealed too much. but then you gals go over the top with your super encouraging thoughts and words. and for that i thank you.

relationships. whether they be friendships or familial seem to follow the same cycle of  a marriage. you get the for better or for worse. if you are willing to stick around.

and since i have already shared the for worse part of my week i thought i would end it by sharing the for better part.

first of all it was a sun-shiny week. we are enjoying unusually warm-spring-like weather. blue. blue skies have made lots of time outside possible and enjoyable.

 it was a great food week. my girl picked out a few recipes she wanted me to make and we got all the ingredients together-thanks to a thorough list and one trip to the store. excepting the quick jaunt to a corner liquor store-wherein i thought we might get mugged- to buy a tiny bottle of rum for those yummy chocolate balthazars. so named for the dark-skinned wise man. they are really just semi-sweet chocolate. confectioners sugar. walnuts. grated orange peel and rum. we added the coconut because we can’t ever seem to leave a recipe alone without adding our own two (cents)sense. we even entertained the idea of adding nutmeg because, well, because so many things taste better with just a pinch of nutmeg!

we are trying our hands at some calligraphy, which can be rather addicting. especially when writing on beautiful hand-stamped cards given to me by jaimie for her pay-it-forward gift.

i never said this publicly but my gift from jaimie was on my doorstep when i came home after our looonnggg thanksgiving trip. that woman has a special place in my heart because she included some chocolate truffles in her package and i can’t say enough about what those truffles meant to me after spending a million hours on the road. in the same vehicle. as my husband and children. not to mention how empty the fridge and cupboards are when one has been gone on vacation. (also my husband is now a serious truffle connoisseur. i bought him some for Christmas. but somehow he only ended up “getting” 4. i won’t publicly say what happened to the rest of them!)

speaking of the pay-it-forward i need to complete my end of the deal before february so if you are interested in receiving a handmade gift from moi and doing a pay-it-forward yourself-say so in your comment and the first three people to do so will be “it”.

my zebra chair is getting a new outfit. that muslin is just a quick cover to make sure all the measurements are correct before cutting into the “real” fabric which is oh-so-pretty.

some daffodils and dandelions i saw during my walk yesterday for all my sweet snow-bird friends.

blue boy handwarmers that are causing me almost as much anguish as the boy himself. i have already taken them out twice. and i am hoping the third time will be the charm. i think it is because i keep starting and stopping. scatter-brained knitting i call it.

and that cheesy-garlic-oregano-basil bread i made with the beef bourguignon is scrumptiously yummy. soft. tasty and EASY. i have been cheating and using my bread maker lately because i cannot tell you how quickly my family devours homemade bread. the other day i made 3 loaves in one day-mostly because i was sending the boys with rations for their trip to rendezvous. if you’d like the recipe it goes something like this:

1 1/2 c. of warm water

3 Tbsp. light olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. basil

1 1/2 tsp. oregano

4 1/4 cups better bread flour

2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar

2 1/4 tsp.  (or 1 packet) of active dry yeast

add all ingredients (in exact order) to bread machine. and select the pizza dough/or dough only setting. once the dough is has finished its cycle i take it out and set it in a greased bowl. cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge while it doubles. or in some cases even triples! which is great if you have hungry kids like i do.

this particular recipe makes about 4 small foccacia type “crusts”. i rolled them out rather small to fit on my pizza stone. leaving a little bit of room for expansion. lightly brush the crust with olive oil. (if you are using a stone-it MUST be pre-heating in oven @ 350 degrees before you place the bread on it. bread only takes about 20 mins. when placed on the highest rack. you never remove the stone from the oven (this is something i learned the hard way). you should pull the rack out enough so you don’t burn yourself, dust the stone slightly with cornmeal, place the rolled dough onto the stone, add your cheese. and put it in to cook!

this makes the best pizza dough too. you can make it with a creamy white sauce or regular pizza sauce and top with your favorite toppings. if you have any problems whatsoever with this recipe please contact me. because it really should be easy. and it should make you feel like a chef.

we could talk variations. like adding milk to the water solution. or even half and half. or using butter instead of olive oil. but i don’t want to bore you with too much foodie talk…..i’ve already been so long-winded in this post.

and i’ve a long day ahead of me. off to the mountains i go. again. it seems that all these boys keep gravitating toward the hills and so we follow suit. i’ve got to pack some knitting. and can’t wait to get my hands on some julian pie…..

take care and have a wonderful weekend friends.

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