Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Not Doing Me Any Favors

I work in youth ministry.

You can tell, because the other day I realized that I say "Awesome." Not ironically. Sincerely.At least once a day.

Yes, I sincerely believe that there are things in my everyday life that are so wonderful, so literally full of wonder, that they deserve to be called Awesome, and I call them that. To other adult humans. Out loud. And occasionally in emails. More than 7 times a week.

(I also use it in text messages. But for some reason, it's usually sarcastic when I use it in a text. Hmmm.)

Anyway, part of my (awesome) job is writing lessons for our kids on Sundays.

This month, we'll be trying working on empathy, trying to grind into their tiny little heads what Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 - "In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you," (as it says in the flat-footed but exceptionally clear New International Reader's Version.)

So: The Golden Rule.

How do you get pre-schoolers to begin to recall scripture? Well, the same way you get adults and teens and centegenarians to - by singing a song.

Google Golden Rule Song.

I dare you.

Oksy, I don't dare you. I can't be responsible for the effect on my tender-hearted friends. or my under-18 friends, and I have plenty of both. You know, because youth minister.

The top result - the top PAGE of results - involve a parody rap song from Lonely Island, vocals by Andy Samberg, joined in this number by Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, some humiliating fake beards, and a bunch of clothes from Chess King.

The specific golden rule in the song is not the sum of the law and the prophets. It's an etiquette rule about is specific to a form of adult recreation, about which a woman might text a gent*, after which he would hop a transit bus to her house, with a 6 of Bartles and James.

It's not subtle, but it's pretty funny. Now I want to listen to some of their other songs, but I can't. Because I am now at home with my child. Not in my office at church. Right.

SO not what I was looking for. 



[*Spoiler alert: OR TWO.]


:Bonus:  if you'd like to see a Golden Rule song that is possibly even more inappropriate for a pre-school Sunday School class, Google: Jack Black Golden Rule Song.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Curried Butternut Squash - fast, easy, vegan

  • Heat your oven to 450.  (Incidentally, this would be a good time to warm up that little pretzel bread thing that you picked up at Trader Joes because they advertise it in the 'underwriter plug' on NPR.)  
     
    Split and seed a butternut squash, and just throw it on the oven rack. Roast until slightly soft, meaning you can stick a fork in it with some effort.
     
    Coarsely chop some sweet white onion - I used a little less than half a big one.
     
    Heat up your trusty giant cast-iron skillet, and slick it with olive oil
     
     Drop in a couple big spoonfuls of  Patak's Curry Paste (don't let the oil that collects on top bother you. Don't stir, just spoon.) Once the curry paste starts bubbling, you'll feel nervous that it's going to burn into a layer of asphalt (hardly out of the question) so throw a little water in there, and the onions, and stir it around.
     
    Check on the squash. If it's sort of soft, remove it from the oven. You can now peel it with your (overn-mitted) hand, by breaking and pulling off the thin crisp blistered skin. 
     
    Once your onion is a little soft too - solid but not crisp or hard - cube your peeled squash and throw that in the pan with the onion and curry paste. Stir to get the dark orange stuff to coat the brighter orange stuff.
     

    Now. open a can of coconut milk. Reduce the heat under the pan to medium-high, and pour in some coconut milk, stirring until the dark-orange is also brighter orange. 
    Cook for about 5 minutes to give the flavors a chance to mingle. Serve in bowl, eat with spoons. Half a large squash fed two starving adults.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Recipe: Gluten-free Banana Bread

Preheat your oven to 350, and find a glass loaf pan.

Melt half a stick of butter (that's 4 tablespoons) and let it cool.
(If you're melting it in the microwave, keep a darn eye on it and stop it as soon as it melts, otherwise the solids will explode all over the inside of your appliance. It's gross.)
(Next, time, I will try this with coconut oil.) 

Mash (or mix in your mixer) 3-5 ripe bananas. They should be super, super liquidy and make more than a cup of liquid banana goop. Mix in 1 cup sugar (I combined brown and white) and 1 egg. then that cooled melted butter (if its too far above about 80 degrees, it'll cook bits of egg.) Add a big swig of vanilla extract, and any likely-looking spices. I used quite a lot of Penzey's Pumpkin Pie spice. It was awesome.

Turn off the mixer once all that is combined. Now dump in 1.5 cups of rice flour (mine was 2/3 brown, 1/3 white), a scant tablespoon of baking soda, and a generous teaspoon of salt.

Turn the mixer on LOW and only mix it until everything is barely moistened. Large veins of dry baking soda or snowdrifts of flour are undesirable; however, lumps are fine.

Grease your loaf pan (with butter) and transfer the batter into it. It is heavy, thick and lumpy. It is brown. It does not look or pour like cake batter. It'll be okay. Seriously.

If you want to add walnuts (or black walnuts), I recommend sprinkling them on top. I have a firm  'no surprise nuts' policy, but there's actually a better reason. Having them on top allows the nuts to toast, which makes them taste lots better, and be crunchy. (It also moderates the distinctive but occasionally weird green note in good black walnuts. I think it's a perfect flavor for this bread, but can be overwhelming unless they're toasted.) 

After putting the pan in the oven, lower the temp to 325. DO NOT open the oven for 45 minutes.

Begin checking at 45 minutes with the stab-with-a-butterknife method.  The timing is quite changeable - could be done after 45 minutes,  but occasionally takes more than an hour.  I think it's because of the banana variable.  When the butterknife finally comes out moderately clean - with actual moist crumbs stuck to it, rather than batter - it's done.

This came out moist, tasty, and with a good texture - springy but in no way rubbery. It looked nice, too, and the family ate it enthusiastically. Oddly, it did not have a very strong banana flavor - it was there, but not as banana-y as I would have expected.

This loaf took a long time to get done in the middle, and I worried that the ends would be overdone and hard or gummy - but they totally weren't. I was also worried that the middle would be gritty, but that's what I get for licking the knife - but, again, not at all.  Good consistent texture and rise throughout the loaf.  Deep carmelized sugar flavor. 

Anyway, it was good.

I might add chocolate chips next time. 

This is a rice flour adaptation of the wheat flour recipe I always use. (I happen to have noted, on the page of my recipe notebook, that my brother and I made it on July 15, 1996.) From Easy Basics for Good Cooking.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Recipe: Curried Quinoa thing

Take one large onion. Slice it thin and drop it into a hot hot pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally, let it soften.

While that's cooking, slice some red and yellow peppers that you found (also softening) in the (poorly-named) "crisper". About the equivilent of one large pepper (which is what's left when you excise the iffy parts.) Cut into small dice. Don't do anything with them yet. If you find you have a cucumber, peel and dice that as well, and set it aside.

If the onions are turning golden, it's time to drop in the cooked quinoa. (You can cook some fresh - take the onion pan off the stove, tell everyone dinner will be 10 minutes later than you had said, and cook according to package directions. I had some left over -  most of a cup.)

Open and rinse a can of chick peas. Throw those in with the quinoa and the onions. Turn down the heat - a little crispy brown in awesome, but blackened is not delicious. Splash in a little water if you're worried about burning. Throw in the diced peppers.

Stir in a large spoonful of Patak's curry paste. We use hot, but there's also milder. Let that cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat - stir in a handful of dried cranberries and cover, let it sit for a few more minutes.

Serve with salt, pepper, plain yogurt and the diced cucumbers on top. Bizarrely deliscious. Kinda beige, though.

Vegetarian (vegan without the yogurt), high protein, all the fiber you need. Very very good.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Random Thoughts:

 I walked into my bathroom this morning to trim my hair.

Well, trim is not exactly what I was going for. I was going to buzz my hair down to a quarter inch...but I couldn't find the right sized guide for my barber clippers. I must have lost patience, the last time I was putting it away, and just jammed it in a drawer somewhere.

So I have been saved from the consequences of my impulsiveness - by the consequences of my impulsiveness.

Around here, that's considered a big win.

Valentines day lava cakes

This is the second year in a row that our Valentines Day has been a feast of familial love, rather than the conventional romantic variety. Last year, I made chicken adobo (this one, which sounds just gross at first read but is in fact delicious) and a more complicated variation of the molten chocolate lava cake. I found an easier one this year, and adapted it further (because by the end of a Thursday, I am not up to separating eggs or unearthing a bag of confectioners' sugar from the pantry.)  it's an awful lot like the full-sized French chocolate cake that I made a week or so ago. This is messier, less refined generally, and WAY faster.

I found the recipe on SweetSavoryLife, which looks like a terrific resource; check out the cakes on her bio page!




adapted from Paula Deen’s Home Cooking
Ingredients
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
  • 8 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips (any type of chocolate chips will work but I recommend semi-sweet or a combination of bitter and semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 3 large eggs

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Melt about one-and-a-quarter sticks of salted butter and a cup of chocolate chips.  
Molten Lava Cakes Recipe
4.2 from 25 reviews
Print
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Savory Sweet Life
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6
Molten Lava Cakes adapted from Paula Deen’s Home Cooking
Ingredients
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
  • 8 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips (any type of chocolate chips will work but I recommend semi-sweet or a combination of bitter and semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL : 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (Kahlua) OR 1 tsp. instant coffee powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray 6 -6 ounce custard (ramekin) cups or cupcake tin. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments until smooth (about 1.5-2 minutes total). Add flour and sugar to chocolate/butter sauce. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur/instant coffee and mix everything until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the each cups. Place cups on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates or you can serve each molten lava cake still in the cup.
Notes
Some optional “finishing” ideas are: sprinkle powdered sugar on top, add a dollop of whipped cream of ice cream, add raspberries or strawberries, or any combination of the above. Enjoy!




  • Spray 6 -6 ounce custard (ramekin) cups or cupcake tin. In a medium microwavable bowl
  • , melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments until smooth (about 1.5-2 minutes total). Add flour and sugar to chocolate/butter sauce. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur/instant coffee and mix everything until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the each cups. Place cups on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates or you can serve each molten lava cake still in the cup.
Notes
Some optional “finishing” ideas are: sprinkle powdered sugar on top, add a dollop of whipped cream of ice cream, add raspberries or strawberries, or any combination of the above. Enjoy!

Recipe: Cucumber Salad


Find a big lidded container. Mine was 10 cups (a little more than 2 liters.)

Find some cucumbers. I used one super-gigantic one and one fairly normal one, and I would have had room for at least 2 more normal ones.
Peel the green rind off the cucumbers and discard.
Then, keep peeling! Making long, thin, see-through strips of cucumber.
Stop when you get so close to the middle that the seeds keep you from cutting nice strips.
Take a sweet onion and cut into fine slivers.
Put the onion slivers and the cucumber strips into your container.

In a small pan, combine vinegar and water.
You can use:
1/2 cup white vinegar, a cup water and 1/2 cup sugar
OR equal parts seasoned rice wine vinegar and water, with a couple spoonfuls of sugar. 

Bring that to a boil, and pour it over the cucumber and onion mixture. Stir and let sit.

You can stir in some herbs - I used about a teaspoon of dill.

When cool, refrigerate.

It's sort of a salad and sort of a pickle - intensely flavored, refreshing on a hot day, good on a ham sandwich. I made it with CRCC cucumbers, which are excellent.

Asian vinegar is in the international food aisle at the grocery store - it's less acidic than regular vinegar, and has some sugar already in it. I use this brand:




or this one            
     















both delicious, and widely available. Store it in the fridge once it's open (unlike normal vinegar.)

Monday, April 01, 2013

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Carrot Cake.

Dude. no fooling. My first try at g-free baking was such a success that I am left speechless. I didn't think this could work. 

Carrot Cake adapted by ME!!

Preheat oven to 350, move a rack to the center position.

Grate some carrots (You need 2 cups) and let the grated carrots sit in a colander and dry out for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drain a 20 oz can of crushed pineapple in juice.

Beat 4 large eggs, one scant cup granulated sugar, and one cup vegetable oil. And beat them and beat them and beat them, longer than you think could possibly be necessary, so they are as light-colored and foamy as they can get. This will work better if the eggs are close to room temperature - it makes them less gloppy. Add in the carrots and the pineapple, plus a cup of dried cranberries (Craisens).

(I didn't say it was a low-sugar recipe.)

In a separate bowl mix:
one scant cup white rice flour
one cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon (or a small palm-full) salt
2 teaspoons baking soda 
dry spices depending on your taste. Be generous. I used at least tablespoon of cinnamon, plus a generous shake of allspice. Use a LOT.

(If you're using a powerful mixer, you don't really need to pre-mix the dry ingredients - you can just throw them into the bowl with the wet stuff.)

Stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract; you can throw in a cup of nuts now, if you like. Walnuts are good.

Drop into greased muffin tins; you can fill them most of the way, a little more than you would with another cake batter. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

I have not tried these in a full-sized cake pan, so I don't know what effect it would have. They do rise in muffin tins, some.

They don't need icing, really. Also, DON'T seal them in plastic bags - the moisture will condense into, like, slush. This is good advice for all baked goods, but with something as moist as this, it's really important.

to me, these are indistinguishable  the wheat flour ones.  I'm stunned.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recipe: Quinoa

Warm Quinoa Side Dish

Put 2 cups of water on to boil in a medium saucepan.

Chop half a large white onion, half a red pepper, and 2 stalks of celery into small bits.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a small sauté pan. Saute your veg until the onion is starting to soften, with a bit of salt and pepper.

Once the water boils, stir one cup of quinoa (I like Trader Joes Red Quinoa) into the saucepan. When the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce the heat and cover.

At the same time, reduce the heat under the veg. Stir occasionally. Throw in a bit of butter if you like (and if no one is vegan/anti-saturated fat.)

 If you like, add some leafy greens. Hearty things like kale will retain a lot of body, and need a little longer on the stove, and maybe a couple spoonfuls of the water from the quinoa. Wait a few minutes before adding soft greens like baby spinach; they should wilt but not completely collapse in the remaining cooking time.

Back to the quinoa - simmer it with the lid on for 10-15 min until the water is absorbed and the white ring is visible in the quinoa grains. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine the cooked, still-hot quinoa with the cooked, still-hot and still-a-little-crunchy vegetables. Plate. Season with salt, pepper, butter, hot sauce, rice wine vinegar, or whatever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Three E Toque - Hat Pattern

A close-fitting, brimless winter hat with a small pointy peak. Created for Renee, a West Coast friend who shaved her head and then realized it was cold without hair. She put out the call for hats, and I improvised this for her. Work up very fast in the round. She described her hat size as “big”, so I made this hat to fit my 23’ head. (People like us are the exception to “one size fits all”, hatwise.) It’s designed with no ease, and would be cozy on a person with a normal-sized bean as well. Gauge is not vital - using 10s with this bulky yarn gives a soft, cushy fabric, and works well with the self-striping rate of the Charisma. This project used less than 20 yards of Thick and Quick for the cast-on and ribbing, and a little more than half a skien of Charisma for the body and peak of the hat. The hat in my photos is Charcoal T&Q and Black Raspberry Charisma. Needles US 10 circular 5 US 10 dpns 1 stitch marker (optional) Yarn: cc: Lion Brand Woolease Thick and Quick: Charcoal; Super bulky (5) – several yards Mc: Michaeals Charisma: Black Raspberry; Bulky (4) – less than on skein Gauge: 3 st/inch in ribbing and in body at rest; 2 st/in stretched. Directions: On circulars, using Contrast Color, cast on 46 using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-on. (This blogpost has a written explanation and links to some tutorial videos: http://curiousknitter.blogspot.com/2009/09/jeny-stretchy-....) Place marker if desired. Join. Rounds 1-5: k2, p2aking about an inch of chunky ribbing. ) Round 6: break yarn and switch to Main color. Knit one round. Round 7: k4, kbf to marker. It doesn’t really matter if how many stitches you add or where you end up - you’re just working in a little volume on this and the next few rows. Round 8: k7, kfbto marker. Round 9: k5, kfb to marker. Remove marker. Rounds 10-24: knit Rounds 25-27: Purl (You’re making a ridge around the top edge of the crown.) Round 28: Pick up dpns. Knit round 28 off circs onto dpns, dividing stitches evenly between 4 needles. Round 29: knit each quarter-round on a dpn. When you come to the last 2 stitches on each needle, k2t. Take care to snug up the first stitch on each dpn by giving your working yarn a good tug before the second stitch. Round 30: knit. Repeats rounds 29 and thirty until the center/peak of your hat comes together. When you are down to 8 stitches, transfer them all to one needle and knit 2 icord rows. Bind off (I used a crochet hook to pull the working yarn through the loops and down into the center of the cord.) Weave in ends. Size: brim: 23 inches stretched; crown 5 in high including ribbing; peak 7 inches

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sh#+ my kid said

1. "I'm going to tweet about this!!" (does my 6-year-old know what twitter is? I am confident that he does not.)

2. "I liked her at the beginning of the year, but now she's acting all like a gangsta."

3. (as we were lying on his bed, getting him to sleep, he sang me this lullaby:)
"go to sleep, Betsy Mitchell Henning.
Betsy Mitchell Henning, go to sleep
Ian's bed is so soft and com-fort-e,
And it's so quiet and peeeceful
Here in this apartment
Also called a condoooo
So go to sleep, Betsy Mitchell Henning. Betsy mitchell Henning, go to sleep. "

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bonus Recipe Links: Broccoli Gribiche plus.

Here's a link to the recipe I made this weekend. I loved it and it was hoovered up at a potluck.

Heidi Swanson's Broccoli Gribiche

which is, strangely, not on her own really excellent and beautiful website  101 Cookbooks

(home of the infamous Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts which could not possibly be better )

but is in her terrific second cookbook  Super Natural Every Day.

But the person who transcribed it on her own blog took some good step-by-step photos - I like step-by-step photos in a recipe, especially of the steps that make me say "Ew, that looks gross. That can't possibly be right, I must have messed something up."  For example: whisking hard-boiled egg yolk and red wine vinegar together.

Obviously I'm babbling.
The end.

Dinner tonight: Veggies, roasted, blanched and ravioli-ed

I posted this on Facebook, and the 'likes' seemed to be swarming, so I thought I would describe how I made it.

 Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

 Into a large bowl, slice half a large white onion, about a cup of grape tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, half a gigantic red pepper, and whatever other leftover veg you have knocking around your fridge - I had about half a yellow squash. You can slice as thickly or thinly as you like - the thinner you slice, the sooner it will be ready. You don't have to slice the tomatoes much, though. Halving or just squishing them is fine.

 Toss with a small splash of oil, either regular olive oil or flavored oil like that herby Basting Oil they were giving away at Wegman's last week. It's quite a nice thing to have around, incidentally. Sprinkle some salt in, toss to coat, and dump out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Spread out to make a mostly single layer (you don't have to be OCD about it.) Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, and check it. You want the veggies to be soft, and some to have touches of brown but not entirely blackened. Mine took a total of 30 minutes. After the 20 minute check, put a pot of water on to boil. Once it boils, turn it down.

 Now slide a whole 8 oz package of Rising Moon Organics Frozen Feta-Hazelnut Ravioli with Butternut Squash into the hot water. The package is covered with instructions that say Never cook ravioli in rapidly boiling water and Do not overcook! and I didn't, and you probably shouldn't either.

 Immediately also drop in several big handfuls of cut kale. I bought mine in a bag at Trader Joes, and it was cut into about 1 inch pieces. So I recommend that size of bits if you have to cut your own.

 The ravioli package directions say to cook for 8 minutes, and mine weren't quite as soft as one might hope, plus the kale was still really hard, so I let mine go a little longer - probably 10 minutes. Remove your veggies from the oven and put them back in the bowl they started in. Fish out your raviolis and kale and add them to the bowl. Toss everything together to spread the fabulous oil and veg juices around onto the pasta and kale. Plate. Eat. The kale is still a little crunchy after cooking for 10 minutes; the veggies are soft and carmelized, and the pasta is creamy/silky and absorbs the garlicy juices. Plus it's gorgeous. Plus it's 30 minutes.

 My husband is constantly bugging me to 'write down that recipe!" Look, honey, I wrote it down. Go me.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

and all manner of things will be

Sausage Creole and other surprises


Sausage Creole.

Get out a lot of pans. Frying pans and saucepans.

Start with the sausage. Let’s say it’s Tuesday afternoon and you think you might whip up some spaghetti with sausage meatballs. It’s fast, and everybody likes it. And you know you have sausage in the freezer.

Pull out some sausage to defrost in the micro. Notice that your husband has picked up a pound of fresh andouille sausage links from the Giant. It was on sale. You are not sure your kid will eat this kind of sausage, but you assume you'll be able to hide it in the tomato sauce. Thaw it and rip it into small chunks, which you then roll into small balls and set to cook in you big cast iron skillet.

Being afraid to burn it, throw some water into the skillet when you’re heating the pasta water. Having put those fears to rest, feel free to go play with your kid. It’s not like you’re leaving the area or anything. You can see it from where you are. It’ll be fine.

When your son mentions that something smells burny, take the pan off the stove and remove the sausage balls. They’re pretty much done, and mostly intact. There’s a pretty bad layer of burned scum sticking to the pan. Please don’t forget to let that pan cool before you soak it.

Grab another frying pan. Chop an onion and a red pepper (or whatever else you find in the fridge) and cook that over high heat for a few minutes in olive oil. You don't need to get all the way to carmelized - just let it get a little brown and sticky, then throw some water (it’s boiled by now) on the veg and turn down the heat, and let that cook. Refresh the water every once in a while so the pan doesn’t burn dry.

The water will turn brown but it will, unfortunately, still taste like water. Stir in some Heinz Chili Sauce – not even a quarter cup. If you have a ripe tomato, squish it with your hands and add it to the pan. Add the sausage balls. Cover and simmer slowly.

This would be good with rice. Make some brown rice.

When the rice is done, stir a few big handfuls of greens – I had spinach – into the simmering pan of sauce and sausage. It’ll practically disappear in a few minutes.

Serve the creole over rice to your husband, knowing that your kid would never in a million years eat it. Realize you have no spaghetti sauce for the kid. Which is okay because you forgot to boil the spaghettti.

Offer him a hot dog. He asks to taste the red stuff you’re eating. He loves it! He eats his own portion and some of yours. He snipes sausage – the sausage that you were sure was too spicy for him– off everyone’s plate.
WINNING. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Neither Lent nor Si-Lent any longer.

Well, that was a complete bust. I was so enamored of my weird, out-of-focus empty tire swing that nothing else seemed to compare.

You'll be pleased to hear that, while I was NOT blogging and NOT painting and NOT sewing and NOT paying attention to my family and BARELY EVEN COOKING, our lenten and easter observances at church went quite well. Working to create and curate them was extremely engaging, in a way not much has been in 2012 up until that point, with the possible exception of the Bejeweled App for the iPhone.

Some web sites I like:
Dapper Lou , which I discovered just this evening in the always-questionable Blogs Of Note roll. You all know I dig The Sartorialist (yes, how desperately original of me, I know.) Dapper Lou is another street fashion blog, and I like it a lot.

Before And After I believe I happened upon this from the Pantone site.

"Because our modern world has made designers of us all (ready or not), Before & After is dedicated to making graphic design understandable, useful and even fun for everyone."

As a long-time fake designer, I must say this is some good shit.

And I really want one of these: Shutter Grip for the iPhone. Between the handle, the button and the tripod mount, I think that this could actually be worth forty of my hard-earned dollars. Or I could just start carrying my perfectly-good, more-megapixels camera again like I used to when I used to take millions of pictures. Hmmm.

In other news, I knit myself a chartreuse sweater over Lent. No one has ever been happier about a spring cold snap than I am these days. I made one damn cable and now I feel like (Knitting) Wonder Woman who can do literally any fucking thing in the (knitting) world.

So I am right now pondering yarns for a cardigan.

I bought a single stunningly beautiful (and local!) lace-weight skein dyed by the Verdant Griffinat the Homespun Yarn Party which I somehow found the cash for even though we were, um, between receivables, as we sometimes are.....but now I am anxious about what would be the PERFECT thing to make out of it. It looks like this:
except a bit smaller. But it's more than 700 yards! There must be something spectacular I can make.

I liked it so much that I dyed my hair that color a couple of weeks later.




I quite like it. I also gave myself an 80s bi-level bob, using my barber clippers, which looks great from the front, weird from the side, and I am in complete denial about the view from the back. As with the hotel mattresses and what goes on in restaurant kitchens, I'd just rather not know.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trying something new

okay, so it's lent.
I mean, tomorrow. Tomorrow will be Lent. You should come to the Ash Wednesday observance. I believe it will be quite interesting.

Anyway, I've been wondering a couple of things, like:
what my lenten discipline should be
why I have abandoned all my blogs, which I have enjoyed so much over the course of several years
whether Facebook is really a problem for me, or just something I like doing.

It looks rather like it is something I like doing, to the exclusion of knitting, blogging, sewing, and sometimes dealing with my family in person. So maybe that's a sort of a problem. I imagine it's precisely the same problem that every extrovert and every distractable person has had since the invention of dial-up BBSes. (Kirk was working beside me one day at the office and said "I cannot begin to imagine what sort of hell the internet is for people like you." He meant ADD people, and curious people, and the answer is: a special one, dude. One that mostly seems like heaven.

Anyway, too many words.

I'm going to try blogging regularly in only images. For Lent. Photos, doodles, videos, whatever, made by me, daily. For Lent. (which means not Sundays.)

Let's see what it's like to say things without saying anything.

I do not care to jump off FB entirely, but I'm going to try to check in less than once per day. I'm curious to see how that makes me feel. (Right now it makes me feel like there's a permanent party going on, with all the most interesting people alluding to the most interesting things, and I am deciding to just stop by for a second on the way to pick up the kid from daycare.)

Let's see what develops.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A list of things I have not done for Christmas

1. sent out cards (yet)

2. wrapped everything (I have one gift left - ooops, 2)

3. finished the hat I was making for Lance (It's not so much that I failed to finish it. I have decided not to continue on it.) (BECAUSE IT SUCKS. THIS IS TERRIBLE WOOL TO MAKE A HAT OUT OF.) I am not as clever as I make myself out to be. I will apologize to Lance tomorrow.

4. Lance deserves a nice hat (not that he needs one, he has several, because he is a grown man and understands about getting cold.)

5. I myself do not understand about getting cold, though I am technically a grown woman, and am forever running from apartment to car, car to office, car to shop, car to school in a dreadfully underdressed state. I wore my crocs flipflops to the mall yesterday. [ITS A MALL, FOR GOD SAKE, ITS 80 DEGREES.] [until you have to walk around the overflowing parking lot looking for your car. Which is beige and subcompact. with your kid. who is freezing. just ask him - wait, don't ask him, he's already telling you. AND TELLING YOU. AND EVERYONE ELSE.]

Uh oh, I appear to have gone off track.

6. I did not print up cool artistic printable gift tags, which I thought I would get to. Instead, we wrote people's names in Sharpie on their presents. (On the paper. Not actually on the presents themselves.)

7. I did not talk to my son about Santa one way or another, except that when he asked, I launched into this long tale about the real Saint Nicolas until he drowned under all my verbiage and asked if we could listen to some music.

8. I did not give gifts to my co-workers. Most of my coworkers came across with a little something thoughtful for everyone. Not me, past queen of Christmas gifts.

9. I do not think I got anyone even one thing that they asked for for Christmas. Oh, wait, yes I did. Okay, I take that back.

10. I DID NOT F ANYTHING UP AT WORK TONIGHT. And neither did anyone else. There is no Christmas Tech Disaster to recount. It was a really wonderful service. Which gives me mixed feelings {like every other f-ing thing on the earth and especially} like everything having to do with my job aptitude and performance over the past year-and-a-half.

11. I did not bake my son a birthday cake, nor did I get him the traditional Baskin Robbins cake. We pushed his party into January, as so many of his friends were tied up for Christmas on his actual birthday.

12. I did not go to midnight mass at some little stone church with a boy's choir and a churchbell, as I threaten to do every year, since our service is early enough that it would actually be possible. Instead, we sat around and watched It's a Wonderful Life and then It's a Fabulous Graham Norton. And texted people Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

incidentally

The easy listening all-Christmas-music station played this the other morning.

Years ago, I mentioned that this was by far the skankiest and least-pleasant Christmas song.
The intervening years have done nothing to disuade me.

It surpasses creepy to skin-crawly. It's Love American Style times Love Boat with a dash of Will Ferrell in a Hot Tub.

I was posting this video to demonstrate how icky this all was, (I had even typed YOU'RE WELCOME) but watching it....okay, still major, MAJOR ick, but there is something kind of winning about the byplay (man, that looks so wrong no matter HOW you spell it) between Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. (Don't try to calculate their combined ages at the time. Just watch.)



Dolly at least is kind of adorable in this. Even in 1984 lycra ski pants.

Not Dead Yet,

Though you might think so, based on my blog output.

Here are two things that made me very, very proud of my about-to-be-6-year-old.

1. My son has been attending karate class, weekly, for about 9 weeks. We're coming to the end of the term and thinking about whether to re-up him.

Thursday morning, we mentioned that it was karate night, and Ian blurted out "i don't like karate." We engaged him on it (at the risk of missing the school bus) - what don't you like about it? Is there a part you do like? The kids? The teacher? He was able to tell us that he didn't like all the yelling - the instructors aren't hostile or mean (in my perception) but we do spend a LOT of time reminding Ian how important it is to respect everyone, how he'll get more of what he wants if he's unfailingly polite and kind...nobody at karate says 'please' or 'thank you."

We talked about it a bit and then moved on. Off to school, work etc.

That night, Eric had a gig so I accompanied Ian to karate. I chatted with another mom while class went on (oddly enough, this is the first time I've talked at any length with any of the families) and colored Christmas cards that I had brought along. When class ended, Ian and another boy came over and colored cards while the same instructors drilled an adult class.

Ian had his shoes and jacket on, and we were getting ready to leave, when Ian nudged me and then took off at a run. From the look in his eyes (and the time of day), I assumed a bathroom trip, and strolled off in that direction. That wasn't where he had gone, though. I looked around and saw him on the gym floor, talking to the head instructor, an older gent who can be quite brusque. Terry was crouched down, eye to eye with Ian, and they both looked very serious. I went trotting over and interrupted. "What's going on, dude?" I asked Ian.

"We were just talking," said Ian. "About karate class."

"Yes," said Terry, "Ian came to me to ask why I yell so much - if I'm mad at the kids or frustrated with them."

I looked stunned.

"I was saying that the teachers use their aggressive side all the time." said Ian.

"And I was saying that, mostly, we spend our time just trying to get the kids' attention! That's why we yell and sometimes make fun, a little bit. We want you guys and girls to be great at karate," Terry said, turning to Ian. "We want you to do really well, as good as you possibly can, in your tests and tournaments, so you're always progressing. It takes a lot of concentration."

"And discipline," added Ian. "So you're just trying to get our attention, so we learn."

"I'm really glad you came and talked to me, Ian," said Terry, putting a huge hand on Ian's tiny shoulder. "I have never, ever had a kid ask me those things before. Or an adult. Humph. That was really good. I liked talking to you about it."

And then he went out to his car and got some toffee that he had made for the other instructors, and shared it with us.

!!!

So, to recap: My 5-year-old, completely on his own, respectfully approached the head instructor and started a conversation about his methods. And used active listening.

Something I couldn't do when I was in college.

I repeat: !!!


2. Another evening, we were in the car, listening to the Christmas music on the easy listening station. (It's an annual thing.) A song came on which I won't name, but many of you would recognize it, as it concerns a child buying a gift for his mother so she'll look "real pretty if she meets Jesus tonight".

This song is decidely not my sort of thing. But, not wanting to pass my snottiness on to an innocent child, I kept my opinion to myself, not even tsk-ing or sighing (or making fake barfing noises.) About 3 minutes in, we have this conversation:

Ian: That song! It's, it's....Agh! It's so bad!

Me: Yeah?

Ian: It's like...like snot on my ears! Blah!

Me: Well, I have to say I agree with you. It is pretty awful.

Ian: It's like....it SUCKS, Mom!

Me: Hey. I don't like that song either, but you know we don't use that word that way. We say "I don't care for that" or "I don't think that's very good." Young men should not say things suck.

Ian: BUT MOM! You could say "it's awful" or "it's terrible"...but it's so much worse than that! You'd have to say something more than that. It...it just...

Me: Yeah, I know. Don't say it again.

So, again, to recap:
Evidence of good taste and critical thinking skills
and
excellent grasp of expressive language.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

EDITED TO ADD

Hi. It's actually February, when I'm writing this. I wanted to amend the historical record.

That the reason I didn't post much in September, October, or at all in November, is that it turns out that 'annoying cough" i refer in Sept? WHOOPING COUGH. Then PNEUMONIA. Which was actually kind of positive, because I neither I nor my family or employer thought that I was actually sick. Just a little cough. So I didn't take any time off, didn't get any mom dispensation, etc etc.

I got diagnosed with pneumonia on the Thursday of Halloween weekend, and spent the next 5 days in bed. I missed trick-or-treating (sad) but I also missed exposing all Ian's little friends to my germy self (very good.)

So this was "the fall I had pneumonia."

Now back to our story.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

fat girl issues

This is a weird thing to talk about, but it happened today, and I want to record it for some reason.

This afternoon, some of my friends were kind enough to invite us to a picnic. It was elegant, with wine and champagne and delicious food, and the weather was wonderful, and we laughed a lot and it was just great. There were a couple of kids and babies - I got to use my patented method of making infants laugh, which is 100% guaranteed - and having my kid have someone to run around the fields on a Sunday afternoon with was a really big bonus.

Sunday afternoons are rough for us. I love working on weekends, and Eric loves working on weekends, but having a small child who no longer naps or, in fact, STOPS TALKING AND HOPPING ON ONE FOOT, makes it hard. Ian wants to play Uno. Ian wants to walk to the lake. Ian wants to ride his bike. Eric and I are usually exhausted and want to fall asleep in front of Redskins football with no one talking to us or hopping up and down on us. Sunday is the day we are most likely to give one another a hairy eyeball from across the room, to communicate the message "Ian needs attention. WHY aren't YOU giving YOUR CHILD some attention? Hummmph, grrrr, tsk."

So we were at this picnic, which, as I said, was absolutely lovely. I was sitting in the shade enjoying a glass of wine, and Ian was frolicking through the fields and most of all I was not at home folding laundry and watching Disney Channel and trying to convince an excitable child that sitting in the living room playing Qwirkle is a good substitute for playing on the monkey bars. Because it means I don't have to walk to the playground and risk falling asleep on the bench.

Ian, taking a brief break from frolicking, came and asked me if he could go to a playground he could see in the distance. No, dude, it's too far, I said. If a pack of wild butterflies attacked you, I couldn't get there in time to save you.

Ian said: Sure you could. You could just run.

I said: Oh honey. You know I don't run.

I meant it to sound funny, like Doctor Smith from Lost in Space or Edwina from Absolutely Fabulous. Like, goodness me, run? Surely you jest.

I also meant, dude, you know I cough myself hoarse from the exertion of getting out of the car; running across the field would make me cough up an entire lung, at least.

But the truth is, I don't run.

I'm not sure I could.

And I called this 'fat girl issues" because I think this is a substantively different feeling for a fat person than for an average-sized non-fit person. I felt a kind of shame when I said it that I haven't felt in a long time, hitting me like a surprise wave when you've turned your back.

I don't know quite what to do about this. I am unhappy with my level of fitness (which we could call 'negligible". At best.) My lungs, with this damn cough, seem unlikely to be much help. My kid's taking karate, and watching his first class made me want to move my body (but not get yelled at or made to do pushups or run laps, which the older class did.)

Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I was sitting on the floor in front of my closet - Ian's school is now, as well as assigning homework, assigning home-play, 60 minutes of physical activity per day away from school. I know this is good, really I do, but jeez...

Anyway, in the interest of physical activity, I was looking for my sneakers (still AWOL, incidentally.) Our closet doors are mirrored, so after determining where they weren't, I slid the door closed and was examining my hair. I was looking at the silvery bits around my crown.

Ian plops down beside me. "What are you doing, Mom?"

"Well, I was looking for my sneakers, and now I'm looking at my shiny silver hair. See?"

"OH MY GOD. THAT IS SO AWESOME." It's like you have mermaid hair."

Okay, aside from the fact that my 5-year-old says OH MY GOD occasionally like some tween...that's pretty cool.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yuck.

Okay, so here's the short update:

Ian started school in August, and I caught a cold. And I still have it. I have had a chest cold for a full month. Whine moan whinge, right? Blah blah blah.

And blah blah blah is kind of how I feel. I am sick of coughing, sick of tissues, sick of feeling exhausted and sore from the hacking. I've been through antibiotics and a short round of steroids. The doc assures me that this is not pneumonia or anything else dangerous, just the aftermath of an infection that's over. (Keep an eye out for our new feature, "Ask a Lifelong Hypochondriac"! Recurring theme - "I wasn't really worried about it being something dangerous until the doc assured me that it wasn't anything dangerous.")

Anyway, since school started, life has been kind of focused on basics - catching the bus, meeting the bus, homework, dinner, bedtime. Packing lunches. The occasional jigsaw puzzle. We're spending quite a lot of time together, which is very nice, and Eric has been quite - I don't know, agressive? that doesn't seem like the right word - about dad-ing. He's dad-ing up a storm, frankly, as well as working a lot, which is great. I'm finding that I actually have time to form a thought now and again, which continues to be mildly surprising.

Anyway, that's what's been going on on this end. We're reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland again.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

I can't imagine where he learned that

Ian is finishing up his homework at the kitchen table. Homework for the early weeks of kindergarten consists of coloring, cutting and pasting, and yet we have found a way to do some term-paper-level procrastination this weekend.

Me: I think I have some smaller scissors over here; would you like them?

Ian: No thanks, these are fine.

Me: Seriously, let me get you a different pair.

Ian: No. These are really okay.

Me: Because you seem to be struggling a little...

Ian, through gritted teeth: NO. THESE. ARE. FINE. THANK. YOU. MOMMY.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

so Ian and I stopped by the Indus market a day ago, for some stuff - tamarind, mango pickle, coconut milk to supply the summer-long fish curry experiments - and he asked for a frozen treat. I had never had any Indian or Pakistani popcicles, and frankly, I haven't had great luck with Asian desserts.

(Yeah, of course, sticky rice , and honey balls, and that space-ship looking thing at the Indonesian restaurant with the ice chips and the tapioca balls and the green layer that flouresed in the light....Sure, each of those things was great. Nonetheless, I approached the freezer case with mild trepidation. If nothing else, I didn't want Ian to get a bad taste and dramatically spit out the cuisine of another nation onto the floor of the market. In front of the proprieter. He wouldn't do it to be rude or gross, he just....you know, he's 5. When something bad is in his mouth, he gets it out.)

I shouldn't have worried. I am now pretty much obsessed with Kulfi, which is a frozen pudding popcicle that Indian kids eat (they buy them on the street from the kulfiwalla, no kidding, who I'm sure, incidentally, does not play "Turkey in the Straw" at wake-the-dead volume. The way our Blue Bunny Truck guy used to in our former neighborhood.)

It is about a thousand times more delicious and complex and wonderful than any Good Humor pop. Ian had a pistachio one, which he adored, and I had a white, pudding-y one with cardamom, cinnamon, rosewater, cream and sugar. And maybe some pulverized almonds.

There were several brands in the case, in popcicle and ice cream cup form. Ours were conical shapes in a translucent plastic container. I can't find the brand name.

So go and eat kulfi. It'll make your summer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

well, I was close.

Since seeing the martial arts movement piece, Illuminate, in the DC Fringe Fest a week or so ago, I have had a number of conversations about martial arts. A couple of people have asked me what branch/style my friend Chris teaches, and what the cast based Illuminate on.

And I would say: "It's some kind of Korean style, like maybe Tes Too Do or something."

And people would nod and say, oh, yeah, I think I've heard of that."

Well, here's why:

According to Wikipedia, it's Tang Soo Do, the Korean pronunciation of the old way of writing (唐手道, "Way of the Chinese Hand")

This is Tang Soo Do.





















And this is Testudo.

Why yes, I am quite the expert on every single thing in the entire world. Talking out muh butt. Again. Thanks for noticing.