Category Archives: cooking

Skillz

I have a list entitled, “Things I Want The Boyz To Learn”.

Algebra, world history, and chemistry have not made my list. They can pursue these things if they wish – or their schools require it, it’s just that my list is way more important.

How to tie and tie, clean a bathroom, grill a steak and an effective way to make a sincere apology ~ those are on my list. How to start a charcoal grill, light a fire in a fireplace and jump start a car. It’s a long list. I take every chance I can ~ or make sure someone else can ~ to teach them things they simple won’t and can’t learn in school.

I needed to send a paper registration and a check – what?! no internet? – to a government agency last week. I sat Sean down to do it with me. Trust me, these things are WAY easier to do without an apprentice – but it must be done. Return address, stamp and address. Nope, he didn’t know what a zip code was. I explained that we could send almost anything through the mail and stamps are actual currency. His idea of mail was junk mail and Amazon deliveries. He liked the ‘check’ idea too. His usual exposure to any form of payment is ‘the swipe’ 🙂

I made some homemade soup for a sick family member last week. I called the boyz off their various electronic devices and sat them at the kitchen counter – do you think they were thrilled? They have NO concept of why food preparation might be hard if you are ill or grieving. Their food magically appears without much care for the planning, the list, and the shopping. They are getting better at cooking – and don’t worry, “how to make lasagna and chicken soup” are on the list. I explained disposable containers were imperative and not asking, just doing, is the preferred method for providing food – that most people will say that they are ‘fine’. We are men of action – remember that, boyz.

DSC00082Two of the boys, unfortunately, had the experience recently of learning how and why we send sympathy cards. Mikey, the sweet boy, asked if sending a card did not just remind the person of their loss. As sad as it was, I was glad we had a chance to talk about why we participate in certain social rituals regarding loss.

It takes a certain level of mindfulness to remember to pull them or push them into circumstances in which they can master all types of practical life skills. It is usually easier to do these tasks yourself, but not a good, long-term plan.

Other wise moms have reminded me that when there is a huge sink full of dishes – I am not the only one with working arms and when we are out of cookies….

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday Scenes

I like Sundays. (That is Dennis and my “Powerball-Winning-Pool in the FGL video)

Summer Sundays are way better than Winter Sundays. But they’re all I’ve got right now.

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It’s a real good way to start

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They refer to each other as “Best Brothers”

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Law & Order always helps me log my daily miles

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One of life’s true labors of love – really homemade chicken soup – no stock in this pot!

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If you are inclined to crochet anything, ever, pick a wool afghan in this solid rope stitch

Happy Monday. I do not like those as much as Sunday. Nope.

 

It’s The Little Things

The really, really little things.

I continue to battle the winter doldrums. I have found some things that are working for me and I am grateful for that. There are also tiny little joys that I am clinging to tightly in an effort to bring little snaps of happiness and comfort to my currently monotonous days.

DSC08690 DSC08685I have been bringing flowers home. Yes, me. Don’t be harsh on Dennis. He is more the ‘brought home a paycheck’, ‘got you new tires’, and ‘here’s some cash for coffee’ kind of romantic. It’s all good. Someone smart and deliriously happy suggested I get an orchid because they are beautiful and tropical. Who am I to argue when the universe brings a message to me through Facebook?

DSC08709 DSC08706 (1) DSC08522I am enjoying complicated, labor-intensive baking. This carrot cake required carrot grating and sifting of ingredients. I made a lemon curd layer cake (that I forgot to photograph) that required zesting,  juicing, whipping egg whites, and a double boiler. Several of my recent cakes have come out of Cake Ladies and they have turned out bakery-worthy. Try some of them. When I am doing this kind of baking I cannot think about my to-do list or personal problems. Ah, a mental break that ends in sweet treats!

DSC08661 DSC08659I’ve left up the white lights we used to decorate for New Year’s Eve. They’re just so damn festive.

DSC08658 DSC08657 DSC08656 DSC08654I hung cheap, little ‘crystals’ I bought at the craft store in my front windows. They randomly cast small, streaky rainbows on furniture and walls. I find it glorious. Really. Little. Things.

DSC08723I’m buying dreamy cleaning products. Yes, I am able to attach the word ‘dreamy’ to cleaning products. I find that wiping, washing, and organizing assuage my anxiety. Good stuff.

DSC08663 DSC08321I enjoy burning candles and incense. I love the warm, woody, sacred feeling they give to my house.

DSC08681 DSC08680The Making of The Bed Meditation.

I have not always espoused the value of bed making. But several things have caused me to rethink my stance on it. Apparently, yes, you can have a stance on bed making.

First, I have returned to Flylady.net and the SHE websites because I have been distracted and attention-challenged lately. Routines and tools from both sites are proving valuable to me right now. In the past, they have been life-savers. Flylady presents a good case for making your bed and I’m going with it.

Second, I have been reading quite a lot of Anne Lamott recently and came across this quote in Help Thanks Wow:

“When you crawl between clean sheets after a hard day, you are saved. You feel like you are the best sandwich ever. You’re being taken care of from the top and the bottom, with not a crumb or lump or a wrinkle. Wow: you can’t believe you felt so low and lonely till you thought to change the sheets.

It resonated with me the moment I read it and prompted me to search youtube for ‘How to make a hotel bed’ and ‘the right way to make a bed’. Tiny investment, big payout.

Third, I take the amount of time it takes to make my bed to be thankful and grateful. Can making your bed change the course of your day? I’m going to find out.

Sometimes focusing on minutia for me, can straighten out some of the big things. It’s like if I put the ‘little’ in order, they ‘big’ has a chance of following suit.

A Complicated Cake

I don’t enjoy ‘kid’ movies and I don’t enjoy pretending that I do. When Dennis decided that he and the boys would go to see Monsters U at the local theater, that was my cue to decide how to spend my 2 solitary hours (and solitary hours are hard-to-come-by and highly coveted right now).

I picked a carrot cake and very loud music. Did I mention that I have a Bose speaker?

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The cake was complicated and it required my total attention. There was sifting of ingredients and finely grating carrots and zesting an entire lemon. I got to use my microplane. It called for perfectly greased pans lined with circle-cut parchment paper and for the batter to be divided equally into three pans. The icing was an equally time consuming and attention sucking endeavor. Turns out that it’s just what I needed.

With the likes of Eminem, Kid Rock, Pink and Waylon Jennings crooning – very loudly and without ‘radio edits’ – I could not think about whether bathing suits were dry for swim lessons, who needed camp supplies or the fact they all need dentist appointments. I was not able to concentrate on the cake and the music AND my children at the same time. The cake and music won – and that’s exactly what I needed.

The Banana Bread Lesson

The simplest task can provide rich and delicious results. Mikey asked if he could bake some banana bread. We always use Dennis’ mom’s recipe because it is fail-proof and always turns out great. So we pulled out the textbook recipe.

His first challenge was to utilize his newly acquired skill of reading cursive. Sometimes kids’ exposure to cursive is neatly scripted workbook script. Reading what someone really wrote adds a new dimension to the task. He did well.

banana1Then the real decoding began. In the course of making banana bread, Mikey and I covered lots of abbreviations, identifying, reading and doubling fractions, and the symbol for ‘degrees’. We played with the measuring cups to make sure the 2 – 1/2 cups really fill a cup and so do 3 – 1/3 cups – they do! We talked about lots of ‘time’ concepts and had lots of math to do since we were doubling the recipe. We isolated some cursive letters for better identification. We talked about baking powder’s exciting effect when heat is added. A science-home economics-math-language arts-hand writing mash-up.

banana2 He rocked his home-ec class – using oven mitts and all. Little lessons are everywhere to be had – now go have them – with a side of warm banana bread.

Nana Geri’s Banana Bread

1Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 1 hr.

1/2 c. cooking oil1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas mashed
3 T. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour

Beat the oil and sugar. Add eggs, banana pulp, milk and vanilla. Mix in sifted dry ingredients and beat well. Pour into greased and floured pans.

 

“...it’s easier to understand and remember something if we can relate it to something else we already know….This seems to be how our brains work at retaining knowledge for the longer term, and it would certainly seem to suggest that the most effective way to teach would be to emphasize the flow of a subject, the chain of associations that relates one concept to the next and across subjects. Unfortunately, however, the standard approach to classroom teaching does just the opposite. The is most obviously seen in the artificial separation of traditional academic subjects.” ~The One World Schoolhouse, Salman Khan