Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Zucchini Bread, also known as a workout


The Man has been harvesting all kinds of things from the garden, especially zucchini.

Lots of zucchini. If you have a garden and grow zucchini, you know two things - how fast they grow and how many they produce.

A few nights ago the Man brought in a zucchini that measured about eighteen inches long. It was probably 5-6" in diameter at the fat end. It was so big I think you could have sliced it up and served one slice on each dinner plate.

Ridiculous.

He wanted to toss it out but I couldn't do it. It seems so wasteful to invest so much time into these plants to simply toss the zucchini out because it got too big. Instead, I decided to make zucchini bread. The recipe I found on Pinterest called for three cups of grated zucchini. I {very} briefly thought about getting out my food processor but decided to grate it by hand instead. 

It takes too much time to clean the food processor. So many parts. 

I started grating. 

And grating. 

And grating. 

My arms got tired. I got bored. I grated some more. I started watching my arms jiggle as I grated. It was hot. I was getting sweaty from all the grating. I kept on grating. For hours, it seemed.

I lifted the grater and had about a half cup. Two minutes had gone by.

Hmmm. This is a lot tougher than I thought.

I kept on grating.
Finally I had three cups of grated zucchini. 

I followed the recipe, putting all the wet ingredients in the bowl and then slowly added the dry ingredients. My hand mixer got broken a couple months ago and I haven't replaced it yet. I have a KitchenAid mixer but I keep it in the basement and didn't feel like carrying it upstairs.

It's heavy. And there are too many parts to clean.

So I mixed it by hand with a wooden spoon. 

And mixed. 

And mixed. 

My arms got sore from stirring. Three cups of flour is a lot of flour to stir by hand. The first cup goes in pretty smoothly. But the last cup? That batter gets kind of thick, if you ask me. I mixed for hours it seemed.

I looked at the clock. Two more minutes had gone by.

Jeeesh. I must be getting soft. This is hard work.

I kept stirring until all the flour had been combined.

The completed product. It tasted good.

~~~~~~~~~~

Some things I learned from baking zucchini bread:

1. Prairie women were in much better shape than I am. I bet they grated for hours and never broke a sweat. And I bet their arms didn't jiggle.

2. Appliances have made us soft. It's so much easier to throw everything in the KitchenAid, turn it on and let it run. It's harder to stir things by hand.

3. It's much easier to clean up when you don't use appliances. Instead of fifty seven billion parts to clean from a food processor and KitchenAid mixer, I had to clean a grater, a wooden spoon, and a bowl.

4. I felt quite satisfied making the bread from scratch, with my own hands doing all the work. Turning simple ingredients into a moist, delicious quick bread felt good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Summer Birthday

We celebrated L's birthday last week. I'm glad we had an occasion for cake.

On a hot summer night, there's not much better than an ice cream cake.You wouldn't believe the ripple of excitement that went through the kitchen when I revealed the cake and everyone saw 

triple

chocolate

crunchies.
Such a good sport.

J bought her a pink head lamp for camping. L was so excited. She put it on immediately and wanted to go outside to check on their garden. J grinned from ear to ear, jumped up, grabbed his head lamp and off they went - two lights bobbing across the back yard on that hot summer night.

Happy birthday, L!







Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Not So Shy Hermit Crab, or how to make an eleven year old scream

I'm trying a new way to blog  - from an iPad. Not sure how it's going to translate onto the big screen. These photos look a bit puny to me.

To make up for that, I threw them through my favorite app right now - Waterlogue. I pronounce it "water log" but a friend who speaks mulitiple languages says, "water lowj". I'm sure she's correct. 

I still call it water log.


I love monotones with just a few specks of color.

~~~~~~~~~~

My niece D and I were playing in the water this afternoon and she found a hermit crab. Teeny tiny little white crab in a snail shell. When you pick them up out of the water, they pull back into their shells and hide. If you hold them in your hand long enough they'll start to come out of their shell and creep along on your hand.

D had plucked one out of the water and had it in her hand, trying to wait patiently for it to come out of its shell.

"Look, Auntie! Isn't it so cute?" she gushed.

"Does it bite?" I asked her.

"Oh no," she replied, as the crab reared back and bit her on the finger.

That was the scream heard round the world. Or at least along the beach.

Good times.















Friday, July 18, 2014

Random {Oh So Happy} Reunion

J + Ms. F + K = two students with their favorite teacher.

And she's back in our lives. We are all so very happy to have found her after so many years.

~~~~~~~~~~

We met Ms. F almost fifteen years ago when J walked into her classroom the first day of fourth grade. Fourth grade meant a new school, filled with a bunch of new kids to meet, and a whole lot of nerves over changing classrooms - all the things to make a kid want to run for the hills. Or at least stay home and drop out of school.

Ms. F was just what he needed.

She was tough but fair. She had high expectations and her praise meant everything to a nine year old boy. There were no slackers in her class. I volunteered once a week in her classroom and she always had me do one thing - multiplication flash cards. Over and over and over again. If there was one thing those students were going to master by the time she was finished with them, by golly, it was the times tables.

She made learning fun. K told her tonight how much she loved one of the assignments they had to do for writing. And how she used that lesson throughout high school.

Ms. F told them to write directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then they had to read their writing out loud and follow the directions exactly as written. Needless to say, there were some key steps left out and bread and peanut butter and jelly ended up all over the place - much to the chagrin of the writer and the delight of the other students. 

K learned a lot from that lesson about the importance of writing clearly and completely. We're not allowed to do that lesson anymore, Ms. F told us tonight. Peanut allergy issue? I asked. Well, yes, that too. But it wastes too much time, we were told, she answered.

I don't think I agree with that. Not one bit.

~~~~~~~~~~

Fast forward almost fifteen years and it's one day last week. I was standing at the main circulation desk, looking intently at a computer screen, and I hear a woman ask, Excuse me, can you help me find a book, please?

I know that voice.

And when I looked up, I recognized her immediately. And then she recognized me. Just like that, fifteen or so years washed away and we were talking and laughing and crying like we had seen each other yesterday. Her children and my children are about the same ages so we caught up with what each one has been doing, looked at pictures and made plans to get together.

~~~~~~~~~~

I discovered she moved into town a couple years ago and lives about a mile or so away from us. It's been wonderful reconnecting with her. She popped over tonight and J and K got to say hello and visit for a short while before we got to work - she wants to start blogging so I offered to help her get started.

She's got some interesting stories to tell.

But I'll let her tell you those stories. Watch for her blog link on the right side as soon as she's up and running.

So glad you're back, Ms. F. We missed you.











Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Milestone Celebration

Celebration. 

Family. Friends. Food. Cake. Presents. And wine. 

Darling M is celebrating a milestone year. As am I, since we're the same age. 

Half a century. Gulp.

We've got a lot of celebrating to do this year. 

~~~~~~~~~~

We gathered last evening. A lovely evening to celebrate M. Lots of laughter, plenty of love. A young grandson running around, entertaining all who stopped to listen and watch him dance around. We can learn from the young, I think. Throw caution away and dance and sing - just because.

Because your heart is so full you can't stop yourself. 

The love just comes bubbling up, building and building inside until it forces its way out. Why not in a skipping step, or a twirl here or there, or a giggle and a grin? A song sung to someone you love, "Happy birthday to Mima!"

I love that word - Mima. That's what M's grandson calls her.

Conversation was light and cheery. And this group made me laugh. Really laugh.

I think this whole family should have their own sitcom. Or a variety show. There was impromptu singing, loads of smart aleck wisecracks from M's wicked stepdaughter,  a pseudo-striptease performed by a brother in law, and audience surveys ("Who was your celebrity crush when you were a kid?")
At some point, M and I found ourselves sitting together. We chatted about allergies and nasal congestion. We talked about dairy items and giving them up to see if it would help. We talked about wine. And how it can cause stuffiness in some people - which can lead to sinus issues.

M might be one of those.

So she told her momma that she was giving up dairy and maybe wine. Her momma paused and said, "Well, don't do that."

Life lessons from the older and wiser woman. Don't be giving up the wine.

~~~~~~~~~~

A most enjoyable evening spent in some mighty fine company.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Full Hearts.

Tonight was one of those nights I want to remember.

~~~~~~~~~~

We planned an impromptu dinner with Nan, my uncle and my Dad. Both K and J were home for dinner, as well as J's girlfriend, L, and his best friend, another J. 

So we had 2 Js, a K, and an L. Call us alphabet soup.

All the young people ate outside. It was a spectacular night to be outside, a little wind, very little bugs, and peepers chirping away. We could hear their laughter throughout dinner and later, as they lingered over dessert and coffee.

Infectious laughter. Giggly laughter. Manly laughter.

Laughter from people who have their whole lives ahead of them - people who are loving life and enjoying every moment in each other's company. Laughter that makes a momma's heart feel so full, so full it could burst and that laughter would come rushing out of momma herself.

~~~~~~~~~~

The older folks were talking before dinner about NASA and the space program. The Man is a wee bit interested in anything to do with the space program. You name it and we've got it - books, movies, documentaries. We could be a reference library on space program material.

So the space program was on my mind throughout dinner. We had been talking about all the things to come out of that program, things like Velcro and duct tape, microwaves and calculators. All things that are still a large part of daily life sixty years later.

During dinner, conversation turned around to fruit trees and a peach tree in particular that was right outside our back door when I was growing up. Dad was asking me if I remembered that tree and the large fruit that we had the year we lived in that house. I didn't remember. I did, however, remember the peach ice cream that he made using that fruit. We loved Dad's homemade peach ice cream, rich and so, so creamy with big chunks of peaches swirled throughout. It took forever to make, at least it seemed that way to us kids.

I can still taste that peach ice cream.

When I told Dad I didn't remember the tree, his face fell a little bit. But what I said next caused him to pause while eating his pie.

"I don't remember much from that house, Dad. I was just a little girl. But one thing I do remember is sitting in front of the TV in the middle of the day during the summer and watching a space rocket and the moon."

My dad just stared at me for the longest time. He finally said, "You remember that?" 

His voice had an odd lilt to it.

I nodded.

He swallowed hard, like he was holding back something, and said, "I never knew you remembered that. I guess it's never come up. You and your sister were just little girls."

And then he said, "It was a summer day. I sat the two of you in front of the television to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon that day - July 21, 1969. I looked at you two and told you to try and remember this moment. I knew it was going to be important. I think everyone in the whole country was watching that day." 

"I never knew you remembered it."

~~~~~~~~~~

As a parent raising young children, I always wondered what my kids would remember when they were grown and older. I was sad to think they wouldn't remember much of anything, since I wasn't confident that I remembered a lot of my childhood moments. But as I have these conversations with my dad, and my Nan, sometimes the memories come back and it feels real and fresh and sharp and clear - easy to remember.

I'm blogging about them so I don't forget again.

And so I don't forget the look on my dad's face when he found out I remembered something from my childhood.

I think his heart was full tonight too.







Friday, July 11, 2014

Pretty Light

There was some pretty light a few nights ago so I dragged these two outside to model for me.

They have a very hard time being serious. And L's laugh is absolutely infectious. Once she starts laughing, it's all over for J.

And for my photoshoot.
Cute.
Gorgeous light. Pretty night.

Sweet young couple a sheer delight.