Monday, September 29, 2008

Baking Bliss.

Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorite Fall foods. Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, they are a perfect afternoon snack with a glass of ice cold milk.



This morning I ground some wheat to make whole wheat flour to put in the cookies. It gives them a lovely, nutty flavor. Mixing all the ingredients together, it was all I could do not to eat the bowl of raw dough! Honestly, what a silly thing for me to want to do when the baked cookies are so much better.


Now, that is cookie bliss. Three perfectly baked rounds of yumminess, ready to ward of afternoon hunger pangs.


I use the Quaker Oatmeal Cookie recipe, with a few alterations. I use half and half white and whole wheat flour and, since I like my cookies plain, I do not add the spices. I think it allows the flavors of the butter, brown sugar and oats to come singing through. Really, why would you want to cover those up?

I'm sharing the recipe, just in case you want to experience some baking bliss of your own.

Quaker's Best Oatmeal Cookies, Karin's Way:
Makes 3 dozen, on the nose
1-1/4 cups softened butter. Not margarine, please.
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (mine came from Pearl)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups oats
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars . Add egg and vanilla. Mix together well.
Add in the flours, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
Add oats and mix all together well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies, 10-11 minutes for a crisper cookie.
Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute (give or take) before placing on cooling rack.
Choose a pretty plate, select your cookies, pour a glass of milk and enjoy your homemade afternoon snack. Or dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch, Or dessert....
Excuse me, I have to go eat some more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What's In a Dream?

I spoke with my youngest sister yesterday and she relayed to me the dream she had had the night before. It was about the house that we lived in in Massachusetts, a weathered clapboard Colonial built in 1668. Except in her dream it was on a hill, with a few extras from other houses that our family lived in over the years. A conglomeration, if you will.
When we moved away from that house, my sister was almost five and I was going into my senior year in high school. None of us wanted to leave, but my dad's health was not good and we needed to move to a place that did not require as much care. My brothers and I vowed that one day, one of us would move back, buy the house and raise our children there. None of us did.
My memories of that house are much more vivid than my sister's. I can close my eyes and picture each room, walls decorated in period reproduction Strahan wallpaper, the color of the trim mouldings, the coffee-with-milk colored kitchen and the three doors that led to the tiny half-bath, pantry and back hallway.
My sister's memories are vague, seen from her five-year-old eyes. In her dream, she walked from room to room, touching the things that she remembered from her childhood. Coming to a cabinet, she opened it to find her toys, the favorite toys that she played with and loved. She took them all and left.
My sister asked what I thought her dream meant. After going through a divorce, moving to an apartment and living on her own for the first time in ten years, her life has been in upheaval for the past two years.
She has met someone, a man who loves her for who she is, who cares about what she thinks and understands that her creativity drives her. And so, two weeks ago she moved to North Carolina to be with him..
I told her what I thought her dream meant. I think she is home.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Never Thought That This Would Happen

Especially to me.


I have been making items for MaryJane Butters for her magazine,

MaryJane's Farm, for the past few months.


I think this project has been my favorite- making a miniature twig bed, complete with wool-stuffed mattress and hand-sewn linens and pillows and a teensy chair for a fairy house. I have to say that the slippers and hat were a challenge, as I have never made either of them on such a tiny scale before. I think they turned out pretty cute. There is something about making small things that delights me to my inner core.

The instructions for MaryJane's own Fairy House are included in this, the October-November issue. How cute is that? I so need to make one and then make myself a miniature twig bed decked to the nines because, surprisingly, I have not made one like it for myself.

I am thrilled to have this opportunity to be a part of this incredible magazine. Thank you, MaryJane, for giving me the wings I needed to fly.

PS- If you see a copy of this at your book store, be sure to buy it. Not only is it beautiful to look at, there are tasty recipes, helpful hints, fabulous stories about women who have followed their dreams and ideas to spark your imagination. But then, I may be a bit partial.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Whatever, Martha!

Did any of you, by chance, catch this show Tuesday night? I did, and how sorry am I?
Shown on the Fine Living Network, the premise has great potential - show vintage clips of early Martha Stewart programs and unabashedly mock them. Could be pretty darn funny, yes? No.
The hosts of the show are Alexis Stewart, Martha's daughter, and her friend, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt. They are beyond horrible. In their attempts to be witty and clever, they instead come off as shrewish and mean. Worse yet, they are Boring, capital intended.
Alexis Stewart is a consummate potty-mouth. One did not need to have a vivid imagination to know what the editors had bleeped out, mostly because they did a terrible job. If she were my daughter, I would have sat home and cried. And then written her out of the will.
I read that this show came about because the sale of Martha Stewart DVDs were slow (pretty much nil) and they had to find some way in which to market the vast library of all things pertaining to perfecting your home. It has the Martha stamp of approval. In fact, it was her idea. I wonder about her judgement.
The bits that I watched were painful at best. Full of snide, snippy, poorly thought out comments, sexual innuendo (why?), tales of a woeful childhood, throwing the f-word out like they were saying the word "Cat.", I cringed each time those girls opened their mouths.
If this show is to be what they intended, it needs a major overhaul. In fact, they need to start over. In the right hands, it could be hilarious.
Would anything make me watch Whatever, Martha! again? It's very doubtful.
Unless they hire the writing staff from Frasier, replace the hosts and apologize to us for thinking that we aren't smart enough for well-written, pun-laden, cerebral humor.
Think again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weakness.

I am not one to become addicted to certain foods, but this one brings me very close.
Dangerously close.

Just the right amount of buttery, salty goodness, spiced with the tang of cracked black pepper. It makes your taste buds dance in your mouth for a very long time.

I would show you how it looks, all light and fluffy and peppery, but I cannot.

I am afraid I have eaten it all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sixty-Four.

That was the temperature this morning when I took a peek at the outdoor thermometer. Sixty-four chilly, blissful degrees. A slight breeze rustled the leaves and made the air feel cooler still.
There is something about a chilly morning that makes my heart sing. Goosebumps rise on my arms and thoughts of baking and making casseroles begin to emerge. There is an overwhelming feeling of coziness that overcomes me and I want to rush to the kitchen and make a mug of hot chocolate, grab a blanket and settle in on the back porch to sip warmth into my body and enjoy the most simple of pleasures. I am a cool weather girl.
The sticky, hot days of summer do their best to wear me down, sapping every bit of energy from deep inside of me. Autumn rejuvenates me. If I could see my spirit, I'm certain it would be a dancing swirl of leaves, blithe and free.
The days that I look forward to the most are here, brisk mornings and warm afternoons. Darkness settles in early and the lights in people's homes go on, casting their golden glow out into the night. It is a peaceful time, quiet and still. The kinetic, energy-filled summer days are slowing down, preparing for a more restful pace. Time itself seems to slow as well.
Like a squirrel preparing for winter, I am beginning to set aside projects for the coming days. Soft, warm wool yarns for blankets fill the basket in my craft room. Dreamy cotton fabrics and lofty batting wait to be made into quilts to snuggle under. The pantry shelves are being filled with provender suited to create meals of classic comfort foods - macaroni and cheese, shepherd's pie, lasagna and soups. I can already smell the scent of cookies baking in the oven and pies cooling on the counter tops. Just a few more weeks and it will be here, and I will be in heaven. How about you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Private, First Class.

A friend of mine asked if I could keep everyone updated on how Nathan is doing in the Army. I can report to you that he is doing well.
He has been gone for six weeks now, with three weeks of basic training under his belt. That means six more to go before he graduates.
The picture below is my son, stretched out along a single width of rope, trying to get to the other side without falling off. If you look closely, you can see that he has been issued the standard Army black plastic-framed Clark Kent glasses. The photo was in the D Company (Delta Dawgs) newsletter, which is how I was able to get a copy. Thank you, Captain McNichol.


So far, he has successfully made it through:
First Aid, where they learned to give each other IVs (Oh, joy, Oh, rapture.), dressing and bandaging wounds and evaluating a casualty under battlefield conditions.
The Gas Chamber, where each soldier was exposed to a volatile form of tear gas. Nathan said it was the worst thing he has ever done. And that includes eating chicken feet in Mexico. (Or bananas with mayonnaise and sugar. It was served as a dessert and he had to eat it. Blecch.)
The Confidence Course, which is where the photo above was taken.
Army Combatives and Land Navigation, where his platoon was taken into the woods and given instruction to find their way back. Nathan now understands why Fort Leonard Wood is appropriately nicknamed Fort "Lost In the Woods."
Nathan is able to call home on Sundays, and after church we speed home to get to the phone in time for his call. So much different than when he was on his mission in Mexico and was only able to call on Mother's Day and Christmas.
His phone calls are always positive. He has made a few friends, found a great group of LDS (Mormon) soldiers that he goes to church with, and even likes his Drill Sergeant. That, I believe, is a high compliment for someone who is usually so despised.
In the next six weeks, he will be working with his M-16, which he has named Chancho for a line in Nacho Libre "No, Chancho, I will never leave you.", because he must keep it with him at all times. Learning how to use a hand grenade and the various weapons that are used by the military and going on yet another survival course.
The last phase of basic training involves live fire, and I think they may want to reconsider giving families that information, especially the mothers. Live fire and your child are not two things you want to see together, even though you know it has to be.
All in all, this was the right decision for Nathan. Once his training is over and he is at the Defense Language Institute learning new languages, he will flourish.
Until then, I am waiting for October 23, when I will be able to give him a hug, meet his friends and his leaders and watch him graduate.
Just remember, Nathan - Duck!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Waning.

Goodbye, Summer.


It's been fun.

But, I am looking forward to having your sister, Autumn, come visit.

With her brightly colored clothes and dancing winds.

She has sent a few announcements ahead, giving us time to prepare.

I'll be ready when she arrives.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mavis laid her first egg today,


and promptly pecked a hole in it.
Nice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kitten Love

Baby Jude.



You are the sweetest kitten.

Please stay small for a while. Okay?


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Flash Of Blue And My Thanks To You.

In the mornings, before the sun has had a chance to warm up the now chill-tinged morning air, morning glories abound on the roadsides here in Georgia. Driving my son to work gives me the opportunity to catch the flashes of blue that accompany the twining vines meandering through the tall grasses. Each one makes my heart leap, and brings a smile to my face.

Something else that has brought a smile to my face, is the gift of blog-love from my friends.
I have been a bit remiss in my acknowledgement of such kindness, and I ask for forgiveness from those who thought of me for my lateness in extending my thanks. I am humbled and grateful for their thoughtfulness.

So, my thanks to you, sweet Tina, for rating my blog as E for Excellent. It lends a sense of affirmation to my rather ordinary life. Tina is a city farmgirl like me. She homeschools her children, creates the most wonderful art and she and her hubs publish an online magazine, called Small Town Living, which gives a most thoughtful glimpse into small town life.

To Pam, for the Blogging Friends Forever award. How nice is that? Even though we live in the same state, we have not had the opportunity to meet. I hope that we will one day. If we lived closer, I know we would be good friends. Until then, I keep up with her life on her blog. Go and read about her chicken snake. I would have fainted had I found that one.

To Kyra, for the I Love Your Blog award. This girl is very talented, sweet and kind. We were partners in Artsy Mama's Sweet and Sinister swap last year and she sent me the most incredible, handmade Halloween decorations. Right down to a perfectly gruesome, miniature Dead Man's Toe. The detail is amazing. I think it comes from her being a nurse.

I always have difficulties choosing blogs upon which to bestow awards such as these. Each one I read has its own charm and uniqueness that brings me back time after time. So, I think I will just allow each of you that I visit to count yourselves so honored. Place your award proudly in your sidebars, if you so choose. You all make my days brighter, my heart fuller and my ribs sore from laughter. Thank you, each and every one. You are all deserving of such wonderfulness.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hazel. Snake Killer

What is this blur before you, you ask? It is Hazel, after she stole a tiny, black snake from Flora.
Hazel ran as fast as her little legs would carry her, with Flora in hot pursuit.
She ducked and dodged with the grace of a bantam-weight boxer,
avoiding Flora's jabbing beak and reigned victorious.
In the end, Hazel decided that snake really was not what she wanted for dinner. Poor baby snake. You died before I could ask you one very inportant question: Where is your mother?

Apparently, it is the season for the creepy things of nature to come visit my house.

I must be the luckiest girl on earth.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cat. In Heat.

Merideth, the kitty that delivered two little white kittens (one of which passed away two days later) three weeks ago, is in heat. The noise level in my house is deafening.
Try to conjure up in your mind the sound that Chewbacca, the Wookie, made in Star Wars, with a little twist of Ed Grimley inhaling with surprise. That's the sound Merideth makes. In fact, they must have used that sound for Chewbacca. Someone has a very twisted sense of humor.
She is no longer interested in poor Jude*, her little boy. No, she just wants OUT, with all caps intended. We have taken to locking her in my daughter's room just so she will nurse him. Tart.
Slinky, sneaky wench that she is, she snuck out the other day between the legs of Rilo, the Sheltie. With his white tummy blending in with her white body, I didn't even see her. Although the addition of four legs should have been a clue. Calling her was fruitless. Trying catch her even more so. The cat is quick when she has procreation on the mind.
Six hours later, she happened by the side door, and I was able to wrestle her into my arms and into the nursery box to feed her very snubbed, very hungry son.
I hope that it was not six hours too late.

PS- To see why A's little white kitten is named Jude, click here. This child is adorable.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Stores.

What is it about a book store that instantly makes you feel comfortable?
Could it be the row after row of books lined up like soldiers along the shelves? Is it the smell of paper wafting about you as you walk past them? Or is it the sight of crisp, clean pages nestled between the covers?
I love the feel of a new book, the scent, the neatly spaced rows of type expressing someone's thoughts and ideas. I love walking in between the aisles, my head tipped to the side, reading titles meant to draw you past to what is written in the pages. Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not.
I have a habit of visiting a book store once a week. Even if I am not there to buy, I go for a little peace and quiet. Solace, if you will. Calm pierces through the stress of the day and settles in for a nice, long visit.
But I have to say that, more often than not, I come home with a book. One that will take me to another place, full of adventure or lull me to sleep. My latest find? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and her grand-niece, Annie Barrows. It is a sweet little story, written in letter form, that tells the tale of the German occupation of the little island off the England coast, by the (fictitious) inhabitants themselves written to an author looking for material for her next book. I will not divulge too much, because you should really read it for yourselves.
You never know what treasure you may find sitting upon a shelf. And that is the wonder of a book store.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Excuse Me, I Have To Go Wii.

About a month ago my son bought himself a Wii system. He had saved up his paychecks until he had enough to buy one. He had to wait a long time, as they are very difficult to find, the proverbial needle in a haystack. But, find one he did, and he has been in heaven ever since. Surprisingly, so have I.
Together we bowl, golf, play baseball and tennis. He is much better at these games than I am, but he seems to put up with me. I'm almost certain it's because he wins every time.
A week after the Wii came into our home, I convinced my husband that we needed to buy the Wii Fit. I really had no idea what it was, I just knew we had to have one. And he relented and bought one. It has changed my whole outlook on video games. More than just a game, it's a way to become healthy and strong with very low impact on the body. Which is good because my body does not like high impact.
I was ill prepared for what the WF could do. First, you create "yourself" as a Mii. Okay, done. Then you stand on a balance board and a little voice says, "Measuring. Measuring."
"What is it measuring?", you ask. It measures your balance as you stand on the board. I started with my point of balance a bit to the left. A little screen popped up and asked if I trip a lot when I am walking. Well, er, yes I do. But how does it know that?
Then the most illuminating bit of information comes as the Wii gives you your BMI (body mass index). I watched as the little arrow slid up towards the top of the scale. This is not a good thing. The little squeaky voice said, "That's obese." Well, thank you. Tell me something I don't know.
After that, you might as well go ahead and let it tell you how much you weigh. I mean, you're already in a state of shock because your Mii, that started out cute and slim, has just puffed out before your eyes. Really? Is that necessary? On top of all that good news, you receive your Wii Age. Mine, thankfully, was lower than my actual age. So why am I so unbalanced?
There are four areas of training to help you stop tripping when you walk; yoga, strength, aerobic and balance. You choose a trainer, male or female, and he/she guides you through the steps of each exercise. The trainers are a bit creepy. Their eyes blink, they talk to you and tell you, "Good job!", when you are done, but their mouths don't move. Wierd.
Anyway, I am happy to report that, after 18 days, I have improved my balance, gained strength in muscles that I had forgotten about and lost 7 pounds. All because of a silly video game and a squeaky voice that still tells me I'm obese, just not as obese as I started.
I cannot wait for my Mii to unpuff.