Monday, August 29, 2011

How Do You Spell Exhaustion?

I spell it E.M.M.A.
We had the Bean here this past weekend- Friday morning to Sunday night. Her mommy and daddy took their first little vacation to Key West. They were so good- they hardly called at all to check on her! I am so proud of them. While they were busy exploring, snorkeling and visiting Ernest Hemingway's home, Emma was busy wearing out Ese and Mimms.

She looks innocent enough, doesn't she? Don't let those sweet eyes fool you! She is like a tornado.

We played and played and played. We read Beatrix Potter, watched the chickens, sang songs (both in English and French), ate lunch out with Great-Grammy, learned about art, saw the Temple, stacked cups, tossed bean bags, yelled at the tops of our lungs, giggled endlessly, took a nap or two, played chase, went to church, made banana bread, "walked" all over the house and had tons of fun. Tons.
Except when she saw this-

This is the bane of Emma's existence right now. She hates this little cat door stop. Hates it. Its usual home is tucked in this little space between the dining room and the living room bookcase. I had to remove it because it caused such a problem! As we were getting ready to turn the corner on one of our walking journeys from the kitchen to the living room, she poked her head around, saw the cat was there, shuddered and would not budge. This cat creeps her out.

But, once I put the kitty away in a place where she can't see it, she was back to all smiles and happiness.
And being the busiest baby on earth.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back Home.

I've missed you! I've been home a week now, actually. But, as you know, life carries on even when you've been on vacation.
I had a wonderful time with my family, seeing cousins I hadn't seen in years, far too many years. A trip to Plymouth allowed me to catch up with my two best friends from high school. They are lovely women and  don't think I really realized how much I missed them until I saw them. It will not be another 15 years before we get back together, I can assure you.
The real purpose of the trip was to bury my mom. At long last she is home, where she wanted to be, with her mother, father and grandfather nearby. It's been a long year.
My sister, niece, dad and I drove to Massachusetts. Two long days up and two long days back. We stopped in Antietam on the way up. I am always struck by how still and peaceful Civil War battlefields are. I find it difficult to even conjure up and image of what it must have been like there for the men who fought- on both sides. But, on a hot, still summer day, it was a place of beauty. Lush corn fields still grace the roadside. Homes and barns stand like silent witnesses to what occurred there. My dad wanted to see the bridge where his great-grandfather fought. It was good for all of us to see in real life what has only been "seen" through stories.

The girls took a trip to Plymouth on Thursday. We had lunch at the Lobster Hut- fried clams (with their bellies- the only way to eat them!), fries and cole slaw- while looking out over Plymouth Harbor. Boats dotted the water, seagulls clamored for treats and the sun shone down just like I remembered. I probably gained 5 pounds sitting out on the patio but I didn't care. That was a meal I was not going to miss. I mean really, could you pass this up?

On the Saturday, our last day in Mass., we had a family cook-out at my aunt and uncle's house. It was fun. Good food, shared memories and laughter rang through her yard. We had the best time together staying long into the evening playing games. I miss them all.
Have you ever had freezer pickles? I hadn't until that cook-out. I've missed out on so much! They are fabulous. Crispy, crunchy and delicious. You start with paper-thin sliced cucumbers, add vinegar, sugar and celery seed and freeze them. How easy peasy is that?

From this:


To this. In no time!

Here's the recipe. (I'll type it out for you below.) This copy is written by my grandmother. The recipe is from my aunt Louise. I had to take a photo of it. It's sweet and special. You never know what you will find when you go home.

Ready to make some pickles? Let's get started.

You will need:
3 1/2 cups paper-thin sliced pickling cucumbers
1 Tablespoon salt

Place cucumbers in a bowl and add salt. Work well with hands and allow to sit for at least one hour, more if possible. Drain well.

Thinly slice 3/4 cup onions, if desired. My aunt didn't and we didn't miss them.
Mix together 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup white vinegar and a good pinch of celery seed.

Put cucumbers (and onions, if using) in a large freezer-type zip bag. Pour liquid over top and zip. Write the date you made your pickles on the bag and freeze. That's it! These pickles are good for up to four years in the freezer. If they last that long. ;)
Serve at your next family cook-out.

As much fun as I had, it's good to be back.