Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a Day

It's been a bit of a weird day. My day started with me starring as a pin cushion. Seriously... I went to have the usual blood work done, and it took two people and two tries to get it done. Ouch! It was a real attractive look, walking out of the lab department, sporting two clumps of gauze and the ubiquitous hospital tape!

I finally got to go have breakfast, in the hospital cafeteria. See, I had this $5 McLaren 'bucks'.. and it seemed a fortuituous moment to spend it. However, not having had my all-too-necessary morning tea, I actually had to take the cafeteria ladies' suggestions on what to get...for my $5.

Off to the office, with a decent breakfast & grape juice in me, and the fun continued. The phone seemed to ring every time I was away from my desk. Spent much of the day returning voice mails. At least I had easy access to hot water & tea bags... (I am the Tea Lady at work...people come to my desk..including the Big Boss...for various kinds of tea).

Once at home, things seemed to get better. I made chicken pot pie that turned out wonderful. Yum! (simple recipe too..happy to share it with any friend who asks). Then I made cream scones. They came out perfectly.

Then I finally sat down to write my blog...only to find my inspiration had gone to bed without me. Well, Jack London says "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Since I didn't have a club handy, I decided to simple ramble on and tell you all about my day. :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

I've been reading some of Nora Robert's Irish novels this past week. This naturally caused me to start researching Irish pub recipes, simply to find out what the character, Shawn, had been cooking. What's a poundie? A Boxty? In searching, I found some truly excellant looking recipes.

This morning, having a late start, I decided to try a new buttermilk pancake recipe. Why such an ordinary choice? A week or so ago, I drove by a billboard depicting car sized pancakes, dripping with melted butter and pure maple syrup. I've been craving them ever since. So, I pulled out a new recipe, and tried it...imagining light, fluffy pancakes with rising steam.

In my imagination they were light & fluffy. In reality, the dough plopped stiffly onto the pan. I had to force them to spread out. Then they did rise...tall. Tall and heavy. It took two hands to transfer the single pancake onto my plate. Well, I had to at least try this, er, drop scone perhaps? It tasted exactly as it looked. Heavy, thick, dense bit of pastry that will probably still be inside of me at the turn of the next century!

In my family, we have a way of rating new recipes. There's the 'Wow! Can we have this again tomorrow?', that's the best. Then there's the 'It's good, but needs a bit of tweaking'. The third is 'It's okay, but let's not have this again'. The worst of all, is an unspoken glance, followed by scrapping said food off the plate and reaching for the emergency peanut butter & bread.

I think you can guess which one this was. Yeah... and I'm still craving buttermilk pancakes!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring!

Wow. I woke up to sunshine streaming through my window. I sat up thinking, oh, good..it's another magical Saturday morning! Got ready for the day, grabbed my jacket, and prepared to wander out into a lovely warm spring day. Right. Sure. One foot out the door, and I immediately stepped backwards. Brr...

After switching to my winter coat, I trudged out to 'floof' the snow off my car. "It's not snowing." says my daughter Cat. Ok, so I floofed off the thick opaque rain. Rolling the window up firmly, I drove off to the Scoutathon that I was helping with.

Instead of the signs of spring that I expected...crocuses blooming, birds singing, and Harleys roaring by... I saw snow covered, er, thick rain covered cars, people huddled in burly coats, and the only music I heard came from my car radio.

Sigh... will spring really ever come?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

That first wondrous sip

There I sat at work this morning, waiting not so patiently. That soothing yet invigorating scent wafting towards me. I try to clear the fog from my head, as I sit in front of my computer, trying to focus on my morning tasks. My mind is still slumbering peacefully away...
Have I waited long enough? Chopsticks in hand, I open the lid from my mug, and fish out the bag. Liberally adding French Vanilla cream, I then replace the lid. Still should wait a bit longer. It's not yet ready; not yet safe.
So, sitting the mug back down, I attempt to concentrate, to work. Glancing over at the mug, I wonder again. Perhaps it is ready now? I take a cautious testing sip. Ouch! Bad move. Sitting back, I try to ignore my scalded tongue.
I wait a few more moments, as the wondrous scent surrounds me. Then I can't stand it. I can't wait a moment longer. I grab up the mug, open the lid, and take that first sip. Ahhh......
With that first proper sip, all is right in my world. It's the elixir that moves my mornings. Tea.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The days blur together

The last two weeks seem to blur together. Oh, I had three amazing days last week-Wednesday through Friday, but they are a dim memory right now. I find myself wondering what day of the week it is. Then I remember...I just watched NCIS, therefore it must be Tuesday (unless it was a rerun, then I'd be clueless).

There is a relative sameness to the days. I'm not sure why. It feels like I'm washing the same dishes again and again. Didn't I just wash those jeans a day ago? At work it's much the same...dealing with issues, untangling problems, explaining the same thing over again.

I think the trouble lies within myself. I'm tired. Perhaps it's in part because of the time change. Or perhaps it's because I just can't seem to really relax these last two weeks. Whatever the reason, I'm certain it will pass.

By Saturday's post, I'm sure to be my usual upbeat self. Meet me here on another Magical Saturday morning to find out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have a friend whom I have known since we were both just 14. We met in the cafeteria at lunchtime, started talking amidst the noise and confusion of several hundred teenagers. After exchanging phone numbers, we headed off to class. That simple beginning spawned the greatest friendship of my life. We have spent countless hours on the phone (awkward back when phones had curly cords that my mother didn't want stretched out). We roamed the length and breadth of Sterling Heights on our bikes.

Then graduation came, and we headed in separate directions, me off to Ann Arbor. We didn't talk as much, but the friendship remained. Years passed, we each got married, had kids... (and I'm aunt to hers and her to mine). More years passed.

She was there for me when my marriage crumbled, and I began a new life on my own. And the friendship continued.

She has always been there for me, to listen as I vent, to be calm when I'm freaking out, and to say the hard truths when they need to be said. I tell her everything....and believe she does the same to me.

Now, though we live an hour apart, we still talk nearly daily. Now it's on cordless phones, instant messaging, emails and cell phones.... but it's the same friendship.

I'm made other friends since then...Sharon, Faye, Rhoda, Marie, Paigely, Andrea, and many others... but she is still very important to me... one of the strongest people I know, a mother, a wife, a Christian, a college student and more. She is everything...she is my friend. Connie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Yesterday, an unexpected feeling of hope, anticipation and even expectation came over me. Random feelings of hope are not something I usually experience. Oh, I'm hopeful--any true science fantasy addict is imbued with hope. But this was an unwarranted and unexpected feeling of hope.

It bubbled up inside of me--waiting for the source, the right moment to spring forth. Hoping not to jinx this rare feeling, I kept my outward expression neutral, and continued working diligently at my computer for the rest of the work day.

And then it Happened....

Everything went wrong. I got home only to find that my kitchen sink was clogged, my daughter was having a meltdown, one of my wrist braces was missing, and we were out of soy sauce. With a heavy sigh, I did what I always do. Tackle each problem by doing something. I badgered her into changing out of pajama pants and we headed out. I took her to Michael's Hobby store. Surrounding her with art supplies always cheers her up, and she needed paint for her class anyways. She was in her mecca. She unmelted...became almost cheerful. Then we picked up draino and soy sauce and headed back home.

Tried the draino. Worked only marginally. Called the plumber guy, left a message. Great..another expensive repair. Started dinner, at 7:30 at night. *shudder* While cooking, I tore the kitchen and my car apart, looking for the missing wrist brace. Nothing. After dinner, I chatted on the phone with my friend, Connie. She suggested holding a rag in the one side of the double sink, while plunging in the other. So, I tried it. Got Cat to hold a washcloth, while I did the frantic plunging thing. It Worked. !!

So, daughter unmelted. Soy sauce purchased. Sink unplugged. The missing brace? Still gone. Until this morning, when I grabbed my bag of crochet, that I'd taken to work yesterday. And there it was...under the partially crocheted blanket...

So, not only is my friend Connie freaking amazing at home repair advice, but I also had an unexpected amazing day....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Adventures in Baking

Yesterday, I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long while, but had been thinking about doing recently--I baked a layer cake. Oh, not just a boring, regular 2 layer cake. Oh, no. I baked no less than three layers! Problem was, I decided to do this at the last minute. Never a good idea.

The cake layers came out beautifully, and I set them on a rack to cool. Then I immediately started mixing up homemade chocolate frosting. The frosting was too thin, not sure why. I added more powdered sugar, and glanced at the clock. My dinner guests would arrive shortly, and I still had to finish this, and get pizza (homemade, of course) in the oven. So I hurried. Bad idea.

With a bowl of grainy, thin frosting in hand, I started frosting the warm cake. My daughter, Cat, wandered into the kitchen, stuck a finger into the frosting, and said, "Aren't you supposed to let that cool before you frost it?" "It's cool enough", I told her. I placed one warm layer on the cake platform, and started to gently dump frosting on it. This went smoothly. I glanced at the clock, grabbed the next layer, and placed it on top of the glistening frosting. Wait. Frosting isn't supposed to glisten. The second layer slid ever so slightly to the left. Oh, no. I smooshed it back on top, and glancing at the clock again, dumped frosting on top.

Again, the frosting seemed to slid right onto the warm layer. I snatched up the final layer, edged the listing second layer back on top, and placed the third and final layer on top. As I tried to gently frost this last, top-most layer, I had to continually push the layers back on right. They kept sliding off to the side. I hollered for Cat to come help. After reminding me about the 'should have waited til they were cool' so very helpfully, she helped try to smoosh the listing layers back on top, as I frantically frosted the sides, hoping this would somehow glue the layers together.

Our hands coated with glistening frosting, we watched in amazement as a small crack appeared in the topmost layer, right in the middle, slowly widening and lengthening... a chocolate San Andreas fault line. Our eyes met above the disintegrating cake. I grabbed the cake container lid, and slammed it home onto the cake base. Cat opened up the fridge, and I shoved it none-too-gently inside.

After several minutes trying to clean the frosting off of our hands, the counter, the fridge handle and the floor, I finally gathered the nerve to look. Opening the fridge with much trepidation, I peered within. The cake was still contained within the clear sided container, but the damage was complete. The top layer was now in four pieces, one stuck to the side of the cake container. The second layer had slid partly off the bottom. And the frosting had finally set.

Cat dumped some sprinkles on it, and we hacked off pieces. It tasted fairly good... but I have absolutely no urge to bake a cake again for quite some time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Living without red meat, well, almost

When my daughter was young, she would periodically get these unexplainable stomach pains. I took her to doctors again and again, but they couldn't figure it out. Once we ended up in the ER, as her pains seemed to indicate appendicitis. It wasn't.

Fast forward many years, and one suggestion by her grandmother, and we found out the trouble. Red meat. She cannot eat it. We eliminated it from our diet, and she has been fine since.

So, how do I cook dinner without red meat? It wasn't easy at first. We ate a lot of chicken. That got boring after a while. We tried veggie meals. Interesting, to say the least. But in the last year or so, we have come up with a workable (and tasty) variety.

I make meatballs, meatloaf (yay! mini cheddar loaves!), 'hamburgers' and even lasagna can all be made with ground turkey. So can tacos, spaghetti sauce and grammommy nachos. I tried it in chili, but didn't work. (that's okay..she doesn't like chili, so when she's gone for a few days, I make chili the regular way).

We do make a few veggie recipes, including a great veggie lasagna, and black beans over rice.

When I have a desparate craving for red meat, I cook up a steak (hey, why not), and she cooks up some fish (bleh), and we share the side dishes.

So, problem solved, deliciously!