About Me

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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bread-Making Mishaps

For my birthday-in April- my sister sent me a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We had discussed this on the phone before it arrived unexpectedly. Mary, my sister, raved about how easy it was to make and how everyone at her house LOVED this bread. So when it came I was anxious to get started.
Well, I read the introduction several times and was a little confused. My sister is/was/has been an avid bread maker. I remember her wonderful homemade wheat bread that she would make when she was home from College for the summer. She ALWAYS made it look so simple. On reflection, I probably didn't notice the effort she actually put IN to prepare the loaf. I was given a bread-maker for Christmas at least 10 years ago. During that time I tried several times and never made anything edible, much less appetizing. It always SMELLED good, though.

Over the past month or so I've been gathering 5-minute-a day bread-making equipment. Pizza Peel. In 44 years I have never heard anyone using this baking instrument. It's a big wooden paddle almost as big as my 4-year old son. Dough Scraper. 5-quart plastic storage container- not airtight, Cornmeal. The last item/ingredient I purchased was the yeast. Try finding the yeast at your grocery store. At the store closest to my abode the yeast was located in a refrigerated section above the sour cream. Silly me, I scoured the flour section. The entire recipe for The Master Recipe: Boule was warm water, yeast, kosher salt, and flour. How could I mess this up??? I'd read the directions at least a dozen times.

The mixing was easy with the wonderful Kitchen Aid Mixer. Six cups of flour was made into dough quickly. It was very sticky, but I got it in that plastic container. I put it right in the refrigerator. It said if this was the first time making this recipe it was best to keep in the 'fridge overnight. Well about 4 hours later it occurs to me I think the dough was supposed to raise for a couple hours before I put it in the cold. Indeed, I was to let it raise at room temp. for two hours! I searched online trying to find if anyone else had made this mistake. I found a nice blog, http://www.adventuresinshaw.com/2008/11/artisan-boule-bread/ and there I found the authors of the book had their OWN site: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ where I found thousands of questions and comments. And ERRORS! The authors had a page about errors they made in their book. One of which was yeast amount: the recipe called for 1.5 packets of yeast. The recipe SHOULD read 1.5 tablespoons which equals 2 packets. So now, my bread has never risen and I don't have enough yeast! I finally decided to phone the expert: my sister.

Mary suggested I turn the oven on to warm it and put the dough inside when I could touch the racks without injury. I did that and there it stayed until my husband came to bed and woke me up. He put it back in the refrigerator at 12:30. It had been out "rising" for almost 6 hours and had only raised a couple inches. I was not optimistic. This was enough dough to make small loaves of boule bread for 5 days! I was so disappointed.

The next day I persevered and brought that dough out to prepare my first bread. The book said this step- pulling out the dough in a grapefruit-size ball- should take no more that 60 seconds. I don't know if it was all my missteps but I sprinkled flour on the top of the dough and made a grab for it. OK. Getting the dough was no problem. Getting the dough off my hand was a problem! I called my daughter to come to the kitchen and flour my hands! We did this about 4 times as I transferred the dough from left to right. I formed a ball as best I could and plunked the mass onto the cornmeal covered pizza peel. I used my serrated knife to make cuts across the surface of the ball. My sis had advised me to make nice deep cuts. Which I did successfully even though I neglected to make it easier by sprinkling flour on the top as the recipe suggested. What more could I do wrong. Well, I checked the directions and I was supposed to let the bread rise on the pizza peel for 1hour and 40 minutes THEN make the slashes!!!

I kept expecting/hoping to see some magnificent ballooning action by my pitiful pile of dough. I swear the size of the dough schmutz never changed. During this time my chicken was cooking in the oven and I borrowed an oven thermometer from my neighbor to see if my oven was accurate in its degrees. It was about 2-3 degrees hotter than the dial read. The book said it was important to know the temp. quirks of your oven. I'm not sure how I was supposed to adjust the temp... It's finally time to put the bread onto the cooking stone that's been warming up in the oven.

I must say it slid right off the pizza peel. I closed the oven and started to prepare a veggie. But, seconds later I remembered to add a cup of water to the broiler pan on the top rack of the oven. Because this bread bakes with steam.

I kept checking on it while we ate dinner. The bread did not finish until we were done eating and my hubby was just reaching for the leftover Italian bread. I told him he had to wait. Seconds later I pulled a beautiful round loaf of bread- I wished I'd photographed-out of the oven and let it cool. We sliced it up and even with ALL my goofs this bread was so good and it was devoured completely!

That is the point of this bread. It's in the refrigerator waiting to be made for 4 additional dinners within 2 weeks. I'm not exactly sure how they determine it takes only 5 minutes a day because it has to rise for 1:40 plus add 30 minutes of baking time. BUT it's all worth it. Warm bread for dinner: priceless.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Please, Please, Please Can We Go Home?

My husband just asked me if the kids were good today. I didn't give them glowing reviews, but reflecting on the day now, maybe I should have.

The day started out for them at the library. My kids LOVE books and Sarah is avidly reading on her own. Mostly Magic Treehouse books at the moment. Jacob had Storytime for 45 minutes-during which they showed a video!!!!- so I chatted with a friend and Sarah selected books then sat with friends on some beanbag chairs and read. Very relaxing.

Then we went to WalMart and that's when their calmness started to wane...I stopped to talk to a former colleague and they just went nuts! They didn't actually bother us, but they did end up rolling on the floor and squealing. Thankfully we did not have a very long grocery list. And we headed to Bob Evans for lunch.

Sarah had earned a free meal from B. Evans through her Summer Reading program and Tim doesn't like BE so that's where we went. Now I don't particularly like Bob Evans because of the food choices and the manager who once asked Jacob while we were waiting for our food if he was having lunch with his grandmother!!! Besides that everytime Sarah has eaten there she's thrown up there! Glad we had the free coupon...I do not like that place...not even their coffee! The kids were back to calm because I allowed them to bring a library book in with them. From there we headed to the the Kitchen Collection store in the mall.

Thinking about it now...why would ANY kid enjoy going to a kitchen store. I was looking for a pizza peel. My sister had given me a book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and a pizza peel was one item that was necessary. I didn't even know what that was. It's a big wood paddle! My son was sooooo excited to be carrying this thing around until I finally had to take it from him before he hurt someone. I made them go up and down every aisle. It's not a big store, but still. The fact that no one whined makes them little angels.

Then back in the car...it's still cold and rainy- not drizzle- rainy...I bargain with the kids that we'll only stop to shop the Applefest Craft Fair if I can find a prime parking spot. I had to go to Franklin anyway to drop a TV off at the Salvation Army. We found a choice spot and armed (and footed)with two umbrellas, rubber puddle-jumpers and hoods up we were off. It was the best Applefest Craft Show I'd been to for a long time simply because there were NO crowds! Unfortunately for the kids it meant I could take my time browsing. The rain never let up. Every fifth vendor Jacob would say, "Please, Please, Please Can We Go Home?" I kept promising we just had a few more tents to peruse. I promised hot chocolate when we got home. Of course when we got home I had to put groceries away and hang up all the wet coats and clothes before I could make them ther warm milk.

It's funny how easy it is to make kids happy. They had hot chocolate with marshmallows and cheeze snacks and were so delighted.

My original assessment of their behavior today was way off. They were wonderful and I wouldn't want them to be any other way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Power of Words

My mother was wordy. She would get on the phone and talk to friends for hours. As a kid I really couldn't understand what on earth she could talk about for so long? As a maturing adult and mother I'm finally getting it. Words comfort and confuse, inform and instruct, destroy and damage. Not speaking at all can do all the same things. Words do much, much more than I've listed here, but this is a good place for me to start.

I wonder what my mother recognized about herself in me? My daughter is only 7, yet besides looking a lot like me, I see her social side being very similar to mine at seven. She's quiet and reserved. Some would label her shy. But shy she is not: she willingly performed in front of hundreds of people in dance recitals. She banged out "When the Saints Go Marching in" at her piano recital and never had one butterfly flutter through her stomach. I'm like that, too. What gregarious people don't know about us quiet types is often we just don't know WHAT to say. I used to avoid people I knew when I would spot them in public places. I'm sure the word snob was used more than once in a discussion about me. It's only been the last 10 years I've understood this about myself. Then my mom passed away 5 years ago and since then I've rarely NOT known what to say to people. Here's the point I want to make: that person you think is uppity because they don't speak to you may simply not know what to say. I used to think that about some folks. Then it occurred to me that I don't speak to them: why should I expect them to speak to me? I'm hoping my daughter jumps this hurdle well before I pass on. I had great fun in grade/jr./high school and college but I still wonder how things would have been different if I'd been who I am now back then.

Continuing on with the power of words, I've been boning up on my Leonard Cohen. My cousin is a huge fan. Mr. Cohen is in his 70s and I'd never heard of him until recently and was quite surprised to find some of my contemporaries were also fans. (I just reread my first sentence- no double entendre intended.) Sorry Sally, but I'm not a big fan of his sound, but his musical messages are phenomenal...Democracy
is one of those songs. Click here for the lyrics: http://www.lyricstime.com/leonard-cohen-democracy-lyrics.html
I'm not sure when this song first came out but it's message is so relevant today. Being patriotic is great but it's not the same as being democratic which was the goal of our founding fathers. Dictionary.com's definition of democracy-
a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges. As long as we are all part of the US we need to find some way of leveling the equality of rights and privileges. The folks trying to bolster democracy in the US are often called Socialists. There's a powerful word right there. I'm sure that word strikes fear in the heart of baby boomers and their parents. I had a HUGE fear of socialists/communists/USSR because of a 4th grade Sunday school teacher who described a nuclear holocaust for us. Of course it was perfectly OK that WE had nuclear weapons. We wouldn't use them for anything other than to protect ourselves. I had nightmares and lost sleep for I can't remember how long worrying about that final blast. Communism. Socialism. Democracy. Republic. Capitalism. They are just words. And all of them are noble in their goals. The problem begins and continues when those given the power to implement these forms of government forget about their constituency as a whole and use it to give power, wealth, and security to a select group. Now, I'll bet that most people do not want or seek extraordinary amounts of power or wealth. We know that happiness doesn't involve either of those things. But the security of knowing your basic needs and the needs of family and friends and neighbors will be met IS a huge component of a civil society. Mighty civilizations have crumbled when disparity between the haves and have-nots crushes their spirits and they rise up in revolt. There's another powerful word: revolt. American Revolution- a good thing. Economic Revolution- inevitable. I've written before about my absolute revolt when I see what bankers, CEOs, celebritiesand athletes are paid. I keep thinking about the people I think should be making ungodly amounts of money. They perform services I could never in a million years do myself. Some include: dental hygienists, sanitation workers- anybody who has to clean up after hundreds/thousands of other people, pilots-the stress must be overwhelming, hair stylists-check out people on the street... would you really want to run your fingers through their hair?, any doctor who must examine body parts that are normally hidden- again check out people on the street- yikes! I've lost my way a bit here...politics gets me fired up.

Then there's the power of words used specifically to destroy: the disrespect given politicians. I understand free speech. But some free speech may be hurting our political system. Democrat or Republican: I feel the same for former President Bush as I do for President Obama. They are the leaders of our country. Treat them with the respect due someone who has agreed to take on this daunting job. Why would anyone want to sunject themselves to this kind of ridicule? I really believe by constantly monitoring their every word and action we are draining the pool of qualified candidates to lead our country. The worst part is somehow we believe our President should know EVERYTHING about every subject. I've written about this before. It should be OK for ANYONE in a position of power to answer a questions by saying:"I don't know the answer to that. It's a good question. I'll have to do some research."

You know, I suppose for many this is blah, blah, blah. But it's good therapy to get out things that my brain believes needs airing. I think of the best subjects to blog about when I'm in the shower or driving the car. Then when I have time to sit and type it's not nearly as good as what I'd composed in my cranium.

To finish, being wordy is a wonderful talent to have. My late mother was a fantastic conversationalist. I rarely heard her say a bad word about another person or even situation. And for a woman who talked a lot in her 76 years that's a fantastic achievement. I hope my daughter and I follow in her colloquial steps.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I find this amusing and scary. Are the Republicans seriously considering Limbaugh? Why would anyone want RUSH LIMBAUGH in a position of power? He's MEAN! Diplomacy is a very important part of being a politician: where politically correct comes from! It's what keeps nations from torpedo-ing the heck out of each other. Our whole country is based on allowing everyone an opinion. That's why it's fine that Mr. Cheney would back Limbaugh, he shot his friend while hunting quail! He's scary himself. But short of Bill O'Reilly, RL is the most narrow-minded man I've heard speak publicly. People who think they know everything and have all the answers MUST not be allowed to govern. More on how I imagine a Rush Limbaugh country later.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Memory Failure

Before I go too far- I write these with the hope that someone enjoys them or would like to comment on something to stimulate my intelligence. (More on that below.) I know that this blog will not allow comments to come through. So please use my email at yeggy25@gmail.com to leave any remarks.

I was hoping to get up at 7am each morning and spend 30 minutes on a blog. I swear those 30 minutes of extra sleep before I get up at 7:30 seem to be the most restful! But I still hope to make a habit of writing daily.

We placed my father in a nursing home last fall (Sept. '08) because of his increasing dementia. Thankfully he is not violent, nor was he ever, so he is able to be in the assisted-living unit instead of the Alzheimer's Unit. As distressing as it is to witness someone begin to forget where he is, who his family is and what is going on, we've found some of his antics to be rather amusing.

First my dad cut the alarm bracelet off that alerts the home if he tries to leave the home. My sister and her husband found it in the garbage can in his room! Then I got a call telling me he'd set off the fire alarm! Next he declared my brother-in-law (a TV news reporter in Erie) a handsome f*#!er while he and my sister were visiting. I NEVER in my life heard my dad use that word. Shit and damn, yes. It's like he's turning into a geriatric delinquent! He currently believes he is the landlord of the home and can't figure out where his apartment went and why he is living in just a bedroom.He calls us sometimes to tell us he doesn't think his phone is working! (He has a list of phone numbers by his phone.) He once called my previously mentioned bro-in-law saying he needed a ride home. John tried to explain he was supposed to remain there but my dad cut him off and barked, 'Cut the small talk and get me out of here!'

My sisters and I were not particularly close to my dad. Since my sisters left home pretty much out of high school/college (and they were 4 and 5 years older than me) I had a lot more time to spend alone with my mom and dad. Plus my dad retired while I was still in high school. But he was not one to sit and have a conversation about anything. My mom was the expert at that. So now it's very hard to spend time with him. It's hit-or-miss whether he remembers me. He frequently calls me Josephine (his younger sister). He seems to have a better grasp of the past than the present. So we frequently talk about his life in the 1920s-1950s. Which are rather interesting, but I don't know how accurate his info is because I've never heard most of these stories before! He never shared info about himself.

My dad was a salesman for Pennzoil before and after World War II and traveled extensively throughout the eastern part of the United States. (That may account for why he did NOT like to travel when we were young.) I knew he was in the Navy and had a brush with death, but not by an enemy's devices, but by his own appendix! He was halfway to Africa on a Destroyer in a Naval Convoy when his appendix burst. He had to be transferred to a medical ship within the convoy. He says he had a terrible infection and it took quite a while for him to recover. Recover he did and ended up in the Northeast US, in Boston and Maine. (Again I have no way of verifying this data.)

We just visited my dad this past Friday. A week prior to that we'd gone to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. They have a sub permanently docked on the river and patrons can walk through it. While in that den of claustrophobia I wondered how they selected the sailors to man the subs? That question sparked quite an interesting conversation with my dad. According to Tim they do comprehensive psych exams to determine suitability. My dad didn't dispute that. He just said he made sure he enlisted and had a choice into which arm of the military he joined. He said since he spoke two languages (Polish and English) and knew how to do shorthand and dictation he was given the job as secretary to _____________. Whoever that was, my dad had access to all the military records of everyone on board. He said he'd been accosted frequently by sailors who wanted him to change or remove items from their records. He said he never did it. Wasn't willing to chance the outcome.

We discussed how his three brothers were all in different parts of the world. Uncle Frank was in the army in Africa in heavy fighting. (My dad was the youngest son.) My Uncle Joe was in the Pacific front. And, I'd never heard this, he said my Uncle Stan was in Italy. And he was protecting some Abbey in the mountains. (My memory is failing me already at 44. I can't remember the specifics of the location.) We discussed how lucky it was that all of them came home. My mom also had 4 brothers in WW2 and one did not return home and one was in a German prison camp. I'm very impressed with soldiers who have seen combat. I don't know how you can ever put it out of your mind. These memories do seem much clearer than a lot of other memories.

Now to the mind: I read an article in a recent Discover mag about how memory loss begins about age 40. One study was concentrating on the filtering process in the brain and they believe the cause of the forgetfulness is a declining ability to filter all the stimuli that is constantly bombarding us. When we are young-er we are able to focus on matters so they become embedded in our long-term memory. But as we age this ability erodes. There was no suggestion of how to prevent this problem, but I think this is so true. This would also account for my dad's remembering the years before he turned 40 so clearly! He turned 18 shortly after he enlisted in the Navy.

Last weekend I was so obsessed with gardening (plus it was sunny all week) that was all I focused on...I even made a diagram of all my gardens, what was in them and what and where I would add new ones. Then I studied what was needed for each new plant. (They did arrive a week earlier than they were supposed to...) Saturday I forgot about Sarah's art show- I was doing soil preparation. Sunday I did not send her to Sunday school. Monday the H&S (of which I am an active part) at Sarah's school brought in an assembly from the Carnegie Science Center and we'd invited parents to attend. I remembered about it when I was redoing my calendar I hang on the 'frige to remember important dates!!! I was several days late in updating it. That really has me concerned. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I'm an inveterate list-maker and will just have to do it more frequently.

I have this saying on my Facebook profile: We'll be friends until we're old and senile. Then...we'll be new friends. I like that positive spin on it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rosy & Frank

Rosy is getting the once-over by Jinx and Jax. We now know we had a Teddy Bear Hamster, aka long-haired hamster. That's a bit of a misnomer because Rosy and Hunley only had PATCHES of long hair. Rosy is slowly warming to her new life outside the pet store. She is so skittish, but, I vaguely remember Hunley acting similarly. She's tough to catch inside her cage and once you have her you have to hold tight or she'll leap free! Jake and I were sitting on the floor with her the first day she was here and she kept making these ghastly sounds! It was a cross between hiss/squeak/grunt. Very odd. Jake likes to tell people about these sounds and even imitates her. She hasn't made them again. She spends her time in her cage (upper-level) near her tube entrance and will spend her time wedged in there whenever people are watching her. The first time she did that I thought she was stuck! I found something to gently nudge her out. Maybe it's a female hamster thing. Hunley never did that. I think Hunley finally realized he had it good here and never tried to escape. I think Rosy would make a run for freedom if given the opportunity. She spends a lot of time on the wheel. She's significantly larger than the Hunster and makes so much noise when she runs. I put a towel under her home to try and dampen the sound! She's getting it warmed up right now!

And here is Frank the Snowman. Not sure why the kids named the hamster Rosy or the snowman Frank? But our days for snowman-building are numbered (I hope). I like the ears Jake added. It made me think of the creature on the Goonies movie. I can't think of his name. It's right on the tip of my tongue.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Academy Awards vs. Disney on Ice

Not having been to a movie theater for several years to see a film rated below G you would think I'd have no interest in the Academy Awards. But I do like to see the stars, not being hounded by paparazzi, in the way we like to think of our stars: glamorous, humble, and just a tad anxious. I won't mention fashion because it annoys me how nasty people can be about a simple, yes SIMPLE, piece of clothing. This is all I will say: if it looks good on you wear it. I'd like to add "and it's comfortable" because some of those outfits look downright painful to wear. But I drift away from my point: My husband and I and two kids had been in Erie, PA to see Disney on Ice at 2pm. My children are 3 and 7. I procured the tickets after seeing an ad on TV showing Buzz Lightyear as one of the characters. My son, 3, LOVES Buzz. My daughter and I had been to a Disney ice show a few years ago and it was fantastic. It was so age appropriate. This show was a little disappointing. We have the movie "The Incredibles" and my kids liked it. It's not one they would choose to watch on a family movie night. The ice show has the Incredibles go to Disneyland hoping to blend in with all the normal people and of course they fail to do that. But the villain from the movie shows up and that's where my kids got confused. At the end of the show both of them wanted to know how the Incredibles beat Syndro (not even sure if that's his name). There were lots of booms and fire power. My son detests those two things. He does NOT enjoy the 4th of July. I wasn't bothered by the use of pyrotechnics to liven up the show just the lack of cohesion. AND this really ticked me off: the Incredibles needed their superhero outfits and the designer was at Disney and made some for them. That was the longest 10 minutes ever. Then when they were done and the family was trying them on they used "I'm Too Sexy for my Shirt" for the dad to skate/sashay around the rink! I made be prudish (see name of this blog) but I try to keep my kids from things I think are too mature for them. I LIKE that song and probably could sing the entire song. But for most of those kids there that is an inappropriate song. Almost every segment went on just a little too long.
So we got home (after purchasing the most adorable hamster. Pictures to be shown at a later date.) a little after 7pm. I fed the kids dinner and asked Tim if he would put them both to bed so I could watch the Oscars. He agreed to do so.
I love Hugh Jackman. He's got it all. But that show was unwatchable. That is the first time I ever changed the channel because segments ran too long. I watched a lot of Oliver Twist on PBS. (I should've taped it. IT was excellent.) The opening number of the Oscars was cute but just went on too long. I LOVED the idea that 5 previous winners were there to present the Oscar in the major acting categories. But then I saw the idea in action and felt like cringing. Some actors got tons of kudos from their "presenter/introducer" while others did not. I felt so bad I couldn't watch! The song and dance numbers went on way to long also. Why were there so many non-Academy Award winners involved? Robert Pattinson was sitting right behind Mickey Roarke! That was odd. I'm sure they were trying to lure viewers who were not overly interested in the actual show. But for me, I suppose, after seeing the same format for so many years anything new seems out-of-place. I may be in the minority but my favorite host was John Stewart. Steve Martin and Tina Fey were the best presenters. Get the comedians back as presenters and hosts. And if saving time is most important just have the presenters say the nominees names and the movie they're nominated for and then give them the trophy! And let them talk for however long they want. If they ramble get a big long shepherd's crook and gently pull them from the stage.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

R.I.P. Little Buddy

The Hunster
February 19, 2009
Hunley rallied during the night but was just not strong enough to get himself back to normal. For such a little creature he had such an adorable personality. We will miss him. We will replace him. Nonetheless he'll be missed.

The All Night Vigil

Well, I jinxed myself. After blogging about how much I love Hunley our hamster didn't I do something so supremely stupid: I left the poor thing in an exercise ball in our downstairs room all night. I realized what I'd done when I checked on him at 7:30am this morning and his nest was empty. I did not think he would be adversely affected. After all he'd been on his own for 3-4 months in my neighbors' (who previously owned Hunley) house. But we do not know how old he is or what the status of his health is. I put him in his nest and figured he just needed some rest. So we checked on him and placed fresh fruits and veggie pieces in his house, but didn't disturb him. Well, about 4:00 he came down his tube to the lower level where his food and water and litter cup are located. He was so wobbly and I don't think he was able to get any water. He climbed in his food dish and tried to eat and even did a little liquid business in his litter"box." We later cleaned his cage but he was just lethargic and uninterested in food. Veggies usually can wake him from his deepest sleep! But I thought maybe he's exhausted from his ordeal. And he's normally active at night. Not to worry. After the kids were asleep I checked on Hunley again. He was almost completely unresponsive. I tried rubbing him. I went on line and found out what information I could about hamster illnesses. Dehydration is a concern, so I found a dropper and tried to get some water in him. He just had no reaction to whatever I did to him. I placed him back in his cage, which he usually roots around in to get comfortable and again he remained in the same position I laid him in. I really thought this was the end. I found an empty box new checks came in and put some bedding in and placed Hunley on top of it. My husband was sure he saw him move. I said he was gone and it was a natural muscle reaction. One eye was open and one eye was closed, again with no visible movement. Tim (husband) got online and found specific info about giving the hamster Gatorade or Pedialyte to counteract the dehydration. It said to contact a vet to get detailed instructions for amounts to administer. It's now 11:30pm. Tim wanted to rush him TO the vet. I called the Franklin Animal Hospital and the doctor on call said there was nothing more they would do for him at the hospital. He suggested Gatorade every hour. He said you really couldn't give the hamster too much of that. But he also said giving him a couple drops of Kayro Syrup every two hours would give him some much-needed energy. So here we are at the beginning of the vigil. I don't really feel too tired, but in the scheme of things, it's still early- 12:49am. Luckily we have some violent weather making our house creak now. That would keep me up anyway.I'm just not too hopeful. But you never know, he may still have some life in him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mexican Eats

This summer I grew banana peppers and put them on everything. After using the last one by Oct. I thought my love affair was over. Then I saw a display of glass jars in Giant Eagle: Bell View Mild Pepper Rings. I've had them for a week and finally used them tonight in the BEST OMELET I EVER MADE! Here's the recipe:2 eggs, 1T milk, Kraft shredded Taco Cheese, onions, tomatoes, green pepper, and Bell View Mild Pepper Rings. I use a mini whisk to whip the eggs and milk and then add the other items. When the omelet is cooked top with Pace mild picante salsa and a dollop of sour cream.
I've been in such a Mexican mood lately. Too bad the rest of my family never cares to visit this foreign cuisine. Last week I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. If interested go to www.recipezaar.com and type in #4627 in the search box. After having this for dinner I had it for lunch everyday for a week. It's that good. The recipe ingredients are at the bottom of this blog. I'm not sure the 12oz. of cheese is necessary. The soup tasted good before that was added.

I've decided salsa makes a good occasional dinner. I think Peach Mango salsa is my favorite but Roasted black bean and corn salsa is VERY good, too. AND black beans are one of Women's Day's 52 Superfoods. I just tried Pinapple Mango Chipotle Salsa. It had a taste that was more like a BBQ sauce than salsa sauce. I think it's the chipotle-I just looked it up on dictionary.com- a pungent red pepper, often pickled and eaten as an appetizer or added to meat stews, sauces, etc. I think this was what was throwing the taste off.


Sunday, February 8, 2009


It amazes me sometimes how attached I've become to our pets. We used to have a beautiful cocker spaniel, Biff. Biff was about 15 years old when I had to put him to sleep. The last several months of his life were difficult. But it was still very emotional when the time came to do it. Then our cat died a year later of unknown causes. We did not replace Biff, but we did replace Newman the cat with two more kittens from the Humane Society: Jax and Jinx. We thoroughly enjoy our felines but Hunley the Hamster has just stolen my affection.

Hunley was given to us after his family, who lived across the street from us, sold their home and could not take Hunley, then known as Arnold, with them. We were told Hunley had just recently resurfaced after being missing for months and was living on cat food. Hunley looked very odd, cute, but weird. He has the strangest fur. We don't know if it's because of his previous adventures or if this is a trait of this type of hamster. He doesn't have thick fur just LONG fur. But the long fur is not all over his body: it only grows long in patches! For example, it was long just below his neck. Then that area looked normal but it was long on his back. Then his neck and back were normal and it was only long around his buttock area- making it look like he was wearing a grass/fur skirt.

Hunley came with a cage and an exercise ball. He loves that ball and goes all over the house. Since hamsters are nocturnal we usually put him in the ball after our kids go to bed. We close the child gate at the top of the stairs and let him roll. He almost always ends up in my daughter's bedroom. We always know where he is because the cats follow at a distance. That's the other thing that delights me about Hunley: he is NOT afraid of those cats!

A few times he has somehow opened the ball and ran free. We always know where he is because the cats are on high-alert! They don't get closer than two feet to the hamster, but they always know where his is- which has been lucky for us a few times.

Hunley got a fenced-in play-yard for Christmas. He also got some playground equipment. The cats sit, mesmerized, watching Hunley scamper around his "yard." Invariably, Hunley will scale the fence and escape. He ALWAYS escapes in the direction where the cats sit and the cats seem frightened and run away a few feet and sit and watch again. Hunley approaches again and the show repeats.

We like cutting up carrots and seeing how many he can stuff in his little cheeks. It's amazing how big those cheeks can stretch!

Hunley is a pretty good sport, too. We had a train to put around our Christmas tree and we had Hunley ride in the box car and freight car. He would ride in a circle then plot the best place to jump. He also rides well in Jake's dump truck.

Our cats are pretty good sports, too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January Thoughts

It occurred to me yesterday how lovely it is to have children.

The past month has been such a busy time between decorating, cooking, and shopping. If I said, 'I hope Santa's not watching,' one more time I was going to explode. So it's wonderful when all the excitement has waned and it's back to normal life. Saturdays my husband, Tim, plays basketball at the local YMCA. So it's just the kids and I. After dinner it was bath time. For whatever reason my kids find bathtime great fun. Especially if I step out of the room. I needed to flat iron my hair, ("Need" probably isn't the right word but I'd taken a shower before Tim left and I looked a fright.) so I went to my bathroom to do it. I warned the kids I could hear them. Our bathrooms are back-to-back. I could hear the noise and splash level increasing so I pounded on the wall and yelled, "I hear you." My daughter pounds on her wall and yells back, "Who said that?" It's just the three of us in the house. I'm not sure if she was joking or serious. She's 7. But the real joy is at bedtime when we're sitting all together on the bed reading a book and they slip an arm through mine and lay their head against me. All stress and worry no longer exist. It's pure love like I never understood before children.

That said, someone needs to write a book for new parents of all the unforeseen, not-so-pleasant incidents that will probably happen with your children. Some examples should include:

1. You will not believe how concerned you become about your child's bowel movements.

2. The enormous amount of blood that flows from a small cut to the back of the head

3. Have kleenex available at all times.

4. Exercises to help control your heave reflex when cleaning up your child's vomit/poop.

5. Sometimes adult teeth come in BEFORE the baby teeth fall out. This happens ALL the time
according to my dentist.

6. How to get medicine in children who refuse to take medicine or throw it up once it gets in! (I was like this as a child. I sure miss my mom. I'm sure she would appreciate this.)

7. Don't forget to tell your child before that first restaurant visit NOT TO EAT ANY FOOD THAT FALLS ON THE FLOOR!

8. Just because YOU think the outfit you selected for your daughter is fabulous doesn't mean SHE will.

9. Your child will get some some strange illness that turns out to be "common" for babies, but you and anyone else you know has never heard of it.


I have to comment on some movies we watched/rented this weekend. First, the kids wanted to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks. Tim bought Dr. Demento presents THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS NOVELTY CD OF ALL TIME. Of course The Chipmunk Song was first on it so we've been singing, "...me I want a hula hoop..." at the top of our lungs for weeks. This is the cutest movie I've seen in a long time. (And Jacob's been obsessed with Kung Fu Panda since he got it for Christmas.) It is funny and endearing without being overdone with the chipmunks. They are cute, but obnoxious in a good way. We're definitely going to need to purchase this one.

We also watched WALL*E. We all liked that, too. The end of the year Entertainment Weekly magazine had two writers (?) select their top 10 movies of the year. WALL*E was on both lists. On one list was Tropic Thunder. I'd heard about this movie and I think Tom Cruise was nominated for a Golden Globe. (I may be wrong.) This was supposed to be hilarious. I did laugh out loud in the first 5 minutes then, nothing. I like Ben Stiller. I like him on talk shows. His movies are all the same. And HE is the problem: he is the same character in every show with a different name and problem. He just never brings anything new to his roles! I'm very partial to Robert Downey, Jr. after seeing Iron Man and was impressed with his black man role. But then he was infected with the Ben Stiller acting disease near the end and the show was almost unwatchable. It BECAME unwatchable at the end with Tom Cruise (in the role of a nerdy-looking studio head) dancing/flopping around at the end of the movie. I kept hoping this movie would improve. Or at least let me in on the secret why anyone would put this on a top-ten list! I've seen Barbie movies I've liked better! (Barbie Princess and the Pauper has a great villain in it.) I'm off to watch Mamma Mia. It's bound to be fantastic because so many critics have trashed it! I still know a few ABBA songs by heart!

Mamma Mia- I LOVED it. Watching/listening to Pierce Brosnan sing was a hilarious! None of the major male characters were particularly good at singing. Meryl Streep's a very good singer! I was pleasantly surprised.