Friday, December 28, 2007

More Flexibility

I wrote that whole post about Christmas traditions and didn't even think to mention food! We don't have much in the way of really solid Christmas food traditions, but we have a few things that have to fit in somewhere.

At some point around Christmas day we have to have a meal that involves summer sausage, cheese spread/ball (this year it was Boursin, which is my new favorite!), good crackers, candy, cookies, and sparkling apple cider. This is usually our Christmas night meal, but this year things got rearranged and we ended up having it on the 26th.

We also really, really try very, very hard to have spumoni ice cream at some point during the Christmas season. But this year there seems to be some sort of anti-Italian ice cream forces at work in our city, and there was NO spumoni to be found! Ah well..we'll find some in Illinois and eat it on New Year's Eve. :)

Other than those things we have lots of good food around the holiday, but it varies from year to year. We've done everything from turkey to roast beef to shrimp casserole for Christmas dinner. Natalie and I like to try different cookie recipes and this year Natalie made butter mints for the first time. Tom got me a candy thermometer, so I want to try making real toffee (as opposed to the yummy, but not authentic, cracker toffee we usually make) and also divinity and pecan logs.

Well, that's it for me for now. I may be able to blog from Illinois, we'll see. Colin is feeling much better and we might actually get a bit of sleep tonight. Last night he (and the rest of us) got about 4 hours, and most of that was after 5:00 AM. Of course we slept past the "sick clinic" hour at the pediatrician's office...argghh! But we are very thankful to the head of Clan Little (would his title be Chieftan? Someone let me know...Mandolinartist, you know these things...) for taking time out of his busy day to give us some recommendations to get Colin's cough under control.

Tomorrow we hit the highway...pray for us, please!

Flexibility vs Tradition??

Is it possible to have family traditions and have *flexibility* in observing those traditions? Or does having flexible holiday activities mean our family doesn't really have traditions at all? Maybe we have untraditional traditions??

Here are some things that are part of our usual and customary Christmas observance, along with the ways in which they've flexed from time to time:

1. Scripture. Some years we've gone the whole Advent Candle route, with weekly readings and candle lightings. This was something we thought would be particularly meaningful, but it turned out not to make much of an impact on the kids and was hard for us to implement. It works better for us to incorporate "advent" readings into our regular Bible reading time in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We also take time to read the Christmas narrative from Luke or Matthew or both on either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning...or both.

2. Music. We like to sing Christmas carols, and we usually have at least one family singing time in which we croak along a capella with many changes of key between verses to try to accomadate 4 different, yet all limited, ranges. Our church is a SINGING church, and we sing LOTS of advent hymns, so that's another opportunity to worship the Lord with beautiful Christmas music.

3. Performances/Concerts. The local symphony orchestra puts on a "free" concert every year; the price of admission is a bag of canned goods for the Salvation Army. We try to get to this concert every year. It's a combination of beautiful instrumental pieces, classic arias, fun sing-alongs, choral numbers, and whatever else the symphony director comes up with. The medical school where Tom works also has Christmas concerts in the hospital chapel. We try to fit in a visit to one of those, but that did not work out this year. Several years we've also attended the holiday extravaganza at the local Super Big Baptist Church. But after last year we decided to take that off our list; they just try too hard to be trendy, relevant, hip, and "fun 4 the Uth". And they always have to have a number where the adult choir dresses up in 1950s styles and dances...and they dance like Baptists, if you know what I mean. :)

4. Christmas decor. We like to get our tree from Lowes (cheaper!) the weekend of Thanksgiving and get it into a bucket of water on the patio to keep it fresher. Then we put it up the next weekend, along with a bunch of poinsettias, the nativity scene, and a modest outdoor light display. Here's where we have to get more flexible. I think Colin and I are having allergy problems from the real tree and poinsettias. Of course he's also having the Year of Many Colds...but I still think his allergies are flaring in between the colds. Next year we need to consider going to artificial decorations. Certain factions in this house are not going to be happy about that at all...including the "Drinking Out of the Big Piney Holiday Waterbowl" faction. But some of us are tired of having to be half-sick for a month just to be festive!

5. Gifts. We don't do Santa, so around here the number of gifts given every year may vary. This year money was tighter than some years, plus nobody needed anything! It's hard to buy for people who don't need ANYTHING! We thought we were buying very conservatively, just purchasing three things for each kid...things they didn't NEED, but things they could use and/or add to a current interest. For instance, Natalie got a new hairdryer to replace her ancient one that doesn't work well, and Colin got a nice big box of Legos to add to his building obsession. This year Tom and I bought each other a handful of little things that we needed or wanted. Like cell phone chargers for the car, and ice cream scoops, and a carving knife...exciting romantic stuff. :)

So, that's what I can think of right now. My brain is failing me today...thanks to Colin...see Natalie's post for details. :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Regarding the Life of the Beast---or The Cat Who Cried Wolf

Proverbs 12:10

"The righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

I'm guessing this proverb was intended mostly for someone using a beast of burden...i.e. the righteous man would stop plowing before his poor oxen fall over from too much work. Or perhaps the meaning is comparision...the righteous man cares even for his animals, but the wicked man is not capable of "tender mercies" that are anything but cruel?

Anyway, it's a verse that we quote around our house fairly often, especially to a young boy who would really like to plague the cats a lot. And it's a good way to remind a child that the cats need to be fed, "Would one of you get out here this minute and REGARD THE LIFE of these CATS before I trip over one and KILL MYSELF?!"

Yesterday, our oldest cat needed her life "regarded". Petunia is 12 years old, and she has arthritis in both knees, but she is generally in good health otherwise. She's a very proper Southern lady cat, so she very rarely hisses and never bites a human. Starting Friday night she had hissed, howled, and tried to bite when anyone got a hand near her tail and back. We took that to mean something was wrong and started checking her over for signs of injury.

Natalie and I pinned her down Saturday night and checked all around the sore area for signs of swelling, bite marks, anything broken...but we found nothing. Sunday morning when we got up, though, she was holding her tail in a funny position and the area all around the base of her tail looked very swollen.

Of course this is Christmas week, and our hardworking vet and his assistants get a nice holiday until Wednesday. Normally I would decide that she could just wait till then. BUT...we're leaving town later in the week. What if she has an abscess (most likely scenario for pain around the tail) and needs antibiotics, hot compresses, wound cleaning, drains, etc. Our cat sitter/house watcher is very dependable, but that's a lot to expect of someone else. So wouldn't it be best to get her to the emergency vet on Sunday, get her started on the meds, etc, and have her on the way to healing in case she won't cooperate with the cat sitter?

So, yesterday afternoon Natalie and I trundled off to the emergency vet with a disgruntled cat in the cat carrier. We planned our route to go on the least-busy streets, but even so...the emergency vet is near the mall...yikes! We made it with no problems, took her in and explained her symptoms to the vet tech. "Oh, yes, sounds like an abscess, probably from a cat bite, good thing you brought her right in." They take her off and we go to sit down.

Three minutes later the tech is back..."Could you show me where the swelling is, I can't find it." I show her, she says there isn't any swelling there and when I press right on the area Petunia just looks at me in a mildly irritated fashion. The tech says we will wait and see what the vet says.

Well, the upshot is, after spending two hours and too much money at the emergency vet...we don't know what's wrong with Petunia. She absolutely REFUSED to act as though she was in pain for the vet. Her "swelling" was gone...the only explanation any of us could come up with was that she was poufing her fur out in that area when it hurt. The vet's best guess is that she did have pain, but that the stress of the trip raised her adrenaline levels so she didn't exhibit pain at his office. As to the cause of the pain he had two theories, neither of them verifiable without expensive time-consuming x-rays which he didn't push for and I didn't elect to pay for...basically, it could be:

1. A bruised tail or tailbone caused by a fall. Very possible because she insists on jumping onto things even though her knees don't work well, and often ends up slithering ungracefully back down.

2. More arthritis, perhaps in the hip joints or tailbone area.

Either way, the solution was pain medicine plus keeping an eye on her for further developments.

So, that was fun. We got to hang out in the waiting room with the mayor and several other Dog People Whose Dogs Had Real Problems...and another cat owner whose cat had a rash on its tummy. I know those vets and techs were aggravated at having to waste time they could have spent working on Serious Dog Issues to deal with us hypochondriac cat owners and our weird little cat problems. :) Oh well, they got paid for it!

Meanwhile, The Cat Who Cried Wolf is enjoying her pain medicine and seems downright perky and youthful after her trip out on the town. One beast life regarded, and we will now get on with celebrating Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my (6 or 7) readers!

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Interesting Question...

My brother, the oddly-labeled "Uncle Jim" of comments fame, asked this in response to my post "So...I'm Fair and Balanced?":

"Just an aside: is your church filled with followers of Hucka-Hucka-Boom-Boom, or do they see the Second Coming of Jimmy Carter through his shallow disguise?"

(And now I have Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" going through my head...Jim, you should write a parody about Huckabee..."Shallow Disguise")

Anyway, I could answer Jim via email, but blog fodder is blog fodder...and who am I to pass up a free idea? :)

So far I have not heard a lot of political discussion around our church, but it's early days yet. There were some interesting discussion during the last go-around, and I narrowly escaped being excommunicated for not voting Republican. I KID, PEOPLE!!!

(Not about the not voting Republican part...now all my nieces and nephews may pick themselves back off the floor...Aunt Beth is not a Democrat, either)

In God's providence, our pastor is currently preaching through 1st John. He's spent some time emphasizing the distinction John makes between the "children of God" and the "children of the Devil". And I just realized that instead of narrating his sermons and probably getting something wrong in translation, I can just link to his excellent blog post on the topic!

Absolutely No Apologies

I think he would be the first to tell you he's not setting up some official Pilgrim Bible Church political position, or meaning his blog posts to be used a sanctified voting guide or something. But it's worth reading to see how the two categories impact our voting choices.

And to bring this back to Bruce Springsteen :) here's a quote from the aforementioned song that Mr. Huckabee might want to think about: "God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of..."



Which is More Frightening?

A. That this song exists?

or

B. That Natalie knows the words and can sing along?


Now I've got to go eat breakfast and wrap some presents...talk amongst yourselves!

So...I'm Fair and Balanced???

You Are 32% Democrat

You're a bit Democrat, and probably more liberal than you realize.
If you're still voting Republican, maybe it's time that you stop.

ACK!!!! That much??!!!

You Are 40% Republican

You're a bit Republican, and probably more conservative than you realize.
If you're still voting Democrat, maybe it's time that you stop.

Hmmm....

Your Christmas is Most Like: The Muppet Christmas Carol

You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...
And you also do a little singing.

A Colin-ism for a Friday Morning

Colin is 6, and I'm discovering what fun it is to hear what goes through the mind of a six-year-old boy.

Yesterday morning at breakfast he told me, "Mom, I had a really funny dream last night! Oh, but I don't have to tell you about it,though...you were IN it!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why my blog is boring!

I've been pondering why my blog is I am boring and cynical. So often I sit down here to write, or I start to talk to a friend, and all that comes out of my mouth is "waaah waoohh wahwahh" like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon special. My favorite posting/speaking style tends to degenerate to sarcasm because I feel like I have nothing better in my head or heart to offer.

Today I saw a quote from Charlotte Mason that explained a great deal of my problem. She said, "Never be without a really good book on hand. If you find yourself sinking to a dull commonplace level, with nothing particular to say, the reason is probably that you are not reading and therefore not thinking..."

Reading blogs doesn't count, I don't think. I do learn from blogs, particular those written by bloggers who ARE reading and who are talking through what they've learned.

Time to make time to read real books. And also get some more sleep...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For Natalie...

...and any other girls in what Dorothy Sayers called the "poetic stage", which she described thusly: "The Poetic age is popularly known as the "difficult" age. It is self-centered; it yearns to express itself; it rather specializes in being misunderstood..."

It's Advent season, we are celebrating Christ's First Advent...God taking on human form and coming to this earth to die and bear the sins of many. Quit whining about the Algebra II already.

(For readers under age 18, language warning on the video...ask your parents if you can watch it.)





Side observation...I find it both intriguing and amusing that Joe Walsh can chew gum and play the guitar at the same time. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"But I still love technology...always and forever..."

Just a heads-up if you commented and I didn't post it...I wasn't offended or dead or anything. :)

Blogger is just screwing up right now and isn't sending the comments to bloggers for moderation. The work-around is for me to log into my blog dashboard and find the comments, and I will do that now that I know there is a problem.

Technology is so fun...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Anything to keep from hanging ornaments...

In our living room right now...one dad and two children are decorating the Christmas tree. Normally I would be the parent out there decorating and Tom would be safely over here at the computer. So how did I weasel out? I had to order some shoes from Zappos, and then I had to email someone, and then I thought I should blog...

But with all the talking, we'll not say bickering, it is hard to think let alone write.

So, anyway, I think we're done with the bodily function talk on this blog for a while. I read an article about good blogging in which the author said that nobody wants to read about another person's bodily functions. Well, I think that was a bit of naivety on the author's part because this IS the Internet. I'm sure there's some tormented soul out there who would be insanely pleased to read bodily function posts all day long.

Mandolinartist, I understand your reasons for desiring anonymity and I will not blow your cover. Just don't hate me if I misspell "mandolin", okay? It's one of those words that give me fits. Like "Tarheels". I always type "Tarhells" first and then have to go back and fix it. I can spell, but my fingers don't know it.

Natalie is pleading with me to help her finish the tree...more blathering later.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Remedies

"I'm getting better...I'm nearly well!" Which is what I THOUGHT the "dead man" says in Scene 2 of The Holy Grail...

Turns out he didn't say the "nearly well" part and I'm just remembering that wrong...at least according to the online scripts I could find. Oh well. This is what comes of having a whole herd of male relatives who quote from Monty Python all the time...it gets jumbled up in one's head. Maybe "nearly well" is from the Parrot Sketch?

But I AM getting better, and so is Colin. And, even better, Tom and Natalie have not fallen prey to the cold yet. I think they are waiting for Sunday, so that Colin and I will have to go to church all by ourselves.

Mandolinartist (whose real name is easier to type!) mentioned in a comment that when she was sick as child her aunt would bring her Coke in little glass bottles. That got me thinking about home remedies and how they differ from family to family...and how they change as people marry and have children of their own. Here are the ones I could remember from my childhood and then the ones we use in our house now.

Growing up:

1. Chicken soup. This was for colds, bronchitis, flu, anything respiratory basically. Mom made her soup from a whole chicken with celery, carrots, garlic, and onion and LOTS of water. The healing properties were in the broth and we'd get it in a bowl with a smattering of veggies and a bit of chicken floating on it. I think sometimes she put rice in it, too, but not always.

2. Orange juice. Also for respiratory issues, but sometimes for post-stomach virus convalescence as well. Not so good for the latter, too much acid.

3. Cola syrup over crushed ice. THIS is what was good for the stomach. We'd get little sips of this when Mom thought we close to being done with the...uh...oral output...part of the production. I remember feeling there was hope that I would live when I'd see that little bottle of cola syrup. :) I don't know why we didn't have regular Coke or Pepsi; maybe because Mom never bought that kind of wicked thing!

4. Kaopectate. This was for the other output issues of the stomach variety. Nasty stuff that tastes like watered down clay with mint in it. I don't remember it working very well, either. Blechhh...

5. Vitamins. Of course. Especially chewable vitamin-C tablets, which when sucked on actually do make you feel you're doing something for a sore throat.

6. "Pep Up". This was more by way of a daily tonic than a remedy, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention it and make my parents look cruel. :) Mom read a bunch of books by Adele Davis, who was some sort of granola-filled organic guru in the 60s and 70s. Dear Adele recommended "Pep Up" which was a nasty, foul, from the pit of hell, drink made with milk and yogurt as its base. Not bad, eh? Except for the dolomite powder, nutritional yeast powder, other powdered vitamins, wheat germ and I-don't-know-what-all-else that were added to it. It was nasty, it was horrid, it was SO BAD I can still taste it if I think about it for long. Mom claimed it kept us healthier and made our hair shiny. I did have thicker hair back then...it wasn't worth it.

7. A&D Ointment. This was our magic potion for owies. Other families had Mecurchrome , that stinging red stuff with iodine in it. But we had nice, soft A&D ointment. If you got a bad scrape Mom would clean it up, put A&D on it, and bandage you up. Worked wonders without the screaming pain of the red stuff.

In my house now:

1. WATER!! My kids will tell you that if they complain of any ailment, large or small, any ache or pain...the first thing I will say is "Are you drinking enough water? Go drink some more water!" Now, I live with three people and I'm not going to name any names on these ailments, but 2 people in this house pass out when they get dehydrated, 2 people get constipated from not drinking enough, and 2 people get never-ending coughs and won't drink to help lubricate their throats. Water is cheap and low in side-effects.

2. Chicken soup! Natalie even made some for us this week, what a wonderful daughter! Ours is made with very rich chicken broth (I freeze chicken broth from baked chicken and save it for soup), lots of garlic, white wine, lots of chicken, rice, parsley, celery, carrots, crushed red peppers...and I think Natalie put fresh thyme in hers. I like chicken soup with a lot of flavor to it, and Tom will consider it a meal if it has enough chicken and rice in it to be thick. We eat ours with LOTS of Town House crackers.

3. Hot tea. Wonderful stuff for sore throats, or just to warm up a chilled sickly person. Something in the tea (tannins?) seems to help heal up the throat, too.

4. Sudafed. Now we get into the realm of remedies completely missing in my childhood, the pharmaceuticals. Better living through chemistry. :) Sudafed, the GOOD kind, the kind you have to get by standing in line at the pharmacy like a criminal and showing your papers...Sudafed is the only thing that helps my sinus headaches. (Oh, I also make sure to DRINK MORE WATER!) I take it when I have a cold to help me breathe freely at night; I've been giving Colin a child-sized dose of it throughout this cold.

5. Robitussin DM. Oh wait, we had this as children. My favorite cough remedy. Tom prefers Delsym but it makes me dizzy. I'd rather just get up every 4 hours and take more Robitussin.

6. Neosporin triple-antibiotic cream. This is my version of the "magic owie healer". Clean the owie, spread on the Neosporin, pop a fluorescent bandaid on top...you're good to go. Natalie might remember that her owie cream was fancy-schmancy organic Calendula Blossom cream from the natural foods coop. Natalie probably remembers eating more whole wheat bread than Colin does, too. I've lapsed in my old age...

I don't think we have any particular "sicky" foods in our family, other than the chicken soup. I've heard of families where they eat scrambled eggs only when sick, or milk toast, or cinnamon toast with tea. I guess I do follow my mother's plan on this...basically, if you're well enough to keep anything down you eat what everyone else is eating.

So, long post today...must be getting my brain cells back!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sore Froats...Ugh!

If it's not one thing it's...well, this time it's sore "froats" for Colin and me. Usually a little sore throat doesn't bother me much, but this is the kind that feels like a big sore lump. My usual remedy for a scratchy throat is to keep drinking plenty of fluids. But when it HURTS so much to swallow...yikes!

Whine, whine, complain, complain... I am thankful it's not anything worse!! And I'm thankful that so far Natalie and Tom seem to be fine. Tom, bless his fuzzy little heart, went to the store and got us more Tylenol. Maybe Natalie will make us some chicken soup. Colin and I will be on the couch, sitting under fuzzy covers, trying to find something on TV to watch that we can call educational.

Sore "froats"...blegghhhh...we blame Uncle Jim. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seven Weird Or Random Things About Me

Natalie tagged me for the 7 Random or Weird Things Meme for NaBloPoMo. Wasn't that nice of her? Yeah, I thought so, too.

See, here's the problem...any of you reading this could probably come up with seventy times seven things weird about me. But, the nature of weirdness being what it is, I am not so likely to recognize the ways in which I'm weird. You're weird; I have adorable little quirks.

So, I'll give it a shot and we'll see what happens.

1. I don't like ketchup. Or catsup. I make an exception for ketchup mixed with brown sugar and used to glaze meatloaf. Other than that, no way.

2. I like dogs but I don't want to own one. Really, really, really don't want one.

3. I believe all pets, including stuffed animals, benefit by being given British-sounding names.

4. I've never flown on an airplane. Or any other way, for that matter.

5. I don't like coffee, although I do like the way it smells. In certain circles this is considered weirder than in others.

6. I like sleeping under a flannel top sheet even in the summertime.

7. I have extremely picky feet and have a very hard time finding shoes that don't hurt somewhere. I usually wear strange and rather unattractive footwear as a result.

8. (Bonus!) I've never bathed in yogurt, and I don't look good in leggings, and I've never been to Boston in the fall! (If you recognize this line you can officially call yourself weird, too.)

I don't know anyone to tag for this, so the chain will break right here. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Everything Is Illuminated...And Noisy, Too...

A little background, first. Colin is recovering from a cold, not a bad one...just annoying. So he's had a bit of a cough, especially at night. We keep an insulated mug of water on his bedside table, because a drink often helps calm the cough.

Both of my children are prone to coughs, and both have distinctive coughing "styles". Colin tends to get croupy and, when in the throes of a virus, can wake us up instantly with his metallic shrieking croup cough. His almost-better cough is more of a "woof, woomph, womph" sound. Natalie has a discreet, tentative cough...a "sheep with a secret sorrow" cough. Kind of "ahem, caf, caff".

Sunday 4:00 AM

I wake up because I am 45 years old and head to the bathroom. Once I'm in there I realize that I can hear a child coughing. I listen for a minute and determine that it is Colin. By the time I'm getting back in bed he has stopped coughing, so I roll over and head back to sleep. He starts coughing again, this time with more enthusiasm. Realizing he is awake and coughing, I decide to take action. Tom, meanwhile, is sound asleep next to me. Our story continues as follows:

Me(quietly, but loud enough to be heard across the hall): Colin, sit up and get a drink of water!

Colin: (whoomph...woph...) Okay!

Tom: (whumphhh!!!) What's going on?

Me: Colin is coughing, I told him to get a drink.

(I rebury myself in my covers and prepare to go back to sleep. Tom gets up and heads for the bathroom. While he's in there, Colin coughs with varying degrees of enthusiasm but nothing alarming)

Tom: I'm going to go give him some cough medicine so he can get back to sleep.

Me (still trying to sleep): If you think he needs it.

They head off down the hall with flashlights ablaze. Into the kitchen where they turn on a light, perhaps the pantry light. Tom tells Colin to go get his water mug so he can see if it needs to be refilled. Tom gives Colin a dose of Robitussin and refills the water mug. While he's doing this he's also giving him a lecture on proper nighttime water cup etiquette.

Tom: When you get a drink in the night, just SET your cup back down, don't BANG it back down like this. (Demonstrates...BANG) (Continues filling water, bangs several doors, bangs water cup while putting lid on, someone bangs the pantry door closed, the computer comes on and something is done to it, much conversation takes place involving banging water cups)

Me: (realizing that Colin is now wide awake and has had a lot of water to drink) Colin, stop in the bathroom and pee before you head back to bed!

Colin: What??!

Me: (louder) ditto

(Colin stomps down the hall, turns on the hall light, turns on the bathroom light, thuds the toilet seat around, does his thing, washes his hands, and tromps back to bed.) (It is now finally DARK again in the house)

(Tom comes back to bed, mutters a while about coughing, and goes back to sleep)

I lie awake for a good while wondering if I should just get up or if I'll be able to get back to sleep. Meanwhile, Colin coughs while waiting for his medicine to kick in. And everytime he coughs, he obediently sits up, takes a drink of water and then...instead of BANGING the cup down...turns his flashlight on so he can see to set the cup down gently.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"If you can't think of anything to blog about...

...you shouldn't be blogging." Thus saith the Husband. Who may have a point.

Crispy things:

  • Pumpkin seeds. Cleaned up, boiled in salted water till they turn gray, and roasted in a coating of corn oil for 10-ish minutes at 350 degrees. Ideally they should be stirred very often and watched carefully. Mine didn't burn; I don't know why not! Very tasty transformation.
  • My skin. Not enough water yesterday whilst shopping. Yes, we are such sensitive plants in this family. At least I'm fortunate enough to not get all woozy and faint when I'm dehydrated. Just crispy...lovely.
  • Pie crust. Ideally, that is. I spent too much time researching pie crust recipes today. Now I'm scared to try making one. "My name is Beth, and I am not smarter than a 5th grade...I mean I have NEVER made pie crust from scratch"
Time wasters, other than blogging:

  • Watching "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" I justify this in my mind because I can craft at the same time. Hey, that's how I justify most of the TV I watch! Not that I watch that much...tightwads don't get too many channels. :)
  • Again with the watching...this time "The Next Great American Band". This show is sort of what American Idol should be. I was crocheting last night so I didn't vote for any of the bands. SOMEONE in our house voted for The Clark Brothers and Tres Bien. I think I like Tres Bien best so far, or maybe the Clark Brothers. I find myself strangely fascinated by Ellipsis, but I lived through the 80s once already...don't really want to do it again.
  • Trying to make decisions. I waste way too much time being indecisive. I can't decide how much detail I want to share about that. Well, as one example, I wanted a blog for over a year but didn't start one because I couldn't think of a name.

Things I did today:

  • Made chili for tomorrow's lunch
  • Made hamburger buns
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (getting lots of blogging mileage out of those pumpkins, aren't I?)
  • Made some Christmas gift decisions...I think
  • Washed sheets and blankets
  • Researched pie crust
  • Explained to my husband that my entire blog entry does NOT consist of my to-do list for the day, and that yes, I DO like me some lists
Okay, enough profundity. Time to go check the ice cream supply in the freezer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin Pressures

Several factors combined to create a Pumpkin Experience in our kitchen today.

First, I've been seeing blog after blog where the blogger has posted gorgeous pictures of the process they went through to turn their Halloween/Harvest Festival pumpkins into pies.

Second, there is a Pumpkin Force at work in our church. Mighty women of God who slaughter pumpkins to make pies...instead of buying the perfect pumpkin puree in the tasteful blue can from Aldi. They claim that this home-cooked pumpkin makes pies that taste BETTER.

Third, I have two small pumpkins. Little decorative pumpkins. Not the really little ones that are actually gourds, but the little round 7 inch kind. When we bought them (for decorations!) I think the receipt even listed them as "pie pumpkins".

Fourth, despite being plopped on our front porch since late October, exposed to the elements, these pumpkins have steadfastly refused to die messy little pumpkin deaths so I can send them off guilt-free to the compost bin.

So, pumpkin baking time! My mom did this a few times with pumpkins we grew. I remember that the pies she made from them were nasty...watery, stringy, yuck. But the roasted pumpkin seeds were very good.

I hauled the victims inside and prepared to commence butchering. We have a nice sharp chef knife that suffices just fine for cutting open Butternut Squash. It would not even begin to pierce the skin of these babies. Colin was watching and suggested I try hammering the knife through the pumpkin. He even, helpfully, went and fetched me a hammer and offered to HOLD THE PUMPKIN for me while I hammered. I declined that last offer.

After much hammering and enthusiasm the pumpkins split open. I scooped the guts out and Colin offered to help sort out the seeds. He lasted longer than I would have at his age before freaking out and having to get the pumpkin slime off his hands. :)

Now the little pumpkins are are in the oven baking on a foil-covered pan; and the seeds are boiling gently in heavily-salted water. We will boil the seeds until they turn gray, dry them overnight, and then roast them in some oil. The pumpkin we will see about...if it looks enough like canned pumpkin and not too much like grey stringy mess, I will try it in a pie or pumpkin bread.

But what I'm wondering now is...how did we cut pumpkins open when I was a kid? Were Illinois pumpkins softer than the Carolina type? There were no sharp knives in our kitchen, that's for sure! Something to ask Mom about.

I have to admit the baking pumpkins smell really good. I wonder if I could pour some milk and molasses in each half and pass them off to my family as Pioneer Pumpkin Pies? Probably not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Obligatory Rambling First Post

Okay, so, well, here we go...and we can all hope that only the FIRST post is rambling, eh? :)

This will, of course, be very oddly formatted and somewhat random because...do I KNOW what I'm doing??? No, I don't...not really. Let's just dive right in with some bullet points, because The Cat loves the bullet points. And also ellipses.

*It is very tempting to refer to oneself in the Third Person Singular...aka "The Cat". Too tempting, truly. One can only imagine that it could lead to Garth Brooks Syndrome in which one refers to oneself in the Third Person Plural. "We've got a great tour coming up!" Yo, Garth, you got a mouse in your pocket?

*Bullet points should not be so long and meandering.

*First Person Singular...alas. Me, I, my...but didn't your Composition 111 teacher just take a fit about too many of those words in a paper? The Cat...I will just have to watch her...my paws.

* In a similar vein, I had to decide how to refer to members of my family. Do I make up cutesy names? I asked Mr. Cat (and if you know Mr. Cat in person, you know why I'm tempted to use his real first name along with the cutesy cat lingo) and he said that was Not Necessary. So, no Sissy Cat and Bubba Cat...no Eleanor and Brabbinger...dang.

*The purpose of this blog, and you may now consider yourself formally warned, is to give me space to babble. If you know me in real life, you probably don't think I'm shy. I am. Don't read my blog if you don't want to find out what's really behind that bland Midwestern facade. Hehehehehe....

*This is not a homeschooling blog, a knitting blog, a crocheting blog, a cross-stitching blog, or a cooking blog. But wouldn't it be COOL if you could design a blog that would DO all those things for you?!

*The Cat homeschools, knits (badly!), crochets, cross-stitches, cooks, reads, watches bad reality TV, and overthinks things. Therefore, these topics and so many more will be addressed via this blog.

And I think that's probably all the more I should do with this first post! Now to figure out how to edit it, post it, all that nonsense.