Saturday, March 29, 2008

Look't I Found

I'm finally lounging on the couch wrapped in a blanket and not moving. With an emphasis on the not moving. Today I raked and raked and raked. It was sunny but cold--about 35 degrees with a stiff wind. (So it was a good thing that my neighbors weren't around--there were a few gusts that moved some of the leaves of my grass and not into my wheelbarrow.)

So I made like forty trips from the front yard to the compost pile trucking leaves and really, by the end, the yard didn't look all that different. But the compost pile has experienced urban sprawl or woodland sprawl or whatever. It's big. It's out of control. And it doesn't seem to be composting anything. Another story for another time.

My favorite part of the day: finding these.

Of course, when I noticed these, I knew I should have raked in the fall.

Can you see how tall that white sheath is? The poor plants thought they were still underground in all those leaves. I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the worst cases, which were six or eight inches tall and still no leaves were visible. They looked like some sort of deep sea ocean floor organisms. Icky. Kind of creepy, too.

I mean, I did rake in the fall, several times--but it snowed before we could rake a final time. I forgot I planted whatever these things are--maybe some sort of crocus. I planted a bunch of crocuses (Croci?) and daffodils and tulips and am being surprised as they pop up.
I also bought some heath, which I have yet to put into the ground. It's really pretty but we'll see--I like to garden but don't have a knack for placement. That's for tomorrow. If I can get out of bed!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strawberries and Cream

It's a good day when I can come home from work with the sun still shining AND have time to make dessert! It definitely is not a very involved dessert, but strawberries and cream is a big hit around this joint. Are strawberries in season somewhere? Because they've been of much better quality at the supermarket lately. I've got a little strawberry patch in the backyard--I planted it last year and got a few strawbs, and I'm hoping that there are more this year--but currently it is still in winter mode. The strawberry patch was part of the yard that I raked, and now I'm afraid that since I removed the leaves, I've removed the little plants' protection from the elements--we're still having nighttime temps in the twenties.
That's all for today. I'm going to go watch the REAL housewives of new york city, or some such nonsense...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lazy Days

It's Monday and it's laundry day (yes, I am obsessed with laundry) but I am not doing laundry. I am in such a lazy lazy place right now; not blogging, not laundering, not cleaning, not working, (I had the week off) and not exercising (okay, that's not something new, but it could be) not sewing. I didn't even make canoli for Easter, for the first time in 5 or 6 years. I did make the cover recipe from the most recent Bon Appetit, some lemony cupcakes with raspberry jam filling. (See, I'm even too lazy to go find the actual title of the recipe!) I'm not much for cake, but they were pretty good, except that the raspberry jam leaked to the bottom. Maybe because I doubled the recipe and that somehow threw off the density of the batter. I consider them a failure.
Hey, I did rake (a small part of) the yard this weekend. And now I can hardly move. But I don't think that's the cause of the laziness.

Things I did not enjoy these past few days:
.breaking my rake with one last pile of leaves left
.having to use a pitchfork to move the leaves, yup, because I was too lazy to look for another rake. (Yes, cleaning the garage is on the list.)
.having to do two emergency loads of laundry because of certain items of clothing needed tomorrow. Said items being of two different color groups and therefore not washable together.
.checking my work account and finding 112 letters to read. ahyuck.
.anticipating work (but just today)
.listening to yelling children during Easter Mass. (MY yelling children. Mass was curtailed.)

Things I did enjoy these past few days:
.watching the children hunt for eggs
.their belief
.the importance of magic in the life of a child
.looking at the raked part of my yard
.seeing the flowers coming up
.not working
.making the baby smile
.watching the kids make the baby smile
.planning and buying for the next round of birthdays.

It's been a nice few days. I just need a little motivation and I'll be good to go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Newest Plans

What did I do today? Laundry. Laundry. And...wait for it if you'd like...Laundry. The house smells nice, but there are one thousand and eight loads of clean Laundry just waiting to be folded. Maybe by the Easter Bunny. I'm not all that interested in it.
Piles of clean Laundry.

Anyway, as I continue to avoid the Laundry, I've been trying to fill my time. I put together a few bookcases, filled them up, realized the next step was to clean the office (a very, very big job)so changed over the Laundry and made a few phone calls.
And then I started making a list of what I need to do before Easter--I think I'm going to try making Hot Cross Buns this year; I can't decide if I'll make them for Good Friday (old Catholic Tradition) or Easter (Old English Tradition.) Probably for Good Friday. I think I'm making canoli for Easter, which is a yearly thing. We've got to color the Easter eggs, too. One kid needs a haircut before the weekend; I've got some baskets to fill, I need some flowers as Easter day hostess gifts (I'm not the hostess, I'm giving them to the hostesses;) oh, and I need something to wear. Plus we need some kind of Easter breakfast. Then the birthdays start.

Tomorrow I'm babysitting for the day, a beautiful baby. It's great--the baby's so cute and easygoing. So I'll get nothing done because I'll play with the babe all day and then, I'll say I'm so tired from babysitting that I can't do anything but relax. Not even laundry.
Maybe I'll have enough energy to make another list.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Not Irish Soda Bread

Did you know that Saint Patrick was born in the late 300's?
He was not born Irish; but became the patron saint of Ireland.
He was captured and put into slavery in his teen years.
He was a slave in Ireland, where he learned the local language.
He escaped slavery and studied in Europe, and became a priest.
He went back to Ireland to convert the Irish to Catholicism.
Legend has it that he drove the poisonous snakes from Ireland.
And also used the shamrock to teach the concept of the Holy Trinity.
Saint Patrick died on March 17th. His shroud was made by Saint Brigid.

Uh, yeah, and could I actually not publish a blog entry in green about Irish Soda Bread today? Just about every other blog I've read today has been about the aforementioned bread. But I'm going to write about it anyway. Kind of. My Irish bread has no soda in it. It's so delicious--you should try it. That is, if it's your kind of bread. There are definitely distinct types of Irish bread--there's the whole caraway seed thing, the soda thing, the fruit or no fruit thing.
Me, I pick the no seeds, no soda option. Plus or minus fruit. And I like a more spongy texture, rather than a scone-like texture. But maybe that's the soda thing--I'm still no good about cooking chemistry.
And heeere it is:

And here it is ten minutes after it was served:

Yum. In the interest of full disclosure, I ate that piece when everyone went upstairs to get ready for bed.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Painting

Today I realized that it's actually March and Spring really is coming, along with Saint Patrick's Day, Easter, and about a million birthdays. And a christening. And Spring Cleaning. I realized this because the daffodils are finally pushing through the frozen soil; finally. So today I started organizing for some heavy cleaning (organizing for it, not doing it--there are rooms in the house in which the floor is only visible in less-than-square-foot patches. Rooms.)
And I decorated for Easter, just a few things. Today I bought some mossy bunnies that looked cute in the store, but now I can't decide if they're cute or creepy. I'm leaning toward creepy, but I like them anyway. Somehow they remind me of aliens, maybe because they remind me of teletubbies.
And then, we decided to paint birdhouses. Just me and four kids under seven.
What. A. Mess.
The littlest one got mad and started swinging a paintbrush dripping in green paint. Twice. Which accounts for the spatter on the walls, but I'm not sure how the purple got tracked across the kitchen. Or who left the orange fingerprints on the pantry door. Or why there's paint under the kitchen table.
Seriously, I was a CSI, looking at the spatter on the wall and debating whether or not to compare shoe treads to the paint tracks and maybe fingerprinting the guilty looking ones. I didn't go as far as oral DNA swabs but I did have to wash a few mouths and faces. I think one of them was eating paint. Maybe two of them.
But the kids had fun and the houses look great. So we packed up the paints and brushes and newspaper and everyone went home. Phew. But not before they planned more painting (the finishing touches and decorations, of course) for tomorrow!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Attempted Sewing

I attempted a sewing project recently, from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, by Amy Karol. I haven't sewn by a pattern in years, since junior high school. I am not a seamstress. I am not a perfectionist. (Notice the fabric is unironed.) Granted, there were no seams to be hemmed up, the cuffs are just rolled, no buttons or pleats or even much to cut. But the end result turned out pretty well, and I learned how to sew a bias tape edging.
And the recipient liked her new little sweatery thing.

The other child meant to receive one decided she didn't like the style, so number two never got sewn. I think I'm going to try some beach bags next--if I start now, I'll probably be done by August.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Making Lemons Into Lemonade

Such a positive title...but I mean it literally, I made lemonade, under duress, really, as the kids in the house pressured me to use our little (I do mean Little) Meyer lemons from our little Meyer lemon tree. I also used six store-bought lemons because, well, obviously, five dime- to half-dollar-size lemons do not produce much juice. My lemons actually were really really juicy. I don't know why that made me proud, but it did. Mmhmm, you can see I have become a bit obsessive about my citrus trees.

Well. So anyway, here's the recipe. It again is from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, 12th edition. I swear, I have maybe 40 other cookbooks, and I do use them, but this one has such simple recipes, and frankly, I wasn't in the mood to cook, so I went with simple. And maybe I just like everything I make (but I really don't) but this was really good! And easy. With no preservatives or other junk.

Lemonade or Limeade Base:

Prep:20 min

Cool: 20 min

Chill: up to three days

Makes approx eight eight-ounce servings.

2.5 C H2O

1.25 C sugar

0.5 tsp finely shredded peel (I did not use this because I don't like the taste)

1.25 C lemon or lime juice (approx 7-8 lemons)

ice cubes

(see how simple?)

This makes a base, to be used mixed with water for the juice.

For the base, in a medium saucepan, heat and stir H2O and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat. Cool for 20 min.

Add citrus peel and juice to sugar mixture.

Pour into a jar; cover and chill for up to three days.

For each glass of lemonade, combine equal parts base and H2O in ice-filled glasses. Stir.

I imagine this would be good with added raspberries or strawberries. And I've already had requests for lemon snow cones. I bet it would be a good base for a mixed drink, too. (And if my day keeps up this way, I'll be trying that hypothesis.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Just Work

Pretty much just work today. No embarrassing skirt episodes (I pretty much wear pants all the time these days, for obvious reasons, if you've read the back entries.) and nothing really out of the ordinary.
I once again pulled out the silk drapes and silk fabric to start the Living Room Drape Project but quickly put them down. (Now there's a pile of silk on the living room couch.) Glanced at the kitchen table and thought, "Gee, I should paint the second coat." Looked at the dining room table on top of which sits a sewing machine, random fabrics, a box of sewing notions, boxes of papers (not mine), and, well, actually there're a lot of scattered papers; I have no idea what they are for as they are my husband's, and I generally avoid getting involved in any of his paperwork. Also noted random papers floating around under the table. On several of the chairs. Hmm. Saw that the rug needed vacuuming.
Mmhmm, didn't pick up any of those options; nope, work was enough. I did set up my little seed growing area. I mean, I set up the table it will be on. No seed planting yet-but I think it's about time. I never seem to time my seedlings right, so I end up with these spindly little plants that have to do all kinds of catch-up growth once they move outside. Maybe this year will be better.

Granny Cake Recipe

Here's the recipe for my new favorite cake, Granny Cake.
Granny Cake from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 12th edition:
oven: 325
prep: 20 min
bake: 70 min
cool: 2 hrs

3 C flour
2 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp ground cloves
0.75 C butter, softened
2 C mashed ripe bananas (about 6)
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
+/- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
+/- powdered sugar

Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan; set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 sec. Add bananas, undrained pineapple, eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add flour mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. Beat on medium speed 1 min. (Fold in pecans if desired.)
Spread in prepared pan.
Bake in a 325 oven for 70-75 min or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 min.
Remove cake from pan.
Cool thoroughly on wire rack.
If desired, sift powdered sugar over cooled cake just before serving.
It's so good! Enjoy.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Granny Cake

I tried the Granny Cake recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook today. I was looking for something to bake to use up my overly ripe banana supply, but I'm sick of banana bread. I've never heard of Granny Cake before; apparently it's also called Hummingbird Cake.

Granny Cake is a simple cake with 6 bananas and just a little bit of crushed pineapple added, spiced with cloves and nutmeg. It actually was a success. Usually I don't like the cakes I bake, even if others do; I don't really like cake (cookies, pie, a different story.) But it was basically a very moist banana bread (not much pineapple taste, surprisingly) with a nice spicy aftertaste. I recommend it , especially for a brunch or a coffee cake. I think a glaze would also be nice on it, maybe with a bit of pineapple flavoring. Let me know if you would like the recipe! It's probably on line somewhere, but in fact I am just too lazy to look. Post prandial coma...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's Not My Day

Today is not my cook. I was thinking about making a granny cake today, but when I saw what my husband came home with after work today:

I no longer had any impetus to cook!
Robiola 3-latte cheese, cecchinese olive tapenade, marinated mushrooms, stuffed cherry peppers, nodini Liuzzi (mozzarella) and bread. And rumor has it there's a lasagna (with fresh pasta) in the oven!
Yum. Happy Saturday!

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