Friday, March 27, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

I changed it

Blogger offers many gadgets or "widgets"(if you're in the know)and over the years I have added the ones that enhanced the blogging experience mostly for me. So several weeks I ago I changed my long time link list and used the "blog roll" gadget. It automatically updates your blog roll with what is the most current posts from the listed blogs. It is nice to know when a blog has been updated so I did like the feature initially. Now, not really. Some of the blogs are set to take you to the entire blog including older posts. Other feeds just send you to the most current post's page. That is what I do not like. I like to see the whole blog, previous posts and comments included.
Another thing I realized I was missing was the mystery. I like mysteries. I liked going to a blog and looking to see what was new and wonderful or just re-reading the most current. With the "blog roll", I felt like I didn't need to go to a blog since "ho-hum, there isn't anything new to look at".
So along with the sense of mystery gone(did they post anything new?) and the replaced sense of I'll-stop-by-when-your-blog-is-updated kind of high-mindedness, I realized I didn't like that widget anymore.
I'm a classic kind of girl. I wear classic clothes and eat classic foods. I watch classic movies and listen to classic(al) music. Some call that boring. Fine. But after many, many years, I'm finally learning what it means to be me and not the next person. I blame that kind of growing up on my husband, but that's another story for another day.
So, if your blog is listed here(as if they read mine, ha!), please know I changed the format back because I actually want to read your blogs at my discretion and not at some gadget's prompting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Teacher Who Could Not Read

This man's story is quite incredible of how he was illiterate all the while teaching students and later running a real estate business.
Watch video here

Check out the John Corcoran Foundation for more information including his books.


In the grocery store this weekend with my son, I was hand picking some mushrooms to bag when his voice queried, "Are these mushrooms poisonous, Mommy?". I laughed and answered him, "No, do you think the grocery store is going to sell poisonous mushrooms?" He laughed too and shook his head no.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Growing up after he's gone

This is a tribute of sorts to my brother Tim who lost in his life in a car accident on March 8, 2003. I have written about it here as well, but wanted this post to remind me of the memories we created as kids and that for me bring laughter despite the sadness.

One of the disappointments of losing a younger brother when he's just twenty-four is that some shared memories become lonely ones. Like when we used to ice skate in our slippers on the carpeted living room floor as a couple. And of course we always spent more time pretending to be the couples who got tripped up and fell or were spinning too much and hit the ground at a dizzying rate. Laughter and giggles always came after. And then there was the shameful practice of imitating those poor saints at our local church. Poor Mrs. Feldges who warbled her elderly voice along with the rest of us. We would pinch our necks, give the skin a little shake and off we would sing in falsetto screeches. Shameful stuff, but always more laughter. Or we would re-enact the completely opposite ways two different women would wipe their lips after sipping from the communion cup. Mrs. Priscilla Wallace, a dainty dear lady always brought out her dainty lace-edged hanker-chief and would carefully dab at small spots around her lips. Meanwhile Mrs. Pruitt, a lively lady would simply take her arm and wipe her mouth with her shirt sleeve. We often hid smiles as we watched this weekly activity making sure we got the act down pat for later play.
And of course who hasn't pretended to have the Lord's Supper, replete with grape Kool-aid and bread or crackers. Prayers would be offered up with references to other church members and hymns sung with gusto. Finally the moment would come to take the elements and we would indeed "drink ye all of it".
Then there was the moment when we turned cartwheels and did handstands and flips in the living room when we heard that we were going to Disney World with our cousins. Oh the excitement and the waiting for March break to come.
We also endured the annual first day of school pictures where laden down with copious amounts of school supplies and fancy new clothes we would have to smile and pretend to enjoy ourselves. Some pictures are quite memorable with Tim bent forward laughing hysterically at who knows what.

I imagine that when Tim passes Mrs. Feldges in the hallways of heaven, surely he must be holding in the smiles and giggles of a time long ago when she unwittingly gave him much to laugh over with the older sister who should have known better.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the continuing saga

I'm sure my squirrel posts have you just glued to the edge of your seat so I will go ahead and tell you the latest installment. The squirrels are taking the peanuts and burying them in the snow in the backyard beyond our fenced yard. Last week we watched from an upstairs window as one squirrel in particular, who obviously was the high school flunkie in his family, carefully carried one peanut at a time down into the yard, dug a shallow snowy grave for it and covered it up. He did this with the remaining four peanuts left in the container before scurrying away to the big oak tree. Will those peanuts ever be eaten? Perhaps but not necessarily by the numbskull who buried them. You would think that in the middle of winter, a squirrel would uhm, eat the peanuts and not bury them.
So as I am relating this to a neighbor during a phone call this afternoon she suggested that if the shells were cracked or punctured in some way, the squirrel would eat it right away and not store it away where it would be spoiled by exposure. So now I aim to slightly crack each of the peanuts before placing them in the feeder and see what the squirrels do next. To be honest, I not convinced that these rather scatter-brained squirrels who frequent our area will follow after their cousins the chipmunks, who apparently do check their food and discern the correct food handling method. Hopefully the squirrels will surprise and convince this cynic.

Of raisin cookies and books

According to my husband, when he was growing up his mother occasionally turned her chocolate chip cookie dough recipe into raisin cookies by simply substituting raisins for the chocolate chips. As far as I know this is the only way my husband eats anything with raisins. So in my efforts to make a raisin cookie that he would be able to take in his lunch, I simply adapted the Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and turned it into a delicious raisin cookie that my husband can enjoy.

Below is the original recipe from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book.
The Best Cooky of 1935-1940
Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup shortening(part butter or margarine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups Gold medal Flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts *
1 pkg. (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate pieces (1 cup)

*I omit the nuts.

The following is the recipe I have been tinkering around with:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated lard(aka pure lard) or non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening(Spectrum makes an organic one which my mother gifted me with.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup organic sugar (I actually use a little less than half a cup)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat well until thoroughly mixed in a large mixing bowl.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl.
Gradually add to large mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup soaked raisins (soak in warm water while you assemble the rest of the dough; drain dry and blot with paper towel to remove excess moisture.)

Drop by the teaspoon and bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
Makes about 2 dozen medium sized cookies.

The book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is my recent used book sale find for only $4. It has been on my list to read for several months. So far I am enjoying the book despite the fact she does not appear to think much of those of us who do not subscribe to the macro-evolution view. The first chapter is bit abrasive because of her outspokenness but I am now a quarter of the way in and am learning a lot about the farming industries as well as home gardening efforts. I think overall I will be glad to have read her book.
I'm kind of comparing my interest in it right now to Nina Planck's Real Food book which I really enjoyed and had a hard time putting down. Not to exaggerate the book's influence, but it has revolutionized my cooking and baking priorities and ingredients. Her latest book, Real Food for Mother and Baby is due out the end of this month and I plan on reading it at some point.
Other food books I hope to read fully include Nourishing Traditions, The Real Food Revival and Michael Pollan's books, In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Birds need water

In case you're like me and didn't realize that birds need access to water all year round, this link will provide you with some basic information about birds and providing for them especially through the winter months.
Feeding Birds
So far, I haven't been able to keep my little dish of water from freezing because the temperature during the day has not been above the freezing mark. But hopefully soon the birds will be able to enjoy our shallow pools of water.