Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So this is old age...

Two days ago the SmileyDad broke his glasses. His cool ones with the wide cool-guy frame. The one he likes. The frame just went POP and broke.

So this morning he has a day off. I'm in the living room, he's in the kitchen. I hear him make a phone call. Mumble mumble. Mumblemumble mumble.... MUMble. Silence.

Then he comes stomping through the living room looking Very. Upset.

Then the phone rings and he says to me, Don't answer that! I don't want to talk to her!

(Ring, ring)... Talk to who? says the very befuddled me.

(Riiiing)... HER! Don't answer that! OK get that but I'm NOT talking to her!

**uh, WTF is he talking about?**

So I look at the caller ID (this all occurs in about 5 seconds) and it's the eye doctor. I answer it and I say, Um, he's... busy right now? Is this about his glasses?

Yes, she says, please have him call me back. Um, OK then, thanks. Hang up.

SmileyDad comes back in. I give him the so-confused look (I use this look so often, he can read it pretty well). He explains to me that THEY have it on THEIR records that HIS last pair of glasses was purchased there in 2006 and that CAN'T be right because he DISTINCTLY remembers getting them last summer in 2008. And he told me that he... sorta hung up on the receptionist... 'cause he was so mad that they had lost his records.


Now I think back but can't remember, I have a lot of memory loss lately. At that very moment, I just so happen to speak to my friend down the road, because she called to say hello, and she then remembers how I said something about his new glasses... last summer. Okay then, so we all agree... he got these glasses last year. So we should look for a receipt.

Because his warranty is only good for 2 years. Hence he's all stressed out. But at least he has a spare, albeit not "as cool", pair to wear.

So... dig dig dig through paperwork, look up old tax folders, even call the insurance company.

Well guess what... they all say the same thing... last VISIT for an exam was 2008. Last pair of new glasses? 2006.

So we take a little drive over to the eye doctor where SmileyDad, who is generally a very nice guy raised by a good mama, sheepishly apologizes to the receptionist for the above-mentioned hang-up.

And we figure out that if he wears his spares till next June, his insurance will at that point just let him get a new pair. No out-of-pocket repairs needed, then.

So we're all good. Everybody breathe puh-leeeeease.

Except for the whole bad-memory thing. That may not be so good.

Now.... what was I supposed to be doing? hmmm... no idea.

:) Have a good one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm not internationally known, but I'm known to rock a microphone...

OK I'm not really a rapper. Gotcha? Yes? No? Oh you already knew that?? Well the things blasting out of my radio/CD player while I cook and clean may be a surprise... ;)

But anyway! On to more important things... the reason I have old-school Rob Base in my head, for one.

Yesterday I started cleaning out ALL my recipe books because I actually have time to do this for the first time in years, and I'm putting them all on a kitchen bookshelf instead of hiding away in a cabinet.

So anyway, I found The. Most. Wonderful. Thing. Ever.

And it did not come from a fancy cookbook. Or a celebrity cookbook. Or a diet cookbook, cooking magazine, or subscription service.

It came from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, circa 1987, in the form of a tall skinny bound cooking guide called "Homemade Master Mixes".
----->(see? Master Mixes... Master Mixer... Rob Base... well in my head at least, it makes perfect sense)--------

So anyway in this gem of a typed-up little book, there is a recipe for an ALL PURPOSE MASTER MIX. From this mix, which incorporates powdered milk and can be stored up to a month refrigerated, you can make just about anything. It's super. It's fantastic. I'm in baking heaven.
And not like I'm a 24-hour baker, but hey if it's convenient and I'm home, then sure, why not. Saves $ on pre-packaged snacks and desserts and makes the house smell nice, if nothing else.

I've tried the Coffee Cake last night, and the family was coming back for seconds, it was GOOD. See photo. So here is the recipe, and a few variations. Might want print and keep as this book is nowhere to be found anymore, pretty sure.

All Purpose Master Mix
9 cups flour
2 and 2/3 cups dry milk (I use skim)
1/3 cup baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 cups shortening (you can get 2 cups and more from a little rectangle of shortening)

Combine flour, dry milk, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir together. Cut in shortening (I use 2 butterknives) until the mixture is smooth. Store in airtight container. If lard is used, refrigerate and use within a month (i used Crisco but still refrigerated the mix). Makes 12 cups of Master mix.

So here's a few ways how you can use it:
3 cups master mix
about 1/2 c water
Add water to mix, blend lightly with fok to form soft dough, turn on floured board, knead then roll or pat out to not less then 1/2 inch thick. Cut out circles and bake on cookie sheet about 450 for 10 min or so, good for shortcake too.

1 1/2 c master mix
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 c water 1 egg, beaten
Blend mix and sugar. Stir water and egg into mix until blended. Drop batter onto hot greased griddle, cook one side till puffy and full of bubbles then flip and cook other side. Makes 12 pancakes.
1 cup amaster mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 egg
1/4 cup water
Grease 8-inch sq. pan. Measure 1 c master mix into bowl, add margarine and work it in with clean hands or fork. Mix in sugar and cocoa. Add the egg and water. Beat 25 times. Pour into greased pan. Bake 20 min. at 350.

Coffee Cake:
3 cups master mix
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c water

Measure 3 cups master mix into bowl. Add sugar, stir well. In smaller bowl mix egg and water together. Add this to the flour mixture all at once. Mix till blended. Pour into greased 9 inch baking pan and sprinkle with topping.
Topping: 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, mix well till fine and crumbly and sprinkle over cake.
Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 min.
This is SO good.

I figure, while I'm not working in the office due to medical leave, and therefore sort of a homemaker (due to not having any other choice at the moment), I'll try to make the best of it. Coffee cake makes the house smell like Fall, anyway.

Enjoy, folks. Warm wishes.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

End of Summer Beach Day, Pics

Time to share some pics. We visited the beach (the REAL ACTUAL BEACH I say), which is 5 hours away in Shediac, NB, on Labor Day - the day just before school started. We had once chance to do this before life went back to normal, so we just packed up a picnic basket and took off at 5 am. This is a very big deal for kids who live closer to the woods than to the beach, ya know.
Here are some photos! And I have decided I'm going to move here someday. Totally.

Pensive PJ over a sandcastle in progress. (photo has been removed)

It was a perfect day but very, VERY windy. Ever have fried chicken, sliced cucumbers, potato salad and cream soda with a light topping of sand? MMMMM. :)

Nature Girl found a friend - I like to call him Hermit the Crab. he popped out for one second and I got the shot and then he was like OHH NOOO PEOPLE..... I'm going back in!!!!!

Quite amazingly, I found this rare species of Sand Mermaid washed up on the beach. She told me to take her picture and we have a 50/50 deal with the Weekly World News. Ha...

Me. Happy feet.

We had the infamous Sandy Picnic on the Beach, but I've removed that photo. It was all still good, let me tell ya.

PJ finding treasures on one of the many "islands".... there was even a live starfish and sand dollar.

Busy busy, and well-covered with sunscreen, while Mom and Dad relaxed on blankets.

My view of SmileyDad's day at the beach. :) I like this photo.

OK... my girls like to sew. Nature Girl, the oldest, hand-sewed this little critter on the drive down. Isn't he CUTE?? Of course she owns the "plushie-copyright"... she is very protective of her creations!

I LOVE this, a sign at the Big Stop rest area/gas station on the way home... for those of you who are not local, just a friendly reminder that MOOSE ARE BIGGER THAN CARS and like very much to cross the highway. :0)

And the most beautiful sunset over Western New Brunswick at twilight, on the drive home. A peaceful end to a lovely day.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share our photos!


Friday, September 11, 2009

We remember.

I was teaching preschool. September 11, 2001, mid-morning. A father dropping off a child told me some strange and offbeat comment (and I'm quoting here, please forgive the way he put it, it's just how I remember him saying it): he said to me at the front door of the school, "Oh those Arabs have done it now."

I could not understand what in the world he was talking about, and we had a wide variety of cultures in our little town, including some very nice families from middle-Eastern countries... what was he talking about?? His weird comment just did not make sense to me. Then, to my puzzled look, he told me what had just happened in NYC. And that it was an act of terrorism. Apparently from overseas.

I then had to keep it together and remain very calm and continue teaching, and arts and crafts, and snack time... basically act as though the world had not just changed... because 4-year-olds need comfort and familiarity, not chaos and worry.

Only when they had all gone home and I went home did I look at the news for the first time, and break down.

Where were you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cat-sized rats and fanged frogs. Freaky.

GOOD MORNING! Want to start your day as freaked out as I am????

Well OK then! Here's a link to an article found this morning on sync.... about new species found living in a volcano... that had not been disturbed by humans in several thousands of years... and they found all these new species of parrots and spiders and lizards and rats in there! Spiders that can drop a net on you like freakin' Spider-Man! Tiny parrots only 9 cm tall! Are they making this up?? NOPE!

Giant rats, tiny parrots found in 'lost world'

Oh my gosh I hope this link works. Very, very cool stuff. If not, then go do a search for "Papua, New Guinea", or "40 new species in volcano".

It boggles the mind.



Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Did it.

"Harvesting Your Own Apples is Easy! Just find a Kid in your house who's willing to stand on a Wobbly Stool with an Old Rake and Knock them out of your Tree!" Ha.... I snapped this as PJ was trying to reach that ONE SPECIAL APPLE that she just had to get down. Oh and today was their first day back at school... YAY!!!!!

Well I actually did make my own granola bars, imagine that. Let me just say that this is not going to turn into an organic living/ cooking blog... I have enough of those that I like to read, no need to make another one myself, I figure. Besides I'd never have the mental capacity to maintain such a thing. :)
But I did want to do a little blip on these bars as they came out great (I ended up using the first recipe from the last post, the one that incorporates crispy rice cereal and mix-ins). I got reviews from the kids ranging from "They're OK" to "These are AWESOME!", so I guess they're good... I like them! Turns out the ones with raisins are the sweetest and chewiest.

Also wanted to brag on... ahem, I mean "share with folks"... the things I was able to make over the course of the weekend, using (drumroll please).... STUFF IN MY OWN YARD. Yeah, right, you say? Well sure! just keep reading! :) The bold type is all organic things growing in my yard (and maybe in yours)!

I got the little half-size snack bags and labeled them so we'd know which ones contained peanuts when it came time for school snacks. Yeah yeah... I'm using a lot of plastic, I know. But I have to pick my battles. At least I recycle everything I can, normally. We do have an allergic classmate so we (hopefully all the parents) are very careful no to send peanuts or tree nuts. Hence the labeling and separate preparation.

Ta-Da! Not too freaking bad, huh? They're all in the freezer now and we can pull them out as needed. Cool. I remember my mom used to make granola in the oven and I've never tried it, so I think I'll try that next time and bag it for cereal or snacking by the handful.

I've also looked up different tea-making sites (and I can assure you there are at least 179,502 out there) so I took the best complied info I could find, and went out to pick and dry my raspberry leaves for raspberry-leaf tea. Not to be confused with raspberry tea... the leaf-tea is pretty tasteless but has more benefits. I'd recommend that you look it up sometime for more details, but for me it helps my stomachaches that seem to accompany my neurological issues lately.

On top of the leaves is a bundle of dried dandelion root. Yes I DID go out in my yard and dig them up and tie them with a string like it was 1840. Oh I went there. I'm just that kind of girl. If the dandelion root (cleaned and dried) is ground up and steeped with the raspberry leaves and drunk three times a day or so (well who's got the time, but I drink it occasionally at night) it is purported to be a detoxifying, cleansing tea. I just like the taste of it with honey and it makes my tummyache better. :)

These apples, which after doing some research we believe to be New Brunswick apples, grow on two trees in my side yard. They have yielded about 3 large bowlfuls so far that were good to use, after peeling and cutting into 5000 tiny pieces to be sure there were no worms. I am very, VERY picky about my food. I have made two streudels and have frozen 2 bags of chopped pieces, and still have another large bowl to peel and freeze later! I can't believe we used to let so many of these drop and go to waste... we would just donate them to farm horses... this year we are making a daily effort to collect as many human-edible ones as we can, to freeze for later.

I just peel and chop and inspect them, then throw in a bowl with sugar and sometimes add any wild raspberries I found that day, toss around and they go into a freezer bag. Because.... what if it's February and I can't take the long cold winter for one more day or I'll absolutely lose my MIND unless I get some warm apple pie to remind me of summer????? Then I can pull some out and make it!


And I bring in any ready garden veggies daily, wash and leave them out for the kids to munch on, then I chop any remaining and freeze them for cooking later, or make them into soups. So far I've made 2 with chicken-broth base and pasta mixed in, and I made 4 with tomato/beef boullion broth and potatoes mixed in (along with the carrots, green beans, yellow beans, turnips, and peas). I seal them into glass jars re-used from spaghetti sauces..... but I learned the hard way that you have to let them cool ALL THE WAY before sealing and freezing or the jar cracks (in my case, it was two jars, dammit). So now I won't put them in warm again. OOPS.

These are the soup jars, veggie bags, granola bars, and apple-piece bags in my freezer. I also freeze lots of raspberries mixed with sugar or plain, to add to pies or muffins, breads, etc in a few months. OK so that's it!

Wish I had more "organic stuff" in my yard... or at least how to identify it... I'm still looking it all up so maybe I'll be able to make different teas once I'm 100% sure what I'd be picking is non-toxic - I don't want to learn THAT the hard way!

To those in my area - Hope you all had a good first-day-back-at-school day! I did! :)


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ye Old Granola Barres

Wow, my 2nd post. How weird is that. I was up to like, 300 or something, oh well. Here we go again! Unfortunately I don't maintain any kind of blogroll (for lack of time and technological know-how) so I have no idea how to find those folks I love to read. So if you drop in please leave a comment, even if its only a tiny thing, so I can find you again, boo-hoo!!!

Yesterday we went to a tiny open-air market nearby, and there were about 10 tables lining the street. Not much but I had not gone yet this summer, and it was our 17th anniversary so... that's where I wanted to go! We got a bakers-dozen big sack of corn cobs, and a sack of new potatoes, and one very nice large onion. I don't need any crocheted slippers, hand carved furniture, or passport holders at this time. I'll come back if I do. I'm a simple girl.

One of my pet peeves is when you approach a table at any kind of craft fair, garage sale, market whatever, and the people start harping about the item you are looking at in non-stop sales-pitch make-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out vivid description. Leave us alone, I think, we're shopping! This is what I'm hearing: "Well you look for your passport and you can never find it and it's at the bottom of your purse and if you carry it in this little holder then you can always find it and blah blah blah....." OK, OK! Please stop! I truly understood your sign stating "passport holder" and I can see that you've put a lot of glue-gun time into these... but jeez, I can read! :)

Anyway, I'm probably done venting. We shall see.

So today the plans are to make home-baked school snacks, seeing as how I'll be home for the next month and trying to find ways to cut costs and provide more wholesome munchies for school. Did you know some granola bars contain more ingredients than an average bottle of shampoo?

So I looked up several recipes and I'm going to try my hand at these today. Most homemade granola bars are easy to bake and freeze for a long time if well sealed, and you can use home-made granola and throw in your own mix-ins like chocolate chips, or sunflower seeds, or honey, or peanuts, m&m's, raisins, dates, almonds, whatever. If you search for "granola bar recipes, you'll find a lot that have been tested and have photos or tutorials, and there is such a variety that there's bound to be something for every taste and for houses with allergy restrictions. Here are a few I liked:

~The Supper Sisters' recipe, which mixes in crispy rice with the granola and mix-ins...
~The Half-Assed Kitchen with a great granola recipe for cereal or to make into bars, why not...
~Good natural granola recipe from Kiss My Spatula (I like how they use lot of organics, and you may only need to bake for 20 min instead of 30, fyi)
~This granola bar recipe from Pennies On A Platter (via Barefoot Contessa from the credit given on her page)... I like this one because you don't need to make the granola beforehand and can substitute condensed milk for honey if allergies can't work with honey.... the only thing that raised an eyebrow was the wheat germ in here. I don't usually have wheat germ in the house however, so here are things that Mr. Internet told me you can substitute for the wheat germ: ground flax, ground t'eff (or flour), ground Kasha (buckwheat), brown rice cereal, or ground chia seeds. Or just leave it out.

So off I go to try these out.... think I'll try each bar recipe and see which ones we like more. I've got a bag of trail mix ready to be thrown in too. :) Hope you all have a nice Labor Day... tomorrow we go to the beach for our last-blast picnic! Take care!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fresh slate.

To those who may be alarmed at seeing my blog gone... I've made the decision to delete all previous posts, and start fresh. Circumstances beyond my control. I also luckily remembered to save it all, so it's not so bad.

**Anyway**, I'll still be here from time to time with updates and assorted ramblings. I'm not going anywhere. I'll also update when the neurologist gives me some kind of confirmed news after reading the EEG. So far all i know is that the lab tech said the scan showed I was sleeping several times during the test, when in fact I remained awake and alert. So.. we now check for anything seizure- or narcolepsy- related.

Thanks for those who pop in to check on my little corner of the world from time to time. I'll be back soon.