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Archive for August, 2007

crunchy!

Crisp, never-been-washed trousers, pink erasers, wood chips, watercolors, velcro shoes, home hair cuts, drinking fountains, locker combinations, notebooks, tardy bells, the smell of vinyl… School is upon us once more.

As sure as homework, the studious students will also bring home every known virus in this community. As a precautionary measure, I’m re-resolving to feed us well. Or at least better. I’ve let the junk food wane to the point that there is not even one secret stash of cookies for me to sneak into after everyone else is asleep. (You can see I mean business this time.) I even dug out my old recipe for graham crackers, made with 100% whole wheat flour. Yes, they do taste like graham crackers and are quite tasty, but no, not just like Keebler given that they are whole grain. Still, if you are putting a cracker this healthy in your mouth, maybe you can justify a square of chocolate and a marshmallow to go with it.

I apologize that this post is just another recipe. I realize nobody ever actually makes them. However, I could not find any other recipe for graham crackers on the net that did not use at least some white flour, so as a public service here is the whole grain version:

Graham Crackers

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6+ cups whole wheat flour (about)

Mix milk and lemon juice; let stand. In a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar, honey, oil, vanilla and eggs. Stir the salt and soda into part of the flour and add to the bowl alternately with the milk mixture. Mix well. Add additional flour as needed to make a stiff dough. Grease and flour 3 large baking sheets, and roll a portion of dough out on each sheet to about 1/8″thickness.

graham-1

Prick with a fork every 1 or 2 inches, then bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Cut into squares immediately.

graham-2

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fair weather

One of the perks of living in a rural community is 4-H. As a kid, I learned crochet, babysitting, cooking, painting, cake decorating, sewing etc. from being in 4-H clubs. This year my oldest two were involved in a 4-H art class. Although many things in the program have changed since I was young, the grand finale of entering a project in the county fair is as fraught with anxiety as ever. After their projects were turned in I listened to my nervous kids discussing the pending outcomes in the back seat. “I hope I get some kind of ribbon, but maybe I’ll just get no ribbon at all.” “Yeah, mine is really not very good, I hope it at least gets a white ribbon.” What a hard thing to be judged! Hard but uniquely valuable when your work pays off:

voctory!

Victory! Relief! (Can you tell which is which?) The rest of the fair was very enjoyable too, if anticlimactic.

baasafe hands

I’ve been to this county fair dozens of times, but this year I noticed something new: my quiet, obedient daughter (11) is now officially embarrassed to be seen with me!

but won't smile

And No smiling for the camera. I thought maybe it would never happen when two years ago she quipped, “I don’t ever want to act like a teenager. I will resist the teenage urges!” But today she amended her position on adolescence, “I guess I’ll have to have that happen to me after all. I might have to wear clothes that are a little girlie, just not too much.” Hmmm. I guess as long as she hasn’t abandoned her bionicles I shouldn’t worry too hard.

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more sheet

I think maybe I should learn to sew the right way after all. I made the pattern for this little dress, fully lined, but didn’t have enough wits to sew it together in the right order. Which meant it was very fiddly and involved using the seam ripper just a tad more than the actual sewing machine. To top it off, there was a bad pucker by one armhole, and I think I made it too short! Other than that, it is lovely because it is being worn by The Sweetest Baby in the World and makes her look just like a little Hobbit.

new dress -1

Note that it is made from that old sheet so it will match the pockets of everybody’s shorts when they are finally all finished (two more to go, at which point I will most likely be Done Sewing For Awhile.)

let me eat the camera

We are really saving the planet today! Not that it matters, because this past week the planet is working overtime to uglify herself despite my efforts with the sheet. Wild fires in the hills surrounding us have turned the pastoral landscape into the blackened cliffs of Mordor. The night breeze blowing in smells like the monsters under the kids’ beds have all taken up chain smoking. It is sweltering hot and dusty and smokey, the perfect time to fire up the oven! (Well, the heat may have hastened the ripening of those bananas.) This especially good recipe makes one moist, golden loaf. But if you can’t take the heat, please stay out of the kitchen!

Banana Bread

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cup sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix first five ingredients. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add, alternately, with buttermilk. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350° F. for about 1 hour.

banana bread

 

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Reading crafty-mommy blogs puts me in the mood to sew, although the truth is I am the sloppiest shortcut-taker at the sewing machine that any home ec teacher’s nightmare ever was. So the other day, because it was my birthday, I dragged out my cheap-o sewing machine and began making a little pair of drawstring corduroy shorts with patch pockets out of the old sheet that was the lining to that bag. Lucky for me, my older sister and mother both paid me a visit as I was working. Both are skilled seamstresses, both strict perfectionists in their work. So with absolutely no effort whatsoever I was able to annoy the heck out of them , whether it was laying butter knives on the pattern pieces to keep them from shifting as I cut into the fabric, having the nap go the wrong way on one side (really you can hardly tell), pinning it wrong, or worse yet, not pinning at all! Oh the shame! I finally politely reminded them that it was my birthday and I could sew the wrong way if I wanted to. Which I did. Paired with my son’s favorite ratty old hand-me-down tie dye, I thought these very wrong shorts could have turned out worse (or maybe they just look good compared with the shirt…)

new shortsback pockets

Frankly, it doesn’t matter, because my little boy loves them and all the other kids want a pair just like them too. So there!

Speaking of hand-me-downs, in the past two weeks a couple very generous people have given me enough used clothing to outfit a small African village:

hand me downs

Please don’t get me wrong, I love second hand clothes and so do my kids, but this just looks a bit daunting, does it not? My task tomorrow is to inspect every article and weigh whether it might fit, whether it is in good enough shape, whether the appropriate child will deign to wear it, whether my husband will lose his job and we become homeless and live in Siberia and the only thing shielding us from certain death by exposure on a snowy Siberian park bench could be this faded sweatshirt from Knott’s Berry Farm where none of us have ever even been… I think I might need some chocolate to get me through this job.

 

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Mrs. Potato Head

When I began this blog a few weeks ago I also set up an account on Flickr to host the photos. I didn’t expect anyone to be looking at my photos on Flickr, and for the most part nobody has. However, those professional-looking portraits of my feet, so generously included the the previous post, have generated a surprising number of views. Like, a lot more than any of my other photos in just the first day. The reason I even paused to notice this is because a total stranger actually left a comment, and I quote:

Yeah they really lOOk good now.
I’d like to see them in a French Pedicure

Whaaaa???!? Like to see them in a… AAAAAAAH! Something about this just CREEPS ME OUT!!!! I mean, these are my feet, it just seems so, so wrong. I would have to delete the comment and quietly forget it ever happened if it weren’t also making me laugh very hard!

Anyway. Between doing virtual academy with my two oldest kids (read home school) and having a baby, this past year hasn’t been one full of attention for the little boys. Today I set up a craft activity just for them: making greeting cards with potato stamps.

potato stampstamping cards

It was a lovely afternoon. They both seemed to enjoy crafting without older siblings for a change, and now our supply of greeting cards is amply replenished.

cards

 

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Sweet Feet

After I made the appointment with the ophthalmologist (Ha! Spelled it again with no spellcheck!) on Monday I could tell I would be needing something by the time the week was out. Something to de-stress, but not something that would clutter the top of my piano or make my fanny even more giant. I went out on a limb (for me) and tried something I had never done before… can you guess?

before feet

Yes! I dragged my stinky old tootsies in for a pedicure! Now, being a virgin to the whole stranger-touching-my-feet concept, I walked in with a little trepidation. Would “Krysta” laugh at my groadie old feet? Wrinkle up her nose? Tell me to get outside and hose off before I bring those things inside?

 

Actually, no, she didn’t even seemed fazed as she plunked my clod hoppers into a hot bath of sea salts and suds. Oh! So divine! By the time she had worked her magic on my lower extremeties my feet were lovely and the rest of me felt pretty rejuvinated too. My favorite part was the peach scented exfoliant and foot cream: it reminded me of Sploosh from that book Holes. I’m thinking about changing careers to become a foot model now:

after feet

(Actually, this photo doesn’t do them justice, because I took it tonight after being shod all evening. But still, that’s better than a poke in the eye!)

 

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Derek saw it first, not quite two weeks ago, as he played with the baby on his knees gazing into her face. “Look at this,” he called me over, “do you see anything different about her left eye?” At first I didn’t, but then, ah, there it is. Like looking through a dark pool, something glistened softly deep in her pupil. It looked like a fish scale. Pi saw it and called it a sparklie, said it was pretty. Something was up. I was able to catch it on film with a flash, although normally the light has to be just right to spot it with the naked eye.

the cloud

Even the nurse practitioner could not see it at her well checkup on Monday, but Wednesday the pediatric ophthalmologist (notice I learned to spell ophthalmologist) told us it is a cataract. Kind of what I thought. I am going to become very familiar with that ophthalmologist, where we spent approximately 3 hours (plus a little) waiting at various stages of the appointment. That’s why those places are called waiting rooms. So you can wait. Here she waits after eyedrops as her pupils get bigger.

wait three hours

So we have to write down all our questions and go back in a month and put an eyedrop in her cloudy eye to make it dilate a bit and put a patch over her good eye a couple hours each day (the girl print patches that look really cute until you slap one over your baby’s eye) and it may get worse or it may stay the same and she may need surgery but maybe not and and–

There are worse things. I am not crying. There are many things to do now to preserve my baby’s eyesight, but falling apart doesn’t seem to be one of them.

 

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