Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Leftovers at my house. The first was the leftover bacon wrapped tenderloin from Monday.  The second, grilled chicken with fresh thyme yesterday.  Leftovers...not always a dirty word.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Practice Pancakes

Life doesn't give you all the practice races you need. ~ Jesse Owens

My kids love pancakes.  I make them from scratch (which really isn't difficult) but EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I make them the first ones are always different:  either the pan is not hot enough, too hot, not enough oil, too much oil, too thick, too thin.  Those first ones, no matter how I try and make it work are almost always "the practice pancakes".

16 years ago, my first child, my son was born.  Eh, born is a relative term, given I had to practically kick him out...nothing like a little gel on the cervix, an overnight pre-induction hospital stay, pitocin and AROM to make a point. Still, he arrived, after all the interventions,  absolutely perfect, with me saying I'd do it again.  In a heartbeat.

My practice pancake...the day we brought him home from the hospital:
 He has grown from the 8lb. 10oz baby I had 16 years ago into a 5'11 (and still growing) man-child.  I always thought having a boy first would be the easy way of doing it because c'mon, we all know of the drama that accompanies girls and with boys, well, notsomuch.  He was everything I had dreamed he'd be.  Until he hit his double digits.  Then, well, I didn't like him much.  It was a phase, my husband assured me.  We just needed to remain steadfast in our convictions that we were doing things right.  That doesn't stop the concern, like with the pancakes...what if your fire is too hot...or not hot enough.  What if your pan isn't properly greased or greased too much?  What if you actually forgot something in the batter?  Those first pancakes...getting them right is a little nerve racking, especially if you have people hovering over your shoulder "helping".  Those first want them coming out perfect to validate that you really can cook.

My first pancake turns 16 today.   And I have had the pleasure of seeing him turn into EXACTLY the person I knew him capable of being:  loving, respectful, humorous, thoughtful, engaging, helpful, insightful young adult.  I wasn't sure that I would see that happen...not at 13 or 14, when I was pulling out my hair (so if you're there, know that you are in the home stretch).  At 15 I started seeing a glimmer of hope.  The past 6 months have been whirlwind of change...GOOD change.  Change I can believe in.

Everyone has their own recipe for pancakes.  Some make the prepackaged box kind work.  I keep changing mine up, never accurately measuring.  Sometimes throwing in some vanilla, or cinnamon or a little extra sugar.   Today half wanted blueberry, the other half chocolate chip.  So I accommodated both.  Either way they always come out delicious.

And to coin a phrase my son is always's all good.

PS...he STILL did not get a car.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Boat Face

Boats, book, Bud Lime, blogging from my phone...followed by dinner at Captain Jacks. Are you kidding me?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Parent of No

You can't always get what you want,
And if you try sometime you just might find
You get what you need.
~ Rolling Stones

I took my son shoe shopping last week.  His shoes had made it about 10 months and while they're fine for kicking about during the summer, he needed new ones.  We tried Kohls and he found a pair of Adidas shoes that were very similar to the Under Armour I purchased last year but I had a 30% off coupon and were much less.  HE wanted to "continue looking".  That translates to...I want to go to Dicks and see if I can get something similar for double the money.  So, off to Dicks we went.  And what did he do?  He marched himself right over to the $100 Nike shock shoes, claiming THIS was what he wanted. is where I made my  mistake.  He asked his limit and before thinking it through I said $70.  Well...he had it all figured out.  $10 coupon and he'd throw in $20.  Bringing my total to...$70.  

OK, I readily admit, I made a mistake.  NOW, I will say honestly, IF he was a runner and he NEEDED these shoes, I'd have capitulated.  But he's not and I tried to explain to him that I was not paying for expensive shoes so that he could have expensive shoes without using them as they were intended.  He wouldn't even consider any other shoe and this ticked me off.  At this point, I had to walk away.  I came back and said upfront...MY MISTAKE.  His limit was $50.  That was the max I was willing to spend. So, he started considering other shoes.  He found a similar Nike (without the "shocks") that was marked at $79.99.  I figured, $10 coupon, and he throws in $20 and I'm at $50 so I was OK with it.  When we got to the register, they rang up as $69.99 so they ended up costing me $39.99.  AND we both were happy.

Now, fast forward a week.  His 16th birthday is Monday and we're looking at getting him a new phone, as well as switching him over to our plan.  And what does he want? A smartphone.  Does he use his email account?  No.  Does he have a Facebook page?  No.  Does he Twitter?  No.  But he wants me to spend $30 EXTRA per month so he can have a "cool phone".   I said No.  He'll get a nice multimedia phone, but that's it (especially given that I had to replace his first phone due to lack of care).  Will he be happy with what he gets?  I think so.  Is it what he wants?  No.  It's what he needs (and even a little overkill at that).

So, I'll be the parent of no.  The parent who doesn't rush out and buy the newest, greatest, bestest, latest gadget because...well because it's the newest, greatest, bestest, latest gadget.  I'll be the parent who tries to differentiate to his teenage muddled mind, the difference between "wants" and "needs".  And hopefully, he'll become the type of adult who meets his own needs...and indulges in his wants, when he can afford them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spicing it Up

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.~ Erma Bombeck

I have always had an affinity towards spices.  I've tried growing them in the past but my tendency towards a brown thumb usually destroys the effect.  This year, I vowed, would be different.  Thus far, it has been.

I have one pot on my deck that is JUST basil.  Another that has rosemary, thyme, purple sage and oregano.  A small pot has mint and another small pot has cilantro (although it's a weird cilantro...almost fennel-ish).  So, I have made the commitment to USE my spices this year.
Basil is never an issue.  I make pesto and usually have to go to the farmers market to get enough to fulfill our needs.  But I am determined this year to really experiment.

Tonight...whoo-boy...tonight I think I hit on a winner.  I'm not a fan of salmon.  Well, cooked salmon.  Love it raw but haven't been able to find a recipe for cooked salmon that I find worth the effort to cook.  Until today.

Watching Tyler Florence make a "slash and stuffed"  salmon had my mouth watering so I thought I'd give it a bloody go.  I stopped at the local store and picked up some Copper River Sockeye salmon, hoping I wasn't wasting $9.99/lb (on sale) and crossed my fingers.

I made a compound butter of butter, basil, garlic, lemon and pepper and made slashes in the salmon and "stuffed" the butter in the salmon.  I then slathered the whole salmon top with the butter.  I set the salmon on lemon slices on my fish grate and set the whole grate on the grill and closed the lid.   Within minutes the smell of basil permeated the outside air.  I flipped the salmon so that the slathered butter side was down on the grate and turned off the grill (the salmon wasn't that thick).

We (my husband, sil, and 2 children) sat on the deck and FEASTED.  The salmon was wonderful (especially given I had extra butter and lemon slices) and I served it with grilled/roasted (half the time on the grill, half the time in the oven) asparagus, oven roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh thyme (see a theme?) and a blueberry mango salad with crystallized ginger.  I served a nice ice cold Pinot Grigio with the meal.  My son declared it (the fish) good (two servings....that's a first!).  Beanie LOVED it. not afraid.  Embrace them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When the Moon is in the Seventh House...

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.  ~ Buddha 

Joy has found me.  Silly me, I hadn't realized I was hiding, but this week, joy found me.  And I have to say, it's been a really WEIRD feeling.  A feeling like...well, like the moon is in the seventh sun, and Jupiter has aligned with Mars.  Yes, once again I have dated myself.  But it fits.

We spent Father's day at my ILs cabin.  The husband had to do a volunteer shift at the annual Father's Day softball tournament (who schedules softball tournaments on Father's Day weekend?) but I had everything ready, the boat just needed to be hooked up and we were on our way.  The down side...we hit construction traffic which took us longer than expected.  By time we arrived, it looked like we were in for a pretty good storm.  Within an hour, the clouds had burned off and it was BEAUTIFUL.

The kids played, they took walks, they tubed...they acted like kids.  All of them.  We wrapped beef tenderloin in bacon and made Father's Day dinner a day early.  BIL, fresh off his Grandma's Marathon run, cooked the steaks to perfection for small feat since all wanted their steaks done to varying degrees of doneness: medium well to stick a fork in it and listen to it moo.

Sunday I got up and walked around the lake.  It was perfect but when I arrived back at the cabin, it had clouded over.  It took about an hour before it burned off and the rest of the day was stunning! 

The kids set up an obstacle course in the yard and timed each other.  No small accomplishment given that the yard is only about 40 feet wide.  And there were 10 kids.  But they made it work.  My youngest got up on skis for the first time.  The rest of the kids either skied or  tubed.  We all went for a pontoon ride.  It really was perfect.

Then it hit me.  Why it was so perfect.  My children, who usually by this point in the summer, are whining and picking on each other, WEREN'T.  No, it went beyond that.  They were actually interacting without conflict.  It was a sight to behold.  AND it didn't end with the weekend.  It has continued through this week.  And each time I catch them being kind to one another, I call attention to it, expressing my JOY at seeing them behave in such a manner with each other.

Today, I mowed.  Halfway though my mowing all 4 kids ran out into the yard.  I slowed only to watch them, to see if blood would be drawn.  I have no idea what exactly happened, for I chose not to interfere, but as near as I could tell, they were interacting in  a positive way.  Yes, I hesitate to say "playing" because I think my son would take issue, but I do believe that is what they were doing.  And it warmed my heart.

I drove my son to the ILs house so he could mow.  On a whim I ran to Marshalls and did what I always do.  I looked through the swimsuits.  Did I mention I hate swimsuit shopping?  No?  Well, I do.  But I found a swimsuit that caught my eye.  I picked it up and looked at it wondering if I could fit into it as it was a size smaller than I usually wear.  I put it back thinking no.  Then as I saw someone else begin their own swimsuit search, I decided to take another look at it.  I decided I'd buy it and if it didn't work I'd bring it back.  I drove back to  the ILs and tried it on and was pleasantly surprised that it did in fact fit.  Planets aligning?  Gotta be.

I got home and walked into what I expected to be a messy kitchen, hoping that my kids would have cleaned it up, and lo and behold...they HAD.  On their own without any prompting.
Then later, my oldest was getting ready for volleyball and asked for assistance from her sisters and they JUMPED to help. 

Don't get me wrong...things haven't been ALL rainbows and unicorns, but given the change in the past 2 weeks, I'll enthusiastically take what I've been offered.  Maybe...just maybe, a summer without rancor.  A summer without bickering.  A summer we can all enjoy.

I believe the old adage, if momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy, holds true in reverse....If momma is happy, she'll do her damnedest to make sure EVERYONE is happy too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Flamingo Has Been Spotted

Our neighborhood recently enacted Neighbor's Night Out...NNO.  They premise:  when a pink flamingo is spotted in a neighbor's  yard, that indicates they will be hosting Neighbor's Night Out on the next Friday from 6-8.  Neighbors are requested to bring their own drinks, an appetizer to share and folding chairs.

The person wishing to host the next party (within a month) need only take the flamingos and place them in their yard on the Wednesday before Friday they wish to host.  And so Neighbors Night Out continues.

It's Friday.  Flamingos have been spotted.  I have bruschetta made and beer on ice.

And it looks to be a beautiful evening.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Sound of Silence

If you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy and colorful and lively. ~ Mel Brooks

Here I sit, listening not to the actual sound of silence, because it is currently raining.  I hear the gentle pitter-patter of rain falling softly, dripping from the eaves, with brave birds occasionally tweeting their displeasure of the rainy day.  Definitely an acceptable alternative to complete silence. 

Today is the last day of school.  My life is about to become noisy and colorful and lively, and I'll be needing to stock up on alcohol and that order.  Starting tomorrow, I will have  4 children at home who know how to push each other's buttons and actually take perverse pride in doing so.
I have their summer activities all set up but they are not "busy" 24/7.  Which means they will have to find something, other than the computer and TV, to entertain themselves.  And this has been MY failure because my children can't do this.  We have bikes, scooters, a swing set, rollerblades, an acre of property, a wooded area for exploring, several parks withing bike riding distance, every type of ball imaginable and I can almost guarantee that before  next Monday, one or more of my children will hit me with "I'm bored".

So, this year I am going to be proactive.  I have a list if chores that will need to be done the second the "b-word" exits their mouth.  Oh, it won't be slave I intend to  pay them for their efforts (done to my satisfaction...and important distinction), but having something ready and waiting for them to do should they be "bored", will hopefully nip that one in the bud.

Don't be surprised to see my recycling bin full on trash day.  Ahem.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spring Fling has been Flung!

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder. ~ John F. Kennedy

Each year we usher in spring with a gathering of friends on the deck.  It started small with some neighbors, usually on the first NICE (like 75+) Friday of spring, but we never knew IF that day was going to be nice until we were in the midst of it which made any possibility of planning fly out the window  But now it has grown and requires a little planning (ok...and cleaning). 

So, we now have to set the date and do a lot of praying that the weather holds for the event.  Last Friday was PERFECT but Burger Madness had already been planned.  I had to cross my fingers and hope that the weather would cooperate two Fridays in a row.  The weather report was NOT promising, so I had a contingency plan of using our dining room, which we have done before but it is most definitely not my first choice.  Luckily I chose not to put my faith in the weather report because, although the morning did not look promising, we ended up with PERFECTION!  It was in the low 80s a very light breeze, no bugs...God's hand in motion.

Initially I would only make one of two salads, but I now have to make both: an asian pasta chicken salad with LOTS of yummy veggies, and a mixed green salad with strawberries, peppers, onions, chicken and candied almonds. I made the corn salsa and sliced some tomatoes to put on garlic toasted baguette rounds.  I finished off the meal with chocolate chip cookie bars made with heath bits, milk chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.  One of my friends brought sloppy joes for the kids, margherita bars (for the adults) and crusty french bread.  Almost everyone who attended brought a bottle of white wine.  I didn't think we could/would drink that much wine.  Apparently I was mistaken.  Ahem.

The kids all got along FABULOUSLY.  My son even had his friends over and they played an ad hoc game of soccer in the yard and then ate like only 15-16 year old boys eat.  The adults got a bocce ball tournament going, with of course my husband on the winning team.  It was almost 1am when the last of our guests departed which made me feel great...that they didn't want it to end.

Here is one of my favorite parts...all my cleaning is done!  That leaves my day almost completely task free.  Whatever will I do with myself? 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's Done!

Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish. ~ John Jakes

I spent the last week painting Beanie's bedroom, as promised.  Could I have picked a MORE beautiful week to spend it indoor smelling paint fumes?  I don't think so.  Still, it's done.  And I really took my time this time, removing (scraping) paint from previous endeavors from the baseboards and window frame and cleaning thoroughly so that the tape would stick.

I was a little worried about the colors I chose, although I took a pillow sham with me to compare colors, I still thought that the pale green might be a little TOO minty (or lime sherbety as the case may be), and the blue, TOO blue.  But both look beautiful and match the blue and green polkadot quilt that now adorns her bed.

I also picked up an inexpensive armoire off of Craigslist and painted it to match the room.  Note to those who might wish to attempt the same...DON'T.  Well, you can but don't attempt to paint over laminate.  The paint won't stick.  After several coats I finally have the outside looking as I want and am going to quit while I am ahead.
So, the bedroom is put back together.  I have a few more small things I need to do and I'll post pictures.  But overall, I'm proud of this one.