Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Black-Eyed Susan?

‘O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.'
--Sweet William to his Black-Eyed Susan
(John Gay, 1685-1732)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home Improvement for Slackers

I had plans to repair and fix up our rapidly decaying deck this spring. Then, the morning glories started sprouting up...everywhere.

They had even re-seeded in my container garden planters from the previous year.

With some strategic placement of planters, I am shoring up (hiding) some of the ugliest spots. The plants are doing all the work, and I'm off the hook until next spring.

If only the vines had enough strength to hold up the deck completely! It could revolutionize DIY home improvements.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Sunday

Kids are happy. Flowers are blooming. Mom's got her coffee and no stinkin' errands to run.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

My second recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks was Cinnamon Rolls. My husband made an offhand comment yesterday that he was hungry for cinnamon rolls. Little did he know that I'd been eyeing this recipe and alternately thinking, "Yes!!" and "Well...it looks like lots of work. Maybe later."

It was the day before Father's Day, so I took up the gauntlet aka spatula, and started mixing.

The website version of the recipe rated this one as Easy and it was. This is the kind of recipe that isn't hard, but it takes time, like lasagna. People aren't impressed by your culinary skills, so much as your endurance and discipline in successfully completing the many steps required.

But I have to say, there is magic involved. If by magic, you mean butter. Oh my! These will clog your arteries if you have too many. I "skimped" on the butter and only used 1 1/2 cups to make 48 rolls. How many of these rolls are too many? I think it prudent to reserve these for holidays or special events. Giving most of them away is probably a good idea, too. Though I see the wisdom in making 40-50 at a time. It's a lot of work for just a dozen rolls. Henry Ford would approve.

We ate one batch and I froze the other four. Let's check the calendar for holidays: June 21 (Summer Solstice), July 1 (Canada Day), July 4th (Independence Day), July 15 (Full Moon).

I think this holiday-only idea is a keeper.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tracee & Ree

"A man's got to know his limitations." --Dirty Harry Callahan

Much as I'd like to think I could take a stab at a Julie & Julia-type adventure, I'm a firm believer in knowing my limitations. With that said, I'm into a heavy Pioneer Woman love affair this summer, and want to try some of the recipes from her cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

I stumbled across Ree Drummond aka "The Pioneer Woman" after my husband gave me an iPad for our anniversary. He's always busy installing apps on my devices that he thinks I'll like or even someday remember to use. Most of the time, his efforts are wasted. "Why do I need an app that consolidates news and media feeds? I can just read headlines on Yahoo once a month," I groused when he showed me the Flipboard app. Grudgingly, I fired it up and looked at it. News, Tech, Photos...blah, blah, blah. "You can add customized content!" he enthused. Grrrrr. "I'm not adding Oprah to my front page--or whatever you call it."

Then I saw "Pioneer Woman Home and Garden." Hmmm? Oh, what the heck. I added it. Over the next couple of days, after I scanned the depressing News headlines, I'd pop over to see what PW was up to. She was usually cooking something yummy with lots of butter. OK, one point for her. She told funny stories about living on a ranch in Oklahoma. Another point. She had a quirky sense of fun and an easy-going writing style, sort of like she was talking to a sister or a good friend. Hers was a nicely-oiled (or buttered) blogging-machine. As a wannabe blogger who managed to write a handful of entries the previous year, I was impressed.

Apparently, I'm several years behind the curve on PW. She's been blogging since 2006. When I started reading reviews of her books, several people commented negatively on the PW brand. Who knew I had succumbed to another Oprah in the making? I thought about it for a few seconds and then decided, "Who cares?" Pioneer Woman is a breath of fresh air to me. She didn't start out a pioneer woman. She writes daily about "her long transition from spoiled city girl to domestic country wife." I can relate to that even though my journey has been a bit less dramatic, going from spoiled Valley girl to domestic sub-urban wife.

I especially like her attitude about homeschooling:

"Lots of people support our decision to homeschool. Some are quietly guarded. Others think we’re mentally ill. I vacillate between all three myself. Believe me, if you’re shaking your head reading this, I understand. If you think I’m a nutjob, I totally get it. If you think my kids will grow up to be weird, you’re probably right. And if you think I’m a freak? You’re right on the money. But you know what? It works for us."

To be honest, I enjoy her attitude about most things.

Now, on to my first recipe: Lasagna. I decided to make this because it is the lasagna of my childhood. We used to have it on Christmas Eve. As Ree says, it is decidedly not authenic Italian cooking. My mother made a lasagna similar to this and it was called "American Lasagna." Early in our marriage, I made this and my husband ribbed me mercilessly. Since then, I've only made it a few times. But today, you know what? It works for me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels -- A Love StoryThe Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels -- A Love Story by Ree Drummond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a fun read! I've been reading Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman blog for several months and have thoroughly enjoyed this tale of how she met and married her Marlboro Man. Her self-deprecating humor is a big draw. Her descriptions of disastrous social events had me laughing out loud. The book is light and funny, but with just enough seriousness to balance the storytelling.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Hissee Fit

When I was growing up, my mom used to chide us kids when we had a "hissee fit" over something. I always liked that phrase, and still use it from time to time. Usually, my kids will respond with a dull look and the question, "What's a hissee fit?" before returning to their outburst.

Over the weekend, we were in a candy store where I saw the amazing Big Fat Hissee Fit Gummy Snake.

Of course, I had to get one to send to my mom. She will never eat it, but that's probably a good thing. Nearly 36 inches of gummy snake candy could do some nasty things to a body.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

Return to the Hundred Acre WoodReturn to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though it wasn't THE Winnie-the-Pooh this was a pleasant homage to the Milne/Shepard books. Christopher Robin has come home from school for the summer. He and his friends play a cricket test match, attempt to hold a spelling bee, learn that tigers come from Asia not Africa, and meet a new friend, Lottie the otter. My favorite story was "Rabbit Organizes Almost Everything" in which Rabbit tries to conduct a Census of the animals of the Hundred Acre Wood.

"A Census is when you write down the names of everyone who is living in a place, and how many of them, and so on."

"But why, Rabbit?"

"So that if anyone wants to know you can tell them straightaway. The Ancient Britons did it in the Domesday Book, and once they knew who there was and where they were..." Rabbit paused to catch up with himself, "they could tax them."

"Why did they want to?" Christopher Robin asked, reasonably enough.

"To pay for the Census, of course," answered Rabbit. "I thought everybody knew that."

Poor Rabbit ends up having a nervous breakdown when he tries to document all of his Friends and Relations. He runs off to see Pooh, who manages to set everything right again. For a Bear of Very Little Brain, Pooh does quite well.

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The Diary of Mattie Spenser

The Diary of Mattie SpenserThe Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Spending June in the Desert

I recently returned to regular reading in Celtic Daily Prayer after finishing "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Several years have passed since I used this for prayer and meditation. After an extended sabbatical, the readings are fresh again.

The readings for June are from the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

June 1 (excerpt): "If you want to have rest here in this life and also in the next, in every conflict with another say, 'Who am I? and judge no one." --Abbott Pastor

For me, it's the "every" that trips me up. I am able to do this sometimes, but when I get het-up, the chances of me remembering to ask myself a humbling question in the middle of battle are fairly slim. Still, I believe it's worth considering, even if I only manage to do it after the battle is over. The great thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them.

June 3 (excerpt): "The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane they will attack that person, saying, 'You are insane, because you are not like us.'" --Abba Antony

I don't think that requires any commentary at all.