Tag Archives: big family

Wackadoo Wednesday…

I’m borrowing the word, “wackadoo” from my friend, Jane, not because she’s “wackadoo”, but because she is the first person I ever heard use this particular word!

I apologize for the long spaces between postings in the past week…we’ve been busy both at home and at the store, so I haven’t had nearly as much computer time (or thinking time) as I would have liked.  I think this posting will be another collection of random items:

1. My middle daughter, Anna, got braces last week…her 12-year molar on the bottom is fused to the bone (she’s almost 16), and needs to be coaxed through, as is one eyetooth on the top.  After the orthodontist explained that leaving things alone could lead to more serious long-term issues, I talked to Anna’s father, and we made the decision to cough up $4000 for braces (his insurance is covering the other $2000 – hooray for orthodontic coverage!).  Unfortunately, Anna grinds her teeth at night.  Braces were put on Tuesday, and by Thursday, she’d ground the little blue rubber cushions at the back of her mouth down to mere nubs (these cushions were to keep her from biting down on her bottom bracket with her top teeth and breaking it)!  Back we went, where the technician installed BIGGER cushions.  Those were totalled by Sunday, and since Monday was a holiday, I had to wait until Tuesday to call the orthodontist again.  Our appointment is tomorrow…maybe they could install stainless steel cushions this time?

They don't look like they cost $6000, do they?

2. As previously mentioned, this past weekend was a holiday weekend (for Americans who are unaware, we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday the third Monday in May).  The weather was amazing – warm but with a nice breeze to keep from getting too sweaty!  I spent all day Saturday in the garden, except for a couple of hours we went grocery shopping and running errands.  I enjoyed listening to two birds having a conversation from two different trees – couldn’t see either of them, but it was fun to listen!  I hoed, pulled weeds, and finished planting (and replanting) all the vegetables.  At the top of the garden, I planted a full row of sunflowers I’m excited about – they only grow about 5 feet tall, but they come in 5 or 6 different colours – they’re called “Autumn Beauty.”  Beside the fence, I planted half a row each of sweet peas and morning glories – I’m hoping they’ll climb on the fence.  The flowers will be visible from our driveway out front too.

I hope my sunflowers are as pretty as these...

3. While I was in the garden, Anna was painting Jim’s big birdhouse on the side porch – it’s absolutely gorgeous!  Will post pictures later…flowers and bugs and leaves, oh my!  There’s a potential for 24 bird homes inside. 

4. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was pretty sore, but put on my “holy pants” (see this post for a better description:  https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/getting-down-to-the-nitty-gritty/) and an old T-shirt, and went back outside to water our garden.  The outside faucet is at the front of the house, and the garden is at the side of the back yard.  This necessitates dragging the hose several hundred feet around the corner and through the gate.  Combine this with a nozzle that definitely isn’t worth the $10 I paid for it (a 3-year-old boy could pee with more force!), and 25 feet of useless “coiled” hose at the end of my 100 feet of heavy duty hose, leaking connectors everywhere…let’s just say I was ready to spit nails after the 45 minutes that exercise took!  I stripped off my sodden clothes, and went to town to pick up Hope at her dad’s, and do a couple more errands.  Saturday was Kaylee’s birthday, and I had invited her and her family over for supper on Sunday- I needed to pick up a gift card for her at the mall.  When I arrived at the agreed-upon store, there were signs up everywhere saying they were closing…after a frantic phone call to Kaylee, she suggested I just get a mall gift card instead.  The “errands” took about three hours, and I still hadn’t made supper yet!  I also wanted to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie for Kaylee’s birthday (cake doesn’t seem to disappear very fast around our house).  Instead of the lasagna I’d promised her, we agreed on BBQ – I tried some portobello mushroom/swiss veggie burgers I bought – they were yummy!  Everybody else had steak, hamburgers, hot dogs or sausage.  I made a huge potato salad too.  With store-bought crust, the pie turned out to be delicious.  My granddaughter was dressed in her new spring dress, which is totally useless for demonstrating her newfound crawling ability, but cute as a button!

Elise - 8 months old...

5.  Jim’s daughter, Brianna, got home late Sunday night after a whirlwind school trip to Quebec City.  She had a great time!  Brianna brought me home some little cheese spreaders with bumblebees on them – the kids were quite amused when I called them “ladybugs” – I was a little tired…

6. Monday was another beautiful day…however, I wanted to make spaghetti sauce.  I watered the garden again, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen.  We were invited to Jim’s mom’s for his brother-in-law, Chris’ birthday supper…we enjoyed another BBQ with Jim’s whole family and the birthday boy’s parents.  Jim’s mom had made baked beans, which I don’t get to eat at our house because Jim doesn’t like them!  Shirley told me that the recipe had come from an 82-year-old man at their church…it was amazing!  Jim’s dad offered us a raised bed from their back yard, which I’ll use to put my perennials in.  Afterward, Chris’ parents followed us home and got some rhubarb from our yard.  Then I built a lasagna with the spaghetti sauce, and fell, exhuausted, into bed.

Chris and his dog, Bella...

7.  Anna woke me up from a sound sleep about 2 a.m.  Our dog, Jake, had been “acting funny” for about three hours, and had just thrown up.  I went downstairs and discovered that he was completely out of water – I had no idea how long it had been that way.  I curled up on the loveseat, where I dozed for the next 2 1/2 hours.  Jake seemed to settle down after that.  We still don’t know what was wrong with him, although I suspect the part pieces of Popsicle sticks I’ve been finding around the living room have something to do with his discomfort…

8.  Tuesday morning, I went in to the bookstore, photographed three boxes of books, edited and uploaded the photos to the net, and then appraised four more boxes of books.  We have more books than we have space for…I have no idea where we’re going to put them all!  Getting some good stuff though…was fun to see issues of Cosmopolitan magazine from the early 1900’s – nary a mention of sex – it was actually a literary magazine then!

February, 1909 Cosmo...What...no cleavage?

9.  Tuesday was also my mom’s birthday – she died in September, 2007.  I wish she could have met Jim, his kids and especially her first great-granddaughter, Elise!  I miss her every day, although I’m happy she’s not in pain any more!

Mom...

10.  Today, I’m at the store.  I appraised two more boxes of books, and Anna helped me hook up a new printer that I bought.  I have a new project which I’m excited about and will talk more about later.   We’ve had two more people offer us books today – we don’t have room! 

I’ve enjoyed reading my blogging sisters’ work this week – some deep thoughts there – check out the links at the right…I’ll try to get back here on a little more regular basis, but if the weather’s nice, I’ll be outside!

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Filed under cooking, family, food, gardening, memories, nature, self-discovery

Post #50…Random Observances…

I’ve been writing this blog for almost two months now, and as my title suggests, this is Post #50.  I feel like I should deliver some amazing wisdom to celebrate this momentous occasion (I have a fondness for statistics).  Since I’m not feeling particularly wise this morning, I think I’ll do something else…

1. A friend observed earlier this week that more people in Saint John were aware of the opening date for the long-awaited Costco than the fact that our city celebrated its 225th birthday on May 20th…I wonder how many people know that we are the oldest incorporated city in North America?  This is indeed a sad commentary…

Our current Saint John logo...

2. My father called himself a “numbnuts” yesterday…I didn’t have tape running…the man never admits when he’s wrong!

3. While watching the season finale of “The Middle” last night, the mother, Frankie, decided that she and Mike were “lazy parents” because their kids were having trouble at school…Mike countered with, “Maybe we’re not lazy parents…maybe we just got stuck with crappy kids!”  I’m with Mike on that one.  No offence to my “perfect” children (but when you forget your homework, it’s not my fault!).

Frankie and Mike's "Crappy Kids"

4. My peas and beans are up in the garden…hooray!  One of the squirrels has been digging in the big lettuce pot…bad squirrel!  Herbs are still hanging on…

5. My beloved Jim has become obsessed with birdfeeders…we have 2 regular ones, a suet feeder, and three hummingbird feeders on our back deck!  The squirrels and the starlings are having a field day!  Jim is also working on finishing a huge birdhouse that his dad started years ago…we may need heavy equipment to hoist it into the tree where he plans to put it!  He and Anna are getting some good photos though…

Anna took this one before the feeder got moved to the deck...

6. Our rhubarb is ready…wishing I knew how to can things…maybe I’ll make some pies (with pre-made pie crust, of course).  Anybody within driving distance is welcome to come and help themselves (to the rhubarb, not the pies!)…

How come my pie never looks like this?

7. My daughter, Kaylee, wants to reclaim her elliptical machine, which she refused to come and get when we were moving…it has resided in our back kitchen for the last year-and-a-half…there are at least ten boxes which have to be relocated before it’s going anywhere…oh, joy…

8. We were folding another massive amount of laundry last night…Jim repeated his idea of making the kids do their own laundry (while he was matching the full garbage bag full of socks).  I’m starting to think maybe he has a point…with three teenaged girls, it’s impossible to keep track of whose stuff is whose!  Another observance – when folding a towel, I fold it vertically first, and then horizontally.  My dad seems to think the other way is right…it’s really not helpful if I have to fold it again.  Just another peri-menopausal moment of rage…you’re welcome!

I need this guy to fold my towels...

9. We have overnight company coming from Ontario in about a month…wondering how we’re going to have the house in a “presentable” state by then…where did I leave that magic wand?  Oh…it’s over there, under the big pile of crap!

10. I rediscovered pesto and feta cheese recently…really enjoy spreading it on a tortilla and popping it under the broiler for a couple of minutes…discovered that writing a blog and cooking at the same time can cause the smoke alarm to go off…

Pesto...food of the gods...

11. I bought the new cookies with blueberries and brown suger – you know, the ones they’ve been advertising on TV like crazy?  They were on sale at Shopper’s…they are as good as they say…and they even have flax in them!  Delicious, and healthy too (at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I shove them down my throat, six at a time – they are kinda thin!).

You have to try these...

12. I might be getting that bike I was wishing for (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/fear-of-falling-terror-on-two-wheels/).  Jim’s dad says there’s one in their shed they’re not using…yay!  I have to work off those cookies…

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you continue to enjoy it as much as I love writing it!

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Filed under gardening, memories, rants, self-discovery

Just Call Me ‘Wendy’ for One Day…

I love the TV sitcom, “The Middle.”  I barely need two hands to count the number of shows I watch regularly on TV, but since it debuted last fall, that one has consistently reflected my life as it is now.  It’s about a working-class family, the Hecks, in the Midwest – mom, dad, and three kids (two teens and a 7-year-old).  It’s not a typical Hollywood sitcom – nobody wears designer clothing, financial stability is somewhat shaky at times, and the parents aren’t “perfect.”  At the end of every show, I check around my house to see where they have hidden the video camera that’s capturing the essence of our daily existence.

The Heck Family...

Last night’s episode was centered around Mother’s Day.  The mom, Frankie, is awakened at 6:30 a.m. by the kids fighting about her special breakfast…she rolls her eyes, but pretends to be asleep when they arrive with the tray, which ends up getting spilled down her front by her teenage son, Axl, flopping down on the bed to catch some more precious Z’s.  She chokes down the dry toast, burnt waffles, and runny eggs (daughter, Sue, asks anxiously if she likes her breakfast, and is assured that, of course, she does!).  The youngest, Brick, has made her a macaroni picture frame – the glue is still wet.  Frankie waxes poetic about how “spoiled” she is.  The dad, Mike, pokes his head in from the bathroom, and reminds Frankie that it’s “her day.”  She asks him to bring the stain remover…he can’t find it…”Are you moving things around?” she asks.  Mike is unsuccessful – Frankie announces that she’ll open “the rest of her presents” after her shower.  Predictably, there are no more presents – Dad rounds up the kids and they make a whirlwind run to the drugstore.

This was not Frankie's breakfast...

The family comes back, and tosses the bag to Frankie (a roll of wrapping paper sticks out the top).  “An inflatable foot bath.  Wow, that will come in handy!” says Frankie, as she pulls it out of the bag.  Her mom calls, and explains that her sciatica is acting up, and that she won’t be able to go out for lunch with them.  Not wanting her mom to be alone on Mother’s Day, Frankie decides to surprise her…Sue comes along for the ride.  Arriving at Frankie’s mom’s house, they can see her through the screen door – she’s got a highlighting cap on, and she’s drinking wine while dancing around the living room to music from the 70’s.  Frankie hands her a wrapped gift, which turns out to be a food dehydrator.   Her mom opens it, and takes it to the kitchen “to find a place for it.”

Don't buy this for your mom unless she asks for it...

When confronted about why she lied about her back, Frankie’s mom declares that “Sometimes I just want to do my damn hair, drink a glass of wine, and listen to my Barry!”  Frankie takes that badly: “You mean you don’t want to be with your daughter on Mother’s Day?”  “That’s not it at all!” replies her mom.  Frankie’s mom admits to not liking her present: “Why would I spend $4 on grapes to get 99 cent raisins?  Frankie responds with, “What about me makes them think I’d want to blow something up and stick my feet in it?”  All three of them end up crying…

Every Mother's Dream...NOT!

The kids have made me lots of Mother’s Day breakfasts, which were probably better than what Frankie got…I appreciate the effort they go to when they do make them!  I’m not keen on somebody spending a lot of money on me – I really don’t have much use for macaroni picture frames, though.  It would be nice if they would clear a path through their bedrooms, or empty the dishwasher once in a while.  It would be amazing if I could go to the cupboard or the fridge and find the snack that I had my eye on was not devoured before I got there!  There are a lot of days that I want to do just what Frankie’s mom did…pour a glass of wine, crank up the tunes, and dance without the kids making fun of me!  I’d like just one day where everyone calls me “Wendy” instead of whining, “Mooom…”

An album I listen to on those rare occasions that I have the house to myself...

Maybe the day after Mother’s Day…

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Counting My Blessings…

After a particularly horrendous week, I feel the need to stop wallowing in self-pity and take stock of the good parts of my life.  Here are some of the people and things I am grateful for:

1. Jim.  He came into my life 2 years ago…I waited a long time to find the “right guy.”  He is gentle, loving, supportive, and a great dad (and stepdad – how many stepdads help their stepdaughters dye their hair?).  Jim drives the kids wherever they need to go.  Our birthdays are four days (and one year) apart – we’re so alike it’s scary.  We rarely fight because we know why the other one reacts that way.  We love to travel on short trips, and go to concerts and shows.

Jim and I at the Eagles Concert - Magnetic Hill, Moncton, Summer, 2008

2. My parents.  My mom died in September, 2007, but she raised me to be a strong, independent woman.  I will always remember what she taught me.  My dad came to live with me to help with the kids after my marriage broke up (he’s been with me for almost 12 years now).  We run the bookstore together, and he does a lot of chores around the house.  We don’t always see eye to eye (we’re both stubborn!), but get along well most of the time.

3. My kids and stepkids.  All of them are smart, and reasonably well-mannered. 

Kaylee is the oldest – the mommy of my granddaughter (see #4).  She has expressed interest in being either a photographer like her Gramma was, or a radio person like her dad.  Kaylee lives with her man, Scott.  They both work hard to raise Elise.

Scott and Kaylee...

Devin is Jim’s son and our only boy.  He is our junior techie, and keeps the many household computers running.  Devin is part of the tech crew at school, and has put in some very long hours working behind the scenes on their theatrical productions.  He lets our dog sleep in his room at night while the rest of us are upstairs.

Anna is my middle daughter.  She is a talented artist and photographer, and active on her school’s cheerleading squad.  Anna is our fashion plate and delights in spending my money.

Brianna is Jim’s daughter.  She also does cheerleading.  Brianna is our giggling girl.  She loves jumping on the trampoline.  Brianna also enjoys drawing, and likes dogs.

Hope is our youngest.  She is an amazing singer.  She takes care of Jake, making sure he’s bathed, walked and fed.  Hope is our most assertive child – if we forget to get ketchup at the fast food joint, she will go back and ask for some.

Kids in Shediac - Summer, 2009

4. Elise.  This little sweetheart is only 7 1/2 months old, but she has stolen my heart.  I always said I wouldn’t be one of those grammas who carries a photo album around in my purse, but I do anyway (just in case I run into someone who doesn’t have Facebook).

Elise - Seven Months...

5. Jake.  Even though he’s been “in the doghouse” all week for destroying my seedlings THREE times, I don’t know what we’d do without him!  Every morning when we come downstairs, he greets us at the door with tailwagging and kisses.  When we come home from work, he tries to look innocent, even though he’s probably destroyed something while we were gone!

Jake...

6. Jim’s parents.  They help transport children to and fro, and hold family dinners at their house.  They got medicine for us when we were all sick with the flu.  They have welcomed me to their family with open arms – I couldn’t ask for better in-laws. 

Jim's Mom at her 70th Birthday Party...

7. Our extended family.  We both have siblings, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, who we don’t get to see as often as we’d like, but we always have a great time when we do get together.

8. My friends.  I have been fortunate to make some wonderful friends in many cities across Canada and the U.S.  You know who you are – I love you all!

9. Our country home.  We moved in almost 18 months ago.  I appreciate our picturesque view of the river and the hills on the other side every day.  We all enjoy seeing the variety of wildlife and birds who live here: deer, foxes, beavers, porcupines, raccoons, groundhogs, the occasional garter snake, eagles, hawks, ducks, seagulls, chickadees, goldfinches, robins, starlings and crows (haven’t seen a skunk yet, and hope not to!).

A Bird in Our Yard (taken by Jim)

10. My business.  I spend the day surrounded by old books.  Not much makes me happier than finding a gorgeous binding from the 1880’s with gilt-edged pages!  I have met some very interesting people through the store, and I learn new things every day.

Our Curved Front Door at the Store...

Thank you, everyone, for being an important part of my life…you’ve all helped make me the person I am today!

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A Rant…

On this Earth Day, many people are thinking about R words: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…I’ve been thinking about some other R words – mothers of teenagers will relate:

Please forgive me if I ramble.  I am in a rut.  I go back and forth between rage and resentment.  I’m on a roller coaster in retrograde.  Reproduction seemed like a good idea at the time, but I admit, I am reconsidering – sometimes I wish we were not related.

Pregnancy, When Children are Easy...

I remember when I could reconcile them with a rational explanation for my refusal of their request – now I must rail like a raving lunatic to reinforce the regulations.  I am not rigid.  I realize that my role has been reduced to that of a referee in charge of rebels on a rampage.  Instead of being receptive to my reminders, they recoil at the restrictions.  They are reckless, rude and downright rotten!

Whistle...

What about responsibility?  Is it realistic to require them to rinse their receptacles before putting them in the dishwasher (I suppose I should be relieved that they even retrieve them)?  Our living room is now a rec room – they recline, play Rock Band, blast rap music, and rebuff any rejoinders to “Turn down that racket!”  I have tried to reclaim repose from their rambuctiousness – they regard me with ridicule when I redouble my efforts at re-establishing the rules.  My rationality is ravelling!

Our Rockers...

It seems that my raison d’etre is to respond to their every requirement.  Attempts to recruit them to do a little work are met with reproaches about how “rough” it is to live here, and requests for remuneration.  I might have to resort to using a rake to rid ourselves of the rubbish!

Rake...

They are relentlessly ravenous!  They root through the refrigerator like raccoons, but refrain from eating real food when it’s set on the table before them.  It’s all I can do to restrain myself!  When I reprimand them, they are recalcitrant.

Raccoon...

I don’t relish mornings.  There is no respite as I rush from room to room reminding recumbent residents of the relentless passage of time.  They resent my role in getting them to rise.  It’s the same routine every day, regardless of my remonstrances.  It is a relief when they run out the door.

Alarm Clock...

Can I get a refund for this riff raff?  Is it too late to become a recluse?  A radical approach might be to set them adrift on a raft down the river…with my luck, I’d be caught red-handed!  Maybe I could raffle them off?

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Spring is Sprung, The Seedlings is Riz…

A week ago today, I took the day off from the bookstore to plant my indoor seeds…I basically planted them and forgot about them (didn’t even water because the soil was quite wet).  On Friday, Jim mentioned that some of them had sprouted!  Off I went to the back kitchen to peek at our “new babies.”

First to make their appearance were the vegetables that I remember being “hard to grow” when I was a kid: broccoli and cabbage – I planted a full egg carton of broccoli – everybody in the family likes it.  The Chinese cabbage is also up, as well as the purple Brussels sprouts – who knew that the plants would be purple too?  I’m hoping the cool colour will make the kids want to eat them, but I only have one child that I know of who even likes the green version (Hope). 

Top: Chinese Cabbage and Green Cabbage, Bottom: Broccoli

A few of the flowers, stock and zinnia, are also starting to come up.  No sign of any of the nine varieties of tomatoes I planted…I’m really looking forward to seeing them.  I have a 2-litre ice cream container full of crushed eggshells that I’ve been saving to scatter around the tomato plants once they’re in the garden…it will hopefully keep the slugs out of there…apparently, it’s like crawling over broken glass for them.

The lettuce is coming, but the herbs are a no-show so far.  I can’t wait until we can just pick fresh basil right out of the pot!  I love pesto!

Lettuce/Tat Soi

One of the other big pots has the greens in it, which are growing nicely, along with the Bull’s Blood beet greens – the 5-colour silverbeet chard is just starting to poke through the soil.  Jim is a big fan of beet greens, as am I.

Greens/Chard

Yesterday, I carried all 12 egg cartons and the three big pots out on to the deck to get some sun (Jake actually left them alone!).  After being out there all day, I noticed that there had been some growth, even in those few hours – neat!  It was quite windy, and the soil got fairly dry outside.  I took one of the kids’ water bottles (one with a valve), and carefully sprinkled each section with a small amount of water…a mistake I made last year was keeping the soil too wet – it actually started growing mold – that was gross!  I’m still trying to find a mister to use…I’m worried that my watering can will displace the soil too much or knock down the tiny plants.

In my usual Monday morning rush to get out the door, I didn’t have time to take the plants outside today…maybe I’ll be able to do that tomorrow…

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The Schedule in My Head…

Most people who know me would say I’m pretty relaxed…but I have a secret: under this laid-back exterior, there’s a person who gets very anxious when things don’t go according to the careful plan she has laid out in her head…

With seven people in our family, a schedule is pretty much the only way to keep from going insane.  Every member’s practice, medical appointment, birthday party, dance, play, or concert is logged on a giant calendar on the side of our fridge, as are school holidays, and vacation days from work.  Our lives revolve around this calendar – it is checked before committing to anything, and meals are planned around who is going to be home for supper that night.

Calendar...

The schedule is going to be even more important over the next couple of months – we have two daughters in cheerleading (two different teams), and they’re going into competitions – this means extra practices.  One daughter is going to Quebec on a school trip.  Our son is on the tech crew at school, and they’ve been working every night getting ready for the spring production of “Beauty and the Beast.”  Book sale season is starting in May, and we will be travelling to other New Brunswick cities in search of stock for the store.  There are lots of concerts coming up that Jim and I would like to go to as well, and we’re planning a weekend getaway trip sometime this spring.

Our two cheerleaders holding Brianna's team's banner...

I spend weekends doing laundry, getting groceries, and cooking for the week ahead – by the time I sat down in front of my computer last night at 9:45 p.m., the only thing I’d “accomplished” yesterday was getting groceries and making lasagna for supper (which was pretty awesome!).  We spent the rest of the day running kids around (and we did see a great movie in the afternoon – “How to Train Your Dragon”).  My brain was totally fried, and the blog topic I came up with yesterday morning seemed lame and unimportant – I was mad at myself for not taking the time to do my blog, which is one of the favourite parts of my day!  My daughter called me a “slacker” for missing a day, and I felt like one!

Jim doesn’t get my commitment to routine – he pretty much takes things as they come.  He admits that he sleeps better now that he goes to bed about the same time every night – he used to be awake until all hours, and then drag himself out of bed in the morning to go to work.  Jim also eats a lot better than he did when he was a bachelor – he usually has a hot meal (with vegetables) on the table by six o’clock, and leftovers for lunch the next day, instead of fish sticks and fries at 8:00, and fast food for lunch.

Jim and Jake Chilling Out...

However, Jim’s the one who talks me down from my tree when my self-imposed “schedule train” runs off the tracks…”Does it really matter if the laundry isn’t done today?” “Why don’t you stay home from the bookstore and get those seeds planted if that’s what you want to do?” “Let’s just barbecue tonight!”  I’m so glad I found him!

I changed my plan today – I slept until 9:30 a.m.!  I took the time to set my newly-sprouted seedlings outside.  I made myself tea, and toad-in-the-hole for breakfast.  I played on Facebook for an hour.  I helped Jim and Anna wrap and beribbon 4 dozen Rice Krispies squares for the bake sale at Brianna’s cheerleading competition this afternoon.  After they left, I put the first load of laundry in and started this blog post.  It is now 1:15 p.m., and I’m still sitting here in my jammies!  I’ll keep the washer and dryer going, and eventually, I’ll make it into the shower…we’re going to Jim’s mom’s tonight for his sister’s birthday dinner – now THAT’s important!  The rest of the laundry can wait…

The Birthday Girl on New Year's Eve...

Tomorrow night, I’ll see my granddaughter (and her parents) for the first time in almost three weeks – I’m looking forward to that too!

Elise, Just Hanging Around...

I don’t think I’ll ever give up the schedule in my head, but, with my family’s help, I’ll try to stop being so anal about it…

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The Sounds of Easter…

I woke up at 6:30 this morning to the sound of birds chirping joyfully outside.  Jim’s rhythmic breathing was interspersed with occasional snoring, as the fan on his laptop whirred away.  Downstairs, I heard the shuffle of Dad’s slippers as he crossed the kitchen, and the creak and then the slam of the screen door as he let our dog, Jake, out to go pee.

Dad...

Hope opened our bedroom door, and announced the start of the Easter egg hunt.  Jim and I came downstairs, and then Jim, Anna and Hope ran around the house finding eggs that Hope hid the night before…Devin chose to stay in bed (Brianna was in Moncton with her mother).  Careful counting (and trading) of the bounty left by the Easter Bunny followed.

Easter Bunny Hope...photographed by Jim...

Later, the hiss of the electric kettle will be heard before I pour one of many cups of tea (Ceylon Special).  We will turn the fan on the stove on while bacon pops and crackles in the frying pan, and buttermilk pancakes cook in the electric skillet.  Forks and knives will clink on plates as we gather around the table and eat breakfast as a family.

This afternoon, I will wield the potato peeler to scrape the skins off the  potatoes for the potato scallop for Easter dinner tonight.   The knife will thump on the cutting board as I slice onions.  The electric can opener will grind as it is used to open the pineapple slices that will adorn the twin hams.  The microwave will beep when the sweet potatoes and the broccoli are cooked.

Car doors slamming in the driveway will announce the arrival of our guests…joyful barking will ensue as Jake rushes to greet them at the door.

Chairs will scrape across the floor as people seat themselves at the dinner table.  Small talk will be heard, as bowls of food are passed, and family bonds are renewed.  Interspersed will be the coos and gurgles of my seven-month-old granddaughter, Elise, as she experiences her very first Easter.

Elise...

Life is good…

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No Use Crying Over Spoilt Milk…

According to a current TV commercial for a food storage product, the average American family throws away about $500 worth of food every year.  I’m not anal about many things, but wasted food drives me crazy!

When we were kids, I remember my brother, who was about 3 or 4 at the time, being told to sit at the table until he’d eaten all his peas (which were canned and gross!).  Stubbornness runs in the Shoots family…I’m sure Jeff sat there for quite a while before my mom gave up!

Jeff fooling around with his balloon boat as his peas get colder...

I don’t take quite such a hard line with our kids…I usually tell them that if they’re not going to eat something, not to put it on their plate.  If they leave food out on the counter, I get right after them and tell them to put it away!

When Hope called me at the bookstore a couple of days ago to ask me what to do with a carton of sour milk, I told her to leave it for me, and I would look after it.  It wasn’t just “sour milk”…it was lactose-free sour milk, which costs roughly twice as much as regular milk!

Yesterday, I made a chocolate cinnamon cake, and a sour cream cake (because my stepson, Devin, doesn’t like chocolate cake).  This used about 1 and 2/3 cups of the sour milk (didn’t make much of a dent in 2 quarts!).  I resolved to find a recipe for buttermilk rolls to use some more of it.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake...

Sour Cream Cake Decorated by Anna...

Off I went to my trusty “Joy of Cooking,” where, on page 563, there was a recipe for “Buttermilk Rolls or Fan Tans.”  According to the introduction, “Rolls prepared in this way need not be buttered” – that’s my kind of roll! 

I mixed the dough in the manner specified and put it in a “lightly-greased bowl” to rise.  It was a lot stickier than the usual bread dough I use…

After the dough had doubled, I went back to the instructions:  they said to divide the dough in half, and roll each part into a square about 1/8″ thick.  That was my first problem…anybody who has ever rolled out dough knows that trying for a square shape is almost impossible!  I came as close as I could!

I brushed the “square” with melted butter as directed.  The next part said, “Cut into strips 1 1/2″ wide.  Stack them.  There should be from 6 to 8 layers of strips stacked.”  What they don’t mention is that the strips stick to the knife and they stick to the rolling surface.  When one picks them up to stack them, they stretch, stick to your fingers, and then fall over once the stack is high enough!

By the time I got to the next step, I was ready to tear out my hair: “Cut off pieces about 1 1/2″ wide, with a string, as shown below.  Place them in buttered muffin tins, with the cut edges up.”  Below that was a line drawing of delicate fingers slicing through a neat stack of dough with a tiny string.  Mine didn’t look anything like that…being fresh out of string, I grabbed the knife and sliced my toppled stack into chunks, peeled them off the table, and chucked them into the muffin pans (which at least I didn’t have to grease, because they were non-stick!).

Buns Before Cooking...(photo by Jim)

I covered the pans to wait for the rolls to rise again…an hour later, I put them in the oven.  I thought that 425 degrees seemed hot, so set my oven at 375, and crossed my fingers!  Twenty minutes later, I pulled my rolls out of the oven…success!  I’ll serve them for Easter dinner tomorrow.

Buns fresh from the oven...(photo by Jim)

In the morning, I’ll make buttermilk pancakes for breakfast…

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A Girl and Her Dog…

When we lived in an apartment in the city, my kids always wanted to get a dog.  I told them we would get a dog when we got a house in the country.  So we ended up with a cat for many years…

Yoko, who now lives with my daughter, Kaylee

We got our house in the country a little over a year ago, and the kids wanted me to make good on my promise.  The people who lived here before warned us to “get a big dog because of the hawks.”  Anna started prowling kijiji.com regularly.  Since Jim and his kids have allergies, we had to find a dog that was “hypo-allergenic.”  We researched appropriate breeds, and went from there.  One day, Anna found someone advertising schnoodle puppies. 

A schnoodle is a mix of schnauzer and poodle…these puppies were miniatures.  I was a little worried about the dog being too small, but decided we just wouldn’t let him out by himself.  The breeder was in Edmundston, New Brunswick, but we made arrangements to pick up our dog at her relative’s house in Florenceville.

We had several family conversations about names for the new dog…I didn’t want anything silly or fancy.  Since we all like the TV show “2 and a 1/2 Men,” we settled on “Jake.”

When the appointed day arrived, Jim and I drove down without the kids to get the dog.  We borrowed a dog crate from Jim’s sister to bring him back in. 

The minute we saw him, we fell in love with the little white ball of fur.  Jake was cuddly from the start.  The people also gave us a stuffed white cat who was Jake’s buddy (and bigger than he was at the time!).  He used to pick it up and shake it violently, but at night, Jake would drag the toy into his basket and sleep with it.

Jake as a puppy...

When we got back home…poor Jake didn’t have a moment when some kid wasn’t bugging him…in retrospect, he probably loved the attention.  He is a big suck.

Jake is also a champion chewer of objects…one of his favourites is lunchbags and their contents, although cords/headphones for our large supply of electronic gadgets is a close second.

Last spring, we got Jake fixed.  It didn’t slow him down at all!  On one of our first walks around the neighbourhood after that, Jake saw another small dog and promptly slipped his collar.  It was a crazy scene…there were eight people trying to catch one little dog!  Finally, one of the other dog’s owners went into the house and brought out a dog treat…food is one of the things Jake can’t resist!  We managed to catch him and bring him home safely.

Jake in flight...

Although Jake is everybody’s dog, my youngest daughter, Hope, has a special relationship with him.  She takes him for walks more than anybody else, and is the first to notice when Jake needs a bath.  She bathes him and then carefully dries him with the blow dryer.  Then Hope brushes him until he’s all fluffy…he hates that!  He runs around shaking all over until it feels right again!

Hope and Jake...

One day, Hope came out of the bathroom with Jake after giving him a bath.  She said proudly, “I even brushed his teeth!” 

“Whose toothbrush did you use?” I asked, grateful that mine was safe in our upstairs bathroom.

“Mine,” Hope said. 

Luckily, I have spares…

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