Monday, April 27, 2009

Yoo Hoo!

It's late and I must go to bed, having just spent an hour having a heart-to-heart with Redheaded Snippet about her grief as she watches the final words in this major chapter of her life being written. I think she woke up this morning and realized she will be graduating from 8th grade in only 8 weeks. Lots of change is ahead and she is beginning to quake a bit.

But I just had to pop in and declare that I am still here! Our Internet and phone service were out for almost three weeks! Even our service providers couldn't figure out what the problem was! But, thankfully, a very nice, young Miracle Man in a Comcast baseball cap and t-shirt was able to come by after dinner this evening and set everything to rights again. Redheaded Snippet practically flew to the keyboard, losing herself in a mad spree of IMing everyone she knows all at once!

So, it's been scandalously long since I've last posted and I have LOADS to catch up on, but I will be back very, very shortly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Is Risen

He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter or Resurrection Sunday, however your tastes may be! I know faithful ones who prefer both. But it doesn't really matter what you call it, in my mind. What matters is that He died, He rose again, and is coming again. Without what we celebrate today all else would be for naught.

We dye eggs and leave an Easter basket on the dining room table after the kids have gone to sleep and they get all excited about their chocolate bunnies and jelly beans the next morning (Man-Cub, after all, still believes in the Easter Bunny), but we don't lose sight of what we're really celebrating.

One year, when I was walking far from God and did not really care to celebrate the Resurrection, I tried to have a "secular" Easter like I imagine most of the world does. It was awful. It made no sense. I thought to myself, "WHY does everyone do this? What is the point? The purpose? We dye eggs and give the kids candy and get dressed up for no reason?" I realized that year that the trappings and trinkets and treats traditionally associated with Easter (how's that for an alliteration?) don't steal the real meaning from the Resurrection, but instead have no meaning themselves without it.

I know, candy and toys in and of themselves mean nothing compared to the Resurrection. But to a child, they mean a lot. And telling a child they get gifts to enjoy as a reminder of the joyous gift of eternal life is a good thing. And something that stays with them.

So put on your Easter bonnet and your new dress and your white gloves if you have them (I would so wear them if I could) and get thee to your church. Remember, while the bells ring joyfully, the gift only one man in history has given, given for you. And remember, while seeking eggs in corners and hedges, how you have been sought for and paid for, so you may live eternally.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Thinking Spring

I think I may safely unpack my brain; it has rested long enough for now.

For the first time in a loooooong time we are having truly glorious weather. There are very gusty winds today, but the sun is shining as if trying to make up for all the times it couldn't over the past several months. Though I love winter, this last one seemed especially dreary and gloomy and I spent a few moments today on the kitchen porch breathing deep and soaking up the light and warmth. Birds were singing, breezes were blowing, and Man-Cub was running all over the yard picking the last of the daffodils, his sweet face lit up with the delight of bringing Mom the first of the year's flowers in his grubby, little fist.

(An old shot of Man-Cub bringing me flowers--one of my favorites)

We have sort of a wild bouquet sitting in a jug on the dining room table. I brought some daffodils, heath aster, and delphiniums from Produce Junction yesterday. The day was mostly stormy and grey and, feeling a wee bit too stormy and grey myself, I decided a bright bunch of flowers was in order. Of course, by the evening rush, the sun had pushed through the clouds, but it was still lovely to have those flowers in the house. Today, Man-Cub brought in the straggler daffodils and the few hyacinths remaining in an old flower bed planted by the previous owner long ago. I love hyacinths but too much exposure to them gives me a headache and makes me nauseated so I don't plant or buy them. But one or two in a jug for a day or too is just right.

I am doing some maintenance laundry; I've finally gotten caught up so now I'm just keeping up. I cannot let this sunny, windy day go by without taking advantage of the clothes line! And I've decided that, as soon as that last load of towels comes off the line, I'm going through them and giving/throwing away all but eight of them and the towels for the pool (which will be packed away until the pool opens and packed away again once it closes). There is just no good reason for the amount of towels that wind up in the dirty laundry each week. I know, I have a teenager, but she is just as capable as the rest of us of reusing a towel that has only been used to dry off a body in its cleanest state! And, I swear, this is the week I get The Viking to install four towel hooks behind the bathroom door for each person to hang their towel on when they've finished using it and if you leave yours on the floor instead of on the hook where it will not get abused in any way that's not my problem!

Anyway...I'm also considering making a berry tart this afternoon (which, Crikey, is almost over, now that I look at it)! I went a little berry bonkers at Wegmans yesterday. They had all these berries on sale and they looked so juicy and fresh so I bought 'em all! And, having gotten them home and sampled them, I can tell you they are as juicy and fresh as they look, even if they weren't grown locally! But, I looked at the amount of berries I have on hand and, calculating the amount of fresh fruit my family will willingly consume in any given week, divided by the number of extra pre-made pie crusts I have languishing in the fridge (no, I don't make my own crusts, so shoot me), came to the conclusion that a free-form, fresh berry tart was definitely in order. As soon as the washer stops!

I think the washer has actually stopped. Which means my break is over. I must go retrieve Man-Cub from the clutches of the Wii, set him in motion with the vacuum, transfer the wet laundry, start a new load, peg out the wet clothes, and begin the tart. But, the windows are open, the sun is still shining, and I have a favorite song list on iTunes that always makes my chores more enjoyable. So I don't even care that I have so much to do!

A warm welcome to Spring, indeed!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hear me roar

Posting recipes is making me feel empowered, somehow, so I'm continuing with it. I'm discovering that I am, as it turns out, a very visual learner. Don't tell me how to do something, show me; and I'm more likely to get it. As such, I've discovered that I have to keep visual records of my successes around and get them out from time to time to remind myself that I'm not a stupendous failure. And that's what these recipes do for me, I look at them and remember, "Oh, yeah, I did that!"

So, at the risk of over-stroking my ego, here's another family favorite. It's not that impressive, but it's a stand-by. When I just can't take one more whine, one more weary sigh, one more wrinkled nose at the dinner table (and when boneless, skinless chicken is on sale), I serve this. Gets 'em every time!

Herbed Baked Chicken Cutlets
(from a local church cookbook)
(Serves 8)

-1 large Reynolds baking bag
-8-10 pieces boneless, skinless chicken
-2 T chicken seasoning blend
-1 t garlic and herb seasoning
-1 T olive oil
-1 packet onion soup mix
-1 T white wine

*NOTE: I have used just about every combination of spices and herbs imaginable. I have found that these seasonings and the amounts used are mere suggestions. This recipe works with almost anything. I've even substituted a small amount of cider vinegar for white wine and it's still good. It's the baking bag that provides the magic.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In bag mix dry seasonings.

3. Add chicken, wine and oil and shake until chicken is coated (shaking never works for me, I just kind of mush it around until it's all coated).

4. Place bag in shallow 9x13 baking dish, fasten with plastic thingy provided (or use a twistie), and cut vent slits in the bag as indicated on the box.

5. Bake for 1 hour.

With this chicken I usually serve:

Sweet Buttered Corn
(same church cookbook)

-16 oz frozen corn
-1/2 cup water
-1 t sugar
-3 T butter

Place corn and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add butter and sugar. Cook 5 minutes.

And Roasted Asparagus (can't remember where I got it, but I've made this for years now and it's always a hit)

-asparagus (as much as you want)
-olive oil
-salt (the coarser the better)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Prepare baking sheet by drizzling with olive oil (you can use cooking spray but it's just not as good).

3. Wash asparagus and snap woody ends off. Dry well.

4. Place asparagus on baking sheet and roll in oil to coat (if using baking spray, you may have to spray the asparagus to coat them well enough).

5. Sprinkle with salt.

6. Roast 10 minutes.

This meal can't be easier and you get to sit and catch up on email, fold laundry, or make a few phone calls while the chicken just bakes itself (my favorite kind of meal, with down time built in).