Monday, January 31, 2005

Textile delights in a time out of time

This Saturday I'll be sitting inside or outside (not sure of the weather forecast) at our diocesan retreat center in rural Oklahoma, possibly enjoying the lake view or maybe the warmth of the sun or my very packable down coverlet, talking, laughing, maybe reading, and definitely enjoying a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. This is a diocesan "nurturing weekend" for two Christian formation people per parish (Christian education directors, youth leaders, or someone else they choose -- that's the category for me and the other person from my parish, this year). We are required to leave ALL job- and church-related work at home, so I will be without my usual myriad "to-do"s.

As a result, at some point I will DEFINITELY have a needlework project in my lap. I mean, what is left under those restrictions, away from home and not being able to bake, garden, or any other less-than-portable projects? Well: needlework, reading for pleasure, music, relationships/conversation, prayer, and opportunities to be still, quiet, alone.

When I get out my needlework projects, maybe I'll choose the last wine-dark stitches in a heart for my Valentine's boy, about to turn five, and then start the complicated and fun series of specialty stitches that create a frame around the heart.

Perhaps I'll set a few more stitches in my series of tiny colonial-style "welcome" samplers in a vertical row. As I recall, I'm nearly to the last sampler, so there's some stitching to do yet.

There is a possibility of working on the big cross worked in gray silk fibers to be appliqued onto a stole, but that may be too church-obligation-y. Not sure about that.

A wonderful thing will be learning to knit (or relearning; it's been more than 10 years since my last attempt) with fat needles and surprise variegated yarn. One of the organizers of this overnight away-from-it-all has asked us by email what color yarn we'd like, if we were to want to knit this weekend... and she's planning to bring it all and teach those interested. Wow! How fun!

No computer. No children. No housework. No Sunday preparation. No Web site maintenance. No church duties at all. No work for my other volunteer stuff. I always miss my husband and boys when I'm away overnight, but it's for just over 24 hours -- a nice length of time.

I'm busy all week, but on Saturday morning I'll be on my way!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The vocation of the family

...a crucial part of Christian family life [is] the vocation of the family and its members to transform the world through sacrificial service for neighbor.
...if a family can afford to live on one salary and to have one parent that is not employed, then the opportunities for ministry and service are extraordinary. The person freed from paid employment may be able to do things in the community that would never have happened otherwise...

I love discovering little mind-blowing countercultural stuff like that. Both quotes are from "A Response to Don Browning's 'Critical Familism, Civil Society, and the Law,'" by Rebekah Miles, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

I also love it when the Web is a web drawing me along from one discovery to another. I read the above article after finding the first response by Amy Laura Hall of Duke University Divinity School. I was exploring her online writings tonight after reading an announcement of her upcoming lecture at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. (Yes, I occasionally poke around seminary Web sites. So sue me!) More on her soon.

UPDATE: Arrgh, I should read more carefully. Amy Laura Hall's lecture was back in December. Also, I corrected my link to the ETSS page about her.

The amazing, sort-of-calm racing birthday party

It sure was amazing. For Son1's celebration of having turned nine in December, I finally pulled together his birthday party and we held it this afternoon. The theme was racing -- centered around the kids playing MarioKart Double Dash on our Nintendo GameCube, which can handle up to four players at once. The kids had a lot of fun, made sure on their own that everyone got turns at doing the various things (solo driving and two-in-a-car co-op -- which meant one player drove and the other threw objects).

I've never had such a calm kids' birthday party in my life! My friend who stayed to help dear husband and me... worked on a racecar jigsaw puzzle at one point while the kids played! We had entire actual conversations between, say, making the suggestion that it was time to switch to co-op racing and time to open presents. Too funny!

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't *silent* -- it's that they were sort of focused, whether driving, throwing, or watching. "oooh, man!" "sweet!" "arrrgh" "grrr" (that would be the nearly-five Son2) "throw it now!" "sweet!" "ouch!"

Using some racing clip art, I made up name tags for them as a coming-in-the-door activity before racing. I also made up award certificates for Best Driver (individual), Best Driver (co-op/team), Best Thrower (co-op/team), Fastest Race (individual), Fastest Race (co-op/team), Most Awesome Crash, Most Improved Driver, and Best Sport.

After a bunch of racing, I awarded the certificates, and Son1 opened presents. Then we served, Son1's request, a sort of "dirt" sundae for each boy: a layer of crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, a layer of softened chocolate ice cream, another layer of cookie crumbs, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and some whipped cream fizzed from a can. Then they washed up again and split up, some racing and others dueling with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, until parents started arriving for pickup. Each took home his certificate and a set of little race cars that you assemble after punching out the pieces from stiff plastic cards.

All in all, great fun and I'm chocolated out! Later this week it'll be time to plan Son2's party for two weeks from today...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Stay-at-Home Mom's Life Bursts with Excitement!

It's been 24 hours full to bursting with stay-at-home-mom excitement, hahaha. I cleaned the kitchen to a new level of "done" -- until tomorrow, anyway. I finished plans for the Son1 birthday party we're hosting tomorrow with a car-racing theme (MarioKart Double Dash video gaming as teams, and other fun things). I detailed the tub in my bathroom and took a wonderful bath for the first time in months; I'd forgotten how much I enjoy a hot bath! We learned a family member's metastasized cancer has shown up in yet another spot, and chemo and radiation are back on the table as possibilities -- sigh. Prayers continue. I discovered yet again that any dinner is better with homemade bread, and crunchy homemade breadsticks make it even better. I trimmed both boys' unruly shaggy hair, and discovered that cutting my own hair for over a year has built up my confidence and experience, yay. I worked on the MOMS Club February newsletter and brought it a little closer to being finished.

That's about it, other than hanging out with the kids this morning and again this evening as they and dear husband played video games; I enjoyed catching up on my homemaker magazines (Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, and the latest King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue) between stretches of watching their gaming.

Still pending for this weekend: refresh my memorization of the parable of the leaven for my Godly Play class tomorrow morning; pick up birthday gift for Son2 to take to a birthday party after Son1's party ends; buy chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream, fun whipped cream in a can, and chocolate syrup for Son1's "dirt cake"-like ice cream sundae that we'll serve at his party; set up some activities and make "best at..." certificates for the party; call a sister-in-law with our happy-40th-birthday-wishes; mock up a Web site concept for a friend/client; mock up the household budget for February :) I suspect dinner will be a frozen-dinner-exchange meal from the freezer, and that's a wonderful thing.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bread has been made

Ten people came, with kids; bread was made and eaten, cinnamon rolls were made, pizza dough was made and put in the fridge for tonight (the actual making-pizza stage would've been after everyone left). All went wonderfully, as far as I can tell, except the second batch of Cuban bread, which didn't rise properly. I pointed out to everyone that I think I hadn't paid enough attention to realize that it hadn't risen enough and wasn't ready to bake, and that all it needed (probably) was more time. After everyone left and I'd taken Son2 to school, I made myself a cup of fresh, hot coffee and put my feet up! Oh, and emailed the recipes to everyone. Thank you, friends who washed up the bowls and so on -- that was wonderful, too.

Surprise snowfall

It was raining during the night, so I was stunned when I glanced outside while making the boys' breakfast and noticed WHITE STUFF on the ground!!! An hour later it looked like this!! This snow was supposed to miss us, so I'd paid no attention to the not-here-snow forecast. Ha. Ha. Ha. It was soooo pretty before it began to melt from the trees around noon. I took these photos around 8:30 am. Posted by Hello

Snowing in front Posted by Hello

Snowing in back and in the park behind and on the houses beyond that Posted by Hello

Very pretty snowy trees, ours and our neighbors (photo taken from our second floor) Posted by Hello

Our ornamental grasses turn blond after January freezes, and they're especially nice all snowy. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ready, set, ...

Yes, Christmas is now packed away, and I uncovered some sweet wintry art projects that Son1 made over the last several years, now displayed on the mantel until the end of February. Bobblehead moose, also discovered, are now tucked in a fun place in the dining area along with some Son1-made paper gingerbread boys and other such things. So sweet!

Flour is coming to room temp, counters are nearly clear, recipes are ready, ingredients doublechecked, and I'm going to bed shortly to get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow it'll be ready, set, teach-mix-teach-knead-teach-bake-teach-mix-eat. The kids' toys aren't picked up, though -- oh well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Breadmaking with a crowd

How to teach 10-12 people to make bread in two hours? Here's my plan.

Clear the counters, I mean really clear the counters. Wash the top of the kitchen/dining table, too. Double-check the recipes and the ingredient quantities. Write out the triple-batch ingredient quantities so you don't have to think too hard in the moment. Make sure the flour is at room temperature. Have plenty of kitchen towels for floury hands that need to go help a kid or get something to drink. Set up two borrowed stand mixers as well as your own. Get a good night's sleep and eat a good breakfast.

First thing that morning, make up cinnamon roll dough and set it to rise. Put out ingredients at each stand mixer. When most everyone has arrived, give a quick intro to the idea of making yeast bread, then get started on the three batches of Cuban bread dough. When everyone has taken a look at the wet dough, the flour-adding step, and dough that's ready to knead, and then kneaded the dough, put it to rise in bowls and take a quick break to see to kids and drink more coffee, water, whatever.

Divide the dough into half-loaf portions and put everyone to work on shaping their own little loaf (at the counter and table, taking turns if necessary). Put them all in the oven to bake. Take another break.

Roll out the cinnamon roll dough, giving everyone a chance to roll out or simply handle the dough. Top with cinnamon mixture, then roll it up and offer turns at cutting the rolls. Put the pans of cinnamon rolls aside to rise.

When the Cuban bread is done, bake the cinnamon rolls. Give the Cuban bread a few minutes to cool, and then slice a loaf and hand out tastes.

Start a batch of pizza dough; note the different way to start the yeast, and the different texture of the dough. Put it aside to rise in a bowl.

Eat the cinnamon rolls, too!

If there's time, roll out the pizza dough and show how springy it is unless you let it rest. No time to bake and eat it, though. Make calzone or prebaked pizza crust after everyone leaves.

Send everyone home with a small loaf of Cuban bread, and recipes for Cuban bread, cinnamon rolls, and pizza dough.

Well, that's the plan, anyway. I only have two hours, and there will be lots of participants and lots of little kids. My house may end up quite flour-y, but it ought to smell really good!

Make way for the new

I'm really trying, I really am, to pack away Christmas. I NEED to clear the decks by bedtime Thursday; on Friday morning I'm going to host 11 people and their little kids, and teach the grownups to make homemade bread. I need the room!

The decorations are down, the cards and Christmas letters are neatly stacked for a last read-through, everything is off the tree but the lights, and the storage boxes are ready and waiting. It's just that... I packed so haphazardly last year and didn't have enough room for everything anyway that I used the old Easter box for the last of the Christmas stuff and then didn't have anywhere to put the Easter stuff, and... this time I'm determined to put away everything in a sensible way. But I need to get it done by *tomorrow*. At the same time as I prep for Friday morning's breadmaking lesson! I believe a good Thursday morning plan will be: make strong coffee, eat a good breakfast, and power into it.

After the holiday boxes are packed and stowed in the sunroom (until dear husband can put them in the attic this weekend), I'll seriously clear off my kitchen counters, get 1-2 bags of flour from the freezer, and find places for the two stand mixers I borrowed. At some point tomorrow the boys and I will edit their playroom toys for the slew of kids who'll be here, too.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tough God questions from 9 year old

My just-turned-nine son, my oldest, has over the last couple of months provided some challenging "God" questions and moments for me, and I'm mulling over what I could do that might help him -- and me.

In those "in between" moments, in the car or at bedtime, he has on several occasions asked me how I can know God exists. Then he tells me that no one can prove that God exists. Yikes! I deal with this the best I can in the moment, and try to think of things that would help him face these questions from a faith perspective.

There's something that stricts me as comical about his God questions and statements as I struggle mightily to be open to his questions and trust the Spirit to lead him: these are the very same questions I struggled with as a physics/math/etc. high school and college student! It's hard to express how peculiar that is. Maybe it's just me :)

I wonder if he picked up this idea from school -- I afterschool him (pursue his/our interests and my goals in our own time) -- or from his extensive reading (current favorite: the Redwall series by Brian Jacques). I'll ask him where these ideas came from for him.

What ends up happening in the moment is that I listen to him and try to understand what he's saying, and I tell him that God cannot be proven or disproven -- that God simply Is, and is a mystery -- something you can't do experiments on to understand. (My goodness, how did we get into this?!?)

Last night I brought my (Episcopal) Book of Common Prayer to the dinner table and started reading aloud the catechism Q-and-As for family discussion; it went really well. He asked about the Greek and Roman gods, and dear husband, the boys, and I talked about some interesting things. I think we'll do more of that over the coming days and weeks.

To give him more faith language to think about in the midst of this, I also returned to singing the "Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth..." It's part of our bedtime song repertoire that's been built up over the three years since he didn't want spoken bedtime prayers anymore.

Any thoughts, suggestions, "been there"s?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

More books being read

I'm reading fiction for my book group. It's time to start Memoirs of a Geisha, but during Son1's Thursday evening library program I picked up my requested copy of the next book, Angels and Demons (yes, by the author of "The Da Vinci Code") and started reading it. Not too bad, definitely a page turner. I'm also trying to finish this month's book, The Red Tent -- a refresher after reading it several years ago -- because the Red Tent discussion guide I found at the Union for Reform Judaism site was really, really interesting.

I am so glad I'm reading Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence (see sidebar); it has a lot of information and ideas about pretend violence and kids. It fits with what has always made sense to me - Jung, archetypes, fairy tales, kids being attracted to powerful images when they are stuck with little control over their lives. Very interesting to me, especially now that we are all enjoying our new video game system and finally *I* am playing games, both solo and with the family. I'm sure I'll blog on this whole experience; it's gotten me thinking a lot about parenting, media & kids, and unchallenged assumptions.

Back to fiction. A friend introduced me to the Thursday Next books, and I love them! I need to finish Lost in a Good Book so I can start the next book, heehee. I borrowed The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn from the library after reading a review of the next book by the same author; I have no idea if I'll like it, so we'll see.

The second annual science fair at the boys' elementary school is coming up soon, and Son1 is interested in doing something with bubbles and his Zome bubbleology kit. After we worked the library catalog a bit, he's now reading books about bubbles and I'm reading books about science fair projects. I helped judge last year's fair, but I never participated in a science fair as a kid so as a parent I'm trying to get a clue on the doing part!

Finally, last night I pulled this book off my shelf and decided it would be a good Lenten discipline to read it: Raising Faith-Filled Kids: Ordinary opportunities to nurture spirituality at home, by Tom McGrath. I've browsed through it many times and am really impressed. Now I think it's time to READ it.

The parable of the mustard seed

Another mom and I co-lead our Sunday school or church school Godly Play class. Our kids are prekindergarten and kindergarten age, so they turn 5 and 6 sometime during this school year. Godly Play is a Montessori-based approach to faith formation that I could go on and on about, but I just want to mention our current topic, which is parables.

This Sunday we don't meet because of the annual parish (business) meeting, but last Sunday I presented the parable of the mustard seed. The parable of the mustard seed is one of Jesus's answers to the question, "what is the kingdom of heaven?" He said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that, when planted, grows and grows until it's big like a tree, and the birds of the air come and make their nests in it.

In Godly Play, parables are told with flat materials because parables are a different sort of thing from most of the other stories. So, the underlay is a big mustard yellow oval of felt, the seed sower is an ink drawing mounted on foam core (I think), the mustard bush is a many-branched green felt cutout that I unroll as it grows, and the birds of the air and their nests in the tree are little ink drawings mounted on foam core. The mustard seed is "so tiny that even looking very closely you wouldn't be able to see it," so we simply imagine it.

I love the parables presented Godly Play-style. There are so many aspects to be open to. This time the kids were really interested in placing the birds and the nests. One child wanted every bird to be in a nest. Another child wanted each nest to be in a certain place. Another child said one bird was dead. One aspect of Godly Play is to provide faith language so we (kids and all) can work with things that concern us, in the context of faith. I think the birds could be us, and that's my own thought. Who knows what the kids were each thinking. We ask wondering questions, but at this age sometimes they keep their thoughts to themselves.

After working with this parable for a few years, I wrote an article for my Web site about Sundays and family life, and found it really helpful to begin with this parable. Those are the kinds of wonderful, sideways, nonlinear connections that Godly Play nurtures, in my opinion.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

A cold and windy day, but warm inside

The near-arctic chill has descended upon the southern Great Plains, perhaps so that we can be sympathetic to those folks enduring the great snowstorm in the Great Lakes area and northeastern states. Yikes!

Outside it's nothing like the last three days of 70F temps -- other than the beautiful blue skies, anyway. We're in the mid-30s and expecting to see the teens overnight. And it's been fiercely windy. I didn't sleep well last night (coughing -- bleagh), and every time I was awake I heard the wind pushing hard against the house. From the north, of course.

Inside, on the other hand, I've been cooking stuff that takes time, and updating my Web site, and the guys have been playing! I've been working on black bean soup, beef stock, and part-whole-wheat bread.

This morning I rinsed my soaking black beans and set them to cook, and the good smells of onion, black pepper, and garlic quickly filled the house. I season my beans; I don't like the plain bean cooking smell.

Once that was started, I pulled some ham out of the freezer to thaw for the black bean soup. Then I chopped up some carrots and onion and set them to roasting with the beef bone pieces I got through the Oklahoma Food Co-op. I am definitely a meat eater; the smell of the beef roasting was heavenly!

Next, I mixed up my favorite white bread dough, but with 1 cup of stone-ground whole wheat flour replacing 1 cup of regular flour, and for the first time I used my wheat gluten -- to help the bread dough rise with the WW flour.

After the beef bones were nicely browned, I put them in my stock pot with the roasted veggies, added some water to the roasting pan, patiently scraped up all of the browned bits, and put all of that plus some seasonings into the stock pot.

Right now the black beans and the beef stock-to-be are simmering, the bread is doing its final rise in the loaf pans, and I'm trying to remember whether I've eaten since I got up. Ooooops!!

My perennial problem is getting the beans soft enough for some in the family; I can't seem to get 'em truly tender without freezing them. I promise that I don't salt them until the very end. If I can manage "tender" today, then for dinner we'll have black bean soup, or simply seasoned black beans in broth over white rice with shredded Cheddar -- and part-whole-wheat bread on the side, of course! With some veggie or other, too. I'll make beef stew tomorrow night or Monday night, using a simple recipe from my copy of the 2004 Better Times Almanac). Then I'll freeze the rest of the beef broth.

My favorite way to do this kind of cooking is to have NOTHING else I need to do and nowhere else to go, all day long. Then there's plenty of time and it becomes relaxing instead of stressful to manage multiple pots and bread, too.

The guys have been playing video games for a while, with a break and lunch at noon. Now dear husband is playing and the boys like to watch him play and advise him. Sometimes that goes well, other times not. He got really frustrated with one bad guy whom he simply could not defeat, and afterward he asked Son2 (nearly 5 years old), "what are you supposed to tell me?" Son2 was mystified, and dear husband suggested, "Calm down, Daddy." Hehehe.

I also updated my Faith at Home Web site front page to focus on daily life, with the second focus being Lent, Holy Week, and Easter -- Lent starts very early this year: February 9!

I'd better go find something to eat, and put the bread in the oven. Yummmmm! Anyone else out there keeping warm on a frigid day today?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pomp, pageantry, politics, power

The kids don't get to use the GameCube today -- I'm surfing between the networks and MSNBC for presidential inauguration coverage. Love it! The Golden Globes and Oscars are fun for the gowns, but the inauguration has it all -- people of power, traditions, public ceremony, a big speech by the president, a parade, media discussion of security and current issues and politics and past presidents, etc., etc.

Now, when's the State of the Union speech?

Gotta go, I want to see the big names being seated...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Italian Meatball Soup, my version

Yesterday late afternoon I had a hankering for Italian meatball soup, or at least some sort of soup with meatballs in it. It helped that I knew I had storebought Italian meatballs in the freezer and a couple of cans of chicken stock in the pantry, and I'd seen a recipe for Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup on the Frozen-Assets email list recently.

By dinnertime we were sitting down to Italian meatball soup. How did I do it? I substituted a bunch of Italian meatballs for bulk Italian sausage, skipped the canned diced tomatoes and white beans, substituted egg noodles for the shell-shaped pasta, skipped the fresh spinach leaves, added frozen green beans, and eyeballed the amounts of everything according to how much chicken broth I had -- the recipe included three quarts of broth! Dear husband and wonderful boys loved it, or at least (Son2) ate the meatballs, a green bean, and some broth.

My Quick Italian Meatball Soup

12 or so frozen Italian-style meatballs
1 tsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/4 onion, minced (could be chopped; it's a texture thing for some in the family)
1 clove garlic, minced (I buy minced garlic in a jar)

Cook in a 2-quart saucepan until the onion is translucent.

2 cans or 4 cups chicken broth
1/2 can or 1 cup of water
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil.

1 cup or so of frozen green beans
2 cups dried egg noodles

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Nearly everyone gobbled it up, and this is a very big deal as I have in the past been very frustrated with trying to make a good soup. Hurrah! Dear husband suggested adding mushrooms at the saute stage, and definitely a crusty bread would be great. I was working with what we had on hand, so I served whole-wheat sandwich bread with butter, LOL!

For the ladies, I highly recommend

...cloth pads for "that time of the month." I've been using cloth pads for about 3 1/2 years, and they're sooooo great. Super comfortable, work really well, don't show, NO recurring cost until it's time to replace them, and they're easy to care for. I just got a new set, and love, love, love them. In the last few years the work-at-home moms making pads have gotten quite innovative. What I finally decided on: Freshies, or Fresh Moon pads.

If that's more than you wanted to know about these things, try to think of something else for a while - "lalalalala!" - sorry. :)

Monday, January 17, 2005

We cooked for now and later, too

I'm tired and a little chilled, so I'm heading to bed quite early tonight. But first, I shall boast! of family kitchen accomplishments!

Saturday night I cooked pasta and fixed our simple seasoned tomato sauce to go with it. The twist was that I realized beforehand that with very little additional work I could make FOUR dinners that night. So I cooked up two pounds of ziti and that other stuff with the angled ends -- the name is escaping me -- whatever. Anyway, I also grabbed from the freezer some leftover seasoned sauce and a good amount of shredded Mozzarella and let them thaw while we ate. A while after dinner I mixed together the rest of the pasta, all of the sauce, and several handfuls of Mozzarella, and divided it among three pans for the freezer. Voila! Three future dinners!

Sunday night I made Mexican-style red rice for our standard burrito dinner: flour tortillas filled with refried beans (I used leftover homemade bean dip from our party!), my rice, and cheese for those who like cheese (not me). Later I put Son2, who will be five next month, to bed and returned to a completely dear-husband-cleaned kitchen AND a dinner pan filled with a layered Mexican-leftover casserole! WOW! Another future dinner!

Tonight I had the bright idea of making breakfast for dinner. Dear husband would cook eggs and I would flip pancakes. The thing with pancakes is that I make a quintuple batch (yep, multiply by five) so we have lots of pancake leftovers for breakfasts and pancake/peanut-butter sandwiches. Tonight I also decided to fix a recipe for baked oatmeal, so we could taste test it tomorrow morning. Soon the kitchen smelled great: cinnamon and vanilla from the baking oatmeal dish, and the eggs and pancakes sizzling.

What I didn't think of was 1 item in oven needing counter space to cool, plus dear husband being generous and fixing eggs 2 different ways and me using 2 pans to cook pancakes in batch style. We worked it out, got everything cooked and everyone filled with good food, and now we also have a big stash of pancakes that will last maybe three days. LOL!

I did try an oat/whole-wheat/regular flour pancake recipe on the side, which was another reason I used two pans. I often try other pancake recipes alongside our standard in my search for a yummy whole-grain pancake, but as usual with these things it was deadly heavy. I threw out most of the batter and kept the 12 or 15 pancakes of those I'd cooked up. I'm sure I can manage to eat them with vanilla yogurt or something. I'll probably toast them to make them hot and crackly; that'll help too. Sigh.

Anyway, after three days we have FOUR dinners and maybe 3-5 breakfasts, NOT EVEN counting the baked oatmeal, 'cause we haven't even tried it yet. Woohoo! By the way, these dinner pans are the GladWare OvenWare 8x8 pans extras that I bought along with the ones for my MOMS Club frozen dinner exchange group. The lids snap on and then they slide very nicely into a one-gallon zip bag as another layer of freezer protection (and to hold a label and date, or recipe, between the pan lid and the bag). Just a little tip there.

Just a little happy kitchen dance (shuffle, shuffle)!

Must. Go. To. Bed.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Looks like the party's over...

The party went great, with lots of friends and conversation, kids playing, and yummy food and drink. I gave up making the chocolate cake in order to declutter in earnest Thursday and Friday -- WOW the house looks great! Even the day after! In addition to simply putting much stuff away, I worked hard to clear all horizontal surfaces and find "away" places for that stuff. I even cleared off the fridge; everything did a disappearing act except my favorite Doonesbury cartoon and all of the extended-family snapshots. I guess decluttering what you see is as important as putting things in their right places. It's sooooo nice.

Well, except for one single closet that's stacked full in an organized manner 'cause I know exactly where certain bags and boxes are headed now that the party is over and I want to make SURE they get out the door (clothes being passed on to friends, for example). The other exception is of course my tornado-aftermath-lookalike office, but that's the loft at the top of the stairs and no one is supposed to go there, LOL! It is crying out for some basic organization and tossing-of-old-papers. We'll see if I answer that cry sooner rather than later.

Onward into the new year.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Holidailies NOT

I'm pretty sure I was the anti-Holidailies, as I pretty much stopped blogging during the period the Holidailies participants vowed to blog daily! (Dec 6 - Jan 7). Oh well, I'm hoping I can say "I'm back!" to frequent blogging and get back in the groove. I miss blogging.

In the meantime, it's crunch time for our annual Twelfth Night party tonight, postponed from Jan 5 due to the streets-o-ice around here. Today's high should reach 50F, so all is safe again. All that's left today is making a chocolate Bundt-type cake, prepping the fresh veggies, setting up the party meatballs in the slow cooker, and... decluttering!!! (Aaaaaaaaah! -- but it sure makes for a neat, tidy house.)

THEN I need to deal with the stuff I WAS going to do after the party this week, but that "after the party" time this week has telescoped down to nil. I'll be doing most of that stuff this weekend. For instance:

...Write up minutes to read at a meeting on Saturday morning. Write up my brief bio blurb for my nomination as parish delegate to our statewide annual church convention (been 3 times, really like that experience -- true!). Call all the parents of the kids Son1 wants to invite to his birthday party, which we pushed off to next weekend, and poll them on Sat vs. Sun. Prepare the Godly Play story for my Sunday school class. Prep for my MOMS Club frugal group (I toss topics into the discussion), the community library expansion committee meeting, AND a church-related meeting Monday. ...and there's other stuff later in the week, but so it goes.

The kids got a GameCube for Christmas and I decided to learn to play this stuff, so I'll be taking a racing break at some point today, and maybe this weekend I'll work on learning to play Quidditch or solve those frustrating puzzles in the Polar Express game :)

A happy and blessed new year to you and yours!