Friday, April 20, 2018

Let Them Eat Cake

I've been working on organizing digital photos (still and always), and when I came across folders labeled "Food", "Baking", and "Cakes Cookies Pie", I decided that some of these might be worth a blog post.

Our whole family loves cake (like most families!), and since I like to bake, it was nice when the boys were young and lived at home. I used to use almost any excuse reason to bake a cake, and my two growing boys were always willing to eat cake.

You did well on a spelling or math test? Let's celebrate with cake!




If you got a 5 on your AP Chemistry and Calculus exams, you deserve a cherry cheesecake.


Justin wanted to practice baking a German apple torte for home ec. extra credit, so he did the baking; all I had to do was get some ice cream to go with it.


And then there were birthdays. While this one didn't involve baking, the boys decorated the ice cream cake for John's 94th birthday (which may have actually been his 49th).


Ryan baked my birthday cake, and decorated it with chocolate syrup. (It was delicious!)


Ryan celebrated his 19th birthday in the fall of his freshman year at college. It was his first birthday away from home, so I made his cake and took it to Gettysburg. Have cake, will travel.


And then there was the cell cake. Justin had a biology assignment to make a cell using materials of his choosing, and he chose cake.


I baked the cake, but he decorated it with a cookie nucleus, green gumdrop chloroplasts, fruit leather vacuole, licorice Golgi apparatus, pink taffy mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell!), icing for the endoplasmic reticulum, and sprinkle ribosomes. You can tell it's a plant cell by the yellow fruit rollup cell membrane and the outer green cell wall.

My weekend may need some cake, and I hope there is some in yours also!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Three on Thursday

While I don't think Carole is hosting Three on Thursday today because she's kicking her heels up in new cowboy boots on vacation in Nashville, I do have three things to share today that are blooming here in my yard. This is not to rub salt into the winter wounds of those that still have or are getting snow, but hopefully they might be a small reminder that spring will eventually show up in your neighborhood, no matter where you live.

I've got grape hyacinths,


my favorite bleeding hearts, 


 and the cheeriest of flowers - daffodils.


And for a bonus fourth sign of spring, while I know these tiny green leaves aren't technically blossoms, I just have to celebrate the first sprouts of my mint. I'm looking forward to mint tea (and maybe even a mint julep) in a month or two.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.


I was happily knitting along on my Match & Move last night, having completed the most recent Copper Cloud section and started again with Spice Schwammerl, when I felt something funny.  Examining it closely, I knew I had once again made a mistake, but I couldn't rip down because I wasn't even sure what I had done. 


So I did some actual unraveling this morning.


The stitches are back on the needles and I'm ready to proceed - a bit more carefully this time. This is a simple pattern, but this is also the second time I've made a mistake and had to rip back. There just may be some sort of lesson here (like pay attention)!


I'm also trying to pay attention to my reading. I've complained to several people about being in a reading slump, so I went to the library, perused shelves without overthinking, and came home with some books that looked interesting. I've started the first of these, Foolproofand this mathematical nonfiction may be just what I need. I'm also lucky enough to have an advance copy of the second book in the Beartown trilogy, Us Against You. Both of these books are providing good reasons to pay close attention.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Poetry at Home

April is National Poetry Month and I spent some time yesterday looking through my bookshelves. Poetry has often brought a sense of peace, solace during difficult times, and I often feel wonder at how poets can express emotions so beautifully and completely. Sometimes they can even adroitly point out things you didn't even know you were feeling. I only have a few volumes of poems on my shelves and nothing really struck me. Then I remembered I am lucky enough to be the mother of poets.


Ryan wrote this as a school assignment back in sixth grade. His teacher was taken with the imagery, submitted it to Creative Kids magazine, and he became a published author. I remember reading this for the first time and shedding some tears myself, thankful for being able to see things through his eyes, and that he could describe a perfectly average scene from his window so beautifully. I'm not impartial in any way, but I do love this poem. In honor of National Poetry Month, my oldest poet son who still has a way with words, I'm sharing:

 Gutter Filled With White Flakes

Gutter filled with white flakes as they billowed out-
ward, roof dappled with melting snow. I sat watching
 birds. By chance, I saw them, flooding by like water in
 the rapids, rippling, fluttering about madly as dragon- 
flies. Small, dark, brown birds with tan flecks all down
their bodies ending in bristled curls on their tails. One
halted its skyward ascent to sit on the edge of the
snow-filled gutter. A twig snapped above the bird's
head and plummeted. The bird, startled, slapped its
wings and gracefully soared away from its certain peril. 
One bird gone, yet another replaced it almost immedi-
ately, squatting down, making itself look ever more
pudgy, so pudgy in fact, that I almost had to laugh. 
That bird's visit, too, was cut short. A heavy truck rum-
bled down the road startling the bird, it drove onward 
in its trek to an unknown destination. A cardinal sits
on a tree branch, tree's trunk striped with ribbons of
rolling droplets as if in tears, weeping with sorrow 
at the cardinal's departure. As the smudges of dirt with 
which my window is speckled begin to cloud my view, 
I begin to slip into the world of knowingness. I turn
away, in tears, vowing to look back on this day and
behold again all the glory and peace it brought.



Justin wrote a lot during his high school years. Most of his writing was penned only for himself, privately filling many journals. He wrote this one in high school and it was published in the school literary magazine. He told me the other day that he is still writing poetry, and this makes me and my heart happy. As his mother, I'm completely partial, but I do love this poem, even as it breaks my heart. In honor of National Poetry Month, my youngest poet son who has the ability to use just the right words and has things to teach me, I'm sharing: 

Callous Liasons

Sympathetic?
             No.
Malicious?
             Yes.

Everyday,
Struggling to hear
             Yearning for the words.
Why can't they say
             Yes?

We all covet it
At some point.
Sometimes at
             Ten,
                          Twenty,
                                       Forty.
             Arduous for some
             Effortless for others.

High school.
Should be simple,
             Right?
             Not for me.
                          Not for them.

Not an ordinary
Weekend.
             Met once before
             Mesmerized then
                          Still now.
Must restrict myself
             But I asked.
I got an answer.

She said
             She must shout.
So my heart can hear
             The lethal response.
                           No. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Weekend Wedding

My nephew got married last weekend, and it was a fun family affair. 

My SiL who performed the service, my nephew the groom, and the guy in the shades is my niece's husband.

The lovely young woman with the long blond hair is my niece (the groom's sister),
and the woman smiling with anticipation is my other SiL (the groom's mother).

There was also a beautiful bride, another back view of my SiL, and my sweet grandnephew.

We enjoyed being together with people we don't see often enough.

My BiL and Justin

My nephew, his wife and their son, and my SiL

My wonderful niece and her two handsome sons

Justin, John, me, and my MiL

We ate cake,


Danced,



And had a lovely time. A cold font blew through during the reception, so we were all a bit surprised by the 40 degree drop in temperature when we left, but we had been blessed with a gorgeous, sunny, 82 degree day, fun with family, and a wonderful start to Levi and Adriana's lives together.


Friday, April 13, 2018

And So They Grow


My seedlings don't sing like John Denver's, but most of them are up and growing.


Tomatoes


Napa cabbage


And this is pop corn!

I hope your weekend has some sunshine, warmth, and signs of spring.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three simple things, but boy, do they ever make me happy!


      1.  A loaf of bread (This one happens to be sourdough).

      2.  Balsamic vinegar (Nothing fancy, this is just a big bottle from BJs or Costco).

      3.   And some olive oil (This stuff is special to me)!


I first enjoyed blood orange infused olive oil at Ryan's house in Fort Collins a few years ago. I didn't think I'd be able to get a 13 oz. bottle of it past TSA in carry-on luggage, so I figured I would just order some online when I got home. Imagine my surprise when I found out that shipping was more than the oil itself. While I do love the stuff, even I couldn't justify almost $50 for a precious bottle of blood orange olive oil. 

I had errands to do in PA earlier this week, and when I came back across the bridge into NJ, I had to slow down for a police car turning left. Imagine my surprise when I spied a brand new olive oil store right in front of me. I quickly parked, ran in, and almost jumped for joy when I saw that they did indeed carry my beloved blood orange olive oil. I went home, mixed some oil and vinegar, cut a slice of bread, and sat down and savored a little bit of heaven. I've enjoyed this delight along with a salad for dinner the past two nights, and while I was writing this it dawned on me that I could use this same oil and vinegar mixture to dress my salad. So that's what's for dinner tonight! 

I don't know what it is about the blood orange olive oil, but it is just a perfect taste combination with balsamic vinegar, and I'm thrilled to finally have a local source. I've also been saving this recipe for the past few years, and if I can still find blood oranges in the grocery store,  I'll be trying it soon. Here's hoping you've also got something simple in your life that makes you inordinately happy!

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.


I'm plugging along on my Match and Move. I had to rip out 40 rows because of a mistake I couldn't ignore, but during the re-knitting I learned something valuable. Last week when I was wondering whether these colors worked together or not, Kym left a helpful comment: "My advice whenever working with contrasting colors . . . give yourself plenty of "real estate" before you make a judgement. You really need to be able to see enough of the colors and how they work together before you decide whether they work or not." Once I had knit back to virgin yarn, I had proof; I do love these colors together and wonder what I was fussing about. While Kym didn't actually state this as a law, so many others agreed with her and I've seen the evidence myself that I'm now declaring it Kym's Law of Contrasting Colors. :-)

While I love what I'm knitting, my reading is less inspired. I finished Raven Black and White Nights by Ann Cleeves and thought they were both decent three-star mysteries. I had watched a few episodes of Shetland on Netflix and decided I should read the books upon which the series is based before I watched any more. Then I stumbled upon Enchantress of Numbers on Overdrive and started listening with excitement and anticipation. I thought it was going to be historical fiction about Ada Lovelace but I'm well into the book and she hasn't even been born yet. So far, it's just about her crazy, dysfunctional parents (Anne Milbank and Lord Byron), which is not the story I had hoped for. I'm not sure how much longer I'll persevere with this, especially with some more promising books in my tbr queue. Find out next week!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bonus!

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. 
 ~ Henry David Thoreau

I have a family wedding to attend on Saturday, and because I hate shopping so much, I've put off looking for something to wear. I finally admitted that my usual outfit of jeans, shirt, and a Hitchhiker scarf just won't suffice, and my black funeral suit looks too dour for a spring wedding. My sister-in-law found her dress on Amazon, so I figured if it was good enough for the mother of the groom, it was good enough for me.


I ordered three dresses, two with short sleeves and one long-sleeved, and opened them carefully so I could return them if necessary. I haven't yet tried them on, but while I was laying them out for consideration, I noticed something that made me see this whole getting dressed up thing in a slightly more positive light.



They all came with bonus stitch markers!

Now I wonder if I can also find shoes that come with bonus knitting notions? :-)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...


... is for growing things.


For Christmas, John's sister gave me a gift certificate to White Flower Farm. This is a wonderful gift in itself, and I also enjoyed the wonders and delights of perusing the catalog to make my choice. Would I get an amaryllis? A hydrangea for the front flower bed? Lavender for the kitchen window sill?

I've always wanted a lime tree, so when I came to the citrus pages in the catalog, I really stopped to consider. The only downside was that I would have to be patient because citrus couldn't be shipped until the weather warmed up in April. I decided I could be a grown up and wait, so I ordered my lime tree.


It arrived last week, and I smelled the faintest scent of lime when I opened the box. I've been carrying it around the house, making sure it has a place in the sun as often as possible, just like making a welcome guest comfortable. I don't think I'll be getting out the vodka and tonic just yet, but hopefully it will have blossoms soon and I'll be anxiously awaiting my lime harvest.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Planting Time

 

I usually start my garden seeds on March 28th, maybe because of tradition, superstition, or that's when my grandmother always did it. I didn't want any vulnerable little plants to dry out while I was away, so I declared today as Planting Day.


It's always been an outdoor activity, but since it's snowing again, my kitchen counter became a planting bench. John had planned to rototill the garden tomorrow and plant peas, but with more snow predicted, that will probably happen at a later date.


I planted tiny Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, and Jet Star tomato seeds,


slightly larger Celebrity tomato seeds,


and some nice big Raider cucumber and Top Pop popcorn seeds.


Then I gently pushed all the seeds down into the damp seed starting mix,


gave them a final heavy misting, and covered the cups with plastic wrap to keep the seed starting mix from drying out too quickly.


Then the trays go on my non-fancy seed-starting shelves (plastic shelves from Costco with a suspended fluorescent fixture) where I'll mist them daily and remove the plastic wrap when tiny sprouts begin to appear.


Check back in 7-10 days when I'll hopefully be able to show you some nice green seedlings!