Saturday, September 15, 2007

Morning Walk

We finally had rain!! This summer, most of North Carolina has been suffering from a drought. Grass is brown, azaleas are dying, the leaves on branches are wilting. But last night, we had the greatest storm - it just rained and rained - all night... a soft constant rain that quenches the earth to its very core.

What else to do the morning after such a downpour but go for a walk? We have trail in the woods nearby that we call "The Adventure Walk." Aptly named, one time we found sturdy vines hanging from the trees. The kids took turns playing Tarzan by swinging precariously from a bank out over the stream. Fun for them, but the adults experienced unnecessary heart palpitations that day.

The stream that travels alongside the trail has a sort of sandbar at one part. You can climb down to it and wade in the water. This morning we found a ball for Dasher to chase and, like most dogs, he loves the water. My daughter joined him and they had a great time splashing together. What a treat for them both!

It was just delightful to walk in the cool shade of the trees, with drips of water still falling from the leaves when a breeze came through. The rays of the morning sun filtering through the mist was so beautiful and peaceful. Little spiders were busy weaving their intricate webs and
cicadas were buzzing in the distance. What a great way to start a weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Making Cakes

The other morning my husband had to work, so my daughter and I had some time to spend together - just the two of us. We played a little Disney video game where Minnie Mouse makes cakes - the party kind - two layers with lots of icing and confetti. When we finished, my daughter put on the Krispy Kreme baker's hat my mother in-law brought home from our local Krispy Kreme shop. She looked at me and said "Let's make cakes." I laughed and said "The real kind?" She shrugged and said "We can make them out of paper." I thought for a moment and said "How about clay?" She nodded in agreement.

I rummaged through the craft room and found some Sculpey. I also found a bag of aquarium pebbles from our unfortunate experiment with hermit crabs (poor things - does anyone raise those little guys successfully??) We spent the morning making cakes, c
andles and plates decorated with colorful pebbles. Aren't they cute?

Afterward, she took the cakes to her "shop" where I could buy them. And so I did. About 10 times. Ah, to be young again! How thrilling it must be to pretend you own a lovely bakery where you sell the most delightful cakes to the most appreciative customers!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Making Deviled Eggs

My mom offered to have us over for a BBQ to celebrate labor day. I said, "How about I bring wine... and... deviled eggs?" She said, "What a great idea!"

I called my husband to tell him I was making deviled eggs for the BBQ. He said "Oh, no. Okay, I'll make them."

What you have to understand is that my husband is a chef. He does all the cooking in the house, mainly, I think, because he has major control issues over the kitchen. Whenever I try to cook, he hovers. He tells me to use chicken stock for the noodles, add this spice or that, turn the flame up on the stove, decrease the settings on the convection oven... you know, do it his way. Finally, he gets so frustrated, he kicks me out of the kitchen and takes over.

Most of the time I don't mind. The kitchen is his domain and I'm not much of a cook anyway. I'd rather putter around in the craft room, start the laundry or play a game with my daughter. But this time, I really wanted to make the deviled eggs, dang it.

So I said, "What do you mean 'oh, no'? Deviled eggs are easy! I'm going to make them" (Of course, I've never made deviled eggs before but I was sure I remembered my mom making them in a flash.)

He said, "No way, honey. You need to use a Robot Coupe, you need a pastry bag, you need a binder to make the oil of the mayonnaise stick to the eggs. There is a certain way to boil the eggs to make sure the yolks don't t
urn gray or else your filler won't be bright."

What he said went way over m
y head so I just said "What are you talking about!?!" I was at work and did a quick google search on easy deviled egg recipes. Kraft Foods had a good one. "It says right here that all I need is mayonnaise, grey poupon and paprika."

He said, in his favorite patient-chef-voice "Honey. You need to have a smooth, consistent filler. You have to add extra flavor besides just mayo and mustard. You need to pipe the filler into the eggs. I'll take care of it. I'll make the eggs."

I said in my favorite your-driving-me-crazy voice that always makes my friend at the desk next to me laugh out loud, "Honey. I'm sure my mom did not have a Robot Coup or a pastry bag when we were growing up. I'm certain that it doesn't need to be this difficult. I'm going to make the eggs, I'll take care of it."

So we went around like this for about another 10 minutes before we were both exasperated but he agreed to stay out of the kitchen and let me make them
. I was pretty excited and boiled the eggs just like the Kraft Foods website had instructed. I started to peel them and, I couldn't believe it, the shell did not peel easily from the egg white. In fact, on some of them, whole parts of the white stuck to shell, there was no way around it.

I called my mom. She said "Oh, I hate when that happens. Sometimes if the eggs are too fresh, they just don't peel right." Geez. I couldn't believe on this day of all days, we had the freshest eggs in town.

So, I patiently took my time, running the eggs under cold water as I peeled and most of them looked just fine. Once the eggs were peeled, I was having a lovely time. My husband and daughter were away and I had relaxing acoustic music on. The yolks came out without a hitch, the filling tasted great and I actually took my husbands advice and piped the filler into the eggs by cutting a corner off a plastic sandwich bag. (I ended up using mayo, hot and spicy mustard, celery salt and fresh ground pepper for the filler... paprika on the top, of course.) I placed the finished eggs on a cute plate that my daughter made at the pottery camp a few weeks ago. Then, so that the plastic wrap wouldn't stick to the eggs, I took two of the eggs that didn't peel very well, cut them in half, placed them on the four corners of the edge plate and stuck a couple of skewe
rs in them.

The finished product looked delightful, I must say. We had a great time at the BBQ. Everyone enjoyed the eggs not to mention the rest of the yummy food. How fun!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Great -Grandma Turns 100

A few weeks ago, my great-grandmother turned 100 years old. Her children: my grandmother, her 2 sisters and their brother, threw a little party in Pennsylvania where she lives. We couldn't miss it and made the 7 hour drive north one sunny weekday afternoon.

The party was held at the assisted living home where she has her own independent apartment. The great thing about my great-grandmother (or as I tell my daughter, she is so great, she's your great-great grandma!) is that she has always been sharp as a tack and the sweetest person you could ever know. We haven't seen her in a few years but even with her enormous family (four children, 16 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren so far) she still recognized my daughter instantly and greeted her by name!

Of course, great-grandma was embarrassed by all the fuss. There was a huge cake for her, balloons, snacks and the best punch I've ever had - 7up and orange sherbet! Drinking it instantly brought back memories of the reunions and holidays we used to celebrate. Feasts at my great-aunt's farm, playing in the cribs, building hay tunnels, and long walks through the fields.

It was incredible to see all the family again. Wow - kind of like a time warp. We hadn't had a reunion in probably 10 years so it was wild to see everyone and meet all the kids of my cousins for the first time! It was a great turnout, probably about 70 people showed.

Despite all the "fuss" I think great-grandma really enjoyed seeing so many loved ones come to visit. I'm sure it was overwhelming, with all the cameras flashing and so much commotion, but she took it in stride and seemed quite delighted to talk.

Think of how amazing it is to turn 100 - great-grandma was born in 1907! To live through all the developments of the 20th century is hard to imagine - electricity, automobiles, radio, television, even indoor plumbing! But I suppose we just keep moving forward. In 50 years, people will find it astounding that we grew up without computers or video games.

So... HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREAT GRANDMA! We're so happy we made it to your party!

(too bad Dad couldn't make it, we would have had a five generation picture!)