Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An apple a day

Honeycrisp apples may be back in the stores as early as late September! Woohoo! I don't care that they don't grow locally, they are the BEST eating apple ever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Easily pleased

Mr. J had a trade show a few weeks ago and had to buy a bunch of supplies: tablecloths, gift cards, candy, etc. For a candy bowl he bought the coolest Pyrex bowl - just the perfect size. I immediately traded the Pyrex for one of my Target cheapo plastic serving bowls (cute design though) and now I have the PERFECT mixing, storing, cooling, nuking, holding, chopping, serving bowl.

Happy me!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Have you ever had this conversation at the dinner table?

"If you're going to talk, let's talk to each other, not just yourself."

It's, like, our #1 rule because both kids are inclined to talk endlessly to themselves at all times. Dags talks about imaginary creatures, our in her own imaginary language. Anders sings or talks about epic battles. It gets loud.

TGIF -- week 1 of school is done!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Organized? Or neurotic?

I love to plan. It is both my biggest strength and a major weakness. It's a strength when we need something done both right and on time. It's also a weakness because sometimes Mr. J has a problem or situation at work and I automatically go into DEFCON 4 planning mode...when all he wants to do is talk.

So yeah. I plan. I make plans for my plans. I'm also a good organizer, but in a big picture kinda way. I hate clutter and confusion, I dislike piles o' crap. So I make the big piles go away. Do I care where? Notsomuch. As a result right now we have two "overflow" rooms almost overflowing with peoples piles of stuff. I need to get on that, STAT. The other area that I need to attend to is the garden, which is now pretty much just a weedfest.

So now that the kids are back in school and we are settled into our routine, I'm using my strengths to bring some order to the chaos. Starting next week, Monday & Friday are going to be dedicated to 1) cleaning out and organizing the two sunrooms and 2) attending to the garden, bed by bed. Tuesday will be errands/grocery shopping. Wednesday is my baking day. Thursday is cleaning and laundry. Starting in October, my book club will be meeting Friday mornings, so I'll fit that in as well. I love my plan; I hope I stick with it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reading list

For my soul:

For fun:

For book club:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Quite possibly the coolest tableware I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farmers are fabulous

I didn't know much about farming before visiting my BIL & SIL this summer. I mean, I'd been on farms before, but mainly horse farms. And then there was my Uncle's chicken/goat/cow farm in Jamaica. Which was way different than a dairy goat farm on the Kansas prairie. But being out there in KS for a week and observing the routine gave me a whole new appreciation for farms, farming and the farmers who are dedicated to upholding the farming tradition in America. It is way, way harder work that you could imagine. However the rewards pretty much equal the work. Fresh milk (and other dairy products), fresh meat, fresh eggs, fresh produce are all things that city dwellers can't imagine. It's one thing to buy organic or join the local CSA, but you are still getting a commercially produced product. But the chicken my BIL grilled our last weekend there? Was walking around the yard in the morning. Now THAT'S fresh.

On the other end of the spectrum of "family" farms is Blackberry Farm. Obviously this could only be considered a family farm if your family includes 300 people, 14,000 acres and a huge bank account. But, really, if you exclude the spa and child restrictions*, is it really so different from what my BIL & SIL and their four kids do a daily basis? Notsomuch. I bet they still get up at crackofdawn, still tend the animals, still do the twice-daily milking, still have to weed the gardens and orchards. But you can fish, hike, bike, walk, ride a horse, and stare off into the prairie sunsets just as well in KS. I feel that to have a proper basis for comparison, I would have to visit Blackberry Farm one day. It's going on the Bucket List. Even if you can't go there, visit their website and drool over the amazing stuff they produce.

In lieu of going there anytimesoon, I will settle for the cookbook.

*Sensibly, they only allow children under 10 during certain periods of the year. And as a mommy of two kids under 10, let me say I totally understand and do not hold it against them in ANY WAY. I can imagine the people at the next table enjoying their snack of artisanal cheeses and locally produced wine while Anders throws a tantrum because they don't have Ritz crackers. I totally get it. If your children are not old enough to appreciate and participate then please STAY HOME.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This time I'll be a winner

Confession: I've entered the Sutter Homes "Build a Better Burger" contest for the last three years. I thought I had pretty good recipes all three times; everyone that helped me taste-test said so too. But I know when I'm not wanted. So, stuff it, Sutter Homes and your measly $100,000 grand prize.

I'm aiming for the big $1,000,000 Pillsbury Bake-Off this year.

p/s - Who wants to be a taste tester?

Friday, August 20, 2010

So long summer

The kids go back to school Monday. Talk about bittersweet. I'll miss sleeping-in, staying up late, playing games after dinner, no homework, not having to pack snacks & lunches, swimming every day, playing with kids, watching the kids play, and, in general, the slow and easy pace of summer.

But on the other hand (or as Anders says, "hold the other hand!"), there are some things I'm looking foward to:
  • Cooler weather (we can pretend it's just around the corner, even though it will be October before we see mornings not in the high 80s)
  • Electric bills under $500
  • Wearing jeans again (I love jeans. I don't wear them in the summer unless I'm visiting family on their dairy goat ranch in the middle of the prairie. Too hot & sticky.)
  • Sweaters.
  • Boots.
  • Jeans with sweaters and boots.
  • Five mornings a week to clean, organize, exercise*, get crafty, read, cook, bake - WOW
  • Cafe con leche and a slice of toasted, buttered cuban bread for breakfast
  • Fresh veggies from the CSA
  • Sitting on the porch in the evenings
  • The new season of Amazing Race
  • Anders starting t-ball
  • Soups, chili, roasts, stews and getting back to baking my own bread
  • Planning for the holidays
But my very, very, very favorite thing about fall? Heeeeeeeeere come the Gators!!

Football!! Any football, but mostly Gator football. And SEC football. And maybe Denver football so I can watch my boy Tim Tebow play with the grown-ups. I picked up Gator tees for the kids when we were in G'ville a few weeks ago, so now everyone's ready for the season! (Now picture those same stands filled with orange-and-blue clad fans. LOVE IT.)

*Yeah. There. I said it. The "e" word. Mr. J and I have a pact to exercise and eat healthier. I can't believe I'll finally have the time to do it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eat pray loathe

I'm sure I'm not alone among women in America -- maybe the world -- who hated Eat, Pray, Love. When it first came out I was eager to read it because I'd read such glowing reviews (probably should have considered the sources more carefully) and it was about exotic faraway places. I put in my request and joined the huge queue at the library. Many times I came close to canceling the request and just buying it, but I stuck it out and almost a year-and-a-half later I got the notice that it was available. I ran out to get it and that night got ready to read.... and was almost immediately disappointed. I stuck it out: grimly wading through the pages full of treacly self-help cliches; grimacing over her sanctimonious embrace of new age gimmickry; wondering how anyone could ruin trips to Italy, India and Indonesia (it can't be a coincidence that she chose places beginning with "I"); wondering how anyone can take themselves that seriously. Good grief!

Unfortunately her self-indulgent attitude overshadows just about everything in the book. She epitomizes what's broken with society today: "ego" trumping morals, values and principles; the prevalence of a culture where nothing is definitive and where individuals get to pick and choose the moral code that suits them; a culture that allows people to redefine just about anything that they don't feel applies to them. (Go google moral relativism if you need more info.)

So a big thumbs down on the book and I'll take a pass on the movie too.

I will, however, be spending some time with Jen Lancaster this fall.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One step forward, one step back

Well the plumbers did a fabulous job! They got everything hooked up, they cleaned up* as best they could and we now have totally new hot & cold water pipes! Woohoo! Unfortunately due to the tight crawl space, general lack of wriggle room and other issues they ended up crushing or displacing a good bit of the duct work under the house. Inevitable? At least they told us about it and repaired what they could. But we'll have to get the a/c guys out here next week. After, that is, we get the humongasaurus dead tree limb hovering over the roof taking out.

Never ends 'round here.

* Service companies! Listen up! It would be awesome if you had a clean up team that could come in after particularly messy jobs to clean up the house after your fixit job is done. The last thing I wanted to do after three days of having plumbers crawling under my house and dragging tons of grit, dirt & debris through my kitchen, hall & foyer was to clean, vacuum & mop. I would gladly have paid a bit extra (what's another couple hundred when you just spent multiple thousands?) for that service just so that I could get to the store tonight. But instead I spent two hours mopping and the kids are eating frozen pancakes. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Now for something completely different

We finally got around to having our house repiped. Quite the big job. Big time, big materials, big $$. Big everything except space. Small space. Very small. We have a weight/height requirement for anyone working in the crawl space below the house - not only is the access door only about 18" square, but the crawl space itself is extremely tight and filled with dirt, sand, pipes, plaster, etc. At least so they say. It could be the size of the Taj Mahal and I'd never know it because I'm not going down there for anything.

Anyhoo, among the various surprises we DIDN'T plan for was when the plumbers dug up a whole pile of bones last night. At least there was no skull (good thing? bad thing?) and it definitely wasn't a complete skeleton or anything. So the plumbing company, whom I'm sure thinks we're serial killers, said that they had to call the police. So today I enjoyed a nice visit with two homicide detectives. They interviewed the plumbers, they talked to me, they wanted to go see the crime scene (?) but were dressed very nicely and there was no way either of them would fit down the trapdoor (see height & weight requirements above). They tried their best to assure me that 9 out of 10 times these things turn out to be animals. Big animals, but still, animals. And that other 1 time? Well, that's what we're waiting for the medical examiner to tell us.

In the meantime, to be on the safe side, we will be having the house blessed.

And praying that it was some poor cow, because the last thing we need is a full-on homicide investigation happening under our house. Especially with school starting next week and everything.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Why can't you find classic penny loafers for girls anymore?

p/s - If anyone knows where I can find them let me know.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Topless no more

Despite my well-documented love of desserts, I am not a big fan of dessert toppings. I don't like whipped cream on my ice cream, I don't like sauces, and I especially do not, and doubt I ever will, like hot fudge sauce.

But I DO like buttermilk and it's a staple in my fridge. So I was very happy to see a recipe for Buttermilk Syrup making the rounds on the internet. I figured at the very least it would be a nice alternative to maple syrup, honey, jam and all the other stuff the kids like to load on their pancakes and waffles. Who knew that it would be the most awesome, delectable, lip-smacking stuff EVER on ice cream (especially a cup of homemade vanilla, but it would also rock out on butter pecan).

Try some today!

Buttermilk Syrup


1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking soda


In a large pan (make sure it is large, this syrup will grow when you add the vanilla and soda), place the butter, buttermilk, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and soda. It will foam. Now it is ready to serve. Try it warm over ice cream, on your pancakes, waffles, or scones. Yumm-o. Keeps in the refrigerator at least 3 weeks.