Friday, October 31, 2008

sweets for the sweet

A meme for the sweet toothed among us. Timed just for Halloween. I'll be eating more than my share tonight.

"I have a very sweet tooth, you know. Would you like to see it? It's this one here. See the little daisy on it?"(The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles)
The instructions:
1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions
2) Bold all of the sweets you’ve eaten (in my case, I've baked most of them!)
3) Cross out any of them that you’d never ever eat
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your “To Do” List.

It appears that I've had at least 62 of these and only crossed out six that I'm not interested in trying. I guess I have my work cut out for me.

A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm, provided links to descriptions of many of them but the meme came from Mary.

1. Red Velvet Cake- a southern thing- but I don't see the point of the food coloring
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
- prefer it with ice cream
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar- not fond of coconut
9. Fried Fruit pie- just got one last weekend at an apple festival
10. Kringle- these look good in the link
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream- I'm surprised that I've never had one with clotted cream, but I haven't
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy - this is just a cobbler in other words
14. halvah
15. Macaroons-I dislike coconut
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers- I make a great version of this that is less sweet. It uses vanilla pudding and sour cream with the cookies and bananas.
17. Bubble tea- no, but I like tapioca
18. Dixie Cup19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores-they look familiar although I don't recognize the name
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche I'm giving myself credit for having eaten enough profiteroles to have built one
23. Girl Scout cookies- I've had to search hard for a Girl Scout some years!
24. Moon cake- does not look appealing
25. Candy Apple- prefer caramel apples
26. Baked Alaska- I baked one once as a youth
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte- I had this in Europe at the source
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-feuille

40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits - don't like coconut
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes- I don't eat peanut products
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby/German Pancakes
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
- I have finally decided I don't like them much after they've been cooked. But I don't like cookie dough ice cream.
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks/Zweibacks
53. Daifuku -I didn't like red bean ice cream and this sounds too similar
54. Green tea cake or cookies- no, but I liked Green Tea Ice Cream
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop- why bother? I can bake a great cupcake at home.
56. Crème brûlée

57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)-blech. Give me my candy straight up please. Sugar I like, grease I don't.
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

59. Jelly Roll

60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An “upside down” dessert- Pook chose pineapple upside down for his last birthday
63. Hummingbird Cake- I make a great one with cream cheese frosting....
64. Jell-O from a mold- unless it was spiked it isn't worth it
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)- not that I wouldn't, but actual apple pie seems better
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte

69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake- my birthday regular
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail- maybe, hard to tell one pastry from another
76. Pain au chocolat -anytime I can
77. A piece of Gingerbread House- look! We usually bake one at Christmas, so when the kids asked to make a haunted house I realized it could only simplify December. Isn't the lollipop moon cool? Bug's idea. Pook practiced with a frosting tip and made lots of tombstones that read RIP and dates. Fun project. Hard to make since it didn't have right angles or symmetry.

78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse- if I can count a regular eclair, yes
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen- didn't know it's name, but yes
87. Homemade marshmallows - Alton Brown makes me want to try making them
88. Rigo Janci/Hungarian Chocolate Cake
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc) maybe bakers chose the peanut ones and I've avoided them.
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake - sounds like a southern thing, but I've never had any
92. Gateau Basque
93. S’mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers-looks like a molasses cookie I love
97. Sables
98. Millionaire’s Shortbread- I like shortbread if that counts
99. Animal crackers- uh, yeah. The right brand can be great; the wrong brand can taste like cardboard.
100. Basbousa

They leave out Brownies from the list. I like them best about half baked and gooey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the great Pacific northwest

I've been asked to tell about our Vacation Without Kids. I got so busy catching up when we came home that I didn't get back to blogging right away, and then the moment seemed to have passed. But I will post a few photos and tell a bit about it now.

We flew to Seattle and hung out two evenings there, one with CD's cousin at the restaurant he owns. Great Thai food. He lives in a houseboat too. I was fascinated with the lack of Stuff. There just wasn't room for much. He has a 5 yr. old and a part time resident 16 yr. old and the four of them manage to live in about 400 square feet.

We then crossed on the Bainbridge ferry and drove around US 101 North through Port Angeles. We stopped at two wineries (plan was for four, but at 2pm, two is all I could have handled!). We arrived at Lake Quinault just at dusk. This is the view from our room:

The Lodge is across the street from old growth rainforest and lots of hiking. They'd had a tornado last winter that left lots of trees down. Amazing to see how old they were. We took a lot of photos of Big Trees and Tall Trees:

We spent one day at the coast, at and around Ruby Beach, and ate dinner at Kalaloch Lodge while we watched the sun set:

We stayed at the Lake Quinault Lodge for five nights. They had a massive fireplace, lots of leather sofas, and good (if pricy) food. We hiked, read, worked on a shared jigsaw puzzle, and met some other travelers. We went to sleep on Eastern time and woke to Pacific time. We had primarily dry days, a few with sun and a few with mild showers, all in the 60 degree range.

The last day we continued our way around US 101 through Olympia. We visited a salmon ladder and ate well in town, the night of our actual 10th anniversary.

We returned to Seattle to stay near the airport the last night, preparing for the long flight back to Atlanta.

I missed my babies, but we needed the whole week. It took several days just to remember how to relax. We enjoyed a different pace of travel without children. We could talk in full sentences and could enjoy each others company. We phoned home enough to know that all was well in our absence. Coming home wore me out (3 hr. time change!) but the trip was well worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

on the phone

"Who was on the phone, Mama?"
"It was just charity."

"Who was on the phone, Mama?"
"That was politics."

"You talk to your friends, Charity and Politics a lot, Mama."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I left out one living member of my garden. Can you believe my gardenia bloomed in October? Three perfect blossoms. And even though I have a terrible cold, I can still smell them.

awake, perchance to dream

Bug was bouncing out of bed last night. The fourth time:

"I'm having a bad dream."
"Bug, you can't have a bad dream until you fall asleep. Why don't you dream about the zoo?"
"I'm just not at that page yet Mama."

Monday, October 27, 2008

dedicated to those that live

Not all my plants are dead. So, to be fair, I dedicate this post to those that live. Even if they're barely making it.

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Shasta daisies: These were new this year but must have put their growth underground. We'll see if they come back in the spring.

purple cone flowers: These looked good this year. I may need to dig some up when they sprout to relocate a few. The yellow cone flowers are still alive but haven't fared well. They were new in the spring and probably needed more tender care than they were given. Finches enjoyed the seed heads.

I add more each spring and I see three here, smothered in magnolia leaves. Don't get me started on those non-composting leathery leaves....

variegated vinca: This one is still alive when no other ground cover did much this summer. That is the sign of a "keeper".

lamb's ear: It seems to do well wherever it is. I've added it to several locations, but unfortunately it is behind all the cone flowers in the front. A major move is needed for a lot of the plants in this area.

purple heart:
Like the lamb's ear, it seems like it lives in the most unlikely of locations. I can't find it in the off season to move it to other areas so I might need to transplant some in the spring when it comes back. It seems like it could be a good filler in many locations.

beauty berry: I've been disappointed in this bush. I searched for it for years and was so excited to plant it, but it hasn't lived up to my expectations.

lantana: It loves dry heat and looks great this year. It is almost too big to be in this location although we just moved it here a few years ago thinking it'd be better up against the house. I can't see it and all of it's butterflies from indoors anymore, and I miss that. Additionally, the Chinese maple is hidden by it and loses it's umph. I'll have to decide if the two are compatible in this location.

day lilies: They did their stuff well and could stand to be divided.

I love these native blue flowers. The did well and I'd love to spread them around.

Chinese maple: This is a beautiful tree which will be turning red soon. I wish it didn't blend into the huge lantanas so much. I will consider the idea of pruning lower branches.

oak leaf hydrangea: It is turning red in the fall weather and will grow into a lovely bush if it ever has enough water to grow.

chrysanthemums: These are transplanted each winter from pots I use to decorate at Halloween.

I have succumbed to my eternal gardening optimism. I just bought some beautiful purple-blue asters and additional yellow chrysanthemums. They should brighten up the yard-- since fall needs all the help it can get, obviously.

Friday, October 24, 2008

dead or alive

I had so much fun with my yard in the spring. Less so in the summer. What with no rain and water restrictions the soil got so dry that weeds couldn't be pulled out without tools and considerable effort. We were allowed to water on a schedule, from a hose only- no sprinklers. That meant standing around letting the mosquitoes gorge themselves on my ankles, so nothing much ever got watered. What I'd tended so frequently, as I puttered around watching the boys play, soon became crowded with weeds and limp or brown from the heat. I do that every summer. While I love seeing what can happen when a garden is tended with love (such as at Faire Garden), in the fall I have this:

grass: Ha Ha Ha! We grow dust and straw. The positioning of the basketball hoop does not help.

A joke. I found one tiny bloom to prove that they aren't quite dead. No water, no attention, no love.

They must have been planted only for our amusement. We've eaten less than a dozen cherry tomatoes and even fewer of the others. This planter feeds the chipmunks- even my gargoyle doesn't scare them off.

cantaloupe: There is no time for our only fruit I'm afraid. Cooler weather will kill it before it grows and ripens. I wish we'd planted cucumbers, but they'd probably be dead too. I'm an optimist today, I know.

Swiss chard:
The leaves are about two inches long. They look like seedlings but have been around since early early spring.

purple hyacinth bean vine: They grew ok but the leaves are eaten full of holes.

The sprawling vine grew from our compost heap. I think it was the best thing we grew this year. Aren't the colors and shape wonderful?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

costume party

The agonizing decision about what to wear for Halloween began in early October. That is, early October 2007. I'd just forbidden Bug to change his mind again about costumes any more, so he started planning for this year instead. He would come up with two or three ideas each day. I assumed it'd taper off as Christmas took over his brain, but he seemed to have room to compartmentalize and continued the planning.

Just a few of the many ideas:
scuba diver
space man

Each time my brain would start to plan. Could I make that? What would I use? Should I distract him and see if he'll come up with something easier? I enjoy making costumes and feel like that's a huge part of the fun. Buying something that tears and can't be worn as dress ups seems a waste. And I'm way too cheap to buy expensive costumes yearly. My parents pulled out the sewing machine and paper mache for me and I continue the tradition. There is nothing I can't do with a hot glue gun!

Pook had waited until the season was upon us last year and then decided to be a simple bat. Not Batman and not Dracula. Just a bat. I found some stretchy black fabric that wouldn't ravel and I cut and sewed (yes, sewed) a simple pair of wings. He put on black clothes and an eye mask and looked great.

Bug finally settled on trick-or-treating as a "Marching Band Guy". I put him in a red sweatshirt on which I'd hot glued gold buttons and trim for epaulets, and made a felt and cardboard hat. The year before Pook was a skeleton- painted on black sweats. According to Sister MD we painted the pelvis bones backwards, but to us lay-people it looked awesome. Sweats are usually the base of our costumes. I always think they'll wear them as regular (but fun) clothes or sleep in them, but they never do.

This time of October is now You-can-no-longer-change-your-mind season on costumes. Pook is settled and wants to be an Iroquois Indian. Go Social Studies Discovery class! He isn't looking at anything too fancy or too hard. He can do most of it himself after a trip to the craft store. My mom bought some suede cloth for him while she was here and we cut a diamond for his head. He'll decorate it with beads. We'll have to discuss feathers on a headband. He hasn't shown me a picture of what he wants exactly, so I'm guessing a bit.

Bug wavered forever between Space Guy (he never just calls it "astronaut") and Scuba Diver. I decided to push for the diver. We've got the snorkeling gear from summer and air tanks will be easy to fashion, as will flippers to cover his shoes. I wasn't sure how authentic he'd want a wet suit, but he started dressing up independently and used sweats so I think they'll do fine for the real thing too. I'll try to get photos of them in their costumes to share.

Just as we closed the door to new ideas for this year, they began planning for 2009. Bug has already proposed being a mailbox next year. Expect an idea a week until next Halloween comes around.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I can be there for you

We're home from our trip. CD and I had a fabulous week. Can't remember being so relaxed. Done with that though....

I headed out this evening with the kids and got distracted at a traffic light, paying more attention to the light as it turned green than to the driver in front of me who hadn't started to drive yet. I hit his car and caused a good sized crack in the fiberglass bumper. My car was fine (as were all the participants).

My insurance company wanted me to get the police involved-- which I had wanted to avoid. They showed up quickly however- a car with sirens as well as two motorcycles. The kids were thrilled. After all the paperwork was completed and the other car was sent on his way, the police invited the boys to get out of the car to say hi. One of the guys pulled out police badge stickers and asked the kids if they wanted to become police. As excited as Bug was feeling, he let Pook do the talking. Then the guy had them hold up their right hands (a little help to figure that out) and take an oath to be good kids and follow my directions, clean their rooms, etc. He actually got me to laugh, which I was desperately needing at that point.

On the way home Bug was mulling it over again and announced to me, "I really want to be a police when I grow up now. I can ride a motorcycle and when you have a accident I can be there for you."

Yes, babe. You can be there for me.

Friday, October 3, 2008


For our vacation, my mom is flying down on Friday, my dad not until Sunday. That leaves the sports to my mom to get organized. Soccer game Saturday morning, baseball practice in the afternoon and baseball game on Sunday. I think the kids know their routines so well they can do them alone, but my mom wants it all written out. I'm working to get them rides to school so my parents only have to deal with pickups. We've been walking to get Pook in the afternoons so if the great fall weather continues it will simplify the driving even more.

I hadn't realized how little my mom drives these days. She doesn't mind the daily routines at her home, but in a strange car in a strange city I can tell she's anxious. Her vision isn't great and I think she's always turned the voluntary driving over to my dad. I makes me realize that they're aging. I hope my father will be able to relinquish the keys when he needs to. I'm not optimistic.

I've noticed that the grandparent babysitting window is narrow. I had children pretty late and I think if I had babies or toddlers now, it'd be too much for them. I barely made it in. CD was the youngest of three and his parents were older than traditional parents in the 60's, so they're old enough now to no longer be comfortable babysitting ours. As the next oldest cousin (now age 10) has grown up, their window has shifted. They've watched him for a week at a time since he was a baby, but ours have been at the more difficult stages just younger than him and have missed out. There's also the complication of having two. In any case, they don't feel like they can handle watching our boys for any extended time.

I never felt like I knew my grandparents very well and I'd love for my boys to have that opportunity. While the idea of free babysitting is fabulous, I'd love for the kids to be able to see their grandparents more often for simple short visits and overnights because the relationship between kids and grandparents is different when the parents are out of the picture. I always hoped my parents would live near us after retirement. Now I know it isn't going to ever happen. They're a long days drive or a flight away. CD's are only four hours by car, but still too far. We have visits with them all, often, but it can't be often enough.

We'll all need to make sure we foster that relationship while we still can. I realize that my parents have stories. My father claims to have delivered his whole paper route without putting his hands on his bike handlebars. My mom told about swimming in an old quarry. CD's mom played softball when she was younger. His dad brought up the shocking idea to my children that there had been no rubber soled shoes when he was young. They wore brown leather lace up shoes. These are the stories I need to hear too so I can help keep them around.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

survey says:

When you accidentally buy a platter of "baked-in-store" sticky buns because they smelled good and because you were grocery shopping at lunchtime on an empty stomach and because this is what you crave when you're anxious and you're about to leave your kids for a week, and you eat "a portion" of them but not the whole thing (because you have to prove that you do have some willpower), do you

A: fess up and let the kids eat them for an afternoon snack
B: hide them until morning and try to avoid anyone noticing that they're partially eaten
C: hide the whole package in the outdoor freezer where no one will ever know about them and you can finish them at other moments of anxiety

Your opinion matters.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

vacation without the kids

You read right. We are leaving for a vacation without the kids. Our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up and my parents offered, years ago, to watch the kids for a week to let us celebrate. They will probably wish I'd forgotten the offer; I'm sure they'll be wiped out.

We debated for a long time about where to go. I had pretty simple requests. I wanted to go where I could sit peacefully reading a book and looking at beautiful scenery. I also wanted to go far enough from home that no one would ask us to come back. If there was a minor emergency they'd just deal with it. Distance does that. The Caribbean sounded good until we realized it was hurricane season. Out of the country maybe if we had deeper pockets and current passports. Not too cold please, I requested.

We settled on a place in the Olympic peninsula of Washington state that we visited for our first trip together many years ago. We'll have some nearby hiking and some city touristing in Seattle and maybe stop at a winery. We haven't done much planning. We got two places to stay and rented a car. I got some maps of the area. We visited in the summer, so I know we'll have cooler and maybe wetter weather, but we'll cope.

You won't see any posts next week. I hope to have better things to do than be online!