Thursday, October 31, 2013

gallons for ghosts

While CD and I were in Asheville for our anniversary getaway, we took a culinary tour of the city.  We visited 6 different eating spots and had food and/or drinks at each. All were great, but the sangria we were given at one was just spectacular. My comparison is pretty weak-- I tend to refer to leftover red wine mixed with orange juice and a splash of bottled lemon juice as sangria.  The one we had was very hearty. I'd decrease the spices a lot to have it in the summer. This reminded me more of a mulled wine and was lovely on a cold evening.  Our tour guide said to email her for the recipe if we wanted it, so I did.

In return I received the recipe for five gallons of sangria.

I suppose I could host a big party, but most people I know would choose beer or wine and then I'd be left with 4 3/4 gallons of sangria.  Instead I hit up google for help. Did you know there are lots of recipe converters out there? I could swap from liters to cups and also decrease the recipe down to a single gallon. We might need to go even smaller, but if I'm buying all that booze I'd need a use for it!

Just in case you want to make sangria for everyone you know, or if you want to put it out for the parents of Trick or Treaters (you'd be very popular!) here is the handy dandy recipe.

Sangria, 5 gallons

1.5 liters white wine

1.5 liters red wine

0.5 liters dry sherry

0.5 liters port

0.375 liters brandy

3 c. simple syrup

4 c. orange juice

1 c. lemon juice

1 c. lime juice

1 cup chopped ginger

5 broken up cinnamon sticks

1/8 cup anise

2 Tbs cloves

2 each chopped: orange, lemon, lime

4-6 cups ginger ale or ginger beer to taste

If you think this looks as tasty as I thought it was, and if you were thinking of having me over, you could use the scaled recipe, here. I'm not sure if we could polish off even the smaller quantity without inviting more guests, but the more the merrier.

Sangria, 1 gallon

* Recipe rounded to nearest cooking fraction

1 1/3 cups white wine (1/3 liters)

1 1/3 cups red wine 

½ cup dry sherry (1/8 liter)

½ cup port

½ cup brandy

2/3 c. simple syrup (1/2 sugar, 1/2 water)

3/4 c. orange juice

1/4 c. lemon juice

1/4 c. lime juice

1/4 cup chopped ginger

1 broken up cinnamon stick

2 Tbs anise

1 tsp cloves

1/3 each chopped: orange, lemon, lime

1 cup ginger ale or ginger beer to taste

Monday, October 28, 2013

photography 101

This past weekend CD and I took off for Asheville, North Carolina, for a weekend away to celebrate our 15th anniversary. One of the items on our agenda was a visit to the Arboretum.  The color of trees in Atlanta isn't notable yet, but Asheville was already putting on a show.  Friday night they had their first heavy frost and we visited the next morning before the day had warmed up. It was crisp and beautiful (and warm in the sun!)  We took the good camera to play with it. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

The Arboretum was having a Lego exhibit on display. We took photos and knew the boys would love them. My favorites:

Friday, October 25, 2013

better luck next year

The goal is one eighth teaspoon of saffron threads.  One eighth teaspoon! I thought that would be easy, having planted 20 of the precious crocus bulbs.

After a long time worrying that my bulbs had rotted or been eaten since they hadn't shown their faces, I finally found one crocus thinking about blooming.  Then it rained, hard. I found two little red threads on the ground under the shriveled flower. I kept those darn threads though. I don't know if they'll still have flavor, but I've got them.

A week later, bloom number two showed up. There are four more sprouting, so I'll keep checking. I harvested three threads and added them to the paper towel "pile."  The next day I could barely see them. The little suckers had shrunk! If I have to keep them around for a year or two until I have enough saffron to use to cook, so be it.  Giving vials of saffron as gifts however, ain't gonna happen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

shooting for the stars

We've hit that stage I was warned about for so many years: "Two boys? Better get a second refrigerator!"  Pook, while still eating at the pace of a sloth, is now going in for seconds regularly and thirds sometimes. He's put on almost four inches since May.

I bought him a bunch of long pants a month before the warm weather came last spring but I suspect none of them will fit. I don't see much change in his waist, so I also suspect it will be very hard to find anything to fit him until he eats thirds more regularly and fills out a bit.

I told him he could wear shorts all winter, then the length of pants won't matter this year.  He's never cold, so he might just do it. We've had a few mornings as low as fifty degrees already but he hasn't decided against wearing shorts yet.

This morning I went for a lesson on giving tours of the middle school. Although they want us to take parents to the library, which is on the eighth grade floor, they want us to spend most of our time around the sixth graders. The reason made me laugh: they don't want to let the size of the eighth grade boys intimidate the parents who are still thinking about their fifth graders as little kids.

This is not to say that Bug hasn't grown. He usually puts a good three inches on each year and stands a good head above most of his friends. For him though, its the feet. Maybe Pook will have his feet grow soon, but right now the boys wear the same size shoe (7.5 for both my 9 and 12 year olds, if anyone cares.)

I've decided that the perk of all this is that as they outgrow clothes before wearing out clothes, I will try the best ones on and see if I want to keep them for me!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

useful and flexible, that's me

I'm working!-- no, I've always been working-- I'm employed again and that is why I've been a bit scarce around here.

The Paid Job didn't extend into a second year because I wanted to work fewer days than they wanted me. I can squeeze in two, maybe three days away from home but more than that and our homelife would suffer. Last (school) year I stayed home and as the year went on I added enough PTA/school activities to be busy and useful. Sometimes too busy.

I kept my ear to the ground and one day a lead led to where I am now. I'm at a very nearby church preschool in a make-up-the-job-as-we-go position serving, basically, as the whole special education department. The plan is for me to help teachers identify kids and to make adaptations for them-- both for the child and the teacher.

I'm trying to be useful and flexible. Useful because they can barely afford me. I asked for a salary they agree that I deserve but that they're struggling to give me. It makes me feel concerned that I need to prove my worth.  Flexible because we're making this up.

To some parents I'm a gift- "wow! extra help for my kid for the same price!" But for others, I think I'm a threat- "Is she in the room because of my kid? There's nothing wrong with my kid!"  And since these aren't legally defined special needs kids, we've got to be careful.

I'd assume in a school of about 150 that a dozen or so will have some type of special need. Some may grow out of it and never have an official diagnosis, but some will begin to show more learning problems as they go. I'm hoping to identify both types of children. In my opinion, the diagnosis is really unnecessary unless the parent is using it to receive public services. The adaptations used to teach the child matter much more. If I can provide those now, before any diagnosis is ever acquired, I'm giving them a head start.

So, its been fun, but tiring. Just leaning over tables which are slightly too low to serve as comfortable adult chairs makes my back tired. (A doctor once told me to teach taller kids if I didn't want back pain.) Then there's trying to anticipate when darling little Joey will decide to pick dirt up off the floor and carefully attempt to insert it into someone's eye. Yes, today. Truly no dull moments in this one particular classroom. It feels like a game of Whack-a-Mole. The teachers are extremely competent, but there are multiple moles in the same class.

I originally thought that going back to work at The Paid Job would be great for blog fodder but I've decided that the chance of falling into a legal hole is too high. Even with names changed to protect the innocent moles, I'm uncomfortable. But yeah, they are funny.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

bits and pieces

The eye doctor appointment did indeed lead to glasses for Bug. He picked out frames over the weekend, put them on an hour later, and hasn't taken them off since. He wore them in a baseball game to pitch two innings and at school for picture day Monday. After school he said to me, "I may be like Pook and wear them all the time. I mean, I can, like, see stuff!"  The frames are very modern and somewhat bold, but he knew as soon as he put them on that he liked them best. My job then was to back away and say OK. I'm not used to seeing him in them yet, but in another week he'll look familiar again.

* * * * *

We paid for cable. We upped our cable bill from "technically your service comes from a cable but no, you don't receive any channels which are worth charging you extra to receive" to getting channels showing baseball. We set ourselves up for an October of Braves Baseball! Maybe we'll invite over friends! We can have a playoff party!  When the Braves play the World Series we'll... we'll... Sigh. Over before it could start. We'll probably keep the cable long enough to watch anyway.

* * * * *

Pook has been wanting to understand the news he hears on the radio.  This seems all good and well until you try to explain it. I told  him that some people don't believe that anything but black or white are ok. If black is right then white is wrong. If white is good then black is bad. All gray is compromising your values and not to be considered at all. "Well that seems dumb" was his first response. And actually quite the fitting response to much of what has been going on in Washington.