Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Good Stuff - August

Grown-up Good Stuff

Softspots Ivy Mary Jane shoes - This comes from my first guest good-stuffer, my sister Tona. This fall she starts a new tenure-track history professorship at Worcester State College. She bought these shoes at DSW as her perfect everyday nice work shoes. She says, "I like how they look a little like clogs. I also liked the suede cushions at the spots where it tends to rub my feet, at the heels and across the foot. I just love everything about them. And if you look on the bottom view you can see they have this really pretty design on the sole." Every fall I must admit I can't wear by Birkenstock sandals year round, so I must look for cool but sensible shoes, as hard as they are to find in a 9-1/2 W. Maybe I'll give these a spin.

Modal sheets by Pure Beech
- We got a new bed so we needed new sheets. I agonized in the store - Egyptian cotton? Modal? Pima? Bamboo? But two restless kids don't let you agonize for long so I grabbed these because the sample swatch was unbelievably soft and the bittersweet chocolate color whispered sweet nothings to me. They're like silk and we love them. - A cool site aimed at "P.A.N.K.s"— Professional Aunts with No Kids of their own. I used to be one, and I know lots of aunts totally involved in the lives and achievements of their nieces and nephews, so I think this site really fills a gap in the web world of parenting.

The dude they call Dipset (never mind his full name) who does randomly "beautiful" works of dance art/musical interpretation which he posts daily. I can really get behind shameless public dancing with abandon. One of my favorites is "Sittin' on the Dock" here. What's your favorite Dipset piece? Let us not be surprised he is Canadian.

Blogs with giveaways! All the Nie Nie Day auctions got me blog surfing waaaaaay more than I usually do, and it was actually kind of fun to discover some great ones. Like the ones that do frequent giveaways of cool stuff. I didn't realize this was so common, and I will be checking back to get in on the action at: Grosgrain and Suburose. Know of others?

Oriental Carpet Mouse"rugs" - I just like mine; it classes up the otherwise disaster that is my desktop. Who couldn't use more class?

Zyliss corn holders - Though corn on the cob season is coming to an end, I was glad to find these bright plastic holders with a smart link-together design that keeps you from getting poked in the drawer. Great for kids to hold a hot cob, but I use them, too! (Ed is too cool...)

Kid Good Stuff

The Dangerous Alphabet - I picked this up in a bookstore and it appealed immediately to my dark side. What else can you expect from an illustrator named Gris Grimly (please tell me this is a nom de plume...) I dearly wished Dave was there to share it with, but in all honestly I would probably not ever share it with an actual little kid, at least not one the right age for alphabet books. More like 10-year-old boys or something. But it's totally twisted and I want one for myself...

Spending so much time at my parents' house, the house where I grew up, and watching my girls play with the toys there, some of which were mine when I was little, has got me looking back a bit at the Good Stuff from my youth, so it's kind of retro...excuse me, "classic", month for Kid Good Stuff:

Weekly Reader Children's Books - In the late 70's and early 80's we were in the Weekly Reader book club and received a new book every week or month or something. I didn't realize until a few months ago that those books, many of them our very favorites of all time, were not widely published, but only available through the book club, which now no longer exists. So I've gotten a few of them through used sellers on Amazon and other sites, but I really think that 1) they should either be re-released, or 2) they should start up the club again, with equally good new books. I'm waiting. Some of my favorites were: Christina Katarina and the Box, Panda Cake, James the Jaguar and The Giant Jam Sandwich (which I guess you can get new.)

Fisher Price Classic Toys - Wandering the toy aisles of Target, I was stopped in my tracks when I saw three classic - can I say vintage? - toys from my youth, sitting on the shelf, brand new in boxes. The boxes were simple brown cardboard with black print that said something like Fisher Price Classics. They were a wind-up musical clock, a wind-up musical scrolling "television" and a rotary phone with eyes. They were just as the originals, with 60's looking decals and pictures. I grabbed them each in turn and played with them, letting the girls have turns too. I didn't buy them at the time, unsure if the girls would love them as I had. I came home to look them up online, but can't find them - not at Fisher Price, not at Target, nowhere online.

But it got me thinking what other toys do I remember that were really, really the bomb, and I thought of one. I was on Ebay instantaneously; 2 hours later had paid my bill; 2 days later, received this:
Yes, it's a real record player. Real as in it has real records, but it's a music box. You wind it up with a knob, put a record on, and place the arm on. It houses, instead of a needle, a set of prongs that make tones as they flick over the bumps on the record, just like a music box. The 5 records are 2-sided so there are 10 songs total. The girls (and I) love it and I keep it on a high shelf - a "special toy" that requires permission to use.

Anyone else remember this?

What other classic toys were totally the best that you wish your kids could have?

For the girls, August has been all about "making things," especially with
Playdoh and...
Pizza dough!

Go, Don!

Today is a momentous day for our family. My brother-in-law and everyone's favorite Uncle Don, is competing in the Iron Man race in Louisville, Kentucky. In case you are not impressed or intimidated by this, let me explain to you that an Iron Man is:
  • a 2.4 mile river swim followed by
  • a 112 mile bike ride (approximately 7 hours) followed by
  • running a marathon (26.2 miles).
IN ONE DAY! I drop out just thinking about it.

Don has been training for this for 9 months, but really his athleticism has been lifelong - with several marathons, triathalons and a half Iron Man as well as years of other races and cross country skiing competitions behind him, he is ready and thrilled to be in his first Iron Man. And we are thrilled for him (and glad it's not us!) But we are enthusiastic supporters and will be cheering him on and following his progress (bib #1996.)

Go, Don!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

AUCTION: For Little (and not so little) Girls

It's "Nie Nie Day" - I, along with over 100 of other Design Mom associates, am holding a silent auction of what I think is cool stuff you want. Proceeds go to the Nielson family along with our prayers and well wishes. To learn the story, go here. To check out all the other auctions taking place, go here. To find out what I'm auctioning, and to bid, read on. Please be generous if you can.

For Little (and not so little) Girls
($100 value) auction lot includes:

1. Candy from Trader Joe's - Regular readers know I do so love Trader Joe's. While I hunt for healthy diet-helps, I also secretly crave everything in the candy row. Our first item is three boxes of Trader Joe's candy: my favorite (dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and turbinado sugar), Ed's favorite (fatally addictive red licorice), and a new favorite (milk chocolate covered cranberries.) You will devour them like a savage.

2. My personal copy of Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. When I read this book for the first time 3 years ago I was rendered speechless and have not made much progress since in the way of conveying how it affected me. It is a truly lovely story, beautifully told, with an excellent ending. While the main character Reuben is a boy, his sister Swede captured my heart in her superb supporting role - a worthy little girl heroine if there ever was one.
3. Paper Doll Game by eeBoo (new) - We have two games and some art prints by eeBoo and I'm a true fan. So when I saw this paper doll game on a website I snatched it up and have been keeping it in my closet for when the girls are a little older (and won't tear it apart.) It's perfect for a little-girl-themed auction: What goes with what? What shall you wear? The spinner says to pick some shoes. But only you know which ones you'll choose. The first one dressed and on her way will win the game. Includes 5 paper dolls with 5 outfits and hobbies, spinner & laundry bag. Paper doll size is 10 3/4 inches. For 2 to 5 players. Ages 5 and up.

4. Original glass and stone necklace by Akir Designs (that really just means I made it.) I found this cool piece of bored glass in a bead store years ago and finally made a necklace with it - goes with everything you own, including your eyes, no matter what color they are.
5. Watching a Girl Grow Up Mix by Dave - It is an understatement to say that my brother Dave loves his little girl. It's also an understatement to say that he has awesome taste in music and makes rad mixes. So when they moved to England, where his daughter almost immediately started public kindergarten a whole year earlier than she would have in the US, and he had nothing to do but play in iTunes late at night before they got internet, his Watching a Girl Grow Up mix was born. It is eclectic, deep and personal as the songs follow a young girl from being a baby to school age to growing up and leaving home. A good listen for anyone, but especially poignant for parents of daughters.

6. A SMOCK of your choice from Petite Violette - Designer and friend Corey Robbins has struck gold with her food smock (seen here in its super secret stunt double role as art smock.) Parents of 8-month-to-3-year-olds know well what a laundry-saving role this smock can serve, and it's stylish, to boot. Lightweight cotton on the inside, wipeable polyethelyne on the outside, it's also machine washable (hang dry.) Winner's choice - any fabric and size you want.

Particulars (please read carefully before bidding):
  • Bidding begins now and ends at 9:00 pm EST Sunday, August 31.
  • Bidding is in $1 increments only, no cents.
  • Bids are made by leaving a comment; please include name, email address and amount. As the auction progresses bidders will need to check the most recent comments, to find out what the current high bid is.
  • To win you must have a Paypal account - the winning amount will go to my Paypal account so I can confirm payment, then directly to the Nielsons' Paypal fund. We will cover shipping.
As a final thought, I quote Design Mom: "I'm hoping people are in a public radio mindset. Like when you hear the NPR commentators say: "pledge your membership of only $75.00 and we'll send you this canvas tote bag with our logo on it." You know the tote bag is worth maybe $5. But it's not about that. You're looking for a way to be generous and supportive. And the tote bag is just a bonus."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Love a Good Snowball

The internet is good for things like a snowball effect.

About 13 years ago there were some camping trips in Utah.

Yesterday my friend James posted some "old school" photos on his Facebook page and tagged me in them.

I looked at them, they opened a floodgate of memories; I commented.

My comments reminded James of something; he looked through his old files and wrote a blog post, The Rules of Camping. (Had a hard time picking my favorite - a toss-up between 3, 12, and 16. I wonder what would have happened if Hottie Abe had attended.)

I read it, laughed so hard I almost peed my pants; Hazel asked me if I was crying.

I remembered a picture of said camping trip, dug deep into storage boxes to retrieve it; scanned and post it here:
(L to R - Staci, James, Lorna, Me, Matt)

I love a good snowball.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First FHE

Last night we had our first real Family Home Evening. The girls are getting old enough, we decided, and our lives are getting normal enough, that it's time to institute weekly FHE. We gave it a shot last night. Of course when you make efforts to do something right, forces combine to thwart those efforts. Ed got some sudden work late in the day and so didn't come home until about 8pm. The girls were wired from fatigue and Daddy's arrival, and didn't want to sit on the couch or do anything else except whine and flop around. Ginger moaned in protest through Hazel's prayer, and bit my leg before it was over, thus securing herself an immediate time-out-turned-early-bedtime. Hazel insisted on "fishing" with her toy dog-on-a-leash during the songs, and threw a fist-pounding-back-arching fit when it was taken away. Even I, usually a model of emotional control, ended up throwing a few things angrily and marching into another room to collect myself. What would we do without even-tempered Ed?

But the 15 minutes it lasted had its shining moments. Hazel has created a rote prayer she likes to say at every opportunity: "Dear Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this food and this lunch and this prayer. And don't forget my best friend Kaleigh. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." As expected, this was also her opening prayer for Family Home Evening last night. We took this first FHE to talk about prayer, to explain that you say different things in your prayers depending on the setting and circumstances, and you should always think about what you want to say before praying. Just as we were losing their attention, Ed pulled out the September Friend (the LDS magazine for kids) and said, "Now we're going to read a story about a girl who was too scared to go to sleep."

Ginger immediately climbed up onto his lap and Hazel snuggled up to him with sudden and intense interest. It was about a little girl who was scared of the noise a branch made against her window. Her father came to comfort her and suggested she could pray to feel better. So they prayed together that she wouldn't be afraid anymore, and she was able to go to sleep. I wanted badly to take a picture of the three of them reading the story, but my camera was upstairs and I didn't want to leave. Hazel loved it, and it bought us one more quick chance to testify that you can pray to Heavenly Father for help with anything, and not just at meals and bedtime. Then we sang a couple of songs, read a bedtime story, and had a closing prayer. By this time Ginger was in time-out-bed, but Hazel got a muffin for dessert, and my angel husband put her to bed and did the dishes while I recovered from my own outburst.

Overall it was a success but I do hope it will get easier.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nie Nie Day is Coming - Watch for Good Auctions!

Well some of you may follow Design Mom's blog; I am sporadic but loyal. Her friend and fellow talented blogger Stephanie and husband Christian, parents of four, were in a tragic plane crash a few weeks ago; in critical condition, with months or more of recovery ahead of them. It has been moving to follow the ripple effect of sympathy, caring and generosity made possible by blogs and the internet, and I too have wondered what I can do to help. I don't know them personally but what if something like this happened to people I do know and care about? I would be screaming injustice and begging for any help on their behalf. As it stands, an impressively talented and savvy artistic community is rallying around the Nielsons in their time of need, fundraising in several ways for their medical/financial needs in the months to come.

For her part, Design Mom has named this Thursday, August 28, Nie Nie Day. She will be hosting a silent auction for something secretly awesome - I would expect nothing less from her - and has encouraged readers and Etsy sellers to do the same. Proceeds go directly into the Nielsons' paypal account. On Thursday's post she will tell of her own auction and include a list of links to everyone else's.

Naturally I want to participate. I love stuff like this, and for a good cause is even better. So I have contacted a few talented friends and have a pretty good auction lot taking shape. Please check back here Thursday to bid and/or check Design Mom's other auction links. And of course let us know if you score something awesome. Thursday should be an interesting day. More than anything I hope we can make a killing for the Nielsons.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Diet" Food

So for the last couple of months Ed and I have been working to lose weight. We're basically doing the Weight Watchers Core Plan, which in a nutshell is that you can eat as much as you want of the most healthy foods - fruits & vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and fat-free dairy; anything outside of those parameters must be counted in WW Points and you get 35 points a week. It's a very simple, straightforward plan, and the more you stick to it, the more successful you are. We did awesome our last months in Brooklyn, but have slowed progress a bit through the move. A courtship with my new kitchen has helped in some ways, hurt in others, but we're still working to get - and stay - on track.

Of course snacking is often the great downfall of diets. Mid-afternoon and late night are my dangerous times so I'm always on the lookout for interesting, yummy, satisfying, low-point snacks. And any other foods that can offer a boost here or there - extra protein or fiber, for example. So I've found a few keepers and was going to put them on the Good Stuff this month but there are enough for their own post. Trader Joe is my best, best friend, and all of these come from him except the ice cream. In fact, it was a toss-up whether this would be a post about the delights of shopping at Trader Joe's - perhaps that is still to come - or about our weight loss efforts. Whichever angle, the point is the same - a couple of awesome diet-friendly finds.

Breyers Free Double Churn Ice Cream
(Shockingly creamy; comes in about 5 flavors)
Portion: 1/2 cup - 90 cal, 0g fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein, 1 POINT
(Where they're hiding 3g of fiber per 1/2 cup in this ice cream I cannot say, but I don't ask questions; I just enjoy them telling me what I want to hear. Apparently chocolate has 4g of fiber, but I haven't tried it yet.)

Dark Chocolate covered Edamame
(I can just hear Kat saying, "WHAT?!" Hey, it was worth a try and they're not bad. Quality chocolate; crunchy like chocolate covered peanuts but more protein and less fat)
Portion: 1/4 cup - 200 cal, 11g fat, 5g fiber, 7g protein, 4 POINTS

Fat Free Caramel Popcorn
(Crunchy, sweet, and psychologically satisfying)Portion: 3/4 cup - 110 cal, 0g fat, 1g fiber, 1g protein, 2 POINTS

Multigrain Spaghetti with Flax
Portion: 1/8 package - 190 cal, 1.5g fat, 6g fiber, 8g protein, 3 POINTS

Crunchy Green Beans
(I admit, I was wary, but willing to try something salty and crunchy that more closely resembles a vegetable than chips - they're actually not bad but the kids are not fooled.)
Portion: 3/4 cup - 130 cal, 4.5g fat, 4g fiber, 2g protein, 2 POINTS

High Fiber O's Cereal
(Somewhere between Honey Nut Cheerios and cardboard;
especially good with fruit like berries, bananas, fresh peaches.)Portion: 1 1/4 cups - 180 cal, 1g fat, 10g fiber, 7g protein, 3 POINTS

The only thing missing is my favorite multigrain tortilla chips; they were out of stock but I'll get some next time. I know many people don't have access to Trader Joe's, and my heart goes out to you. Some don't know what they're missing, or don't care, and it's probably better that way. But for those who feel the pain, well, I'm considering a giveway. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, let's hear from you -

1) What diet-friendly favorites keep you off the fat farm? -OR-

2) What are your favorite Trader Joe's products? It seems like they have all kinds of new stuff every time I go.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

PR Dish - Queen Me

The Challenge: Create an over-the-top drag queen outfit that suits your client's persona.

The Winner: Joe

The Loser: Daniel
Disco Mom's Pick: Korto
The Dish:
  • Well it's about time to say buh-bye to Daniel. He really was whiney, full of excuses and delusional. I'm tired of his pushed-up jacket sleeves and sweaty hair. But beyond all my reality-show-watcher snarkiness, he was also super clueless! He missed the mark on a couple of challenges by a long shot and he never took criticism, almost a sure indicator of being sent home sooner than later.
  • I thought Jerrell's dress was just ok, but thought Blayne, with his saggy pterodactyl wings, deserved to be in the bottom three more.
  • I liked Joe's OK, though Korto's seemed more drag, more difficult and more dramatic. But I was really happy for Joe when he won. He's like the only normal guy on there so I'm kind of rooting for him.
  • It's amazing how versatile Stella and Blayne's unversatility are proving to be. So far they have managed to work black-leather-grommets and neon-LA-beach looks, respectively, into every challenge, and not gotten in too much trouble for it. I find that amazing. We're obviously still in the weeding-out process.
  • I haven't heard Blayne complain about tanning in two episodes. Have the editors just cut it out or did he get to tan, what do you think?
  • The challenges are starting to get more interesting, more challenging. It's excellent to see good designers thrown way out of their comfort zones and pull off something amazing. Harder to watch them bomb but still good TV.
  • What am I missing? What did you all think of the episode?
Next Week: Making clothes out of car parts? Rachel Zoe, whoever that is, guest judges.


Yesterday, 5:44 pm.

Ugh. Again. It's dinner time again. What do we have? Lots of leftovers. Ugh. OK, leftovers it is.

"Hazel, here are your choices for dinner: (think, what do we have?) waffles,..."

Hazel: "WAFFLES!!!"

"...or casserole..."

Hazel: (Silence.)

"...or hard-boiled eggs."

Hazel: "EGGS!"

"OK, you can have waffles and hard-boiled eggs."

Hazel: (Running down the hall) "Ginger! Ginger! We're going to have...uh...we're going to have AWFULS and OLD BURNED EGGS for dinner!"

Guess I'm not the only one who hates leftover night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Neighborhood Part II: Barcroft

Our little neighborhood in South Arlington is called Barcroft. Its borders are Rte 50 on the north, S. George Mason on the east, Columbia Pike on the south and a green space on the west.

View Larger Map

It's been intriguing moving into a suburban neighborhood after living in apartments for so long. I was curious what it would be like to have our own space and what neighbor interactions would be like. One of our first introductions to the neighborhood was the 4th of July parade. I had met a woman a few doors down who has a 4-year-old daughter, and she told me about the neighborhood parade, so we went. It was adorable, with kids and adults in costumes, waving flags, playing music, riding decorated bikes, trikes and wagons up and down the streets. The parade ended at the Barcroft Community House, which will get its own post soon, where there was a potluck picnic/BBQ and awards ceremony. We met a few families and neighbors, and got the same message from everyone: this is a great neighborhood.

And so it seems to be. Every time we go to the park or out on a walk we meet someone new, very friendly, and usually with kids. "Oh, my favorite pizza place is ____", they tell me, or "You just missed our spring block party but we'll have one at Halloween." "Do you know about the neighborhood playgroup?" or "The schools here are great. My wife and I are both teachers..."

Indeed, Barcroft Elementary School, only 3 blocks from our house, is the only school in the county on a year-round schedule, which parents love because it puts vacations at off-peak times and avoids the long summer break that families with two working parents dread finding childcare for. It also draws an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group of students from surrounding neighborhoods, another perk that parents appreciate. In addition, two of the six or seven families I've met in the neighborhood are headed by gay couples, one of which is the Barcroft PTA president - more diversity that I can appreciate.

One of my dreads of surburbia has always been the homogeneousness, I know this shocks all of you. Same houses, same colors, same residents up and down each street. Luckily in an area as old as Arlington we can generally avoid such sameness inside and out. Take the houses. I love walking the streets in our neighborhood because almost no two houses are the same, and they're all interesting to look at.

Some are tiny:
Some are big (like this monstrosity next door to us, which looks even bigger from the back):
Some are old and charming:
Some, obviously new builds:
There are stucco bungalows:

And - this one's my favorite - brick and stone cottages:
There's even an occasional white picket fence:
And of course there's our funny little house on the odd-shaped end lot, which definitely doesn't resemble any other, and which we believe was somebody's afterthought. But we love it.

I was on quite the photographer's rampage yesterday and I don't want them to go to waste so here are some more houses in the neighborhood. Some are even for SALE...

(Check out the polka-dot door on the first one - you won't find that in some Nazi covenant community!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Neighborhood Part I: Bay Ridge

One post I never got done for my May/June "Things I'll Miss" series was about my neighborhood in Brooklyn, Bay Ridge. It had a charm and familiarity that, after three years, was hard to bid farewell. The girls and I were out on the streets with the stroller almost every day, going to friends' houses, libraries, parks, shopping, music class or other errands, all within walking distance. The buildings, houses, and shops made up our 30-by-7 block home outside of home. Third and Fifth Avenues had all the main shopping and restaurants; the cross streets and other avenues were mainly residential. While it was sometimes a hassle to walk everywhere, I do miss the accessibility and closeness of that great community.

Ed commuted on an express bus that picked up literally outside our door, and cut at least 20 minutes off his otherwise subway commute. One of our favorite things about Bay Ridge was the waterfront walkway that stretched from the Verrazano Bridge to the 68th Street Pier, and which they renovated shortly after we moved there. We always lived close to the shore and could hop over there for a stroll along the water whenever we wanted, as long as we were willing to tolerate all the fishermen and the disgusting messes they made, and left, on the asphalt.

Bay Ridge was the perfect place to live in Brooklyn. It was made up of a mix of elderly and long-time residents, young professionals, and young families that had just outgrown their tiny Park Slope apartments with their second child. There were also many Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern residents. It was safe, people were friendly (for New Yorkers), and (for New York) it was a lovely place to live. I had so many favorite places; I took my camera out a few times to take pictures but didn't get as many as I wanted. Here are a few:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PR Dish - Brooke Asked For It

The Challenge: Design a day-to-night look for Brooke Shields' character on Lipstick Jungle. The winner doesn't get immunity but Brooke will wear it on the Jungle next season.

The Winner: Keith (& Kenley)
The Loser: Kelli

Disco Mom's Pick: Korto

The Dish:
  • For once Stella and Blayne didn't annoy me! Probably because Stella didn't open her mouth, and Blayne finally got serious and a little pathetic when he almost went home. And he didn't mention tanning once.
  • Of course Blayne's design was way off the mark but I'm confused why he didn't make like creased-front suit pant shorts - that automatically would have dressed his look way up; if he was set on shorts he could have even done like tuxedo pant shorts, I don't know.
  • I didn't care for Keith's outfit except the drop-off sleeve idea is cool. I thought Jerrell would win because they all seemed to like his better. But I didn't like it.
  • This being the first team challenge, it's a good lesson to note that the top two designs were from the teams that worked together harmoniously and whose final look was a true collaboration.
  • I think with 11 designers left I finally know everyone's names, and I have a handle on Kenley's, Terri's, Korto's, Blayne's, and Stella's styles. Still a little unclear on Leanne's, Keith's, Daniel's, Jerrell's, Suede's and Joe's styles. I'm still waiting to see someone I think deserves to go to Bryant Park. It gets good when we get rid of a few more and the challenges are more...challenging.
  • I have a headache.
Next Week: Designing for drag queens - how are they going to judge that since by its nature it's a challenge to be tacky? Kind of like last year's female wrestler challenge. Which of course the drag queen Chris won. RuPaul guest judges, no joke.

Blackberry and Peach Recipes

You will die. Everything here is wonderful.

Blackberry-Lemon Pudding Cake

"As the dessert bakes, a light, spongy cake forms over a delicate bottom layer of custard."

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup
granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup lowfat buttermilk

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 large egg yolks

3 large egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups blackberries (or blueberries or raspberries)

Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Com
bine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl; add buttermilk, lemon rind, lemon juice butter and egg yolks, stirring with a whisk until mixture is smooth.
3. Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into buttermilk mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in blackberries.

4. Pour batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooki
ng spray. Place in a large baking pan filled with water to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. Makes about 5 servings

Light Peach Ice Cream

3 cups chopped peeled peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a food process or blender puree peaches until smooth. Combine with the other ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Pour mixture into freezer bowl of ice cream machine and process according to machine directions. Pour soft ice cream into an airtight container and freeze in freezer for at least 2 hours.

Wild Berry Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons soft butter, in ½-inch pieces

1 egg
1 tablespoon orange peel
½ cup orange juice
½ cup raspberries*
½ cup blackberries*
1 cup blueberries*
(*You can do any combination of berries as long as you have 2 cups total)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients.

3. Add the soft butter in with your fingertips until it is like flakes of coarse meal.
4. Add the egg, juice, peel and berries; combine but do not over mix.
5. Bake for 1 hour or until done.

Peach-Glazed Barbecue Pork Chops and Peaches
3 cups chopped peeled peaches (about 1½ pounds)

1 cup dry white wine

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt, divided

¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

6 (6-ounce) bo
ne-in center cut pork chops (about ½- inch thick), trimmed
6 peaches, halved and pitted

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 min. Uncover and simmer 5 min. Place peach mixture in food processor, process until smooth. Add ¾ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, vinegar, and next 4 ingredients; pulse to combine. Let stand 5 min. Place half of peach mixture in a large heavy duty ziploc bag; reserve other half for basting. Add chops to bag; seal and refrigerate 30 minutes to 4 hours.

2. Preheat grill. Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork with ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper. Place pork and peach halves on grill rack coated with cooking sp
ray, and grill 10 min or until the pork is done and the peaches are tender, turning once. Baste pork and peach halves with reserved mixture every 2 minutes during the first 6 minutes of cooking.
Makes 6 servings

Monday, August 11, 2008

Meet Me in Memphis

It's Elvis Week, folks. Get your white trash - oops, I mean jumpsuit - on, stock up on candles for the vigil, and start channeling your inner Elvis fan. I'll see you there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We're Having More Fun Than You

Usually I think you're having more fun than me, but not this weekend.
Friday I took the girls to Homestead Farm in Maryland (about 45 minutes away.) It was a miraculous weather for August - warm and sunny but not too hot and humid, with a delightful breeze whipping around. Peaches and thornless blackberries are perfect to pick with small kids because they can reach them! The peaches were amazing - huge and soft and so, so juicy! We haven't had peaches like this since Colorado. After we had picked a few, Ginger bit into one. That's when she gave up on picking and climbed into the stroller to focus on devouring her peach. When she was done, her shirt was soaked and she had peach juice all over her chin and up to her elbows. And she was sucking the pit. Then she asked for more. The blackberries were just as wonderful. Big, juicy, and very black. Of course, no pick-your-own farm is complete without resident kid-friendly dogs, and there were even some animal pens to walk around and look at. A patch of pick-your-own zinnias rounded out a fabulous summer morning. What will we do with all that fruit? Watch this space later in the week for peach and blackberry recipes!

Saturday we hit the Arlington County Fair. Admittedly, Arlington is a small, non-rural county so the fair was small-scale. But that's all a family like us needs. A couple of rides, some balloons and an ice cream cone will do it. We picked up a few free pens at the various booths and had Hazel fingerprinted at the Sheriff's table by "Paul." She thought it was great; the next kid waiting with his mom was crying and terrified. Ginger was too young.
Saturday night we christened our new grill - yes, we went charcoal this time - with a couple of steaks and ate outside because it was such a nice night.
Sunday we attended our new ward, Arlington 1st, made up of equal parts ex-Falls Church and ex-Arlington ward members. Sacrament meeting ran extra long because they released everyone who are now in other wards by name from their callings. The Bishop and his two counselors were the speakers, and all three spoke about the positive aspects of the boundary changes and our new ward. However, one of the counselors' comments were especially memorable. He said he grew up as the son of a minister in another church in Detroit, and he told of a time that two congregations attempted to combine. There was great contention, territorialism and politics involved and in the end, about one third of the congregation left the church. He said how miraculous it is to have a church organization that is led by revelation, and whose members are personally and individually converted, so that when big changes come up we just roll with it because of our faith. I was happy to see a smaller congregation, get one of the padded benches for a change, and see a few familiar faces. After sacrament meeting we had a "brunch & mingle" to meet and greet (and also because the ward isn't staffed enough yet to teach all the classes.)

How was your weekend?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...