Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Permanent Fix to a Temporary Problem.

I had a whole mess of double-first cousins (Mother's brother married Father's sister) who grew up basically across the street from us.  My cousin Tim was a riot -- always the life of every party.  He always could be counted on to have a new joke or a funny story.  He was my mother's favorite, probably because he had such good comedic timing.  I admired him greatly.  When I was growing up I wanted to be like him.  He went on to be elected Mayor of my hometown.

This morning, in the midst of apparent financial problems, he committed suicide.

And there just aren't words.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I've Been Sad

It has been hard to post.

My beloved cat, Legolas, fell ill and died suddenly 10 days ago, in my arms.  She was a really great cat, and she loved me above all others.  I keep looking around for her.  I miss her tremendously.  It probably sounds silly to some people, but Lego was my constant, adoring companion for 8 years.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Rest assured, this isn't an Annie revival.

I have been very good.  I let them stick needles in my wrist.  I've kept the flipping brace on 24/7 (except in the bathroom and when washing dishes).  It doesn't HURT as much as before, but the pain has been replaced by a loud clicking, uncomfortable grinding, and I do not think I will put up a fuss when he says we should set the date for surgery.  Your wrist should not remind you of a rake being dragged across a feckin' blackboard.

I see the surgeon tomorrow.  I am nervous.  I am a big baby, I know.  I think an exacerbating factor is that any other time I've been sick or broken, I have used knitting to keep my head in the game and speed healing.  Without knitting to hold my attention I have more time to spend worrying.

I have a beautiful skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in Periwinkle.  Enough for a shawl.  I figure when this is all over I will have to knit something special with it.  It's good to have a treat.

My Aunt Nan died Saturday morning at around 1:30.  She was 95.  She was out playing cards at my cousin CarolAnn's house -- cards being one of her favorite pastimes -- and she suffered a fatal heart attach.  Anyone's passing is sad, but it is also sort of beautiful that she died doing something she enjoyed tremendously, surrounded by people she loved and who loved her back.  Not bad.

My Aunt Nan had only one arm -- she had lost the other as a small child following an accident.  A vivid childhood memory of mine is sassing her a little and saying to her, "Well, it isn't like you could spank me with only one arm!"  Faster than lightning she grabbed hold of me, swung me around, and, just inches from my face said in the least-joking voice I ever hear her use, "Oh, yeah?  Is that what you think?  Just try me, Buster.  I'll have you over my knee and give your hind end a whoopin' you'll never forget before you even know which end is up."  And I could tell that she meant what she said and I never messed with Aunt Nan.  Lesson learned.

Oh, did I mention that, in addition to cards, she also was an avid bowler?

I won't be going to the funeral -- I have too much riding on this appointment with the  surgeon tomorrow.  I feel bad about not going.  But I also know that if I don't get this done before December 31st, it is going to cost me an additional $2600.00.  And Aunt Nan, ever frugal, would probably sit up in her casket to call me seven kinds of stupid if I canceled the appointment.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I want this.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee has one.  And all week long she has been rubbing it in my face.  I can hear her now.  "Oh, look at this book full of psycho-complicated lace made with painfully thin yarn!  Just the kind Aidan would love if he had this book!  But he doesn't!  Ha!"

OK.  Maybe she hasn't been saying EXACTLY that.  But it is something really close.  Don't you think?

So.  What else is new? 

I made a batch of chocolate and goat cheese truffles, flavored with just a splash of Irish Whiskey.  That was yum.  Oh, did I mention I made the goat cheese?  I'm not back with the goat until a weekend after next, but I expect to make a double batch of cheese -- this time I think I'll make some crottin and some Sainte Maure -- both are aged, mold-ripened cheeses which become sharper in flavor and more complex with age and culture.

I've only knit two rows of my shawl.  It just really hurts my wrist, even with the splint.  I miss knitting.  Oh, and kneading bread. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Woe is Me.

I spent a bit of time with a surgeon today.  

What I thought was lingering tendinitis turns out to be an ulnar variance resulting in a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage.  As comforting as that may sound, fibrocartilage does not have anything to do with fiber.  At least not in the positive sense.  It will, however, keep me from playing with fiber.  For a while.

Today they filled my joint full of a steroid to get rid of the inflammation.  This hurts like a futhermucker, which give me something to look forward to in 2 weeks when I go for another round.  (Have I ever mentioned that I don't like needles and that I am a big baby and that I hate needles?)  In 4 weeks I will go in and if it's clear, they will set me for surgery to repair the tear and to shorten the ulna by 4 mm.  Hopefully I will have it before the end of the year, because the New Year brings with it New Deductible, New Insurance, and a New HSA account which will have Zero dollars in it.  Oh, woe is me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Planning Ahead

We have spent a wee bit of time  and more than a wee bit of money at a wonderful orchard near Shell Cottage.  Our first visit we picked apples for 15 minutes and were surprised to find that we had accumulated over 40 pounds of apples!  What further surprised us was how fast they disappeared, what with apple sauce, apple cake, and just plain eatin'!

I discovered a new apple on that trip, the Melrose.  As big as my head (and I have a BIG head) and a wonderful balance between sweet and tart, I found them addictive.

We had to go back in very short order.  And those apples went away pretty quickly.

That's when I realized, Hey!  I have a yard!  I can grow apples myself!  So I started researching and studying and trying to make decisions.  Yesterday I went back to the orchard -- the very last day of the season -- and asked a question about planting, and my friend the AppleMan asked me how much I was paying per tree.  I told him and he said that he could tack on my trees to his order and get them for me for one-third the cost!

So come spring we will be planting three trees - Melrose, HoneyCrisp, and Smokehouse apples!  And in 4 or 5 years we will be harvesting 12 bushels of apples a season!  (A bushel weighs approximately 42 pounds!)  We should be able to provide all of our friends and family with apples!  And apple cake.  And apple sauce.  And apple butter.  And mincemeat.  And...and...and!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm Loopy!

OK.  I'm not one to gush about Local Yarn ShopsI've had some bad experiences.  Especially with LYS owners.   I've always liked Loopy Yarns because their people were friendly, helpful, and they listen to what I want...and then get it!  (Really!  I said I preferred solid sock yarn, 4 weeks later there were 6 colors of solids.  I like the Cascade Alpaca Lace, but I've bought all I like of the colors they have...yup!  4 weeks later there are 12 new colors!  And they have all my favorite needles!)  But I have a new reason to like them.  And I thought I'd mention it.

I've been working a bunch of hours, and I was getting off work after an 11.5 hour day.  The point protector for the circulars I'm using for the Eiffel Tower shawl keep coming off, and I had noticed that they had come off and I had dropped a few stitches.  (Luckily, only a few and I was able to correct it in no time flat.)

I rang up Loopy to see if it happened to be the night they stay open late.  Vicki, the owner, answered the phone and said that they had closed an hour earlier, but if I hurried, she would wait for me to get there!  And she did!  She stayed late, for me.  And my whopping sixty-six cent sale.  Can you believe that?

You know, I could use a few balls of Alpaca Lace....


I just took a huge spanikopita out of the oven -- we are having our chavurah (group of friends) of people mostly from our old synagogue over for an informal Kabbalat (Welcoming) Shabbat service followed by a potluck.  We will have about 25 people -- lots of singing, laughing, eating, etc.

Anyway, I've made this spanikopita a lot, but this time is a little different.  Why?  Because I made the feta cheese myself.  From goat's milk.  From a goat I know.  And love.  And milked.

I've been making my own chevre and other soft cheeses, but this was the first "hard" cheese I have made.  Flavor-wise it is a great success, but I was disappointed in the texture.  When it went into the brine it was firm, but after 21 days it was really, really soft.  Almost marshmallow fluff.  So I rinsed it off and the most fluffy part rinsed off and what remained was perfect for the spanikopita.  Good and salty and goaty!  I can't wait!

Monday, October 18, 2010

100 Chinese Foods to Eat Before You Die

100 Chinese Foods to Try Before You Die

If you want to play along, copy & paste this list to your site. Put in bold the items you’ve already eaten and cross off the ones you would never try. Let me know your score by leaving a comment!

1. Almond milk
2. Ants Climbing a Tree (poetic, not literal, name)
3. Asian pear
4. Baby bok choy
5. Baijiu (chinese white liquor)
6. Beef brisket
7. Beggar’s Chicken
8. Bingtang hulu
9. Bitter melon - (hated it!)
10. Bubble tea
11. Buddha’s Delight
12. Cantonese roast duck
13. Century egg, or thousand-year egg
14. Cha siu (cantonese roast pork)
15. Char kway teow
16. Chicken feet
17. Chinese sausage
18. Chow mein
19. Chrysanthemum tea
20. Claypot rice
21. Congee
22. Conpoy (dried scallops)
23. Crab rangoon
24. Dan Dan noodles
25. Dragonfruit
26. Dragon’s Beard candy
27. Dried cuttlefish
28. Drunken chicken
29. Dry-fried green beans
30. Egg drop soup
31. Egg rolls
32. Egg tart
33. Fresh bamboo shoots
34. Fortune cookies
35. Fried milk
36. Fried rice
37. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
38. General Tso’s Chicken
39. Gobi Manchurian
40. Goji berries (Chinese wolfberries)
41. Grass jelly
42. Hainan chicken rice
43. Hand-pulled noodles
44. Har gau
45. Haw flakes
46. Hibiscus tea
47. Hong Kong-style Milk Tea
48. Hot and sour soup
49. Hot Coca-Cola with Ginger
50. Hot Pot
51. Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin)
52. Jellyfish
53. Kosher Chinese food
54. Kung Pao Chicken
55. Lamb skewers (yangrou chua’r)
56. Lion’s Head meatballs
57. Lomo Saltado
58. Longan fruit
59. Lychee
60. Macaroni in soup with Spam
61. Malatang
62. Mantou, especially if fried and dipped in sweetened condensed milk
63. Mapo Tofu
64. Mock meat
65. Mooncake (bonus points for the snow-skin variety)
66. Nor mai gai (chicken and sticky rice in lotus leaf)
67. Pan-fried jiaozi
68. Peking duck
69. Pineapple bun
70. Prawn crackers
71. Pu’er tea
72. Rambutan
73. Red bean in dessert form
74. Red bayberry
75. Red cooked pork
76. Roast pigeon
77. Rose tea
78. Roujiamo
79. Scallion pancake
80. Shaved ice dessert
81. Sesame chicken
82. Sichuan pepper in any dish
83. Sichuan preserved vegetable (zhacai)
84. Silken tofu
85. Soy milk, freshly made
86. Steamed egg custard
87. Stinky tofu
88. Sugar cane juice
89. Sweet and sour pork, chicken, or shrimp
90. Taro
91. Tea eggs (actually made these myself!)
92. Tea-smoked duck
93. Turnip cake (law bok gau)
94. Twice-cooked pork
95. Water chestnut cake (mati gau)
96. Wonton noodle soup
97. Wood ear
98. Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings)
99. Yuanyang (half coffee, half tea, Hong Kong style
100. Yunnan goat cheese

Thursday, September 02, 2010

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

This has been posted by a kabillion people on Facebook, and I don't know who the original author is, but this is a truth people should hear:
10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm Back!

We had a lovely time at Shell Cottage.  I was terribly sorry to leave so soon, but Norbert had an afternoon bat mitzvah to attend, so leave we did.

I suppose you'd like a little more info than that.  Let's see.  Monday was sort of an easy day.  Norbert slept in, but Myfanwe and I acted like adults and only slept an hour (me) or two (Myfanwe) later than usual.  We made a trip or two outside -- to the orchard for a big bag of peaches and a mess of corn -- but other than that, we were lazy.  We went to the library -- I checked out another Foxfire book and a book on calving for persons involved in bovine husbandry.  We had lunch in the village Saloon -- which we never would have done six months ago, but thanks to the new smoking ban in Michigan, we can and do avail ourselves of the vittles served up by our neighborhood publicans.  In the afternoon I knit more on the Eiffel Tower Shawl -- I'm nearing the end of the 2nd Chart and will then do a repeat of it to create a large shawl.  I sort of remember napping a lot, which must have been more tiring than it sounds, because I had to go to bed early!

Tuesday we kept to basically the same schedule.  I slept an hour later than usual, Myfanwe slept two, but Norbert only slept three hours later than usual because we were going on an adventure.  The three of us went kayaking on the Galien River.  (River does sound a bit more...um...mobile than this body of water.  We were told that the return didn't take any longer because there was "zero current".)  Anyway, it was beautiful, peaceful, and a bit of a thrill.  I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to do it.  But I could!  And we saw a beautiful, big Blue Heron at pretty close range!  He flew out of the reads about 20 feet ahead of us and flew down the middle of the rive so we could get a really look.

Wednesday we drove to Shipshewana, Indiana for the Flea Market, the Antique Auction, and -- my favorite -- E & S Sales, the best Amish general store in the Midwest!  I bought stone-ground course whole wheat flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, and bread flour (all grown in Indiana by people the owner knows, milled locally, and all carrying kosher certification!), six pounds of SAF Instant Yeast, raw honey, beef ring bologna, and various pickled veggies.  We ate at the Auction House Restaurant -- we all ordered the chicken & noodles special and Norbert & I split a piece of peanut butter pie.  Michelle bought an old 12-light window with frosted panes which she is going to hang in our bedroom at the cottage and use to frame photos from our trip to Ireland.  She's going to mount one photo in each of the panes of glass, and hang it where she can look at it from bed.  (She really misses Ireland.)

Thursday we went to St. Joseph, Michigan to Silver Beach, possible the finest beach on a Great Lake.  It really is a stunning beach, clean, orderly, with benches in the shade along the periphery and a few shaded picnic tables for lunch.  Myfanwe had packed a picnic, so we availed ourselves of the shade.  It had warmed up nicely -- it was, for the first time all year, a little cooler than normal -- but warm air does not necessarily mean warm water.  When Myfanwe says it's cold, it's COLD!  After the beach we walked around downtown St. Joe, including and especially Kelwins's Ice Cream & Candy!  Yum!  I had two scoops -- 1 cappachino chocolate chip and the other toasted coconut.  I would like to go back every day for the rest of my life, please!  SO delicious!

Friday.  Hmm.  Norbert and I started off the day with another kayak excursion.  Myfanwe begged off.  The river was beautiful again -- though I can't move a quickly as Norbert can -- he flies!  We need to find another person to go with us who can move at the same speed so we aren't holding Norbert back.

We made another library crawl.  Norbert had to collect his prize.  He entered the summer reading contest which offered a prize to the top 5 readers and a Grand Prize for the reader who read the most minutes over the summer.  Noah felt a little handicapped, since he only had 3 weeks to read and keep track of time before he left for camp, and he was volunteering full time at his school's preschool during those weeks.  But he really focused on reading and keeping meticulous time records.  The outcome?  Norbert read 43 hours 15 minutes, besting his nearest competitor by 6 hours and some odd minutes.  His Grand Prize?  $50.

After that Myfanwe and Norbert went to the beach in New Buffalo while I went and had a visit with our friend Jaye, who was our realtor when we bought Shell Cottage.  I enjoy her very, very much, so that was a big treat.  When I left Jaye's office, I staked out a little bench on the main, boardwalky sort of street and sat in the shade and knit.  If there is a better way to spend an hour, I don't know what it is!

This morning I started off by going to a friend's to meet her new goat, Posie.  Posie is a real looker!  I'm completely smitten.  I thought she was so cute that I felt her up at the first opportunity!  Yes!  Me!  Milking a goat!  It isn't as easy as it looks, but I did it, and I plan to get better in the future.  Posie is a very patient young goat and forgiving by nature.

After I go home, we ran to the orchard again for more peaches and some apples this time.  I do love quality produce!  These are the last peaches we will have for the season, so I'm sorry to see them go, but with the end of the peaches we should also soon see the end of the heat, so I can start backing some apples pies and cakes!

I know there are no pictures.  And that's because I can't find my camera.  I took a whole bunch of pictures with my phone, but then my phone died a horrible death while kayaking.  At least it was quick, that's all I can say.  (And thank Bob our contract is up and we are all going to get new phones, maybe as early as tomorrow.)

Good night.  I'll write again soon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Do I Do Now?

We had a guest for Shabbat -- Norbert's best friend, Leroy.  Knowing how much Leroy likes lox -- he really can eat a pound without noticing -- I picked up a pound of Nova at the grocery yesterday.

This morning I put out a spread of soft baby pita. homemade fromage blanc, lox, diced read onion, tomatoes, and blueberries.

Leroy arrived at the breakfast table, asked for cereal, and then ate a bowl of (dry) cereal instead.

We leave for a week at Shell Cottage tomorrow.  What in the hell am I going to do with a pound of lox?  Did I mention I don't LIKE lox?  Oi!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Knitting Needles and Tools Reviewed

Knitting Needles and Tools Reviewed

I don't like charts, so I would never use this, but this is an easy, inexpensive way to create charted patterns. $6! Who'da thunkit?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Not the Same as a Trip to Paris

...but it will have to do for now.  Last Thursday I cast on the Eiffel Tower Shawl, which was inspired by the iron work detail in the tower.  I'm half-way through the second chart, and enjoying it.  It is, for the most part, an easy, mindless knit -- which is exactly what I need right now!  The end border will be more involved, which I am sure I will enjoy as well.

Norbert is home from camp.  He grew two inches while at camp and is now 2 inches taller than I.  And he is only 13!  His return is much appreciated -- I didn't realize how much I rely on him for the tie breaking vote on things like going out for Vietnamese or buying ice cream for dessert!  All joking aside, he is a good boy and I am so glad to have him back.

Next week is vacation.  The three of us are going to Shell Cottage.  We'll spend one day in Shipshewana, Indiana, but other than that we plan to stick around and go to the beach, go kayaking, and lay around and read a lot.

While on the subject of books, let me recommend a couple I have really enjoyed:  "The Good Good Pig" by Sy Montgomery is at the top of this year's list.  I enjoyed it immensely and it really touched me deeply.  I'm also re-reading "Miss Mary Bobo's Boardinghouse Cookbook.".  I love the unfussiness of the comfort food.

Gotta run.  Have fun.  Be good.  Stay well.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Myfanwe and I spent the weekend together at Shell Cottage sans Norbert, who is at camp. We went to hear Uncommon Folk at the band shell in the park and took a wonderful picnic of grilled pork (don't tell my Rabbi), sliced tomatoes, marinated green beans, some perfect melon, lemonade, and peach cobbler. We ran into a former colleague of Myfanwe's, Fakurdi, and her husband and son and ended up staying well after the concert was over. If the mosquitoes hadn't gotten so thick, I think we would have stayed even longer! They have a house nearby, so we'll be able to take up again soon.

So. This spring we had all the raggedy bushes in front of Shell Cottage ripped out and I planted 6 hedge roses (Rosa Rugosa) in front of the house. I wanted a low maintenance, healthy rose. When the roses came, they really looked like nothing more than sticks poking out of the ground. Not a surprise -- I knew and was expecting it. And I expected that they would bloom for the first time next year or possibly even the year after. So you can imagine my reaction to this:

I hope it will be in bloom when we are there next. If it is, I'll update the pics! Have a good week!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I Have No Excuse.

Except to say that I've been having a good time.

I've been chided in comments, in e-mail, and in person. Please accept my sincere apology and know that I've missed you, as well.

Let's see. Since we last spoke, we've done our best to spend 2.5 days a week at Shell Cottage. More if we can. The spring was kind of cool and wet, which didn't stop us from enjoying much! It made the grass a bit harder to cut, but not for long. Because right behind the cold and wet Spring came the hot and wet summer. (We've had good luck, though, with cutting the grass. Only one weekend so far was too wet each to find a window of opportunity to mow.)

When I said hot, by the way, I wasn't kidding. More days over 80 degrees than in any summer since they started keeping records. Our guest room isn't air conditioned, which has cut down on summer company a little -- but not entirely. (One weekend Norbert slept on the floor in our bedroom, and another Myfanwe and I slept in Norbert's room while he was at camp. We took turns -- one of us in the bed, the other on an inflatable twin mattress.)

Just in time for Flag Day we found a piece of folk art that we love and had to have. (It is made from remnants of now demolished Three Oaks barns!)

Flag Day, which is a major holiday in Three Oaks, Michigan, was great fun. We had an open house and friends and neighbors filled the house up, ate, drank, then watched the Flag Day parade.
I have started making my own cheeses -- fromage blanc and chevre. It has been too hot to bake much, but I did find a wonderful recipe for Amazing Corn Cake in a Nebraska 4-H cookbook that I'm very happy with.

Norbert, Myfanwe, the pets and I are all happy and healthy. M & I are working a LOT, but feel lucky to have jobs. And lucky to have jobs that challenge us. Norbert is at camp until the 14th -- we miss him lots, but also are so glad to know he's having so much fun.

I've got to run and take a cake out of the oven. Stay well. I'll try not to take so long between posts. Love. Peace. Cake.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick Update

Um. Where to start.

Work. Work. Work. Work. That pretty much tells the story of Monday to Thursday.

Friday. Worked -- a little bit longer than planned, but still out of the office in time to run home, throw the dog and the food into the (already packed) car, drive back downtown to pick up Myfanwe, and make it Norbert's school by 2:30.

We arrive at Shell Cottage in late afternoon, and I immediately started mowing the lawn because I wanted to get it cut before it started raining. I got the front law mowed before the rain came down, and it rained the whole rest of the weekend, so I never got to finish the back. It's going to be a bear to mow next Friday.

We had chicken, onions, mushrooms and sweet potatoes roasted with white wine and rosemary for dinner. It was ok. Norbert loved it. The boy is ALL about the mushrooms.

Saturday I woke with a migraine. Lots of meds and an ice bag later it was manageable, and coffee helped keep it at bay for the rest of the day. Which was good, as I had a lot to do. The rain was nice, soothing, and I loved knowing that the roses were being watered by G-d. That way I don't have to tote buckets. (Have I failed to mention that this house has no spigot to take water to the outside? No. Really! None.)

Mitzi had an appointment with the vet in Three Oaks. Mitzi needed her rabies vaccine and she desperately needed to have her nails trimmed. (Click Click Click all through the house!) It's so much easier to walk her over to the vet in Three Oaks than to drive downtown and park. The vet in Three Oaks is a quiet, pleasant man and I really liked that he apologized to Mitzi when he stuck his thermometer up her Hoopdeedoo. I also liked that the bill was half as much as in Chicago. We will definitely be repeat customers.

After the vet, we decided that Mitzi stank and needed a bath, so we drove a few miles to the town of Bridgman, which has a do-it-yourself dog was and feed store. Plastic aprons donned, we proceeded to wash and condition, rinse and dry poor Mitzi. She is such a good dog. I'm sure if I'd been poked and pinched and stuck with a needle, had something stuck up my folderol and then been dunked in water, well, let's just say that I wouldn't be happy about it. Mitzi is, above all, forgiving.

Saturday night there was a hog roast at the American Legion hall, the proceeds of which benefit the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade. Flag Day in Three Oaks is a very, very big deal. If you were taking your ACT, the correct answer would be, "Flag Day is to Three Oaks as the Tournament of Roses is to Pasadena." Or possibly, "Flag Day is to Three Oaks as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans." It's part of the life force -- the spirit of the place.

Sunday I made my favorite coffee cake. In the cookbook put out by the Women's Axillary of the Three Oaks American Legion it is called the Walton's Mountain Coffee Cake. Paula Dean has a variation -- which is really just the Walton's Mountain recipe without the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. (And, to be totally honest, it is better with the cinnamon.) I also increase the nuts and mess with the brown sugar, so I guess this is MY version, and I'm going to call it the Three Oaks Coffee Cake.

Three Oaks Coffee Cake

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
  • 18 knobs of frozen white dinner roll dough
  • 1 pack (4 serving-size) NON-instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • Generously grease a 10 in fluted tube pan.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in the bottom of the pan.
  • Arrange the frozen dough balls on top of the pecans.
  • Sprinkle pudding mix over dough balls.
  • Sprinkle brown sugars and cinnamon over the pudding.
  • Sprinkle remaining nuts.
  • Drizzle with melted butter.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise on the counter for 8 to 10 hours or refrigerate for 12 to 24 hrs.
  • Uncover and bake 350 degree oven about 35 minutes or till top is golden brown.
  • Let cool 5 minutes before inverting coffee cake onto a good size serving tray.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I really love that all of the work occurs the night before. And I love the flavor. SO delicious. And, yes, I understand that there are some food snobs who will turn up their noses at a recipe that calls for pudding mix. Feh. This coffee cake is one of the best things I have ever made. And I now make it almost every week. It's that good.

Gotta run.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I've Been Really, Really Busy

But that is really no excuse.

I've been doing the job of two people. Well, except for the 7 weeks when I had help. But he got a better offer and his last day was Good Friday. So I'm back to the job of two people.

When not at work, I've been enjoying Shell Cottage every possible moment. We try to go three weekends out of the month. I've done quite a bit of gardening and can't wait for high season so I can see everything going wild and blooming! I've discovered an absolutely huge..um...vine doesn't seem immense enough, but that's what we'll call it for now -- vine of wisteria growing through/over/in a spray of pine trees in the back yard.! My neighbor, DeeDee, says it is gorgeous in bloom.

One of the trees in the side yard is blooming! I don't know what kind of a tree it is, but it is beautiful!

The other tree in the side yard is the bottle tree. We are up to 12 bottles. Norbert gave me an early Fathers' Day present -- three unusual bottles, including red and yellow, which are unusual colors. You can just see the red bottle near the top of the pic above. DeeDee says the tree will bloom soon, as well, and that the blooms are white. If you have any weird bottles -- unusual colors, shapes, etc. -- send them to me! Nothing makes me quite as happy as adding another bottle to the tree.

We also have a shrub, above, blooming in the back yard. Again, I don't know what it is, but it is pretty.

As for the front yard, all of the raggedy bushes have been pulled, the roots dug up, and 6 hedge roses planted in their place. It looks like six twigs have been stuck in the ground, but give it two or three years and they will be spectacular with blooms of pinkish red. (And in the fall, brilliant orange hips!) This past weekend Myfanwe and I put down landscape fabric around the roses and then a good, thick layer of mulch.


I'm a little bitter about knitting, but trying to get past it.

I will not have the Cathedral Window Shawl finished in time for the State Fair. Early in the year I had scheduled to take a class at an LYS on knit-on lace edging, since it seems fairly difficult to learn from written instructions. But then, four days before the class, the LYS called, mortified, to say that the teacher's "scheduler" had inadvertently scheduled two events in two different states for the same day. The class was rescheduled, but -- such is my luck -- for a date I couldn't be there. So I'm going to have to put it on the back burner for a bit until I can find a teacher who can teach me.

I hated the Rose Leaf curtains (more than I can say) and ripped back almost to the beginning and decided to design my own using stitch patterns from books. It's only through one repeat and I already know I like it more.

More later. Please don't forget me!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


We spent the weekend at Shell Cottage, where I was able -- for the first time in weeks -- to have genuine, guilt-free knitting time! And the result?

5.5 rows in 36 hours! That's 6347 stitches! And -- given work demands and the rigors of planning for the bar mitzvah -- I had been averaging half a row a day!

I have 8 rows left before the edging. And I can't begin the (1154 rows) edging until after I learn how to do it. And I won't learn how to do it until April 10th, when I am taking a class on Knitted Lace Edging from Franklin Habit at Loopy Yarns.

So when the body of the shawl is done, I am going to break my "One Project At A Time" rule and cast on a curtain for the front door of Shell Cottage. I have decided to knit Marianne Kinzel's Rose Leaf Curtain (above) in a butter-yellow cotton yarn that will take to starching. Mine will be probably a foot longer than that pictured, but I am going to stick with three repeats of the motif at the bottom. I don't want anything too fussy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Over. Done. He's a Man Now. Whew!

Things went very smoothly, Norbert did an exceptional job. He chanted beautifully -- his voice only cracking 13 times. (I didn't count -- two 16 year old girls did!) But nothing phased him. He didn't even pause. He just kept chanting with precision.

Dinner and services on Friday were spectacular, and the luncheon after the bar mitzvah was well attended and we didn't run out of food. (Always a worry of mine.)

Sunday's boy/girl party went well -- the kids had fun, and that really was the whole point of the party.

There are no pictures from Friday or Saturday -- our synagogue considers cameras (as well as any electronic devices) to be prohibited on the Sabbath. Today we got Norbert to put on his bar mitzvah clothes, ride over to the synagogue, and let us take a few pictures.

He's a good boy.

We are tired, but pleased. It was a lot of work, but we love the kid, and that made it a lot easier. The friends who came to our aid -- cooking, setting tables, delivering things -- touched our hearts in a way I can't describe.

Tonight I pick up the knitting and get cracking! But probably won't get too much in. I'm going to have to turn in early -- tomorrow we are all back to work, and I'm plenty tired still.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To Do List

I have a few things to do. Just a few.


  • Norbert's school play -- two performances.
  • Clean the school kitchen and unload first load of equipment and ingredients.
  • Wash and dry kitchen utensils.
  • Make final lists for market and greengrocer.
  • Go to Target and pick up game for Norbert's class fundraiser.

  • Work. 8 hours. Or maybe more.
  • Phone in final orders to market and greengrocer.
  • Check linens for Friday night dinner for our chavurah and our of town guests.
  • Arrange for someone to pick up food for Friday dinner.
  • While I'm at it, see if I can find someone to pick up the two cakes from Costco on Friday.
  • Photocopy program for the bar mitzvah.

  • Go to Costco. Buy 35 pounds of lox. And 5 crates of clementine oranges. Take to synagogue to refrigerate. Pick up the rest of the stuff we need from Costco.
  • Pick up Decaf at Trader Joe's. (The darker roast, the better.)
  • Buy soda for Friday night.
  • Fold 250 napkins.
  • Pick up orders from the restaurant supply company and the wholesale grocer. Unload at the school kitchen after noon.
  • 8:30 am to 8:30 p.m. -- cooking at the school kitchen. And cleaning up. And labeling everything.
  • Buy 4 mylar (NOT latex) balloons for the kid tables.
  • 5:30 a.m. -- make 2 large batches of challah dough.
  • 8:00 am -- set up 25 round tables and 8 buffet tables. Set up 250 chairs. Put on table linens. Set out the table centerpieces. Put the napkins around. Put the balloons on the kid tables. Carry food over from school. Put wine and soda to chill.
  • 11:30 am -- set up 9 round tables and 90 chairs at site for the Friday night service and dinner. Put the linens around, plates, glasses, and drinks in place.
  • 2:00 p.m. -- back home to bake challah. Bathe. Maybe nap. (Yeah. Right.)
  • 5:30 -- Dress and to the site for service and dinner. Give instructions to the server helping with serving and cleanup.
  • 6:30 -- Relax. Shabbat begins. Singing. Praying. Kvelling. Eating. Singing. Laughing.
  • 10:00 -- cleanup. Load up the car. Go home. Go to bed.

  • 9:00 -- arrive at synagogue. Check with catering company responsible for service.
  • 9:30 -- our boy becomes a man.
  • 12:00 -- lunch
  • 1:00 -- games for the kids. The JCC will be open for free time.
  • 4:00 -- snacks. Then home.
  • 7:30 -- leftovers at our house. Family and friends hang out. No pressure.
  • 11:00 -- I throw family and friends out. To bed. To sleep, perchance to dream.

  • Noon -- Boy/Girl Party. 7th & 8th graders only. One other parent there to protect us from things going all Lord of the Flies.
  • 4:00 -- party over. Repeating the sleep thing.

I don't care if your brother's mother's sister's hairdresser has free backstage passes to Sarah Palin being tarred and feathered by Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow -- don't call me. The phone will be off. I won't be reading my e-mail. I won't be returning messages. I will not be answering the bell. If awake, I expect I will be sitting on the edge of my bed, rocking back and forth, muttering "Oh my dog. Oh my dog. Oh my dog. Oh my dog. Oh my dog. "

Tuesday through Friday Noon: Work

Friday Noon: Leaving for Shell Cottage!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Off the Needles ... err...Boards

I finished this ages and ages ago as a gift for Norbert's bar mitzvah tutor. But -- in classic ME fashion -- waited until the last minute to block it and give it to her.

The Candle Flame shawl knit using Cascade's Alpaca Lace in Flax Heather. The recipient loved it and wore it the night we gave it to an opening at her husband's theater. Many compliments were received. I was pleased.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Crawling. Through. A. Bog. Slowly.

I am not certain I will ever finish the last 17 rows of the Cathedral Window shawl. 1154 stitches per row of lace takes for blooming ever. I'm a little bit concerned that if I don't start knitting faster, the shawl is going to grow moss on its North side!

And then I think about the 1154 rows of edging that need to be knit on...and I spit up in the back of my mouth just a little bit. 1154 rows. Oop. There it goes again.

Let's face it. I'm not going to get much knitting done in the next two weeks. Until the bar mitzvah is over, I doubt I get more than a few stitches a day in before panic or
sleep overtakes me. And I may need a few days off afterward to recover.

If I want to enter this shawl in the Illinois State Fair, I will need
to have it finished, blocked, and in federal express by July 1. And there are 121 days between March 1 and July 1. 30,612 stitches (including bind off) will need to be knit in those 121 days. So I will need to knit 253 stitches each and every day from March 1. And more, if I can, because I expect blocking will be challenging. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Nervous? Who? Me?

In a comment, Sarah asked if I was nervous.

Why would I be nervous? Because in 16 days I am responsible for three events -- every one larger than our entire wedding party? Naw. because I have 350 pounds of linens to launder and fold before that? Nope. Don't be silly. Because my son has decided that THIS is the best time to start acting like a teenager? Pshaw! Because I haven't made the shopping list for the lunch for 250 that I will need to cook in two weeks? Nuh-uh. Because my father-in-law isn't coming for the dinner Friday night because his harridan of a wife doesn't want him to spend $89 on a hotel room and will, instead, drive 3 hours from home the morning of the bar mitzvah, attend, grab a bite at the luncheon and immediately drive home because -- wait for it -- the dog will be in the car? Nope. Not bothering me in the least. That there will be 40 kids in the synagogue running wild until sundown after the bar mitzvah? I won't blink. That my mother-in-law will be here?

Oh, shit.

Shoot. Me. Now.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

You Never Forget Your First Time

Myfanwe, Norbert and I enjoyed our first visit to Shell Cottage. We did a little rearranging, a little cleaning, a little cooking, and a LOT of lounging. (Lounging being a family favorite!) We were at the cottage from Thursday the 31st until early this afternoon, so we celebrated our first New Years Eve, our first Shabbat, and my 46th birthday boom! boom! boom!

We also enjoyed the 18 inches of snow we received over the long weekend!

We found a veritable treasure trove of furniture in the basement! You may note that the only items of substance in the picture below that were NOT left behind by the previous owner are the lamp, the rocking chair, and Mitzi, the dog!

This cabinet, in particular, made Myfanwe very happy. It doesn't have any interior shelves, although it clearly had them at one time, so I am going to have shelving cut to size.

This six-sided table was my favorite piece left behind. I love the claw feet and the Greek key motif. I'm not terribly big on the silk flowers, but they add visual interest until we are able to replace them with a lamp.

See this tree? I own this tree! I have absolutely no idea what kind of tree it is, but I believe it is from the genus mine mine mine mine mine!

I don't own this tree -- at least not directly. It is in Dewey Cannon Park in Three Oaks, Michigan, just a couple blocks from Shell Cottage. In the summer there are band concerts in the band shell every Saturday night.

This is the Dewey Cannon.

After a couple of nights of (restlessly) sleeping on the air mattresses, Myfanwe wanted to make sure this was not a long-term arrangement. So we went to a mattress outlet in Michigan City and ordered three beds -- all very high quality -- a twin for Norbert, a surprisingly comfortable futon sofa for the loft/guest room, and a queen size for us. We wanted a king, but realized that it would a) be too big for the room, and b) that a king mattress would never fit up the tight little stairway. A queen mattress can be bent enough to get up, but not so a king. We then realized that a queen box spring wouldn't make it up, either, so we bought a split box spring. They all will be delivered next weekend! We weren't going to buy beds so quickly, but I'm glad we did. Now we can have people come to stay.

It just hit me that, since we have a king size and a twin at home, we have now have a queen size bed and a full size bed in Michigan and do not own a single set of queen or full sheets! Oh, well. If people want to come, they can bring their own sheets!


Today I spoke with my cousin Katie who lives in Piney Flats, Tennessee. She is going to be coming up to the Chicago area to help her parents pack up and move house to be nearer their other daughter near South Bend, Indiana/Notre Dame University.

Katie is one of my favorite cousins. She's so good and kind and gentle. She looks a lot like our cousin, Sister Clemente, who is also good and kind and gentle.

When Katie comes up, she is going to bring me a present. A spectacular, heartbreaking, wonderful present. She is bringing me a set of china which had been my grandmother's which, when Katie got married, my grandmother gave to her. It is beautiful china. I plan to take it to Shell Cottage and make it our Shabbat china. I can't wait.