Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Interior Life at Deep Creek Lake

On our Deep Creek Lake vacation, the inside activities were just as wonderful as the outdoors.

Board games:
Okay, they are outside, but it's an inside game.

I was told that this just ended up this way during
 an actual game, but I still don't believe it.

Painting and art sessions:
My aunt is an artist, so she knows where to get
 these tiny canvasses for us amateurs to paint on.  

And plenty of time for reading, movies, chatting, and sleeping.  It was wonderful.  We haven't really been on a vacation like this since.   This summer we'll be scouting out colleges (again) and getting ready for a bat mitzvah, so memories of this 2008 vacation will have to do for the time being.  I'm not complaining.  God is good to have given us this opportunity and the good memories of it. 

What sort of locale do you prefer for vacation - big city, sunny beach, forested mountain?  What do you like to do on vacation?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Out and About at Deep Creek Lake

Angie has asked about my the photo on my blog banner. I am so glad she asked this, because thinking about it all week has calmed me during a busy week.  The photo is from a vacation we took in 2008.

It was one of my favorite family vacations.  My parents rented a giant house and we all gathered there for a week, my brothers and their families, my aunt, my parents, and the Common Household, 17 in all.  

This vacation had many wonderful aspects.  Here are some photos of the outdoor things we experienced on that vacation.

The view in one direction:
My husband rented that pontoon boat, and I have rarely seen 
him happier than when he was the captain of that boat.

The view in the other direction:
I am sure that by now it is no longer a field.  The land must
 be worth more as vacation homes than as farmland.

Wildlife, both flora and fauna:

Swimming, boating and fishing:
We are a safety-conscious bunch, eh?!

That's my sister-in-law.  She caught several fish, which
 we fried up and ate.  One bite for each person.

And this sport.  I'm not sure what this sport is called.  It's not really tubing, which I think involves floating lazily down a river.  This involves flopping into this overgrown inner tube with your feet trailing in the water, and hanging on for dear life while the boat pulls the inner tube through the water as fast as possible.
 I am a scaredy-cat but I had to try it once.

Hiking in the woods:
Three cousins on a pleasant hike.

Youngest Daughter, hiking with her uncle.

A fire tower to climb!  Not for those with fear of heights.


And at the end of the day, stories and skits around the campfire:

Tomorrow, photos of a few inside activities during that vacation.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Having Quimby for Dinner Again

My family has little trouble learning new scientific words, but sometimes we struggle to learn about culture.  Here is my latest attempt to broaden the minds of my family, to take them, at least in a culinary fashion, to distant lands. 

Recently I found in my pantry a food called quinoa.  It originates in South America.  The box says it is pronounced “keen-wah”.  I was delighted to discover that it can be made in the rice cooker.  So I served it for dinner that night, and got the following response.

Youngest Daughter:  What is this?  Is it rice?
Me:  No, it’s quinoa.  Try a little bit.
YD:  Okay.

(after dinner)
Youngest Daughter:  When are we going to have that onomagora again?
Me: The what?

* * * * *
 (The next day)

Youngest Daughter:  When are we having quinceaños again?
Me:  What?  Your brother is already 16.  And you are going to turn 13.
YD:  You know, the grain thing.  The keegodooga.  The kee-wa. 
Me:  Oh!  The quinoa.

* * * * *
(Three days later, with Oldest Daughter home from spring break)

The Common Household Husband:  Are we going to have that stuff for dinner?  I liked that stuff.
Me:  What stuff?
Husband: The chemo. 
Oldest Daughter (perhaps regretting that she had to leave the college dining hall behind for a week): Chemo?!  We’re having chemo for dinner?!
Husband:  The oxymoron.... the occlumency... the quimby...
Me:  Do you mean quinoa?
Oldest Daughter:  So, Mom, does this mean that you finally served that quinoa that we bought last time I was home?  (She pronounced it “kee-NO-ah,” which is probably also correct.)

(at dinner that evening)
Youngest Daughter: Please pass el wonkee.
Husband, speaking authoritatively:  It’s called ‘quantos’.

* * *
You will notice that my son did not comment.  This is because he only endorses meat, cheese and bread.  The rest of the Common Household enthusiastically recommends quinoa, whether or not you can pronounce it.  It’s gluten free!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Found Around the House

Guess which of these things I am going to take responsibility for?

Coffee cake, hidden on the dining room chair?

Socks, in family room in front of sofa?

Socks, in family room beside sofa?

Socks, by front door?

Sock, in living room, next to music stand?
(The item to the left is a mellophone named Cervantes.  I am not taking responsibility for that, either.)

Two limp primroses, and one approaching limpidity.
Okay, I will take responsibility for these.  Just today.
It would be better if I could plant them outside.  I don't know if they would survive out there, but they're not doing too well in here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progress is Being Made

First, we look outside the house for progress. In the space of just a few days, we went from this:

.... to this:

to this:

And from this:

to this.
Soon, these will be hyacinths!

Inside, we had this at the beginning of the week.  It is supposed to be a brain cake.
It is made of yellow cake mix, with pink food coloring added, and butter cream frosting, with more pink food coloring added.  It was baked in my Pampered Chef glass mixing/baking bowl, which I once used to make a cake into which I inserted a Barbie doll.  Perhaps someday I will grace the blog with photos of that, but not today.

I did not make that cake.  I rarely do cake mix. I don't do pink food coloring.  My girls made it, purportedly in honor of their Dad.  Let's all say it together: "Ew."  But they ate it.

Today Oldest Daughter concocted this, which is made of chocolate, a significant improvement.
The white filling is marshmallow fluff, which lives up to its name.  The brown filling is chocolate ganache.  Heavenly.

Progress is being made.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Voices Heard Inside the Sandwich

A few days ago, my youngest daughter created a sandwich:  sharp cheddar cheese and pickles.  My son likes peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Me, I don't eat too many sandwiches.  I am the sandwich.  My husband and I are the filling, sandwiched in between our children and our elderly relatives.  We're traditional that way. 

Here are a few of the voices we hear inside this sandwich. I realize that my situation is not quite as difficult as others’, in that the elderly relatives don’t actually live with me.  But still, I hear so many competing voices.  The ones in blue are the ones that comfort me.

Elderly aunt: I can’t see well.   Help me manage my bank accounts.

Son: I need a ride to a band rehearsal that is 50 miles away.

My older brother: I am so thankful that you are managing our aunt’s accounts.  I’m going to help by loaning large amounts of money. And I’ll confer with you whenever you want, to help make decisions.

Governor:  I am cutting funding to the state universities by 30%.  And don’t let me hear that they are raising tuition. 

Oldest Daughter: Will you pay for my extra meals off the college meal plan?

Friend:  I will pray for you.

Elderly aunt:  I am downsizing from a house to a one-room apartment.  Help me go through my things and get ready to move!

My Mom:  You are going to visit your aunt?  When are you going to come see us?

My younger Brother: I am so thankful that you are managing our aunt’s accounts and helping her get ready to move.  I am going to help by going there and doing a lot of the grunt work. Plus I am going to move all her stuff myself. And I’ll confer with you whenever you want, to help make decisions.

Youngest Daughter: Can I have a friend over on Saturday?

My Mom:  Your Dad is about the same.  He has fewer hallucinations but continues to have delusions.  He LOVES visitors.  (hint, hint)

Husband:  I am completely sympathetic to what you are going through.

What kind of sandwich do you like? What voices are you hearing these days?    

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grading Dinner

Do you remember those times when you were asked to grade yourself on some school assignment?  It’s hard to gauge one’s own skill.

Sometimes I learn what the family really thinks of my cooking.  For instance, yesterday I had this conversation with my son, in which he assigned a letter grade to the dinner plans.

Son:  What’s for dinner?

Me:  Baked chicken, asparagus, corn muffins, cranberry sauce, and, and, that’s it.

Son:  Well, I like 75% of those things... That’s a C.

Me:  Watch it, buster. 

Son: Some people would be happy to get a C.

Me:  Some people should be happy to get dinner.

* * * * *

Then there was this conversation, sometime last year, which reveals my capability of making not one, but two dishes in one week which nobody in the family liked. 

The scene: The family were partaking of Cheez-its®, directly from the box, during dinner.  I said, to show how indulgent I am of my family’s tastes, “Not every mother serves Cheez-its at dinner.  But at least I didn’t serve Cheez-it Casserole.”   This provoked guffaws from My Dear Husband.  He was remembering, without fondness, a recipe from the previous week which I got from a magazine.  Yes, it had Cheezits® in it.

Youngest Daughter:  What’s Cheez-it Casserole?

Me:  Remember that casserole I made last week that nobody wanted to eat?

YD: Do you mean the tofu?

Me:  No, the other meal no one wanted to eat. That had Cheez-its in it.

YD:  It did?!  Why did it have Cheez-its in it?

Oldest Daughter:  To make it more cheesy. 

Son:  I liked the chicken in that casserole.

Oldest Daughter:  I didn’t like the chicken but I liked the broccoli.

* * * * *

And now I am thoroughly tired of typing Cheez-it®, which offends my spelling sensibilities.  Tonight’s Common Household dinner plan is hotdogs and buns.  I would give myself a D for that, but the family will give it an A.

Dear Reader, what’s for dinner tonight at your place, and what grade would your clientele give it?  (If it gets a high grade, maybe we’ll come over!) Have you ever had Cheez-its® for dinner?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Signs of Hope

Today we had snow squalls.  Which made it an excellent day to look for signs of spring.

Last fall we planted several dozen new bulbs.  I labeled where I planted them, never really expecting anything to come of them, but wanting to know where to look in the early spring anyway.  And I found them today! 

Last May we also added this creature to our family. 

It’s a Kwanzan cherry tree, and is planted in the same spot where our dear old apple tree (R.I.P.) was.  And look!  It has buds on it!

After the grueling February that I had, with three long-distance trips, I’m so glad to be home and enjoying these signs of hope.

What signs of spring or hope have you seen lately?