Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pizza Prepping

Since my planned posts for this month are going to slop into November, I'm going to keep today's post short.  After all, I have 20-some teens and coaches ready to descend on our home for the yearly pizza feed.  

In a past year we made the mistake of having the pizza feed with the entire team, and it was TOO MUCH!  We have gone back to hosting only those who qualified, at the league championship meet, to move on to the district championship meet... the last step before 'State.'

This year both the boys' and girls' varsity teams qualified.  Prince Go-for-It is running in the 5th varsity spot, and is poised to run his season's best.  Princess Eager, qualifying in the #9 spot for the girls' team, is going along as a 'sub.'  Only the top 7 run, unless there is an injury, for which the substitutes are needed to step in.  Only a freshman, and in her first year of competing, this was her goal.  She gets to go to the meet, but without the pressure!

I was going to post latest running pics here, but my photo library is "repairing itself," and that could take hours!

Anyway, tonight it's about feeding them, contributing to their carbo-load for the week, so right now it's about getting busy in the kitchen!  :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sick or Treat

OK...These aren't really illnesses we struggled with and addressed in the past months, but Learning Issues or Treat, or Joint Pain or Treat didn't sound as catchy, especially for this time of year!

Throughout his young years, Prince Go-for-It often had issues seeing things through to completion, or sitting and concentrating on bookwork.  I would have bet that if he'd been in public school, he'd have been given the ADD label years ago.  

The advantage of homeschooling, though, is that I could adapt his education to his own learning style.  He caught snakes and frogs and studied them.  He fished...then filleted and smoked the fish.  He tied flies for different locations and purposes.  He built Lego communities with his siblings.  

He played outside, building and socializing with neighbors.  He was up for anything, and never met a person he didn't like.  He could talk to young and old alike.  It was awesome, and I saw no reason to interfere with his God-given bent.  

Another homeschooling mom I met years ago referred to her boys with ADHD/hyperactive tendencies as being "Tiggers." She enjoyed and celebrated their activity, and employed active and hands-on learning in their homeschooling lives.

I believe it's only when we ask of them what doesn't fit, that brains with Attention Deficit Disorder really run into trouble and need outside help.  It's been in the past few years, when Prince Go-for-It felt the need to integrate into full-time schooling at the local junior and senior high schools, that he felt he was unable to keep up some kind of assistance.  He felt badly about himself, and was hard on himself about his struggles.  Last spring he requested that we have him evaluated for ADD, and consider medication.  The thought of medication that affects the way his brain works really scared me, but I promised to keep an open mind and see what the prince's doctor had to say.

We were given a packet at the pediatrician's office, full of questionnaires for the prince, us, as the parents, and for a few of his teachers.  I chose a junior high teacher who thought the prince was an amazing kid...A person who had taken the time to get to know him, saw his potential, and loved who he was.  I also chose a couple of current teachers who had commented to us that although the prince was really trying hard, and a delight to have in class, they could see his grades, especially test grades, didn't reflect his effort. -- Also, that he had trouble in class with attention, and seeing things through to completion.  

At home we could tell who had been in the kitchen when drawers were left open, clutter or mess was on 2 or 3 different counter areas, a snack sat half-completed on the counter, and maybe even the refrigerator door stood open.  He would start a chore, get distracted, and walk away, leaving it at about 70%, but, asked about it later, was sure he'd finished.

The doctor admitted that Go-for-It was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to symptoms.  All of his teachers listed his behavior as excellent, and said that he was a good example in his classrooms, which is not typical of the form responses the doctor sees for ADD kids.  The prince also had As and Bs mixed in with lower grades, which is also not typical.  

He's social, shows some leadership skills,  and maintains good friendships.  When it came to sports, his dedication and attention seemed complete.  From reports of behavior at home and at school, though, he could see a clear indication of attention and focus problems, so recommended trying a medication, in increasing doses over a few weeks, to see if it might help.

In the 2nd or 3rd week, the prince mentioned trouble falling asleep, but no problem staying asleep.  He mentions that sometimes his medicine makes him feel quickly angry over things, but it doesn't show to the rest of us, so I wouldn't say there's been a turn in his moods or personality.  Those have been the worst of the side effects.  

The good side effects are increased focus and understanding of what he's doing and reading at school, and his happiness about that.  He gets upset when his grades fall below an A, because they are all hovering right up there and he's trying so hard to keep them up.  We try to convince him to not be so worried about the actual grades, because he tends to check them like a person who wants to lose weight checks the scale twice a day.  He still has test anxiety, but his better successes in taking them, I hope, might start to remedy that.  He's doing great at work, and is valued as a dependable, hard worker with an eye for details.

Go-for-It has recently made a schedule, thanks to a classroom assignment, of his short-term and long-term tasks he needs to accomplish in order to reach his goal of completing a college degree in business.  This has shown him that he has too much on his plate these days, and that baseball, which takes so much of his time as a year-around, select sport, has to go.  It was a tough decision, but a mature one, I thought.  Running suits his schedule and his personality better... It serves as an aid to relaxation and thought, instead of adding more stress, like trying to perfect baseball techniques did.  He hopes to run at college, too.  

We're proud of the progress he's been making, and so happy he's feeling much better about himself and the hopes for his future.

Well, this post is long enough, so I'll leave Part 2, which has to do with a struggle I've had, until tomorrow.

Recently, I saw a good article explaining the struggles a person with ADD faces, written so that others might better understand:  20 Things to Remember if You Love a Person with ADD

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For Chili Days

My family is pretty open to trying most foods, and often gives positive reviews.  My dad, on the other hand, has a less adventurous foodie spirit, and has quite a few things on his 'doesn't eat' list.  His compliments are fewer and farther between. It is amazing and fun when I hit upon a meal they all really love.  In fact, my dad said that I 'outdid myself' with the meal on a certain Sunday... That this dish was 'outstanding,' and the dessert I fed him with it that was even better.  (I'll share that one later.)  ---

White Chicken Chili


Add enough olive oil to a heavy soup pot to coat bottom and brown

  • 4 chicken breasts

Add and sauté until translucent around chicken

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced (or a handful of mini sweet peppers)

Pour in

  • 1 (10 oz) can mushroom soup
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (regular milk would probably be fine)
  • 16 oz chicken stock

Stir in

  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies, mild
  • 2 c frozen or (drained) canned corn
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney or black beans, drained
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Cumin, dried parsley, cilantro, as desired, and to taste

Heat through just to bubbling.  Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces, removing temporarily from the pot, if necessary.  If desired, thicken the chili by mixing 2 Tbsp corn starch with 1/4 cup water and stir in, and bring back to bubbling.

Serve with your choice of toppings and accompaniments.  Our favorites are chopped avocado, diced tomato, sour cream, and multigrain tortilla chips... None of which I had on hand the day I took these photos!

The night I made the chili you see in these pics is the night the power went out.  I almost didn't, but decided to make a double batch, so I could freeze it in portions for quick heat-up for the family, and to take to my dad.  That night, I only had time to get it into large containers in the fridge. So... it never had a chance to get thoroughly cold, and it was part of the food I had to throw out yesterday!  :'-(  At least I had put a little on ice, and Dad got some of it for Sunday dinner.

Awesome dancing emoticon from DesiSmileys

Monday, October 27, 2014

We Were Cold. The Food, not so much

Winnie The Pooh and
The Blustery Day [VHS]
"Finally the blustery day turned into a blustery night.  To Pooh, it was an uncomfortable night full of uncomfortable noises..."  
A.A. Milne, retold in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, included on the DVD, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Saturday night I knew how Pooh felt!

We had quite the major wind storm this weekend, which resulted in 2 downed lines in our neighborhood alone, and tens of thousands of outages in major areas of Western Washington.  Our power outage started Saturday evening and ended sometime early this morning...4:30 is my best estimate... so about 32 hours.  

Because I went to my dad's yesterday, it didn't occur to me to advise those at home to do a food rescue of the things in the fridge.  If it had, I wouldn't have just put approximately 100 pounds of food stuffs in the trash can.  I hate to think of the replacement value of that food, and we'll have to pay a fee for the additional weight and overfull garbage receptacle, to boot!  

Anyway, just as a reminder, advises in their article, Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out, that perishables in the refrigerator be evaluated and discarded, as their list specifies, after an outage that lasts 4 hours or longer.  The list of things to discard, of course, is longer than those to keep.  It's ok to keep vinegar-based condiments and dressings, uncut fruit and veggies, hard cheeses (as long as it's not shredded), fruit juice, butter, peanut butter and jellies, and bread (which shouldn't be in the fridge anyway!).  All meats, processed meats, casseroles and soups, cooked pasta, cooked veggies, pre-washed and cut, packaged veggies and salads, cream based dressings, all eggs, and all dairy and milks had to go.  Please visit the page for more specifics.

This isn't the post I'd planned for today, so I'll get back on track tomorrow.  Right now I have to make a previously unplanned Costco run to replenish our larders!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

25 Days In, and No Pizza?

In the last few years, this blog has been full of pizza.  Pizza crust recipes, different surfaces on which to bake pizzas, and the quest for the best result.  A crispy, airy crust, and just the right color on top and bottom.  So, in a 31-day blogging fest, you might have expected to read something about pizza.

I didn't make much pizza this summer, as I was often away at baseball tournaments on Friday nights. Though not many in number, I did have one 'finally perfect' result.  I can't offer much that I did differently, as I used my go-to crust recipe, and used the pizza steel and the most successful baking method I had found previously.

What was different was that I had to restart the dough, so it was newly mixed and only had  2 or 3 days in the bucket in the refrigerator before I used it.  It seemed a bit dryer, and very elastic -- almost rubbery.  It fought back when I tried to spread it, so I had to spread, and let it rest, spread more, and let it rest again, before being able to spread it as large as I wanted it.  So, it took, both, more work and more time, than I'm used to.

But, BAM!  

That first pizza out of the oven told me something.  My mom said my grandma always told her that the more difficult the pie crust was to work with, the better baked crust you got.  I don't think she knew that her adage would work with 'pizza pie,' too!

To be honest, after what it took to get that result really made me wonder if it was worth it!  ;-)

I am very much out of the pizza baking mode.  I will have to dive back in, though, as our yearly cross-country team pizza feed is coming up!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Speaking of Kitchen Changes

My husband surprised me one day this summer when he came in and said, "As soon as we get the garage addition finished (ha?), maybe we should just redo the whole kitchen."  And then he went off to do something else.

Uh, what?!  He'd mentioned remaking the never-finished island, but a complete redo?

Several days later, I got the chance to ask more about what he meant.  He had just finished painting the cabinets for the kitchen area in the bonus living area above the garage.  He explained that he was really liking the finish, and followed up with, "I thought maybe we could do some painting in our kitchen, because we have too much wood."

If I was surprised by his first statement, this one had me thinking someone else had inhabited his body.  I couldn't believe my never-can-have-too-much-or-too-many-kinds-of-wood-anywhere-anytime wood craftsman would EVER utter such woodophilic blasphemy.  

I still didn't believe he'd ever seriously consider painting over vertical grain fir, so didn't give it much thought.  

Even though some of my favorite kitchens have white and/or all painted cabinets, I couldn't imagine living in one.  ---Until I saw this kitchen posted on Facebook, from a slideshow of Cottage-Style Rooms by Better Homes and Garden.

All of the sudden I could imagine walking into my kitchen, looking sunny and warm, with creamy white cabinets.  The backsplash and counters would still work beautifully.  It might just get me closer to the sunny-outdoors, bleached-warm-rocks-along-a-lazy-river feel I was after in the room.

Maybe the dark burgundy baking cabinets would be too much contrast and a bit stark, so they would probably have to be repainted.  The backsplash there, though, includes a few softer colors that would work, and allow that backsplash I worked so hard on, and love, to remain.

So, I changed the fir cabs to creamy white, the island to the gray-brown driftwood color as in the inspiration photo, and tried different colors and combos on the baking wall and the dish hutch.  (My new software, Home Designer Architectural 2014,  isn't as fully featured or flexible as the pro version of Chief Architect, so my flooring and stove backsplash run a different direction, and my trim options are a little different than what we have in the house.)

I am still torn.  I love the kitchen the way it is, and am intrigued by how bright and cheery it might look changed.  But am I just antsy, and want to change things for no good reason?  That could be a mistake.  It's not like changing clothes.

Now, these few months later, after thinking, drawing, commiserating... I show the renderings I've worked on, and shared my excitement as well as hesitations with Hubby, hoping to have a good discussion and make a thoughtful and agreed upon decision for our home.  

His response?  "I don't remember saying that..."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Changing Something That IS Me

Yesterday, I talked about changing the look of my kitchen by removing the lace valance I didn't feel was 'me.' --And I posted updated pictures of the new look.  (I have yet to update my My Kitchen page, but I will.)

Today it's time to update another pic...and that pic is of me!  

Over 50% gray by the time Prince CuddleBunny came along
I got the first silver strand in my hair when I was 18.  I pulled those first ones out, and hoped they'd stay away.  They didn't.  I never really believed in dying hair, but I started with temporary 'rinses' and got to full, permanent coloring.  I couldn't afford to visit a salon every month, so I bought the boxes at the grocery or drug store, and did it myself, trying to keep it as close to my natural medium-dark color as possible.  This had varying results...Some good and some not so.

Yikes! Out in public with inches of grow-out
I fought the idea of having gray hair.  I had been used to appearing younger than my age, and I sure didn't look it whenever I let the gray creep back.

Short-short hair, always a favorite of mine anyway,
made it easier to keep colored without getting
the over-dyed look.

I didn't feel very good about myself whenever I caught my reflection if I had gray hair.  But it got to be SO MUCH WORK...and expense.  And pretty impossible to keep doing at home and have it look nice for more than a couple of weeks.  When gray roots came in, besides being unsightly, it looked like I was going bald.  That's not a better look than all gray!

Couldn't be gray for the weddings!

Besides, the Bible tells me gray is good.  

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31

"The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."  Proverbs 20:29

I gave up the hair dye within a year after the weddings.
I've given you a few glimpses of the change in the last few years.

If God says it's good, should I argue?  It was still hard to accept. 

Still fighting the older look, I've resorted to having my hair cut at a salon.. I've been trying to find the right style that will make the silver look like a fashion decision, rather than resignation.  ;-)  My own world of delusion.  

This one probably doesn't really
remember me with brown hair.
I think, though, about my grandma, who had white hair as far back as I remember.  I've seen photos of her with darker hair, and I never thought she was as pretty.  I thought she looked more severe, and not as loving and fun as I knew her to be.  

And this one has never seen me
any other way.  
I remember how soft she was to hug.  She wasn't overweight, but probably thought she had some extra pounds, and maybe she also resented the wrinkly skin that was also played a part in her softness.  Maybe she was in shock at her reflection as I have been in mine.  But I think maybe she was just too busy teasing, loving, and baking to be that self-absorbed!  I hope so, because she was the best, just as she was. 

So, here I go.  The old brunette photo on the blog...

will be replaced with a more recent shot.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Changing Something That Wasn't "Me"

I've mentioned before, I think, that when I planned my kitchen, I wanted a Grandma's Baking Kitchen.  I was far from being a grandmother myself at the time, but both of my grandmas were wonderful and prolific bakers.  I wanted a kitchen that, though they never got to see it, they would love.  

I wanted it to seem like a space that should have bread baking in the oven, and pies cooling on the counter.  

It should be full of functional comfort, love, and light... and be a great place to work alongside my kids, and someday, my grandchildren.

I knew it wasn't really "me" when I picked out the lace valance for the window.  But it had tea cups on it!!  One of my grandmothers, the one who had passed away most recently, collected tea cups, and this reminded me of her.  Even though I wasn't a particular fan of lace and/or ruffled valances, it was a way to include her in the kitchen, in a more obvious way.

But the rod, stretching so far for such a wide window, always drooped.  The lace got dusty, and the style continued to fight with the rest of the room.  One day I was checking to see what photos from my blog had been posted to Pinterest, and found these that were originally found on My Kitchen page.  

That particular post must have been removed now, because I can no longer find the comment.  But it said something complimentary... about liking the look of the materials and colors in the kitchen, followed by: 'except for the lace window treatment.'  I so agreed with that comment that I knew the lace teacups had been there long enough and had to go.

So now I have new pics of that side of the room.

I still need a backsplash on that wall.  I still need trim on the top of the hutch, and all the other upper cabinets, in fact.  I still need to paint the chairs around the kitchen table.  --Eggplant, or a mix of eggplant and red, I think.  And the island was never finished.

Ah, well.  A little at a time.

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