Archive | September 2011

On the Road to Popovers

My first baking experience occurred during my Home Economics Class in 9th Grade.   Our class learned how to make macaroons.  I enjoyed this experience so much that once a week for many months, I baked macaroons at home.  I made so many macaroons that I have not eaten one since.  Now whenever I see a macaroon, I have to turn the other way.

After mastering the art of making macaroons, I ventured on to baking chocolate chip cookies.  Baking cookies was a little more difficult.  At first, the things that came out of the oven were not very appetizing because they either stuck to the baking sheets, or were a little crumpled at the edges and soft in the middle, or sometimes those cookies were burnt.  My family was one that did not throw things away or it could be that some did not want to offend my sensitive feelings.  My Mom and Dad acted like my baking was the best thing that happened since sliced bread.  They managed to convince my brothers to follow their lead and choke down some of my early concoctions. 

Choking down a young baker’s creations is a good strategy to follow.  If my family members would have harshly criticized my early baking techniques, I would not have gone on the road to popovers. 

I found the recipe for popovers in Mom’s green, hard covered cookbook.  The recipe was easy to find because the book opened straight to the popover page.  This happens when a favorite recipe is used over and over again – the cookbook points the way to a favorite recipe. 

A recipe for popovers is simple.  All the ingredients that are needed are flour, butter, milk, eggs and salt.  Not much stirring is needed.  The difficult part to baking popovers is being patient and waiting for the popovers to get done because this process takes 40 long minutes!

You might think you are going to get a big treat when you first see a popover, but all that is really inside is a bunch of yellow eggy stuff that is globbed together in an interesting pattern. 

It is best to eat a popover just a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.  A little cloud of steam escapes to tickle your nostrils.  A pad of butter makes it taste all the better, but it is not necessarily needed.

If I would not have gone on the road to popovers, I would have missed the road to cakes.  One road often leads to another.


Love is Blind

“Is that a new dog?” our neighbor asked as she was walking with her son’s dog by our house the other day.

“Yes, this is our dog, Lila,” I said, as I wearily smiled. 

“She is really different from your other dog.  This dog looks like she has more energy.  She has more energy, when you now have less,” she jokingly said.

“This is true,” was all I could say.

I know I fell in love with our new dog right away, but, seriously, what was I thinking? Actually, I wasn’t thinking. It was my heart that got in the way or maybe it was some sort of divine intervention.

To me, Lila is a big dog – 60 pounds, and she has more energy in one day than I ever had put all together in my whole life! Now that I am technically over-the-hill, what do I do when I am supposed to be wiser and catching up on my rest so that I can perform at my best and try to keep up with all the people who are not over-the-hill?  I go fall in love with a two-year-old puppy that pulls me along on walks, wants to play fetch, wants to play tug-of-war with a rope or a brand new garden hose, wakes me up before the sun rises, and chews on things like a library book and my shoes that I now have to pick up and hide somewhere! Plus, Lila has been blessed with a very powerful bark that can knock me out of my chair sometimes.  Thankfully, I did not fall over and die of a heart attack the first time I heard her woof.

Even though my husband agreed to the adoption of Lila sight unseen because he thought it would make our family happy, I try to calm his nerves when our dear new doggie dug up parts of the beautiful yard that he so meticulously cares for, chewed up his favorite baseball cap, and finds his boxers and hides them in the family room.  

I pray that all my parts function so that I can care for Lila the way that she needs to be cared for.  I look forward to all the walks we will be going on together, the times I will take her to and watch her run at the dog park, and when I throw a tennis ball to her so that she can bring it back to me – oh please bring it back so I don’t have to go chasing after it!

When people ask “Why did you get such a big dog, what was the attraction?” My only explanation is that love is blind.  I really feel like Lila was meant to be a part of our family.  She is bringing smiles to our faces that would not have been there without her. Even though Lila has a lot to learn and we are learning how to teach her, she is getting me up off the sofa more times than I thought possible.  Life is definitely not boring with Lila around!

Besides, the way I figure, we will both be the same age in a little over six years!

This is the Saturday morning blog hop.  Get your link and see who else is participating here.

My Sad is the New Clean

I secretly felt bugged that things were not neat and tidy, the way I like it.  I squashed that bugged feeling because I knew that this chaotic sight would soon be gone and would be replaced by a structured scene of boring tidiness.

The piles of strewn about pens, pencils, markers, white boards, paper punchers, forks, knives, kitchen towels, and many other supplies, some held in brown paper bags and others in plastic, adorned our dining room table for weeks.  This continuing theme of strewn supplies was also hidden in a room in our basement.  Behind closed bedroom doors piles of linens and towels could be found ready to be packed away.  There was no set pattern or any organization that could be found amongst the bags that I could see, but my daughters knew exactly what was where and each item’s future destination.

A few days before the big moves, supplies started to get shuffled around and packed in large red plastic tubs and big cardboard boxes.  I wondered if I could manage the change that was coming my way.

When Sunday morning arrived, we were right on schedule – 10:00 a.m. sharp.  Katie’s things were neatly arranged in the mini-van.  Katie clutched a box of Life cereal in one arm while steadying her laptop on her knees, all ready to go.  I gathered up the papers we might need, and settled in for the drive.  My husband turned the key in the ignition, and we were surprised when all we heard was “click, click, click.”  The engine would not turn over.  Our thoughts raced.  Would we need to re-pack and put everything in our other car?  Should we ask our neighbors if we could use their van?  How long would all this take?  Would we be to school in time to get everything unpacked so that Katie could make it to all the things that she needed to?

We got a grip on the situation and called AAA.  The time that it took for the mechanic to arrive seemed much longer than just half an hour.  After the battery was charged, we all let out a sigh of relief as the engine turned over.  We could now go on our way and get Katie moved into her dorm room.  

We found a parking spot close to Katie’s dorm.  It looked as though most of the newly arrived freshmen were already done unloading their things.  Along the hallways were torn up cardboard boxes and remnants of empty packaging ready to be discarded.  Parents wandered about with blank stares on their faces as their children tried to figure out how to arrange their things.  Katie found a place for all of her stuff, either in a closet, in or on her desk or on a shelf somewhere! 

Even though we were behind schedule, we accomplished everything on time:  checked in, ate lunch, got Katie’s picture taken, and bought last-minute books.  Before we knew it, it was time for us to hug, pat each other on the back and say “I’ll see you soon.”

Then Monday arrived.  Now our daughter Laura needed to get moved into her apartment on campus.  Again, everything was accomplished on time:  got a new battery in the van, had Laura remind me to get going, repeated drive, un-packed, hugged and patted each other on the back.

“I’ll see you soon,” Laura said.

“When?” I asked, a little too desperately. 

 The look I got, said “Oh, Mom!” 

Off I went back home.  As I drove, memories of days gone by resurfaced and caused my sunglasses to fog up.  There was a day long ago when I watched my three small children in front of the TV.  They were snacking on fruit roll-ups and gummy bears.  I remember thinking to myself back then, “If only I could freeze this moment in time I could keep those cute little faces, choking hugs of little arms around my neck and slobbery sticky kisses close to me.”

“Oh, that’s silly, I can’t freeze time, and why would anyone want to do that?” as I continued a conversation with myself.  Deep down, I did want to do that – even though I knew it is impossible.  I worried about the big bad world, and I wondered if my children would be okay out there all by themselves after all the growing up they had to do.

When I arrived home, all the boxes, bags, and supplies were gone.  The vacuum cleaner fits in the closet now because so many shoes went off to school too.  The refrigerator doesn’t get emptied out as fast as it used to.  So, I cleaned the empty spaces.  I vacuumed, dusted, peaked and gathered things from under the bed, folded left behind clothes, and straighten pictures in Katie’s bedroom.  Now this room is neat and tidy, the way I thought I would like it. 

I can’t help but wonder what next year will be like when Matt goes off to school.  More of me being sad makes for a cleaner house. 

This post was prompted by “Red Writing Hood – Seasons of Change”  ~ “This week, with Labor Day and the end of summer rapidly approaching, we asked you to write about a season of change for your character or you. It can be literal or metaphorical.”