Sunday, October 9, 2011

Too Much Fall? Is that possible?

Over the course of the last few days I've had: mulled cider, pumpkin butter, steel cut oatmeal with apples and raisins, turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, apple pie and a butternut squash and vanilla bean risotto.      What I have learned is:   I Love fall, and almost all of the typical fall foods.  You can have too much of a good thing though.  I loved the cider- the oatmeal, the pumpkin butter.  Sadly, I just cannot love the butternut squash and vanilla bean risotto.  I wanted to so much!!  It sounds perfect!  And, I had had this in NY with my dear friend Court-- and I liked it there but we had had so so much good food-- that I may have just been on a food high.  Now that I've had time to ponder it-- the vanilla doesn't add much in my mind- if anything- it distracts from the risotto and the squash (to my taste anyway).  It also is a very expensive ingredient to dislike or even "not love" in something.  So next time, I will leave out a little bit of something I love and streamline things a little.  In this case, I believe, less will be more.  As for the season of fall.... I just can't get enough of that good thing.  Tomorrow I will dive right back into fall food joy.  There will be a pumpkin spice latte, or a chai, or a salted caramel mocha... maybe some apple pie.  Yeah... I can't get enough of autumn.  The weather, the food, the time of transition- none of it needs streamlined... I just want MORE of it.  As far as seasons go-- it is complete perfection.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Friends...


I said this would be a blog about friendship as well as food.  Well it's time to write a quick little note about that.  I have been very blessed over the years to form friendships with some amazing people.  Many of them I have met through the three fantastic jobs I've had over the last 15 years.  Each one of those jobs has been with people of integrity, passion, and a deep desire to live in a world that is loving and good.  From York Eye Associates, to Church of the Apostles, to Lancaster Theological Seminary, I really have been linked to some amazing people in each setting and I am grateful.  




I also married into one of the kindest, funniest, best families on the planet.  Thank you Youngs and Burchetts for changing my life and being not only family but friends.  (Cousins getting tattoos together... really?  You all rock!)


           So, the best part about living near DC?  Hosting our friends as they come to see this amazing city.  We explore a new piece of it every time a friend stops by and we feel blessed to have them visit us (messy house and all-- there's a lot of love here).  So here are a few quick photos of just SOME of the amazing people in our lives.  It certainly isn't everyone who's come to visit, but it's a few of them.  And-- I hope if you are in DC and you're one of those people who likes to share a meal with me, my fantastic hubby and my great kids-- (and my amazing ma too!).... that you will  (please) come visit.  We'll cook for you- or take you out- or just have a blast sitting around goofing off.


Until we are all at the table... with some bread, wine and family...


Thanks.


Much love to you all.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate, Caramel, Cookies, Strawberries= Homework??

Ike goes to a great school.  We love the Montgomery County School District.  Really-- his school is phenomenal.  That said:  they believe that kids lose too much over summer break (I know this is true).  They think that kids should work on their math and reading skill sets over the break (I know they should)... can you feel the big ole' "BUT" coming?  Yeah-- they believe our kids should do a huge reading and a huge math packet of homework over the summer. (it's due the first day of school!!) I know this is a good thing-- but dear LORD I needed a break.  ok-- so there are lots of fun, and sometimes just odd exercises to do to work on writing and reading.   Last week he drew a picture of his favorite restaurant and wrote three reasons why people should eat there.  (Got a guess as to the name of said restaurant?  Those of you who live in York and Lancaster should have NO trouble guessing).  And next week we have to go to the library and read a book that takes place in another country.  Then use a Venn diagram to show the similarities and the differences to the United States (this is the Kindergartner's homework-- -I'd hate to see what the 3rd graders are doing!!!!)

  Today's suggested assignment was to "create a new cookie.  Name it and design a box that will make people want to try it.".

Well-- it's cookies-- and-- Ike's mom is a bit of an over achiever (and now a jobless over achiever) sooooooo......  i think you can imagine how this might spin wildly out of control.  We weren't five minutes into this project before I suggested we make the cookies.  Then Ike suggested a particular design for the packaging (he wanted a long box to hold several cookies).  So he wrote out his cookie plan, which looked like this:



Then we went to Trader Joe's and bought these:






And to Michael's a bought a box or two... and then we came back home and I started to actually make his cookies.  He decided everyone needed to suggest several names for the cookie, then he would choose which one he liked best.  In the end the choices were= Rolo cookies, Caramel Berry Cookies, Mi Cookies, and Ike's delight.  He chose the latter and designed a box that looks like this:



It's still missing the picture he took of the chocolate and strawberry to put on each end, but otherwise- -it's done.  And the cookies look like this:





If you haven't guessed from the above "master plan"-- these are a vanilla base dough with rolo's candy (he spelled it roolos) OR in our case, trader joe's dark chocolate covered caramels, and a chocolate covered strawberry on top.  
Ike's both a genius and a delight-- and so are his cookies.


Here's the recipe if you'd like to give them a go.  they are really really delicious with or without the strawberry.  :)

The vanilla cookie base is from a fantastic little book called "Milk and Cookies" by Tina Casaceli.  Everyone should read it.  I changed the ingredients very very slightly, but this is mostly like hers.

2 Cups Old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate covered caramels
1 Tablespoons cocoa powder OR flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temp.
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract


Cut chocolate candies into small (chocolate chip size pieces) add cocoa or flour and toss together (these will keep the candies from sticking together.
Preheat oven to 350.

Put oats in a food processor and process until finely ground.
In a large bowl mix together the ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In another bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer until it's soft.  Then mix butter on medium for 3 or so minutes until light and creamy.  With the beater running add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar beating until light and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla and when blended slowly beat in the reserved dry mixture.  When the dough is mixed, but still streaky, remove from the mixer and by hand, mix in the chocolate candy pieces.
Drop by Tablespoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350, or until lightly brown.

If you are like Ike and want to make them even fancier-- let them cool and place a chocolate covered strawberry on top.  We covered our own by melting Giardelli chocolate chips in the microwave and dipping the strawberries into the chocolate.  That boy likes too much of a good thing!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prosciutto. My third favorite pork product.

So-- prosciutto is just wonderful good.  I love pancetta (and it's cousin bacon) more, and a really good slice of Serrano ham.... but next in line is the beautiful prosciutto.  We made sandwiches earlier this week with some of that good stuff, along with fresh mozzarella, basil, soft bread and some aged balsamic.  So so tasty.... but, we had a good deal left over (isaac is practically a vegetarian and max is just 3 and moody).  Anyhow- last night Scott reminded me that we still have prosciutto and "it won't last long". (he meant, it will spoil, but I believe, it just won't last long)  No love, it won't.  It will be used as such:

Take these (the yukon golds that were NOT made into mashed potatoes earlier this week)




Plus this:






And this:




add a little salt and some pepper.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.


Drop the chopped prosciutto (it's not chopped yet in this picture, but just tear or rough chop it).





 around the top and bake for 10 more minutes.  Delicious.  Scott's right.  It won't last long.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We're gonna ride on a double decker bus!

So- a week ago, we started weight watchers which means there will be fewer recipes for fried things in the next few months on this blog. We still will eat well because I am determined to create delicious variations of the things we love that I can have for fewer points.  So... I give you:  Zucchini with Orzo and Feta.  We'd had a ww recipe for a version of this- but I've changed it a little to make it my own.  And before I give you that recipe--- I am including here a few pictures of what we did yesterday-- a double decker bus tour with a few of our dear friends.  I love our city.  And our friends.  What a great day.











Zucchini with Orzo and Feta

  1 Box of Orzo
4 Medium Zucchini cut into small pieces
1 small block or container of Feta cheese
1/2 a sweet onion chopped
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2-4 Tablespoons of parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste


Cook orzo according to directions on package.
Meanwhile
heat olive oil over medium heat.  cook onion until softened- add zucchini, oregano, salt and pepper.
Cook zucchini until bright green and softened- toss the zucchini and onions into the cooked orzo-- add parsley and feta and toss well.  Enjoy hot or at any temp. It's good cold- at room temp- or whatever...of course, I like it hot.  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family favorite: Empanadas

One of our favorite things to do when we lived in Lancaster was to go to Central Market.  We'd go around 11 am, and get iced tea or chai from Mean Cup, then we'd go get fresh veggies and chicken or some other protein to grill for our Saturday night dinner from whichever stands had the nicest produce.  We'd wander around a little and buy cheese from Weaver's and chat with the "sub ladies".  We'd look at the chocolate and the cookies from Wendy Jo's and wish we were eating some.   We'd then go buy white and chocolate milk in glass jars from Maplehoff Dairy.  And just before we left to walk up to Binn's park-- we'd grab empanadas from the cheesy little family run empanada stand.  They were delicious and most likely broke a number of health or sanitation codes, and so- the stand didn't last long, and soon, we could no longer enjoy that very delicious treat.   We LOVED those emapanadas.  Pork, beef or chicken, they were all delicious.



So we haven't had empanadas in close to a year, and last week,  I couldn't take it anymore and decided to try to make them myself.  They weren't the same, but they were TOTALLY DELICIOUS!



Here's an approximation of the recipe:

The Dough Recipe from About.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons shortening

Preparation:

1. In a bowl, beat the water, egg, egg white and vinegar together. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour and salt.
3. Cut the shortening into the flour mix with a pastry blender or two butter knives. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and pour the liquid ingredients from the first bowl into the center.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a fork until it becomes stiff.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it just until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
6. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but never more than 24 hours.
Tip: If you want to keep the dough longer than 24 hours, you can freeze it.
Servings: Makes approximately 10 six-inch empanadas.



Filling is slightly adapted from a recipe on Epicurious.com
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lb ground chuck or ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento stuffed olives
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)


3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

About 4 Cups Canola Oil
  • a deep-fat thermometer


Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add raisins ( I chopped these very finely- Scott would suggest you leave them out entirely)
olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Spread on a plate to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then roll out an empanada disk on plastic wrap to measure about 6 inches. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk and top with cheese if you like it. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork. Make more empanadas in same manner.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.
Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360°F between batches.




Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leisterlicious- this ones for you...

So, over a year ago, I promised my friend Alyssa that I would give her our pasta with white bean sauce recipe.  I am just now getting that checked off my to do list.  This comes originally from a cookbook Scott and I were given when we got married called the "Family Circle Cookbook, New Tastes for New Times."  It's now probably more like old tastes for past times, but we still go to that cookbook an awful lot and have found lots of winners.    This particular pasta we've made the most often, and it is always a hit.  It's also quick, and could be made lowfat (if you use less cheese)   Hope that you have a chance to try it and love it as much as we do.


Ingredients:   1/2 box or a little more of pasta-- 
             (we prefer penne or farfalle, but there are lots of good choices, pick your favorite kind.)
White Bean Sauce Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 cup of baby carrots, thinly sliced
1 or 16 oz. can of white beans 
1 - 11/2 Cups of Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon leaf sage crumbled 
     (we've also used ground sage in a pinch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice (we love lemon, so we add extra)
1/2- 1 Cup of grated Parmesan (the original calls for 1/2 cup - we use a whole cup)
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile: heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat... add garlic and cook for about a minute (don't let it burn!) Add carrots- cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, broth, sage and salt-- cook 5 minutes mashing about 1/4-1/3 of the beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon (this is what makes the sauce creamy- but without using cream or milk!)
Add lemon juice and cook 2 minutes.  Add Parmesan and parsley-- drain pasta and add to skillet-- toss with sauce.  so so good!!
                       

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hiya cupcake!


Boxed cake mix isn't my thing. I'm never impressed. But sometimes it is what I have on hand and have time for.  A trick to improve them:  Throw in an appropriate flavored jello pudding and an extra egg. It makes the cake lighter and moister.
These are made from a french vanilla cake mix with a box of french vanilla pudding thrown in and the aforementioned extra egg.
What this project was really about today was to have something to put icing on. I  just was in the mood for frosting.  So I tried a version of a quick vanilla buttercream frosting.  It turned out great and really was super easy.

Ingredients:
 3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup room temperature butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or another extract in a flavor you love)
1-2 Tablespoons of whipping cream

On low- mix together sugar and butter.  Once it's blended, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the extract and cream and beat for another minute until it's the consistency you like.
For the pink ones shown here - i added Marichino cherry juice for color.. it added a hint of flavor, but not enough to matter. A cherry liqueur would have worked better but this is what we had.

The best part = watching my kids faces when they licked the beaters or the icing off the cake. Total fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Drive through annoyances...


Dear Taco bell drive through employees,
Just to be clear about our interactions:
When I pull up and you ask me "How are you today?"
 I assume you are asking me how I am.  And so, I will tell you how I am, and then, because you seem to be trying to start some kind of relationship, I will ask you "and how are you?"
 This is called "politeness" or an even bigger word "etiquette."  FYI.
If after I ask "and how are you?" you say nothing
really nothing- not a sound--then I have no idea what is supposed to happen next.
Is our relationship over?  Do you want met to order?  Are you distracted? Are you high and having a party back there?  Did the machine I am talking to and staring at desperately  break?  I don't know.  I just am left wondering- what the hell is happening here?
so let me ask are you familiar with the term "rudeness"? I think you are.
 I'd like to suggest that next time- you just cut to the chase.  Let's skip this awkward non-relationship forming and ridiculous chitchat that has no purpose.  let's acknowledge that you and i are not friends, we haven't met and most likely you do not care about how I am doing.  I am sure you are not doing well, overall, because you are at work, people are mean, and your job often sucks.
so let me suggest that you start by saying:   "May I take your order" or really-- just say ANYTHING THAT IS HELPFUL!!!  and i will respond by placing my order for some really cheap yet crappy food.
If you do not do this next time (and I assume you won't) I will assume that our current system is not working and I will take this as a final sign from God that i should not be eating at Taco bell.  Sad for both of us really.  Cheap, crappy, but delicious.  Sad to lose you.
All of that said, I do hope that you are well and that this might help both of us get through our day quickly and easily with less relational mess.
Sincerely and hopefully yours,
Jacquie

PS_ Chic-fil-a employees who read this-- just know that when I say "thank you" , and you say "my pleasure"- i also know it is not usually a pleasure and your forced to say that, but that is a system I can live with.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easier Than You'd Think



My mom has a lot of great stories about her time in nurses training school.  She was there in the late (very late) 1950's and it was definitely a different era.  From what I can tell, women smoked and drank a lot then, had a really good time with their girlfriends and broke a lot of rules... oh wait- that may not be so different.

Well, one thing that was different is that a required part of her nurse training included a "nutrition" course.  I put that in quotes because they had a hellofa different view of what "nutrition" meant.  Mom did not excel at the "Nutrition" course because it was really a basic cooking course that included some odd skill-sets and my mom would rather be out swimming, camping or partying with her girlfriends than trapped behind a stove.  I would have LOVED this part of her training.
It turns out -- they taught her how to make souffles.  Seriously.  Souffles were essential to good nursing (remind me some time to tell you her story of how they cooked a whole chicken in an autoclave-- yep-- that's the machine they used to sterilize surgical tools, and blow up their dinners.  that's right. she blew up a chicken)
Anyhow- back to the souffle:

 Are souffles great nutrition??  Probably not.
But, because of this experience, when I decided I wanted to make souffles, but was concerned they'd be too challenging, my mom was quick to tell me that they would NOT be a problem for me.  She thought it was completely within my cooking abilities.
 But I had been led to believe from a variety of 1970's & 80's sitcoms and movies that souffles were very complicated and would "fall" really easily.
Well, television has told me many lies, but this is among the biggest and my mother was right.
A souffle is easier than you'd think.
I made these chocolate ones for Scott's Birthday last week- and they were truly the most delicious dessert I've ever made.  So tasty, light, fantastic texture, truly chocolaty flavor-- this is my new favorite thing.
delicious beyond measure

I am not a huge fan of Emeril, but i love his Chocolate Souffles:

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 6 individual ramekins. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 teaspoon sugar. In a large metal bowl, set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, whisking it occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until stiff and glossy. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time, add the Grand Marnier, and whisk in the remaining sugar. Fold in the egg whites and blend until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until they are puffed and somewhat firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with the chocolate sauce listed below--and powdered sugar if you want it...

Chocolate Sauce:
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions:
Combine the half-and-half and butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until a thin paper-like skin appears on the top. Do not boil. Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool or don't-- just dump it on whatever you love... it's soooo good!!!

Anyhow- hope you get a chance to make these- they are wonderful, and let me repeat,  EASY!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Funny (translated:ODD) Week as a Kindergarten Parent


Two weeks ago Ike did his first oral presentation to the Kindergarten classes and the parents who came to "Cultural Heritage Week".  Last week he had a "lead" role in his class play "Horton Hatches an Egg".
He played Maize, the lazy bird who didn't want to sit on her egg, and instead, convinced Horton the Elephant to sit on the egg for her so that she could vacation in Florida.


Several thoughts occur to me regarding this:

*In Kindergarten, I memorized the pledge of allegiance, learned to tell left from right (mostly), learned to color and count, and some other basics that I vaguely remember about being a 4/5 year old.  I'm pretty sure I didn't memorize a 12 minute long play, nor give an oral presentation.  In fact, I'm feeling both a little jealous and a little relieved about that even now...

*Ike's teacher is a funny woman.  She will definitely have a hard time figuring out Ike's parents.  Really, I think we are an odd pair in her world or she and I just have some different assumptions about the world.  Example:  After the play was over Miss A. sidled over to me and in a hushed voice said that she was worried Scott and I might be upset about Ike playing a "girl's part" in the play.  She then explained apologetically that he was the only one willing to play Maize, none of the girls would play her and he really seemed to want to... so, she hoped Scott and I weren't upset.  This caused me to give a "Courtney-esque" out-loud cackle of a laugh.  I'm hoping I said something appropriate after I laughed, but I'm not sure that I did.
Seriously.  Playing a "girl part" is not a concern for us.  Not even a little.  And we have lots of things to be concerned about for Ike: his short attention span and the trouble it gets him into in school, his offbeat sense of humor, what jr high will be like for him (and us), getting him to occasionally eat a protein at dinner and to go to bed on time once in a while...  These are things I am concerned about.  But playing a "girl" part.  Why would I be worried about that?  And I just gotta say that IF I thought it would turn him gay (I assume this is what the parents who would be concerned are worried about??),  well IF I thought it would turn him gay-- then we'd enroll him in a girl's parts only theatre group!   I didn't tell her this because I didn't want to scare her (yet).  But if I were to explain our thoughts on this I would tell her how very much I'd love our son to turn out like any one of the FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC gay men I work with and count as friends... Mark, Cody, Kendal, David, and the list of amazingly strong and gifted gay men in my world goes on--- but--sadly---playing a girl bird in a play WON'T turn him gay... really.
And again, let me add that playing a "girl" part or a "boy" part doesn't matter to Scott and I nearly as much as the amount of homework we have to do with him due to the number of public speaking engagements this 6-year-old has had at school these last two weeks.  Sheesh!  And let's face it-- whatever part he plays, he will love it, especially if he gets to wear a multi-colored feather boa--and we will love to watch him because he's ours.


*Finally-- I think that Maize bird the lazy bird was onto something.
Flying off to Florida and letting someone else do the work and then also get the credit, well, that doesn't sound so bad to me...
yeah, I know, in the end when the egg hatches, it looks like an elephant-bird, and I guess that Horton has to, is forced to, gets to keep it... but I'm not sure Maize wasn't getting the better end of the deal.

I am not talking about my kids here- I sat on those eggs and hatched them myself (with a little help from my friends) and wouldn't trade them NOR the work and growth I experienced during those pregnancies for anything-----but I am thinking about my actual work.  I think I can honestly say-- I'm almost ready to give up my work, even though I know that this will mean some serious loss.  I think I am getting ready to bless someone else with the joy of this ministry and all of the amazing opportunities it affords.  It's like- reverse nesting... I'm dismantling my own nest and hoping to make the pieces available for the next bird if they want any of them.
Soon- someone else will nurture what was a bird into an elephant-bird and it will be something wholly new and exciting-- with a bit of what WAS in it, and a bit of something completely NEW!  That's exciting.
And, i really am ready to fly off to palm beach!!!



Maize-- pour us some Daiquiri's honey... In July- I'm headed your way....







Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A few things I learned at the manicurist...

In January my thumbnails started splitting back really far. It was awful, and painful and I wanted it fixed and I also wanted my nails to look long and pretty like they used to... So I started going to a local strip mall "Nails" place to get acrylic nails.  I'm not sure if it even has a name-- it may just be "nails/OPEN"...
They are near my starbucks and in a relatively comfortable setting, so, that's where I go.
But now that I've been going to get my nails done for the last 8 or so weeks, I've learned a few things.

1.  Pretty things sometimes cost money or take time or both.  Be prepared to pay and lose your most precious commodity: time
2.  Sometimes you are caught in a vicious cycle- either accept it, or don't, but there's no point in bitching about it unless you are trying to change it (fake nails need maintained- every two weeks- ugh).
3.  If you've spent a lot of time choosing something and planning and you've picked a nice safe color that is appropriate for meetings and your job, and you go there on a cold and dreary night--- then you should probably NOT stare at the pretty, bright, fun, easter,spring colored, shiny, pink bottle that the person before you used and that is sitting there next to your "business casual" mauve.  Cause at the last minute your stupid -whimiscal-split personalitied "P" type self might take over and when she says "this you color? "- you'll say-- "... ummmm.....NO!  let me try THAT one!"
 and then you will end up the next day having regrets about the hideous, 1980's, neon, pinkish, weird, obnoxious color you are stuck with until you want to pay $6 to get the boring mauve you'd originally spent 10 minutes choosing put on in place of the "sluts of the 80's pink" you'll be wearing to teach youth ministry this week.
Oh yes,  morning after regrets are for more than just sex. Really-- I can regret ALL SORTS OF STUFF!!
like this:
and they're even tackier in person...
Back to just a few more lessons:

4.  Men who come into get their nails done at a strip mall in lancaster, pa,  are only there to hit on the pretty asian girls, not because they really like manicures...
5. these men are creepy..
6. and gross... so... avoid them... cause... ICK!!!

7. The Asian women who are looking at you and talking in Vietnamese (?) and giggling are not necessarily talking about you. or laughing at you..

8. well not necessarily, but probably. yes, probably they are...

9.  people who are paranoid and insecure should learn to speak vietnamese before going to the "nails/OPEN" store.

10.  I am signing up for Vietnamese lessons next week.

Good night friends-- and stop laughing at me.
:P

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hola and a whole MESS of Scones, from England.




So, This week Ike had his first school project due. He is in Kindergarten. When we were in kindergarten we didn't have homework, and we for sure did not have any major projects due, but these are different times I am told.

So he had to research his "cultural heritage." Can you say "mutt?", yeah, I knew you could.

We do know for sure that my father's side of the family came over on the Mayflower and one of the ships shortly thereafter (our descendant from the Mayflower was Richard Warren and his daughter Elizabeth is my great-great-great, keep on going, great grandmother. She married a Richard Church who came over several boats later and "Voila!"--- a dumbass family of hillbillies is descended out of England (oh, be proud Brits, be proud).

On my mother's side we knew that her dad claimed some Scotts-Irish heritage (last name Moore-- sounds like Scottish or Irish to us) and so-- I like to claim those sides now that we have a red-head. Did you know btw- that Scottland has more red-heads than any other part of the world? Yup! So says culture grams, which brings me back to Isaac's project.

Because we (ike too) have been to England, we decided to go that route for this project. Could have gone to the Young's German side, but no- we went to jolly old England...
On Monday we had to work at home in the evening on facts about England (or the UK? I'm still not sure what the assignment was)... and then Ike had to work at school several days this week so that he could give a verbal report today to the whole kindergarten class and several amused parents. Intense project for kindergarten in my opinion.

Isaac did a great job speaking, in fact, the video is at the end of this post-- but -- there are two things to note about this fun-for-all (sarcasm) project:
1) I have not been home all week and had NO IDEA what he was going to say or what our responsibility was
and
2) My spouse wasn't sure what the details were- but we knew I was supposed to bring scones. Cause he's signed me up to bring them.

So-- last night we made scones. Not thousands, but a big batch. A pod of scones? a herd of scones? a colony of scones? A murder of scones? well it was a whole MESS of scones. And they turned out great. I used an Ina Garten recipe that you can find here:

and I used zante currants instead of cranberries cause that's what we had. They were delicious..


But back to point number 1. Isaac hadn't told us what he was going to say, and last night I found out that he thought the name of the country was London. Really.
I don't even know how that could be since he'd spent at least 3 DAYS working on this!!! But- sure 'nuff, I spent last night teaching him to either claim England or the UK and stop saying he was from the country of London. We were both confused by the end of it and I had no idea what he might say today.
So this morning- -he gets up in front of the 3 kindergarten classes and he is the first of the Europe II group to speak, and he does a FANTASTIC job speaking.
He knew it was England, he described that they eat fish and chips and haggis, and the little foodie even remembered what haggis is (thank God we didn't sign me up to make that!!!! YUCK!)

He did a great job with one funny little exception. When he had to tell people what language people speak in England, he told everyone English... AND... wait for it..... wait for it.... Spanish. He then told everyone that in England they say Hola, and he made them repeat it.
"hola friends!", from the English. That's right- that's what my kid knows for sure.

Later I get to the "Cultural Heritage Luncheon" and find that one of the other mothers of one of the other 3 kids who claimed English heritage had also made scones. ugh.
She also happened to be ACTUALLY English. For Real. Born in London. Had the most beautiful accent and everything. For as insecure as I am - this was a moment for me.
I was like one of those knock-off Coach bags standing next to the real thing.
I was feeling pretty low at that point- what with the real british scones and her kid having told us all that the British say "Hello" and all--
until she told me two things that made my whole day--
First of all: She used a mix to make her scones that she bought at the grocery store. Yup. she bought a mix at safeway and she thought mine were better (love)... and she then won me over completely by saying we both should of just saved ourselves the work and bought a tin of biscuits (cookies ya'll) anyway.

Secondly-- Isaac had apparently gone up to her and told her that London was the capital and she said "I know I was born there"- and he said "great". I apologized to her for his weirdness and for the whole "hola" thing- and she said-- "no worries". Apparently all week her daughter has been telling the whole class that SHE had met the Queen of England and the queen had given her a bracelet.

Turns out that had happened this summer -- at a Maryland Renaissance Faire. :)
Her mother could NOT convince her that she hadn't met the actual queen. (again- LOVE!)
We commiserated on the brains of 6 year-olds and how lame both of our scones looked next to the Somosas, Fried Mangos, Swiss Chocolates and Sushi-- from the "cool cultures" and we called it a day.

So-- I'm going to go have myself some tea (no joke) and watch me some Dora the Explorer. Maybe she can teach me some more words to use the next time we are in England.
Hola friends!

Here's the video if you have a moment and want to see for yourself...

video