Monday, January 31, 2011

SNOW! (a theme party)

let the munchkins SHOUT for joy!

The wicked ol' witch is dead!
(for now)
Mr. Dub has taken up residence at home-sweet-home again, 
after a VERY long three weeks away during the snowiest month of the year. 
 (Did I mention that he still has yet to see a flake fly?)
 and FIRST on his list of things-to-do was to take his wife on a date.
This man has his priorities straight.
I am feeling VERY, very lucky.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Spring can just take her time.
Because when she finally gets here, 
I just KNOW it will be GLORIOUS.

Snow Day #4

Now THIS is what I call WINTER!
...view from the bedroom window (I went back to bed)
from the garage
 from the back door
 from the front door
 We are surrounded by BEAUTY!

"The proper response to the world is applause."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We haven't stepped out to spoil the perfect-ness of the new snow yet, but about the time this is posted, we'll be out wielding snow blower, shovels and sleds!  Bring on winter!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a new friend=good health

I was supposed to meet a friend yesterday. But, as is so often the case lately, the snow forced the cancellation of our plans (she lives in Peru, where the snow was coming down a tad bit more aggressively than in my neighborhood--Did you even know there was a Peru in Massachusetts?).
Her name is Gladys, and we met at a flagpole almost four summers ago, when we were both volunteering at a Girls Camp.  We only exchanged a few sentences, but her impression on me was lasting.  I have bumped in to her a few more times since then, and told myself that I really should get to know Gladys.  Time went by, and we sat in a room together for a stake Relief Society meeting last October.  I emailed her later in the day telling her I wished I could have been sitting in a rowboat fishing with her, instead of at that meeting, because it seemed like a waste, not being able to get to know her better.  I sent her a hand-written note telling her about the qualities I admired in her.
She emailed me back and we made plans to act on that fishing trip in 2011.  Gladys suggested maybe a trip to the temple instead.  The fishing's not so great in these parts in January.
I ended up inviting her to be the keynote speaker at our Relief Society Visiting Teaching workshop in December. (surprise!)  A snowstorm kept her away.  She did email me her talk, which I read, and it was excellent.
Gladys and I decided that if we couldn't spend the day at the temple yesterday, we might at least have a phone chat, which ended up being about 90 minutes of fun, and a very gratifying way to start the day.
One of Gladys' favorite memories as a child is being able to drive them team for her uncle when they were haying the fields on their farm.  I have had reaffirmed to me several times this week, the tremendous value of friendship.  Here is a post I found this morning by a friend of mine, and the following is an email I received yesterday from another friend.  I am lucky! to have so many friends.  And according to the article by Judy B. Dales, I'm healthier for it!

"I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection-the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin-a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings?-rarely. Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged--not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it's very good for our health."
 ~Judy B. Dales

Monday, January 24, 2011

Like a warm breeze from the south

It's Monday again--and that means a booster shot for me; 
a missile of love from Panama.

In his letter to us today, this nugget of wisdom from Yonder:

"...the truth is we can never really know the impact a mission has on people; those serving and those served. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience [and] I hope and pray with all my heart that I don't let one minute go by wasted."

I think he's busy.
I think he's doing his job.
I think the people of Panama might love him.
And I think I love this boy with all my heart.

getting stuck in an elevator

would be FUN!
with this group of women.

1 24 2011

Ode to beginnings, dark and cold.
A crackly fire, a cup of tea and a stack of books, begging to be read.
Snuggly quilts
frost on the window
and the beam of sun spreading glorious warmth over the crumbs on the table, left from a breakfast not lingered over.
Corresponding with friends, dreaming up the perfect garden and resolving to be better, both inside and out.
Folded towels, warm from the dryer remind me of the steamy shower waiting patiently in the line-up of things I may or may not do on a cold day in January when I just might choose to stay in

Sunday, January 23, 2011



It's all about the timing.
That's what I was telling my kids this week, as we watched Enrique maneuver the snowblower in the driveway (for the third consecutive time in a week).

We were talking about storms, and snow days and vacations, and how they have happened to time out just right, (snow day, weekend, Martin Luther King Day, snow day, two hour delay-day, and then another snow day all in the course of about a week) so that we are enjoying more time in the cabin together.  I was going out to shovel the walk, and one of the girls sort of whines "Do I have to watch him again?"
(We don't like the idea of someone using a snowblower unsupervised... it's not like someone could lose an eye, but it's likely that an appendage or two might be in danger)
Anyway, I giggled and said "no" because I would be outside, and then the whine morphed into the explanation of how he had deliberately pointed the snowblower nozzle to spray frozen gusts of mini-blizzard all over her face, to which two other siblings agreed emphatically, as apparently it had happened to them also.
At that very moment, a great gust of wind carried the snow being expelled from the nozzle of the snow blower, and wrapped it around Enrique's head and torso, as if to entomb him in an upright sarcophagus of whirling snow.  It was classic.  And just as the snow stopped blowing, he'd proceed to move ahead and it happened again.  And again.  And I laughed some more, as he glared towards the window where we were now all standing and watching intensely, with great amusement, and he raised his arms in a gesture as if to say "are you KIDDING me?"  And I said to the rest of the kids "it's all about the TIMING... and karma."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Fortunate! Pirate Porridge.

Ahoy, Maties!  Hold on to your hats and look what the trade winds blew in:

As happens sometimes, in my kitchen, not all who reside here are excited about eating nutritious and colorful foods.  Tradition dictates that these picky eaters are more willing to try new foods when we spin a good tale to go with them.  In our past, we have had two such instances, where corn chowder became Princess Porridge, and pea soup became Queen Cleopatra Egyptian Soup, thick with history and detail and the afore-mentioned picky-eaters came begging for more.  For the youngest here, who announces without hesitation that he HATES cooked carrots, I knew I was in for a battle before the preparation for this newest recipe had even begun.  So, standing at the stove, as I allowed him to help with my very fun immersion blender, I spun the tale of Pirate Porridge.  I would NOT allow any of my children to be served until they had listened to the tale of how Pirate Porridge came to be and pledged them to pass along the tale to future partakers of this special soup.  

I pass the secrets along to you:

Carrot Soup (ahem. I mean Pirate Porridge)

3 bags of carrots (one pound each)
3 yellow onions, diced
1 stick of salted butter (I know it's a lot, but live a little! It turns out to be only about 2 teaspoons per serving)
About 2 quarts of organic (I use low-sodium) chicken stock
1 small jar of roasted peppers (I did not have this, but found it VERY easy to roast my own*)
salt and pepper

Saute the butter and diced onions until onions are translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Add carrots and chicken stock. Boil for 25-30 minutes. Add in red peppers (without the liquid) before you puree the soup. Make sure to puree until very creamy. 

*put three red peppers (I slit the top of each and inserted a clove of garlic) on a cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, rotating with tongs every 10 minutes.  The skin will blacken.  Allow to cool and then slide off skin and remove stems and seeds.  The remaining flesh is what you add to the pot before you blend.

In future, I will add a sprinkle of curry or ginger, just to spice it up a bit.

The Tale
Once upon a time, there was a ship full of stinky, hungry pirates at sea.  The ship's cook informed the captain that there was no more food in the hold.  They were going to have to start eating the crates and barrels, find some food, or starve to death.  The situation was DIRE.  There were no fishing rods, since they had used them to shore up the masts after the last storm.  And the cook had served the crew a stew made of the last of the fish bait at their supper the day before.  Things were NOT looking good.  The pirate captain ordered the men to set the sails and find land immediately.  

How fortunate for them, that they spotted a little island before the end of the day. "Land Ho!" cried a dirty-rotten rabble-rouser from the mizzen mast.   As they approached the island, they came under attack!  They were told to turn away!  NO.PIRATES.ALLOWED on this little island.  The first mate, although he had chosen to be a pirate, had majored in communications in college, and possessed the valuable skill of being able to communicate using signal flags.  He waved madly to the people on shore, to let them know the brutes only wished to communicate.  

How fortunate for the pirates; the islanders understood his signals, and signaled back "We are coming alongside.  Halt your progress."

How fortunate that both parties were willing to communicate!  In less fortunate instances, the pirates might have become frustrated, and a rowdy rabble might have occurred, with ears being cut off, and limbs being lost.  Why do you think so many pirates had peg legs, hooks for hands and wore eye patches?  This was clearly a forward-thinking bunch of buccaneers.  How fortunate for everyone that the island woman who stepped forward introduced herself as a mediator.

How fortunate for the islanders AND the pirates that this woman, a neutral party, was willing to assist in the negotiating and conflict resolution at hand.  The islanders made it clear that they had a strict "No Pirates Allowed" policy, to ensure the safety of their people and the bounteous produce on the island.  The pirates made sure the islanders understood that they had no intentions to pillage, plunder, rob or raid the island.  They were simply hungry pirates, and needed to replenish their food supply.

How fortunate that the pirates had a large treasure chest on board that they could offer as collateral to the islanders.

And how fortunate that the island was a land-of-plenty; flowing with milk and honey and every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable imaginable.  The pirates filled their crates and stocked their barrels with all sorts of nutritious fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  How fortunate that the pirates had access to such bounty, and would not be in danger of developing the dreaded scurvy!  They paid honestly for what they took, using some of the treasure from the chest.  Then they were able to take the rest of the treasure on board the ship, and head off to pillage and plunder in far-off lands.  Of course, they marked their navigation charts with a colorful food pyramid so they would know how to return when their supply ran low again. 

How fortunate the cook was indeed, an excellent cook.  To celebrate how especially-fortunate they were to have nutritious food on board, the cook made an extra-special soup, full of all the important and delicious vegetables they had acquired on the island.  They dubbed it "pirate porridge."

You must think to yourself: "How Fortunate I am to be eating this tasty and nutritious porridge" when eating it.  AND, if you are sharing this meal with someone who does not know the history of this very important soup, you must first share the story so that all can appreciate the heritage and culture behind the pot.

-the end-

what's YOUR flavor?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The calm between the storms

Winter has unpacked her bags and is not planning to leave very quickly... this has been an unbelievable and beautiful week of snow!  I'm feeling giddy and grateful that the ice that settled on top of all surfaces last night did not bring another extended power-outage with it.
There is, however,
Laundry.  Lots of laundry.
and Dishes.  They're like rabbits.
Cleaning bathrooms. I'll be procrastinating that until much later today.
Restocking the pantry and fridge.  Apparently we eat like ravenous beasts on snow days.  And now that we're cycling the stomach bug through the house, we could use some replenishing in the saltines, gingerale and popsicles departments.
Chipping and Scraping.
De-icing the steps and walkways (I'm off to the Depot for rock salt)
School!  For the three that went today, this is looking like maybe a VERY short week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh Yeah...

I told you all about our fabulous weekend in New York City, but I left off the part about the appendage to our trip, which happened as soon as we decided to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, into the land of Hoboken, New Jersey.  It was dark, and they had this whole section of street closed off as soon as we exited the tunnel, which suddenly made me feel like I might as well have been on a Los Angeles Freeway, because of the speed at which we were NOT traveling.  But we had a plan.  And with bakery treats on the line, there was to be no veering from the plan.
You may or may not have heard of The Cake Boss.
If you are not a surfer of channels like TLC, then you probably don't have any idea what the boss of cakes is all about.  I can tell you that my 12 year old daughter is a dedicated follower of  The Cake Boss (as much as you can be, when there is no television on during the week, and you have to hurry to watch as many on-demand shows as you can on Friday night and/or Saturday to find out what's been going on in the world of confections).  So imagine her great excitement when I suggested a foray to Carlos' Bakery, where it all happens.  We had plenty to think about on our drive to the city, since we got caught in a freakishly localized Connecticut blizzard, and it took us two hours to drive three miles in white-out conditions.  We wondered how much of a drive-off-the-beaten-path the bakery might be, so we had Mr. Dub google it from the safety of our home computer while we sang along to the Wicked soundtrack and some Ingrid Michaelson, just to mix things up.  Much to our delight, we found out it was just a 13-minute drive from the Gershwin.  Huzzah!
It probably took us double the time to get there, but I knew the happiness of my traveling buddy was on the line, so I didn't mind one bit.  Not even when I had to buy a stale pack of gum in a seedy convenience store to get coins for the parking meter.  And see that guy in the doorway?
I found out that he wasn't just blocking the entrance.
He was holding the door for pedestrian traffic, and handing out numbers.
Can you spot that number 61 on the back wall?
We got number 73, and waited about 40 minutes to get our goods.
It looks pretty low-profile from the outside, but I'm telling you that the people inside the bakery were just as excited to be there as we were, and they meant business, when it came to making their selections.
It also meant that we had plenty of time to gaze into the cases and decide what we wanted.
We brought home some cannolis, some lobster tails and an assortment of delicious cupcakes and pastries.  We also decided not to bring up the part about the prices.
Sometimes you just don't put a price on ADVENTURE!
And let me tell you, our car seemed to have this magnetic storm locator in it somewhere, that just invited the next freakishly local Connecticut blizzard to hone in on us, because it took us seven hours to get home (instead of just over three).  Plus, driving 24 mph on I-91 and I-84 in white-out conditions through Hartford is definitely an adventure.  
God bless Sonic in its new, central Connecticut location.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adios Elder Blandon

He's done!
It's back to Honduras for Yonder's first companion.
Cambios (transfers) happened last Wednesday, and although Yonder stays in Loma Coba, he gets a new comp.
Hola Elder Monge!
He hails from Nicaragua.
In Yonder's words, 
they couldn't be more different.
But mission life in Panama is GOOD.
he also says
 " What I love about him is the fact that he is not afraid to talk to anybody."
Change is good.
They're off to work!

January exudes CULTURE.

Thursday night live:
Two Happy Concert-goers at Somerville Theater 
Davis Square, Somerville.
One AWESOME show, One AWESOME date.
(and a nod to Mr. Dub, who was supposed to bring me to the Punch Brother's, but instead is bringing home the bacon.  From Florida.)
One fun, chatty car ride, a quick trip on the train and a yummy dinner at Chipotle's
The Secret Sisters opened.
TWO angelic voices:
I LOVED hearing them perform this
The PUNCH BROTHERS were the real deal.
They also made me resent my violin teacher just a TINY bit, for not having a little more Charlie Daniels in her.  I always did want to fiddle a bit more than my classical training repertoire left room for.
To say the concert was ENTERTAINING would be a gross understatement.  This was pure enjoyment.  I'm not sure what my favorite moment was, but it could have been in the middle of their show when they broke out into "Paper Back Writer" after I had just had the thought that something about their aura reminded me of the Beatles.  It could have been just listening to their banter while they tuned between songs.  It might have been after the standing ovation at the end of the show when the lead singer, Chris Thile returned to the stage with his mandolin, unaided by microphones or hook-ups and played an unearthly Bach prelude... this isn't it, but WOW he has talent.
Another contender would have been the curtain call by both The Punch Brothers and The Secret Sisters (and a clever nod to being brothers and sisters after all) and the number they performed TOGETHER!! Transcendental.
Of course, key to the entertainment of the evening was not only sitting next to Annie-who's-blog-opened-my-eyes-to-The-Punch-Brothers-in-the-first-place on the train ride back and realizing she's even MORE lovely in person than she is on her blog; but also feeling like the parent who lost her child, when, upon returning to the train station, my date and I parted ways.  I caught a ride home with our fellow-concert goers, who live closer to my neck of the woods.  Dad climbed to level three or four, where we determined he had parked (after realizing we forgot to note at which level he had left the car) while the rest of us got off at level two.  Right in the spot I knew he had parked, on level TWO, I saw his car.  
I panicked, that feeling of a parent who has lost her child welling up in my throat, 
and hollered up to the void above me.
Again, "DA-AD!!"
to which I hear 
I yell up 
"Your car is down HERE!!... on Level TWO!"
I had a feeling he couldn't understand me, so I waited for a response, or to see him come walking down the stairs, and got nothing.  
I told my ride I was going to trot up a level or two, and make sure he knew where his car was.
It was like he had disappeared!
How does a grown man do that? I thought.
I went up, I went down. And again.
I hurried back to my friends to let them know I was getting worried, when I thought to myself 
"Maybe I should just check the vehicle.  
Maybe he got there before me.  
Maybe... Maybe it WASN'T his car."
and there you have it.
It wasn't.
Lost child way ahead of me, probably paying his way out of the garage by the time I realized he wasn't misplaced at all.
the end.

The snow's not going away

And neither is the winter fun!
Mr. Dub came back for a quick 24 hours before heading off on another business trip, and WOWie!! did he make some kids HAPPY.  He blew a pile of snow high enough to make a slide and a cave, and the outside fun goes on and on.
See YOU in the Spring!