I didn't really tell them what EXACTLY was going to be done to him. They're 6 and 4, my son and daughter, and I wasn't sure how technical and specific I wanted - or needed - to be about his impending...ahem...procedure.
So I told them that he was going in to have a little operation that boy cats have to keep them from wanting to pee on the walls.
Go on and laugh, if you want, but the prevention of peeing on the walls was, in my opinion, much more easily explained and accepted than something like "Well, we're going to remove his testicles. Testicles? You know, Alex, those little ball-things you've got under your pee-pee. Scratchy has them too, because he's a boy, and we're bringing him to the vet so she can chop them right off!"
I decided to avoid the horror. And the cost of therapy.
So wild, wall-spraying pee prevention it was. And that worked just fine. They just knew the little guy had to go to the doctor's and that he might get shots. And that was enough potential trauma for my kids as it was.
So we dropped him off and then I brought the kids to school and went home. Alex, by the way, had insisted on lugging the cat carrier from house to truck and from truck to vet's office. It was his cat.
When I got home, Softie came RACING to the door, mewing hopefully. "Do you have my brother? Is he back now?"
I have to back up a minute here - I forgot to mention this. As usual when anyone is going to go under anaesthesia in the morning, the rule is "no food or water after midnight" the night before.
Well. It's one thing for an adult human to deal with. Quite another for a young cat.
I'd thought of putting away the cat food and dumping the water and just making all three felines suffer over night, but that wouldn't work because there are several other watering holes the cats favor, no matter how much we try to redirect them. Mainly there's the 55 gallon fish tank in the basement. We don't have a cover for it - just the two large lights that run across the length and at least keep the cats from diving in.
So instead, I filled a small litterbox and made a snuggly bed and locked Scratchy in the first floor bathroom. He immediately began to protest and scratch at the door and reach his paws UNDER the door, in a rather sad and pathetic attempt to, I don't know, become a cartoon and miraculously become two-dimentional so he could slither under the door and then poof! regain his three-dimentional form once freed from solitary confinement. Didn't work.
I felt horrible. Kind of like when I say no to Alex when he asks for ANOTHER snack before dinner and when I stand firm on the "no" and request that he not be whiney any more about it and he says he's only whiney because - and I quote - "You never feed us anything" and I beg to differ and he then tells me he's moving, and I ask where, and he pauses and then says "To England!"
Well, okay, when Alex threatened to move across the pond, I didn't feel horrible; I kind of laughed.
But for Scratchy, I felt horrible. And what made it even more poignant was the fact that Softie, his sister, spent a good part of that night and the next morning sitting right next to the bathroom door. Just sitting, quietly and supportively. "I don't know what you've done to deserve this, O my brother, but I love you no matter what."
Okay, back to the story.
We (the impatient and impossibly hyperactive at the vet's office children of mine) rescued Scratchy a little after 5:00 that afternoon. We would have been home sooner than we were, but as I was walking to the desk in the vets' office to sign off on the paperwork and pay Scratchy's ransome, some unsmiling woman clearly lacking in social skills stalked in the door, CUT in front of me and very bluntly said something like "Rude-People Crisis Center. Boris's medicine." Really. Just like that. She looked a lot like Severus Snape, if you want a visual. Just not as tall. The girl behind the desk started to explain that the nice woman with the two bouncy children was there first, but I waved at her to take the other woman first. It seemed the wisest course of action.
Snape-lady was joined by an equally grim woman and a little fluffy white dog. Julia immediately went to the second woman and asked if she could pet the dog. She had a lovely time making friends with the little fluffy thing while Snape glared at her. Actually, Snape wasn't necessarily glaring. I don't think her face could form any other expression.
At long last, Snape and the other one and their dog left and it was our turn. I read over the post-op care instructions, signed and initialed, and handed over my arm and leg in payment for Scratchy's procedure. Good thing I'm part gecko and my appendages keep growing back. An eternity later (the kids were whirling dervishes of impatience "Where's Scratchy???" "When are they bringing Scratchy out???") our tech reappeared with the gray-blue carrier. Scratchy was inside, quietly wailing. The kids looked inside the carrier. "What's that on him?"
It was an Elizabethan Collar. That conical embarrassment dogs and cats are subject to when they've had surgery or some other procedure and need to NOT lick, scratch or bite the wound site. I'm sure Scratchy's wailing had a lot more to do with mortification than pain at that moment.
We carefully settled the carrier in the truck - between the kids' seats - and the smothered him with words of reassurance and love the whole ride home.
Scratchy continued to complain.
Part of the instructions stated that he was only to have a limited amount of food and water the rest of the day because the anaesthetic was still in his system and he might vomit. The other main thing for Tuesday was that he needed to be kept quiet and safe. No playing, racing up and down the stairs, jumping onto or off of furniture...because his reflexes might be off also. You know, that darned ol' anaesthesia again.
I stressed to my wildly excited offspring that they needed to CALM DOWN and NOT PICK UP SCRATCHY and BE VERY GENTLE with him. Or ELSE!
And so we brought the carrier into the living room, Bill held the kids back a bit, and I opened the carrier.
Scratchy zipped out of there like a shot, ridiculous collar slowing him just a bit. He spent a good deal of the rest of the night learning how to navigate with that annoying THING around his neck, and did an awful lot of slow-motion ricocheting off walls and chairs and people in the process. He just wanted to rub up against all the familiar surroundings...just forget the whole torturous day...but that was impossible. The collar was a constant reminder that things were somehow different.
Eating, drinking, and using the litterbox were difficult at first - again, because of that collar.
The worst part was when Softie skipped into the room. Scratchy turned his alien head to face her, and she hissed at him and ran away.
I told the kids that Softie was just confused by the collar and the vet office smells, and that eventually she would stop hissing at her brother. In the meantime, Scratchy would need lots of VERY GENTLE love, and scratching him around that collar would be a huge favor to him.
Oh, and see that part on his collar where there's a logo and a word in an oval? I took a closer look, and found it somehow appropriate...the name of the company that makes these collars and, I assume, other post-op props for animals.
Have a closer look:
Yep, that's right. Butler.
Well, as of this writing (it's Friday, Halloween, and I'm finally finishing this post. I hope.), Scratchy has adjusted to the collar and seems resigned to his fate.
He doesn't bump into things much now, and has developed this odd, jaunty, bow-legged swagger, probably as a result of the collar messing with his peripheral vision.
Or perhaps it's the post-op situation at the other end that's causing this James Cagney/John Wayne/Komodo Dragon gait.
Whatever it is, it's kind of endearing.
Best of all - Softie has stopped hissing at him. She knows he is really and truly the same Scratchy she has known since birth, and they are back to hanging around together, sleeping on the back of the chair behind Bill's head together, and watching me try to eat my breakfast in peace together. And somehow they seem to realize that they can't wrestle just yet. Scratchy still needs to take it easy a bit longer. Instead, they work on annoying Blur. That's always fun.
Scratchy is supposed to keep the collar on for a full two weeks, but I don't know if that's going to happen. For one thing, he's already wriggled out of it once. I got it back on him and re-tied the gauze, but still...we'll see. I know it's to keep him from licking his...um...butler region and causing an infection or irritating the site, so maybe after around a week I'll take it off while I'm home and keep an eye on him. If he goes for that area, I'll put it back on.
In the meantime, the best gift we can give him is the gift of scratching. All around his neck where the collar is. He's so, so grateful. He purrs loudly, and sometimes his hind leg will start scratching air, like dogs do when you've hit just the right spot.
And that, for those of you interested, is the update on Scratchy and his Surgery.
The other evening Alex and Julia wanted to try on their Halloween costumes. Again.
Julia is a pink princess (of course), and Alex is Anakin Skywalker from the recent Star Wars/Clone Wars movie.
They looked cute and all was fine.
Something went wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Okay, it's not a Halloween-themed cake, but it was for my sister's birthday, which is on Halloween, so I'm including it. Because I can.
Not much to say about the cake - it was chocolate, of course, and I cut that white piece out of fondant and then painted the Power Puff Girls on there (and the writing and little dots of color) with some gel food coloring mixed with a little water.
Mere was a big fan of the Power Puff Girls. Probably still is.
Anyway, it was a fun one to work on. Cartoons are, at least to me. And painting on white fondant with food coloring is fun, too. The colors are vivid and basically make your edible cartoon look pretty much like the one on paper (or on your computer screen) that you're copying.
I remember I painted the girls on the fondant and let it dry overnight or something. Then all I had do after I frosted the cake was to (gently and carefully) lay the fondant piece on top of the cake. Ta-da!
I had the best time making these cupcakes today.
This post should have appeared on Tuesday, but I hadn't planned to participate this week. And then I was reminded that Clara of I*Heart*Food4Thought had suggested decorating the Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes for Halloween. Well, HECK! Now I HAVE to participate! (And by the way, you can find the recipe on Clara's site or in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours.
So I sent my husband off to work and brought my kids to school and turned the kitchen into my own creepy "laBORat'ry."
First, I assembled the ingredients. Here they are:
Then I made the batter. Here it is:
After dividing the batter among my 12 muffin cups...
I, um, cleaned up the mess.
Then I baked my cupcakes for 24 minutes.
And set them in the dining room to cool.
And while they cooled, I made a filling. I started with some marshmallow fluff...
and added strawberry jam...
and the last of my red food coloring.
Unfortunately, there really wasn't enough red to achieve the effect I was hoping for....
Oh well. Julia would probably approve.
I filled each cupcake with pink "blood" filling.
And then I went to the other room in search of...parts....mwahahahahahahaha! (Sorry, Beth!)
I whipped up a batch of royal icing and started off with the whites of the eyes...
I seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you!
Next, in order to make them as realistic as possible (hahahaha, yeah, right) I had to make the upper and lower lid.
In the interest of authenticity, I went into the bathroom and took a good long look at my own eyes. Well, just one of them. I only needed one.
They were definitely starting to develop individual personalities. I began to feel mildly maternal.
I also started adding eyelashes. The first one came out horrible, but I was rushing, and I shouldn't have been. Oh well. I did better on the others.
She's got nice eyes. She was crying a few moments ago. She wouldn't say why.
He is rather easily startled. Perhaps he should cut back on caffeine.
I also thought maybe there might be non-human eyes in the group.
Hmmm...feline? Canine? Or...something...else?
They all got along just fine.
Oh, and by the way? They're pretty yummy.
For example, when I posted this yesterday. And told you I wouldn't be posting for Tuesdays with Dorie. Tuesdays. And yesterday? Was a Wednesday. Yeah. I's real smart.
And then, to that post, I received the following comment from Chocolatechic:
"Drat. I was looking forward to your creativity with the cupcakes."
And I thought "that's nice - I am missed..." but I also thought..."yeah, but it's only cupcakes..."
Because - Moron Evidence Exhibit #278,586 - I forgot all about the "decorate them for Halloween" part.
Oh, DRAT INDEED!
I didn't realize I'd forgotten that until I started checking out one or two other TWD members...and I thought...hey, that's funny, they both decorated them for Halloween! Yes, Jayne. Clever observation on your part! Wonder if anyone else noticed???!!!!
I stopped looking at TWD posts and decided that, despite my tardiness and my moronness, I would make these cupcakes, dammit, and decorate them APPROPRIATELY!!!
So today, while I am also baking bagels and bread, I'm going to make those cupcakes and decorate them somehow.
Because, while I am a moron, I am also mad at myself for forgetting about the Halloween decorating part, and I can't NOT do it. So look for something from me later today or - maybe more appropriately - tomorrow.
Tomorrow IS Halloween, right? Okay. That's what I thought.
Sorry about the poor picture quality - long story about problems with our main computer and blahbiddy blah blah blah. Who cares.
Anyway - this cake - disguised as a huge everything bagal - is kind of part 2 of the previous year's cake theme, which was the giant coffee mug. As I'd mentioned in the coffee mug post, after Natalie was born in the summer of '95, I used to drive down early on the weekends and pick up coffee and bagels and bring them to Mere, who, especially that first summer, was very sleep deprived and in desperate need of caffeine on an hourly basis.
She, Meredith, also was fond of everything bagels, so I'd get a few of them and whatever other bagels appealed to me that morning.
Natalie, who, by this time ('97) was quite talkative, used to call the seeds and things on the bagels "beads." Hee hee hee. Little kids are fabulous.
Anyway, so that was how I came up with the idea for this cake. I'd already done coffee, so now it was time for the bagel.
I am pretty sure, since it was for my sister, that the cake was chocolate. With chocolate or raspberry frosting/filling inside. The outside of the bagel is fondant, and I've found that if you brush fondant with a damp brush, it will remain shiny, which was perfect for the shiny crust. And those little bits and pieces - the "beads" on top - more fondant, in a few different colors, to represent the various seeds (poppy, sesame and caraway) and the bits of onion and garlic, and the salt.
In the picture you can see that Natalie is reaching for one of the "beads." Calvin, who is almost five here, is just waiting for the cake to be cut so he can have some.
Beads. Hee hee hee.
Here are a few photos I took one morning last week. We'd had some frost, and I went outside to start up/warm up the truck. The sun was rising higher over to the east there, and as the rays and warmth touched places on the truck, the frost would melt and ghostly steam would rise.
I darkened the images and enhanced the color saturation level just a smidge, so the ghosty steam would be a bit easier to see. Plus - there really were these colors in the steam - I'm guessing it's a prism effect from the water droplets.
Anyway, I thought the steam was pretty, and so I share it with you. FYI, the cab of the truck is the big dark shape in the left of all the vertical images. And this first shot is looking at the side of the truck bed.
TWD (for me) will resume next week. But in the meantime, if you'd like, you can go check out the TWD blogroll to see what everyone else had done this week.
Love them spiders. They're so cute.
This was a miniature cake for Calvin. I also made a separate cake for Meredith - the family was celebrating their birthdays on the same day, but I wanted to make them each their own cake.
Anyway, I made Calvin's chocolate cake with my 4" springform pans. I think it's frosted in white or lemon frosting and then had chocolate chips pressed all over it. On top of that, with royal icing, I made the spider web, and then perched my cute little spider guy on top.
This spider was so small I just made him entirely out of fondant, rather than the cupcake-wrapped-in-fondant-with-pipe-cleaner-legs technique I'd used in the previous two spider cakes. And this way he was completely edible! Which, after all, is a rather desirable trait in a birthday cake spider.
On the advice of my attorneys, and in the interest of full disclosure and keeping the peace and not getting my butlers sued off me (though a bit of reduction wouldn't be a bad thing), here, for all to see, but especially Jen because of the cloud of suspicion she has raised over the ethics and fair play involved in the most recent Cookbook Giveaway (see her comment), I hereby display photographic evidence that there was, indeed, a number 3 included in the drawing.
I actually saved the slips of paper JUST IN CASE SUCH A DISPUTE MIGHT ARISE!!!
I hope this prevents any further insinuation relative to the integrity of my giveaway program.
I'll start with the hat.
Actually, I'll back up - I think I was avoiding doing a lot of piping during these few years. I am pretty sure my carpal tunnel stuff was bothering me a lot back then, and painting with food coloring or just coloring fondant and rolling it out were easier things to do, wrist-wise, than squeezing a piping bag of royal icing for a long time.
Anyway. The witch's hat was a lot of fun to make. (I say that about a lot of these, especially the ones for my sister.) It was chocolate cake, layered with chocolate frosting, and then carved into the hat shape.
I remember that when I cut out the black fondant for the hat and wrapped it around the cone-shaped cake, I had problems. Gravity was one of them. There was a lot of fondant slouching going on, and I think it ended up as a sort of patchwork of pieces that I pinched together, using a bit of water as glue. So the lovely seamless black hat I'd envisioned was dumpy and worn-looking. Ah well. So now what? How to fix it? Or maybe not fix it, but work with it and make it into the hat it seemed to want to be. (Oh really, Jayne. That's a bit much.)
So I thought, okay, apparently it is a dumpy, worn-looking patchwork hat. Maybe the witch has had it for years and it has meaning for her and she can't just get rid of it. So she fixes it up here and there when a seam bursts or the fabric wears thin, and she keeps wearing it, because it is precious to her.
Anyway. I colored some royal icing and piped on large, brightly-colored stitches where the seams were visible, and used a similar stitched look for the lettering. The bright orange band around the hat and the pink button were fondant, too. Overally, not really a difficult cake to build. And I think Meredith was happy with it.
The other cake was similar to the Power Puff Girls in technique - I had a circle of white fondant and then I painted that character on most of it and wrote the Happy Birthday Calvin part on the rest. Then I covered the rest of the cake with swirls of white icing. I'm pleased with it. So was Calvin.
As I indicated when I introduced the contest, the winner would be selected by having my kids write out numbers corresponding to the number of entrants, fold the slips of paper, shake them around in a plastic pumpkin, pick one slip out of the pumpkin, unfold it, and display it to all the world (or at least to the little portion of the world who read this blog.)
So that's what we did last night. After dinner and bath time, I summoned the children to the dining room and gave them their instructions, and then I stood there, camera in hand, flash on (it was dark, I had no choice) and photographed the excitement. (Of course, my kids had no idea why they were excited, they just went along with it. I gave them some pre-Halloween candy as a think you.)
So here we go.
First, I counted the number of comments. There were 10 this time. Easy enough for Alex to write out on the 10 pieces of paper I gave him. And while he numbered, Julia folded.
(Making sure he didn't skip a number.)
(shaking the pumpkin)
(great job shaking the pumpkin, Julia!)
(take my picture, mom!)
(remember, Julia, only ONE piece of paper...)
(and we have a winner!)
(she passes the secret winning slip of paper to her brother...)
(he unfolds it in a painfully slow manner...and then...the winner is...number....!!!!)
(is...? stupid flash. I can't even read it...)
(let's move in a bit closer...and the winner is...................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
It's number 10! And that would be...Emily, the Cereal Fairy!
Congratulations, Emily! Please send me an email with your shipping address and I'll get that cookbook out to you as soon as possible!
And to all who participated - thank you so much - I loved all the different costume ideas and the stories that accomanied them!!
Let's do this again some time, shall we?
Hmmm...you may be wondering. Who is Beth, and why would she want to skip this post?
Well, I'll tell you.
Beth is a dear friend who met my sister in their first grade class and have been friends ever since. And s
Okay, I have to interrupt myself here. I'm sitting on the loveseat in our living room and Scratchy has crawled up between the loveseat and the slipcover, and he's moving around under the green fabric like a cartoon gopher digging a fast-moving hole in the dirt, you know, where you see the dirt kind of bumping up in a mounding trail as he zips along...
Anyway, he was becoming disruptive to my typing. Had to make him stop. I whispered "neuter" at him as he sped along, and he quickly exited the slipcover and fled the room.
Anyway, back to Beth. So Beth has been friends with us for a lifetime. It's that kind of lifelong relationship where even if you're all married and have been for a while, you still refer to each other using maiden names. Because that's who you are to each other.
Anyway, some people have things about mice...or bugs...or snakes...or (sorry, Sheila) spiders. With Beth...it's eyeballs.
And that's why Beth might want to go read something else now.
Because yesterday, Alex and I got a bit goofy. With a gummy eyeball. Blue, like Alex's own real ones.
And the pictures crack me up, so I must share them.
But to give Beth one more chance to switch over to Facebook or something, I'll put the photos after the jump. Because I'm nice that way.
I know. Kind of dilapidated looking, isn't it. But then, who knows how long that castle has stood, empty, except for the ghosts of knights and maidens long departed from this life....
This was for a coworker (she was one of the two recipients of that original double spider cake I keep bringing up.) - this year I made them each their own cake, and hers was the one with a Halloween theme. The other one wasn't, and I'll get to that eventually on this blog. But not today.
The cake - who knows what flavor, but it was probably chocolate - made up all of the castle - the main "body" of it and the square, falling-every-which-way towers. The outer part was all fondant and royal icing. I think that's a layer of green fondant for the grass...although now that I'm thinking about it, why would the grass be that green at the end of October somewhere in the world where there would be old stone castles like this? Wouldn't it be kind of dead by now? Just a thought.
There are little ghosties peeking out of various windows and doorways all around the cake, by the way, so the little castle must have been pretty darn haunted.
She thinks she's a teenager. She loves talking on her purple plastic cell phone and wearing glittery nail polish and applying her shiny pink lipstick.
Her conversations on the purple phone go something like this:
"Hello? Oh, hi....yeah....I know....yeah...no....no....no we don't have any chocolate pudding. Okay, bye."
Fortunately for me, she's not a teenager yet. She's only four.
This was made for the son of a coworker. His birthday, if I remember correctly, was actually on October 30th, but his mom wanted something creepy and Halloweenish that year. So I basically did a repeat of the original spider cake, only with one spider instead of two. I also added a bunch of little plastic bugs to make the whole thing more realistic. For a cake.
Unfortunately at some point in my cake-making "career" back then, I stopped taking notes on how I made the cakes or what flavors I used, so I have no idea what's on the inside of this one. Not that it really matters - the outside was the important thing back then.
Cute spider, isn't he?
I've noticed a lot of searches for things like "spider cakes" and "witch cakes" and "coffin cake" and so forth that lead people to my site. So, for them and for everyone else's amusement - especially, let's face it, my own - I figured I'd post the rest of the Halloween cakes in my cake book throughout this week. Actually, two of them won't be Halloween themed, really, but since they were for my sister's October 31st birthday, they are included.
So earlier today I posted the cake that I would ordinarily have posted tomorrow, and then starting tomorrow I'll have a different Halloween-themed cake each day through Friday.
That's all. Just wanted to explain the change in procedures.
For those of you interested in viewing the Halloween-themed cakes I've posted in the past, here's a list of links:
Hm. I thought there were more. Oh well. There will be, soon.
Don't forget to go here to enter, if you are interested in maybe winning this enormous cookbook (1000 recipes!) filled with Gluten-free recipes.
Contest ends tomorrow (Sunday, October 26th, 2008 at 12:00 noon, eastern standard time.)!!
I'm saving the pictures for last in this post...
The girl I worked with who had the oil-flooded house was an identical twin, and she'd asked me to make a cake for her sister.
She gave me a page from a wall calendar that she was hoping I could copy in some fashion, and I have to say this is one of my favorites from that whole time period.
The cake itself was white, with white frosting.
I used one 12" round cake as the background, and trimmed the other cake to the shape of the figures on the calendar page.
Here's the calendar page:
And here's the cake:
I'll even put them side by side so it's easier to compare them...
I covered each layer with fondant.
The bottom layer's fondant had been colored blue, and I piped stars and "Happy Birthday, Twin!" across the top.
The upper layer is also covered in fondant that I'd tinted lightly with peach and ivory food coloring. I painted all the lines and shadows and facial details with food coloring paste thinned with a bit of water.
All the flowers and the wings were made ahead of time out of royal icing, and when they were dry I glued them in place with more royal icing. I think I did the hair with fresh (not dried) royal icing. Just a guess.
Anyway, this one seemed to go over pretty well.
Remember this guy?
Last February we brought Reddy home and Alex, after much begging and pleading and understanding of responsibilities, had his first "very own" pet. He's taken good care of Reddy all these months - food, cleaning the tank (with Daddy's help), and bestowing as much love and affection as one can on a fish.
Now...do you remember this guy?
That's a photo (mid-shed) of the late Dinoraptosaurus, who passed away last March. Apart from the anonymous neons and hatchet fish and so forth that have died, this was the very first time Alex experienced the death of a pet. He was very broken up about it, and we had a rather emotional funeral. In time, of course, the pain lessened. And we still have the other lizard. And, of course, the kittens.
Well. About that. About Reddy.
This past Monday while the kids were at school and Bill was at work I was doing something uncharacteristically productive around the house, I think, and as I passed through the living room, heading for the kitchen, I glanced at Reddy's tank.
Reddy was sort of snuggled into a nook near the root system of his tank plant, which was not unusual, as he and his brethren like to be cozy like that. I've even been fooled in the past into thinking that because he is tucked in there, motionless, he is dead, but when I'd tap on the tank (which you're not supposed to do because it stresses the fish but hey, he was stressing me by being motionless, so fair's fair, I say. Anyway, I looked at him in the tank this past Monday and something in my head said "Um...I don't think he's just playing tricks on you this time." I tapped on the tank right near him, and sure enough, he didn't move. So I tilted the fish-shaped tank a bit and his poor little body just floated away from the plant...on its side. Pretty strong evidence that he wasn't faking it this time.
And all I could think of, besides "aw...poor Reddy" was "OH NO. This is going to send Alex into a several-day period of mourning and crying and I just don't know if that's really NECESSARY right now." Alex, at least at this age, is very sensitive and emotional. And I didn't want him to cry. I really didn't. I didn't want him to be sad and heartbroken that his first very own pet had died, and I didn't want him to think that somehow it was his fault.
So I called Bill at work. I don't do that very often, because, as a teacher, he can't just take a break mid-lesson and chat with me for a few minutes. So I save the calls for the important things. Like dead fish.
"What?" He had to ask his students to quiet down a bit. "What did you say?"
"Reddy is dead. Alex's fish."
There was a silence and then "OH."
Yes. We had an understanding.
"I'll see what I can do. Does he know?"
"No, he's at school. And then I figured I'd bring him with me when I bring Julia to gymnastics. So he won't be home for a while."
"Got it. Okay, I'll take care of it. Did Reddy have any other colors on him?"
"No, just all red."
"Okay. I'll see you later."
And thus the plan was made.
While I was watching Julia do forward rolls and walk on the balance beam and Alex was writing all the numbers from 1 to 100 just for his own fun in a little notebook I keep in my purse for times like that, Bill was going to a couple different pet stores in search of a Reddy substitute. He left a couple of messages for me on my cell, updating me on his progress.
When we got home, I got the kids sorted out first and then headed into the living room. Reddy's tank had been cleaned out and re-filled and there, swimming around like he owned the place was...Reddy II. Bill had also cleaned the big tank in the basement, and told Alex later - when Alex commented on how clean Reddy's tank was (not that it was filthy before, mind you, but it was clear that the Fishy Merry Maids had come by and spruced the place up) and Bill casually (as casually as he can - he's not a good liar, really) that he was cleaning the big tank and figured he might as well clean Reddy's, too.
A bit later, Bill was building a fire and I was hanging out in the room, reading, while dinner cooked. Alex came in to check on the progress of the fire - he and Julia had helped carry logs in from the stash outside - and then he turned away from the fireplace and gazed over at the little fish tank.
"I just love Reddy so much," he said.
Bill kind of froze for a second where he was rearranging logs.
"I know you do, Alex." I said.
It had worked.
Bill and I both felt a little...wrong...about this bit of deception. But...it's a fish. He knows that things die - he's been to both human and pet funerals in his little life, and there will be enough of them to come throughout the rest of his life. So yes, we lied by omission, I guess. We skipped over reality just this once.
But, you know, he believes in Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too, right now.
When you're six, magic is a good thing.
Meet Reddy II.
At some point, the word "butler" came to mean - to my children, who are 6 and 4 but may have been 5 and 3 when all this began - butt. Or bum. Or derriere. Fanny. Tush. Tuchus. Whatever you call it.
And this word - butler - became the funniest word in the world to say or hear.
"Wanna see my butler?"
"You're a butler!"
"ACK! Mom, she showed me her butler!"
And so on. Each use of the word is always followed by both of them gurgling with laughter and using "butler" over and over again a few more times in new and expressive sentences.
Oh, and you have to say it in italics, too. Can't just say butler. Has to be butler.
This morning my daughter, happy about an upcoming field trip, broke into a spontaneous dance, shimmying and shaking her little self all over the room.
"Mom! I'm shaking my butlers!"
And then later, after they've both gone to school, I laugh and laugh and laugh.
This is another book I was sent from the publisher recently. It's called 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, and it's by Carol Fenster. The book has had great reviews, from what I've seen.
Now, I am fortunate in that I have no problem with gluten in anything I eat, and neither do my husband or my kids. I have no desire to eliminate gluten from my diet, either. In fact, I heartily embrace gluten in my bread-baking endeavors.
But I know there is definitely a huge market for cookbooks like this, so I offer it to all of you out there who would really benefit from its recipes.
So, let's see about the guidelines....
If you would like a shot at winning this book, you'll need to leave a comment to this post.
Your comment should be about...........Halloween costumes. If you or your kid(s) or nieces and/or nephews are going trick or treating, what will you/they be dressed as? Or, what is the best costume or worst costume you've ever worn. Or the creepiest. Or the best or worst or creepiest costume you've seen someone else wear. Something about Halloween costumes. I know - it has absolutely nothing to do with cooking gluten-free at all. I'm just interested in costume stories.
Please - only one comment/entry per person.
The contest ends...ummmmmmmm...............what's today, Thursday? The contest will end Sunday, October 26th, at 12:00 NOON, eastern standard time. Any comments posted after that will not be included, no matter how entertaining they might be. Sorry.
The winner will be announced Monday and will be chosen thusly: I will count up the number of entrants and have my children number slips of paper to correspond with that total. (Educational!) Then I will have my kids fold the slips of numbered paper in half and put them all in a plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin and shake them around a bit. And finally, one child (probably Julia) will reach into the pumpkin and select one slip of paper and hand it to her brother (Alex) and he will display the winning number so I can take a picture and post it and from that number determine who the winner of the cookbook is.
Won't that be fun???? Well, for me, anyway.
Maybe I can work the cats into it somehow, too. I'll think about it.
I'll announce the winner and then that person will need to email me with his/her shipping address so I can send out the book.
If you have questions about the contest, email me - jayne at barefootkitchenwitch dot com.
Okay? Ready? Set?
Let the contest begin!!
I was out of salted butter, so I went to the CVS near our house just now to get some. I'm sorry, but I just have to have salted (not unsalted, which I use in my baking) on my toast. Have to. Non-negotiable.
Anyway, while I was there I remembered that I am out of bubble bath stuff. Shower gel/Foaming Bath Gel - whatever it's called. I need some. It's cold out now, and therefore the start of my soaking-in-a-hot-bath-while-Bill-puts-the-kids-to-bed season.
Down the end of the aisle there was a display of the brand of good-smelling stuff I like. Of course, I can't remember the brand. But whatever - the sale was 2 for $10.00. I would buy one. I'm on a budget. I selected "Ocean Breeze" in the blue bottle, and looked at the others to make sure I wasn't missing one I liked better. Oh, wait, is that lavender scented?
I picked up the bottle - it just said "Purple Flowers" or something like that, so I opened the top and squeezed ever so slightly so that some of the fragrance might waft out.
It had one of those heart valve-type openings and as I squeezed, suddenly the valves popped open and a little blob of violet goo flew out and hit me right in the face.
I don't think anyone saw it happen, though depending on where the surveilance cameras are, someone watching may have had a really good laugh this morning.
I put the bottles back, wiped off my lenses and peeked in a mirror above a display of hair clips to make sure there were no unsightly shower gel splatters on my face or in my hair.
Then I casually strolled to the dairy case to get my butter.
I'm going to smell like Purple Flowers for the rest of the day.
And I made loaves instead of muffins.
I don't know what it is, but for some reason I'm not crazy about muffins, although I may like the same concoction in loaf form. I have no explanation for this peculiarity.
Now, though I don't like muffins all that much, I do make an exception for pumpkin muffins. I love pumkin. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin cheesecake. A good pumpkin ale. You get the pumpkin - err, the point.
So I was looking forward to trying out Dorie's version today.
The only problem? I didn't have any pumpkin in the house. I have two on my front steps, but they're purely Halloween decor and they kind of belong to my kids. So they're way off limits.
I did, however, have plenty of butternut squash. We grew a lot of them this year, so we've got a nice little supply down in the basement, just waiting to be peeled and roasted and made into soup or topped with a bit of butter and salt and pepper, or made into ravioli...or - hey, maybe into muffins!
I didn't think Dorie would mind.
We grew a mini version of the butternut, and I picked out two of the smallest ones to peel and roast.
I also decided that, instead of the sunflower seeds Dorie suggests (which I didn't have anyway), I'd use the squash seeds.
So I set those aside while I chopped up and baked the squash and assembled the rest of the ingredients.
After the squash was cooked through and had cooled a bit I ran it through the food processor and voila - faux pumkin puree.
No one would ever know the difference. Bwahahaha.
I also made a couple other little changes to Dorie's recipe, all due to what I had on hand and what I didn't. I used dark sugar instead of light. And I used (forgive me) a pumkin spice blend because I didn't have any nutmeg to use along with all the other individual spices. I know. It's no excuse. Oh, yes, and I was out of golden raisins so I used the black ones. And I used the pecans, not the walnuts. OH, yes, and I was out of vanilla. So I just left that out. And I thought I had two eggs, but it turned out one of them had cracked in the package. So I used one egg and a little vegetable oil to sub for the other egg. I know. I'm a rebel. I bake on the wild side.
Apart from my wild subbing, the rest of the procedure went without incident.
I combined and mixed and blended and added and scraped....
And I greased pans and divided batter and sprinkled pumpkin - oops, butternut - seeds on top.
And then I baked. Checked progress and rotated and baked a bit longer.
And then they were done.
They cooled. I removed them from their pans. They cooled some more.
And then, after dinner (which also included butternut squash, in case you were interested), it was time to slice and sample.
My opinion? Yum!!
But my opinion pales in comparison to Alex's.
He ate the first thick slice and came back for another one.
I asked if he liked it, and he nodded vehemently and rhapturously crooned "...with the pumpkin seeds...and the raisins...in the brrrrrrrreadddddd!!!!"
I'll assume that meant yes.
Julia and Bill haven't tried any yet. I can predict that Bill will like it and so will Julia but she'll only want a couple of bites. She's like that.
Now, as always, if you want to see who else did what else with this week's recipe, start working your way through the massive blog list on the Tuesdays with Dorie site. Should keep you busy for a few whiles, as my daughter would phrase it. Happy reading!
At some point, hopefully today.
Just in case you were wondering.
In the meantime, here are some old pictures of Alex I came across...
He was about a year and a half old or so in these.
And now he's six, going on six-and-a-half.
Excuse me while I go weep hysterically at the cruel swift passage of time.
When I'm done, maybe I'll make those pumpkin muffins for my TWD post.
Yeah, it's mid-October and it was in the thirties when I got up this morning.
But Julia has inherited my dress-inappropriately-for-the-season-and-go-outside-barefoot-even-if-it's-cold gene and this is what she opted to wear yesterday.
Besides, it's pink. That's what's important.
The thing is, though, it buttons up the front.
And sometimes she might let me do a button or two.
But mostly she wants to do it herself.
She is very determined.
And some mornings my fingers get tense with the urge to claw their way in and get the buttons done up quickly.
But when that happens, I try to sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut and just wait.
So that she can do it - all by herself.
And learn that it's important to keep trying.
Over and over.
Again and again.
No matter how long it takes.
Or how frustrating it may get.
Is so worth all of the effort.
Just ask Julia.
Well THIS one has a story.
It's a birthday cake (the happy birthday part is on the other side) for a coworker, and the "theme" of "be it ever so oily" refers to the oil tank in her home's basement. It burst. Or leaked. And I believe she and her husband were away at the time. So oil throughout the basement, lots of damage, and I think there was even more to it than that, but I didn't write it down.
Anyway, she and her husband had to live in a hotel while their home was cleaned up and cleaned out and repairs were made and all that. Quite the nightmare.
The cake was chocolate, and the frosting was peanutbutter. It was covered with fondant and decorated with royal icing.
Speaking of apples... We had two bags from apple picking day, plus a half a bag of apples I'd bought the week before and still hadn't finished up. So something had to be done because the fruit flies (already populating our house because of enticing aromas of sourdough starter and ripening tomatoes) were just waiting for the apples to bruise.
I kept intending to make a pie, but the days filled up and I kept putting it off. And then Alex was invited to sleep over his friend Jack's house (Alex's first sleepover - he's been looking forward to this since the summer when the subject first came up) and we were all invited to dinner as well. I asked if I could bring something and was asked to bring dessert. Aha. Time to make pie.
Well, I already had dough made (use whatever pie crust recipe you like - I used Dorie Greenspan's "Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough"), so all I had to do was peel and chop apples. And that's where things changed course - I started peeling the apples from the previous week's apple picking trip, and though they were crisp and tasty and all, they were - a lot of them - in various stages of inner decay. Little bits of brown, or big mushy bits of brown. Each apple was different. Which made slicing them uniformly impossible. So I just cut them into small chunks, about a half inch rough dice, and tossed them in lemon juice. It took a while. Sometimes I'd peel a perfectly nice looking apple, and the flesh just beneath the skin would look great too, and then I'd clice the apple in half and the whole inside was brown and icky. It was quite the adventure.
And, since I knew my yield wasn't going to be enough for a full-sized pie, I decided to make a bunch of mini pies in muffin tins. I rolled out the dough and used round cookie cutters to cut out a dozen 4" circles and a dozen 3" circles. I used the 4" ones to line the muffin tins, and then put the tin and the plate of smaller dough circles in the fridge to stay cold. And I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.
Right about then, Julia decided to help.
She's learned the routine - she has to get an elastic thing for her hair so I can put it in a ponytail, and she has to wash her hands - with soap, Julia - and she has to be clothed, because odds are I'll take pictures. So she showed up presentable.
She saw the extra pie dough and wanted to "make bread," so I gave her a few tools and let her play.
Once I'd peeled and cut up enough safe-to-eat parts of apple, I mixed them all together with lemon juice, a tiny bit of sugar, and a liberal amount of cinnamon. Then I filled the muffin tins....
And then I put the 3" dough circles on top and pressed the edges together as best I could to seal them.
I cut little slits in the tops and brushed them all with an egg wash...
Then I put the muffin tin (on a baking sheet, in case there was any bubbling over) into the oven
and baked them for around half an hour. (Sorry - I didn't write it down - basically you want to bake them until the tops are golden brown and there's steam coming out of the little slits.)
They smelled really, really good, by the way.
I let them sit briefly (naturally I was doing all this right before we had to leave the house) and then I
dug them out of the muffin tin gently slid a knife around each mini pie between the crust and the muffin tin and popped them out. Or tried to. They came out easily enough - no sticking - but in some cases the crust was on the thin side and when I tried to pop them out with the knife, I ended up poking through the crust. Also - and this is something I need to remember for next time - the bottom crusts should have been bigger. As they were, some didn't completely adhere to the top crusts, and so when I was working on loosening them and popping them out, the top crusts would just come right off. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly a flaw I need to fix next time around.
Most of them came out fine, however.
And they were definitaly cute.
Tasted good, too.
Because, of course, solely for the photographic purposes of this blog, I had to sample one.
You know...just so I could take this picture.
I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.
Every fall we try to go apple picking, and we include my sister's kids in the adventure. It sort of became a tradition a while ago, and when we go I take photos of the four cousins all together. Sometimes the photos come out well, other times not that great, but it doesn't matter really, as long as we go.
This year we went on a recent Sunday, which was also the day the Thomas and Friends cake was due. It was a drizzly, cold, slightly foggy day. But that didn't stop us from going, of course.
We went to a farm in Smithfield - one of dozens - that we had gone to several years ago. Got a plastic tote bag for each kid, and the guy working there showed us a map and told us where the choice apples were right now.
"Follow the dirt road til you get to the power lines," we were told. So we headed down the dirt road (once we'd located it) in search of apples.
There's a small family burial plot in the orchard - it's designated as Historical Cemetary #49 in the state - many of the original Knight family (who still own this orchard, I believe) are buried there.
I love these old, small, family plots. Not sure why, exactly. Just something about them that appeals to me. Especially on overcast, drizzly October mornings.
Oh - and there was (on a sort of related note but not really I guess, but oh well, here goes the segue anyway) this tree stump that was all wet and dark from the rain...and every time I saw it out of the corner of my eye, it looked like a large black dog sitting there.
Doesn't it? Kind of? Well...maybe you had to be there, and in my Octobery state of mind.
Anyway, the kids and Bill picked plenty of apples and sampled a few to make sure they tasted appropriately orchard-fresh.
Here's Calvin trying one. Unfortunately, I think he was eating one of Julia's apples.
As you can imagine, that didn't go over so well with Miss Julia.
So he tried to give the apple back to her. What was left of it.
The apples themselves weren't much to look at - a lot of discoloration on the skins and weird shapes and these tiny black dots that - according to the guy we got our bags from - were because they had sprayed some sort of organic polish on them and the rain messed it up.
Looks like it could use some sort of deep cleansing mask, doesn't it?
Anyway, I've run out of things to say about the apple picking. I'll just leave you with a few more pictures from that afternoon. And if you want to see the whole batch, you can go here to my flickr site.
This is Alex sampling an apple. You'll notice he's kind of gnawing on it with one side of his mouth. He's got a loose tooth - top left front one - and it hurts to bite on that side.
Natalie and a teeny, tiny apple.
Julia insisted on carrying her own bag the whole time.
Calvin. He is taller than his father now. And quite pleased about it, too. Of course.
And one last one - all four of the cousins.
They all keep getting taller....
A few days or so ago I wrote a post about Southern Tier Brewing Company's Imperial Pumking Ale. And in that post, in case you haven't read it and don't feel like it right now although you should, I raved and waxed rhapsodic about this marvelous Pumpkin Ale - brewed - as it says right there on the label - "With Real Pumpkins!"
And that was about it.
Now this past weekend, my husband played guitar at the wedding of a friend of his. He played for free, he and I were guests as well, and we had a lovely time. And then when we were leaving, the groom gave Bill, in thanks, a case of assorted beers. And not just your big-name, small-flavor beers. A lot of interesting imports and domestic microbrews and, we discovered - a 6-pack of assorted pumpkin ales.
Here's what I'm listening to right now, while I wait for the water to boil so I can cook pasta:
Alex is watching Sponge Bob on the tv.
Bill is playing guitar and singing "Landslide" - he doesn't sound quite like Stevie Nicks.
Julia is enthusiasticly honking on a duck call device that Bill keeps among his toys at the bar downstairs.
Now he's trying to sing "Silver Spring."
It really isn't meant to be sung in falsetto.
This was for a coworker's husband. They owned property in northern New England for a while and made and sold maple sugar.
The cake is a simple chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
The maple leaves were outlined with royal icing (I'd traced two maple leaf cookie cutters onto parchment) and then filled with more royal icing thinned with water. Colors were green and copper. Looks like one of the leaves broke on the way to their house.
And me without my TWD post. That's right, I know, I've barely been keeping my membership alive lately, but anyway, I didn't make the TWD recipe this week. Sorry! I'll be back in the game next week.
Before I say anything else, I want to apologize for the yucky lighting.
Above is the finished product - a birthday cake for a little boy who loves Thomas and all the other engines and cars and so forth. I'd asked his mom what other trains were some of his favorites, and she told me Percy and either Arthur or Duke. I knew who Percy was, but couldn't recall either of the other two. So I had a little research to do.
The first Thomas cake I ever made (and actually the only other Thomas cake I've done) was for my nephew, Calvin, when he turned 3. Oh, so very long ago. If you've read the post for that cake you may recall that I was less than satisfied with the end result. Especially the eyes. They just didn't look like Thomas's eyes to me. But Calvin, looking at it through his little toddler eyes, loved the cake. "That's the best Thomas I ever saw!" And all my anguish and frustration about the Thomas eyes was for nothing.
I learned a little lesson from that. One that I don't always remember, but from time to time it pops into my head, especially when I'm becoming insanely unhappy with my cake work, and my inability to exactly duplicate something.
So when I was working on this cake, I was, as usual, constantly criticizing my trains in my head. Those voices, you know. They were sniping away at me. Yuck, yuck, yuck - what an ugly cake this is looking like. But then yesterday morning, when I was finishing up all the detail work, Julia came into the kitchen (she really wanted to EAT the cake, but finally accepted that no meant no) and said it looked "beautiful!" Alex thought it looked great, too. And the "lesson-learned" voice piped up "look at it through their eyes!" and I relaxed a bit. This cake was for a little boy who was turning 4. I was not involved in a Food Network Challenge or anything. It was a birthday cake made by me, a non-professional cake-making regular ol' person. Chill. So I did, finally. Once it was done.
Here are a few process pictures - I didn't take many - I just got too engrossed in what I was doing. Plus there's always the panic that sets in. "I'm never going to get this done in time!" I don't need a competition. I create my own stress, thank you very much.
Above you see not one, but two bases for this cake. As you could see in the first photo at the beginning of this post, the little train scene was spread out over the two bases. Initially I had figured on just one base, but it would have been too crowded and orderly, and, well, boring. And once I figured out how much better it would look if it was more sprawling, the whole design fell into place.
The base, by the way, consists of two sets of 2 rectangular cardboard cake bases taped together and then wrapped in foil. The "L" shape was more interesting, visually, than the two rectangles would have been if I'd just lined them up side by side. I made the brown/tan "dirt" out of fondant colored with brown and copper gel coloring. I don't know how much I used - I just colored it until it looked right to me. I like coloring fondant and leaving it with faint streaks and swirls. Again - more interesting for some applications. I think I used about a 1.5 lb piece of fondant to cover the two pieces of cardboard. And actually, they didn't cover things completely. I left bits of foil showing. I covered some later with royal icing grass, but left other areas exposed.
I made two kinds of cake. One was a vanilla pound cake, the other was a chocolate cake. And for the filling, I made a simple ganache of semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream and a little butter, and then, once that had cooled to room temperature, I whipped it in the stand mixer to change the texture to a more spreadable consistency. There's a little left over. I gave some to my sister. The rest is for me.
Each train is chocolate cake, and the two extra sections of Arthur and Duke are vanilla. The roundhouse (which is not round, I realize) is a layer of chocolate and a layer of vanilla. I baked the roundhouse cakes in a square 8" pan and the train sections were done in little mini-loaf pans but could just as easily have been baked as one square cake and cut into the little train rectangles.
Each train is layered - I sliced the loaf in half, lengthwise, and spread some whipped ganache in the middle. I also carved a bit of the train shape - the roundness of the engines, for instance - but not too much detail, since they were pretty small and would crumble apart if I tried to get too precise. I covered every component - trains, roundhouse - with more whipped ganache, and then covered them with the appropriately colored fondant.
I piped the tracks with black royal icing. And then I set up the scene.
I realize that proportions are way off. Arthur (the red one) could never have come out of that round house. Much too tall at the back end. And Duke is iffy as well.
Anyway, once all that fondant work was done, it was dime to work on the details. I had images of each train saved on my laptop, and I worked with the laptop open nearby so I could make sure I got the correct number of stripes or the right number of wheels, and so forth.
Here, for your entertainment, is a side-by-sidI e comparison of each train - the image I was looking at and the final product. I know - they're not perfect. Trust me - I know.
(Above, you can see my laptop with the images of all the trains. That's my niece, Natalie, in the background. She kept me company while I made the cake. I have no idea what she's doing in this photo. Perhaps stretching out her tired back muscles from all the prolonged standing and sitting she was forced to endure.)
Hmmm, what else. Oh - yes, I decided to do all four trains (Thomas, Percy, and then both Arthur AND Duke, rather than one or the other) because Liam, the little boy, was turning four, and so, hey, four years old, four trains!
Julia kept wanting DESPERATELY to either touch the trains ("I just want to LOOK!" she'd say, while, totally on its own, her index finger would rise up and hover half a millimeter above Arthur). And she wanted to help, which was out of the question. If it had been a cake for family, then fine, but since it wasn't, then I couldn't have her poking and prodding all the engines.
I delivered the cake on Sunday morning - a cold, drizzly morning, by the way. The cake went from the back of my Subaru into Liam's mom's SUV, and would eventually go to where his birthday party was to be held. But Liam got to see his cake - and he (and his mom and dad) seemed pretty happy about the cake. So - mission accomplished!
Another coworker cake. This is an example of the sort of cake I'd make when I didn't know the person very well. In this instance, it was a temp...or maybe she was a real hire...either way, she wasn't there for very long. Just long enough for me to make a cake.
The cake itself was chocolate - one ten inch round and one twelve inch round.
The frosting was a mix of chocolate icing and raspberry preserves (strained, to get rid of the seeds).
According to my notes, the smaller layer is actually supported by drinking straws, and does not just sit on the larger layer.
The covering is fondant that I'd colored yellow, and the pattern was copied (loosely) from a roll of wrapping paper. It's a bit hard to decipher, but the pink sections say "Happy Birthday Jody."
I'm working on a birthday cake for a son of a friend of mine. He's turning four and loves Thomas the Tank Engine.
The plan is to make 4 of the little trains - Thomas, Percy, Arthur and Duke (these are some of his favorites) and I'm planning to have them on little railroad tracks. I baked all the cake yesterday. This morning I'm making the whipped chocolate ganache filling and then this afternoon/evening I'll put it all together and decorate it and all that.
I didn't take photos of the cake-making part, but I do plan to photograph the whole assembly process as I go along.
Should be fun.
I've got the finished product pictured in my head - hopefully I can get the actual cake to look the way I want it to.
I deliver the cake tomorrow morning.
It's funny - whenever I have these cakes to do - which is a lot less frequently than I used to years ago - I fall into this procrastination/reluctance mode and somehow dread working on the cake. Then finally I get to a point where I just HAVE to get it started, and then suddenly it's fun again. Maybe I need to feel the pressure or the time constraint or something. So what does that mean? I'm a passive thrill-seeker or something? I don't know. It's not that important. I'm just babbling anyway.
I also baked some bread last night - my same 0l' basic sourdough, except I substituted 3 cups of whole wheat flour for the all-purpose. I made two sandwich loaves and two baguettes. I'll make garlic bread with the baguettes tonight to have along with dinner, which will be some sort of pasta and meat dish - not sure yet if it'll be meatballs or a meat sauce. Depends on what kind of time I have later.
I haven't made cheese in a while. I'm thinking I need to do that again soon.
And that's about it here. I know - it's got you right on the edge of your seat, this wild ride I call my life.
Have a great weekend!
My daughter, as of several minutes ago, has nine boyfriends.
It took her most of the ride home to get the number sorted out. First she said five, then seven, then six, and finally, just a block from our house, she settled on nine.
I knew of one. A little boy in her Pre-K class.
Yes, Pre-K. Just in case you are new to this site, my daughter is four.
Back to the boyfriends. There's the one, Z, in her class. She said the others "don't live there any more; they live next door." To the daycare. Oh.
She is so casual about them. She speaks as if nine boyfriends was the norm. And, I guess, if you're a pre-schooler, maybe nine IS the norm.
Their names, besides Z, are, if I remember correctly, Chewie, Lar, Pretty, Cutie, and four others that rhyme with each other but I can't remember the rhyming root, so I couldn't even make them up. I don't think she's known them as long. Pretty and Cutie are, as boyfriends for my daughter, a bit questionable. Lar - I don't know where he came from, his name sounds Skandinavian or something, except he's missing the "s" I expect to hear on the tail end of his name. And Chewie...well, I guess a big, strong, gun-toting space pilot is someone good to have in your corner...but I would have hoped she might have gone for Han instead. Ah well. And that brings us back to Z. The only one with a "regular" name, which is why I'm just giving you the initial. He's real. And she's been with him the longest.
She and Z like to climb trees and - according to Julia - lick the bark. I would bet he's a sweet, quiet boy who is perfectly content to let her boss him around. Just a guess.
O, to be four and in love.
Of course, that's all going to change in a couple of years.
Alex, my son, who is six, is no way in heck going to hang out with a girl if he can help it. At least not at school. At this age, girls are icky. He and his friends spend some of their recess running from the girls. You know, so the girls can't touch them and give them cooties, or whatever it is the toxic girls are icky with these days.
Just last year, when he started Kindergarten, his first best friend in the class was a girl. He attended both boy and girl birthday parties, and boys and girls attended his.
But that's all changed now.
And I wonder how they handle it. This sudden separation of the sexes. After all, kids grow and change and - eventually - mature at different rates, and how frustrating and sad and confusing it must be, as a girl, especially, to discover that you are no longer just a kid, playing with whoever was in your neighborhood. Even if you were the only girl and played with a whole mess of boys - first it didn't matter, and now, all of a sudden, this year, when you are six, it matters.
You are no longer invited to play ball, but you haven't figured out how to play with the girls, because before, it didn't matter. So you stand there, on the playground at recess, fitting in nowhere.
And then, because you started out playing in the rougher world of boys, you communicate as best you can in a way you think maybe they'll understand.
You shove one of them. Or you hit one. Because, well, he's a sweet boy and you thought he was your friend.
You say HEY, look at me! I want to play ball, too!
Unfortunately, they no longer understand what you're saying.
I tried to explain this, sort of, to my son yesterday.
He, the recipient of physical miscommunication this year.
But he's gone over now. He's six, and a boy, and if there are other boys around, he can't be friends with or play with a girl. Not right now, anyway.
She will have to figure out how to play with the girls. At least for now.
Until the boys learn - again - that girls aren't icky at all.