12.12.2014

Who's the Cake?

I read a facebook badge last week that really spoke to me.  Then I wrote a short piece about it for MMW and Friends called WE ARE THE ICING, NOT THE CAKE.

Click on the title link to check it out.  Let me know what you think. You might think you're the cake.  Or someone you love is the cake.  We're easily confused when it comes to desserts. 



12.10.2014

Paint Nite!

Our daughter and I did the coolest thing this past weekend.  For Christmas, we spent a weekend in Orlando and took a painting class. She took art classes in college; I took pottery classes in college.  She can actually draw and sketch beautifully; I can make lumpy bowls that are too heavy to actually use.

Before we got started.  Don't we look artistic?

The event we attended was called "Paint Night."  At the online "Paint Night" site, we chose a picture we wanted to learn to paint.  At the event on Saturday night, that picture was on display in a beautiful room adjacent a trendy bar.  We sat down at a long table (with other attendees) in front of our own canvases and easels and paper plates filled with five different colors of paint blobs the size of a slider hamburgers.  We were given aprons, which were clearly reusable.


We each had a plastic cup 1/4 full of water and three different types of brushes. Some people ordered drinks from the bar before we started; my girl and I had iced tea and soda.  I've never painted before in my life (other than interior walls and paint-by-number kits when I was ten), and I was pretty sure alcohol was not going to enhance my lack of skill.


























Step by step, the instructor directed us to first draw a sky, and then a horizon, a pathway, and some trees.  That's all there was to the picture.  It was a very basic, primary colors, kind of painting.

It took us two hours.  Oh my gosh, I concentrated so hard. I felt like I was five, learning to write in cursive.  My brain was really cranking.  Sitting this close to my project, I couldn't tell how the completed thing would look.  Painting is done in small pieces (who knew?) and while I was doing the parts, it didn't look like anything.  My daughter was great, so encouraging and unafraid.  I found myself following her instruction as much as listening to the teacher.

We laughed and made mistakes and covered them up with white (which really does hide pretty much anything.)  We tried not to confuse our paint water cup with our drinking cups, and I tried not to splatter her canvas (when I tapped off my brush) more than twice. The whole thing was so much fun, and we came away with not half-bad masterpieces.

I'm so glad I don't have a copy of the original picture, because then you'll never know how close we got (or failed to get.)  We didn't understand why there was red and yellow on the pathway, but that's what the sample picture had, so we added it.  My daughter originally thought the pathway was a river.  I understood it was a path, but thought maybe it had bloodstains on it from a recent crime. One student added two snowmen on this pathway.  Art is so subjective, isn't it?

My girl and I are giving our own picture to each other for Christmas.   I might have her fix mine before I wrap it.



11.29.2014

Why, Oh Pie?

Tomorrow is the beginning of Advent!  Where did November go?


Our Thanksgiving was wonderful.  A friend brought the turkey and the stuffing, I catered in some sides, then made a cranberry salad and an apple pie (which was terrible.  More on that in a minute.) We laughed and reminisced with my parents, who are hard of hearing and tell funny stories about past Thanksgivings.  Then, we all ate too much and wobbled our way to various sofas/beds to doze.

Our daughter cleaned up the kitchen (this was huge, as the kitchen was quite the mess) while I put my feet up.  Because earlier that morning, I ran into my own cane with my non-walking boot foot, and, I suspect, broke a toe.


I've broken toes before, and I'm always amazed at how painful they are.  Toes hold such tiny bones, you'd think you wouldn't miss one if it fell off completely.  But, they won't be ignored.  They throb and ache until you just sit down.

Luckily, I'm going to my foot doc on Tues for my left foot injury, so I'll have him look at the purple toe.  It wouldn't surprise me if he said, "You don't deserve feet.  You don't take care of them.  Here are two peg legs.  Good luck."

When I first saw him for my torn tissues on the other foot, he scowled at my ratty Keds and said, "Throw those away."  He really is a nice guy and a good doctor, but I'm feeling complete shame about not really paying attention to my feet.  I'm paying now alright.  If he gives me a boot for the broken toe foot, I might consider the peg legs.

Does anybody have a good, really truly good pie crust recipe?  I'm pretty good in the baking department, but I can't master a good pie crust to save my feet.  I've used Crisco, cold butter, the egg and vinegar thing, even a cream cheese recipe...they all crack and fall apart as I try to get them into the pie pan.  Once baked, they're sandy or tough.  I've used a pastry cutter, I've used a food processor, I've used forks to blend the dough.  No method seems better than the other.  My pie crusts are not good. And I've used the recipes that say "no fail pie crust" and "the perfect pie crust."

Lies, all lies.


This is what I can to with a store-bought crust.  Not bad, I think.  I can assemble a pie just fine.  But the crust itself?  I don't get it.  Every time I plan to bake a pie, I go in excited - this will be the time it works!  Ten minutes in, I'm disgusted with the whole mess.  I go ahead and bake the thing because I'm not going to waste ingredients, but it's always a disappointment. And I swear I'll never do it again.

Then I get sucked in next holiday season, because I'm irritated that a pie crust is getting the best of me.  I can't let the thing win.  So I try again.  I'm clearly insane because insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  I have to get off this hamster wheel.

So...if you have a truly fail-proof pie crust recipe - or some tips on the secret to a good, flaky crust - please let me know.  Drop me a comment, or email me at ballpark001@gmail.com.  I'd be so grateful.

While I'm waiting, I'll be practicing how to get around on my knees.



11.22.2014

ThanksgivingMas

Hello, little blog.  It's been awhile.  Have you missed me?  You're a good friend, just hanging around until I check in.  Kind of like a loyal puppy.  Only, no peeing on the carpet, for which I'm grateful.

I could start off by saying it's been busy around here, but isn't everybody's life busy?  Especially now that commerce has decided Christmas preparations should begin before Halloween.  It's nutty.  I'm trying not to succumb, but I have to admit I purchased a couple holiday dish towels last week.  I'm making a few gifts from dish towels and potholders.


I saw this idea at a craft fair a few years ago.  With a basting stitch, I gathered the center of the towel to fit the width of the potholder.  Front sides together, I sewed the center of the towel to the center of the potholder. You can then sew a button onto the top edge of the potholder (non-loop side) and latch the towel on your oven door.  

Or, whip stitch the potholder closed at the top and hang it on a pantry door.






 















This pantry door is close to my sink, so this is a good location to hang my towel.  I have several of these I swap out when one is in the laundry.  I get a kick out of simple, practical items like this. 


There's your Martha Stewart craft of the day.  It's a good thing.

In other news, two weeks ago, my husband went to get into his car and the door handle came off in his hand.  He came inside and said, "I think I need a new car."

So, we purchased this.


It's a silver Hyundai.  Other than that, I know nothing about it, except, it has door handles that don't come off.  This is important.  Merry Christmas, honey.

In all fairness, my husband's old car had seen better days.  It was probably time to retire it anyway, but just a warning for all cars - if your handles come off, you're on your way to the trade-in lot.

Thanksgiving is next week, and I have to backtrack in my head, because, as you can see, I've been sucked into the Christmas wormhole.  I'm excited about  Thanksgiving this year because a friend is bringing a roasted-outside-all-night turkey, stuffing, and a pumpkin cream pie.  And I'm catering in three side dishes, because of this.


I'm making a cranberry Jello salad.  I think I can manage it.  I might plan an injury pre-holiday season next year.  Or, maybe I'll still be in this boot.  AUGH!

In the spirit of giving thanks, here is my grateful list for 2014:

1.  I'm so thankful for good doctors.   From Parkinson's to chronic UTIs to torn tissues, we have a slew of nice docs that keep us moving.

2.  I'm grateful my husband has a good job.  We have more than we need.  I feel guilty about this sometimes.  I share and donate to try to compensate.

3.  I'm grateful for the hard workers at my folks' ALF.  They don't get enough kudos, so I bake goodies for them once in a while.  They have difficult jobs, which I could never do.

4.  We had a door replaced in our home, and my folks got new carpet in their suite. These are material things that I know, in the long run, don't matter, but in the short run, they're very nice.

5.  I had a wonderful vacation at the beach this fall with my sister and her sisters-in-law.  I always forget how nice it is to do nothing for a while.

6,  The new show Madam Secretary.  I look forward to it.  The writing is very good. By Sunday night, I need to plop.

7.  My new gym, which has a pool.  I need to swim for exercise and for ankle therapy.  I'm not great at it, but I'm working on it.  Oh, to bring back those 1920 swimsuits that covered all the blobbiness.

8.  For Fuji apples dipped in soft caramel.  The taste of Fall.

9.  For my Kitchen Aid mixer, my Sonic toothbrush, the supplement MSM, my clothesline, the Christmas music of Josh Groban, and all my blogging friends. 

10.  For good friends who bring roasted turkeys, and for the love of family.  And for Jesus, who enables us to love one another, because some days...

Thanks for popping in!  Have a blessed week!



11.05.2014

Hobbling Around

So....here's what happened this week.


It matches the tile grout in my kitchen, don't you think?  I now try to just hang in the kitchen, so I always look coordinated. 

Apparently, I've had some small tears in my paroneal longus tendon since the summer (tendonopathy.) That's one of the tendons that runs from calf to foot and and slides back and forth under that bony protrusion on the side of your ankle. 

I've also developed plantar fasciitis (I swear this word has too many 'i's, but Webster says no.)  Plantar fasciitis is inflammation and micro tears in the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs from heel to toes on the bottom on the foot.  My left foot is aging faster than my right.  However, with my now cock-eyed gait, my right foot is acting up.  I really need a third leg.

What's bugging me this week is that I've had pain in this foot for about six weeks.  At first I thought it was part of the fibromyalgia I'm still learning about and treating with supplements.  So, I went to the beach two weeks ago for vacation and began running again.  This was absolutely the wrong thing to do.  But, I didn't yet know the results of my MRI, and I wasn't feeling any worse. 

So, I ran a bit.  And walked on the lumpy beach, and walked on the street, and walked up and down flights of stairs several times a day.  Two days after I got home, I learned about these injuries, and then began kicking myself with my good foot. 

How are we supposed to determine aging aches and pains from injury aches and pains?  That's the question.  Clearly, I'm a bad judge of that distinction.  So, now I'm in a gray boot for a month, maybe more.  If things are healing well at that point, I'll get a brace for another few months.  Yes, I said months.  Plantar fasciitis takes six months to a year to heal.  Geez-o-flip. 

The doc said tendons don't ever return to their former state, so this foot will always be a vulnerability for me.  That means no more running.  Ever.  I'm not crazy about running, but it was the best tool for me when it came to weight loss.  Nothing knocked off twenty pounds as quickly as running. 

Pooh.  I might have to befriend this twenty pounds.  ACK!

The doc said swimming is my best option from now on.  So, I closed my membership at my current gym and joined a gym that has a pool.  I can't tell you how excited I am to squeeze into a bathing suit that reveals the extra twenty pounds. 

Oh well.  Life is full of surprises and adjustments.  There are many people in worse shape than me. And I still have one good foot. 

For now.