email: okaybyme at gmail dot com

View My Complete Profile

Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

Subscribe in a reader

  • The Garden Central
  • Your Garden Show Interactive Online Community
  • Hometown Seeds
  • Live to Garden
  • WormsEtc; composting, vermiculture, and more
  • Rion Greenhouses - modular kits
  • Rose Gardening A great source for pictures and information on roses!

    website metrics

    My Stats

  • Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Language, language

    It seemed like a small point, a parenthetical reference, but it stuck out.
    "...try to identify problems. If you cannot find the solution to these problems (you must see some, unless you are perfectly blind), then here is your opportunity!"
    I addressed it with this comment: "Using the term "blind" as a synonym for clueless is offensive. My son is blind, but he's very observant. He pays attention and has an excellent memory. If you were playing Trivial Pursuit or working on a project, you'd want him on your team - vision or none."
    The writer responded, letting me know that she had intended no insult or offense, that the term was merely a metaphor. I replied, suggesting other less offensive metaphors such as "rose colored glasses." This time, the writer threw a hissy fit with a note full of exclamation marks, accusing me of putting words in her mouth, insisting that it wasn't a big deal to use a metaphor such as "blind" to make a point.
    I'd rather not link you to her article because she doesn't need more readers. I'd like to advise, however, that writers in any professional field watch their language. I'm not asking for excessive political correctness; I'm suggesting accurate language with a sense of consideration for others.
    I'll use my own disability as an example. In previous centuries, hearing impaired people might have been referred to as Deaf and Dumb. Deaf, unable to hear well, Dumb meaning unable to speak.
    In today's world, Dumb usually means stupid or unintelligent. Nonverbal would be the accurate term for someone who doesn't speak. Deaf describes some people, but Hard of Hearing or Hearing Impaired describes a group that includes many, many more.
    Using a descriptive label as a put-down insults two groups: the target of the insult and the group being named in the put-down. Anyone who uses "deaf" to insult someone obviously hasn't met me or interacted with other people with hearing impairments.
    Here comes the writing teacher in me. The statement above would have been more effective, not just less offensive, without the use of the word blind. Instead, I suggest the following.
    "Identify problems and weaknesses. If you are honest with yourself, you will see areas in need of improvement. If you cannot find the solution to these problems, then here is your opportunity!"
    Another option, using more colorful (but not insulting) language, would be this.
    "Take off your rose-colored glasses, leave the optimist behind, and seek out problems. Finding the solutions to these problems will provide great opportunities."
    Would you respect a co-worker who thought nothing of insulting disabilities? I wouldn't. Think twice, and use decent and respectful descriptive language.

    (This post is also posted at MidCentury Modern Moms because frankly, many bloggers need to read it.)


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Perspective, it's all in your perspective

    La Petite had a chance to hear Obama speak earlier this summer. She brought her camera, of course, and filled the memory card. But she didn't just fill it with Obama. She was, as always, keenly observant of the scene around her, including the regular, ordinary people.

    Little girl realizes she's sitting near the governor.

    The young "future voter" may be the focus of this picture, but look closely. All ages are represented in the crowd.

    Politics? Fascinating - if you get the picture.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Mom! I only like CREAMY Peanut Butter!

    Since La Petite wsn't happy with the jar of crunchy peanut butter in the cupboard, I had to do something. You guessed it: cookies!!

    Peanut Butter Cookies
    from the Good Home Cookbook

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup shortening or butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 cup crunchy peanut butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
    3. Beat together the shortening, sugars, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl and blend thoroughly.
    4. Shape the dough into 2-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
    Press each with the tongs of a fork twice, in opposite directions, to make a criss-cross pattern.
    5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
    6. Let stand for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

    These are delicious. In fact, I don't have any pictures; the cookies are gone. We ate them for snacks, dessert, and breakfast.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    It's not funny. Or is it?

    Funny can take on many different meanings. It's all in the context, and in my life, there's a great variety in context.

    It was frustrating (not funny) that I couldn't get online while visiting my brother. He uses a dial-up or a neighbor's wi-fi, and I couldn't get either one to work well enough to get anything done. Perhaps there is humor in the level of my Internet addiction. My solution was to visit a Starbucks and Panera down the road, knowing that odds were good I could get wifi in one or the other, or perhaps even both. La Petite and I bought smoothies at Starbucks, and I asked if I needed a password or log-on to get online. The barista told me that it was easier to simply log onto the Panera network, since it came through the walls to both stores. Ironic (but not funny); I couldn't hijack on my own brother's hijack, but I could hijack on Panera's at Starbucks.

    It was silly (not funny, just lame) that instead of using a map to get there, I jotted down the highway numbers on a sticky note. La Petite stuck it to the dashboard and called it our GPS.

    It's ironic (and certainly not funny) that my brother's accident happened on his first day of real summer break. He's done with his professional commitments and was taking a ride to relax a bit. Now he's spending the next month or more recuperating from a broken leg and wrist instead of relaxing. Well, he says it himself, it could be worse. To which I add (you guessed it) -- could be raining!

    It's amazing (not funny) that even at an outlet store, prices can shock me. Costs of living in the Midwest average significantly fewer $$$ than on the coasts and in the big cities. Daughter and I walked into the Coach factory store, loved the bags, but couldn't afford them even with the markdown. We had better luck at Fossil, and of course, Converse.

    It's typical (not funny) that we found reason to be sarcastic even in road signs. "Bridge may be icy." "Okay, I'll be careful." "Mom, watch for blowing snow, too." Give us a break, we'd been on the road for hours and it seemed like days. Ah, road trips. They bring out the best and the worst in us. Sometimes, they bring out our sense of humor. While brother was coming home from his surgery and we were going the opposite direction on I-90, he called La Petite (in his post-anesthesia stupor) to see if we could wave to each other on the highway.
    Now that's funny.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Date night - kinda

    I left a voice mail on Husband's work phone. "Honey, how would you feel about going out to eat tonight? I have a coupon for Chicago pizza." he called me back later, asked for directions, and met us (me and La Petite) there. He was waiting in the bar when we arrived.
    It seems my phone call left at least one person, his co-worker, confused.
    "She wants to go out to eat? Are you in the doghouse? Is she mad?"
    "No, she sounded happy, in good spirits."
    "Are the kids driving her crazy? Is something wrong with the kids?"
    "No, one is at camp, one is home from college and working a lot."
    "So...why going out? All of a sudden like this?"

    It seems the coworker caught on to all the potential for innuendo, all the underlying reasons for a husband-wife dinner out, except one: I just didn't want to cook. I had a lazy, tired, low energy day. Slept late, spent most of the day lazing on the couch with my laptop on and CNN in the background, and finally got out of the house to run errands just before 4:00. That left me with virtually no time to cook anything decent even if I did have the energy or inspiration to play in the kitchen! So I took my $5 coupon for Uno Chicago Grill and decided we were headed out to let someone else cook.
    It was perfect. Appetizer, good meal (rosemary chicken: I highly recommend it), and husband had a beer or two that we don't have in the fridge. He swiped the Trivial Pursuit box off the bar and we entertained ourselves and each other while we waited for the food. La Petite, now a young adult, joined us in dinner and the Pursuit of Trivial Knowledge.
    After eating a meal I didn't have to cook myself we split up. La Petite went in to work for a while, and Husband and I searched the nearby Goodwill store for a deal. Then we went home, satisfied and relaxed, and watched the Brewers game while a brownies baked themselves in the oven (Okay, I stirred the mix first) and Husband snored on the couch. I woke him with my cheering when Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the ninth. Oops!
    No one was mad. No one was in trouble.
    All was well with the world. We even brought home leftovers.

    Labels: , , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    A grad's future in this (*&^%$) economy

    Does she have enough credits to graduate? She declared a minor rather late, so it might take her a summer session or an additional semester. Not a problem; my degree took 4+ years.
    Will she need interview clothes? Somehow, attending an interview in Old Navy jeans and Converse All-Star sneakers doesn't seem professional.
    What constitutes interview attire these days in her field? In any field?
    What kind of portfolio will she prepare? She's a journalist and photographer.
    Does she need a web page? Does she need to revise her Facebook page in case her employer sees it?
    How long can she survive without her own set of wheels? I keep hoping she holds off as long as possible. Once she starts paying insurance and repairs and gas, well, it's an awful lot of money.
    Will she keep her summer job at least one more year? I hope so. Today's economy is so weak, it's not a good time to jump into a new career.
    Has she started creating a resume? It takes a lot of tweaking to make one look just right.

    I keep having random thoughts about her impending leap out of college and into real life. When Husband and I leapt out of our graduation robes and into our wedding clothes, the economy was a lot like today's recession/depression. Jobs were hard to find, and starting a career was even harder. We defined a "good job" as "one with a paycheck." La Petite has shown some entrepreneurial skills in the past, including one rockin' lemonade stand en route to Lambeau Field when she was only 7. I saw a small store building near our neighborhood go up for sale and immediately thought "Photo studio?" It's okay, I didn't buy it.
    Maybe I could start a coffeehouse in the storefront until she needs it...

    cross posted at MidCentury Modern Moms

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Extreme Toy Story - er, I mean Shopping

    The difference between the men and the boys may be the price of their toys, but do their parents wait in line and rush the store to find them? Not here.

    My husband and I never really dove into the Overnight Campout in the Parking Lot routine. Our kiddos might have enjoyed the Toy of the Year, but we didn't have the time, money, or energy to pursue it. We have been clever, though, in the name of gift-giving.

    When Furbies were all the rage, I managed to snag one on Amazon before they ran out.

    When our beloved Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XXXI (shhh, don't remind me how long ago that was), we called around town for days to find the Locker Room Cap that La Petite wanted. After a few calls I began to feel a little punchy. The store employee would say, "No, I'm sorry, we're all out." I would then ask, "Well, do you have Tickle Me Elmo (the current Toy of the Year) in stock?" Most of them paused, then broke out laughing. They understood.

    Husband surprised me with a pink Packer baseball cap, the charity cap that donated to breast cancer research with every purchase. Those were incredibly hard to get! He won major Husband points for getting to the Packer Pro Shop when a new shipment had just come in (Hugs, dear, you're still terrific). He'll claim it was luck; he often goes to Lambeau Field as part of his regular workday, so he just checked in the shop each time he arrived.

    La Petite's boyfriend used to camp out before the Black Friday deals at the Big Box Electronics store. She liked to visit the tent of determined shoppers, but she was never enthusiastic enough to spend the night in a tent during late November in the close-to-frozen tundra land. I wasn't even excited enough to visit; I sent cookies instead.

    Since giving is more important than receiving, we've made a point of donating to Toys for Tots and our local schools' Adopt-a-Family programs every year in December. Amigo likes to and pick out something nice for the donation box, and he has good taste. During Hasbro's Hot Summer Toy Event, Hasbro is donating one toy to Toys for Tots for every Hasbro toy purchased. For a little extra fun, take a look at this Hot Summer Toy Event Video. Don't you wish your toys could - ahem, maybe not.

    This post was suggested by Parent Bloggers Network, where you can find more posts about Extreme Toy Shopping. I suspect some will be much more dramatic than mine....

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Change is good.

    Change can be exciting! Getting a new design was both fun and scary. What if I lost control over changes? What if I didn't like it? What if it ended up looking good, but wasn't user-friendly?

    All is well. It's an exciting step up after two years of blogging on an average template that anyone on Blogger could have.

    The hardest part of the process was choosing a background. The background takes up a small amount of space, but it's crucial to the mood and spirit of the blog. It has to reflect the writer, but not detract from the writing. Colors, style, and the rest enter into a decision.

    In the process I realized that I really need to learn HTML. If I knew even a little HTML, I'd be more helpful in making layout and set-up decisions. Husband uses Microsoft Frontpage for his web site; a little knowledge of that software would be handy, too. Perhaps that would lead to more success with Technorati tags, too. There's so much I don't know; so many fascinating and useful tools!

    I took off to visit my injured brother for a few days just when the new template was about to launch. This would have been fine if (and that's a big IF) I'd been able to get online. As it was, his home internet wireless is weak, and his dial-up is quite slow. I could receive email but not answer it, and that made it tough to communicate with Margalit while she was putting together the finishing touches. My solution was (you guessed it) a trip to Starbucks. Their new orange mango banana smoothie is delicious.

    Now that it's up and running, I'm thrilled. Yippee! Compost Happens gets a makeover! And I don't even have to weed or water it!

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Put me in, coach!

    Note: Amigo and his friends play in the Challenger League, a special part of Little League adapted for kids with special needs. They have a great time!

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Thanks, Campbell's, and Amigo, too.

    Amigo enjoys reading recipes. He subscribes to Campbell's Meal Mail, which send recipes to his inbox regularly. He saves his favorites, prints a few in Braille and, if I'm lucky, print. He sent this one to me, and I modified it slightly to meet my family's tastes. It cooked up easily and turned out quite tasty. In fact, it was so quick and easy it might become a staple for my Sept.-June recipe repertoire!

    Fabulous Fast Shrimp
    adapted from Campbell's Kitchen

    Prep/Cook Time: 20-30 minutes (See what I mean?)

    1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
    1 small stalk celery, chopped thin
    1/4 cup chopped green pepper
    1/4 cup chopped green onion
    1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped
    1/4 cup fresh (or frozen, then thawed) peas
    1 lb. fresh large shrimp, shelled and deveined
    1 can (10 3/4 ox.) cream of chicken soup
    1/2 cup water
    (generous dash ground red pepper to taste - optional)
    hot cooked rice or egg noodles

    Hear butter in skillet over medium heat. Add celery, green pepper, green onions, and potato and cook until tender. Add shrimp and cook 3-5 minutes or until shrimp are done.
    Add peas, soup, water, and red pepper (if desired) and heat through. Serve over rice or egg noodles. Sprinkle with paprika.

    Daisy's tips:
    Due to Amigo's tender tummy, I skipped the red pepper and sprinkled the whole thing with lemon & pepper instead. The original recipe called for twice as much celery. Husband doesn't like celery, so I cut that in half.
    The original recipe called for cream of mushroom soup. La Petite doesn't do mushrooms, so I used cream of chicken. If Husband would tolerate it, cream of celery would probably work, too.
    The original recipe suggested serving over rice. Amigo doesn't like rice, so I introduced the option of egg noodles, which La Petite apparently prefers, too.
    Lots of leftover rice; I'll have to check Campbell's Kitchen for a few ways to use this up. Sigh.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, July 21, 2008


    No, I'm not going to BlogHer. It's okay; I wasn't planning on it. I gave it some serious thought last year because it was only a four hour drive from my home, but that was as far as I got. I could have stayed with relatives in the area and taken the train into town, but it just didn't seem worthwhile for me.
    For me. Before you jump down my throat, fellow bloggers, I said "me." I blog for fun. I get a lot out of it, it's cheaper than therapy, and I've made a lot of virtual friends. But folks, I just can't justify the cost of a conference like this on my family budget.
    Just for fun (Fun! people. Have a sense of humor! Really!) I'll post my very own version of BlogNot.
    Shoes! Oops, these aren't mine. They belong to La Petite, she of the tiny feet. If tiny feet were a sign of royalty, she'd be the Queen.

    Must decide what to pack (snicker). Oh, this isn't my luggage either - it's Amigo's, preparing for camp. (sorry, pix are still in the camera. Not that they're interesting...)

    Laptop! Laptop bag! Cute, isn't it? There's a story behind it, too.

    Plane tickets - nope.
    Fill minivan with gas - well, yes, that needs doing no matter what.
    Check tire pressure - on the spare, too!
    And take off - but not for BlogHer. Not this time. I'm just on my way to my brother's house, to see if we can run a few errands and handle a few chores for him while he is recuperating from his broken leg and broken wrist.
    And if we get really lucky, La Petite and I might just stop at the Converse outlet store on the way home.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Penny for your thoughts?

    In today's inflation, I'd need to offer more than one cent. Luckily, the Penny who turned up on my doorstep wasn't made of copper; she was made of intelligence, dedication, and guts. Penny Bernard Schaber, candidate for state assembly in my district, stopped by to talk.
    Penny knows that health care is a huge issue for all people. She understands that our school funding formulas are deeply flawed. She values the natural environment. She recognizes that the recession touches all of us, even in our relatively stable Happy Valley. Penny knows that money are tight all over, and it'll take tough decisions to make a state budget work.
    I was pleased that Penny listened as much as she talked. When I told her about my classroom's windows, permanently stuck either open or closed because I can't lift or lower them, she knew I wasn't making it up. She also knew that my school isn't asking for extravagances; just basic maintenance that current funding doesn't cover.
    Regular readers know my saying: All politics are local.
    If you've read any of my posts on politics, you'll know I also believe that involvement is crucial. Folks, make an informed vote. Read. Think. Better yet, take some time and help out the candidate who makes the most sense to you.
    For my district, State Assembly District 57, it's Penny Bernard Schaber.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    World Language? Bilingual is where it's at.

    Obama ignited a few fires when he recommended teaching American students a second language. I have one question for the doubters.

    What's the problem?!!?

    Many Americans grow up with the Ugly American Entitlement attitude. Contrary to some popular belief, we're not always popular. The "Speak English and do it now!" attitude contributes to this problem.
    I've taught many children who spoke another language before they spoke English. Some spoke Hmong, some Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and more. In addition to my native Midwestern dialect of American English, I speak a fair amount of Spanish.
    The best advantage to an elementary teacher like me isn't the Spanish vocabulary, although that's extremely helpful. The real advantage comes from experiences in learning and respecting cultures that differ from my own.
    I don't speak Hmong, but I've learned a great deal about the Hmong people, their history, and their culture. I've also met several families who came from Brazil to live here in the U.S. My Spanish is no match for their Brazilian Portuguese, but rather reminds me how challenging it is to read and learn in a new language. I learned to enjoy the student who grew up speaking English, encouraged by his bilingual mother (Arabic and English). Then there was the family from Somalia by way of Egypt; the children were very well educated in their native Arabic. Learning English set them back, frustrating the intelligent and capable children for a while.
    Regular readers of Compost Happens know that I am hearing impaired. I chose not to learn ASL, American sign language, because I live and work in a hearing world. Instead, I wear two powerful hearing aids and I'm learning to read lips. Like another language, these are tools that help me communicate.
    A teaching colleague told me about her husband's job which includes frequent travel to China. No one, not one employee at the manufacturer, speaks Chinese. He began learning the language as a professional courtesy. If his local school district started a language program in Chinese, the career possibilities for their graduates would increase exponentially. Not only would they be well equipped to work for the local enginemaker, but they'd have an understanding of another culture that is very different from their own.
    And that, my friends, is priceless.

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Summertime, summertime, the book affairs of summertime

    There is pressure in being first, and there is pressure in being last. When I saw the schedule for book reviews and realized mine was last on the list, I wondered two things: Will anyone read it after all the others have already come out? and What if mine doesn't measure up?

    Now that I've finished A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand, I'm not as concerned about the second question. It's a good book, easy to review. And the first? Well, I really can't control the number of readers, can I?

    A friend and co-worker used to say, "Guilt is a wasted emotion." Claire Danner Crispin is a woman who feels guilt deeply, even when she isn't at fault. Claire is an artist, a mother, a wife, and an all-around good friend. She isn't an A-list local celeb in her home of Nantucket, so when the head of an important charity asks her to co-chair a major event, she swallows her surprise and says yes. The inevitable guilt presents itself immediately, though, in the form of explaining to her husband that she is taking on this near full-time responsibility and going back to her artwork as well. She understands that her connections to a major rock star (her high school sweetheart) and her career as a blown-glass sculptor are the main reasons she's been asked to chair the event, but she still takes it on. If she'd known - but how can anyone ever know in advance? - how her involvement with the charity and its leader would complicate her life... but no spoilers, really.

    Guilt. Claire feels guilt for actions she's taken and for actions she hasn't. She feels a heavy burden for a friend's car accident: after all, it was Claire who invited her out drinking, bought her the final drink, and did not insist on a cab. Even though the accident and subsequent injuries were not Claire's fault, she feels responsible and guilty. Claire's youngest child was born prematurely, and she feels guilt because she may have caused the pre-term labor in an accident in the "hot shop" where she creates her glass pieces. As the charity gala event planning goes on and she spends more time away from her husband and children, Claire feels guilt for spreading herself too thin and neglecting her family. She feels guilt that the PR for the event features her to the expense of others involved. She feels guilty when her best friend doesn't get the catering contract. And that's not even touching on the guilt she feels for the title affair...

    Elin Hilderbrand uses several techniques to keep her readers thinking and wondering. Chapter titles are simple: "He haunts her," "She surprises herself," "He leaves her." However, the chapters don't always follow the obvious meaning, so don't assume anything. Most of the book is from Claire's point of view, but later on changes to a more omniscient third person narrative. This is awkward at first, but as the story unfolds and the other characters' emotional investments become clearer, this change in perspective works. Claire remains the central character, even as we see and hear others react to her. A Summer Affair is her story.

    I recommend A Summer Affair as a good read, and not just for summer. The plot is complex enough to keep the reader's interest, but not so intricate that it loses itself in the details. I'll leave it up to you, the readers, to decide whether the ending is realistic or simplistic in its resolution.

    I received an advance copy of the book from MotherTalk in order to write the review. I mentioned above that mine is at the end of a long line of reviews: you can read the others at Mothertalk. Other reviewers often have different opinions!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    victory in vegetables

    Is my little patch behind the garage really a 21st century Victory Garden?

    I'll clean the tomatoes and peppers myself. Sam & Ella? Who're they? But...I plant tomatoes and peppers every year. It's not a reaction to the news item, the danger in buying a tomato that had been harvested or stored in a warehouse with other "sick" tomatoes.

    We enlarged the garden this year. It really does have an impact on our eating. When the lettuce is growing, the crop has an impact on our bunny-food bill as well. But -- I planted all kinds of green leafy goodies and then I didn't label the patches. Which one is spinach, Popeye?

    We eat from the garden in season. From BLTs to zucchini bread, we eat well in late summer and early fall. A little rhubarb, a few green beans, and sometimes grated zucchini will go in the freezer for winter. But -- after the main harvest, we're (mostly) at the mercy of the grocery stores.

    My little patch of dirt behind the garage isn't really an economic statement or a reaction to any other action. It's simply what it is: a backyard garden.

    So really, where's the spinach?

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    A weed is just a flower out of place.

    So what does that make this daylily? And these ferns? In my firewood?

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Rhubarb Crumble Cake: It's not just for breakfast!

    The original recipe for this cake came from Michelle at Scribbit. I've made a few modifications to fit my family. For example, Michelle's family likes coconut, and mine doesn't, so I always cut or replace the coconut in her recipes. In this one, I've worked in a tiny bit of wheat flour and oatmeal. I baked this for supper, but the family likes it for breakfast, too. Do I need to mention it's great with coffee? No, I didn't think so.

    Rhubarb Crumble Cake

    1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

    3 tablespoons corn starch

    3 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

    3/4 cup milk

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/4 cup whole wheat flour

    1/8 cup quick or old fashioned oats

    3/4 cup butter

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped

    1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

    1 beaten egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and corn starch in a medium saucepan and stir in the rhubarb. Cook over a low to medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Cool and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and lemon juice and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Removed 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and set aside. To remaining flour mixture add the oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts. Combine the egg and milk mixture and pour over the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Spread 2/3 of the batter over the bottom and sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan or 8 inch square (will rise slightly over top!). Spoon the rhubarb filling over the batter. Drop the remaining batter over the rhubarb by spoonfuls. Sprinkle with reserved flour mixture. Bake for 50 minutes (longer if you've doubled the recipe and shorter if it's in individual dishes). Let it cool (a little) in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into slices and serve at room temperature or slightly warm with whipped cream on top if desired.

    Did I mention that it's great with coffee? Oh, yes, I did.

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Mom's Taxi

    9:50 - Amigo gets teeth cleaned, staff there remind me to call orthodontist.
    10:40 - La Petite gets teeth cleaned
    Some time in here I have to make sure Amigo gets lunch. My appointment at the DDS is tomorrow.
    11:45 - Grandma picks up Amigo for weekly noon organ recital
    Amigo will go home with Grandma so that La Petite and Mom can go to their early afternoon appointments.
    Now make sure La Petite gets lunch - a rare chance to spend time with her alone.
    1:20 - I get my eyes checked, prescriptions renewed, order new contacts, find out I have "some cataract growth" starting in one eye, but it's "nothing to worry about yet." Can a cataract be insignificant?
    1:40 - La Petite gets eyes checked, prescriptions renewed, and orders new contacts and glasses.
    Go pick up Amigo. Come home.

    Oh, that's right. I still need to think up and create supper. And Husband is working an outrageously long day that started at 3 AM, so we have no idea when he'll be home. We only know he'll be exhausted.

    July is the only month we can schedule days like this. I'm home from school, La Petite's work hours are winding down, we're back from vacation, and Amigo hasn't left for camp yet. We have enough freedom and flexibility that when the crazy day is over, we can separate before we drive each other crazy.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    In the Headlines

    Reactions while surfing news channels until Amigo's favorite shows come on:

    Image of Jesus spotted in tub of ice cream
    This won't end up on eBay, will it? How on earth would it ship?

    Obama wants everyone to speak Spanish.
    This crawl was misleading. Obama recommends that American students learn a second language; I agree. But that could be a whole post of its own!

    And then there are the random discussions with Amigo, who isn't quite the news junkie he was when he was younger.
    "Mom, is A-Rod married to Madonna? They're talking about A-Rod, Madonna, and divorce."
    "No, honey, Madonna might divorce her husband, and she and A-Rod are friends." Well, I'll try. But Amigo is 16, and he'll figure it out. He doesn't read tabloids, but he likes comedy shows. He'll hear the whole story -- if there is a story here. A-Rod has a local Little League field named after him because he did some of his minor league play here; not exactly a role model right now, is he?

    "Mom, who's Jesse Jackson? What did he say to Obama? Was it racist?"
    "Well, it was really crude, so I'd rather not quote him right now." (We were out for lunch in a downtown restaurant) "It was inappropriate, though, and he has to apologize. No, it wasn't racist." Well, race was a factor, and how do I explain this? Amigo claims to hate politics, so there's a point at which he'll tune me out. I do want him to know that there are limits to what people can say, even a famous leader.

    And don't forget the stories that remind me of random trivial lines from TV shows...
    "Sam & Ella? Who're they?" (M*A*S*H*)

    And the headline you thought I'd link, the story you know I'll follow until it ends.... No, I don't believe Favre will play again. But that's, my friends, a post in itself. Brett, please say it isn't so!!

    So now, with all that in mind, I think I'll make an extra strong pot of coffee and start reading the Sunday paper.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    Rationalizing vacation decisions

    I've earned this. I've worked hard, Husband has worked hard, we deserve a break. (Hum McDonald's old commercial jingle here and think of Barry Manilow.)

    It's our anniversary! Our 24th! All right, that's not a milestone, but why wait for the 25th?

    We're budgeting carefully. We traveled off-season, packed our own snacks and drinks, and resisted large souvenir purchases. The cottage rental is reasonably priced; much more appropriate for our needs than a luxury hotel or resort.

    My souvenir sweatshirt was in the 60% off bin.

    Postcards are not just a souvenir; they're a communication device. They're also an educational tool; I can use them in my class next year when we study the states. Oh! Oh! Does that mean I can write off the cost of the trip as a professional expense? Nice try, but no. The price of the postcards, perhaps, but that's all.

    We're doing our part to stimulate the economy! That's it! We're spending money to help rejuvenate the national economy. Geez. Has it come to that? I have to invoke Big Dubya to rationalize my vacation? That's sad.

    Blog posts! Just think of all the material for blogging! It'll make great content! Attract more readers! Make more pennies on my ads...

    To tell the truth, we saved and planned for quite some time before heading out on the road. This is not a $5 a Day bargain trip, but neither is it a luxury vacation. It's just right for our middle class family. And that, my friends, needs no rationalizing.

    But if you want to find out What I Did on Summer Vacation, it's all here.

    Review of the trip through coffee
    Pennywise on the road
    Farmer's Market
    Green grows the garbage
    Best/Worst Awards
    One "lump" or two
    Oh, no. What's that noise?
    Mug shot
    Navigating in Braille


    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Teachers and Politics and More - oh, my!

    You might be a teacher if - you find yourself correcting grammar, even in direct quotes.

    "That work cannot be done if we do not have a Democratic president in the White House!"
    -Sen. Hillary Clinton, quoted on Huffington Post.

    This is a double negative. The statement would be much stronger in a positive sense. How about:
    "That work can only be done if we have a Democratic president in the White House!"
    Now the statement still has a passive voice in it: "...can only be done..." which will be stronger in active form. Consider: "With a Democratic president in the White House, we will meet these goals!" -or- "We will only accomplish that work with a Democratic president in the White House!" -or- "A Democratic president will accomplish these goals!"

    Senator Clinton, you're one of the strongest women I know. Please work with your writers and keep your statements strong and clear, to make sure the media picks up the best and most important statements made by you. I mean, the best and most important statements that you make!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    role reversal

    I came home from the July Fourth Fireworks to find La Petite sitting on the couch holding a clipboard: my clipboard, with my latest and greatest rough draft of a grad school project. She had pen in hand and was proofreading, revising, and making suggestions.
    I used to do this for her. The last time I proofed one of hers was a full three years ago, when she was a freshman in college. Now she helps her friends when they need advice, and now, yes, now, she's helping her mother.
    The comments all sound like a 21-yr-old. Here's a sampling:

    This is a long and confusing sentence.
    What the cr** is this supposed to mean?
    Make this verb active, not passive.
    Check APA style.
    Is this really related to (the topic)?
    RUN ON! OMG!

    Then there were the comments she made that built on my own comments and revisiions.
    My notes: Run-on
    Hers: Yup. You dangled a participle, too.
    My notes: best word?
    Hers: Yes.

    The next morning she referred to my run-on sentences as "Awesome" as in "Mom, that run-on sentence that was the whole paragraph by itself? That was awesome."
    Maybe she meant awe-inspiring. After all, I did teach her writing class in 6th grade. She got some of her skills from me, somehow.
    Later, though, she had to ask me how many cups were in a quart. Then she had to ask if we had any three-quart containers for the planting kit she wanted to assemble. Snicker. Mom still knows best. Wait...I was her math teacher in 6th grade, too....

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Must be my rapier-like wit.

    You are a Knife

    You are precise, determined, and detail oriented.(So why can't I get this darn thing to align at the top of the post?!)

    You mean what you say, and you say what you mean. (I meant what I said, and I said what I meant; a Daisy is faithful, 100%. Sorry, Horton, I stole your catchphrase.)

    You enjoy taking risks and living on the edge.(I'm not sure about this one. The edge of what? I hope there's coffee.)

    You are a controversial person. Your opinions tend to be divisive. (My politics lean left, if you didn't know that already.)


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Great Grandma's German Potato Salad

    Guest Post by Husband, the better cook in the family. Based on this piece of history, maybe his talent is genetic!

    Great Grandma Frances' German Potato Salad
    This recipe was handed down to us. I remember looking forward to eating this as a young child. We would arrive at Grandma's house on 14th Street in Milwaukee and the kitchen would have this wonderful almost sweet and sour aroma. It can be served warm, which is how I like it best, or you can make it up in advance and serve it chilled. Enjoy!

    3 pounds, about 6 medium, Red Salad Potatoes
    1/2 cup sliced White Onion (A Sweet Yellow Onion may be substituted.)
    2 Tablespoons Flour
    3 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
    1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed
    1/8 teaspoon Pepper
    3/4 cup water
    1/3 cup Vinegar
    6-8 Slices Bacon cut into 1 inch pieces (I prefer the Patrick Cudahy Thick Sliced, Double Smoked style in the black labeled box).

    · Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt, Celery Seed and Pepper into a small bowl or Tupperware dish so they are thoroughly mixed.
    · Peel and slice Potatoes into bite size, 1/4 inch thick pieces. Boil until they are cooked, yet still firm, drain.
    · In an Electric skillet, cook the Bacon until crispy. Set bacon aside on a paper towel to soak up the grease. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease out of the skillet.
    · Sauté Onion in the hot skillet with the bacon grease for 2 minutes.
    · Sprinkle in the dry ingredients mix. Stir in the Water and Vinegar. Stir constantly until it bubbles then let it reduce to a syrupy consistency.
    · Reduce skillet's heat to simmer, blend in Potatoes. Blend bacon into the mix. Let simmer and stir occasionally for 30 minutes.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Water, water everywhere

    The lovely Mir: I always think of her as my source for tasteful bargains. Recently she was showing off her container garden, thriving despite the Georgia drought and watering restrictions. Reading through her post's comments reminded me that water for a garden doesn't have to come from a tap. The technical term is "greywater."
    • Leftover coffee. In my logic, coffee grounds are good compost. Coffee itself, once it's cooled and no longer delicious, must be okay for my plants, right? Right.
    • Let the water cool after cooking pasta, and use it to water plants. The mums love it. The petunias would, too, if I could reach them with the heavy pot.
    • Fill a bucket with dishwater from the sink. Even with a dishwasher, there are a few items that need to be hand washed. In fact, a couple of wine glasses sit beside the sink awaiting that chore right now, as does my wood cutting board.
    • The somewhat-dirty water from rinsing the coffepot. Mainly water, with a little "flavor" added, and it goes in the herbs that grow in the cappuccino mugs on the deck. Appropriate, yes? Yes.
    • Leftover ice from a fast-food drink. I don't like to admit that I buy these, but I'll state for the record that the ice cubes do not land in the garbage. They melt quickly over the rhubarb or raspberries.
    • The final ounces in a sun-warmed water bottle from a road trip or baseball game.

    I still covet a rain barrel. Family, maybe next Christmas? Buy it now, though, for the best deal. You can hide it behind Husband's model train layout; I never mess with that. Or behind the lawnmower and snowblower; I haven't used those since I hurt my wrist tendons on the pull-start, embarrassing but true. That's okay; I'd rather weed the garden or stir the compost than mow the lawn.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    Are you smarter than a (fill in the blank)?

    blog readability test

    Oh, dear. I suppose I should dumb it down to increase my readership. Oh, no, readership: a three syllable word! Must. Stop. Doing. Crosswords. And watching Jeopardy...oh, that was a sentence fragment. Would you prefer a run-on?

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    The adventure we didn't choose

    Car trouble. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Whatever can go wrong may do so at the worst possible time. Could be worse; could be raining. All came true on our last day in Canada.

    We had checked out of the cottage, packed the van and the bikes, and hit the road for Yarmouth where we would have lunch, take a few final pictures, and then board the Cat ferry, when it happened. The dreaded "What's that sudden noise under the car?"

    We pulled over to the shoulder for diagnostics. The van's rear tire on the passenger side was flat. Changing it wasn't easy; take off the bikes and the rack, find the jack and spare, and use them. Thanks in part to the good weather, all was proceeding smoothly until we lowered the jack and found the spare was flat.

    Husband got on the cell phone to call a tow, at the very least. I picked up a bright colored cloth at the side of the road and flagged down a passing car. These people saved us time, headaches, and money. They said, "Grab the spare and hop in." They took him to a nearby garage, helped him interpret the metric measurements on the air pump, and brought him back to the disabled van. All in all, Amigo and I were waiting less than half an hour. (A half hour in which Amigo retreated to the safety of his headphones and radio and I devoured the one remaining candy bar from our campfire s'mores, washing it down with the last ounces, er, milliliters of my morning coffee.)

    We rode gingerly on the spare the rest of the way to Yarmouth, arriving at the Pontiac dealer just before the service center closed. Husband already knew where it was, but that's another story. The people there were incredibly generous. The mechanic stayed an extra half hour beyond his usual time to put on the replacement tire (ours had a punctured sidewall), and the service center clerk took Amigo and me to McDonald's so we could get lunch before he melted down. The repair took less than forty mintes, Husband joined us at McD's, and we still had time to search and photograph the gravesites and memorials for the missing link on his geneology chart.

    And yes, we made the Cat Ferry in plenty of time for boarding.

    Luck? Yes, some. But most of all, the kindness of strangers made all the difference in the world.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, July 04, 2008

    Separated by a common language

    We arrived in Portland, Maine, on the first leg of our trip, and checked the turn signal that had been clicking at double speed. Sure enough, one bulb in the front signal was out. The others, the main bulbs, were working, so if we couldn't replace it immediately we'd still be safe. We got a good night's sleep and boarded the ferry from Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
    While Husband was in Yarmouth looking up his family history, he stopped in at the local Pontiac dealer to inquire about a replacement bulb. He didn't bring his interpreter or a dictionary.
    First, the mechanic on duty said he wasn't allowed to take apart an assembly like ours because it was very easy to break. Husband asked to buy the replacement part and install it himself, and the worker agreed and led him back to the parts department. The man on duty was new in the job and in the country; he had arrived just months earlier from London -- England, not Ontario. Between Husband's Midwestern twang and the Londoner's dialect was the Canadian mechanic as translator. The conversation went something like this.
    "What part do you need?"
    "A bulb."
    Silence. "Oh, a lahmp."
    Time spent looking over the diagram, discerning the proper part, noticing that there were two bulbs: a front-facing white bulb, and a side-facing amber.
    "One lahmp or two?"
    Silence, while Husband figures out it's not teatime, but time to purchase one item, be it lump, lahmp, or bulb.
    "One, please."
    He bought it, fixed the signal, and came 'home' to the cottage for supper.
    Little did he know that finding the Pontiac dealer would be essential knowledge later on...stay tuned.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Luck of the family, and we're not even Irish. Or Celtic.

    We landed in Lockeport, Nova Scotia, after a journey by minivan and ferry, to let Husband continue his research on the family history. Lockeport was a conscious choice: the family members in question were Lockes and their direct descendants, the Danes.

    The first night, tired and hungry, we settled into a local diner, sampled the local cuisine, and introduced ourselves and our mission. Husband mentioned he would be looking for local cemeteries, among other things, with the aim of getting photographs of his Locke ancestors. "My mother was a Locke," replied the waitress. She gave him directions to a couple of cemeteries that were so far off the beaten path that he wouldn't have found them himself and added the name of a woman down the street who might have more stories to tell him.

    And that was just the first night!

    The next day (Monday) he went to Yarmouth and dug through the archives of the historical society. While he worked, one of the archivists said, "Oh, you might beinterested in this." This was a booklet, copied in a lovely and legible hand, titled The Dane Book, copied by Eunice Brown, 1788. Oh, my goodness, what a gem! The historical folk allowed him to photocopy the whole thing and photograph the cover. I'll share a few of the letters copied into the collection later; they're treasures.

    Tuesday we had a touristy morning, exploring the nearby town of Shelburne and walking along the historic Dock St. Small place, loads of history. Great food, too. Coffee from Beandocks, lunch at the Sea Dog, all was well.

    Tuesday afternoon Husband went to the town offices of Lockeport to ask about continuing his research. While he was there, the woman working turned to a man who had just come in and said, "Oh, Councilman, I think you can help this man better than I can." Sure enough, this man not only had the key to the archives, he knew where the pioneer cemetery with the Locke family plot was located. Instead of giving directions, he said, "Give me a lift home and I'll take you there."

    To make a long story short, he was right. The cemetery was very secluded, and Husband was thrilled to see and photograph the family stones. When Husband called him the next day to make an appointment to see the archives; Councilman said, "How about now?" Wow!

    Husband has found so much through hard work, and now he's having a little bit of good luck to help him along. In My Humble Opinion, he's earned it. The research part of this trip has gone very, very well.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Mug shot -- how complex can it be?

    I set up my new mug on the picnic table outside the rental cottage with the beach in the background. I wanted to show the little lobster inside the mug as well as the one on the front, so I propped it with a few of the seashells and stones we'd found.

    Then Husband got into the act. He insisted on including every little piece we'd found on the beach and arranging it "tastefully" around the mug.

    Here it is: Still life with Souvenir Coffee Mug.

    And the back view, too.

    (It says Nova Scotia on the back.)

    Labels: , ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Chicken a la Mom

    I can't call it a la king, or a la queen, for that matter. This was more of a Chicken Experiment, really, and it turned out well. The refrigerator, while not bare, doesn't have much in it right now, so I'm relying on the freezer and the back hallway pantry. But wait...I have fresh herbs growing on the deck! In cappuccino mugs! Okay, that's irrelevant.

    Experimental Chicken

    Olive oil
    Four chicken breasts
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain!)
    1/4 cup diced green onions
    1/4 cup diced celery
    1/4 peppers, green, red, yellow, or mixed (optional)
    1 Tablespoon each fresh rosemary and basil
    lemon pepper
    Leftover vegetables, already cooked (optional)

    In large skillet or electric frying pan, brown chicken breasts. Remove from pan and dice. While dicing chicken, begin sauteing celery and green onion (and peppers). Add can of diced tomatoes, undrained. Stir in can of cream soup. Add chicken back into the pan, and sprinkle with rosemary, basil, and lemon pepper (to taste). If you're adding leftover veggies, do it now. I added peas and corn. Heat through; let simmer to thicken. Serve over egg noodles or rice or pasta of choice.

    Optional: I wished I'd had green peppers. I would have cooked them with the celery and green onion. Come to think of it, red or yellow peppers would add color and flavor to the mix.

    Note: Husband doesn't like celery, so I used very little. La Petite doesn't like mushrooms, so I couldn't use cream of mushroom soup. Amigo prefers pasta to rice, so this time I chose pasta. If you're not a tomato fan, add a little water to the soup instead of the canned tomatoes. About 1/2 cup should be fine.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Search & Win

    About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury. CDC Vital Signs


Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

    Copyright, 2003-2008 by OkayByMe. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval without written permission from Daisy, the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. In other words, stealing is bad, and if you take what doesn't belong to you, it's YOUR karma and my lawyers you might deal with.