Archive for April, 2010

try try again…

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Last night, as Robert and I polished off the last of the homemade chocolate chip cookies, he complimented me on my baking prowess.  I am not a professional baker by any means but I have mastered a handful of recipes through the years.  I’m not always successful in the kitchen.  In fact, I had three recipes fail in one weekend not too long ago.  But I try to learn from my mistakes and move on.  My skills have improved drastically since we first married.  In thinking about this, I decided to share a few of my favorite failure stories. These are not necessarily in chronological order but they all occurred sometime during the first year of our marriage.

Cornbread.  My mother often makes cornbread.  She shared her recipe with me and it is very simple.  I had even practiced with her a few times.  I failed to notice that the cornmeal in her recipe is self-rising.  The cornmeal I bought was not.  The finished product was not fluffy and light.  It was about a quarter of an inch thick and had the consistency of a gum eraser.  My precious new husband about chewed himself to death but he ate it anyway.  I had a similar experience with my Dad’s biscuits…he forgot to tell me to add the shortening.  More erasers…it took years before I tried bread again.

Pork chops.  I had another simple recipe for pan sauteed pork chops.  You brown the pork chops on both sides and add a few ingredients to make a sauce.  I didn’t even notice that I grabbed the soy sauce out of the refrigerator door instead of the Worcestershire.  The pork was so salty it made our lips pucker.  Once again Robert cleaned his plate without a word of complaint.

Cake.  The third major mishap occurred on Robert’s first birthday as a married man.  I got out our fancy new china, silver and table linens.  I invited our entire families and set out to make a yellow cake with chocolate icing.  The first mistake I made was waiting until the day of the party to make anything.  Then, I’m not sure what happened but, the cake stuck to the pan.  And not just a little bit – it ALL stuck.  I was flabbergasted.  Determined not to fail, I dug the cake out of the pan and glued it together with icing and toothpicks.  It looked great.  I thought I had made it out of the jungle.  That is, I thought I had made it until my new mother-in-law came to the table to help me serve the cake.  What a disaster.  The heaps of yellow and brown did taste good though!

My sweet husband was determined not to make me feel bad.  He ate some crap that first year.  Twelve and a half years later, there is no more pretending.  There is no meanness but there is no consumption of the inedible either!  Thanks to some good cookbooks and good advice I have become a decent cook.  Between the two of us, we fare pretty well.  I’m also happy to report that we ate cornbread for dinner tonight – this time it was perfect!

weekend delight…

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I don’t know about your children but our girls are always asking to sleep somewhere other than in their own beds.  For instance, they want to sleep in the fort they just built or on pillows in the living room.  It doesn’t usually work out but they ask all the time anyway.  Their most frequent request is to sleep on the air mattress we set up for guests in the playroom.

We have set up the “guest bed” numerous times for visitors since we moved here.  Each time, the girls have asked to sleep on it but it never seems to be a good time.  It’s either a school night when they really need their sleep or one of the girls is sick and it wouldn’t be fair.

My dad was here last week for a couple of nights so the bed was still in the playroom.  It had been taken apart and deflated but I hadn’t gotten it back in the closet yet.  Last Saturday Robert and I devised a plan.  While the girls were in the bathtub, Robert inflated the bed and I put on the sheets.  You should have heard the squeals of delight when we told them to get their pillows and head for the playroom.  It was deafening.

They got in the bed and immediately started calling out the complaints.  “Laura won’t stop tickling me!”  “Hattie is putting her feet on everybody!”  “MOM – I’m trying to sleep and THEY are talking!”  This lasted about 20 minutes.  We didn’t pay much attention.  Within a half an hour, all three were off to dream land.  I checked in on them when we went to bed and they were downright angelic.

It took about 10 minutes of manual labor to get the bed set up and it was more than worth it.  You would have thought we had given these girls a shopping spree at Toys R Us.  They thought it was fabulous.  It wasn’t a fancy hotel or friends house…it was just something a little different.  It doesn’t take much to make these girls happy.  Last weekend they got to stay outside all day, eat dinner on the deck and sleep on the guest bed.  Score one for a perfect weekend!

Daddy’s little spy…

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

With my older two girls in school daily and the three year old in preschool a few mornings a week, I am fortunate enough to be able to run errands by myself.  It is a luxury, I know.  But when the girls were out of school for spring break, I had them with me one morning while I did a few necessary things.

My last errand of the morning was to drop off some of Robert’s shirts at the dry cleaners.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Abigail said, “So, Mom, you take Daddy’s dirty shirts in there and they clean them for you, right?”  I said “Yes.”  She said “But can’t you do that yourself?”  Good question.  I went on to explain that the dry cleaners can get Daddy’s shirts done a lot faster than I can.  I also told her that Daddy likes his shirts a certain way for work and they do a better job getting his shirts ironed than I do.  Simple enough, right?

Abigail was quiet for a few moments.  Then out of nowhere she asked, “Does Daddy know about this?”

summer salad here we come…

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Today has been planting day at our house.  After hours of manual labor, there is now a sun garden with cucumbers, bell peppers, chives, rosemary, thyme and three varieties of tomatoes.  The shade garden has basil, cilantro, peppermint, parsley and oregano.  A truckload of mulch and some flowers will follow in the coming weeks.

I have always wanted a good garden.  I grew tomatoes by the bushel when we lived in Birmingham.  I couldn’t grow much else but my tomatoes were brilliant.  When we were in Nashville I had a great yard for a garden but I managed to be enormously pregnant the first summer and toting my baby girl during the second.  That seemed to take up a lot of my time.  Imagine that!  Nonetheless, we had beautiful flowers but the tomatoes, peppers and herbs were less than satisfactory.  This frustrated the heck out of me.  My parents and my in-laws are all master gardeners.  Their yards are stunning.  Is breathtaking too much to ask for?

Luckily, our current house has a nice yard.  It was well landscaped about 12 years ago.  The bones are there – it just needs life breathed into it and crap hauled out of it.  Unfortunately, a LOT of gunk builds up in a decade.  A LOT.  In order to clean out the 4×10 area for the shade garden, I had to scoop out 5 wheelbarrows full of leaves, rotten mulch and who knows what else.  Do you know how much stuff fits into 5 wheelbarrow loads?  A LOT.  I think I’ve made my point.  It’s not easy for me to dump a full wheelbarrow by the side of the road for the leaf truck either.  Me + full wheelbarrow = freak show.  I’m sure anyone who saw me is now well schooled on my lack of grace.

However, I did manage to get everything cleaned up including myself before collapsing on the sofa.  I’m worn out.  Done. Over and out.  It’s a good feeling though.  I have accomplished something important today.  I want my children to know about growing herbs and veggies and about doing fun productive things outside.  Of course I won’t be able to enjoy any tomatoes for about 80 days.  My mouth is watering already!

90 and 1 to grow on…

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

This time last night, Robert and I were guests at an amazing birthday party.  Yesterday was, in fact, Robert’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  It was quite the event.  It was not a huge party.  It was not a black tie party.  But it was a fabulous party.

Grandmama was joined by her best friend and surrounded by her family.  As I talked with Grandmama and her friend before dinner I thought about what all these women have seen in their 90 years.  Plenty of bad, lots of good.  Pain and joy, happy and sad.  I am sure their experiences run the gamut of human emotion.

I am happy to report that there was nothing but love and happiness as we gathered to celebrate Grandmama’s monumental birthday.  If I am lucky enough to make it to 90, I will be sitting with my best friend surrounded by my family to celebrate.  It sounds pretty good to me!