Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top Ten Things I Hate About Painting

1. Paint

2. Brushes

3.  Rollers

4.  Plastic on the floor

5.  Tape on everything

6.  Paint

7.  Total disruption of life since kids can't be running up and down the hall with messy hands.

8.  Painting (the physical act of making a total mess)

9.  Opening windows and turning off the A/C on a day with 103℉ temperatures and about 97% humidity. (I may be exaggerating on this one a tiny bit.)

10.  Having no clue about what I'm doing.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that the two-year-old has learned how to lie-- on purpose.

The good news is that he's bad at it. A twinkle in the eye and a mischievous grin give him away.

Friday, August 19, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column-- August 17, 2016

Every time I open the door lately, I’m met with a blast of hot air that sucks all the energy out of me. This kind of weather is enough to make a body feel downright miserable. In fact, violent crime rates soar when the temperatures do. I guess we all feel a little extra ornery when the heat and humidity get to us.

But to be honest, I have plenty more reasons to feel cranky.

For starters, my dear husband found a few travel books at the library he thought I would enjoy. He was right, but as I paged through them, I was more than annoyed when I discovered somebody had torn out the pages I most wanted to read. What kind of person tears pages from library books?

Next on my cranky list is shopping for shoes. It seems all the summer sunshine makes more than just weeds grow, and what better time to buy than when taxes don’t apply? I truly dread dragging all the kids into stores and trying on about a gazillion different pairs of shoes to find the right fit, but I did it today. It was hot, crowded, and one of my daughters had to try on about two gazillion shoes to find the perfect pair. I didn’t like it one tiny bit. Why in the world did I think it was a good idea?

And the last reason I feel cranky has to do with watermelons. We love growing melons in our garden. The children plant the seeds. We water them. We weed them. We try to keep the preschoolers from trampling on their sprawling vines. And we check them often for the first signs of ripeness, but it is so hard to wait for that ripe and sticky sweetness that drips down your chin on a hot day.

Well, a couple of days ago, my son noticed our biggest watermelon was missing. There were no animal tracks, no plants torn up or nibbled, no tell-tale broken rinds anywhere to be found. Only the empty spot of dirt and the stem remained. What kind of person steals watermelons from little kids?

I hope it was a truly poor and hungry soul who really needed it.

But if it wasn’t, that ornery part of me that’s under the influence of the sweltering temperatures is glad because I’m fairly certain that watermelon wasn’t even ripe yet. 

Not the watermelon, but a honeydew I picked before it was ripe last week.


There. Now that I’ve vented my steam a little, I’m ready to move on to more pleasant and cooler things like this ice cream pie recipe. While you may use whatever flavor of ice cream you like, I think mint chocolate chip is the best to beat the summer heat.

Ice Cream Pie

1 graham cracker pie shell
1 quart ice cream, slightly softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tbsp. butter

Spread softened ice cream in pie shell and freeze hard. Then beat the egg whites until foamy and stiff. Add the sugar, 2 Tbsp. at a time. Beat until peaks form. Spread meringue over frozen pie and bake at 400℉ for 3-5 minutes. Remove pie and place directly in the freezer. Remove pie from freezer about 10 minutes before you plan to serve so it can soften enough to cut.

Serve slices of ice cream pie with chocolate sauce. Make sauce by melting chocolate squares with butter in the microwave, stirring frequently until smooth.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column-- August 3, 2016

I love quilts. I love the fabrics, the patterns, and the history behind each quilt. I love how each quilt is like a piece of art, only better because it’s pleasing to both my eyes and my cold toes when I crawl under it at night.

While I love quilts, I’m not a quilter yet. I have many quilting hopes and plans, but over the last decade almost the only pieces of cloth I have a chance to pin together are the diapers covering babies’ behinds.

But my Oma was a quilter. Her daughters, my dear aunts, turn out amazing quilts, and their daughters do, too. I’m lucky enough to have several examples of their handiwork in my home.

One aunt has even sewn a special baby quilt for each one of my children. To be perfectly honest, I look forward to seeing each new quilt almost as much as seeing the new baby.

Each of my children like their special quilts, but one quilt seems a little more loved than the rest. It’s quite an impressive design. Jar-shaped fabrics with bugs, frogs, and other creepy-crawlies sit on brown cotton shelves adorned with an embroidered spiderweb. For more than ten years, my son has kept his bug quilt close by, and while he doesn’t drag it around like Linus in the comics, let’s just say it is showing its age.

Bug Blankie all fixed

One evening last week, I sat down to an overflowing basket of mending. Near the top of the heap was dear bug blankie.  While looking it over, I noticed faded and worn fabric, a torn seam, stains from bloody noses, and small holes caused by a rough spot in the bed frame. 

The words my aunt wrote on the quilt label tell the story of my son’s birth--his name, the date, weight, and height, but if bug blankie could talk, it would tell the story of my son’s whole life. It has been there for his tears and sickness, his giggles and dreams. It’s seen him play, read, and grow too big to fit beneath its edges, and it’s seen him grow up too big to need his blankie the same way he once did. 

The hard thing is that I know one day I will be like that old quilt. I’ll probably need mended, too-- maybe a hip replacement or a new knee. My hair is already fading to gray. Before you know it, my son will no longer need me for all the day-to-day things. My hugs and words will no longer be able to comfort his grown-up hurts.

The thought of that is sad enough that I almost need my own special blankie. Lucky for me, my son’s not the type who easily throws away well-loved, tattered old things.


My almost 11-year-old is not ready to leave me behind yet, and I’m glad he still needs Momma. He is, however, gaining many skills for grown-up life. One of them is cooking, and one of his favorite things to make is breakfast cookies. He makes them in the evening so they’re ready for the next morning, and he likes to experiment and make them different each time. Here’s one of his favorite variations.

Nathanael’s Breakfast Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup of your favorite goodies (nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, M&Ms, or chocolate chips)

Cream butter, sugar, and honey. Add eggs and yogurt. Mix well. Mix in soda, spices, and flour. Then stir in oats and goodies.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet (about 1/4 cup at a time) and bake for 10-13 minutes.  These are large, hearty cookies-- delicious with milk or coffee!