Archive for 'Family'

Doing Grandparent Things

Both little girls have fun Mimi-made socks now. Just in time for cold weather. Yes! We finally have a cold day that calls for hand knits. They were excited to put these fun socks on. And “ice skate” around the house. What else are handmade socks for?

And finishing the socks makes me feel better about heading off this morning to SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) to look at more yarn. You heard me say “look.” That’s the plan anyway. Just going to look and to visit with other knitters. And to see what those other knitters are wearing. High today will be in the upper 40s so everyone should have on lots of knitwear. It’s a sad day when this annual fiber event is held on a hot weekend. And that has happened.

And while I was at Mommy’s house, I made a Halloween costume for Little Sister. She wanted to be Wendy (from Peter Pan) and that is a difficult costume to find ready made. Good thing they have a Mimi who also sews. Baby Girl already had a lovely Tinkerbell costume. And yes, two days ago the temperature was in the 70s and they were fine outside without coats.

I knew making a Wendy dress on the to-do list. The plan was to buy fabric and a pattern. Measure Little Sister well and make the dress at home. And hope it would fit. But as we were walking into the fabric store, I had a brilliant idea. Why not buy an inexpensive sewing machine and make there while I could try it on her and adjust if necessary? Let me tell you this little Singer Tradition is a sweet little machine. For less than $130 (at Joann’s), it made even straight stitches. All I had wanted was straight stitching and reverse and maybe zigzag. But this little machine does that and more.

Before you get excited about the half-price coupon—they always have coupons— from that store, let me tell you it doesn’t work for sewing machines. I thought I was REALLY going to get a bargain. And I did. But not half-price!

I made the dress on their dining room table and let her try it on to check the hem before I finished it. So nice to do that while I was there. And now that little machine will stay at their house. I even stitched up a jacket pocket for the new son-in-law when they came for dinner. There is always something to be mended. Maybe when the little girls are older we can do some sewing lessons.

So if you are looking for a basic sewing machine for light household sewing, this is a nice choice. There were machines at Joann’s that cost more and one that cost less. This one worked fine for me.

Pattern: Ribbed Socks For Kids from Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks Stripe, Meadow Stripes colorway
Needles:  size 2
I’ll head back down soon. I hear that Baby Girl needs an angel costume for the preschool Christmas program. “That’s what we do in Pre-K, Mimi. Pre-K means preschool. In case you didn’t know.”
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A Willing Spirit

From time to time, people ask, “What is something you remember your mother saying?” And I think they likely mean something your mother said over and over. (In my case, that would be “stand up straight!”) But a remark that my mother made exactly once has stuck with me for most of my life. 

When I was a young teen, our church was looking for a pianist to fill in one Sunday. And the preferred choice was a lady about my mother’s age. Everyone said she played the piano beautifully. I never heard her because she never played in public.
So they went down the list and finally got to me. I wondered if I should do it and worried out loud to my mother about my not being nearly as good as Mrs. Johnson. (I just made that name up because I don’t remember her name all these years later.) And my mother said, “Sometimes willingness is worth more than talent.” And Mother encouraged me to go ahead—with my lesser musical ability—and play for the church service. Well, I played. And I survived. And the congregation survived. And I even played for a few more services while I was in high school
I’m honest about my musical ability. I fall somewhere in the middle of the line that goes from excellent to poor. I have joked that I am “the musician of last resort.” The one who gets the phone call saying, “I’ve called everyone I can think of and no one will do it. Would you be willing to play on Sunday?”  That means that by the time I get the phone call, they have spent a week calling other people and I get the least time to prepare. And I probably need the most time! But I usually will play. I know I can do it. Not the difficult classical music that others might play, but lovely pieces nevertheless. And I survive. And the congregation survives.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from a friend who pastors two tiny churches—congregations so small they could have worshiped in my living room— asking if I would play for both churches while the regular pianist was away. And he asked nearly two weeks ahead. So I said yes. I practiced and practiced. And I practiced some more. I made notes all over the music. First, in pencil. Then I used red ink to mark the more important spots. And for good measure, I added a couple of Post-It notes in strategic places. 

All of that preparation left me in good shape musically. I chose my music carefully. I marked my music well. But I’ll be honest. Even when well prepared, I still get ridiculously nervous before playing for a service, mostly because I don’t do this often. On the way to the first church yesterday, the nervousness reached a level that almost hurt. Then I remembered Mommy telling me about the calming technique she uses to settle her children when they are afraid, upset, or mad.

She tells them, “Smell the flowers.” (Breathe in.) Blow out the candles. (Breathe out.)” And after several deep breaths and controlled releases, they begin to relax. My version of this was “Breathe in the calm” and “Blow out the nerves.” I imagine there is a name for this breathing technique. But whatever you call it I was ready to play by the time I got to the first little church.

I was happy to share my music with these sweet churches that are hanging on by a thread. They value worshiping in spaces rich in tradition and history for their families. I was thankful for the chance to worship with them. I will never be an award winning pianist, but most times I am a willing musician. Thank you, Mother, for your encouragement. And for years and years of piano lessons.

This morning, I put away the music I used yesterday. And I pulled out some new pieces to work on. Just in case I get that call again.

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Gray Blanket For Baby Boy

I have made a baby blanket for nearly every baby born into our family. At least one for each family. But this little fellow and his family almost didn’t get one when he was born. I tried to tell myself that it was okay. But then I didn’t want this…

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Dinner & TV

Quick Cheese & Herb Flatbread

It wasn’t supposed to be a forever thing. It was just our entertainment at the “beach girls” getaway last winter. One friend brought her computer and hooked it to the TV in the house (after a couple of phone calls to her son for tech support) so that we could all watch A Place To Call Home*, an Australian television production, that the rest of us had not seen. She said she knew we’d enjoy it.

Oh, was she ever right. We watched a few episodes each day. And on the last morning—the day we were leaving—the ladies were up and dressed and ready to watch a little more. At SEVEN in the morning! It’s the kind of show where it’s hard to find a stopping place.

On the way home, someone asked, “How are we supposed to know how this ends up?” And that’s how the Monday night “dinner and TV” was born. The friend who brought the computer didn’t know she would have us at her house weekly (more or less.) But she does. She provides her house and the TV connection. The rest of us take turns bringing dinner. And we watch three or four episodes while we eat.

This week I took dinner. After all of the wonderful vacation food I’d enjoyed last week, I needed something a little more Weight Watchers friendly. I made chicken taco soup, which I’ve made many times. And I needed something to put with it.

I found a recipe in a new WW Soups & Stews recipe magazine. Violating one of the rules I live by—always try a recipe before you serve it to guests—I forged ahead. And in my typical fashion, I failed to read the part that said “dough at room temperature.” But it all worked out in the end. I think it would have been easier and faster if I had pulled the dough out of the refrigerator an hour before I needed to make the recipe. Learn from me. Plan ahead.

But the recipe was delicious. I made two of the flatbreads. Sixteen pieces all together. I brought home four pieces last night. The five of us nearly finished it all. That tells me it’s a good recipe. Here is how I did it.

QUICK CHEESE & HERB FLATBREAD

1 teaspoon olive oil
8 oz. fresh pizza dough (from the grocery store bakery) AT ROOM TEMP!
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use fingertips to spread oil over bottom of pan.
Pat or roll dough out into a rectangle just smaller than the pan. Place dough into pan, and with lightly oiled fingers, press dough to fit a 7×11-inch (or 9×9-inch pan,) going slightly up the sides. Sprinkle with rosemary, parsley, mozzarella and feta.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in pan a few minutes. Remove and cut into 8 slices. Serve warm, or cool completely.

MY NOTES:

~Because my dough was too cold, I couldn’t stretch it out to fit the pan. It kept shrinking back. I didn’t have time to wait longer, so I went with what I could do. Instead of a neat rectangle, I got a lovely rustic oval. It looked nice that way.

~The recipe called for more oil. I ended up wiping out a good bit with a paper towel. The oily pan made it even harder to get that dough to stretch to the sides of the pan. I don’t think I’ll ever use the whole tablespoon it called for. 

~The recipe says you can serve it warm or cooled completely. Because I was taking this from my farm to their farm 20 miles away, serving it cooled worked well. But I did taste it while it was warm. Of course warm was better! The crust was crispy. But room temp was totally acceptable. 

OH…and I forgot the important part if you are counting WW points. (Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.) Each slice is 4 SmartPoints.

And although I’ve posted this recipe before, I’m putting it here again because the soup and this bread was such a nice combination.

ZERO POINT CHICKEN TACO SOUP (Instant Pot) 
        …recipe from SlapDashMom.com (check her site for other good recipes)

1 small onion, chopped
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15-oz) can light red kidney beans, drained
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
10-oz bag frozen corn
2 (10-oz) cans Rotel tomatoes (I used Mild)
1 packet taco seasoning (I used mild, low-sodium)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients into pot. Put lid on, close and set vent to “seal.” Use manual button and set to 8 minutes. Let it “natural release” for at least 10 minutes. (Longer is fine.) Then release remaining pressure, if there is any. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add shredded chicken back into soup. Serve. 

This is more like a chili than a true soup, but it’s yummy. It’s gluten-free. And it freezes beautifully. You can certainly cook this in something besides an Instant Pot. I used my IP last night and carried it to the dinner in the pot because the lid fastens securely and I could plug it in when I got there to keep it warm.

*We are into the 6th and final season of this show, A Place To Call Home. You can find it on Acorn TV, a subscription service which is also available through Amazon. It’s on iTunes. And one of our local PBS stations is airing it now. According to Wikipedia, the show…has been described as a “compelling melodrama about love and loss set against the social change of the 1950s”











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