Archive - September 2010

1
Resolution
2
Applesauce
3
Double Trouble
4
Balloon Buns
5
Bounty
6
Not Ready Yet
7
Maintenance
8
Watercoloring

Resolution

After waiting forever, we finally have a resolution to the Nutcracker Roles Mystery.

Nutcracker 1 – with her studio’s pre-professional company – Pumpkin Girl will be a Mother Ginger Tumbler, which is the role she’d wanted with the other production. She was disappointed that the smaller girls are the only ones who get to hide under Mother Ginger’s skirt, but she’s in the group that gets to do all the cartwheels. Not to mention that this is a “bonus” Nutcracker, that we only just found out about a week ago. And, more bonus, the other production doesn’t even have Mother Ginger tumblers this year.

Nutcracker 2 – with the city’s philharmonic- She is in the marzipan dance. It’s also known as the merliton or shepherd’s dance and also the Dance of the Reed Flutes. This variation was at the absolute bottom of her list, but I’d been coaching her all these weeks to brace herself for getting it. Turns out that the reason she didn’t want this one was because she didn’t understand how to hold her arms during the auditions. But she is very happy that one of her fellow sheep from last year – who is also in one of her classes- is in Marzipan with her and is in the same cast, so that softened the blow.

I thought she did pretty well handling the small disappointments. It’s tough being 9 and not really having the skills to look on the bright side and bounce back. It’s a good life lesson, though. At the very least, now we can move from the anticipation that was driving us crazy!

Applesauce

lorris-dinerAs promised, our family’s favorite homemade applesauce. Boo won’t touch the store bought stuff, but he loves this!

Homemade Applesauce

6 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup water (or enough water to about half-way to top of apples)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup white sugar

In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium heat, combine apples, water, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and simmer 5 more minutes.

Serves 4

Cinnamon the Cat says that this makes a sweet applesauce, so you may want to adjust the sugar to taste. Just don’t forget the cinnamon and cloves!

Double Trouble

Somehow Pumpkin Girl is now not in one, but two Nutcracker productions. I know, I know.

One production is with a traveling ballet company, accompanied by our city’s philharmonic. She auditioned for this one way back in August and as I write this, she still doesn’t know which role she got. We do know that she’s in one of the “suite” variations – Russian, Chinese, Spanish or Arabian. She’ll find out at the first rehearsal this Sunday.

The second Nutcracker was a bit of a surprise. Her new ballet studio has a pre-professional company (which Pumpkin is too young yet to join) that stages its own annual Nutcracker. It never really even crossed my radar other than as something that she and I might attend together. So we were both a bit surprised when she received a letter saying that she was one of the dancers from the Children’s Division of the school to be selected for some of the minor roles. The letter did ask for sensitivity during their regular classes because not everyone had been selected.

I can’t be sure, but I think the selection process for this second Nutcracker took place during regular classes. Pumpkin told me that they were measured during one class for any future performances that year. She also told me about one class where they did cartwheels – not your usual ballet fare. Unless you’re one of Mother Ginger’s children in the Nutcracker.

(She doesn’t know which role she has in this production, either. She’ll find out at the first rehearsal this Saturday.)

After reading the letter, Philip and I discussed the possibility of back-to-back Nutcrackers. The performances will be a couple of weeks apart. The rehearsals will not conflict. And just how can you say no to such a sweet little face, all lit up with happiness?

We couldn’t, of course.

So we are committed to double rehearsals and double performances. Oh yes, and a new baby thrown in to the mix.

Pray for us! We’ll need it!

Balloon Buns

I was fortunate to attend a junior high that had required home ec and industrial arts classes. We learned to cook and bake, sew, draft (technical drawing), and work with wood and metal. Several of my projects from those classes still survive! Actually, I just took possession of them again, as we upsized our house while my parents have been downsizing. Hmm, I think I feel another blog post in that!

I was looking for a recipe in a magazine the other day and I came across my original copy of a recipe from my junior high cooking class. It’s for “balloon buns” – a quick and simple snack.

Check it out –

Can you see the discoloration around the drawing of the balloon? That’s because you can measure your dough right on the balloon, so that’s years of grease traveling across the page!

I thought I’d share this recipe, not because it is any great culinary achievement, but because it is something kids can learn to make. And because balloon buns make me smile.

Balloon Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup biscuit mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons soft butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
  • 4 large marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan for 4.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix and water to form a ball of dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured breadboard. Knead 4-6 times. Shape into an even round ball.
  3. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Take each piece of dough and flatten with your hand into a 4 inch circle.
  4. Spread dough with 1/4 of the soft butter, sprinkle with 1/4 of the cinnamon-sugar. Place marshmallow in center of circle. Bring up edges around marshmallows and seal tightly by pinching dough together. Place with smooth side up in lightly greased muffin tin.
  5. Bake 10 min. Balloon buns will expand as marshmallow melts. Some of the melted centers may ooze out if not sealed well. Place pan or baking sheet under muffin tin to catch spills.
  6. Serve hot, makes 4
http://themacandcheesechronicles.com/2010/09/23/balloon-buns/

(I doubled this recipe for our family, and the only thing I actually measured was the biscuit mix and water. After forming the dough circle, I just spread butter on them and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar without measuring.)

Bounty

My friend Nikki and her family were here last week for her husband’s 20 yr college reunion. They are some of our closest friends from our time at Bolling AFB, and we’ve been missing them this whole year. It’s funny how once we got a bigger house, all our friends are showing up for a visit. We love it!

(Well, not all our friends have visited. I’m looking at YOU, JennG!)

Anyway…Nikki brought us a whole bunch of apples from their apple trees, plus some canned applesauce and what they call “plumbleberry jam.” It’s like she knew how much my children love homemade applesauce!

Looking at all those apples I thought about making a pie. Or more applesauce. Or maybe…apple butter! I’ve never made apple butter, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Look at all these beautiful apples, all washed and ready to go!

I started by making unsweetened applesauce. I used our family’s go-to recipe, minus the sugar (recipe to follow in a different post).

The next day I used the crock-pot all day to cook down the applesauce into apple butter. My house smelled divine! I consulted a couple of different recipes for the ratio of spices and varying cooking times, but they all pretty much came down to applesauce, spices, and slow cooking all day in various stages of covered or uncovered.

In the end, it didn’t really look like butter in consistency, more like jam or jelly. But mmmmm! does it taste wonderful! I’ve been slathering it on toast and biscuits and I’m hoping to heat it up and pour it over vanilla ice cream.

Not Ready Yet

This is a difficult week for our family. Every year I think it’ll be easier and every year it almost is. But this year, 6 now since Rebecca has been gone, the days and dates are the same. What I mean is, the 11th was on a Sunday, this year and then. The 15th is, this year and was then, a Wednesday.

I wanted to tell you Rebecca’s story this year. Whenever I read about child’s death, I want to find out what happened. Not so much morbid curiosity, but…I don’t know what really. Maybe I just need to understand. Maybe I just want to share the grief. So I wanted to share with you, and anyone coming here looking for comfort after the death of a child, just how and why Rebecca died. There are lessons to be learned, because her death was completely preventable. Except that it was her time. Sweet little baby.

But it is just too much still. Maybe another time.

This week we will just do those little every day things that need to be done and try, TRY not to think of what wasn’t done and what should have been done differently all those years ago. We will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not grow faint.

Maintenance

A couple of Important Announcements that I’d appreciate you reading.  I’m not normally that bossy, telling you what to read and all, but these are worth your time.

1.  I changed my blog feed. I would never in a million years do this, but I had no choice.  For now, everything seems to be redirecting correctly and my posts are going out as always.  But there’s an off chance that the internet will reboot itself or something and the old feed will no longer work.  If you notice I haven’t posted in a while, it may be because you  need to resubscribe to my blog.  You can do this by going directly to my blog, where you will find at least 2 links to subscribe.  One is at the very top of the page, on the right.  The other is the very last thing on my sidebar.  Or you can click this link right here:  Subscribe to The Mac and Cheese Chronicles.

2.  What is a feed? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. If you have more than about 5 blogs that you like to read, you should be subscribing to them.  You do this by looking for something on the blog that says “subscribe to…” and clicking on it.  Then all new posts will be sent to the feed reader of your choice, just like email.  I use Google Reader.  If you only read a couple of blogs, you may also have the choice of having new posts delivered to your email.  You can do that on my blog by following the subscription links described above and you will be given the choice of subscribing by email.

3.  Speaking of email…I now have a very handy contact form.  See over there in my sidebar, the little guy with a slingshot and envelope?  Click him to shoot me an email, if you want to say more than a normal comment will allow.

4.  Which brings me to comments. I now have the ability to respond to your comments both right there with the rest of the comments and send my response to you through email.  Isn’t that cool?

5.  Gravatars – if you don’t have one, get one!  Those are the little pictures that appear next to a comment you leave on someone’s blog.  It can be anything, a picture of yourself or something else that represents you.  Whenever you comment on a blog with gravatars enabled, your little picture will show up.  They are free and easy to create here: Globally Recognized Avatars.  PS – I used to have random little monsters appear in my comments for those without gravatars, but everyone seemed to be getting a frowning monster, so I disabled that feature.

6.  Printer friendly pages.  My posts are now printer friendly!  If my words so move you that you have to print them out and tuck them under your pillow or otherwise save them for posterity, you can now save time and ink by using the printer friendly option.  You can also save a page to a PDF file or share it through email.  First, click on the title of the post.  That will bring you to a page with only that one, single post.  At the end of the post will be a little printer icon.  Click on that to bring up the printer-friendly screen.  You will have the option to cut out paragraphs where I babble on about nothing, you can choose not to have the pictures print, and several other options.  I think this feature will be especially  nice if you want to print out any of the recipes I share.

7.  Streamlined look – I’ve got a new, streamlined look.  Come by and check it out!

Watercoloring

Not too long ago I was inspired by the watercolor journaling posts by Melissa Wiley: Scribbles and Bits (scroll down a bit, the watercoloring is towards the end of the post).  I followed all of her links, including one to a watercolor journaling post by Alice Cantrell.  She, in turn, linked to a great Watercolor Journaling DVD.

Did you follow all that? No?  That’s OK.  The gist of it all is that I’ve always wanted to be an artist, the kind that creates original art, not just follows the directions of someone else’s patterns.  I was completely taken in by the Watercolor Journaling DVD website, especially by the tiny little picture of Mont St. Michel .  In their site header, it’s the second picture in the top row.  Mont St. Michel is one of my most favorite places on earth.  I knew I wanted to paint like that and I felt like I might actually be able to learn.

So I ordered the DVD, watched it and was amazed.  I COULD do this! I watched it again.  I got some supplies and got started.

(Somewhere in this timeline, I’m not sure when, I also picked up the book Watercolors for the Artistically Undiscovered.  Excellent book, and I highly recommend it for anyone, children or adult, who wants to get started quick with watercolors.)

I started drawing and watercoloring anything I could think of. A little bit of nature, stuff sitting out on the counter, whatever.  Here’s just a sampling out of my journal.

This is Bip’s friend Big Fat Mickey and the story of the day we got him.  Click on the picture to read the journaling easier.  Bip’s really name is smudged out to protect the innocent.

This is a map of our block, again with actual names smudged out.  You can see the dry creek behind the house, the park across the street with the black diamond sledding hill and the bluff where the coyotes howl at night.

I haven’t painted much lately.  It’s not time consuming or particularly difficult, but I don’t have all that much energy right now.  I will again soon, and I’ll paint more then.

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