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Tuesday Book Review: Board Books for the Babies and Little Kids

January 18th, 2022

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

(My sis and me selling lemonade, circa 1969; photo by our dad, James David Row)

Books! Yeah, as always I have books piled up everywhere. Ready for some reviews?

“Nom Nom Nom: A Yummy Book with Flaps,” by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Sarah Hwang (Little Simon, 2021, $7.99) is a kooky little book featuring a kitty, a puppy, a cub, a shark, a crocodile, a baby dino, lion cub and a little alien. They’re here, they’re hungry, what do they want to eat? The choices are… interesting. The kids will get a kick out of it.

“This Little Rainbow: A Love-is-Love Primer,” by Joan Holub and Daniel Roode (Little Simon, 2021, $7.99) is way overdue. This board book is a great introduction for “little rainbows” who have big, loving hearts. We’re introduced to lesbian, trans, bisexual, queer and gay heroes, including my hero, Freddie Mercury of Queen; performer Josephine Baker; computer pioneer Alan Turing and others. About time. Peace/love/peace/love to all of us.

Hello, “Mermaid Dance”! Nice to meet you. This cool, colorful, interactive book with pull tabs, is full of  beautiful images of mermaids, mermen and sea creatures. It was written by Matthew Van Fleet and illustrated by Mara Van Fleet (Paula Wiseman Books, 2022, $21.99).

Best, always,

Wacky Mommy

Wednesday Recipe Club, a la moi

January 5th, 2022

Well, it was the holidays, we ate like piggies, but who am I kidding, it’s always the holidays over here. Birthdays, New Year’s, Groundhog Day, I’m just saying. For belated New Year’s Eve, friends and I are planning to make shortribs, cornbread with honey and butter, Hummingbird Cake, and Hoppin’ John for good luck for the year… HERE, make some:

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Olive oil
  • Onion (I’ve been using a lot of shallots lately, so sharp and good)
  • Garlic
  • Salt/pepper/hot sauce

Soak, cook and partially drain black-eyed peas. Carmelize onion and garlic in olive (or vegetable) oil and add to peas; add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. I like Tiger Sauce or bento sauce the best.

I’ve never made a Hummingbird Cake, but I like a good spice cake, especially when fruit is added. But we may stick with Chocolate Volcano Cake because I like how everyone acts like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen such a concoction, whenever I make it. I mean, I make this cake a lot, and have since I was a teenager. It’s just that kind of recipe — fun, yummy and wow it’s molten chocolate. Like, if your kid needs to do a project for the school science fair, instead of building a volcano, you and the kid should make this cake instead and bribe the judges. Pretty sure they’ll earn a blue ribbon.

Also, any excuse to break out the creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, y’know? Lol.

So I will let you know how BNYE (belated New Year’s Eve) goes.

My friend and I have been cooking for each other a lot, because it gets boring just cooking for yourself. She does a dynamite Ribollita and also makes superb breads. And jams. Fancy, individually-made salads. oh my god, her frittatas… Also a Key Lime Pie that is so exquisite it brings a tear to the eye. I start thinking crazy thoughts like, I don’t need any other foods, just this pie, more pie, please?

Only she left town For the Holidays and now I’m just eating my own cooking and I don’t make the best pies, pies are frickin’ tricky to make.

So I’m sad.

But this turned out perfectly:

ORANGE CHICKEN WHICH IS WAY BETTER THAN THE PANDA EXPRESS VERSION

I found this recipe on Facebook (?? what even is up with Facebook, with all the TikToks and recipes and help wanted ads?? It’s like they’re tailoring it specifically to me. Oh… wait…)

Where was I? Yeah. We order too much orange chicken from fast food places, and it’s always random bits and hunks of I don’t even know what kind of mystery meat.

Step up your game, Panda Express and everywhere else.

But this recipe? Easy-peasy orange squeezy.

  1. Dust off the crockpot
  2. Try not to think about the faulty crockpot that kills the dad is “This Is Us,” or as I call it, “This Is Just Manipulating My Emotions”
  3. Pour in some olive or vegetable oil (I don’t really measure thing anymore, sorry, so use your best judgment. Not too much, not too little) and turn on high to heat.
  4. Shake cornstarch in a flat dish and dredge boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used four) and add to slow cooker. Let cook for a few minutes on each side, then…
  5. Around the edges, drizzle in soy sauce. Pour in barbecue sauce (Stubb’s!). Spoon in about half of a 16-ounce jar of orange marmalade.
  6. Cook on high for a couple of hours and low for a couple more hours until the chicken pulls apart easily.
  7. Serve as sandwiches or over rice.

It’s very tasty, inexpensive and perfect for lunches/leftovers.

Next up:

Since my friends and I cook for each other, and I still cook for Steve (remember him? morehockeylesswar? He’s Chili AF!) and the kids, and the kids’ friends, when they’re around, because, well. That’s life. I’ll always cook for them until I get sick of it, which I hope I never do. They cook for me, too, so this works out nicely. Love love love.

Anyway, we do a lot of trading of casserole dishes, Tupperware, bottles of wine, six-packs of Two Town Hard Cider, and Ball and Kerr jars. I found these recipes and I’m posting them here since they sound just delicious.

OK, babies, bon appetit! Don’t forget to eat/cook/write when you can!

WM

Fiesta Salsa (courtesy of Ball Jars)

For two pints, you will need:

2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 6 medium; will yield about 4 1/2 cups finely diced)

3 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 cup Ball Fiesta Salsa mix (mix well before measuring) or use minced white onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper, sugar and lime juice like I do; skip the vinegar if you sub lime)

Combine ingredients. Don’t go all crazy. (PS yes they included destructions for how to can the salsa, which I realized i just turned into Pico de Gallo. But I don’t can. I either make stuff fresh or I freeze (when possible — jam, for example).

Next…

Honey Orange Slices

(Yields about three half-pints)

4 large oranges, sliced, then cut in half, end pieces discarded

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups honey

Juice from one large lemon, plus zest

3 sticks cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice

Put oranges in a saucepan, add water to cover; bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer (about 30 minutes) until peel is tender; drain.

Combine sugar/honey/lemon juice; bring to boil.

Add orange slices and spices (tied in cheesecloth bag. Simmer about 40 minutes.

Pack orange slices in jars; pour liquid over. Cool, then refrigerate. Give them to your friends and see how impressed they are.

Happy Holidays… Happy Holidays… Have some happy book reviews!

December 12th, 2021

“The Welcome Chair,” illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and written by Rosemary Wells, is a brand-new release, just in time for the book-giving season. (Year-round is the book-giving season at our house.) These are two of my favorite children’s book geniuses, who have each created more than 100 titles. Isn’t that the coolest? More than one hundred books have been illustrated by Pinkney, and more than one hundred written by Wells. Amazing milestones for both of them.

This title comes from a real story from Wells’ family, about a special rocking chair built and carved by great-great-grandfather, Sam Seigbert. Her great-great-grandmother and then grandmother passed down the legend and Wells and Pinkney have brought it to life in incredible fashion. Pinkney’s illustrations are, as always, majestic. (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021, ages 4-8, $17.99.)

“Parker Shines On” is another treat from Parker Curry (age 6), her mama, Jessica Curry (blog mom who writes “Happy Mama, Happy Babies”) and illustrator Brittany Jackson. It’s a colorful (pink, of course) and delightful tale about Parker, who loves ballet, her friends, and playtime with her little sister and brother, Ava and Cash. The first book in the series was “Parker Looks Up.” Look for “Your Friend, Parker” and “Parker Dresses Up” to be released early in 2022. (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, 2021, ages 4-8, $17.99.)

“Light for All” is a much-needed and appreciated book from writer Margarita Engle and illustrator Raul Colon. This masterpiece of a book honors the courage and resiliency of the many immigrants who have traveled to live in America, while not forgetting about the many, many indigenous people who were already here. (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021, all ages, $17.99.) Lovely, loving story.

“Beautifully Me” and other books for autumn

October 28th, 2021

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Hello, loves, do you like reading? My cats do. Especially when the weather is cold and we snuggle up on the couch. The chickens aren’t so keen on it, though. Who knows why. Here are some fun titles for kids and their grown-ups:

“Learning with Llama Llama: Numbers” and “Llama Llama: Colors,” (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2021, $6.99) the newest releases in the Llama Llama series, are sweet, colorful little board books just right for the babies and toddlers in the crowd. Llama Llama tidies up his room, counts the dishes, and hangs out with his mama llama. He learns about colors, too! It’s the little things in life. Look for the books next month when they hit the shelves.  

“Over, Bear! Under, Where?” written by Julie Hedlund, illustrated by Michael Slack (Philomel/Random House, 2021, ages 4 and older, $16.99) is another November release. This one is not only beautifully illustrated, and funny, but it’s full of word puns and compound words (including a list of compound words in the back). The kids will love it.

I’m thrilled to have received a copy of  “Beautifully Me,” by author Nabela Noor and illustrator Nabi H. Ali (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021, ages 4 and older, 40 pages, $17.99). It’s the first day of school for Zubi, who is Bangladeshi-American, and she has questions about why everyone around her is so concerned with weight? Should she be worried, too? Great, matter-of-fact way to discuss this topic. 

Sandra Boynton! of “Dog Train,” “Philadelphia Chickens,” “Pajama Time,” and many, many other titles, has a new/old one for the kiddos.

With “Good Night, Good Night” (Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, 2021, ages 3 and older, $17.99), Boynton has created a larger and longer version of her classic, “The Going to Bed Book. OK, that’s enough links and enough words. Her art is whimsical, the stories are funny-funny, the characters have cute faces, and the songs (when included, and they often are) are fun to sing along with. 

Happy reading! Have a great week.

WM

Thursday Book Review (for grown-ups and big kids): What’s New on My Nightstand

July 1st, 2021

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

“Big Stack” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

 

Good morning, darling ones. Have you been reading a lot? I have. There are probably three dozen books on my nightstand, coffee table, desk… other desk… dining room table. So I’d better type up some reviews! Here we go.

Let’s start with supernatural-scary, shall we? When I was a big kid kid (maybe 10 or 11) I had two favorite books. One was about an evil little girl who died young, and then came back to torture the people in her grandmother’s house. The second one was about a girl who was walking down a street in her neighborhood and suddenly… yes, suddenly… it was dusk, everything morphed and turned into Victorian times. There was her neighborhood, her street, her house, 100 years earlier.

I’m telling you, these two books were amazing. But I could never remember the titles. The second book I still haven’t found, so if you know the title? For the love of God, tell me in comments. (Even if you’ve just stopped by for a fast read, leave me a comment! Reverting to the old days of blogging, Hi are you out there?)

But the first book, about the wicked little girl, had a strange hook — she liked to pick pansies and stick them into sand, then let them die. Yeah, I thought that was weird, too. So I googled “kids’ books,” “pansy people,” “pansy faces,” something like that, and found the classic “Jane-Emily,” by Patricia Clapp and ordered a copy. It’s as trashy and good as I remember.

Sweet, dear Jane, who of course is nine and of course is an orphan and of course has a young aunt, the lovely Louisa, go to stay with Jane’s grandmother in her graceful and haunting mansion. They find a strange, alluring reflecting ball in the garden, they hear the stories about Emily, her willful, selfish nature, her destruction of pansies, they check out the goodies in the attic and off we go. 

Perfect for summer reading, or anytime reading.

The Game of Thrones series is going to keep us busy for awhile over here. My son and I just binged all 8 seasons on HBO Max, and yeah, it was awesome. Say what you will about the last two seasons, and George R.R. Martin’s reluctance or inability to finish writing the series and putting a good wrap on it… D&D taking over the reins and going feral… It was still a hell of a ride. Just ordered the five books in paperback and good to go. (Bantam Books Trade Paperback, 1996-2011, 5,216 pages total, 16 bucks on sale.)

My daughter gifted me a copy of “Wise Dogs,” a Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr. and Dale C. Spartas (Hallmark, 2013, 143 pages, $12.95). Nice mini-book for the coffee table, and makes me glad the Internet was invented because dammit. Most of us do find some kind of peace/humor/grace in looking at photos of kittens/dog/cats/puppies/babies and kids. It’s the small moments that matter.  And remember: Be the first to say hello, do small tasks well, and to make a memory, get muddy.

“Ladder of Years” by Anne Tyler (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, 326 pages, $11.99) is now my favorite Tyler novel, and I’ve been with her since “The Accidental Tourist,” which I read when it was first released. Is “Ladder of Years” a summer read? Sure. It starts out with a family trip to the beach, a wife and mother’s longings, and some mysteries. Great read, and a big, well-drawn cast of characters. Comedic, poignant domestic novel by an author who consistently comes through with beautiful, well-written gems.

“That Summer” is Jennifer Weiner’s latest. I read a sample, it’s intriguing. I think I might listen to the audiobook of this one. She’s another longtime favorite of mine, and always knocks it out of the park.

“And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School,” by Judith Warner, is a new release (Crown Publishing, 2020, 304 pages, $17). Don’t think you’re too good for self-help and how-to books. We all need a road map, occasionally. This one is funny, bittersweet, thought-provoking and helping. I’ve always enjoyed Warner’s writing. Especially liked “Perfect Madness,” her treatise on motherhood, anxiety and cray-cray. Pick it up if you’re in the market for it, or have a friend or relative in need of some tips.

Another recent how-to release that turned up is “What Color is Your Parachute? For College: Pave Your Path from Major to Meaningful Work,” by Katharine Brooks (Penguin Random House, 2021, 272 pages, $16.99). Tips, tips and more tips.

“Be Gay! Do Comics!” is the motto of The Nib. I’ve been leafing through an issue that came out not too long ago. (Order through TheNib, $14.95.) It’s really different, creative, offbeat and interesting stuff. (She says, trying to come up with better words.) It’s good writin’ and drawin’ — political satire, journalism, non-fiction, comix. Check it out. 

“Are We There Yet?” by Kathleen West is one of the best reads I came across this spring, highly recommended. (Penguin Random House, 2021, 340 pages, $26.) I’ve always loved books about moms. Even before I became a mom, they hooked me. Moms. Are. A. Trip. (Judy Blume’s “Wifey,” Sheila Ballantyne’s “Norma Jean the Termite Queen,” anything about Princess Diana, “Give Me One Good Reason,” by Norma Klein, the list goes on and on.) Introducing Alice Sullivan, who is settling into middle age nicely, thank you, and thinks she knows everything about her family… until she realizes she doesn’t. No spoilers, not giving away more details, but I think this novel will speak to a lot of you, for different reasons.

And now, two notable Young Adult reads:

Cat Patrick’s “Paper Heart” (Putnam, 2021, 274 pages, $17.99) is a tug-on-the-heart read about 13-year-old Tess, and all the changes that follow the loss of her and her twin sister Frankie’s best friend, Colette. She’s falling apart, she’s trying to figure things out, and she’s at an art camp in Wyoming, stuck with extended relatives and far away from immediate family. And Colette. My copy included a sample from “Tornado Brain,” Patrick’s companion novel. Reading that next. “Paper Heart’ is just a fantastic book with likable, believable, real characters and lots of heart, and love.

Finished David Levithan’s “The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother” awhile back. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2021, 213 pages, $16.99.) Great title. Saving the best for last, because this is the best thriller I’ve read in a long time. Aidan disappears, reappears, things get weird… Okay, no spoilers. Just read it, and buy copies to give as gifts.

Bon appetit, loves. Happy summer, happy reading.

 

WM

 

Friday Recipe Club: Summertime favorites, plus Helen’s Baked Beans + Five-Bean Chili

June 4th, 2021

2021

(“Too Damn Hot,” photo by nancy ellen row rawley)

Speaking of my late, great grannies and their genius… 

It’s been hot hot hot here this week in the Willamette Valley, where it usually rains throughout the month of June. In Portland, we always knew when Rose Festival was kicking off, with the ships arriving, the blooms and the princesses and the carnival on the waterfront, because the nice weather would go boom! buh-bye! and the rains would start.

i mean, not just any rain — dismal, grey, muddy muddy carnival grounds, depressing and you would think it would never stop. But on the day the sailors packed up, leaving pregnant girls behind in the port and sailing away out of town — the sun would reappear. Then disappear again and the rain would come back.

June used to be a lot more fun, is my point.

But not now. Last year’s fire season was bad, as well as the previous years before that — i think it’s going on our fifth summer of horrible fires up and down the west coast and throughout the West. We’re still (again) in a drought. It’s scary stuff.

So I go to what comforts me — doing what I can do. Packing a quick bag and the truck in case we need to leave. Praying. Meditating. Keeping the trees cut back, the debris (leaves, branches) picked up. Watering and keeping things as damp and green as possible. Watching the news and the internet to see where the fires are.

And I go grocery shopping and cooking.

Watermelon, blueberries, ice cream, popsicles, sorbet and cookies, of course. We had a ham in the freezer, purchased on sale, so I defrosted that and heated it in the oven, then sliced. I never bake my own hams anymore, I use pre-cooked.

My grandmothers would wake up early when the weather was hot, or they would cook things overnight on low on the stove, or in the slow cooker. Hams, turkey soup, beans and more beans. Ribs, meatloaves, all of the comfort foods. Homemade mac and cheese.

Sometimes they’d give, and we’d get KFC takeout and have a picnic. Lol.

They prepped salads ahead of time to keep in the fridge (potato or macaroni, with lots of mayo or “salad dressing,” black pepper and sweet pickles) or made up quick green salads (with fresh butter lettuce from the garden, picked in the morning before the heat started) with homemade buttermilk dressing, sliced onions, sliced Beefsteak tomatoes. Another favorite was cuke, tomato and onion salad, dressed simply with vegetable oil and vinegar. My maternal grandmother used to put a drinking glass on the table, containing a bouquet of freshly washed green onions in ice water. (My grandpa and sister loved onions. Too much. Ha.)

After I had my own family, I switched the salads up a bit with fresh mozzarella, herbs, and basil, sliced Romas and lemon cucumbers. We also discovered Panzanella made with (slightly stale, but good and hearty) bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and whatever else sounded good. I love Gabriele’s and Debi’s version. I’ve posted so many good summertime recipes over the years, go check them out under the my “Recipe Club” category. Cornbread Salad and Fried Rice, from my cousins; Black Bean Salad, Corn Casserole; Three-Bean Salad… there are just a ton of tasty dishes you can do up ahead of time, then eat at your leisure.  

I baked the ham, and for sides, heated up some corn, and made mashed potatoes with spinach stirred in. We’re good! Also found these two old faves:

AUNT HELEN’S BAKED BEANS

1 can butter beans

1 can light kidney beans

1 can B&M baked beans

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or until done.

And… here’s a yummy one, too, to serve with polenta, cornbread or breadsticks.

FIVE-BEAN CHILI

One can each black-eyed peas, Great Northern beans, black beans, and kidney beans (cook your own, freeze in batches and use what you need, or use canned)

One onion, chopped

Spices and extras: Chili powder, garlic (fresh or powdered), pink salt, cumin, black pepper, spoonful of sugar, jalapenos, big spoonful of cocoa, turmeric

A can or two of Mexican stewed tomatoes or Rotel

A can or two of tomato sauce and paste

I love this recipe because you can have fun with it, cook it in the slow cooker, make it as mild or spicy as you like… serve with sour cream or plain yogurt… grated cheese or more chopped onions, chopped fresh cilantro, okay now I’m hungry.

Bon appetit, babies! Enjoy your weekend and avoid the heat.

WM

Best scones (borrowed from allrecipes)

April 15th, 2021
Scones

(Art from allrecipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  • Step 2: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter. Mix the egg and milk in a small bowl, and stir into flour mixture until moistened.
  • Step 3: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Step 4: Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

(I added mini-chocolate chips, big hit. Bon appetit, babies! WM)

Chicken Talk and How-To, or How-Not-To, also WTF, hens?

April 14th, 2021

Sundown with blackberry blossoms

(Photo by Steven Pings Rawley)

Back to borrowing pictures from Steve because all I ever shoot is my chickens. Ha! I jest. I don’t shoot them. And no, we don’t eat them. (I get asked this more than you would think. The Silkies we raise are (reportedly) good “meat birds.”) Ours lay eggs and get old and stop laying eggs and still get spoiled by us.

I love on them, and we carry them around quite a bit. They’re lovey-dovey-lovey-dovey birds. Yeah, except for the younguns who have already gone feral, but I’ll get to that in a minute…

So can you deal with some chicken talk? Because dear readers, we’ve been raising chickens for about three years (and by “we” I mean mainly my youngest kid, who tells me what to do with the birds) and I’ve learned, just oh so many things.

The other day I saw a hen peek out from behind a tree, up on the hill in the backyard. She disappeared like, oh snap no! when she saw me. A few seconds later, I thought I saw her disappear down the hill. I called to her, nothing. Then later, when she hadn’t reappeared, I asked my son to look for her. There she was, hiding in the bushes where she had disappeared, sitting on 8 big eggs. She’s a Wyandotte, black and gold, and has two sisters. They’re not even a year old, and we’ve raised them with two Olive Eggers and honest to God, they’re all five crazy. They’re half-feral, they run around the yard, chasing off the stray cats and eating the food I leave out for them. (There are only two strays, barn cats from across the street, and I’m not seeing much of them since the chickens have taken over.)

The cat food they’re devouring? (The chickens, not the cats. The cats don’t have much of a chance at it, unless the birds are cooped.) It’s chicken cat food. So yeah. I’m now the kind of person who feeds chicken to a chicken.

SMH and shaking my head and SMH forever.

I can’t remember what I used to do for fun. I think I used to go with friends to pubs, bars and clubs. Sometimes we danced. Drinking happened. I remember sitting at outdoor cafes, too. I seem to recall dating. Dinners out. Staying up until sunrise. I don’t know, it all gets a little vague. Traveling places? Something. Then once Steve and the kids came along, I just took them to the bar with me, so that was easy. We traveled a fair amount. Hmm. I remember being in a bar in Banff with my daughter in the middle of the night, because she was giddy and wouldn’t sleep so I thought, what the hell, we can have some appetizers and drinks.

She was 3 then; she’s 21 now and I’d like to say: Some things haven’t changed.

It’s still a worldwide pandemic, vaccines and all. No, I don’t feel like talking about it. But I will say, I’m looking forward to going out somewhere, eventually, at some point.

It could happen.

Back to the feral chickens: They want to roost outside and party all night. This is not going to end well for them. Nineteen hens, one rooster, a dozen eggs a day (or so) even when we’re not counting the random ones they’re hiding around the yard. Planning an Easter egg hunt, or something. Yes, we could have more chickens, see: rooster. Poor boy. He hasn’t been his usual self. He lets the girls alone, he’s sort of mopey. My son picked him up and was carrying him around, which he totally hates but we don’t care. His spurs are insane, so we always stop to admire them. But this time, yick and oh my heck. One had looped up and back, and was starting to grow into the skin of his leg. At this point my son said later and I turned to YouTube.

This happens, with spurs, and can cause lameness, misery (explains his grouchyass mood), and infection. They suggested using a Dremel (to grind it down), a big nail clipper (like you use for dogs) or a hacksaw. Blech. Dude, if I knew how things were going to turn out some evenings, I’d just go straight to bed, seriously.

Nail clipper. The vid said don’t take off more than half? (Go Google this yourself, I’m not exactly the animal husbandry expert here.) I trimmed off a bit, but it was like an icky fingernail, and the entire thing popped off. The rooster was so relieved to be babied that he had snuggled into my arms and was purring.

He purrs. Like a damn cat. He’s a white Silkie, about half the size of a typical rooster, and I love the boy. All that was left was a tiny new spur under the nasty one, and a fair amount of blood on me, him, the clippers.

I trimmed up the other one a bit. He’s fine, but they can bleed out from this so please use a Dremel and be ye not so stupid as me, as Dooce would say. You can use cornstarch to staunch the bleeding, apparently.

As far as the wild ones and their nest in the shrubs? We’re leaving it and hoping we don’t get a new flock. Twenty is enough.

Questions? Comments? Ask away.

All for now,

WM

Thursday Book Review: “My Inner Sky,” “Mrs. Frisby” and Nigella deluxe

April 1st, 2021

2021

(Meme by anon.)

 

Hello, babies. Sorry if you tried to get in and couldn’t. Technical difficulties.

Here’s a recipe (Judi i love you) to make it up to you.

Ginger Creams

From Angela (Grammy) Derby

Light with great flavor, without being overpowering, much like little gingerbread cakes. I’m going back to my big, red Betty Crocker cookbook, and not just for the recipe, but for the wonderful memories that accompany it.

Cook time: 10 Min  Prep time: 15 Min  Yields: 3 dozen

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1/3 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c water
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 
VANILLA ICING:
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp milk

Directions

1. Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar until blended; add egg, molasses and water with mixer. Stir in remaining ingredients, except frosting. Cover; chill 1 hour.
2. Heat oven to 400’F. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched with finger. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool.
3. Vanilla Butter Frosting: Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.
4. Frost cooled cookies and get ready for a real treat! Store in an airtight container after frosting dries; put waxed paper between layers. These actually get more moist and taste even better the next day!
 
Last Step: Don’t forget to share!

Yum, am I right? We’re OK now, tech-wise. So here is a glimpse into what’s new on the nightstand and on my desk at work…

I loaded my students up with juiceboxes and snacks and started reading them “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,” the 1971 classic by Robert C. O’Brien. Snacks: gone. Juiceboxes: emptied. “More.” So we read more. Then I told them a story about my best, favorite teacher, Miss Howard, grade 4, and how she read us this book and I’ve remembered it ever since.

“More.” So we read more. Then they had lunch and I had them refill their water bottles. #hydration #lifeskills #aguaagua “Why do you always think we need so much water?!?” 

“Because when I was a kid, we didn’t even have water bottles, that’s how long ago it was. We drank from canteens. Or the water fountains. And the teachers always said noyoucantgogetadrinkagainyourefine.”

“Which is why at the end of the day, I always craved what?”

“WATER!”

“No. Orange Crush, with crushed ice. Because I was dehydrated at that point *and* low on sugar.”

“I love Orange Crush.” “Yeah, me, too.” “OK, read.”

If you’ve never read Mrs. Frisby, read it. It’s everything. An allegory, a parable, a great story, a glimpse into the future, past and present. It will let you see what life is like, from a mouse’s point of view. It’s genius and I’ll never stop loving it. (Equally incredible: O’Brien’s “The Silver Crown.”)

“My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between,” by Mari Andrews (Penguin Books, 2021, 255 pages, $22), arrived a few weeks ago. This cool book of art/inspiration/writing and more by Mari Andrews, is lovely, and not just because the cover reminds me of one of the shimmer diamond paintings my daughter and I have become hooked on. I’ve been reading through/soaking in a bit of Andrews’ book every day. It’s like the sunshine we are so frequently blessed with and deprived of during springtime in the Pacific Northwest — it pops up when you need it, disappears for a minute, reappears again. I’ll go all arty here — I love her use of color (primarily watercolor), the rhythm, the ebbs and flows of the book. It’s a work of art, and a good read. It’s a happy book, and it’s just what we all needed right now.

“To live life to the fullest means to *feel* life to the fullest: Full pain, full boredom, full unfairness, full magnificence, full mourning, full lazy days, full joy, full disappointment, full creativity.”

Andrews’ woo-woo style (and I do mean that as a compliment — I’m a fan of woo-woo) is comforting and chop-chop at the same time. It is the kind of book that will give you something different every time you pick it up, and has layers of ideas and thoughts. Highly recommended, especially as a gift to a family member, friend or co-worker.

My cousin sent me a crate of books! She did. With a beautiful note (the girl has lovely handwriting, just like her mom) that said something like, at least one of these books is yours, I know, and the rest look like they should be. This made me happy, especially cuz one of the books was a healthy woo-woo (yeah i said woo-woo again) book from the ’80s, all carob and food tips for the housewives in the crowd, one is a slowcooker special, one has “eff you” in the title (yeah it effin’ does) and the rest are Nigella Lawson cookbooks.

Eff yeah. You wish you had a cousin as great as mine but you don’t. Sorry.

Now. Pasta a la vodka, anyone?

PENNE ALLA VODKA, by Nigella Lawson

INGREDIENTS:

Salt

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes (or 3 cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 pounds penne rigate

½ cup vodka

4 tablespoons butter

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

PREPARATION YIELD 8 to 10 servings

TIME 45 minutes

“Penne alla vodka is the perfect recipe for easy entertaining: short pasta is easier to cook in quantity than long strands and the sauce is amusingly retro — think 1960s Rome, where the dish originated. But it is seriously good.

Step 1: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, and add onion, oil and a sprinkling of salt. Sauté onion until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add tomatoes and their juices, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add heavy cream, and remove from heat.

Step 3: Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and return to cooking pot. Add vodka, butter and salt to taste. Gently mix penne until butter is melted. Add tomato mixture, and mix until pasta is coated.

Step 4: To serve, transfer pasta and sauce to a large warmed bowl. Pass Parmesan cheese for guests to serve themselves.”

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

 

Thursday, let’s blog

March 18th, 2021

December 2019 + old shots

I heard the ice rink at Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, Oregon, is gone, daddy, gone. Then I heard (from my auntie, who would know) that it’s there, still, just smaller. Blech. It was already too small, man.

Loved skating there as a kid, holding hands with my boyfriend on Friday nights (“Couples’ sk8!”) when a bunch of us from grade school went weekly; with my husband, years later; watching from the sidelines, holding my breath and praying as my daughter took lessons, then private lessons, then competed… Awww…

It’s stressful, competing, and not just for the competitors, dude. I alternated between praying and trying not to puke, seriously. The other moms were the same. There was one sane mama, thankfully, who used to hiss, “C’mon you guys, for real? Just smile. Wave and smile.” Ha. Yeah, it’s funny now. I didn’t cry when we abandoned competing, started skating just for fun, and no longer had the hardcore Russian skating coach.

I liked her a lot, but still.

You know what’s boring AF? Other people’s dreams. They can be so interesting when you’re inside one, yeah? But hearing about them is usually a yawnfest. So this is for me, more than you. Memory bank: my blog.

I haven’t skated in a few years — there’s only one rink near the new place, and it’s about an hour away. We had Lloyd Center in Portland, and we used to hit the rinks in Vancouver, Wash., Valley Ice in Beaverton, and the rink in Sherwood, too, when we lived out that way. We skated in Banff one time, that was fantastic. Our son was tiny and had his rockin’ little hockey skates. He sk8ed before he could walk. #truth Our daughter flew around showing all her tricks. She was fun to watch.

But last night… i had a dream my friends and I were on some Magic Bus (“too much/Magic Bus… i want it i want it i want it/u can’t *have it*…”) and we were all heading to the rink. I had some cool white sk8ing dress, all fluff and short skirt, so I put on my tights and dress with a sweatshirt over.

Cuz it’s cold at the rink.

Laced up my skates, couldn’t find the blade guards, didn’t matter cuz it was a dream, good to go. I was thinking of my daughter’s friend at the rink, I think, who we once overheard telling another little chicky about the Olympics.

“Someday we might compete.”

“What are the Olympics?”

“It’s when you get the ice… all to yourself,” she answered, and they both shivered. Because that is the ultimate dream. Forget the medals. You get the whole Olympic-size rink all to your own sweet self.

In this dream I had the ice mostly to myself, it was pretty awesome. There were probably pretzels, cookies, peppermint Schnapps and hot cocoa, who knows. Then (after a long while, and yes, my sk8ing skills are markedly better in my dream state than they are in real life), a *ton* of people showed up, and this old guy and I said, WTF where did they all come from? PANDEMIC LET’S GET OUT OF HERE.

And we split. But I had sk8ed for a long time and it was all good, man. It was a beautiful dream. My hippie friends showed up and they probably sk8ed too, then off we went on our next adventure.

Another favorite memory of Lloyd Ice, speaking of old guys — we were doing a family sk8 one Saturday, this old guy had on his hockey sk8s and was zooming so fast (but carefully!) dodging around everyone. As he was flying by one of the gates, a little toddler came stumbling onto the ice. Without pausing, he scooped her up, flew to the next gate, deposited her on the mat and sk8ed off. It was kinda awesome.

All for now, ciao, please be safe, even if you’re not sk8ing; wear your masks, even if you’ve been vaccinated; stop and smell the flowers along the way; don’t forget to write when you find work and later, gator.

WM

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