The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

If you fill it, they will come...

Now that I have trees in my backyard, I can hang bird feeders.
But, as everyone around here knows, birds are not the only critters attracted by seed... there's always the squirrels. That's right. After living here almost 10 years and not seeing one bushy-tailed tree-rat, we had an intrepid visitor 3 weeks ago.

One lone squirrel... curious... hungry.

No match for The Lord High Protector of the Manor. We opened the sliding door and Friday was out like a shot. That poor squirrel had no idea what he had gotten himself into. He practically tripped over himself in his attempt to get to the fence. Then, dashing along the top, he kept going till he was not only far out of reach of Super-Schnoodle, but far, far out of reach of any sort of threat from our yard.

It was hilarious- Abby and I couldn't stop laughing. (And to think that some people get special feeders and traps and such. All you really need is a dog!)

Our red-wing blackbirds, towhees, sparrows, and chickadees are happy now. They don't have to share their seed with a cheeky squirrel. I'll get a photo of them one of these days- it's been too chilly to sit and wait with camera in hand.

Summer is coming, summer is coming...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sew what?

This used to be a canvas tote bag- you know, the kind they give you at conferences or seminars with the company logo on it and you take it home and it sits in your closet waiting for something to carry...

I had nothing for it to carry, poor tote bag, so I cut it up and made it into a holder for all kiddo's colored pencils (Crayola Twistables- they don't need sharpening.)

Each pencil slides nicely into its own little slot, and then you fold the two sides together,
roll it into a pouch, and tie it with the attached strap (which used to be one of the handles of the aforementioned tote bag).

My budding artist can take this on THE TRIP and even if it tips over, the pencils won't spill out all over the rental car.

I know some of you out there are just drooling over this and wanting a pencil pouch all your own. I would tell you exactly how to make this except I sort of did it on the fly and have only one specific measurement to give you: the spaces for the pencils must be exactly 18 mm apart. That is snug enough so the pencils won't slide out on their own, but loose enough so the kids can slip them in and out easily while coloring.

How did I come to the conclusion that it had to be 18 mm?


I also have a warning:

Canvas tote bags are horrible to re-purpose. The fabric frays like crazy and it is THICK. It is so thick that I broke two of my sewing machine needles. Wimpy needles. Get some backbone.
My mom gave me some of her more macho needles and those did not break.

They bent. 90 degrees.

Needless (and needle-less) to say, I will not be making any more of these. I won't help you if you try to make one and you get stuck. Don't call me for help, I will just laugh at you.

I warned you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

His job

This is what he lives for- guarding his people.
On a rare sunny day, he sits on the windowsill and watches the front yard.
Nothing escapes his gaze, nothing is hidden from his watchful eye.
Every intrusion into the yard will be met with fierce growls, barking, and if the chance arises, a quick nip on the thigh.
It matters not that the perceived threat is outside and downstairs while he is upstairs, for he is the dog and this...

this is his job.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

She's cool like that.

I got to spend some quality time with my mom a few weeks ago. Dad took kiddo off to the park (or somewhere out of range) so it was just me and mom working on a task. The goal? Teaching me how to make Easter Bread. (Our background is Mennonite.)

I grew up with Easter Bread and the accompanying cheese spread. It smelled good, it tasted wonderful, and it just magically appeared every year at Easter time.

As I got older, I figured out that the rows of baking tins, massive quantities of eggs, and heaps of dough rising in towel-covered Tupperware tubs all over the house were indicators that some serious work was taking place.

At some point, my brothers and I were enlisted to help with one of the more grueling aspects of making Easter Bread Spread- pushing ingredients through a sieve. I guess the Easter Bread elves were not strong enough to use a tablespoon to mash egg yolks and cottage cheese through the screen. It was hard work- we had to take turns with the spoon, but we knew the prize at the end would be worth it.

The tradition never changed. Even as we grew up, left for college, moved back home, moved out for good, moved back home again, moved out for good for real this time, and had kids of our own, the Easter Bread and the Easter Bread Spread always showed up. I guess I sort of took it for granted every year.

This year was different. This year my mom had a broken shoulder. (The back story for that really deserves its own post, but let's just say I was indirectly to blame. After all, I gave them the treadmill...) Making Easter Bread and the spread is tough enough with two good arms- just thinking about it with one arm in a sling...? Not gonna happen.

This is the point where I said, "I think I'm old enough to learn how to do this on my own." and Mom agreed. Now, I'm sure my mom was in the kitchen helping her mom at a very early age, so I know that age isn't really the indicator of being able to make Easter Bread. What I really meant was, "I think I can set aside my selfish desire to be served Easter Bread, and actually venture into the kitchen and the unknown realm of yeast dough and help you do this (because I know I'm not getting any if I don't.)" Well, that, and because I really do think I should learn how to carry on the tradition. I mean, I'm 48 and a half. If not now, when?

We picked a date during Spring Break and set out to accomplish our task. I'm no domestic goddess, so I am sure Mom was wondering what she had gotten herself into. It's quite a production, this Easter Bread. But she was patient and explained everything (sometimes twice), and let me take pictures all along the way.

I think it tasted extra good this year. Maybe that's because I ate it with new appreciation for the past 47 years of Easter Bread and the Easter Bread baker.

I'll probably need a little coaching in my Easter Bread baking sometime in the next couple of years, but at least I have a good start to the tradition, and an excellent coach.

She's cool like that. She's my mom.