Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

28 February 2009

Daring Baker

This month's Daring Baker challenge was a flourless chocolate cake. I served it with some peppermint ice cream made in the ice cream maker. Sorry no photos of the ice cream, but it was gone before I could snap a picture. As much the ice cream was enjoyed, the cake was not as well received. We actually ended up throwing some out which is quite unusual.

I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate. The cake is very dense and chocolaty. Overall it was not a favorite - a bit to dense for the kids. However if you are in need of a dessert in a short amount of time - this would work. (Sorry this is so very short but family is visiting!) See the recipe below and thanks for this months challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated
1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

24 February 2009


For those of you beginning to tire of winter and its wrath . . .




Essay on Man by Alexander Pope

23 February 2009


Yes, it's true, I confess. While I tried to hide the truth with that last post listing the daily activities around here, in reality I have been visiting some place new. For a long time, I professed no interest in giving "status updates" and making "friends" with people I hadn't seen since big hair and parachute pants were in style. I swore my allegiance to the blog world. But then a long time high school girlfriend finally seduced me into joining by sending me an email swearing that all the "cool kids were doin' it" and listing all her new "friends," including my own sister! I was skeptical, but not wanting to miss out, I went to take a peek. Before I knew it, I was enticed into making my own "status updates" and becoming a "fan" of groups such as OMG So Need a Glass of Wine or I'm Gonna Sell my Kids. So rather than writing witty blog posts, I've been here.

And while I'm confessing, I might as well admit that I have also been spending a fair amount of time here too. Although I am much less interested in making friends here, and more interested in figuring out when to use Die, Der, or Das. So really, this one is much less of an infidelity.

I'll try to make it up to you with more exciting posts, and some new photos, but I'm not sure I can totally stay away from the "other" sites. Maybe we can still be "friends"?

19 February 2009

Nothing to See Here

Really, there is nothing to report. It's a bit like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day here. The kids go to school and at least once a week I am at the school on some project, field trip, extra curricular activity, etc. KK and Hew has gymnastics once a week. Hew is starting t-ball. KK attends Daisy Scouts. I continue finding advertisements for employment. Hubby continues to send out his CV. There was a call from recruiter in the Northeast - said she'll get back to him next week. We've learned not to hold our breath. I clean, cook, do laundry, and help with homework. A couple a times a week, I am exercising, but should be doing more. Have been out to visit my grandparents who are here for the sunny winter. My seedlings are ready to go in the ground, but we periodically have a day of 30 degree weather, so I'm holding off. Things break and we fix them. I made peanut butter - actually it was cashew butter - it was a hit. We take the kids out for bike rides. Have looked at a couple photography classes, but I have to work around Spring Break at the end of March so no commitment yet. Talk about vacation this summer and Spring Break in March. We talk and Skype with family. I finished knitting one sweater for a niece and am working on the second one for niece 2. We wash, and brush, and read stories, say prayers, and go to bed.

That's it folks, nothing to see here.

17 February 2009

A Conversation with Mars and Venus

Here's what I said when I called:

"Hey Hubby, you so owe me. Since the dryer repairman is coming today, I pulled the washer and dryer from the wall and cleaned back there. You should have seen it. There was a ton of dryer lint back there, a couple hangers, and one of the kids shoved a black crayon under the washer that melted in with all the dryer fuzz. There was so much dryer fuzz sticking to everything, I had to take my clothes off when I finished."

Here's Hubby response:

"You cleaned behind the dryer naked!"

After clarifying that I meant that I changed my clothes after I had finished cleaning, his final response:

"All I can picture is you naked behind the washer covered in dryer lint."

Yes, that's it - when you Hubby go off to work each day, I strip down, crawl behind the major appliances, and clean. That's my secret.

Yeah, right.

13 February 2009

Calling for Advice

Alright you well-traveled people, I need some advice. This year I turn a certain age - an age that deserves a bit of celebration.

THE BIG 4 0! (SHHHHHHHHHHHHH - Don't tell!)

And I have been promised a June trip of my choosing for 7-8 night sans kids. So where to? I am open to suggestions, but there must be mountains and water (ocean water not necessary) and out of the U.S., and not blazing hot. Austria always tops my list, but I am thinking maybe someplace I haven't been before. Anyone know anything about Slovenia and the Julian Alps? Or do you know someplace even better? Suggestions sought.

12 February 2009

In case you thought I was up to no good . . .

I really did have a little project to finish.

Some plain ones for pre-school boy's class to decorate . . .


And, some frosted ones for elementary girl's class to celebrate . . .

And an extra for my Valentine!

05 February 2009

It All Comes Down to a Number

I went to tour the public school yesterday. Like most things in life, there was some good and some bad. First the slightly disturbing: due to budgeting constraints art is once every two weeks, music is once every two weeks, there are no foreign language classes, no separate computer teacher (classroom teacher instructs on computer use) and no field trips at all (but considering where we live, this isn't much of negative). Culture is a luxury that can not be afforded in a district that not only pays their teachers less than the national average, but also less than the state average by a couple thousand.

Now the good: for the core curriculum of reading, writing, math, science, and social science, the grade expectations are clearly spelled out and appear to be equivalent or even more demanding that expensive private school, there is state mandated testing to ensure students are meeting some standard (unfortunately, the school's ranking and pay raises are tied to these scores which means teachers spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for the standardized test), the administration was forthcoming with both the achievements and the challenges at the school, class sizes are currently below the state law requirements and classroms have only a few students more than expensive private school, daily PE (which is really needed when they are so young), separate classrooms and special education teachers for students with severe learning disabilities and ESOL students, and paraprofessionals for students they are attempting to transition to the mainstream classroom (expensive private school has none of these programs and just throws all students into one classroom and expects the teacher to "deal with it").

The really bad: The enrichment (or Alpha) program is available only to students who score a certain IQ number. It doesn't matter if a student is close to the number and has great grades. It doesn't matter if a student has crap grades and mediocre work, as long as the IQ is above the number. The number is the determining factor ALWAYS. And the kicker - the number is ridiculously high. Higher than the number used by many other public schools in other states. So high, that I called my sister who has a masters degree in Special Education and has worked in Exceptional Student Education for years, and she laughed and asked if they had any kids in the program. The number is above my IQ, my sister's IQ, and my brother's, who is a friggin' engineer in charge of constructing and fixing nuclear submarines for our military (and some secret stuff that he refuses to answer questions about . . . but that is another post).

So my choice is to have my first grader tested for her IQ or just forget about the program. Yes, there will be in class enrichment, but my fear is that just like this year at expensive private school, the teacher will have more troubling students to deal with and my daughter will be allowed to coast for the first half of the year. And maybe she is above the number, but in reality I think she is just a bright little girl who loves to be challenged and thinks it is great that she gets attention for being at the top of her class. Obviously, if we test her, we will NEVER tell what it is for or tell her the results. Even if she is a genius, she doesn't need to know :)

The question of private versus public is pretty much answered. Is weekly art, music, and foreign language worth the cost of tuition? My mother pointed out that the kids could have weekly private lessons in all of these and it would still be cheaper than the private school tuition. The thing is, if I truly believed the entire education at the private school was more beneficial to the kids, I'd pay it, but I think I know that for this school, it isn't worth it. So why am I so upset with having to make this decision? Is it because I can't still believe we are still here and that by sending them to public school I am admitting that we aren't leaving? Or am I just in need of a nap?

04 February 2009

Overheard this Morning

Hew on phone with Hubby who is in NY:
"Have you had the thing where you tell the people about the dead person?"

Interpretation of the Question:
Have you attend your Grandmother's funeral yet?

03 February 2009

What's in a Name?

I know that I am a bit obvious about my dislike of Florida - the heat, the education system, no snow, no mountains, but one of the reasons I must escape this state is my husband's family. I know I have ranted about their insanity before (here and here, oh and here), but after the last 72 hours I would like to take my husband and children, change our names and enter the witness protection program so I don't have to speak with some of his family again.

Hubby's grandmother died. This is FIL's mother and as we speak Hubby is flying North for the funeral. Because of the divorce of hubby's parents, he never had a lot of contact with this grandmother, and I have never met her. But her death should be the focus. Instead the last 72 hours have included enough drama for several XXX Jerry Springer shows. In any big family, there are a few nuts, Hubby's family just seems to have several extra.

There has been a gathering, and phone calls, and emails - and not about Grandma. When Hubby spoke with his brother in France, BIL asked when we could move and stated it should be as far away as possible. He hinted that France was even a bit too close to this mob. When I called my own semi-normal (in comparison) mother and told her all of this, she started laughing and told me that I could not think this stuff up and I need to find a way to write it down. So, in that spirit, I have started titling the episodes for Springer. At least, I can then laugh about this.
  • Child Alcoholism: Is it Right to Allow Your Seven Year Old to Steal Your Wine Glass?
  • Adult Alcoholism: Yes, Your Kid Does Know How Many Drinks You've Had
  • Who's the Daddy? (self-explanatory)
  • Miscarriage: Should you continue to try to become pregnant when (A) you have a child, (B) you are not in a relationship, (C) your finances are strained, and (D) you have had several miscarriages that have resulted in you being a bit nuts and tattooing the name of the miscarried child on your arms?
  • Tattoos with Profanity and Young Children: How to explain them?
  • "Remembered" Abuse: Are allegations of abuse thirty years later true or just a way to seek money as you have never held a job and are over age thirty?
  • Doctor/Patient Relationships: Should you date or marry your M.D? Even if he has delivered your children? Does it matter if he is already married?
  • Illness and Family Expectations: If you have disowned your family, should they be expected to locate you and come spend time taking care of you if you become sick?
  • Bullying is Not Cute! Wake Up and Parent!
  • Adult Children Living at Home with No Job: Misunderstood or just Sponges?

Thankfully, in this bunch of nuts are a few great people, and we just catch each others eye and exchange the look. That look of how in the hell did I end up as a part of this.

So, any suggestions for a new name?

01 February 2009

Am I the Only One . . .

. . . who, not only doesn't care who wins the Super Bowl, but also did not know which teams were playing until my husband turned on the game?