Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Real Cup Cake

After reading this recipe for a cake microwaved in a mug (at Chasing Cheerios), I gave it a try last night.
It's fun, it's yummy, and it takes 5 minutes TOTAL.
In a bowl (or in a microwaveable mug, but I used a bowl in order to be able to stir it thoroughly),
4 T. sugar
4 T. flour (all-purpose OR self-rising; there are recipes for both online -- I used all-purpose)
2 T. cocoa
3 T. milk
3 T. oil
1 egg
If you're like me, add the mandatory handful of nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour into a microwaveable mug (no need to grease) and nuke it for 3 minutes (1000 watt microwave, so you may want to watch your time). The cake rises and climbs up the mug, eventually mushrooming up over the top. It's pretty cool .
You can turn this over onto a plate and dust it with powdered sugar. A cherry on top makes it extra pretty.
I was thinking a fun idea would be to keep it in the mug and put whipped cream on top, so it looked like a mocha.
And if I had a camera cord, I'd show you!!! (Grrr...)
This is very fun and easy. So easy, in fact, that I'm going to have the kids do this on Monday for a Labor Day Treat. They'll get a kick out of watching it grow.
I'm thinking this is a good College Student Recipe, too, as you don't need an oven.
Try it and let me know what you think! Did you change it? What worked? What didn't?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"If You're Opposed to Logging, Try Using Plastic Toilet Paper"

(I apologize for the lack of pictures ... still no camera cord ...perhaps my friend Kendra can email me some pics and then I will post them...hint, hint. Edited to add: Kendra pulled through for me! The pictures are posted here.)
When you wake up to your husband slowing the van into a rest area, and the first thing to enter your consciousness is a bumper sticker bearing the above quote, THAT'S how you know you're in Maine.
Wide smile. Maine truly is Vacationland.
You know how you can listen to a very busy piece of classical music, and sometimes the most poignant and striking parts of it are the strategically placed rests? The quiet? This was the much-coveted "rest" for us.
It only took us an additional day and an additional alternator to get there, a successful trip by our standards.  Ethan spent two Sundays preaching to a delightful group of people in Bucksport, Maine.  We stayed at a vacation rental in nearby Stockton Springs. The landlady had left a list of suggestions for enjoying the area, and we systematically went down the list, finding each item a winner.
We watched a sea otter dip and dive as we towered 420 feet above it in the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, and the pirates were just leaving as we arrived at Fort Knox at the tail end of their anachronistic Pirates' Day at the Fort. We wore out before the children did as they played hide and seek in the shadows of the fort, running ahead to explore the next darkened corners.
Sears Island, the largest uninhabited island on the East Coast, brought shrieks of shock and thrill as the children quickly disproved my "You don't need swimsuits; the water's far too cold" piece of motherly intuition. A quick trek back to the van provided said unnecessary swimsuits (and, as it turned out, I only SAID they were unnecessary -- they proved quite helpful -- grrr), and stubby fingers stained red from berry-picking scratched the shore for sea glass and sea shells. A few hours later, the children dribbled ice cream on their swimsuits as we surprised them with the rare treat of ice cream cones ("Papa and Mama! We love you FOREVER!").
On the way to Schoodic Point, we found the BEST! lobster rolls at Chase's Restaurant ("strictly a local's place," in the words of our landlady) in Winter Harbor. Benjamin and Lily shared a shrimp basket, and Abraham and Miriam shared a platter of fish-n-chips (and fought over the FISH! They never even touched the fries!). Edee took a little from everyone. Schoodic Point coaxed frightened giggles as the children played on nature's version of a playground, every child demanding, "I can do it!" as they picked their way from rock to rock to rock, the ocean lapping at their feet.
The Big Chicken Barn (one of those unusual places that sells antiques at junk prices instead of the other way around) proved to be one of our favorite stores.
Ethan marveled over the model boats at BlueJacket Shipcrafters (and I have to admit, even I was having a hard time maintaining a bored look).
We enjoyed the view (and the blueberries!) at Camden Hills State Park and then strolled around the boardwalk of downtown Camden.
(Incidentally, this is where we were sitting on benches eating freshly-purchased pastries when a woman pushing two yappy puppies that were dressed in doll clothes in a pink pet stroller saw us and loudly proclaimed, "ARE THEY ALL YOURS? OH, MY WORD! MY DOGGIES JUST LOVE CHILDREN. DON'T YOU, DOGGIES? LOOK AT ALL THE CHILDREN! THEY'RE ALL YOURS? ARE YOU MORMON???"
And she thought WE were a sight.)
And after this delightful week was over, we ended our stay in Maine with a few days of fellowship, fine food, and fine wine at our friends' home in Freeport. Despite the almost constant rain, we got out and about and had grand fun. We made the requisite Freeport trip to L.L. Bean (the kids always get a kick out of the big boot ... well, not literally ...) but also enjoyed kayaking and going for a mini-hike with a grand view at the top. But the most fun were the hearty laughs and honest discussions after the kids were tucked in bed. I had forgotten what deep friendship (outside of marriage, of course) feels like ... that settled feeling where you don't always have to be talking but it's OK if you are.
Aaaah. It was good. It was restful, it was rejuvenating, it was needed.
Strike up the band.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Campers

I have been so behind on ... well, keeping up ... that I will have to post my updates in parts. So first, we start with the Housing Update, because that's the thing that I think I'm most behind on keeping up on (ugggh, I can hear the Vocabulary Police siren, not to mention that of the Grammar Squad...).
Last time I posted about housing, our landlord (a development company) had told us that we had a month to move as they were going to be developing the land around us. That meant we had until June 30th to find a new home, and our baby was due June 16th.
Well, that baby was born on June 16th (naturally, even...huh... a baby that knows his own due date!), and we were encouraged to ask for an extension. So we asked, and the landlord gave us another month. That gave us until July 31st. We were also given an incredible opportunity for Ethan to preach in Maine (and for us to visit with very special friends up there). He was to preach August 3rd, and we signed a lease for a vacation rental (WONDERFUL! WONDERFUL!) beginning July 31st.
That meant we had to find a home, pack for Maine, and pack the house by July 30th (so we could take the two days we knew it would take us ~potty stops~potty stops~potty stops~). But more about the packing (and potty stops) later.
So where are we now? Well, here' s a clue:

Only where this one has "wpclipart," ours has an air conditioning unit. It's a good trade-off, I'm thinking.
We are staying in my parents' side yard in their pop-up camper (because our camper does not have air conditioning OR "wpclipart"). We have found a house to rent but it has some work that needs to be done and should be ready in the next week or two. Meanwhile, we sleep in the camper and spend the day in my parents' house.
There have been several unexpected blessings to this arrangement (one of them being high-speed Internet! -- three posts in three days! Are you shocked?). But I must say that one of my FAVORITE things is seeing our children at night. They have been amazing about going to bed (albeit we still have the routine boo-hooing at "Time to get your jammas on!"). Lily, Abraham, and Benjamin share one end of the camper. Miriam and Eden share the middle bed. Jonathan shares the other end bed with Ethan and me (and it's surprising how much room a 2-month old can take up on a bed).
We put the kids to bed a few hours before we go, and we turn on a baby monitor so we can hear if any shenanigans are going on. When we go to bed, I love to see the kids all sleeping soundly, cuddled up next to each other. A few days ago, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning to see Miriam (3) quietly getting out of bed and carefully covering Edee (20 mos.) up before she crawled back into bed and covered herself.
These children, who are used to having a CD play while they sleep and no baby brother to occasionally cry in the same room, have slept soundly each night with the brother and no CD.
I know it's a temporary arrangement, and I'm thankful for the great house that waits for us on the other end of this time. But for now, I love the quiet snores and gentle sighs in the middle of the night.
And I even love the muffled giggles and not-so-muffled 20-month old jabbering we catch over the monitor.



Thursday, August 21, 2008


Amy is hosting a giveaway for one lucky participant in her Notebook Experiments. You can find the details here, but the gist is that you have to try one of her experiments and post about it on your blog. The winner, to be picked randomly, wins a videocamera.
I wish I could include pictures, but we are staying with my parents until our next house is ready (more about that later), and the camera cord is packed away somewhere. So use your imagination!

We tried the WHO Bread recipe (from Notebook Entry 02.14.07) ... the acoustic version (from SouleMama), which we tweaked a bit. I have a large family and nearby extended family, so I made five loaves in my Bosch. I'm not sure where the name "WHO" Bread came from, but I'm guessing it's for Wheat, Honey, and Oats (???). Anyway, we changed the name to protect the ... delicious. We call this Shocker Bread, as my dad took a bite and said, "WHOA! This is delicious! That's a real shocker!"
It IS absolutely delicious. If you don't have a Bosch or just want to try a one-loaf version, go here. There's also a bread machine version, for those so inclined.
But here's our recipe, tweaked for a Bosch.

Put in Bosch:

6 c. warm water
1/2 c. plus 2 T. honey
5 T. brown sugar
3 T. active dry yeast


Let it sit for a few minutes, then add:


10 T. butter @ room temperature
2 T. salt
12 c. flour (we used freshly ground prairie gold wheat, but you could also mix white and wheat or use all white or whatever...)
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
2 T. cinnamon
LARGE handful of nuts

Mix briefly. Add enough additional flour to clean the sides of the bowl (but still leave it sticky like masking tape). Turn mixer onto 2 and mix for 5 minutes.


Remove dough and form into 5 loaves in greased loaf pans. Cover with a damp towel and leave to rise  for 45 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. OH, YUM. It smells delightful and tastes even better.


And topped with Amy's suggestion of this honey butter (which my 4- and 6-yr. olds made), it is unbeatable.


Or, to put it another way, shocking.


Don't you think I should get bonus points just for including more links than I have ever included before? That, combined with my minimal knowledge of ... computering (or computtering around), made this post take three times as long as it should have!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I don't think there's a word for the way my brain feels right now...full of nonsense information organized into nonsense piles content in their nonsensicalness. I have so much to update and elaborate on:

  • where we're living

  • where we vacationed

  • homeschool curriculum for this coming year

  • etc.

But that will involve a bit of strategic brain organizing, and I'm too tired for that. So another day.
I'll just start with today and leave the rest for later (or forever buried in those piles). Today is the day my baby sister left for college. I am INFAMOUS for crying at goodbyes...we're not sure how I inherited this trait from my husband's paternal grandmother; but somehow, I did. I mean, when I was eighteen I was at a slumber party with my best friends. I spent the ENTIRE night crying because I was leaving for Texas to go to college. (Granted,  I still think Texas is worthy of tears, but we'll leave off that for now.) It was so bad that my friend's mother called my mother to come get me (Carol, do you remember this?). I WAS EIGHTEEN. (See what six kids does to you? I have no dignity anymore and don't even hesitate to share this with you!) Anyway. So she picked me up, and I spent the entire next day in the bedroom that I shared with my baby sister, me crying because I was starting college, and she crying because she was starting kindergarten.
And today, she left for college. My daughter Lily is the same age that Rebecca was when I left for college.
And despite my constant pep talks to myself during the day, I cried saying goodbye.
Even with my husband's self-righteous "I KNEW you would cry!" chuckles, I still cried. Darn it.
But this time was different. I always cried before because I had no idea how on earth the world would go on without me. Who would mock my siblings for their own good? Who would clean the bathrooms? Who would micro-manage? Who would love ____________ (name of person I was leaving) like I did?
Oddly enough, each of these problems worked itself out. I'm still a bit shocked at this, but it's true.
But today, I cried for ME. It was a purely selfish cry (as opposed to all the other selfless, humanitarian cries). I know SHE'S fine. Heck, this is a semester-long vacation for her, after being the only teen relative within shouting distance of eight nieces and nephews. (Granted, we do have incredible lung capacity and shouting ability in our genes.)
But what about ME? Don't tell me I have to teach all of the rest of my children how to tie their shoes! Certainly she can't expect ME to be sympathetic to their owies in Sunday School? And I don't have time to read all those stories! And how ON EARTH!! am I supposed to get a date in NOW? And doggone it, if I am alone the NEXT time one of my children knocks herself out, I am going to march into that Academic Dean's office and demand that they return my baby sitter sister, for the safety of my sanity.
Not to mention how OLD I feel every time I look at Lily and think about Rebecca at that age, and how it seems like yesterday.
And how another tomorrow, not many tomorrows from now, that will be my Lily going off to college. And even sooner than that, it will be my Ben. And there they will find spouses, and then there will be grandchildren...
AAAACK! Come to think of it, I'm glad Becca's off to college. She needs to hurry up and find a husband so she can hurry up and have kids so my grandchildren have babysitters.
Oy. I can just feel my bones getting older. I think I need to grab an aspirin, rub some Ben Gay on my temples, and take out my teeth so I can head to bed.
Before the baby cries to be nursed.
See what she's done to me?
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