baking

Blizzard Activities

First, it was so quiet, we all slept later than usual and then had yummy scones – (yes, smitten kitchen), it was a perfect treat for after digging out of the snow.

Thanks to a great post (Thank you, Facebook), I remembered to clear the furnace vent (FYI, some furnaces vent rough the chimney – some have PVC pipes on the side of the house and clearing them is important – if the vents are it can cause carbon monoxide buildup). Of course, the vent is in the back in the absolute furthest place through snow that was well over my knees but it is cleared. T Our backyard this morning –

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Luckily the power stayed on – except for a short blip before the storm really hit – and I spent the day cooking a gorgeous lasagna bolognese from – where else – smitten kitchen.

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Yes, I made pasta from scratch for the first time…it was easy and fun (looks like I need a pasta maker) and a beautiful béchamel sauce that I was afraid I’d mess up because it got dicey for a bit but it worked…phew.

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The lasagne was delicious, sure, it took all day to make (really, all day) but totally worth it.

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The New Year

What have I been doing, besides my random acts of kindness, you mean? Well, I have been putting my house in order which takes a lot more work than I thought it would. I have also been on a massive return spree and think I am all “mall-ed out” for the foreseeable future.

What am I actually doing? Well, I cleaned my linen closets, junk drawer, and my own closet (okay, just the dresser drawers) and hoping for an Elfa Intervention to organize the hanging closet mess. This is no subtle hint – help me Elfa! BTW, the 30% off sale on Elfa is going on now at The Container Store.

I just thoroughly clean the fridge yesterday, too. Wow, something is up with me.

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Good timing – I just heard about a contest that The Container Store is running…

The Perfect Pantry Makeover Contest

You can enter for a chance to win a $1,500 Gift Card towards the elfa pantry of your dreams. All you need to do is visit their Facebook Contest Page and submit a photo a baked good that you have either made or that you admire.

It’s simple and you can submit as many photos as you like – just make sure you have your favorites submitted by THIS SUNDAY, January, 20th. Three finalists will be selected on Monday, January 21st and you will be able to vote for your favorite entry until Sunday, January 27th.

Works for me as I have been busy baking (flour banana bread – two versions – one as Joanne Chang intended and one adaptation minus the cinnamon and walnuts of her recipe but with chocolate chips added) – so I will take more pics as I bake my way through January.

For more information and to see what treats have already been submitted, just click the image below to jump straight to the contest page.

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April Vacation

I don’t like the word staycation (nor do I like the much used webinar) although I have stayed home over school break and attended a seminar on-line – I just don’t like to use those particular words. I’m quirky like that.

So we had one of the aforementioned vacations this April (and this February for that matter). What did we do? Well, we live just off the route of the Boston Marathon so we are pretty blocked in for much of the day, so we baked (a cheesecake, an apple pie and a chocolate pudding pie). Sure, it was 95 degrees that day. Hottest place in Massachusetts – anywhere on the Marathon route (especially if you were running). Second hottest place…my kitchen.

One or more of our family did some or all of the following: Caught up with friends and family, watched the Marathon, had a lemonade stand, went to soccer camp,  sailed, ordered takeout, watched movies, ate donuts, read books, had a sleepover  (still recovering), went to Six Flags, took driving lessons, music lessons, did some homework and went away for weekend to Block Island, worked, went to the new MGH museum, walked, rode bikes, went to soccer practice, played in a soccer game, went to shopping in the burbs and in Boston, went to a photo exhibit, cooked dinner, kicked around Beacon Hill and Charles Street, grocery shopped, cleaned the house, did laundry, drove carpool, went to brunch at The Common Ground, put away winter gear, started a new job. Guess which of the fun things I did?

The Common Ground (85 Harvard Avenue, Allston) has a terrific brunch – now 11 – 2 but starting 10- 2 with an newly expanded menu next week. Great home fries, eggs, toast, and turkey bacon and sausage, apple crisp, yoghurt and homemade granola and a lovely salad.  All you can eat or you can order off the menu. I had the incomparable French toast – get it if you love Bananas Foster – you will be in heaven! The home fries are delicious and I barely restrained myself from swiping bacon off my friend’s plate.

Stuff we wanted to do but didn’t… go to historic Fenway Park, the MFA (although I tried), or the beach, and we still have to get to Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Maybe next weekend. Happy back-to-school!

 

Reading All Day

Yes, that is my preferred method of spending time and although it is hard to carve out a whole day, preferably with some iced tea and maybe something sweet to nibble on (like these?), at least I have no shortage of books! Check out this list from NPR – Critics’ List: Summer 2011: NPR I always love their book picks.

After carpools, dog walking and basic house cleanup, oh, yeah, working, and seeing to a mild but persistent addiction to Angry Birds, I am sneaking in some reading time. Pack a car book! Great time to catch up on reading while waiting for children in camp lines or on the sometimes longish drives to camp (books on tape, audio only while driving please).

So far, I’ve read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder which I could not put down and read straight through in two days, yes, that’s what I was doing and it is reviewed here in the NY Times (not by me, I wish).


“>capability mom reads so many books

capability mom still reading booksBossy Pants, by Tina Fey

Supremely funny, here is the great Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter excerpt, because, Lord, I have seen with my own eyes that Tina Fey can really, really write.

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

and am pre-reading Young Adult books – yes, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson Lovely book, Winner of the Smarties Book Prize, and 2001 Whitbread Children’s Book Prize Finalist and a 2001 Carnegie Medal Finalist if you don’t believe me.

capability mom reads so many books - young adult fiction

Lock and Key, Sarah Dessencapability mom pre-reads young adult fiction

Tough topics are handled very well by the author. Fine for High School, middling for Middle Schoolers unless you are either into Good Discussions about Sensitive Topics like drug and alcohol abuse, child abandonment and physical abuse.

and on my iPad:
Egypt: The Uprising (The Battle for Maat, #1)

I just started this and really like it so far but it is my first full read on the iPad and I may crack and get the paper copy from Pragmatic Mom as we are both reviewing it later this summer.

capability mom reading to review books

and Wicked Good by Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joanne Lewis

Two sisters wrote this book together and although I am only 30 pages in, I am already attached to the characters. From the website:

My sister and I have written a novel called Wicked Good. It’s the story of a mother and her son with Asperger’s syndrome. People frequently ask how it came to be that two sisters wrote a novel together while living in different states.It was March. The snow was dirty brown and the sun was absent here in Bangor, Maine. I was spending a lot of time on my sofa, channel surfing and landing nowhere.Joanne called from her home in Florida. “Wanna write a book together?” she asked.I wrapped the afghan around me tighter and yawned from lack of blood flow to my brain. “Sure,” was the best response I could muster.

capability mom reading to review books

I am also on a rereading kick and just put down Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

capability mom rereads books in the summer I don’t know who re-did this cover but I am feeling quite stodgy when I say I do not care for it. I also am a bit put out reading this as a mom, because just maybe it isn’t all Marmee-love over here. Now I have to go read Little Men. Oh, look, they left that cover alone. capability mom rereads classic books in the summerWell, this should get you started, Happy Reading!

I forgot to add two books, a Pramatic Mom recommendation, After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer– a terrific Young Adult book about the friendship of two boys (who both have cancer), family, middle school crushes and math phobia. Loved this book.

capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer I am midway through Zeitoun by David Eggers, which both Newton South and Newton North high schools are reading as part of the Two Schools, One Book project this summer but my high school student needed to read it so I handed it over.

I have linked all of these books to Amazon – go ahead and buy them! Last quarter I earned about $.73 – yes, that was a decimal point.

Update, alert and apologies. I just upgraded my blog and I think it cost me the links in this post to Amazon! All is not lost, however, and you can still line my pockets (snort laugh) by going to the conveniently located sidebar for Amazon and order the books there. I have tried to fix this basic link several times already and am past capacity for the frustration of trying one more time, plus I have other stuff to do. Read and enjoy.

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