Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blueberry Scones

I'm always on the hunt for a great scone recipe. I loooooove scones especially when they're loaded with big plump blueberries. Oh makes me drool thinking about that perfect blueberry scone. I want them more on the dense and sweeter side and loaded with buuuuuttter.( Yeah, my arteries and waste line don't love them so much.) Scones tend to be one of my go-to comfort foods and when I'm a bit down, I like to make them. The smell of the warm buttery sconey goodness and then a bite of the crunchy outside and soft inside makes me feel like I'm wrapped in a warm homey hug.

I'm always trying new scone recipes looking for juuuuust the right one. I actually found one that was sooo good! Just like Starbucks, which I love, but I lost it somewhere. I KNOW! You would think, since I love them so much, and find the holy grail of sconey goodness, I would keep that recipe by my side at all times. Welll that would be waaaay out of character for me so...*shoulder shrug* I'm on the hunt again. I'm hoping I run across it.. If anyone has a really good recipe, let me know. I found this recipe at the Food Network site. I changed a few things...more butter, less salt, buttermilk instead of cream and blueberries.

Anyhoo, the boys went to Wild Waves today for a last summer "Hurrah!" and I have a Saturday to myself. I injured my knee somehow and to make good use of my time, I thought I'd make scones. I also thought I would have two or five before the guys got home.

Blueberry Scones

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons shortening
3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup frozen blueberries

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in ( or use a food processor ) the shortening and butter. After combining the egg and buttermilk, gentle fold into the dry ingredients. Then gently fold in the blueberries. Use your hands, it works better and you keep your blueberries intact. Your dough will be a little wet, but that's OK. On a floured surface, gently place the dough and use a bit of flour to form a circle about an inch high in the middle. Cut this with a butter knife to divide into 6 equal scones.
Place the individual scones on a baking sheet and bake for 18-23 min or until golden brown on top.

(adapted from Alton Brown's Scone Recipe) 

These were good, but not the best I've had but I'm kinda picky. They were more on the cake side and a little too salty and not enough sweet for me. Don't get me wrong! They were good but I probably won't make them again.

Still on the hunt!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Finally, some rain.

Rain has finally come. I don't think we've had a good rain in a couple months, which is unusual for Western Washington. We nearly broke a record last month for the most consecutive days without rain. I think we were short 2 days, or something like that. As much as I complain in the winter and spring months about all the rain and no sunshine we get around here, I was jumping up and down when I heard the rain coming down and down and down last night. nice. Clean air. Watered plants. Sooo many of the pines on the hill behind our house are dying from lack of water.
My garden did wonderfully despite the rain. I watered faithfully and was rewarded with beautiful blooms throughout the summer, without the rain coming to destroy them. Until last night. I'm OK with it though. I was missing the rain.
I made sure to get several pictures to share before the rain came. I love to garden and I love flowers. There's something so spiritually fulfilling, digging in the dirt and the rich smell of good soil. The hard work pays off with beautiful blooms.
 My yard just exploded with beautiful flowers this year. We've lived here for about 8 years and the soil was just awful when we moved in, so I've been amending it every year at planting time. It's still not the greatest as we have horrible drainage issues but it's finally maturing and getting the look I wanted. I went through many many plants to find the right one that would work best for the conditions of our backyard.
 I have lots of hummingbird and butterfly attractors.

This rose above I brought with me when we moved to our new house. It was my favorite and I wasn't going to leave it. I love this little guy. 
 This rose I purchased for 5 bucks. It had no tag and was a scraggly little thing sitting all by it's little self.  Since I have a thing for outcasts, I grabbed it and it's one of my most favorite roses I've ever had. I still have no idea what it is but it smells and looks beautiful.
Never underestimate and outcast.

I love to collect plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. My little garden has been visited by many of these little lovelies this year. I can hear the hummingbirds in my trees making their little noises every morning and evening. They're very territorial, I hear.

I was a little worried about my hydrangeas this year. I'm finally getting some blooms on one. These are one of my most favorite flowers as well.
I hope you enjoyed taking a glimpse of my pretties. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Birthday's and Baking Soda go together like..

 They don't.  This little ditty is about my hubstons birthday yesterday ( he was 53!)  and baking soda. How do those two come into play? Reeeeeead on. 

Yesterday, I could have joined the cast of the worst cooks in America.

  I can bake, like "baked" goods and stuff, but NEVER can I EVER cook, bake, boil, roast-whatever- chicken to save my life. Can't do it. It usually turns out a rubbery, dry something that resembles what used to be a chicken - or - it's still squawking and for some reason I keep trying, and I still can't. get. it. right. So, why cook chicken ever? I don't.  BUT, yesterday was my hubstons birthday and every time in the last 15 years when I ask him what he wants for dinner he tells me..."Chicken cordon blue".  (Now it's kindof a running joke around here.)  I've tried making it for him early in our marriage and -yeeeah- didn't work.  I figured since I've got a little experience under my belt cooking these last 15 years, I'm a gonna give it another shot and surprise my guy. I just completely tossed out the window that chicken and I don't get along. Yesterday, we were going to become friends and I was going to get this right.

I started with this recipe Chicken Cordon Blue. It seemed really easy and something I could do. I mean, I'll just follow the recipe to the letter. How could it go wrong?
I pounded out my chicken.

I put the ham and cheese in the middle and rolled those puppies up...

I forgot to get a picture of them rolled. Silly me. 
I rolled them in the flour and paprika (made a huge mess) and put them in the pan with the butter and wine. It smelled wonderful! and I was so excited it was all coming together and looked like it would work. 
After I let it cook for about 25 min or so...(the recipe said 30, but I knew I would turn them into little chicken hockey pucks if I went that long so 25 min was long enough for me. Yeah--later to realize, too long. There will be NO Salmonella around here, no sir. ) I put them on a plate and went to my soon to be sauce. It's smelled so mouthwatering I was starting to drool a bit. I was pretty proud of myself at this moment but we all know what happens with pride and all. Yup. a big ol fall. 

I had mixed up my "cornstarch" and cream and had slowly poured it into my sauce, that smelled heavenly with all those brown bits and butter and wine. Then I say to myself...."hmmm that's funny... Why is it foaming? I've never seen that before, maybe it's the "cornstarch" and cream mixed with the wine." I just kept stirring and stirring and stirring and it never thickened. I was wonder what the heck I did when suddenly my mind got a picture of the box I had the "cornstarch" in and I thought, feeling much defeated, I think I put in baking soda. I opened the cupboard and grabbed the box and sure enough. Baking Soda. The two boxes look very similar. "CRAP!" I yelled quite loudly. My husband says, "uh oh". I tasted my beautiful wine/brown bits and butter with the baking soda and cream and thought " Neat. The ocean just met my beautiful sauce." It was so salty it couldn't be saved. I had to dump it and be reeeeeal mad. Stupid chicken. I thought "well, I'll just start over!" I dumped some wine and butter in the pan, let it boil, threw some cornstarch and cream in there and sigh. It clumped and separated. I have NO idea what happened and  I gave up and tossed that too. 

No sauce. And!!! it was dry. But my hubston ate it and proudly said "Yum" enough times to make me feel like he didn't hate it as much as his chewing was giving away.  Oh! and the salad dressing on the greens right there? I got that at How Sweet it Is. It's  Parmesan Greek Yogurt Caesar dressing and it's sooooooo good. Her blog is the bomb too.  Am I too old to say that? Anyhoo......She'll make you laugh right out loud and want to lick the PC her pictures are so good. Unlike my food pictures, but hey, we all start somewhere eh?

We finished off the dinner with this little number and me telling myself "Never ever ever" are chicken and I getting back together. Ever. 

Courtesy of Costco. Yum. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sandwich Generation

 I was talking with a friend some months ago about my struggles with caring for elderly parents and raising a young son. She said  it's called the Sandwich Generation. Your "sandwiched" between taking care of both. 

 My feeling "sandwiched" started a little over three years ago when I got a call from my Dad and he told me he had cancer. I was shocked and scared.. I never thought that would  be something I would hear from anyone in my family.  You think it happens to everyone else until it happens to your family and it was a shock. My Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer-stage 4.   I stuck by my Dads side the whole time, through all his surgery's and chemo. Getting him to all his appointments and staying at the hospital during his surgery's. He stayed at my home after one of his surgery's so I could drain his catheter to make sure he was draining enough fluid. Yeah, never thought I would do that.

My son was going on 10.

During this time my Mom started to lose her memory. She was repeating herself all the time and she refused to help with my Dad. I knew something was wrong but my brother and sisters believed she was fine.  I was with her and talked to her all the time so I knew something wasn't right. 

Almost exactly one year from my Dads diagnosis, my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her visits to the Dr and surgeon, my Mom wouldn't allow my Dad in most of the appointments.  My Moms treatment was a partial mastectomy but she never followed through with more treatment. Who knows if she still has cancer but my Mom is really prideful and just didn't want to deal with it. I was able to be with her during all this and was there when the doctor told her about her losing her memory. She didn't believe him and it was heartbreaking.  This was probably one of the darkest times of my adult life.

 My son was just turning 11. I was trying to hold it together and be a good mom to my son. It was a really hard time.

Over the next year or so my Moms memory got worse. Until just last year she had been driving but Mom was following my Dad home in her car from a motorcycle shop and took  a wrong turn. This was at 11 am.  We didn't find her until 7:30 pm when a man from a bar by Mt Rainer called to say she was there. She was several hours drive away from her home.  The deputy with her said if she hadn't stopped at that bar she would have gone into the National forest and they don't patrol there but every few days. This was the last stop. She had been driving 8 hours trying to find her way home and never stopped for help. She blames the lack of good signs and I couldn't understand when she passed Seattle and then Tacoma, and didn't stop. She felt she could find her way home. I felt she was in a ditch somewhere. Yet when she talks about that day all she says is she wished she had a camera because Rainer was soooooo beautiful! Oy vey.

Present day, my Dad is still cancer free but my Mom's dementia is a lot worse and I have no idea if her cancer has spread.  My Dad is doing the best he can but he's still in a bit (a lot) of denial. He still believes she can do a lot more than she really can. He wants to believe she's OK. We all want to believe Mom is OK.

Dementia is a nasty beast. Sometimes it's hard to figure out. My Mom will remember dates and things and you think she's fine but then she'll do something that your like...Oh wow.  It's really hard  to communicate with someone who's dementia is progressing. You have to have a lot of patience and don't argue. If she believes something happened, it's OK to let her believe it. It's better than the confusion and anger it causes. At first, she would  remember things wrong. She would get a bit confused and remember an event happening in the wrong order or not remember conversations and  get very argumentative. Now, she remembers things that never happened. Or she tells me things she's been doing when she actually hasn't done that in a long time. I used to think she was telling me these things so I wouldn't worry. Now I know she actually believes she was doing it based off of a memory long ago. It feels to her as if she just did it. Dementia is horrible!   My heart breaks to see my Mom like this but she still believes she has no memory problems. She also believes she can drive and gets upset when someone tells her (me) she can't.

Through this I'm trying to be the best Mom I can be. I try to compartmentalize it so the stress of it doesn't interfere with the care of my son.  My son just turned 13 and he's a pretty great kid.

Are any of you going through this? Are you part of the "Sandwich Generation"? Do you have elderly parents that you want to honor and help them like they helped you? Are they healthy?  Do you have young children as well?  How do you find balance and not let the guilt monster rip your heart out?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time for My Ten Things I've Learned this Week.

I've completely forgot about my ten things I've learned this week. I blame it on my short attention span. But, here we are!
  1) Trying to "find my voice" when writing is hard. Learning to write like I talk is taking time. I admire writers.
 It's a skill and a talent I don't have yet. I hope too. Do I think I'll become some great writer? Not even for moment and that's not my desire, but I do enjoy it.  I find there's a certain amount of deep honesty you find with yourself when you write. You can't NOT be honest. I think writing comes from such a deep place that you come face to face with yourself and sometimes that's scary. That's probably why I have a thousand journals I've started and stopped. Writing honestly can hurt sometimes because you can't run from yourself. Writing honestly goes deep. Sometimes deeper than I was wanting. Writing makes you face it. At least, that's what I'm finding in my experience. I'm discovering myself.  I find myself becoming more concrete. Does that make sense?

  2) I have issues with zucchini. I keep buying it and have plans for it,  put it in the crisper and forget it's there. They rot and I buy more. I don't get it. I have them sitting on my island in the kitchen now. I WILL make something with them. Zucchini bread is good. Does anyone have a good recipe?

  3) Sand can be the devil. Just when you thought you've gotten rid of it. NO. "He's never gone!!

Love this movie!

4) Mosquito's can suck your blood even through your clothes. No one is safe. No one.

5) There are people in this world, as you all well know, that should never own a pet. I've learned that there are a lot of people out there who are more concerned with their own comforts, pets can be work, than doing the right thing. My animal lover heart is broken.

6) School starts on the 3rd of September. My son will be in junior high and a 7th grader. I'm learning that letting go stings a lot more than I thought it would. I can't imagine what it'll be like when he goes to college. UGH!

7)Marriage can be really really really really...really hard. I'm learning that words have a lot of power and can shred someone to pieces. Of course, that's common sense. But, I've also learned that as you get older and the longer your married, the words that come out of your mouth not only hurt your partner but they hurt you as well. Marriage, to me, is melding two lives together and making yourselves one. So when I hurt my husband I'm hurting myself.  I'm learning I need to shut up because my words can be a terrible weapon.

8) I've learned that calling myself a "collector" instead of a "hoarder" feels better.

9) I've learned that the big "muffins" that you get at Costco are just really cake shaped like a muffin. Since it's a "muffin" I don't feel guilty eating it for breakfast.

10) Gardening makes me really happy. It settles my soul. I've learned that I need to do some type of gardening every day to find rest, peace and completeness in my soul.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Camp it up!

Ahhhhh. Camping.

 Our four day camping trip to the ocean was this last week. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned and we ended up coming home after 24 hours. The ocean is only 2 1/2 hours away so it's not too big a deal, but still kinda sucked packing up all that stuff for 4 days to come home after 24 hours.
There was a statewide burn ban in effect so spending four days at the ocean where the temps can change drastically in a matter of hours weighed pretty heavily on my mind. I packed about every sweater and warm pants I could find AND threw in my ski jacket for good measure. THIS girl was NOT going to be cold. Crabby maybe, but not cold.  And, we were off!

 We got the camp site ready to go. The weather was beautiful and warm. So far...
The first ocean visit of the camping trip.

 This is the trail we took up to the beach.
  I love the beach. I could never get tired of looking at it.

This is a tradition we've started with this family. Our friend is divorced with six little kiddies and one of the best Dad's I know. We started camping every year in August but this year, we thought we would stay a bit longer. Four days instead of the three. We wanted to have two full days at the beach. We were really bummed that the fire ban was on  but we planned on making the best of it and I promised  not be too big of a grump.
Campsite was set up but come evening, mosquito's the size of my fist, (not really)  proceeded to try and suck every drop of blood from each one of us. Even with bug repellant. I had all open skin covered but the little bastards STILL found a way to poke through my jeans. Nasty little things.

We ended up going to bed early because of the mosquito's. And guess what?  I froze all night. Pft.

The next morning, bright and squirrelly, a chipmunk and a couple crows decided to have a shouting contest right above our tent. I could just imagine what they were saying to each other, "You shut up!..."NO YOU shut up!"  And the peace maker I am, I decided to break up the fight. I zipped out of my tent like a mother that had just about enough and I stomped over to that chipmunk and crow and told them, "NO...YOU shut up!"  The crow took off and proceeded to yell at both of us from a distance and the chipmunk started chattering at me!. By this time everyone was up and telling that little chipmunk to buzz off.

Breakfast got started and all was well. During breakfast, one of the girls came and asked me about a bite she had on her leg. It was by her knee and it looked pretty red and swollen. She told me it didn't itch, it just hurt and I told her to show her Dad and we both agreed we would watch it real close.
The day was a beautiful day and we spent the whole of it down at the beach. I got a nice burn on my face but since I was wearing sunglasses the whole day I looked a bit like Zorro. My little friend's "bite" was getting a bit worse and swelling up a bit more. Her Dad and I  both thought she was possibly bitten by a spider since it hurt but didn't itch and she had been playing in the tall grass. There were spiders pretty much everywhere. We continued to watch it and thought if she came down with a fever we would get her to a hospital.

We had a lot of fun on the beach that day. The kids boogie boarded and body surfed.

They made a sand thingy....

Found lots of sand dollars. This beach was loaded with them.

gratuitous shot of my foot....your welcome. 

 When we got back to the campsite around 5:00 for dinner you could tell my little friend wasn't feeling so hot. We ate and settled in but my little friend was getting worse. She had laid down on the bench by her dad  and when I felt her forehead, she felt cool. Within about 15 minutes of that, she got up and told her dad she felt like she was going to throw up and she had suddenly spiked a fever. Things got moving quickly after that. He loaded her up and he drove around trying to find a fire house and an EMT. Small towns like we were camping by, run a lot different then big towns. Everyone goes home at 5:00. The ranger station didn't have anyone there and he couldn't find a fire house. My friend found a guy at a clinic on his way out and he told him we needed go into the bigger town to get her help, about 15 miles out.  Our friend came back to the camp site and decided he needed to pack up and head home so he could get her to a hospital if need be. At this time, she seemed to be feeling a bit better so he got some water down her and they started packing up. We didn't want to stay by ourselves with no fire and mosquito's the size of a house, so we packed up as well. It was about 8 PM at this time and we rolled out at 8:30. Got home at around 11Pm.

My little friend's fever had broken by the time we all got home and she slept through the night. Her Dad took her to the Dr. the next day and they said she had a bacterial infection and put her on antibiotics. They said she must have gotten poked or scratched in that area and it got infected. No spider bite and she's back to normal.
Even though we were only there a few hours, we had a good time. *whispers* Don't tell anyone, but I wasn't too upset about coming home cause this is how I feel about it......

 Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Baking Soda and World Domination

                                                                    Baking Soda. Who. Knew.

Let me start at the beginning, shall I? World Domination always has a beginning. Well, World- Domination- in- my- home for the afternoon does and I shall tell you. Yes, I shall.
It started with a future camping trip.
When I say future, I mean this next week.
I'm not a camper. I don't like camping. I don't like being cold, wet, out of my environment, out of control- blah blah blah. 
Too make matters worse there's a burn ban in effect for the Washington state area and we're camping at the beach. UGH! Can it get any worse? Fire! must have FIRE! That's my thing man! I love making it, stoking it, feeding it. I get a little weird about it too. Controlling weird. Like, "Yeah...that's not going to burn right there" and " yeah..don't touch my fire". They all know that the fire keeps me from getting freaky in other areas so they all leave me alone with it. 
As they should.
Cause it's fire...............and me.
Well, since there's not going to be anything to occupy me --sorry peeps!--you're going to be counting down the hours until you get to go home. My weirdness shall be evident to all.
Nuff said about that.
ANYHOOTS!!!  On to World Domination.
 I'm having a gal come stay at my house while we're gone. She'll be taking care of my pets. 
And, what does any woman do when another woman is coming to stay at her home?         
Ya'll do it too!!!! (well, most I talk to)
I mean the deep clean. Like the crap in the corner I'm too lazy to bend down and get when I swiffer. Well, when I swiffer. Or the crumbs that get stuck in between the oven and the granite. The dust that has accumulated to the point of trying to remember what your furniture looks like. Alright, I'm not quite that bad. I have my moments and for some reason we as women need to empress other woman with our home skills. It's so dumb. 
Enter Baking Soda.
I was trying to get the grubby finger prints off my cabinets because when the sun shines on it just right? Ew. I tried all the cleaners I had and nothing worked. Today, I thought I would try a little Baking Soda. I know it's been around forever and people have been cleaning with it for about that long. I just haven't tried it.
But holy sunballs and applesauce! It freaking worked! So good, that I cleaned everything with it. My cabinets, my sink, my faucet. It's all sparkly. I just put a little in a bowl, added some water and rubbed it on the grubby's and they came off! Those grubby marks were stubborn and refused to budge. Until today. The conquering joy I felt after showing those grubby's who's boss. To master those grubby's with authority. To command those grubby's to "Be gone!"

Kinda felt like being this guy for the afternoon.
" I am Loki, of Asgard and I am burdened with glorious purpose."

" I am MOM! fifth house down on the left and I have been burdened with glorious purpose!
Baking Soda and I will dominate my little world between these four walls! The things I shall do with this!!!"
 Yeah, I exaggerated the whole "World Domination" but hey? Baking Soda can be a powerful weapon against grubby's.
Yeah, I know. I need to get out more.