Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe Organization - Dream or Reality? (or Something More?)

For many years I’ve had a dream.

It’s not an earth-changing dream or even a technically difficult dream. It certainly isn’t an impossible dream.

I’ve dreamed of organizing all my recipes. (Sorry if you were expecting something more exciting, this being the time of year we dedicate much writing and even an entire day of school to the man who had the most famous dream, does make my dream seem sub-par.)

I took a stab at this dream a few years back. I rounded up all the recipes torn from magazines and scattered willy-nilly throughout my house. I trimmed them neatly and taped them to notebook paper (see below, okay, maybe they aren't so neatly trimmed), and put them in notebooks.
The problem was that there were so many and the notebooks quickly became unorganized. Sorting the recipes and putting them in the notebooks in a sensible order became too big of a task. 

Where do you put zucchini bread? Vegetables? Bread? Dessert? The process was rife with too many tiny decisions that left me creating new piles of “Recipes that don’t belong anywhere but I don’t want to lose.”

Other piles grew from there – “Recipes I must try,” “Healthy recipes the kids probably won’t eat,” “Recipes to try for the blog,” and “Recipes to make for book club.”

The notebooks themselves were full to bursting already and any attempts at opening them to insert a new recipe generally led to much bigger disasters when pages slipped out of the overtaxed rings. Sometimes I’d carefully re-order the pages and squeeze them back into the binder but most of the time I just put the loose pages in a new pile called, “To be re-filed.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Power of Signs

Signs have power. Did you ever notice that? 

You can tell someone, this is the rule… but until they see it in writing, preferably on a sign, they don’t actually take you seriously. Or maybe that’s just my house. We’re a family of readers (and writers). We like to see things in print.

Some of my kids favorite signs of late include…..

And, even better….

(I place these signs above the toilet at 5:25 AM after the schools auto-robot caller has woken me and crashed my day.)

But I’ve utilized signs to keep the laundry sorted….

The meals eaten….


My daughter uses a sign to keep out the riff-raff….

Sure, I’m mostly kidding, but sometimes putting up a sign is much better than giving an order. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to do something, my inner adolescent soul prickles. I don’t want to do it. I’ll probably do it, but I might wait until you’re not looking or until it feels like it’s my idea.

For better or worse, my kids have inherited many of my own quirks. So I’ve learned they respond better to directions in writing than in nag-form. I’ve begun leaving messages for them on their chore chart.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Seven Things I Learned This Year (or ways in which I'm growing up)

Stuff I learned this year that moved me along the path to growing up…. (cue my daughter singing her favorite song – I won’t grow up….)

1. My kids respond better to direct orders than guilt.

I entered the kitchen and surveyed the mess. Two of the three guilty party were present on laptops at the counter. Dramatically I lamented, “I wonder what time the maid is coming to clean up these dishes….” 

Loud sigh from one child and eye roll from the other. Spying the open container of cereal, I smiled and said brightly, “I guess it’s good this cereal has been left open since breakfast, now it can be good and stale, just the way I like it.” I shoved the box back in the cabinet and slammed it closed.

My oldest child, the wise one, yanked the ear buds out, looked at me and said, “You know, if you want me to do something you should just ask.”

All manner of sarcastic retort clamored to be allowed out, but I calmly looked at him and said, “Oh, really?”

“Yeah, it would be better if you just said what you wanted instead of laying all this guilt on us.”

My daughter joined the conversation at this point and added an icy, “Yeah.”

“So, you’re telling me that if I simply ask you to do something, you’re going to do it?” (It was all I could do to point out 18 years of evidence to the contrary.)

“Yeah,” he says. I looked to my daughter, who shrugged.

“Okay…..can you please put away your dishes from this morning?”

“Sure.”

Remarkably, both children got up and cleaned up the mess they had left.

I’ve tried to keep his words in mind these past months and miraculously there has been some compliance. I suppose, what he was really asking was that I treat him like the adult he has become and not wield my passive-aggressive weapons of self-esteem destruction.  It takes a lot of years for these kids to teach me how to parent.

Friday, December 19, 2014

SALT vs the common cold (or how to kick a cold in three easy steps!)

Salt. Maybe you think you know salt. Great on steak and popcorn and cookies batter has no flavor without it. Come winter, salt is great for melting ice. Other than that? Yup, it’s easier to float in salt water. I hear a lot of negative talk about salt in terms of health, but most of that is hype. In fact, no less than Scientific American debunked the myth in this excellent article from 2011. So let’s all stop hating on salt. We need it and this week it’s my hero.

Why? Well, friends let me tell you a tale…

Three days before my BOOK SIGNING AND CELEBRATION, I came down with my first cold in years. Great, right? Here I am peddling a book about how you can be healthier and I would be a sniffling mess come Saturday. This was bad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finally - Lavash Crackers!

So ages ago, I promised I would post about the incredible Lavash Crackers I created. I know you’ve been saying to yourself, “When the heck is she going to post about those Lavash Crackers? What is up with that? She said she would post the recipe! Unreliable bloggess!” (Or maybe not.)

At any rate, below are the pictures and recipe for these amazing, melt in your mouth, uber crackers. I’ve always called them Lavish Crackers which is what they are – lavish, but the correct term is Lavash. These crackers originate in Armenia. I was inspired to learn to make them myself because I pay nearly an arm and a leg (where does that saying come from – was there a time when you could sell your arm and leg for big money?) for them at my favorite deli where I go to buy coconut gouda (I kid you not – it is heaven in a cheese).

Here is my annotated recipe (with pictures!) adapted from one I found in Organic Gardening magazine.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mornings: From Chaos to Calm (you can do it!)

Lately, our mornings have been getting out of hand. I crawl out of bed on the third snooze, pull on as many clothes as I can manage (my husband waits for the fourth snooze to get up and build fires in the woodstoves that heat our house) and put a pot of oatmeal on the stove for the kids. I then begin the CHORE of waking them all up. In the process, I am many times growled at and threatened. Trying not to take it personally (they’re teenagers), I generally throw in a load of laundry, locate my sneakers and my contacts and head out for a run. Then while running, I worry that one of them didn’t get up and I’ll return not only to a kitchen with oatmeal dripping down the stove and dishes abandoned on the table, but a child still snoozing oblivious to the beginning of another glorious day.

As I clean up the debris left from three obvious dashes out the door in my absence, I lament that our mornings have come to this. I fret that my middle child will find it hard to concentrate, once again having left without time to make lunch. I worry that the fact that no one brushed their teeth this morning (or any morning of late) means they will all end up with cavities and bad breath. I sigh when I find homework (due today!) abandoned on the kitchen table next to the jar of raisins. After that, I move on to berating myself for allowing my children to become such slobs in the first place and me for being so selfish that I leave for a run without making sure they are ready for their day.

One morning this week, as I turned yet another lap at the park (I couldn’t run my normal route due to the gauntlet of hunters dotting the trees surrounding our roads -it's hunting season in York County this week), I decided that it was time for a change. Our mornings need to be more intentional (to borrow a phrase from a soon-to-be bestselling book).