Tuesday, August 30, 2011

apple crisp

Two little words can turn the mood at my house right around: apple crisp. If you haven't made it in awhile, do it now. It is well worth your time, and your family will love you!

The Best Apple Crisp Recipe I've Ever Made
(and I've made a lot!)

10 cups sliced apples (or enough to fill the pan all the way to the top)
1 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Peel apples and slice them directly into a 9x13 inch pan.
3. Mix white sugar, 1 Tbsp. flour and cinnamon together, sprinkle evenly over apples.
4. Pour water evenly over all.
5. Combine remaining ingredients, crumble over apples.
6. Bake for 45 minutes or until apples are tender.

* You can probably use margarine, but I've never tried it. Butter is just so much more lovely.

** I sometimes double the topping recipe, because I love it so much, and I have been known to add some coconut and/or nuts to the topping mixture, which I also love, but my family does not. They prefer their apple crisp pure and unadulterated.

Friday, August 26, 2011

of mice and me

I have an irrational but well-founded fear of mice. I grew up in the country, where the standard house sat on at least a 1 acre lot. Our house was next door to my grandparents house and directly behind us, my grandparents owned most of at least half the block, on which they raised horses - lots of horses - and 5 acres of alfalfa. If you know anything about horses and alfalfa, you probably also know that mice are a fixed part of this world. We found mice all over the place, and often heard them skittering around at night between the walls.

I have post-traumatic-stress-type memories of teetering on one of those old spinning office chairs, trying to avoid a mouse that popped up in the laundry room and ran dangerously close to my toes, and of finding a dead mouse or two while scooping out grain from the giant bin in the barn. Another time, my brother and I found a mouse in the kitchen, and cleverly managed to shoo it outside and into a giant pickle jar with a broom. I don't remember what happened after that; I was most likely standing on a kitchen chair, yelling at Paul to get it away from me.

Mice continued to haunt me at our cabin, in college, in my first married place. We actually moved from that place not long after finding a mouse. Really. Partially because of the mouse.
I had a bit of a break from mice after that until we moved into our little old house. It seemed mice were everywhere (I saw probably 2 or 3) which is the biggest reason why we now have a cat. In the contest between mice and cats, I definitely hate mice more.

Since the cat's been around, the only mice I've seen are dead; sometimes gruesomely torn apart. I hate them in this form too, but they are easier to avoid and the family knows to shelter me from them as much as humanly possible. After a few months of her being here, our cat had pretty much killed everything that moved and was smaller than her; mice, moths, beetles, birds, snakes, and what not. But occasionally she still hunts one out from somewhere. Last week she twice left dead things by the door, which always makes me fret there are more.

Then on Wednesday of this week she started stalking a space between the kitchen cabinets and the wall. She sat there for a couple of hours, sniffing, looking up and down. I let her into the cabinet under the sink and she did the same thing. A bad omen, I thought.

Last night, in the kitchen, I heard a scratching noise. When I got up to see where it was coming from, it stopped. Later, I opened the cupboard door to throw something away, and thought I saw a tail shoot behind the garbage can. I had Dave check it out. He found nothing; no tracks.

I went to bed and tossed and turned due to a number of things. I heard Dave come in and he soon fell asleep. I fell asleep too, but then woke up to a huge scratching sound. It sounded like the cat clawing the wicker chair, but I knew she was outside. I listened again; it was in the living room. I shook Dave, but he didn't wake up. I heard it again. So loud. I thought it might be a mouse stuck in the basket I keep by the piano. I shook Dave again, but when he got out of bed it stopped. He looked in the basket and shook it around. Nothing. No movement, no sound. He let in the cat. She ate, and went back outside. He offered to go get some traps. I said that was silly, it's late, I'm crazy, we know. But he looked at my face and left for the store.

I laid on my bed with the light on, staring at the basket with dread. Nothing. No movement, no sound. He came back, and let the cat in again. She ate, and went out. He set up the traps and blocked the space under our door. He knew I wouldn't sleep, but he quickly did. I tossed and turned about a number of things, but now, also this mouse.

A few hours later I heard it again. I sat up in bed and listened my best. It was the same scratching, the same noise, but not quite as loud, and it was in my room. I turned my head and saw Dave's feet move. They moved back and forth, quite a few times, brushing against the duvet. He was the mouse. I relaxed and went back to sleep, thinking how foolish I had been. Imagination is a powerful thing...

But he left the traps out, just in case. ;)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

big blue meanies

I'm having a hard time sending my kids back to school this year. I'm not really sure why. Except that Abby is starting her first year at the high school and Max his last year of grade school. I guess it just feels like they are growing up too fast.

At home I trick myself into thinking I can completely protect them, shelter them from the evils of the world - big blue meanies and such. But at school they have to face all kinds of madness. Bullies, tyrants, disloyal friends. Okay, so they have never really had a problem with bullies or tyrants, but still! They are my babies, out there on their own.

Sometimes I wish I could still hold their hands, walk them down the hall and make sure their teachers know how truly great they are. Set up play dates with their friends. But I know I have to let go. I have raised them well. Now it's time for them to fly. And I will, they will.

But good heavens it's hard!

Friday, August 5, 2011

one more notch on his DIY belt

We have lived in our little old house for almost seven years. And for all of those years, we have needed a new toilet. But it was at the end of a long list of things we needed, so we put it off until this week.

Inspired by a recent dream Dave had involving himself in a toilet showroom (with toilets in a vast array of colors and styles) and motivated by a forthcoming marching band sleepover, we decided to take the plunge.

Aside from starting too late in the day (my fault) and then inevitably needing to buy a new water supply line after the store was closed (causing much yelling and I-told-you-so's on my part), Dave heroically installed the toilet himself, adding one more notch on his DIY belt.

Although I have been coveting other people's toilets for quite some time now, I was still unprepared for how much I love our new one. Here are a few of the things I love most: It is really, really, super clean and sparkly. The handle doesn't stick (causing the water to run endlessly in the bowl, or occasionally out onto the floor.) We have gone 2 whole days without having to plunge it.

So forget diamonds. This week, a toilet is a girl's best friend!