April 2009


This is  not a true My World post, but my world is crazy right now, and this will explain part of it.

This week is our school’s second annual Art Show. I have shown this picture before (if you have a minute, that was a much more interesting post than this one!), but this is from a display board at the art show last year.

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My World this week is preparing the last details for this and setting it up.

If I do say so my humble self, it is a great show. I will take pictures of  how the students’ art is set up. Last year was quite impressive.

So last week I was “gone” because I had an impromptu birthday party to deal with as well as a field trip. This week it’s the art show. No idea what’s next, but I’ll visit as many of you as I can.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Monday we had a field trip to the Natural History museum Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to walk all around the building, and I saw this on one side. I really do not even know what it is. Maybe just an artistic part of the structure. But regardless, I liked it, and the color of the sky would make nearly anything nice.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Today is Chicklet’s birthday. At 1:15 p.m., MDT, my youngest will be five years old. As all parents at such a milestone, I cannot believe she has grown so fast, and I wonder where the time went.

Chicklet--1 day old on the way home from the hospital.

Chicklet--1 day old on the way home from the hospital.

Actually, I do not wonder a lot. Chicklet is our “storm cloud,” and much of the time with her has drug by like it would never end.  (Not all of the time; we’ll get to that.) She entered the world at the end of a horrible pregnancy. I was sick for the last seven months of the pregnancy. Not “morning sickness;” I actually did not have much of that at all compared to what I had with her sister. But just sickness. Three or four stomach flus, three full-blown sinus infections, the “bad flu” for which we normally get flu shots, laryngitis for six weeks, bronchitis for several months… you get the picture. I spent a good portion of those seven months resting/sleeping on the sofa. Thank goodness her older sister was a good and patient type. I let her watch Sesame Street every morning while I did the minimal cleaning (NO cooking), and the rest of the day I slept when she slept and let her watch HGTV when she was not sleeping.  Chicklet sucked the very life out of me during those seven months. I had nothing left to give me strenth, and in the end, I did not have enough strength for her.

She arrived easily enough. Her sister did not arrive easily at all, but apparently cleared a nice path for  Chicklet.  With Chicklet, from when my water broke until delivery was less than eight hours.  When we got to the hospital without even checking me, they forced me to walk. Reader, my contractions were 2-1/2 minutes apart (or less), and I could not walk during them. These people would not believe I was in serious labor. (Kind of like they would not believe I was sick the seven previous months.) I walked for an hour and demanded they check me. Suddenly they found me a room, because funny thing, my progression was much further than they thought it would be. (I am mulling around a post on medical care given to people with high pain tolerance and lack of whining personalities.)

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Immediately upon entering the room, I got the blessed epidural. (Don’t judge me. In both deliveries, I was having a miserable time before it, and an enjoyable time afterwards. And in both instances I walked just fine without assistance within thirty minutes of birth. If you do not choose this route, that is fine with me. But for me, it was heaven.) The nurse in my room checked me and begged me not to push. (Not a problem with an epidural.) When everyone was present (nurse, midwife and midwife-in-training), I was allowed to push. It only took three, and Chicklet arrived.

Chicklet had a rough start. Though I will never be able to prove it, I believe a lot of it had to do with how sick I had been. She took all my energy, but there was not enough left for either of us at that point.  She began life unhappy and stayed that way for a good year. Yes, we had smiles, but she had a lot of problems. She was only 6-1/2 pounds (just under 3 kilos) and lost a full pound the first day. She would not get back to her birth weight until she was more than 4 months old. (Chic returned to her birth weight before she was two weeks old.) At four months I was in the emergency room at 2 a.m. because Chicklet was having febrile convulsions due to a urinary tract infection.

chickletmarShe had very bad reflux (must be a family trait) until she was seven months old. She was slow and dull and miserable. So were we!

She did perk up a little after her first birthday, but until she was three, she really was not much fun most of the time. She did not walk until 17-1/2 months and did not talk until 2-1/2 years. (At which point she started speaking in full paragraphs, clearly, and has not shut up since.)

She is still small for her age, but not off-the-charts small. Her personality has been developing into a fun, bright and charming little girl. (It is difficult to remember that she was “slow” and “dull.”)

chicklet4

So here’s to Chicklet, who is five today, and here are some of the reasons I love her:

-She is funny. Her laugh is the best laugh around. When Chicklet laughs, everyone laughs just because it is clear she is enjoying herself  so much. And she laughs a lot.

-She is our “snuggle bunny.” She loves to cuddle and snuggle and be held, and her small size makes her still babylike when we hold her.

-She is generous and loves to share. Just this week we were on a field trip with Chic’s class. Due to a long chain of events, I had to run and buy “Lunchables” for us (our lunches were at home). My girls never get “Lunchables,” and Chicklet was SO excited. But a boy there did not have a lunch (due to another long series of events.) I asked Chicklet if she would share some of her chips with him. She threw him the entire container without a thought.   She is always like this.

-She is nurturing. If anyone gets hurt or feels bad, she is the one who is there comforting him/her.

-She is helpful. She is home with me all the time, and she loves to help cook, clean, whatever I am doing. She does it cheerfully and without being asked.

-She is thoughtful. She begs to do crafts all the time just so she can give them away. She thinks it will make someone happy to receive her handiwork. She is usually right.

-She does not hold grudges. When things do not go her way, she is very, VERY unhappy. But she gets past it, moves on and is cheerful again–all in a few minutes.

Chicklet is not a perfect child. What child is? And she is so much more of a challenge to parents and guides than is her sister. But her personality shines like few others, and for all her trials (she still throws complete tantrums when life doesn’t go her way or she’s overly tired which is a LOT of the time), she is a sparkling jewel in our lives.

(And Happy Earth Day. I will never forget the date of Earth  Day because when I was walking, and walking, and walking around the hospital, there were Earth Day posters, made by local children, all over the place!)

Sandia Mountains as viewed from Albuquerque's west side 18-Apr-09. (click photo to enlarge)

Sandia Mountains as viewed from Albuquerque's west side 18-Apr-09. (click photo to enlarge)

Like most places, Albuquerque seems to not be able to decide whether it is winter or spring. However, in my 6-1/2 years of living here, this is the latest I have seen snow. (And if you are on Facebook and know anyone from  Albuquerque, you know the whole city flipped out.)  Easter weekend was cold and rainy (snowy on the mountain), and last Friday it snowed for half of the day at my house (the least likely place in the metropolitan area to get snow). The mountain was gorgeous the next day.

2009-04-19sunset

I am sure I will still see snow on the mountain today, but down at my house we are having spring again. Last night while I was working on a stamping class for tonight, we left the door open. The warm air wafted in bringing the scents of spring and the sounds of crickets. The evening sunset was warm and springlike. It made me truly content.

But if it snows again next weekend…

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

2009-04-03sliced

A couple of weeks ago I made a bread for our Friday-Night-Soup-and-Bread Tradition (cold months only) called “Onion Lover’s Twist.”

Since mid-March our church has been having a Revelation Seminar which meets on Friday nights (among other times). Since we always have extra bread, we have been taking the extra loaf or extra whatever to church and giving it away. That week we gave half of the giant loaf (as big as a regular loaf) to the organist and music director (who are married).

They were elated.  My cooking is somewhat famous in circles I frequent, so they could not have been happier; what had made them worthy of such a blessing? (This is honestly how people treat me about my food.)

The next morning they both sought out me as well as Prince  Charming and anyone else they could find to tell their story…

They were driving home, and the smell of the bread was making them hungry. They got home and heated up a couple of slices (the slices are huge), and ate. They were in heaven it was so good. (I am learning that a lot of the population does not have homemade bread often… more than I realized.) Now let it be understood that I am not saying I did anything to make this bread so wonderful. I followed a recipe.  When people compliment my cooking, I always tell them my talent is to pick good recipes and follow them well. I am a cook, not a chef. (More on that in some other post.)

Anyway, they went to bed soon after that, and apparently all. night. long. they woke up time after time after having “the strangest dreams.” They could not emphasize enough how “strange” these dreams were. They did not seem to be nightmares, but dreams. I have no idea the content. Maybe they did not share because dreams always seem strange and unimportant when we wake up and think about them, or maybe they were just too exciting to repeat to others. I do not know, but it made me smile.

This bread has never given me extra dreams, strange or otherwise. It was more likely that they are in their 60’s and are not used to eating so late.  But whether or not it affects you with the dreams, it is great bread. Here is the recipe which I got from a cookbook called Colorado Cache. It was put together by the Junior League of Denver in 1978. We got our copy as a wedding gift 20 years later, so it must have been updated/reprinted. It is an excellent cookbook.  I think it must be a trend for this type of cookbook because the one from my hometown is  also excellent. So without further ado, here is the recipe and maybe a comment or two (or too many) of my own.

Onion Lover’s Twist

1 pkg dry yeast

1/4 c warm water (I always use 115 degrees F because it works better at my altitude which is 5000 feet AND my cold house.)

4 c  flour

1/4 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c hot water (120-130 degrees F)

1/2 c milk

1/4 c softened butter

1 egg

Filling:

1/4 c butter

1 c finely chopped onion

1 T grated Parmesan cheese (I always use fresh)

1 T sesame or poppy seeds (I use sesame seeds. I can only imagine what their dreams might have been had I used poppy!)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

Grease cookie sheet (I always use a baking stone that is well seasoned and does not need to be greased). In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water. Add 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, hot water, milk, butter and egg. With electric mixer, blend at low speed until moistened. (If using a heavy duty mixer, do whatever you usually do for bread. I would not even bother with bread if I did not have a heavy duty mixer.) Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough. (Again, I leave it in the mixer and let it do the work.) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size–45-60 minutes.

2009-04-03fillingonstripsTo prepare filling, melt butter in saucepan and add remaining ingredients. (I think this is important to do right away so the ingredients can have a little time to saute, and then it can cool and solidify a little. If you do this at the last minute and the butter is liquid, it is much harder to fill the bread.)

2009-04-03rollingstrips

When dough has doubled in size, punch down and place on floured surface. Knead until no longer sticky. Roll into and 18″ x 12″ rectangle. Cut three strips lengthwise (18″ x 4″ –I sometimes forget and do it the wrong way–like this time–and it turns out fine.) Place 1/3 of the filling in the middle of each strip. Roll up each strip and seal the edges and ends. On the prepared cookie sheet (or stone which is always so much better in my opinion), braid the three rolls together. Cover and allow to rise until doubled–45-60 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm (best) or cool.

2009-04-03sealedrolls

If you would prefer two smaller loafs, just cut the filled rolls in half and braid separately. (I personally find it easier just to make one big one and give half of the loaf away.

2009-04-03braided

This bread is great for a couple of days when heated in the microwave.

Enjoy, and let me know if it gives you interesting dreams!

2009-04-03baked

I saw this golden glory in the sky and ran to take pictures. I thought it would be good, and I might even be able to drive for better ones.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

But twelve seconds later it was already fading. No excuse for non-productivity that night!

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

This was my Weeping Cherry Tree. Somewhere in my 20’s I decided I wanted a Weeping Cherry Tree. When I moved into the first house I owned (with my husband) when I was 28, I knew I would have one. But I did not. That was Missouri, and landscaping is somewhat optional there. Most people have bushes and maybe a focal garden, but it is not required. If desired (or if it is all that one can afford), home owners just throw out some grass seeds and let that be their landscaping. I wanted my cherry tree in the back yard, and the entire time I lived there, I never landscaped the back other than herb and rose gardens against the house (and grass seeds everywhere else).

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

So we moved to New Mexico.  Landscaping in New Mexico does not involve throwing out grass seed. In fact, that would not grow. If one wants grass, s/he gets sod. And waters it… a lot. And one does not get that MUCH sod, because a lot of grass is not looked upon favorably in these parts due to the lack-of-water problem that living in a desert presents.  This means that people actually have to think about landscaping. But in new housing, although the front yards are usually done very nicely (with no grass a lot of the time), the back yards are left as sand pits. (Which is great for cats and kids.)

So when we moved here, I immediately decided it was time for the cherry tree. I had seen them dozens of feet tall in the East, and I needed one more than ever. I knew mine would  not get that big, but I needed it anyway. So when I saw it at the nursery, it was a necessity. (An expensive necessity.)

2008-04-06close-goldenlightSo I planted it, and put root stimulator on it, and watered it. I thought I would lose it the first year, but I did not. It always had pretty blooms, but it was never spectacular. Often it bloomed at exactly the time of year I went to Missouri, so I missed the best shows. But last year, my daughter was in school, so we decided to wait until summer to go to Missouri, and WHAT a show we got! It was the best of blooming I had seen (its 5th year with me). I took pictures of it, made cards from pictures, sent pictures to my friends and family in Missouri. It was so beautiful I could hardly stand it.

2008-04-06close-endofbranchThen the blooms faded and the leaves started to come out. But they never came out all the way. My beautiful tree died. After its most spectacular blooming season ever, it died before the leaves fully came on. It was a quick death, but how unhappy it made me. I have no idea what happened, but a honeysuckle on the other side of the wall that separates my yard from my neighbor’s yard (about 6 feet away) seemed to die as well. (It has come back pretty strong, and it never lost all of its foliage, but it had a rough summer last year.)

So this year there is no cherry tree, and as I see the pictures from last year, it makes me very sad.  Because they are so difficult to grow here (I have known others that lost theirs the first year), I am not sure I should make another (expensive) attempt at growing one. So for now, there is nothing there.

The stones are where the tree used to be.

The stones are where the tree used to be.

This summer, the flower bed will be bursting with sunflowers and cosmos, but right now, I wish for that Weeping Cherry!

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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