Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Three Children

I have heard some folks read my blog to get updated on what’s going on… and here’s such a blog to let those who are interested know what’s happening with my children.

Casey, my son is 32 today. Happy Birthday Casey! He lives in Los Angeles (has for the past 11/12 years now) and is working on a video game—Hyper Light Drifter—for all you gamers out there. He and his buddies share space where they do their creative work (Glitch City) and every so often they have some kind of open house to share with the public where some of the members will give a little presentation… not necessarily on gaming, but whatever they feel like. Think of it as a mini-Ted talk.

Here’s Casey’s “Oneiros & The Self"

Soon Casey will be leaving L.A. to head to The Netherlands... and then eventually back to St. Louis, MO (his home town).

Jessica, my middle daughter, now 30 recently had a four hour surgery to remove benign fibroid tumors in and around her uterus. Okay, maybe recently is a bit of a stretch… back in July. Oh my. There were eight of them. The MRI showed the biggest one to be the size of a grapefruit and the surgeon thought she’d only be able to remove 5 of the 8, but as it turns out, the biggest one was the size of a volley ball! Then a cantaloupe and two grapefruit is all that could be removed. Four of the 8 were removed. No damage to the uterus. Here she is a bit doped up after the surgery.

Now she’s in an MFA program at SIUE for sculpture… getting her masters…  and here’s some of her work. The first one, she's still working on.

Rita, my baby, 28, recently purchased her own home. All on her own. She got to learn all about negotiating, the ins and outs of buying a home, how people cover up certain things, the cost involved, how painting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But she loves, loves, loves having her very own home. Because she’s so creative, her home reflects that. One evening while walking her dogs, she carried home a tree limb that she thought would be perfect as a curtain rod for her living room window—and by golly, it is. She’s already put in some flowers and has big plans for a vegetable garden in the future. And in her spare time, you can catch her spinning, dying, carting, and knitting her own yarn.

Quite honestly, I'm pretty blown away by the creativeness and talent of all three of my children. Maybe it's a mom thing, but I never had half the wits about me when I was their age.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cooking Lesson Seven and Final - Chicken Parmesan

I have to confess, I had been writing things down after I would do a cooking lesson, but I neglected to do so with this last lesson. There had been so many things going on, I didn’t know if I was coming or going. As a matter of fact, this lesson was a whirlwind in that the girls didn’t spend the night and we had crammed everything all in one day and I forgot to take pictures of the final outcome. Wah.

Along with the chicken parmesan, the girls wanted pesto spaghetti, and garlic bread. I had grown some basil in a big pot out back, which needed to be picked, but it was too soon for the recipe. I picked it anyway and made the pesto sauce ahead of time.

I baked the cupcakes ahead of time too, so that the girls could get right into decorating. They made their own fondant. We did the dessert first because the dinner was something that would need to be prepared right before the guests (all the family) would be coming.

Princess Flame and Princess Frost decided the week prior that this would be a ghost theme party… and they made invitations to give to the guests (Princess Flame’s mom, Robyn, Princess Frost’s dad Todd, and two brothers, Jack and Lucas and my daughter Jessica and her boyfriend, Patrick and my other daughter, Rita. Of course, Grandpa and myself. Dress code: wear something red and make yourself look like a ghost or a ghoul.
Oh, also invited was Earl (the ghost in our house).

We found a recipe for Chicken Parmesan that you would bake. I always thought it was fried and then baked, but this called for all baking. We made the sauce from scratch that would cover the Chicken Parmesan. While the chicken baked, we got dressed for the occasion. Besides some extra powder on my face, I didn’t feel like I looked much different than when I wake up in the morning. You’ll see…

Since the dress code was red, the girls set the table in red. Red, I guess, for blood. We all had a bloody good time and the girls did a fantastic job to end their cooking lesson.

 I hope we can continue this tradition… we’ll see what next summer brings.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cooking Lesson Six - Sesame Chicken & Stir Fried Vegetables

As we always do before we begin, we figure out our schedule. Their families couldn’t make it to come and eat, so the three of us had dinner by ourselves… and we figured we’d eat around 6, but it didn’t really matter since it was just us anyway.

We started with cooking the rice as we’d need the pans for other things. While the rice was cooking, we washed and chopped the vegetables… don’t they look just beautiful and so colorful. Makes me want to have stir fried veggies every day.

After the vegetables, we made the coating for the chicken, cut up the chicken and allowed it to refrigerate until time to fry.

Last week, they wanted to do some exotic drinks, but we ran out of time, so we made sure to squeeze that in this time. Non-alcoholic of course, but this was a Blue Hawaiian. When we were at the grocery store last week, they wanted those little umbrellas to put in the drink. I told them I had some already. They thought I was lying since I told them the answer was “no” to anything else they wanted in the store that day. When I pulled out the umbrellas, I said, “You thought I lied to you, didn’t you?”
“Well, Grandma-ma Purple Plum doesn’t lie.” And you can see the cute umbrellas in their drinks.

After the Blue Hawaiian’s, believe it or not, it was time to start the sauce that would go over the chicken. It was relatively quick and once we added the mixture of the cornstarch, the sauce thickened up lickety-split.

Then on to frying the chicken pieces in olive oil. The girls started acting silly (gosh, can you believe that?) and I had to get firm and tell them, oil can be extremely dangerous and I don’t want you getting burned, so you are going to have to pay attention and settle down. They soon found out what I was talking about when the oil popped and hit them. I asked if they could imagine having a whole pot of oil splashed on them. No way! They had a bit more respect for the hot oil after that.

My brother-in-law Bud stopped in to pick up some Superfood and as he watched the girls fry chicken, it made him nervous, so he was anxious to get his goods and split.

After the chicken, we started stir frying the vegetables. I told the girls they could put in whatever they wanted to eat… but soon, every kind of vegetable ended up in the pan.

Once we finished cooking, we sat down with our plate of food to chow down. Even the picky eater, Princes Flame, ate more than I’ve ever seen her eat. She wasn’t sure if she was going to like it, but clearly she did!

I love how Princess Frost exclaims her food, “It’s delicious!” If you hear the way she says ‘delicious” you’d know what I was talking about.

Later that evening, they were on the prowl for ghosts for next cooking lesson/dinner.

Before they left, Princess Frost decided to dress herself up...

Sadly, next lesson will be our last…

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cooking Lesson Five - Spring Rolls and Sewing

This time Lily and Logan spent the night two nights in a row as we had planned to learn how to sew as well. Um, what was I thinking? They wanted “skater” skirts or another name “circle” skirts. They sounded easy enough to make.

I picked them up on Sunday afternoon and we headed to Joann’s where we spent the next two plus hours picking out a pattern and material. Egads, patterns are $17.95 these days. I could buy a skirt for that much! It used to be sewing was cheaper than purchasing clothes, but I’m not so sure anymore.

We made our purchases, picked up Steak n Shake, came home and ate with Grandpa, then headed to the grocery store for spring roll ingredients. The girls thought it’d be fun to get in the cart for toddlers—the one that looks like a car attached in front of the cart. I told them they were too big.

“No were not Gramma. Pleeeeeeeeeease. Pretty please. We promise we won’t ask for anything else. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease.”

“Well, I’m sure there’s a weight limit or something.” We read the entire thing and the only thing required was the person had to be able to sit upright by themselves. Um, they could do that. No weight limit. I decided that I wasn’t going to lift them in to the cart. If they could get in, then, oh well. They got in. However, their legs wouldn’t fit into the seat because, let’s face it, their legs were seven times as long as what was supposed to fit in those seats. So they flopped their legs over the bar. Stares took place as I strolled the little stinkers through the grocery store. I was waiting for someone to tell me what an unfit human I was to allow these girls in a toddler’s cart, but no one did. I decided to pretend these two were orphans and never experienced fun things like this when they were toddlers. Hey, you do what you have to in embarrassing moments. Funny thing is, they acted like toddlers. They touched everything. They put all kinds of things into the cart.

“Hey, I don’t think we need 13 cans of refried beans.”  They’d giggle.

“Um, next time someone touches something, that’s it, you’re getting out.” One got out and ran up to the item they wanted and said, “Please, Gramma, can we have this?”

“No. Now get out of the cart.”

“We’re sorry, it won’t happen again.” And the softy that I am, I let it go. They continued to beg for items. I continued to say, “No.” No. No. No. No. If I had a dollar for every no I said, heck, it’d have paid for my groceries!

When we checked out, the cashier was either having a crummy day or she wasn’t pleased with my allowing the girls to be in the kiddy cart because she wouldn’t even look at me or acknowledge me. Just swiped the items. I tried being friendly, but that didn’t work. So I shrugged it off. Told the girls to get out and put away the cart, which they did. Told them to come right back to help me carry the groceries, which they did.

Onward home… by now, I’m exhausted, but they were still full of spit and vinegar and wanted to play a game… which we did. It was like a trivia for kids. Lily said she wasn’t any good at it and I told her not to worry because I was probably worse at trivia… even for kids. And I proved her right.

Finally, sleep came.

They were up before I was on Monday. I suppose they were excited to sew. The night before I washed all the material. We were making two skirts each. Lily wanted to go first and Logan obliged. Plus I only bought one pattern and we needed to cut out the larger one first. Not that there’s that much difference between the two, but still… followed the size chart. And I’m here to tell you that the chart on patterns is NOT correct. Anyone else out there have that issue? That’s another entire blog.

So first we had to have breakfast. Again, I forgot to buy breakfast stuff, but they wanted to know…

“Can we make pancakes?”

“Sure” Out came Betty Crocker again and I had them make them. We ate pancakes and then got to work on the skirts. 

Pinned, cut out and sewed… and got started about 10:30 am. I put some salsa, taco seasoning and chicken into the crock pot (thanks, Beth) and we had soft tacos for dinner later [add cheese, sour cream, refried beans (yeah, we did keep one can when they put 13 in the cart) and anything else you want] for a tasty meal. We continued working on the skirts until 1:30 AM. Yes, that’s not a typo. We took a break for dinner, but continued on into the wee hours of the evening.

I suppose I don’t have to tell you how exhausted I was, but I will. I was exhausted. And then I couldn’t sleep. My back ached, my legs ached, my feet ached. Okay, my entire body ached. The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:00 AM. ACK. I had to get up and be dressed by 8:00 as a repairman was coming. At 6:30, Miss Kitty made sure I was up. At 8:30 I decided that the girls would need to be up too. If I managed to stay up all hours of the night, then they would need to be up with me in the morning.

I marched up to the room, shouting, “Rise and Shine! Wake up Sleepy Heads!” I was obnoxious. Lily covered her head with a pillow. Logan’s one eye opened slightly. I did a sing-song country voice – “Up, up, up. Time to get sewing. We’ve got work to be done. Chop Chop.” Moans and groans. I rocked the bed and raised my voice with some more taunts. They finally rolled out of bed. I made them breakfast – toast and eggs.

We worked on finishing the skirts and made plans when we’d start the spring rolls. I never made spring rolls before and I was super excited to make something new. We started around 1:00 PM chopping all the ingredients… lettuce, shrimp, cilantro, Thai basil and mint (that came from my herb garden). I had made rice noodles earlier when the girls were sewing. I found the recipe and what to shop for when buying rice wrappers from and I would just like to say thank you to Andrea for all the great information. I found the recommended “rose” rice wrappers and they worked like a dream and they were good eating too! I thought they were just as tasty as any restaurant variety.

After the girls and I made all the spring rolls, they wanted to do a little more sewing by making some headbands.

Then we packed up their goods and I took them home. After I got back, I ate my spring rolls and thought I’d do a little writing but soon zonked out. Can’t imagine why?

The girls did a fabulous job at both sewing skirts and making spring rolls. I steered them wrong a few times in the evening with some sewing mishaps because my brain isn’t all that sharp after 8:00 PM. I pinned the yoke on wrong causing us to rip it out and try again. Logan asked if I’d trim her hem for her and I ended up cutting a hole in the skirt. ACK. Sewing requires a lot of concentration, and a lot of patience too. When two girls are asking me something at the same time, my brain goes into overload.

But all in all we made adjustments to the pattern because it was way too big and they turned out really cute. Lily used her unknown designer skills and added some embellishment on her skirts to hide the part that I messed up on. It’s the first skirt we did—the one where most of the mistakes were made. You learn from your mistakes—isn’t that how life is?

The girls were very forgiving when I messed something up – “That’s okay Gramma.” I’m learning from them as much as they’re learning from me.

Next up – Sesame chicken and stir fried vegetables… and maybe those exotic drinks we were going to make this time too.