Saturday, February 23, 2008
You know what I love about this time of the year? No, not the 10 inches of reminder in the driveway that winter is still with us. No, not Peeps. They are disgustingly sweet, though they do provide some savage amusement when placed in the microwave to explode.
I love this time of the year, because it is the only time of the year you can get Hot Cross Buns. Hot Cross Buns are made from a sweet yeast dough. Raisins, currants, or dried fruits are baked into the dough. Each bun is iced with a frosting cross. Mention Hot Cross Buns to me and I'm salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs.
The other day I had to take my ma to an eye doctor appointment. Her appointment would end around lunch time so I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some lunch items. First place I headed? Yup, the bakery. There was a whole display of tin pans filled with bunny goodness. Did I pick up an extra pan to take home to my family? D'oh!
This morning I really wanted a Hot Cross Bun. What to do, what to do? I made a batch! Well, I can't really say I made them. I had a recipe from Betty Crocker. Dumped all the ingrediments into the bread machine bucket. Pushed a button. Watched an episode of Chip Morton and voilá, Hot Cross Bun dough! I shaped them into buns, put them in a warm place to proof, and then baked them. When cool, I made a simple powdered sugar glaze.
Thanks to Betty and the bread machine, I can make them any time I want. As The Young One would say, "Sweet!"
Friday, February 22, 2008
Another copycat post from Erica's Friday Five, cars that you have owned or driven.
The first car I learned to drive on was Dad's '66 Olds F-85. I loved the color. Nocturne Mist which was a midnight blue. Then he got another land yacht, a '74 Olds Cutlass Supreme. The car was so big I couldn't see over the hood, and I could barely reach the pedals. I had to sit on the Yellow Pages directory. Got in the habit of using the seatbelt just so I wouldn't slide off the book taking the corners.
The first car I bought myself was a '79 Ford Mustang. Ford scrapped the Mustang II and released the newly styled Mustang. Hubbell, named after Robert Redford's character in The Way We Were, was Metallic Jade Green (as close to British racing green as I could get) with a tan interior. Since this was the first release of the new model, it was a lemon from the get go, but I loved Hubbell. Christmas Eve Day '84, Hubbell and I were on our way to work for an impromptu office Christmas party. Himself was to present me with an engagement ring in the evening. As we got to the top of the ramp on the highway, Hubbell hit a patch of black ice and we spun donuts across 3 lanes of traffic to the median and back, finally slamming into the rock mound the road was cut through. With the help from my guardian angel and the seat belt, we were badly shaken and not stirred. We were lucky it was holiday and there was no traffic or the outcome would have been very different.
Hubbell limped along for another year or so and then I bought a light blue Mercury Topaz (same body as Ford Taurus) I was a married woman now so Halsey (Redford's character in Big Foss, Little Halsey) was a sedate, four door sedan.
By this time, I had left my computer career behind to start a new career as Mama. Since I just needed a car to toodle around town and get to Grandma's, I drove Himself's old car while he got a new one. I drove a series of Ford Escort wagons. None of them had a name. The Brother works for Ford so we were loyal to the brand.
Himself ditched the Escorts for a bigger, nicer Ford Taurus sedan in Metallic Blue Denim. I inherited this car. Had a freak accident. The girls and I were on our way to the pediatrician for a check up when I stopped for gas. As I was pulling into the station, a car was coming at us in reverse, the driver's door was open and the driver waving his arms was running to catch up. The Eldest, around 6 yrs. old, thought we were on Funniest Home Videos. The car dinged the left corner of my bumper and continued to roll across Rte 20 where it finally came to rest after hitting a brand new boat at the marina. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The ding to my bumper was small and there was a black scrape (tire rubber), but the insurance company said the whole bumper was fiberglass and would need to be replaced. Himself scrubbed the black spot off and we decided we could live with the ding, so we took the insurance money and bought a black and white laser printer instead.
Our cars were wearing out about the same time, so I got a brand new car. I wanted a van which I test drove and liked (a Ford). For the first time, I could see over the hood and the whole road. Opted instead for a Taurus wagon in case I had to drive my folks around. The thought turned out to be prophetic. Whoever decided the color label of my wagon must have been color blind. The car is labelled green, but is a metallic greige, sort of grey, sort of beige and in certain light grey with a green tint. The girls call the color Swamp.
Since gas prices were expected to jump, and Himself has a long commute to school, he decided he wanted something much more fuel efficient. He bought an '05 Toyota Corolla in Desert Sand Mica.
I've never gotten a speeding ticket.
What cars did you drive? Did you name them?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Erica tagged me with a book game.
In keeping with the water theme of pumping out the basement, the book I am re-reading is Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October
...Barclay, I want to see your evaluation of what our friend Ramius will do. Assume he's still the clever bastard we've come to know and love."
"Aye, aye, sir."
What book are you reading?
Saturday, February 16, 2008
In keeping with ripping off Erica's ideas for blog fodder, this week five things learned from the first job I had.
1. The day after my 16th birthday, Ma told me I had to get a job. She had already made arrangements for me to see the neighbor across the street. He sold to retail artificial floral arrangements. I went to talk to his wife. She said they needed some help, offered to drive me to the factory to check it out. She said it was a dirty place and I might not like it there. I told her it didn't matter whether I liked it or not. Ma said I had to have a job. First lesson, when the big boss tells you to do something, you jump to it.
I actually loved working at the factory. The company was small and employed 7 people. They were a great bunch to work with. The boss, George, treated us very well. I learned how to make artificial floral arrangements, bows, how to pack boxes for shipping and other life skills.
2. One of the first arrangements I learned how to make was done using a small (size of your palm) ceramic planter in the shape of a swan The arrangement took2 flowers at the shoulder, two at the hip and one up the butt. The space in the middle was filled with a filler flower, babies' breath, statice, forge-me-not, or other tiny flowers. The type of flowers and bow colors followed the seasons. , oranges, golds, and browns for the Fall and Thanksgiving, reds and greens for Christmas, pastels for Spring and Easter. One day, I was told 700 of these little arrangements were needed to fill an order. The first 25 were fun to make. After that, the task got old pretty quickly. Lesson learned: sometimes we have to do things that are boring and we don't like.
3. We worked in an old factory building. One area had been partioned off for a retail sales area. George would sell floral stems, tape, colored pots, etc. to do it yourself crafters. My job on Saturdays was to open and man the retail area. For some reason I was not given a key to the building, so the only way to get in, was to walk across the sloping metal roof to crawl through a second story window. It wasn't bad in dry weather, but was a little dicey in wet or icy weather. I'd like to think the lesson learned was confidence and a sense of adventure. I should have learned assertiveness to tell him I ain't walking across the roof.
4. We had to spraypaint 4, 6, and 8 inch plastic pots in seasonal colors. Lesson learned: there is a reason for the warning to do this in a well ventilated area. Always turn on the big fan!
5. I was paid $1.65 per hour which was minimum wage back then. I saved up my money and when I had enough, I bought a pair of Frye cowboy boots. Lessons learned: financial independence, saving for something gives you time to really decide if you really need the item. Those boots were cool, even if I couldn't find a pair like just like Heath's.
What was your first job?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Oh the weather outside is crappy,
Inside I’m not too happy
With all of this rain and snow,
The water has no place to go.
All afternoon, I’ve been vaccing,
I’d rather have been napping,
With all of this rain and snow
The water has no place to go.
I wish the rain would freeze,
The mold is making me sneeze
With all of this rain and snow
The water has no place to go.
There is no sign of stopping,
I’m glad I’m vaccing and not mopping.
With all of this rain and snow,
The water has no place to.
In tongues I have been speaking,
About my basement that is leaking
I wish I had some place to go
Without this damn rain and snow.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I like to include small projects in my classes so students can see and use some practical applications of calligraphy. Besides, most people like to have something to take home to hang on the fridge and wow family and friends.
As beginners, our writing is quite large and we may not have learned all our Italic letters so projects like books, poems, and quotes are beyond us at this step of the journey.
Circle of Crafters has some cute card templates available free. I adapted their Teddy card instructions to use with my beginners on Saturday. The cards will be 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" or a standard (American) sheet of paper folded in half. Held in the landscape format, this will give the beginners plenty of room to write a sentiment. We haven't learned all our letters yet, as this is only week 3, but we know the letters to be able to write "be mine".
Next step, to gather the paper, scrap paper and glue sticks they'll need to complete the project. All this preparation to make a card that will take less than one hour. And some people think all art teachers do is play.
This card is for Himself. The inside sentiment is how I sign my emails to Himself. Higgins Calligraphy ink and Speedball 1
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
This card is a valentine/thank ewe for my friend, Lambie. She's always making cinnamon buns for me and home made marshmallows, too. I'm pretty sure Lambie doesn't read my blog, but if you do, Lambie, you know how worthy you are.
The card was adapted from the scottie dog card found at Circle of Crafters. A lamb was chosen because Lambie used to raise sheep to spin wool. Red is her favorite color. The hardest part of the card was the threading the needle and doing the chain stitch. Almost opted for pasting a heart on a doily and calling it good.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Kindergarten: Walnut Hill Nursery School and Kindergarten. Mr. Whittaker, the owner and lead teacher’s husband, picked a bunch of us up in a beat up old station wagon. He smoked cigars and I complained loudly to Ma and Dad about Mr. Whittaker’s stinky cigars. I was a paste eater. It had such a pleasant smell and the taste was not bad either. We were given scissors to cut out some shape. Mrs. Whittaker leaped over four tables trying to get to me as she screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Being left handed, the only way I could get those stupid blunt scissors to cut paper was to turn them upside down and cut towards me. She made me use my right hand to cut. I stayed all day at kindergarten because my mother worked. Mrs. Whittaker made me lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day because that’s all I would eat. I took a nap after lunch on a cot with my special blankie. I got saltine crackers and orange juice for a snack. Mr. Whittaker puffing away on his stinky cigar would take me home.
First Grade: My first year at St. Patrick’s School. We wore a maroon uniform jumper with a maroon clip on Western tie. I was a rebel because my uniform blouses had a picot edge to the Peter Pan collar instead of straight. My cousin, Denise, went to Sacred Heart in East Boston. She was two years older than me and I wore her hand me downs. Ma couldn’t see buying the plain collar blouses when Denise’s blouses were perfectly good. My first grade teacher was Sister Marie Patrice. The eighth grade boys called her “The Beak” because she had a very sharp nose. She didn’t seem to have much patience with first graders. She yelled at all 52 of us a lot. We were terrified of her. One day she scared Collette Glynn so badly, poor Collette wet herself. Sister was not happy and made Collette clean up the floor. In May we had a May Procession on 1. May to crown the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lisa Lentini, Joey Haswell, and myself were the three tiniest kids in the whole school so we go to lead the May Procession. Lisa and I were flower girls and carried little flowered baskets. I wore a white dress with embroidered pansies. Joey wore a white suit and carried Mary’s floral crown on a white satin pillow. An 8th grade girl was chosen to crown the statue. The girl wore her mother’s white wedding gown. We held up traffic as the nuns had us leading the whole school (about 200 students) as we crossed West Central Street to the church.
Second Grade: Sister Mary Ethel was plump and always smiling. We got a new Mother Superior, Sister Mary Donatus. She was called Sister Mary Donuts behind her back. We got a new uniform too. Ma was not happy because she had spent good money to buy my uniform for first grade and it still fit! We got a very pretty green plaid with a solid green tie and green knee socks which made more sense for a school whose patron saint was Saint Patrick. We wore white ankle socks beginning May 1 to June. I still wore Denise’s hand me down blouses. During the winter months, we could wear slacks or snowpants under our uniform to school, but had to remove them in the classroom. We also got to participate in the Pope Pius X Reading program. You got a pin for reading 5 books. Another for reading 10. Then fancy certificates for 15, 20, 25. Lisa and Joey both grew over the summer. I was the shortest in the class and got to sit in the first row, first seat. Lisa sat behind me, and Joey sat on my left. (The rows went girl, boy). Because I was in the first row, first seat, I got to be the errand girl. My job was to collect the attendance and hot lunch slips from each class. There was a small wooden mailbox outside each classroom. I had to stand on tippy toe to reach. While running errands one day, Sister Mary Donatus came flying out of her office with her black veil flying behind her like a death sail. Her rosary beads cinctured around her waist clacked like a death knell. Some of the eighth grade boys (my brother included) were just outside her office pitching pennies against the statue of St. Patrick. Stephen Herd shouted in tongues which is why Sister came out of her office like a banshee. Stephen was a pretty big kid. I heard he had been in eighth grade for three years. Sister Mary Donatus was not a large woman. She was trim and maybe was 5’ 5”. With her left hand, she picked Stephen up by his necktie and collar of his shirt and bashed him against the wall. With her right hand, she slapped his face. I was so terrified I shook for days. Towards the end of the year, we got Lindy ballpoint pens with blue ink and we learned Palmer cursive. I was disappointed we didn’t get to use pen and ink. Our desks were bolted to the floor and had an inkwell. Second grade we made our first penance. We quickly learned to go to Fr. Murray. No matter what you did, penance was always 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. Father, I disobeyed my mother. 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. Father, I murdered 13 people using an axe. 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. First Communion was on March 31. It was freezing cold and rainy. We didn’t have a procession from the school to the church. We went downstairs to the lower church and took off our coats and processed to the upper church. I loved visiting the third grade nun on my errand, Sister Concepta made a fuss over me. My grandma had taught me how to count in Italian so Sister let me show off. She was always telling me how she was looking forward to having me in 3rd grade. Four of my classmates left parochial school. We were down to 48 and still the largest class to go through the school.
Third Grade: Over the summer, Sister Concepta was transferred to a school in Haverhill. (Yes, birthplace of Big Valley’s, Peter Breck). We got Miss Coomba. A lay teacher! She was a stout woman and had a maroon and black print dress with ¾ sleeves. She wore that dress as much as we wore our uniforms. We thought she looked like a crab in that dress. We found out her birthday was March 30 and we gave her a birthday party. She was so surprised.
Fourth Grade: We were now considered upper classmen and moved upstairs to the second floor. We had Sister Anita. She was the same height as me. She was also a thousand years old and made a prune look smooth skinned. (Several years later, a new neighbor moved across the street and he told me he had Sr. Anita when he was in 4th grade. He was 35 when he moved across the street) Sister Anita was also deaf as a post. We used to go stand in front of her and move our lips as if we were talking. It was a big yuck to hear her yell, “Speak up!” On April Fool’s Day, row one, my row decided at 9am we would all push our math books off our desk. 9am. Our math books hit the floor. Sister Anita wasn’t that deaf and row one had to stay after school and copy words from our spelling book, give the definition and used the word in a sentence as punishment. In the Spring, the church got a new steeple. Monsignor McHale had the entire school sit on the front lawn to watch the giant crane lift the new copper steeple into place. He said it was something we would never see again. One day, he stopped the busses at the front of the school and had the drivers bring us kids back home. He said the boiler was broken in the school and there was no heat. Later, he told us there was nothing wrong with the boiler, but it was such a nice day and he remembered when he was a kid in school how he would have loved a day off for no reason other than the sun was shining. He retired after our 4th grade year and we were sorry to see him leave.