Summer hiatus

Well, I’m making it official. In order to devote more time to play, garden, read, make jam and write fiction, I’m taking a break from blogging. Looking ahead to the fall, I am considering changing the focus of this blog to homeschooling. This would achieve two goals: record-keeping for my personal homeschool and adding to the collective dissemination of information among homeschoolers.

Then again, maybe not. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind. A woman’s prerogative, and all that.

With gratitude, Kim

Dry skin relief

You guys are probably so hip and crafty that you already know this: you can make your own body scrub. That stuff that costs $6-$30 and I have to wait until Christmas to get? Yeah, I made my own. Now who’s cool, not to mention smooth?

We snuck in a few beach days before the temperature dropped again, so of course I got sunburned. I managed to cover my kids in sunscreen, and my upper half. My legs, not so much. They were toast.

When I was a kid, peeling sheets of skin off after burning was fun, a diversion. Now, the sight of my peeling, hairy legs is unpleasant and decidedly not fun. I used the last bit of body scrub (horded since December) trying to sand the dry skin off, but it wasn’t enough. I made my version out of desperation. Mine didn’t have any fancy essential oils, or nearly the amount of chocolate in the store-bought stuff, but it did the job. Fair warning, you will smell strongly of coffee for an hour or so after you shower off.

Mocha-Olive Oil body scrub

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup ground coffee (I bought the cheapest store-brand coffee I could find. $3.50 for about 3 cups)

1/2 cup sugar (you could use salt instead)

olive oil (the store-bought kind used grapeseed oil)

Mix the dry ingredients in a jar with a screw top. Add enough olive oil to create a slurry, or a slush consistency. Go shower! Make sure someone is around to feel your skin afterwards, or you’ll be approaching strangers in the supermarket, holding out your arm. ‘Just rub right here.’

That would be embarrassing. Don’t do that.

 

 

Things I removed from my son’s winter coat before washing, a list

  1. Filthy, crusted stiff inside-out dress socks
  2. 7 pine cones
  3. enough dirt to make an anthill
  4. Ritz crackers, unwrapped
  5. Frosted Mini Wheats, again, no wrapper
  6. 1 sugar packet
  7. half of a striped candy cane, unwrapped and partially sucked (it had to be pried off the fleece lining)
  8. a long, and quite striking, gold and silver necklace with lightning bolt charms that I bought to wear with one of my many black turtlenecks
  9. 3 varieties of unidentifiable seed pods
  10. 2 broken pencil stubs
  11. a folded note with the handwritten message: All Access Pass, Oscar #1
  12. $2.93 in pennies and nickels

My true self, revealed

Have you heard? The Gay Girl in Damascus is a man, an American man. I have mixed feelings about this revelation. I was not a follower of that particular blog. But some folks have maintained an online correspondence with Gay Girl for five years. I would feel betrayed.

I think it’s human nature to trust other people. We do become hardened with experience, but still, the desire to connect is powerful. We want to believe that there is someone out there putting into words the emotions that we are feeling, recording experiences with which we can identify. Gay Girl did that. He created a character who was marginalized and threatened, and struck a chord with many readers. So on one hand, good job. Gay Girl gave readers a window into another culture, and voice they could identify with.

On the other hand, damn. He is a straight, married American man. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. His blog contained no disclaimer about lack of authenticity, no warning that artistic license had been applied. He was claiming to be Amina, a Muslim lesbian living in Syria.

Trusting people is hard enough in person. It’s even harder to earn trust when you have a complete lack of body language. Emoticons, ridiculous as they are, are needed to replace the modulating effects of a smile or a softened voice in correspondence. So, just to reassure you, here are the facts about me.

I am from the planet Skroop, in the Ju-pop system. I am married, but my partner is from Earth. I am 117 years old, young for my species. I hatched from an egg. I think this explains my fondness for Lady Gaga.

I have three arms. Full disclosure: I had an arm added in an effort to earn the title of High Priestess. Typically, the upper level clergy have three or four arms; I didn’t stand a chance with only two. (As it turns out, I didn’t stand a chance with three, either.) I do not have eye stalks, though I would gladly trade my third arm for eye stalks. So useful for a mother!

I enjoy singing in the shower, watching the grass grow from the comfort of my hammock and speaking to dogs. I believe that coffee is essential. I feel very fortunate that all this beauty has formed from chaos. I thank my lucky stars every single day.

Steven Raichlen, sexiest griller

I was watching PBS a few days ago and Steven Raichlen came on with all of his beautiful clean grills. An informal poll of some friends revealed that Raichlen isn’t considered a sex symbol. I typically don’t go for guys who wear automatically darkening prescription glasses. But that episode, watching him prepare a raw chicken for grilling, really flipped my burgers. Cooking is a sensual act. But every step Raichlen took in making that chicken was done with such love and care, it was like reading a hot romance novel.

It started when he loosened the skin of the chicken with first one finger, then two, and finally slid all his fingers under the skin. Then he rubbed herbed butter between the skin and the flesh of the chicken and massaged it around. Before grilling, Raichlen made sure the grill was well lubricated with oil. You get the idea…or, maybe it’s just me? I’m okay with that, really.

 

In honor of Steven Raichlen, my recipe for Roasted Chicken:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

One lemon, quartered

One onion, quartered

1 tsp kosher salt, divided use

several grinds of black pepper

1 tbsp butter (Much less than Raichlen used, alas. It would appear that he is considerably more sensual than me.)

several sprigs fresh herbs (I like thyme, sage and tarragon)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly (Or gently, depending on personal preference)

one whole chicken

1. Pat your chicken dry with  paper towels. Trim any extraneous hunks of skin. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp salt into the cavity. Grind some pepper into the cavity. Set aside your chicken.

2. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix softened butter, remaining salt, pepper to taste and 2-3 tbsp finely minced herbs. You should have some herbs left over. Set them aside with your onions and lemon wedges.

3. Gently (but insistently) loosen the skin from the breast of the chicken. Push your fingers under the skin as far as the thighs. Scoop up about half of the butter mixture and start pushing it under the chicken skin, spreading it all over the breast and thigh. Repeat with the remaining butter on the other breast and thigh.

4. Stuff the cavity loosely with the onion, lemon, garlic and remaining herbs. If you put too much stuff in the cavity, the chicken will cook too slowly, making it more likely that the breasts dry out while you’re waiting for the rest of the bird to become done enough to eat safely,

5. Place chicken on roasting pan. Don’t bother trussing the poor bird, it’s been through enough. Put it in the pre-heated oven, legs first. (The dark meat on the legs and thighs needs to cook to a higher temperature. Placing these parts toward the back of the oven, where reflected heat means a slightly higher temp, helps keep things cooking evenly.) Cook for approximately an hour. At this high temp, the skin will brown nicely but if you want to help it along, when you start checking the temperature of your roast with a thermometer, baste it with the drippings in the pan.

6. Important: check the temperature of your chicken. The breast should be 165 degrees. I take mine out of the oven as soon as it reads 160, as it continues to cook out of the oven. Second important thing: let the roast rest. Don’t ruin it after waiting so patiently! A 4-5 lb chicken needs to rest at least 10 minutes before carving. It will stay hot longer than that if you tent it loosely with foil.

7. Enjoy!

The smell of my childhood

You know how people have certain smells that are calming; mother’s perfume, lilacs, whatever. I think these smells come from our childhood. Those lilacs used to bloom in Grandma’s garden every May. Dad smoked a pipe. Now when those odors drift your way, you’re transported back to a safe place and time. I’m sure it works both ways, with some scents triggering sadness or fear. We are animals, after all.

My special scent is lake water. It’s the smell of my childhood. I love to swim, especially outdoors. Chlorine just doesn’t rev my motor the way that seaweed and sand does. Heck, I don’t even need the sand. A rocky shore or seawall will do just fine. Nothing beats swimming in the open water, blue sky above, trees reflected on the water, birds calling all around. Playing Marco Polo with my kids is pretty darn good lake fun, too. The best part is the way my bathing suit smells the next day. It’s kind of like grass, fresh fish and wind all mixed together. Don’t judge me until you’ve swum a mile in my swimsuit, brother.

The soccer season is almost done and I have a final observation: You just don’t appreciate the development of self-control as a character trait until you’ve spent a lot of time with 6 and 7 year olds. They have come a long way since last August.

MW seeks special ISP

Me: Married, busy, impatient bordering on impulsive. Healthy appetite for internet access.

You: Internet service provider who can provide wireless connection that remains constantly strong and consistently available.

I like to type and tweet far into the night, and I need an ISP who will be there for me. ISPs who experience seasonal fluctuations need not respond.

If I have to repair our connection several times a week, there’s going to be trouble in paradise. If you can please me (and I am notoriously demanding and difficult to please) I will reward you with referrals to all of my friends and relatives. If a customer service representative asks me to move my desktop computer to every phone jack in the house in an effort to remotely repair the connection, I am going to refuse.

Please respond with your best offer. No nude pics.

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