A very snowy day here in Michigan, and I feel as if I shoveled all 12 inches by myself. I didn’t, though; even the neighbor’s John Deere kept getting stuck, so we called a plow truck. It was well worth the $30. We’re not good friends with the neighbors, but friendly enough to discuss dogs, kids, the new bugs in the pine trees. Last week I saw the female half of the couple taking out the recycling and garbage, and knew something was wrong. She never does that. If he goes out-of-town for a few days, the garbage can stays out at the roadside until he gets home.This was serious.

In my mind, the most likely options were back injury, a serious re-examination of gender roles in the marriage, or jail. It crossed my mind that he might be dead, too, but I dismissed that because someone would have told us if that happened. Well, I finally called her, in case she needed help (back injury option) and because I was really curious (um, gender role option.)

It turns out my neighbor is working in California for six weeks. It took me two weeks to notice he was gone. His wife said everyone else assumed they had split up, which never even occurred to me, so I get points for positive thinking. Well, I would if it weren’t for the jail option. Seriously, she thanked me for not thinking that they were divorcing.

On the home front, I discovered a new source of baking recipes and have been happily experimenting for a few days. Yesterday, I made this vegan chocolate cake for visiting friends. All the fat in the recipe comes from avocado, yum. I didn’t have time to make the avocado buttercream frosting, but I plan on doing that next time. The cake was very good, no hint of avocado taste. Kids ate it with abandon.

Today, I tried the homemade pumpkin pop-tarts. I knew the maple glaze would be disliked, so I left out the maple syrup and substituted 1 tbsp cinnamon and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Also, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all-purpose flour in the pastry recipe. Another winner. The only junk food that I hate for my son to eat is pop-tarts. An occasional one wouldn’t be a big deal, but if they are in the house he obsesses about them until they’re gone. Thanks to Joy the Baker for giving us an alternative.

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