Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Uh, that's not a Baby Ruth...."

Yep, in all my years, this was a first.  

It happened yesterday, a cloudy, but warm and humid day in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The pool at the lovely Oneida Country Club was virtually empty, with maybe a handful of kids splashing around.  Nearby, white skirted little girls took tennis lessons from the club pro and boys practiced their soccer skills on the lush, green grass adjacent to the pool.  We had just finished a wonderful grilled asparagus salad with balsamic vinagrette and a glass of wine.  

All was right with the world... 

Kate begged me to join her in the pool and Jack wanted to show me the flips he learned while having the time of his life with his grandparents this week.  Tennis lessons, golf lessons, swim lessons, trail riding with Gramp on his new dirt bike, treats, movies, picnics....

yeah, it is very good to be Jack!  

So, I resisted the urge to deny her pleas for the water and donned my old, red swimsuit.  Never thought I'd get to the age where I dislike wearing a swimsuit, but I am so there!  Maybe I need a new with super magical fat disappearing armor!  

If there is one like that out there, let me know... 

Anyway, I emerged from the womens locker room, just as a lithe 15 year old glided by, holding her boyfriend's hand.  Both were perfectly tanned, she in a shiny pink bikini with long brunette hair that she tossed in that perfectly practiced motion.  She WAS Phoebe Cates from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".  

It was not an ego boosting moment, by any means.  

So I headed over to the diving boards to witness Jack's aerial skills.  He is a headlong into the water guy and the two nimble gymnast friends he was playing with were twisting and flying off the boards like the Flying Walenda's.    

I stepped onto the board, ran the length and made a clumsy, unceremonious (notice NO photos of that!) leap into the water.  We splashed and played for about ten minutes when a sheepish looking lifeguard asked us to leave the water, due to an unknown object in the pool.  

Yes, it was what you are thinking....  After finally relenting to my kids, I get into a cesspool....literally!  

They shocked the pool and 30 minutes later, the kids were back in the water. 
Me, not so much.....

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Original Blizzard...

I am so tired I can hardly believe I am sitting in front of this tired old laptop.  This was a day that felt long enough to be two.  Woke at 5 am, was on the road by 6, headed to the Quad Cities, to meet with the fine folks at Lavender Crest Winery about my parent's 50th wedding anniversary party this fall.  Driving Interstate 88 is uneventful at best, but it's a long day in the car 7+ hours looking at corn and a few wind turbines.

After the meeting at Lavender Crest, I headed near the airport to scope out the available hotel accommodations for out of town guests.  I was getting closer to Moline proper and although, sadly, I did not have time to check out my favorite places nor to see some dear old friends, I did have time to swing by the local shopping center, Southpark Mall.  All I had on my mind was obtaining a Whitey's shake.  For those of you who aren't familiar with this local delicacy, all I can say is that you will gladly forfeit all further caloric intake for the day to taste the best milkshake known to human kind.  

Let's go back in time, shall we, say to the mid 1980's when candy bar shakes were in their infancy.  The Tunberg family and owner's of Whiteys concocted the Butterfinger shake long before Dairy Queen had even conceived of the idea.  In 1982 I was a soda jerk, working at the 41rst street Whitey's location.  It was my first real job and I was psyched to make $2.65 per hour, slinging milkshakes, bostons and banana splits.  My dad prayed I'd make mistakes that I'd have to pay for and bring home to him.  Our uniforms were basically nurse dresses and shoes with red and white striped!  I'd hop in the 1972 Pinto wagon and cruise over with my learner's permit to work the long hours all summer.

A Whitey's milkshake is thick, creamy and pure dreaminess, chock full of Butterfingers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever your little dairy loving heart desires.  It has literally been a couple of years since opportunity has availed me to enjoy a Whitey's and I jumped at the chance.  

Tomorrow I may have to run an extra mile or two, but it was SO worth it.  I love you Whitey's!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raspberry Jam in a Jif...

I've always wanted to be the gal who had a pantry full of canned fruits and veggies, picked fresh from my victory garden.  The breeze would feel so nice on my wrap around porch as I sipped tea and watched the kids play among the drying laundry on the clothesline.  

Cue the scratched record....rrrrrrrriiiiippppp!  

That utopian country farm is pure delusion, as I live in the city, with about 800 square feet of damaged yard, thanks to a foundation contractor who shall remain nameless. Someday I will regain my front and back yards, and until then I nurse my longing for a garden with some containers of herbs on the back deck.  

My parents do have the victory garden, with green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, name it.  But the most glorious of their crops is the 30 feet or so of red raspberry bushes.  Each year the bounty comes in two frenetic weeks of ripeness that must be picked before those plump, sweet orbs go bad.  My parents pick buckets full each day and when I am fortunate enough to visit and score some I try to use them asap.  

The problem is that it is a challenge to eat or use so many berries fast enough, so this year I attempted to make jam.  

Note, all those recipes that say you don't need pectin to make jam are either trying to make you nuts or there is some trick I have not learned.  My first attempt to make jam without pectin resulted in a soupy mess.  So in the order of making lemonade out of lemons, I strained out the seeds and now have a lovely raspberry sauce for some dessert yet to be named.  Makes tasty pancake syrup, too!  

Tonight I bought the pectin, followed the directions (novel idea...) and Voila!  

I have made one lovely pint of jam.  I have the bug, now maybe pickles or strawberry jam, or green beans.....
Mom, I'm comin' over!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate SWAT Truck

Tommy turned 42 yesterday and it was a subdued celebration.  Heat Armor is in hell-bent-for-election mode and he has no time to sit back and contemplate his advancing age.  Furthermore, we are still poor as church mice and can't afford extravagant gifts, trips, lobster, etc.  

 I did splurge on steaks from Whole Foods, made fresh tomato mozzarella salad, green beans with a mustard vinagrette and corn on the cob. 

Now I love decorating cakes, but it's a challenge to make cakes when they have to be dairy free.  Since we are dairy-less for the sake of our son's health, I had to get creative. 

Well, sort of. 

The idea came to me about midafternoon, when I had little time and resources to get an idea.  The scheme was to make a cake look like a swat truck. 

 Easy enough. 

I found dairy free cake and frosting mixes at Whole Foods and whipped them up.  The sheet cake baked just fine, however, the frosting had the consistency of a lava lamp. 

Kate helped me color it the lovely army green.  Really, it looks like baby poop, but I digress.  

The lack of resources part came into play as I had nothing to create details of the truck.  Where is the black licorice or white & red MM's when you need them?!  I didn't even have the tube of frosting to write "Happy Birthday Tom".  Talk about half an effort! 

Oh well, he liked it anyway and it did taste pretty good. 

Tom liked his camp shirt from Uncle Dan's shop and I think his favorite gifts were the two bottles of gin from North Shore distillery.  

 Not the most memorable birthday, but at least he has a summer birthday vs January 2nd
(mine...worst date...ever.) 

Next birthday on the calendar is my son's 8th.....Will it be mini golf or waterslides? 

No swat truck cakes or gin, for sure......

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gettin' Sparkly.....

So, we survived another 4th of July, all digits intact...

Yesterday Tom and his friend, Matt, broke out the sparklers, bottle rockets, fountains and other noisy, smelly and hazardous fireworks.  My son and Matt's son were keenly interested in the pyrotechnics and luckily the guys kepts the boys at a safe distance. 

All that stuff is fun until ya shoot yer eye out, kid!

The holiday weekend was kid a palooza, starting out with a sleepover for Jack, followed by pool time, local carnival, playing catch, playing in the sprinkler and capped off with a rooftop view of fireworks for 360 degrees over the Chicago horizon. 

Not half bad.... 

This is the good stuff, when the kids are so tired they fall sound asleep in the car ride home and sleep until 8am the next day.... 

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!