Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hearts

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Hearts are what I remember from my childhood bedroom.

When I was 3 years old we moved to the house I grew up in; at least the house I lived in until high school. I was an only child at the time, and my unfurnished bedroom needed curtains, a comforter and bed skirt. I don’t remember how it came to be, but my room was decorated in hearts. I had curtains, two sets of sheets, a comforter and a bed skirt with hearts and I loved it.

I slept under large, primary colored hearts and it was glorious. To this day, I absolutely love hearts and I am convinced that is why. Hearts. It’s what I remember most from my childhood bedroom.

Mama’s Losin’ It

I’m sorry, dad.

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My dad and I, circa 1987.

We were on the subway in Boston, on our way home from a Red Sox game. I was less than a month away from 18, a few days away from going to college 6 hours from home and 3 states away. I was clutching a Red Sox pennant and a mug that I planned to bring to college, since I was leaving my beloved Boston. It was just my dad and I.

He was talking to me, and I wasn’t listening closely. I was, after all, almost 18 and despite the fact that we’d just enjoyed a great game together, there was still a part of me that didn’t want to hear what my parents had to say half the time. Okay, maybe most of the time. Anyway, dad was talking, I wasn’t listening, instead I was looking out the window. It was dark, and in the window I could see him looking at me while he spoke.

I tuned in towards the end to hear something along the lines of, “It seems like you were just going into kindergarten, and now you’re off to college”. And you know what I said? “Yeah, yeah, I know.”

Yeah, yeah, I know.

I’d do anything to take those words back.

So I’m sorry, dad. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate your words back then, but if it means anything, I most definitely do now.

My earliest memory…

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One of my earliest memories is of baseball. I suppose that’s fitting, considering I basically grew up a Red Sox fan.

It was October 1986 and I was 3 years old. My mom was at work, and it was just my dad and I. We were watching TV in the kitchen, with the TV turned into the doorway like it always was in the house I grew up in.

We were watching game 6 of the World Series, Boston Red Sox verses the New York Mets. I remember vividly sitting at the table while my dad pounded on it, shouting “no, NO!!!” at the TV.

It was only years later that I understood. The game we were watching together was the one when Bill Buckner allowed the ball to roll through his legs, letting the Mets score the winning run. The Mets went on to win the World Series, and the Red Sox were thwarted, yet again. (They hadn’t won a series since 1918, and wouldn’t until 2004).

I understood all too well the feeling my dad had when, 17 years later, I watched the Red Sox come thisclose to the World Series and choke. I walked into the house that weekend and said, “Dad, I feel like I lost my best friend.”

“Now, you know,” he said. “Now, you know.”

Yes, now I know what it was like all those years ago, when a little 3 year old stared at her dad, wondering why he was getting so upset. Now I know.

 

This post inspired by Mama Kat’s writing prompt: Share you earliest childhood memory. How old were you? Why was it memorable?

Photo source

Meteor showers

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I was 8 the first time I saw a meteor shower.

We were camping in Vermont, on a trip that I remember very clearly, probably because Hurricane Bob interrupted it (a story for another time). It was mid-August, a fact I remember only because of Hurricane Bob and the fact that we watched the Perseids together. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I can still see our campsite in my mind. Our tiny little play tent, really, where my sister, then 3 and I slept. My parent’s tent next to ours, and across the site, our familiar brown and mustard yellow tarp over the picnic table (my dad hates the blue tarps with a passion). In front of our site, on the other side of the road was a large field with more, uninhabited campsites. Across that field were the bathrooms, and during the day I would go alone to the bathroom, but at night I would get confused and lost, and had to ask my parents for help.

One such night I woke my parents up, and my dad took me to the bathroom. My mom probably didn’t feel like getting out of the nice, warm sleeping bag, so dad and I headed across the field to the bathroom. On the way back, my dad and I stopped, and he pointed out the Perseids meteor shower, which was taking place that night. We sat on a picnic table, watching the stars, and pointing happily every time we saw a meteor.

The second time I saw the Perseids we were at home, and my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to go watch them with him. With a lawn chair set up in the backyard, we watched the meteor shower, together again. The next morning I would have thought it was a dream, except the chairs were still there the next day.

Ever since then, meteor showers, especially the Perseids (though I try to catch the Leonids in November too) have had a special place in my heart. When I was a sophomore in college I dragged my roommates out to watch the Leonids, and I remember how excited they were to see the shower. I’ve laid down in a field, watching the Leonids when home for Thanksgiving, and every year I think of my dad and how grateful I am that he introduced me to them more than 20 years ago on a midnight trip to the bathroom.

Being 8, I woke up in the mid

Summer bucket list…garden(s)

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When I put “whip the garden(s) into shape” on my summer bucket list, I was not anticipating it taking as long as it has. We’ve been working hard but a combination of the heat and multiple trips to Home Depot a day for more mulch, weed cloth or staples for the cloth and the fact that neither of us was home together for 95% of July has slowed the progress significantly. However! I’m happy to report that we’re the majority of the way through the front garden and have sprayed round-up to take the chemical warfare approach in the back yard garden. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that one, but I was more concerned with the front garden anyway since, let’s be honest, it was getting embarrassing and that’s the one everyone sees.

So, without further ado, our progress!

For reference, here is the house the day we closed on it. You can’t see the whole front flowerbed, but it’ll give you a good idea of what it looked like 2 years ago.

 

And here it is before we started weeding.

Yes, I am embarrassed, thanks for asking.

The other side, where we started working.

 

I’m honestly glad we started on this side because the side by the driveway has many more bushes and shrubs, so it won’t take nearly as much effort. If we had started on that side, I’m pretty sure I’d be tempted to say, let’s wait until next spring…and then it would never get done. Anyway, here’s our progress, so far!

You will notice a significant improvement! I have to admit, it’s making me fall in love with our house all over again. Or at least the outside.

We dug up no less than a million iris bulbs (those things reproduce FAST!) and replanted them around the tree and in the open parts of the front. Since we’re basically gutting the backyard garden (so to speak) we saved the best of the bulbs and we’ll use them back there.

It was nice and shady when we worked back here!

So, yes I call this a success. Or at least mostly a success, since we’re not quite done, but we will be within the next few weeks. What do you think of our progress? I think our neighbors are a little relieved; we were probably bringing down the property value of every other house on our street.

 

My ridiculous mind

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Sometimes my anxiety is so ridiculous it almost makes me laugh. Or it would, if it wasn’t making me so anxious. The thing about anxiety is that little things can be blown out of proportion so quickly. For example, here’s my train of thought in regards to one of my most recent stresses:

I don’t want to sell our house, I love it! But it isn’t big enough for TWO kids. How are we going to save the money for the 20% down payment we want to make on a house bigger (and more expensive) than ours? Well, if we sell this one first and make a profit, we can use that as a down payment. But how can we sell a house AND buy one at the same time? Maybe we can live in an apartment and pay month to month until we buy another house. I don’t want to sell this house, I love it, but if we rent it we won’t have the money for a down payment!

Have I mentioned that we don’t have any kids? And that selling our house is a good 5 years away, most likely? Yeah. That’s anxiety.

It’s frustrating to me that I can lie awake at night stressing about something that’s years in the future. Sadly, it’s not just things in the far future that stress me, however. This fall is approaching way too quickly for my liking, and there are several things happening that are causing me unnecessary stress. I feel my chest tightening when I think about some of the changes in my near future. I panic over the idea that we’re traveling for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, despite the fact that I’m excited about both.

Usually I try to look at the worst case scenario when I have anxiety but I’ve been having a hard time with it lately. There are just so many unknowns. The hardest part of all is that Geoff doesn’t understand. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s very supportive, but he doesn’t understand why I get a panic attack just thinking about traveling in November. A trip we planned in January, with tickets we’ve already bought. See? Ridiculous. I know that, now will someone tell my mind how ridiculous it’s being?

Homemade Ice Cream. With Vodka.

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Does that title get you reading?? Well, it’s true. We made homemade ice cream this weekend and we used vodka (I’ll explain why in a minute).

First, I need to explain why making ice cream was on my summer bucket list. It’s all started because of this:

Note the kitty bomb.

When we moved 2 years ago, Geoff’s mom sent up a truck full of what I presume was his childhood bedroom and half their garage. There was a lot of stuff to weed through, but we came out with a lot of useful things, and this was one of them! Unfortunately, it’s taken us 2 years to get around to using it, but that’s OK.

Anyway, I think I’d romanticized making your own ice cream a bit. Remember when you were kids, and it only took about 20 minutes, then you had awesome ice cream to eat? Strangely, I don’t remember doing it very often, and this weekend I learned why. It takes forever. Oh, it’s not time consuming, most of it is make this then put it in the refrigerator for 3 hours, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Also, it involves cooking.

Nevertheless! I am here to say we did it, and it was delicious! Here’s the process, and the whole recipe, which I got from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (my favorite cookbook at the moment) is at the bottom.

First, this is in no way healthy. The cookbook specifically says do NOT substitute lowfat or nonfat milk, light cream of half and half. You’ve been warned! The following is a summary of the process, but the real recipe is at the bottom.

First, make the custard and put it in an ice bath. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then put it in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until cooled through. It only took ours about 2 and a half.

While you wait, cook the strawberries and mash them carefully to get as much juice out as possible. This is so that the ice cream has the strawberry flavor, not just chunks of frozen strawberries in flavorless ice cream. Put this in the fridge along with the custard until you’re ready.

Strain the strawberries with a small strainer, pressing the solids against the strainer until you have as much juice out as possible. Add it to the cooled custard, setting aside the solids.

Pour all but the solids into the ice cream maker canister and follow the machine’s instructions. Mix the strawberry solids with vodka and add them in the last 2 minutes of churning. When you’re done, it will look like soft serve ice cream.

Put it into an airtight container, cover with plastic wrap and cover with the lid. Put it in the freezer 3 hours minimum (overnight is best) and enjoy!

Recipe without all the pictures:

Strawberry ice cream (makes about 1 1/2 quarts)

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vodka

  • Heat the cream, milk and 1/4 sugar in a saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar until steam appears and the milk is hot (175 degrees).
  • In a separate bowl wisk 6 egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar until smooth. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs. This is so the eggs don’t curdle when you add it all together. Then pour that into the rest of the milk mixture, whisking vigorously. Continue to cook the custard mixture over medium heat until it’s hot but not simmering (180-185 degrees).
  • Strain the custard into a bowl set inside a larger bowl with ice. Let it cool, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, remove the custard bowl, cover it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until completely cooled, about 3 hours (ours took about 2 1/2)
  • Meanwhile, bring the strawberries, salt and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar to a simmer in a clean saucepan over medium-high heat. As they cook, mash the strawberries slightly so the juices come out, about 5 minutes. (This is so the whole strawberry flavor gets into the custard that you just made, rather than hard, frozen chunks of berries in flavorless custard) Pour that into a bowl and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use the custard.
  • Strain the berry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing the solids to get as much juice as possible. Set the solids aside, and stir the strained juice, vanilla and lemon juice into the chilled custard, pour that into the ice cream machine’s canister and follow the machine’s directions.
  • Toss the strained strawberries with vodka and add them to the mixture 2 minutes before it’s finished churning. (The vodka prevents the strawberries from freezing and becoming hard chunks in the rest of the ice cream). Transfer the ice cream into an airtight container, cover it with plastic wrap and put the lid on it. Let it freeze at least 3 hours. Ours was yummy after 3, but I think overnight is actually ideal.