Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

People in glasses houses should not throw stones

THIS is the person who raided MY closet for clothes to wear on Nerd Day!



How some people in my house make plans

Iseult:   So, Mama, can I go to the Fair on Friday night?

Me:        Who else is going?

Iseult:   I don’t know.  Friends.

Me:        What time were you planning to go?

Iseult:   I don’t know.  Sometime in the evening.

Me:        How were you planning to get there?

Iseult:   I don’t know.  Maybe you could drive us.

Me:        How much does it cost?

Iseult:   I don’t know.  But I think we can get tickets at the Pig.

Me:        Are there any other details you don’t know that you’d like to tell me about?

Iseult:   Seriously, Mama, if you don’t want me to go, you could just say so instead of asking all these questions.

(I think she has a great future in politics!)


[Update:  Iseult comes home with a slip of paper and hands it to me.  “Check it out, Mama – I got Julie’s mom’s number for you and I even got her name so that should make you feel better.  When are you going to call her?”  Apparently the little discussion (I call it that with reservations) had some effect.  It’s these little victories which keep me going.]



Sunday Sillies

Am I the only person who continues to be miffed that Pluto was dissed by the so-called scientific community.

Honestly, some people have too much time on their hands.  Get a job and leave the solar system alone!


Support Pluto and get your T-shirt NOW!


A Sophie’s Choice of Sorts

“Tirith wasn’t at school today. His brother wasn’t either,” Paul announced at dinner. Tirith was his best friend, the son of an attaché to the Cambodian Embassy in Paris. His younger brother and Mike were friends, too. “They weren’t at school yesterday either.” My parents got very quiet. Dinner took on a somewhat strained feeling. We knew something was wrong, but were not sure what. My mother changed the subject. Tirith and his brother never came back to school.

A few weeks later, the phone rings. It’s Tirith’s father wanting to know if his sons can come over to play with Paul and Mike. A date is set. The family arrives and the boys race down the hall to the playroom. The adults adjourn to the living room. I am busy with my own affairs.

Later that evening at dinner, Dad asks the boys if they know why their friends were no longer at school. “Yes. Their Dad had to leave the Embassy and become French or they were going to die.” My dad looks at my mother, who nods her head. “Sort of,” he says. “The Cambodian government was taken over. The new government ordered the Ambassador and staff back to Cambodia.” Paul butts in “yes, but they can’t go back because they would be killed. All their family is dead because they didn’t go back. Tirith says their Dad had to choose. So he chose to stay in France. And now everyone else is dead. Tirith says they would be dead too if they go back. So they can’t. They had to ask the French to let them stay and they did and now Tirith’s dad runs a grocery store that’s why he’s not at school anymore.”

(In 1976, the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Phen and recalled all diplomats, with threats of execution of family members remaining in the country. Some returned to find their families executed anyway and faced the same fate; others refused and sought asylum with host countries, with the certain knowledge that this meant the death of their relatives. Between 1975 and 1979 over 1.7 million Cambodians would perish.)


Time Well Spent and Remembered

224 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, is home to the legendary Librairie Galignani, “the first English bookshop established on the continent”. We shopped there a lot. It’s where I acquired “Anne of Green Gables” and “Daddy LongLegs”; where my mother purchased her Mills & Boons romances and Jean Plaidy novels;  where my brothers found their Asterix comics and books about tanks and jets. My mother often took us there during the week in summer time. We would make our selections and then head over to the Jardin de Tuileries to read and play before going home. It was a very good life.

On one particularly memorable trip, my mother purchased Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. No side trip to the Jardin that day – it was straight home to dive into this treasure. We get home; dropped our gear and headed to the living room. I can still see the four of us sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch: Me, Paul, my mother, Michael. She cracked open the book and began to read. The afternoon passed and evening came. At some point, one of us must have turned on a light. Finally we hear the front door open. Its Dad home from work – had to be at least 7pm. Apartment dark but for one end table light in the living room; no dinner started; all of us still on the floor. Mother stopped reading and we look up. There he was, just standing there looking at us – he had his briefcase still in his hand, hat in another and his suit jacket was over his arm. Mike piped up “Mike TeeVee just got shrunked, Dad. Wanna hear?”

My dad just kind of smiled and asked, “Isn’t anybody hungry?” We all were, but nobody wanted to fess up. We needed the rest of that story. My mother made a movement to get up off the floor, but my Dad just shook his head. “Do we have any ground beef?” “Yes.” “Well, looks like we’re having Dad Burgers tonight. Who wants to help?” We all jumped up – Dad was making burgers, a rare treat – my mother was a wonderful cook but she couldn’t make a hamburger to save her life. I set the table with Paul. My mother was finding rolls and some salad and the like. Mikey helped Dad pat the meat into shape. During dinner we all brought him up to speed on the story and afterwards he had my mother bring the book to the kitchen to finish reading while he and my brothers and I cleaned up. At some point we left the kitchen and ended up in his study. He was in his big easy chair with Paul and Mike in his lap. My mother and I were on the floor leaning against it while she finished the last chapter.

By the time she closed the book it was very late. Paul and I stumbled to our bedrooms, my mother following us. My dad carried a nearly asleep Mike. We got into our pajamas and climbed into bed. My parents kissed us goodnight. And I remember hearing them laughing and my mother saying “I can’t understand it, once I got started I couldn’t seem to find a place to stop.”

(There are things I have to remember because there is nobody else to remember them anymore and they’ll be gone if I don’t. My nephews won’t know about their Dad as a kid, or the uncle they never knew. I have to be the one to tell them and it’s bitter.)


The Smudgefutt Letters Part I

It’s been a long time since I read The Screwtape Letters, but this tribute had me pull it back off the shelf.

And do check out Adopting James – a wonderful place to while away some time.

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Sunday Sillies

I know it’s technically Monday – but yesterday was hectic – things happen!

I love all things dinosaur (not as much as shark but pretty darn close), so this Tyrannosaurus Rex Pen really made me chuckle.

Actually, I think it’s great gift for any dino-crazy little boy – I mean, come on, you pull the pen out of his butt!  What kid isn’t going to love that?


T_Rex Pen - Perpetual Kid


How do I Thank Thee? Why by Baking, of Course

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
James Allen

I’m not of the opinion that there is a one-size-fits-all way of thanking another individual who has helped you.  Rather, a little thought and care should go into the thanks.  Now, I’m not talking here about the little thank you’s (I know it shouldn’t have an apostrophe, but not having there just looks too weird for me to stomach).  It’s perfectly appropriate to offer a polite word of thanks, accompanied by a smile, for the little things folks do as a matter of every day polite behavior – holding the door open, pointing out that the tag on the back of your sweater is showing, handing you the change you dropped – those things.

What I’m talking about here are the times when someone (your BF’s husband) does something for you that you can’t really adequately thank him for.  Like driving over to the Crapmart parking lot in the middle of the afternoon to jumpstart your car because the battery died and you don’t know what to do plus you don’t actually own jumper cables.

These acts of kindness (rescue) call for more than just a couple of heart felt words.  They call for pie. In this particular case, it calls for apple pie, because Jason’s a fellow relocated Yankee, and I can think of no better way to thank him than to bake up his favorite and since he’s the only one at his house who likes apple pie, he gets it all to himself.

There’s nothing fancy about this recipe – just some pastry crust, apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter.  Doesn’t take long to and is one of those nearly perfect foods – wonderful warm with ice cream or ice cold for breakfast.  There’s just no wrong way or time for a slice.  So, if you need to thank somebody, bake one up.  Actions may speak louder than words, but a homemade pie makes them all the sweeter.  (And, as an aside, pie works equally well as an apology for those occasions when you’re in the wrong and need to make things right).


Down & Dirty Apple Pie


Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with (preferably nonstick) foil and set aside.

Prepare the crust (may be done ahead of time):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt (regular table salt, nothing fancy)
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. COLD solid vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice water

 Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the shortening and cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles peas.  Then put the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to chill up the shortening again.

Then add the water 1 Tbsp. at a time and toss it with a fork until all the flour is moistened.  Gather it into a ball, gently, and then divide into two portions with one a little larger than the other.   Flatten each portion into a round disk.

Refrigerate for another ten (10) minutes.  (I use this time to clean up my mess and get the counter set up to roll out the pastry).

Remove the smaller portion and roll into about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully ease it into the pie pan.  Return the lined pie pan to the refrigerator while you make the filling.

(This is where you make the filling – see below)

Once the pie is filled, remove the second disk and roll out.  Cap the pie;, trim edges and flute (or however you like to finish your edge).  Cut several slashes in the crust to vent; brush with a glaze of 1 beaten egg & 1 Tbsp. water – makes a pretty shiny glaze.

For the Filling:

¾ – 1 cup sugar (this really depends on how tart your apples are)
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon (no need to go all fancy with roasted cinnamon or anything)
6 – 7 Cups sliced pared apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into tiny cubes

 In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

Peel, core, and slice the apples – try to get the slices as uniform as possible so they’ll cook evenly.  Add to the bowl and toss to coat with the cinnamon sugar.  Heap the apples into the pastry-lined pie plate and dot with the butter cubes.

Cap and finish as above and then placed on the lined baking sheet (because if you don’t, then you are guaranteed to have a dripping, smoking mess all over your oven floor – the universe just works that way).

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  After about 20 minutes, I check to make sure that the crust is not browning too quickly and, if need be, put a sheet of foil over the top.  I also put a pie shield around the edges at this point, because they just get too dark.   Your pie is done when the crust is nicely browned and the apples are cooked through – use a sharp knife inserted through the vent slashes – it should go through easily.

There you have it – nothing fancy, not too hard to throw together (especially if, like me, you always double your pie crust recipe and keep some in the freezer for emergencies – what, you don’t think an emergency might involve pie?  Seriously?  I think we’re going to need to talk).

Apple Pie

Looks good enough to eat

 It belatedly occurred to me that some folks prefer a crumb top on their pie – I love them both, so Yay to that.  Here’s the crumb topping I use.  The only caution I would make, is to reduce the sugar in the pie slightly, say maybe by a quarter cup so that it’s not overly sweet.  Bake at 400F but check for browning about 15 minutes into the baking so you don’t burn the crumbs.  (BTW – this crumb recipe is equally delish sprinkled on muffins and coffee cake or any other baked good).

Crumb Topping for Apple Pie:

½ cup (1 stick) butter (you can go ahead and used salted, I won’t tell anyone)
½ cup sugar (light brown sugar is good too)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix all the ingredients until crumbly and pile on over your pie filling.  You can double the recipe if you like a lot of crumb; plus they freeze well.

Recipe adapted from “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook”, First Edition, Second Printing, 1961 (and yes – it does matter which edition and what year it was printed)

 [Edited to correct a really whoppingly huge error on the Crumb Topping Recipe – 1/2 cup of butter is equal to one (1) stick, NOT two.  And my apologies to anyone who may have made it (or tried to) and ended up with a real mess.]



Life is Good

How Southern Girls do their homework….



Naggy McNaggerson

Over at my favorite hangout spot, The Kitchn, some chick has her panties in a twist because her boyfriend puts salt on his food and she doesn’t want him to,

So, she’s taken to the internet to ask for suggestions on how to get this (him) under control.

I tried to refrain, really I did.  Promise. But I’m just a fallible human after all.  And her attitude just pissed me off.

Le Sigh.

And I have stupid typos all over my comment. Le Sigh x Deux.