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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Traditional Lack of Tradition

In my family, we don't like to do things just because. We like to try new things. So, from one holiday to the next, there's no guarantee what we'll be doing or where or with whom. This makes for some fun times and some funny times.

For example:
Last Christmas, we decided to try out the Disney Christmas experience. As Christmas Day rolled around, we were with the mouse himself! It was a long, fun day. This picture was taken shortly after midnight.
On the other hand, last year for St. Patrick's day, the kids decided the world was not green enough, and they got into the food coloring while making dinner. We ended up with green mashed potatoes and green milk. Trust me on this one: you do NOT want to see the picture.

[no picture - you're welcome]


So, in keeping with our non-traditional tradition, this year we decided to hunt down a tree farm and go cut our own Christmas tree. It was so much fun wandering around the tidy little forest. For the most part, the tree types were intermingled, and so it was easy to compare the different variations.
There were clumps of all one kind of tree here and there, and we ended up in one of these because we were looking for a different type of tree: one we couldn't find on a tree lot at home.

These are blue ice trees. They're super fragrant and pretty nifty looking, too. In this picture, we're just starting to try to decide which one we want. See the tall tree behind Jim? That's the one!

We took turns with the saw, but Jimmy got to finish off the final cuts.

And here are my proud little tree hunters.


The tree is home and up in the family room. Right now it only has white lights on it, and because of the way the branches grow, as you move around, it makes the lights look like they're twinkling. Check it out:


video

We're going to decorate it in silver so that it looks like an ice tree. I'll put up more photos later.

Merry Christmas!

(PS. If you go to my Facebook page, you can see all the pictures from yesterday's experience.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Monday

Remember back when lightbulb jokes were popular? I've been thinking of them lately, and then I heard one referenced on a show that I watch, and now it's all I can think about.

For example:

Q: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. The lightbulb will change when it's ready.

Q: How many college football players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The entire team! And they all get a semester's credit for it!

Q: How many thought police does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None.... There never *was* any light bulb, don't you remember?

Q: How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Q: How many existentialists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it in and one to observe how the light bulb itself symbolizes a single incandescent beacon of subjective reality in a netherworld of endless absurdity reaching out toward a cosmos of nothingness.

Q: How many divorce lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 3 - one to argue for the rights of the old lightbulb, one to argue for the rights of the new lightbulb, and one to argue for the rights of the light socket.

Q: How many senators does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two to sponsor the bill and thirty-three to constitute a quorum.

Q: How many Dan Quayles does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One, but it has to be a pretty dim bulb.

Q: How many admin assistants does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A: None. I can't do anything unless you complete a lightbulb design change request form.

Q: How many civil servants does it take to change the light bulb?
A: 45. One to change the bulb, and 44 to do the paperwork.

Q: How many anarchists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: All of them. (Notes : An anarchic society has no one in charge; each must do for theirself. Perhaps it would help to say, "All of them. Or, none of them. Or several." BTW, I prefer "theirself" to any other construction.)

Q: How many amoebas does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A: One. No, 2. No, 4. No, 8. No, 16. No, 32.......

Q: How many anglers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five, and you should've seen the light bulb! It must have been *this* big! (Gestures with arms...) Five of us were barely enough!

Q: How many archaeologists does does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A: Three. One to change it and two to argue about how old the old one is.

Q: How many preservation society members does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: One, but it takes a year to find an antique Edison light bulb so it'll be architecturally accurate.

Q: How many women with PMS does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. Only ONE!! And do you know WHY it only takes ONE? Because no one else in this house knows HOW to change a light bulb. They don't even know the bulb is BURNED OUT. They would sit in this house in the dark for THREE DAYS before they figured it OUT. And once they figured it out they wouldn't be able to find the light bulbs despite the fact that they've been in the SAME CUPBOARD for the past SEVENTEEN YEARS. But if they did, by some miracle, actually find the light bulbs, TWO DAYS LATER the chair that they dragged from two rooms over to stand on to change the STUPID light bulb would STILL BE IN THE SAME SPOT!! AND UNDERNEATH IT WOULD BE THE CRUMPLED WRAPPER THE STUPID @*!#$% LIGHTBULBS CAME IN! WHY?! BECAUSE NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE EVER CARRIES OUT THE GARBAGE!! IT'S A WONDER WE HAVEN'T ALL SUFFOCATED FROM THE PILES OF GARBAGE THAT ARE 12 FEET DEEP THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE HOUSE. THE HOUSE!! IT WOULD TAKE AN ARMY TO CLEAN THIS... I'm sorry...what did you ask me?

Special thanks today to the following website for cataloging some of these and so many, many more!
http://www.eyrie.org/~thad/strange/lightbulbs.html

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Sun is Shining

It's hard to stay complaint-free when you wake up feeling sick.

When you've come back from a great night at the theatre with your 40 students
Students who were well-behaved
Well-dressed
Polite
Complimentary
Students who were complimented for their cleanliness by the bus driver
When you were able to enjoy the night out with two chaperons who are your friends
When you got to really dress up and enjoy yourself
And see your first live professional Shakespeare play
And wear real jewelry
And cry even though you knew what the ending was going to be
When you got to go to your favorite fast food restaurant with those same 40 students
And realize that you didn't have to clean up after them
because they did the clean up
When you slept like a baby for the first time in weeks
And got to sleep in until 9:30
And woke up with no puppy puddles to clean
or puppy piles to clean
And played your favorite video game for 2 hours
With your favorite person
While your kids entertained themselves quietly nearby
And the dog snored on her favorite chair
And you almost forget that you don't feel good when you think of all that
And the sun is shining

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SNOW!

We had lovely flurries today. During the last hour of school - and for a while after that - there were little swirly dancing flakes. Very pretty.

It's a little bit early for us here in VA, but since we had so little of it last year, it's nice to see it again. I'm hoping to get quite a bit of snow this school year. Of course, that's a relative term as my family back home in MI has seen more snow already than we'll probably get for the whole year.

Keep snowdancin', people!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas with CD #5 - PIE!


Today was pie day.

I looked at a bunch of recipes and finally settled on one that was not too complicated, but seemed promising.

I made a pumpkin pie with half of the recipe and I am planning to make cranberry pecan tassies with the other half, tomorrow probably.

The pie turned out super yummy, and I liked the crust, too. So did the kids and my mother-in-law. Pumpkin pie is her favorite, so I am encouraged.

Jim, my husband did not try it. He hates pumpkin. Perhaps next time. :)


I found the recipe through a link at celiac.com, and could probably find it again for you if you want the original link, but here's the ingredient list.

1 C tapioca flour
1 C white rice flour
1 t xanthan gum
1 T powdered milk
6 T butter (or cream cheese)
6 T shortening
1/3 C water

Step one. Mix dry ingredients
Step two. Cut in butter and shortening
Step three. Add water and mix so dough forms a large ball
Step four. Divide in half
Step five. Place each half between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll out to 8-9in pie crust

Bake as needed based on your filling.


A few notes:
- The dough is super white. Surprisingly so.
- The crust is also very forgiving. If you need to form it with your hands once in the pie plate, you can do it with no problem.
- The edges will probably burn so have tin foil or a protective crust ring on hand.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas with CD #4 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is part of Christmas, right? Right?! Yeah, that's what I thought.

My dad called yesterday, and after the shame of being asked if my answering machine is broken... (it's not: I'm a slacker), we talked about the big T-Day. We're getting together for Christma-giving Day, and he called to talk menus. What a sweetie. We talked about salad dressings and salad toppings and desserts and all kinds of yummies. As he put it, "I just want to make sure that we don't bring something bad."

On the bright side, many of my blogging buddies who are also Celiacs have started posting their favorite holiday recipes for everything bready, from pie crusts to stuffings. Yum. (It's nice not to feel all alone in this holiday endeavor.)

This is gonna be a great holiday season after all. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bad Dreams and Good Grades

It's been a roller-coaster day for my emotions. Starting somewhere around 3AM, I began waking up from dreams. Some of the dreams were about school: today was report card day. Most of the dreams were about food: McDonald's, to be exact.

I used to stop and get McD's pretty regularly. In fact, it was the physical reactions I began having to their food that helped get me to the doctor for my diagnosis. I can't eat their food at all now, except for plain, meatless salads. Even their grilled chicken breasts have wheat in them, according to their nutritional information.

Back to the dream. In the dream, I was eating double cheeseburgers with extra pickles and onions. Lots of them. They were my absolute favorite. Early on (before 5), they were bun-less. Somewhere along the way, my subconscious must have become aware of the fact that I was dreaming because soon, the buns were there. Ooooh, the burgers were sooooo good! Munch, munch , munch. It wasn't long before I was eating 2 or 3 at a time, and then the table was covered in burgers, and I was sooooo happy! Double cheeseburgers as far as the eye could see! Oh, I was so happy! And then, each time, I would jerk myself awake: "No! Don't eat it! You'll get sick!"

It was a long 3 hours.

Then I had to go give report cards out to my "gifted" students at Governor's School. A couple cried over their C's. One walked up to me and said. "What's with the F?" When I reminded him of the work he never turned in, he nodded and said, "Yeah, that makes sense." Then he went and sat down. Kids. Go figure.

Annie got her very first report card today. 2 A's and 3 B+'s. Not bad. Down a little from her interim report, but not bad, considering what flakes 6th graders tend to be. I congratulated her and gave her a hug. She was happy.

Tonight, I hope I dream about food again. It makes for a rough night, but it makes my tummy feel not quite so sad.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas with CD#3 - The trials begin

Before I could do anything, I had to shop and setup a prep area. As I don't have a lot of space, but I DO have a Costco membership, the results were a bit, um, overwhelming.

This is what happens when I wander Costco with baking on my mind...

And here is my prep area.

Had to have Christmas tunes, too, of course!


Once prepared, I made regular oatmeal raisin cookies to bribe my taste testers! (just in case!)


Ready to go! I have started with something simple: peanut butter. It's really hard to make a bad peanut butter cookie.

Cookie #1 was a flourless PB cookie. It's something I'd never heard of before, but apparently it's fairly popular. They turned out crisp and tasty. The recipe I used is at Lea's Gluten Free Blog. I made them without the chocolate chips that you see in her picture, and I flattened them with a fork first, too.
Yummy and delicious, but I wanted kiss cookies, so I dug out another recipe. One that uses flour.



Cookie #2 uses a combination of GF flours, and I found it at Recipe Zaar.

This is a very good cookie. It's not terribly soft, though. Once it cools, it's crisp like cookie#1, but it still has a great taste. A couple of tips for this recipe:
1. Below the recipe (follow the link above) you'll find some substitution comments and suggestions.
2. You may find it helpful to chill the dough for a few minutes so that it's a little more workable.
3. Make the dough balls much smaller than you would think you need for the kiss cookies. Otherwise you may end up with the oddly proportioned results you see on the right in the picture below!

The dough ball in the picture below is the size I used for the cookie on the left above. It's about 1", maybe a little smaller

4. Let the cookies set on the sheet. If you remove them too soon, it won't work well.

Overall, Saturday was a pretty good cookie-making day. Up next: pie crusts!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas with CD #2

Guess what?! My ever-fabulous hubby has found me a good resource for cookie-ing. (I don't think that's a word....)

Here it is! http://gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com/2007/12/2007-gluten-free-christmas-cookie.html

I am very excited. I've already started a (mini)batch of peanut butter cookies, and he's agreed to be my guinea pig. I'm going to try to find some good recipe substitutions, too, so that I can keep making my favorites and not have to find ALL new recipes.

To the oven! AWAAAAAAY!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time for A Complaint Free World!

There's a real nifty movement in our country right now. Among other things, they're working on naming the day before Thanksgiving "Complaint Free Wednesday".

Here is how CFW describe themselves: A Complaint Free World, inc. is a non-profit, non-religious entity which provides purple bracelets and other materials to help people affect positive change in their lives. We are in the process of creating additional programs for adults and children which support our mission and vision of creating a world of positive cooperation.

About a month ago, we passed these purple bracelets out at our church. Every time I wore one, someone would ask me about it, and then I would explain and usually ended up giving it to them. Now we're out, and it makes me sad, but the idea is still there in the back of my head, and I pretend I'm wearing one and try not to complain about anything.

If you know me, you'll know that this is hard. If there's anything I'm good at, it's complaining. Trouble is, I don't usually think I'm complaining - I say that I'm just analyzing or critiquing - but I'm complaining.

I hereby officially quit!

Join me, and check out the Complaint Free World website while you're at it, too!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christmas with celiac disease #1

I love tag. I've always loved tag. In fact, I was rather excited to get tagged again since I missed out on the first one. (Sorry, Mom!)

BUT

I was about to start a new train of thought on thishere blog. So, take 2, here we go.

Christmas is coming. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas. But I have been worried lately about how I will deal with Christmas and family dinners and hors d'ouvers and especially how I will deal with Christmas cookies.

If you don't know me, you need to realize that Christmas cookies are the BEST part of the whole year. No exaggeration there...we even have special aprons that we wear once a year when we bake. It's a 2 week operation at least, from planning to shopping to baking to feasting to gifting. Let me tell you something. When I realized that I could no longer have Christmas cookies, I put my head down on the table and cried. (It was at work, and my friend who mentioned them felt really bad. Sorry again, Sam! I luv u! I'm coming to your cookie party anyway!)

I have decided that there is no reason to give up on the tradition of the past years. I will still make my family's favorite cookies, and my personal mission for this year is to find good ways to make MY favorites gluten-free.

So, if you're out there reading this and you have tips, tricks, or recipes to share, please do so! And, have a very merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tag: I'm It!

Matt at Lower Case Lifestyle has tagged me. How exciting. I was very confused until I went to his blog and read the following rules. Now I've tagged 6 of my own, and will spread the joy like the obedient little lemming societal norms have turned me into. (Lemmings of the world, unite! --- I know of a great cliff not far from here)


The Tag Rules be....
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


My six random things...
1. I give extra credit on the Day of the Ninja to any student who will dress in black and do a forward roll into the classroom.

2. Ever since I saw a cannibal interviewed for a show on Discovery, I have always wondered what it is about us that caused her to think that human was the tastiest meat available. She was quite insistent that it is the yummiest.

3. I love teaching, but hate grading.

4. If I could, I would live in a little one bedroom house with a vegetable garden and about 50 cats.

5. I can get 100% on expert playing guitar or bass in Rock Band.

6. My only Kindergarten memories are (1)being a bunny in a class play and wearing brown construction paper ears and (2) riding a plastic teeter totter in the classroom.


The six people I have tagged are...
1. My sister(in-law) Joy at News From Joy
2. My mom, Clara at Coming Back to Life
3. One of my favorite bloggers, Storm at 365 Days of Christmas
4. One of my GF saviors, Jen at Gluten Free Cooking For a Busy Mom
5. My ever-fabulous hubby Jim at Profoundity
6. A favorite random blogger, Jorge at Que Bueno, Que Bueno
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