Thursday, May 22, 2014

the perfect biscuit

diana has been craving biscuits.  not just any biscuits, but mama's cheesy biscuits.  the modifications i made to the recipe i found ages ago in a magazine have really made it my own.

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 stick unsalted butter, cold but not frozen
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup hard salami or spicy pepperoni or good ham, cut into very small chunks

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  mix dry ingredients together. use pastry blender to incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  in a small bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs, then stir it into the dry mixture.  stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese and the meat.

here's where you can go different directions. i used to scoop out biscuit-sized lumps of dough and put them on a baking sheet like i do with cookies.  one day i decided just to pat the whole thing down into my new replacement medium stoneware bar pan from the pampered chef.  i then sprinkled the rest of the cheese on top.  the nice thing about this method is that you can cut the size and shape you want after it has baked.

bake for 15-17 minutes.  serve immediately.  serve remainders cold in school lunch box, or warmed a little for breakfast and after-school snack.  keeps diana happy for about three days.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

for the love of luigi

while we were visiting with my parents and decorating eggs, the easter bunny made an early visit.  one of the very special eggs contained some new diecast cars that ander had been eyeing for his collection, luigi and guido.

naturally, luigi and guido and two other cars came with us to the playground.  i was not concerned about their safety because ander has always been so careful with his possessions, especially his prized ones.

alas, luigi slipped from ander's hand as he gazed into the brackish water from the bridge above. he called to diana for help, who, in turn, alerted me.

diana was simply amazing.  this girl, the one who can be so squeamish when it comes to traversing mud or slippery slopes or unidentifiable muck in murky waters, took it upon herself to climb down below the bridge. i suggested she take off her socks, which she agreed to do, and then put her keans back on to protect her feet.

she stepped carefully and poked and prodded and searched all around the area where ander said he dropped his beloved car. she maintained a calm voice and demeanor.  she had the presence of mind to tell the young new playground friends to stay back and not slip into the water.

we looked and looked, but alas, luigi could not be found.  when we finally called off the search and diana came back up, she burst into tears, bitterly disappointed that she could not do as a big sister ought - to find the cherished toy of a beloved brother and bring the joy back to his face.  ander simply walked to her, hugged her, and said, "it's okay, diana. it was just an accident."

diana's confident, mature response to her brother's crisis and ander's tender, quiet reassurance in reaction to his sister's frustration astonished me. i could not have predicted nor expected this from either of them.  i was rendered speechless as i watched the whole scenario unfold.

when we got back to the car, i helped diana clean up her feet and get into dry shoes.  we went to target and ander selected a replacement vehicle, not another luigi but another version of lightning mcqueen he did not yet have.

ander only spoke of luigi a few more times over the following days.  diana and i came up with a story to tell about what luigi was doing, a narrative we hoped would help mitigate ander's pain of loss and concern that luigi would be eaten by the fish in the pond.

i asked diana to write a story for ander about luigi.  she did and added an illustration.  i think it was her first commissioned writing piece, and she was pleased to know that i valued her art enough to pay for it.

the tale may be a luigi adventure, but i will always consider it a love story.

she's given me permission to post it here.

Luigi and the Deep-Sea Dive
by diana
Luigi was dangling over the bridge in Ander’s hand, comfortably and loosely held. He looked at the muddy pond water below. “If I am let go,” Luigi thought, “I will be a deep-a sea diver! I have been dreaming of this my whole-a life!”
All of a sudden, Luigi plunged down to the water. With a splash, he dove through the surface and onto the pond floor. “I am filled with tears of ecstasy!”
“Oh no!” cried Ander. “Luigi went in the water!”
Everyone started to look for Luigi. Diana took off her socks and splashed into the mud to look. Lots of people stood on the bridge and stared at the water, looking for the little car. But Luigi stayed hidden under a pile of sticks.
Later, after everyone had left, Luigi began to explore. He discovered a school of fish. Their names were: Aquarius, Brooklyn, Calder, Dayla, Eathelin, Douglas, Kelby, Fontaine, Kendra, Mortimer, and Nixie. Luigi was the only Italian one, though. He swam with them for a while, and then he tried to eat some pond weed. “Ptuh!” he said. It tasted horrible!
Eventually, Luigi drove out of the water and slept on the bank. Tomorrow he would dive again.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

radical rocks

i've been reminiscing on the fact that's it's been just over a year since we moved from california to virginia. browsing through my posts, i came across this one that i'd barely started and left uncompleted, even after seeing it in my drafts and passing over it. hmmm. i wonder how much different this will be now that i've left it for so long, rather than getting my thoughts down when they were fresh.

you can read through our adventure starting at the beginning or go straight to one of the days:
day two: yosemite bug
day three: arizona
day four: grand canyon
day five: meteor crater
part deux: el malpais
day six: route 66 museum
day seven: heavener runestone
day nine: cumberland caverns
day ten: historic crab orchard museum & pioneer park
special post: books picked up along the way

i think it was on day five or so of our trip that the theme of our travel emerged through the hazy atmosphere of my consciousness and plowed into me full force, like a hurtling, unavoidable meteor.


you know, "the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change." (thanks, wikipedia!)

when i started to plan out our route from coast to coast (and, no, SGC2C fans, i was clearly not getting enough oxygen at this point), there were only a couple of landmarks we wanted to make sure to see.  the grand canyon was one, mount rushmore was the other.  when i realized, though, that it was impractical to spend that much time driving in the *wrong* direction just to see some human-carved rocks, though impressively large, i knew we would be frustrated by the extra miles with relatively little to see and wanted to make it up to us somehow.  i started researching some of the things we could visit that would not take us too far off the generally straight line across the country.  google maps and the things they highlighted were an excellent place to start.

i was pleased to introduce steve and the kids to the grand canyon, a huge channel carved by water over a stunningly long (by our standards) period of time.  it was after seeing the massive meteor crater, an immense bowl carved out by an impact explosion in mere moments, that i mulled over the similarities and differences of the two naturally-formed structures' existence.

on to el malpais and the cooled lava tubes.  with temperatures so hot that rocks were molten, under so much pressure that the earth itself could not contain it, volcanoes erupted with great expressions of release . . .

to the heavener runestone, a rock too heavy to be easily transported by humans yet its surface was transfigured by human hands to communicate some sort of message . . .

and cumberland caverns, cool underground chambers adorned by beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed by the patient, slow drips of water, then expanded by human means in order to mine the resources it contained.

our journey, though i had not consciously organized it in this way, contained valuable lessons in geology.  and philosophy.  these are lessons that stick with me and hold me fast to the earth, and though i have yet to find a way to write about those lessons to my satisfaction, i am glad to have finished this post as a reminder to welcome them to the forefront of my mind.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


i just needed to share that some of our newest very favorite music was created by talented young artists.  i urge you to take a listen and find a way to support their work and spread the joy.

from ian ridenhour:

diana watched him yesterday.  this is just what she dreams of doing.

from sam james, a fabulous whirling-dervish-trance-inducing "into oblivion"

ander and i were rocking out today to "games" from sam and his dad, mike james, at milk music co. it's so catchy that we find ourselves singing along while we play our own games.  it is definitely part of the soundtrack to our lives ;)

and, of course, pentatonix rocks.  ander has been working on arranging his own cover of their cover of this song.  that makes it a meta-cover, right?