Category: food (page 1 of 7)

Found

I was looking for a thing in my “writerly things” file. I came across a pile of essays. Here’s one from what must be 8 years ago. There are more. I may unearth another soon.

___

When my kids were small, hours were eternal. And there were so many of them in a day. It was impossible to find an activity that could adequately fill one without driving me to lunacy or complete physical exhaustion.

Years passed, full of those ceaseless, relentless hours.

What happened, then? When did the space-time continuum shift? Why is it that now, hours are scarce, precious, and all too short? Time, that monster that used to hover over me, huffing out the moments like hot breath, has disappeared, been replaced by a frantically-ticking clock, spinning seconds into hours, into weeks and years.

These days, it’s my most important work to wrangle that clock into submission and slow down one hour a day. Keep my finger on the second hand so it won’t get out of control and run away with my family’s moments.

A few minutes of that hour happen in the morning, when groggy, bed-head kids and half-primped teens and at least one sweaty, post-work-out parent (the other parent may have abandoned the work out ritual, again) meet at the kitchen table for scripture study. It’s one time in a day that I’m grateful that school is in session. The forced schedule kick-starts our morning motivation. Even through the yawning, the paper-scorching morning breath, and the zoning out, the words get spoken aloud. And we pray together, and I pray in my heart. I pray for the sinking in. I pray for the application. I pray they’ll remember the sweet moments here, not the other kind.

The rest of the wrangled minutes come at the other end of the day. Back around the table, in what have become “our spots,” we gather for dinner. It’s my one consistent offering. We don’t do fancy. We don’t even always do tasty. I’m no Julia Child. I can’t even spell “gourmet” without looking it up. My kids didn’t know meat came on bones until I accidentally introduced them to KFC. Now they think of The Colonel as a kindly uncle who stops by once a year to clog our arteries.

Dinner is simple around here. I don’t mean easy – give me credit, please. I mean unadorned. And while I try to feed these people healthy meals full of green and growing things, that’s not even the most important part for me. The nourishing I aim for is the other kind. These minutes, the ones carved out of every evening, stolen from work schedules and rehearsals and practices and play time, these minutes hold the moments.

At the table, between passing the white salad dressing to that kid and the pink salad dressing to this kid, we hear the stories that make up the missing hours of the days. We hear the giddy stories about the boy who almost said the most charming thing. We hear the angsty stories about the friend who is, if not actively in trouble, heading that way. We hear the hilarious stories that don’t translate to any place but that table. Sorry. You had to be there. We hear the frustrating, the exciting, the proud-making stories. We hear and we tell the stories of the other parts of our lives.

And in sharing the stories, we recapture a few of those spinning moments. Every day, a few minutes at a time.

 

First Day; Also Karma

I go to work in about 90 minutes. It’s District Training this week, and there are things. Things to worry for. Not very many. But still. A list.

Things to be Nervous About

1. What am I wearing?

2. My hair. It’s notorious for not cooperating.

3. Do I bring lunch? Will they let me go home and eat with my family? Do I really need food between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm? (Answer: Duh.)

4. The school-issued laptop. Guys, it’s not going to be a Mac. What if I can’t figure out how to turn it on? Or send an email? Or link to a printer? Or access YouTube?

5. My room is not cute. Not in the slightest.

Things Not to be Nervous About

1. Student issues. No kids till next Tuesday.

2. Forgetting my phone. I did that in my dream, so I figure I’m covered.

3. Locker combo / taking a final I didn’t go to class for / forgetting to wear pants. (Am I the only one who still has these dreams, decades after I finished taking classes in school?)

4. Making friends. I’m about a million times more confident than I ever was as a kid on the first day of anything. Plus, I already know people. So, there’s that.

5. My room is not cute. Not in the slightest. And I think I don’t care.

Things to Deal With

1. I really need to write my Disclosure Document. I put it off because I had to finish my online English class (which went fine, thank you) and now I really need to get it handled. And copied. And stuff.

2. Lesson plans… like that.

3. At some point in the next week, I need to build a teacher web page. With information attached. And guess who knows about building a teacher web page? (*sound of crickets chirping*)

4. Bring one copy at a time of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS to the school. I bought several, since I’m confident they’ll get stolen, even when I write “I STOLE THIS BOOK FROM WILHITE’S SHELVES” along the edge of the pages opposite the spine.

5. Remember that my room is not cute? Perhaps I should give them SOMETHING to look at when they tire of looking at me. (I took in 2 plants. I hope they survive. I’m not actually good at raising plants. My Kids are fine, though, if you were wondering.)

Ideas I Just Had

1. There’s only one. And it involves YOU solving my recurring issue #5. How about you send me your favorite (10th-grade-appropriate) quotes FROM or ABOUT books and reading, and I’ll print them out and put them on my walls? Because IDEAS for CUTENESS. Many great quotes = good Karma for the week. Come on, you know you could use it.

Things I Did Not Do While Substituting This Week

1. Write. Yeah, nothing.

2. Publicly mock. I threatened to, but it never happened. (As in, Dear Beginning Drama Classes, When you read your parts in these plays, don’t be lame. If you are lame, we will publicly mock you.)

3. Totally humiliate my Kid 1. Oh, wait. Yes. I did. Over and over, apparently. She survived and will continue to soldier on. It’s who she is.

4. Knock heads together. Tempting, but I managed not to do it.

5. Cry tears when the principal came in and sat through 30 minutes of my AP English lecture. (The kids were worried about me, so they stepped way up with the discussion and the commenting. They rule. Turns out he was just making sure we were all right, and our AP essay discussion was so ENGAGING he couldn’t walk away.)

6. Christmas shop in person. But I did a little online (not while I was ACTUALLY substituting) and I hereby declare my love (again and always) for buying gifts on Amazon. Te adoro, Amazon. Je t’aime. Ich liebe dich. I luuuuuurve you. And so on.

7. Very much laundry, cooking, housekeeping, or pre-Christmas deep cleaning. But nobody went actually hungry, and each of us wore clean(ish) clothes every day, so… WIN. Also, we had turkey dinner on Sunday. Win again.

8. Prepare for Kid 4’s ninth birthday, which is today. Yesterday afternoon, I asked him, “Hey, do you want a birthday cake?” and he shrugged and said, “Not if it’s inconvenient for you.” Then I kissed his face and made him Tres Leches, because it’s his favorite. And I love him. And Tres Leches cake. But mostly him. His oldest sister took him on a breakfast date this morning, because she has to work for the next 12 hours, and he’s as happy as boys get, I think.

9. Christmas cards / letters / photos / neighbor gifts. Can I beg off this year? Is that allowed?

10. Lose pounds. Some busy weeks I manage it. Not this time. Turns out standing in the same room all day and panicking doesn’t burn as many calories as I manage to eat. Alas.

What did you not do this week?

We have a winner…

Randomness has occurred, my friends. Things are happening. I’m telling you what. Sian, congratulations. You win REACHED for your very own (or to arm-wrestle over with your girls, apparently).

More randomness. Ready?

Thanksgiving is this week. I’m bringing mashed potatoes (with cream cheese, of course) and pie (ditto) and rolls. Bring on the white starches. What are you bringing?

Did you see the Steelers’ jerseys tonight? Because, um. Wow. They look like prisoners. Bumblebees. Something weird, I guess. My friend Matt said “Pitts-burglars” and I remembered why I’ve adored him for like 20+ years. Because he’s cleverer than I, and I love people who are cleverer than I.

What should I get my senior in HS for Christmas? She wants grown-up stuff, the kind that prepare a kid for college, and I want to go more along the lines of Little Tykes toys and board books. Know what I’m saying?

This (past) week

I know I’m one of the only people in the world who still blogs, and the other one is the Pioneer Woman, so let’s just say I’m in good company. But I do try to get in more posts than this (hello, last week! How’ve you been?).

Allow me to walk you through my life in the last seven days.

1. I printed The Manuscript. I ended up reducing the font size so as to not use so much of a ream of paper. But – irony – I managed to miscommunicate with my printer (not so hard for a champion miscommunicator like myself) and printed 2.75 copies of the story. Awesome. Because if one huge printing is good, two and three-quarters must, must, must be better. So I gave one to Kid 2, who made noises of interest in reading this draft. And the other .75 sits in the office, waiting to be scrap paper.

2. I registered 2 Kids for high school. Thus, we eat beans and rice for a month. Or two. Free public education = really expensive in August.

3. I discovered (again) that something I said in an offhand manner hurt someone I love. This is not a proud thing for me. And it happens more often than I like, and I wish (oh, I wish) it didn’t. I have a gift for thoughtlessness, and I hate that gift. If you’re among the hurt, I give a sincere blanket apology. Sheesh. I should not speak. Ever.

4. I left an ill husband and four Kids to fend for themselves and went on a writers’ retreat. Here’s the thing: I like to think my family can’t possibly do without me. I LOVE the idea that they’re miserable when I’m not here cooking for them, folding their underthingies neatly, bleaching white surfaces, and sweeping crusties off the kitchen floor. The truth is a little different. They love it when I’m gone. They totally step up, and they don’t miss me for a second. Also, Husband tested negative for strep, so there’s another bonus. They all did great without me. And could have continued to do so indefinitely. (*Note to Self: Research long-term effects of strict salt-and-vinegar chips / Bugles diet. End Note.*)

4.5. Meanwhile, I retreated to Bear Lake. Kid 4 was stunned to discover that I never actually got IN the lake. But I did look at it a great deal. I watched the water change from blue to bluer to gray to slate to amazing as the cloudcover shifted throughout a couple of days. Also I finished the latest revision. Read it on paper and then inputted (that’s totally a word) changes in the computer. I did not get distracted by facebook or blogs or email, because… no internet. Except on my phone, where I had patchy, spotty internet. And service in general. Leaving me no excuses in the text-message realm, either. I read a lot. I pondered. I fixed, and changed, and adjusted, and polished. And then I pushed “Save” and moved on. And ate a whole lot of really, really good food.

5. I started writing on something new. It had been a while since I lived anywhere but inside Fifth Gift draftiness, and it was very fun. I didn’t do a whole ton of writing on the new thing — maybe 2500 words or so. But I planned (which is different than outlining, but I wish it weren’t because I think I should get good at that particular skill, and right away) the story, and thought of some stuff that I’d like inside it, and played with ideas. And wrote some. Inside this story, there’s a historical (fake) post-WWII poet who needs a name. I love the idea of two initials and a last name (a la ee cummings, E.B. White, E.M. Forrester, but without the “Es” — SEND IDEAS. I may reward you with a book.)

6. I had a tiny breakdown. I didn’t mean to. It just happened. I got emotional, spoke something that had been inside my heart for a long time, and sort of burst open. Dear friends who were there: Fear not. I am fine. And that won’t happen again. Probably.

7. I came home fulfilled. Then I swept the kitchen floor. Then I slept for a really, really long time.

8. I sent the revisions to Agent Meredith. (My heart is beating faster, just for having written those words.)

9. Life is moving on, faster and faster. Days are short, nights are short, moments are quick.

10. I just got a look at what room and board cost at the university of Kid 1’s choice. It would be awesome if somehow I dug up a treasure box full of Spanish gold. And soon.

And so it goes. Good things, filling up the days and nights and hearts and minds. I hope things are good with you, too.

Stuff Again

A reason to love my husband: He knows what to do when a replacement modem shows up on the doorstep. Viola! Internets. Rah!

I was doing a HUGE shopping trip today at Costco to prepare for church girls’ camp next week. Like 3 baskets full, big, HUGE trip. A lovely older couple (white hair and happy wrinkles) stopped and asked what we were shopping for, and then wished us luck. After a minute, the gentleman came back and said, “Do you know what Luck is?” I asked him what. He quoted Vince Lombardi, which I can’t probably do, but it was something like this: “Luck is the residue of careful planning.” I showed that sweet man my list (tracking sheet), and he said, “Good luck,” with an understanding and confident nod. I sort of wanted to bring him home forever.

Chicken salad sandwiches. On croissant. For a girl who thinks mayonnaise is icky, that there is some pretty great food.

DeNae posted a beautiful, funny, lovely story today. Maybe you should read it. 

It’s Friday the 13th, and I don’t care.

INSANITY. The workout. I’m 5 days in. And still walking up and down the stairs on my own power. Muscles are growing. Then I hope thighs and arms will start shrinking. Husband’s arms are exploding. That guy grows biceps really fast. I like arms. Mostly his.

Life without internets is not the same life I love to live every day. I’m not addicted. I just like the internet like I like oxygen and water.

I got to teach two different teen writer’s classes this week. My visit to the U of U teen writers’ camp was lovely and delightful, and Allie, Ellie, Alex and Hayden were VERY BRAVE and put their work up for us all to read. I love writer kids. And our Wasatch County Library teen writer day was a blast. Such darling, lovely kids. All girls this time, including 2 of my very favorites. Sometimes known as 1 and 2.

It is trying very hard to rain today. I hope it succeeds. Fires are bumming me out, if you want to know the truth. In fact, wouldn’t it be funny (the ironic kind of funny) if it rained all next week while I’m up on top of the mountain for camp? Hahahaha. That would be ironic-hilarious. It would.

Kid 2 is now firmly devoted to Kneaders’ Raspberry Bread Pudding. Send it her way, apparently.

My flower baskets hanging from the porch are lovely and thriving. It’s a tiny miracle in my life, and I like it.

Kid 3 is rereading the Harry Potter books. She started 2 days ago. She has finished 2 books. Also done some chores, showered, and visited the Rope Swing. That girl loves Harry like her mama loves Harry.

Okay. Here’s hoping next time I come around here, I’ll have something brilliant to say.

No guarantees.

Baggie Ice Cream

**UPDATED TO GIVE BETTER MEASUREMENTS** (We tried it like the teacher gave it to us, and we all had a sugar/vanilla buzz. Go easier on sugar and vanilla (like it says in the new and improved directions below), and we’ll all be happy.)

 

Today I’m teaching science — all week, actually. And today, we’re making ice cream in a bag. So I thought you might like to get in on this, since it’s a lovely way to freeze your fingers off.

In a quart-sized Ziploc bag (yes, I totally am brand-loyal on this one… you don’t want anything to split, I promise), pour in the following:

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (1 cup was too much)
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract (1 Tablespoon was too much)

Then seal up the baggie. Then, place that bag inside a bigger bag (is anyone else thinking of “The Emperor’s New Groove” right now?), a gallon sized Ziploc bag full of ice and about a Tablespoon of rock salt. Seal it up tight. Mush the bag around for about 20 minutes. We play catch with them, or fold them inside towels to prevent frostbite. Just sort of massage the bag for a while. At the end of the 20 minutes (maybe this takes less time if you’re working in a very cold room, but don’t bet on it) dump out the outer bag’s ice and water. Wipe off the inner bag before you open it. Then open it up, break in some cookies or candy pieces, berries and fruit, whatever, or just dig in with a spoon.

It’s ice cream! In a bag! Life doesn’t get a whole lot more fun than that, does it?

You’re welcome. Happy Wednesday.

It’s More Stuff, at last.

Do you ever feel the need, the deep, deep NEED to be poetic or intellectual or (dare I say it?) satisfying when you write? I do feel that need, but I try to push it to the side as often as possible. So, what I’m saying is, although I could astound y’all with my reamarkability, I’d rather just spew out some word vomit so you feel more at home — and like I’m accessible.

See? I’m here for you.

So. Mother’s Day. Coming right up. We’re having homemade wheat bread and honey butter and reading out loud to each other. That’s what passes for Big Wilhite Plans. (But the adults are going to Cheesecake Factory tomorrow, for Pre-Mother’s Day Festivities, and that’s plans if I ever had some.)

Speaking of Cheesecake Factory. There are times that I miss my mom. Things I wish she could have known. I know I tell you that a lot. And the last time I went to CF, I had one of those times. Because I had a tuna salad. My mom knew tuna salad as this:

You know. It’s canned tuna chunks, mixed with mayonnaise and dill pickles. Maybe red onions and celery if you’re in a dicing mood. You put it on bread. You eat it, and for a mayonnaise-based meal, it’s good. Even satisfying. At least it CAN be. But my mom never ate this:

That is the Cheesecake Factory’s Seared Ahi Tuna Tataki Salad with avocado and wasabi vinaigrette. With a pretty rosette of pickled ginger (mmmm). 441 calories, if you keep track of such things (which sometimes I do, and that’s the perfect number, since the slice of mango-lime cheesecake I’m going to eat for dessert has a few whole lot more than that).

I wish I could have shared this with my mom. Not literally, you know. She’d have to order her own. Oh, come on. Just kidding. I’d share. But really? This is tuna salad nirvana, and I wish she could experience it.

*Theological/Existential Question: Is there seared Ahi tuna Tataki salad in heaven? And mango-lime cheesecake? If there’s not, I’ll find a way to be happy anyway, but I think there might be.

On a non-foodly topic, I have a deadline. Remember when I told you I was enjoying what I hoped was my last non-deadline writing project? It was. And now, with the excellent editorial advice of Agent Meredith, I am revising FIFTH GIFT for a soonish submission. And it’s going great. Do you want to know how much she likes my story? A lot. She has lovely and kind things to say about characters, language, world-building and such. It’s a fun story, on it’s way to awesome. And she’s helping me make it better: Want to know what she asked of me? Setting, that’s what. She wants my characters to wear clothing and live in buildings and have SCENERY outside their windows. And she’s absolutely right. But do you want to know what happened? When I started putting my characters in clothing and having them look out the windows in the buildings they live inside… they had to go out into the scenery. And new things are happening there, in the outside. Cool things. Things that will hopefully thicken up this story to the point of its becoming a BOOK. That someone will PUBLISH. And when that happens, I’ll be so sure to let you know. (Yesterday I added scenes that were awesome and met my 2000 word goal. I cheered. And made peanut butter fudge as a reward. See below.)

Peanut Butter Fudge. It’s a new happiness. I saw the recipe in my Hershey’s cookbook. My Grammy gave me this cookbook 18 years ago as a wedding present, which is exactly in line with my Grammy’s gift-giving mojo: Give the gift you’d like to receive. I’m not much of a chocolate dessert person. But know what? Husband is. And so this book has pages (like the one with the “deep dark chocolate cake” recipe) that are stiff with spills and smears of ingredients. Which, you know, is how to measure the success of any recipe. Pick the dirtiest card, the stiffest page, the one with unbookly colors and textures on it. Also pictures.

If you’re a candy purist, this isn’t even fudge. Know what? I don’t care. Because even if it isn’t fudge, it’s good. And BONUS… it’s easy. Also, there’s sweetened condensed milk. So, you know. Happiness.

Here it is.
Fake Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups (12 ounces) Reeses’ Peanut Butter Chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk*
3 Tablespoons butter

Line a 9×13 pan with foil. Spray the foil with pan spray. Pour chips and milk into a saucepan. Melt over medium heat until it’s all smooth. Stir in the butter.  Spread the loveliness into the prepared pan. THEN, there’s this:

2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk*

Rinse the peanut butter sauce pan. Dry it really well. Pour chocolate chips and milk into the saucepan. Melt over medium heat until it’s all smooth. Don’t forget to stir, and don’t turn it up too high, or you’ll get lumps. That would be sad. When it’s smooth, pour it over the peanut butter layer. Cool it in the fridge. Cut it into 1-inch squares (they’ll be cubes, really, and they’re lovely and striped). I know. Too easy to really be fudge. But so tasty. Tell me if you try it.We can make yummy sounds together.

There’s more, but we can save some of the random for another day, right? Happy Mothers’ Day, mamas out there. And those who have mothers, ever knew a mother, or have a Mother Heart. You, especially.

XOXO