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Monday, March 28, 2011

Spicing up my Life

Reflecting back upon my mother's kitchen, I vaguely remember that she had a little wooden spice rack mounted on the wall. It had maybe 3-4 shelves, 2 or 3 of which were filled with odds and ends; maybe some food coloring, a bottle of vanilla extract, and maybe 3 or 4 other flavorings, a salt and pepper shaker set or two, and then a few spices; salt, pepper, and honestly I cannot remember what else. She seasoned most every dish with garlic salt. My father thought black pepper was a heinous evil, on par with white bread, baking soda and baking powder. (Hence she hid those last 2 items in the cupboard-white bread was not allowed into the house at all-along with any other white flour products, like soda/soup crackers...etc.)

I had not had my own kitchen long (starting only a little over 6-7 years ago, a bit before I married) that I realized I was NOT like my mother. I love exotic spices. I am not into hot spices, but just exotic spices. It probably began back in Portland with my first visit to an East Indian restaurant. I don't do hot curries, but I loved their combinations of spices; the tastes and the smells.

Now that I am married I am often drawn to the exotic dishes that I remember from my visit to Malaysia; much of which was East Indian. Occasionally I modify them so that my husband will enjoy them as well, but they generally call for those non-basic spices; cumin, coriander, turmeric... I found myself collecting more spice jars than I knew what to do with. Two or three years ago I requested a spice rack to help with organizing. Hmmm....

This morning, with a bit of help-as you can see from the picture, I cleaned out my spice cupboard. This is what I found:

My Spice List

Individual bottles:
Bay leaves-whole
Ground cloves-2 small bottles
Whole cloves
Celery seed
Ground cinnamon-two large bottles
Chili powder
Ground ginger
Ground oregano
Apple pie spice
Fennel seed
Ground nutmeg
Cream of tartar
Ground turmeric
Poultry seasonings
Ground mustard
Ground coriander
Garlic powder
Whole cinnamon sticks-1 package

In the Spice Rack:
Italian herbs
Whole mustard seeds
Seasoned salt
Pizza seasonings
Celery salt
Ground black pepper
Dill weed
Oregano flakes
Caraway seed
Bay leaves –chopped

In the picture Ellen is helpfully rearranging my spice rack from being alphabetical to being Ellenetical (whatever THAT may mean).

At any rate, I went through and eliminated some of the spices in the rack. I dumped the stuff I hadn't used since I got them, put stuff from the other bottles into the spice rack bottles and relabeled them. That helped cut down on the clutter greatly. But it's still obvious when you open the cupboard that I have this THING about spices.

Well, at least I know my food isn't all boring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reflections on Ellen

Ellen loves to copy mommy; as is typical with children. I let her play around with my makeup on occasion. This is a shot from awhile back of how artistic she can be on her face.

My mother has a photo of me when I was about this age. I had found my way into her dresser drawer where she'd stored her old makeup. I had been much more liberal that Ellen was in my artistic endeavors on my face. I wish I had a copy of that picture to post in comparison.

On Tuesday evening Ellen and I made cookies. There was this moment that totally unnerved me; not really in a bad way, but just in a weird way.

Ellen was helping mix the eggs into the batter when I just glanced down at her and got this weird impression that she was me as I was when I was a child; that I was working with much younger self.

Ellen occasionally has certain expressions that for a fleeting moment makes her look like a photo of myself at her age had come to life and stepped out from the pages of my photo album.

At times her behaviour reminds me of myself at this age. She is timid with other people; just bashfully hangs her head and won't even respond to them. I can remember when I was little, at church I'd just hang my head when folks spoke to me or tried to get me to shake their hands. Ellen does the same exact thing.

When I was little I loved cats. I wanted a cat for my very own, but it never worked out until I was in first grade. Ellen loves cats. Fortunately we have a cat already; and Ellen is always trying to make her a house, or get her to play with her (the cat's) toys, or wants her to wake up and play with her. Last weekend Ellen went to the circus. When she got home she wanted to take the cat with her to the circus the next time she went.

When I was little I was terribly reluctant to try anything new; new games, new activities of any kind, new toys even, to a certain extent. Ellen is the same way. When we got her this new swing, she was excited at first, but was hesitant to try it by herself. Anything new and she will hang back and make sure it's safe before she will partake in it.

When I was little I did not do well in groups of children. Ellen is the same way. She will hang back and watch the kids play, but she won't take part. I try and encourage her, but she's not keen on getting into the big middle of them. I have noticed that she will find and attach herself to ONE particular child if that child shows an interest in her, but Ellen won't initiate the contact.

In my baby book my mother noted when I was just a couple months old; "Rebecca sucks only her left thumb and wants something in her right hand to pet while she's doing that." Ellen was the same way. As soon as she had motor control of her hand it was her left thumb she'd suck, and her right hand would be twisting around in her hair.

As I grew older into kindergarten age there was no doubt I'd be a lefty. Ellen is the same way. She's never tried to write or color with her right hand. It's been the left hand all the way.

I was a book worm from the day I could turn the pages of a book. When she was able to sit up on her own and handle things; maybe by a year old, Ellen would be content to sit and flip through her little books, or old mail order catalogs and magazines. It'd keep her busy for hours. Ellen loves books; she loves going to the library. The other day she even asked for her own library card. She was disappointed to learn she'd have to be 10 to get one. When you are only four years old six years can seem to be a LONG time.

There are more similarities I could list, and it is a bit eerie to feel that maybe I am a child all over again in my daughter. Soon Ellen will be heading off to kindergarten and as I reflect on just these few shared traits I wonder; is she going to be like me in her personality? Will she make the same mistakes I made socially as I grew up? How can I teach her to be more assertive? How can I reassure her that it's OK to speak her mind to let folks know how she feels and what she thinks?

Get up in church, Ellen, and sing your heart out with the little kids! Show the world what you are made of; don't be a wall flower like your mother was. It's OK to make mistakes, laugh at yourself and go on. Don't let little things inimidate you. Don't hang back and let life pass you by; get out there and live it!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Planning for the "T" of BLT

Ellen and I planted over 50 tomato seeds today. They came in those packs of 20 little white pelleted seeds in each, but really there are closer to 20 pelleted seeds in each pack. I like using the pelleted seeds; Ellen can pick them up and plant the in the little holes I've pushed in the soil. She had a fine old time poking seeds into the holes, covering them up and, later on, watering them.

Several hours later she came back in the house, inspected our containers and wondered why there weren't any tomatoes growing yet. Time means little when you are 4 years old.

Last year I bought several different kinds of peat pots. This year I am not going to waste my money. I just used empy containers, like sour cream tubs, yogurt cups etc. I am also going to try making my own little pots from newspaper. Seems easy enough.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This and That

Argh! I sure do neglect my blog lately. Sorry blog and blog readers.

Along in here, somewhere between my last blog post and this one, Ellen celebrated her 4th birthday. Above is a picture of her and the cake I made for her; Stinkerbelle's castle. If you don't know who Stinkerbelle is, then you really need to do some research on kid's animated characters. Ha ha. At any rate, it's not the best castle cake I have seen...and they have plenty of examples online, but Ellen was happy with it.

Today Ellen had her 4 year well child check up. She did great. She's 41 and 3/4 inches tall and 46 pounds. Doc said Ellen may or may not have an umbilical hernia; we'd have to go to a specialist and have him look at it. She said it might just be an outie. We will continue to pray that it will heal over.

Here on the dairy we have had a rush of calves. At the moment I am bottle feeding 6 heifer calves. We actually have had 4 bull calves come along in the past 3-4 weeks, but 2 of them didn't make it, for whatever reason. Gary had to pull one; he got it out, it took a gasping breath or two and then just collapsed. Poor bugger.

Hubby took one of the bigger heifers into the vet and had her dehorned. She looks better now and won't be a danger to herself or especially to the others.

Hubby has dehorned the little heifer calves himself. If they are under 3 weeks of age we have this gadget that burns off the horn bud. Sounds worse than it is. It's bloodless, fast...etc.

It's getting tomato seed sowing time. I need to get some more things to plant them in. Hubby is getting anxious to get them planted. I certainly hope we actually get some tomatoes off of our plants this year. Last year was exceedingly disappointing; we didn't get any tomatoes until fall, when I had to pick them green before they were frozen.