Saturday, September 27, 2008

Camp Songs

The Internet sometimes takes me on crazy trips. Today was one of those times.

I started out, very innocently, working on tomorrow's Bible lesson for my two- and three-year-olds. The topic for tomorrow is "God made my ears." So, of course, I was preparing lots of sound-makers and looking for pictures of ears - both human and animal ears. Then I thought it might be fun to teach them some new song about "ears." The lesson plan I was using had some, but, as always, they were just words set to the tune of "Are You Sleeping," or "The Farmer in the Dell." I don't know if my little ones get tired of those re-hashed songs, but I do.

So, I started by putting the words "children's songs ears," in the search window. Up came "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"

Do your ears hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Can you throw them o'er your shoulder
like a Continental Soldier?
Do your ears hang low?

I looked over the words, and wondered what the lines "Can you throw them o'er your shoulder like a Continental Soldier?" could possibly mean, and then wondered if I could make up some better words for those two lines.

That's what started it all. From there my mind, forgetting for the time being tomorrow's lesson, skipped down the memory lane of camp songs. I was a Brownie Scout and, later, a Girl Scout through the fifth or sixth grade. The best part was camp! As a Brownie, we just had a day camp one week out of every summer, and it was at the Evergreen Bowl, in Juneau (now known as Cope Park, I believe). Later, as a Girl Scout, I went to camp a couple summers at the Eagle River Scout Camp, where we slept in some crude cabin/tent structures. I remember that we were FORBIDDEN (yes, that would be in capital letters!) to have food in our cabins, because food would attract bears. So, stupid as it sounds, we would take our toothpaste tubes out, at night, pass them around from bunk to bunk, and share little tastes of all of the different brands. A girl's GOT to have a bedtime snack, after all!

What I remember most fondly about camp were the songs we sang. As a Brownie, I remember singing this one a lot:

Found a peanut
Found a peanut
Found a peanut just now
Just now I found a peanut
Found a peanut just now.

And, of course, the rest of the verses, the first lines of which were:

* It was rotten
* Ate it any way
* 'pendicitis
* Saw the doctor
* Died anyway

Yes, some of them had a pretty gruesome ending.

Then there were the ones with nonsense words in them. I think they were my favorites, for some reason:

Sarasponda, sarasponda, sarasponda ret set set.

Sarasponda, sarasponda sarasponda ret set set.

A doray-oh, A doray boomday-oh. 

A doray boomday ret set set
Ah say pa say oh. 


Another nonsense one I only partly remember was something about a Dicky Bird. I don't so much remember the song, as the nonsense phrase, which became the "secret password" to my troop's meeting spot, among the trees, in Evergreen Bowl. I NEVER forget a password! It was: Bim-sa-la-bimbam-ba-sa-la-doo-sa-la-dim.

When I was old enough to go to the week-long Eagle River camp, we used to sing a song about the Titanic. We sang it with gusto, especially the chorus, which went:

It was sad, it was sad
It was sad, it was sad
It was sad when the great ship went down
To the bottom
There were husbands and wives,
Little children lost their lives.
It was sad when the great ship went down.

The second year that I went to camp, toward the end of the week, the counselors gathered us all together and told us that we were singing the song with way too much enthusiasm and joy, and that it was supposed to be a sad song. So we were forbidden to sing it any more.

I don't remember if I drove my mom and dad crazy with these camp songs, but if I did, I was well recompensed, once my own kids were old enough to go to church camp at Camp Yamhill, in Oregon. There they learned more silly songs than Carter has little pills (Oh, I AM dating myself! You don't remember Carter's Little Liver Pills?)

As I was doing my Internet browsing this afternoon, I actually found three goofy people (probably camp counselors - bless their souls!) performing one of our boys' favorite camp songs, Fish and Chips and Vinegar. Listen to this if you dare, because once it gets into your head, you'll be singing it, yourself, all day long. Imagine, if you will, listening to Fish and Chips and Vinegar; Little Bunny Foo Foo; and The Upper Story Window all the way from Oregon to Montana. I don't have to imagine. I REMEMBER!

I'd better get back to my Bible lesson, while you watch and listen to this delightful vido clip. Don't say I didn't warn you about it getting stuck in your brain.

Daring Bakers' September Challenge - Lavash (Armenian Flatbread)

I must have too much time on my hands. Why else would I have taken on yet another challenge? Isn't life challenging enough already?

At the end of August I signed up to become a Daring Baker! What attracted me to the Daring Bakers' Challenge was that it combines two of my favorite activities - baking and photography. Each month the members - well over 1000 of them, from all over the world - are challenged to strictly follow the same bakers' recipe; slight variations are permitted only when specified. We have all month to complete the project, and, on the exact same day at the end of the month, we all post the results of our efforts. TODAY is that day!

The September challenge was to make Lavash (Armenian-style crackers) and a dip or spread of our choice, to accompany the Lavash. (To make it a wee bit more challenging, both the crackers and dip/spread had to be vegan. No smoked salmon spread, this time, to my chagrin!) The challenge and recipe were presented, this month, by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl. (Recipe HERE.)

I have never before tried to make any kind of homemade cracker, so it was fun doing something brand new. Dan, who consumed the majority of them, gave my finished crackers two thumbs-up. I, myself, was a little disappointed that they were more hard than crisp. Would I make them again? Probably not. However, I think the thickness of the dough could be adjusted slightly, and it would make a wonderful pizza crust. I might try that some day soon. For my dip/spread, I made a simple fresh peanut butter (Dan's suggestion), which turned out delicious.

Here are some pictures of my Lavash and peanut butter adventure - my very first Daring Bakers' challenge:

The ingredients: flour, water, yeast, oil, sugar and salt. The dough took about twelve minutes of hand-kneading to become wonderfully pliable and elastic. Once kneaded, I set it in a warm spot to rise for 90 minutes.

While the dough was rising, I browned some sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet. It took about 5 minutes to turn them from white, like this, to ...

toasty brown like this. Toasting them really brought out the nutty flavor.

Here's the dough, after proofing for 90 minutes and doubling in size.

I rolled the dough out to the size of my sheet pan. I could have rolled it even thinner, and probably should have. I think I could have rolled it thin enough to cover one-and-a-half sheet pans, and the crackers would have been crisper. I rolled the sesame seeds, and some coarse sea salt, into the dough toward the end, then used a pizza cutter to score them into diamond shaped crackers.

Here they are, in the oven, beginning to bake.

While the Lavash baked, I made the peanut butter in the blender. All it took was a cup of peanuts and two tablespoons of peanut oil. Since the peanuts were lightly salted, I didn't add any additional salt, however it wouldn't have hurt to have added a little bit.

Blending the peanuts into peanut butter was quick and easy.

The finished project! I'm calling it a success, although most of the sesame seeds popped off as I removed the crackers from the pan.

If you would like to try making some savory Lavash - I DARE you! - you can find the RIGHT HERE.

Watch for the October challenge, here on my blog, in about a month.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Travels with Wiley

Wiley Baker was what some would call an "aggressive driver." Or, more accurately, Wiley Baker was what most would call an "aggressive driver."

I remember one day-trip we made with Wiley and Lauretta from Missoula up to Glacier Park. Wiley was driving his big Suburban, and the passengers included Lauretta, Aaron, Caleb and Sascha (Marci's three kids), my mom and dad, Chris and Tim, and Dan and me. Lauretta was riding up front with Wiley, and had fallen asleep, as was her custom whenever they traveled.

Wiley wasted no time getting to the park. At one point, on a 2-lane road, he pulled around a car that wasn't going fast enough, only to see an on-coming car in our lane. In the back, Mom and Dad, Dan and I were white-knuckling it . . . especially my Dad. Wiley never flinched. The on-coming car drove off the road, onto the shoulder, thus avoiding a head-on collision. Wiley smiled and said, "That was sure nice of them, wasn't it?" (That line has since become code, between Dan and me, that someone might be driving a little too aggressively.)

As we climbed higher up the steep mountain road, it became narrower and the switchbacks became sharper. It seemed as if Wiley thought he was driving on a straight, flat Texas freeway! I remember someone asking my dad, who was holding a camera, to get a shot, over the edge (which I recall as being perilously close to the outside tires of the Suburban). He stuck the camera out the window, aimed it downward and clicked, all the time keeping his head and eyes straight ahead, so as not to risk seeing the ever-increasing distance to the valley floor. Through all of this, Lauretta slept soundly and peacefully - not a bad strategy, I decided.

When we got to the top, all in one piece but with shakey knees, and stepped out of the vehicle, my dad, pale and frightened, put his arm around Dan's shoulders. "Dan," he said, "I'll never criticize your driving again!"

With that background, I'll share another little story involving Wiley and his driving.

At the time that Chris was in college, in Abilene, Texas, Wiley and Lauretta were living in Montana. Since they still had relatives and some farming interests in Texas, they came down a couple times a year, often without forewarning. Chris, at the time of this story, was dating Kelsey. The two of them were in the Wal-Mart parking lot one afternoon when a car backed out of a parking space and rammed into a light pole. Kelsey said, "Did you see that old man? He just ran into that light pole!" Chris looked in the direction of the accident, and by then the long, lanky driver was climbing out of his car, to examine the damage. "That 'old man'" said Chris, "is my Grandpa!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sweetpea Reads with Grandma

Every time Sweetpea was ready to go down for a nap or for the night, last week, we read a book or two together. Her favorite, at least for that week, was Over in the Meadow, which is a counting book, with a different family of origami animals featured on each page.

The first time I read the book to her, Sweetpea just listened to the words and, before we turned the page she would count the baby animals on the page. About half-way through that first reading, she started calling out the name of the animal family as soon as I turned the page, like this:

Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Frogs!
Grandma: Reads the verse
Sweetpea: Counts the baby animals

At her next bedtime, after counting the baby animals on one page, I happened to mention, “And ONE Mama.” She liked that, so the script was expanded:

Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Ducks!
Grandma: Reads the verse
Sweetpea: Counts the baby animals
Grandma: “And ONE Mama!”

She wouldn’t allow the page to be turned until every line had been spoken.

A day or two later, as we were working our way through the book once again, Sweetpea pointed to one of the baby birds and said, “Looks like paper.” I thought for a minute, and then realized she was aware that the animals were made of folded paper. “Yes,” I said, “It was made out of paper.” On each of the remaining pages, after naming the animals, reading the verse, counting the babies, and saying, “And ONE Mama,” these two new lines had to be spoken.

The next day, as we began reading the book, both Sweetpea and I forgot to perform the “Looks like paper” lines. Then, as we came to the fourth set of animals, Sweetpea, with a worried look, cried out, “No, Grandma! Paper!”

Not understanding what she meant, I looked at her with a puzzled expression. She took the book from my hands, flipped back to page one, and, stabbing her finger at one of the turtles, said, “Looks like paper!” To which I replied, “Yes. It was made out of paper.” Then on to page two and three, somewhat frantically making up the “Looks like paper” lines for each one. Then she relaxed, having righted the wrong, and we turned to the next page and continued:



Sweetpea: (after turning the page) Rats!

Grandma:
Over in the Meadow
In the reeds on the shore
Lived an old mother rat
And her little ratties four.
“Dive,” said the mother;
“We dive,” said the four.
So they dived and they burrowed
In the reeds on the shore.
Sweetpea: One, two, three, four!

Grandma: And ONE Mama.

Sweetpea: Looks like paper! (pointing at the mama rat)

Grandma: Yes. It was made out of paper.


What this taught me about Sweetpea:
She recognizes patterns
She loves repetition and familiarity
She likes to make, follow and enforce rules
She takes after her Grandpa, in that traditions are easily made, and must never be broken
She likes to stretch out the pre-nap book-reading time for as l-o-n-g as possible

Saturday, September 13, 2008

All's Well

I just got home, about 45 minutes ago. The trip went well, and didn't seem as long as usual. Still, it's good to be home.

Also, some of you have asked about Ike's effect at Chris and Kelsey's house. I was thankful to hear, this morning, that Chris was safe and sound. He stayed with the house (as you know, Kelsey is with her sister-in-law). I guess it was a pretty exciting night, but there was only relatively minor damage to their property. Sounds like they lost a tree or two, and had damage to their fence. Water blew in under the back door, but there was no flooding. Their power is out, and that could be a long time in coming back on.

Now, there is one funny story that I'd love to tell about Chris, having to do with his assistance to a neighbor, in preparation for the storm. But I'll wait to see if Kelsey tells it. If not, I'll share it with all of you in a few days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day Four with Sweetpea

Well . . . today is the 12th of the month, so it's time for another "12 of 12" post. Lucky me that the 12th fell during my week with Sweetpea. (I'll be going home tomorrow morning, after Kelsey comes to pick her up.)

You can see my Day Four with Sweetpea by going to my 12 of 12 blog, right HERE.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day Three with Sweetpea


It was a quieter day today. Sweetpea and I went for a morning walk, along the river (Pecos River). She found flowers (dandelions) and picked one to take back to Nanny. During the middle of the day, we had quite a rainfall, so that made it an inside afternoon.

Before lunch, Sweetpea and I played hide-and-seek. Sweetpea preferred being the seeker; but, typical of kids at that age, when she was the hider, she always hid in the same spot. I was a slow learner, though, so hunted all over the house before finally spying her each time, and then she would run, giggling, into my arms.

For dinner Nanny took us over to the Lakeview Community Center for a special meal. Since Lakeview is a community of senior citizens, Sweetpea was a hit with all the grandmas, grandpas and great-grandparents there. After she ate, I let her walk around on her own and visit with people. She had a great time being "Miss Congeniality," and she was a bright spot in a lot of people's evening.




Our craft today was frog puppets. Sweetpea wasn't very excited about making them, but this evening, after her bath, she played with them for awhile.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day Two with Sweetpea

The day started at about 7:00 a.m. And Sweetpea took awhile to warm up to the idea that she was still at Nanny's - but not long. Watching "The Little Mermaid" was a hit. I love this series of poses:




A little later in the morning we went to the park, where Sweetpea loved feeding popcorn to the ducks and geese, and playing on the playground equipment. A couple of other little girls - sisters, one a little older and one younger than Sweetpea - arrived, and the three had a terrific time playing together.




Our craft today was a sailboat, and, of course, after we made it, we had to float it, and blow on the sail to make it go.



Two days are gone, leaving only Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday (sigh). I'm so grateful to have these wonderful days, few as they are.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day One with Sweetpea

Sweetpea and her Mama arrived at Nanny's house at about 10:30 this morning. We were ready and waiting for them. Kelsey stayed for most of an hour, telling us Sweetpea's current routines and preferences; explaining what was in all the bags she packed; and saying an extended "good-bye" to Sweetpea.

Once Kelsey left, Sweetpea dove into the toys and books and made herself at home, never shedding a tear.



At lunch we met Nanny's friends, Pat and Gloria, for lunch at the Pecos River Cafe. Sweetpea wanted pancakes and bacon, did a good job of eating, and was so well-behaved. It was 2:30 before we got back home - well past her nap time - so we read a book and she laid her head down and was asleep in just a minute or two.

Finally, around 5:00 I decided I'd better gently wake her up, so that she would be able to go to sleep at night.

I pulled out the "craft kits," and we made the edible necklace, using a red licorice whip with Froot Loops strung on it. She loved it, and wore it for a couple hours, until the licorice finally gave way and broke; then she ate it. Here are a couple pictures of the necklace-making.

(The boo-boo on her elbow is not new, but at lunch, Pat offered her a Band-Aid, and she was eager to wear it. Even after her bath tonight, she didn't want to give up the Band-Aid.)

Sweetpea and I took a little walk before dinner, and she brought along the (toy) binoculars from Grandma's toy box. She was birdwatching, here.


After a perfect day - not a tear, not a fuss - we sat down to eat something for dinner. Sweetpea took a bite of cheese and a bite of applesauce, and then . . . performed one of her (famous) sensitive-gag-reflex reactions, which I've read about in Kelsey's blog. Luckily, I was quick, grabbing first a little bowl and, secondly, a plate, which caught nearly all of it! As I was in the midst of this feat, my cell phone started ringing. I had to let it go - my hands were FULL. Immediately following, Nanny's cell phone rang. Both calls were from Kelsey, "just checking." I wish she had called five minutes earlier, so I could have told her "The whole day was PERFECT."

A bath, bedtime story, a couple of songs, and a good-night prayer ended the day. Once again, she was down without any fussing.

She's really a sweet-natured, well-behaved little girl. Nice work, Chris and Kelsey!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's In Grandma's Suitcase?

On Monday, around noon, when I get off work, I'm heading to Carlsbad for a few days. That's where Mom lives, of course, and I'll be staying with her. On Tuesday, Sweetpea will come to see us, and Nanny (my mom) and I will be taking care of her until sometime Saturday, while Kelsey goes to stay with her sister-in-law, who is expecting a new baby any day. Kelsey will be taking care of her two nephews, giving their mom a little relief before the new one is born; and, if the timing works out right, she'll be there for the birth, as well.

So, today, I started packing my suitcase. Clothes? You think I'm packing clothes? Guess again.


In my suitcase are some new books and several kits I've assembled, with materials for some toddler-type crafts. We'll be making a frog puppet, an edible necklace, a rabbit mask, a floating sailboat and fish in a bowl. I'll also be taking "Grandma's Toy Box" with me, since Nanny doesn't have one any more.

Clothes? I guess I should toss in a few to get me by, but it's important that Grandmas have their priorities straight! Don't you agree?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One More Teaser for the WWI Blog

Re: the WWI Blog I told you about yesterday, go here: http://intranet.pool.cornwall.sch.uk/warblog/wwar1blogbbc.mp3 and listen to the author tell about his project. I think it will tempt you to read it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Terrific Blog - Take a Look

I don't recall how I stumbled upon it, but somehow, some time ago, I discovered a blog titled "WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier." The blog is made up of transcripts of surviving letters from World War I, penned by William Henry Bonser Lamin, born in England on August 1887. What is especially interesting is that the author of the blog posts each of the letters on, exactly, the 90th anniversary of when it was written. As he says, "To find out Harry's fate, follow the blog!" It's just as if you are receiving the letters, one at a time, yourself.

Since the blog started July 1, 2006, you'll want to read it "backward," starting with the first post, which is easy to do, since the author has put a "Start Here" button that stays on the newest page and takes you back to the first post. It doesn't work quite like a book. To make sense of the whole blog, take the link to the "First Posts," work from the bottom entry upwards and then take the "Newer posts" link at the bottom of each page for the next installment.

I've only skipped around, reading a letter here and a letter there, and even then it has been fascinating. But that's not the way to do it. They are meant to be read in order, of course, and I want to do that, beginning very soon.

I've not explained this blog well; I've not done it justice. You need to go look at it yourself. Talk about living history! It's really something. If you are a history buff - and even if you're not - you'll find it fascinating.

(Betty W., this seems like something you'd really enjoy reading, considering the book you wrote. Liz L., HISTORY! Isn't that your thing? Gloria R., I know you love things like this. I remember our day at the Balloon Museum.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day, and a Labor of Love

I've been working up my nerve and stamina, lately, to try my hand at some homemade Danish pastry. That's what prompted me to look through those old bakers' books I blogged about a few days ago. Then, on Thursday, when our neighbor, Lorraine, came bearing bags of tomatoes, zucchini and peaches from her garden, I decided the time was right. Fresh peaches! Perfect for making a filling for some kind of Danish creation!

So, Monday morning (Labor Day holiday) I sliced the peaches up, added some squirts of lemon juice to help keep them from browning, and stored them in the refrigerator.


After that, I started on the Danish dough. The particular recipe I used* includes cardamom (a MOST wonderful spice) and the seeds of a fresh vanilla bean. YUMM! Danish pastry is a form of "laminated" dough, meaning that it has many layers, each separated by a butter/flour mixture; that's what makes it flaky. The many layers are achieved by folding a butter mixture between three layers, to begin with, and then performing a series of dough roll-and-folds, with time in the refrigerator between the roll-and-folds. The fingerprint in the dough, in this picture, is there to keep track of which roll-and-fold cycle I'm on - one fingerprint means the first cycle. It takes about 4 hours to mix, knead, chill and perform all of the folds.


After this, the dough needs to "rest" in the refrigerator over night. But, I wanted to do one more thing on Monday night, in preparation for completing the project on Tuesday. I cooked up the peaches into a caramelized, syrupy concoction, to make them suitable for filling the Danish. Here's a picture of them bubbling away in my cast iron skillet. Yummm. This would make a great ice cream topping, as well.


So, on Tuesday (today), I stopped by Bed Bath and Beyond to get some parchment paper, then came home to get started on shaping the dough and letting it rise (it is a yeast dough). I decided to make one Danish braid, and some little, individual pastries. I used the peaches for the filling in both.

(The individual pastries, before proofing)

(The braid, after 2 hours of proofing)

After 2 hours of proofing, I baked off the pastry. Although the recipe I used didn't call for any kind of glaze or drizzle on top, I just had to add that. Here they are, all finished and ready to eat. I just came back from taking some - still hot from the oven - across the street, to the neighbors who gave us the peaches. I hope they enjoy, since they were my inspiration!


It was great fun, and was the first major baking project I'd taken on in awhile. Don't be surprised if you see some more in the near future, here on my blog.

(*Credits: I found this recipe, which came, originally, from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking, on Kelly's blog at: http://sassandveracity.typepad.com/sass_veracity/2008/06/im-a-little-bot.html)