Category Archives: food

3 Ways to Stay Young

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn

I rarely drink from a straw, in fear of creating lines around my pursed lips. Lines that lipstick can bleed through, even though I’m not much of a lipstick wearer. Lines that will betray my age. But if I’m afraid of straws, will that mean I have to stop whistling as well? I bought wrinkle cream for the lines radiating from my eyes. They say that age is just a number, and my number is approaching 50. Grey hairs are slowly appearing, drawing fine lines in my mousey blond hair. Should I hide them with color or wear them proudly?

I started writing this post back in February, when I was thinking about my birthday. When I turned 47, I was celebrating a special anniversary–20 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ed and I trained and raised money to be able to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer. I was so excited about participating in that walk with Ed that 47 didn’t feel that old to me. This year, I turned 48; only two years until I turn 50. Ugh! Usually numbers don’t bother me, but I’ll be honest; this year’s number bothered me! It doesn’t help that many of my friends, parents of my children’s friends, are lamenting their upcoming 40th birthday! When I turned 40, I had a 4 year old, and an 17 month old baby with an ear infection. I was way too tired to even care about turning 40! (How do I remember? I wrote it down on my blog!)

My kids are older now, and so am I! I’m actually much less tired than I was back then. Raising my kids has been so fun, and they keep me young, along with these three things.

3 Ways to Stay Young
1. Learn Something New

As a 40-something, I took downhill ski lessons, which I do not recommend. If you are going to learn how to ski, do it when you are young and stupid, therefore not afraid of heights or going fast or falling and breaking your leg. There is nothing better to keep you young than to scare yourself to death. On second thought, maybe ski lessons aged me instead of keeping me young! So I went in the opposite direction and learned how to knit in my 40’s, which is a very low key and non-risky activity. Now I am part of a knitting group with some nice retired women. That will be much better for my heart!

How does this keep me young? Seriously, though, I love learning new things, including downhill skiing. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. Learning new things stimulates your brain and helps memory functions. I don’t know about you, but I need help with memory! Where did I put my car keys again?

2. Volunteer

Okay, so I probably volunteer too much. On Wednesday, I baked 22 potatoes for a Lenten dinner. They barely fit in my oven all at one time! Most of my volunteering is at my church and at both my daughters’ schools. Volunteering is a great way to get perspective on age! When I was teaching Sunday school, somehow the subject of Jesus’ second coming came up. I talked about how Jesus was going to come down to Earth and take us up to heaven to live with Him, and how happy we would be. Well, one fifth grade boy did not look so happy. “You mean we’re going to DIE?!?” he exclaimed. “I’m just a kid! I have things I want to do!” So I tried my best to console him and said I didn’t think the second coming was imminent, which was a little tricky as a Sunday school teacher.

Recently I also volunteered at a high school for a show choir competition. Lily was competing in her middle school choir (they sang the song at the beginning of this post), and I’ve never volunteered at the high school level before. It was fun to talk with parents who have older kids than I do; I was able to help out while they went and saw their older kids perform since Lily had already performed the night before.

How does this help keep me young? Volunteering gives you a different perspective, whether it’s caring for old or young people, feeding the hungry, or just volunteering with people different from you. Plus, you feel good after helping others! When my kids are older and I’m not needed at their schools, I hope to volunteer at a hospital or library.

3. Traveling to a new places

Oh, you know this is Ed’s favorite thing to do! Well, somehow he hooked me on traveling too. We had so much fun driving to Yellowstone National Park last summer and visiting a lot of different towns and states. I just booked a trip to Maine, a new state for me! I’m so excited about our summer plans!

How does this help keep me young? The anticipation and excitement of traveling to a new place keeps me feeling young!

What helps keep you young? Let me know in the comments!

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Winter Outside, Spring Inside

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow, a gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

This winter, Chicagoans were surprised by spring-like weather in February, and by winter-like weather in March. We now have quite a few inches of snow on the ground! I mean, seriously, a month ago my kids were ripping off their coats and running to the park to meet their friends, and today they were wearing snow pants and making snow angels in the back yard.

Outside it looks like this
Inside it looks like this

Back when it was warm in February, I was so excited about spring that I wanted to get my garden started! At the beginning of March, I decided which Seminis seeds I was going to plant and used the garden starter kit sent to me by my friends at Monsanto. Even though we usually don’t plant outside until Mother’s Day or later in this area, it’s not too early to start seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, inside.

Well, maybe it’s too early for beans. I’ve already had to put my bean seedlings in bigger pots!

Custard beans

I had no idea what lettuce and spinach seeds and seedlings look like. How fun to be able to plant them and see them sprout! I bought a small grow light from my local garden center to give my seedlings more light to grow by. I hope these little plants flourish–my hope is to have some lettuce and spinach to eat later this spring.

Spinach seedlings on right.

My little pepper seeds haven’t started yet; I think I see one little sprout starting to pop up! I haven’t given up hope; pepper seeds like it warm and take a little longer to sprout, from what I’ve read online.

Do you garden? What would you like to grow? Follow along with my seedlings and me this spring to see what happens!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

pie-4
Cherry pie, pumpkin pie, and key lime pie

For Mara in Norway, my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe! I hope you’ll be able to convert my American measurements, Mara. My mom’s measurements aren’t exact, as you can tell, and we put the larger amount of spices in our pie.

Favorite Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 cups canned or mashed cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ginger
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 slightly beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 nine-inch unbaked pastry shell

Thoroughly combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Blend in eggs, milk and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pastry shell. (Have edges crimped high because amount of filling is generous.) Bake in hot oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted halfway between center and outside edge comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!

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The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving

What do you write about on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? (Writing a blog post every day has been very challenging for me this year!) The girls didn’t have school today, so we ran a couple of errands. It was mostly a pajama day, however! Pajama days are good to have every once in a while. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving, so I don’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning. I do need to make pies for Thanksgiving, so tomorrow is pie-making day. We are going to make pumpkin pie, a key lime pie, and a cherry pie. Ed has the easiest job of all; he’s supposed to buy the beer!

The pie picture is from our pie making day in 2012! If I remember, I will blog about our pie making tomorrow. 🙂

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The Bake-Off

So here’s how it usually goes in my house.

Today our church was hosting a praise, pizza and bake-off night. When the bake-off was first announced, I decided that I would make my famous Chicago Crunchy Cookies, a recipe I got from Gretchen over at Second Blooming. So this morning, I took the recipe out of my recipe binder (which sounds much more organized than it really is, because the binder is just a front and back cover for a pile of unsorted and loose recipes) and I made a shopping list.

bake-off

After I took the girls to piano lessons, we stopped at Tony’s Fine Foods to stock up on cookie baking supplies. In the baking aisle, Lily decided that she wanted to make a pie for the bake-off. Emmy thought that was a great idea, too, and wanted to make her own pie for the bake-off as well. We looked at the pie fillings for a few minutes, because God help me, I was not going to make two honest-to-goodness homemade pies and my cookies. Lily settled on peach pie, and Emmy wanted to make a lemon meringue pie. I was not in the mood to make meringue. But that was the only pie that she wanted to make. So, after some debate in the baking aisle, Emmy decided that she wanted to make tie-dye cake. It was the lesser of two evils; meringue or tie-die? I calmly accepted tie-dye cake, and we picked out white cake mix. Because you know–I was not going to make honest-to-goodness homemade cake and pie and my famous cookies (and the cookies were going to honest-to-goodness homemade).

We stopped by the refrigerator section to get the pie dough, bought all our baking supplies, and headed out to meet Ed for lunch. I made sure the girls knew that we would be spending the afternoon baking and they were okay with that plan.

While we were at the grocery store, Ed had washed the pans from last night’s dinner so that we could bake. (He is a good egg!) When we got home, I preheated the oven and Lily and I got to work. I showed her how to lay the pie crust in the pan. She poured in the peach filling, we made a lattice crust for the top, and popped the pie in the oven.

Then it was Emmy’s turn. We opened the cake box, mixed in the eggs, oil and water, and I divided the cake batter into six bowls. Emmy went to work coloring each bowl of batter with a different color while I greased and floured the cake pans. Lily’s peach pie baked up beautifully and the oven was ready for Emmy’s cake. We poured three colors each into two cake pans, and put them in the oven.

By this time, it was four o’clock and I had resigned myself to the fact that my cookies were not going to be made. I had spent enough time in the kitchen, and we still had to frost Emmy’s cake. After her cake had cooled, I helped her put together the layers, but she frosted the whole cake by herself.

Do I have pictures of their baked goods? Did I take any pictures of the bake-off? Did I brag about my children on Facebook? No, I did not. I meant too, but to tell the truth I was a little cranky by then.

The girls each received praise and a participation prize from our youth director, and we went home. The End.

BTW, I just took a picture of Emmy’s tie-dye cake because I know you want to see it! Lily’s pie is beautiful, too, but it’s all wrapped up and in the refrigerator. I’m not taking it out now, not even for you.

tie-dye cake

And that’s how things go in my house.

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