Just desserts

Zinnia at dusk

When I was at Camp Merrie Woode all those years ago, there was a special day set aside where campers got to eat dessert first. When you’re 10, that’s pretty darn exciting. Actually, when you’re thirty-something it’s pretty exciting too. Every once in a while, I remember that I’m an adult now and my mom’s not there to say, “no.” And I get a little giddy from it all.

Like today. After I nabbed a trunk full of groceries, I had to decide what to make for lunch. But that new container of ice cream was just calling to me from the freezer. Better yet, the edges were a little melty and creamy, just the way I love it. So I devoured several spoonfuls before making a more nutritious lunch. It’s those little things that make my day.

I beat Kip!

Countertop display at The Coffee Beanery, Woodland Mall

I know…it’s bad to gloat. But I’m so absolutely clueless about the ins and outs of Fantasy Football. And yet I still kicked butt! Beating the league commissioner, no less. And, ahem, the score was 121 to 61. I got suckered into two of these leagues this year and I’m never going to be able to keep track of all of the players, who I should drop/add, etc. I’ll just savor this off-to-a-good-start week while I can. I’m sure I’ll sink pretty fast. (Although I do have Priest Holmes and Jeff Garcia on my team.)

Carbonated bread

Frosty and cool with a crisp finish

When I was in high school and college, creating cuisine meant pulling out the green and white Kraft spaghetti box or flipping up a Velveeta grilled cheese. When I moved to Chicago and met Scott, things changed. I first had him over for something that involved rice. Minute Rice, of course. And he seemed a bit surprised that I didn’t use the real, regular-cooking stuff. He’s not an out-of-the-box dinner type of guy, which has been good for me in helping to develop my culinary skills.

In the past several years, I haven’t touched that old green-and-white box. I agree that making things fresh and from scratch tastes better. So I wasn’t quite sure about the Tastefully Simple party I was invited to. Until, that is, I tasted the Bountiful Beer Bread.

Now this is an out-of-the-box food that I can totally glom onto. I love baking bread the regular way, kneading and all. But when you’re in a time crunch or don’t have the energy, this is the answer. All you need is a carbonated beverage. We had no beer in the house yesterday, so I improvised with the next best thing: root beer. And out came a warm loaf of bread. Easy. Fun. Tasty.

15 hours

Trying to figure things out

We’ve made it through the first 1/2 day. Pete spent most of his life in Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary, so he’s a bit befuddled by this whole house thing. Everyday things make him nervous, like screen doors, food bowls with dog paws painted on them and refrigerators. But he seems to be faring well. And he hasn’t gone in the house yet. Give him time, though, I’m sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve!

Dog day

Juliette in repose

This is the day we affectionately call “Dog Day.” It’s the day that Pete comes to visit. If he does well, (i.e., gets along with Juliette and doesn’t eat my cats), then he stays. Tonight. Permanently.

We’re pretty excited about this. Yet there’s a bit of trepidation on my part. Another dog means more of everything. More fur. More poop. More obedience classes. More vet bills. More food, supplies, etc. More responsibility. Also more affection, doggie kisses and fun. It’s a change. A good one. But it’s going to take a few days or more to adapt. For everyone in the household, not to mention Pete himself. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that he and Juliette get along. And that he doesn’t do something crazy like pee on my furniture.

Scratch that

Seattle : August 2003

Well, I’ll be a silly hopeful photography student! My local community college allowed me to register for a course without informing me of some important restrictions. Like the fact that the head of the photography department thinks manual cameras are the only way to take a good picture, so my Nikon N65 just won’t cut it. A line in the course requirements that reads: Manual SLR camera required would have been helpful.

After sitting through two solid hours of the department head/instructor’s self-important lecture (“I used to be a hippie so I don’t believe in paper towels in my lab. Every time I look at one I see a tree.” So which is worse…paper towels, which eventually break down, or nasty photography chemicals that go right into the water supply?), I discovered that I can’t take the class because I can’t adjust the ISO setting on my camera.

There was definitely some steam coming out of my ears at that point. Yet I’m refreshingly happy to drop this course since I’m avoiding Mr. “I was buds with Ansel Adams.” I really don’t think I could take 14 weeks of the guy who’s solely responsible for instituting the campus-wide ban on cellphones in the classroom.

Say cheese!

Maggie in the shredder (no animals were injured in the taking of this photo)

Photography 104 starts tonight. Funny, but I’m a little nervous. What if I forgot everything I learned in 103 (which was almost two years ago)? Actually, I’m sure I forgot quite a bit. I’m going to have to rustle through all of my old notes and files to review the processing and developing guidelines. It’s not as if they were easy the first time around. We had to carry these little “cheat sheets” around in the lab…developer X seconds, fixer X minutes, yada, yada, yada.

I acquired my G2 this year and I’m finding myself drawn more to digital. No hands in stinky chemicals. No shaking cans and slamming them on counters to break up the bubbles. No fear of accidentally pouring the fixer down the drain. No waiting to see whether those stupid metal reels mangled my negatives. Instant gratification without all the work. Yet I love the techniques and such I’ve learned in class. And developing the photos themselves is really quite fun. So wish me luck!

Fear and loathing of the garbage disposal


Our house was built in 1957. It’s not what you’d call a classic. Still, it came with some pretty cool features, including what I call a Mr. Ed door (and what the rest of the Grand Rapids calls a Dutch door. Go figure.). Another part of the package was the nifty-cool garbage disposal. I’d never seen anything like it. To turn that puppy on, you had to put the cover in place. A magnet activated the grinding action. No switches. No fear of hand amputation. Safe for children, pets and fearful adults like me.

Then came the remodel. We redid the entire kitchen last year. It was gutted. I told the contractor that I wanted to keep the disposal. There was some eye-rolling. They just didn’t get my attachment to that ancient, but ultimately safe, contraption. Then, just one week before the redo commenced…it died.

So. Now I have this new-fangled disposal with a handy switch mounted on the wall. And I live in fear of it every day. What happens, per se, if there’s something clogging the works and you put your hand down there to check things out and accidentally hit the switch. It would never happen, you say? Well. I’m not so sure. I have to screw up my courage every time I turn the thing on. Especially after the cherry pitter incident, in which said cherry pitter slid down while I had the disposal on. Little plastic bits from the disposal entry went flying. And I had the jitters for the rest of the day

I’ve got the music in me

Branford Marsalis Quartet : August 27

The Frederik Meijer Gardens has hosted some great musicians this summer. Luckily the husband was forward-thinking enough to nab us tickets to four of the shows. We’ve grooved to Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and last week, to Branford Marsalis. And although it’s pretty easy to get a seat right up front, we always perch up near the top of the hill. That would explain the dearth of crisp, close-up photos. But we’ve found ourselves a comfy spot that suits us and the music gets to you just as well up there. Next up? Cubanisimo!


Late-summer zinnia

The flowers are still blooming, but summer is winding down. My husband joshes me because every year I say, “Wow! I can’t believe it’s Labor Day weekend already.” Time goes by so quickly. One minute our ever-so-anticipated trip to the Pacific Northwest was months away. The next it was over. I try to remind myself not to rush things…to just simply enjoy the moment. Because before you know it, the moment will be a memory.