jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-1Tom’s grandmother used to make chocolate pudding for us. I remember the first time I had it, it was different. It had nuts in it. Turns out that it was My-T-Fine pudding with nuts. Tiny little chopped nuts inside chocolate pudding. In the years since, I had found it a few times and made it, bringing back sweet (no pun intended) memories of a special lady. Then we couldn’t find it. I am not even sure that it is even made anymore.

This afternoon, we set about to rectify that and make our own version.

First, I made the chocolate pudding with some delicious dutch process cocoa we nabbed down at the Brattleboro Co-op when we were down there last night for dinner after a closing I had in the area. Then, while the pudding was cooking, I chopped up slivered almonds into tiny pieces and added them to the cooked pudding. jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-7

The pudding went into the fridge and we had it for dessert just a little while ago. It was delicious.

Pudding recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c. dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 T. butter (unsalted)
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Mix the first four ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the 4 cups of milk (we used Lactaid skim milk so my husband could enjoy it with any intestinal issues).

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Then stir constantly for two minutes more.

Remove from heat and add 2 T. butter (I used unsalted) and 2 t. vanilla extract.

Then I stirred in the chopped almonds, about 1/2 cup’s worth.

Put them into the fridge for at least two hours to set and form that great chocolate pudding “skin”.

This made six ramekins of pudding.

 

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Photo credit: Alamay

This is the Dummerston covered bridge. I drove over it tonight on my way to a closing. It was just about 5 p.m. and this bridge was the perfect example of Vermont manners. It is a one lane bridge. There is no traffic light, no yield signs, no traffic cop. Just a sign that says one lane bridge. For those of you who have never visited Vermont (really?, who are you?) it is a covered bridge that only one car can travel on in one direction at a time. The perfect example of taking your time. Not rushing. The antithesis of everything New Jersey highway.

On the other side of this bridge is a road which has traffic coming into the bridge from two directions, north and south. Therefore, on that side of the bridge, the traffic from both directions needs to stop, take turns alternating with each other and with the traffic turning from Route 30.

The important thing is …no one is going anywhere fast. This is no Route 4 or Route 17 merge in Paramus, New Jersey during rush hour where everyone is pushing, vying to get in front of the car next to them that is merging onto the roadway with them, fighting, inching to be one car length ahead to go …well, nowhere fast if you’ve ever been in New Jersey traffic at rush hour.

Here, on this bridge, everyone stops and takes their time. It is only one lane and one at a time each car alternates going over the bridge. No one while we were there tried to sneak behind the car already proceeding, over the bridge to get through quickly, all the drivers alternated, each waiting their turn. Miraculously, we still all got where we were headed. There was no cussing, no middle fingers raised, no road rage, no one trying to cut anyone off.

Vermont manners. Yet another reason why I love it here.

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Woot! Woot! I just got an email from the Sourdough Project that they want to examine and analyze my sourdough starter! For anyone who has no idea what the heck I am talking about, The Sourdough Project is a research project where they are analyzing samples of various sourdough starters from all over the world to determine their similarities, differences and to compile sourdough DNA.

Per their website explaining who’s involved:

This project is a broad collaboration involving experts in the evolution of food microorganisms (Ben Wolfe, Tufts University), the ecology of microbes (Tad Fukami, Stanford/Natural History Museum of Denmark), human evolution (Peter C. Kjærgaard, Natural History Museum of Denmark), the ecology of life in homes (Rob Dunn, Natural History Museum of Denmark/NC State University), the interface of microbial cultures and art (Anne Madden, NC State University) among others.

If you want to learn more about this project, other than from my ranting here, there’s a great article on NPR that I’ve written about previously.

 

I think that the hardest part of not having kids at home is figuring out how to fill that daily void. For so many years, life revolved around kids’ schedules, kids’ school, in general kids’ lives that it’s hard to figure out me again. 

Since the boys are so close in age, friends used to kid that it seemed like I was pregnant for a very long time. Hard to remember they would say, when you weren’t pregnant. I understand what they meant now. Hard to remember when I wasn’t a mom. I love being a mom. I will always be a mom but now I have “me” time back so I need to dig deep and find my happy place. Things I enjoy doing that aren’t necessarily mom related. 

In this quest, I am trying different things seeing what sticks. One thing that has fallen by the wayside in recent times has been this blog which I started over a decade ago when we moved here. I enjoy writing and promised myself for the new year that I would try my best to post to it every day. 

Some days will be witty and well thought out, other days may be more stream if consciousness and I’m sure some will be purely because I have to write something, kind of like self imposed homework. Whatever the day’s inspiration may be, the overarching reason is that I enjoy it, I think I’m fairly decent at it and it makes me happy. Hopefully those reading it will enjoy it too. Since I also like taking pictures and feel I haven’t been doing enough of that either lately, you’ll see a neat photo to go along with the words I write. These were taken the other morning on my way back from my sunrise Rotary meeting. Everything was frosty and beautiful in the drive up the hill.

I am also starting an online Harvard open class course in my “spare” time. Maybe that will be another day’s post. 

img_5108It is a very quiet house here at the T’s. The boys are all back to school and our company over the holiday weekend is gone. While this is the beginning of the second semester of school for the boys, it is the beginning of Empty Nest Part II here at home. Empty Nest Blues….when it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that they are gone again.

In thinking about it, the dog and I have a great deal in common at this point in time. While sitting here in the living room by the wood stove, typing away, I half expect a kid to come sauntering in. No such luck but at every errant noise, both the dog and I look to the doorway expectantly, both with similar expressions of hope in our eyes. Both of us realize almost simultaneously – no, that was just a noise, not a boy. We probably have the same disappointment float momentarily over our faces. We then both turn to Tom to entertain us and make us forget that there was no boy at the doorway.

Sad, but true. I have been reduced to equating myself with the dog. At least when it comes to the first few days after everyone has left. My goals for the second semester is to take my dog companion and get out there and soak in some Vitamin D on a daily basis. A little (okay, any) snow to make it a little more appealable (and ski-able) would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

Do you have AAA? If not, drop what you are doing right now, get to your computer and enroll.

I kid you not. Do it. Do it now. You will thank me. Trust me.

I cannot recommend AAA (American Automobile Association) enough. I love AAA, almost as much as I love my family. When the boys became drivers, they got added to the insurance policy and to the AAA account. Since then they have helped us out whenever there was an automobile emergency.

Every dealing I have had with the folks at AAA has been a good one, they have been polite, kind, considerate and helpful.

Tonight we needed them again, and they were there, as promised.

We got out of Tom’s truck, just to run inside the house next door quickly and grab something. When we came outside, the truck was locked, with the keys in the ignition. This is evidently something new that Tom’s truck has decided to do, randomly lock the doors despite no one locking the doors.

Guess where the spare key was? In my purse. Guess where my purse was? Yup, locked in the truck. Along with our phones, our gloves. Called AAA and within 45 minutes as promised, a very nice guy on a very cold night, worked to unlock the truck. When he couldn’t get the door unlocked on the driver’s side, he just wandered over to the passenger side, worked at it some more and bingo…. we were unlocked.

A few months ago, a fuel pump went on one of the trucks when it was in Boston with one of the boys. A call to AAA — the truck, and the kids, were driven to the designated auto repair facility in New Hampshire. It made our lives much easier than having to drive to Boston to arrange towing and fetch kids.

Is this an unpaid endorsement of AAA? Why yes it is. When someone finds a service that is always helpful,  they should shout it from the rooftop.

Now stop reading this and go sign up for AAA. Trust me, you will thank me. Thank you, New England AAA. 🙂

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Today is National Hat Day. Today is also the birthday of two special guys in my life. To combine both holidays together, as the birthday boys celebrate what they have always dubbed the “I have a dream” weekend, here’s some pictures of birthday boys in hats.

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Happy Birthday Lou and Tom!

pictures-093_2Through a mother’s eyes, this is how they will always look to me. No matter how many years the calendar says they are, how tall they become, how adult they are to the rest of the world. When I look at them, I can see what the rest of the world sees, the handsome, smart, amazing young men they have become, but I also see these faces. These people who somewhere in the recesses of their subconscious minds, know what my heart sounds like from the inside.

Today, two of them headed back to school. The oldest left a week ago. The time always goes way too fast. There doesn’t seem like there are enough seconds in a day when they are around. I want to sit and talk with them, stare at them, drink it all in like some intoxicating, addictive drug.

I was pretty good earlier today when my friend and I dropped off our youngest two, that is until she pointed out, with mom tears in her eyes, that this was really the last time they  would be ours, truly ours. In a few short months, those two, our respective babies, will join their siblings with their own apartments. Next summer, there will be another place they will call home. That thought just did me in. So when my middle son took off for his home away from home tonight, there was a little extra poignancy to the goodbyes.

“We’re only a couple hours away, you know” he said “don’t be sad.” Yes, I know. But through my mother eyes and in my heart I want to scream – you are too young, too little, too much mine to share with the rest of the world.

But… share I will, because they are also too wonderful, amazing, smart and funny to keep all to myself. And so begins the empty nest all over again….

So here’s something fun. Betcha had no idea, right? Today, is International Kiss A Ginger Day.

Go, grab your favorite ginger and give them a kiss! With their permission of course.

Evidently, this holiday has existed for about 7 years. It was started seven years ago as a counter on Facebook to the Kick a Ginger campaign. Kicking Gingers is not so nice and should not be condoned, what did the poor ginger folk ever do to you?

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Along these same lines, this guy called Tristan Rogers has set out to map all the redheads in the world. His project Mapping the World of Redheads can be found here.

To finish off today’s post about our ginger folk, here are some interesting ginger facts from USA Today:

  • The highest concentration of redheads is in Scotland (13%) followed by Ireland (10%). Worldwide, only 2% of people have red hair.
  • People with red hair are likely more sensitive to pain. This is because the gene mutation (MC1R) that causes red hair is on the same gene linked to pain receptors. It also means redheads usually need more anesthesia for dental and medical procedures.
  • Having red hair isn’t the only thing that makes some redheads unique. They are also more likely to be left handed. Both characteristics come from recessive genes, which like to come in pairs.
  • Redheads probably won’t go grey. That’s because the pigment just fades over time. So they will probably go blonde and even white, but not grey.
  • Rumor says Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.”
  • Redheads most commonly have brown eyes. The least common eye color: blue.
  • Bees have been proven to be more attracted to redheads.
  • Being a redheaded man may have health benefits. A study published by the British Journal of Cancer suggested that men with red hair are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their brown and blonde-haired counterparts.
  • Redheads actually have less hair than most other people. On average they only have 90,000 strands of hair while blonds, for example, have 140,000. However, red hair is typically thicker so it still looks just as full.

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Since just before Christmas, I have been chicken sitting for a friend. There were three hens that needed some watching while my friend was off doing research during the college break. Among my many talents (adding this to my resume) is my years of experience with chickens, although this honestly is my first official chicken sitting stint. I liken it to babysitting. Once you are a parent, you pretty much have the necessary qualifications to babysit other people’s children. As a chicken owner, I evidently have chicken cred. 🙂

Just for giggles, I actually googled chicken sitting. Yes, much like everything else anyone can think of, there are several pet sitting services that offer chicken sitting as part of their services. I get it, but there are honestly a few businesses which as their sole business, do chicken sitting. I. Kid. You. Not.

Which brings me to the question. Why? Oh why did I spend all that money on a law school education when I could just have been a professional chicken sitter? 58% of Pet Sitters International 2016 survey on pet sitters do chicken sitting, which it reports is a sharp increase from its previous survey. It appears that chicken sitting is an up and coming area of the pet sitting business. Silly me. I thought that chicken sitting was something a neighbor does for you when you are out of town for a few days or a few weeks. A simple neighborly thing, not a whole profession. I really do need to get out more. Seems I have been missing this.

Seriously though, I have enjoyed my chicken sitting stint. Particularly since there is no rooster involved. Roosters can be a pain in the bottom and I bet those  professional chicken sitters probably collect hazard pay when there is one or more roosters involved, since that usually involves having eyes in the back of your head to make sure that rooster isn’t trying to take you out while you are tending to the ladies and collecting the eggs.

Eggs. Gotta love fresh eggs. For all those folks out there that haven’t experienced freshly laid eggs, you have no idea what you are missing! Nothing better than cracking open an egg that has a beautiful bright, deep yellow (almost orange) yolk. Trust me, once you’ve had a fresh egg, you  will simply hate anything that comes to you weeks (or more) old.

So, what do you think? Professional chicken sitter as my next career? Somehow I think I’d have to move to the city or darn close to one to pull that off, and I’m not ready to make that move.

 

 

img_2074If you’ve ever baked bread using yeast, and you are like me, you can stare into the bubbling starter, mesmerized by all the activity going on in that bowl. As you watch, bubbles surface and then disappear, over and over again. Happy yeast munching away.

The typical bread I bake is a sourdough ciabatta loaf. I created the sourdough starter that I am using from scratch, using a recipe I found online. Pretty basic stuff, I took a potato, put it in water and boiled it, then used the potato water with all its starchy goodness. I placed that in a mason jar, covered it with cheesecloth and left it on the kitchen counter. It attracted wild yeast in the air. Every day, I uncovered it, gave it a stir and put the cheesecloth back on. After about 5 days, it was bubbling away. At that point, I fed it, adding warm water and flour. Ta Da! Sourdough starter! If you have grapes around when you are doing this, it is good to leave your jar of potato water near them, as that white film on unwashed grapes is actually yeast.

img_0781The starter I made back then (about 15 years ago) is still what I use today. Anytime I want to make bread, I take out the starter from the fridge, bring it to room temperature and then add some warm water and flour in equal parts to feed it.

Starters are coveted, they are unique in the flavor and characteristics that they bring to a finished loaf of bread. Some sourdough starters are passed down through generations and make my little ol’ starter look like a baby by comparison. In fact, there is a project being conducted right now that is examining different starters. It’s pretty neat and can be found at Rob Dunn Lab. They are even soliciting sourdough starter samples for their project to research the DNA of sourdough.

I signed up, figuring that I would put my starter into the mix, if they’d like to have it for research purposes. To learn more about the project and sourdough starters in general, here’s an excellent NPR article.

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Photo Credit: The Independent

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

~Theodore Roosevelt

This month marks the halfway point in my term as president of the Wallingford Rotary. If you would have told me when I joined Rotary three years ago, I would be president, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am.

When you reach the halfway point, it’s always good to stop, look back and look ahead. Looking back, we have had some wonderful events that I am especially proud of including our first Pancake Breakfast with Santa which had a great turnout despite the snowy weather, not such good weather for driving, but perfect weather for Santa’s arrival.

My personal favorite thus far though is the creation of our Interact Club with the students from MRU. I really wanted to connect the opposite ends of our community, the young adults in high school and the older adults. My hope was that we could join forces (kind of like superheroes) for the betterment of our lovely Wallingford area community.  The Interact students have helped out at every event we have had (since before they were even an official Interact Club) and were instrumental in making our Santa breakfast a success with their personalized ornaments for the little kids. The officers have been wonderful to plan and work with and we are very lucky to have their abilities, creativity and assistance.

Looking forward as I plunge into the second half of my presidential year, our club has been asked to host and cater the Zone’s Rotary Peace Center fundraising dinner here at the little red schoolhouse in the spring/early summer, we also have a Hungarian themed community dinner in honor of our lovely exchange student, Eszti in the wings as well as our old favorites, Bike Safety Day and looking past my term, our annual Lobsterfest!

While I can’t honestly always say that getting up when it is pitch black and frigid outside (like this morning) is my favorite (or even anywhere in the top 10), I do have to say that I feel lucky and blessed to have made friends with the men and women who are fellow Rotarians. It is well worth pulling myself up and out early on a Monday morning, I always leave that meeting with a smile on my face. I haven’t been a part of Rotary for very long, but I do feel that these folks go out of their way to spread good fellowship and cheer (even on those dark, cold mornings) which make it all worthwhile.

It’s hard to believe that it is halfway over, it flew by. I am excited to continue to meet new people and share laughs, community and good cheer with my fellow Rotarians throughout our community.

If you’d like to know more about Rotary or think you’d also like to get up for one of our sunrise (doesn’t that just sound so much better than 7 a.m.) meetings or one of our once-a-month dinner meetings (unfortunately at this time of the year, also in the dark), please let me know or just stop by…. we’d love to have you visit us.

 

 

Evilwife on the move

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