Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The $22 Sandwich

Anna June says she no longer likes grilled cheese sandwiches. But her father and I still like them.

There's a couple of grilled cheese restaurants in town, but we usually don't go to those places, since they're kind of pricey.

Ben was reading the newspaper online the other day and saw this recipe for Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Mushrooms and Honey Chive Butter.

He wondered how it would taste.

So, in the spirit of trying new things and having Meatless Monday, I decided to find out.

First, I went grocery shopping. The ingredients did not seem outrageously priced individually. Ben had expressed concern that there were too many ingredients and it would take too long. He was not wrong. But he didn't say anything about cost, so I ran with it.

I already had butter, honey, thyme, salt, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. But I bought:
Sourdough Bread 3.99
Chives 1.99
Gruyere cheese 9.29
White mushrooms 3.69
Shallots 1.89
Tax in Birmingham is 10%, even on Groceries.
$22.94 for the total.

The recipe makes one sandwich, so I had to double it.

But I wouldn't have been able to buy a smaller quantity of anything, except maybe the mushrooms.

This makes the $10 sandwich from the grilled cheese place look like a bargain!

AJ would not touch it.

My review: it was messy, but it was absolutely delicious. I think it was worth the effort.
Ben's review: "It was a little too exotic for me."

Friday, April 24, 2015

The End of an Era

Anna June outgrew her sandbox. I knew it was going to happen, but it happened so gradually, it was like we didn't notice, really.

But the lid got kind of knocked off, and it rained and rained. I am sure there were animals who thought it was a litter box and there were definitely things growing in it.

Recently, we decided to have some landscaping done. I asked our friend the landscaper if he knew anyone who wanted a sandbox. "No," he said. "People are always trying to give those things away.

So I cautiously posted this picture of it on our neighborhood social site asking if anyone wanted it. And a little while later, a mom who lives close by asked if she could have it. She had recently taken her 15-month-old little girl to the beach, and decided that she needed sand to dig in at home, as well.

So Ben and I bailed all the water and sand out, and hosed it down a little, and a couple of hours later the sweetest lady came to get it. It has been given a wonderful new home and we now have space for the workers to work on that side, rebuilding the little retaining wall and more.

We were sad to see it go, but glad to have the memories. Thanks again to Granny for this gift that kept on giving.

Here's one of my favorite old posts about it, from 2012.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Anna June is pretty good at reading and writing. She has access to plenty of things to write on and with. One morning, evidently I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and she said, "Nothing." Then she wrote it down to make sure I got her point.

I don't even remember this day, but I do remember that the note, and the embellished writing, made me laugh.

I am also sure that I made her eat something for breakfast.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to be a Hero

Anna June, like most little girls, probably considers her dad her hero.

This is good, because he's probably my hero, too.

Yesterday, I was working in our office with the door closed so I could concentrate. AJ was watching a TV show on her Kindle. Ben was napping.

I took a break to fold some laundry, and I spotted an empty plastic dental floss container on the floor near my bed. From the teeth marks on the container, it was clear that Radar had thought the "mint flavored" floss was a treat. AJ brought me a flashlight and we searched under the bed, not seeing a shred of floss.

We guessed he had probably eaten the entire roll whole. But what to do? All things must pass, I told myself.

Ben searched the internet and found the formula for inducing vomiting in dogs: 5 mL hydrogen peroxide (the 3% household kind) per 10 lbs of dog. I was not excited about this plan. We were having yet another thunderstorm and Radar was scared. To make him hurl and keep him from hiding under the bed would not help matters.

But Ben persisted. His mind had already jumped to where I dare not go - thoughts of Radar's little stomach or intestines being blocked or tied tightly and painfully with floss. We discussed the possibility of expensive surgery, or worse.

I got the hydrogen peroxide.  I brought Radar in to the kitchen, insisting that AJ come along with us so Radar would not feel isolated.

We tried to give it to him in a dish, because I thought the interesting smell would entice him. Evidently, being repulsed by hydrogen peroxide is an inter-species trait. I sometimes have to use it for my teeth and it is gross.

I held Radar while Ben took a medicine syringe we used to have to use for AJ and filled it twice with the disgusting stuff. I held Radar's mouth open and Ben squirted it in. I took a small hydrogen peroxide bath as Radar fought it with all he had. Good thing he's only 20 pounds!

We waited, all staying in the kitchen and keeping Radar on the easy-to-clean kitchen tile floor. He coughed and sputtered. He walked across the room and sat on the rug by the door, looking at me accusingly. "I don't even know what to think of you anymore," it felt like he was saying. I apologized profusely, but he was still mad. AJ got the newspapers. I sat near Radar's blanket, in case he wanted reassurance.

About ten minutes later, as we were wondering if the vet on the internet could have been wrong, Radar threw up. Sure enough, there was the floss, most of which was tightly wound in a ball.

"He could have died," AJ said. 

To us, Ben is a hero.  He may not wear a cape, but he saved the day through his levelheadedness and persistence. Even though we worked as a team, he led us through this scary and disgusting time. He even cleaned the floor.

Sometimes being a hero looks like dog vomit.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be a Writer?

Anna June is not impressed by my work. I'm an office secretary, pretty much. I help a lot of people, every day. One of the things I help them with is their writing. When people ask me what I do, I say that I am a secretary. But I have always thought of my profession, my true occupation, as writing.

Currently, I'm working on a freelance project - proofreading a 350+ page textbook. Working with the writing of others is both freeing and intimidating. Remind me not to freelance again.

So what is a writer who does not write?

Someone who gets overwhelmed by their thoughts, evidently.

Every day, in the shower, I think about what I want to blog about that day.

But then as soon as I open the bathroom door, reality sets in. It is much later than it should be. Nobody is awake. Socks have disappeared and my child has suddenly forgotten how to tie her shoes.

I get to work and remember the day's blog topic. But by the time the elevator brings me to the sixth floor, I'm already running in to co-workers complaining about the weather and then a faculty member who needs something right then and a hundred and fifty seven emails in my inbox, which all require me to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW about their problem with red exclamation points.

If I am a writer, why can't I find time to write? Shouldn't I make time for reflection, and writing, and try to make sense of it all? Shouldn't I have a break from the madness to process it?

A couple of bloggers I admire both posted the same advice recently: don't blog about something personal until you're on the other side of it. So far, I'm right in the middle of a lot of things. Not stuck, just going through a very intense and busy season of life.

All through the day I'm taking pictures, saving scraps of paper, and taking notes, hoping that I'll have time to write what I started in my head in the morning. But it hasn't been happening lately.

Back in January, my great Aunt Eunice emailed me to ask if I could correct a description of an Amazon sales listing. Someone was selling a used copy of the book she wrote with my grandmother, In the Desert One Christmas Eve. They didn't have all the facts exactly right, so I wrote in. This December, I read this book to AJ's class. I read it to her Pre-K class as well.

I was thinking about my grandmother - she was incredibly busy with her family, her own business, her volunteer career including both directing a choir and leading a whole entire state of volunteers, and then, of course, as a writer.

I don't think she would have thought of herself as a writer first and foremost. But she did write. She wrote a book and she sold the heck out of it. That book basically built a house. But it started out on a steno pad at the kitchen table. I know because I was there to see it happen.

One of the many things my grandmother left to me was the example that it can be done. If she could do all that she had to do, then I can probably do all I have to do.

I've set it as my goal to have 16 posts in the month of April. If I do one per day for the rest of the month, I will reach it.

A writer is someone who writes.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Anna June is a great helper in the kitchen. Back during Christmas break, when I had the day off, AJ and I tried our hand at bread baking. It's something I've always wanted to do, but have always been scared of, because, well, yeast is alive.

We were inspired by this post. And my brothers can do it, so I thought I would try it.

It's alive, people!

This made three loaves of bread. I did not intend for them to look like Mickey Mouse.

Here is the little baker herself!

We were so proud and happy. We cooked a real dinner to go with it and gobbled it all up.