Friday, March 15, 2019

Five on Friday: Rainbow Bread Pointers

Every March we bake a few loaves of rainbow bread because we love seeing how long the bright colors take to go through our digestive systems rainbows and impressing the other kids in the cafeteria.

Having done this for a number of years, I've come up with some dos and don'ts for successful rainbow bread production to share with you:

1. Get over your fear of yeast bread. If I can do it, I swear you can too. I don't even follow the instructions that closely and it still comes out great.

2. If you want really vibrant color: get some gel food coloring. It's about 100,000 times better than the  liquid stuff from the supermarket.

3. After the dough rises the first time, divide it into seven bowls for the different colors. Be  generous with the gel. This is not the time to use Grandma's antique bread bowl. Most of the color will wash right out but . . . use caution. Most of my wooden spoons are sporting new dye jobs this week.

4. Grab some kids to knead the color in. All that slime making makes them excellent at getting the color consistently incorporated into the dough. Also they don't generally don't care if they get color all over their hands. Use rubber gloves if you, unlike most children, don't want to have food color all over your hands for a week.

Looking at this picture makes me feel like maybe I should have had a hair net on, too, to complete the look.

5. Use a rolling pin to roll out each color, being generous with additional flour (to help with the dough not sticking and to create a little bit of a barrier between the counter and the food coloring). I usually roll the red first and then after the orange is rolled out, I place it on top of the red roll them again together. Repeat with each color and then create loaves, place in greased pans to rise again and bake as directed.

Sometimes we switch it up and start with purple and end with red

Even if you miscalculate how much dough to put in the small pans, the results are still magical. And sort of trippy.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Five on Friday: It's March! Which Can Only Mean Five Things . . .

The calendar says it's March already but that's not the only way I know . . . there are some things that happen in this month year after year!

For example:

1. Apparently it's becoming a tradition that we have a snowstorm the first week of March. True this year, true last year . . . this year we didn't lose power but not all of our neighbors were so lucky.
March 2018: Aaah, memories . . .

2. In honor of St. Patrick's Day this month . . . Lucky Charms! Enjoy your once-a-year sugar cereal kids! I've learned to divide it up into jars. It's fun to watch who eats theirs the fastest, and who saves all their marshmallows for the end.

(Yes one jar is purple, in case you were wondering)

3. Time to make the rainbow bread! It's not that I even like St. Patrick's Day all that much, I just really like rainbows.

I hope I have enough gel food coloring left over from last year--it's the only way to go

4. Birthday season begins! Two of my boys have birthdays this month and we have two more birthdays next month so gifts and celebrations are on my mind.

5. I'm 100% sick of my winter wardrobe and am longing for skirt and sandal days.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Five on Friday: Things My Son Put Into the Recycling

Some people dumpster dive, but I've personally been finding a lot of gems in the recycling lately. Earlier this week I shared some drawings I found in the recycling, courtesy of one my prolific doodlers (this time 16-year-old son, G)

For today's list I was planning on sharing more drawings of his I found in the recycling basket but then I found a surprise in the outside bin, also courtesy of him. Enjoy:

1. Men, men, men, men . . . 

2. Maybe he's been borrowing too many heavy metal musician memoirs from our neighbor:

3. I am not sure how to feel about this one:

4. I can't tell you how many times a week my kids call out, "Dibs on that for a band name!"  They have no band but they have lists and lists of band names. This is my least favorite and it can stay in the recycling:

5. I was outside cleaning the snow off of the driveway when I decided to open the recycling bin to see if was empty yet. To my surprise, there was a plastic bag inside that was filled with what looked like broken bits of a car . . . huh? Apparently there had a been a small accident at the end of our neighborhood about a month ago. G got tired of seeing the debris on his walk home from school, so he took it upon himself to clean it up. It belonged in the garbage, really, but I am glad he made the mistake because otherwise I wouldn't have known he did that. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Five on Friday: You Look Tired

I guess I'm getting too old for people to accidentally insult me by asking if I'm pregnant so they've moved on to remarking on how tired I look.

It happened to me on Monday. I wasn't even feeling tired  at the time so I was really caught off-guard and just mumbled something in response. But I walked away wondering what purpose telling someone they look tired could possibly serve . . . ?

I decided I'd better be prepared next time (because we all know it will happen again). Hopefully I'm not too tired to remember at least one of these:

1.  "No kidding"

2.  An easy go-to response for so many situations yet I never remember to use it . . . a favorite Willy Wonka line:

Of course I might be so tired I accidentally respond with one of my other favorite lines like "Rachmaninoff" or "Not 'til you're ten, son."

3.  "We haven't seen each other in awhile . . . this is just how I look now."

4.   "Would you like to comment on my weight gain also?"

5.   "Look?" (throw head back to laugh loudly and then stopping abruptly to look them in the eye and very seriously say) "It's not a look, it's a lifestyle."

Friday, February 15, 2019

Five on Friday: If This Mom Made Candy Hearts

Anybody see this making the rounds yesterday? It made me chuckle and start to think about what candy hearts would say if I designed them. I actually did design some candy hearts years ago in a card for my husband, who at the time was just a friend with a shared sense of humor  (ten years of friendship turns out to be a great basis for a marriage, if you were wondering)

But what would my MOM hearts say? I had some ideas of my own but I thought it would be more fun ask the kids what sort of thing I say to them the most that would be good for these.

Here's what each one of them decided on:

1. 18-year-old daughter: "When do you need the car?"
2. 16-year-old son: "Are you really not going to wear a jacket?"
3. 12-year-old son: "SOMEONE LET THE DOG OUT"
4. 10-year-old son: "Did you brush your hair?"
5. 8-year-old daughter: "I asked you nicely the first five times"

Friday, February 8, 2019

Five on Friday: New Job Firsts

We've survived the first two weeks of Mom working two jobs while still making it to most of the basketball games and dinner every night. We've also started to adjust to the first time of Mom working on Saturdays and late on Thursdays.

And so many other firsts around here related to the new job! Like:

1. I accidentally made the alarm go off at my new job for the first time! Rite of passage at any new place of employment, right? I did manage to get it all under control *before* the Police showed up, so that's a bonus.
I felt like that momentous occasion warranted a selfie.

2. First time for After Care! Technically we could rely on the help of Grandparents, friends and teenage siblings but my youngest can be a bit of a wildcard sometimes, especially for the siblings. It occurred to me that she has ALWAYS wanted to go to After Care so I (& the teens) consider it a win-win situation.

3. The Museum I'm now working at previously had no indoor plumbing or running water. That's right, the former Curator was using an outhouse and hand sanitizer for 30 years. I would love to tell you that I was the first one to be able to use the indoor toilet but someone else accidentally did that (the bathroom water wasn't even properly turned on yet!). But I was definitely the first one to wash my hands in the new kitchen sink, so there.

If you zoom in you will notice how clean my hand is.
4.  Guess who was the lucky duck to be the first person to find the source of the weird smell upstairs that happened to be a dead mouse? THIS GAL! (Fortunately most of my discoveries at the museum have been way less gross than this.)

5. The Museum isn't open to the public yet so I've had some flexibility with my schedule, including only working until 5 yesterday so I could do the first After Care pick up. That was nice, I liked being able to shake the hand of the person who'd be watching my kid. I was really hungry by that time and patting myself on the back for having dinner so lined up that all the teens had to do was stick in the oven . . . only to come home and realize they did every job I had asked them to do except that. We'll have to work on that for next week.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Five on Friday: The Realizations That Led to An Epiphany

I wasn't looking for a new job.

If you know me at all or have been reading my blog for a bit, you may know I work at a nearby local historical Mill. I first started there as a school tour guide when my youngest was in kindergarten. The following year they offered me a part-time position as a Museum Administrator. I agreed as long as I could continue with tours as I really enjoy doing that. 

They agreed and I came to love so much about my job there: continuing to give tours (sometimes in costume!), helping plan, promote and run the various fun events they host, the rotating cast of characters that a small museum seems to attract, learning local history, the camaraderie of my co-workers. I couldn't believe my luck in finding a such a fun and interesting job that was also excessively family friendly. (Okay if I bring my sort-of-sick kid with me? Sure! My kid's actually sick, I'm staying home. Fine! It's summer, I might only really work two days a week instead of three. Okay!)

So I really, really wasn't looking for a new job.

But a new job found me anyway. The even smaller museum right in my own town was looking for a new part-time Curator. For a multitude of reasons, it was a perfect fit. The hiring committee agreed and offered me the position.

Because I feel so loyal to the Mill, and technically there are enough hours in a week for two part-time jobs, I entertained the idea of working both.

I put a lot of thought into it and realized:

1. I am already always on the verge of feeling completely overwhelmed. 
2. Just because I can doesn't mean I should
3. My Mill co-workers, though they like me and appreciate what I do, will not die without me
4. Scheduling time with extended family and friends is already way harder than it should be
5. This is going to be big year for our family with my oldest going to college this fall

I had an epiphany: I was not going to work two jobs. And as a matter of fact, I would take a hiatus from Meta Theatre Company for the time being. I would step away from two committees I am on. I would start saying "let me think about it" instead of "yes" when asked to do something. (Success with this twice so far!)

While it was hard to tell my co-workers and fellow actors about my decisions, overall everything felt so right. Nothing happened immediately, it's more of an extraction than a clean break: I had a few more rehearsals and one more show with Meta and I've told the Mill I'll leave slowly and still do school tours. (I really love them and that's only seasonal.)

Last show with MTC before my hiatus
So while I ease away from the Mill I actually am working two part-time jobs but with a light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to that upcoming time when I'll be only working one job, won't feel so overwhelmed, will have an easier time scheduling time with family and friends, will have time to help my oldest get settled at school (& visit her if she stays local enough), can eventually consider adding acting or other interests back in slowly.

"I'll rest when I'm dead," I always say, but right now I'm pretty comfortable with this decision to cut myself some slack while I'm still alive.

Here's "my" museum!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Five on Friday: Highlights from the Best MLK Day of Service Ever

Monday was the 16th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Community Service that I organize with my mother and our growing team of planners. It started as a few kids coloring bags for Meals on Wheels in my dining room and has grown into hundreds of people gathering to honor Dr. King through community service.

Every year I say it's the best one of ever, but this one really was.
Here are five reasons why:

1. We collected: 800 pounds of food, $500 in supermarket gift cards, a carload of pet food for the animal shelter, bags full of coupons for military families and "we forgot to count but so, so many" boxes of tampons, pads and diapers for local families in need.

2. This sweet little 3-year-old came with flowers. His Mom was buying things from our list to donate and he insisted on flowers. We found someone to give them to who needed some love.

3. We made:  original screen printed tee shirts, letters for soldiers, valentines for veterans, care kits for chemo patients, toiletry kits for the homeless, fleece baby blankets as well as new baby care kits for families in need, utensil kits for mobile soup kitchens, toys for shelter animals, fun packs for hospitalized kids, activity kits for home health care patients, bags for Meals on Wheels recipients, drawings for nursing home residents, birthday boxes for kids in foster care.

Oh, and plenty of new friends.

Birthday Boxes for kids in foster care from Together We Rise: a new activity for us this year that was a big hit.

4. I found in the Valentines for Veterans box and it automatically became my favorite of the year:
Groundhog Day. How could I have forgotten Groundhog Day?
5. As I said earlier, my Mom co-organizes this event with me. Also participating were: my husband, five children, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, best friend and her children, friends I've known since High School, friends I've known for a few years, people I've known from around town for awhile, people I just met recently, friends of friends, people who looked sort of familiar, friends I haven't met yet. 

At one point on Monday I said, "Oh there's another person I have to go say hello to!" A friend of mine (since High School) heard me and remarked, "Today is sort of like a wedding for you."

I love that so much, because it's true. This wonderful, amazing, completely grass roots, so very well-attended day of community service is also a joyful reunion for me. I never could have imagined that after such humble beginnings this is what MLK Day would come to mean for my family and me. My friend saying that it's sort of like a wedding for me might have really made 2019's Day of Service truly the best one ever.

For now.