I would have told her

I would have told her

I would have told her

It has been almost a year since our youngest child graduated from high school. One year of college down – where did that time go?

Prom pictures and senior photos are starting to pop up on social media, and it’s hard to believe that a year ago at this time, we were busy shopping for dresses. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for the last graduation party we would throw for one of our children.

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Posted in Family, Mid-Life, mother's advice, parenting | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Battling with grays and strays

gray and stray

Battling with grays and strays

Grays and strays – just another dandy way that menopause shares its, dare I say, hair-raising, life-altering change.

About three years ago, I colored my hair for the last time. The gray was in for the win, and my scalp became irritated from the dye. My last, paid-for hair hurrah were highlights and low-lights, which camouflaged the incoming gray. Midlife was sucking the life right out of my melanin production, creating a source of natural color streaks. Albeit gray in color, the strands contrasted with my brunette beginnings, thus giving me, um, a new type of highlights.

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Posted in humor, Mid-Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cheers then, Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

Cheers then, Downton Abbey

Cheers then, Downton Abbey

I remember when I didn’t much like Sundays, well Sunday evenings anyway. As a kid, it meant slamming into completion the school work that was put off to the very last minute. As an adult – translation: mom – Sunday night evolved into making sure my own kids were slamming into the completion the homework that had been put off to the last minute. It meant packing lunches and checking backpacks. It meant questioning why weekends were so short.

For the past three years though, Sunday evenings couldn’t come fast enough. The fact that homework and backpacks were no longer an issue added to my enjoyment. But the truth of the matter is I couldn’t wait until I could grab my crisps and escape into the world of Downton Abbey.

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Posted in IMHO, Mid-Life, My Take on the Subject, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

In defense of a snow day

20160225_114056.png

Snow day!

Snow day! 

In my little corner of the world, the area schools have (wisely) declared a snow day. Thousands of students and most of their parents are thrilled – however, just as many people are not.

I often wonder why there is such a fuss over snow days. Most school years, students may get one or two weather-related cancellations. Over the past few years, we’ve had some of the harshest winters on record, and the students have racked-up many snow days. But I am sure if these days were averaged over the course of their years of education, the sum total of days off would be the tiniest percentage point.

School officials don’t make these decisions lightly. They know that education is important, and they understand that a snow day can create child-care issues for many of their district’s parents. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, especially since their decisions are scrutinized in the media.

If you want to see how passionate people are on this subject, just read the comment section of any article posted about school closings. The complaints and nasty responses would blow your mind, as they use foul language and remark that “the system” is making wimps out of the next generation. A good number of grumpy responders don’t even have school-age children, so why do they care? As I read some responses, a few thoughts came to mind:

  • Maybe these people are envious that they can’t stay home.
  • Perhaps they aren’t accurately remembering “back in the day.”
  • Possibly there is nothing more serious happening in the world than local schools cancelling.

When folks state over and over again that as children, they had to walk in the cold and snow to get to school, I can appreciate that. I did the same. A few blocks to elementary school felt like trekking across the frozen tundra. By junior high (see, dating myself here), it was a little over a mile of walking on un-shoveled walkways while cars zipped by, soaking us with a misty, salty, road-debris spray. Waiting in the elements for the bus to high school wasn’t much fun, either.

But life was different then. Many households had one car. Most elementary schools were within walking distance by a few blocks. Today, the dynamics of our neighborhoods have changed. School consolidations have made walking to school non-existent in many communities, plus many districts have eliminated bus service.

Logistically, closing schools for bad weather makes sense. Why take unnecessary risks? Plus, with less people commuting, road crews can do their jobs more efficiently and expediently.

So again, why the angst?

My guess – it is our society. We’ve been convinced that we can stop for nothing. Always on the go – no down-time. How many people do you know cash in their vacation time instead of taking the time off? How many families do you know of that pick up their kids up from school and shuttle around town all evening, from practices to music lessons or whatever? How many people go to work sick, spreading their germs, because they boast of never taking a day off? Achoo, sniffle, sniffle – thanks and congratulations?! Is there an unwritten rule they we must always be on the go and/or productive?

As a society, we just can’t “be.” We’re either looking at our phones, watching TV, listening to something via ear buds, and so on. We are distracted constantly.

So maybe it isn’t the snow day that it the problem, but it is the anxiety that is created when we just don’t know how to sit back, relax and wait for the storm to end.

As a child, I lived for snow days. Hot chocolate, making extra money shoveling neighbors’ walkways, sledding, playing in the snow, sleeping in – yeah, that’s the life! And the best part was everything was unplanned. Just go with the flow, embracing a little down-time.

As a parent of school-aged children, I prayed for snow days. I loved having a “free day” with my children; no rushing out the door, no schedule – just time to play, drink cocoa and just “be.” I have cherished memories of impromptu cookie-baking sessions. Making pancakes or fresh-baked muffins mid-week was wonderful – a nice break from the routine, like a mini-vacation.

As an almost empty-nester, I still love a snow day. Granted, 90% of my work is done at home. However, this morning was one of the days I normally need to be in the office. I am very grateful for the snow day that allowed me to stay put. My typical routine was tossed aside, and I am enjoying my “free day,” lending me a few spare moments to sit and write. I have truly embraced a few moments of down-time in an otherwise very hectic schedule. Had it not snowed, life would have been business as usual.So, for all the negativity surrounding them, I am writing in defense of snow days. I am seeking the positive and enjoying a little down-time. Sure, the clean-up is a pain, but I am relishing the opportunity to take things a little slower.

Even if it is only for one day.

© Lynne Cobb – 2016

Do you embrace or dread snow days? Share your opinion in the comment section!

 

Posted in Mid-Life, Motherhood, My Take on the Subject, parenting | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Oh the irony of the timing of “Make Your Dreams Come True Day”

Make Dreams Come True

Take a chance! Make Dreams Come True!

“Make Your Dreams Come True Day” is today!

Seriously, it is! I was Googling, “fun observances in January,” and ta-da, I found out that every year, January 13 is the day set aside to assess your dreams, goals and so forth. Makes sense to observe this in January as we begin a fresh new year.

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Posted in humor, IMHO, My Take on the Subject | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Baking bread in Lynne’s Kitchen

ingredients for baking bread

Getting all the ingredients together for baking bread!

Here’s a guilty admission of mine. I know – “thou shall not covet,” but covet I did!! I always wanted a KitchenAid mixer, as I love to bake. Every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would dream about getting this high-speed equipment. So, I took the plunge, ordered it and viola! My long-awaited, much-anticipated mixer arrived yesterday! I spent the evening reading the manual (okay, you know I am excited when I read tech manuals!), washed it, and checked the bowl settings so I could use it today. A combo birthday/business investment, as I am wanting to write more about foods and baking, and compile a recipe book.

The performance expectation level I had was pretty high – especially for baking bread.

KitchenAid Mixer

New KitchenAid Mixer!

As long as I have wanted this mixer, I was a little hesitant to use it. I mean, I don’t want to get it all dirty. Haha! The performance expectation level was pretty high – especially for baking bread. Would it live up to all I imagined? Everyone I know who has this mixer loves it. I just had to try it out today! I wondered, “What should I make?” We still have way too many Christmas cookies to justify baking another batch. Plus, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that dough hook!

So, I decided on baking bread.

A wise choice. I wish someone would develop a plug-in app, allowing the aroma of fresh-baked bread to drift through cyberspace, coming through every PC, laptop and device…That would drive my readership up! But I digress.

Mmm! Baking bread

Fresh from the oven!

Well, the KitchenAid Mixer worked like a dream! It was by far the easiest bread baking day I have ever had. I Googled a very simple bread recipe, “Basic Homemade Bread,” found on TasteofHome.com (recipe in the link and pasted below). Everything went into the big bowl, and clean-up was a breeze. I wanted to start out with something fairly easy until I got used to the mixer, but honestly, the learning curve time was not a concern.

So, with this under my belt, I can try other new and great things! Stay tuned! In the mean time, I have a photo-show of the bread-making process. If you have never tried it before, seriously, you must. Yeast breads sound very intimidating, but they aren’t. Just make sure you follow the directions and measure carefully. Whether you have a big, high-speed mixer or not, give it a shot, and tell me about your experience in the comment section!

Photo steps – recipe below!

Mixing it up

Mixing it up!

Mix water and yeast. Add sugar, salt, oil, and about half the flour. Blend well with dough hook. Shut off mixer to scrape sides of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour – about a cup at a time. Mix well.

blob of bread dough

Blob of dough

Turn dough onto floured surface. Kneed until smooth. If using the dough hook, you will only do this about a minute or two. If by hand, kneed longer (8-10 minutes).

bread dough

Smooth surface before first rise

The dough should look smooth like this.

bread dough

Ready to rise

Place into a greased bowl. Turn (so top is greased); cover and let rise until double.

Help dough raise faster

Neat trick! Add a bowl of hot water to help dough raise faster.

My trick: Place dough in oven (do not turn oven on!!!), turn on oven light and place a bowl of hot water in to help the dough rise.

Time to bake

Success! Time for bread baking!

It should double – like this!

punch down the dough

Punch down the dough

Dump dough out of bowl; “punch” down and let rest a minute.

almost ready for baking

Let rise in pan

 Divide dough; and place in greased baking pans. Let rise until double.

ready to bake

Ready to bake!

Like this! Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30-40 minutes.

Baking bread - delicious!

Bread is done!

Remove from pans. Cool. Slice and enjoy!

Recipe:

Basic Homemade Bread Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 30 min. + cooling

 Ingredients

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
  4. Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/basic-homemade-bread

Originally published as Homemade Bread in The Taste of Home Cookbook 2006, p452

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Stuff I've taught myself | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

When Turkeys Fly – Thanksgiving Disasters

When Turkeys Fly

When Turkeys Fly – Thanksgiving Disasters

It’s hard to believe another year is drawing to a close. And of course, this is the time of year we are most sentimental with memories of holidays past, like when turkeys fly.

The past few days, I have to admit that I have been getting a kick out of reading about Thanksgiving disasters.

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Posted in Cooking, Family, humor | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments