Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Bake or to Blog?

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." 
-Ernestine Ulmer

I've been getting too much lovin' from my oven this summer. It makes no sense to me because with no air conditioning, who turns on their oven? Not smart, Britt. Now that I have a bigger kitchen, it has set free all kinds of devilish thoughts--particularly as I browse through food blogs. Their wickedly delicious photographs of treats are going to destroy me. Add on top of that, freshly picked local fruit and what do you have? A busy Britta baking like a Betty. I can only hope I'm going through a phase.

Because sharing is what blogging is all about, I'm listing some recipe links of baked goods I've made the past two months.
I am still hunting for a favorite bread recipe. I wasn't kidding when I said I'm striving to memorize one and bake it weekly. When the cooler weather kicks in, I plan to be more devoted to that goal. My hopes get shot down each time I find a recipe that asks me to put the bread dough in a mixer. And I'm forced to believe that my kneading techniques are sub-par. Maybe it's time I bite the bullet and get a KitchenAid. 

If you think it's too early to turn your oven, I'll have you know that Red Velvet Rice Krispies are your friend. Just sayin'.

image from An American Cupcake in London

Monday, August 29, 2011


After one whole week away from blogging, it feels rather anticlimactic for me to post about the hurricane--scratch that--tropical storm. Remember Japan? Compared to the beefed-up waves of Japan's massive tsunami, the flooding around my neck of the woods made us look like a Raging Waters waterpark.

So, you can imagine why it feels awkward having to blog about a "measly" tropical storm. So it begins.

Saturday, Irene started to rain on us while we were in Boston. My family and I went to the temple for a few hours and then we had to drive back. People and places to see? Not this was raining and it was getting late. Trader Joe's and Target will have to wait another day.

Okay, so Irene was cruel. Saturday, she rained on us like a mad woman. The lights in our home ominously flickered for a good 20 minutes that evening, but she was kind enough to let us keep our electricity. Then this morning, she made life difficult when I found out that a bridge near my house was closed down. I had to take a longer route to do my grocery shopping. Fer rude!

Evidence of the flooding looked more like a construction zone. The West Lebanon Shopping Plaza parking lots were already being cleared of the sludge and debris. I was able to buy my groceries without a problem and there were parking spots galore! Good thing.

With tongue and cheek aside, I am glad my family and my house were spared from the New England devastation that has been broadcasted on national news today. Although we are next-door neighbors to both the White and Connecticut Rivers, our home sits up higher from the mess they've caused my town and nearby communities. Despite that I've lived in the Upper Valley for a mere two months, this place has become home. I've been close to shedding tears. The videos I've watched online tug at my heart and make me in awe of Mother Nature:

Quechee (15 min away)
Brattleboro (1 hr drive south)

I did a little scouting of my own today while schlepping around my two little ones. On my way back home from Springfield, VT to visit an orchard and a petting zoo, I stopped in Quechee (kwee-chee) to see the damage. We have been to Quechee numerous times this summer ranging from park days on the Quechee Green, to swimming at Lake Pinneo, to watching polo matches, to gazing off the Rt. 4 bridge to see the Quechee Gorge, to eating cheese at the Cabot store. We love Quechee.

Yesterday, the Ottauquechee River pummeled right through it. And the community mourns.

It has been really sad around here, but New Englanders have a lot of grit. I'm sure things will get into ship-shape by the time the leaf peepers start surging in. If there was ever a time to be cheered up, I think the colors better be crazy awesome this Fall.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This Mom Got Skills

Today's vocabulary lesson:

jujitsu \joo-JIT-soo\, noun:
1. The ability to accomplish a task with no apparent effort or resistance.
2. Method developed in Japan of defending oneself without the use of weapons by using the strength and weight of an adversary to disable him.

Used in a sentence:
To escape the constant bombardment of toy cars being rammed at my feet, my shrewd method of jujitsu only requires two things: an iPod Touch and the toy car offender's favorite parent.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spelling Lesson

My husband owns a gob amount of T-shirts--like a major plethora of 'em. His vast T-shirt collection drives me up the wall the same way King Triton gets after Ariel for her "Under the Sea" trinkets she keeps in her grotto. (Wouldn't it be super cool to own a trident of mass destruction? With one swoosh, I could get rid of his entire closet!) The Boy could care less about all my threats since he believes he "looks good" in anything. Including nasty T-shirts.

Anyway, so Boy owns a T-shirt that hails from the great city of Toledo, Ohio. Oddly enough, I like this T-shirt and also the people who gave it to him as a birthday gift. This shirt is worn frequently enough that I thought it would be simple finding a photograph of him wearing it. This is the best one I got:

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As you can see, this photo is really bad at capturing the shirt, but a darn good one of Huck Finn's hair.

Okay, so here's a better one of the shirt:

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I wanted to explain my true feelings about Boy's T-shirts because the story I'm about to share might lead one to think that I support his hoarding issue. I'm not about to champion his T-shirts, but I'm willing to go on the record to say that the T-shirt fetish may be helping our two-year-old to spell. I say that warily.

How do you spell cherries?

According to the kid, it's not C-H-E-R-R-I-E-S. Duh, that would be too easy.

If you ask him, he'll point his finger at his dad's shirt and will recite the letters in an orderly fashion: M-O-N-N-E-T-T-E-S. After he's done, he'll be quite pleased with himself and moves his finger across the word he just spelled and will say, "cherries!"

Smart boy. That'll be five points for Gryffindor. And it's a good thing too, because I had wondered if those expensive DHA prenatal pills were going to be worth it.

T-shirts may be staying here for another ten years if this keeps up any longer.

I found a better one. It just so happens that this T-shirt was worn on the day Boy popped the question. How could I forget? (Photograph taken after the eventful hike to the Lower Calf Creek Falls within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Camp Joseph

This is what camping in South Royalton, Vermont looks like.

Alongside families from church, we camped overnight in tents. Yes, I said tents. We're serious business when it comes to camping, though is it considered cheating to sleep on an air mattress?

I stayed up until almost 1 a.m. talking with new friends. It was like being a teenager again--almost. When I decided to head back to my tent, I discovered my little sleeping family: the spoiled rotten Indy princess all snuggled up within the rescuing arms of her daddy, while the Huckleberry boy slept soundly in a sleeping bag fit for an Arctic winter. (It got pretty cold that night!) And like so many of the families of younger children, we didn't get a whole lot of shut-eye. You don't want to hear what comes out of the lungs of that baby girl in the middle of the night. Since when was sleeping such an essential part of camping?

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I love camping and I really love the beautiful, mountainous hillsides of Royalton/Sharon, Vermont. When I see that little boy of mine running down the dew-kissed grassy hills, arms stretched wide like wings, I can't help but think of Lucy Mack Smith's boys doing about the same thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Afternoon

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--Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. -Henry James

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As much as I'm yearning for my favorite time of the year to begin (hint: think spiced cider donuts, fiery-colored leaves, and jackets made of tweed), it will be hard for me to leave these lazy summer afternoons.

Summer afternoons remind me of the good things in life. In my mind, they are personal moments of repose such as watching my children frolicking about on the lawn. Quintessential moments like these must be captured and remembered.

Not the ones of screaming mouths simultaneously demanding the breakfast eggs to cook a little faster.
No, not ones of curious brown smudges written on clean bed sheets after an afternoon's nap.
Nor the ones of everyday destruction in practically every room of the house.
And definitely not the ones of my mental breakdowns on the stairs, crying my eyes out, because I feel overwhelmed at the responsibility to teach, discipline, restrain my anger, feed, clean, and entertain--all because I want to be a good parent.

No, these moments were not captured, so it's up to those summer afternoons of perfection to escape the drama.

And possibly making it all worth it.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

If I Were a Frog

If I were a frog and could choose how to die...

I'd choose a quick death from the blades of a lawnmower--not a slow and painful death of internal bleeding.

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A note to the wise: do that frog a favor by running over him as you mow the lawn. A frog doesn't want its last living memory of being handled by inquisitive and rough little fingers. 

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RIP, backyard frog. May you continue hopping around in greener pastures.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wells Beach, Maine

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If the Maine coastline weren't so crowded during the family and I would return on the condition that the insane, no-good, filled-to-capacity parking lots saw some improvement.

That, or I guess we're gonna have to stake ourselves a parking spot before sunrise.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Just when I had enough of Netflix's shabby selection of movies from the Internet, I found this knockout:

Lots of dancing.
Swiveling hip action.
Super rad late 80s/early 90s costuming.
Melodramatic comedy and romance.
Pygmalion/Ugly Duckling/Underdog-type storyline.
A chick flick recipe at its finest. Yessssssss.

I've known about Strictly Ballroom for years--and as a former dancer in my younger years, it's considered a crime to have never watched it. Shame on me. Now, I'm convinced that I've found the perfect remedy for alleviating an awesomely crappy day. Intrigued? Let's just say there's nothing like a feel-good movie when I'm awesomely feeling (and looking) like a Fran.

Introduction: this is Fran.
Confession: Fran is my mirror image.

I wake up to her every morning and if I stumble getting my act together, she stalks me around during the day. This Frumpy Fran appearance has inspired grocery cashiers to ask me if I'm on WIC, as well as prompting a well-intentioned stranger to gift me her old grocery cart cover (for babies to sit in) that she was about to dump to Goodwill. All true stories. It's amazing what doors will open for you when you unleash the Fran. I'll have you know I have nothing against WIC--I'm just vocalizing my jealousy because I've never qualified for it. Free milk would be a super good thing in my life right now...although, I'm not complaining now that I discovered my Walmart sells it for $2.49 a gallon. Sold!

Of course, like any Eliza Doolittle-type heroines, Fran inevitably transforms into a beautiful swan. Her dancing blossoms. She gets the guy too. (Dirty Dancing may be considered king of all ballroom dancing movies, but to me, Fran puts Baby in the corner. Swayze? Don't go there--he's untouchable.) Overall, the ballroom fanfare throughout this movie stole my beating heart.

Sure, mock me all you want; I don't think I stand alone. You can admit it too...being Fran. I know I'm not the only one. If she can overcome the frump, then so can I. Thanks to a little Strictly Ballroom, I think I shall find a saucy red dress to wear the next time I go grocery shopping. And treat myself to a new scarf or pair of earrings once in awhile.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shut the Door*

*That's "I love you" in French. Obviously, I have a long way to go.

I feel like I'm living in a foreign land: Bienvenue this. Bienvenue that.

The only time I've stepped onto foreign soil was twenty years ago at a family reunion in British Columbia--if you consider Canada "foreign," that is. The last time that I can remember having a cultural experience was while walking the streets of Chinatown, San Francisco. So, when I say that New England feels like a foreign land, I shouldn't be taken seriously.

I'm thirty years old and I've never had a passport. What a sad girl that I am. For this reason, I am determined that when I win the Publishers Clearance House Sweepstakes, you bet yer bottom dollar that I'm gonna take on the world. Leave it up to me to rig the system.

Around my new surroundings, I'm reminded that I may need to start studying French...

Example 1: I've never been anywhere in the United States with road signs that greet me in French. (I'm sure other states that border Canada have them, but hello, remember me? I'm not that well-rounded as a traveler.)

Example 2: As I have browsed new radio stations to program into my car, I know at least one radio station with music sung in French. And no, it's not all by Celine Dion.

Example 3: When I visited a Wendy's to treat my kids to a healthy snack of french fries and a Frosty (I was running out of ideas for places with air conditioning, okay?), I sat next to a couple having a conversation in French. Listening to it was so beautiful that it fueled a desire within me to go buy a baguette and some smelly cheese.

Example 4: Last weekend while we were at a beach in southern Maine, I had never seen so many vehicle license plates from Quebec (as well as a few Ontario in the mix). I would've liked sunbathing in the sand listening to somebody tell me romantic things in French, but no. My husband speaks Spanish. Not the sexy kind from Spain--the Argentinian kind. Not that sexy.  

While I have yet to apply for a passport, this is all I got. Let's hope my children will be better off than I am. I'll make sure of it.