30 March 2012

Baker's Anonymous

Hi, my name is Girl Friday, and I like to bake-a lot. Some times I bake a few times a day. Sometimes I use all purpose flour. Often I bake in the company of at least one of my 4 boys. I especially enjoy baking for other people. I am known to text neighbors to invite them down to my house to sample one of my hot-out-of-the-oven-experiments. The neighborhood boys pick up a snack as they pass through my kitchen.Baking makes me happy and calm.

Every Friday (in honor of being Girl Friday-and for another reason) I bake a special breakfast that our family calls, "Fabulous Friday". Here is what we are having this F.F. This recipe has been a F.F.for years. It tastes as buttery delicious the next day as it does the day you bake it. I like to add blueberries. I hope you enjoy! xo

P.S. Read the entire recipe before you begin. I made the mistake once of dumping all of the flour in not realizing it was added in layers: one for the crust the other for the crumb. That happened only once!

Sara Foster's New York Crumb Cake


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9x12 baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder, and the salt.
  3. In a second bowl whisk together the oil, egg, milk, vanilla.
  4. Fold in the wet ingredients with the dry and spread evenly in your prepared dish.(I usually add the blueberries on top of the batter).
  5. In another mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of flour, the melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. This will mix into a lovely buttery crumb that you will then spread evenly over the batter.
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until your toothpick comes out dry.
  7. Transfer to a drying rack and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar (I usually skip this part because HELLO there is already so much stinking sugar in this recipe!)
Kipling: "Can you help a brother out?"

29 March 2012

flee market

This would go nicely in the boys'room behind their beds.

Inspired to recover my Goodwill sofa in this charcoal velvet

Texted my father this photo asking him to make me one, please.

I sent this idea to my sweet friend Wallis who is moving in a few weeks-an idea for her girlies

Made these for my father-Redneck wine glasses

The book the boy found

This weekend I plan to flee to the market, but not just any old market-certainly not the supermarket. Where's the fun in that? This market is where I go when my inspiration is waning. I flee to this market for comfort and creativity. Most times I go just to walk through. But let's face it the entirety of my home has been outfitted from places like these. I always meet the most interesting people. There are antique tools used in gardens and workshops of old. This kind of market is a hands on museum where my boys and I can venture through time and TOUCH the artifacts.

Let me explain. Most children are taken to baseball games and museums as their parents wish to broaden their cultural horizons. My parents chose a more nontraditional approach-flea markets. The first memory I have of going to the Memphis flea market, I wondered aloud, "Why is it called a 'Flea Market'?" And to this day no one has been able to give me an answer that quenches my curiosity. It was at a flea market that I first learned about current events, specifically who was President. My father bought my mother a peanut pendant for her necklace-the peanut represented our 39th President, Mr. Jimmy Carter-that infamous peanut farmer.I guess the reason why flea markets are my haven is because they represent all of the things I most value: resourcefulness, creativity, hard work, ingenuity, history, friendliness and some good old fashioned quirkiness.

My boys share my passion for these cobwebbed places where you can find a one-of-a-kind treasure from yesteryear. Once when we were on a "school outing" because these places are chocked full of history after all, I was pointing out a piece of art to my little brood of boys when a woman approached me. "It is refreshing to see boys interested in beautiful things. We mostly see mothers with their little girls, but boys can appreciate this too." Indeed they can (when they are not beating the crap out of one another). 

The last time my favorite flea market was in town, the family went with me. The oldest found a book on mathematics. He loves its straightforward explanation for things like algebra and geometry before textbooks became too apologetic in their approach to teaching and hence made subjects more confusing by trying to simplify them.The other boys found a harmonica still in its original box and a WWII flashlight.Imagine my glee when the 12 year old asked, "Mom, when is the next time we can go to that market where I found all the cool stuff?" To which I replied,"Well, this weekend, my darling. This weekend."

28 March 2012

What I am enjoying today...

  • Wearing an apron and pearls all day long
  • Hearing my boys play instruments
  • Enjoying the beauty of spring with a boy who loves dirt
  • The surprise of flowers in my yard
  • Beautiful children's books that adorn our mantle nicely and remind me TO READ TO THE LITTLEST!
  • Planning a trip to the National Aquarium for the 3rd boy's birthday
  • Boys who ask to mill grain with the handy dandy hand mill and then accidentally spill it all over the floor
  • A romantic husband who sends me a link showing he has purchased the dehydrator of my dreams (I am really excited!)
  • Laughing at how excited a dehydrator makes me
  • Boys who spill granola all over the floor and usher in the dog for clean up
  • Hearing the 5 year old tell me I am as pretty as a spider (we are reading Charlotte's Web so it's a nice compliment)
  • The excitement of telling the boys that we'll be making our own dehydrated food as soon as aforementioned new gadget arrives 
  • Seeing little bits of green (my favorite color) all around
  • Boys who managed to capture our runaway dog and bandage a brother's cut finger from whittling without needing to disturb mama's afternoon siesta
  • Planning our trips to Tennessee for our almost-teenage boy's birthday and our friend's wedding
  • Prayers for people we do not know by the ones I know best
  • Some yellow sandals that are coming my way to make up for the 3 pairs the dog has chewed
  • Trying NOT to laugh when the 5 year old says the f-word:f-a-r-t (IHATETHATWORD!!!!)
  • Discussing The Hunger Games in a hushed voice with one boy who has finished it whilst another one desperately tries to read it without hearing what we are saying
  • Single parenting my four boys whilst my Mister works from DC for 3 days-straight
  • Peach preserves the neighbor brought down just because she is a McCutcheon
  • Taking our runaway dog to his puppy class
  • Four boys who are begging to go ice skating tonight (sans the Mister who will be in DC)
  • Remembering all the fun had on my Nashville porch
  • Realizing that there is purpose and promise in ever detail of our lives
...and you? What are you enjoying today?

27 March 2012

March Madness

March wind is a jolly fellow;
He likes to joke and play.
He turns umbrellas inside out
And blows men's hats away.
He calls the pussy willows
And whispers in each ear,
"Wake up you lazy little seeds,
Don't you know that spring is here."
-Author Unknown

I have been wishing to get outdoors with my clippers, but there was business keeping me inside. Business like: math to monitor, breakfast dishes to wash, laundry to fold, phone calls to return. The boys were long gone. Word got around that the public school was closed today for teacher inservice so the little boys worked quickly to get outside. 

It was a lovely day, but the wind was almost barbaric. And with the wild wind came a chill in the air that had the oldest asking if we could turn on the heat. When I said no, he asked,"Can you give me more algebra questions? These word problems are not fun."  With 28 questions completed, he went to find his gun. The sunshine called us down to the Eastern Plain (not to be confused with the Eastern Forest)-which the oldest calls our backyard and our back, backyard. The boy shot as I clipped some redbud branches and forsythia. My boys love to call the vibrant yellow bush "For Cynthia" after their Aunt Cissy.


I will go, I said, to the country 
      When the red-bud blooms in the spring 
And then, as of old, for sheer rapture 
      My heart will sing. 
The red-bud rosily blossomed 
      In valley and hill and plain, 
And yet my heart could not banish 
      Its sense of pain.

__May Frink Converse

I hope you have time to go outdoors and enjoy this glorious spring for soon it will pass and you will be sad you did not enjoy it while you had the chance! xo

26 March 2012

Don't you wish your weekend was hot like mine?

The official start to my weekend....
tequila+lemonade+green licorice=happy mama
...a trip to the used bookstore followed by Indian food...

...home to try out mama's new hand mill. Look at that flour! Fun for hours (I am only being a little sarcastic).

...whilst the littlest cuddled the dog...

...and a little worship. Our pastor is leaving on a trip to Haiti to work with Haitians who export mangoes. Haiti has 9 million mango trees!

...then the most divine yoga practice with a playlist that included Eddie Vedder. Perfection. 

And then there was this 
He is a little enthralled with this book called The Hunger Games
And how was your weekend?xo

23 March 2012

what the critics are saying

The 11 year old was given a simple task. Read a story and write a critique. Here is the what he wrote:

A Critique
Charlie Utley

In 2001, Lori Vertegen illustrates a historical fiction account of the journey of Lewis and Clark in her story A Successful Expedition published by American Publishers in New York.  Audaciously, the setting of this story takes place in the Rocky Mountains of the west where the explorers find themselves after 2000 miles of travel. The transfixed travelers are weary and fearful as they cross the Louisiana Territory. They endeavor.

Merriwether Lewis and William Clark, two zealous fellows, these heroes of the west, venture with the help of the cunning Shoshone Indian interpreter, Sacajawea. Warily and westward they sojourn to uncharted territory. They are in pursuit of horses which will carry their burdens.  The search results in a providential meeting with two Shoshone Indians, the exact tribe from which Sacagawea belongs. The Chief of the Shoshones, who is her own brother, gives the incessant explorers the livestock they require. Despite the perilous trek, with the help of the horses, Lewis and Clark successfully land on the Pacific Coast. Their diligence is rewarded. 

This paper is long and tedious written with unnecessary information and not enough essential facts. If the reader had not known about Lewis and Clark's famous expedition, it is confusing. In this story Lewis and Clark cross the mountains and arrive at the Pacific Coast. The climax comes when Lewis  stumbles across two Shoshone Indians and gives gifts. The warriors  come with the chief who happens to be Sacajawea's brother. The resolution of the story occurs when the two adventurers along with their entourage arrive at the Pacific Coast. The writer fails to inform the reader about their journey back. For this reason, the story is a fail.

The boy doesn't mince words. Thankful I didn't ask him to critique my ability to teach. Methinks, it would not go well. But then...

Later I asked the 8 year old to write a thank you note to his Classical Conversations tutor. Here is what he wrote: 

I made the mistake of asking him if he would write such a glowing note to me for my abilities. He gave me a once over and bluntly replied, "No.I think next year I want to go to public school." And, that my friends, is why I do what I do. To make critical, honest and (sometimes)complimentary writers-even when the compliments do not come my way. Now excuse me while I call Frederick County PS, but first I am going to lick my wounds with the help of a lemonade tequila. Happy weekending.xo

22 March 2012

candy is dandy

Yesterday was a rainy day that begged for books in bed along with a little "Go Fish" for the 5 year old, you know to brush up on his math skills and all. So the 8 year old and I snuggled in as he read me poetry. To sweeten the deal, I brought with us a little contraband in the form of a half full box of chewy SweetTarts. Just for him and me. We giggled as we read and chewed. Our little secret. Once the box was empty (we both have an insane sweet tooth), we could hear the 5 year old coming. "Hide the box!" commanded the sneaky boy. "Please don't gloat." I reminded the sweet-breathed lad. As soon as the door burst opened, "We were NOT eating candy!" Our cover was blown. I decided to play along. "Yes. Whatever you do, don't smell our breath because you will not smell sugar. I am telling you." The left-out-boy, jumped into bed and began wrestling. Then we showed him the empty box. "Whhhaaaaat?" He was incredulous as well as hurt. The 8 year old weakly explained,"That wasn't what we were eating. We were just looking at the box. I am thinking it will make a nice presentation for C.C. on Friday." By this point we were all in stages of fury: I was about to wet my pants from laughing, the 8 year old was riding his sugar high and the 5 year old was on the precipice of causing some real damage to himself as well as my bed. He was fighting mad. I held him tight and sweetly whispered, "I have more. You. Me. Later." He calmed down and snuggled in as he showed me his cards-"Go Fish" time. And just like that I dismantled an atomic bomb. We played a rousing game of cards with "Where's the candy?". I love moments like this when we can be silly and serious and mix in a little lesson to boot. And when no one was looking, we snuck downstairs to get him his own piece of something sweet-just for him. The sugar made Charlotte's Web all the sweeter.

21 March 2012

reality bites

Yesterday I announced, "Lunch will be served at 12." Being a schools-at-home family, my children can leisurely walk in the kitchen for a snack, a drink, a lunch ANYTIME THEY WISH which can be great and can be ever so distracting like when you finally manage to wrangle everyone for morning devotions only to hear the 5 year old whine, "I'm thirsty". In a matter of seconds everyone and everything is derailed and getting that train back on the tracks so that it makes its schedule (afternoon playtime) is ever so challenging. So I said, "Lunch will be served at 12." Which meant I had to listen to the 8 year old moan through his lessons. He was sostarvinghecouldbarelymakeit. 
By having lunch together as a family (minus the Mister)gives us time to read a little poetry, catch up on what we have been doing throughout the morning-you know with the 12 year old working through those impossible math problems and the 8 year old doing his dazzling handwriting. It's all so riveting, really. So I managed to stave off lunch til....12.30! Ooops. Time got away from me. And then the two youngers wanted to help make lunch. I have visions of glory when it comes to lunch. What I envision serving and what actually gets served are two totally different meals entirely. And then there is the bell. It's not lunch (or breakfast or dinner) til I ding the bell and holler, "Order up!" I swear these boys really do think I am a short order cook. And as long as they "Don't forget to tip your waitress", I am totally fine with that. But doing the dishes will suffice nicely.

Wouldn't this be nice?

This will have to suffice. See, kids. Spelling is fun!

My trusty sidekick-"Order up!"

20 March 2012

out of the blue

Yesterday the nicest man came to my house driving a blue pick up truck. The boys were so excited to see this stranger arrive for he brought with him some fun blue lockers for them to stow all their stuff like socks and cleats and back packs and shin guards and Lego guys. As we he unloaded the big pieces of metal, I nonchalantly explained what I thought he must be thinking, "We school at home." He politely commented, "I know a lot of people who do that." I asked if he had children. "Yes, but she is grown and in college." As the boys ran around getting in his way, planning which locker was whose, where lockers were going, what was going to go in the lockers and taking turns locking themselves and one another in said lockers, he, the stranger in the blue truck reminded me: "Time goes so fast. It is something money can't buy." And for the rest of the day I thought about that. {Until the 8 year interrupted my "I am going to sit in my chair with my eyes closed to think sleep", and I snapped at him.}

After the stranger left, we managed to wrangle in a few short stints of school before the call of the outdoors won out and made the indoor book stuff pale in comparison to the adventure that led us into the wild. Listen to one of my favorite songs about such things.

19 March 2012


The day went just as HE planned. Notice HE not SHE. There were no fancy meals. No big parties. No printed invitations. This Mama let go and let HIM decide how HE wanted to celebrate HIS birthday. And this is what we did:

Had donuts for breakfast. 

Family tradition: a balloon filled bedroom when you wake.(that little brother promptly claimed)

Skateboard stickers from friend, Jack.

Cheesecake by Dad: I plan to devote an entire story about this.  Notice the "11" courtesy of George.

Sleepover pile up.

The morning after. 

The boy with his mature toy. It's a BB gun, people. Only with adult supervision. No shooting brothers or animals.

Just call me Calamity Jane.

It was a weekend fit for a boy of 11 years. We ate (a lot!!!!) We They stayed up late watching Inception. We (against my will) rose early to Nerf battle and wrestle. It was Merry, just like my merry-eyed boy. xo