The Dutch Rush

they're Dutch...and life's a rush

Category: Family Life (page 2 of 4)

Long Awaited Koek Recipe

Here, I give you the Koek recipe. But first the back story…

It was a little alarming at first to realize just how proudly Dutch this family is.  My first Christmas with them, they gave me a package of Rusk.  I promptly opened it and bit into one.

If you’ve ever eaten very thick cardboard, you know exactly how it tasted.

It was quickly explained to me through their giggling, that you are suppose to put butter and Hagelslag on it before you eat it.

Ahem.

Hagelslag does not sound like something I’ll be using, I thought.  Of course naturally, Hagelslag means Chocolate Hail…I’m not sure why we couldn’t have said that in the first place.  And chocolate hail means chocolate sprinkles made of real chocolate.  But if I were you, I would NEVER, ever refer to chocolate hail as chocolate sprinkles in the presence of a truly Dutch person.  It could get ugly.

Anyhow, on to the Koek.

You probably think that since Koek tastes so simple, then it must also be simple to make.

Ah ha ha.

You, like me, have sadly underestimated the Dutch.  They are clean, and grow lovely flowers, but their recipes are a maze of insanity.  I found that out the hard way years ago when I asked my sweet Mother-in-law for her Koek recipe.  She very sweetly wrote it out for me.  Then I very unsweetly began to ruin it.  I probably made it about 20 failed times before I cracked that code.

I happened to be visiting her one day while she was making Koek.  I noticed that she was gently mixing one egg on TOP of the bowl of flour and sugar mixture.  She cracked the egg onto the flour.  And MIXED it carefully on TOP of the flour.

I acted sort of dumbfounded about this tactic, since she had failed to mention this little tidbit in her recipe.  When I asked her about this issue, she said “Oh yes, it would totally ruin your Koek if you didn’t do this part”.

AHHHHHH!!!  WHAT?  Are you kidding me right now?!!!  I probably glared at her. Sometimes I glare at people without realizing it.

So as you can see, explaining the proper way to make Koek takes awhile.

In case you were wondering, Koek is the short version of the word.  This kind of “Koek”, or cake is Bruine (brown) Koek.  It’s really more of a cookie or a bar than a koek.

Here we go. I will explain the technique first, and then give you the recipe.

First, a note about which flour you use.  For some dumb reason, it’s a complicating issue in this blasted recipe. Apparently the finer the flour, the sloppier the Koek.  So don’t buy presifted flour, and don’t for pete’s sake, sift your flour.  If in the last stage when you’re about to put it into the pan, you think hmm, this looks REALLY greasy, it’s probably because there isn’t enough flour…in that case, I just grab a handful of flour and mix it in really quick.  But I understand if that makes you uncomfortable.  I’m just mentioning all the crazy things I have had to do to make my Koek turn out.

Also, I wouldn’t use a mixer, or a Kitchenaid for this, you will have much less control of what is going wrong.

Take a large bowl, add the flour, sugars, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I used to mix it with a fork, which shocked dear Alice, my mother-in-law.  She bought me a very nice pastry cutter which works much better than a fork.  You will want to mix it extremely well.

Okay, do not do the butter step before you have mixed the flour and sugar mixture. It will mess it up.  Because if the butter sits after it is completely melted, it will make your Koek dry.  Just trust me.

You should have preheated the oven, greased your 9×13 baking dish, and have the flour ready.  Now, start melting the butter (I use the microwave), at the same time that you start melting the butter, start that mixing the egg very gently with a wooden spoon on TOP of the flour, incorporating only a small amount of flour with it while you mix.  Then add the 1/4 cup of water to the egg you just mixed up, still on TOP of the flour mixture. The butter should be added to the egg/water mixture very quickly after it’s melted, (stir the butter before adding to make sure it hasn’t separated) slowly incorporating all the flour.  Still use the wooden spoon.  Dump it into the greased baking dish, and flatten it out evenly with the palm of your hand.  That is the way it was shown to me and you can probably understand why I continue to do it this way…

Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Yeah.  How do I explain this to you?  It is done when it poofs up in the center in a huge bubble, and is just settling after the bubble phase.  I know.  Or, you can bake it for the full 35 minutes and it will be nice and done and crunchy.  We like ours soft and just a little more done than chewy.

Koek

3 cups Flour

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar packed.  I use light brown, Alice uses dark brown, it changes the flavor.

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

1/4 cup cold water

2 cubes of butter (1 Cup) melted

Oven at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

Mix all dry ingredients together

Mix the egg on TOP of the flour mixture with a wooden spoon in a small area of the bowl. Mix the water with the egg, mix the melted butter with the water and egg, then mix it all together.  Press into greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake for 25-35 min at 350.

It freezes very well.  I make it about once a week, and freeze part of it.

See?  It looks so easy, what could go wrong?  Good luck.

A School Day

School is back.  I was going to write about it on the first day, but that feels like a long time ago.

There is currently a can of cheddar cheese Pringles in our pantry.  It explains a lot about last week.  I could have been talked into just about anything at the point that I was talked into buying CHEDDAR CHEESE PRINGLES.  Yuck.

It is hard for me to express what goes on around here…it’s hilarious. Sometimes I realize that we are a sort of crude.  But come on, a pastor’s family has to TRY to be so proper when we leave the house, we have to get our insanity out somewhere…

Anyhow.  That really wasn’t where I was going with this.

I keep thinking about this idea:

Teachers must teach from a flowing stream, and not from a stagnant pool.

I love that line and what it suggests about the responsibility of the teacher.

You can read the whole thought here.

So today.  It had the feel of a flowing stream.  So many ideas to ponder.  It refreshes my tired brain to think deeper thoughts than my own.  It lifts my spirits to laugh with my kids while we work with our felted wool.  Hey, don’t mock, it’s an art project.  We made several things that reminded us of  Dr. Seuss characters, but we are pretty good at putting out some fine balls…much laughing.  We were all so soapy, I couldn’t take pictures, but I took a picture in my head.  And I thought about the fact that I only get to hang out with these precious people for part of their lives.

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That thing in the back is a raindrop. Trust me.

We worked in our Science notebooks.  Each child may choose what to draw from things we are currently studying in Science.  We are studying Gregor Mendel, who made a famous genetics discovery.  His patience with his work was striking, and he died before they discovered the significance of his work.  One child drew Mendel’s genetics chart from the book.  Another child is meticulously drawing the Periodic Table.  For fun.  There was a ruler involved.  I was impressed.  I would never have thought of using a ruler.  Another child drew Ursa Major, since we are also studying the constellations.

That took about an hour.  We call it “The meeting of the Idiots”, it happens once a week in the afternoon, and is accompanied by drinking soda (a rare event), and sometimes we listen to The Piano Guys.  Josh lost it when Darth Vader started playing the accordion. Lost it.  There was snot and soapy water everywhere.  If you have not watched The Piano Guys on youtube, I recommend watching their Star Wars song, preferably with an 8 year old.

Alyssa and I are reading David Copperfield.  So many bad decisions, so much sadness.  Lots to think about. In another book we have been reading about Gypsies, and how they have been treated.  I had no idea.  It led us on a internet search of gypsy homes.  Which of course led my mind to the gypsy wagon that Toad fitted out in Wind in the Willows.  Josh and I are reading about the founding of the Feudal System and the injustice that the Serfs suffered.  He gets a little fired up over that, as he does about most injustice.  Joel and I began Secrets of the Woods.  He would like to live in the country.

The kids and I are reading our second full Shakespeare play together.  Naturally, it would be The Taming of the Shrew.  We laugh a lot while we read Shakespeare.  Josh can now read a line or two with us, and that adds to the general hilarity of the time.  My favorite lines of what we read today:

And if the boy have not a woman’s gift

to rain a shower of commanded tears,

an onion will do well for such a shift

Oh really?  Commanded tears?  How dare you, Shakespeare?!!

Joel’s dictation today was about John Smith:

Many of the unruly sort were glad to see him go, but his old companions with whom he had shared so many dangers and privations were filled with grief.  “He ever hated baseness, sloth, pride and indignity,” said one of them.  “He never allowed more for himself than for his soldiers with him.  Upon no danger would he send them where he would not lead them himself.  He would never see us want what he either had or could by any means get us.  He loved action more than words, and hated falsehood and covetousness worse than death.”                                                          – This Country of Ours by Marshall

So we now know what privations are…(after I looked it up).

I love this quote for several reasons.  Mostly because it reminds me that this is the kind of man I married and is part of what makes him such a good leader.  It gives my son good things to think about as he goes off to play for the afternoon.  It also gives me ideas to think about as I go off to work for the afternoon.  Flowing streams, not stagnant pools.  It was a good day.

Holiday Cheermeister

We just watched the Grinch. I am jealous of his answering machine message.

Okay, I don’t know what I just said.  I think this could be a wild post.

We had a session of baking hilariosity today.  Cause it’s critically important to make 28 kinds of christmas cookies, right?  Right.  Also, to make things even most interesting, they have to look good and taste good.  Duh.  “Christmas” is trying to kill me.  (Maybe some of you don’t know that I’m not a perfectionist, so the idea of baking things to give away is a little terrifying.)

So in order to have our bake fest, I had to ignore certain things.  Laundry, for instance. Because even though I just did it all yesterday, IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT.  I’m not exactly sure where it comes from because I could swear that Josh never changes his clothes.  Yes, come to think of it, that is the same shirt he was wearing yesterday.  But hopefully not the day before yesterday.

At our house cleanliness is not next to godliness, no matter how much someone wishes it were.  It’s close, it’s in the top 10 for sure. But no…

…CHEERFULNESS is next to godliness.

And who wouldn’t be cheerful at this time of year.

Once upon a time I was so cheery at this time of year.  I think that was before life had knocked me upside the head.

But now I think too much.  I think about the hurting people and I want to help them, and there are a lot of hurting people right now.

I know too many of them.

I can really start to Grinch it up at this time of year.  I get so wrapped up in wrapping stuff, and buying stuff, and I get upset with people for being needy, because here I am busy and stressed out already because we are suppose to be doing EVERYTHING WE NORMALLY DO and ALSO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS WITH CHEER!  So forget serving my family, how dare they want dinner?  Go away family, while I buy you stuff and make you stuff so we will all be so happy.  See?  Grinch.

But a few things have brought me comfort and JOY this year.  So, lucky for you, I thought I’d share them.

A verse: Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth. Psalm 46:10

That verse is comfort to me, that God is not surprised by our giant mega-wheel of materialism…all in the name of celebrating Christ’s birth.  He also sees my heart and hears my prayers and knows that I want more than anything to serve Him.  So He whispers “roll up your sleeves and serve those people I gave you”.  Okie dokie.

A picture: Adoration of the Shepherds by Rembrandt.  I saw this picture for the first time this month.  It made me cry.  Pictures don’t usually do that.  This one is special.

adoration-of-the-shepherds-1646.jpg!Blog

A Song: Born in Bethlehem by Third Day.  You have to go over to youtube and listen to it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyWTgdbkW2o

The words to this song are constantly in my head.  And as long as I remember them, everything seems to be worth it.

“Hallelujah, the King is here, given for all men

for today the holy Son of God is born in Bethlehem”

So just like every other month of the year, I will do my best to serve.  Gently.  Kindly.  I will not get so worked up over what to buy the person who is impossible to shop for that I can’t be nice to the person who is right next to me asking “what is a square root again, Mom?”.  I will not be so stressed out that I do not have time to be there for a friend who needs me.  Cause hard stuff still happens in December.

This year I tried something new.  I lost my marbles one week into December.  Yep, marbles rolling around all over the place.  Not a good thing, in case you were wondering.

I had to cry uncle.  It got me.  I was being suffocated via cheerful holiday ribbon.

You know it’s humbling to admit that you can’t do it all.  You kind of make a name for yourself.  “Oh, did you hear about Mary?  She can’t handle her stress”.  Yep, that’s right, I can’t…unless I can also be a total jerk to people.  There is only so much wrapping, shopping, gift planning, gift making, etc I can do before the next person to ask me a question gets clobbered.  (Don’t worry, not literally)

My family was paying the price for the fact that I was overloaded.  So I did what any sane, self respecting introvert would do.  I cried.  And then I stayed home.  And my family is starting to like me again…we are once again laughing at each other.  It’s delightful. Downright cheery.

I just know it was an extrovert who decided that christmas parties are a good idea.

And they want to know where my christmas cheer is.  Hmm.  I don’t know, maybe the White Elephant sat on it.

So just call me the Holiday Cheermeister.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, sit down and watch the Grinch. I now dance around in my santa outfit, offering cookies to people who ask me 25 questions at a time.  Okay, not really.  But it sounds good.

Now for a grand finale, I will show you pictures of Alyssa and I doing our baking extravaganza.  This is what she looks like when there are two timers going off at once and she is stirring fudge…if only you could hear the squealing associated with this picture.

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I should mention that at one point she said to me “Mom, I don’t think you should be in the kitchen today”.  Humph.  What are you talking about, child?  I TAUGHT you to bake!  I called her an evil Grinch.  She said “Grinch? That’s the best you’ve got?”.

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Maybe she was thinking my motto was a little flawed.  It goes something like this:  When in doubt, (like say you need all these cookies for tomorrow) start all 6 different kinds of cookies at THE SAME TIME.  Personally, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.  Because then you’re stuck.  Very stuck.  You have to make cookies.  It sort of breaks down when I start dumping powdered sugar where it doesn’t belong…

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Oh well.  We laughed.  See that smaller pot in back?  Well, that was the first fudge.  The one where I used condensed milk instead of evaporated milk even though the directions clearly state: “DO NOT USE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK”.

Good thing I have a daughter to read the instructions for me.

Okay, that’s it.  Enough yammering.  Have a good night!

Project week might kill me.

I had an amazing idea this summer to do a “project week” after every six weeks of school. (Yes, I will still get all of my weeks in…have no fear)

So.

I was thinking it would be a great change of pace from our normal schedule each day. I would let the kids choose their own projects to do while I was off getting things back on track.

I have the best intentions.

But somewhere  in my head the warning bells started going off a few days before the first project week began. They started when I reviewed my list of all the important things I was going to get done in a week, and the people I was going to have over since I don’t have time to invite them on a normal week. Here is a small bit of what I planned or fell into:

1. Get in shape. Duh. Of course that would only happen on project week.

2. Make Alyssa’s curtains (I don’t sew, but I am trying to save money, and besides, how hard could a straight line be?) (hard).

3. Wash all sheets (this is my quarterly sheet bonanza). Just kidding. Sort of.

4. Hem the boys curtains that have been three inches uneven for past two and a half years. Use the hot glue gun if necessary. (it was necessary)

5. Have a bunch of people over, cook for them, but be sure to schedule a meeting with someone else three hours before those other people come over, and then cook for the 2 hrs in between that while I have my other friend over for a little visit.

6. Keel over.

7. Start a different sewing project, because yes, I can sew in a straight line apparently.

8. Have more friends over for dinner.

9. Sit and stare at the wall.

10. Wash 25 loads of laundry, but don’t fold any of it.

The kids meanwhile had an excellent week. They finished a few books, made things, wrote stories, and generally stayed out of my way…because they can see that crazy look in my eye a mile away. They were in bliss.

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Josh is studying the Wright Brothers, and decided to make their plane. He looked at three different books to try to be accurate.

Anyway.

Fast forward to this “project” week.

I made my list of important things to do…checked it twice and promptly got sick.

It was some stupid virus that made even the very simplest of activities seem like wading through cement.

So, in this situation, naturally, I made bread. Then went to bed, then did laundry, and went to bed. Then made some awful thing to eat and went back to bed.

You can see I’ve gotten a lot done this week.

Tuesday was monumental in the fact that I got myself to Walmart and the grocery store before we had our semi-annual county wide power outage.

I hate being sick AND being in Walmart.

I look at stupid things for a very long time. I’ll stand looking at hair nets, or nose rings, or car batteries until I catch someone looking at me out of the corner of my eye (I have terrible eyesight, but incredible peripheral vision that only comes after years of living with Michael)…then I stumble on to whatever else I was suppose to be buying. It’s horrible.

Then I got home and was unpacking the bags in the semi-dark (cloudy day, power outage), and ran into the freezer door. With my nose.

So I went back to bed.

The kids on the other hand are having an excellent week. They have read books, written letters, eaten way too much sugar, gone hiking, made things, made messes, cleaned up messes. They love project week.

By yesterday…I was well enough to write a letter to my friend (I think we were BFFs before that was a thing), make the famous “Fall” cookies, or I should say I watched the making of fall cookies, since we have a resident baker now…

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100_2618100_2622I also managed to make an even more awful dinner than the previously mentioned one. After taking a gander at the crock pot, Michael was just too sweet, and suggested a quick trip to Burger King. Helpful Man.

But. I bounce back…like a jack rabbit.

(Sorry, got a rap song stuck in my head. It seems to be the favored music around here. And since there are music devices in most rooms of the house, my brain gets parts of Brandon Heath, Crazy frog and Lecrae turned into one song…I actually think the jack rabbit line isn’t in any of those I just mentioned.)

Which brings us to today…I made a list. I’m feeling pretty victorious. Because I got out of bed and…

Clipped my nails. Yeah. It was on the list. SO?

Why is it so hard to remember to clip nails? Maybe it’s just me.

Then, I wiped down all of those white cupboard doors in the kitchen in a systematic way, which is so not like me. I’m terribly impressed that I wiped them in order, because it is my tendency to get a little distracted and forget where I was…and then it really doesn’t look any better because I skipped every other cupboard.

I have just been informed that Josh and the cat have caught a mouse in a great collaborative effort. Wonderful. It has been named Tiny and is snacking on some moldy cheddar that the kids found in the fridge.

I really should clean out the fridge.

Anyhow. Hope this makes someone feel like they’ve had an extremely productive week.

Have a great weekend!

The Front Row

Why do I always think about serious things? It really bugs me. I want to be that type of girl who can blog about the awesome new face wash she is now using, or the dress she found at the back of her closet in the perfect color, or some other stupid thing…

But instead I only think of serious things.

However, this one is for entertainment purposes only.

Just for your personal enjoyment, I will regale you with details of what happens in the front row on Sunday mornings.

Heaven help us.

A few months ago, a child who will remain nameless had been to his uncle’s house on Saturday night to watch a UFC fight. It was a Big Deal. Well, that night, John Jones broke his toe. In a horrific way. Yuck. The boys came home and went to bed, no problem…

…until we were in the front row at church singing one of the last songs. This child turns to me, he looks like a ghost. He says “Mom, I don’t feel so good…” well, we all know what that means. When I don’t have my giant gallon size ziplock bag hanging around, then I head outside pronto. But in this case, outside feels like a VERY long ways away. He weaves down the aisle, he can’t see, because he is about to pass out. We make it outside…he begins to get color back in his face…I ask what happened. He’s not sure…

FOUR HOURS LATER, we are sitting at home, after I’ve checked him for a fever, totally re-hydrated him, etc. He looks at me with sad brown eyes and says “Uh, Mom, I was thinking about John Jones’ toe at church. I’m sorry, I know I’m not suppose to think about that in church…”

WHAT THE HECK child!

In my defense, I have never told him what he may or may not think about in church! However, we have a fresh new “No thinking about things that will make you puke or pass out while in church” rule.

Next up, a few weeks later,

We are sitting (in the front row), when all of a sudden my sweet teenage girl tells me that she feels funny and that one of her arms looks WAY longer than the other one.

Oh. My. Gosh. Hang in there, girlie, that happens to me all the time…(not).

Throughout the (interesting, I’m sure) sermon, she continued to see strange things, felt faint, might throw up, etc, etc, etc. Anyone with a teen girl knows this is not entirely out of the ordinary, (for my child it is, but I have hung out with enough teenage girls to know this isn’t outside the normal everyday activity). During the VERY SAME service, Toe Boy starts whispering “MOM, I DON’T FEEL VERY WELL…” I say “oh really, welcome to the club, if you aren’t going to puke, then please just be quiet”. Yeah. I’m getting tough in my old age. I look over to see that he has gotten those little wax soda bottles in sunday school and has not only had the liquid inside, but has also eaten most of the wax too…

Michael said that from his view we all looked like a Chinese Fire Drill.

I couldn’t have described it better myself.

A few weeks later:

I look over at another of my sweet darlings, (do I still need to mention that we are in the front row? At church?) to see him pull his loose tooth out of his mouth. What? TO SEE HIM PULL HIS LOOSE TOOTH OUT OF HIS MOUTH.

The words that went through my head. A good pastor’s wife must not be printing them.

Due to the distraction of having children come in and out of the service, we have forbid our children from heading out to use the bathroom on a whim.

This was not a whim. This was bloody. This was an EMERGENCY. I nodded, he went to swish, wash off and label his tooth.

Naturally he could not have done that at breakfast when we could all see it dangling out of his mouth. Nope.

Next there was the ant infestation. Only in the front row. Of course, they did migrate up onto the stage a few weeks later and were then promptly taken care of. But the first week I could not believe my eyes when I saw ant after ant crawl up my foot. The new carpet disguises them perfectly, so I could not tell that I my feet were basically on an anthill.

To most of you, that really isn’t a big deal. But, I have had enough severe personal encounters with ants in Mexico to ever take an ant lightly again. I also hate how they can take over an entire pantry within minutes. I did not have my pantry at church, but the idea of them crawling up my legs while I had to sit perfectly still…

As luck would have it, I was sitting next to the friend who is most familiar with my aversion to ants. She has witnessed enough of my Mexico situations to know that this was horror of horrors. We just stared at each other. Like “this can’t be happening”. And then we lost it. I had tears. I couldn’t look in Michael’s direction. I comforted myself with the thought that God was probably laughing too.

Annnd that brings us to last Sunday.

I was sitting innocently in my seat when my friend leaned over to me and mentioned that he had not seen or heard from his wife all morning and that was a little unusual.

Huh, I thought to myself. I went back to listening to Michael.

A few minutes later this friend tells me that he would like to go make sure she’s okay, but his keys happen to be on the stage behind Michael and he fears it would cause a bit of a distraction to get them.

I nod, yes, yes it would.

He wonders if he might borrow my keys/car. Oh sure. Apparently I lost my wits for a moment, due to the stress of possibly making Michael get distracted by the goings on in the front row. I decided that I should separate the car key he would need from my other 5 keys, because I must have thought he would be hopelessly confused if I were to hand him the entire key ring. Keys jangle. I see Michael’s eye ball looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

Great.

A few minutes later friend is back. “No worries, she is in the nursery”…

It takes me a few minutes to check back into the sermon. I had not heard a thing for about ten minutes, Michael could have been speaking Latin (think Mr. Bean goes to church) for all I knew.

Next Sunday…

…I’ll still be in the front row. Bring it on.

It’s loud over here.

If only we could harness the noise this family generates and turn it into electricity. Wow.

We don’t even move quietly. (Unless someone is sneaking up on me…that would be the only exception) Of course no one is really surprised by this.

We played Pit and Nertz tonight. A few of us have a headache. Some of us were begging others to stop screaming. I was accused of having a voice that could break glass. Humph.

Although if it has to be loud, I think we’ve gotten lucky. It’s a good loud. People are loud and happy (usually) as opposed to loud and mad, fighting or otherwise. When it’s loud, we are hanging out together, playing music, baking, having one of our 8 daily pillow fight/wrestling matches, teasing each other, pranking mom, what have you.

It could be worse. It could be QUIET. Which around here would mean that everyone would have to be gone. No kids. No preciousness.

Despite my love for these loud people, lately I am tired of words. Even written words. Too much noise in my head I guess. So I figured I wouldn’t add words to the internet…but what in Sam Hill am I doing with a blog if I’m not going to use it. Stupidity. (by the way, who is Sam Hill?)

So, I know you’ve all been dying to know what we’ve been up to.

It’s been a weird summer. We’ve eaten a lot of popcorn. I finally took the magical popcorn maker I got for Christmas out of the box and used it. Actually Alyssa did. I don’t do crazy brave things like that. She and I can’t get over the fact that you put half a cup of popcorn kernels into that pot and a few minutes later get at LEAST 8 cups of popcorn. We stand around and scratch our heads over that one.

I don’t know why, but people are already asking me when we are starting school up again.

My new tactic is to just stare at them.

Then wildly yell “GO AWAY…GOOO AWAYYYYY”

If that doesn’t work, I say “oh, we never quit school, we’re on that real intense year round schedule…”

In other news…I will have a teenager this week. If you are shaking your head thinking I am way too young/naive/dumb to be raising a teenager, you’re probably right. (Although she is just delightful, there are not many people I think are amazing…but she is one of them. No, you can’t have her. It’s a lot of work raising a delightful person.)

Some of you know we took a 16 day trip. I’ll just say that 16 day trips are not for the faint of heart. I wasn’t even going to mention it until I looked at the pictures on my phone…it made me giggle. I’ll have to tell you all about it. Later. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

Good news. I finally bought strawberries to make jam. I got them from a very nice man this year (last year I got them from not a very nice man). But. I will say this…he was very serious. He told me the cheap ones were “not good, only for jam”. “Perfect, I said, I am making jam.” He looked at me suspiciously…and got close to my face and spoke very slowly. “THESE are not good…ONLY for jam.” Like he was envisioning me rushing home to make strawberry shortcake with these “not good” berries. “Okay”, I said, “I will have two cheap boxes.” I have no idea why, but he decided that I should have some extra goodness, so he came over and dumped the worst looking berries I have ever seen on top of my box of “not good berries”. Hmm. He’s trying to make a point, I thought. So then I rushed home and made strawberry shortcake with some of my berries…turns out he was right. They are not good…ONLY for jam.

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Sadly, I did not take any pictures yesterday of the jam marathon. So here’s one from last year when Mom and I made jam. Missed you this time Mom!

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