The Land of Milk and Honey

I’ve tried taking Benadrylbenadryl-3 at night to help me sleep, but it’s no good.  Sure, I sleep (or is it pass out?), but when I wake up, I  almost feel like I have a hangover, I’m so dopey, dry-mouthed, and groggy.  So no, not an option.  And then I’ve tried a nice healthy slug of some alcoholshot glass.  At first glance, it works like a charm.  But then, about three hours later, I’m wide awake and my heart is actually pounding a bit (after all, alcohol is a stimulant).  So again, not an option.  Now, taking Natural Calm magnesium has indeed changed my life.  I sleep better, my (self-diagnosed) restless legs have calmed way down, and all my systems are humming along nicely (if you know what I mean).  Natural VitalityBut sometimes I feel like I am getting kind of  immune to the magnesium, like my tolerance has built up too much, so lately I’ve only been taking it a couple of times a week.  Where does that leave me on the other nights if I’m not sleeping?  Well, I have another option.

Someone recently shared with me a trick her personal trainer told her.  My personal trainer doesn’t tell me anything because I don’t have a personal trainer. And if I did, he/she would be so annoyed by my lack of cooperation they wouldn’t give me handy hints like this.  But I digress.  By the way, this will only work if you like warm milk.  Which I do.  Okay, just before bedtime, I put a mug of nonfat milk (nonfat because it’s what I have–don’t know that it’s crucial to the process) in the microwave on the “beverage” setting, which warms it very nicely, in  a Goldilocks kind of way.  Then I put a squirt of honey in honey-jarit.  Real honey.  One time I went to the dollar store (morbid curiosity) and saw honey there.  I looked at the ingredients and it was just corn syrup! Honey-flavored corn syrup!  I was appalled.  Again, I digress.  Apparently the honey is a natural sedative due to the glucose, which is relaxing, and the milk promotes sleep due to the tryptophan.  So it really has a basis in, like, science.

Anyway,  you just put the honey in the milk and stir it up and drink it, and then you get into bed.  Try and read for more than about 10 minutes! I was very skeptical the first time I tried this, but I tell you what, it works.  Placebo effect or not, who cares? It makes me sleep like a proverbial baby, and even if I wake up, I go right back to sleep.  So that’s today’s handy hint, for which you will thank me (and an anonymous trainer) in the morning.  I’m sure of it.

So fickle…

Umm, I changed my mind.

The whole reason I left WordPress (back in–what? March?) was because I couldn’t install the Shelfari bookshelf, and that annoyed me (oh! but look–I took a picture of my on-screen Shelfari shelf, and now you can see my books if you click on the photo! Ha! So there!). DSC02105 I couldn’t even entertain the possibility of getting ads through Google AdSense.  So, in a fit of pique, I moved to Google Blogger.  But I don’t like it, and I haven’t been writing.  What can I say?  It is my prerogative to change my mind, right?  I’ve decided to abandon all hopes of making any pin money whatsoever, and just go back to what I like to do–write.  It helps to relieve my stress, and it’s either this or wine, and I think writing may be the slightly healthier option. At least at 8:03 a.m. Unless I decide to go all Dylan Thomas on you, then 8:03 a.m. and wine would not be at odds with one another.

Why the stress?  A job with a split schedule, so I basically feel like I work full time.  Fortunately the split schedule will soon go away and things will be more part-timey feeling.

And children.  Aren’t children just inherently stressful, even when said children are all grown up?  I just read Stephen King’s new book Joyland (which I very much enjoyed), Joyland and at one point a character says that children are such a risk.  It’s true–you love them so dearly it leaves your heart very, very vulnerable.  These children, what with all their…their…milestones and life changes and independent decision making…well, they are stress inducing.  But I wouldn’t change it.  I look at people I know who don’t have children, and they look so young!  “Oh, it’s hard to believe Biff is 57! He looks like he’s in his early 40s!”  Well, that’s because Biff doesn’t have kids!  I, on the other hand, look about 72.  But for all the wrinkles I have from worry, I have just as many from laughing. And Biff doesn’t have that kind of laughter in his life.  My children are both floor cleaner and dessert toppingfloor cleaner and dessert topping (remember that old Saturday Night Live skit?)–wildly difficult and wildly joy-giving.

And then the apricots!  They got ripe the same week I had a sit-down dinner for 20, and I had to set aside time to make jam!  Yes, I could have just let the fruit drop and let the deer have it, but I just couldn’t do that.  And anyway, even after two batches of jam and one of apricot syrup (which, by the way, is the best thing EVER on pancakes), 6-21-12 002the deer, turkeys, and rabbits still got to eat their fill–there are hundreds of apricot pits on the ground.  The deer are all a bit round of tummy (nothing wrong with that–ahem!), they have water from a leaky dripper–no stress for the deer here.

I guess that sort of lightly skims over the topic of my stress–I won’t talk (this time!) about what’s going on with the weather–the apricots and figs were ripe a full two to three weeks earlier than usual, there are yellow leaves on some of the trees–what’s up with that?  Climate change? Or natural random weather patterns? Fortunately I’m not stressing over it too much.

It’s supposed to be sooo hot this weekend, so I will be awash not only in chlorine, but also in Sauvignon Blanc pool with raft(mixed with seltzer water! and ice! in a plastic cup! what a rube!)–after all, I have to stay hydrated.  Well, I guess I’m back now, and I’m pretty sure I won’t change my mind.

Oh!  I feel so much better!

Come on over!

Come visit me at http://www.thevacavillehousewife.blogspot.com and we can talk about giant strawberries.

Moving Sale

moving vanWell, I’m not actually having a moving sale.  But I am moving.  If you want to (and I really hope you’ll want to), you can resubscribe at my new site. Here’s my change of address:  http://www.thevacavillehousewife.blogspot.com, so that’s where you can find me from now on!

Lemonpalooza

DSC01932I have a lot of lemons.  Beautiful Meyer lemons.  My tree is extraordinarily fecund (that always sounds a bit off color…) this year.  Truly an embarrassment of riches.  I have heard you can keep ripe citrus on the tree for 10 weeks, and the quality will not be affected (my tree is in a sheltered spot, so frost is not an issue).  That said, I do feel quite a lot of pressure to put all my fruit to use.  In the December issue of Food & Wine magazine, there is a recipe for a lemon Bundt cake.  I made it today. It was quite a project–zesting all those lemons takes a fair amount of time!  But it was well worth it, as the cake is delicious. DSC01936Actually, I didn’t have to zest all 10 lemons–I mean, look at the size of these!  The lemon on the right is the usual size of a Meyer lemon, and I have just a few that size.  Most of the ones on my tree, however, are the size of the one on the left!  Why this is is anybody’s guess.  Radiation from Japan?  Are they Three Mile Island lemons?  No, I don’t think so.  Just a happy confluence of growing conditions that led to this crop.  I was worried that the size would mean a thick skin, more like a Eureka lemon, but no.  Thin skinned and juicy as always. There would have been an even bigger crop, but we had some crazy wind in early fall that knocked a lot of the baby lemons off (which, upon further reflection, may have led to the bigger lemons).  Perhaps just as well! DSC01939Above are some of the ingredients for the Bundt cake–see how much zest there is?  DSC01940The batter is thick and creamy–can you see the little flecks of peel in there? DSC01944

See the finished product?  It’s pretty!  I pasted the recipe in here from the Food & Wine  website, just so you know.  Read to the end of the recipe–I made a few small changes.

Lemon Bundt Cake

Food & Wine Magazine, December 2012

cake

  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  3. 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  4. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 3/4 cups sugar
  7. 1/3 cup lightly packed finely grated lemon zest (from 10 lemons)
  8. 1/2 cup canola oil
  9. 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  10. 3 large eggs
  11. 3 large egg yolks
  12. 3 tablespoons dark rum
  13. 2 tablespoons pure lemon extract
  14. 3/4 cup heavy cream

lemon syrup

  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 tablespoon dark rum

glaze and topping

  1. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  2. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  4. 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
  1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust the pan with all-purpose flour. Sift the 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and cake flour into a medium bowl, along with the baking powder and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, use your fingers to rub the sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar resembles pale yellow wet sand. Add the canola oil and cooled butter and beat at medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Beat in the whole eggs, egg yolks, rum and lemon extract until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the heavy cream and the dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients; be sure not to overbeat. Scrape down the side of the bowl and fold the batter until it is blended.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE LEMON SYRUP In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the lemon juice and rum and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Let the lemon syrup cool slightly.
  5. Invert the cake onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes evenly all over the cake and brush with the lemon syrup. Let the cake cool completely.
  6. MAKE THE GLAZE AND TOPPING In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice and almond extract until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle the almonds on top and let the glaze set, about 20 minutes. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.
I put 3 Tbl. of lemon extract in the cake, instead of 2 Tbl.  The Meyer lemons are so sweet, you can lose a bit of the lemony sharpness.  In the syrup I added a 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract, again for the same reason.  As far as the glaze goes, you can see it was a bit too thin.  Next time I’d add a bit more powdered sugar, so so much didn’t end up puddling underneath. And finally, it said to bake for 1 hour, which I did.  Next time, however, I’d check it at 50 minutes, and I bet that 55 minutes would be perfect. Now, go make some tea.  This cake begs to be eaten with a cup of tea!

Please! Don’t Do It!

These people are NOT going to the mall later.

I am so dismayed by the practice that has been evolving over the last few years, that is, stores being open on Thanksgiving itself.

I worked for a (very) little while last year, when things were rather desperate, in a retail store.  When it came to light that I would have to work Thanksgiving night, I just about cried.  Actually, I actually cried. What is becoming of us?  A time to celebrate and commune with family and friends, with no presents or “stuff,” with a meal that can be quite  inexpensive to prepare, that is a quiet time to just be, and we want to go to the mall.  Stop it!  Go on Friday.  Or, better, on Saturday.

What do you need so badly that you must cut short your and your family’s and the store clerk’s Thanksgiving? Even if you do desperately need an off-brand flat screen TV at a ridiculously low price, you know that you are going to have to stand in line and then throw elbows like hell to get one (and still maybe not get one!). You do know that, right?  So please don’t do it.  Think of the people who have to work in those stores, who have no choice and can’t quit their jobs because they have to work on Thanksgiving.  Moms or dads who have made a feast for their families, which is quite a lot of work, and then have to go to out to their jobs at 8:00 at night.  It’s not right.

Let’s get back to being civilized, family-centric people who don’t do things like act like a horde of barbarians for some crap at Target or Walmart.  Please.  Stay in and enjoy your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.

AMA? ACK!

I realize that this is a bit of a rant, and that I’m going to sound old and cranky.  I actually am old and cranky, though, so that’s not terribly surprising. Let’s proceed.

I watched the American Music Awards last night. Well, I was in the room most of the time when the American Music Awards were on.  Not usually my bag.  In fact, I’ve never seen them before, but that’s just how the TV planets aligned in our house, and long story short, I saw the AMAs.  And I have to say…what the hell was that?

Is the dirty little secret of pop music that no one can carry a tune in a bucket?  Usher  performed the most insipid, not catchy, off-key crap.  He seemed like he needed a nap.  Watching Nicki Minaj confirmed to me that the wigs and costumes are to distract you from the the fact that there is no there there. A wildly manscaped (boyscaped?) Justin Bieber wore a little sleeveless top and performed some oddly acoustic thing, obviously meant to show what a serious artist he is, and it was all off-key. Pink did some post-apocalyptic domestic violence  acrobat piece (with body paint–of course), once again an insipid, not-catchy piece of work. Carrie Underwood had a great dress on , and I think I might have liked her song (and I’m not a country music fan), had she been on key. It’s  bizarre–such mediocrity on an awards show.  But don’t record sales speak to who is the “best”?  Why an awards show?

I have no problem with good pop musicBeyonce? Adele? Gwen Stefani? All great artists, all pop to the nth degree.  Usher’s song “OMG” (listen)–so fun, so catchy, and just a great piece of American pop. Pink’s “Please Don’t Leave Me” (listen) or “So What” (listen) and the rest of that Funhouse album is great pop music.  So what the Sam Hill was all that tripe last night?  The best part of the AMAs was Carrie Underwood  and Taylor Swift’s dresses.  And Taylor Swift’s eye makeup–she’s got the smoky eye down pat (well, her makeup artist does). So here’s some music to which you may want to lend an ear. Some pop, some not. Just a bit different.  Click on these links to hear some aural relief.

Batteries May Drain (Steve Hauschildt)

Super Rich Kids (Frank Ocean)

All Eyes on You (Diego Garcia)

In the Air (Morgan Page, Sultan, & Ned Shepard)

Come Visit Me (The Rosebuds)

Tongue Tied (Grouplove)

Shock Value (Little Grey Girlfriend)

Holy Holy (Wye Oak)

Young, Beautiful, etc. (Second Date)

Another English Summer (Future Loop Foundation)

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