Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's in Retrograde?

This morning I was talking to a kid from my son's enrichment activity class, who was saying how he was so scared of Friday the 13th because it is so unlucky! I told him not to let the movies or magazines convince him that one day is more unlucky than another -- it's just a day. He didn't believe me. And while I really don't think one day is any luckier or unluckier than another, I have had the feeling in the past couple of weeks that I've been out of synch with the dance of the universe. Either that, or it is trying to tell me something. My sister in law says it is trying to tell me that I've got too much on my plate, and that may be true.

Last week on Tuesday, the hard drive on my work computer crashed. I lost everything I had from the beginning of the school year -- my lesson plans, my long range plans, templates, sample documents... you name it. I walked around in a daze for a couple of days, and then, when I got a new laptop, started the process of rebuilding from scratch. At least I got my grades in on time.

Then I found the back up disk I made at the end of the last school year. HOORAY! I put it in the computer. The computer will not recognize the disk. I took it to another computer. Same story. *sigh* Something is wrong with the disk. No computer will read it.

Then, my iPod, which is my calendar, my contact book, my music, my recipes, my encyclopedia, and on and on, was stolen. I already wrote about that. I'm still trying to get on paper all the events I had stored on that thing.

Yesterday, while in the mad rush to get myself & two of my kids to school in the morning, I hear a crash as we are all getting in the car. Nora knocked over a shutter that I had stripped & was getting ready to repaint, and it splintered as it hit the garage floor. *sigh* again. I picked up the pieces and said, don't worry, we'll find another shutter. As I'm getting into the car I hear Nora say, "OH NO!" She knocked over my entire cup of coffeee, glug glug glug, onto the car floor. Okay, that one made me squawk. I ran to get a towel, smooshed it into the rug, and drove away, because I had to get in for morning duty. And as much as I love the smell of coffee... that's not what I needed in the car! I wasn't mad, just... tired of all these crazy things!

Today I was trying to plan ahead for halloween, and as the kids are carving their pumpkins, I started a chicken roasting in the oven so they would have some protein before gorging on candy. About 45 minutes before it was done, I added a bunch of baby potatoes and some chicken stock. Nora watched as I added them, inhaling and saying, "oooh, that smells good!"

CRASH! The pyrex dish holding the chicken exploded into a jagged mess, the stock hit the heating element, and flames roared up from the bottom of the oven. I turned off the oven. The flames went out on their own. Nora turned to me, her eyes wide, and I just shook my head and laughed.
had a friend years ago who was really into horoscope stuff and swore that when mercury was in retrograde you should just hide in the basement for a couple of weeks.
Okay. That's enough. I actually went online to see if mercury was in retrograde, because I

Mercury is not in retrograde, but something is up, something is wonky, something is impishly having a little ha ha ha, and I'd like it to stop now. Please. My husband just came home from his long journey and I don't feel like staying in the basement!

Oh yeah... Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bubbles and Knots

It's been just about a year since Daniel started on the insulin pump. He's been so happy with the pump and has much better control over his blood sugar than he had using the Novolog/Lantus therapy. Of course there are issues unique to pumping, including bubbles & knots (in the tubing), and the occasional surprise rrrrrrrrip out when tubing catches on something. Daniel had all three of these things occur this week, leading to highs and hair removal (ouch! :-) ) I wonder if anyone else finds that as they get to the end of an insulin bottle, there is more of a tendency for bubbles to show up in the tubing?

Daniel woke up with a 350 bg this morning, and a knot tied in his tube. Maybe he is doing macrame in his sleep. But it's never a fun morning when his blood sugar is so high. I hope it went down in time for him to concentrate on today's tests.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the next A1C check in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we'll keep on pumping...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Catch Up

I missed school yesterday because my Dominic missed school yesterday because he was sick. Today his homework was mountainous (for a 3rd grader) and my school work was similarly arduous (as I am still recovering from last week's hard drive crash).

When I'm teaching, and I see a kid who is obviously under the weather, I sigh and wonder why that kid is in school when he or she should be home in bed. And when I'm at home with a sick child I push him along into wellness as soon as possible so that I can get back to work and get things done.

I hate being torn between work and family, or between taking care of illness and taking care of work. How many of us have gone into work feeling crappy because it's too difficult to deal with making up what we would miss if we stayed home? There's no good middle ground.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gluten Free Bagels

I saw a recipe for Gluten Free Bagels in the Living Without magazine. Have I said before that I think that's an awful name for a magazine? How about Gluten Free and Fantastic!!! "Living Without" is such a downer. Anyway, I'm home with a sick child today and found myself with some free time, so I gave the bagel recipe a try. They turned out pretty good, and were actually relatively quick and easy to make.

It called for a multi-grain flour blend that was mixed with salt, flax meal, egg replacer, yeast, and xanthan gum. The dry ingredients were mixed with warm water, oil, cider vinegar, and honey.

The mixture, when it came together, was like an extremely sticky dough. But it wasn't too difficult to handle. You let it rise, then boil it (that's what makes it a bagel!) and then bake it.

I also recently found a new cream cheese flavor in the grocery store -- spinach & artichoke -- which was a very happy discovery! Daniel slathered some of that on his bagel... and then on his 2nd bagel... and was a happy teenager.

I don't want to get in trouble with Living Without by reprinting their stuff without permission. If anyone wants the exact recipe, drop me a comment and I'd be happy to send it to you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Back in the day, when I first started working, people would carry around their fat little appointment books. There were calendars, phone number and address pages, slots for business cards... you know -- the stuff you had to carry around back in the dark ages before someone invented the palm pilot. I worked at a radio station, and I remember one time one of the salespeople lost her book; left it in a cab or something. And she was frantic, she was a mess. It was gone, and had to be totally reconstructed. From memory... ha!

So at least when you lose a pda, there's probably (hopefully?) a back up somewhere of your information. I'll be able to re-synch a new ipod from my computer, when my husband returns from his trip with my computer, and I'll be able to get most of my info back. Except that damned doctor's appointment that I have tomorrow. I wrote down the name of the new doctor, the address, and the phone number in the ipod. I wrote the time of the appointment on the calendar on the wall.

I think I remember the street name, so I'm going to call all the dermatologists on that street tomorrow and see if I have an appointment there at 9:15.

Our lovely electronic devices are supposed to make life easier. Unless they get lost, or their hard drive crashes, or they fall in the toilet, or the dog chews on them. It's not a perfect system for backing up my brain.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our lovely electronic devices

Last school year Daniel brought a video game to school because a friend of his wanted to borrow it (a DS game, those tiny little things). Actually, for some unknown reason he brought his whole pack of games instead of the one. The pack of games was in his back pack during bio class, and then when he went to lunch, 20 min. later, they were gone. He thought he dropped them. Checked back through the classroom the hallways, the lunchroom. They were gone.

Our initial reaction was, of course, "WHY DID YOU BRING THOSE TO SCHOOL??" And then we told him that they were probably stolen. Daniel refused to believe that anyone could have stolen his stuff. Well, after days & weeks of looking, hearing some rumors, filing a police report, and setting up a sting, the perpetrator was caught and he replaced all of Daniel's games. It was a tough lesson and I think it hurt Daniel's faith in human nature. He was mad at himself, he was mad at the situation, and ultimately, even the return of his stuff was bittersweet.

Moving on to.... Today! I took my youngest to his Saturday enrichment class, and then went to a parent meeting about the 7 keys for college readiness. Yee ha. I multi-tasked during the meeting, with my laptop open on the table, trying to take care of teaching-related work while listening to the speaker. You see, Tuesday my hard drive crashed. I lost all my info from this school year -- my grades, my templates, my lesson plans... you name it. I just started using for bookmarks, so I had a few of those saved, but many others were still just on my bookmark menu.

I taught through Tuesday without really knowing what I was teaching. I couldn't hook my laptop up to the projector to demonstrate a new concept. I had a hard copy of the week's lesson plans, but my brain was in a fog as I tried to puzzle out exactly what I had lost. And it's the end of the quarter! Grades are due!

With what was backed up to the network from the year before, I was able to recreate my grading sheets and lesson plan templates. By Thursday afternoon I had a replacement laptop, but my motivation had taken a severe blow. But my hubby send me a big bouquet of flowers, and I disappeared into some good yoga for a while, and came out of my funk able to let go of what I can't control. Move on. Back to work. Recreate what is lost. Start typing.

So, back to the meeting. I was reminded during the meeting of something I needed to add to my grocery list, so I took my itouch out of my purse and added some things to the never-ending list that I keep. I put the itouch back in my purse and zipped it. I remember this. The meeting ended soon after, so I put my computer away, grabbed my jacket, made a quick stop in the ladies' room, and then headed to the car. I had 50 minutes to get to the grocery store & shop before I had to be back to pick up Dominic.

I got to the grocery store and opened my purse to retrieve my never-ending list. Couldn't find the itouch. Dumped the purse. Nada. Went back to the car. No itouch. Drove back to the high school where the meeting took place. The itouch is not in the media center, the ladies' room, the hallways... no where. No one has turned one in. My itouch is gone.

I picked up Dominic, came home, and asked Daniel to come talk to me. I knew he would understand! I told him how upset I was. He hugged me and said, now you know how I felt when I came home from school that day... and yes I KNEW how he felt; I've lost important things before. But I was mad at myself; why didn't I put the damned thing in my pocket? Why did I lose it? Did it fall out? But I zipped the bag!!! He said, "Mom. It was probably stolen." And I said, "NO! I was in a parent meeting for God's sake!" Daniel just looked at me & shrugged.

I was really hooked on that itouch. My family gave it to me for Mother's Day. I used that cute little electronic device all the time. It organized me, helped me exercise, and was portable entertainment. I'm about to go do some yoga, to try to release this spasm that I'm working myself into. The itouch is just a THING, after all, a lovely electronic device but a thing, none the less. I don't need it. What I need is the love and comfort of my family. I have that. My kids gave me hugs. My sister in law (my wife! :-) ) gave me mental therapy. My husband gave me his sweet words and verbal hugs (see you in less than a week, babe!) My faith in human nature remains.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GF Apple Muffins, GF Brownie bites!

I want to pass along a couple of recipes that I've made in the past week. The first one is for apple muffins. I had an excess of apples last weekend, and children asking for muffins, so we got out the grater and got to work.

When you are doing gluten free baking, you have to mix different flours together to create something that works like wheat flour. There are lots of recipes out there that call for a mixture of rice, tapioca, and potato flour, or something of the sort, plus some xanthan gum to hold everything together once it is baked. Any gluten free cookbook will give you a couple of different flour mixes, and you can pull some together for a recipe, or mix a big batch and keep it fresh in the freezer for when you need it. OR... you can go to the local health food store and pick up a bag of GF flour. Yes it is expensive. SO much more expensive than regular flour. But I always keep a bag or two handy, just in case I run out of the other stuff. Or if I have to travel. I use Pamela's flour mix, which I buy from It's much cheaper there. I like it, but I find it can make my baked goods a bit heavy.

I also have a bag of Jules brand "Nearly Normal" flour mix. I also like that, but I find that it can make my baked goods kind of dry. My favorite thing to do, when I'm in a hurry, is to mix the two together. Probably 10 different kinds of flour in there, but what the heck, it tastes good!

So, back to the muffins. Here's what I did:

1 1/4 cup Pamela's flour mix
1/4 cup Jules Nearly Normal flour mix
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large apple, grated. I used Jonagold one time and Fuji the other.

Preheat oven to 350. Stir together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the mixed dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Stir in the vanilla and the grated apple. Scoop into greased muffin tins, and bake for 18-20 minutes. Take them out and eat them up! They are approx. 20 carbs each.

I found a new recipe for GF brownies in a book by Robert Landolphi, called "Gluten Free Every Day." I found the book while cruising around Amazon, and it had some fun recipes listed that I wanted to try, like Parmesan Popover Bites, Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Tropical Mint Salsa, and more. But... we were out of GF desserts, so brownies came first.

The recipe called for an 8 x 11 pan. I don't have an 8 x 11 pan. I have an 8 x 8, and a 9 x 13, neither of which would work very well. So I had the bright idea to use my mini muffin pan instead, and make "brownie bites," and just keep an eye on the cooking time. HA. Well, they really looked great. But the darned things stuck. Yes, I did grease the pans! But 95% of them stuck to the bottom of the muffin tin, so I ended up taking the tops off, taking a knife around the edge of the rest of the brownie, and then gently reuniting top & bottom with a prayer that they'd stay together. It's a damned good thing they were delicious, after all of that. Next time I try to do brownie bites I'll either put the little papers in, or put less brownie in the tins so they don't pop up like muffin tops.

The cookbook calls for "Authentic Foods Multiblend Gluten Free Flour." I've never seen that particular brand around my stores. So I did my Pamela's/Jules mix again. Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8 x 11 inch pan.

3/4 cups butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Pamela's flour mix
1/2 cup Jules flour mix

This is so easy -- it's all done in one bowl. Put the chocolate and butter in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon, then microwave for 1 minute more. Wait... that's what the book says. My butter was frozen, and I did 2 minutes the 1st time, stirred, then only 40 seconds the 2nd time because everything was almost melted. That's all I needed.

Stir until chocolate is melted & smooth. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour until blended. His recipe calls for optional walnuts which you can add at this point (1 cup), but I'm allergic to walnuts so I left them out.

Pour into prepared pan (or try your luck with mini muffin tins!!!). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes (I only did 18 minutes with the muffin tins) or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars.

The brownies in the muffin tins ended up being 14 carbs each. That's another reason I like doing the muffin tins -- easy to count carbs that way.

Today has been pretty busy... lots of house chores and lots of cooking. What else is new? I'm going to finish my wine and prepare for tomorrow morning. More apple muffins are on the agenda.