Monday, April 27, 2015

Living in my daydream

For years while we lived in Colorado, I would wish we could move back to New Jersey. I would imagine what it would be like to take my kids on walks in all the places I used to enjoy. One of the places I would daydream about was the old railroad bed that had been make into recreation trails. One such trail used to run right near my house, so in the years of high school, college and then into my pre-married adult life, I would spend hours every week, just walking the trail. Once I walked it from my house in Blairstown, NJ all the way to Stroudsburg , PA. I had a lot of free time then. 
I recently got my hands on a double jogging stroller (before that I was using a tandem double stroller with little solid wheels...way too bumpy for on the the trail.)
So for the past week, I have been exploring the part of the trail that runs near us here in this part of Jersey. When I watch my girls speed ahead of me on their bikes,  their jackets puffing out behind them in their wake, I know one of my daydreams has come true. So often, daydreams just fade into memory, lost in the impossibility of the wish. I am so glad to be living this dream.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Chocolate pudding

Few things are as much a comfort food as chocolate pudding. One of my favorite childhood memories is of going to my Oma and Opa's house. I would always be rude and look in their refrigerator, hoping to find Swiss Miss chocolate pudding cups. (My mom never bought such things, and I never understood why...until I had kids of my own.)
Her apartment was a treasure chest full of goodies, M&Ms in the living room hutch, chocolate pudding in the fridge, all sorts of German cookies or tins of dutch butter cookie assortments, each type stacked in crinkly little paper cups.
Well, I thought my Oma always ate such things and I loved her for it. It was just recently however that she informed me that she bought those pudding cups for me and my sister, knowing we would peek into her fridge, hoping for a treat.
My love of chocolate pudding has remained unhindered by my accumulation of years. Yet, I hate the waste of pre-made pudding in plastic cups. I have tried a barrage of different pudding recipes, all either too lengthy or too expensive to make on a whim (and when I think of chocolate pudding, I usually want to eat chocolate pudding NOW!) Recently, I came across a simple yet tasty recipe online. I have made it a few times now and it is always good. It doesn't need adjectives like "sinfully delicious", or "absolutely addictive" to describe it, but you don't always need the most amazing treat. Sometimes homey and comforting is just right.
I cut the sugar in half from 1 cup to 1/2 cup, but its is still plenty sweet enough for us! A half cup of maple syrup also works in place of the half cup of sugar, if you prefer.

The entire time that I have been typing this, my boys ages 5 and 2 have been jumping on me and asking, " Is the puddin done yet? Is it cold enough?" Then they run into the fridge and stick their fingers into the pudding. They are now a mess and so it the pudding.
Of course, you can eat it warm, but don't tell them. I am trying to get them to wait for lunch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A plague of grackels

The names for groups of birds are so romantic and unique, sometimes so much so as to seem to have been made up by bored children. Is it not logical that a group of birds should be called a flock, just like a group of cows is a herd; straightforward and simple. But no, the animal kingdom is full of specialized names. A male duck is a drake,a baby swan is a cygnet, a young cow a heifer, and so it goes.
Recently, I purchased a laminated bird identification chart for my five-year-old son to take on walks with us. When he sees a new bird, we find it on the chart and then he can make a tick mark next to the picture with a Sharpie marker (the only time I ever give a young child access to permanent markers.)
One of our recent discoveries was the presence of grackles in the world. I never noticed these mockingbird shaped black birds with iridescent feathers before. They are bigger then a blue jay but smaller and slimmer then a crow. I guess I just assumed that they were starlings before, since they hang out in groups. They are in fact also considered a pest bird by farmers, but I love to see them hoping about in the yard, doing whatever it is that grackles do. Especially on a gray day, drizzle falling thick from the sky, the air and sky mixed together in a blanket of grey moisture. I was telling my son, "Look there is a flock of grackles in the yard," when I rethought my words. That was too boring. I hoped there was a more picturesque name for the birds converging in small numbers in the backyard. If the Internet be trusted (and I hope my sources weren't just pulling my leg), a group of grackles in called a plaque or an annoyance. I chose plague. If the worst plague I encounter is this group of birds, then I am a fortunate women indeed.
They don't seem all that annoying, much less a plague, but then I am not growing anything in this backyard. If I have my own berry bushes one day, maybe they will decimate my harvest. Hopefully they like grain. I will probably never grow grain in my backyard. Grackles would continue to be a pleasant presence for me then, and the group name just quaint trivia, like a parliament of owls or a murder of crows. A murder? Weird, but wonderful.

One cat should be called a murder, all by himself. Notice how there are no birds at the feeder? Not even a single grackle.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Spring!

I used to take such nice pictures with my 35mm camera. I hate taking photos with my tablet/phone. They always look flat and generic. All you photo bloggers and facebookers out there who take such beautiful shots amaze me. Hats off to you!
Forsythia in bloom has always ment spring for me. Real spring with warm days and shirtsleaves rolled up to my elbows, no more wooly scarfs. Time for linen pants and sandels, cardigan sweaters instead of puffy coats zipped up to my chin.
My mother recently told me that as a child, pussywillows always signaled freedom from winter for her. Now, I will always look for them. They are soft, fuzzy harbingers and they only last a few days before they open into yellow puffy flowers that float apart in the breeze, scattering themselves to the four winds.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What my real life looks like

This is a picture someone would post on facebook. Doesn't it look nice. It gives the impression that I am an excellent housekeeper.
This is how my kitchen actually looks right now. Two boys, some toy trucks and an emptied cupboard...I wrote letters to my friends. Life is full of trade-offs. Now, instead of blogging I will go clean up. No wonder I haven't blogged since last year.