Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Serendipity

All winter long, in the most horrendous of cold and windy and damp weather, I could count on one thing.  I knew that the older guy in the black running suit with the white baseball cap would always be out battling the elements too.  We always waved and smiled, going in opposite directions.  I felt a silent camaraderie with him - knowing that he was so passionate about his running that it didn't keep him from looping the park in a pleasant jog when the wind chill was in the teens. 

And then, a couple of weeks ago, it seemed we were going the same direction.  I saw him up ahead, and thought that perhaps rather than passing I'd slow to his pace and introduce myself.  I'm not one to do this - it takes me a long while to warm up to someone - but it seemed almost as though we knew each other, as we had both been in the trenches of some nasty weather running over the previous months.  He appeared well into his retirement years, and I admired his fortitude.

And so, instead of passing, I jogged alongside and we started talking.  He was really quite friendly.  He, too, had been happy to see I was the other runner out, the one pushing through the bad conditions.  A misery loves company sort of ideal.  And, on this day, it was a beautiful and sunny 60* and we had the most fun chatting.  It turned out that we had a lot in common.  Before his retirement years, he was a social worker, and had his masters in the subject and spent his career at the V.A. hospital helping others.  We talked about the rewards and frustrations of such a job.  We talked about how the zen of running over the years helps you learn to cope with the stresses.  I learned that he qualified for Boston in his youth and ran it successfully.  He's been running such a long time that he is now in a place where he's happy to just run for enjoyment, and doesn't worry so much about speed or racing anymore.

And then somehow our topic turned to fossils and arrowheads and he began talking about finding fossils in a creek bed in Texas, when he was stationed in Ft. Hood during a stint with the military.  And I mentioned in passing that I had gone to college in Texas.  He asked where and I told him Baylor.  And do you know what?  He went to Baylor too!  In all my years in Roanoke, I have not met another Baylor alum.  I've seen his car a couple of times (he has a Baylor sticker) - and always wondered.  We were delighted - I think both of us had to restrain from yelling Sic 'Em Bears right there.  We talked about some of the sociology classes there (I took a few, mixed in with my psychology background).  He attended before my time, but was part of the yell leaders for the football team, and played some basketball too.  We talked about how bad their football team used to be.  And - just like that - I knew I had a new running friend, when I least expected it.  Serendipity.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy Spaghetti Recipe

When I stumbled upon the Crazy Spaghetti recipe in my Baylor cookbook, I thought I needed to try it.  Because what kid wouldn't like a dish called Crazy Spaghetti?

Ingredients:
1 pound ground meat (turkey would be fine)
1 large onion, chopped
1 (5 ounce) bottle of soy sauce
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
1 (4 ounce) can of mushrooms (I used fresh)
1 (16 ounce) can bean sprouts (drained)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts (drained)
1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti, cooked and drained

Brown meat with onion in large skillet.  Drain fat.  Pour 1/2 bottle of soy sauce over meat.  Add cabbage, cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Add mushroom, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and remaining soy sauce.  Cover and simmer 3 minutes longer.  Add cooked spaghetti.  Cover and cook over low until heated through.

Indeed, we all enjoyed this recipe.  Next time I make it, I'll be using ramen noodles instead of spaghetti.  I think it'll give it a better Asian style.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break? Or Not.

1. I wasn't obligated to mention this, but Clif Kid sent the boys their new lemon cookie bars to try, along with some fun spring items like sunglasses and a jump rope.  The organic bars, as always with their products, were a hit with the boys.
2.  Pierce, who already had a shortened Spring Break this year, lost a chunk of it due to all the snow days.  Such is life.

3.  I've read more books this year already than I read the entirety of 2013.  I may need an intervention.

4.  At least when you frequent the library, like me, reading books is a hobby that is free.

5.  For now, I will be cutting back to blogging 3 days a week.  Nothing is wrong.  I just want to focus my time on some other things right now, and thought that blogging Monday, Wednesday, and Friday might be helpful in doing so. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cute Snow Globe Craft

In March the twins had an Art Night at their preschool.  We were so impressed with all the fun crafts and art they have been making throughout the year.  I thought I'd share my favorite.
They used clear plastic dessert plates for the globe part, and glued stock paper to the back.  The inside has a picture of them cut out to look like they are jumping in the snow.  There is also a lot of glitter on the inside.  They're even cuter in person than in picture!

That said - I hope this artwork is the only snow around our house until next December!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This is one of those recipes that I took with me to college.  I started making these apple brownies back in high school.  And have made them once a year or so since.  I have no idea where the recipe originated, since it's written on an index card and is over 20 years old.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
Frosting (see below)

Cream shortening, gradually adding sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Combine flour, salt, soda and cinnamon.  Add to creamed mixture.  Fold in apples.  Pour in 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350* for 25 minutes.  Remove and spread with frosting when slightly warm.

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans (we omit these)

Cream butter and cream cheese, gradually add sugar; beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla and pecans.

Even though it isn't apple season right now, these brownies hit the spot year-round.  Enjoy! 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Skiing in Maine

Has everyone else noticed that it's become popular to do posts of old pictures on Instagram and Facebook lately?  I don't tend to do that very often on social media sites, but I do like to share on my blog at times.  Here's a fun one of me with my brothers in Maine, circa 2004.

Sure does make me happy to see April.  Finally, right?

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Nest

On a recent trip to Dollar Tree, I noticed little birds flitting about the letters of their sign. 
Do you see "A" nest?
Talk about a 'sign' of spring.