More Branching Out with New To-Do Lists…

Alternative titles for this post included the following: “How to Survive Teenagers in the House,” “Keeping Your Sanity with Teens,” “If you thought my nagging is annoying, kid, wait until you experience yo mama’s supernagging!” and “Help Me, I Have a Teenaged Son.”

Honestly, I can’t really use any of the above alternates because The Boy is a growing into a fabulous young man. If I could harness a fraction of his drive and (hyper-)focus there is no telling WHAT I could accomplish.

So, the boring, non-antagonistic title will have to stay for now.

My strategy for success (my own, not the The Boy’s- he shall have his own) is to keep discovering new… everything: restaurants, recipes, cocktails, hikes, sports, books, friends, music, etc. Hopefully I will keep my sanity by continuing to grow myself as I watch my two teens grow.

Scratch Lab’s cookbooks- for feeding those athletes you love
The Main Man, The Bard, Wm Shakespeare

The Short List for 2017

  • Piano lessons for me (or online tutorial… anyone have any suggestions?)
  • Complete’s Survey of Shakespeare’s Plays
  • Complete a 15 mile mountain bike race this June while The Husband makes short work of the longer race
  • Tear through some fab recipes in my Scratch Labs cookbook. Because I don’t want to be eating icky bars or energy gels on the above mentioned ride.
  • Finally watch Downton Abbey (because I have to do something about this Sherlock hangover. Moffat and Gatiss- can we have more than three episodes per series? Pretty Please?)
  • And probably the most important on this list, give The Boy enough rope to learn, grow and thrive- and trust that he wont hang himself. And try to shut my mouth shut. Because he is one heck of an awesome guy.


Did you know that if you wear a green Christmas Sweater, the camera will add at least 15 pounds in a photo? Beware. Or it could just be the stress of raising a teenager. Either way, beware.

A Few of the Worthwhile Things I’ve Learned

1.  Own a cast iron skillet. Or several. And learn how to properly use and care for them.


2a.  Life is too short for mediocre coffee and bad wine. Buy the best you can afford.

2b. Even if it is just for you.

2c. Especially if it is just for you.

3.  A hybrid car is sooooo worth it.

4.  If you can make spaghetti sauce, baked chicken, and muffins from scratch you can save big bucks.

5.  Real friends stay with you until the tow truck arrives.

6.  Everyone should own at least one Hawaiian shirt. You never know when a party might break out.IMG_5604_2






7.  Electric kettles are the best!

8. So is iced tea made from plain, black tea.

9. Screen time is overrated. People are underrated.

10. Mom Advice that we don’t appreciate until later: “The days are long but the years are short.”

cute relationship quotes
Be This Person!

13. You need a community- humans are social creatures. Join and meet regularly with at least one spiritually/socially edifying group be it a church, synagog, club, society, etc.

14. Stop being so offended by everything, people. It offends me.

15. Spend time with people who lift you up and make you want to be a better person- spiritually, mentally, emotionally. And in turn, be that kind of person for others.

16. Pop your own popcorn. On the stovetop. In a heavy pot. It’s an entirely different species than the microwaved stuff.

17. Everyone thinks they are the most interesting person in the world on social media. They are all wrong. I am the most interesting person. I can prove it:

18. A trick I learned from a dear and darn near holy woman: want to be the favorite big person with all your friends’ little ones? Always carry candy to share.

19. Pay attention to details. They might be important! Or not… it really isn’t that important that there are no numbers 11 and 12 in this list.

20. Start Small. If you want to try something new every day but don’t know where to start, pick one small project- a new book, decorate an area you have neglected, try a new cuisine. Nothing big- Re-landscape front yard! Read the complete works of Shakespeare!. You’ll be surprised how great it feels to simply repaint your front door.


World’s Best Pie Crust (and Bonus Peach Cobbler Recipe, woo hoo!)

What is this? How can someone make such brazen culinary claims? The audacity!

No, really. This recipe solves a few problems that stand between you and pastry goodness, such as:

  1. Water + flour = gluten (tough crust)
  2. six ingredients, real foods
  3. really fast, easy, little work, less mess!

Food Chemistry Lesson!
When you mix flour with water, you create gluten strands. You want bread to develop a lot of gluten, bread gets a lot of kneading. Gluten makes great bread, but tough biscuits and pie crusts. Pastry dough should be moved around as little as possible.

Trader Joe's, cheap and good!
Trader Joe’s, cheap and good!

This recipe hinges on using your food processor, really cold butter, and one secret ingredient: vodka.

World’s Best Pie Crust Recipe (adapted from Alton Brown)
(for single crust)

Ingredients ready...
Ingredients ready…

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick very cold butter (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup vodka and ice water mix
(A couple of green olives, optional)

-Into your food processor bowl add the flour, sugar and salt and give them a couple hits of the mix button.
-In a graduated measuring cup, pour in 1/4 cup of water, add another 1/4 cup of vodka (now you have 1/2 cup of liquid), then add ice cubes to top it off up to the 3/4 cup line; none for the baker, yet… you have to wait a couple more minute.

Dough looks done!
Dough looks done!

-Cut butter into small cubes and add to dry mixture, pulse in the processor until the chunks of butter are rice or pea sized.

-Now you are ready to add only 1/4 cup worth of your water/vodka/ice… be honest, your cocktail. Pulse the processor blade only enough times to bring together the flour mix and liquid mix, this is where you really want to avoid overmixing. I think my dough came together in less than 10 pulses.

IMG_7203-Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour or more. Roll out as you need!

Now you can drink the remaining1/2 cup vodka/water/ice mix cocktail! This is where the optional olives come in. Be ready for a lot of great/obnoxious comments from your family

Peach Cobbler

IMG_72086-8 peaches, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon tapioca (the small, dry, dessert pudding size of tapioca)
1 recipe of the above pie crust rolled out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
optional cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top of crust (about 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed)

-In a bowl, mix peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca together.

-Butter a 9″ by 9″ glass pan (my favorite) and add peach mixture.

Extra dough on tray makes crusty cookies!
Extra dough on tray makes crusty cookies!

-Roll out dough, handling it as little as possible so it will not be tough, and slice or tear the dough into palm sized pieces to lay atop the peaches. No need to be fancy trying for a perfect 9″x 9″ crust, handle the dough as little as possible and your cobbler’s crust will be tender and flaky! Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mix on top of the crust for a nice finish, if you like. That is what I do.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lover temperature to 350 for another 30 minutes. Let the cobbler cool for ten minutes, top with ice cream if that’s what floats your boat, and enjoy!

Half gone before we got a photo. Delicious!
Half gone before we got a photo. Delicious!