Friday, October 29, 2010

Her Name was Mrs. Pfunder...

Mrs. Pfunder was my French teacher in eighth and ninth grade.  When I was in seventh grade, she was my "Comparative Languages" teacher. The languages we compared were German, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hungarian all of which, she spoke fluently.

She was one of those teachers who demanded respect from her students, respect in the form of fear.  When not in the classroom though, we made endless fun of her name which unfortunately rhymed with "thunder" and was not too far a jump to the word"underware" the sure fire giggle inducer of my generation of pre-teen

I cannot fathom what set of circumstances caused this talented woman to find herself teaching in a small town junior high school instead of teaching advanced language arts at one of the nearby institutes of higher, much higher learning.  I remember her as being very demanding, stern, and maybe to my seventh grade self, a bit scary.  I also remember "Crepe Day" when we were allowed to see the softer side of Mrs. Pfunder.

A sign-up sheet was passed around the class for each of us to write our "French name" (mine was Antoinette as in "Je m'appelle Antoinette") on the blank line beside the food item we would supply for the big day.  The ingredients were simple: whipped cream in a can, strawberry jam, and Mrs. Pfunder supplied the crepe batter and the crepe maker.  Life was sweet on crepe day, sweet and full of sticky-faced, sugar-filled French students.

To this day, I cannot hear the word crepe (Mrs. Pfunder pronounced it so that it rhymed with step, though many folks pronounce it so that it rhymes with cape) without fond thoughts of Mrs. Pfunder.  It is because of this teacher and her work in my junior high days, that I was undaunted by a crepe recipe I came across a few years ago in a magazine.

Since that day, I've made many versions of the crepe for my gang, some for dessert, and some as the main course of our dinner.  It is the Savory Crepe (the main course kind) that has become my "go-to" meal when I'm running low on energy, ingredients, and time.  Soooooo, for all of us who plan on running low on energy, ingredients, and time...

Recipe for...let's call 'em "Crepes Antoinette"

Crepe Batter:
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 and 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons butter (melted) for the skillet

Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together.
Add milk and eggs and stir.  Batter will be thin.  Whisk to remove any lumps.

Crepe-making is made even more simple with a well thought-out arrangement of batter bowl, butter bowl, cooling plate, and crepe holding container around the stove top.  Here's my set-up:
(The cooling plate is off to the left of the skillet.)

Heat skillet over low to medium heat.  Brush with melted butter

and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the butter in the skillet.
Now, pretend you're sporting the fluffy white chef's hat and swirl the skillet until the batter is evenly coating over the bottom of the skillet.
Allow the batter to cook for about one minute before turning the crepe over so that the other side can brown.  The best way to tell if the crepe is ready to be turned is to watch the edges, which will turn dry and a tad brown when the first side is cooked well.

Turning the crepe is where you earn your chef's hat. With a rubber spatula ease the dried edges from the pan and then take the edge into the index and thumb of each hand and gently flip.
(Does this crepe make my hand look fat?)
If you find the crepe too hot to flip with your bare fingers, use tongs to do the job.  I have a pair of bamboo tongs that work nicely. If you don't have tongs that work well, turn the crepe out onto a dinner plate and slide it back into the skillet, uncooked side down. (I usually have to begin this way until my fingertips take on their asbestos-ness.)

Once the crepe is turned, cook it for slightly less than a minute longer or until the second side begins to look like the first.  IMPORTANT: Don't let your skillet get too hot.  I usually have to continue to edge the heat down on my skillet to make sure I didn't burn the crepes.  After the crepe has finished cooking, remove it from the skillet and place it on a plate to cool.

 Re-butter your skillet and begin again with the next crepe.  You must re-butter between each crepe, trust me.  Forgetting is just ugly.

Move the cooled crepe to the awaiting container.  Crepes can be stored in an air-tight container for up to three days in the fridge.

After refrigerating, you can fill the crepes with desired filling and microwave to heat. We place two filled crepes on a plate and heat for about 30 seconds.  Time will vary according to filling ingredients.

Speaking of filling...tonight we filled ours with a cream cheese and chicken mixture (and a few other things that were hanging around in the fridge).

Cream Cheese & Chicken Filling
8 oz. cream cheese (can use low fat)
1/3 cup sour cream (more if you need to thin mixture a bit)
1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked chicken (cut into bite size pieces)
3 gentle shakes of onion powder (shhhhhhh)
1/2 teaspoon dried chives (or 1 teasp. fresh) (again, shhhhhh)
salt and pepper to taste
anything else you'd like to toss in...
whole kernel corn (drained)

Tonight we added corn, left over from lunch, and olives (well to a few of them we added olives, you remember who I'm cookin' for).

All that's left is to place about 1/4 cup (two or three heaping serving spoon size dollops) onto the crepe and fold.

NOTE: The crepes can double for dessert by filling them with fruit preserves and sweetened sour cream or yogurt and then drizzle chocolate sauce over the folded creation. Also, banana slices and honey...or peanut butter and jelly...or the possibilities are endless!

Bon Appetite! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big Ugly

I can't remember a year when the autumn display has been more vibrant.  The scenes out of the windows of The Wright Place alone are spectacular.  The view over the backyard fence is one of my favorites...

The view down our street is quite charming as well...
The foggy hills in the distance are picturesque out our side windows...
The same view after the fog lifts makes me want to sing John Denver tunes...
And...out the kitchen windows, the view that we gaze upon more than any other...

Big Ugly, as we affectionately refer to the eyesore that greets our pre-coffeed eyes each morning.  Big Ugly, as dead as dead can be, is safely, if unfortunately, not located on our property.  It's main claim to fame, besides polluting our, otherwise glorious view, is providing a lovely perch for the gang of shiny black crows that await their feast of our garbage each Tuesday morning.
Each time we have a storm which knocks out our power, the outage is always blamed on downed trees in our area.  Not Big Ugly.  Big Ugly stands firm through the wind and the rain and the snow and the ice.

  It may lose a limb or two...
...yet Big Ugly stands firm.
"I think that I shall never see
 A tree as dead as Big Ugly.
This tree which should soon someday be
Cut to the ground most hastily

Friday, October 22, 2010

Signs of the Times

My family and I have been keeping the roads hot these days, both in our own town and in towns further flung.  As we traveled we noticed many, many church marquees which were...well, signs of the times.
True enough!

The road we were on, merely took us to our place. 
We're still awaiting God's Place!

Ha! Love it!

Do you like this one?
I like this one too.

This wise church sent someone on sabbatical...and
...that someone returned.

Is this sign really necessary?
I'm not sure that this sign is really necessary.

And finally, the most risk taking church I know...
I found some pictures of potential attendees...

(My man thinks that the above church sign means Un-Die Sunday.  I prefer to think otherwise. Surely they'd have used a dash? Surely they'd have used a dash.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where I've Been...

I know I'm overdue for a post but you'll have to excuse me for just another day.  The UPS man delivered a beautiful little brown box to my driveway a few days ago and I've not been able to concentrate very well since.

AND did you know...

...after THREE years, the new book by Jan Karon is out.

It's been a good week for this Book Nerd!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Agony of Da-Feet!

{Once more I issue the warning:  This is Final PART (3) of a rather detailed and tedious story involving my feet.  As previously stated I completely understand and VERY MUCH agree with any feelings of dread that may be involved in the act of reading about another person's feet and the troubles thereof.  Please, do not feel in any way obligated to begin at the beginning with Part One in which I begin to explain just how I got into this present situation.  Also please feel free to skip Part Two where I go on and on about why the solution to my foot problem is such a harrowing one.  If, however, you enjoy reading about ghoulish medical treatments and the doctors who love them, click HERE for Part One and continue on to Part Two and share in ...The Agony of My Feet.}

The nurse on the other end of the line said that there was an opening on Thursday afternoon for the "procedure."  I fretted and I whined. I worried and I complained. I wore my poor Man's ears O.U.T.!  By the time I'd awakened on Wednesday morning, I decided that my feet were healed.  All better, no need to fear.

 I texted my Man and told him that I was going to cancel the appointment if my feet continued to feel good.  He reluctantly said to do what ever I felt I needed to do, but to be sure that the problem was fixed. At this point I would like to say that my Man, my Man who is "terrified-ER" of needles and injections (and the children's loose teeth, by the way) than I am, had NOT been commiserating with my plight with as much earnestness as I felt was necessary in this grave situation. "You've had four C-sections, you can handle this!" he said time and again.  What I wanted to hear was, "Oh you poor thing, I can't let your precious feet endure such harsh treatment. Forget the injection darling, I'll carry you around in my arms until your feet are all better."  Apparently, chivalry is dead.

I called my friend at the doctor's office and asked if it was vital that I receive the injection sooner than later.  It was not vital that I be shot sooner than later, so I CANCELLED the date of doom.

About one hour later, my feet hurt so bad that I almost called her back and rescheduled. I just couldn't make the call though.  At church later that evening, I saw my friend, the receptionist, and told her that I was a mental case and that I'd be calling her back tomorrow.  She smiled and said that there were still a few appointments open the next day.  I called mid-morning the next day and the nurse who has given the children most of their shots and has weighed their little baby-selves each visit happened to answer.  "Hi Mrs. L, " I said, "It's me again, I've been driving Mrs. C nuts for the last few days, I'm trying to figure out what to do about my feet."

"Yes," she said smiling so much I could hear it over the phone, "she told me."  "Hmmmm," I wondered, "Did she tell you that I was driving her nuts, or that I was having foot trouble?" I didn't have the mental energy to dwell on it long because Nurse L continued speaking, "I've had it done and it is uncomfortable...." she continued to describe just why and how it was uncomfortable and then said, " do you want to come in?"
"NO!" I answered honestly, "but you'd better schedule me."
"A 3:15 just opened up for you today, do you want it?"
"NO!" I said again, "but put my name down."

"I'm gonna get that shot in my foot," I told the kids, looking for the sympathy I felt I was due and was not receiving from my Man.
"Mom!" Meg said with feeling, "Dad will be so happy." (Read: Dad will be so happy not to have to keep hearing about your feet and your fear and your fanatics!)
"Oh Mom," Cole said gravely, "are they gonna give you a knock out pill or something first? That sounds awful." Ahhhh, music to my ears.

Going on concurrently was a flurry of text messaging between my husband, and a friend who had recently had the same "procedure" preformed on his heels, and me.  My Man was in the middle, "R says they'll spray cold stuff on your heel and you won't feel the stick, it'll just feel really warm. He knows, he's had it done twice." RED FLAG RED FLAG!

"TWICE??? Why twice?" Time passed and the answer was, "I don't know, he doesn't have the same thing you do so maybe that's why."
"What does he have?" I texted back.
"I don't know," typed he, "I just know it's different than that thing you said. Don't worry about it so much, it can't be as bad as you are imagining."
I really didn't agree with his reasoning. Not. At. All. I decided at that moment that my Man really needed to accompany me to the "procedure." He agreed and our Helper Extraordinaire agreed to come tend to the children in the meantime.

"Gretchen, you can come on back now," said Nurse L. "Are you ready?"
"NO!" I said to her for the third time that day.
"Now I've had this done two or three times, it's not really that bad."
"Mrs. L, " I explained, "YOU are a NURSE and nurses are tough women, I AM NEITHER."
"You'll do fine." she said.
"That's just what I told her," said my that man that I married.

I could hear the doctor coming down the hall, I loaded up my iPod and got my headphones ready to plug into my ears to block out the sound of what surely would be my screaming.  Our family doctor, who by the way, was in med school with my crazy brother-in-law
(Mark, in the middle of a water fight with my MOTHER, in her kitchen.)

and has a similar sense of humor and is YOUNGER than me, greeted me saying,
"OK, I see you've got your music, is there anything else we can do for you here, light a few candles, dim the lights, get you a fluffy pillow?" (My Man thought this funny.) "Really," he continued, "the thought of it  is much worse than the real thing. I just had the same thing done to my shoulder this morning. Oh, OK" he said when I leveled him a look that said, "Your shoulder is lots softer than my heel." Dr. E picked up my foot and said, "Where does it hurt the worst, that's where the injection needs to be." I explained and then listened as the doctor said...

{ALERT: If you are "delicate" like me, what comes next could make you lose consciousness. You may want to skip over until you see ********** across the screen, after that you should be safe.}

"It looks like I'll need to inject here in the side of your heel and then work my way down to the place in the center of your heel. But don't worry, there's numbing stuff in with the cortisone so it will numb as I go." CUTE. "Wouldn't it be better to numb BEFORE you go?" I wondered.
Then from the far corner of the room comes a voice, "Did she tell you that her other foot is hurting her as well?" that man I married.  "Do you know what's hurting on HIM?" I wanted to suggest to the doctor, but instead asked, "How do I keep from having to have a second shot in this foot?"
"Well, this is a step in the process.  Next, you'll have to go to physical therapy if this doesn't help. But it doesn't hurt to try this first."
"Really," screamed my frightened brain, "is the Physical Therapist on vacation this week?  Why can't we start with that??"

"I'll be right back I've got to go get the biggest needle I can find," he joked.

"DARRINNNN, come over here and let me show you what he's going to do to my foot!!" I explained and pointed to illustrate the good doctor's plan.  Finally, my Man paled a bit and gave me the sympathetic look I'd been seeking all along.  Soon after, the doctor returned, and reassessed the situation with my foot and decided to go with a smaller needle and "go in from the bottom of my heel."
Which he proceeded to do. It stung, then it hurt, then it was over.

**********Safe to proceed after this point for the faint of heart************

As my foot began to grow warm and numb, the doctor said, "When you wake up in the morning, you're gonna hate me. It will really hurt bad tomorrow."
Surely he realized that I wasn't too fond of him at present, but I nodded in understanding and tried to take in the information he was giving me.  Last of which was, if this shot helped, I should schedule my other foot's procedure sometime next week. 

The nurse brought in a snazzy pink camouflage band-aid and applied it to the puncture wound in my heel. 

I asked them if they couldn't put my foot in a full cast so I'd have a little something more to show for all of the trauma I'd endured and all of the fuss I'd made.  My friend from church made sure I got a sticker from the basket for a reward and I left the doctor's office feeling very proud to have remained conscious.  

Since my Mom texted me on the way to the doctor's office, "Call me after they revive you and you can see the numbers on the phone," I called her to report that it was all over and that no reviving had been necessary for me or my Man. "Wow!" she said in surprise, "you two are growing up!"  
"On that topic," I said, "tell Dad to call me when he gets home."

Later that evening after the children and my Man had left the roost for a bit, my phone rang, "Hey Babe," my Dad said, "how's your foot?"
"Well, Dad lemme tell you allllll about it...but first, you owe me a Sam's Club size bag of BlowPops!"
(On a related note, I'm headed to the dentist today. 
FEAR NOT, I'm not even thinking about blogging about it!)

**Update**My foot is not experiencing the complete angels-singing-from-the-heavens relief that I'd been expecting, but with some stretching and Aleeve, things seem to be moving in the right direction! I have not decided to put my other foot up for any procedure as yet.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Streak of Wimp

{This post is Part 2 of a very involved story about my feet. If you think you won't possibly be interested in reading about my feet, you are probably correct.  If that is the case, don't click here to read the first part of the story, just check back in a few days when I'll probably have a recipe for something sweet or fall-ish posted or more likely a picture of a child making a goofy face or reading a book.  If you are one of those curious folks who delight in strange tales of horror, click here for the first part of the story and then continue reading below.}

I have a terribly wide "streak of wimp" running through my veins. This streak goes on pure parade in the presence of needles which is why my parents have had to scoop my limp body off of many a doctor's office floor.  This has caused my Mom, the registered nurse, no small amount of embarrassment.  I remember the time my Dad told me if I didn't pass out when I got a shot that I was due to receive that afternoon, he'd bring me a treat when he came home from work.  Happily, I survived the shot without passing out and even succeeded in driving myself home from the doctor's office.  When my Dad got home, he produced a BlowPop sucker from his pocket and awarded me for my bravery as promised.  I think that the reason for my shot that day, was to get the necessary boosters for immunizations to enter college.

Once, I came down with a bad cold/flu and so decided to stop in to the local "quick care" to see what they could do for me.  "Well," the doctor said, "your best option is the shot, it will get you better faster than anything else."  The nurse loaded up the syringe and gave me the shot. It did not hurt at all. Unfortunately my "streak of wimp" had already been launched and down I went.  I didn't actually pass out, but came so close two or three times in the next few minutes that it became obvious to all involved that I would have to find alternative transport back to Mom and Dad's.  Since my Mom was at home watching my children at the time, she was unavailable to assist me.  My Man (a fellow sufferer of needle aversion)  wasn't able to travel home with us, so being a few states away, he was not an option.  The task of my retrieval this time, fell to my Dad.  No BlowPop for me that day!

My last trip to the office of our family doctor had been rewarding and blissfully uneventful.  The Physician's Assistant listened to my complaints about my heels, asked me a few questions, and said, "You've got a classic case of plantar faciitis."

Google Health reports that, plantar faciitis is the "inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the plantar fascia can cause heel pain and make walking difficult." 
I took great comfort in the word classic and in the treatment which consisted of two prescriptions and instructions to roll a frozen water bottle under my heel throughout the day.  After three or four days of medication and iced water bottles, I was as good as new.  Then I finished the medication, and my pain came back, this time seeming worse than before because I now remembered how it felt to be pain free.

So, you can imagine the mental earthquake that took place when I called the Doctor's office to ask if there might be a way to continue on the medicine that had helped my feet so much the week before, and the kind receptionist, who is also a friend of mine, said, "He's going to want to put Cortisone in your heels." My friend asked the good doctor if I could have more medication and then had the nurse call me and tell me that there was an opening available in two days for my "procedure".  Part of my quaking brain was hoping that the "procedure" for getting the Cortisone into my heels was a "rub-on" cream or something, but the other part of my brain was alerting my "streak of wimp" to strike up the band because it was time for the parade to begin...

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Blame the Flip-Flops

My son just kissed me good night on his way to bed. It's a bit late for an eleven-year-old to be going to bed, but he's been doing a noble duty: cleaning the kitchen.  He and his dad cleaned up a very messy kitchen while I sat on the couch and watched TV.  The kitchen was awfully messy because I baked today. I was excused from clean up because...
  • a) I tried a new supper dish and it was a keeper.
  • b) I made two, count 'em two pies for dessert.
  • c) We had a v-e-r-y long v-e-r-y tedious day of school or 
  • d) I had an injection in my heel today and I'm supposed to stay off of my feet this evening.
If you guessed any of the above, you'd be correct!

It all started way back in July during Vacation Bible School at church.  I love VBS week.  I enjoy the weeks leading up to it as well because I get to spend lots of time on a project that, unlike many in my season of life, has a beginning,

a middle,

a definite end,
and it didn't have to be done again the next day!

After the backdrop is complete, VBS begins.  This year the base of operations was the Fellowship Hall.  It was a perfect place for the opening of VBS, the closing of VBS, and the music (and the craft area, and the snack station...).  For all of its tropical appeal, this collection of gussied up cardboard never left the Fellowship Hall.  Never. The same could be said of me, well, not really.  I went home to sleep and eat and enjoy my kiddos and my niece who joins us each year for the big event.  Its a tradition. It just wouldn't be VBS without her!

During the month of July, I spent an awful lot of time on that rock-solid tile on the floor.  That wouldn't have been a big deal except that for nearly 100% of that time, my shoe of choice was the flip-flop.  The flip-flop, one of the staples of summer, is surely a harmless shoe option. It's easy on, easy off, cool feet, cool colors, easy on the wallet, showy for the flashy polish on the toes.  Here at the Wright Place, we hold flip-flops in high esteem. Kate got very creative with hers this summer.

While singing with the VBS kids and perhaps bouncing up and down on my flip-flops just a bit in the "Rainforest" with the tile floor, I may have done some damage to my feet.  I chose to deal with the pain "like a man" and ...IGNORE it! This was a fine strategy until I began to realize that my peppy stride had become a grimace-filled shuffle.  A grimace-filled shuffle which would not be fun to walk next to if one were, say a ten-year-old girl at the mall, or a five-year-old girl at a mall, or an eleven-year old boy on the sidelines of a football field.  

My pace was perfect for pushing Molly in the stroller. In fact, the stroller was necessary as my walker to survive any shopping at all. 
It began to hurt each day like someone had taken a hammer and beat my heels with it and then said, "Keep up with those precious kids today now, go, go, go!" My morning trips to the coffee maker were getting longer and longer. I began planning meals according to how long I had to stand up to fix them. I let the laundry go because I had to go up and down the stairs to accomplish the task (OK really, we ALL know that I let the laundry go all the time, it just sounds so much better to have a real excuse!).  It was simply TIME to take care of the feet.
I'll take you to the doctor with me for the next post. 
Fear not, there are NO actual pictures, just my mental ones!

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