Friday, February 27, 2009

The Best Dessert

Sorry, couldn't get a picture before
it was all gone.
I still remember the first time I ever had white chocolate. We were visiting my relatives in upstate New York during Easter. My cousins’ Easter baskets contained white chocolate bunnies. I was given a bite and have been sold on it ever since.

So when I found a recipe for dessert bars that uses white chocolate I had to give it a try. I made them Wednesday night when our college students came over and boy were they glad. I heard “this is the best dessert I have ever had” and “this is amazing.” One of the students even asked if we had enough for him to take a piece home.

So I thought I would share the recipe.

White Chocolate Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp.   salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
2 4-ounce Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes in pre-heated oven.
  • Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan. In a small bowl combine the flour and salt. In a large bowl beat the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until creamy. Add the flour mixture and mix thouroughly. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Sprinkle half of the roasted pecans on top of the mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • After removing the bars from the oven, break chocolate bars into chips and sprinkle on top while bars are still warm. Let stand for 5 minutes then spread the chocolate in a thin layer. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top.

Allow the bars to cool before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Name Game

When we prepared to become parents we spent so much time trying to come up with a name that we wanted our child to go through life with. We tried first names with middles names and checked them out with our last name. We were very lucky that we agreed without any wrangling or having to compromise.

As I have been doing family research and having to go page by page in the census between 1870 and 1930 I have found many trends. Some names still sound very pretty, but have fallen out of style. While others that were very common are no longer used and with good reason. I ran across the name Druthelia and in the same county I found it six times.

We are very fortunate as the parents of one son not to have to worry about what a daughter’s name could become when she marries. How would you like to have to go through your married life as Kitty Peed (Cape Coral, Florida) or Vaseline Love (Jackson, Tennessee)?

Kitty Peed?
What I can’t understand is a parent’s desire to be creative without thinking that being attached to a silly name can lead to ridicule. Would you buy shoes from Noway Near White of Columbus, Ohio? Like it isn’t hard enough being the youngest of twenty-two children did they really have to name the poor child Pepsi Cola Atom-Bomb Washington?

If you want to check out some more unfortunate and odd names you need to check out this site.

Have fun and be thankful your parents weren’t so weird after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Abuse of Power?

Yesterday at breakfast David was very ornery. Nothing was going to make him happy—not even homemade blueberry muffins. So at the breakfast table I tried to explain that his attitude wasn’t going to make for a great day at school. He then told me that he was mad at me because I was mean to him, just because I was the parent and was allowed to.

Hmmm, now what was this about? So after asking him about his statement I found out he felt that I was abusing my power because I made him clean his room, hang up his coat after coming back in and take off his tennis shoes when he came in from playing in the mud. I have no idea how he can imagine these common courtesies of life could ever be considered abusive.

So, I decided to teach him a little lesson about what Mom really does. I explained that he would have to plan, make, and clean up his own meal last night. I would cook the meal I had already planned and take care of Rich’s and my meal, but he was on his own. I also explained that since his room is a mess with K'Nex and Legos all over the floor, I would not be putting his laundry away. So if he wanted warm cloths in the morning he would need to put them away himself.

David began his meal prep as for an adventure, “I don’t mind, this will be fun.” It only became an issue when the food was cooking and I made him clean the items he had used in preparing his meal. The cleaning wasn’t any fun.

During the meal Rich told David he needed to eat with his fork, since David was using his fingers instead of the fork. That’'s when David whined, "then I’ll have to wash the fork!" This from the same child that in the last week had to change from using a fork to using a spoon and then back to a new fork—all duringone meal.

Following the meal he was not a happy son as he was made to clean up the pan, cup, plate and fork he used.

I am happy to say this morning’s breakfast was a much happier event for us. When we talked about the situation from yesterday I explained that he only had to take care of himself for one meal on one day. Think about what I must do when I cook for three people, three times a day and it’s every day. He looked shocked as I said this and asked “three meals?” Since he is at school he never thought about the fact that Mom and Dad still eat lunch even when he’s not here.

The room is still not clean, but the cooking, cleaning and taking trash out took a lot of his time last evening, more then he ever thought it would.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Lovely Weekend

This past Saturday was Valentine's Day and I had the day planned for my sweethearts. The night before, I had given my men their gifts—a nice bottle of wine and a movie for my hubby while David got a stuffed dog and beautiful crystal drinking glass. David loves to drink out of our fancy crystal and since he isn't always so graceful this was also a gift for us. I received a book on genealogy and a glass pitcher.

The next morning we headed out early to deliver David to Saturday school (once again.) Rich and I then headed to the local market where they were holding the "Chocolate Challenge." Local people could enter different types of chocolate for looks and taste and there were lots of chocolate venders that we were able to purchase from. We bought a few goodies for each other and some close friends. We then headed over to a great coffee shop across the street. Rich and I had breakfast and had lots of time together before picking David up.

David and me at the restaurant
After getting David we headed for lunch at a wonderful restaurant next to train tracks, just the type of place to interest David. Once again he ordered calamari and you would think he hadn't eaten in a month. There were several trips out to the porch for him as trains would go by.

The best part of the day came next and was a live play at his future high school. The nationally aclaimed drama department was putting on "Disney's Beauty and the Beast." We had heard lots of good comments about the drama department and so when I had to plunk down $10.00 a piece for a high school play I was a bit worried. But, I thought with so many school systems that have cut all their art programs due to budget problems this is one way to keep a program going.

After lunch we headed to the school a full 45 minutes before the program was to begin. When we got there we were surprised to see that the parking lot was already almost completely full. The auditorium was beautiful and very large, but was quickly filling up. There was not only a center stage and orchestra pit, but also a small stage on both sides of the main stage. Luckily we got a place up close and sat back to wait for the show to begin.

The stage settings and costumes were amazing! Everything looked so professional. The acting and singing was wonderful and the kids weren't even fazed when a prop that was to go off stage became detached from the piece that was to drag it off stage. This resulted in a wishing well right in the middle of the beasts castle. The kids acted around it and when Belle walked off stage at the end of the scene she just pushed it off.

It proved to be well worth the price of the tickets and we hope to attend more of these productions in the future. David was shocked that the kids who acted, played in the orchestra, made the sets and costumes were only a few years older then he is. He has already expressed an interest in working on the props in next year's production.
By the time we got home we were all exhausted and ready for an early bedtime.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Few Nuts in The Family Tree

As I continue my research into my family tree I have found some really interesting people. Some I am directly descended from and others I share ancestors with. One nut in the family tree was an early-day Jim Bakker.

Mary Stallard was born in Virginia on November 13, 1862. She fell in love with Ben Purnell, a traveling preacher. She and Ben eloped, her family was against the marriage and sent her brother to bring the bride back home. She convinced her brother she would kill herself if she had to return home. So instead of going home she began her life beside Ben traveling town to town holding camp meetings.

In 1903, twenty three years into their marriage Ben created “The House of David.” The members believed that Ben was the voice of the seventh angel written of in Revelation. They began their “ministry” in Brian, Ohio, but were run off due to a law forbidding cults. They then went to Benton Harbor, Michigan, and began a colony that was known for its beauty and majesty.

Members were required to give all their worldly possessions to Ben, but also to become vegetarians, grow their hair and beards, abstain from tobacco, alcohol and even sex—including married couples. The members also had to work at building, farming or religious training. The community sold homemade jellies and jams.

Their self-sustained amusement park attracted over 200,000 a year during its hey-day. The community also sent out a baseball team, a basketball team, and a band.
The “House of David” grew quickly and at one time there were several thousand members in America, England, Canada, and Australia. But the roof began to fall in and by 1927 Ben had embezzled more than three million dollars and began another cult. Mary ran Ben off. The United States government declared it a monopoly . The holdings were broken up and the workers were to receive a salary. This resulted in a name change to “Mary’s House of David.”

The official line is that Ben Purnell died during this time and was buried in Michigan. However, family history tells that a gardener was buried in his coffin and that Ben died in Argentina.

This story caught my attention and I just had to check some of it out and even found an article about the cult in Time magazine from June 17, 1966. You might also want to click on the websites for “House of David” and “Mary's House of David.” They are very interesting reads. The information from the family’s perspective, and what enlightened me about this story, is titled "The Addingtons of Virginia" and was researched by two very thorough ladies—Nancy Clark Brown and Rhoda Roberson.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mount Vernon

This past weekend Rich had to be in Northern Virginia for work, so a day trip was in order. Even though we had lived close to Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s home, we had never taken David there. Both Rich and I had taken school trips to visit this historic house. One of my school trips even included a boat ride up the Potomac to the house. One of the reasons we never took David was that as a historic landmark with much of the original furnishings it is not a good place for a child that needs to touch everything.

We were very fortunate since last week was very cold we weren't sure how long we would tour the grounds. But, the weather was beautiful with the bluest sky and just the right temperature for a light jacket.

David standing in George’s fireplace
Mount Vernon is unusual in that it never left the Washington family until a group of ladies in the early 1800s formed a group and purchased the property for $200,000.00. The ladies felt the house should remain as it was during our first president’s years in residence. The ladies were very fortunate that at the time of George Washington’s death there was a complete inventory of everything in the house, down to the smallest item. So most of the pieces in the home were in use during the Revolutionary War and the years of Washington’s presidency. The house remained open for tours during the Civil War and many soldiers on both sides passed through the house, but they were required to lay down their arms first.

David's picture up the inside of the fireplace
You know David. His favorite part of the trip was playing in the yard next to the river. His second favorite activity of the day was eating at the Mount Vernon Inn. There is a food court at the complex with pizzas and burgers, but we went for atmosphere. The Mount Vernon Inn specializes in Colonial-era food and is served by workers in period costumes. The portions were so large that we decided to save half to take home in order to save room for dessert. Since we were at George’s house I had to order a cherry pie to honor him. Yes, I know the chopping down of the cherry tree is not a true story, but I still couldn’t resist. David ate his whole meal, Rich’'s potatoes, his dessert, half of my cherry pie and half of Rich’s chocolate cake.

This is a must-see place for anyone in the area.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Failure to Communicate

Sunday night when David was putting his toys away (O.K. throwing his toys into a container in the closet) the bucket broke. This resulted in the cry "I can't finish my room because the bucket is broken." Oh so very convenient.

Yesterday morning I went out to Target to get more containers in different sizes for his toys. So last night I made David clean out his entire closet and place the different toys in their own containers with lids. So all the Legos went in one container, the K'Nex in another, and so it went. This made him overjoyed. (Ok, I'm being a bit sarcastic.) The job he got out of the day before because of the abuse in putting his things away resulted in an entire evening of cleaning. After two and a half hours he called to me “Mom, I'm finally finished.”

When I arrived in his room for the inspection you can imagine my surprise when the sight that greeted me included clothes on the floor toys stacked in the corner and papers just shoved onto his bookshelf. This is not my idea of clean, but he claims he didn't see what the problem was. When I calmly told him “Honey, this is not clean” he told Rich I was being really mean because I called him “Honey.” He even told Rich I didn't understand how hard it is because even the kitchen doesn’t get this dirty.

Rich explained the reason it doesn’t is that I am constantly working at it to prevent a massive problem for our family. I will say the toys in the containers in the closet were done very well and that was clean. But there was more work to do.

He did have to clean the rest of the room and finished just minutes before bedtime. I am hoping this process will show him he will only delay and increase his work when it’s not done correctly right away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Don't Like That

When David was a baby there was only one thing he wouldn't eat—pears. Everything else was devoured. As a toddler he would eat everything in sight. When we ate out with several of my cousins and their families when he was just 15 months old he ate all his food and half of everyone else’s at the table.

When he became about five years old he would go through spurts where he only wanted to eat one thing at every meal. For about a week it would be hot dogs then he would refuse to eat them because he didn't like them. Then it was scrambled eggs, then ... well you get the gist. At around this time he convinced himself he didn't like anything with barbecue sauce on it, it couldn't even touch the rest of his food or he would refuse to eat it. If I made ribs, his had to be cooked separately without any sauce.

Just a few months ago after cooking a dinner with one set of chicken with barbecue sauce it and another without he decided he wanted the chicken with the sauce—aargh! I explained that he would need to eat the chicken that was made for him. This of course only made him want the chicken with sauce even more. So I let him use the leftover sauce on his. That did it. “I love barbecue sauce,” was the new refrain. He even laughed over his long refusal to eat anything with barbecue sauce.

This past weekend I made ribs and Rich and I had to fight to get any of the ribs before David scarfed them down. He even requested that I save three of the ribs so he could take them to school the next day for lunch.