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February 26, 2006

Making Kuchen Memories

Most children have vivid memories of being handed chocolate chip cookies or some other round cookie treat when they visited their grandmas.

Visits to my German Russian grandmas were heralded with slices of another round treat – this one topped with rich custard and dotted with delicious fruit. We called it kuchen, the German word for cake, but it is unlike any cake Betty Crocker ever made.

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Kuchen is more like a fruit pie or a tart, with sweet roll dough for the crust. Everyone has his or her preference but apple, prune, apricot, peach and rhubarb are favorites. Some German Russians add dry curd cottage cheese for “kasekuchen� or cheese kuchen. As other influences have made themselves known, people have added such “exotic� ingredients as chocolate chips, strawberries or pineapple. German Russians living in Kansas and other more southern Central Plains states make “blackberry� kuchen with the berries in question from a variety of the nightshade plant.

About a month ago, I developed a craving for kuchen. The easiest way to fix that urge would be to make some myself. Funny, I didn’t know how.

So, I emailed my friend and fellow hometown gal Carol Just and asked if she would teach a group of other German Russian kuchen neophytes. She agreed and an e-mail invitation quickly went out.

Soon nine people ranging in age from early 30s to late 60s had Saturday, Feb. 25, on their calendars. They arrived at my house that day bearing pie pans, large ceramic crocks, old fashioned aprons and the need to reconnect with their heritage, to learn how to make a childhood staple before those who could teach us were gone.

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We had grown up in different places – from North Dakota to Kansas, Montana to California. Everyone had different memories of how kuchen was made by their family members. But the basic process, we knew, was the same.

Carol promised that, with her recipe, we could make an entire batch of kuchen in two hours. We actually made four batches, which did take us a little over our target, but by the time we were finished, 24 golden custard-filled treats filled us with nostalgia, a sense of accomplishment and not a few tummy rumblings.

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Here is the recipe. It is so easy that even I, a well-known failure at baking round cookies, can do it. Now I can have kuchen, my favorite round sweet treat, anytime I want!

GERMAN-RUSSIAN CUSTARD KUCHEN

From Carol Just

Sweet Roll Dough:

4 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
½ C shortening*
½ C. sugar
1 pkg yeast**
3 eggs, beaten. (The eggs should be a room temperature.)
1 C warm milk, divided. (You can warm the milk in the microwave to body temperature, as if you were heating a baby bottle.)

Mix flour, salt, sugar and shortening as you would a pie crust - to a fine crumb.

Dissolve the yeast in ½ C warm (not boiling) milk. Add eggs and remaining warm milk to the yeast mixture. The liquid should get foamy as the yeast becomes active. If the yeast is not working, perhaps because the milk was not warm enough, you can add a pinch of sugar to feed it. Once the yeast has achieved the desired foaminess, it can be added to the flour mixture.

Form a “well� in the flour mixture and pour in the yeast liquid. You can mix this dough with a spoon, pastry blender or your hands. Only knead the dough enough to get all the flour moist. Do not overwork it. It should form a shiny, rounded ball. If the dough is too dry, you can add a little water or milk. Let it rise in a warm place covered with a dish towel.*** By the time the custard has been prepared, the dough will be raised enough to be ready. (If your home is drafty, you can preheat your oven to 200 degrees, shut it off and put the dough in there.)

If you have a “crock-type� bowl that is great. I don’t, so I use a regular stainless steel mixing bowl. This recipe will make enough dough for five 9-inch pie pans or six 8-inch pie pans.

Custard Filling:

While the dough is rising, mix the custard filling with a hand mixer or mix-master on low until the filling reaches a creamy consistency. Then put it into a double boiler. (Water must already be boiling). Stir constantly as it thickens. If it gets too thick, add milk and keep stirring.

(If you don’t have a double boiler, don’t worry. You can just carefully cook it in a regular pan, stirring often. Some recipes don’t even call for the custard to be cooked, but you would probably need to bake the kuchen a little longer.)

6 eggs
1 and ½ Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 C sugar
3 C whipping cream****
1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla
Cinnamon

This recipe fits a regular size double boiler and fills 5-6 kuchen.

When the dough has risen sufficiently (about twice the size), divide it into five or six parts by cutting it with a sharp knife. Rub a little Crisco or lard on your hands. Take a chunk and work it with your fingers into a little pancake shape. Then put it into the pie pan and flatten it evenly, pushing the dough only a half-inch to an inch up the sides.

Top with desired cut-up fruit. If using apples, choose a tart variety such as Granny Smith. Peel, core and slice it into thin pieces. If using dried apricots or prunes, you need to soften them in warm water by letting them soak. Or cover them with water and put them in the microwave for one to two minutes. Divide them in two with your fingers before putting on the crust. For canned, sliced peaches, drain and pat dry with paper towels. For rhubarb, cut the stalks into small pieces. If the rhubarb is frozen, allow to thaw and then pat dry. For cottage cheese, use the dry curd variety and mix with sugar. If you cannot find dry curd, you can use the large curd and drain first.

Carefully pour two ladles of the custard filling over the fruit and dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. You may want to set the timer for 15 minutes, check and then bake longer.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest. Custard will set as it cools.

I find that I can usually do this project from start to finish in 2 hours. The kuchens can be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and reheated later in the oven or microwave after they’ve thawed.

*You can use lard if you can get it. Crisco or any vegetable shortening will do.

**I use “quick rise� yeast to speed things up.

*** To honor my heritage I try to cover the dough with a “day-of-the-week� dish towel that a long-deceased relative embroidered for my wedding 37 years ago. Trust me….the dough likes being blessed with the wisdom of elders.

**** If you are REALLY worried about your cholesterol, you could use 1/2 and 1/2.

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This recipe (slightly modified) can be found on Pg. 61 of the “Kochbuch Der Deutschen aus Russland,� a cookbook published in 1968 by the Rugby, ND, Heart of America Chapter of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS). Irene Friederich submitted the recipe. Irene and her husband, Judge Ray Friederich (both deceased), were founding members of GRHS.

Introducing Flickr

My husband continues to push the envelope on new blog development. Over on his blog, the Viking Underground, he has introduced mobile blogging, podcasting, videocasting, and interactive polls. Som of these things has introduced to my blog as well.

I now bring you the beta-testing phase of Flickr. Flickr is the best way to store, sort, search and share your photos online. Flickr provides a way to organize them in such a way to make it very easy for you to navigate through them.

Over the years I have had people ask me for the original sized photo so they can download them and make their own prints and such. On the other hand, I've had people ask for smaller versions as they have limited broadband resources. With Flickr, the issue is solved.

Click on any of the photos in the "Jackie's Flickr category in the navigation area to the right of this entry and you will be able to view more photos from the kuchen party. Just click on any of the kuchen related photos and this will take you to the actual photo within my Flickr account. Notice the "All Sizes" link above the photo? Click on that and you will have your choice of 5 photo sizes to view from. You can also run your own slideshow.

Enjoy!

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Success Planting for Year-Round Pleasure� by Christopher Lloyd. Just started: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell� by Susanna Clarke, at Brian’s recommendation.

Listening to: “Outlander� by Diana Gabaldon. Romantic time travel in Scotland. What a combo!

Graham’s current favorite: He has moved on to yet another series of chapter books –
�The Littles,� both the originals by John Peterson and those adapted by Teddy Slater.

Remaining Garden Chores

Start reading through those garden catalogs that are piling up and make some decisions!

Clean out my gardening tote. It’s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

While watching a television program, “That was in the old times when everything was in black and white.�

“My superhero name is Speedy Boy. I don’t fight crime until nighttime.�

“Mom, do you love snow? You should because it makes a blanket for your flowers when they sleep.�

“Pteradons make sounds like the chickens of the dinosaurs.�

Posted by maasx003 at 5:30 PM

February 15, 2006

Going for Gold

I read this morning that the USA received its first gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Gardeners don’t have such opportunities to win medals, but there are opportunities for competition.

We have done all our major landscaping projects with Dundee nursery, working with landscape architect Jay Siedschlaw. Last year Jay’s photos of our gardens were used as Dundees’ ads in Mpls.St.Paul magazine, which was rather fun to see.

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At the end of the season last year, Jay asked if we would work with him to enter our gardens in the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association’s annual Landscape Design competition.

Frankly, we didn’t feel our gardens were ready at that time, but this year we will gather photos and write text so we can enter. Any awards given go to the landscape firm which did the design, but we would feel like winners, too.

Check out this site to see which gardens/designers have won in previously years.

You make the call. Will we take home the gold?

A Royal Double-Take

I’m reading a book which features photos of the British royal family taken through the years by photographer Cecil Beaton.

One photograph from 1942, which shows the King, Queen and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, made me look twice.

In the lower right-hand corner of the photo, seated on the edge of an armchair is a sixteen-year Princess Elizabeth. Is it just me or could she be my sister? I even showed the photo to Graham and asked, “Who does this lady look like?� and he said, “You, Mom!�

I’ve often thought the now-Queen Elizabeth looks like my aunt LaVerna. It must be the German ancestry that we share with the Queen.

Good genes and true breeding always tell!

A Second Flush

I always try to keep something blooming in the house during the dreary winter months. This year I’ve had tremendous success with a simple primrose I purchased from Cub Foods in January.

It has produced gorgeous coral flowers like the Eveready Bunny – it just keeps going and going and going. It bloomed solidly for almost a month, took a breather and has produced another set of flowers.

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I bought two pots of primroses for $4.00. The other plant, which had yellow flowers, petered out pretty quickly, but this little plant has proved to be a great value for the money.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:02 AM

February 11, 2006

Let the Garden Games Begin!

Reading about all the extreme sports in the Olympics reminded me of a piece I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune a few years ago.

Gardeners may not have luge or skeleton or snowboarding but we still have some serious fun.

So for your enjoyment, a Musings column from April 12, 2001…

Garden This!

The recent appearance of the XFL, the latest entrant in the X-treme sports arena, gave me an idea for the Home and Garden channel: X-treme gardening shows.

For me, gardening is a blood sport. A weeding session is not complete unless I’m bleeding from some cut or gash incurred in a tussle with an errant shrub or vine. The measure of a truly successful day is the number of Band-Aids I display at the end of it.

It took only a little imagination to dream up a perfect lineup for an evening’s viewing.

Starting at 7 p.m. with “Run for the Roses.� Two teams of lean, mean gardening machines compete in a series of physical challenges. In one event, team members would run an obstacle-course relay. Contestants carry a bag of cow manure up a steep slope, dodging small children and hurdling clay pots of different sizes on the way. As each competitor completed a leg, he or she would pass the 40-pound bovine baton to the next competitor. The winner would be the first team to cross the finish line.

Another event would be a test of speed, skill and manual dexterity. As the competitors race to be the first to plant 1,000 daffodil bulbs, viewers would grimace sympathetically as the repetitive-stress injuries accumulate. In the final event, a prune-off, two competitors wrestle a wild apple tree back into fine bearing form – using only a left-handed shears and a dull pruning saw! See the suckers fly as they hack, saw and snip the tree into submission! The winning team would receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Chelsea Garden Show.

The 8 p.m. offering would feature gladiator-style hand-to-hand combat in a show called “Garden This!� At the bell, two warriors would enter a garden center from opposite ends with identical shopping lists of planting materials. They would dash around furiously to fill their carts and fend off their opponent. (Each, of course, wearing protective kneeling guards, wide-brimmed hats and thick leather gloves.)

Just imagine the commentary: “Here comes Diane from aisle seven. She’s closing in on Lucinda like a heat-seeking missile. There’s a hip check, a cart-ram, and yes! Diane has the Verbena bonarienses and she’s moving on. But look, Chet, Lucinda has drawn her Good Grips trowel and is lunging at Diane. Watch as Diane fends off that blow with her dibble. What pluck! Oooh, that had to smart. She should have just handed over the Purple Wave petunias quietly.�

This stylized Battle at Bachman’s would be prime-time pleasure for sure, but it wouldn’t be for the squeamish.

The final show would be the reality-based “Survivor: The Back Yard.� A motley crew would be thrown together to design and plant gorgeous perennial borders in that most hostile of environments: a Zone 4 suburban back yard with deep shade and clay soil. As passions and tempers fester among the hosta and heuchera, members of the Plumbago tribe would be voted off the island bed until only one survivor remained. The winner would get either $1 million or Smith & Hawken deck furniture, whichever is cheaper.

OK, OK, maybe this is a little extreme. But with such a short growing season, we scarred and battle-eager X-treme gardeners will do just about anything to get our fix.

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits� by Sir Roy Strong. Photos of the British royal family from the 1930s on.

Listening to: “Jewels of the Sun� by Nora Roberts. It’s fluff but I get to listen to Irish accents while driving to and from work.

Graham’s current favorite: He has moved on another series of chapter books – the “Horrible Harry� series by Suzy Kline.

Remaining Garden Chores

Start reading through those garden catalogs that are piling up and make some decisions!

Clean out my gardening tote. It’s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

While watching a commercial that ran during the Super Bowl in which a man walked obliviously down the street while NASCAR racers whizzed by, a baseball was hit toward the screen, and other sports activities occurred, Graham said, “Well, you sure don’t see that every day.�

Posted by maasx003 at 5:59 PM

February 8, 2006

Clothing Size Does Matter

The other day I read in the Star Tribune that “The French fashion industry found that the average French woman today is just over 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 137.6 pounds. In comparison, the average American woman is 5 feet 4 and weights 164.3 pounds.�

I seem to recall reading a long time ago that at the end of the 19th century, the average American woman was 5 feet 4 and weighed 136 pounds.

So what happened, ladies?

We are not a large family but certainly close to average. I stand at 5 foot 4, Brian at 5 foot 8 and Graham has yet to reach four feet at nearly six years of age. My weight falls below the French average and Graham has consistently been at the 40th percentile all his life. When Brian was training for triathlons, his weight was comparable to mine.

He and I have observed some disturbing trends when we shop for clothes. During certain trips to menswear stores filled with sizes reaching proportions of XXXXL, Brian has not been able to find a single item in the size “Small.� None. Nada. Zilch.

This winter, he was in the market for a new wool topcoat and found one he liked at Jos. A Banks. Of the nearly 300-stores nationwide, only two of the topcoats were in the size 38 that Brian required. Luckily, one of the coats was tracked down and shipped to Brian.

Women’s clothing designers have taken a different tack. To boost the egos of the women purchasing their clothes, the designer have shifted the sizing scale so that previously larger sizes are now marked as smaller. So a size 10 five years ago is now an 8.

While quality designers have always been generous with clothing sizes, is it really necessary to have a size 0? Is the woman wearing it actually two dimensional, like a piece of paper? Maybe when she turns away from you, she disappears.

And how does this affect our kids?

The alarm has already been called to the spread of obesity in our nation’s children. One of my student volunteers told me that in his “food tech� class (our old home ec?), the students watched the documentary “Super Size Me.� When I was in high school, we watched scary sex ed films about herpes, not Big Macs.

Kids need to learn that you are what you eat. If you fill your body with junk food, what comes out will be junk – decreased energy, increased sickness and lack of respect for yourself. But if you eat a reasonable amount of a variety “growing foods� such as fruits, vegetables, multi-grained cereal products and meat and dairy, your body will thrive.

How do we combat this growing trend toward an ever-larger citizenry? The solution is pretty simple: eat less, move more. A person doesn’t have to go on a starvation diet or live at gym to make progress. Eat well and sensibly. If you have a big meal at lunch, eat a smaller one at dinner. If your work building has many floors, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Take a quick walk around the building twice a day to clear your head and get your heart pumping.

These are simple choices to make but they can help build a healthier lifestyle.

Maybe some day the new average can return to the old one.

Shamless Plug

For those dog lovers that want to keep tabs on our two whippets, head over our Dog Blog (The Dogs of Our Lives) as Brian has begun posting a photo almost every day. Sort of like a doggie picture of the day.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:13 AM

February 4, 2006

An Update on the Indoor Garden

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Despite my lack of attention (or perhaps because of it), my indoor garden is doing well.

The amaryllis bulbs that I repotted this fall after spending the summer outdoors are pushing up greenery. The bulb that was the size of a softball produced a massive display this week. There are a total of five different blooms on this stalk.

Of the other nine repotted bulbs, only one more has produced a flower stalk. I’ll be curious to see what color flower it sport. It should bloom in the next couple of weeks.

Graham’s pumpkin plant, however, has not been so successful.

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The seeds sprouted well and produced a good first flush of growth. But pumpkins just aren’t meant to be grown in a small pot indoors during the winter. We saved a few seeds from our Halloween jack o’lantern and will have to plant them this summer so Graham can get the full picture.

The “blooming garden� of bulbs that I brought in after spending the summer outdoors performed just as I expected: lousy. The tulips, daffodils and crocus all produced lots of foliage, but only a single hyacinth bloomed.

I knew I should have just thrown the whole thing into the compost heap when it finished blooming last spring, but it was fun to do a little experiment if I was right. I was.

Some of my favorite houseplants are these two begonia which I received from my mother when I had my first apartment, about 18 years ago. They were given to her by a little neighborhood lady who had the most amazing garden and indoor plants when I was growing up.

These begonia have dark green glossy leaves that form a nice mound. Some of the leaves have produced sports that split and curl back around themselves like a snail shell.

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Periodically the plants flower, sending out stalks up to two feet long covered with delicate white blooms that somehow remind me of bleeding heart.

So while I long to be outdoors puttering about in my gardens, my indoor one suits me just fine.

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes� by Amanda Hesser, a charming account of a food writer’s courtship of her future husband.

Listening to: “Heart of the Sea� by Nora Roberts. It’s fluff but I get to listen to Irish accents while driving to and from work.

Graham’s current favorite: He has moved on to the Stanley series by Jeff Brown, following the adventures of poor Stanley who gets flattened, turns invisible and finds a magic lamp.

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Remaining Garden Chores

Start reading through those garden catalogs that are piling up and make some decisions!

Clean out my gardening tote. It’s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!�

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Posted by maasx003 at 5:16 PM

February 1, 2006

Weather Thou Goest…

The day after Christmas, I started my first gardening book of the winter reading season. I’ll discuss my epiphanies from Sir Roy Strong’s The Laskett at another time but from that book on, my waking thoughts have been filled with the garden – what worked last year, what didn’t; what should I be starting from seed this year; what new things should I try; and on and on.

This urge to get back outdoors and start plunging my hands into the dirt came to a screaming crescendo this week when the Minneapolis area experienced record-breaking temperatures. And I mean warm ones, not the typical 60 degrees below freezing stuff we usually get this time of year

On Friday, I went for a walk over lunch and it was 46 degrees out. In the positive. On January 27! What the heck!

It was so warm and wonderful out that I could smell the ground thawing. I swear my neighbor’s lawn is growing and soon he will have to mow. My bergenia are standing to attention, and I’ve seen several green plants in the garden beds.

Apparently we’re not the only ones experiencing unseasonable weather. Or maybe it’s going to become the “new� seasonable weather.

In the February 2006 issue of the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, British gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh addresses the fact that in England, gardeners are now growing more and more tropical plants – and leaving them outdoors without any need for winter protection. The Brits are experiencing wetter winters and longer, hotter, drier summers. He wrote:

Our gardens aren't what they were 25-years ago, and that's a fact. Don't worry, I'm not about to moan about falling standards and offer dire predictions about global warming, but there's no denying the seasons have shifted over the years, and gardeners have to adjust their cultivations to match them.

Now, I'm not one of those who believes Armageddon is on the way. It may be something to do with my innate optimism, but I don't think I have my head in the sand. Of course, we must do our bit to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and control the number of gases we pump out into the atmosphere, but our planet has warmed up before. There were warm tropical periods between the Earth's many ice ages and mini-ice ages, and they happened quite quickly. This is due, in part, to the fact that the earth wobbles on its axis, and when it wobbles nearer the sun we get warmer, when it wobbles away we get cooler. In short, climate change is natural. The real news would be if our climatic conditions remained static, but that wouldn't sell newspapers.

While I’m not about to start planting tropical plants as perennials, Brian and I have begun discussing pushing our zones. Which Zone 5 plants have we always wanted to plant but haven’t because they weren’t hardy here?

Maybe this is the year to include more hellebores and other borderline Zone 4 beauties. Whether (or weather) they survive or not, time will tell.

Garden Clean Up of a Different Sort

For Christmas this year, my wish list was very short: a teapot to replace a favorite one I had broken and a facial.

How does this relate to gardening? Considering that I garden from April to November in all kinds of sun and weather and dirt and grit, I know that by the time the gardening season is over, my face is a mess. It needs a tune up and a proper cleaning.

Brian presented me with a gift card for the “Ultimate Facial� at the Sanctuary SalonSpa in Eden Prairie, and I experienced the full luxurious treatment this weekend. From my head (scalp massage) to the tips of my toes (foot massage) and areas in between - a seaweed exfoliant on my back and shoulders (great for repairing the summer’s sun damage) and multiple facial masks and treatments, I felt pampered and prepared for the next gardening season.

If you live in the metro area, check out this spa. It’s a lovely way to treat yourself right. Go to Sanctuary Spa. Ask for Korynn for your treatments. She was very good.

Shameless Plug

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of a new CD by Edinburgh-born chanteuse/guitarist KT Tunstall. Her debut album Eye To The Telescope will released on February 7, 2006. The first simgle, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, has been getting a lot of air play in the Twin Cities. Give her a listen!

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Another Shameless Plug

After my spa morning, Brian, Graham and I met our friends Hadi Anbar, his wife Soodi and their daughter Jaanon for lunch at Kabobi, the latest in Hadi’s stable of great restaurants. His other restaurants include Mission (the former Aquavit) and Atlas, both in downtown Minneapolis.

Kabobi serves food from their native Persia in a fast food setting but with real silverware and cloth napkins, an elegant touch. The food – kebabs and pita sandwiches – is very flavorful and a great value. It’s even kid-friendly, our biggest litmus test.

If you are ever in the Eden Prairie area, check it out.

Virtual Shopping Maas-Style

Brian and I have mastered a new kind of virtual shopping. When he is out and about with his cell phone, he will snap a picture of an item with the camera function and email it me.

For example, this fall I wanted to purchase a new camel hair winter coat. Brian went to the mall over his lunch hour, tracked down a couple of models and sent photos of them to me to choose from. We then had a brief phone conversation, and he purchased the one I wanted. Bada-bing, shopping over.

On Friday, Graham had a school release day. Brian stayed home with him, and they spent some time at a book store. Brian sent me an email message to me at work, asking if there were any books I wanted. I replied that I would love anything by Sir Roy Strong.

He sent me the following image for my approval, and it was waiting for me when I got home from work.

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Technology can be very, very good. And very, very efficient.

What I’m Reading

Just finished: The Laskett by Sir Roy Strong, an account of the efforts that he and his wife took to create the first new large formal garden in England since 1945. And A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz, a loving tribute to the author’s two Labradors and the Welsh Border Collies that he adopted.

In the middle of: Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes by Amanda Hesser, a charming account of a food writer’s courtship of her future husband.

Listening to: Just finished The Grave Maurice by Martha Grimes. Now on Heart of the Sea by Nora Roberts. It’s fluff but I get to listen to Irish accents while driving to and from work. Very nice.

Graham’s current favorite: Together, we are reading The Littles by John Peterson, one of my childhood favorites. Independently, he is burning through the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. At his school, students are in a month-long reading challenge. Kindergarteners are to read 240 minutes over the next four weeks. Graham has already racked up more than 300 minutes in the first week. That’s my boy!

There has also been some recognition for Graham at his school recently. He also got this award of merit this past week.

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Remaining Garden Chores

Start reading through those garden catalogs that are piling up and make some decisions!

Clean out my gardening tote. It’s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

“I know what you call people who can’t see and people who can’t hear. But what do you call people who can’t smell?�

Posted by maasx003 at 1:23 AM