Cooking with bassets #SOL15

28 Mar


 “It is a truth universally acknowledged,

that a single cook in possession of a good recipe,

must be in want of a basset hound.”

In an effort to pursue my goal of having healthy lunches on hand, I went to the kitchen to make soup. The cook in The Tale of Despereaux  says “And when times are terrible soup is the answer.” She also goes on the say, ” There ain’t no point in making soup unless others eat it. Soup needs another mouth to taste it another heart to be warmed by it.” Kate DiCamillo, you are a poet.

And so, I found myself in the kitchen yesterday morning with a helper. Notice the active stance I had to take. There was no moving Fiona, who was hoping for some droppage. Here’s what she wanted.


Yes, carrots and parsnips. As a kid, parsnips horrified me. As an adult, I find them delectable. I like them roasted and they make fabulous soup. Today’s soup was carrot parsnip. I started with a pot full of vegetable stock.


Added the chopped carrots and parsnips, along with some salt and pepper.


Brought it all to a boil, then let it simmer for about half an hour. At they point i took it off the heat and let it cool a bit before using the immersion blender. And voilà!


Several lunches for the freezer. I did take a little taste and it is quite delicious. Take that high cholesterol and blood sugar!

Sleeping in on Spring Break #SOL15

27 Mar


I am, by nature, a morning person. I am aware that this can be annoying to night people, so I try not to be too cheery too early around them. In school days, I generally get up around 5 to drink coffee and mess around on the computer, reading or writing, until it is time to get walk the dogs, get ready and go to work.

I had hoped to sleep a little later during Spring Break. Maybe get up around 6:30 or 7. Alas, Fiona did not realize it was Spring Break. Lucy don’t get up until she has to, or until she hears foods sounds emanating from the kitchen. Fiona is like a Swiss train, even during Spring Break.

So, I’ve been getting up a bit after 5 every morning this week. It will mean an easy transition back to work on Monday. And that’s a good thing, right?

Our secret language #SOL15

26 Mar


Living alone with dogs, I go off the deep once in a while, becoming a crazy basset lady. Over the years, I have developed a secret language that I only use with the dogs. There are words, expressions and phrases. Most are spoken, some are sung. All are ridiculous.

make a deposit in the poop bank verb  to drop poop back in a receptacle

Example: Oh look honey, the neighbors left their trashcan out so we can make a deposit in the poop bank.

the train is leaving the station verb from the lightrailese, often an order to hurry

synonyms: get a move on, get cracking, hop to it, hustle, step on it

Example: OMG, Fiona, you are so slow! Let’s move it. The train is leaving the station.

nanner noun  banana

Example: Girls, would you like to share my nanner?

nanner-time noun time to eat a banana, often sung, as Thank Heaven for Nanner Time in a French accent (a la Maurice Chevalier) to the tune of  Thank Heaven for Little Girls 

belly mohawk noun  the ridge of flesh dangling from the underbelly of a senior basset hound

Example: Don’t step in the puddle, Fiona, your belly mohawk will get wet.

cookie noun  any treat

Example: Lucy, do you want a cookie? Sit!

Dr. Pet Vet proper noun affectionate name for Dr. Davies, also, a character fromThe Hilarious House of Frightenstein, a Canadian TV show of the 1970’s, starring Billy Van and Vincent .

to chase a bunny verb to dream, esp. to make spasmodic movements with the legs while dreaming.

Example: Oh Lucy, sleep sweetly.  Are you chasing a bunny?

mama’s special helper noun  sous chef

Example: Come in the kitchen and you can be mama’s special helper while I make dinner.

waddle noun  a walk, esp a basset event involving many basset hounds

Example: 1. Hey girls, let’s go for a waddle. 2. The Waddle begins promptly at noon. All bassets must be leashed.

howliday noun  any celebration, but especially those in December

Example: I wonder if we will get any cards today for the annual howliday card exchange.

flat-basset adjective  a passive aggressive basset move in which a basset ays down and refuses to move

Example: Our 20 minute walk took an hour because Lucy went all flat-basset in a sunny spot.


As you can see, living with basset hounds requires a very specialized vocabulary. Maybe I’m not that crazy after all.






The Best Advice #SOL15

25 Mar


Thanks to Jen’s slice this morning that inspired today’s slice.

Over the years I’ve receive and given my share of teaching advice. But in the first few years of my career, I got the two best pieces of advice all new teachers should know.

The first came from my cohort leader while I was in teacher’s college at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. It was 1987 and she was a retired teacher who had a second career working in the Education program. She was a tyrant in some ways and some of the things she said would probably get her into some hot water now . “Ladies, don’t try out a new hairdo or pair of heels for your interview!” Probably good advice for anyone, not just the ladies.

The important piece of advice she gave us all was this: When you pass a fountain, take a drink. When you pass the restroom, use it. Nowadays, with water bottles becoming a lifestyle, the first piece of her advice is out of date. But the second part is still relevant, especially since everyone carries a water bottle all the time. I still heed her advice.

The second came from Ken Bell, the VP at A.R. Kauffman, the first school I taught at. He told me that, whenever you walk through the halls, you should carry some papers in your hand. People will think you are on a mission and are less likely to interrupt and keep you from doing whatever it is you are on your way to do. I laughed at the time, but he told me to remember it. Clearly, I have because it is true. Try it if you don’t believe me.

Neither of these pieces of advice had any direct impact on the kids I teach, but they allowed me to become a much better teacher.

Parallel Parking #SOL15

24 Mar


Parking at my vet’s office can be tricky. In spite of the lack of cars in the picture above, there are usually few spaces available in front of the clinic and there is no parking lot. The street in front used to have two lanes on either side, so, if someone decided to parallel park, they didn’t block traffic.

Last year the city redesigned the traffic flow. Now, there is only one lane on either side and a turn lane in the center, making parking even harder. Additionally, a  block away, a bank was torn down and replaced with an apartment complex, which, though it appears to have underground parking has made parking more difficult. There rarely seem to be spaces near the vet’s office to park.

This isn’t a big deal when I am taking Lucy to the vet. I can park far away and Lucy will run, excited to be somewhere new. Fiona, at 14,  is another matter, and today was her annual appointment. I usually pray for a space large enough for two cars, so I can drive in and then adjust. Today, there was no such luck. In this circumstance, I often drive around the block once or twice hoping for a miracle.

Today as I drove slowly in front of the building a space just big enough for one car was open. I had a split second to decide if I was going to keep driving or attempt parallel parking. I HATE parallel parking in the best circumstances, but, here I was, in the middle of the day on a busy street. Knowing this might be the only spot nearby, I bit the bullet and decided to go for it.

I pulled up beside the car in front of the spot I wanted. My blinker was on so the river of cars beside me flowed into the turn lane to get around me. I took a deep breath, cranked the wheel and started backing up into a perfect act of parallel parking. I crowed my pleasure. Fiona just looked at me from the back seat like I was crazy.

Revisiting my one little word #SOL15

23 Mar


The lab results from my annual physical are in. There’s mostly good news. but, there are small problems. Despite eating healthy green the week before I went for the physical, my blood sugar and cholesterol were a bit above where they would be. Not so high we need to intervene medically, but high enough that I have to do something.

My OLW for 2015 is Shift, and my doctor’s prescription is more exercise and healthier eating.

I used to be obsessed with making soup. Every weekend, I would make a pot of soup, divide it into  bowls for the week and freeze the extra. When I did that, I had good labs. So, here it is my first day of spring break and I will be leafing through my favorite soup recipe books looking for things I can make this week so I can stock up and go back to work prepared to be a healthier eater.

Wondering at my two favorite soup cookbooks? Here they are

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor D’Avila-Latourrette and The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew.

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #6

22 Mar


This week, I finished two books for the HUB reading Challenge. Quite frankly, with report cards to finish, I am amazed that I read any!

First, I read, the graphic novel  This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.


This was FANTASTIC! Here is the publisher’s summary:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

This book felt so real. I could have been either of those girls, doing what they did, thinking like they thought. I think the Tamaki cousins really captured the essence of girls on the edge of adolescence.

Then, I read the book I’ve picked up & put down a lot this year.


The earlier picking up & putting down did not involve any reading of this book. It involved me, picking up the book and thinking “UGH, a basketball book.” And putting it down. So, I finally opened it and read it. So not what I was expecting. I will be honest, I skimmed some of the basketball parts, but the story of the family really got me. As a twin, I loved the twin angle and I think Alexander really gets the complicated relationship twins can have. It isn’t always Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. Written in verse, the book moves quickly. At first, I had a little trouble distinguishing which of the two boys was talking, but eventually, I got it.

I highly recommend both of these books.

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