Monday, August 29, 2011

Potato Salad

  Every once in awhile there comes a time when we completely take leave of our senses. . . . . or perhaps it is because our senses run, screaming, from us to preserve their own sanity. . . . . . . .

  We were asked by a friend to make some potato salad for a reception.  Okay, doesn't sound too bad does it? Cut up a few potatoes, some celery and onions and mix it all up with mayonnaise and mustard.  Right?
   Just to give you an idea of the few potatoes we had to cut up -

Now imagine the number of potatoes needed to even out this ratio.  
Take a guess and let us know how much you think we ended up having to make and how many people we were making for. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

For the Irish Dancer, the Very Cute Book Worm, and the Student Violist

      (This was supposed to be posted yesterday, hence the seemingly confused days.  Macbeth actually hatched on Saturday, and I started this post but never got photos downloaded from Sharpi's camera.  Hope you enjoy it anyway!)
      I thought you might like to see a current picture of Macbeth.  This was him Thursday - which would be Day Nine of life in his cocoon.

  This is yesterday.  (Its actually a photo of one of Macbeth's cousins - I couldn't find the one I thought Sharpi took of my writing buddy, so I had to substitute.)

I was so surprised at how much he changed in just a day.  We were pretty sure we'd have to start watching them really carefully.  Monarch butterflies have this annoying habit of hatching when we aren't looking.  By bedtime the last little bit of green on his cocoon was gone completely and I had the sneaking suspicion Macbeth was going to hatch in the wee small hours of the morning (while I was still sleeping) - just because he could.  So I took mum's camera to bed with me, reasoning if I woke up I could always peek over at him to see if he was cocoon or butterfly.
He was still cocooned in the morning - but it was pretty obvious he was going to hatch  soon!  He looked a lot like this: (again - the photo is courtesy of Macbeth's cousin who filled in for him.)

  His cocoon had gone a complete, smokey opaque.  Very literally it looked like a balled butterfly instead of a cocoon.  We were fully prepared to set up an intense watch . . . . but only after we'd brushed our teeth and scrounged some breakfast.  Which is when Macbeth decided to hatch.  (Go figure.)  I put his jar on the table so he'd be pretty central to our morning activity; and then we left to do the whole teeth cleaning thing.  We weren't gone more than five minutes . . . and when we got back he was hatched and his wings were expanding.  (I'll leave the small-wing picture for later.  I'm pretty sure Sharpi will do a post later.  Just hatched butterflies don't look quite like one would expect them to . . . . )  A few minutes later, with his wings half expanded he was already gorgeous!

  I know the photo looks a bit distorted, but it really isn't.  Macbeth's wings weren't quite stiff yet, so the colors and patterns blended together.  (Which I thought was rather cool.)
Butterflies have to physically pump fluid from their body into their wings to expand and stiffen them in order to be able to fly.  It never ceases to amaze me how God designed something so complex in something so small.
After a few hours we took Macbeth and one of his newly hatched cousins outside and coaxed them onto one of the mini hollyhock plants in mum's flowerbeds.

It wasn't too long before Macbeth did what butterflies are supposed to do - he took flight and started life as a butterfly.  :)  It was a very grand moment.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book update and lost content

      If you've been on the Book Update page, you may have noticed that there are a few posts missing.  It would seem that today is my first experience with missing blog content.  I logged in, pulled up the page to do a proper update, hit the save button "just in case" . . . . and promptly lost all updates from the past two weeks.  I hope the incident isn't prophetic.  As far as editing the book goes, I'm having some trouble - and loosing any of that content would not help.

  If you think about it in the next week, I would really appreciate your prayer.  Seems like a silly thing - to ask for prayer for an editing process - but I'm asking anyway.  I've reached the point where I remember I can't do this by myself.  This particular edit has been very difficult from the get-go.  The first three quarters of the manuscript wasn't difficult to work with; it was more a matter of making the time and just doing the gritty details of adding some polish to it.  But I'm getting to that last quarter - where decisions about content and re-writes get a bit harder.  It's a fairy tale, and I thought that it would be infinitely easier to write 'fairy-tale' as opposed to 'real life'.  Mmmm . . . . not so much.  Even though it is a fairy tale it deals with issues that are very close to my heart; some of the story line similar to bits of my own history, so some of the chapters get a bit uncomfortable.  (How's that for vague? :)  I know I have one major re-write coming and the closer I get the more I really don't want to . . .  because it is going to hurt my heart a lot.
  I wanted to post about music camp this week, and the fun we had and some of the random bits I observed about life.  That will have to wait.  Instead, I'm asking for your help.  This book - which frustratingly remains untitled - was never really mine to begin with.  I am convinced it is a story that, for one reason or another, God gave me to tell.  And if that is true, it would make sense that the closer to completion we get the harder everything will become.  Please pray God would give me the right words as I edit and re-write - I slogged through all of six pages between Monday and Tuesday and I'm all out: pray for direction as I finish and my family goes through the re-evaluation process again - I really did think the fourth edit would be the last: pray protection for us.  And pray for my dad as he chooses a publisher.  This whole process - from the first "once upon a time" version, to the current difficult labor of polishing, to whether or not it ever goes to print - has never really been about us.  We all want so much for this book to bring honor and glory to our Savior, but it is only by His strength that will happen.  And that little detail is easy to forget.  So if you'd pray with me, that I would remember to rest in His strength during these last 60 pages or so, I'd be very grateful.

Question For Those Who Know -

  We have a really quick question -
         First of all: Would you please leave a comment letting us know if you can see our list of followers or not?
   For some reason, on our end it keeps disappearing and reappearing at random. Any ideas why this is happening?


  OK, Monday morning when I was going to put my horse out he wouldn't come out of the stall so I went to see why.  I thought he was just being stubborn but as I got to the doorway of the stall I was mistaken, VERY.  My horse put his head down to look and sniff at something, I looked down too and this is what I almost stepped on!

Having good reflexes comes in very handy at times and living on a farm helps to perfect that skill.  Also you have perfected the squeal - not just any squeal but 'THE Squeal'.*
(Sharpi: *Not to be confused with the Lesser Squeal reserved for things like rodents, reptiles, spiders and the like. THE Squeal happens to be the one that nearly gives me heart attacks. The one that Irish Rose and Chickadee can't seem to reserve for actual events that require an instant adrenaline rush and a trip to the hospital. (Personally I think they're trying to give me premature gray hair.)
So I am halfway back to the barn when I hear THE Squeal and it is an immediate flood of possible tragedies that just took place. I can envision broken bones, blood, concussion, dying horse, etc.)

   Any way, after I executed both of these quite admirably I stepped back even farther because I could tell my horse wanted out of there and out of there NOW!  He bolted out covering the turtle partially with dirt.  I thought he might have stepped on it too so I went over and lightly touched it with the lead rope I had (having enough sense not to touch it with my own hand) and he moved slightly.  He sure didn't look like that other nice turtle we found last year on the road, but that's another story.
 Sharpi was there when I touched him ("A turtle? You used THE Squeal on a turtle!!!) and wanted to get her camera.  As she went up to the house I put my horse out, apologizing many times for being upset with him for not coming out, telling him I didn't blame him one bit for not wanting to go near that thing.  After that I also went up to the house thinking that if we were going to move the turtle we might want the nice thick stove gloves just in case.

   Sharpi had said not to tell Mommy and Irish Rose about the turtle because she wanted it to be a surprise. After Mommy asked what was going on, I just said she would see when we took them down to the barn.

So the expedition set out; one photographer, two adventurers, and one not very but sort of prepared hero, ME!
When we arrived the turtle was still -OK turtle is too friendly a word to use for this particular intruder - I will just use The Beast- the Beast was still where he had been left, partially buried in the dirt.  As we got closer Mommy wondered if it was dead, I said it wasn't gently poked it's tail and again it moved ever so slightly.  Mommy said she thought it was a Snapper.  They handed me a rake and I gently began to poke it and yes it was a Snapper because it started trying to snap at the rake.

I tried to turn the Beast over so we could see underneath it. But it would only lean against the rake so that I couldn't turn it over.  After a time we finally got the Beast into this black tub and were going to show Daddy when he got home, then decide what to do with it.
But in between one of the trips to make sure the Beast was still there it escaped!  Sharpi and I looked around trying to find it but didn't.  Now every time we go to the barn we carefully look where we're going, just in case it's lurking in the shadows:)
Aren't you supposed to be able to pick Snapping turtles up by their tail?  Well, if you don't know for sure it's all ways better to be safe than sorry so we didn't try it.  And I don't know how well I would have like picking this up?
Look at the feet!  And the claws!
Hopefully if it was a she she didn't lay her eggs in the barn.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Mid-Month Meltdown

    Hello All,
    How are you doing this month. Good?  That's nice.
    I thought I would share how our diet experiment is coming along. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Well. . . . . . . .let me see if I can express it in written word. . .
    To be absolutely truthful . . . we are beginning to show signs of various stages of meltdown.  First example being that we went out to supper yesterday night for hamburgers and fries - minus the bun. - Which is an interesting predicament in and of itself - supper was delicious, but it was hard to resist the warm, fragrant buns. (A few of us went so far as to sniff them and whimper while others mimed cramming a bite in their mouths.)
The hardest part came when we got home and I had to feed the rejected buns to our loyal dogs and cats.  There I was, in possession of crusty, golden brown toasted hamburger buns that smelled absolutely AMAZING, and they were being scarfed down by pets.

cry big Pictures, Images and Photos

    Periodically throughout the week everyone has begun listing off all the foods they would really like to eat. So far bread and oreo blizzards have topped the lists.  (Anybody willing to guess what our first meal next month is going to be?:)
    My personal hardship this week has been my ever increasing craving for that rich, smooth, creamy sustenance known and loved all around the world - in another word, chocolate!
Just so you know how extreme this craving has been take a gander at what I attempted to dull the craving with -

  Did you see it? Look closely and notice the words. . . . . . 
Yep, I really did. I was so desperate I tried a mere bit of unsweetened baking chocolate.  If you've ever tasted unsweetened baking chocolate you will know why I will not be doing that again and why it didn't satisfy my craving.   *Sigh* I wonder what I'll be adding to my craving list next week.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cocoon Progress: Day 6

  Day six into our caterpillar watch and the cocoons have stayed the same color since day one.
They should look like this:

Aren't they beautiful?  I love the gold rim and dots. If you look closely you can see the lines of the butterfly wings through the sides of the cocoon. 
Caterpillars in this stage are much easier to keep track of. We had one caterpillar this week that was extremely ornery and kept escaping the bucket to hide who-knows-where. (At one point he managed to hide under the folds of the garbage bag.) After being dropped back into the vicinity he was so desperately trying to escape, he finally yielded and enveloped himself in the relative obscurity of a jade colored basket next to the rest of his friends. (We're still missing one though - don't really want to find out where its been hiding.)

Music Camp

      When I was young there was always an exciting, mysterious, somewhat idealized novelty connected to the concept known as Summer Camp.  It always sounded fun and adventurous - meeting new best friends, spending the whole day playing (more or less), and (most appealing) no summer chores for a week.  :)  I only went to camp twice during my childhood, and while it was fun - mostly - it wasn't as wonderful as I'd imagined it.  And I never felt cheated that Summer Camp wasn't an annual childhood ritual.

Fast forward to me being grown up and my friend MJ telling me about the really great music camp she attended every August, and how I'd really enjoy it.  I smiled, nodded, and quietly wondered to myself, "Aren't I too old for camp?"  When I think "camp", I think councilors; camp fires; little kids running around all day with more energy than I can imagine having; random craft projects; mass produced camp food; and lots of late nights giggling after the lights have been switched off.  These days, I qualify as down-right boring: work at a steady pace with my sisters at whatever; quiet time by myself; do nothing in the sunshine; eat good food; go to bed when I'm tired - which is invariably earlier than your average camper.  :)  Once all that went through my head (in less time than it too you to read it) I had flashbacks to the little I'd learned about music camp when I first started playing violin; they were way beyond my capability AND they usually had an age cut-off that disqualified me anyway.  So as fun as it would have been, I'd written that particular adventure off years ago as "expired possibility - may it rest in peace".  But there was MJ telling me there was a camp that didn't have an age limit, and if she could handle the music so could I.  I said no for two years: the first year was just plain cowardice; the second year didn't work because of scheduling.
Last year, when I bumped into MJ the week before camp she graciously extended a third invitation.   Even I was surprised when I said I'd think about it.  I mentioned the idea to dad, who encouraged me to go.  Long story short: I went.  With little warning and almost no pre-camp music practice I took courage and stepped out to try something new.  And I am so glad I did!  To say "it was so much fun" doesn't quite do it credit.  But there is really no other way to say it . . . .

It was SO MUCH FUN!!  When MJ said we'd be staying in a cabin I thought rustic cabin with sleeping bags, maybe a shower and a lot of campfire food.  Umm . . . no.  We have the coolest house ever.*

Three bedroom, two bath, full kitchen.  With six adult women who like good food, it could do with a second refrigerator, but since we have a dishwasher nobody is complaining.  :) That screened in porch is the new bit this year, and if the deck had a electrical outlet I'd be practically living out there.
Living in our house, besides me, is Jedi 'Cellist; not to be confused with The Irish 'Cellist, who also lives here; The Librarian; MJ; the Irish Dancer (who is The Irish 'Cellist's niece); the Student Violist and the The Very Cute Book-Worm - who came with the Jedi 'Cellist.  Did I forget anybody?  We have a lot of fun.
One of my favorite things about our house is the view.  From our deck we see this:

A short walk and all this beauty . . . .

 My favorite spot is at the end of the deck; my second favorite spot (unless someone claimed it first) is the swing that overlooks the lake.

 But the setting is really bonus to the music.  Not as challenging as last year, but still hard enough I have to work at it.  I love teaching, I really do - but I miss the challenge of having to stretch my own skill well beyond what I am comfortable with.  This stretches me.  (Which is an understatement - last year I thought the Mahler movement was going to be the death of me.)  With youth orchestra and adult orchestra running back to back we usually rehearse from 4:00 pm to approximately 7:30 pm - one break between to get re-situated and moment or two of stand-up time when the conductor can tell we're all getting really stiff.  On paper that doesn't really look like much . . . . at the moment my shoulders are telling me otherwise.  :)  But its a good sore.  And the days have gone by really fast.

So to my family - who encouraged me to come, challenged me to "not cheat" on the gluten/refined sugar free thing, and filled the gaps in my chore schedule:
Thank you
I'm learning; I am enjoying; and the musical corner of my heart is being fed.  I guess I must have needed this.
With lots of love 

PS - if there are any cookies lurking in the house, you better hide them before I get back!  :)

*with the exception of mine.  I think my house is pretty cool, too - as are the people who live there. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Hi Everyone :)
This morning we felt like pancakes but since Irish Rose isn't here to tell us what recipes she used for gluten free pancakes we had to go looking for a recipe.  Sharpi found one but I was a bit turned off by the description; "Make it with the great flavor of barley or the flavor and chewiness of oats."  The chewiness of oats was the part that turned me off because I'm not a big fan of nutty things in my food all that much and that just sounded like it would be nutty!
Any who, I found a recipe that looked simple but it didn't sound like it would make enough for everyone so I doubled it (yeah now we can have them for lunch and supper too, don't double it!) and they turned out really well.
I'm not one to try new recipes because I already mess up on the ones I've used many times over and over again.  But these turned out very nice and Mom said she liked the slightly chewy texture of them.  Here's the recipe, I got it off of


  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp honey, fruit juice concentrate or sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


Beat egg until frothy. Add buttermilk, oil, and honey and beat until well blended.
In another bowl mix brown rice flour and the remaining dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Stir until well blended. Do not over stir. Batter will be stightly lumpy. (You can stir it until it's smooth)

Lightly grease a frying pan and fry pancakes.

Well that was my big adventure for today:)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Good Writing Buddy

      When my friend MJ called me this last weekend to set departure times and sort out the last minute details out before we came to music camp, I had one all important question for her: "Do you mind if I bring my writing buddy?"
  "What's a writing buddy?" she asked.
It's true that, depending on the situation, writing buddies can take many shapes and forms.  In my case, this is my writing buddy.
Meet Macbeth.  I didn't find any caterpillars on our treasure hunt, so Sharpi and Chickadee shared their wealth.  I assured MJ that he was a very well behaved caterpillar and would be contained in his jar; Sharpi warned her that he has been known to break out in odd bits of Wagner now and again, but MJ laughed and said he was welcome anyway.  (If he really did sing Wagner, I doubt I would have brought him.  In my world Wagner is not conducive to writing.)
Macbeth handled the trip to camp very well and was warmly welcomed by all the ladies in our house - even though we're all pink and don't usually enjoy the company of insect-like-creatures.  And despite the fact that I still really need his opinions on word exchanges and his expertise on all things thesaurus, he decided to have some "quiet time" and shed his skin this afternoon.  (I guess I bugged him a little too much.)
So this is Macbeth now.
He's a little harder to see because he cocooned on the lid . . . . I'll try get a picture later of the pretty gold dots on the end of his cocoon and the cool ring around the top.  But for now, I should take a cue from my writing buddy and curl up in my own cocoon.
Turns out music camp is the perfect place for a writer to do hard-core editing.  Someone is always always practicing something, so there is usually lovely music wafting through our open windows.  (And people wonder why I use a mute when I practice.:)  Ahh . . . . loveliness.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cocoon Progress: Day 1

  After your caterpillars have gorged themselves sufficiently they will begin to look for a good place to hang themselves.
  Yes, I do mean that - they have to hang upside down in order to start the process of spinning a cocoon.
  As I mentioned before ours seem to prefer the top of whatever type of container they end up in as opposed to a nice, sturdy twig put there just for them. 

  So, when your caterpillar looks like this:

  You will probably have a cocoon within a day or two. (This one hung there for a whole day before finally making its cocoon while his buddy took all of an afternoon (or was it evening?) to make his.)
  If you watch really closely (and don't mind sitting in one position staring fixedly at your caterpillar for longer than 10 minutes) you will be able to watch how the cocoon is actually formed. I won't tell just in case you want to watch (but I will say your brothers will probably get a kick out of it), but be prepared to sit staring at the caterpillar for a LONG time before you finally see what is happening because it is a very slow process.
   I'll keep a close eye on the cocoons now and keep you updated.  These two are the only ones so far (not counting the one we've had for almost a week already) and still three that haven't started theirs yet.

  Oh, and before I forget . . . . I was serious when I said they really like to find little open places and sneak out of their new homes.  Here is an illustration of what I mean.
Needless to say I didn't appreciate him 'hanging out' on my boots and he didn't get to stay there long before being unceremoniously escorted back into the bucket. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tutorial: Searching For Black and Yellow Gold

  Every year we venture forth to search for the elusive, but beautiful Black and Yellow gold.
  It took us many years to discover that our backyard is the perfect spot to find such a treasure, and now that we know we look forward to the prime time of year to go in search.
  An expedition like this takes Nerves of Steel (or, at least taught rubber bands) to enter the unknown of harsh grasses and indigenous plants that snag at our elbows and legs.  We shan't look too closely at that rustling grass, (especially when one of our number casually mentions that she saw a snake on an outing sometime previous to this) our rubber band Nerves of Steel might exert themselves in acts of heroism. Or begin to rust. One of the two.
  On this particular day we decided to travel light, nothing but our bare hands and bare feet - oh, and a camera because we didn't think stick figures would be as impressive.
  Shall we move onto our instructions?

  First - The prime time to hunt for Black and Yellow gold comes twice a year, early to mid July or mid August.  If the day you choose happens to be a scorching hot day and you will be venturing far from the home front remember to take water. . . and a hat. . . and a package of sandwiches. . . and maybe a signaling beacon (just in case).

 This is the perfect spot to begin your search for Black and Yellow gold. See all those plants with the large, oval leaves? Perfect, let's take a closer look.

Now, because we went searching later this year than usual the plants have started their seed pods. In July these milkweed plants have large balls of whitish/cream flowers.

This is what you are looking for. Plants that have been eaten around the edges.
Let's take an even closer look.
 This leaf isn't what you want. Holes that have been eaten in the middle of a leaf are caused by types of things we aren't interested in.

(Hmm, I'm not sure why the pictures are sideways. . .oh well.) This is what you are looking for, leaves that have been eaten from the edge in.  This leaf hasn't been eaten on recently, you can see how the edges are dry. If you see one like this you are getting close - if you see one with fresh edges you are probably right on top of Black and Yellow gold.

Success!!! Do you see it? The Black and Yellow gold?
This one is a pretty good size - you can find anything from teeny-tiny to really big. 

The arrow indicates where a lot of droppings usually are on an occupied plant.
Another tale tell sign of occupancy are, well, to put it delicately; droppings. You can be pretty sure that if you see a lot of caterpillar pellets, on a well eaten plant that they are still there or pretty close.

Our first discovery of the day. Isn't he lovely? 
This pretty caterpillar will burst out of its delicate, jade green cocoon as a beautiful black and orange Monarch butterfly.

Chickadee squealed, really excitedly, and pointed these two out - just look at the size of them and you can understand why 3/4 of that leaf is already eaten. They are HUGE and will probably be forming their cocoon's in the next several days - that is if they will decide they're done munching.

Showing off the lovely detail of the stripes, and exclaiming at the size of them!
They usually hang out on the under side of the leaves, so you will need to carefully bend over and lift leaves to find them.
While on your excursion you might just find other small treasures you weren't looking for. This beauty was lying among the wispy grasses, just waiting for someone to discover it.

Irish Rose made a discovery that we have NEVER made before. She spotted an empty cocoon shell.  They hatch on, eat, and apparently cocoon on the same plant.
At first we thought a butterfly had hatched, leaving the empty vessel. But on closer look we decided that, perhaps, something got into it and ate the forming butterfly.  There is a hole at the top and when they split out of the cocoon they come out of the bottom. Also, notice the dark brown color? When a butterfly hatches the cocoon shell is a very thin, translucent gray. 

Okay! Once you are tired, hot, itchy, and freaking out getting a little concerned at the number of yellow spiders you keep seeing it is time to head home with your loot. 

This is the bounty of our hunt - seven voracious Monarch caterpillars and one Unidentified fuzzy, creamy colored fellow.  
They were quite entertaining on the walk home. If you get a couple really close together they have a really interesting way of defending their piece of leaf.

Now comes the next part of your expedition. Finding a home for your recently acquired treasure to rest, relax, and eat, and eat, and eat, and EAT until they decide they are good and ready to form their jade palace.
Jars work perfectly well - anything from an old gallon jug to a pickle jar. Make sure to poke sufficient air holes in the lid so they don't suffocate.
You can also use a bucket with a piece of screen taped over the top. (This mode is a little harder as they have a tendency to like to find little loose bits of the screen and escape. It is also harder to lift the screen off to add fresh leaves.)
We had an old fish tank one year that we really liked because you could see through the sides and the screen top really well. Making it easy to spy on what they were up to.

Once you have your home make sure you keep your caterpillars provided with lots of fresh leaves, because they are going to eat a LOT - which means they are also going to poop a lot.  (You know you have a happy caterpillar if it doesn't stop eating and poops an amazing amount for such a small worm.)
We used to put sticks and twigs in with them to provide a place for them to hang and form their cocoons - but they seem to prefer climbing up and attaching themselves to the top of their home instead.
Every couple of days sprinkle just a little bit of water in their home to provide a bit of moisture.
(Word of the wise: If you're using a glass container try keep it away from direct sunlight or you might just find broiled caterpillars on your hands.)

Over the next several days/weeks, kind of depends on how big the caterpillars are or where they are in their cycle. We will be sharing about what comes next and what to expect when your caterpillars finally decide to being their cocoons.
Have fun and hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

GF Experiment Diary 1

      Being ten days into the gluten/refined sugar free experiment I'm ready for a rant.  For your sake I'll do my best to hold off.  In the last week and a half we've done some experimenting - some acceptable results, some not so much - and I think if we had researched it at all before we started . . . . well, we would have done our absolute best to talk mom out of it.  Really, the gluten free concept is not that difficult to deal with (except for the lack of really good bread) but to try get good baked goods without using refined sugar is proving near impossible.  There are currently two camps in our house: one that says, "Give back the gluten and we'll live without sugar," and the other that would prefer it the other way 'round.
  In any case, pull up a chair and I'll take you through what has been working and what hasn't.  :)

  I tried to adapt our recipe for Aussie Bits to  gluten free today, even though it would be safe to assume my oats have been contaminated with wheat.  (Common scenario, apparently.  Who knew?)  I made half a batch, just in case.  Result: not quite what they should have been.  I left the brown sugar out and increased the honey a little (not enough); I left out the dried fruit because a few people in my family find it unappealing, so I used a handful of chopped nuts instead; I substituted sorgum flour for the wheat flour (not bad, taste-wise and there wasn't the grit that goes with rice flour); I took a cue from other recipes I'd seen online and added an egg to aid the binding process.  They didn't look bad, but they were kind-of bland and really crumbly.  It made me want to crumble them up, dry them out in a low oven and pour milk over the crispy bits for breakfast tomorrow.  :)

  Last week we tried two different variations on gluten free cake for mom's birthday, which I won't bother including a link for.  Both were adapted to fit the processed sugar free rule; one was sweetened with honey, the other with rice syrup.   I was not impressed.  Could be my irritating prefectionistic tendency, but I consider the experiment a failure.  Sure it was edible, but it wasn't a good edible.  The honey version was sweet, and though it didn't rise like it should have, the dense texture wasn't offensive.  The brown rice syrup version was gummy, bland and lacked any attempt at impressive personality.  Oh - and for the record: don't bother trying to sweeten whipping cream with liquid stevia.  It doesn't taste nice.  :P
  We've been using the basic sandwich bread recipe, also from King Arthur Flour, with mixed opinions.  It isn't amazing, but it will do - until we can find something better.  It makes decent toast if you pop it down twice and watch so it doesn't burn; but as far as "I feel like a good, simple piece of chewy crusted bread spread with some nice butter" moments, it sort of misses the mark.  Although, I do have to admit I felt a little better today when I bought a loaf of commercial gluten-free bread - Sharpi spit it out.  No really, it was that BAD.  Can any one say, "tasteless sawdust the consistency of sand"?  I really really hope the gluten free pasta isn't a repeat of the commercial bread thing.

  It isn't all bad.  We've found a coconut 'candy' recipe that mom really likes.  And our pizza crust for supper was surprisingly nice.  It was a bit more thin, crispy style than I usually like, but I wasn't going to complain.  I was eating pizza for goodness sake!  (Tomato sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, fresh basil and just enough cheese.  Mmmm, yummy!  I wish we had left-overs . . .)  My only "not impressed" moment was when I tried to lift the slices off the pan.  For as much olive oil as I poured on the pan, that thing should not have stuck at all.  I should have taken pictures for y'all, but we were so hungry by the time it came out of the oven there was no time for pictures.  Hmm . . . a re-creation might be in order.  :)