Archive for August, 2008

The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone

August 27, 2008

If it’s possible to overdose on chocolate, I think I definitely did.

But besides that, we had a great weekend with a house filled to the rafters, and we almost finished the whole swinging quart of fudge sauce. And about 100 other pounds of food. In fact, about the only thing that would feel good right now would be going for a run, for about 20 miles, but (clunky segue here) did you know I broke my ankle this summer?

I mention this not because I really want to run 20 miles, but mostly because A) I have some good visuals to share and B) most of my good friends visiting this weekend didn’t know about it, so in the spirit of chronicling what goes on here, I give you The Story of The Day I Fell Off The Steps.

It’s not much of a story, which is generally how these things go, of course. In fact, in the orthopedist’s office, I asked him if anyone ever had a good story for this kind of thing, and he agreed that the narrative leading up to most of the bruised and swollen limbs he sees is generally lacking in either excitement and/or common sense.

With that enticing lead-in, way back in June I was running around, late for Will’s haircut appointment, packing for a playdate afterwards and remembering all the things I left in the house after the boys were already buckled into their seats. Grabbing a giant canvas tote full of suits and towels, I stepped out of the front door to my right to allow said giant tote to clear the door as I pulled it shut and locked it, but I stepped too far and rolled my ankle off the two-foot drop that is the side of my steps.

Yawn, I know, but I saw STARS, and without going into the mind-numbingly boring details, I remember equating the pain with childbirth, in that taking-over-your-whole-body kind of way, and later at my friend’s house, (Yes, I drove there, I didn’t think I could be alone with my kids since I couldn’t walk) I needed blankets to deal with the shock-shivers that came on later. (I thought I was just cold from the ice.)

The bruising that developed was pretty spectacular, but here’s where Dr. Google failed me: I assumed it was a sprain, and I searched for images on Google of a sprained ankle. What I learned later was if you search for images of a broken ankle? The pictures look roughly the same. I don’t have a photo of my own ankle, but after a few days, including Henry’s birthday (=on feet all day), it looked like this, but actually way more swollen.

Not my own ankle, thank you anonymous broken ankle friend in Googleland.

Fast forward through four weeks of persistent pain and swelling, and I showed it to my emergency medicine practitioner friend visiting for a play date, saying, “Shouldn’t this sprain be healing by now, because, wow, does it hurt!”

Well, it was her opinion that I perhaps hadn’t followed the wisest course of treatment by DOING NOTHING AND WALKING AROUND ON IT, she speculated about torn ligaments and fractured bones and advised an immediate trip to the doctor. I’m finally realizing that it shouldn’t hurt this badly so many weeks later, and I start envisioning images like this after my doctor takes one look and packs me off to the local hospital for x-rays.

Also not MY ankle, don’t get excited.

So I get my x-rays back, head to the orthopedist’s office and…drumroll….

See that LEETLE TEENY CHIP? That’s my avulsion fracture. Isn’t it cute? According to Wikipedia,

An avulsion fracture is a bone fracture which occurs when a fragment of bone tears away from the main mass of bone as a result of physical trauma. This can occur at the ligament due to the application forces external to the body (such as a fall or pull) or at the tendon due to a muscular contraction that is stronger than the forces holding the bone together. Generally, muscular avulsion is prevented due to the neurological limitations placed on muscle contractions. Highly trained athletes can overcome this neurological inhibition of strength and produce a much greater force output capable of breaking or avulsing a bone.

Did you see that last part about this only happening to HIGHLY TRAINED athletes?

I think I need to go run 20 miles.

The Aftermath:

No cast, because it was starting to heal, even though I walked around on it for five weeks. It still hurts a lot, you can still see the swelling and I still can’t run. Good thing the London Olympics aren’t until 2012! And thanks, Shannon, for the first aid, and thanks, Maria, for sending me off to the doctor!

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Food Friday: Ben & Jerry’s Hot Fudge Sauce

August 22, 2008

Photo by sugarsavvy.net.

Who saved me from having to take this photo this morning.

I know what you’re thinking. Here, I’ll say it for you:

A) She’s got nerve to post a recipe for hot fudge sauce after yesterday’s post.

B) Didn’t she just post a recipe for hot fudge sauce?

C) Does she ever do anything besides eat ice cream and dessert?

And the answers to the above are I know, yes and hardly ever.

But today you get another look at hot fudge sauce, because I made a blessed QUART of it last night in anticipation of a reunion of wonderful friends at our house this weekend, the impending arrival of some of THIS ice cream (read on to the part about the chocolate) and, well, my birthday. Because it’s my birthday and I’ll make hot fudge sauce if I want to. In fact, I might even put it on my cereal this morning.

I’m not sure that Graeter’s ice cream actually needs hot fudge sauce, because, did you read on to the chocolate part? No? Here:

Graeter’s is famous for the massive chunks of chocolate found in our signature chip flavors. We
create these unique chips by pouring our own specially prepared liquid chocolate into the French Pot just as the ice cream is finishing. A paddle is then used to break up the frozen layer into the randomly sized chunks of chocolate.

But I’m not actually willing to take the risk that it DOESN’T need hot fudge sauce, so here we are. Me with a quart of it, and you with a recipe for Ben and Jerry’s Hot Fudge Sauce. I was dying to try this one, because it is the only one I’ve found without evaporated milk and/or corn syrup, things I would rather not eat if I could just have pure butter, cane sugar, chocolate and cream.

This recipe comes from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, which, of course, is on my bookshelf.

Ben & Jerry’s Original Hot Fudge Sauce

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Add the cocoa and whisk until it dissolves.

Using a slotted spoon, gradually stir in the sugar (the mixture should be the consistency of wet sand.) Cook over the simmering water, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and cream. Continue cooking and stirring for one hour, checking the water level in the double boiler and replenishing it when necessary.

When the fudge is completely smooth and the sugar is dissolved, the sauce is ready. Makes one quart. Keeps in the refrigerator for quite some time. Reheat as needed, like when your case of Graeter’s ice cream arrives.

Variations

Peppermint Hot Fudge: Add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Grand Marnier Hot Fudge: Add 3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

Almond Hot Fudge: Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

I haven’t had it on ice cream yet, but I can report that a spoonful of it made me forget that I have at least as many gray hairs as my new age today. You know, 29.

What have YOU got cooking for Food Friday today? Leave it in the comments!

Apologies if you came back here looking for pretty pictures

August 21, 2008

Believe me, Henry, I wanted to cry, too! Yes, that is what you think it is on the crib rail.

I would start this by saying there are no words to describe what I just experienced, but then that wouldn’t be much of a post. So I will say that the poo-bacle last winter was nothing compared to what happened today.

(Parents-to-be and anyone who ever wants to eat chocolate again, stop reading now.)

Henry was napping, and started fussing, LONG before he should have been awake. I ignored it, and figured I’d let him try to got back to sleep on his own.

He didn’t, so I went upstairs to his room. Besides the tears, the real first clue that something was wrong was when I walked in and he HANDED ME A POOPY DIAPER.

THAT WAS NOT ON HIS BODY.

Do you really need me to go on?

I immediately left the room and returned with a camera and took MANY photos before I cringed, put him in the bathtub and then wiped poop off, well, everything. And then took more photos of him in the tub before I washed him down.

Because he is going to get reminded about this for the REST OF MY LIFE.

P.S. I am being kind to you, dear readers. It was SO MUCH WORSE than it looks here. I’m just not showing you the close-ups. You can thank me later.

Sleeping like a baby

August 20, 2008

While young Elizabeth, nine days old, purportedly kept her parents up ALL NIGHT (10- 7 a.m.!) the night before these photos were taken, all I know is what I see here: that she was the most well behaved newborn model I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good ones.

Hopefully someone got some sleep there last night.

I don’t think Elizabeth will have any trouble in that department.

Enjoy this sneak peek, M & B, she is a darling!

Through the viewfinder (a Photoshop tutorial of sorts)

August 19, 2008

I’m rarely on the bandwagon with photo processing trends, mostly because, well, have you seen the pile of laundry in my living room? And, oh, and these guys keep me a little busy, too.

So while the rest of the photo enthusiasts I love to read were playing with things like selective color, way back when, and texture, sloppy borders, vintage washes and cross processing, I just watched from the sidelines.

But I recently came across this clever technique, called TTV (Through the Viewfinder). Basically, you shoot through the viewfinder of an old camera, using your modern digital or film camera, and create an interesting framing effect in camera. I thought to myself, “That’s kind of fun.”

Apparently hundreds of other people thought the same thing, and decided to make a Flickr group and share their images. You’ll see some AMAZING versions of this technique there.

However, the laundry in my living room didn’t go anywhere, and the 9,000 other things that beckon kept beckoning, so it remained a nice idea until I saw this–a way to do it digitally, without hunting for an old camera to shoot through. Hooray!

So I tried it. And thought I would share the steps with you, since so many of you have taught me wonderful Photoshop techniques.

Hope you’ll share some of your tries with this technique. Or, if you don’t have Photoshop and want me to try on one of your photos, I will pick a few that people send me to try it. (Email me a high-res version at hankandwillieATgmailDOTcom.)

TTV-Through the Viewfinder

1. Find a suitable photo. I loved the old-fashioned feel of the print in her dress, her pigtails and the timeless watermelon-in-summer-moment.

2. Since this effect mimics the old waist-height viewfinders with square pictures, I cropped this one square, even though her buddy was equally cute.

3. Edit to taste. I’ve seen this done with strong, vibrant color, with black and white and with sepia. I went for kind of a mild vintage feel here, using Pioneer Woman’s Soft and Faded action here and reduced the opacity a bit to restore some of the bright color of her watermelon.

4. I opened this file, shared by a very generous photographer out there in Flickrland.There’s a whole group of “through a viewfinder shots” to download here, choose the speckle pattern you like best!

It looks like this:

5. Using layers, drag it on top of your open, edited image, and size it to fit. ( I used free transform.)

6. Choose a blend mode, and voila! (I used multiply, and reduced the opacity to about 80%. You can also try other blending modes, like soft light and hard light for different effects.)

The whole thing took longer to write about than to do. Here are a few other examples.

If you try this, I’d love to see the results, post your link in the comments!

And want to see a super cool way to use this? Photographer Tara Whitney decorated a whole wall with her family photos this way. Wow.

Happy PhotoShopping!

Blueberry Monday (World’s Best Blueberry Muffins)

August 18, 2008

So, I actually didn’t disappear into a vat of blueberries, I just got a little busy last week. But it is still blueberry season here, and so I hope to make it up to you today with this preview of the blueberry goodness I have yet in store for you.

These blueberry muffins, a gift to the world from my college roommate’s mom (Thank you, Vic!), are foolproof and perfect. I have tried probably 75 or more muffin recipes in my baking career, and these are at the top of the list.

If I can find a photo of mine, I’ll post it later, but I’m not even going to post a representative picture, because just looked in Google images under PERFECT BLUEBERRY MUFFIN, and EVERY MUFFIN I SAW was not as gorgeous as these muffins. Tall, well-built, perfectly peaked, golden colored and studded with blueberries. If you want super low-fat, whole grain and low sugar, move along, but these are bakery perfection in appearance without the fatty heavy yucky cakey bakery muffin taste.

Without further ado, start baking. (Of course, you can use other kinds of fruit, too. I like to mix blueberries and peaches this time of year.)

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
2 cups flour (I sometimes replace up to a 1/2 cup of white flour with King Arthur’s White Wheat)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 and 1/4 cups sugar ( I use a little more than 3/4 cup without noticing much difference)

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

2 eggs
1 pint floured blueberries, fresh or frozen (2 cups)

(I’m generous with the berries, usually a little more than 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 400.
Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Add flour, cinnamon and baking powder, stir gently.

Add floured blueberries and mix until sticky, adding milk slowly to keep batter sticky.

Fill tins until heaping (this is important for tall, lovely muffins), sprinkle with sugar*. Bake 20-25 minutes.

*I use coarse white decorating sugar from King Arthur’s, makes a pretty crust on top!


Three words you don’t hear together every day: sea creature gummies

August 12, 2008

I think the only thing better than gummy sea creatures in Will’s opinion is gummy sea creatures on a stick. This spectacular confection came from his Auntie Melissa along with his birthday present, isn’t it something?

He was very good about eating just one piece a day and about sharing it with his brother, though no freakin’ way was he going to share the shark with Henry. He did give Henry the giant blue eel/ray thing at the top, though. I think he is hoping if he is very, very good he’ll get another one someday.

Thank you, Melissa!

* * *

Just about to email two blueberry recipes to the reader who has been disappointed daily since last Friday. I’ll do a blueberry post tomorrow here, SERIOUSLY, so if you posted some blueberry recipes, put them in the comments tomorrow so we can come see your recipes, too!

Did someone say blueberries?

August 11, 2008

I swear I heard someone around here promising a blueberry post.

Not what you had in mind, maybe, but here you go.

More soon. Hard to pick them, cook them AND post about them, as it turns out.

For more Best Shot Monday, you know where to go!

In lieu of Food Friday: Harp Seal Release

August 8, 2008

I’m out of town for the day, and if I was a super techno-blogger I would research and write and post from my phone but….I am not. So Food Friday: Blueberries will appear tomorrow. If you’ve got something you’re sharing on your site today, please leave it in the comments tomorrow!

* * *

Will and Henry’s aunt volunteers with our local aquarium’s seal rescue program, and invited us to this recent release of a rehabbed harp seal that had stranded on the shores of New England with a belly full of rocks. The aquarium team worked with our hospital’s GI group (endoscopies aren’t just for people anymore) to treat this terribly sick animal, and at the release, they held up a large jar full of rocks that had been removed from his belly.

Ouch! Though, this guy is about Henry’s age, and I have caught Henry with a rock in his mouth before, so I guess I understand.

That’s a satellite tracker on his back, which will come off at his next molt in winter, or sooner. From the looks of the path on his tracking chart, it looks like sooner might have been yesterday, sadly.

It was amazing and wonderful and quite emotional to see this wild animal get a sniff of home, and then go headlong into the water where he belonged, after months of being around humans. He’ll now head to the far northern reaches of the Arctic, thousands of miles from where he stranded last April.

Safe travels, #39392! Or as we like to call him at our house, Rocky!

Milestone Moments, Part 2

August 6, 2008

Here’s a milestone for you:

Two-year-old boy runs into a HEDGE of poison ivy and highly-allergic mother has to hoist him out of the plant material. He’s practically got it made into a laurel wreath around his head by the time I extricate him, and we still SOMEHOW MANAGED TO AVOID IT. Except for the little bits on my legs.

Another milestone for you:

Henry looking so grownup I can’t take it. I let him jump off the chair after this little session just to remind me that he is really just two.

Sort of holding the sign that says two. Sort of.

Who stole my two-year-old baby?  What is he looking so smug about? And where can I get highlights like that?

Salivating over the gummy bear standing on my camera. Not really the kind of eye contact I was hoping for.

The last thing that gummy bear ever saw…

Milestone moments

August 5, 2008

It’s been so long since I’ve had reliable Internet service (I’m looking at YOU, AT&T!) that I can’t remember what I was going to say. Not unlike the experience you would have if we were having this conversation in person.

So in lieu of all the great posts I wrote in my head while my DSL service was on summer vacation, I have a few milestone snaps of the boys to share at the ripe old ages of two and four. Today, you get William, age four.

Friends, family and longtime readers might recall that I snapped a photo (or 30) of the boys with a little sign marking each month of their lives until they were 18 months (yes, even crazy photo mamas have a limit as to how far they can take it), and then once a year on their birthdays.

In fact, in the case of my firstborn, Will, I actually sent out an online album of those monthly photos (and others) far and wide, sometimes as many as, oh, 60 or so in a single month during his infancy. Of one child. Who was unable to lift his head, smile or focus yet. And I think it would be safe to say I wasn’t very good at taking photos, either.

I remember my oh-so-fabulous, busy executive, gay friend who called me after one such assault. “Sweetheart,” he said. “Forty-two photos? Really? I’m going to have to start asking my secretary to go through them and pick out the cute ones!”

And of course, all I could think was, “My goodness, what a tough job that would be for her to pick just a FEW cute ones!”

NOTE TO THOSE WHO SEND ME PHOTOS OF THEIR CHILDREN: I love them and I can’t get enough. For real. Keep sending them, and that goes in advance for you pregnant folk, too. And you folks who have fallen off the wagon? Get back on or start a blog so I can see photos of your kids. I am not a busy, gay financial executive, and I read my own email. And look at every one of your photos. Thank you.

So anyway. Now I have a blog to satisfy my photo obsession, and I don’t assault people with photos TOO frequently outside of this venue. And if the ones I do send are too many for you? Just give me your secretary’s email address. I think she’s going to love them.

He’s showing you FOUR fingers, you see.

The ubiquitous sign.

Still holding it, better than last year!

And, that’s a wrap!

Test Pattern Here/

August 2, 2008

Day eight of DSL interruption at Hank & Willie HQ.

We’ll be back next week, even if we have to MOVE to get better Internet service. Sigh.