Monday, October 31, 2011

Give me something good to eat

Halloween has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid. Dress-up and candy! What's not to love? I was the kid who knew what they wanted to be on November 1st, then changed my mind 100 times before actually setting out to build a costume. Or if I couldn't decide, I just combined them. Hence, in 1987 (or '88, I can't remember) I was a punk rock vampire.

The past couple of years, I've been feeling my age. In that I haven't had any really good ideas until almost the last minute. And by "good ideas" I mean "ideas that make me giggle for more than 15 seconds." Recent favorites have included the year J & I went as Sirius Black & Professor Trelawney, then I was Red Fraggle, then Maleficent. Last year I was a peacock, and this year a giraffe. Not a sexy giraffe, just a giraffe, because really people. Giraffes are the poster children for awkward. Of course, I've been attending Halloween parties, not trick-or-treating, so it's a little different.  Then I went (with QAL) to sing at the best haunted house in town, and got to be all witchy.

Now I'm on the other side of the door when it comes to trick-or-treating. But I still dress up. My folks dressed up to hand out candy too. Dad is almost always a pirate, mostly because it means he can stop shaving for a few days, wear a comfy stripped shirt and toss his parrot, Merlin, on his shoulder. That made our house pretty popular once the kids realized it was a real parrot on his shoulder, not a stuffed one. We got kids dragging their friends by just to see the pirate with a real bird. Dad loves that. So do we.

Our house isn't that cool. No live parrot. Heck, I didn't even manage to get my spooky garland put up this year, or my light-up twigs for the front walk. Nope, just a lonely purple pumpkin sitting on the porch. Of course, on Friday, my dad gave me another awesome purple pumpkin. This one is covered in purple glitter, and has a jack-o-lantern face and is really like a witch's cauldron thing with a handle and you can put a candle in it. I plan on using it for much longer than the actual holiday dictates, because it is purple and glittery.

So, Friday, when I was a giraffe, the scarecrow said, "I only get to do this once a year, so I might as well go all out." And that reminded me that most people don't get to dress up on the weekends 4 months of the year. And that next year, neither will I. Man, my Halloween costume for 2012 had better be amazing to make up for all the time I'll be, you know, being a MOM instead of playing dress up. Or you know, maybe I'll just have a fun costume for the kid. I know there will be no shortage of ideas from our friends, since they're all dress-up type people too.

OH! and the story of the hats! So, have I told you the protocol for getting or giving random gifts? If I have, I'm going to do it again, just in case. The exchange goes like this:
Giver: Have you been good?
(you say yes)
Giver: Do you deserve a prize?
(again, SAY YES!)
Then you get your random, here-I-thought-of-you-when-I-saw-this gift. Well, my friend Amy was reading Temerity Jane's site and saw the link to the Sweet Pea in a Pod shop and saw an adorable picture of a baby wearing the cutest hat ever, and because we are hat-type people, she asked if the shop-lady could make it in grown-up sizes, and SHE DID! So now, Amy & Diva & I all have fluffy hats of softness with pom-poms on them. (This picture was taken right after we finished singing, hence why 2 of the 3 of us still have on crazy witchy make-up.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still there

So, I've still got a fetus inside. They checked. Looks like this:
Not as cute as the first one, but I'm not complaining about a chance to peek at The Freckle whenever I can. You can see the two halves of the brain in there, and I'm going with the creepy face as part of Freckle's Halloween costume. My boss, for some reason that I don't understand, really wants me to be having twins, so tried to make the baby's belly into a second baby. Nope, just one baby, thanks. Also, said baby refused to stick it in the camera and give us any hint as to whether or not this is a he or a she. I'm leaning towards "boy" these days, but I think that's because I have babies of both flavors being born very near to this one, so either way is good for me. I still would love a girl because Carter made a whole line of pink giraffe print stuff, but that's really as deep as my lady baby desire goes. A boy would help even out the number of boys v. girls in our house. J & the dog are totally outnumbered with 3 girl cats & me. Anyway, we wait until November to try to get another peek at the business area (and everything else).

This weekend at The Blathering I talked with lots of moms and other pregnant ladies. I got a wealth of information that I will likely forget the next time I sleep because I can't seem to remember anything at the moment. When I described it to my husband, he said it sounded a lot like what his ADD felt like. Awesome. We talked about a lot more than JUST babies, but for the moms who were away from their kids, there was a lot of story-telling and picture showing. Some of the ladies even brought their little ones to Sunday brunch, which was AWESOME because I will take any opportunity to hold a baby right now. I really am that excited about getting to have one. I didn't even mind that I got puked on 2.5 seconds after snuggling up to Jesabes's little boy.

I still don't feel pregnant, or really look pregnant (to me), but people keep telling me that I'm getting a baby bump. I don't always have the heart to tell them that what they see poking out under my shirt is just my regular old hudge, shifted up a little because of the baby. Whatever. No one has tried to touch my hudge yet, so that's good. The subtle change in my shape has not been accompanied by any change in the numbers on the scale yet, for which I'm both fairly mystified and very grateful. I'm still able to wear all my regular clothes, which makes me very happy, as my one (and hopefully only) attempt to buy maternity pants made me want to cry. Skirts, I'm going to wear lots and lots of skirts. And maybe some yoga pants.

I feel much less queasy & sleepy than I did the last time I gave you an update about the state of my innards. This is really nice. I am, however, about 9800% moodier than I remember ever being before in my life. That's just fair warning. I cry at commercials, previews to tv shows, calls from my husband, pictures on the internet, stubbed toes, spilt milk, crumbling cookies and the lack of chicken ramen. All of those things might also result in laughter, rage, or crushing apathy. You just never know, and by "you" I mean me. And you too.

So there. Still pregnant. Everything is going very well and we're all healthy and happy. 119 days down, 161 days to go...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Austin, in 48 hrs

First, I must say that Austin is way too young & cool for me. Dallas is much too rich & pretty for me, but that's why I live in the suburbs, right?

So, I went to The Blathering, met lots and lots of women, most of whom I read the blogs that they write. I ate an enormous amount of good food and talked and laughed until my voice went all wonky. The organizers did a ton of work and took really good care of us. It was basically like hanging out with my twitter feed in real life, which is just as awesome as it sounds. I think I managed to at least say hello to everyone, but with 50 women running about, it's hard to really get to talk to everyone. I forgot lots of people's names and introduced myself multiple times. I put my foot in my mouth no fewer than 5 times, but we all expected that, right? I got turned around at least twice, but thanks to the handy-dandy GPS/Google Maps on my phone, I was never really lost. I stayed up way past my bedtime and wore make-up and heels. I bought a new top and walked around the crazy dust bowl that was the Gypsy Food Trailer Picnic and had pizza at Home Slice. I came home with a new cd full of music by Canadians. Really, I just ate and talked my way through the weekend.

So, I made little cowboy hat ornaments for people to take home.
49 of them. Thankfully it was a simple project, since I didn't start the real making until Wednesday night. My hands were a little tender because I could really have used a thimble. I need to remember that the next time I think pushing embroidery thread through tiny felt hats is something I really feel like doing.

Oh! And the suprise! It went over pretty well. Here's a picture of the finished product. Because "every baby should have a onesie that matches her mom's tattoo." Right?

I didn't take very many pictures, and of the ones that I did take, 75% are of people's shoes. Yeah... I know.

The most adventurous part of my trip, however, was before I even made it to Austin.

Somewhere along I-35 there is a gas station that you should avoid. Unfortunately, I don't remember where it is, other than somewhere between Waco & Round Rock. We stopped because I needed to use the bathroom. It's a gas station, so I wasn't expecting an attendant and fresh white linens. It wasn't like "the worst toilet in Scotland" or anything, but it definitely earns the title of "worst bathroom I've ever had to use."  The men's bathroom didn't look to be very tempting while I was waiting for the ladies' room to be free, but in retrospect, it may have been the better choice.

The lady in front of me came out smiling, which I didn't really think much about. Obviously, it was a warning. A subtle warning that I didn't heed. And honestly, my need was great enough that driving down to the next exit on the road wasn't really an option anymore. The smell in the hallway was strong, but not overwhelming, and surprisingly, it smelled better in the bathroom than the hallway. Maybe that should have been a warning too?

The most... obvious problem was the seat. It was... dirty & not attached. If ever there were a time to hover, this was definitely it. Then I discovered that it took a fair amount of jiggling and holding your tongue in the right spot to get the darn thing to flush. And the faucets took a tremendous amount of force to turn on and off.

I mean, all told, I escaped relatively unscathed, but... it was a bit nerve wracking. I did wish the next lady in line "good luck" and she laughed. At least she understood my warning, unlike the cryptic smile from the lady before me.

Thankfully, the drive back to the airport from Austin was much less full of adventure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

13 Things (most of you probably already know)

Stolen from Princess Nebraska*:

13 things you should know about me before The Blathering (or meeting me in person in any way, I suppose):

1. I'm giant. I'm 6' tall and 2' wide. While neither of those dimensions is particularly uncommon, the combination isn't all that prevalent. Also, it seems that the few bloggers who will be at The Blathering whose heights I know are... not tall. I'm not amazingly tall, but I have a fear of being 6" taller than the rest of the folks there, which, while not a huge deal, would be slightly awkward.

2. I'm loud. Really loud. I do have an inside voice, but I usually have to be reminded to use it.

3. I talk with my hands. And my whole face. And my whole body. I'm just sort of... physically over-expressive. Beware of flying elbows if I get going on a good story.

4. I have no idea if I've told you a story before, so it's totally ok, in fact encouraged that you tell me that you've heard it before so I can spare us both the retelling and let you get a word in edgewise.

5. I will probably take pictures of your shoes. Not in a fetishy way, I just... like shoes. My sister B got me hooked on the idea of taking pictures of feet everywhere, and it's really stuck. So, if you're camera shy, maybe you'll let me grab a shot of your shoes.

6. Part of the reason why I'm so loud is that I'm very enthusiastic. I'm excited about everything. I will be very excited to meet you. I will try not to be so excited to meet you that you dread meeting me, but I make no guarantees.

7. I'm also prone to hyperbole and wild exaggeration.

8. I'm bringing gifts. 49 tiny gifts. A random idea struck me, and my timing was perfect enough that the lovely ladies at Hobby Lobby were able to put a custom order in for me. Tomorrow, I will sit down with needle and thread (which sounds a lot more... competent than what will actually be happening) and turn these supplies into a little something.

9. Oh, I'm pregnant. I don't look pregnant, just my normal brand of chubby, so there's no belly for you to pat. My belly is all still french fries and PB&J sandwiches, not baby yet.

10. The more comfortable I get with people, the touchier I get. I mean, I'm not going to fondle you at dinner, but I might reach out to touch your hand or elbow while talking. I won't in any way get offended if you don't want me to touch you, I just need to know so I don't continue to make you uncomfortable and then feel like an ass about it afterwards. I probably won't initiate hugs, but I love to get them.

11. I like music. I'm not cool or knowledgeable about music, but I like it. I think mix tapes (even if they're on CD or jump drive) are one of the best gifts ever and maybe music isn't the best way to get to know someone, but I think it creates an illusion of connection when two people both love the same song. I promise not to hate you if you don't like my music or I don't like yours.

12. I sing along to the radio, or at karaoke. If I know the song that's being sung, I'll probably be singing along too. Which might be rude, but I like to think that it's supportive. No? Just rude? Oh. Ok then.

13. I enjoy communal eating. I certainly won't take food off your plate (unless I've known you for a while), but I love it when there's a lot of variety on the table and people are willing to share a bite or two, so you get to try all the things that sounded good. It's still strange to me to go to a Chinese restaurant and not just order one dish for each person, put it all in the middle and dish out some of each, family style. So, know that you are more than welcome to try my dinner or dessert.

*Also? Princess Nebraska? Great blog name! Love it! I mean, she lives in California, so it's kind of confusing, but that's ok. She's from Nebraska if I remember correctly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Total procrastinator!

Warning! Run-on sentences and a complete lack of grammatical style in this post!

Ok, so I'm going to this gathering of lady bloggers down in Austin, and one of my favorite bloggers is going to be there. I'm not going JUST to meet her, but it was a big pro when I was making my list. Mostly because I've had this idea of a thing I wanted to make for her, or rather for her baby, but even just typing that out makes me realize just how incredibly strange that sounds. So I couldn't really talk myself into asking for her address to send it to her, but somehow giving it to her person is better? Still creepy? Probably.

So, this idea, I've had it for... oh, I don't know, many month. Probably since before said baby was born, because it was something that I thought of as a good idea for some baby out there, and this baby seemed the perfect candidate. Truth be told, I'll probably make one for my own baby, but that means I actually have to make it.

So, many months have passed while I have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about making said gift for the aforementioned baby.

I'm being unnecessarily vague, because this lady blogger doesn't read my blog (and I say that with no malice or pouting--it's a big internet and just because I like her doesn't mean that she would like me), so the chances of ruining the surprise are really pretty slim, but you know what, I'm not taking any chances.

Besides, if she did read this, she'd probably get mildly annoyed, because she's a person who doesn't like there to be any delay time between the finding out about a surprise and the receiving of said surprise.

Not that there would be much of a delay anyway, because I don't know if you know this, but The Blathering is THIS FRIDAY!

This Friday. As in, 4 days from now. I've agreed to go spend the weekend with 48 strangers, only two of whom I've actually met in the real world, and of those two, only one do I remember the appropriate combination of name and face... sad, I know.

It's not that I'm shy. I'm not. I do pretty well with strangers. I mind my manners. I'm not afraid to jump into conversations. I don't feel the need to be the star of the gathering, to have everyone that I like leave thinking that I'm awesome and amazing. I mean, that would be great and all, but is pretty unlikely, seeing as how the blogs that I like tend to be written by people who I think I get along better with when they're on the other end of the internet, because then the chance of me putting my foot in my mouth is at least somewhat lessened.

Oh, and another thing? I was totally excited to see bloggers that I like leaving comments on my friend's blog. How cool is that? Am I to thank for that introduction? Possibly. Then again, big internet and all, so they could have made the connection themselves, but it still is cool. Almost as cool as seeing your friends comment on blogs that you also enjoy. Who knew we had such good taste?

Ok, so this procrastinated project-- I was propelled into action by finding out that one of the 9 ladies I know giving birth in 2012 (10 babies out of all that--somebody's having TWINS!), who happens to be one of my dearest friends from like, forever, just found out today that her baby is a girl. I am doubly excited, because 1) dude! Pink and purple ruffles! and B) so far all of the babies whose dangle or lack there of has been revealed have all been boys.

Anyway, so I decided to stop by Joann's to get craft supplies to start spoiling this baby girl, and while I was there I decided to get off my butt and maybe see about making the thing for my blogger friend's baby.

I have a washer full of (well, no, not really. It would be really hard to get a full washer out of just ) onesies being washed so I can start the crafting process. I've never attempted this particular craft before, but I think I understand the basic concepts of iron-on transfers and fabric glue, so hopefully everything will go smoothly.

Worst case scenario? It fails miserably, and I don't bring it, and no one (but you) knows that it was ever even an idea. Who knows? Maybe we'll really hit it off at The Blathering and I won't feel weird about asking for her address to send her baby stuff, and I can try again for Christmas.

The City

So, if you've ever seen Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill, you'll understand the snotty tone of voice in which I say "the city."  So, I was born in San Francisco, but lived in Marin once I was old enough to have even the most basic concept of geography, and so whenever we talked about going to San Francisco, we said we were going to "the city." Now to be fair, I did the same thing when living in a suburb of Chicago, so it's not like it's an exclusively California thing, but whatever. Eddie made fun of us, and that's cool. Also, he totally hit the nail on the head. You do not call the city "Frisco" or "San Fran." You just don't. Or rather, if you do, you're wrong, and we will mock you.

Anyway, last Mon and Tues, J & I spent our time in the city. We stayed in a little hotel on Lombard St., just blocks from the Presidio where I was born. Monday, we had the kind of weather you think of when you think San Francisco- foggy, overcast, misting. So of course we spent the day walking around outside. We took the bus down to Fisherman's Wharf where we splurged on a semi-fancy lunch.

Lobster tail... splurged for lunch at the Fog Harbor Fish House on Pier 39

Then we did the shopping part where we bought souvenirs and presents for friends, then decided to be totally touristy and take a tour of the bay on one of the Blue & Gold fleet ferries.

We're on a boat!
The boat went out, under the bridge, then around Alcatraz, and back to the Wharf. It was really neat. The fog and mist actually made it cooler.
Real San Francisco weather
Unfortunately, the BEST shot of the bridge I've ever gotten, I took on my cell phone. The unfortunate part of that sentence comes at the end of the trip. FORESHADOWING!
The Rock
After all that, we went back to our room, took a nap, then wandered down to the Tipsy Pig for dinner. It was amazing. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable without being pretentious. The place was cozy and had really great atmosphere--kind of like walking into an old English sitting room, with all the books and stuff. At our table was an old copy of "The Life of Johnson" by Samuel Boswell. The food though... oh, the food! J described it as gourmet home style, and I guess that's as good a description as any. Simple food prepared really, really well. It was totally worth it, and a wonderful birthday dinner, even if it was the day before my birthday.

Tuesday was bright, sunny, and beautiful. So of course we decided to spend it inside. To be fair, if the Exploratorium had been open on Monday, we would have switched our schedule around, but it's not, so we made the best of it. We walked the 4 blocks or so from our hotel and enjoyed the sunshine and the city.

Looking down the street towards the bay

Looking up the street at the hills

Random hydrangea. It was purple, I couldn't resist!

Now, the Exploratorium is at the Palace of Fine Arts, and it's pretty much the coolest museum I've ever been to in my life. The last time I visited was 1990, just before I moved away from California to Texas (the first time). 11 years is a long time to anticipate going back, and it absolutely did not disappoint!
The Palace of Fine Arts--maybe my favorite place in the whole city. It looks like a postcard, but it's real! 
So, it's this big, geeky, kid-centered science play ground. Anything that looks touchable, pushable, movable, spinable or turnable probably is, and you're encouraged to touch, push, move, spin or turn it. Each exhibit is a little science experiment. There's an explanation of some THING in the wide, wonderful world, then an explanation of how that thing works, then an example for you to recreate the principle there at the museum. It was wonderful! This video is of us playing with the black sand. It's magnetic, and we were fascinated.

The Exploratorium... SO FREAKIN' RAD! It's a giant play room for science! Here's J & I playing with black sand.

Our picture taken in... infrared? Heat sensing? Something like that. 
There was a whole section devoted to biology where you could look at stuff live under microscopes, and there was a room full of magnets and electric stuff, an entire SECTION devoted to sound, and a whole wing about social sciences. They had exhibits like a water fountain made from a toilet. A clean, brand new, never been used toilet with water pumped straight from the kitchen, but... I couldn't drink from it. We played with lasers and tried to communicate with just our eyes. It was so much fun. We spent 5 hours playing with science and it was more fun than I can describe. 

Then we walked back to where our airport shuttle was going to pick us up and had some super tasty Indian food while we waited, and I had to take a picture of the tiny police call box, because that's the kind of dork I am.
Tiny Doctor inside
Then we flew home, and I left my cell phone on the plane. Oh yes, I'm just that awesome. So, the fabulous picture of my bridge, from a great angle as we passed under it, as it disappeared into the fog? Gone. Luckily, that's the only thing gone. All my contacts and voicemail and stuff was saved, thanks to Google.

Anyway, that's our trip to San Francisco. I'm looking forward to our next trip, whenever that might be.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home & Family & Hormones

Do you ever get that feeling, like you're going to cry for no real reason (or for a real reason, whatever) and you're doing fine staying on top of it and being ok because you're FINE really and everything is fine, and then someone is nice to you and it breaks the dam wide open and you're sobbing like a baby?

Yeah, that's happened to me a couple of times recently. Going home was really great, and very emotional. I was getting nostalgic and sentimental over EVERYTHING. Ice plants & eucalyptus trees on the side of the highway. Signs for the 101. AM/PM gas stations. The smell of Grandma's house, the pictures of Granny Worley at age 93 (I think) and her mom at age 18 next to one another in the hall. The things that are still the same, even after all these years--the clocks on the wall, the lamps, the magnets on the fridge, the drawing my brother made on the chalkboard in the office in 1982. I was just so stinkin' happy to be there I cried. I blame the baby, because while I am a sentimental type person, I don't usually start bawling at the sight of a bookshelf full of books on herbal remedies and positive thinking yourself healthy. Usually. 

My flight was uneventful, just the way you want flights to be. I watched Captain America and ate my grapes. It might have been funnier if I hadn't been fighting the urge to pee, but I don't know.

My baby cousin (who is 23 and has a baby of her own!) picked me up at the airport. At first it was a comedy of errors as she drove in circles looking for me, on the phone with her mother, who was also on the phone with me as I tried to describe my location. It took us about 5 minutes to realize we were in the same place, but on different levels. Then we headed for home, on the101, then 92 and over the San Mateo bridge, which is the seed for a set of recurring nightmares where I'm driving on a bridge so steep that eventually the car falls off backwards. We detoured through Hayward, thinking we were on our way to get food, then back onto 580 heading to Stockton, and by then it had been over an hour, so we just headed home, but it was a full 3 hours before we actually arrived. We talked non-stop the whole way.

My aunt fed us and then the rest of the family arrived, well, my other aunt and grandparents. We chatted until we were sleepy then headed to bed. I'm staying in my baby cousin's baby's room. She's 3 and precious. As I was getting into bed she came and gave me her stuffed kitty and the prayer baby (babydoll with hands that velcro together) to keep me company. It was the sweetest thing.

Breakfast was a family affair. Everyone was stirring and flipping and tasting and poking. It was perfect. Olivia chatters and jumps and bounces...she is 3 and mornings are awesome. Eggs and bacon and hashbrowns and some cartoons. Of course, my morning started playing kitchen on the bedroom floor where we made sure our hotdogs had the right amount of condiments and the plastic peas stayed away from the spaghetti.

One of the things that seems very BOSWELL in my mind is playing cards. The family game is Peeknuckle. That's not how it's spelled, but I can't remember how it is supposed to be right now. I've never learned how to play, though I've been taught at least twice. We played Hearts instead and then the craziest game called Hand and Foot that has more rules than good sense. I lost miserably at both but I had a blast playing.

Then, I drove to my grandma's house. It wasn't over a river or through the woods. It was under the freeway and down the street. Grandma got new floors and countertops in her kitchen. Other than that, and a few new pictures, everything is exactly as I remember. There are some pictures that only exist here. Old pictures, like the ones of Granny Worley & her mother...

my great-great-grandmother, Fatima Brumley. Grandma and Grandpa's room is covered in pictures. Pictures of the whole family as babies, graduating from high school or college, with their first babies. 
Just one of the walls of pictures. Up top is Grandma & Grandpa. The next row is of their 3 kids  as they graduated high school, and next to each kid are pictures of THEIR kids, then a row of grandchildren and family photos. 

That's my daddy in the middle, my brother on the left, me on the right

Mom & Dad & my brother when he was wee
This is probably from about 1981. Bow on my head!

Dad & Mom, Glenn & Me. Again, probably '81, maybe early '82? My mom would know better, but I'm just guessing based on how old I think I look. And how much hair I've got.

 Does anyone else love pictures of themselves as a baby? Most of my favorites have my brother holding me. And bows on my head. You can't really tell from this picture of a picture, but this one is from Easter, I think 1982 or 83. Anyway, my dress is the prettiest shade of lavender, my hair is still that shiny shade of red that I remember it being before I got old and it turned dingy, and my brother is wearing a tie. I love this picture so very very much. The cherry blossom back drop and the stupid grin on my face...

This is of my Great Aunt Viola's daughters. On the left  is Carolynn Mundy Dunn (aunt of Sunday Mundy, who's father is Little John, called Fudd--I also had a Great Uncle Toy, and that's his real name.) & Paulette , my dad's cousin, whom I called Aunt, even though she's not.  Taking pictures of pictures is really difficult, but I couldn't stop myself.

Sunday morning was all about biscuits and that's pretty well documented. It was a great trip. It was good to see family and to hear stories about the good old days.

I'm going to go take a nap now, and tackle our two days in the city later. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Roll 'em up, roll 'em up

Some words on the history of biscuits in general as provided by Wikipedia for the curious. When J & I were in Ireland, we asked our lovely hosts the following question: If crisps are chips, and chips are french fries and a biscuit is a cookie, what's a biscuit?  That is when we learned that there is no such thing as an equivalent to REAL American biscuits in Europe. The closet you can get is a scone, and that's just not right. So, biscuits have a very important place in the American-ness of things. Scones are great and all, and they can be savory or sweet, but it's still not a biscuit. Biscuits and Gravy wouldn't work with a scone. Eeeewwwwww.

Anyway, I should say that these biscuits might not live up to anyone's expectations but mine. They aren't flakey-type biscuits. They are dense, soft on the inside, golden and crunchy on the outside, buttermilk biscuits. Grandma learned from her mom, who learned from her mom, and other than making the switch to self-rising flour, I doubt much has changed since then. I'm very excited to try and make these at home, and you can probably expect another post with my attempts too. This seems like such a simple thing--biscuits, but it's the quintessential thing that I think of when I think of my Grandma. She took care of us and loved us through good, homemade food. I make my pancakes with Biscuick because it's easy, but these biscuits... this is home to me. I don't know how else to say it. These biscuits are the cornerstone of home cooking.

Making biscuits with my grandma is one of my best memories of childhood. It isn't just one memory. It's lots of memories all rolled into one. Some of the details are mixed up. In my memory, the bacon drippings lived in a Yuban can above the stove. They actually have their own container with a strainer. Also, the way I remember it happening is that Grandma would pour buttermilk into THE BOWL until it made biscuits. Turns out, there are a few more steps than that. 10 steps to Grandma's biscuits--not too bad really!

Some things just don't change. For instance, this is THE BOWL. This bowl lives in this cabinet on this pull-out tray thingy. There's a cover for it, so it doesn't... go bad... however flour does that. Weevils I think. Anyway, this is where it lives, right next to the sifter. The sifter is probably as old as the bowl and both are older than me.

Step 1: Get out THE BOWL and  a sifter. Sift some of the flour from the bowl back into the bowl--about two sifters full. Self-rising flour makes this much easier. If you only have regular flour, you'll need to adjust the amounts of baking stuff, but I'll get to that later. Now would be a good time to heat the oven to 375. Yesterday would have been a good time to have made some bacon so you would have some bacon drippings ready. They're the secret ingredient.

Step 2: Make sure you have buttermilk. We were out, so there was a trip to the store first. These are BUTTERMILK biscuits, so this is a very important step.

 Step 3: Into ANOTHER bowl, put 1 1/2 cups of the sifted flour, then make a nest in THE BOWL (which should be big enough to comfortably fit in the crook of your elbow and rest against your hip). This nest is very important.
 Step 4: Measure out 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda. You don't have to use these measuring spoons, but these are the ones Grandma always uses. They are also older than I am. Also, if you're using all-purpose flour, go ahead and add an additional 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
 Step 5: Stir all the dry ingredients together with a GIANT SPOON. Why a giant spoon? Because that's how Grandma does it. That's why!
 Step 6: Pour some buttermilk into the other bowl (which you can sort of see here is a plastic thingy with a handle and a pour spout) until it becomes the right consistency. This is the tricky part. You just sort of have to eyeball it. You want it thicker than pancake batter, sort of cake-batter ish, but it will be lumpy and that's ok. It's not runny, but not really stretchy like bread dough. It's soft and still pours, but has some thickness to it. It's hard to describe, and I have a feeling it will be hard to replicate. Remember, I've never actually done this part before.
Step 7: Pour the batter back into the nest in THE BOWL. 
Fold the flour from the outside into the ball of batter until... well until it's biscuit dough. Again, this is an eyeball and fingertip thing. You want the dough to be stiff enough to handle, but not so stiff that it doesn't stretch.
 It helps if you keep turning the bowl instead of your hand so you get the flour from all of the edges worked into the middle. You'll work all the way around the bowl at least twice. I think. I mean, it's all approximate. This is Boswellian cooking after all.

 Step 8: Grease The Biscuit Pan. This is the Biscuit Pan.

 It's the same pan Grandma always uses. It's not 9x13, it's sort of... 10x7, but you can use any pan you like. I don't know how glass would work though, so stick to metal if you've got it. Anyway, you want to lightly grease the bottom and sides. We sort of cheat and use PAM.
Step 9: Pinch off a little bit of dough and, between two very well floured hands, "roll 'em up, roll 'em up, put it in the pan." You don't have to say that every time, but as kids, we always did. It gave Grandma time to watch us and make sure we were getting them smooth and pretty. See how wonderful Grandma's biscuit looks? 
 See how bumpy and wiggly MINE look? Obviously, not much has changed since I was doing this as a kid. Anyway, the goal is to roll them gently until they're smooth on top, then tuck the ugly side to the bottom of the pan.

 Step 10: BACON! Ok, not actual bacon, but the drippings of. The grease that's left behind after making bacon. The secret ingredient to perfect biscuits. Grandma keeps hers in this container.
 No, it's not full, but it's got enough. You take the back of a spoon and rub down all the exposed biscuit parts, even the sides and in between and the cracks and crannies.
Then you bake for 23-27 minutes in your 375 degree oven. Set the timer for 23, then check to see if the biscuits are the right color. This is the right color, golden brown and AWESOME. Actually, while the biscuits are in the oven would be a great time to fry up some bacon (save the drippings for next time!) and make some eggs. 
  Pile them on a plate. Serve with butter, honey, jam and gravy so everyone can fix their biscuits the way they like them.
 Ta-da! Breakfast at Grandmas. Which we eat at lunch time. Because breakfast is actually Yuban coffee and crossword puzzles. Naturally.
There it is--the fluffy, golden, wonderful biscuits! Every time Grandma makes them they are just as good as I remember. She made me promise that when I start making them, I can't give up if they don't turn out right the first 172 times or so. She says it takes practice to get the just right, and I'm willing to try. I need to get some bacon first though. Biscuits without the secret ingredient just wouldn't work, would it?

Alright, here's the whole shebang in one easy-to-read list-type format!
Grandma's Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, sifted
  • about 2 cups self rising flour, also sifted, for the nest
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Buttermilk--no clue on amount here. A cup? Cup & a half? 
  • Bacon drippings


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Grease your pan
  • Mix all dry ingredients together
  • Stir in buttermilk until batter is thick, but pourable. Similar to cake batter, not as stiff as brownie batter
  • Put batter into flour nest. Fold in flour until dough is stiff enough to handle and roll
  • Roll into palm-sized balls
  • Pat each biscuit with bacon drippings, making sure to cover all exposed surfaces--corners, edges, cracks & crannies
  • Bake for 23-27 minutes, until golden brown

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some quick pictures

I have lots to say about my trip to Stockton & San Francisco.

Lots of it is very sentimental, nostalgic, and possibly just way too sappy. I got emotional about BOTANY while I was there. Ice plants, who knew?

In the meantime, some pictures:

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