Welcome back to Soup Week - it's Potato Soup day!
I've never made potato soup before. I'd always had it in the category of onion soup, which is something that I'd order in a restaurant, not make at home. I dislike slicing many onions at a time - although chopping onions can be a great test to see if anyone in your house (ie. your kids) would ever notice you weeping in the kitchen.
In my case, not so much. And it had nothing to do with onions.
I remember a couple of years ago - I'm pretty sure it was when my four kids were all between the ages of 3 months and 4 and 1/2 years - and I was so tired and I was just done and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. There was fighting and throwing toys and several children crying and I wanted to cry too. So I did. Standing in the middle of a hurricane of a living room, surrounded by kids and toys and noise and no one noticed. They asked for cookies and drinks and the tv, and no one asked why mommy was weeping her heart out. That was kind of a low point for me, but we've come along way since then and now we make potato soup and people actually eat it.
Once again, I have to be quicker with the camera because the soup is gone.
Three kids ate the soup, two loved it and one asked if I could buy her a thermos so she could take it to school and eat it warm. I love that.
I billed this as Mashed Potato Soup because, um, I don't know why I did, but I felt that there'd be a more positive reception if it had the name of something they already knew and loved and ate.
This is what I did:
Saute two diced onions in some olive oil.
Add garlic powder and salt to the sauteing onions.
Peel and dice 7 medium sized potatoes.
I know, I also hate peeling potatoes. Just do it; it's a good soup.
Throw them into the pot.
Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring it to a boil.
Lower the soup to a simmer and cover it for twenty minutes.
Let the soup cool while you pick the kids up from school or for 15 minutes, whichever is longer.
Using your handy-dandy immersion blender, blend the soup, but not that much. Leave some potatoes pieces whole, that way no one can accuse you of serving baby food.
The many potato soup recipes I've read all call for adding about a cup of milk at this point to make the soup creamier, but there were a few issues here. First, I wasn't looking for a dairy soup and second, the thought of pouring milk into the soup made me gag. I have milk issues. I might have mentioned them here.
To compromise, I poured in a small amount of unsweetened rice milk. I just couldn't add anymore, it looked to much like milk to me, but if you like a creamier soup - and I don't - feel free to add whatever dairy or pareve milk you have on hand.
Rewarm the soup and serve - I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomatoes. Even though I don't eat bread, I love the whole idea of a soup and a sandwich together. Reminds me of my Bobby Toby and a snow day every time. We almost had a snow day here in Jacksonville today, except that we didn't. But the next county over did, and that must count for something.
So much company - and so many kids with ear infections, coughs, colds, sinus infections and the worst - in my opinion - pink eye. I hate pink eye. But by the time you have pink eye from a cold, you're also likely feeling much better. Just not better enough to go to school - which can only mean one thing.
Mommy! I'm Boooorrrred!
So the other day, because we are on a huge Cupcake Wars kick in this house, the girls played Cookie Wars. With playdough. And some beads. And my kitchen cabinets as the ovens and fridges (you know, to cool the cookies down).
And you know what I did? And I mean besides desperately begging children to take their pink medicine and let me put eye drops in the eyes - I sharpened all the pencils in the house. And it made me irrationally happy.
Sounds like I've lost my mind, right?
I haven't. At least I don't think I have.
My kids use pencils every night to do homework; we have what may very well qualify as the mother-load of pencils here and since it's about halfway through the school year it makes sense that not too many pencils had points left on them. They needed to be sharpened. I knew they needed to be sharpened, I thought about sharpening them every day, twice a day. Once when I pass by the bucket of pencils on my out the door in the morning and once more when it's time for homework and we are reduced to using crayons and then also using a crayon to write notes to the teachers apologizing (again) for using crayons to do homework. Oy.
Last week, my awesome sister-in-law was visiting with her kids - and because she is awesome, she began the organizing of my kitchen cabinets that should have been done when we moved in, but was not. We moved in three minutes before Josh started his new job and so in those three minutes, we unpacked as many boxes as we could and shoved as many things into closets and cabinets as we could, and yeah, that's how we've been living for the past six months because I can't seem to catch my breath here.
But then Sara showed up and all of a sudden, I was able to see what I had in my pantry and I must share - I have a lot of almond milk. And tons of Veggie Straws.
I have a lot of cabinets - that's not a complaint, just a happy fact. And Sara was not able to get to all of them while she was here, but I was so inspired by her work that while the girls played Cookie Wars, I tackled the last four un-organized cabinets. And you know what I found? A sharpener.
In the middle of organizing those cabinets, I stopped and sharpened. And sharpened and sharpened. And emptied the sharpener and sharpened some more. My kids were thrilled when they sat down to do homework and I felt accomplished.
You know what's weird too? I felt more accomplished about the pencils than about the cabinets and I think it's cause sometimes (most times?) it's the small tasks on a to-do list that throw up a wall in front of us. And when I say us, I mean me.
The cabinets were a big deal and finally making time to do them felt good. But I didn't think about the cabinets every day. The cabinets were more like something in the back of my mind that I thought would happen whenever. The pencils, though, they're big. They took up precious space in my brain on a daily basis, multiple times a day and I didn't like that.
I think a lot of things are like that in life - small things that take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. And I feel like makes me super unproductive, so even though it's a little late for new year's resolutions and also I kind if don't believe in resolutions, I'm making one - but I'm not calling it a resolution, just a new way of being.
My new way of being now is to (try) do the small things when they occur to me instead of carrying them around for weeks or months. I could have very easily picked up a sharpener on my frequent trips to target but I didn't.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I just never remembered to buy the sharpener. I feel like I need to write things down more.
Okay, so that's it. This is the new non-resolution: I will write things down when they pop into my head.
Now I just need somewhere to write them.
Not being a farm girl myself, I'm not sure I'm using the term "harvest" correctly, but I think I might be. Who knows. But either way, the oranges are ready.
If you've been following along, you might remember that when we moved in, we thought, cool, a big tree in the backyard. And then a few weeks later, we were all like, hmm, something's growing on the tree. They're little and green and what could they be? Turns out they're oranges. About eleventy thousand of them. For real. There are just so many oranges.
They've been falling off the tree for a few weeks now and we've been ignoring them, playing catch around the oranges, sometimes stepping on the mushy ones for fun. But that was only the kids.
And then yesterday, Josh announced that it was orange picking day. And so it was orange picking day.
And now we have so many oranges in the dining room, we can rent a stand at a farmer's market.
Or we can slice the oranges and dry them in our dehydrator and use them for Tu B'Shvat projects. Which is kind of what we're going to do with a bunch of them in school on Thursday. It worked out well when your husband is the school principal.
And since it takes 8 hours to dehydrate them and there are many many oranges, I better get started.
Next Up: A Gazillion Dried Orange Slices.
I thought I was so clever. I did a little research, read a few local mommy blogs and learned that there was not only a skyway and a water taxi, but a trolley, all located downtown. It was almost too good to be true and you know what, I should have known that it would be.
The day started out innocently enough, we drove downtown and were, literally, the only car on the highway. That should have tipped us off that perhaps, on this day before Christmas, everything might be closed.
We parked downtown, easily. Never having been there, we had no idea if it was always this easy to park downtown, or again, if it was a holiday thing but either way, we might have seen this as another tip-off that perhaps today was not the day to be doing these activities.
But no, not us. We were all like, man, this is awesome!, with the kids all excited because last time we drove into the city (that would be New York City), we drove in circles for, I kid you not, 100 minutes, before finally caving and parking in a lot for $18 an hour. Oh, the memories. And the wasted gas. And the money. But I digress.
We parked (and not at a meter, I might add) and were on our merry way to find the water taxi, which sounded like so much fun, even though it was quite chilly that day.
First we found this very gorgeous - and unpolluted - fountain, right in the middle of everything. So strange. Where do people throw their garbage if not into a perfectly good fountain?
And you know what else was missing, besides for the garbage? Homeless people. There weren't any. I saw one guy and I naturally assumed he was homeless because we were in a park and we were downtown and also cause you can't take the New York out of the girl, but he wasn't. He was just doing yoga on the grass, with his backpack and stuff next to him. Just-a-nutty-crunchy-downtown-yoga-kinda-guy. You gotta love that.
We sauntered down to the water taxi, not intending on a specific destination on the water taxi route, just some plain old water-taxi-joy-riding. But it was not to be. The water taxi was closed on the day before Christmas - one of two days the entire year it's closed.
Although, you know what? Now that I'm looking at this picture, the water taxi kind of looks like a floating version of the Electric Mayhem Bus. Frightening? Comforting? Maybe Dr. Teeth is there captain of the boat? Do you really not get the reference? Okay, I'll make it easy for you. Click here.
Moving right along to the skyway. In my head, it was going to be like the monorail at Disneyworld. It's not. It's free, for one. Which should have been warning tip #3 of the day.
Don't get me wrong, the monorail was fun and the kids had a great time. My kids are wonderful human beings and when they see people, all they see are people. I, slightly older and way more jaded, see sketchy people where they just see plain people. I'm guessing that makes me an awful person, but I'm okay with that.
And I'm also okay with the fact that my being happy that my boys and husband were wearing baseball caps over their kippahs also makes me a not wonderful person. But - and this is something that Josh and I vehemently disagree on - having grown up a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I do not believe in the need to flaunt any outward appearances of Judaism, ever, while my husband feels like there is nowhere he would, could or should ever go that might make him feel like taking his kippah off and putting it in his pocket would be a good idea. He's the grandchild of Americans. Huge (huge) difference.
As we exited the skyway, and I pointed out to my children where they should never ever stand, should they ever find themselves riding the skyway again.
What is up with that? You can totally fall off the top of the skyway. No railing, no nothing. And it was at that moment when I remembered that one of those mommy bloggers who went on and on about the fun on the skyway did, in fact, point out that if you are able to buckle your kids into a stroller until the monorail doors have safely closed behind you, you should.
And on to our last stop on transportation day: the trolley. We never made it there. Apparently it's like the train in Staten Island. It doesn't go anywhere you want to go. And the only place we wanted to go was home, to watch a movie and eat popcorn. We tire easily and we get cranky quickly; we're not one of those families that goes out for the day - we like going for a morning, maybe an afternoon. Perhaps a nice lunch, but that's about it for us. But we will return to the Water Taxi. We must. Cause it looks kinda awesome in a rickety old and painted Muppet bus kind of way.
So here's what's been happening these past few weeks, but in the abridged version:
We moved to Florida. The end.
No, really, there's more but I'm not totally sure it's worthy of the play by play. One thing I do know is that I can't relax. Not even for a second. Not even while sitting on a lounge chair near the pool of the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in. But first, some background.
We, meaning the six of us, left NY (okay, NJ) this past Monday morning. We packed up the van with more things than we probably should have and headed down to the auto-train out of somewheresville, Virginia.
This was the longest drive we have ever taken, with kids or without. We're just not road trip kind of people. Never have been and after this trip, never will be. We left at 8:08 am and arrived at the auto-train at 3:03, exactly 33 minutes too late to utilize our "preferred car unloading status".
When I first made the auto-train/Amtrak reservation I was told that for a mere fifty dollars extra I could have my van be one of the first 25 cars unloaded off the train. Who wouldn't want they? I was all over it, telling Josh that this was going to be the best $50 we ever spent. And it would have been, had we been told that "preferred loading" must be before 2:30pm. Hmm.
We also weren't told that the latest time to load your car was 3pm. No exceptions. Except for the exception. Like today. Because there was a huge accident on I-95, they held the train for us, because they thought we were on I-95. We didnt admit we were just late, and had been nowhere near i-95, there was no point.
We grabbed our stuff from the car, the kids and headed to the train. We did hear one of the workers behind us say something like, "oh man, how are those people going to get all that stuff onto the train!" but I can only assume he was talking about some other family who had an ever bigger cooler than us and more than seven bags because a big cooler and seven bags is totally normal for an overnight train ride, right?
After much maneuvering, we reached our sardine can, I mean room, on the train and it was at that moment that I understood why Amtrak recommends one small bag per person.
After spending a very very (very) long night on an upper bunk (don't ask), we arrived at the other end of the auto-train tracks, somewheresville, Florida. The big signs outside the train read "Orlando, Fl" but I know for a fact this wasnt Orlando, so I'm guessing this was something like what happened to my sister-in-law when she was in Israel.
The conversation went something like this:
Other guy: where are you guys from?
Other guy: oh! Me too! Where in NY?
Sis-in-law: um, NJ.
So I'm guessing that the people who live near the auto-train kind of wish they live in Orlando.
Anywho, our van was number 273 coming off the train. That, if you're still with me here, is definitely not one of the first 25 cars off the train.
This story is taking super long so I will just say that three hours after we got off the train, we arrived at the fanciest hotel I've ever seen in St. Augustine, Fl.
And that's where this story started, sitting at the pool and watching the kids swim and/or hold on to the walls of the pool. And where I can't relax. Because I have what seems like 4573 boxes to unpack, with no shelves upon which to do so.
If you have been following along for a while now, you will remember how fond I was of the built in shelves in my porch - and which we no longer have now that we have moved down south.
And that's where I am now, kinda standing around with lots of boxes thinking hmmm, I kinda wish I could have taken those built-ins with me. But I guess that's kind of the point of built-ins. You can go ahead and think about that now, I'll wait for you; I spent a lot of time pondering that today.
This moving story is taking quite a while to tell and even longer to type on my iPhone so I'm going to stop here before I need to get myself a pair of reading glasses with the promise to continue then story soon.
Thanks for sticking with me through this.
Be back soon,
Do you know what happens when you clean up the attic so you can show the house to potential renters?
You have this:
That's right, shopping bags. All packed up for the weekend, each kid's clothing and toys in their own personalized Shoprite bags.
Because you can't find any of your luggage, suitcases, overnight bags, valises, whatever you want to call them, you can't find them.
In the spirit of my Bobby Toby and Zeidy, who never showed up at our house with their clothes packed in anything other than a Shoprite bag (okay, maybe sometimes she used Pathmark bags), here we go away for the weekend!
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)