A couple of years ago, I somewhat regular wrote Random Chatter posts with just that – random thoughts and experiences from my life. I won’t make any promises that they will return, but hey, here’s one.
I love summer. A friend told me last week, “I think I was made for summer!” and I feel the same way. As far as seasons go, I truly love all of them, but as a homeschool mom, I get to summer break and suddenly have all sorts of energy and desire to do things that I thought had gone away forever! As a rule, I don’t feel super stressed during the school year, but there’s something about not having to do school that takes a huge load off me. Yay summer break! (Maybe this is not just a homeschool mom thing, but I’m pretty sure for me my new-found energy every summer has to do with being on a homeschool break.)
In the past year, I’ve gotten into mountain biking and last weekend, Jeremy and I did the Elephant Rock Sunrise to Sunset race as a two-person co-ed team. It was my first race and it was a fun* experience – and even better, we got third in our division (out of six teams). It’s a 12-hour relay, with the goal being to do as many laps as possible between 7 AM to 7 PM. I did better than I thought I would, and completed six laps (about 36 miles) while Jeremy did 10 (about 61 miles). I had only planned to do five laps, but Jeremy had issues with leg cramps so when I was on my fifth lap I had the feeling I was going to need to do one more. I wasn’t super excited about that sixth lap, but knew I was going to kick myself if I didn’t do it so of course I’m glad I did.
*Fun was not the adjective I was thinking of for most of the day, but now that it’s over, it was totally fun. That’s pretty much how I feel about most long rides, haha.
If you’ve read Springs Bargains for awhile, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen, and Cook’s Country – CI/ATK because their in-depth articles and instructions truly taught me how to cook, and Cook’s Country because their recipes are less time-intensive and more wide-ranging than CI but still reliable. Anyway, when Christopher Kimball left that company, there was apparently a lot of drama which is unfortunate, but I have to say that his Milk Street cookbook is really great. (Affiliate link)
I got it from the library, and then actually bought it for myself because I was using it so much. It’s mostly international recipes that are very approachable but fresh and different than what I normally cook. The Browned Butter Cardamom Banana Bread is amazing, and my family loved the Japanese Fried Chicken, amongst other things.
In other cooking news, I just ordered a couple of new aprons, because recently I wore holes completely through my other three:
For the past few years, I’ve been using pinafore-style linen aprons to keep not only stains off my clothes, but also because I suspected that the holes that were always appearing in the belly of my shirts was related somehow to cooking. I know that I am not the only one who experiences this; Google has dozens of results with people discussing this very issue. I’ve done my research on this over the years and theories abound: it’s moths, it’s a chemical reaction between fabric and the metal in pants buttons, or – I think this is the right answer – it’s friction.
Specifically, I think it’s friction that occurs when you lean against a kitchen counter, and based on my totally unscientific survey, I think it mostly affects short people like me who have to reach farther or lean harder against a counter. None of my tall friends have this issue!
I used to think it was related to having a little “extra” in the belly area after having kids, but never fully believed that because for me the issue started after my first kid, when my belly was back to its normal skinny self in about two days. However, that’s also when I transitioned from working full-time to staying at home, and thus spent a lot more time doing things like leaning against countertops. If you are tall, you are probably trying to figure out how on earth this is an issue but if you are short I’ll bet you are nodding your head!
Anyway, so I got tired of wearing holes in my favorite shirts, and I bought an apron that was expensive but that I knew I would actually wear. Voila, I haven’t had a hole in the belly-button area of a shirt since I started wearing those aprons. They are pricey, but again, I buy these because I actually enjoy wearing them and therefore will wear them. My favorites are from the Etsy shop Not Perfect Linen, and it looks like that shop is on a break so I can’t link directly to the product, but here’s a couple of their photos:
I like that you can slip them off and on easily, and there are no ties. I love the way linen hangs, though you do have to lay it flat to dry or the straps get crumpled. I’ve had Not Perfect Linen’s short apron and the long one, and ended up liking the short ones better because being short in stature myself, I felt like the long one engulfed me.
It looks like there are a lot of other people selling linen aprons on Etsy now, so there may be some cheaper options (and maybe someone in the US of A is actually selling them so you don’t have to wait for shipping from Lithuania like I’ve done – a few years ago literally all of the linen apron sellers were in Europe).
We love popcorn around here, but the way it gets stuck in the teeth is super annoying. Jeremy says it’s like playing Russian Roulette – you know at some point a piece is going to get stuck in your teeth for hours, but you never know which piece will do it. Somehow I decided to look into different varieties of popcorn, and we have been using this baby white extra small and tender popcorn from Amazon, and it definitely does seem that it is not as prone to get stuck in the teeth. I also just bought this ladyfinger popcorn but haven’t tried it yet. (Amazon links are affiliate links.)
(With as much about food as there has been in this post, it’s a good thing I got into mountain biking because clearly, I like to eat!)