• crazy stuff,  domesticity,  fighting the fat gene,  I'm an idiot,  Lemon Week,  raving lunatic rant,  spilling my guts,  Stealthy Spy Cooking

    Citrus Week Day Two: Lemon Bars!


    Good thing I’m the boss here at Lemon Week SAJ because anybody else would be FIRED! So it’s day two…sort of. I didn’t say I’d do all the days in a row! Whatever, right? Just write something already.


    So far we’ve made lemon scones, lemonade, a vodka drink for me (that I called SAJ-quil because I was fighting an irritating cold that I am now over) and Lemon Bars!

    I love LOVE lemon bars. It’s really bad. I inherited this love of lemon and sugar and butter from my mom and now just like my mom, I find myself battling extra pounds on my body that make me less lithe than I’d like to be. Dumb genetics! I shouldn’t have made the lemon bars because it is next to impossible for me to walk by the refrigerator door without hearing those little bars screaming for me.

    Shut up! Lemon bars, shut up!!!!! (I can hear them all the way from my seat at the table.) I am so taking them to a friend’s house and leaving them there. Ack.

    Weight schmeight. (My attitude becomes me, I know.) In my book, you can’t have a lemon week without lemon bars so here I am introducing them to Bug just like my mom introduced them to me. Hopefully, Bug takes after her dad and doesn’t inherit my thunder thighs or my incredible lack of willpower.

    mixer girl waiting for the crust to be ready

    Bug loves to cook with me in the kitchen, the poor kid. She also has to put up with my harebrained method of recipe-reading that involves frantic number-checking and re-checking and then weeping and wailing because I cannot read a recipe from top to bottom in order without skimming or leaving out major parts.

    I’ve always thought I was retarded because I cannot keep numbers in my head longer than a butterfly sneeze. I’ll read 1 1/2 cups and then by the time I walk from the cookbook back to my mixing bowl, I’ve forgotten whether it was 1/2 or 1 1/2. I know most of you will laugh at me but this is a serious problem for me when it comes to baking. In fact, this is why I don’t bake usually. It’s way too much work for me. You should see me racing back and forth across my kitchen trying to put together a list of three ingredients. It’s insane. And then sometimes I mix up teaspoons with tablespoons and you can see why things don’t always come out right.

    I’ve self-diagnosed myself with dyscalculia, which is sort of like dyslexia but with numbers instead of letters. I’ve always hated math ever since I was forced to play “math baseball” in second grade. I remember I practically peed myself in fear as I stood at the blackboard staring at the squiggles while the class shouted at me to add or subtract. I’ve managed through the years, figuring out ways of counting on my fingers secretly or making up complicated dot patterns. But recently with motherhood it’s gotten worse. Sometimes when I’m at the bank, I have to write my account number three times before I get it right. It can be pretty embarrassing.

    Anyway, this is not a moan-fest about how much I hate math. I just wanted to include that so you can see why baking is extra fun for me. I can design notecards and web banners and even packaging while using a ruler and fractions and picas just fine but for some reason when I’m in the kitchen, I get struck with major anxiety about reading numbers or just plain reading. It’s weird.

    shortbread crust! sugaring the top

    I mostly wrote all those words about math anxiety and dyscalculia so that you don’t laugh when I tell you that I misread the lemon bar recipe (thanks Calee for the link!) and somehow couldn’t figure out how to make the shortbread crust that goes under the lemon bars. I thought it wasn’t included in the recipe so I found another recipe online and used that. But it wasn’t enough so I had to make two batches. Amazingly, it all turned out fine. I don’t know how but it did. I guess shortbread crusts are indestructible.

    But because of my crazy-making recipe reading, Bug had to wait quite a bit between the crust-making and the lemon-bar-mix—making which is fine. Patience is a virtue right?

    lemon bar!

    The lemon bars were divine.

    me and my chins love lemon bars

    Me and my many chins enjoyed them mightily.

  • Beach Bits,  Bug,  Family Matters,  heavy on photos,  Super Dad,  Tis the Season

    Our Valentine’s Day

    prolific valentine production

    valentine girls

    We had such a nice Valentine’s Day. We’re not really into chocolate and roses in this family. We don’t even go for jewelry or electronics but we do have one tradition that I love love love. And that is that the girls get to pick out their own flowers from the flower stand that I used to work at so long ago. I love that little flower stand.

    picking out her valentine flowers flowers for Grandma Pat

    Bug knew exactly what she wanted. She bee-lined it for the sunflowers and completely ignored any of my suggestions. She didn’t want pink roses or any fancy lilies that smell good. She wanted a yellow sunflower, a pink gerber daisy and some green button mums. Nothing else would do. (The picture on the right is of her holding a bouquet for her Grandma Pat who we visited the next day.)

    Maybe she had been planning out that bouquet for months as we stroller by this particular flower stand quite frequently. I’m always telling her that we can’t buy flowers today but we will on Valentine’s Day so she has been looking forward to this for a very long time.

    loving her flowers valentine's day ritual

    my bouquet

    Valentine’s Day did not disappoint. It is so fun to pick out your own flowers! I’d trade a thousand boring grocery store pre-made bouquets for my own simple handpicked bundle of hydrangeas, peach roses, ranunculus and lavender sprigs. But I think what really made our day was the silly red sequined plastic heart that Toby bought Bug for a $1.75. That silly heart made her so happy.

    funny valentine hearts

    I thought that was the end of our Valentine festivities but Toby suggested a little family outing after we finished up with the flowers. Flowers and an adventure? Bring it on! We quickly put our flowers in a watering can on our patio and then piled into the van for a little trip to the beach. Not just any beach though. We were off to the beach of BIG WAVES!

    walkin' with Dad I heart the beach

    Maybe you’ve heard of The Wedge. It’s a pretty famous surf spot where the waves come in and then bounce off the jetty over top the waves that are still coming in. That probably doesn’t make sense but just imagine two waves crossing each other and the mayhem of water and power that that can create. It can get pretty exciting, especially after a storm. People die there all the time surfing in the dangerous conditions.

    building a castle of love

    climbing on the rocks

    hangin' loose

    It turned out that the waves weren’t very big on Valentine’s Day but it was still a fun place to spend some family time. Bug could have cared less about the waves. She just wanted to climb all over the jetty rocks and play in the sand. We could have dropped her off in a sandbox in Anaheim and she probably would have been just as happy. But that’s okay. Family time together is always good no matter where it is and hey, I got to watch the body boarders and skim-boarders. That was fun for me.

    endless summer skimboarder

    sandy Bug and her Dad

    Anytime with Toby is special time.

    goofing off

    the Ponnays


    We even squeezed in a sunset. Not a bad Valentine’s Day at all.

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© Brenda Ponnay