Friday, July 31, 2009

World's Best Mexican Flan

Every good recipe has a story behind it. This one is no exception.

I craved flan while pregnant with Phoebe. Crème brûlée could tied me over, but in the back of my head that Mexican flan kept calling to me. Smooth, milky custard with that caramelized sugar coating. Yummy. The problem is that all the flan I could get my hands on was watery, lumpy, bland, and sorely lacking in caramelized sauce. And then I realized what the real problem was - I was craving my grandmother's flan.

That isn't a bad thing. Granny was recognized as our family's best cook. She went on to easily win the title from everyone else who ate her food. Granny loved to cook, and enjoyed trying out new recipes and combinations. Nothing intimidated her. But Granny died in 2005, leaving me quite helpless to get my hands on a piece of her flan. However, her recipes lived on, and I mentioned to my mom a few weeks ago about my desire to find this particular one. Jackpot! My aunt, who carries on the cooking legend, had it and was scheduled for a visit.

Auntie Gail, along with my mom, came over yesterday to keep me company. Gail offered to cook for me! She also told me she brought the recipe, and would make the flan for dessert! Mmmmm... the smells of pot roast bubbling on the stove, laughing with my mom and aunt as the two of them tried to work together... in a kitchen... that wasn't theirs... created a wonderful afternoon. Then it was time to fix the flan.


My aunt was tenderly caring for the sugar that had to be caramelized in a cast iron pot. No exceptions on the pot. She explained that Granny learned it was the best place to manage the process. So while she stirred and stirred my mom and I were left to put together the custard. We were laughing so hard at my mom's effort to use my can opener that when we finally got around to combining the ingredients we just started dumping everything in sight. Oops. The first can of evaporated milk was fine, but that second was not.

Gail suddenly looked up. "Did you just put both cans in?" We had. And as Murphy's Law would have it we put them in over the 4 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and one can of sweetened condensed milk. The recipe was ruined, as would the mashed potatoes be if we didn't replace their can of evaporated milk. Thankfully my mom already knew she needed to run to the store for bacon (Gail's bacon, onion, and brown sugar green beans were also on the menu). Off she flew, and returned with the replacement cans of milk. We had, fortunately, saved the whipping cream from loss having caught the mistake before adding it.


I was nursing Phoebe when my mom returned, but had already diligently prepared the eggs for round two. Gail was left to manage the blender. How hard is it to manage a blender? Don't answer that. All the ingredients were combined into a smooth batter when Gail turned my blender carafe in an effort to release it from the base. The problem is that my carafe doesn't lock onto my base with a turn, it simply sits over the motor. Turning it disassembles the sealing disk from the bottom of the container, and before we knew what happened Gail let out a yelp as custard batter poured from the hole in the bottom of the pitcher. Back to the store -after we cleaned up the gooey mess oozing all over the counter and floor.


Again, I carefully prepared the eggs, adding the vanilla so when the cans of milk (along with the carton of heavy whipping cream) arrived we could get right to work. The caramelized sugar coated bowl sat near by, in case the kids tried to ruin, err, touch it again. I was in charge of the blender, so that any mishaps would be directly my fault, rather than just implied. We nearly lost the brew in another blender debacle. The flan has to bake in a water bath, which nearly became a water deluge. And Leah, who scrutinized every stage of production was particularly underfoot when we went to put the whole thing into the oven. My analog clock is breaking, and won't keep an accurate time so half way through baking I realized Gail was using it interchangeably with the digital clock. For a panicked second we thought we lost the whole kit and caboodle due to improper time management. But in the end it came out alive!


We waited until all the kids were in bed before serving out the flan. Gail, as Granny would do, was stubbornly objective in her self-critique. The sugar and custard could have cooked for 5 minutes less, was the consensus. Hey, if that's the ONLY thing you can come up with after our experience then I think congratulations are in order. I found it to be delectable, smooth, rich and creamy. It only took a year, and my daughter was already 3 months old, but I finally got my piece of flan.

Here is the recipe in case you too decide that only flan will do.

Old Fashioned Flan by Olive Hyler
-1 cup white sugar heated in a cast iron skillet until melted - stirring constantly. Pour into a 2qt round glass baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside on a hot pad so you don't crack the glass.

Place the following in a blender, and process (not whip) thoroughly
-14 oz can sweet condensed milk
-5 oz can evaporated milk
-1 cup whipping cream
-4 eggs
-2 egg yolks
-1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour into bowl with caramelized sugar. Place bowl into a hot water bath, making sure water level comes at least 3/4 of the way up the bowl. Bake in preheated oven at 325 for 1 and 1/2 hours. If the top is browning to quickly you can cover it with foil (probably not necessary). Remove from oven and bath to allow to cool. When ready to serve loosen the caramel from the sides of the pan with a knife, then place a flat dish over the top, and flip the bowl upside down to release the flan. Pour the excess sauce over the top. Extra can be covered and refrigerated for a delicious treat the following day!


Christopher has left the building.

My husband is an introvert. This may come as a surprise to some of you who know him. Let me assure you; he does not like groups, he is very uncomfortable chatting with strangers, and social interactions cost him a lot in emotional and spiritual energy. Nope, he would rather a quiet, intimate conversation which happens to pepper large stretches of solitude.

We have seven children.

He married an extrovert (reread everything above, but reverse it).

You can imagine how often he gets quiet, intimate conversations peppering his large stretches of solitude. Ha!

So he left. Actually he took time to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes - hiking. This week he is off to Inyo National Forest to climb 3 mountains, all of them highest points in their respective counties. It gives him time alone. He needs it! He comes home exhausted, bone weary and blistered, and even a little lonely. But he is also refreshed, more capable of enjoying and appreciating our family, and reconnected with God in a way that 20 feet above sea level fails to do.

I get to stay home with the kids. 20 feet above sea level is just fine for me.

But the alone time is good for me, too. I enjoy the quiet nights, the bed to myself, the dinner "cheats." I often find a project that requires concentrated focus, and throw myself into: repainting a section of the house; organizing that black hole in the laundry room; building some piece of furniture; or simply getting into a mad panic of spring cleaning. His being gone forces me to take on some of these more solitary tasks, because when he is home I would much rather be hanging out chatting than sticking my head in a bucket of ammonia all day.

I thought about what my Alone Project would be this time. I considered a major overhaul of our garage, but that requires the purchase of several shelving units, and we are really trying to cut down on expenses as we prepare for our backyard landscaping. There are still some smaller paint jobs left, however I am thoroughly uninspired for colors, and if I force myself to pick something I know I will end up with wasabi green and mustard yellow stripes distress painted across my hardwood floor. Yikes! I could list so many more "little things" that ought to get my attention, but I decided that my project this time was spending time with my kids.

I am working to really invest, emotionally, in my kids. It is so much easier for me to take care of their physical needs than their emotional ones. So, my Alone Project is to make a priority of hanging out with them. So far I have done puzzles with Leah, listened to 3 of the LONGEST dream sequences I think possible by Bethany, and appreciated a few of Caleb's new tricks on his skateboard. Tomorrow I am taking just Leah shopping with her birthday money. Josiah is getting extra hugs, and stories from me throughout each day. Mary got her hair cut today, and I used a blow-dryer when I was done to make it "fluffy." Finally, I am reading a book that Hannah just finished so we can talk about it when I am done.

I think this year's Alone Project is my best, yet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Successful Failure

A successful failure.

NASA coined this phrase for the attempted Apollo 13 lunar mission, which fell woefully short of its original purpose, while still managing to bring the men back to earth safely. I find it particularly apropos for our beach excursion this afternoon. We fell miserably short of the expected outcome, but are home - alive.

Let me begin by stating that this particular season of life has grown difficult of late. Most families have small children for only a few years before moving on to independence. Our family is, 10+ years later, still knee deep in diapers, toddlers, nursings, and children who are in need of constant adult supervision. And don't forget, this isn't punctuated with years of respite due to large splits between siblings. 7 children in 10 years doesn't make for much rest! The hardest part is the desire to, "go and do," with our older children. But making that a reality while still managing, successfully, the needs of the younger children takes more than a little planning. And even then, as today will show, sometimes it simply doesn't work.

Pacific Grove has a wonderful tradition called, The Feast of Lanterns. The last Saturday of July sees the beach in PG loaded with people, entertainers, venders, and pageantry celebrating this 100+ year old custom (why they chose July, when our peninsula is notorious for cold, foggy, dreary days and even colder, foggier and drearier nights is beyond me - but they didn't think it suitable to ask my opinion, so on we go). My family is very connected with the Feast, and its continued success; currently my mom sits on the Board of Directors. We do not usually attend the event because a mere three weeks earlier sees us establishing a beachhead in Monterey, taking in the sun and surf with several other families for July 4th. However, Monterey cancelled fireworks this year, so our children were desperate for a beach experience. Had we discovered the answer key to this test sooner, we would have learned that the two are not interchangeable.

Our first mistake occurred before the actual day even dawned! Hannah and Bethany were invited to be a part of the processional parade for the night's crowning event on the pier. Rehearsal was set for 9am Saturday morning, which created a time-management nightmare. The sensible thing seemed obvious, and we gladly shipped the older girls off to my mom's house for the night. Because of her responsibilities with the event her presence was required first thing in the morning anyway; and she lives just a few minutes from Lover's Point, whereas we are some 10 miles away. What we didn't consider was the loss of my helpers the following morning, when I would need to pack 5 children, 6 years old and younger, along with all the supplies for a day of merry-making into the van, and haul everything to the beach by myself. Christopher was already at the beach, having arrived there before 8am in order to secure a patch of sand for us. I reminded myself that we did this same routine each July 4th, and once I arrived safely at our destination everything always came together. Surely the same would be true for today.


So many things were different. Ironically the parking was a thousand times easier, the amenities at the beach far superior, vendors and food options more varied. Unfortunately these things paled when compared to our claustrophobic postage stamp sized plot, and the loss of other families to help in the supervision of our small children. The event touted live entertainment, which we found to be an obnoxiously loud, and unescapable drone. But, we were determined to make the best of it! With Phoebe screaming, and Josiah running amuck, Christopher dutifully slathered each child with sunscreen to prepare for fun in the "sun". During this ritual mistake number two came to light when we realized that Caleb's bathing suit was not packed. I foolishly told him that he could wade in the water with his jeans rolled up like shorts. After all it was cold, and even drizzly. How likely was it that Caleb would actually get in the water? Question: Do I have any sense?

30 minutes later saw Hannah (who chose to forego waiting on me with her bathing suit before dashing into the water in her jeans) scampering off with Josiah; Bethany grabbing Leah and Mary for an introduction to the waves; and Caleb running full throttle towards the surf. I sat down to try and nurse Phoebe, and take at least 3 deep breaths before planning lunch from the supplies I purchased just that morning. Mistake number three wasn't anything we had control over, but when fate is already against you then even the unrelated seems cosmically your fault.

We had our backs against a 5 foot high retaining wall, created to provide a large landing in the staircase down to the beach. Christopher was the first to notice water spilling over the wall some 6 feet to our left. We looked at the campers up on the landing, to see if perhaps one of them had tipped over a gallon or two of water. What we saw was a 3 inch wide pvc drain spout at the base of a service closet set into a higher retaining wall where the staircase actually began its descent. It was gushing water... and showed no signs of stopping.

The first few minutes gave us a slight chuckle. People had created a patchwork quilt out of the beach by 2pm Friday afternoon. Even at 1pm on Saturday most of these individual placemats were still unoccupied. The idea of someone showing up, over 24 hours later, to find their blanket soaking wet caught at us. They had cheated the game, even though the rules were in their favor - sometimes the rules are wrong. But this pause only lasted a short spell, as the water continued to fill every indentation of the sand, and creep ever closer to our towels. Christopher began digging a channel down the beach towards the sea. The water kept coming. Soon others further down began frantically pulling their blankets and chairs to the side, joining Christopher to train the water away from their belongings. We continued our own struggle to keep the water at bay, but even with the impromptu help of a friendly onlooker our already tiny beachhead shrank.

Just about the time Public Works showed up, opening the closet and unleashing a heretofore damned flood, Leah came back to camp carried by a total stranger. She was drenched from head to toe. The kind woman, wearing jeans and a tshirt, was soaked from her neck down. Leah had somehow divested herself of Bethany, and waded into the ocean alone. The woman had saved her from drowning! Crying, shivering, and scared Leah wanted nothing more than to cuddle with me, but I was still trying to nurse Phoebe, who wasn't taking to the great outdoors as a suitable cafe. Wrapping a towel around her we scanned the horizon to make sure all other Randalls were safe.

Caleb was frolicking in the waves, soaked in his jeans.

Hannah was holding Josiah, and taking him into the water in her jeans.

Mary was standing a little too close to the surf for our comfort.

And Bethany... where was Bethany?

Christopher spotted her on a rock outcropping, stranded because of the rising tide, and panicking. Her fear translated to instant action, and my husband immediately threw himself, chest deep, into the water to rescue her. After saving her, and another little girl, he returned to our spot just as Public Works shut off the water. Dripping wet and fully clothed down to his leather work boots (his crocs were still in his backpack) he reached into his pocket with a sinking expression on his face, and pulled out his brand new cell phone. Mistake number... who knows: Jumping into water with your cell phone.

We made the decision to go home. But, like Apollo 13, deciding to go home, and actually getting there are two different things.

Packing everything up in soaking wet clothes is almost as fun as packing everything up only an hour after unpacking. We got the joy of both! Christopher couldn't find where I parked the van, and wandered along Ocean View Blvd. nearly a half-mile, wet, barefoot and against traffic before realizing it. We almost lost Bethany's fleece jacket, causing us to wade through all the clothes four times. Once the younger kids were in the van Leah split a brand-new bag of oyster crackers in half, spilling the entire contents on the floor, and causing Josiah to wail in frustration over his lost snack. Phoebe began crying for the meal she refused while at the beach. We had to move the van from our loading position half way through the job in order to let a city vehicle pass. Christopher inadvertently ripped off a piece of edging for the glove compartment when I dropped him at his car, and a bottle of water, which was not closed properly, leaked out during our ride home. Our last mistake was forgetting the camera, so there are no pictures of our two-hour adventure.

So, where was the success? Is it that we made it home, with everyone alive? That's part of it, for sure! I can tell you now that it was no small feat to maneuver the obstacle course of packing, loading, managing, and ultimately driving 5 of our 7 children home, while also making sure that the two children remaining had enough clothing, money, and instruction to last another 8 hours at the beach. However, I think the greater success was in the realization that we weren't really fighting against the cosmos. Satan wants to steal our joy at every turn! No, I don't think it was a mistake for us to choose home, rather than fighting it out on Lover's Point. Too many factors came together to create an impossible-to-deal-with-and-have-fun environment that badly needed curtailing. Leaving was the sensible solution. But then to be faced with the drama that occurred only after that decision was made brought us to the edge of ourselves. Here was where the real success happened. Sitting in the van before driving home we prayed, recognizing the desire to lose our patience, and give in to the mounting frustration. And again, after arriving home, reminding ourselves that the only things lost were time, money, and convenience. Nothing we couldn't live without.

A successful failure. Yes, indeed.

non sequitur

I posted under this title before. However, when you live in a house brimming full of illiterate miniature people non sequiturs are par for the course. So, I decided to make this a permanent fixture on Letters. These classics are from Leah while eating chicken noodle soup this afternoon.

Wow, this is so good I wish we had smaller bowls!

This juice is so good I can't even taste it! If you can't taste it then you have taste buds on your tongue.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rambo Pets

I know I have mentioned before the vast difference between girl play and boy play, but I heard the following pass between my daughters and son, which was worthy of note.

Location: Playroom interior scattered with Littlest Pet Shop and Legos
Time: Afternoon
Players: Leah, Mary, Caleb

Mary: Leah, come to my beauty shop. It is soooo pretty.

Leah: Oh, Mary! My hair needs to be brushed.

Mary: Okay, pretend my hair is already done, and I have a ribbon.

Leah: Your pet is so beautiful, Mary. That ribbon looks beautiful.

Mary: Thanks (tossing her Littlest Pet Shop pet's plastic hair).

Caleb: Then pretend that the ribbon turns into a sword! And then a dragon comes to eat you, and I have to kill the dragon. (He begins to slaughter the make-believe dragon with a Lego Knight, hacking the Littlest Pet Shop pets while he is at it.)

Mary: NOOOOO! Caleb, my ribbon is beautiful! I don't need a dragon.

Leah: CALEB! We're getting our hair done.

Caleb: Yeah, but you are going to fall into a boiling pot of army bullets and die, and I have to grab you with my axe so that I can kill the dragon. (Again, he proceeds to slam the girls' pets with his Lego man, slashing wildly at the air.)

Leah: Caleb, I already got saved from the bullets. I'm getting my hair done.

Mary: My ribbon saved me from the dragon.

Caleb continued the good fight for several more minutes before finally realizing that hairspray and ribbons can defeat anything.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

I am mixing my Tuesday's Tip with a real incident occurring in my family this past week. Josiah fell off a picnic table at a park, and landed -face first- below on the asphalt. Ouch! The left side of his face has several abrasions, his eye is swollen, and will undoubtably shift through several stages of coloring before the whole mess is healed. In short, he was badly hurt.

I was not there.

I send the kids on a walk each morning around our cul-de-sac, and this particular morning Bethany asked if she could take Josiah, Leah, Mary and Caleb across the street to the playground. I thought it a fine idea, and sent them on their way with my blessing. The kids know my rules about being outside of our street - even inside out street. They may not talk with strangers (we took the time to introduce them to everyone on our street), never go into someone's car or house, and if there are people milling around by where they are playing they must leave. Other than that, Hannah and Bethany are allowed free-range of our neighborhood so long as they can hear my train whistle calling them home. Caleb has to ask before he leaves our street, but he is usually granted permission when the mood strikes him for adventure. The littler ones can be out in the front with an older sister for supervision. Such was the circumstance surrounding Josiah's fall.

However, even when Josiah was brought back to the house, oozing from his entire cheek, the thought never came to me that I should be more stringent in my supervision requirements. Why not? Two things:
-Childhood is a messy adventure at times
-God really does watch over all of us

Josiah could have gotten the exact same injury if I had been at the park. He didn't even need to be at the park to get it! Our own home is full of potential wound-causing items, such as floors and walls. I can't watch every child for every second of the day. I don't think I should. I don't think it is my job to smooth every road, monitor every corner, assess every situation, circumstance, trial, inconvenience, struggle, or decision to determine whether my child can succeed at it, or not. I think my job is to regulate, with wisdom and love, those events he is exposed to so that I minimize lasting harm as much as possible, but not eliminate potential discomfort for it's own sake. The reality of serious harm in comparison with the fearfulness we instill in our children when our boundaries are too tight is out of proportion.

I would rather a few extra scrapes with independence than a perfect exterior, and a brain as fragile as an egg. So today's Tuesday Tip is:

Back Off.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Experience and Diaper Bags

I had a glorious first diaper bag. It was navy blue with a mini print of white polka dots designed, presumably, to keep you from ever getting your diaper bag confused with something cute and adorable, like your child. But, if you set aside this slight blunder, the thing was the cadillac of bags. It had pockets for its pockets! Included with the bag were removable pads, pouches for wet or soiled clothes, leashes, lassos, and lanyards for attaching your keys - individually. It weighed 10 pounds, empty, and could easily double as luggage in case you needed to fly to China.

I remember spending time researching the options for diaper bags, and taking no small pains in picking out the perfect specimen that would house all my baby's most precious ointments, "just in case" items, clothing, toys, spare room, and of course, diapers. I distinctly recall making the rather bold decision that I wasn't going to get something that looked, "babyish." After all, it isn't the baby that carries the thing everywhere. 10 years, 7 children, 14 car seats, 6 strollers, 3 infant swings, 5 high chairs, 4 bouncy seats, innumerable pacifies, 3 cribs, and 9 diaper bags later I think I have finally figured out something:

You don't cease to be a woman when you become a mother.

I was recently experiencing the now-familiar quandary of which diaper bag to chose when this great truth hurdled its way into my mind. Suddenly, amid the now cute patterns and fashion-rich hues of the diaper bag aisle at Babies R Us, I thought, "I don't need, nor do I want something that can fit a small arsenal of baby accoutrements. I mean seriously, how often am I caught unexpectedly on a deserted island requiring the: 3 layers of extra clothing (I had years when the kids outgrew those extra outfits before they ever got worn); 1 bottle each of Tylenol, Simethicone, Children's Motrin, and Benedryl; teething tablets and colic tablets; 2 thermometers for anal and auxiliary readings; containers and jars of diaper rash ointment, Neosporan, lotion, sunscreen, baby powder, and baby oil; at least 5 diapers and a container of wipes. And to top it off," I thought, "I am tired of looking like a bag lady - even a smartly outfitted bag lady."

Some new possibilities began to percolate in my head, but I couldn't trust my own sleep-deprived brain to make right on what I thought possible. I called in for reinforcements.

It took my girlfriend and me roughly 2 days, with a combined total of 6 hours, and 5 stores before the vision was realized. But I am proud to say that I do not own another diaper bag! No, indeed I even went smaller on a new mini-purse. I chose to put the necessities of my life into a darling periwinkle and brown leather, zippered purse not much bigger than a clutch but with a short arm-strap. And for the diapers required by my 2 children still wearing them I purchased a new Vera Bradley in a splashing bold print of vivid blues and soft browns. It is even smaller than my old Vera Bradley bag I had been using for a purse! It holds a couple diapers of each size, one extra sleeper for Phoebe, small bottle of lotion, travel wipes container, and my little plastic pouch of necessary sundries. That's it.

Together, the two pair beautifully. I am maintaining my womanhood with a purse that shouts, "I carry lipstick only!" And my diaper bag is darling in a sophisticated kind of way, with the added bonus that it simply won't fit the kitchen sink.

As a post-script to this lesson, I do still have my lovely diaper bag backpack which can easily hold a genuine store of baby items for those times when we really might be stranded on that desert island. After all, I am not just a woman, I am also a mom.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Tonight, Christopher asked Mary whether she had taken her allergy pill. She said, "yes" but in such a way as to warrant questioning. When pressed further she stuck her tongue out, as if this would prove something, and again stated that she had taken it. Meanwhile, Caleb decided to add his opinion to the matter.

She didn't take it.

Son, how do you know? Were you there?


Did you see her take it, or see that she didn't take it?


Then what makes you so sure?

I sensed it.

*As it turns out, he was right.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Crown of Splendor

My family and I recently ate at Costco for pizza. While sitting amongst the gawkers a sweet family mentioned how blessed we were to be given our children. We readily agreed! Leah picked up on our exchange (be not deceived into thinking that children don't have ears, which hear), and asked us when we were receiving our blessing. It led to a wonderful impromptu lesson of heaven, and the crowns we would receive for our sacrifice, and service to the Lord while here on earth. Leah was intrigued, and wanted to hear more. As I was relaying further the important truths we receive from scripture pertaining to heaven Caleb chimed in with his usual bluster of self-proclaimed wisdom.

Oh, I already know I have two jewels waiting for me.

*puzzled* Two jewels, Caleb? What are you talking about?

You know, for my crown. Yeah, I already got two.

Really? How did you do that?

Oh, that time I saved those two bugs. I could have squished them, but instead I let them crawl away. God is definitely going to give me two jewels for THAT. I might even get more.

After stating this obvious fact he went back to eating while nodding his head in agreement with his own declaration of reward-based merit. Meanwhile, Leah was taking this all in as points to ponder. I could already see her mind working out what insect she too might save from certain disaster (often by her own hand) in order to catch up with her illustrious older brother.

The heaven discussion was forgotten, and we went back to being a normal family eating pizza at Costco.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cook Pigger

Today Leah was sketching on her magna-doodle when Daddy came home for lunch. She was eager to show him her masterpiece, and went immediately to his side.

Here, Daddy, look.

What is this sweetie?

It's my picture.

Oh. (Sometimes that explanation isn't quite enough, and you have to ask more specific questions in order to understand what exactly you are looking at, and whether you should be amazed, afraid, awed, or pleased.) What exactly is it?

Here I chimed in with: It's a pig.

A pig? Oh, I see. Nice pig, Leah. Is this its crew cut? (For indeed the forward facing pig face, made by two concentric circles and a couple of nostril-sized dots in the smaller one, had a rather strange gathering of short lines coming straight out of the top of its head.)

No, that's a cooker hat.

Ahhh, you mean a toke.

Uh huh. (This was said with the degree of enthusiasm given to choosing what fragrance of bug spray you are going to buy to rid your home of that ant infestation.)

And what is this down here? (Christopher was pointing to a comparatively tiny box upon which the forward facing, crew cut/toke wearing piglet was sitting).

Uh, that's just the oven. It's getting cooked.

The pig?

Yeah. It is a cook pigger.

Tuesday's Tip

Divide and Conquer... the electronic chargers, that is.

Between me and my husband there are some 7 portable electronic devices requiring charging. We were forever losing the adapter, searching for the plug, misplacing the specialized tip, ad nauseam. I finally realized that the answer was as simple as a few ziplock baggies, and a basket.

I use the quart size, because they are more durable than the standard sandwich bag, and withstand the abuse of being stuffed, tossed, and then shaken free of their contents again, and again. Also, the quart size has the white strip for labeling. I use a permanent marker to write clearly what apparatus goes with the cord, place them each in their own baggies, then throw them into my basket.

Now when I want to charge something I just grab the bag (tangle-free) from the basket, and take out the cord. You can even set the charging electronic on top of its bag so that when you are done all you need do is unplug it, put the cord directly into the baggy, and drop it back in the basket. Presto - ready for the next use!