The Joy of Scaring My Brother

I am basking in sheer joy, remembering all the fun of scaring my brother Jason. How do I even convey the merriment that resulted from all the planning and plotting? The quiet moments I patiently waited in his closet or under his bed. The restraint I mustard to crawl slowly into his room to scare the wits out him. I enjoyed scaring my brother.

I can’t remember why I started scaring my brother. Maybe it was the usual older sister/sibling rivalry type of thing. But whatever the case, mischief lay in my heart and it sought its way out through this avenue.

Plan your work and work your plan

My plan was very simple. I was to scare my brother and make him scream like a little girl. The plotting of “when” and “how” to scare my brother became my biggest challenge. These were elements which required great thought. It needed to have the biggest impact- making him screaming like a girl.

I probably picked a day when he pestered me the most. You know… kinda let all the frustration build. Like marinating meat, all day. I let the frustration marinate my mischievious thoughts. Revenge may be best served cold, but this revenge was best served in the dark.

Michele are you in here?

The five best words to hear him speak were “Michele? Are you in here?” He spoke them with a trembly voice. Mahwahahaha! I had him! Once he spoke those words, I knew the fear was in him. He knew to keep tabs on me in the evening. Watching me, seeing if I was in the kitchen, or brushing my teeth or in my bed. And if I wasn’t, it was time to be afraid… VERY AFRAID! I would make sure to get ahead of the evening’s bedtime routine. Shutting the light off in my room gave him a false sense of me being at bay.

I will start with my very best scare. I decided that I would lay under his bed, near the edge so I could watch for him. Waiting silently, patiently- for the sound of his feet padding down the hallway. Finally, I could see his feet standing in the doorway, pausing for a moment and then the words “Michele? Are you in here?”, followed by silence as he slowly entered the room. Pausing at the closet door he threw it open. But no Michele there. Silence again.

I could tell in the silence he was trying to decide if it was safe. Unfortunately, for him, it was NOT! Hardly able to contain my excitement, I would mentally tell myself to keep calm; the best part is coming! I resorted often to holding my hand over my mouth for fear he could hear me breathing, or worst yet, snickering to myself.

Scaring my brother

The pounding of my heart indicated that if I didn’t yell “Boo!” or “Rar!” soon, I was going be the first child at the age of eight to die of cardiac arrest under her brother’s bed. NO WAY! That wasn’t gonna be me.

My brother had decided the coast was clear and hopped into bed. I could hear him settle in. I slowly took my position nearest the edge of his bed, got my right arm ready, cause I was gonna swing it up and grab him! READY? Taking a deep breath in, I prepared myself for one smooth motion which would be followed by “Rar!”. SET? All systems are “go” Michele! GO! My hand swings up to the top of the bed and it hits his right shoulder as I scream out “Rar!”

JACKPOT! He screams like a girl while launching straight into the air. Blankets flying. I can hear the clatter of coffee cups and chairs shuffling about as my parent’s rocket from the living room to the hallway and then to my brother’s room. Asking him what is going on, why all the screaming?

But I am not even in his room. No, no… I already had done my “roll and run”, assuring that I would beat the parental calamity coming down the hallway. I was neatly tucked in my bed, faking sleep. So innocent. I had my mouth agape with a bit of drool trickling down to make it look sincere.

The Spanish Inquisition

Then I heard it. The tribunal coming down the hallway. I think my dad wore 4 x 6 ‘s on his feet as well as his hands. They knew the routine. They knew it was me, but they would never, EVER catch me at it. “Michele!”. “Michele, get up!”. I opened my eyes as if in a dream state, but there is no fooling mom, especially when I have such a “flair” for these events.

My dad was a big man. 6′ 7″ of him stood, looming in the doorway. Behind him, my brother, sniveling softly. Scaring my brother was totally frowned upon. He did not see well and I took great advantage of that once he removed his glasses. Somewhere I knew I felt bad, just a bit, for scaring him. But the joy of hearing him screamed outweighed whatever punishment that would await.

One Last Time, For Old Times Sake

The last scare, one of many good scares, was in our late high school years. I remember reading a book and seeing my brother come by my room and could hear him getting ready for bed. Then, like lightning, it hit me that I had not scared that boy in years! No time like a present, let’s do this one last time. Can’t let him think I’ve lost my touch!

A grin spread across my face. I wished I could have slinked out of my room, up and over items laying in the way- just like the Grinch did when he was stealing all the Christmas gifts from the Who’s in Whoville. But I was no Grinch and this was going require ninja-like moves. He was all the way across the other side of the basement.

The creature from the other side of the basement

Hiking up my jammies and putting my hair into a ponytail, I prepared for the ambush. I walked half-way slowly, one foot in front of the other, like the Indians did- not making a sound. Then as I could see his doorway, I dropped to my knees and began crawling. The same old joy began effervescing up from my mischievous heart. I had to stop a few times and put my head down to keep from laughing. Man! This was going to be epic! One last time is about all I have because we are not eight and seven years old anymore. I am seventeen and he is sixteen. He is big and fast.  I am extra vulnerable because I am crawling on the floor.

No longer having carpet to crawl on, I begin the trek across the cold linoleum. I am thinking about what I am going to say or do. But the merriment overcomes me and I let out a little snort. I freeze. Jason calls out, “MICHELE?!” I remain silent. Ah! Deep in the recesses of his mind, he remembers and then I remember all the scares, all the waiting in the closets and jumping out. All the screaming like a girl. Till finally, the hilarity of it all makes me bust out laughing and collapse on the floor.

Jason lets out a scream and throws on the bedside lamp. I am on the floor heaving with laughter. Putting on his glasses, he grabs a pillow and begins to give me whop after whop. But I don’t care. It was a great scare and probably my last scare. Scaring my brother was terribly fun and somewhere I know I should be sorry, but it was just too therapeutic.  Maybe the biggest scare is this story made it to print! HA!

Michele

My Heritage Cooking Crash Course Adventure

Recently I stumbled upon a cooking class called “Heritage Cooking Crash Course“.  The words “crash course” got my attention.  What Dutch girl wouldn’t want an element of danger to spice up her otherwise “Dutchy” way of life?  So, kicking off my wooden clogs I grabbed a mug of tea-milk, some olie bollen and with one click of the mouse, I was the thirty-third HCCC member and my E-material was electronically winging its way to my email box. YES!  I could feel the danger already. Continue reading

Summertime Picnic Sack Lunch

Ah, summer!  We have all been patiently waiting for spring to show up, much less summer.  But I thought it would be good to bring some summer thoughts into our head.  One of the good things about living in my childhood town Friesland was its smallness( population 300, think Leota but a tad bigger).  I could bike all over town and pretty much be only be about 5 minutes from my house.

Round, Round Get Around, I get Around

I liked how safe I felt biking around, walking around, or just hanging uptown by the Band Concert Wagon (I will explain this in a post this summer).  Friendly folks who watched out for you and then the folks who tattled on you when you did wrong or THOUGHT you were doing wrong.  But, that’s how small towns go, and for good or bad it was all part of the experience.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer was to pack a sack lunch, grab a friend and go biking around town to find a spot to picnic. In order for one to really call it a picnic you needed your sack to have a can of pop (pop is translated to soda in Minnesotan), I liked RC Cola at the time, so my lunch would contain one can RC.  Then( and this was the SUPER important part) I would have to have a good dessert. Continue reading

Celebrating the Bride-To-Be

Sooner or later you will find yourself hosting a bridal shower.  For some, this is nerve-racking and others it is right up their alley.  Celebrating the bride-to-be is a time-honored tradition and held in high esteem.  The key to a successful shower is to plan and host within your budget and abilities.  You do not need to be a “Martha Stewart”, just be you.  And YOU can find lots of help if you just ask and seek.

Photo Credit jill 111

Here comes the bride

I have had the pleasure of helping plan, serve at, and to host a few bridal showers.  I personally love to plan, organize and execute.  However I recognize for some this is not “their jam”, so I just want to assure you there is loads of help out there.  You can either choose to take on this honor and plan it yourself, phone a friend and explain your desperation, or you can hire a local event planner.  For the purpose of this article, you are going to grab the bull by the horns, so… “Let’s Do This!” Continue reading

Water Kefir a Culture of Good, Part 2

Here we are!  Part 2 of water kefir and I can’t wait to share the rest of the fun information.  We left off with me closing out the water kefir article with a history of water kefir, as well as the benefits of drinking water kefir.  Today we will finish up with water kefir production education.   I will direct you as to where to purchase water kefir grains.  You will receive my phone number to call me day or night with burning water kefir questions- umm… NO!  Ha, that was just a little test to see if you’re on reading autopilot.  Good thing you caught that.  I knew my readers are sharp people.  But seriously, I will tell you where you can get the swing bottles and materials for brewing and storing your water kefir.  As well as tips and tricks.

water kefir

Amazon Is Your Friend

Here is a list of items you will need:

  1. Water kefir grains
  2. HIC, Nylon mesh strainer 4 inch
  3. Swing top glass bottles 16oz 
  4. 17-inch long bottle brush
  5. Organic Sugar or Brown Sugar (I have used either, good results for both)
  6. Water filtering pitcher (at Amazon) Pur or Zero water (or Walmart)
  7.  Gallon size jars, 2- I use old olive jars (I really like olives)
  8. Wooden or plastic stirring spoon (NEVER USE METAL! It will kill the kefir grains)
  9.  Paper towel and  large rubber band
  10.  4 cup glass measuring bowl
  11.  Funnel

Being computer savvy will aid you in your water kefir pursuits.  Let’s start with going to Amazon.com.  If you don’t have an account, you will need to set one up- phone a friend if this is beyond you.  Once you have set up your account you can look up water kefir grains in the Amazon search bar, but you are specifically looking for 1/4 cup Live Organic Water Kefir Grains (Tibicos) Natural probiotics by Florida Sun Kefir.

Homemade Water Kefir

Go ahead and add one to your cart.  You will receive 1/4 cup of water kefir grains, a 4×6 brewing bag (this is for flavoring your water with cut-up fresh or dried fruit), a business card from Florida Sun Kefir and a handy directions card. (NOTE: these water kefir grains are sensitive to cold, they are lovers of warmth.  Unless your regional temperature is above 25 F, I would wait to order them, especially if you have an outdoor mailbox).  Florida Sun Kefir has 4.6 stars out of 5.  They are very prompt with sending out the order and always answer my questions about water kefir.  They also will provide you with a website you can go to, to download a water kefir tutorial pdf.

Next item on your list to get is the swing top glass bottles 16oz., these are for the carbonating and storage of the water kefir.  Then you will need a 4-inch nylon mesh strainer, this aids in the straining of your kefir grains from the kefir water brew.  A 17-inch bottle brush if you do not have one.  The rest of the items, brown sugar, plastic/wood stirring spoon, brown sugar or organic, gallon size jars,  paper towel, and rubber band, should all be common items in your home.

Water Kefir 101

You just got a notification that your water kefir grains have arrived!  Your heart is pounding as you rush to the mailbox.  Grabbing the package like an NFL quarterback grabbing a football, you tuck and run making it in record time to your kitchen.  Everything is set up and ready to go in the kitchen.  Carefully you open the package and remove the little container of water kefir grains.  Aww… those little grains are so cute and they smell yeasty (that’s good!).  They look like little globs of jelly, all bouncy and looking happy.

You begin by warming 4 cups of filtered or spring water.

  • IMPORTANT: Not using spring water or filtered water will aid in draining them of important nutrients.  Adding the organic sugar or brown sugar to the warm water you stir the water with a plastic or wooden spoon to help dissolve the sugar.
  •  IMPORTANT:  The sugar MUST BE DISSOLVED completely.  If not, the whole sugar grain will actually make the kefir grains sick and eventually die. NEVER NEVER use a metal spoon to stir your water and sugar

With the sugar dissolved and water at room temperature, you pour it into the gallon size glass container.  Following that, take the water kefir grains and gently drop them into the glass jar with brown sugar water.  The grains will peacefully settle to the bottom.  Take a paper towel and place it over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. This will prevent dust and debris from falling into your water kefir brew as it ferments.  Next, place the jar in a warm room (70-85 F, 76 F is the sweet spot) out of direct sunlight.

  •  IMPORTANT:  Direct sunlight will KILL your kefir grains.

Sweet or Tart

With your jar of water kefir grains fermenting in the sugar water, you must decide if you want sweet kefir or tart kefir.  For sweet water kefir, you will ferment just one day.  For more tart (acidic) water kefir you will ferment for two days.  Before I continue on, let’s tackle the issue of alcohol percentage in water kefir.  According to an article, I read online from The  Water Kefir People,

“water kefir is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage” and “federal law classifies non-alcoholic beverage as having less than .5% ABV”.  

Obviously the longer you leave it to ferment, the more alcohol it will begin to contain.  Most people don’t ferment beyond two days.  I like my water kefir a bit more acidic, so I let it ferment two days.

Now that the water kefir has fermented, strain the grains and kefir water through the nylon strainer into a gallon size glass jar.

  • IMPORTANT:  NEVER use a metal strainer.  The metal will kill your kefir grains.

Set aside the nylon strainer with the water kefir grains and take the gallon jar with the water kefir brew and pour it into the swing top 16 oz glass bottle using a funnel. Fill the swing top bottle up to the shoulder (once 4 cup recipe will yield 2-16 oz swing bottles) and then take your fruit juice of choice (I like Welch’s Grape Juice) and fill it up to the neck, leaving “headroom” just like you would in canning.

Oh So Good

Place the two swing bottles on the cupboard counter for the carbonating or “second fermentation”  for 12 to 24 hours.  After which you will place them in the refrigerator to chill and then you may drink!  AH!  Tastes so good and good for you!

  • IMPORTANT:  BE VERY CAREFUL when opening the swing top bottles.  The carbonating can put lots of pressure in the bottle so take your bottle over the sink and slowly release the pressure by “burping” your bottle.  We have had many “eruptions” from super carbonated kefir brews.  Which require mopping the floor and wiping down the cupboards.

As you continue to build your confidence in water kefir brewing you can experiment with a variety of juices, adding fresh or dried fruit to the first fermentation, as well as different methods of brewing with just plain canning jars with plastic lids, or any glass jar that can be sealed without a metal lid.  It’s fun to have hobbies that are inexpensive, fun and beneficial to your health.

Let’s Wrap This Up

On occasion, you will notice that your water kefir brew isn’t very carbonated, or the taste is lackluster.  Should that be the case, you will need to give your water kefir grains a rest and feed them.  This is easily done by hard boiling two eggs.  Remove the eggs from the shell, and take the shells and place them in a gallon glass jar with water kefir grains and the sugar water.  This is the same sugar water you would make to start your brew.  Let them feed in a warm, shady place for a day or two.  Then strain the grains from the water and pick out the eggshells.  Then proceed as normal and resume your usual brewing routine.

If you have to go out of town be sure to feed your water kefir grains.  Make up the normal sugar water for brewing and add that to a glass jar with your kefir grains into the refrigerator.  Then upon your return revive them with the feeding of eggshells and resume your normal brewing routine.  Please note that as you brew with your grains they will grow.  So keep in mind that you may no longer have a 1/4 cup of kefir grains- this will affect your recipe.  If your grains grow you’ll need to separate them and share the love of water kefir with your friends.  Just like the Amish Friendship Bread starter!

Lastly, sometimes your kefir grains just “die out” so from time to time you’ll need to reorder a new batch of grains.  That’s it my friends!  As always, here is to good food, good friends and a good life.

Michele

Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile

The Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile!  Have you ever seen it driving its way around America? Well, I have not only seen the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile, BUT I HAVE RIDDEN IN THE OSCAR MAYER WIENER MOBILE.  WHAT!?  Yes, you read that right.  I did ride in the Wiener Mobile and it was my good friend Kristen Christian’s wedding party wheels.  Try to contain your jealousy, green is very unbecoming on you.

Photo Credit Michele Bruxvoort

This is how we roll

Imagine if you would… a wedding party of 10, rolling out of the church parking lot in the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile.  Complimentary Wiener Whistles were handed out by the Wiener Mobile drivers as we boarded.  Huh?  Wait a second.  Wiener Whistles?  No complimentary Oscar Mayer wieners on a bun!?  Graciously I took a whistle and joined the chorus, all the while wishing I had a deliciously grilled Oscar Mayer wiener.  Maybe kazoos would have been a better choice? Continue reading