Notes from the vomitorium

We’ve been having something of a norovirus (probably) plague at Butterscotch Sundae headquarters. It started with Poppy on the night of March 20th, hopped to Pete for a bit and then returned to Poppy. Here’s a handy graphic I made, which should be just as informative and helpful as that terrifying one about Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the ocean:

I have done so much laundry.

I have done so much laundry.

It’s a really odd virus. No fever, no aches and pains, no 24-hours-and-everything-is-fine-and-dandy. The kids only feel truly awful when they’re in the middle of an incident. The rest of the time they’re feeling well enough to watch movies, play video games, wrap blankets around themselves like capes and tell me that they’re very, very bored.

I’ve bleached every surface in the house, I’ve washed everything I can put into the washing machine and I’ve even put a cut-up onion in the room just in case it really does soak up the germs, but nothing seems to be getting rid of it. Fortunately — knock on wood — neither Rockford nor I 1 have come down with it. I’m especially happy that Rockford’s been OK, since he’s been out of the country for business since Saturday. I think being sick in a hotel in Morocco would be worse than being sick in a hotel in Virginia. At least there’s no marathon plane voyage to worry about if you’re just in Virginia.

Homeschooling at ButterscotchSundae.comAs you may have already surmised, it’s taken a toll on the schoolwork. We had planned to do a field trip day while we were in Virginia for Rockford’s grandmother’s memorial service (I wouldn’t choose to be sick in a hotel, but it was a relief to just stuff the linens in a large garbage bag and leave them in the hallway. With the staff’s blessing, of course. I wouldn’t have left them a surprise like that. I also asked them to leave a bucket of cleaning supplies with me so I could clean and disinfect after every incident. TMI? Maybe, but keep it in mind in the event that you ever have the same problem.), and we were supposed to meet The Ivey League in Atlanta for a mega-awesome-fun-fest but I like Bridget too much to give her the plague.

So. Things haven’t exactly fallen to pieces at home, but we’ve definitely been on a reduced schedule.

Spelling & Vocabulary

Pete finished Step Six — the short A sound — of All About Spelling this week. He hasn’t been super-enthusiastic about it, but I think part of that is the virus talking. He gets pretty crabby when he doesn’t feel well; it’s a trait he inherited from his mother.

Poppy finished her SpellWell book last week, and I decided to let her take on a vocabulary curriculum rather than replacing it with more spelling. She’s doing the internet-based WordlyWise3000, and she seems to be enjoying it so far. You can only buy subscriptions for an entire school or classroom on the WordlyWise site, but they offer single-kid subscriptions through the Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op. (I get some kind of points if you buy through that link. It isn’t money, exactly, but I figured I’d go ahead and disclose that anyway.)


History has really taken a hit lately. We started back to it this week, but the only activity we did was gluing pieces to the timeline.


Since I was adhering to the 24-hour rule, the kids have been going to their activities sporadically. I feel very guilty about that, although I haven’t heard from anyone saying they’d gotten sick. I just kind of figured if they hadn’t thrown up in three days we were safe, you know?

Anyhow, Pete started tennis lessons this week. His first lesson was on Wednesday, and he loved it.


We’re still working our way through “The Mysterious Benedict Society.” Progress there has been a little slow, too, because I’ve had a touch of a cold (or allergies or hey why not a sinus infection?) for a few weeks and sometimes I lose my voice.

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!


  1. I’m having chills and an increasingly sore throat as I write this, though, so we’ll see.

Caffeinate thyself with a free cup of coffee

Seattle's Best Coffee Giveaway

Seattle’s Best sent us some of their coffee to try, and resident coffee expert Rockford liked it. I asked him to write a review of it for me, but he doesn’t talk about coffee. He just shambles into the kitchen in the morning, brews some joe, tosses it back and then springs off to work like a feisty little squirrel on the trail of a big ol’ mess of acorns. It’s exactly like “Shaun of the Dead” + “Fight Club” + “Ice Age,” except completely different because my husband is neither zombified, nor Edward Norton, nor an antediluvial squirrel nor — spoilers, maybe? I haven’t actually seen or read “Fight Club” — delusional.

He’s just very busy. He really does love coffee, though. As evidenced by Exhibit A:

Who needs words when you can emote like this?

Who needs words when you can emote like this?

This is what my pour-over coffee "system" looks like. Pretty advanced set up, huh?

This is what my pour-over coffee “system” looks like. Pretty advanced set up, huh?


Rockford rarely drinks more than one cup of coffee at home, so last year we traded our old “normal” coffee maker in for one of those bad-for-the-environment single-cup models. After he’d used the K-cup sample from Seattle’s Best, we used the so-called “pour over” method to make the ground House Blend they’d sent.

(Lifehacker says the pour-over is for coffee snobs; I say it’s for people who do have a bag of coffee but don’t have a coffee maker. Tomato-tomahto, Lifehacker.)

For Rockford’s pour-over coffee, I put a little cream and sugar in the bottom of the mug and a tablespoon of ground coffee in the be-filtered pour-over funnel thing. Then I slowly pour in 8 ounces of almost-boiling water, and a few minutes later it’s coffee time. I don’t drink much coffee myself, but I do have a cup of hot cocoa most mornings. Some mornings require more of a kickstart than others, though, so I have also been known to give my morning cup of hot cocoa a lift by doing a “lite” coffee pour-over into my cocoa mix. I use about a teaspoon of ground coffee and 8 ounces of water for my DIY mochas. It gives my drink just enough oomph, and it’s considerably easier than making a whole cup of coffee just to season my cocoa.

Vaguely Related Sidebar

I never drank coffee until I was in college, but it wasn’t because I was pulling all-nighters or anything like that. It was because I worked at the front desk of a hotel. By and large, it was a pretty easy gig, aside from occasionally being required to unclog a toilet or getting yelled at by an irate businessman or when the person on the midnight-8am shift decided not to come to work and the assistant manager thought it would be a fine idea to have the person who’d worked 4pm-midnight (i.e. me) go ahead and cover it. That last part is why I started drinking coffee, because that happened more frequently than you might expect, and it’s where I learned that I prefer my coffee spiked with chocolate.

My guy might not be so outspoken about his love of coffee, but Seattle’s Best has rounded up a bunch of guys named Duncan who are. Here’s what they had to say:

Even if your name’s not Duncan, Seattle’s Best would like to give you the opportunity to try their brew. Go to the Seattle’s Best Coffee Facebook page for a free sample of their House Blend; it’s available now through April 30, or while supplies last.

A sample isn’t enough to fuel your day? Then you should definitely enter to win one of five coffee kits that we’re giving away! Each kit includes a bag of House Blend packaged coffee, a House Blend K-Cup sample and a Seattle’s Best Coffee travel mug. Good luck!

Congratulations to Hannah, Mary, Amy, Karla and Don! There is coffee in your future. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The road to Snickers is paved with nougat

The Daring Bakers' ChallengeThis month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was to make nougat, which isn’t something that I’d ever even thought about making before. I’ve never eaten nougat outside of a candy bar. And I figured this was no time to start, so I decided to make a peanut nougat to go inside a homemade Snickers bar.

I spliced my recipe together from a couple of sources. I used the Bon Appetit ‘Snickers’ bar recipe for the base and the nougat, and I followed the How Sweet It Is homemade Snickers recipe for the caramel layer. I ended up just melting a lot of chocolate chips and, after I got tired of dipping the individual bars, pouring them over the top of the nougat and caramel layers. It wasn’t very pretty, but it tasted marvelous.

The homemade Snickers bars took far more effort than the homemade Butterfingers, but I think they tasted better, too. And I should know, because I ate a ton of them.

Homemade Snickers

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.


Rockford’s grandmother started sending me obituaries in 2007. I’d been reading “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries” at her house, and we’d talked about how fascinating those brief biographies could be. She clipped obits from the Washington Post and sent them to me for years after that conversation.

She was thoughtful like that.

She renewed our subscription to Smithsonian magazine every year, and she used to send my sister-in-law $5 at the start of each Vidalia onion season so she could treat herself to a tomato and onion sandwich.

She was whip-smart, she was dignified, and she had impeccable manners. I was intimidated the first time I met her. Not physically — although most of her children and grandchildren are from my vantage point very tall, she didn’t tower over me — but she had a Presence. Being around her felt like what I imagine being around Maya Angelou feels like.

She knew Rockford loved her cinnamon applesauce, so she made sure she always had a fresh batch when he visited. She welcomed most of the staff of our college newspaper into her house one year when we went to D.C. for a conference. She’d stocked the house with all sorts of treats before we arrived.

She was kind and generous like that.

She was a kindergarten teacher. She loved her family fiercely. She loved to read, she was devout and active in her church, and she was always learning new things.

She passed away on Saturday. I’ll miss her.



"Camp Scene. Cooks at work." photo by Matthew Brady, courtesy National Archives.

“Camp Scene. Cooks at work.” photo by Matthew Brady, courtesy National Archives.

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner


Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie


Wednesday: Out?


Thursday: Crockpot Orange Chicken


Friday: DIY Pizza

I’m linking this up with’s weekly Menu Plan Monday thing.