Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Friday: The Dahlia Cardigan

I'm trying, you guys.

I'm not necessarily known for my 'go with the flow' attitude.  I mean, I am, on occasion, spontaneous, but only if I've planned everything out in advance.

With knitting I am a little more relaxed, however, if only a little.

But this sweater has me all confused.  It's not difficult at all.  But once I realized that I had no idea how the sweater was constructed and that everything I thought was true turned out to be wrong, I decided to just take each step as it comes.  I've successfully avoided reading any tips or discussions online and I'm not reading ahead on the pattern.  I'm just knitting.  It's like a little surprise every time I move on.

I finally realized that the part I thought was the top is actually the right side.  You can see it in the photo.  It's at the top.  Because that's where my hands still think it's supposed to be, apparently.

But I'm so in love with it.  I know, I know.  I say that a lot.  But this one is for me, which doesn't happen often.  It's bright, but not too bright.  It's soft.  The lace flower is gorgeous.

I can't wait until it's finished.

Although as the weather is currently set on 'hell' I may have to wait a bit until I can wear it without suffocating and dousing myself with the hose.

(The Dahlia Cardigan, knit with knitpicks simply cotton sport in golden heather, totally without gauging, as per usual and laziness.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Motherhood & More: Mom gets a break, accomplishes nothing*

Last week my in-laws took the kids to the zoo.  And I think it’s the longest I’ve been by myself in at least two years, probably more.

It’s a weird feeling. 

I spent days looking forward to it and writing down stuff I hoped to accomplish.  My to-do list was longer than it had any right to be.  I’d written things like ‘clean out closets, upstairs and down,’ ‘make squash compote’ and ‘clean baseboards’ and, most importantly, ‘write column.’

I’m writing this late at night with a glass of wine after my kids have gone to bed.  Does that tell you anything about my day off?

The kids were gone by 9 a.m.  By 9:01 I was sitting on the couch watching Good Morning America.  And that was it.  My motivation left.  I guess it was all doomed from the start.  I think my list was a bit overwhelming and so my brain and body decided to revolt.  I did nothing I wrote down for myself to do.  It’s like I had spent so much time with other people, years in fact, that the minute I had an expansive amount of time in front of me alone I collapsed.  I didn’t want to do chores.  I wanted to do nothing.  I didn’t want to listen to anyone complain.  I didn’t want anyone to ask me to do anything.  And I sure as heck didn’t want to make squash compote. 

I wanted to be 25 again with nothing weighing on my shoulders but what to cook for dinner.

You know what I did do?  I watched the series finale of Boy Meets World and felt uncomfortable with the smooshy dialogue, but still choked up when Mr. Feeny waited until all of the kids left the kids classroom before he told them he loved them.

I watched Gilmore Girls, the one where Lorelai and Rory eat four Thanksgiving dinners and I realized how much I missed that show, and how much I’d still love to live in a quaint New England town and work at an inn and have a diner where I drank copious amounts of coffee every day.  I also paused to hope that my daughter and I have the sort of relationship the main characters of that show have, but realized that since I didn’t have her at 16 that probably wouldn’t happen. 

I also imagined how miserable I’d be if I had to eat four Thanksgiving dinners and so I didn’t buy it when the characters asked for rolls as a snack at the end of the day.

Then I made myself get up to go run errands, which mainly entailed me wandering around Target without small hands reaching out to pull random items off the shelves or the almost-4-year-old asking for me to buy him everything he sees.

“Can I get that shirt?  It’s so cool!  What about a toy?  What about those shoes?  What about that that book?  It’s a really cool book, right Mom?  Can we buy it because you think I need it?”


And then I went to another store and wandered around.  And then I bought myself a late lunch and took it home to eat and as soon as I was finished my kids were home, exhausted and cranky and generally full of malcontent. 

There was screaming and hitting and tossing of selves onto the floor from the children and crying from all of us.  There was refusal to eat dinner.  There was poop in the bathtub. 

There was an early bedtime.   And then there was a big glass of wine for me.

And all of the things I needed to do are still there waiting for me.  But at least I can cross this one off, right? 

I think this is a sign that I need more days off.  

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on June 27, 2012.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's a small stand, but a stand nonetheless

I think I may be in an inadvertent Mr. Potato Head feet stand off.

You see, there, behind my dresser, the one that is usually stuffed so full that I have to open it a crack and shove my abnormally large hand in as much as I can and maneuver my yoga pants around just enough so I can open the drawer all the way, even though I don't even do yoga and haven't since that one class I took in college where that cute guy I had a crush on went, but I didn't go for him, I went with friends, and he took yoga way too seriously anyway, but I went there in bright blue pants with elephants on them.

So anyway, I looked behind the dresser because I couldn't find the socks I'd set out to go to wear to the gym and there they were.

The feet, not the socks.  Those where on top of the dresser where I'd left them.  Apparently I am also blind as well as old.

I'd take a picture of the Mr. Potato Head feet but then you'd see the actual extent to the dust bunnies currently residing around them, instead of me just pretending like I'm exaggerating the amount of dust bunnies  This way you have no idea if I'm living with hoarding-level dust bunnies or just 'I live in an old house and the dust seems to multiply faster than I can clean and I'll be damned if I'm sweeping behind my dresser every day' dust bunnies.  I like to keep the mystery alive.  Also not have someone condemn my house on account of the dust bunnies.

You'll just have to imagine Mr. Potato Head feet on the floor behind my dresser surrounded by what I'm sure is a perfectly acceptable amount of dust bunnies.

At first I thought I should pick the feet up.  I mean, I didn't put them there, but I spend my day picking up things that other people throw on the floor just for the fun of seeing me pick them up.

But then I thought, What if someone put them there on purpose to see how long it would take for me to clean behind the dresser and by design notice the Mr. Potato Head feet?

So now I can't move them, you see?  And I can't let the person who put them there know that I know that they put them there.  Because now I'm just mad at the fact that I'm being tricked into cleaning the dust bunnies.

I'm taking a stand.

And who are you to judge me, mysterious Mr. Potato Head feet?

You don't even have legs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I kind of wish I had gotten my picture taken with Bumblebee

Not too many words today.  I'm tired, the kids are tired, and the house is a disaster.  Christoper has been out of town all week so I should probably attempt to make it look like I'm not a total slob when he's gone.

Or maybe not.  It's not like he doesn't know me by now.  Thirteen years together saw to that.

But still.  I like to give the illusion.  Makes our marriage interesting.

But to make up for my lack of witty and interesting comments, here's a bunch of pictures from our trip.  We went to Indianapolis to the Children's Museum.  It was a lot of fun.  Also as we all spent an inordinate amount of time trying to keep Adele from running away from us, I decided it was time to buy a leash for Adele.

Or, excuse me, a harness. 

We haven't tried it yet, but look for a review soon.  I expect lots of her screaming and/or trying to hug the little puppy backpack that's attached to it.

So here!  Look at my kids!  It's a ridiculous amount of photos, but it's all I've got today.  Watch out for Adele and her speedy motorcycle.  Also the hippie van that I made Sebastian take his picture in front of just to annoy Chris.  Since Sebastian was wearing his tie-dyed t-shirt, it seemed only fitting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We're off ...

I'm taking a mini vacation with my mom, my nieces, and my kids. This is Sebastian and Adele's first time in a hotel and in a car for this long.

I'm a little terrified.

Wish us luck.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Homemade Friday: Bacon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes.  Yes I did.

It may have had something to do with being in the midst of a three week long period* but as soon as I saw the recipe I realized that I had to make them.

I at least waited until the weekend, which is when you eat whatever you want and the calories don't count, right?



The recipe is a simple double chocolate cookie, with the added bonus of bacon.  Delicious, delicious bacon.

Honestly, I was a little dubious.  It sounded different, but wrong.  Like it shouldn't work.

The Unholy Alliance.

But I shouldn't have doubted the internet which is awash with bacon + baked good recipes.

I made a couple of very minor changes, but the original recipe is here.  I cut my bacon smaller than I should have.  I think having a more pronounced bacon flavor would have put these over the top.  In a good way.

Waiting to be frozen.
I only baked half of the recipe because I'm attempting moderation.  The rest I froze in pre-baked tablespoons-ful so I can pull them out and bake them whenever they are needed.

Bacon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies 


6 slices bacon left over from Pancake Sunday breakfast.  Or whatever you've got on hand.
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups Sugar
2 whole Eggs
1-3/4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
12 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook bacon until crispy and cool on paper towels, then chop up.
Whisk together first five ingredients.
In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar, then add vanilla and eggs.
Gradually add dry ingredients until mixed completely.
Stir in chocolate chips and bacon.
Drop by tablespoonful onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, a couple of inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Let cool a bit before removing from cookie sheet. 

*No, I am not exaggerating and yes, I realize that this is probably TMI.  But I feel it pertains to my state of mind when I lunged upon the recipe as soon as I found it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Random Tuesday: Really, really random

1. I missed a family reunion this past weekend in order to keep my children in a bubble.

2. Actually I wanted to keep other people from getting whatever funk my kids had.  The bubble was just an added bonus.

3. I was kind of sad to miss it as there’s always good food and family that I don’t see often enough.  Also homemade 'wine.'

4. I did not miss the intense heat, though.

5. The kids are better, but their temperaments haven’t improved with their health.

6. There’s been mucho whining, is what I’m saying.

7. The youngest randomly smacks her brother and me in the face and the oldest rolls around on the floor whining about whatever is irritating him at the moment.

8. Do you know what it’s like to be smacked in the face by a toddler all day?

9. Do you know how hard it is to remain a nice person throughout all of that?

10. I have not succeeded as much as I’d like to.

11. We went to Target to give us all a change of scenery today. 

12. I came home with random crap I put in the cart to keep the kids from screaming or talking really loudly about poop.

13. I’m not sure that leaving the house was a good idea, but it ended with me getting a giant iced mocha so at least there’s that.

14. It’s not working as well as I’d like it to.  I was hoping to actually have energy this afternoon.

15. We took the kids to the pool last night and they swam with Chris while I worked out at the gym that’s connected to it.

16. Sebastian is learning how to swim with a snorkel and he can’t get enough of it.

17. He’s a water bug, just like his dad.

18. I, on the other hand, can convince myself a shark is swimming after me in a clear public pool.

19. There are almost never any sharks in public pools so I don’t really have to worry about it.  But that doesn’t stop my mind from going there.

20. I am taking the kids swimming without Chris this afternoon.  I’m meeting a friend who has a bunch of kids herself.

22. I’m a bit terrified as the two times I’ve taken them swimming with Christopher Sebastian has had epic meltdowns whenever it’s time to leave.

23. Also Adele tries to jump in the big pools.

24. She’s a water bug, too.  She snuck out yesterday and got in our kiddie pool with her clothes on.   

25. I’m going to need more coffee.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Food I have made with my fancy new stove that I'm not cool enough for:

I love you.
Rustic Peach Tart
Bacon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Potato and Green Bean Salad
Homemade Mac & Cheese

This is just since yesterday afternoon. 

Chris was the first to use it.  He made our Sunday morning pancakes and bacon yesterday.  I was a little disappointed that he got to cook on it before I did, but I guess it was only fitting since he did spend almost an entire Saturday moving gas lines and electrical outlets and cursing, after spending an entire Friday evening moving water shut-offs and electrical outlets and cursing when he put in the dishwasher.  However, I did have to spend that same amount of time seeing him but not being able to rely on him to help keep the children from killing each other or dumping out every toy or to change the endless amounts of poop-filled swim diapers that someone amassed. 

I'd say we're even.

The only downside to the new appliances is that they make our cabinets and countertops look so much worse than they did before.  They looked sort of at home with the '80s appliances because they were all purchased around the same time.  But now they look hopelessly out of date.  

(A neighbor asked me how I liked my new dishwasher and I said that it's nice but that my stove gives me lots more joy.  I mean, it has an oven light.  I have to force myself not to spend the entire time something is baking staring at it through the door.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Homemade Friday: Strawberry Ice Cream in a bag!

I know, I know. 

Ice cream in a bag is EVERYWHERE.

But I was looking for something fun to do with the kids, since we've been under quarantine until the children are over being sick.  (Thankfully I think they're better, for the most part.)

So I searched around until I found a recipe I liked and that we had the ingredients for. 

I landed on this one but changed it around some. 

I had an abundance of heavy cream that needed to be used, and really, what's ice cream without ridiculous amounts of fat and calories anyway?  I also doubled the recipe, separating it into two bags.

I'm not sure how much I like the whole process of using a bag.  I've done it twice now and each time the outer bag busted, leaving me covered in salty ice water.

I was not amused.

Actually, neither was Sebastian.  He was excited about ice cream, but didn't want to work for it.  He shook the bag a total of three times, then handed it back to me.

I do not have a cute picture of my children shaking the ice bags
because they wouldn't do it. Spoilsports.

I didn't really shake it long enough to have it freeze as much as it should have, mainly because I had children at my feet wanting to eat it.  Also my arms got tired after 5 minutes.

Thankfully my dad fixed my KitchenAid for me (guess how excited I am?) so any future ice cream will probably be made with the attachment for the mixer. 

But the strawberry ice cream tasted delicious, if a bit melty.  But the kids weren't too upset about that.

This is Sebastian saying 'Hurry up and take the stupid picture
so I can eat my ice cream already!  He asked for the cut up
strawberries, by the way.

Strawberry Ice Cream In A Bag
2 Cups of heavy cream or milk or a mixture of the two
1 Cup of strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 Cup of salt
A whole lot of ice

Put the cream, strawberries, sugar and vanilla in a blender and mix until smooth.  Be careful not to whip the cream.  Or do and just have strawberry whipped cream.
Pour equal amounts of mixture into two separate quart size bags and seal tightly.
Place a bunch of ice in two gallon sized bags and put 1/4 cup of salt in each.
Put one bag of strawberry cream into each ice-filled bag and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake until the mixture starts to freeze and then shake some more until you have the consistency you prefer or until you get tired of shaking.
Your bag will probably bust even though you started buying the name-brand bags because the off-brand ones were crap.  Have another bag ready just in case.
When you take the ice cream out of the bag be careful not to get the salty ice water on the ice cream.  I can't imagine that would taste very good.

I froze the leftovers and because I didn't shake it enough to turn it into a solid ice cream it ended up turning into melted ice cream that was re-frozen.

In other words don't do that.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All this sickness is just building up their immune systems, right?

So this is happening in my living room right now:


That’s how you know he’s really sick.  Adele is getting over hand, foot and mouth disease, and she’s been a cranky bear, forever smacking whoever gets in her path just so we all feel as crappy as she does, waking up in the middle, crying and screaming when I refuse to give her another snack bar.

But she’s a little better, which means that it’s time for Sebastian to get sick again, too.  He’s mostly been whiny and only wanting to lie around and watch TV or snuggle with me, which is how I always figured kids are supposed to act when they’re sick.  But usually mine just act like out of control heathens.  When I take them to the doctor for strep throat, every time, they run around laughing and squealing and forcing me to chase them while simultaneously attempting to convince the desk clerks that yes, they really are sick.  I have no idea why I feel the need to have the approval of the people checking my kids in at the doctor’s office, but there you go.

But my kids don’t ever want to lie around, even when they’re sick.  So I can tell that sweet Babash really doesn’t feel well now, which is evident by the sleeping during the day.  The last time he did that he had the flu.

But I’ve decided that even though my children are both sleeping, I’m too afraid of making a lot of noise to clean the whole house, as I should be doing.  Plus Chris asked me if that’s what I was going to do and it pissed me off so I called him an asshole.

Instead I’ll read.  Or nap.  Or maybe just goof around on the internet until one of the kids wakes up, thus making me feel like I haven’t had a break because everyone knows a break includes reclining and I do not recline when I peruse gossip sites on the internet.  

*That thing on the floor in the photo is my goggles and snorkel I bought for my trip to Florida where we stopped in Deland to swim in a spring and I was terrified of accidentally bumping into a manatee.  Yes.  I'm scared of manatees.  Also deep water in general.  Chris swam down into a cave in the springs and I hyperventilated until I saw him again.  I also tried to dive down just a little bit myself but I forgot to stop breathing in the snorkel and sucked in a bunch of water.  Sebastian is currently obsessed with the goggles and is extremely disappointed that it's been too cool outside to swim with them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Old houses are assholes

Hey!  Wanna hear a funny story?  I mean, it’s not a funny story that will make you laugh, more like a story that, if I don’t pretend like I’m laughing will probably make me cry a little.

When we moved into our house, right before Sebastian was born, we experienced a myriad of problems, one right after the other.  From faulty wiring that almost caused us to lose our insurance THE DAY WE SIGNED THE PAPERS, to basement waterproofing nonsense, to a leaky roof that, even though we’ve had replaced, still leaks no matter how many times we call the roofers back to fix the problem it never gets fixed.  They finally just stopped returning our calls.

We’ve had termites and air conditioning problems and just this weekend we had a leaky water heater.  We have tree lines growing into our sewers so every six months or so we (by ‘we’ I mean Chris, obviously) have to run a snake down the pipe or our basement floods.  Someone took the counter weights out of our ridiculously old windows for who knows what reason so that if we want to open the windows, which we do frequently, we have to prop them up.  Some of them we have to take completely out.  Our bedroom floor is tilted.  There is a freakishly thick layer of adhesive under our carpet on top of the really nice hardwood floors, so if we did want to refinish them, which we most definitely do, we would have to find a way to remove the adhesive first because no one will agree to sand them down.  And the carpet is the cheapest, most depressing one the previous owners could find and so six months after we moved in it was in desperate need of replacement.  We’ve been living with since then while it becomes ravaged by time and messy children.

We have a fireplace, but it’s been closed off so we can’t use it.

The back room, which was added in the ’80s, has I’m estimating zero insulation, so it’s either really hot or really cold back there. 

We’ve had pipes bust or leak or something under the kitchen sink so everything in the cabinet got drenched and the whole mess had to be fixed.  We’ve had toilets stop working and farm scene paneling that had to be painted over. 

We had a bee hive in a post on our front porch.  We had weird landscaping, complete with a half-broken archway that had to be updated.  We have a garage that someone painted purple and brown and white.  We have more tacky latticework than anyone could ever want, but that we can’t take down without spending lots of time updating everything.  We have a grapevine that is probably 30 years old and huge but that has a fungus and so every year the grapes wither and die before we can harvest them.

I’m positive I’m forgetting something, but I know that if Chris was writing this he would be able to list everything thoroughly because he’s the one who fixes everything that he can, he’s the one worrying and stressing the most when this stuff happens.

 I know that old houses come with problems.  I know that we will always have issues, even with a new house.  But a break would be nice.

Last week we ordered new appliances for the kitchen.  Ours have needed to be replaced since we moved in, but they were functional and it wasn’t an essential expense, unlike the thousands of dollars we spent to replace the (still leaking) roof.

Our only issue was the refrigerator, which all the sudden stopped working not long after we moved in, until, of course, Chris moved it to the basement to be able to work on it after his parents gave us their old one.  Then it cooled right down and has worked fine as a homebrew refrigerator ever since. 

Our dishwasher quit awhile ago, maybe a year, but once again, it wasn’t essential to fix it.  I just spend all day washing dishes, but no matter.

And the stove, well, it still works.  The electric pilot went out, but we just turned on the gas and lit it with a lighter.  I mean, yeah, sometimes Adele would turn on the gas when I wasn’t looking, thus flooding the house with noxious fumes and probably killing some of our brain cells, but once I figured out that the knobs came off we were fine. 

And then the barrier holding the items in the door of the refrigerator broke off maybe a year ago?  Six months?  You could still put stuff in there but if you pulled the door open too hard everything fell in the floor, including the milk that busted all over the place that one time.

So.  Once we had a little extra money, which almost never happens, we decided it was time.  At first we were just going to get a dishwasher.  And then we decided that a stove would be a good idea, too, especially since his gigantic brew pots have caused the top to bow in the middle a bit, so everything is cooked unevenly.  And then I also convinced Chris that since we were getting the other two anyway, we might as well go ahead and get the refrigerator, too.

And today was the day.  You guys.  You have no idea how excited I was, even though we (Chris) had had to redo some pipe work and electrical outlet things because of the store’s policy on where things were supposed to be.  I don’t claim to understand the process.  I just know that Chris spent a lot of time working in the basement this weekend.

The delivery guys were early, which was even better.

My exhilaration was short lived.

Would you like to see where my new dishwasher and stove are?

Would you like to see where the old ones are, which were supposed to be hauled away, never to be seen again?

Apparently we need a shutoff for the gas stove upstairs, not down in the basement.  And apparently we need a shutoff for the water for the dishwasher upstairs, also not in the basement.

And apparently I need to pull that bottle of tequila out of my fancy new refrigerator, the only appliance that was installed today.

Old houses kind of suck sometimes.

Let’s look at my refrigerator to make us all feel better.  I have to throw away the first two gallons of water and ice from the door so I don’t poison myself, but it couldn’t be any worse than the gas fumes I’ve been breathing in ever since Adele learned how the knobs on the stove work.