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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The One Where Nobody Got Hurt

New Year's Eve. 


Good goddamn riddance.

It started off with a bang--I got to spend four or five glorious hours at my in laws' house. 

Fun times.

Times were made all the more fun by the lack of electricity at their house. Not an unusual occurrence--the power goes out if you sneeze too hard there--but since they're on a well, it means no flushing and no running water, on top of no heat and no television and no nothing else. Which meant DH and I spent the day hooking up generators, cleaning, repeating things three or four times for MIL to actually listen, and trying to keep our children from killing each other.

Fine. We finally left. The gods smiled.

Briefly.

I was dozing in the car when we rounded the corner to home. You know--the dream house that's become a money pit? The one with the pinhole leaks and the rotted walls and the wonky electricity wiring and everything else we grin and bear? That one.

So I'm dozing. We round the corner. I hear DH almost yell, "Oh my GOD!" I fling my eyes open, and see our pear tree. Split, straight down the middle, one half laying on the ground like a dead person, and the other standing up saluting his mate. This is the pear tree that's huge and dead-center in the front yard. The one that shades the picture window in the living room. And the one that DH offhandedly mention we'd have to take down in the next few years, before a storm split it down the middle.

He should stop speaking of such things.

So we spent the afternoon in arctic temperatures and Siberian winds, cutting up the M-Fing tree. I rented a trailer for Friday, so we can take the f-er to the dump and be rid of it. And then I'll get to call a company to come grind up the stump so we can plant another tree there. 

Did I mention the recession? And the husband who works on commission? Selling ads, for the love of God?

Stupid no-good wind and stupid, stupid soft-wooded pear tree. STUPID pear tree.

We had red-hot plans for New Year's Eve, you know? Watching The Polar Express for the 25th time with the kids, and then falling asleep on the couch. Cuz life rocks like that when you have urchins running the joint. 

Instead, I'm nursing frostbite on my legs (it is TOO frostbite!) and wind burn on my cheeks and looking to half a day more of chopping up wood, to expose the entire front of my house to the elements and make it look like a new housing development.

I HATE new housing developments.

But it didn't fall on the house. And nobody got hurt. And tomorrow, this no-good sumbitch year will end. Be. Gone. Foul. Beast. And on January 20, my unicorn will be delivered and everything will be sparkly roses and sunshine, yes? Cuz that's what we were promised. Effing Utopia.

Stupid.

Tree.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Think

Dear Obama:

How's that honeymoon working out for you?

*snort*

XOXO

Kim

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Randomness

Sorry. It's been awhile. It's the most frantic time of year, made even more so by moving and renovating and volunteering and such.

Today was my great-uncle's funeral. People I've told that have said they're sorry. I appreciate it, but really, he was 96 years old. Married for 67 years--my great aunt, who is in fantastic health, is 88. You don't get a much better run than 96 years. It's sad to see him go, but man, would that we all got so much time to do what we do.

I'm having serious issues with this auto bailout. Chrysler, Ford, and GM have made cars that absolutely suck for decades. I say that having owned several. They blow. I mean, take apart a Honda, see how they do it, build cars that don't require regular tows, and then bail your damn selves out by providing a product people want and developing return customers and a base there. Or go under--you really do deserve to go under. And have a chat with your unions about realism and such things...but that's its whole own blog post. Unions. Feh.

Someone called me today to see if I could take her lunch duty slot in 2nd grade tomorrow. I did two lunch duties last week, and I said no. I've never done that before. But I have a hot date with myself for sushi tomorrow and some errands to run, and I honestly need an hour to breathe. So no, I'm sorry. I can't take it. *sigh* Selfish me, huh?

We started ripping out the first floor powder room two nights ago. Rewired the main light to move it to another wall, patched the drywall, and ripped out the godawful scallop shell sink. Now, it's painting and installing the new vanity. It's been a long time since we've done this kind of work. I told someone it's like labor--you forget about the pain after awhile. Did I mention I'm never moving again? Like, never ever? I should mention that.

School's closed for inauguration. It's never been closed before for it. But damn if we're not shutting down for the Unicorn Corps. Nothing like a little partisanship in the school system, huh? Sweartagod, not a word about money for four years, people. Nothing. I'm not listening.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just a Thought

Dear Ford, Chrysler, and GM:

I'm about to bail you out.

Ready?

Stop building cars that suck.

Voila.

Love,
Kim

ps--It's not about the salary, stupids. We all know with your annual six-figure bonuses, a dollar salary offer is meaningless. Try again.

pps--I heart my Honda. Heh.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Where Not to Shop

Another Black Friday, another trampling at Wal Mart.

Tis the season...every stinkin year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recipe

With the Money Pit falling down around me and a DH who's seriously on the verge of a complete breakdown, I thought I'd share something positive. And that's dinner from last night.

In a bowl, mix together two regular-size cans of cream of mushroom soup (condensed...I use the Healthy Choice kind), a third of a cup of white wine, and a 10 oz can of sliced mushrooms, drained.

Put that into the crockpot with a couple of chunked-up chicken boobs.

Set it on low and let 'er rip for 6-8 hours. Serve over egg noodles.

Fantastic comfort food. And it's been that kind of week...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sing It!

Just for fun (and cuz it's a teeny bit true *blush*)




Vote please!

For my kids' teachers (there are four of them), should I get gift certificates for manicures at the Red Door Salon, or give handmade bracelets with natural stones and gold/silver beads and pretty clasps?


Leave your vote in my comments section. I'm stumped.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Really?

Dear House Gods:


I can deal with the rotted wood underneath the upstairs window. I can handle the overflowing toilet, the crashing-from-the-ceiling plaster, the burner that doesn't light on the stove, and needing to leave the basement light on to run the dryer. I can also deal with the garbage can drawer that opens by itself since DH "fixed" it, the garage walls that crumble when we try to hang shelves on them (cinderblock is not concrete block, for future reference), the front storm door that won't latch, and the doors that are too long to open and close over the throw rugs we need so the WDCL can walk around without breaking a hip.

But a leaky roof? And a massive electric bill? Really? Truly necessary on top of a shiteous economy and a nervous, panicked DH who's a joy to live with?

Absolutely?

I'm trying to get this, see? We're fixing things! We're making it all right again? And yet, we get shat on twice in a day? In big old proportions?

Can't you find someone else to play with for a little while? I don't particularly like your brand of game.

Love much,

Kim (who might change her opinion of old houses if this keeps up)

(New/old house, day 15)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday

Hear that? That's quiet. I'm all alone, save the WDCL. No pressure to be working. A little pressure to clean, but I've done a lot of that already. Just the hum of the refrigerator. It's nice.


Between Friday and yesterday, I spent about 15 hours working at the school bazaar. My feet hurt and my butt hurts and I'm tired, but I have to say, it was a blast. And I am LOVING feeling part of something again--we were so active in our last church years ago, and haven't been so much active in this church. I really enjoyed being around other people with my values, laughing, working together towards a common goal. My soul feels better today than it has in a long time. I need more of that.

This morning, we put the first coat of red paint on the dining room walls (so long, ugly horrible peachy-beige!) and I am thrilled with it. It's streaky as hell, being the first coat, but I can see how fantastic it's going to be, against the arched door on one wall and the white corner cabinet on another. I heart red dining rooms. We also replaced the butt-ugly 1970s brass chandelier with something a smidge more contemporary but still very classic. It's getting there. :)

After that, I went to Trader Joe's (which really would be perfect if they carried more cleaning stuff, a few more lowfat ice cream options, and if they opened before 9 a.m.), Office Depot (more on that in a sec), and the craft store. Alone. *giggle*

Office Depot...I found my two Waterman pens recently. They'd been missing for a long time, and surfaced in the move. Yay! So I got two new refills for them and am enjoying having them around and working again. Little things.

I'm starting to think about Christmas. Late for me, but I moved. Lay off. Anyway, I'm wondering how hokey it would be to make jewelry for the kids' teachers. They each have two in their classrooms, so gift cards get spendy. I was thinking nice beaded chokers with Celtic heart pendants on them. Yes? No? Maybe?

And my clients...what to give the clients. Ugh.

With that, my loves, I'm off to clean some more stuff. Alone. In the quiet. Have a wonderful afternoon!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Politics

Dear Sarah:


For somebody without aspirations for 2012, you sure are out there this week. A media tour of your home? For real?

Girlfriend, find a shadow and hang out there for awhile. You're not helping the cause. I'm your target audience and I think you need way more than four years to reappear on my ballot. And you're causing divisiveness. 

Vamoose. Pronto. Take your wardrobe with you.

Love,
Kim


Confidential to the neighbors who have issues with my kids going to private schools and who have Obama signs in the yard: didja see the news? Michelle visited both Georgetown Day and Sidwell yesterday? Nyuh huh. Not a WORD.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Bubbles

Another case of pinkeye in my house. *sigh* We sure are susceptible to it. And yes, we wash our hands. A lot. Stupid bacteria.


Had a really yummy salad for lunch today. You've never heard me say that. I'm not a huge salad fan, generally. But this was good--baby greens, walnuts, currants, green apples, chicken, and a vinaigrette. Must duplicate, I think, with Craisins.

Turned around and had a Belgian waffle for dinner. Hee hee! I love having a kitchen big enough to hold my fun appliances! Hi there, waffle maker! Let's get re-acquainted!

My brother gave me a B&N giftcard for my birthday. I packed it for the move. And now I can't find it, and I'm Jonesing for the Barefoot Contessa's new cookbook. Talk about motivation to empty the boxes! There's shopping to be done!

On a serious Vince Gill kick. FYI.

Chaperoning a field trip for DS's class tomorrow. Lincoln's summer home. I hope it's fun and the kids like it. I also hope we get home on time. I have work to do. 

Not much to say today, girls and boys. Signing off...


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tasty

Dear Mr. Decker:


Palms up. You always approach a dog with your hands palms up. Palms down is threatening.

See?

XOXO

Kim


*giggle*


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Little Paper Gift

Yesterday was the day I fell apart.


I hear it happens about four or five days after moving, so we were right on target. Yesterday was the day I couldn't find things in boxes (and the boxes were towering and overwhelming) and I kept flipping the wrong light switches and opening the wrong cabinets looking for things. By the end, I felt pretty lost in this house.

Yesterday was the day we dug into a simple-looking crack on the dining room ceiling and watched a huge chunk of plaster fall free and crash to the floor. The previous inadequate repair disintegrated and what should have been a simple tape-and-spackle became A Problem.

Yesterday was the day the towel racks were in all the wrong places, the master bath was the stupidest design ever in the history of stupid designs (and filthy, to boot), the half bath was totally devoid of character or charm, and the stupid reglazed bathtub let water get on the floor because somebody at some point hung the shower curtain rod five inches too high.

Yesterday was the day I had to leave the basement lights on to run the dryer because the wiring there defies all logic.

Yesterday, we got the first installment bill on the new siding, the final bill on the refinished hardwood floors, the final bill on the grandfather clock moving, the first electric bill, and a mysterious bill from the dentist that insurance should have covered but apparently didn't. Yesterday was also the day DH's company started talking about significant budget cuts.

Yesterday was a lot of other little, totally annoying things, and yesterday was the day the master bath toilet overflowed, flooded the room, and left a big brown stain on the kitchen ceiling.

Yesterday was the day I final
ly sank to the floor and sobbed, wondering what in the living hell we were thinking to sell our beautiful, perfect little house with no problems for this money pit, and how we were ever, ever going to get out of this mess in one piece.

And yesterday, while unpacking my childhood dollhouse furniture to give to my daughter from a box that hadn't been opened in at least 15 years, I found this.



That's my dad. I guess he's about seven or eight years old. The dog is Mugsy, who was much beloved and ver
y sweet from everything I've ever heard. Dad is playing the harmonica in his black cowboy boots
 and patched jeans--he grew up the son of a B&O Railroad worker without much money in a blue-collar neighborhood--and Mugsy is singing in the wonderful way dogs do when someone plays the harmonica. Especially when that someone is a seven year old boy.

I smiled. I thought about my dad, who died nine years ago at the age of 60 despite a life of healthy living and working out. And I realized that we'll survive this and we're going to love this old house, and that someday the ceiling stain and the stupid electrical work and the knees-up-your-nose half bath design will all make me laugh. We just need to press through.

It was a little paper gift, in so many ways. Today, it gets a frame and a place in my kitchen. My new, big kitchen with the island and the table and the French doors that I love. 





Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tidbits

  • We moved Saturday. And Sunday. And some every day for about three weeks before that. But everything's at the new (old) house and we're finding our way around. Missing a school uniform, but I hope it'll turn up soon. And I love my new house!
  • I voted this morning. No line at all. Which was sort of unnerving--four years ago, I waited 90 minutes to vote. I had the kids all bribed up to behave in a long line today and didn't need it. And I have my free Starbucks right here. :)
  • ps--It's bogus that my kids are off school today. There's no voting in the Catholic school. I'm lodging a complaint.
  • Swamped in work. So I'm blogging. *snort*
  • I think I'm going to let my kids sit down and eat Halloween candy until it's gone. More for my benefit than theirs--I can't stay out of the stuff. Stupid holiday. Can't we come up with something other than a massive sugar orgasm? Can't we just dress up and get spooked up and leave it at that? Sheesh.
  • The parade of contractors continues: the clock guy was wonderful, the movers were great, the piano guys were fantastic, the wood floor people did a nice job but were really a pain in the butt to work with, the carpet people were ditto to that. The siding people claim they're starting next week. And I still can't get a concrete person come out to even give me an estimate. I should learn to pour concrete. There's apparently a good market for that here.
  • I hate the fall time change. I'm always exhausted for about two weeks after--my body just can't adjust. Can't we just pick a time zone and stick with it? The blackouts ended long, long ago. No reason for DST to start and stop. I'll tell you, whomever wins the election today, that's what I want done in the next four years. Set the clock and leave it alone.
  • Got a wonderful housewarming gift from a dear friend, and a yummy coffee cake from another for our move. You rock, girls. Thank you. :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Noted...

In the past five days, I have...


-Packed, transported, and semi-unpacked about two dozen boxes of crap per day from the old house to the new one.

-Crashed my car. Into another. His will be fixed; mine won't.

-Played lunch angel to 27 hyper Catholic school kindergarteners on Pajama Day. Which is like cotton crack, apparently.

-Battled with Lowes over my supposed carpet installation.

-Burned two fingers with my oven rack.

-Made approximately two million phone calls to arrange stuff related to the move.

-Signed approximately two hundred pieces of paper.

-Gone out to dinner with my entire, beloved family instead of waving bye-bye to DH and DS as they headed out for Cub Scout Camp (stupid monsoon rain) and then spent the whole next day with them, oh joy.

-Stepped on more Legos and marbles than I can count, in bare feet of course.

-Edited a truly horrific piece.

-Lots of other stuff, all at hyper-speed.

The point?

Is this.

If a certain little man in a suit rings my doorbell--at either house--one more time in the next 72 hours, Jehovah's Witness is going to have a personal meeting with his Savior, kindly arranged by yours truly.

I'm Catholic, dude. You don't want me anyway. Seriously. G'head. Bug me again. I dare you.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Not to Say I Told You So...

Dear John:


You can lay out all the paths you want, my friend. Sadly, unless we find out the other guy really is a card-carrying socialist, it's just not happening.

Didn't I tell you? Didn't I say on the day you announced your VP pick that it was a brilliant PR move and horrendous political strategy? That it was going to come back and bite you in the butt? That pretty and female made for terrific immediate headlines and long-term election disaster? And I'm just a 30-something semi-working mom with a beat-up minivan, dude. Don't you, like, pay advisers and stuff?

**sigh**

I hope you enjoyed your headlines. Grab your fork, buddy. It's done. And from those of us who believe in the policies and the priorities and the overall messages you claim to back, thanks a ton. (Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Love,

Kim

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sick Day

DD's home from kindergarten with pinkeye today. It's a tough way to spend a sick day--she can't really go anywhere or see anyone, but she feels just fine.


I should be working. Instead, we ran to the Redbox machine and picked up the new Ariel video for later, and we just spent 15 minutes on YouTube learning the Cha Cha Slide. My girl's going to be prepared for the Halloween dance this weekend!

Later, we'll take a load of stuff to the new house and I'll knuckle down and generate some income. But for now, take it back now, yo.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Smallness, Hon

It's been a really bad day so far. I'm taking great joy in a "whaddya know" moment.


I came home from Great Badness to play with Facebook...cuz what else do you do when the world is closing in, right? A Facebook friend had joined a group called "Smalltimore," which is for people from Baltimore. The gist of this is that everybody in Baltimore has a connection to everybody else. As an old boss of mine said, "There are nine people in Baltimore, and they're all related."

So anyway, I'm exploring this group and I click on the page to learn who the founders are. A name leaps out.

Ready?

The guy who founded Smalltimore is the grandson of my childhood next-door neighbors. 

*grin*

Smalltimore, indeed!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Ask Any Questions

Our financial advisor emailed a week ago to tell us he's hosting a client appreciation dinner next month. DH has a business trip that week, so we politely declined.


Last night, DH said the advisor called him. "Don't ask me any questions," he said, "but you have to go to that dinner."

*sigh*

"Is he going to embarrass me?" I asked. DH said no. But I can't think of a reason I have to be there that won't be humiliating on some level. I'm not much for public call-outs. And I can't think of anything I've done that's worthy of attention, at least from the advisor. It's not like we're particularly high on his List Of People With Money. We're pretty average. 

I hate "don't ask questions but" things. I also hate going to public events by myself. I won't know anyone else there except our accountant, and while he's a nice guy, we're not exactly BFFs. So for some reason, I have to go to a restaurant for a dinner thing by myself, and my attendance is mandatory.

Hello, very bad mood. Ugh.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Irritation

Dear Numbnuts:


I don't really care that you hit my car somewhere. Accidents happen. 

But thanks bunches for hitting my car, scraping up the fender and denting the wheel well, and leaving without even an apology. That rocks.

I know it's just a minivan. I know it's not particularly new. I know it has a private school sticker on the rear windshield, and you probably assumed I'm made of money so screw it, right?

I work for my money, thank you. I work really hard for it. I got $5,000 when my grandfather died 11 years ago, and that's the only cash anybody has ever given me since I was about 15. No exaggeration. The minivan, the private school, the house...it's all because DH and I generally live frugally and work out collective asses off. 

I spent four years parking in bumfuck Egypt in parking lots to avoid door dings. Not because I'm vain, but because I plan to drive the minivan into the ground, and I'd prefer to keep it as least-trashy looking as possible for a very long time. I keep it washed and waxed to preserve the paint and my resale value. And I actually do like the car.

So thanks for the dent and the scrape, and for not having the common decency to say you're sorry. Karma's a bitch, my friend. Enjoy yours.

*sigh*


Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's So Simple

Foreclosure looming? Just shoot yourself. Problem solved.


*shaking head*

Oooooooorrrr...you could try living within your means (*gasp*) and not signing financial papers you don't understand. 

What have we all come to???


Friday, October 3, 2008

Yay Me

Weeks and weeks of packing and organizing and painting and lugging stuff. Weeks more to come. Ugh.


The lady who is selling us her house moves out Monday.

Today...today...I remembered to call the water, gas, and electric companies to switch the accounts over and avoid being plunged into dry, cold darkness.

Rock on, me...


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chili

A couple of y'all have asked for this, soo...


Crockpot Chicken Chili

3 chicken boobs, cut into bites
1 green bell pepper, chunked up
1 red bell pepper, chunked up
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 small cans tomato paste
2 regular or 1 large can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 or 2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2-4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf

Plop it all in the crockpot and let it go for 8 hours on low. 

:)


I Like It, I Love It, I Want Some More Of It


Lookie what my mommy gave me for my dirtday!!



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30

You would have been 70 today, Dad. 


Happy birthday. We miss you.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Official Notice

Dear World:


This whole sending-out-good-karma thing? This whole be-nice-to-others-and-get-it-back deal?

I'm calling bullshit.

And you know what? I'm done. I'm finished with making sure everyone is included and feels welcome. I'm done with marking every birthday of every person I know with a card or little gift. I'm finished lending out tools and baking supplies and books and God knows what else to anybody who finds my phone number laying around. I'm done taking flowers to people whose dogs have died and sending letters with nice words to people I think might like them.

Because know what? Those same people seem to mysteriously lose that same phone number when it's time for invitations to their events. Movie nights, birthday parties, you name it. *poof* Kim's contact information vanishes. 

I must do something really horrible to these people. That's the only thing that makes sense. And since I'm horrible despite making a real, concerted effort to go out of my way to be nice and kind and helpful whenever I can, it doesn't make much sense to keep up the effort. 

Of course, I'll keep up the effort with my actual friends. They know who they are. I love them and love doing nice things for them. It makes my heart happy.

But the others?

Find you own damned way to Home Depot. This library is closed.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Conundrum

We got two inches of rain last night. Everything is soaked and muddy and disgusting. More rain is forecast for later today.


CYO is saying today's soccer game is on. 

Do I take the boy? Or skip it? Do I go to Mommy Hell for that?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear CDC

Issue all the headlines you want. Nobody in this house is getting a flu shot.


First, no "vaccine" should be doled out like M&Ms at the grocery store. And no other supposed vaccination is. You can't just stroll in off the parking lot and get a measles shot if you want one. That speaks volumes to me about what may or may not be in the vial of flu vaccine. If it was really good stuff, it would be tracked. Theoretically, I could go from Giant to CVS to YMCA and get five or six flu shots a week. Doesn't seem like something you're concerned about.

And the marketing behind this shot...I mean, come on. No other drug gets this much attention every year. Could it be that the pharma companies who make this vaccine like the added revenue from your annual fear campaign?

I also have a problem with the studies you cite that "prove" the vaccine is effective. They're all funded either by the CDC itself, or the companies that make flu shots. In fact, the single independent review of the flu shot I've been able to find showed that it was no more effective than a placebo for people older than 2. 

Our bodies are designed to fight the flu. If you look at the real statistics of flu deaths, they're mainly among the elderly and the poor. In other words, the flu kills people who don't have the means to seek medical attention when they get it. That's very sad--I'm not making light of those deaths at all. But for 99 percent of the population, the flu is an irritant and an inconvenience, but certainly not a danger. And not worth getting a potentially dangerous vaccine for.

And finally, you, yourself, admit that formulating the flu vaccine is a guessing game. The flu shot contains antibodies that protect against three strains...three out of potentially thousands. It's a crapshot. But the scare-marketing goes on.

We're Purelling and sanitizing ourselves into reverse evolution. We're all so afraid of dirt and so busy dousing Lysol all over anything that doesn't run away that our bodies are forgetting how to fight off invaders. Our children are the sickest in generations, in part because we've protected them to the point that their bodies don't know how to get rid of germs on their own. The flu shot is part of this. Most of our bodies can successfully get rid of the flu on their own, as long as we don't trick them into forgetting how. And those bouts with minor illnesses help build up immunity, which helps us going forward.

So no flu shots in my house. It's just a big moneymaker, as far as I'm concerned. Unnecessary drugs that are designed to do nothing more than drive up pharma profits are not welcome among my family. 

You can stop the commercials now. 

Love,

Kim

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One more thing...

David Blaine is full of crap.


I really don't like that guy.


Newness

I started a new blog this morning (this one will keep going for all my random thoughts). So many people have asked me about "getting things" from companies and not getting ripped off, that I thought I'd write about that every few days.


The new blog is: thecommonsenseconsumer.blogspot.com

Hope you'll check it out! :)

Tagged

Alien tagged me.


The "rules" of the game are as follows:

  1. Post the rules on your blog.
  2. Write 6 random things about yourself.
  3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
  4. If you're tagged. DO IT and pass on the tag.

Okie dokie, then. My 6 random things:

  1. I am hopelessly uncoordinated. Can't catch a ball. Can't throw a Frisbee. Can barely walk without injuring myself. It was so bad in grade school that after about fourth grade, my mom wrote a note to excuse me from Field Day, because I just got teased all day long.
  2. I went to George H.W. Bush's inaugural ball and it was awesome.
  3. I spent 10 days working in an Romanian orphanage in 2000. Truly a life-altering experience.
  4. Much as I try to get some semblance of Stacy and Clinton style in my wardrobe, I'm an L.L. Bean girl at heart. And you can't change the heart.
  5. I miss Baltimore, hon.
  6. I ate snails last year. They were yummy.
I'm tagging:

MamaTulip
Ali
Tink
Kate


Aw heck, tag yourself.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear Congress:

Time to rock and roll, ladies and gentlemen.


I know the supposed bailout is a tough call. Lots to think about. But let's hop-to. If we're bailing, grab a bucket and have at it.

The uncertainty is worse than a decision. Any decision. Seriously. We're Americans, you know? We don't do well with the unknown. 

Pick a path and go that way. Today. 

thanks.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Maria Shriver:


EAT something, scary skeletor woman! *shudder*


 (Note to California CVB: Lots of pretty people live in your state. Pick another one. Oy.)

Apple Cake

This was SO good. It's a recipe I doctored up from AllRecipes--I ditched a silly amount of shortening, reduced the fat by half overall, cut the sugar significantly, cut the salt, and messed with the flour. Everybody devoured a slice last night. :)



Dutch Apple Cake

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup  1% milk
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 16ths (ours are Golden Delicious)
1/8 cup sugar

Cream butter, applesauce, and 3/4 cup sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. 

Combine flours, baking powder, and salt. 

Beat in flour mixture and milk in alternate batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Spread the batter into 7 x 11 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray (I use an olive oil spray).

Place apple pieces in rows on top of the batter, overlapping slices slightly and pressing them into the dough a bit. Combine 1/8 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. 


1 tsp ground cinnamon


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wacky

There was a hearse behind me at the car wash this morning. I don't know why it struck me as really odd--it's not like funeral homes have their own car bays or something. But it creeped me out. I'm having fear-of-death issues lately anyway (hello, mid-life crisis!) and didn't need that thing behind me under the spray. Bleyuck.



We picked a ton of apples yesterday morning. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but I'm having a bit of picker's remorse. No way are we going to eat all of these before they get nasty. I made an apple cake this afternoon (cuz there's nothing like taking one of nature's healthiest foods, drowning it in sugar, butter, and white flour, and tossing it in the oven, is there?), but have no idea what to do with the rest of these. Apple bread? Is there such a thing? Nobody in my house will eat applesauce, so that's out. Ideas welcome. Really. Barring that, free apples at Kim's house!


We're supposed to go to dinner next week with my family to celebrate my birthday, which was a month ago. Every year, my mom pesters me for ideas. Of course, I have none. So she gives me a check. This year, tho, there's something I really want that I can't justify buying for myself. So I asked her for it. She emailed me. "Thanks for the suggestion." Which, in uber-polite southern belle Mom-speak is, "Yeah, right. I already bought you something I thought you'd like." Hmpf.


My amazing friend Kate was featured by the New York Times recently for her incredible (and successful!) battle against pancreatic cancer. Her story is "More Than A Statistic." I love you, Kate!!


If anybody knows how I can get my "spirited" five-year-old daughter to stop lifting her dresses and shaking her butt at people, I'd appreciate it. *sigh*. We've talked about how nice girls don't do that, how her friend's mommies certainly don't like to see it (yep, she did it to everybody at soccer yesterday). We've punished. We've yelled. She doesn't care. I'm at a loss. I don't know how to explain to her that only skanky vixen ho's act that way...and that if she continues to act that way, she can expect to be treated as one. Honestly, it drove me to tears this morning, right in the middle of Target. I am SO not in charge here.










Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sucking It Up

I just ordered a kit of Bare Minerals eyeshadows and brushes from Sephora, to combat the eczema I get on my eyes after using any other brand (except Physicians Formula, which is getting increasingly difficult to find).


Yesterday, I ordered a super-cute political sticker for my car. Express delivery, please.

I'm watching for sales on Kenmore HE washers and dryers...DH says (how 1950s does that sound???) that because we got full asking price on our house, we can replace the dinosaurs at the new place immediately. So as soon as I see a deal, those will be purchased.

I hired movers. To go six doors around the corner. With all my stuff. (I miss you, George Carlin.)

Bought dinner last night.

We bought a house week before last. So there's that. Plus closing costs, taxes, and all the other fun things that come along with it.

I paid our housecleaner at the lake to clean up after my friends and me last weekend. And we ate out every meal and spent a small lottery winning at the outlet mall on the way home. And it took two tanks of gas to get there and back and play for two days.

Today, I'm going apple picking and probably buying stuff at the farm market at the apple orchard, and then picking up something to take to a movie night at a friend's house tonight. Never go empty-handed.

So what??

The economy is falling to crap, my friends, fed in a huge way by the hysterical media and my buddies who are out running campaigns on half-truths and fear. All of this spending I'm doing? It's for you. Really. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.

Just doing my part.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hot Buttons

Do you have one?


I do, and somebody pounced on it yesterday. I'm afraid I didn't react very well, either.

We were at coffee yesterday morning, some neighbors and I, and one of the girls told a story that I swear I've sat through four times now. It has to do with a community that I'm part of--I had nothing to do with The Incident directly, but every time this same tale is dragged out, I sit there and smile like a moron, not really knowing how I'm supposed to react. 

This person knows this community is a big part of my life. Tells the story anyway. Repeatedly and without provocation.

Honestly, I'm not sure why it upsets me so much, except that I kind of feel like it crosses a line. If I know something is part of your life, I'm not going to talk trash about that thing in your presence, you know? Basic social skill. 

And this story has to do with my church and school, which are Catholic. Y'all know my take on that: for some reason, people feel free to say things about catholics that they'd never in a thousand years say about Jewish people or Muslim people or black people or fat people. I know this person would never tell a story about the Jewish Community Center in front of another neighbor who is Jewish...but that neighbor would probably kick her ass instead of just sitting there pretending to watch a baby play in the corner.

Anyway, I'm embarrassed to say that it ruined my day. Put me in a foul mood until bedtime. I vented to a wonderfully patient friend who probably should have told me to get the eff over it already, but didn't, and I had a beer and started a new book and pouted. This morning, when the person who told the story (again!) passed me while I was out walking, I fiddled with my iPod and pretended not to see her. Mature, right?

I also bailed on my bookclub meeting tonight. I only got through half the book and that's part of the reason, but I'm just not in the mood. I don't feel like being around this person today. I'm a big baby.

So part of me is now trying very hard to Get Over It. And part of me is trying to move on and distance myself. I joined our local Catholic Business Network this morning, and I emailed a bunch of really nice ladies I've met through church and through school and asked them if any of them had room for one more in their bookclubs. I think I need to find friends based on personalities instead of geography. I tell my kids that all the time. Why I don't listen to my own advice is a mystery.

Anyway, to my friend who listened to me last night, thank you. And I'm sorry.

To the rest of you, cross your fingers for me that I can find something to let me move past this. It's a recurrent issue--I know this won't be the last time. I need to grow thicker skin.

Or kick her ass.




Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Tornado That Is My Life

I've missed you, my pretties!! What's it been, two weeks? Wow. Sorry. Here's the recap.


  • DS started second grade and DD started kindergarten. Everyone's liking school--no tears yet. As DD's teacher said at back to school night, "It's been a successful start to the year. Nobody's vomited." Rock on.
  • We settled on the new house. The ex-owners are renting back until Oct. 6, and then the craziness of getting ready and moving really starts. 
  • We sold the old house. In three days at full asking price. Yesssss!! I give credit to our Realtor, but most of it goes to the house, which really shows well despite being a teensy bit tiny for us. From the sounds of it, a nice family bought it, which does my heart good. We had one serious bid from someone who wanted to tear it down. I didn't bother hearing the offer. We'll make one payment on our bridge loans and then pay them off. Woot!
  • Home inspection is Friday. Which means the WDCL's ancient ass and I have to scram for about five hours. Pray for good weather, so we can hang out at our new Town Square where there's outside WiFi. 
  • Four weeks to Disney!! WHOO HOOOO! The kids have no clue. Hee hee!
  • Santa called. To say that if DD didn't improve her attitude around here, there would be no Christmas. I may be going to hell, but I'm doing it listening to a lot less five-year-old lip than I have been. 
  • Went to the lake with some girlfriends this weekend. It was divine. We hiked. We went to a non-animated movie. We had wine and cheese and ate in a nice restaurant with nary a crayon in sight. We slept late. We shopped at the outlets. And we had wonderful conversation. I need to do that more often. DH is going with his buddies this weekend. I hope they have fun too.
  • Soccer started. On the same night as ballet. Figures. So we go from school to ballet to soccer to home for baths and dinner and bed. I already hate it. It's exactly what I swore I'd never do to our family. But it's their only two activities beyond scouts. *sigh*
  • I want a shearling jacket. I don't think it'll be the year for it, but I want one. Noted.
  • Got a big new client yesterday. It's a good thing. I'm a little overwhelmed looking forward, but it's a good thing. 
  • Everybody clap for my favorite little four year old who's well on his way to potty training!
  • Time for school. Onward...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Semantics

Dear Lance:


That's not retirement.

Retirement is the point at which you're done doing whatever it is you do. Finished. The end. On to pina coladas and walks in the rain and all that good stuff.

What you've been doing is "taking a break." Sabbatical, if you need a big word (I'm not into big words, but whatever floats your boat, dude).

Spread the word, wouldja? Tell Cher. Barbra Streisand. Joe Gibbs. Bill Clinton.

It'll help my language OCD. Thx.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I am having the phone surgically attached to the side of my face.


Think of all the time I'll save, not having to pick up, hang up, and hold it there when it rings ten thousand times.

Sweet.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Score!

I snagged this today while waiting for my watch battery to be changed at the mall. Cute, no?


It's the little things...


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brain Farts

DS started school today. DD did not. For some reason, kindergarten goes back to school a week later than everyone else. It's going to be a long week for moi. *sigh* But DS seemed to have a great, fun day. He told me at pick-up this afternoon that he thinks second grade is going to be his best year yet. You rock on, little man!



Just to clarify: My issue with Sarah Palin (my latest issue) is not that her daughter is preggo. Seventeen year olds are seventeen year olds, and they do what they do. I don't believe a parent can keep their kid from having sex if they really want to. That said...I also don't believe a mother makes a conscious decision to force said-seventeen-year-old to live out that pregnancy and marriage (and probable subsequent divorce) in the international spotlight. I think that speaks volumes to Palin's character and priorities. Don't believe it for pageant moms, don't believe it for Lynne Spears, and don't believe it for governors of states whose residents are mostly antlered. Family first, peeps. 


Dear people: unblock your phone numbers. I don't answer "private" or "unavailable" calls. Smooches.


I'm on a serious chocolate binge. Just FYI.











Friday, August 29, 2008

For the Love of...

Dear John:


When I said ixnay on the old white guy...

THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!!!!!!!

You all are killing me. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

UGH

Dear John:


May I call you John? Thanks.

Look, John, I'm going to be frank with you. There are certain facts that most people--particularly those who control things like the armed forces and a rumored red button in a briefcase--are expected to know. Top of the head, off the cuff kind of stuff.  Your name, for example, and place and date of birth. Your wife's name. Your birthday, her birthday, and your kids' birthdays. Your social security number, long as it may be.

You seem good with those. Problem is that you should also know at any moment how many homes you own. If The Donald can keep track, you should too, yes? Hemming and hawing and telling The American Public that someone will get back to them with that one...that's not good, John. That makes everybody wonder if you can possibly relate to Most Of Us, and it starts rumors of dementia. And you're not a young man (71...that's another one you should commit to memory).

That Obama guy, well, all sizzle and no steak, you see? But he has lots and lots of sizzle. It's made him famous. Charisma was invented for him.

You need to take over the steak part, John. Be the steak. 

Learn the numbers. Familiarize yourself with your own life. Get to know some other people's lives too, while you're at it. Or at least get yourself one of those Bluetooth thingies and hook the other end to some advisers, so they can pour the answers in between your ears instantly if necessary. It worked for Dan Rather all those years, you know?

We--and that's The American People "we"--aren't so sure about you yet. You've got that weird hand thing going on that nobody talks about and your wife looks like she was inducted into Madame Tuassad's years ago and isn't aware that she is, in fact, made of wax.  Yes, you're a bazilionaire. And congratulations on that--capitalism is a wonderful thing and God bless you for your success. But in an era when a whole lot of regular folk are losing their homes and blaming the government and big business for it (and I agree with you, but that's a whole 'nother argument. Let's not get distracted.), not knowing that you own more than a half-dozen residences valued at more than $1 million each...that's not good. Really, seriously not good. It's a PR nightmare.

Know the numbers, John. Seriously. That crap'll kill you in November.

Love ya,

The Republicans.

ps--Ixnay on the old white guy for your veep, 'K? Just a tip.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cute...

My five year old thinks "Obama" is the funniest name she's ever heard. It sends her into fits of giggles. Every. Time.


Obama. BAA HAAAA HAAAAAAA!

Obama. TEE HEE HEEEEE!

Today, in a fit of "all the other kids went back to school and I'm still stuck in this stinkin' house with my stinkin' mother for the love of Pete," she started calling me Obama.

It's not a nickname I'm amused with.



Monday, August 25, 2008

Stop. Go back. Reverse that.

House deal is ON, baybee!!!


***Smooches*** guys. Thanks for hanging in there with me!!


Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Worse

There is not an experience in the world like getting into your dork husband's car, asking which CD in his changer is Kid Rock, punching in #2 as he says, and instead of hearing Bawtidaba, having your eardrums torn out and mangled by one of the many movie theme songs of Kenny Loggins.


Trust me on this one.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

Its about 6:30 on Sunday.


There's a very good chance this house deal is going to fall through. Not of our doing. 

Half of my life is in boxes. My back hurts. My shoulder hurts. I'm exhausted. And we may not be moving. Oh yeah, and we already told the neighbors we were going. So that'll be fun...living on a very protective (that's the best way I can put it) block after outing ourselves for house hunting. And living around the corner from The Perfect House. Excellent.

My children have been horrendous today. Absolutely horrendous. To the point that we cancelled plans to have dinner at my favorite barbecue place. No barbecue for me. Dishes and food to cook here instead. In a kitchen that's piled high with paint cans and brushes and spackle for the aforementioned likely-cancelled move. 

I spend too much time on the computer and need to get out and reclaim my life. And that's terrifying.

DH is in a foul mood because of work. So we've been at each other. In the tiny house piled high with boxes. That's been fun.

And my five year old daughter just told me she wished she was born after I was dead. Charming.

I really wish I had a beer around here somewhere.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The House

For those who haven't heard (sha, right), we bought a house.


Not any house. Pretty much my dream house. The house I've been searching for lo these many months. The garage, the big kitchen, the arched doorways, the slate roof, the leaded glass, the gabled windows. The House.

Want to know the funny part? 

It's six houses away from where I live now. 

*snort*

So here's the deal. This is a house I have drooled over since we moved into this neighborhood. It's about 10 years older than the rest of the 'hood (well, on other streets. This street was the first one built and all the houses on it are that age). I've always thought it was beautiful and had never been inside.

About two weeks ago, we heard it was going on the market. But DH wasn't interested. Said the corner--it's on a corner lot--was too busy. OK fine. Let someone else have it.

Friday night, we were on a walk through the neighborhood with the kids. And DH finally noticed that the house has a very thick row of very tall evergreen shrubs along the property line. They're about 10 feet tall and back to back, so you can't see the road from the yard.  He's a sly one, that DH. It's only been nine years.

So he says, "Let's see if she'll show us the house before she lists it." And he rings the bell. She answers, she says it's going on the market next month, she gives him a ballpark price, and she invites us all in. For the tour.

Oh.

My.

God.

Instant love. This is my house, you know? This is everything I've been looking for. Charming bedrooms with very cool lines. Plaster crown moulding--nobody has that anymore. A family room AND a living room. A huge, beautiful, wonderful eat-in kitchen with an island and a table with a built-in bench and tons of windows. A great basement with tall ceilings. Built-ins everywhere. No question in my mind at all. Gimme.

We came home. We paced around. We checked email obsessively to see if she'd emailed us her exact price. We went to bed and laid there until 2 a.m., when I finally passed out--I have no idea when DH fell asleep.

Saturday morning, I checked my email early. There was a price. A very low price. I called our agent. She ran over. We walked through the house again. My heart just about burst.

We walked outside. My agent said, "I want to write this contract right now and get it signed before they come to their senses."

And that, my dear friends, is exactly what we did. Lock, stock, and barrel. My house. 

Sunday was my birthday. It was wonderful. :)





Thursday, August 14, 2008

Uh Oh Rach

I caught 30 Minute Meals today at lunchtime. I don't get to do that very often, but DS isn't feeling well and DD was busy torturing him with her five-year-old gnat dance, so my lunch and my laptop and I parked ourselves in the living room and flipped on Food Network.


First of all, holy tight painted-on jeans on television, Batman! Wow, girlfriend. All that money you're bringing in? The word is "stylist." Please. Shell out for one. Or visit the personal shopper at Nordy's next time you're in the big city. Or, I don't know, invest in a full-length mirror. Buy a size up. I sympathize--I have big thighs too--but really. One more number would work miracles. As things stand now, in the words of my late father, a fart is going to blow your head off.

I should say right here that I'm pretty well over Rachael Ray. I loved her for a long time, but dude, she is everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Hawking coffee. Hamming it up on a really terrible daytime talk show. Magazines. Books written at Danielle Steele-like speed. Several cooking-related shows. 

I like that she's not a trained cook. I really do. But can we stop calling her a chef? Because...she's not one. Just like me, see? I love to cook and I love playing with (and eating) food, but I ain't no chef. Neither's our little girl from the mountains. So stop it. 

Back to the show today.

Tight jeans aside...her fly was open. I swear. They filmed an entire stinkin' show with her fly down, and then they aired it. Gaping open with a brass-like zipper flailing about. I have never seen that before and hope to never see it again. 

And second...the great thing about her show back in the day was that it was real. She really did film it in 30 minutes and she really did show you how. Warts and all. She spilled stuff. She burned stuff a little bit. She forgot ingredients. She was like you and me and everybody else who's raced around to get dinner on the table after a long day. Believable. Real.

Today, she threw pine nuts in a pan. She did throw in too many and scoop some back out, so that was cool. But then she talked about toasting the nuts and not leaving them...and she left them.

But that was fine, seeing as how there was no flame under the pan!

Close up to the pan...no flame. No heat. No actual toasting of nuts going on.

Dude. 

You can tell most of the shows are using faux ovens when the hosts open them. I've seen Giada touch supposedly hot oven racks more than once with her bare fingers and not flinch. And Alton Brown is more than candid about the fact that the kitchen he's used the past two seasons is a fake, with nary a thermometer that's real in it. But a gas stove with no juice?? Come on! Spare me that one! 

That's my rant for the day. I got a whole half-hour to myself, I popped on Food Network, it sucked, and Sandra Lee wasn't even around to make it suckey. Sloppy reality TV blows, dudes. 

And yes, I need a life.




Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Enough of the Used Cars!

A new bed for DD fell in our laps this weekend, so we spent part of Sunday afternoon shopping for a mattress set. Not far from our house is "mattress mile," which is a one-mile stretch of a large road with at least 6 or 8 mattress stores on it. It's eerie, really.

One of the stores is a mattress "outet." We like outlets, so we started there. Mr Fancysuit met us at the door with a huge smile. DH said, "We're looking for an inexpensive twin mattress and box spring for her," and pointed at our tiny five-year-old. Mr. Fancysuit grinned even bigger and asked us to follow him to the back of the store. Which we did.

There, along the back wall, was a line of twin mattress sets. All colors, pillow top and regular. First, he tells our kids to "go ahead and jump on them." Which is nice, seeing as this is not a behavior we teach at home. Strike one.

With the kids jumping away, Mr. Fancysuit tells us he can "make a deal" on a set. Translated: the prices on the price tag aren't the real prices. He heads off to conference with his manager saying that he'd hate for us to drive all over town comparing prices with gas the way it is. Strike two.

After a few minutes, he comes back, grinning. "My manager says if you buy this set here [insert patting of mattress] and take it today, I can give it to you for $XXX." We look down. We look at each other. DH says, "When we said 'inexpensive,' we didn't mean the most expensive set you had in the store. Do you understand that?"

STEEEEEERIKE THREE! YOU'RE OUTTA THERE!

We drove across the street. Literally. And 15 minutes later, we drove home with a mattress and box spring that cost *gasp* what the price tag said it cost, and wasn't the most fancy thing in the zip code. The sales guy was low key and helpful, and the deal was simple.

See, there's a reason Saturn caught on so quickly in the early 1990s, and it wasn't because of the high-style of their cars. It was because the sales were straightforward and no-pressure. No haggling. No back-room conferences with higher-ups. Prices are prices, period, amen.

It carries across. I don't want a slimy salesguy scamming me, and neither does anyone I know. I wish all managers would get the hint. The economy would be better for it.


ps--I posted my new Etsy bag on my photo site. I'm so excited!!



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two Posts Today!

This has me laughing so hard, I can hardly breathe. Oh man, I wish I'd thought of this!





Verizon Wireless Surprises Customer - Watch more free videos

Stuff and Bother

It is so stinkin' beautiful outside...and all the kids are downstairs playing. *sigh* I'll kick them out with force after lunch. It's too cold out for the pool--that'd get them running for the yard. Very strange for DC in August. I'll take it!



I updated my photoblog, after, what, years away? Sorry. I'll try my hardest to do better with that.


Did you guys hear that the little girl who sang at the opening ceremonies for the Olympics wasn't singing? And that she was lip-synching to another child's voice?? I have serious problems with holding an international event in China. Serious issues. I also hope we don't find out that a certain American super-swimmer is doping (pathetic that I think that way, isn't it?). And I hope the IOC picks more, shall we say, scrupulous and upstanding host countries in the future.


Dear George Bush: You are not an endangered animal expert. Shaddup. Love, The World.


We had this for dinner last night. YUM!! I used cod for the fish and substituted garlic powder for the onion powder. Everybody really liked it. :)


My new bag came from Etsy. I heart it!! Will post a photo later...


Monday, August 11, 2008

How Much More?

Dear Mark Spitz:


Stop being a jackass and let Phelps have his moment, OK? It's not about you.

Love,

The World

(and Kim, who eagerly anticipates closing ceremonies and life getting back to post-Olympics-hysteria normal).


Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Recipes

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

The stovetop mac n cheese recipe is here. I left out the mustard and the salt but left in the hot sauce, and you really can't taste it per se. I also used regular lowfat milk instead of the canned ick, and I substituted monterey jack for half the cheddar. The kids gobbled it up. Don't try this with lowfat cheese, by the way. BTDT. It gets grainy. This freezes beautifully.


For the french toast sticks, I used my bread machine to make a loaf of wheat bread--you'd have to get a recipe that'll fit your machine. I let that cool overnight, cut the crust off totally, and sliced it into sticks, about 2 x 2 x 4 inches.

Then I made a simple custard (whisk together three eggs, about a quarter-cup of milk, a half-teaspoon of vanilla, and a half-teaspoon of cinnamon).  Heated the pan on medium with a little butter and a little olive oil spray. Dipped the sticks in the custard and cooked them on all sides until golden brown. Let them cool totally on a wire rack and popped them in a freezer bag and into the deep chill. We reheated them in the microwave.

I know these aren't lowfat. But you'll notice the absence of sugar, and you'll also notice that there are no preservatives and very little sodium in these foods. Nothing processed. Which, right now, is my focus. Kids can handle a little fat, but the chemicals and crap scare me to pieces.

I also discovered that Trader Joe's sells fish sticks that meet these requirements, which is totally awesome because I hate breading fish. :)




Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Recipes Tomorrow, My Sweets

I am beat.

Went swimming at the retirement community with the kids and my mom this morning. I flippin *hate* putting on a swimsuit.

Then we went to lunch at the retirement community restaurant. Always an adventure. After that, I left the kids with my mom for a sleepover, went to the vet to pick up the WDCL's very expensive thyroid meds, came home to walk her and make some work calls, and cleaned up the joint a bit. DH and I grabbed a bite and then he left for his basketball game (playing, not watching). I've been updating my computer address book so I can install a new invoicing program that will (God willing) work seamlessly with it.

Oh, I also updated the software on DH's new GPS. Don't even ask me why he needed that. I have no flippin' idea. Boys and their toys, I suppose.

Tomorrow, I need to get my hair cut and do a bunch of work before I go pick up the kids at my mom's. But I promise to post some of the recipes we've been playing with. :)

G'night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Huzzah!

Homemade and then frozen French Toast Sticks: Huge success.

Homemade and then frozen chicken tenders: So-so success.

Homemade mac n cheese (Alton Brown's stovetop recipe minus the mustard): Tremendous success.

Homemade and frozen pizza dough: Always a big hit.

Homemade marinara sauce: "This is so yummy, Mommy!!!"

Healthy eating totally rocks, my friends. :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Silliness

I can't explain it, but this cracks me up every stinkin time. :)


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rockin Out with the Natural Thing

This label-reading business...it's not for the faint of heart. Once you start reading labels for high-frutcose corn syrup (I still can't spell it), you start seeing other things. Like sodium, fat, and all kinds of wacky preservatives.


I, um, don't really want my kids eating that crap as a habit. The occasional treat is fine, you know? But day to day? Not so much.

Today, DH took the kids to the ILs house and I spent the last hour or so cooking kid-food to stock my freezer with. Baked chicken tenders were first, followed by a loaf of white-wheat bread. That's going to be sliced up thick and made into the French toast sticks DH loves so much. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to make a big batch of mac n cheese to cut into portions and freeze, and some pizza crusts--I finally found a recipe for a wheat pizza crust that is absolutely to die for, and pretty darned healthy!

Anybody have other good freezable kid foods that I can make? Recipes? Ideas?

I'll share the chicken.

I put into a Ziploc bag about a cup of Italian bread crumbs and a cup of grated Parmesan.

I then lightly stirred together two eggs and put them in a bowl, and put about a cup of wheat flour in another bowl.

Then I cut about a pound of chicken  boobs into tenders.

The chicken pieces got dipped into the egg, then the flour, then the egg again, and then tossed with the bread crumb/cheese mixture. They got put on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil, and then their tops got sprayed. They went into a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes.

As Alton says...golden brown and delicious!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

DH had an errand to run this morning and we had stuff to do later this afternoon, so we broke one of the cardinal rules governing living in D.C. in the summer.


If you must visit the Smithsonian on a hot, sticky summer day when it's supposed to rain, visit first thing in the morning and get out before lunchtime.

Because of DH's Very Important Thing To Do, we didn't get to the Natural History Museum until just before 11 this morning. It took a half-hour to find parking. And then, once we got inside, it was beyond packed. Every tourist from every corner of the earth was there. Pushing and shoving and banging into each other and missing deodorant and letting doors slam in faces and everything that just so totally rocks about living in a tourist city in the summertime. 

We caught a glimpse of the Hope Diamond, visited the insect zoo, flew through the mammal wing, tried to see the dinosaurs (good flippin' luck), and then got hungry. Starving hungry. Thus violating rule #2 about living in DC in the summer.

If you find yourself at the Smithsonian during lunchtime, do not, for the love of God, eat there. There's a reason admission is free, and there are ways they make up for that.

The four of us had three slices of cardboard pizza, one plain hot dog (Hebrew National--a grocery store brand), one small soda, and two milks. 

$35.

I kid you not. Thirty. Five. Dollars. DH about choked when it rang up. "I've eaten for less than that at the Kennedy Center," he told the cashier.

For your reference, should you ever find yourself hungry at the Smithsonian, there are at least four street vendors outside the door, selling exactly the same food, for exactly one-third the price. I highly recommend visiting them and enjoying the ambiance of our lovely Mall for your meal, and then going back inside the museum to fight the crowds and see whatever your heart desires.

After lunch, my heart desired home. So we went. And it really was a fun morning. But next time, I'm doing it during the week. On a day when most schools are in session, but our school is off to venerate a saint in the comfort and privacy of home.

Catholic school tuition has its privileges...


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beat

That's me. Tired. Wiped out. Finis.


It's been a heck of a week. DH has been traveling, which means that instead of plopping in front of the television after dinner, I've been doing stuff around the house. Which, if I do say so myself, looks darned nice. The basement is organized. My office is spotless. Shiny things are gleaming. Even the baseboards got a once-over with the Magic Eraser. 

I've also had the Demon Project with work this week. Holy cow. But it's over. I seriously need a no-brain day just to recoup.

God Camp ends tomorrow, with a family sing-along. Those are nice, but I always feel bad for the daycare/nanny kids, who end up being adopted by someone else's mom or dad, and then watching the door the whole time. Just in case. It's not their parents' fault. People gotta work. It just makes me a little sad, you know? I'm not sure there's an answer. I'm just throwing it out there.

We're doing well on our natural foods (at least, as few artificial sweeteners as possible) thing. DS is much, much more under control. His outbursts are all but gone as long as we stick with the good stuff. His attention span is better. He's generally much more pleasant to be around. I'm really happy about this. :) And it's good for the rest of us, too.

My neighbor up the block had to put her sweet old lab to sleep yesterday. A year ago, there were four retrievers on our block who were about the same age--three of them came from the same rescue. Today, the WDCL is the last one left. **sad sigh** I hope she gets to stick around awhile longer. I'm awfully used to having her here.

Sorry for the lack of spark in this one, gang. I'm just really tired. Back tomorrow, hopefully with something witty. :)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great Books

I stole this from Mary.


The Big Read estimates that the average person has only read 6 of the 100 greatest books ever printed.

Copy and paste to your blog and play along! Bold books you've read, and italics books you love.




1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling Just need to read the last one still
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (I've read about three-quarters)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 Joseph Heller.
14 The Complete works of Shakespeare I've read most of these--missing a few sonnets.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife 
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding 
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune- Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker I know I started this, not sure if I finished it in high school
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 notes from a small island 
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton didn't read it can't remove it
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine de St. Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town like Alice- Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet- William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo read the abridged version

Score Mom!

My kids are in God Camp this week (Vacation Bible School, but it's easier to say God Camp), and today, I remembered to go to the bank and get 10 gold dollar coins.


I then did a mini-jig outside the bank.

I haven't been inside a bank in years. It's ATM all the way, baby. But DH and I started a Very Stupid Thing when DS lost his first tooth last December. We "helped" the tooth fairy leave him a shiny gold dollar coin under his pillow. And thus, a tradition was born.

Did I mention that teeth fall out in groups? And that we scrambled for two more gold dollar coins in very rapid succession right after that? Fun times, my friends.

Another tooth is loose. DS points it out to me on a regular basis. And I panic every time. Farts! I need to get another of those stinkin' dollar coins! Course, it's summer, and the kid is pretty much with me all the time, so I'd forget almost immediately, what with the errand being impossible and what-not. (ps-when I grow up, I'm going to work in a bank and go home at 2 p.m. Good lord, people!)

Yes, I could ask DH to do it.

I hear you laughing, other married women with kids. *snort* Ask DH to do something related to the tooth fairy! During the day! Bwaa haaaa haaaaa!! 

*snicker*

Anyway, today's big accomplishment was dropping the kids off at God Camp and going to the bank and plunking down 10 real dollars for 10 gold ones. For the tooth fairy. Goal accomplished. Mission achieved. Huzzah!

When I was in college, I was going to win a Pulitzer.

Today, I got dollar coins. For the tooth fairy.

The ambition...it's been adjusted.



Saturday, July 26, 2008

I forgot one.

americastestkitchen.com. That's a great site.


(But don't ever subscribe to Cook's Illustrated. Holy lots-of-junk-mail and lots-of-solicitation-phone-calls!!)


Friday, July 25, 2008

OK, Julie...

Here you go...my favorite cookbooks.


  1. Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard (mine's signed...*swoon*)
  2. Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
  3. Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten
  4. Chesapeake Bay Cooking, John Shields
  5. Tide & Thyme, Annapolis Junior League
  6. Barefoot Contessa Parties, Ina Garten
  7. Cooking Light Complete Cookbook
  8. The Congressional Club Cookbook
  9. Weight Watchers New Complete Recipes (seriously...yummy!)
  10. Honest Pretzels, Mollie Katzen
I want to get a copy of Home Cooking with a French Accent by Michel Richard, but it's out of print and kind of hard to find one that's not beaten to bits. And Roland Mesnier has a book out I'd love, called Dessert University. 

My favorite websites for recipes...
  • allrecipes.com
  • cookinglight.com (but I hate hate HATE the new search engine)
  • foodtv.com
  • cooks.com
I also subscribe to a few cooking magazines--Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Cooking Light, along with Real Simple, which has some good stuff in it. I used to subscribe to Every Day with Rachael Ray, but I'm kind of over her. In fact, I'm sick of her. Go 'way, Perkyhead.

The thing is, I very rarely cook a recipe as it's written anymore. I'm starting to know what an ingredient will do to a recipe and what I can add in or leave out, and I tinker and play as I go. Which is way fun. :)

So there you have it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fly By

Two things--I'm swamped with work.


First, I bought bath towels from Lands End maybe three or four years ago. Lately, I noticed they were fading. And last night, one tore across a seam as I hung it up. So I called Lands End this morning and told them I was disappointed in the towels and surprised they hadn't held up better over a relatively short period of time (our old towels were a good 7 years old when we replaced them, and had been washed and dried in ancient machines--we have the HE machines now that are much more gentle). The lady at LE was super nice, and I'll get all new towels and washcloths next week, with a postage-paid return label for the old ones. This despite not having an order number or receipt or any kind of record of the purchase. 

This is why I'll spend more for Lands End and LL Bean. How can you beat that? I could have gotten cheaper towels at the store, but I'd have had to buy new ones when they faded or ripped, costing me more in the long run. Customers for life, people. This is how you get them.

Second, the muffin recipe. I found the original recipe on allrecipes.com and doctored it up a bit. 

Corn Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar (I think you could go down to 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk, divided

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, butter, and 1/2 cup of milk. Beat for 1 minute. Add remaining milk and beat until just blended. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

I combined the dry stuff the night before, beat it all with the wet stuff and popped them in the oven in the morning, and we had a really easy, warm breakfast. They were great as-is, too, with no butter spread on them.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Randomness

We're on about day five of trying to eat more natural foods and less processed crap. I'm seeing a bid difference in DS already, which is encouraging. I'm also, however, starting to wonder if we're not also dealing with some mild sensory issues. And whether that's worth a call to the pediatrician or not, being that he's seven. He claps his hands over his ears whenever a car or truck goes by, saying it's too loud. He "flaps wings" when he gets excited about something--it's a behavior that vanished when he was about 2 and is now back. And he seems utterly incapable of controlling himself sometimes, physically (in a bouncing around kind of way) and with what's becoming constant yelling and loudness. I'm really not sure if this is nothing or something. Ugh.



I decided this morning that when I'm Supreme Ruler of the World, all U.S. presidential candidates will be required to have at least two years of active duty military service on their resumes. And from here on out, I'm not voting for anyone without it. Party notwithstanding. It seems like a basic prerequisite for the commander in chief. I mean when you think about it, handing off orders to our soldiers is one of the few powers a president really has.


Whichever cell service has the "please enjoy the music while your party is reached" is really irritating. Just FYI. 


I finally found both a corn muffin recipe and a pizza dough recipe that I really like. These make me happy. :) Now, if I could find an everyday bread recipe that worked well, I'd be a totally happy camper. At least in the carbs department.


True story: we had our sidewalk (street to the front door) torn out and replaced last week. This made the porch inaccessible for a few days. We have a mail slot thru the front door. Because the mail carrier couldn't get to it, I put a box in the lawn that had U.S. MAIL written on it in black Sharpie (in neat, large, all capital, letters on a white background), and then a sign on the storm door that said BOX FOR MAIL IN YARD in the same marker. Saturday, I walked into the yard at the same moment that the mail carrier--an older Asian man--jumped off my porch. Onto the damp concrete walk, that was ringed by yellow construction tape and orange cones. I stared at him, wide-eyed. He pointed to the box in the yard and with a heavy accent asked, "What does that say?" Which proves, once and for all, that my street really is some kind of remedial program for illiterate mail carriers. It also explains a lot about why I miss a lot of mail. Good lord, man, get yourself some Hooked on Phonics if this is your chosen career path!



Is anybody else nervous about these Chinese Olympics? I really have a bad feeling...





Saturday, July 19, 2008

Make Me Happy

The house thing...I'm over it. I just needed a few days to be mad. What will be will be, yes? Let go and let God and all like that.


Despite the past week, I am a pretty even-keeled person. Most of the time. With lots that makes me happy: my kids, mint chip ice cream, a good book, my daily perusal of people.com, the WDCL, baking something yummy and warm, and the article in tomorrow's Post magazine about the sommelier at a downtown restaurant who's a metalhead. Good stuff.

Today we took the kids to a big field and shot off our model rockets. Lots of screaming, lots of jumping up and down, lots of smoke and whistling and BOOMing. Fun stuff. I recommend it.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moi?

DH thinks I'm having anger issues.


I'll admit, this house thing has me a teensy bit fired up. I'm an old house person, same way I'm a dog person, and the thought that Douchebag could sell his family home--the one they bought in the 1950s--to some developer to tear down is kind of pissing me off.

(I'm also having pottymouth issues. Apologies all around. But it wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't talk like I talk, you know?)

This morning, I got up at 5:30 to walk. The walk turned into a run. People, I have not run voluntarily since college. There generally has to be a very large person with a very imposing weapon chasing me at a good clip to get me to run. But I got myself so fired up and so upset and so agitated that running, pounding on the pavement and sweating and gasping for breath, was a fantastic release. It felt really good, until my lungs threatened to collapse and my knees gave out. 

The iPod was blasting--Kiss, AC/DC, Poison, Scorpions, Aerosmith, Buckcherry, Billy Squier, Guns N Roses. That felt good too. Angry music. Angry, pounding music for my good and pissed off run. 

I kind of fell through my back door at the end, looking like something an animal'd been chewing on and smelling even worse, I'm sure. I gulped down a glass of water, kicked off my purty pink workout shoes, and soaked in the air conditioning.

At that moment, DH came in, ready to head out for a business trip.

"I've been thinking," he said.

"Uh huh," I snorted. It was, after all, 6 in the morning.

"Maybe he's not a typical developer. Maybe he'll renovate it and keep all the original features we liked, and maybe in a year he'll sell it and it'll look amazing."

I stared. "This is Montgomery County," I said. "Have the two of you met? 'Save old houses and big trees' ranks just below 'introduce resistant strain of Polio into the elementary schools' on the overall priority list."

He nodded.

"I know," he said. "But maybe, just maybe, this guy has an appreciation for old houses. We can hope, anyway."

"You keep hoping that," I said. "I'm going to hope he has a serious lack of appreciation for the term 'load-bearing' and the damn thing falls down on him."

Maybe I should drink more.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tidbits

So I spent the morning shopping around for a wi-fi signal booster. Our FIOS modem is in our basement, and my new office is in an addition to our house. That means the signal has to go upstairs, and through a wall with three layers--plaster atop cinder blocks atop brick--to get to my computer. And that doesn't work so well. But I found this site and made its cardboard-and-foil booster and plopped it onto my Actiontec router. And dayumn! Four bars! FOUR BARS! Anywhere in the house! And I was ready to spend $90! Rock on. *giggle*



I'm still waiting for Verizon to decide if I can upgrade my wireless account now or if I have to wait until September when my two-year contract is up. What an archaic, idiotic system we've created in cell phones. Stoopid.


It's been a food bonanza around here this week. Much stress. Much frustration. Many pounds. Somebody talk me off the ledge. Stop eating!


We've been practicing keeping our house clean and shiny. Just in case it has to go on the market soon. We're, um, not very good at it. LOL! But we're trying. At least, I'm trying. Not experiencing so much buy-in from the short people running around. If we ever do find a house and we actually ever do get a contract ratified, it's going to get ugly around here. Polly Pocket and her ilk may be evicted. 


I got a speeding ticket from one of those farking cameras the other day. What a rip that is. No points, tho, so I haven't decided if I'm telling DH or not. He has a long, proud record of camera-issued tickets. I'd hate to make him feel less talented.


We've been having issues with DS spazzing out, for lack of a better term, lately. I started tracking it and can pretty much say it's thanks to sugar and high-frutcose corn syrup (and no, I can't spell that. Sue me.). We've been watching his diet much more closely this week ("we" being "I", thanks) and I actually have noticed a difference. He's much more even-keeled when he eats more natural foods without all the fancy-schmancy sweeteners and with as little sugar as possible. My copy of "Sugar Busters for Kids" arrived today. We'll see how much we can do with it.


We lost a house this week. I cried a bunch when it happened, mostly because it went to a developer who's going to rip it down, and it's a beautiful 1930s masterpiece that just needs some TLC. And then I got really POd and emailed its owner to beg, one last time, to let us save it. He was a real douchebag about it (I'm into "douchebag" this week. Sorry. It'll pass.), which, oddly, made me feel better. Bad karma, I guess. Anyway, I then found out that two pairs of shoes I've loved for awhile were on sale at LL Bean, so I ordered both. And then I felt much better. Pathetic, really, but my feet are going to look sweet. Despite being crammed into the World's Smallest Closet. ;)


Anybody want to join me in a campaign to get Sandra Lee's skinny butt booted off Food Network? Good Lord, she is just horrible.


Until tomorrow, my sweets...