Thursday, December 24, 2009

Maybe not this year

Did you know you can put spicy peanut sauce in a fondue pot? And dip into it broccoli, and potatoes and bread and all things that taste yummy with spicy peanut sauce?

Wouldn't that make a great lunch Christmas day for the family, casual and fun and festive?

Not if we're all just over the stomach flu. Or still have it if my husband finally succumbs tomorrow.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Housework Chiasmus

So, cleaning up the kitchen resulted in a pile of dirty rags.

---But when I got to the washing machine, it was full of clean clothes that needed to move into the dryer. Where's a basket so I can do that?

--------The baskets are in various bedrooms, full of clean laundry ready to be put away. The easiest, I figure, are the two baskets in my own room. I'll just dump them out on the bed, so I can see what's there and put them away.

------------But, I haven't done my Saturday sheets change yet, so I'll do that first.

------------Except that, I can't find my set of clean sheets.

--------So, I strip the bed and put the clean clothes on the mattress.

----Then I use the empty basket to move the laundry (ah, there's the other set of sheets) and start the dryer.

Then I put the rags into the washing machine and start them.

----------------Type it up for the blog
--------I'm putting away the clean clothes now.
----In 30 minutes when the dryer finishes I'll make the bed
And the dishwasher will be done, so I can finish the kitchen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mommy the House Elf

My son has been reading the Percy Jackson series nonstop, and taking the books with us everywhere. But he chooses the oddest bookmarks. The other day he was marking his place with a black sock as we all drove somewhere in the car.

"Hey," I said to him. "give me that book, will ya?"

He closes it on the sock, and hands it over.

"Master has given Mommy a SOCK! Mommy is FREEEEEE! I can flee the family and serve them no more"

My husband says, "oh, no you don't!"

Mom Tricks

Son, to Daughter: Hey look, I taught Mom a trick!

Mom (me) wondering where the heck this is going.

Son, to Mom: Mom, Here Mom! Blink! Blink Girl!

Mom blinks as usual.

Son, to Mom: Good Mom! Good Mom! Here, have some salad!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I love Carlos Rota

He was in an episode of White Collar as a bad guy. But I was happy to see him anyhow, since he's so great in Little Mosque on the Prairie (as Rayyan's father, the contractor). Even my husband remarked on how great his voice is.

Now, if someone would just cast him as a good guy, but in a role with more heft than his character in Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New addiction: Anna Sophie Loewenberg in Beijing

Another play on the old Sex-in-the-City series, Anna Sophie Loewenberg interviews people in Beijing. She speaks chinese, there are subtitles, each episode is a perfect about eight minutes.

Edited to add: Okay, some of the episodes i can't recommend. I didn't think the one where she interviews the English woman who writes English erotica to be amusing and I wish I'd skipped it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Things you only do when you're sick, that you might enjoy if you weren't sick.

sitting on the floor of a hot shower in the dark.

Let us all pause and praise for the break in the sinus headache I'm enjoying right now.

Tricks for being a sick SAHM

while your husband is out of town on business, and you get the flu taking care of kids with flu. This is the school age kids version. I'm too sick now to remember what I did with preschoolers.

Grocery Delivery service. Yeah, I know it's a luxury. But, you won't really ask your friends to get everything you need from the grocery store, just a few token items to tide you over. And then you're without food again, particularly convenience food. Go online, and place a LARGE order and have it delivered. Large order means the delivery charge is a smaller percentage of the cost.

And get the stuff that's mindlessly easy to turn into eatable food. You know those ridiculous pasta-meal-vegetable sauce frozen meals that cook in a pan in 10 minutes, and cost $7 or $8? This is the time for that. You can't stand long enough to carry a potful of water to the stove, or drain it afterwards. Maybe you could heat bottled marinara, but then where's the meat?

Buy lots of juice and soda or whatever you like to drink while sick. You have nothing to lose by buying too much--you'll stick any extras into food storage. Bottled juices and soda are shelf-stable.

Drive-thru. Your sick kid who won't eat will eat a cheeseburger? If you're up to driving, go get drive-thru. Any calories are good with sick picky kid. While you're there, get two extra large lemonades or sodas, without ice, to provide yourself with drink since the groceries won't be delivered until tomorrow. And, 3 or 4 of those tiny milk cartons they sell, so the well people can make cereal before they leave for school, because the grocery order won't be delivered until tomorrow.

Helpful Bookstore. Sick kid is well enough to read, and runs out of reading material? You can't go sneeze your H1N1 or whatever it is you've got on the public. After the drive-thru, drive to the parking lot of your local bookstore, call the on your cell phone, and buy the next two books in the Percy Jackson series for the child as if a credit card phone order. The clerk will bring your books out to your car.

iTunes and OnDemand movies In the best of times these may save me money because there's no way to rack up a late fee. In the less best of times (like now, sicky) nothing will distract your son from his misery like BBC's Top Gear.

Chicken in the Rice Cooker. Yes, you can cook chicken in the rice cooker with the rice. This was a new one for me. I ordered some boneless thighs in my grocery order, and stuck four of them in with the rice in my fancy rice cooker. I couldn't care to think clearly about seasoning so I threw in saffron, thyme and cumin. Forty-five minutes later I had food, easier and quicker than crock-pot. Meat thermometer clocked 180 F on the chicken, proving this was a safe cooking method.

Know your household minimums. I was good for an hour here and there in the morning before collapsing back in bed, assigning whoever was at home to nap or t.v. while you rest too. Then I could usually get another little bit in the afternoon. I need the kitchen dishes moving along, and some laundry has to happen.

Kids do chores The ones who are well need to do their chores. They will have the exact opposite reaction to the crisis. Sadly, "now I really need to pitch in!" is not how every kid reacts. If they complain that you are mean and picky because you're cranky and tired, so what. They should have done their ordinary and accustomed chores without being asked twice anyhow. So what, I lost my temper a couple times. I think it was worth it for the clean dishes, food being put away, shoes not left in the backyard to get wet, etc.

Everyone showers One of the best things about school-age and older kids. All you have to do to get them clean is to tell them to take a shower. It wasn't always this easy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Greg West, recant your evil advice!

This guy, Greg West, is preaching false doctrine and should be excommunicated. Please, will someone call his Stake President?

Telling women to divorce their husbands if their husbands stop being religious!

Shame on you, Greg West. You're the apostate.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I went to Vienna

A whole week, and without children or husband. It was wonderful.

I drafted a bunch of posts about what I did each day, for my own diary purposes. On the blog it might serve some random visitor on the way to Vienna. But for now, I'm hoarding the experience.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Schönbrunn Palace - Wednesday

Today we went to Schoenbrunn Palace.

We entered at the back gate, and saw the Palm House--I bought a ticket and went in to the green house. There were three environments inside, and it was like a garden, not like a utilitarian place with plants in rows. There was even a stream and little bridges. The high arches above, the decorative details up so high, all not utilitarian. And I was happy to be there.

The were three environments. The one to the right was quite humid. There were a bunch of young people in there taking pictures, enough to make me wonder if a photography class was there. Also, there were giant snails in what looked to me like a rabbit hutch, with a pile of cut-up rabbit-food vegetables to feed them. M. said there were snails as big as that out in the woods, that's just what they're like out here.

The environment to the left of center had lots of arranged flowers--azalea bushes trimmed as small "trees", lots of mums in pots. In the center and to the left many pumpkins are gourds were on display too.

In the gardens, I love all the long vistas with trees arranged evenly spaced on either side of the path. There was a tall (40 foot?) wall of tree trimmed thin like an espalier without supports, and an arched doorway opening into that section of the garden.

In the palace, I loved the parquet floors and how grand everything was. When I got to the Imperial section, the parquet floors used contrasting species of wood in more complicated patterns with curves and circles. I saw the very Imperial style sleigh bed Napoleon's son died in, and the lark which he had stuffed. Also, the state bed that Maria Teresa inherited from her parents. Lots of Chinoise--one room white with blue pictures and wallpaper I would call the willow room. There was one room with black paneling and gold detailing that was like a chinese screen interpretation of wall treatments.

We stopped at a restaurant on the way home, where they make gluten-free food, so we could all eat there together. I had venison.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

holiday homelife, Tuesday

I slept well but wasn't very motivated to go out sightseeing after the big day I'd had before. M. had mentioned she was going to clean house a little and go to the grocery store. I wanted to go to the grocery store too--my favorite place to visit when I travel. I asked M. if we could go a place she mentioned near her house, where she sometimes went for breakfast. We took the boys along. The little cottage restaurant was so pretty, and all dark wood inside. It was too cold to sit outside, but we were on a sort of enclosed porch, looking across a valley to the beautiful hills beyond where M. said the vineyards were. M. had brought one of those wheeled carts for shopping, and she just parked it to the right of the door.

I was quite hungry, so I ordered a sandwich instead of breakfast. It was some kind of pork or ham with lettuce and cranberries. There was some kind of sauce on the plate, may have simply been sourcream. I had fresh orange juice again, and spoiled myself with a second glass. It was fun to be out with the children. M. had yogurt with fruit.

Then we walked through the park and down to the supermarket. M. apologized that this was an expensive, larger, American-style grocery store (Merkur), but it was her nearest one. It was set up for shoppers who came in cars. We chose out some food for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I decided to go back in to buy berries, then got in line and paid with some help from M. who was waiting.

Back up through the park, this time uphill. We stopped to watch the boys play on the playstructure. Some older boys, maybe 10 years old, came by with army recruitment folders, wearing official-looking badges and many things on their belts. M. politely declined their literature. We couldn't figure out if they were doing some official canvassing, or just playing with materials the army had been passing out the day before during national holiday.

After we were home awhile, M. suggested a drive into the Weinerwald, where the vineyards are. We drove thru picturesque Grinzing, and up to a park. Fog blocked some of the view of the city, but it was beautiful. Though eerily like Michigan or California. We watched the boys play on the wood structure while we sat on a blanket and ate apples. A friend of M. happened by and we visited with her; she teaches at the same school that has recessed for a week of autumn break. Then M. played with her sons while I walked on the seesaws until one of them liked me enough to ask for a push on the swings.

M. was hosting a bookclub that night, I read Guensey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society beforehand in preparation. M. made a beautiful composed salad with the ingredients we had bought earlier that day, with baked potatoes, green beans, kidney beans, gabanzo beans tomato, basil, and what else. M's bookclub had delightful women and I really enjoyed the discussion, so nice of them to include me!

Then I went to bed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walk around downtown, Monday

Took the bus to ____ station and walked to _________, where we saw the Roman foundations and medieval walls that had been excavated. Walked by the four statues of Hercules, past the winter riding school, to the grand open grounds. The army was out with its equipment and new recruits waiting to be sworn in, and the plaza was full of people, to celebrate Austria Day____.

We moved away from the thick of the crowd and split a bratwurst from a booth. M. said it was even more delicious than usual. It was served with a roll and mustard. We also got an order of fried bread, which came five pieces with strawberry sauce. I resolved not to eat them all but I did.

We walked to see the rose garden, but then turned around because there was no opening through the wall to the street. Back to the plaza, we got some roasted chestnuts. Some young Turkish men had a booth and were hawking them. I have been wanting to try them, but I forgot I've had them before and they are quite starchy, I always forget chestnuts are like that.

We crossed the ringstrasse to see the statue of Maria Theresa, then returned to get on the Ubahn

We got off the Ubahn at ____ park, to try a walk I found in my guide book. We wandered around ____ park, then down ____ street towards Carlskirche. Partway there I saw the fountains down _______ strasse and we turned down to investigate. Behind the memorial to the pipes bringing spring water to the city, was a monument to the Russian liberation of vienna. I don't know if they were the only liberators. Later Vienna was partitioned.

We retraced out steps, past the French embassy, and turned and found KarlesKirche. There was a man playing accordian outside by the pond near the Henry Moore statue. We went on in to the church. We were impressed by the great quantity of light. We sat in the pews (very ornate) while I reviewed my guidebook and oriented myself. Then we looked above at the art installation (looked like a giant book with nails thru it) that was just below the scaffolding floor between us and the dome frescoes.

We took a tour around looking at all the chapels, then took the elevator up to view the frescoes close at hand. Once I was up there, I had a much better appreciation for how very high that dome is. There were further flights of stairs to climb, we were noticing the ____ figures, like an angel pooring out money on the poor, and some cherubs carrying keys. At the front of the dome were God the Father and Jesus the Son. Angels held the cross behind Jesus. Nearby was a woman, probably Mary, and a priest. Hard to say who was closer to Jesus in this picture, Mary or the Priest.

The stairs got narrower and shaky. Only ten people were supposed to go up at a time, but there was no way to know how many had already gone ahead of you or might come behind. I was going to give up two flights from the top, but I went on whem M. did. At the very top were windows thru which we could see the city all around. The ceiling fresco at the very top showed a dove, to represent the Holy Ghost, I would think. I dropped my guide book which made a loud noise and scared M.

We climbed down, I was shaky, and took the long elevator ride down with 3 or 4 german-speaking visitors. We continued on, past the Sessesion building (with the gold ball on top) to the food markets, which were all closed for the holiday, leaving us no plan for lunch. We used the public restroom, which was stinky.

I was getting tired and suggested we quit the rest of the walk, since there was nothing I was much motivated to see further on. We returned to ______ station and rode to ___________ station.

From here we headed to the shopping street. just before? Stephansdom, we saw a plain older-looking church to the left. Upon investigation, we had found the church with the king's crypts that I and M. had wanted to see. They were pretty amazing, and M. told me about the history of Rudolf and Franz Joseph and Maria Theresa and Carl and Ziti while we went through. I also had bought the most inexpensive guide, which mapped who was buried where, and had a genealogy chart.

Stephansdom had a quieter feel, and darker for light. It felt much more reverent than shopping-mall bright Karlskirche. I didn't buy a ticket to go down the middle of the church and see the main alter and the tomb there more closely, maybe I should have. We did see the pilgrim portrait the architect had worked in of himself.

We went further down the street, enjoying the displays of luxury goods. The stores were closed for the holiday. I did look in the Augauten window, which was the austrian-made pottery I wanted to see. M. guided us to Demel, where we had a lovely meal. I ordered pancakes which I thought were the ones mentioned in my guidebook, but they were something else entirely, though lovely and delicious. M. ordered actual food. I had a fresh-squeeze orange juice which tasted very fresh squeezed. Afterwards we looked around the cakes and candy shop, where a team of three pickpockets tried to get M., but she caught them in time.

We walked out, may have take the Ubahn again, to a bus stop that took us back close to home. I was so exhausted I lay down on the couch. M. suggested after awhile perhaps I'd want to stay up a couple hours, as it was only 6. Apparently I groaned at that suggestion, I don't even remember. I went upstairs and to bed, woke up at 10, read for a couple hours, and back to sleep until morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I land in Vienna

Because of our late leaving of London, we landed about 30 minutes late in Vienna. I got in the slowest customs line, but there seemed nothing to do about that but wait. I felt confused at several points about where to go before and after that. There were only three pieces of luggage on the belt by the time I got there. I waited for mine, braced my stomach muscles as I'd been taught, and pulled it off the track onto the floor.

Once out of baggage claim, such a sea of faces. I didn't see my friend and wondered if she'd given up and gone home. My phone was running out of charge, and I'd stupidly forgotten to write down the address she'd given. I'd need to download old email in order to get that info and get a taxi. But as I left the baggage area and turned past the people leaning on the rail, there was M. and her children. Waving, laughing, giving me a hug. And her husband had just gone in, with his diplomatic pass, to help me with my heavy bag. He came out after not too long, and took my bag. I was feeling fine but it was nice to be helped and not worry. We went out to their car and M. drove us home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

But Mom I Like the Blue

I've been trying to think outside on the box on my kitchen, which I mostly love. It's been hard to readjust to the news that we will remodel next year, when I thought that was off the table.

Since I mostly love my kitchen, and that's a hard standard to beat, I started thinking about refacing the doors. If I replace the formica on the door fronts, the kitchen could be any color I choose. Wouldn't some interesting shade of pale yellow or green be cool? I could have someone knock off the very good but traditional tile from the backsplash, put up one of these new glass tiles.

"I'm thinking about changing the color of the kitchen," I say to my son.

"What??! But I love the Blue!"

"I'm thinking, what would the kitchen be like if the cupboards were some shade of pale yellow?" I say later to my daughter.

"What, yuck Mom! I like the Blue!"

"Well, how about a green then?"

"Ugh, no, even worse! The Blue is really good!"

Okay, I guess we'll stick with blue for now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Minimal Cooking

Half my kids are sick and stayed home from school. The upside of that, one was old enough and well enough to hold down the fort while I ran out to get a couple things from the pharmacy.

So, my hands are too full to start another week of Real Simple menus. We had one of those frozen skillet dinners, pasta, chicken, and tomato sauce, that cook in the pan in 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kitchen Size

Once again, I'm wondering how much kitchen is appropriate for me.

I got caught up in the idea of double ovens, AFTER I saw them as part of a six-burner range.

Tonight I ended up doing dishes again (should be a kid job) and I've got pots and bowls that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher, half a load's worth, rinsed and waiting on the counter for their turn. Makes the idea of two dishwashers, or a dishwasher and a drawer, appealing. Especially if I give up my mess-hiding galley, I don't want to look at pots waiting to get in the dishwasher.

Husband wants a bigger-than current refrigerator. It does seem to be more than full all the time. I've got too many bottles of sauces in there in general. Right now, many containers of leftovers.

My mom suggests a second sink, a prep sink. Just sounds like another sink to wash to me.

Kitchen is currently 9x17 feet. One possible redesign layout is 11x20. Even on the big end, I don't think that's room to double all the appliances. Glenn definitely wants to start the remodel in 2010, but at this point it's all so theoretical, it's hard to get some practical planning done.

The kitchen would be open to a dining room/area. I don't want to have two eating areas, and I love a big table with nice space around it when we're eating, with room for friends.

How big is your kitchen?

Chicken Posole

Still working on the leftovers, tonight I baked chicken thighs (not as many as I thought i had) in the 40-garlic-style in the early afternoon. Then I threw together the VERY quick posole from the Real Simple Menu. Saute an onion, add broth, cooked chicken, canned posole, canned tomato. Serve with limes. I put the chili powder on the table too, rather than cooking it in, for the little folks' sake.

Of course, I had a second pot, with VEGETARIAN both. When the onions were sauteed in the first pot, I scooped some into the Vegetarian pot. Vegetarian got some of the posole and tomatoes when I opened the cans. No chicken, of course.

Once again, I thought dinner was delicious. I squeezed lime liberally. Fresh tomatoes would have been an improvement.

Princess said she didn't want to eat any.
Boy said he hated tomatoes.
Girl tasted it, but otherwise ate bread and salad.
Vegetarian drank all her broth and went to bed.

I want to try this again sometime, with fresh tomatoes.

I think tomorrow I'm going to type up a menu of all the leftovers, and make them order dinner of that. Husband's got a dinner meeting, so whether or not he likes leftovers won't be an issue.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leftovers Interregnum

I have lots of containers in the fridge:
Plain Pad Thai Noodles (noodles, sauce, and eggs), probably could feed four for breakfast.
Most of a huge taqueria burrito (I went out to lunch with Glenn, but I could only eat less than 25% of my burrito)
Cauliflower Soup (made it a week ago. Getting question marks there.)
Vegetarian Chili (enough to put on a hot dog or two)
Sliced overcooked Steak (I imagined would go on a sandwich)
grapes, red and green. No one wants to take them in lunch.
almost half a cooked butternut squash. I bought $6.00 pumpkin pie tonight instead of making it out of this.
fresh pineapple chunks
gypsy soup, one serving.
2/3 of a $6.00 Costco pumpkin pie.
2 cups leftover cream I whipped to go with that pie.
blue lake green beans want to be cooked. One more dinner's worth.
pesto, who bought that?

In the fruit bowl being ignored: apples and peaches. Peaches are not as good as expected. Need to make a couple cobblers here.

haven't started Week 2 because I have too much food in the house. Lots of cooked Pork Loin, all the Bok Choy I never used, and also partly-frozen chicken thighs from before Week 1 started. I'm going to cook the chicken tomorrow (40-clove chicken recipe) and sub that for the deli chicken in the Posole later in Week 2.

Pork with Pan-fried Noodles

Tonight I made a pork stir fry over noodles. It's not exactly on the Real Simple menu. I made it with leftovers.

This would have been quick, sensible, resourceful, and delicious.
It wasn't quick.

I wanted to eat: pork, eggs, mushrooms, bok choy, green beans, pineapple, and scallions over Pad Thai noodles.

Husband: no noodles.
Vegetarian: no pork
Princess: no food. Well, she'll eat the mushrooms.
Boy: doesn't want vegetables, so please serve on side. And no onions.
Girl: same as boy.

Prep: Soak Noodles (>20 minutes), cut up cooked pork, bok choy, green beans, scallions. Mushrooms were pre-sliced.

Directions: while interrupted with math homework questions by hungry young children--how frustrating is that--

Fry noodles in wok (with Fish Sauce, White Vinegar, and Sugar)
Fry cooked pork (with garlic, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar) in frying pan
Add Eggs to wok
Put pork in low oven in metal bowl.
Wash frying pan.
Cook mushrooms in frying pan, now clean for vegetarians.
Put Noodles in wok in oven to stay warm.
Take out ANOTHER pan. Cook Bok Choy and Green Beans.
Put mushrooms in oven-safe bowl, and add to oven.
Saute onions in first frying pan.

Call everyone to the table. Take all the dishes and pots out of oven and off stove, serve make-your-own style.

Result--Delicious, but the cook was so frustrated and short-tempered she warned everyone darkly that they'd better eat their food.

The table was so crowded that Teen One dumped Teen Two's milk while setting down mushrooms.

Also, All the eggs were in the noodles, therefore husband didn't get any eggs, which he would have enjoyed. And husband is the audience I care about.

AND YET, *My* food was delicious. I'm the only one who ate everything together.

AND, though we were all arguing and short with each other at the table, it somehow fell into a playful rhythm, and we felt like a family, eye-rolling and teasing and irritation and all. And everyone else seemed to enjoy their food. In all, I would say it was as delicious as a Real Simple meal.

It just should have taken 12 minutes if I could have cooked it all in one pan.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

notes on Vienna

I'm going to Vienna! It's already cold there compared to here. My daughter says I can borrow some of the cute warm things we bought for her school trip last year, like that cowl-neck sweater.

I might buy a new pair of walking shoes for the trip. I don't want to wear tennis shoes, and the walking shoes I took to Germany have already been walked out.

Cafe Hawelka, Stephansplatz

A few family days in Vienna


NYTimes on Vienna

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spicy Orange-Glazed Drumsticks

with Broccoli rather than Green Beans.

I don't know where people buy corn muffins. I made mine with Marie Calendar's mix. But that put me behind schedule for dinner.

I cooked the broccoli in well-salted boiling water, ten minutes I think. It was good. My daughter commented that broccoli usually has an aftertaste she doesn't like, but this broccoli didn't have that. Probably I usually don't cook the broccoli all the way.

The spicy orange glaze was good and easy. But the drumsticks were a little undercooked at 35 minutes (140), though I upped the oven temperature to 425. So it was mostly a corn muffin and broccoli meal. I also served vegetarian chili as a meatless option.

My son hasn't seen broccoli in a while and was completely freaked out by the smell and taste of it. I tried to get him to finish the last two bites quickly so we could get to cub scouts, which just meant they didn't stay down.

I threw the drumsticks back in a 325 oven while we rushed out to cub scouts. They got nicely cooked and a little blackened while we were gone over an hour. I'll use the meat in something else this weekend.

Believe it or not, I would try it again. Cook the drumsticks first, keep them warm somehow while the muffins bake.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

not Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry.

The vegetables this week on the Real Simple Dinner for a Month are:
Tuesday: Bok Choy with Flank Steak, stir fried
Wednesday: Green Beans with Drumsticks
Thursday: Brussel Sprouts with Pork

The grocery store didn't have Brussel sprouts, so I bought Broccoli.
The green beans weren't so exciting, but the Asparagus was on sale.
Flank Steak wasn't available, so I went upmarket with New York Strip.

So my plan goes:
Tonight: Asparagus and New York Strip, grilled
Tomorrow: Broccoli with Drumsticks
Weekend: Bok Choy with Pork

I bought the grill Labor Day weekend, and I'm pretty inexperienced. I wasn't able to get the temperature up to 500 degrees F, so I gave up and started at 450. Four minutes on each side, and the internal temperature was only 106 degrees. It took me forever to get the steak cooked. I thought it came out fine, but my husband said it was overcooked to medium, and tasted more like roast than steak. So that was disappointing.

I grilled the asparagus during the meat's five minute rest. That was fantastic.

We had butternut squash soup with it. And the rice leftover from Sunday. I have some leftover slices slices of steak for sandwiches.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Magazine Meal Planning starting with Tilapia

So great to be cooking again after my month+ of recuperation.

But, my brain's not up to speed with it. Making dinner every night has a rhythm--once I've got the groove down it goes fine. But after a vacation, or any break from cooking, it all feels slow and awkward again. I can't string together two meals in a row.

So, I snatched up the October issue of Real Simple when the cover saidA Month of Easy Dinners

I bought groceries for the first week of dinners last night. Tonight we had Tilapia with Peppers and Olives. You know what was great about this? Eating real food. Under the push of the little kids' moans, I end up dumbing my menus down to varieties of pasta, cheeseburgers, and egg dishes. It was good to get out from under that.

I broiled the Tilapia instead of pan frying it. I was afraid I'd bought too much when I laid the filets out on the pan, but there were no leftovers, and we could have eaten one more. I only used half an onion, since I knew the younger kids wouldn't want the onion/pepper mix. The flat-leaf parsley came from my garden.

And the reviews were good too.

--Younger elementary school ate her fish, without the vegetable topping, and loved it and had seconds. I didn't expect that.
--Older elementary school had a little fish, but his braces were hurting too much for him to have an appetite.
--Middle school snacked in the afternoon again, and then declared she was not hungry, and could think of things more fun than sitting with us. Too bad. She ate her required two bites, and then half a jar of spanish green olives.
--High School loved it. Later she asked, what, you're going to blog about it? I kidded her back, "wouldn't that make a great movie?"
--Husband really loved it. For him I had put the olives on the side; he doesn't like them.
--And I loved it. It was so great to be eating real food.

Definitely I'd cook it again.

Tomorrow: Beef and Bok Choy Stir Fry. Just in time to use up the leftover rice from Sunday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hurray, remodel postponed again, indefinitely?

My husband has wanted to add on to our new house, doubling the size of the living room. I really don't want to. I'd like to enjoy the house just the way it is. We haven't been in the house half a year yet. There's been enough remodel upheaval converting part of the garage into an office, and redoing the driveway. I love the new windows we put in the children's rooms. But now I want to be done.

And now, to my delight, my husband agrees.

So, no more frantic research on how to redo the kitchen before a wall is torn down. And, I can relax in the WHOLE yard, not feeling it is about to be snatched from me. It's much easier for me to buy a smaller turkey than take on the kitchen project. I've got too many kids that I would rather pay attention to.

Edited to add: Boo. The remodel is back on. (October 20, 2009)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Johnny Grey

Kelly of Kitchen Sync likes Johnna Grey. They're pretty amazing. But too curvilinear for me, and more materials than I want to juggle. I'm counting ten different cabinet woods in the Palo Alto portfolio example.

Not to mention the fact, these are luxury kitchens. I want something more mass produced, less expensive.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Another fabulous cabinet maker in ...Seattle. So close but so far.

I love how this is fun and honest and has a feeling of lightness. It does have some of that feeling of the original Eichler kitchen. However I do fear it is too lightweight for a "million dollar house."

The house is a like a pet monster that way. I run into not doing things I want to do, because the spoiled brat house has to have more expensive fittings. It's a tract house! It was built as affordable housing!

The irony is, these custom cabinets are probably sufficiently expensive. The problem is, should we ever want to put the house on on the market, plywood cabinets and recycled glass countertops are not terms to draw a crowd.

Basically, this is another cabinet class like my beloved henrybuilt

Even if it is a good as I think it is, I have to expect that other people will not understand.

Of course, plenty of people don't understand my Eichler anyhow.

Edited to add: Here's another one. Danish.

This makes me want to add a half bathroom

That's right. It's a floating concrete sink that's a topo map.

It makes me want to add a 1/2 bath to the house (yeah, where?) so the guests could wash their hands before all its topological glory.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Actually Jim Mather can catch arrows

Love this xkcd

But it reminds me, I do know someone who can catch arrows. I was taking karate at his studio a couple years ago, when my schedule still permitted. I don't know if he's also a ninja though.

unrelated xkcd favs:
human-sized hamster ball

Friday, September 25, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

I know they broke my husband's too. But they paid for it immediately, right when he went to pick it up in luggage claim. Of course, he's 1K, and it was less than $200, no Taylor guitar that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Search for the true bed

The one true bed. No longer made by Pottery Barn

Another bed she really likes, but it's $1320, and made out of PINE.

She'd like this, if it came in the right size. This is actually a toddler bed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roman Shades

I put new, larger windows in my kids' rooms. We've got sheet tacked over them for privacy.

I couldn't think of what to do for window treatments that would be modern, and appropriate in a child's bedroom.

I actually paid Jennifer the amazing decorator to come over, to give me some ideas of what we could do.

This time she didn't have anything amazing that I hadn't thought of before. Well, she had some things I hadn't thought of, but I didn't go for them.

So, I think we're going with roman shades in a neutral color, no pattern.

Just now I started looking for made-to-measure roman shades on the internet. duh, why didn't I think of that before?

Is going to cost $100 to $300 a window, depending on fabric. There's a sale going right now. All the fabric choices are polyester. Not sure that is a problem, actually.

The Shade Store
Is going to cost me $850 per window.
They do have cotton, linen, silk, etc.
Candice Olsen said linen could break down in the sun, I think.

quick quote $475 per window, cotton canvas
100% hemp, or bamboo or silk or linen, $609 per window

Friday, September 18, 2009

Need to find a bench

Something to place at the foot of the bed, so I have somewhere to sit and put on my shoes. We don't have room for a chair in there.

I actually want one WITHOUT storage, so it doesn't fill up so much visual space, helps keep the room from feeling closed in at all.

And, I definitely want an upholstered bench. The bed is wood, and I'd like something soft to sit on.

I like this Lola bench from Z Gallerie ($350), but it's four inches too long. Otherwise, wow, button tufting, tapered legs. Definitely MidCentury, though on the Hollywood end. However, I need a smaller bench: equal or slightly shorter than the 64" width of my queen bed.

Z Gallerie is in that niche of selling things less expensive than Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware ($800-$1100), but still having a certain pretention to style. I wish I could think of more places like that. In the Midwest ten years ago, something in that niche would have been Bombay Company.

Cost Plus World Market is in that price range.


Crate and Barrel alternative. Not as delicious, but nice and clean and sparse, $300 Parsons-style leather upholstered bench.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Paddled around for an hour.
hello blog

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meet Bill

two thumbs up. If you watch R rated movies.

But then, I love a good redemption movie. this one's even a redemption comedy. And a make-over movie, except the life-changing makeover happens to a guy, played by Aaron Eckhart.

imdb: Meet Bill
Stars Aaron Eckhart, Jessica Alba, and Elizabeth Banks. I love Elizabeth Banks, you might remember her from The Baxter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The right way to remodel an Eichler.

Here's the first page of a house tour. I don't have the basis in my life for the more Japanese details in the bedrooms and office (beautiful, but on me it would only be cultural tourism) love, love, love the kitchen and living room sharing the backwall, with a less-than-full-height wall between.

and for reference, more Eichler remodels:

And, here's a kitchen that must be in my neighborhood, because it has the same bones as mine.
They did a lot of reno work themselves--I can't claim we're that clever.

Klopf. I've seen these on houzz. My problem is including the 20 foot square living room my husband wants, but I think may be oversized for our site, and what I see as the inherent modesty of an Eichler.

Someone digging a basement under their Eichler as part of a remodel. And doing it all green (understatement).
in the portfolio, "quince" may be the most pertinent.
Though I wonder how so clean can marry the family-busy-happy jumble I have going on.
I did notice they fit in the grand piano.

Not for me: I see a lot of these Eichler kitchen photos, which show a kitchen along an exterior wall, without exterior windows. I don't get it. Obviously starting with a different floorplan than I have, not the way I want to solve my where-to-place-the-kitchen problem.
won an award in 2009, this kitchen did.
ah, better link:
has link to slideshow, shows floorplans. So it's not an exterior wall; and I've been in houses with this floorplan, so now I get it.

Also probably inapplicable to my situation, but if it's on apartment therapy, it must be good.

what I don't want to do. I'm only commenting on the designs, not the contracting.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My fav David Bromstad rooms

Expect me to add to this list as I work through my DVR.

Dining Room. "Dramatic Dining Room" HCLRS-403 I was kind of horrified when he showed how he would paint the room (coral walls, I'm with you; but black ceiling?? You want to paint your mahogany sideboard turquoise blue??!!! Glass mantelpiece on a brick fireplace??!!) and I didn't like pieces before he put in the room. But all together it was amazing, and proves there is a legitimate use for clear chairs, and those chandeliers that look like a line of lightbulbs and broken glass hanging from them. The picture on the episode page doesn't do it justice. And I LOVED that flowered carpet once in place, who would have guessed? My favorite room ever.

Living Room/Dining Room. Contemporary Combo Room, Episode HCLRS-603He took inspiration from the homeowner's cylinder chandelier. He added a large oval black dining table and painted the t.v. equipment box black to match and put it up on legs. This show has another woven coffee table--which might be a good idea for us since I don't want glass and I don't like having a visual block in the middle of the room. I especially love the big bronze tiles on the fireplace. But once again, it's just how the whole thing is so much more than the sum of the parts.

Bedroom. Season 6 "Traditional, Eclectic, Master Bedroom" HCLRS-605 Not my color (I hate blue), not my materials (no ironwork headboards for me, thank you) but look how it all goes together. I've got a modern house with a big sleigh bed, I think I want that nonmodern chandelier from Z Gallerie.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Places that sell hip pricey patio sofas

pottery barn
crate and barrel
cb2 only comes in impossible white
restoration hardware, antigua and del mar

who else am I forgetting?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blogging my diet

It's got to be the most tedious reading, but it's for you not for me. I've totally fallen off my diet for at least six weeks. I've gained five pounds instead of losing, and I can't keep track of my diet materials. So I'm going to start documenting what I eat here.

For breakfast, 12 total.
2 cups homemade vegetable soup
roll with 1 ounce goat cheese 10
a taste of pomegranate soda, 1. hit the spot, but not my fav in general.
nectarine 1

Monday, August 10, 2009

modern architecture

impressive portfolio online.

Also, note existence of Richard Neutra

Bathtub Screen

Oh, that's what it's called. Bathtub Screen.

I wonder if it could be a rescue from the headache that is sliding shower doors. Or if "Bathtub Screen" is French for "Water All Over Floor."

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Today bought the complete series Firefly on disc. Today watched first three episodes. Oh my, so much better than the Serenity movie. And I really liked the Serenity movie.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

WordCamp Review

It took me three years, but I've finally gotten to WordCamp. Considering how much I love this bit of Open Software, and all the opportunities it has given me, and how many hours of complete engrossment in coding and design, no wonder I wanted to go.

--it was harder to meet people, much less networkish than BlogHer.
--but then, I was much more an outlier to the apparent demographic. Crowd was definitely young and majority male; good looking, and dressed like they came from the same clique. Mostly I introduced myself to other women who looked like they might be at least 30 years old.
--there was a smattering of conversations in foreign languages, which always makes me feel happy and at home.
--It was fairly easy to get a front row seat. Maybe the networking was better in the back. I just wanted to see. Matt Mullenweg introduced most the speakers, and mostly his shoes were ten feet from my eyeballs.

Here's who I heard speak. I was unfamiliar with all the presenters beforehand.

Tim Ferriss. He's not a gimick. I am now definitely interested in the four-hour workweek. Figures he went to Princeton. That's a land-on-your-feet education. Interesting pointers: put the date at the bottom of posts in archive. Check out slinkset.

Matt Cutts. Straight from Google, how PageRank works, mostly all familiar ground to me (does this mean I know something?) Interesting pointer: use Keyword Tool to suggest related popular search terms that you might want to work into a post.
pop flotsam: fake Steve Jobs, Katamari, embiggening

Tara Hunt. Whuffie. Cory Doctorow term--ah, I recognize the idea in Charles Stross' Accelerando. Basically, it's your reputation and credibility, connects to a gift economy. Pop flotsam: automagi, lilgram, tripit, throwing sheep, Dopplr, witty 404 pages.

Philip Greenspun. I don't know this guy from Adam, but my sense of him after this presentation is that he's a living treasure. Did you know someone's putting a hyperlinked OED, but from Malagasy, online? He had an amazing night sky metaphor for how the many posts, many users problem could be solved. And I'm totally going on the graph paper diet.

Steve Souders optimized an Alex King theme for quick loading live while we watched. I didn't understand it all, but I got enough to follow up on it.

Douglas Hanna illustrated the Wordpress Showcase. Of course I sat there thinking about which of my past projects or favorite sites could be submitted.

John Lilly impressed me. If open source were a religion, he would be a true-believing evangelist with a comprehensive and subtle knowledge. Great idea: litmus tests based on mission statement. Pop flotsam: chaords. He told about the guy who made the 60-minute video criticizing Mozilla, which was 1/3 now acknowledging they were working on it or had solved it, 1/3 crazy, and 1/3 insightful and freshly formulated. Lilly was frank that emotionally it was still somewhat painful to even recollect being on the receiving end of that kind of video rant from someone with cred in the community. To me, this was a story about where the rubber meets the road on group projects, or virtual communities.

I talked to Matt Mullenweg and got a picture of him and me with my iPhone. He introduced Alex King during his State of the Word.

I wanted to go to the Anniversary Party, but when I checked in with the kids they needed me home to drive them around.

Edit to add: Mike Mueller wrote a nice summary with good links.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PTA training

So I'm going to be PTA Treasurer.

Today I had treasurer training at the district offices. We met together first, all presidents and officers and treasurers. In this town, almost everyone, by which I mean almost all the women, have worked as lawyers or have MBAs or other such job. So as we checked in for our training, I was noticing the clothing, all very I'm-not-at-work, but take-me-seriously,

Somewhere in the introduction time, the chair asked for the former PTA presidents to share advice, what they wish someone told them when they started off. Quickly I noticed, that the women dressed as slackers--no makeup, zip sweatshirts instead of blazers, practical hairstyles--these were the PTA presidents.

I felt a whole lot better about where I fit in.

I rode my bike to the meeting. I hate parking at district offices. And any time I get to ride my bike is a win.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aaron Eckhart with Martin Short

One of the many things there is to love about Aaron Eckhart is that he's so classy about the fact he's not Mormon anymore.

Martin Short, as Jiminy Glick: and you're a catholic boy
Aaron Eckhart: No, I was raised Mormon
Martin Short: Mormon! a-ha-ha, that's what is so wonderful about America. If you're Muslim, be Muslim. If you're a Buddhist, be Buddhist. If you're a Presbyterian, well hide that. ....Were you supporting Mitt?
Aaron Eckhart: I've been working [on location as an actor]... I'm really oblivious to the campaign, to all the races. I don't know who I'm supporting yet.

though all the ridiculous things Martin Short/Jiminy Glick then goes on to say, never once does Aaron Eckhart duck the mormon jokes by clarifying that he's not mormon.

Ah, sigh. So gallant. Excuse me while I go watch Conversations with Other Women again.

Stephen Carter's kid book recommendations.

Stephen Carter says:
I’m totally with you about testing work in the cleansing fire of reading it aloud to kids. I read a book each day to a group of 3rd and 4th grade boys for a few months and quickly found out which authors had the chops. Dan Gutman emerged gloriously as did Eion Colfer. Jon Scieszka did well too. The best read-aloud I came across, though, was The Giggler Treatment. It practically read itself.

Note to self: find these books and provide them to my children.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Audiobooks: the key to getting housework done.

Cheaper than a cleaning service is a subscription to

I can personally, and enthusiastically, recommend these titles for your listening pleasure:

Very Valentine, narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Rococco, narrated by Steven Hoye
Lucia, Lucia, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

I love how Cassandra Campbell reads. I got The Beach House (by Jane Green) just to have her tell me more. Unfortunately, the Beach House was at points too dicey for when my kids were around. And I don't like to wear headphones all that much.

I tried Big Stone Gap read by the author. Love the author Adriana Trigiani, but did not want to hear her read to me. Go with Cassandra.

Steven Hoye's an entertaining reader too, and the material by Adriana Trigiani great fun. Unfortunately, I haven't found another book he narrates that I want to hear. I'm looking for light narrative that will keep me working.

I've got a load of laundry waiting to be folded, and nothing to listen to right now. I'm going to try _The School for Essential Ingredients_ because Cassandra Campbell is reading it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

yay washing machine!

I didn't really look at the washing machine that came with the house until today. That means I didn't much look at it during the open house visit, or when we bid on the house, or during the house introduction tour, or during the three-day move. Today is the first day I looked at the machine, tried to find a manual online, and found out this unremarkable-looking 1999/2000 Kenmore, model 40052, has a much larger capacity than I realized. It's actually a high efficiency front loader, and it's washing a bigger load than any of my last three washing machines did.

In other words, no need to buy a new washing machine at all.

The model has some good reviews out on the web. I got a manual at Sear's my house site. Given the fact that the people who lived here before were way smarter than me at all things engineering, I'm relieved to rely on their wiser appliance choice.

My first load is in the dryer now. Can't wait. The washing machine has charmed me. I think I'm falling in love.

Monday, April 13, 2009

_To Kill a Mockingbird_ should be in audio. Or etext.

My bookclub is reading To Kill a Mockingbird later this month. Believe it or not, I've never read it before, and never seen the movie. I've always preferred to read about the more distant past, or the fictional future.

It would be very CONVENIENT if I could read it on my Stanza iPhone. Or listen to it as an audio book. But, Nooooo, the holders of the copyright have apparently not let either of those happen. Because, the book is not available in those formats.

I've got a nice bound edition from the library. Had it two weeks. Haven't cracked it open. Meanwhile, I've read three novels on my iPhone and listened to one novel and part of the old Hitchiker's Guide radio show as audiobook.

People, if you want us to learn the lessons of this classic, make it easy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The LIfe You Can Save

I don't have much the time of day for the animal rights movement. But what I can do about world poverty is a topic that does catch my attention.

I'm sure I'll disagree with a significant minority of what he might say, but I'd going to read The Life You Can Save. The interview (I'm listening to on the radio right now) is intriguing. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of tithing, since that's a concept I'm familiar with, it really works in my church.
On the site you an pledge to give an adjusted percentage of your income to decreasing world poverty.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


It's like a cool decorating magazine, full of pictures, but online.

My houzz scrapbook

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last Week in February

Chicken pot pie or Tofu Pot Pie

Acorn squash rings
cornbread muffins
Green Salad

tofu fried in garlic black bean sauce
Trader Jo chinese BBQ Pork



Sunday, February 22, 2009

hard to pin down style

I'm putting in a bid on a post-war ranch house, with wood plank ceilings. It looks like you could shoot a catalog in it.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what kind of furniture I'd want in it. Easy to imagine Ozzie and Harriet in it, or Cary Grant with Myrna Loy, but that's not quite how I want to go.

Latest thoughts, triangulate between these:

Sundance catalog
Shabby chic (though shabby chic in general does not necessarily seem fresh to me.)

I love Midcentury, and that's around when the house was built, but it's hard to imagine the delicate lines under those big ole beams.

And this has me wondering if I should pull out of buying this house.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When Mom checks out, everyone checks out.

The day back to school after a long weekend is hard. Even if you've kept fairly close to the normal schedule, even if you didn't travel over the holiday weekend, the logistics of getting lunches and socks and out on a bike on time challenge everyone.

During the school day, I needed to take one kid to a dentist. Additionally, I dropped over at someone's house to work on a Relief Society project I wanted to participate in, something for an orphanage in another country.

I knew I was maybe pushing it, stopping by for socializing and quilting. I should have been doing chores or maybe catching up on sleep. But, I wanted to have a normal life, by my measurements. even if I had just pulled a couple weekend days as the only parent at home.

Right after school I needed to take one kid to tutoring. Which was also aggravating, because the tutor cut back her hours and the institution providing the tutoring couldn't schedule with me with an appropriate replacement. I've paid for the ten-session block in advance. The other child's tutoring, which we usually drive to after this one's, had been cancelled for their spring break.

On the way home we were talking about picking up the monopoly game the smaller children and I had laid out on the game table in the morning. But I was so tired driving, my head kept nodding.

Luckily when we got home, a toy my son had ordered from eBay had arrived. We cancelled monopoly. He played with his new toy, and she played some computer games. And I took a nap. I was out for three hours. Three prime hours of after-school time.

Now everyone is cross. They don't like the hot dogs I offered for dinner, my backup for when I didn't make anything good. They haven't done their homework or chores, so now they're overwhelmed and cross about being asked to do so.

I don't consider my lapses character flaws anymore. I consider them flaws in managing my time and resources. Still, even with greater attention to my limits, sometimes I am taken by surprise when I've collapsed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Progress Report

I'm working through Shrink Yourself. It's starting to settle into my brain stem. I read the book but couldn't seem to concentrate on it, so I signed up for the paid online program.

I'm listening to Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani as an audiobook. It gives me a reason to stay in the kitchen long enough to clean up or do laundry.

Between my iPod Things application, consulting with an organizational expert, and reading advice books, all the things I juggle are pretty much staying in orbit and rarely anything falling. Oddly, getting a little better at this and I'm less enjoying public confession about all the things I don't do well.

My brother introduced me to Stanza, and I'm reading some Bruce Sterling-ish author.

I worry about my kids.

I'm a little stressed out when I should buy a house.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today, I'm going shopping.

With a young teen. Recently I've given her control over her clothing allowance, and she has embraced the task. But all that investment in choosing the best style and at better prices than I would, has resulted in her NOT WANTING HER MOTHER LOOKING OVER HER SHOULDER.

Thank heaven for cell phones. Since I need to be in some other part of the mall. I'm not brave enough to drop her off and drive away--the affordable malls are not that close to home. Maybe I'll find something for my own Valentine Date tonight. Or maybe I'll play a lot of suduko.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now he wants to watch a movie

I'm only partly through the mopping. Haven't started the bathroom. Husband comes back from meetings. Probably at the chocolate shop.

"hey, haven't you had a shower yet?"

My mother-in-law was of the opinion there was no point in taking a shower before mopping the floor. Maybe I ought to rethink that advice.

"I have an idea" he continues, "why don't you wash up, then we'll watch that Bob Dillon movie and then go out to lunch."

Grr. I got nothing done yesterday. The kids get out early, and then I'm driving them on wall-to-wall appointments until dinnertime. Then there's scouts and youth activities at the church.

He drifts in and out. I keep mopping.

Finally, I realize he doesn't know the school schedule--the kids get out early but have classes I drive them around to, right up to the point we collapse at home in front of dinner from a crock-pot. "I'm sorry," I say, "that's why I'm being so stingy with my time."

"Oh," he says, "yes, there wouldn't be time for a movie anyway."

"lunch sounds tempting,"

"well, let me know."

In my calculating brain, I know the invitation to a watch a movie is something I should be grateful for. But mostly right now I'm feeling socially awkward.

addendum: we went to lunch, and it was fabulous. and the next day out to dinner. and out to hot chocolate. I just don't play this much when he's not around.

What would a dolphin trainer do?

I'm in the thick of cleaning up the kitchen, my supplies laid out to scrub the bathroom afterwards, and then to clear some clutter from the living room. [system] Some days work lined up like can be daunting, but today it is invigorating. I have had a full night's sleep for a change, and haven't scheduled too much work to handle before noon.

My husband comes ambling into the kitchen. When he's in town, he works at home quite a lot. "The president will be speaking at noon (eastern time). That's in 15 minutes. I've got to go scrub myself. Will you queue up the t.v. so it's going when I get out?"

"What channel will it be on?" (is it just me? I am supremely irritated by this.)

"Oh, I don't know. Probably a few, it will be easy to find."

(what the heck is this? Doesn't he know how to turn on the t.v. anymore?)

He pads off. I keep emptying the dishwasher.

I could "forget."

I could be grateful for the opportunity to do this small service for him. Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

I could blog about it. You could tell me what to do.

Once the dishwasher was empty, I padded over to the living room, found a channel that will be running news in the next hour, turned the sound down low so it doesn't bug me while I'm working in the other room. Then back to work for me.

I think the dolphin trainer would "forget."

Organizationally Challenged

I finally decided to make something easier on myself. I hired a professional organizer to help me divide night from day and find homes for towels in a house without a linen closet.

She's fabulous, by the way. Lisa Mark of Time Butler [her blog].

What's funny is my next appointment is still not on the calendar. Because I'm so frazzled right now, I forget to return emails.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Family Home Evening Monday Night destroys another Tuesday morning

We have GOT to start having Family Home Evening on Sunday afternoon. Everyone was up past 9, and the older ones past 10, and me until midnight. The teenagers overslept this morning just enough to be crazy. I couldn't drive too-young-for-seminary to junior high though she was running behind, because these days I'm taking the neighbor's child with us each morning to the elementary school, while her mother recovers from surgery. So my kid is getting on her bike with tears in her eyes, blaming all of us for her misplaced English book. And the puddle of pee she stepped in made by some tiny who missed the toilet.

So with the younger crew in the van, I pull up to the front stoop of the school, and start kissing kids goodbye out of the van, handing them their lunches as they go. I don't kiss the neighbor girl but wish her a good day. And someone doesn't have his coat. And it's cold out there. So in the sight of the fundraising moms that are greeting each car, I pull off my sweatshirt and hand it to him.

Realizing then, that my pajamas are what I have on under it. Because that's my seminary-run trick. Jeans with the pajamas, sweatshirt over the top.

So, while the fundraisers wish me to have a better morning, and the bus behind me is kind enough not to honk, I realize I have one more lunch on the seat. Too-young-for-seminary has left hers on the counter again.

And she had the best lunch. She's so stressed out these days, I've been trying to make her designer lunch. No sandwiches, but lovely tortellini, or salads in pita, or...well I'm running out of ideas. She rejects macaroni and cheese as too fattening.

I start driving to the junior high, I park at the bottleneck by the library hoping to catch her before she got to the school. No chance, I didn't see her. Which means she probably made it to school on time.

I don't want to drive back later, so I continue on to the school. But, how to enter the attendance office in pajamas? Unfortunately, these are fabulous silk ones. A little less than I want to wear in public.

There's a turquoise beach towel on the floor of the car. It's handy when the rain leaks through the sunroof, or to clear frost on the inside of the windows before the seminary run. I wrap it around me like a serape. It matches my glasses. Now I'm a crazy fashion victim, a perfectly acceptable role for a junior high mom. Acceptable compared to half-naked crack addict.

I'm going back to bed. I'm already dressed for it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pork Chops

We're semi-vegetarians. In this case, that means we have some family members who do not eat meat. I serve a lot of split meals and I post intermittently at Mormons Going Veggie.

Sunday I found out my youngest doesn't know what a pork chop is. So I decided a meal of pork chops was in order. I had to look up a recipe though, because after spending my 20s as a vegetarian, I missed the critical window for learning to cook meat. I serve meat two or three times a week, and then mostly with fear and trembling, and much use of an instant-read thermometer.

Still ended up with meat browned on the outside, raw on the inside. I blame the low heat of the nonstick pan. I ended up putting the fry pan with the chops in it into a 400 degree oven, then overshot my 144 degree target. Good news, chops are still edible, if not actually delicious, at 160. They were in the oven overlong because no child wants to come to the table and wait for the others. Everyone wants to be last.

The idea of pork chops brought back delicious memories of my happy childhood and our regular pork chop meal. I tried to get shake-and-bake but my store didn't have it, another casualty of gentrification. I bought four chops, one for each known meat eater, because I didn't want to run out. I anticipated the food would be delicious. And, I bypassed the economy thin chops for ones that were 3/4 or an inch thick, with the bone in, of course.

And they were delicious. (ha, you thought the punchline was they were inedible, dry)

And ONE pork chop fed all of us. I have three beautiful, delicious pork chops sitting in the fridge. The bloom of their just-roasted flavor dissipating into the cold.

That's the problem with semi-vegetarians. They really just don't eat much meat.

Pork Chop Dinner Menu

  • Mom's Perfect Pork Chops from Simply Recipes. Except I completely lazy-fied it. Instead of using her dad's rub, I just rubbed untoasted pre-ground cumin, corriandor, salt and pepper on it.

  • Cornbread. The vegetarians rejected my offer to make cornbread stuffing in favor of straight plain cornbread. My new lazy trick is the Marie Calendar's mix. I used to make cornbread from scratch, but never had the nerve to put that much sugar in it.

  • Sauteed zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms. I only have one pan, and the pork chops were in it. So I did this on my electric pancake griddle. Worked well.

  • fresh fruit salad: melon, pineapple, grapes, berries. yes, I got it at the deli

  • Caeser salad, with the reduced-fat dressing the teens requested. Actually, I couldn't tell the difference, though I am against reduced-fat dressing on principle.
  • Sunday, February 8, 2009

    (another) new regime in Family Home Evening

    I'm inspired to get Family Home Evening back on tract by, of all things, the South Park mormons episode. Why can't we be like Gary's family, greeting each other at the door, playing board games, and entertaining each other with a trumpet?

    The thing is, there's just one of me, and my ability to dictate terms decreases every year. The lovely FHE assignment board hangs unnoticed behind the computers. So here's the new plan.

    The Family Home Evening Host.

    Each week on a revolving and predictable schedule, one person in the family will be the Family Home Evening host. They get up to two hours on Sunday (or 90 minutes if pushed off until Monday) to dictate terms of the activity.

    This means we will all be forced to play Heroscape next month with the child born too late for D&D. But hey, what could make him happier?

    How better to prepare my children for dating?

    How easier to duck or de-emphasize the lesson?

    How better to reduce our consumption of dessert than to schedule that on Monday?

    Tomorrow we're playing Monopoly. We'll have a short review of tithing first, mostly filling out envelopes and putting money inside. Since no one's paid on their allowance in 2009 yet. And then next week someone beside me can be in charge.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Full of Ambition

    I've been wanting to be more glamourous. And lately I have. By blow drying my hair.

    Hey, it is a difference.

    Except that I didn't manage to amp up my glamor the day Husband came home.

    I've had some days when I'm more on top of the kids' schedule.

    Except that I'm eating through 3-6p.m., so that I never want real dinner when I serve it.

    I need to make a schedule again. The little kids never brush their teeth. They're not getting to bed on time. I haven't exercised in more than a month, probably only twice in two or three months.

    I want to embrace getting in bed again. I have trouble getting to sleep without media. Then I don't want to get up in the morning. Why can't the bed feel so comfy and embracing at 10 p.m. like it does at 6:30 in the morning?

    When I made a schedule with Lisa, I looked at it and felt trapped. Trapped I tell you.

    My kids rooms are each a mess. Mess I tell you.

    I'm going to take a shower and then go buy a waffle iron.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    what it means to be the mother of All

    The mother of all storms. The mother of all excuses. Wherever there's a problem, the biggest and baddest is the mother of all.

    And as a mother of a handful of kids, that mother is me. Whether you've forgotten your homework or your lunch, whether you've not gotten enough sleep or enough play time with your same-age peers, whether you've put the time in on your trumpet or your math facts, your mother is to blame. Or so she often thinks, because that's mostly true.

    The ideal mom is loving and kind, and super organized, dependable and consistent. In addition, I wanted to be like the mother in Wrinkle in Time, a violet-eyed scientist who cooked dinner on the bunsen burner so she wouldn't have to leave the lab. There must be less than 50 words about her in the book, but she made a bigger impression on me than the tesseract. Because that was a mother I could relate to, the rock-star version of the mother I could imagine becoming, even when I was 10.

    I didn't imagine being the mom who forgot to wash our socks.

    I'm not dependable or consistent at home, at least, not naturally so. And yet I procreated anyway. This is my blog.