Rules to Live By

1. Don’t wear cowboy boots unless you are an actual cowboy.

2. If you must wear them:

  • wear long enough pants. Just because you are wearing boots, does not give you an excuse to wear pants that are too short.
  • don’t wear them all the time–i don’t believe you when you say they’re comfortable.
  • cowboy boots? really?

Anyway, Violet just peed on a pillow. There’s pretty much no scenario where it isn’t funny when a little child pees on the floor–although I might just have a better sense of humor than you. I will agree that there’s rarely anything funny about pooping on the–no, actually that’s funny too. I’m not saying I like it; I’m just saying it’s funny. Remember, If you can’t laugh at yourself–who will?

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the introduction

Last night AJ had his first introduction to baby #2. He got kicked in the hand. At nearly 18 weeks, this little baby is verrry active–so much so that we can feel the kicks and rolls on the outside now too. yay!

Secondly, I would like to introduce you to a moment in your life not too far in the future when the stars will align in your kitchen, directly in front of your oven.  Here’s how it happened to me.

It was the beautiful coincidence of eating the best bread of my life which also happened to be the best bread I’d ever made. The recipe is no-knead (is that legal?) and super easy. It takes about 4-5 hours start to finish for rising time and you owe it to yourself to try (and by ” try” I mean succeed masterfully because I don’t think there is a way to mess this one up).

Ok, so I know you’re probably really excited and a little scared right now so I’ll make this simple. Take your mouse and click on the following link. Look at all the beautiful pictures. Make some kick-donkey-hiney bread.

Freaking Amazing and Simple Bread

(i just said “hiney”. haha. )

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aaaaand time!

That’s right. with one exception for a gift that has been picked but not purchased, my christmas shopping is all done. I’ve never been the type to buy all my friends presents but with a large extended family, even name drawing adds up.

anyway, today aj and I bought something we’ve been planing on for a long time.

This.

(yay)

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Thanksgiving part 4

Today I am thankful.

I was thankful to watch AJ and Violet slow-dance in the livingroom.

I was thankful for fast-paced games where everyone starts yelling.

I was thankful when I left my kitchen clean and all the turkey undressed before heading out to Thanksgiving dinner.

I was thankful for pecan pie,

pumpkin pie,

apple pie.

I was thankful for tiny kicks.

I was thankful to have parents and in-laws that are married and pushing 27 and 31 years respectively.

I was thankful to see my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s wedding dress.

I was thankful for life,

and love,

and

everything

else

I

don’t

deserve.

 

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Thanksgiving part 3

Yes, I know. Again with the whole thanksgiving thing.

Today I have four things for you.

1. The Pioneer Woman. It’s a blog. Go. read. I’m giving you a link here that will send you to her Thanksgiving menu, in case you need some last-minute tips, ideas, or inspiration. Here’s the thing, you don’t need to have the first clue about cooking to make something gourmet and amazing on her blog because she posts amazing pictures of every step in the process. Don’t be shy–go!

2.

This is the schtuff i put in my turkey brine. This, and some other stuff.

3.

Of course, no explanation should be necessary, but for you Canadians; this is a Pumpkin pie. I put the maple leaves on there ‘specially for you.

4.

Yams. sugar. cinnamon. butter. molasses.

5.

Okay, so I actually had five things for you. This is stuffing.

 

Last but not least; the results are in and turkey brining works amazing. It was actually quite easy. I made my brine/salty broth and soaked the turkey all day in one of my fridge vegetable bins. It worked so good that even though I waaaay overcooked my turkey the breast is still oozing moistness.

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Thanksgiving part 2

Today I’m going to share something you musn’t take lightly. recipes. You have to trust me on this, because you should know by now if you’ve ever tried any of my recipes that I would never lead you wrong. Also Clayre, in answer to your question; we’re not having anyone over, but I make a full Thanksgiving dinner every single year because that’s how much we love Thanksgiving food. Holla! Believe me when I say that coming home to a fridge full of leftovers is (wait for it) Yumazing.

Lastly, I cannot take credit for these–although I would very much like to.

Scalloped Corn Casserole

1 Package Jiffy cornbread mix (8.5 oz)

1 can creamed corn

1 can whole kernel corn

8 oz sour cream

6 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine.

Mix all ingredients and bake in an 8X8 pan at 350 for 35 minutes or till center is set. If you double the recipe, bake 50 minutes in an 9X13 pan. Best served fresh.

 

Stuffing a la Amazing

2 loaves bread (I like to use 1 white 1 wheat, but make sure you use soft, cheap bread–nothing hearty)

1 medium onion chopped

2-4 stalks of celery diced

1 cup of butter melted

3 1/2 cups of turkey drippings

or

2 cans chicken broth (use the turkey drippings if at all possible for a better flavor)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons oregano or poultry seasoning. (i’ve only ever used oregano)

OPTIONAL: anything else you want (toasted nuts, craisins, chopped apples, etc)

Mix everything by hand in the biggest bowl you can find (seriously). Adjust seasonings to taste (yes, you can taste it “raw”). Bake at 350 in a 9X13 pan till top is golden brown.

 

Gravy

pour turkey drippings in a saucepan to the desired amount of gravy. Take a teaspoon of flour for every two cups of drippings (approx.) and mix separately with water or cold drippings till thin enough to pour. gradually pour into the hot drippings while stirring constantly. Adjust thickness with more drippings or flour and add salt or pepper as necessary. I like to make my gravy a little heartier by adding finely chopped dark meat and fat to the gravy and letting it cook.  As long as you add cold, flour mix that’s thin enough to the drippings while stirring constantly you will never ever have lumps. I promise.

disclaimer: you should still do your monthly self exams.

 

Last but not least: in case you don’t have enough turkey drippings to make you happy, make more in a saucepan of water by adding all the fat, skin, and chopped dark meat and boiling with added salt if necessary.

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Thanksgiving part 1

Okay, so I’ve officially decided to brine my turkey this year. Plus, I’m also going to use Alton Brown’s cooking method where apparently “low and slow” is no way to go.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

So, watch these videos and decide for yourself. Or, wait till Wednesday when I will cook my entire thanksgiving meal and post results. After all, you can wait to brine till the morning of.

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and the ground is level…

When I was four I had a bone infection in my foot and I spent some time in a nursing home post-surgery.The linoleum hallway outside my room made for great acoustics and so every night I would sing. The nurse would come and open my door so the residents and staff could listen while I with the sincerity only a four year-old could muster, sang my heart out to those echoing halls.

I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to listen to the voice of a little girl singing songs about God and Jesus and Love. You can’t argue apologetics or moral relativity or the blindness of faith when confronted by the unadulterated hope of a child. But, maybe you never should in the first place. Life is simple at the foot of the cross.

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Oh yeah? well, i can make the sounds of most domesticated animals

Yup. Since Violet loves animals and since we have so many animal books, not only do they get read often but no reading is complete without a complete narration by every animal in the book. When we read The Musicians of Bremen, not only do I have to read what the animals are saying,  but also how they are saying it. And thus, I have lately realized my skill at mimicking most animals on cue.

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reasons why you shouldn’t take care of your children (part 2 of my soapbox)

Here’s the deal. I don’t care how you plan on retiring. I don’t care if you don’t care, but if you have children you better take this one seriously. Try this one on for size; raise your hands if you would like to live in a retirement home? Put your hands down if you’ve never spent extensive time in one. Raise your other hand if you don’t think you will develop significant health problems as you age. Put you hand down when I remind you that no one has died of old age since 1951, which incidentally is the same year they took that classification off of death certificates.

Too many times parents put their retirement plan on hold to fund things like college for the kids (bad idea) or just to be there to help them out financially as they become adults. That only works until you end up needing that retirement fund. If you aren’t willing to take the time now to prepare for your future you are placing a high amount of liability in the hands of your children who will be the ones to make the difficult decisions you should have made yourself. Like I said, I don’t care if your idea of retirement is living on beans and rice–you’d probably be healthier. However, don’t put your children in the position of having to choose between your health care or their children, a nursing home or in-home care, or going into debt to pay for you, etc.

I wish there was a nicer way of saying this, but unfortunately it’s just something you need to do.

 

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reasons why you shouldn’t take care of your children

When I was 14 I read the biography of J.C. Penney. I’ve always valued hard work and independence, so I was challenged by his story of paying for all his expenses after the age of 13. Three weeks after I turned 15 I got my first job and I haven’t looked back since. People like to talk about techniques for teaching your children about money management. Here’s one for you; don’t give them any.

Ever since I was 15 I’ve paid for all my personal expenses–clothes, transportation, bills, school/school supplies, etc. I’ve certainly been bailed out by my parents my fair share, but I always paid them back–sometimes because they told me to, and the rest because I knew that the path to financial responsibility is a long, rocky road and the sooner you embark the better. The life lessons I’ve learned as a result of doing my best to make sure that the buck stopped with me, so to speak could never been replicated if my parents had given me an allowance or let me use all my work money to buy cute clothes and hang out with my friends because they were paying for everything else.

There’s something intangible that happens to your character when you stop looking to other people to pad your path. You learn that money is finite, that it’s a direct response to cause-and-effect, and that not only has hard work never killed nobody–it’s actually quite good for you!

disclaimer: sometimes hard work can kill you, but for sake of this metaphor–it doesn’t.

 

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warning: this post is boring but i like it because it makes me think of good smells

Every Thanksgiving menu should include the following:

a turkey (obviously, right?)

stuffing (but not store bought or stuffed in the bird)

mashed potatoes (um, yes)

gravy (because)

cranberries (i know, i know; it’s tradition)

pumpkin pie (homemade)

The negotiables are the ones i’m always interested in? what do other people eat on Thanksgiving? (besides the above)

Here’s what I always make:

more stuffing (you say that like it’s a bad thing)

corn casserole (it’s amazing–i’ll take a pic and share the recipe this year the day before Thanksgiving if i remember. same goes for the stuffing)

rolls (to fill the holes left behind after everything else)

more dessert (like pecan pie and other interesting sweet things)

candied yams (more like candied “yums!” Am i right? ok…that was cheesy)

cranberry-orange relish (this is what you really bought that food processor for)

spiced hot apple cider (alcohol optional)

Which brings me to this:

what do you make? and how??

THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION

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a la melting pot

best part of the night? watching the boys sit in a row drinking martinis.

worst part? none.

other best part? everything else.

 

in other news, here is a letter i’ve written to my santa claus:

dear yukon jack–

my canadian wine,

please come back

in time next year

to bring my eggnogg

some holiday cheer.

it just isn’t the same without you…

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ARG

So I have this problem with my oven. The problem is, I had the same problem with my last oven. Every once in a while, it won’t get up to the right temperature. Like tonight for example; I was cooking the yams at 350 and it was hot enough, and then when I turned it down to 325 it literally got down to around 250 and stayed there. The beef round sirloin tip that should have cooked for 25 minutes took over an hour and a half. very much not cool. I would be inclined to think there was something wrong with my oven except that my other oven was the same way so I think there must be something wrong with me.  Oh, and did I mention that when I got sick of waiting for the roast to cook and turned the heat up to 375 it got hot real fast?

grrr.

someone help.

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epitome

Here it is people; the musical epitome of excellence in jazz. Of course I’m kidding, though. You didn’t really think I’d just post an awesome video to ignite all the music sensors in your brain did you? That would make for one heck of a boring post. So seriously, click on the “here” at the beginning of this post and just try to see if you can resist shaking your fist at me for wasting a small part of your life.

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kissing cousins

does it matter if they aren’t actually related? Isla, Violet’s little friend, came over to the house this morning for a playdate. Theirs has always been a tumultuous relationship with intermittent bursts of screaming, laughing, yelling, hugging, slapping, and now…kissing. That’s right they kiss. It’s how they make up to say that they’re sorry or that they actually do like each other–despite their recent round of catfighting.

Also, they can fist bump each other: awesome!

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worth it

right now,

my bathroom floor is wet from splashing,

there is toilet paper stuffed into my printer,

i’m missing jewelry,

there are some stains on the floor surrounding a highchair,

i’m also missing many tupperware lids,

and all the rubber stoppers for the door jams,

i routinely carry diapers in my purse,

someone drew on the wall,

there are tiny fingernail scratches on the top of my deodorant stick,

and belly laughter coming from the bathroom.

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unrelated

i’m pretty sure it rained on the day i was born.

the sky spilt on the earth care-weathered and worn.

the clouds in their ache, did shudder and break,

but the rain was never forlorn.

___________________________________

 

 

November is my favorite month

though full of rain and sleet,

for November is the only month

of my birthday–which is neat!

___________________________________

 

 

Today I sipped at life’s sweet draught–Hope in large quantities.

The fullness of my cup is replenished by simple things;

eating crepes for breakfast and getting blackberry jam EVERYWHERE,

napping in the afternoon with a child on my chest–drooling,

or holding hands with AJ.

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things i wish i knew more about.

lots of things,

and: antique book appraisal.

Today I bought 12 first edition books ranging from zane grey to alfred tennyson mostly pre-1910. The easy part? Finding search engines advertising the value of similar books. The hard part? Figuring out what characteristics your book has. For example, a book can range from less than a hundred to several thousand simply by having a dust jacket. It’s complicated. I think I’ll take pictures and send them to various book appraisers to see what they say… maybe this way I can replace my camera?

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whoopdydo

the yankees win the world series. again. yaaaaay.

Here’s the deal. I don’t particularly care who wins, but just today I was remembering how rude people in New York can be and with a home team like the Mariners I don’t really want to hear about how awesome the Yankees are.

We were in a library in New York back in September during our epic travels across the east coast and AJ was carrying Violet while I pushed the stroller with our bags in it. Since she hated the stroller, this was our typical arrangement. So here’s what happened. We’re heading towards the elevator, and the doors are open with two people waiting inside. I speed up and ask them to hold the door and what do they do? Hit the door close button. I responded by jamming the stroller into the last gap in the door as they repeatedly slammed and eventually spit the stroller feet out. If you don’t want to share the elevator with someone, discreetly hit the door close button–don’t look straight at them as they run towards you and casually reach over and hit the button.

My only consolation is that the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies–they may have good cheesesteak but that is one dirty armpit of a city.

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still holding out

that’s right, its the third of November and I still have yet to get more than a few pieces of Halloween candy. I’m just holding out in a battle of wits with Haggen grocery to see who folds first. Let me put it this way–I’m not paying any more than 70% off for Halloween candy in November.

hmm. i honestly had an interesting thing to talk about but for the life of me I can’t remember. arg.

 

 

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cold weather soul food

Today’s post is about one of my favorite fall meals. Pulled pork on yams. Simple. Amazing. Simply amazing. how’s that for cliche?

The Most Amazing Recipe That I Made Up

INGREDIENTS

1. Go to the store and buy a pork roast. Any kind, at least the size of your head.

2. Buy some yams (1 per person). You could use sweet potatoes, but yams are just so much better. Red garnet yams if you can get them.

3. Buy some barbecue sauce. I prefer Sweet Baby Ray’s because it is so cheap and you have to use so so much, but you can use anything.

PREPARATION

1. Place the meat fatty side up in an oven proof dish that can be covered or a crockpot. If you’re cooking it in the oven, cook it at 350 for 2+ hours depending on size. If you’re cooking it in the crockpot cook it on high for 4+ hours.

DSC03129

here is the raw meat with half the barbecue sauce

2. Cover in barbecue sauce and anything else that looks interesting. Today I used some steak seasoning. Use enough barbecue sauce to completely cover the meat.

2b. Wash, stab with a fork and wrap in foil the yams about 1-2 hours before serving. Bake at 350 on a pan so that they don’t drip onto the oven floor.

3. Cook till the meat is falling apart. The crockpot is the best way to get reliable results, but if you don’t have enough time then you can also use the oven. If you cook in the crockpot there will be a lot of juice and the fat can be hard to sort from the meat unless you pick it all out of the pot before you “pull” it.

DSC03149

4. Pull the pork. Use forks or tongs and generally demolish the beautiful roast into a sloppy mess of meat and sauce. Don’t shred or tear the meat too much.

SERVE

1. Place a yam on each plate. Slice in half lengthwise. It should be creamy soft.

2. Serve the pulled pork directly over the top of the yam and garnish with extra juice and barbecue sauce.

DSC03152

Please excuse the poor lighting and cheap camera.

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Let me put it to you this way…

AJ and I are getting our money’s worth out of our Costco membership. You know you’ve had enough samples for the day when the sample vendor points and laughs when you walk by. In my defense…it’s free food.

Also, I realized today how awkward lingering hugs are. Listen up people, if you go in for a hug and it lasts more than one-one-thousand-two-one-thousand, you’ve just been guilty of a lingering hug. Exceptions to this rule are: someone that you actually know on a first name basis and who would hug you back the same length of time, or someone who is crying. Other than that, please don’t. Or do, whatever. The true test to someone’s character is their reaction when you hug them for longer than five seconds. count it out–it’s really freaking long in hug time.

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