If you want something done right, do it yourself…

Or, have your husband do it. Yesterday we had the best lobster roll on cape cod. I know, because we’ve had “the best one” and this one was better. AJ has been asking to try his hand at making one ever since we got here, so yesterday he took a shot at improving on awesome. Normal lobster rolls are just cooked lobster tossed with mayonnaise and inside a kaiser roll. If you’re lucky you might get a dusting of oldbay on top.

Here’s what AJ did.

We bought two lobsters at the local grocery store and had them cook it there so we wouldn’t have to heat up our house. As soon as we got home he shelled them, and squeezed a lemon over them and put the shredded meat into the fridge to get cold.

Next, he chopped celery and red bell pepper and added it to the lobster meat. Then he used a 70/30 combination of heavy whipped cream and mayo to make it nice and creamy. Since the cream was plain, he seasoned it to taste with a bunch of old bay seasoning.

We ate it in a buttered and broiled kaiser roll, and it was awesome.

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birds+steak+chuck norris=today

Violet loves the beach. She loves the vast expanse of freedom it allows, and the marvel that comes when nothing is off limits or breakable. She loves running back and forth in the surf as she does her best to avoid getting “tagged” by a wave. She loves bringing us handfuls of sand as a present and discreetly placing it in our pockets when we seem less than impressed. Most of all, she loves chasing the birds. The birds in question being ducks, sandpipers, and of course seagulls, treat her as a minor annoyance they could live without and spend most of their time on the beach with one eye fixed on her. That all changed tonight. She discovered that if you throw rocks at them, they think it is food and a bevy of curious ducks spent their evening trying to get close enough to get the food, but not close enough to get hit by a rock. I taught her to throw the rocks. is that bad? I think all the onlookers thought so.

I’ve decided that my favorite time of day here is dusk. It’s my favorite time of day anywhere because I like twilight, and I am not a morning person.  Dusk on the cape after a hot day is the most perfect thing in the world other than new-baby-smell. The water is warm, the sand is soft, the sea breeze caresses with the same wind that just danced in waves, and everyone is grilling steaks so that the whole air becomes one giant concert of beautiful smells. Fire. Steak. Salt air. Flowers. Steak. Juicy steak. I could never be a vegetarian.

Today we went to a newcomers class at the church we are attending here on the cape. I don’t think we fully realized that it was less of a meet-and-greet, and more of a three-hour in-depth overview of the church’s worldview, background, and role in the community. It was very interesting, but there wasn’t really a section where the people who were only going to be staying for another two months could just pop in and just say hi. In the middle of this full-on filling-in-the-blanks session my husband passed me a note. This is what it said.

Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is missing.

I LOVE AJ

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Sometimes, I just really don’t have anything interesting to say…

But that’s mostly just because spending a long day with a toddler and an infant pretty much turns my brain to mush. My creativity has already been spent trying to entertain Violet while we move at the pace set by a three-month old that just wants to eat all the time.  My words have all been spent on monosyllabic commands, no, yes, come here, don’t, please, stopstopstop! At this point, the prospect of structuring an entertaining sentence is more daunting than the evening that remains ahead; feed, read, change, feed, talk, feed, change, bed, feed, sleep, feed, sleep, feed.

“The best use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.” -William James

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Oh.My.Gracious

Something very bad has just happened. We made homemade oreos and they were awesome. I’ll blog again with pictures of their awesomness, but for now you can go to the blog i found the recipe at. Incidentally, this is one of the best recipe blogs on the web. everything she makes is good. Next up? Chocolate, beer, and whiskey cupcakes.

The Oreos

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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Pro’s & Con’s

There are no toilet seat paper covers anywhere here.

No one here can drive.

Everyone here is a really bad driver.

Apparently right-of-way is a fluid concept when driving.

The libraries here are awesome. Huge. Probably because they charge fees…

There are actually a lot of evergreens here on the cape.

Seriously, people here are the worst drivers.

I hate bugs.

The ocean is awesome.

The other day it was really stormy out and I really wanted to see what the water looked like, so I walked with Violet and Henry down to the beach in the afternoon. The sky was a silver-grey and the cloud line was so low you couldn’t see the horizon. The rain was tiny and spitting but since it was coming sideways we were getting wet all over, and the waves were being whipped into a frenzy. I thought Violet would be scared but she loved it. She loves playing tag with the surf and is pretty good at not getting caught by the waves, but every once in a while a big one would come up and splash up around her legs much to her consternation.

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No Henry, you may not borrow the car this weekend…

Henry is growing up so fast. Although he did roll over once when he was just a few weeks old I think that was a fluke accident. Today he commenced his career as an officially mobile little person. He’s rolling over for real now. Plus, he scooches on his back by arching his back up and kicking off with his feet. We’re in trouble now…I really do love that baby stage where they cant’ move around. Its so much more convenient. Also, i was keeping him in his carseat while at home so he could sit up and watch the menagerie but now he just scooches all the way out onto the floor. I’ll be in the middle of making dinner and i’ll look over and see him lying on the floor.

He’s also very interested in “talking” and cooing, taking baths, playing with toys and his feet and chewing on anything and everything he can get into his mouth. He still does not sleep through the night, and we’ve recently had a major step back in sleeping because he’s too gigantic to fit into his wrap even though we’ve already gone through one growth spurt where we had to cut the bottom open to let his legs out. we used to wrap him in this fleece blanket thing that velcros tight to swaddle him so that he couldn’t startle himself awake. Unfortunately, since he is now gigantic and spends his time fighting like a cornered wildcat as soon as we try to wrap him instead of sleeping, it looks like he’s going to need to sleep unwrapped in a hurry. Fortunately for him, no matter how rough the night is he wakes up chipper and cute and impossible to resist.

Seriously, lock up your daughters.

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A Mystery and a Muse

First, the mystery. Okay, i know last week was mystery week, but I gave up a few days in when I couldn’t think of any. I just remembered one: fruit flies. Who, where, what, when, why, and how on earth? It’s not a joke. Yesterday we left a piece of banana in a sealed up car courtesy of Miss Violet. Today when we got in the car to leave for church there was a swarm of fruit flies. A homemade pie to the first person who can give me a reasonable explanation for this.

Second, the church we’re going to here on cape cod just started a series called “I am Second” with the title taken from a website of people posting their testimonies of faith on the journey of discovering how to live a life where Jesus Christ is first. We watched this today at the beginning of the service. If you’ve got a minute, or even if you don’t, go to the website and check it out.

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The Mystery of the Ornery Infant

Here’s a mystery every parent can relate to. How can babies tell whether or not you’re standing? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Next time you’re soothing a fussy baby with that classic bouncing/back-patting/shifting from foot to foot move that works 90% of the time on 90% of babies, try sitting down and mimicking the exact same movements. That’s right, it doesn’t work. But can you blame them? this is the only time in their lives that they can boss people around so effectively while still evoking coos and kisses from the same people that are fighting under-eye circles and a strange obsession with coffee. They may be demanding, but they sure are cute.

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The Mystery of the Ridiculous Royals

Today we went to the largest “city” on the cape. Hyannis. It was not as interesting as I thought it was going to be, so I think we might stick to the beach and smaller towns from now on. If you look at any guidebook, you’ll see that Hyannis has a lot of Kennedy connections. Apparently the Kennedy family has spent a good deal of time on the cape. Anyway, of course we were reminded several times that the Kennedy’s are America’s “first and only” royal family. I’m sorry, what? I get the whole political “dynasty” thing, but honestly, I’m not sure that that really qualifies them as being the royal family. They’re not the only family with multiple political careers under the same Christmas tree, aand they have one of the worst track records of tragic scandals for any family. How does this make them our royal family? Does it have anything to do with them being young? Good looking? Glamorous? Rich? Oh yes, I’ll make the call that their royalty has more to do with icon status, and less to do with political accomplishments.

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The Mystery of the Unlikely Hero

Okay, of course you all know that no mystery week would be complete without commenting on the current phenomenon of the Jet Blue flight attendant. The mystery? How on earth did a douf of a guy become a blue-collar hero after getting mad at a passenger for bumping him on the head with their bag, using the intercom to give everyone a piece of his expletive-laden mind, and finish with a ride down the emergency chute with a beer in each hand? What is this world coming to… (In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, the plane was still on the tarmac and just type “jet blue flight attendant” into google.)

In what scenario is this man a hero to the middle class? Oh yes, not only has the media gone nuts over this story, but his fans are coming out of the woodwork. Apparently a lot of people would really like to follow his esteemed example. Here’s my two thoughts. One: It doesn’t matter how much you hate your job, it never gives you a right to treat people like that. Two: A hero? Really? Choosing a loser as a hero is a pretty good indication that you are already a loser, which means you don’t need a loser hero. So, problem solved.

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The Mystery of the Missing Prices

Mystery Number Two:

Why is it that so many restaurants do not post drink prices on their menus? It’s not like they don’t have enough space or they’re trying to save money on ink. They’ve got a three-page full-color spread complete with frosty glasses, fruity swirls, and gratuitous amounts of whipped cream for crying out loud! What is it then? Market price? Are you waiting for Jose Cuervo to go on sale? Is Captain Morgan not in season or something? seriously.

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Mystery Week

This week I’ll be unpacking a new mystery every day. We’ll explore the fantastic, the drastic, and the bombastic.

Monday’s Mystery

Today its all about the joke that is known as a full-service gas station. Please. Maybe if Morgan Freeman was taking Miss Daisy out for a Sunday drive and they stopped for some petrol, you’d expect a young lad to run out and pump-the-gas-quick-wash-off-the-windows-quick-clean-the-mirrors-quick-check-the-oil-quick-replace-gas-nozzle aaaaand Time! Um, no. That’s not actually how it works. The following is an actual recount of a recent stop for gas involving a full service gas station.

Pull the car up to the pump. get out to pump. Hmmm, won’t start, probably have to pay inside. walk inside. old guy smoking a cigarette stops you and mumbles something about “Gimme sec, be raht out”. Go sit in hot car. waiting…roll down windows. roll up windows to avoid fumes. waiting. Here he comes. no, he forgot something. okay, here he is. “Fill it up, please”. with an air of practiced skill, he artfully starts the gas pumping in what can be described as no less than an intricate process. He shuffles over to another car. your gas stops pumping. he comes back. you hand him the card. he takes yours and the card of the other driver and heads inside to charge you. waiting…he’s back now. gives the other driver a card. gives you your card. sweat beading in your eyebrows. “sign here, please.” you sign haphazardly, roll up the window. turn on the car to blast the a/c and drive off. Aaaaaaand Time!

PAINFUL.

Painful especially when one of your little joys in life is pumping your gas faster than the person you were waiting for. Painful especially when pumping gas is a special test of a perfected routine that gets you out of line as fast as humanly possible. Painful.

Here’s the funny thing. It’s not a state law, and most of the gas stations around here do not say whether or not they are self or full-service. We’ve decided that next time we accidentally go to a full-service gas station, we will drive off when the attendant comes out. Nothing personal.

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Zen

There’s several things you should know about here.

1. The sand on the beaches here is tan, which is remarkable, when you remember that Washington beaches are all in shades of grey.

2. Tradition is a wonderful thing. Especially when it gets handed down through generations within a family. That’s one of the reasons I like to make tortillas. You wouldn’t know it looking at me, but part of my heritage is spanish. Somewhere way back when, a mother taught her daughter how to make tortillas; how to roll them out, how to cook them perfectly, and how to flip them with her fingertips. That daughter taught her daughter and so on and so forth until it was my grandma teaching my mom and my mom teaching me. Someday I get to pass that down to Violet, because it’s not about the tortillas, it’s about the tradition.

3. Today I witnessed something nothing short of a miracle. Maybe it was just a little one, but it made a big difference to me. As Violet and I were walking back from the beach this afternoon (I was carrying Henry), I looked down and saw a giant bumblebee sitting on her chest. Its furry legs were clinging to the front of her striped shirt. In case you haven’t already assumed, she really doesn’t like bugs, spiders, and bees, and I knew that if she saw it she was going to flip her lid. I told her to put her arms up in the air and somehow even though she brushed her arm up against it, I managed to flick it off her after the second try. She never even knew about it. My miracle? One, bumblebee stings hurt. She didn’t get stung and neither did I. Two, that adrenaline-filled 10 seconds happened completely without her knowledge. I wouldn’t care if she had known after the fact, but if she had seen the bumblebee while it was still attached to her chest, she would almost certainly have been stung.

3. I never cared much for the word “zen” until I came here. There’s really no better way to describe the calm that the waves on the beach evoke. Whenever Henry comes to the beach he prefers to cuddle up in a shoulder and just watch the waves with a content look until he finally falls asleep. I think it has something to do with the sound. I realize I live on the west coast and visit the beach often, but the sound is different and i can’t describe it.

Toodles!

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Provincetown Or Bust

Most of you either know this, or will learn it sometime in your life. Long car trips with small children are never a good thing. Never a good thing. Never a…you get the point. You must definitely definitely plan on taking lots of stops, finding places to stop and run around, plenty of time for snacks and other types of food. Unless you can’t. Unless there are not places to take those stops. Unless there is no where to run around. Unless you ate the snacks with your husband while your children were asleep because you both realized you were going to miss lunch when the seafood restaurant you had been waiting for ALL DAY was so busy they were turning cars away when you showed up after an hour and a half of driving.

Okay, so i just accidentally deleted the rest of this blog. I have two pictures to sum up the rest of the day because I can’t bring myself to write anymore.

These were everywhere. Literally and metaphorically.

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Baptist gets Baptized and Other Stories…

Today we went to Cape Cod Church for the second time. It’s just about 15 minutes away from our house and we really like it, which is nice because I really didn’t want to spend half our time here trying out different churches. Here’s a crazy story; last Monday, one of the pastors and a member of the congregation survived a private plane crash. No, that’s right, A PLANE CRASH. They were out flying over the cape to make a video for the current sermon series and the engine died over the water and they fell a thousand feet into the surf. And, they swam to shore alive. All the miraculous elements of this story aside, the craziest part of the story was hearing the pastor talk about that minute or so of free fall towards certain death. Not too many people crash planes and live to tell about it. It was an incredible story, and a great reminder that life tomorrow is never a guarantee. Here’s a few links to some video interviews from the press that you might enjoy.

Crazy stuff, but what’s not so crazy is that each moment we have is no less than a divine gift.

Next, you should know that coffee as we know it does not exist on the east coast. Yes (of course) they have Starbucks here, but no coffee stands. None. How does the local economy survive? I have no idea. Anyway, over here the big thing is Dunkin Donuts. That’s right. No, they’re just as lousy here as they are back home, but the weird thing is that people like them and they stay very busy. Just the other day I was talking to a local about it.

“How do you think Dunkin Donuts compares to say…Starbucks?”

“Starbucks? I’ve only had Starbucks once in my life…that’s incredible coffee.”

They have no idea what they’re missing out on.

I would like to end here with three morsels of wisdom to take with you on the week ahead.

1. Say “I Love You” more often.

2. Go to a coffee stand and get an iced mocha for me.

3. Go to Haggen and buy a donut or twelve. I’ve been to Paris, Rome, London, New York, and Boston and I’ve never found a donut as good as the ones at Haggen. And yes, I have specifically looked.

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Color Me Petrified

Here’s the deal. I do not like bugs, spiders, snakes, or other bugs. I do not like them. That’s why I live in Washington. Today we had the great pleasure of meeting with a native of the east coast known as a house centipede. No, not centipede like this, centipede like THIS.

Please please click on the links above. You have no idea how freaky these little buggers are. Please. The one we caught is what is known as the House Centipede. Not deadly poisonous. By that I mean there are no reported deaths from being bitten by a House Centipede, although I would like to submit that that is because they drag their prey into a hole somewhere and finish it off later on and the whole thing gets written of as an unsolved kidnapping.

Do you know what you get when a hypochondriac  becomes bug-a-phobic? Me either, but I think I’m about to find out tonight when all the lights are out and something brushes my skin.

Is your skin crawling yet? Mine is.

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Verse of the Day and Incidentals

Henry has discovered food. That is to say, he has discovered that we eat it and he doesn’t. Poor kid. At least Violet hasn’t (to my knowledge) fed him anything yet, but I’m pretty sure that time is coming in a month or so. Judging by his interest I think we’ll have a repeat of Violet’s first thanksgiving when she swiped mashed potatoes and gravy off my plate when she accidentally got too close. I like to keep babies off of solid food as long as possible because the longer they nurse, the stronger their immune system, the lower their chance of developing allergies, and the more weight I’m going to lose. However, by the time a baby is six month old they’re usually so curious about food that their first bites are by stealth…like stealing thanksgiving dinner off someone’s plate or eating your older sister’s veggies.

Last but not least, here’s something I need reminding every day.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25

To keep me from falling and present me without fault….me? How is that possible? That’s the beauty of grace.


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Dinner in a Bag

Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? Hey, don’t judge–I’m sure you’ve enjoyed your fair share of cake-out-of-a-cardboard-box.

Anyway, this is the part where I show you a picture of the meal, but let’s face it–I don’t feel like it. Anyway anyway, lately we’ve been eating a lot of stirfry for several reasons. First, it’s easy. Second, it’s cheap. And third, it’s healthy.

Here’s how you start. Go to the grocery store and load up on cookable veggies on sale. I like any combination of carrots, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, celery, eggplant, bok choy, spinach, green onions, cilantro, parsley, peppers, cauliflower, gummy bears, wait… Tonight’s stirfry was cabbage, zucchini, peas, celery, and carrots. There’s no perfect proportions or combinations.

Then, chop/dice/julienne/tear everything up and put equal amounts into gallon freezer bags. Next, you can leave them vegetarian or you can add meat like I do. As far as I’m concerned, I think everyone should eat vegetarian…animals. My current batch in the freezer has ground turkey in each bag, but you can use anything else interesting like chicken or beef already cut up into stirfry sizes. I don’t recommend seafood in the bag unless it is in a separate baggy inside so you can control the cooking time. I only used about 1/4 pound in each bag to keep the cost down and the healthy up. Just pop the meat in with the veggies, and stick all those bags in your freezer.

When you need a quick dinner, give yourself 20 minutes to make this.

Cook some brown rice using one part rice to two parts water. Cook on high till boiling and then reduce heat to medium uncovered to keep it from boiling over. Orthodox rice cooking directions use fancy words like simmer, but I don’t like waiting forever to eat and as long as you watch it closely it won’t boil over. Once it gets close to being soft enough, turn off the heat and cover with a lid to let the rice soften up the rest of the way from steam.

At the same time as you’ve been doing this, (yes, this requires multitasking) take the bag of veggies and meat out of the fridge and dump it into a large saucepan or frying pan. If you forgot to take it out of the freezer, just dump it in anyway and let it steam a little bit longer in the beginning.  To that pan, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and 1/4-1/3 cup of water. Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low to thaw if frozen or medium high if thawed. Next, I add some soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, and red pepper sauce from the asian cooking section if you feel the need for some extra heat. Be careful not to make it too salty with the soy sauce. Finish cooking just before the vegetables are done. It is so easy to overcook stirfry. The vegetables should be tender but not soft.

Serve hot over the hot rice and season to taste with soy sauce and red pepper sauce.

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YUM

First, an introduction. If you went to a diner and ordered pancakes, they would be fluffy, hot, and that perfect pancake flavor. If you had a friend who was a hippie and you went to their house for breakfast, you would expect them to be whole wheat with that warm nuttiness and a rich flavor. Now, imagine that your friend opened a diner. Yep. that’s what you call the perfect storm. People, this is the perfect pancake.

Hippie Diner Pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat Flour

1/3 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup buttermilk

1/3 Cup oil

1 egg, separated

1/2 Teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup milk

First, combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a medium bowl beat the egg white till stiff peaks form. Next, add the yolk, oil, and vanilla and combine. If you don’t have buttermilk add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the milk and let sit for a minute. Once done, fold into the egg mixture, alternating with the flour mixture. Add the 1/3 cup milk  to desired consistency. Different strokes for different folks, right? everyone likes their pancakes a different consistency. Personally, I like them thinner with a little bit of oil in the pan–like fritters. But enough about fat.

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He’s on to her

It seems Henry is reprising his earlier performance of Tiny, Cute, and Vengeful. Remember how he pulled Violet’s hair in the bathtub the other day after she bit him? He’s discovered that her kisses are a perfect opportunity for more of his antics. Twice today i heard Violet crying in terror and found hunched over him with her hair clenched in his hands. So much for kisses.

Also, you probably don’t want to know this, but Henry and Violet grow incrementally cuter every day. Measurably.

Lastly, Henry has a gagging problem. Maybe you’ve heard how Violet can throw up on command. She can. If the slightest foreign object gets on her tongue or in her mouth, she will throw up in order to get it out of her mouth. Not cute. For example, if I’m blowing her nose and her mouth is open and she gets a tiny bit of toilet paper stuck to her wet lips, and she licks her lips, and gets the toilet paper on her tongue, she will throw up. You should never have to command your child not to throw up. Anyway, that was a huge introduction for a very short sentence. Henry LOVES to suck on his fist and arm, but it makes him gag.

By the way, did you know AJ can imitate Chewbacca from Starwars perfectly? Just one of the reasons I married that stud.

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