Archive | May, 2011

Say What?!

31 May

I don’t consider myself a prude. In fact, like most moms, I like to think I’m a little bit cool. My kids would certainly disagree with that idea – particularly when I’m doing something especially offensive to their cool meters – like breathing. Or, singing along to the Broadway station on my satellite radio. Loudly. With the windows open. (I’m secretly a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.)

I love to sing along in my car. Most people do, right? Most of the time, I have the radio tuned to Top 20 or Pop music. Sometimes, if the stars are aligned and they aren’t actively hating each other in that moment, the kids will sing along with me. There we are, cruising along, singing a little ditty by Rhianna: “…Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it . Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it. Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me…” HUH, WHAAAAA??!

And there’s me, diving for the dial. Cue the eye rolls from the back seat.

Again, I’m not prude. I do remember wondering what the hell Salt and Pepa were saying about that bush – really, why would anyone want to get pushed in a bush? (To confuse me even further, on the corner of our block in Brooklyn, there was a house with a tall hedge around it that we kids would push each other into all the time – but I couldn’t believe there would be a song about that!)

On the next station I turned to – Katy Perry and Kanye: “…first, I’ll disrobe ya, then I’m a probe ya…” Seriously. Seriously?

THESE ARE THE SONGS ON THE RADIO!! My seven-year old knows the lyrics!

Apparently, subtlety is a lost art form in the music industry.

So parents, what do you do? No radio? Let them listen, but no singing along? Not worry about it? Let me know. I’ll be listening to my Eminem in private.

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Picture Book Sunday: What we did all day…

30 May

We had a busy day planned. We needed to do a lot of work around the house.

We needed to do some weeding (actually, a whole lot of weeding) in our garden, which had been overtaken by the scourge known as Bishop’s Weed. You know you’re in trouble when you Google how to get rid of it and the advice is “move”.

Beans got some “assistance”.

We did take time to notice some of the beauty around us. The architectural lupine is one of my favorite perennials.

The kids were getting a little whiny (read: extremely very whiny) working out in the sun, so I gave them a little break and got one of those “meaning to do” projects off my list. I used four of these:

and screwed them into the studs in the kids playroom. I drilled pilot holes first. I’m not one of those people who really get nervous about making holes in the wall. If it doesn’t work out, patching a hole only takes a few minutes. I bought a couple of packs of bungee cords, hooked them to the eyes, hung up some sheets and TA DA! Instant stage/tent/play area or whatever the kids dream of. As I’m writing this, the girls asked if they could sleep up in their new tent. Together. Victory! And, it was a super cheap project. All the supplies cost less than $15.

After some play time, we headed out to Flapper’s soccer game. Probably owing to the holiday weekend, there weren’t too many players on either team – which meant the boys played the entire game. There was much sweating.

After the game, we headed right on over to our favorite spot – the Ice Cream Factory.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. And I’d like to thank the universe for not raining on us. What did you do today?

P.S. I’ll be posting my meatball recipe soon. Thanks for asking for it!

Summer smells

29 May

Having grown up in Brooklyn as a renter, there really wasn’t too much in the way of gardening happening during my childhood. (I do play a killer game of stoop ball, though.) It’s an incredible gift to own a home on a piece of property large enough to hold our vegetable beds, and some gardens and still have room for the kids to run around. Sometimes, in the evenings, I listen to the wind rustling through the leaves on the trees and I can’t believe my good fortune.

Early summer brings the most amazing scents to the yard. The rear of the yard has a line of lilacs that smell incredible. The dogs and the kids haven’t been too kind to them and yet they bloom year after year.

In the corner of the yard, near the gate I’m pretty sure the puppy is escaping through, is another large bush. I think it’s some kind of azalea, but the smell is like something from an exotic tropical island. It blooms beautifully, but briefly. Any ideas what this is?

What smells do you love?

Finally finished…

28 May

Let me remind you what my sewing room/office looked like before:

Let me just say: this is the type of mess you have to put some effort into. I had to force myself not to clean up a single thing after six or seven projects. It wasn’t easy. Please note the wounded Webkinz on my little pressing table. In real life, he’d be dead now from bleeding his little beady stuffing all over.

Now for the after. After what? The removal of yard and yards of fabric to the “garage sale pile”, tossing of general crap, and the thinning of my assortment of patterns. It feels good to get rid of things. It feels even better to look forward to working in my newly cleaned space. Hallelujah!

(Sidebar: I love that quote on my desk. I really believe that everything does happen for a reason; that we are meant to learn from everything that happens in life – whether it’s amazing or crappy or seemingly mundane. And I love that om frog!)

Having my space clean will absolutely get me moving on finishing up some of those undone projects.

Probably.

P.S. The Webkinz didn’t survive. His next of kin (kinz?) have been notified.

About that road to hell…

28 May

I hear it’s paved with good intentions. I know mine is. My home is filled with half-finished projects. Some of them are even 90% finished, but I just can’t seem to get over that final hump. When I finally do, I think “Why the hell did I wait so long? That didn’t even take 10 minutes!”  It’s bananas.

Case in point:

I made my daughters Amy Butler’s Gum Drop pillows from this pattern. No problem – I started them and finished them within a couple of days. Then I started my son’s. It’s been literally 99% done for, uh, six months, at least. All I had to do was stitch up the seam that was left open so it could be stuffed. I suppose this says something about how much I despise hand sewing.

Finally. I feel so badly for taking so long, especially since he’s clearly loving it now.

I have three other works-in-progress that I haven’t made much headway on:

(This is a crazy nine patch. Flapper picked out the colors to match his football team – does that give a hint on how long ago I finished this one? I used the tips I found here.)

(These are Amy Butler FQ’s, made from a Turning Twenty pattern – found here. I probably made this one over a year ago.)

I don’t think it’s unusual for people who quilt to have tops waiting (and waiting and waiting) to be basted and quilted, but since the red and blue one was made for my son (again) I feel a little bit badly. The other one is for Beans, my middle daughter. She is a world class nagger. She’s probably asked me a bajillion times when I might finish it (so she can wad it up and cram it in her closet – but that’s another post!)

And this one:

These are on top of half a dozen garments that are in process.

I’m going to make an effort to move forward on these projects in the coming weeks – even if it is at a snail’s pace. Now that I’ve told the internet about my slacker tendencies, I have to. Right?

UPDATE: I was wrong. I admit it. The tomato cages were upside down. I fixed them. I haven’t told my hubby he was right yet, though.

We were just sittin’ here…

25 May

Chipmunk? We haven’t seen any chipmunk…nope, we weren’t even looking. Really.

The downspout?? Why? Did something happen??

Nope. No idea.

Sugar or No Sugar

25 May

Yesterday was one of those crazy days where everything takes longer than you were planning. I went for a run – that took longer than I expected, got some unexpected phone calls, and then had a lunch meeting which also ran long. And you know, the puppy, and all the time sucking that comes along with him. It was all good, but it just throws my day off – and I’m not that great a planner to begin with.

I had planned to make sauce this Sunday, like I try to do every week, but I got kind of crazy with all the yard work and the kids and the rain…

My mom made sauce every Sunday when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn. The second apartment we lived in was in a very Italian neighborhood, so everybody made sauce on Sunday. In fact, the next door neighbors made their own wine in barrels. They even stomped their own grapes. The grandmother of the family, a stout woman who lived with them, was always dressed in black with her white hair in a little bun – mourning her late husband, was the “stomper.” It was quite a sight.

For busy moms, a big batch of sauce can be a lifesaver. I can get at least two meals, if not three from a single batch and the sauce can also be frozen for use later on as an last minute dinner. Plus, a good sauce is something to be proud of.

Like almost any classic dish, everyone has their own twist on how they make it. My grandmother always used a bay leaf, my aunt lets hers cook for hours and my mother always cooked hers with pork. Me, I put sugar in my sauce. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, but I think it makes the sauce taste delicious.

Pasta Sauce:

olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3-28 oz. cans of tomato puree
1-28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (plain)
1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tbs sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Add fennel seeds and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. I cook them until I can smell the fennel. Add garlic and onion, cook until onion is translucent, about 6-8 minute, stirring occasionally. Add puree, diced and crushed tomatoes. Stir. Stir in the basil and oregano. Taste and add sugar. Alternatively, you can add the salt and pepper first, and then the sugar. Just be certain to keep tasting. Once you’re satisfied, bring the sauce to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes or longer, depending on how thick you like your sauce. Serve over pasta!

You’ll notice I have no picture of the final product. That’s because I didin’t actually get to eat it. Instead, I was at a movie night with some girlfriends – if you haven’t seen Bridesmaids, I highly recommend it. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

I have a meatball recipe I can also share. If you’d like it, let me know in the comments!