Archive | October, 2011

Lazy Sundays and the Mayans

31 Oct

Autumn Sky

In my world, a typical autumn day would be exactly like the ones we had this weekend – crisp, cool and sunny. It’s the ideal weather in which to get things done outside – so that’s exactly what we did. We raked, we cut down the gardens and cleared out the cuttings, pulled up the last remaining annuals and prepared the perennials for next year. We even scavenged the remaining survivors from the vegetable garden. I might be the only one, but I find something so enjoyable in working as a family to accomplish something. And get this – there was almost no complaining from the troops! What the heck is going on here?

Garden Work

The weather here was in such stark contrast to much of the northeast, where many of my friends remained without power (and therefore heat) after a crazy snowstorm. Generally, we’re the ones getting 24″ of snow, while my brother sees a mere dusting in his neck of the woods downstate. That’s just proof that something fishy is going on.

Leaves

You want more proof? Kitty and Flap played together yesterday. Without fighting. Seriously, maybe those Mayans were on to something.

In our typical “wait until the last-minute” approach to things – we set out yesterday afternoon in search of pumpkins to carve. Guess what? There aren’t too many pumpkins left out there at 4:30pm the night before Halloween. Who’d a thunk it?

The Last Pumpkins in Town

Against all odds, we managed to find 3 suitable pumpkins at a local market about 10 minutes before he was set to close. More proof. We hardly ever get lucky like that.

We headed home, prepared to carve our way to Halloween bliss. And then Flap threw up all over the stairs.

Just like that, life was back to normal.

How was your weekend?

*I’ve been noticing that the pictures I’ve taken with my Nikon DSLR lately are a little blurry – which is weird. Maybe dropping her that last time damaged something. So, no, your eyes aren’t going. I’ll be using my point and shoot until I can get to the bottom of this. Any tips?

Sunday Sweetness: Easy Amish Cinnamon Chip Bread

30 Oct

Amish Cinnamon Chip Bread

When someone in an Amish costume serves you a piece of ridiculously delicious cinnamon chip bread, you ask for the recipe. A day or two later, and my lovely friend texted me the recipe for this bread – which is “bread” in the spirit of zucchini bread or banana bread.

Truth be told, I was little suspicious about the recipe because a) it was texted to me, which somehow seems a little imprecise for a recipe b) I did not expect a recipe called Amish to contain pudding mix and c) it all goes down in one bowl – basically, you just plop the ingredients in the bowl and stir.

Why is it called Amish? No clue. Upon Googling, I did find this recipe for Amish Friendship Bread – which lo and behold, contains pudding mix as well. That’s what I get for judging a recipe by it’s name.

This bread came out very well in spite of my mood: I made Ina Garten’s Roasted Potato Leek Soup today – my favorite soup. After two hours of cooking, I ladled it into a tupperware so I could put it in the refrigerator but when I turned my back for 2 minutes, the dogs had gotten the tupperware off the counter and eaten nearly the entire container. Hours of cooking negated by 3 piggy dogs. Suffice it to say, I was a little bit grumpy.

Amish Cinnamon Chip Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cinnamon chips

Amish Cinnamon Chip Bread

Notice my phone in the lower right corner. I was reading the recipe from my text messages!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans.

 Combine oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add flour, milk, baking soda, baking powder and pudding mix. Mix well. Pour into two large loaf pans. (Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, if desired.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Even though I was on my own making this, it would be a great recipe to do with kids – it’s easy and they can just mix and mix in the one bowl.

What did you bake, if anything, this week?

Keep Calm and Shut the F@#! Up.

29 Oct

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters based on a little used British poster from WWII. Unless you’ve been under an even larger rock – you’ve seen what seems like a million variations on that theme. Some are witty and clever and some…not so much.

Either way, like Paris Hilton and the Jonas Brothers, it gets old. The more I see “Keep Calm and Get a Kitten” posters, the less I care about the original. Maybe that’s not fair, but it’s true. And if something is less awesome the second time around, it’s exponentially less cool the fiftieth.

Same thing goes for (Insert Literary Classic Here) and (Insert Scary Thing Here). Once they did Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – I think most of us can figure out what Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is going to be like. Or Jane Slayre. Or Alice in Zombieland. (For the record, I’m too much of an Austen lover to read that book – I don’t really want to know if Wickham eats one of the Bennett’s girls brains. I don’t even want the visual in my head.)

I know fashion recycles, interior design recycles, movies recycle (let’s not even talk about the potential remake of Dirty Dancing, becasue that is just wrong) – everything comes around again. But there’s recycling and then there’s RECYCLING. Out of courtesy, at least wait a decade before you retread an idea and call it your own.

WIth all this said, imagine my chagrin when I saw an ad for this book:

If You Give A Kid A Cookie, Will He...Image via Amazon.com

They actually had to clarify that it wasn’t by the folks that wrote Go The F@?# to Sleep. If the first line of an ad for your product has to point out that you are NOT another product, you might want to pause a moment – because the rest of us just hear “we didn’t come up with this, but we thought we might be able to make a dime by doing absolutely nothing differently.”

You know why sequels are never as good as the original? Because the schtick – whatever it is – is never as funny, or scary, or original the second time around.

What’s next? Oh, The Places You’ll Go, if You Can Get a F@?#ing Job? Or The Giving Tree is F@?#ing Sick of Your Whining?

I’m over it. How about you?

She gets that from her father.

28 Oct

I like to think that I inherited my love of all things chocolate from my father, along with my insatiable need to figure things out. I know I inherited my height from him – and my exceptionally long toes. This may sound completely…inappropriate, but I remember during one of my last visits with him, when he was only moderately lucid and confined to bed, that I stood there and looked at his feet for a long time and realized that every time I look at my giant feet, with their super long second toes and bunions, I’ll think of my dad. And I do.

I have my father’s feet.

As a parent, I think we stake claim to a part of our kids’ special talents. “Kitty’s singing, oh, she gets that from me!” or “Flap’s great at math, just like his dad.” What I’ve noticed most often though, is that the little angels have also inherited some of our most annoying less appealing quirkier personality traits. For example, Beans, my outspoken middle child, will stage full-on Broadway musicals up in her room, complete with dance numbers and props – all by herself. I totally remember doing that as a kid – I can’t tell you how many songs I sang into a spoon or hairbrush. She has a sweet tooth that would make Milton Hershey weep with joy. My oldest daughter sleeps with the blanket wrapped right up to her ears, on her belly and always with her feet covered – presumably so the ghosts can’t see her. At least that’s why I did it. Flap has a tendency toward the overly dramatic. I have no idea where he gets that from.

My husband has what I consider an unusual aversion to certain textures and sensations. For example, he can’t eat tomatoes in a salad, but is fine with salsa. He will not eat broccoli. If I want him to give me a little space at the bathroom sink, all I need to do is get my hair gel out, squirt some into my hands and voila! Bathroom to myself! Kitty is exactly the same way. Rubbing on sunscreen gives her the heebie jeebies, as does any kind of topical ointment. (Frankly, I can’t wait until she has kids – I think I’ll be spending a lot of my time laughing my ass off.)

Recently, Kitty needed to have drops put in her ear to soften and clear out ear goobers. The stuff is basically a mix of oil and hydrogen peroxide – so it bubbles a bit. All she needed to do was stay still for about 2 minutes and then you’re supposed to use a little squirty thing to wash it all out. Easy peasy. Except she reacted like I was putting a live insect in her ear like some Survivor challenge. She whined. She grimaced. She squirmed. I think she lasted about 45 seconds. Fun was had by all.

And then today, hubby needed the same thing. Guess what? Same reaction with a slight adjustment to the whine/grimace ratio.

At least Kitty can say she comes by it honestly.

Along with her giant toes.

What do you and your kids have in common?

I’m A Banana.

26 Oct

I would love for you to be reading a totally awesome and witty blog post right now. You’re not. Would you like to know why?

In my house, silence is interpreted as a sign to talk. And bark. And even though you’re 7, edit what I’m trying to write. Or, if you’re 11, insist that I watch an inane You Tube video of a singing banana.

These are the things that have gone on in my house in the last 60 minutes, while I tried to write a brilliant post for you:

1. Flap threw himself off my bed onto the floor and then proceeded to yell at me because he was “really hurt.” This was before his miracle recovery when he discovered his missing Lego book.

2. The Beans pulled out her 3rd tooth in 2 days. I can only assume she’s doing it as some sort of financial planning endeavour.

3. All 3 dogs ran laps through the house that included running up and over my bed – except for Charlie, who requires a stool to get on my bed. Even though he’s big enough to jump on. He just chooses not to.

4. Kitty suddenly “remembered” homework she “forgot” she needed to do.

5. The puppy attempted to eat an Ugg boot, a roll of toilet paper and a hockey puck. Not at the same time.

6. There have been 2 sibling squabbles that resulted in Kitty being excused from the room.

7. I folded a load of towels.

Welcome to my world.

Oh, My Nose – Disaster Math, Chapter 2

24 Oct

This:

Plus this:

Charlie, the labrador retriever from hell

Equals a trip to the Emergency Room, a CT scan and this:

It’s always my nose that gets it. If you’re having trouble with this particular equation, allow me to solve for x. We have those windows that tip in for cleaning. That particular window is pretty low to the ground outside. Charlie was outside with his feet on the sill and I was leaning over asking him if he’d like fries with his order (drive-thru, get it? I crack myself up.) The next thing I know, he must have put his paws against the glass because the window tipped/slammed inwards onto my nose. It was awesome.

So there I am, on my knees on the floor, hands over my nose, blood trickling down my fingers – and what does my lovely middle child do? Ask if she can rent a movie. Seriously – where did I go wrong? I am SO using her toothbrush to clean the toilets later.

My nose is a disaster magnet. The perpetrators are almost always my children – and the worst injury was actually caused by aforementioned daughter when she was about three. Here’s a tip: Jumping kid’s skull vs. nose? Skull wins. That was the moment when I fully understood the expression “seeing stars” – I totally did.

So it’s not broken and I don’t have a concussion but I do have a black eye, a steri-strip and a killer headache. All of which justify a nap in my book.

The moral of our story is this: Don’t be a smart ass to your dog, he will get you back.

Sunday Sweetness: Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

23 Oct

Easy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

I love making things with pumpkin in the fall. Last week, we made my all time favorite Pumpkin Apple Bread so I thought this week, we’d go with something pretty simple. To prove my point, my 11-year-old daughter made these with very minimal supervision. (The clean up, not surprisingly, required a bit more parental intervention!)

I found this recipe via Allrecipes.com, which is my favorite free recipe site as well as my favorite recipe iPhone app. On many occasions, the AllRecipes Dinner Spinner app has saved me from wandering aimlessly through the supermarket aisles!

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Adapted from this recipe.

3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3/4 c canned pumpkin
1/4 c water
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with liners (or you can grease and flour them, if you’re feeling particularly motivated!)

Mix sugar, oil and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin and water. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until combined. Fold in the chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Turn out of pan to cool.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

These were delicious – not too sweet, in spite of the chips. I think these would work for breakfast or an afternoon snack. If you want to make them a little more “dessert-y”, they would taste great with a little sugar glaze.

Are there any recipes out there you’d like me to try out and post? Let me know –  I welcome suggestions!