Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scenes From a Lazy Day

Somehow Mooch managed to get her little paws on Mama's eyeshadow ...

"Mommy!  I've got a beard!"  And how about that outfit?

Picnic on the screened in porch on our one warm spring day so far.  I decided I love twinkle lights too much to pack them away, so I strung some up around our sliding glass door.  Mooch wants to cover the entire porch in them, and I just might let her.  They make me happy!

Playing outside earlier that day.  I swear I never would let her leave the house dressed like this (aka baby hooker) I just was too tired to fight her over this.

To her right is where ze vegetable garden will go in.  It will be raised slightly, since our yard is subject to minor flooding, and in a effort to keep the furry beast out.  Where the driftwood is sticking up is my attempt at getting him to stop digging in that spot.

Full shot of the space - the garden will be 15'x7'.  Wish it could be bigger ... sigh.  One day when I get my space with chickens and goats I will have my dream garden.

I steamed and pureed two giant heads of cauliflower that morning, then bagged it in 1 and 1/2 cup increments and froze it.  I also grabbed the last two bags of cranberries out of my fridge and made some chutney, which did not turn out as good as it usually does, considering my husband had dumped out the sugar (he thought it had gone 'old') and neglected to tell me.  It turned out slightly more sour than it usually does - when I got to use it I'll heat it with extra brown sugar to make up the difference.

Butterbean loved it though!
Perfect end to the day - a big, beautiful moon and a warm night.  

And a random one of us at the Smithsonian, we were in the Transportation wing which was super cool, but had all of these life-size figurines standing around that were really creepy.

Mooch didn't think so, though.

Have a great day, all - I've gotten in my witch hazel, valerian, feverfew, and angelica seeds so far.  Working on setting up my grow light today and gettin' my sprout on!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

*Squeeeaaaaaaal!!* 'Tis Seed Ordering Time!!

Well hey there!
The birthday weekend was lovely.  The Mister is funny - he never wants a fuss made over his birthday, and he forgets that while he doesn't have to go overboard, I do like a day that focuses a bit more on what Mama wants.  But I set him straight and Mama Lou & Pop (my parents) took the chilluns and we headed out for sushi at a swanky place with plenty of wine, then came home and slept til 8 the next morning.  Which seemed just completely indulgent and wonderful.  My parents gave me a gift certificate for a massage and a box of salted caramel chocolates - so I got the spoileds. :-)

It was actually in the 50's here this week, and little robins are hopping around and I can see pile upon pile of dog crap in my backyard, which can only mean one thing - spring is coming!  I discovered my new favorite site, Seed Savers Exchange  
They focus on organically produced, heirloom seeds.  Which I am a sucker for.  Their catalog and I became fast friends and the Mister was complaining about sharing the bed with it, but tough luck.  My order totaled almost $50 (what's that?  You think I have a problem?  Whatever.  I can stop anytime I want) and included 4 different varieties of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, peas, beans, cabbage, radish, peppers, sunflowers, moonflower, and a whole LOTTA herbs.  Now, my new garden will be 15'x7', and there are all kinds of plans and techniques to squeeze the maximum out of produce out of that space.  I borrowed the Square Foot Gardening book from the library, but here's the thing - I'm lazy and I have the attention span of a gnat.  So I made up my own garden plan and will implement a lot of containers to grow anything that can't fit in that space.  
I am so excited!  I'm buying a grow lamp to start seeds under today, which will be motivation to finish fixing up the dreaded cat room.  And Mooch is already planning "her" part of the garden.  I'm hoping to integrate more of our garden beds too, to mix up the veggies with flowers and herbs and make the most out of our space.  
If all you smart people have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.  
We are staring wedding planning for my little sister - she is getting married in the backyard at my parents, just 75 people, and we will be doing almost everything ourselves.  The Mister keeps reminding me this will be a pain in the ass as the date approaches, but right now I'm just focusing on how much fun it will be to decorate and cook and craft her special day.  I mean, if I can create THIS, I can do anything, right?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Things That I Love & Cookies You Should Never Make

First, ze cookies.  My lovely grad students really pulled through for me the other day, so I made them these.  My Grammom used to make them - they are simple as could be, have 5 ingredients, and take about 20 minutes to make (plus chilling time).  Unfortunately, they have approximately 8 gazillion calories and once you start eating them you won't be able to stop - so you've been warned.  In fact you've probably gained a pound just looking at them.  But here is the recipe, in case you're feeling reckless:

2 sticks of butter
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
enough graham crackers to line your rimmed baking sheet
1 c chopped walnuts
2 c chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then completely cover with graham crackers.  You'll have to break them to fit, probably, and that's ok.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together and whisk constantly until caramel forms.  Remove from heat and pour over the graham crackers.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes; just until the caramel starts to bubble around the edges.  Remove from oven, let sit a minute or two, then sprinkle chocolate chips over top.  As soon as the chocolate gets all melt-y, spread with a spatula so that chocolate completely covers the graham crackers.  Transfer the whole thing to the refrigerator and let chill 2 hours, then remove and cut into bars.  Make sure to break a whole bunch and be forced to eat them "so they don't go to waste".

I love these cookies, they remind me of my Grammom, MaryLou - Mooch's middle name is after her.
Other random things I love :

Cheap, tastes amazing, box is made from post-consumer recycled cardboard and is recyclable!

My go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs on wheat toast, with avocado and Frank's Red Hot.

Shawn Colvin ... one badass chick.

Goody Spin Pins.  My hair is really, really long - it touches my waist - and thick.  These suckers are amazing.  You can do very loose styles and they hold tight, and it's a little more dressed up then just having my hair in a ponytail.  I have even run with my hair in these and they don't budge.

Oprah magazine.  I LOVE.  Don't judge.

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy
Always makes me want to cry, and go to Japan.  

Eddie Izzard

That my kids love Johnny Cash.  This is Mooch and the Mister onstage with a Johnny cash tribute band that played last summer at a local park.  She was the only person under 40 dancing like a maniac and singing along in front of the stage, so "Johnny Cash" asked her to come up onstage for "Ballad of a Teenage Queen".  She was all shy, until the song ended and he handed her his guitar pick.  She came flying off the stage screaming, "I'm famous Mama!"

I probably will not be around this weekend, as it's my birthday tomorrow and the Mister is taking me out for dinner tonight and my parents are taking the kids.  Aaah, delicious sleep, you and I will be together soon.  Peace out, cub scouts!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Piled Higher & Deeper

I work in academia and I'm spoiled, cause I work with really great people.  I came from a soul-sucking job (sorry Laura) with a Troll Boss and a big boss who may very well have been Satan's personal ball waxer, so as long as they didn't throw hot butter knives at me I would have been satisfied - but I walked into a great position.

However, there are drawbacks to any job.  

I work with a lot of PhDs.  Here's my theory, and it keeps proving itself again & again - at a certain point you become so book-smart that there is just not room in your head leftover for common sense, so it gets pushed right out.

Take yesterday.  None of my lovely PhD's showed up for a meeting that they were scheduled for.  There reasoning was I had just sent them an email about it, and they couldn't be expected to read their email, I guess - ?
Then a visitor who I had been in communication with missed his shuttle to the airport, despite having a confirmation email of where the shuttle was picking him up, at what time, contact #, etc.  

Just a few of the many, many incidents.  They can solve problems I cannot even fathom, they just can't work a can opener - that sort of thing.

For their own good, so they don't end up wandering into open manhole covers or getting on a bus headed to Tucson because they think it's a rocket ship, I think it's best if my department invests in one of these, don't you?


Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's Play!

I really do love playing with my girls, it's just that sometimes at the end of the day I just would prefer to sit perfectly still with a glass of wine and a trashy tabloid and not have anyone talk to me.  Alas, it never happens.  And that's ok, because I have no doubt that one day after they move out I will have all the time in the world to do that and will wish they would come back and beg me to play on the floor with them again.

So, to find my own fun, I buy them toys *I* like to play with.  Like Playmobil.  LOVE Playmobil!  Although I always have to wait until after the kids go to bed to go back and set up things the RIGHT (aka MY) way.  Mooch fell in love with the Playmobil Princess castle, and that was one of her holiday presents this year.  I introduce you to (ahem) "As The Castle Crumbles"

 First, the king and queen, HRH's Druzilla von Hossenfeffer and Earnest Handcock von Hossenfeffer.

 She is a frigid bitch and rules that castle with an iron fist.  He is afraid of her (and should be ... several Playmobil servants have gone missing in recent weeks, and there is a tell-tale trail of accessories leading to one of my potted plants) but that doesn't stop him from looking for a little sugar on the side.  That's where
Lady Anastasia Beaverhausen comes in.

She pretends to be dumb as a post, but is actually a spy for the long-forgotten log cabin dollhouse tenants, who are planning on taking over the castle.  She lover-s on the king strictly for business, because she happens to be in love with ....
Princess Blossom Pepper Doodle Von Yum Yum, the kings sister (different daddies, long story)

The queen hates her because she is convinced she is trying to take over the castle for herself and steal the royal couple's inheritance.  Honestly, Pepper Doodle is kind of just a have-fun sort of girl and isn't too serious about her fling with Anastasia, and definitely doesn't want to trouble herself with managing a castle.  The queen's servants dress her up like that, by the way - she was in overalls but the queen found that distasteful.  She was hating life in the castle until this happened ..

It's Lord Harry Johnson Pfefferneusen, the queen's distant cousin and one-time lover of Anastasia!  Pepper Doodle is oblivious to who this handsome German (?) man is, but enamored.  Anastasia is shocked and heartsick

because Lord Harry doesn't know that their one night of passion produced a CHILD, currently being brought up as the queen's son with her biological daughter. (!!!!!!)

The only person that knows is the night guard, who once caught the two in a passionate embrace and figured out the secret.

Will the deception be uncovered?  Will the king discover Anastasia is deceiving him?  Will Lord Harry fall for Pepper Doodle, or will Pepper Doodle return Anastasia's passion?  And who will the queen dispose of next? Tune in next time, dear readers ...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Light Italian Wedding Soup

But first, la Butterbean ...
 We put her down for a nap the other day and she was quiet for a good half hour, then I heard her giggling and talking to her stuffed animals.  I let it go on for a bit then peeked in to check ..

"Decorations Mama!  I did it!"
And Mooch loves a photo op.

This recipe was featured in Everyday Food, but I swapped in and out a few ingredients.  Martha put pasta in hers but I like just the beans a lot better.

Italian Wedding Soup

1 lb ground turkey
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 c panko bread crumbs
2 Tb olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 large chopped onion
1 lb kale, stems trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 c fresh grated Parmesan cheese
29 oz chicken broth

First, make the meatballs.  Combine ground turkey, bread crumbs, garlic, egg, and 1/4 c of the Parmesan. Form into small meatballs, set aside on plate.  In a large stock pot heat oil over medium heat, then add onion and saute until translucent.  Add chicken broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Add meatballs and turn the heat down to medium, allow meatballs to cook until they float to the surface and are no longer pink.  Add the cannelini beans and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the kale and cook another 8-10 minutes.  Serve topped with remainder of Parmesan, and if you like, a big hunk of crusty bread.

So easy and SO good - we call this "the big bowl of health".  If you don't like kale you can swap in spinach or another green - just lessen the cooking time because they are less fibrous.  The biggest pain in the butt is making the meatballs, but luckily Mooch likes to have a job to do and jumps at the chance to help out.
Here is the finished product, brought in yesterday for my lunch with some leftover olive & rosemary foccaccia:

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