Monday, February 23, 2009


1. The discussion Jason and I had yesterday about how much we could cut from our expenses if we needed to is still purely hypothetical, not imminent.

2. "Birthday cakes" made of a laundry basket covered in afghans and pillows, crowned with "candles" made of building blocks.

3. "Awwww, Zach wants some catnip. Zach, if you just stop whining for a little bit, Mom might give you some, but you're not getting any while you're whining like that!"

4. Biscuits as a main course.

5. Buying new yarn after a bit of a stash-busting spree.

Bullet points

  • We went to see Lord of the Dance on Valentine's Day. We have come to the conclusion that only a person with an ego the size of Minnesota can pull off the title role without looking like a dork. Also, the "bad guy" dancers were wearing blue button-down shirts and black Dockers, making them look like really, really athletic accountants. They also appeared to be about 14 years old. Liza's favorite part was the ... spotlights, which were coming from an area only 20 or so rows behind us, and thanks to the particulates in the air from the various smog effects, they showed up as solid shafts of light. She kept trying to catch them, which amused the college girls sitting behind us to no end.
  • The girl next to me at the Lube Stop today was getting her tires rotated. Or, I should say, trying to get her tires rotates, as they were so corroded that the employees literally could not get them off, not even with massive amounts of kicking, hammering, lubricating, and bigger hammering. Jason will be happy to know that I fought back the urge to spur them on with calls of, "Beat it like a government mule, boys!" I bet at least one of them would have gotten the reference, though.
  • I really wish that supermarket grocery baggers would get it through their heads that people who bring reusable shopping bags a) aren't aliens with tentacles sticking out of their foreheads, and b) probably don't want their milk put in a disposable bag. It's got a handle built right into the bottle, for god's sake, why on earth would I want to put it in a bag with an even less comfortable handle? And don't get me started on the guy who, after I asked for paper bags on the day I forgot my reusable bags, decided to double bag all of the groceries by putting the paper bags inside plastic ones. Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.
  • Sign that you're a little too addicting to your craft? You start mentally packing all of your knitting supplies and projects a week before you even consider starting to pack your clothes for the trip. Because, you know, they don't have yarn in Delaware.
  • Why does the recipe tell me to melt the butter, add the flour slowly, and stir constantly until it is thick and bubbly ... when the amounts of ingredients give you a paste similar to really, really wet pie dough, that is never ever ever going to bubble?
  • "No, I don't need a nap - I'll just watch a DVD while you take a shower."
  • After the flash on the camera woke her up enough for her to roll over ... ewww, kid drool.
  • I'm making Jason a scarf that he will never, ever wear. This is fine, because it's so pretty I'll just sit around and look at it all day while his neck gets cold.
  • How exactly does an insurance company come up with an adjustment figure for water damage without sending anyone out to the house? I mean, we haven't even managed to get the contractor to come over, much less gotten an estimate from him, and the insurance company has already decided how much our repair should cost and cut us a check. Whaaaa?
  • I have had more earrings fall out of my ears in the past year than I have had in the previous 20 years since I got them pierced. It's starting to piss me off.
  • Things I need to do: schedule Bella's teeth cleaning appointment, call my doctor to get a recommendation for a podiatrist to look at the giant corn on the bottom of my foot that is getting worse rather than better despite my doctor's assurance that it's nothing to worry about, go to see the podiatrist and have him do unspeakable things to my foot, get a haircut, schedule Liza's yearly checkup, send box of outgrown clothes to Saho's daughter, make two mermaid tails for the lady on etsy (provided she ever gets around to paying me), do our taxes, buy biodegradable plastic poop bags for the cat box.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Unfortunately ...

Okay, I'm probably the last person on the planet to try this, but just in case YOU'RE the last one, give it a try.

Go to google and type "unfortunately, xxxxxxx" (where xxxxxx is your first name) into the search box, INCLUDING THE QUOTATION MARKS. Check out the responses, and if you get any funny ones, post them in the comments below.

My favorite:

"Unfortunately, Gretchen loves Tony, a 20-something white-power hooligan who hangs out in arcades to pick up impressionable high school girls."

Dang, they're on to me. Hope Jason doesn't find out ...

**Thanks to Jenny at Allsorts for the inspiration. It was just what I needed on a cloudy Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Well, that's, um, an interesting coincidence

My daughter's art:
Hmmm, if she's actually a Toaster , that explains a few things.

Monday, February 16, 2009


1. Homemade bread topped with homemade raspberry jam.

2. On several occasions, Liza sat down and read a book to herself - without saying most of the words aloud. And she wasn't just looking at the pictures, because once in a while I'd hear her sounding out words that were giving her trouble, or she'd ask me how to say something. I'm telling you, she's going to be on book 4 of the Harry Potter series before Kindergarten.

3. Selling something I sorta forgot I had in the shop.

4. Giving myself permission to declare today a "snow day," complete with back-to-back episodes of Sesame Street (the old school version), pajamas until mid-afternoon, and copious amounts of computer time for everyone. There might have been a brief nap on the couch in there, too ... my memory of 10am is a little hazy.

5. Snow that falls in big fluffy flakes and looks pretty for a couple hours until it almost completely melts away. Now THAT'S my kind of snow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


1. I taught my daughter how to use a hammer and I was the only one who got smashed fingers [Yes, Dad, I know she's choking up on the handle ... she's hammering into cardboard, so I decided it was okay for her to sacrifice leverage for accuracy. Sheesh, you know I know better than that :) ].2. Look how cool the craft turned out (and this isn't even the coolest one, what with the wonky "I'll just freehand a heart" center).

3. The first glass of orange juice after you've been out of it for a couple of weeks.

4. "Okay, Mama, you go get our trash can from the neighbor's yard, and I'll stay inside and make sure you don't get hit by a car and die. Bye!"

5. Liza has taken naps two days in a row. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop and her to come down with whatever hideous illness she's incubating, but until then, I have lots of time to, um, read blogs and find new knitting projects on Ravelry.


Also, now that some obligation knitting is out of the way (ahem Dad's birthday socks ahem), I've gotten a chance to start on a pair of socks that are turning out really, really well. I hope the intended recipient loves them as much as I do ...

Self-portrait, February 11, 2009

"That's me wearing a dress with a flower on the front."


"I want to make more Valentine's cards. Where's the hammer?"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


1. Knocking the snow and ice off the roof also removed a good portion of the moss we've been too lazy to deal with. Now we don't have to bleach as much off this summer, plus it's all green and cheerful looking!

2. Moss isn't the only thing looking green and cheerful around here - look what I found after moving a few leaves aside (good thing I knew where to look, because this is IT for sprouts):

3. I remembered to re-cover the sprouts with dead leaves after I was done taking their picture, so they won't freeze when the next wave of winter hits.

4. The look of glee on Liza's face as she rides her Big Wheel at top speed through a puddle that comes up to the bottom of its seat, sending up rooster tails of muddy water behind her.

5. Yesterday we went to Chick Fil A for dinner, and it was kids' night, and my daughter a) went down the slide - the one that makes weird noises when you go down - a billion times, b) played with the 40,000 other kids on the play equipment, c) introduced herself to one kid she was playing with, and d) hugged the guy dressed up in the 8' tall cow costume. Holy crap, when did this start? Can I bottle it, go back in time, and show it to myself two years ago to prove that it really was just a matter of time before Liza started acting like a normal kid?

Monday, February 09, 2009

35/365 - illustrated edition

1. Liza likes her Rapunzel braid so much, she wore it to the mall on Sunday. Thanks for the inspiration, Tab!

2. First "kill time until dad gets home by drawing with chalk" of the year. Look, no coat! (it was almost 50F) You can see my mailbox! And the snow pile is shorter than my child!

3. She decided the yard looked yucky and needed to be raked. And, unlike this fall, she managed to actually move the leaves around when she did it.

4. She can actually glide on the scooter.

5. Looky what "grew" in our living room today:
6. Brownie batter - 'nuff said.

7. Liza has finished the second (of five) Hooked on Phonics sets, and while she was waiting for the mixer to finish she read me the following sentence with only minimal assistance (like, "i-e says eeee" since she hasn't gotten to that yet).

I don't think I've ever been prouder of her than I was when she sounded out "brownie" all by herself. Except for on Friday, when she finally went down a fast-food restaurant play area slide. She was so proud of herself, she went down about 40 times in a row, coming over to do the happy dance in front of me every time she got to the bottom.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Memories of attending the Philadelphia flower show as a kid:

1. The overwhelming smell of hyacinths as you entered the exhibit hall.

2. The exhibits, which included everything up to and including full-sized trees 20 or 30 feet tall.

3. The miniatures, especially the itty bitty flowers - some no bigger than your pinkie fingernail.

4. The hawkers of vacuum cleaners, nonstick frying pans, food choppers, and the like that were mixed in with the more traditional flower/plant/garden-related stalls in the vendor's hall. They made that guy who sells Oxy-Clean look like a shy, retiring guy.

5. Getting to pick out and take home a new houseplant every year. I remember one year I got a burro's tail, one year a wandering jew, I think there was a goldfish plant in there somewhere, and I know in fourth grade I got two cacti, a fuzzy/prickly cactus I named Barbara, and a spineless succulent I named Trevor (because the thin stripes on his leaves made him look like a lawyer in a pinstripe suit, and Trevor was as lawyer-y a name as I could imagine). Barbara lasted for a few years and finally rotted off at the base thanks to some overzealous watering on my part. Trevor thrived on whatever neglect or loving care we threw at him, and he started flowering and producing baby Trevors within the first year or two. At least count he has made more than 20 of them that we potted and shared with other people, including one that went to college with me, some that went to my first job, and two that are sitting in my bedroom right now. I think the Trevor at my parents' house is the original, and the one that I finally pitched a year or so ago was one of the first offspring. That means that Trevor has been around since - get this - 1982-ish. That plant is older than half of the players on most professional sports teams. Duuuuuude.

And a bonus - the huge tissue-paper flowers on dowels that the vendors used to sell at the show. I don't know if they do anymore (ETA - scroll down to the photo in the link above - I guess they do still sell them! Huzzah!), but I remember getting a hot-pink one as a kid that was in my room for years. This all came to mind because I found instructions for making them here, thanks to a link from The Crafty Crow. I hadn't thought of these in probably 20 years, but now I am going to make a dozen of them tomorrow, just because I can and they're awesome and it makes me smile every time I think about them.

Can you tell I'm totally jacked about the trip Liza and I will be taking to visit my parents and see the flower show this March? Yeah, just a little excited. Like, I want to throw the kid in the car and start driving NOW.


1. The last of the ice is gone from our roof. It took Jason two hours plus various implements of destruction, but even the 4" thick glaciers are gone. For now.

2. "This is the scarf I'm making for Liza." "What about the hat you were working on for me?" "That project is hibernating until the thought of working on it no longer makes me want to hit something." "Oh, okay then." "Plus, the scarf is pink."

3. Mr. Pibb. 'Nuff said.

4. I used up another partial skein of stash yarn making Rapunzel braids for Liza and a friend. I can't wait until she sees them tomorrow morning - she's going to either want to wear it for the next month, or run around hitting the cats with it. Either way, that's more room in the stash for new yarn!

5. One of my cats is currently getting stoned out of his mind with the pile of catnip I left him on the kitchen floor. That's one way to get him to stop trying to sleep on my sewing machine pedal foot.

Friday, February 06, 2009


1. Go Fug Yourself, which regularly turns up gems such as "But nothing is quite so achingly subtle as the mammoth bejewelled pseudo-nipples that cover her actual skin-made ones. It's like her Faberge egg hatched and she's getting ready to breast-feed its spawn. "

2. Fresh-squeezed orange juice.

3. My daughter played nicely with all the other kids at the indoor playground - for hours at a time - two days in a row. I hope that doesn't mean her head is going to explode tomorrow or something ...

4. Hours at the indoor playground = hours free to knit knit knit knit knit in public.

5. Hours of knitting in public = dozens of opportunities to explain to curious kids what I'm doing, which will hopefully convert at least a few people to the Dark (Crafty) Side some day.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


1. Blowdrying my hair for the first time in months and having it look perfect.

2. Starting a hat and finishing it the same day, and having it turn out exactly the way it was supposed to.

3. Holly's cornbread recipe**. Oh. My. God.

4. "No, Daddy, the WHITE blood thingees are the part that fight off the germs, and the RED blood thingees are the part that take the food and air all over your body."

5. Realizing that my daughter will attempt to read an almost infinite number of new words, as long as they are on flashcards that can be turned into a game of go fish, memory, or "jump on the matching word on the poster on the floor and I'll make a funny noise if you're right."

** From a cooking forum post by "Holly" from years ago, which I attempted to find but couldn't. I consider that due diligence, so I don't feel at all bad about sharing the recipe now. This makes a sweet cornbread with a sticky/crunchy top, and I swear I have to be physically restrained from eating the entire pan by myself.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9x9 pan in the oven (this greases the pan and melts the butter for the recipe). Meanwhile, combine flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda in a bowl.

Beat eggs, sugar, and buttermilk in a second bowl, then add melted butter.

Incorporate dry ingredients into the wet mix just until combined.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.

According to my recipe software, 1/12th of this recipe has 210 calories (almost 40% of which come from fat), which could explain why they taste so very, very good.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stir crazy

Why, you might ask, was I standing on a chair on Saturday with a sheet wrapped around my waist?

Isn't it obvious?

I attended Liza's "costume party" as Mother Ginger from the Nutcracker ballet.

Just because I don't live in Austin doesn't mean I can't have dreams of taking on a legendary role, right?

Also: after exhausting the entertainment possibilities of fingerpaints, marble painting, easel painting, chalkboards, crayons, markers, dot-to-dots, and about fifty other projects, this starts to look like a perfectly acceptable crafty snack idea:

Because every kid needs more food-coloring-filled, chocolate-covered marshmallows, am I right?

I hate the hole in the Lake Erie ice pack

Last night after dinner, on the local NPR station: "Tonight's weather forecast calls for a possible one inch of snow accumulation tonight, followed by another inch tomorrow, tapering off in the afternoon."

Two inches, my ass.

By 10 am I had to clear 6-8 inches off the driveway, and it kept snowing heavily all day, at least in our neighborhood. Jason works downtown, which usually sees heavier snowfall than here, and he said it didn't do a thing there all day. Everything we got was that insanely light stuff that just flies back in your face when you try to shovel it (yay!), but at least it was decorative:
I can't decide if it looks more like some form of virulent mold, or a feather boa.
Check out the weather report summaries for the past couple of days and notice how nobody seems to know what the heck is going to happen. My personal favorite quote was from the forecast at noon today, when they said,"The total snowfall from this storm from overnight to this evening will probably reach 10 to 18 inches." Yeah, that's like NINE TIMES as much as you were saying yesterday. Slight difference there, folks.

This, combined with the 40.5 inches of snow we got in January - yes, that's only 2" shorter than my daughter, and 2.5" short of an all-time record - and the lack of thawing means that the ends of my driveway look like this:

And according to that damn groundhog, we've got another six weeks to go. Really, really wishing that Jason's conference in Orlando next week hadn't been turned into a videoconference, because we were this close to being in Florida this month. Florida. Where, you know, you're able to wear something other than snowboots every single day for months at a time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


1. Listening to my daughter read signs in the grocery store.

2. Tomato soup and wheat thins.

3. Making it through a headbangingly awful trip to the craft store without throttling Little Miss Refuses To Nap, who went all evil on me as soon as we got inside the store.

4. Rediscovering a craft I haven't done in ages.

5. Sun-warmed cat fur.

Monday, February 02, 2009


1. Finishing two crocheted cotton market bags - from yarn leftover from previous projects - in one day. And then starting another one.

2. Liza decided about two weeks ago to be completely potty trained, including through the nights. By "decided" I mean that when I woke her up to go to the potty before I went to bed, she didn't go, and she used the potty after she woke up in the morning rather than peeing in the bed. Thank you, God, the process is over (at least until she regresses).

3. Today was the first time she sat in my lap at the library and read a new book all by herself. Okay, so it only has 12 different words in it - she still read a book! Willingly! In public!

4. The stunningly addictive entertainment value of the DVDs that come with the They Might Be Giants kids' albums. I don't get naps, but that Here Come the 123s DVD is 45 minutes long ... huzzah!

5. The fact that I giggle every time I watch Battlestar Galactica and see Jamie Bamber listed in the credits, because there's a Monty Python song that includes the name "Bamber," and I always thought it was made-up.

Menu planning

Yeah, so I haven't been cooking much, what with the crappy weather coinciding with the blues and the total failure of the grocery pixies to come and drop off ingredients in my refrigerator. But I'm going to get it in gear this month, starting with an idea I read somewhere for how to save money on groceries - plan out menues for a whole month, so that you can minimize waste and maximize the usefulness of leftovers.

I'm not going overboard, but I did sit down this morning and come up with 20 of my favorite recipes that are going to be the backbone of this month's menues. I've got a vegetarian meal, a soup, and something that makes lots of leftovers each week, plus two days each week for using leftovers up or going out for a treat. I've got rough ideas for side dishes listed (which ones get a fresh vegetable, which a frozen, which a salad, which don't need anything extra). Should make grocery list preparation a bit easier for the next few weeks.

So, without further ado, here's the plan (minus the side dishes):

Week 1: Vegetable lasagna, California pot roast, roast chicken, Crock-Pot chili, and tomato gorgonzola soup.

Week 2: Broccoli mushroom spaghetti, pork roast, sloppy joes, chicken tetrazzini (with leftover roast chicken from week 1), pork salsa soup (with leftover pork from the roast this week)

Week 3: Vegetable fritatta, goulash, chili beef noodles, homemade pizza, lemon chicken rice soup

Week 4: Huevos Gretcheros*, beef Burgundy, pork tenderloin, Crock-Pot beef carnitas, pork wild rice soup (with leftover pork from the tenderloin)

It will be interesting to see how long I manage to stick with the plan (I give it two weeks until real life intervenes and I end up eating nothing but peanut butter for another week), and whether twenty recipes are sufficiently varied to keep from getting boring. I have a lot more recipes I'd like to include, so I figure I can swap out some of the heartier ones for more summer-friendly recipes when the weather starts to warm up. Because as much as I'd like to, I don't think we're going to be digging out the grill to make any yakiniku in February, and my grandmother's spaghetti sauce is a waste of time unless you use fresh tomatoes that are actually ripe.

So, what are your favorite standby recipes? How do you plan your meals each week/month/year? Talk amongst yourselves :)

* Basically, scrambled eggs with ham and cheese (and whatever else I feel like throwing in), wrapped up in tortillas, covered with salsa and baked until they're all heated through and the cheese is melted. Not quite huevos rancheros, not quite egg burritos, they're my own recipe, and they're never the same twice.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


1. The giant 10' tall snowman our neighbors built last week, which included a 5-gallon bucket hat, a beer bottle coming out of the mouth, and both skis and ski poles. And I think they spray-painted the middle ball black ... either that, or I don't really want to know where they got that snow.

2. The fact that the giant skier snowman got covered with snow earlier this week and turned into The Giant Klansnowman. Wish I had gotten a photo before the snow melted off the pointy hood-looking part.

3. When our neighbors visited this weekend, the first thing they said was, "Hey, did you notice that the snowman down the street looks like a Klansman?" That's why we're friends, right there.

4. Totally '80s weekend on the local radio station, especially when a song** from the first cassette tape I ever owned comes on and I'm alone in the car and can really crank it up for the first time in three years.

5. It was 40 degrees today***, which means for the first time this year I could go outside without a hat without risking hypothermia before making it to the mailbox. I felt like imitating Liza and running around in my bathing suit, it was such a welcome change.

**Bet you never would have guessed this one:

*** We took advantage of the weather to use a sledgehammer, claw hammer, paint scrapers, chisel, garden shovel and hoe to hack some drainage trenches through our 8" thick ice dams. Fun fun fun! Next time I think I'm going to rent one of those portable blowtorches they use for burning off weeds. That would work, right?