January 31, 2011

project grocery: oatmeal time

Last Wednesday night, I made oatmeal. Two mornings worth. I put it in the fridge (in the pot, as it happens, since I forgot about it until bedtime and didn't have the motivation to scrape it into another container), and Thursday and Friday we heated it up and ate it for breakfast.

Let me rewind a bit...

Since I'm sucking it up so much here at Project Grocery, I thought that instead of aiming for a blind kind of "spend less" goal, I'd lower our costs by tackling one section at a time, and for now, it's breakfast.

I'm starting with breakfast because cereal is expensive, and as you know, I'm cheap. The best sale price I can find for a decent sized box of cereal (that we like that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup listed as its first, second and third ingredients) is around three dollars, and we go through two boxes a week. Almost any kind of oatmeal-type hot cereal that will feed us for a week is less than three dollars - and that includes steel cut oats and 12 grain cereal.

Maybe not buying cereal is what kept us under budget this week for a grand three-store total of $103.24 (you heard me).


As you can see, cereal does not appear on the official list and menu...neither does root beer. But you get my drift, I'm sure.

...Which brings us back at make-ahead oatmeal. Like most sane people, we have just about enough time in the morning to pour cereal into a bowl and add milk. But since oatmeal made ahead of time lasts up to a week in the fridge and is indistinguishable from just-made oatmeal, that's all I need time for.

And hopefully I can stave off oatmeal boredom by offering a delectable sampling of toppings: toasted pecans, cinnamon sugar croutons, peanut butter and maple candy. Scratch the maple candy, it'll be all gone by tomorrow.

Apparently everyone else in the world knew this already, because when I told my mom about it (Hi Mom!), she was neither surprised nor impressed by my ingenuity. She apologized that she hadn't told me about it earlier.

One of those essential homemaker secrets that I'm finally old enough to know, I guess.

January 30, 2011

mr maple candy, in pictures (mostly)

Remember the maple candy? Or at least, the intention to make maple candy? Wonka-vision has yet to be invented, but I'll get you as close to the product as possible...all I had to do was take pictures and eat.

It started with this:


Pure, Manitoulin island maple syrup. Two cups of it. We get it from relatives, for free. But honestly, I'd pay the exorbitant prices for real maple syrup just to have maple candy.

Then, on to this bubbling, molten hot deliciousness:

 

Yes, that's maple fog you see.
The finished product:


Which quickly became this:


I'll leave you to think about that, shall I?

--------

UPDATE: Mr has graciously allowed the posting of his super-secret and very tricky recipe for maple candy.

announcing...the day in the life of project

Like I said, I'm nosy. I am so curious about how other people spend their days. I want to know how YOU spend YOUR day.

So I want you to tell me. If you're a blogger, post it on your site and let me know. If you'd rather die than blog, but think this seems kind of interesting, email me (themrs [at] themrs.ca) and I'll post it for you.

That's all. Just more peeping craziness from me.

January 29, 2011

guest post: lannis is losing her marbles

Hi everyone! It’s Lannis, friend of the The Mrs and local captcha heckler. The Mrs was kind enough to bully me into a guest post share her lovely space with me! Thanks, Mrs! I’m honoured!

A little about me: I’m a stay-at-home-mom who has voted herself unemployable does book reviews for PostWhatever.com, indulges in plenty of geekery, and does a little home day care on the side (something’s got to pay for the online shopping, right?).

While debating potential topics for this post, I got a little distracted... not by the dishes or the laundry or the plethora of Legos and Froot Loops littering my living room floor (I’m a semi-finalist for 2010’s Worst Housewife, by the way--hence The Mrs pegged me for a guest post... our styles are obviously very different). No, I was distracted by the marble run.

Admit it, parents: there’re toys in your house that aren’t just for the kids. Maybe it’s the Lego, maybe it’s the play dough. A friend of mine loves to colour.

My guilty pleasure is the marble run.

We purchased it for Christmas one year because our two boys were too old for baby toys and yet too young for the popular culture kids’ toy trends (Transformers, you boogers, I owe you at least one aneurism! Ages 5 and up, my tuchus! Whoever designs those things lies--you definitely need a PhD to transform that garbage!).

Anyhow. Where was I? Marble run, yes: it was a perfect educational blend of building, creativity, and cause-and-effect. All bright colours and snug-fitting construction, and the best part: no batteries required! I jumped on it.

Of course, it’s debatable who has more fun with this marble run: the boys, or the mom.

Mr. Lannis has declared himself less-than-engineer material, and gives up on elaborate structures rather easily. Luckily, though, he will happily drop marbles into the start wells with two boys once I have constructed a behemoth of a run.

Me? Yeah, once the thing’s built I lose all interest, so it’s nice that Mr. Lannis is willing to stick around and cheer on the insanity. And I mean insanity: the five-year-old and almost-four-year-old bouncing up and down screaming as they support their favourite marbles in the race to the bottom. (We’ve a marble that’s cream coloured with coffee brown swirls my youngest has dubbed Twiggle-Wiggles. Of course! What else would one name a marble?!).


The marble run was so popular in our household--yes, the whole house! Even the cats liked it!--that Santa magically brought another set this year--without our even asking! Man, that dude seriously does see everything!--so now we can make even bigger runs, or many, many, (good, Lord, when does it stop?!) many small runs...

Or, you know, construct a bunch of laser blasters (guns are only for hunting) and run around like fools shooting the houseplants (we don’t shoot people, and the cat swatted someone one day so we don’t shoot animals, either!)... because, well, even though I put in an order for girls, instead I got a lecture from my doctor about genetics and reproduction...



Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

even on maternity leave, weekends are still weekends

Mr is home on weekends. He's supervising potty time right now. He's around for that terrible half hour between 11:45 and 12:15 when we're all too hungry to be nice, but most importantly, he has time for little cooking projects, like his stated intention to make maple candy tonight.

Which I'm broadcasting publicly in the hope of using it as leverage in case he tries to back out of it.

The other reasons for weekend happiness pale to insignificance compared to maple candy, but I'll mention them anyway. Anything, really, to kill the time between now and candy time.

High up on my list of why I love weekends is the fact that they are warm. I'm naturally cold all the time, but - through sheer bloody-mindedness and deeply rooted cheapness - keep the weekday temperature in our house at 18 degrees (that's 64 to you Fahrenheit-ers). We give ourselves a break on the weekends, and right now I'm luxuriating in the balmy warmth of a 20 degree house.

I also get to do every piece of laundry in the house, since Time of Use billing and my previously mentioned cheapness (you can say frugal if you want to be charitable) means that unless there's poop on it, I only do laundry in off-peak hours.


Most especially, I love weekends because if - hypothetically of course - Miss has confiscated my saucepan, slipped away with my olive oil, and created the biggest domestic oil slick ever, someone else is there to hand me the paper towels.

Since it (hypothetically) happened on a weekday when I was alone, there is no picture. But I'm sure you can imagine it. If it had happened. Which it obviously didn't.

Incidentally, olive oil is a pretty good shine agent for old maple flooring. Just an interesting fact I came across one day.

January 28, 2011

you thought I forgot...or hoped, anyway

I mentioned my desire to learn how to make wonderful, crispy-crusted bread a while ago and have finally gotten around to starting a 200 (Non-Contiguous) Days of Bread Project, since I can't put it off any longer and have finally purchased an apparently essential instant read thermometer.

But accomplished nothing else that wasn't eaten, dirtied or messed up again later. In case you wanted an update on that.

Back to what the book calls "Artisan Bread", although I'm having a tough time even writing the word. It sounds like bread snobbery to me. And my life, while it's narrow enough to include book snobbery, has no room in it for carb or flour related uppity-ness. So I'm open to suggestions for non-snooty names for the kinds of delectable breads I'll be flooding my home with. And, depending on how close you live to me, your home.

Since I don't bake at midnight, and reserve the right to not do projects once the kids are in bed, Miss was an integral part of this first attempt.


As was her kitchen stool:



My first Oh Well, I'll Use Something Else girl moment came right away - every recipe in this book calls for instant yeast. Instant yeast. I don't do instant yeast.

So right away I'm pooched. Not exactly; I'm substituting exactly the same amount of active dry yeast. We'll see how this works...I'm hoping it does - not only for the obvious reason that I'm not a masochist - but because the first "Master Recipe" uses six and a half cups of flour.

Which is hard to stir with a wooden spoon. Oh yes, did I mention that I'm not using my beloved, rock-star red Kitchen-Aid for this carbalicious project? The book told me I wasn't allowed to.

Let's all be sad for a minute together, shall we?


We'll see how long this lasts...

I followed the recipe (except where I didn't), and it looked like this:



Did I also mention there was no kneading involved? And that I was supposed to own and use something cald a "bread whisk", Danish, no less? I think not. Anything with "Danish" as one of it's adjectives sounds expensive.


Here it is, resting:




And here - in my Proof of Bread Life photo, sans date - is the finished product.




Except that's not all, of course. Recall that the master recipe used six and a half cups of flour...there's still a lot of that dough still in my refrigerator.

Which brings me to the good parts of this process, so far. There's about four loaves worth of dough in the fridge right now, and it can apparently live just fine in there for the next nine days. So anytime I want to bake, I can skip right to the "Form and Bake" section. 

Final thoughts: the bread was too salty, the crust was crisp but not crisp enough, and since I used active yeast, I could have used a little less. Other than that it was a good loaf of (sort of) crispy-crusted carbaliciousness. Especially slathered with butter.


Baby Boule, check.
-----
Update: I've now modified the recipe for Crispy, Crusty, Delicious French Bread and it is here.

January 27, 2011

word for word

This evening, after returning from yet another eyeball appointment - good news, everyone! I get to have more eyeball surgery! - I made this recipe for dinner:


Which is actually Molly Wizenberg's Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe from her column in Bon Appetit. Is anyone that's been around here for a while surprised? I'm not. I seem to have a thing for her food writing. In this case, the writing was more appetizing than the food. Actually, kind of like in the case of the Dutch Babies I made, too.

Hmmmm.....

The meatballs themselves were good. The sauce, not so much. Solve-able? Of course. Probably not by me, though.

This is not the reason I'm writing about this meal. The real reason is this (a word for word conversation I had with Miss while I was labouring through the aforementioned recipe):

Miss: I'm talking on the phone.

Mrs: Who are you talking to?

Miss: Joanie.

Mrs: Who's Joanie?

Miss: On the phone.

Pause...

Miss: I'm talking on the phone.

Mrs: Who are you talking to?

Miss: Joanie.

Mrs: Who's Joanie?

Miss: On the phone.

A second pause...

Miss: I'm talking on the phone.

Mrs: Who are you talking to?

Miss: Joanie.

Mrs: Who's Joanie?

Miss: On the phone.

No joke. Not a typo. We had the exact same exchange three times in very short succession.

I told Mr about it at supper and he got kind of freaked out, which I could tell from the kind of questions he was asking. For example:

Where does Joanie live?

What did Joanie say to you?

Is she a big girl or a little girl?

What does Joanie look like?

We know no Joanies. But the one Miss talks to on the phone is a big girl, lives "in her house", told Miss "not to bite and hit Mommy and Daddy", and has brown hair, green eyes, and yellow legs.

So watch out for Joanie. Although clearly she gives good advice.

---

There was more this morning, when she found the phone on one of our end tables.

Mrs: Who are you talking to?

Miss: Joanie (of course)
Mrs: What are you talking about?

Miss: Talk.

So that's awesome.

January 26, 2011

the wednesday bookshelf: questionable nostalgia time

How could I have let this go for so long? I've spent so much time on the bad kids books that I've forgotten there are good ones *sob*.

Actually, I'm not sure they're at all good...but they fall in the category of "I have good memories of reading this as a child, tracked it down, and will now recommend it to people".

If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.

Here's a ringing endorsement, though, courtesy of my good friend and serial commentator with a crush on the captcha - you may know her as Lannis): The Book Depository. Free shipping, anywhere in the world they ship to.

Free.

Free!

I'm calming down.

The Jolly Christmas PostmanThe Jolly Postman - (1st Edition)The first book for this category is The Jolly Postman series, of which there are three: The Jolly Postman, The Jolly Christmas Postman, and The Jolly Pocket Postman.

I'm going to go out on a shaky limb here and say that the quality of the writing in any of them is so beside the point that the point is allowed to wear an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt and you still have to buy the books.

The Jolly Pocket Postman (The Jolly Postman)These books have envelopes in them. With stuff in the envelopes. Stuff. In. The. Envelopes. Like a Humpty-Dumpty puzzle, a postcard from Cinderella's honeymoon, a birthday card for Goldilocks with a pound note in it, and an advertising circular for witches...among other awesome things.

You can't get these out of the library. Even if you could, some dumb kid (someone else's, obviously), will have taken all the stuff out, messed it up, and put it back in the wrong envelopes.

My only problem is deciding when Miss will be old enough to read them without wrecking them.

I figure I'll be safe when she's around twenty-five.

January 25, 2011

miss bedtime

Bedtime for Miss has changed over the short time she's been around. I re-read part of my half-ass diary from her first year the other night -

(Half-ass, you ask? Surely not. Yep, three entries in an entire year. That's dedication for you.)

- and marveled, a little wistfully, that we used to rock her to sleep almost every night. In the dark, in the rocking chair in her room. I actually remember when she was a year and a half and getting taller every second, rocking and humming and worrying that she was getting too big to hold facing me in my lap anymore, and what was I going to do when she was two years old and four feet tall.

She grew out of that...or maybe we did. She also hasn't grown to be four feet tall yet, if you were wondering.

No, a short time after we moved to the new house, but before Jr was born, her bed morphed from this:


to this:


And now the bedtime routine is completely different. She still gets the stories, she has learned to stay in bed (most of the time) after we leave the room, and she still sleeps with her blanket and nimmie (not pictured).

No, what's different now is what she has to say.

Every night - every single night - after the hugs and kisses, prayer, second request for a drink of water, and demands to change the colour of the ladybug that shines stars on the ceiling, just as we're shutting her door and walking softly down the hallway, she yells around her nimmie to us:

"Don't forget your wallet!".

It's enough to melt a parent's heart.

January 24, 2011

somewhere else again

Blogged again at BlogHer. This is becoming a theme...

I made Dutch Babies on the weekend from Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life, and judged my efforts a fail. But there were pictures, and in the pictures, those Dutch Babies looked delicious.

And for you, my patient readers, another picture:


That's Miss, in a dolly bed, reading Pat the Bunny.

She could only be mine.

must. accomplish.

I discovered a new food blog yesterday, which does not bode well for today's goal: accomplish something.

Anything.

Although I'll feel better if it's something that can't be eaten, worn and dirtied, or messed up again. I really do enjoy cooking, baking (an entirely separate category, am I right?), cleaning and doing laundry...some days and tasks more than others, and depending on the weather and the state of my pantry. And I have struggled with and (mostly) gotten over the Ecclesiastes-like despair that housework is composed almost exclusively of tasks that will need to be done again tomorrow. Or two hours from now.

But since for the past week and a half I've been on "light duty", I've gotten antsy to do something crazy. Like organize my pantry, or categorize the contents of my freezer. Something that will stay done for a little while.

I also want to get to my bread baking project - yesterday I bought the last thing I need to get started: an instant read thermometer. I know, a little hang-up, not starting something because I don't have exactly the right tools. Believe me, it's out of character. I'm normally the Get Up Do It Already girl, the Oh Well, I'll Use Something Else girl, the It'll Be Fine girl, the I'm Too Cheap To Buy Special Equipment girl (more about that some other time).

I have some (read "lots of") bookwork to do, for Mr's business, mine, and our personal finances. I have lots of work that I'll definitely be doing for a client at naptime. But those are more things that just needs more doing later...

I need ideas. I'll work on the other stuff in the meantime, but tell me: what should I accomplish (for good) today?

January 23, 2011

project grocery - thirty-six degrees below zero

Did I have a choice in the matter? If I did, I wouldn't have taken myself out of doors at minus thirty-six, let alone Miss and Jr, with their tender little skins that looked like they were about to shatter in the quick run from the car to three different stores.

I'm avoiding the point. Here it is:


That's right. Even though it was so cold outside that the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit is negligible, even though we had a list, even though I knew I'd have to come home and tell you all about it...

$167.43. One hundred, sixty-seven dollars and forty-three cents.

Right now, it's minus thirty-six in my heart. But I have a few things to point out:

One: the receipt for $14.95 was entirely my fault and on a different day. I know all of you math whizzes out there read "three different stores", counted the receipts, and scoffed. That $14.95 was on Friday, when I sent Mr out for a $2.50 bag of frozen peas for shepherd's pie. But it's not his fault, because he called me from the grocery store and asked if we needed anything else. To which I replied virtuously: "No, we have everything we need, we're trying to save money, and we're not due to go grocery shopping until the weekend".

You know that's not what I said. I asked for some snacks. $11.07 worth of snacks.

Onward and upward, right?

Two: diapers were on a good sale. We'll revisit the whole cloth diaper fiasco in another post I have planned about some duh money moments I've had, but for now, let's all join with me in celebrating 224 size six diapers for $0.21 each. You can see I'm not banking on the potty training working any time soon.

Three: we had to go to Bulk Barn for some staple stock up, and they had a coupon for $3.00 off of a $10.00 purchase. So we bought $23.18 worth of stuff. Could we have gone out a second time this week and saved $6.00 instead? Yes. Will we? No.

So if we subtract the diapers, we came in just under budget at $119.67.

What an argument, eh? If we pretend I didn't buy something, I'm under budget.

Awesome. I think I've embarrassed myself enough for today.

January 22, 2011

my library...and i do mean mine

By now, you must know that I love my library. LOVE it. My cheap little soul delights in the free-ness, and my bookworm-riddled brain delights in the book-ness. Obviously.

But here's yet another (few) reasons why my library is the coolest, in no particular order. Or in the order my brain came up with. Whatever.

By the way, and as a total and complete aside, apparently two spaces after a period is wrong, and not just wrong, but W-R-O-N-G?

Ahem. Reason number one:


You may have heard (!) me mention Terry Pratchett before, but let me make it perfectly clear: Mr and I have total crushes on him right now. Mr listens to him on his iPod while he works - thank you, Nigel Planer - and I read him whenever my eyeball lets me.  

Now, our library is small. Forgivable, since this is a small town. And the Pratchett collection is therefore understandably tiny, and represents only a fraction of his bookography. So of course, we make use of Interlibrary Loan quite often. 

Quite. Often.

We've had trouble getting lots of Terry's stuff on CD, since there's apparently not a lot of demand for it, circulation-wise. And yes, we're on a first name basis.

Yesterday, Mr went in to request yet more Terry, and - Hello! - two brand unabridged audio books on CD have magically appeared in our own dear library's collection. How awesome is that?

Reason number two:

Again, with the eyeball surgery. Miss Kate knew I had had it, and noticed that some of my interlibrary loan books were in. And called our house, offering to drop them off for me. Do I need to say more?

Reason the last: Miss Sarah. 

Runs the kids program, knits, blogs, usually has what I consider to be the winning entry at Craft Corner DEATH Match...is generally an all-round punk rock librarian. Gives Miss Mo Willems stickers to help me bribe her away from the Sesame Street computer and out the door.

Bet you wish you lived in my town, eh?

January 21, 2011

somewhere else

I'm blogging at BlogHer today. I love the night life.

For those of you who feel ripped off...something just for you:


Someday, I intend to have a kitchen with at least two comfy chairs (bring out..the comfy chair!). For now, I have the step down from the laundry room. It seems to work.

January 20, 2011

the best time of the day

Yesterday, it was 4:10 PM. Some days it's 12:45 PM (naptime), sometimes it's 7:50 AM (coffee time), sometimes it's 10:00 PM (bedtime - mine...I know, how lame am I?).

But today, 4:10. Because Mr came home early, and he had stuff with him. Mr coming home early is treat enough...and not just because by then I really need another set of arms, especially these days.  Also not just because Jr has decided that he's mad at my right boob, and I'm perplexed about it and want someone to wonder about it with me. No, when Mr comes home early it means kitchen time. I've written about this phenomenon before, and it is truly one of the delights of my life.

Today, the soundtrack was my iPod on random, which gave us such gems as Hallelujah (the Rufus Wainwright edition), Bohemian Rhapsody (more Queen), and A-Punk (Vampire Weekend - thank you, Guitar Hero). Mr and Miss were playing yet another understandable-only-to-them game, which involved the oven mitts and lots of squealing on her part. Jr was watching it all from his little chair.

But this is not what I want to write about. I want to write about the stuff. Because it is yet another example of how awesome Mr is.

This is what he showed up with:


Now, I forgive you if this means next to nothing to you (or your husband, if that's the case). Because what makes this special is that I have not mentioned this book once, and yet have been coveting it mightily for a few months. This is A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg.

You know?

Of Orangette?

Of Spilled Milk?

Don't worry, I don't pay much attention to myself either. But apparently Mr does, because as he was checking out at the store he went to for an entirely different reason, he spotted this in a random bin, thought Molly's name looked familiar, checked out the (very small) print that mentioned Orangette, and bought it for me.

Bless his dear heart, how I love him.

January 19, 2011

the wednesday bookshelf: oliver has something to say

Following along in the theme of last week's Wednesday Bookshelf (don't read to much or your retina will fall off), there's only one book today. But boy, is it a doozie.

Oliver Has Something to Say!At first read, Oliver Has Something to Say! seems pretty harmless and cute. Poor little kid never gets a chance to speak up for himself because his parents and especially his sister talk for him, and often over him. Then he goes to school and his fabulous teacher listens - really listens - to him, and it opens the floodgates of self-expression, self-actualization, and all the other "self-"s.

All right, I can sympathize. I'm sure it happens. I'm sure I've been the one to do it. But (and here's where we file this under Conspiracy Theory), isn't this just the same thing that happens in all the books now? I think I said this already, but aren't there enough books where it turns out that the only person to truly listen to and understand our children are their teachers?

Or maybe I should read this differently and realize it's a lesson...if I don't let my kids speak up for themselves, their teachers will.  Maybe it's a threat.  Maybe Pamela Edwards is a teacher, and she's warning me that my quiet little Jr is really a bossy little jerk boy, just waiting to be let loose. By public education.

That went a little further than I planned.

My apologies to all the teachers.

January 18, 2011

Invalidity

So while I clearly love the idea of being an invalid, I'm not very good at all of its practical ramifications. And lucky for me, I don't have to be anymore.

Also, I'm not an invalid. Just wanted to throw that out there.


 My appointment with the surgeon yesterday confirmed that I'm allowed to pick up my son again (a phrase I never thought I'd even think), and that I just have to take it a little easy, not the full on "peel me some grapes, Mr" mode that we all thought we'd have to endure for two weeks.

I can't be the only person with this problem, can I? You know the problem I mean: the one where you relish the idea of being waited on hand and foot, but when it has to happen in real life all you want to do is run around the house picking things up...and daydream about polishing the stove.

Friday after the surgery, no problem. My parents were here taking care of the kids. My mom made supper for us, and helped Mr put the kids to bed. My dad did the dishes and tidied up the living room once Miss the mess-making machine was asleep. Saturday, I contained myself. I was pretty much glued to the couch. Mr did everything. By Sunday morning, it had gotten old. I wanted - desperately, mind you - to stay on the couch and be served, but felt terrible about it.

It wasn't like I had broken my arm. Or lost the use of my legs.  Or had a hernia operation. (Or am a genuine invalid). So with full use of all of my faculties, and only the surgeon's admonitions to guide all of us, it was a little tough to ask someone else to pick up my son for me.

Every morning, Miss looks at me and says "you're all better now"  And while I still can't see anything out of my left eye except a blur with yellow and purple flame effects, I'm feeling like I'm all better now. So I get to act like it too.

Mr would like to ask the surgeon about the flame effect. He's concerned that I'm seeing crappy Minnesota Vikings flame effects, when Philadelphia Eagles green and black would be so much more appropriate.

January 17, 2011

It's Sticker Time

So this is what we're working on these days:


I'm single-handedly supporting the sticker industry. Like I used to when I was nine, and into collecting them, but with less pleasure.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'll have LOTS of pleasure when Miss can use the bathroom with zero input from me. But that day is a long time coming. And in the meantime, Miss is at that (super-duper) frustrating point where she knows how to do it, sort of knows when she has to do it, and knows if she's already done it, but -  like an officer P.O.W. - will admit nothing.

And Pull-Ups are expensive. I've caught some pretty good diaper sales in the past, but even dropping $19.99 on a box of diapers for a little girl that just might start using the potty full time someday soon seems silly. (I know. They keep. But still.)

Seems even sillier when I look back to the day we dropped $200 on cloth diapers before she was born. Oops. I know perfectly sane people who used cloth diapers from beginning to end. There are times when I wish I was part of that club, both for my strongly held philosophy of cheap, as well as that nagging guilty feeling for all the diapers my little family has been (and will be) responsible for. Good thing I got my $200 back when I sold them to another first-timer.

I don't want to be that mother that "rushes" her kids to use the potty because I just don't want to pay for diapers anymore - as an aside, what does that even mean? - but I'm pretty close to it. Except that when I gently suggest that maybe now would be a good time for Miss to sit down on the potty and hear "Not yet, thank you very much" out of her little mouth, I laugh so much that I'll be kind of sorry when she doesn't do it anymore.

Also, she gets stickers just for sitting down. In case you were about to read that potty chart differently. As she says, "I sit on the potty and I get a sticker and I get a treat. One, two treats".

The treat box is still full.

January 16, 2011

Ice, Wonderful Ice...A Total Rabbit Hole

I have told you about this, right? My obsession with the perfect ice cube?  I've tried to photograph it in all its perfect glory, but have yet to capture its wonderfulness.


See what I mean?  Not fabulous photography (really, though, when have I ever achieved that?).  And yet to me, this is super-duper appetizing. 

To be honest, if offered this glass of ice or boter-koek, I'd take the ice.  I'd pretty much take the ice over anything. 

I got excited about perfect ice a long time ago, and believe me, I know how weird this is.  I was listening to an episode of The Sporkful, yet another food thing (I'm seeing a pattern here), and Mark Garrison said his perfect cup of iced coffee would have coffee ice-cubes in it...this is going down a rabbit hole, I can see it now.  Just listen to the coffee episode if you want the entire argument. 

To be brief, I started making my ice cubes out of filtered water, and in a particular tray that was just the right size.  You get brain freeze if your ice cubes are too big you know.

Now I have perfect ice cubes.  And am happy about that.

Oh, The Mrs?  She's obsessed with ice cubes.  Another (unwanted) insight into what makes me tick.

January 15, 2011

Still Here

I'm still here. There were eyeball needles involved, and I'm pretty sure someone drew on my cornea with a marker.

Can't wait to repeat that experience.

January 14, 2011

Project Grocery: Eyeball Surgery Edition

An early grocery shop this week, in hopes of getting everything and not having to send Mr out to get anything for at least a week.  Here's hoping.

Actually, here's hoping that casseroles magically appear at our doorstep...

I had to buy a lot of pre-made stuff since I plan on being flat on my back for the next few days.  And the surgeon told me to eat light...which means what, exactly? I know for sure that it doesn't mean the rest of my family has to eat light.  Eating light is not a phrase that goes over well chez Mrs.

I also had to buy a lot of baby food materials...which still tend to be the cheapest foods in the store.  Rutabagas, squash, spinach, carrots, peas and those things do not add up quickly.

It sounds like I'm gathering in all my excuses for being over budget (again) this week, doesn't it?

Well guess what:


I lost the receipt.

But still, awesome, right?  As I was checking out, I had resigned myself to being very over-budget...and almost YIPEEEEd right in the store when she told me what my total was.

Purists, I know that I am $0.02 over budget.  But.  I.  Don't.  Care.

And neither do my eyeballs.

January 13, 2011

The Best News I've Had All Week

So I said I was worried, not about eyeball surgery, but about shutting off Jr's boob fountain cold turkey.

Guess what?  Motherisk says I don't have to.  And they know more about boobs than the Surgical Director of the Vitreo-Retinal and Cataract Division of OSI.

I feel like 25 pounds has been lifted off of my hip.

All The Boo-Hoos

Long list of things to do today, what with the eyeball surgery tomorrow and all.  Baby food to make, groceries to buy, kitty litter to clean, stuff to have ready for my Mom so she can take care of the kids.  I also had big plans of making some meals up in advance, but that's fallen by the wayside. 

I've been thinking a lot about this, of course, and I don't care so much about the grossness that is the surgery itself, or the possibility of blindness or any of that...what I've been worrying about is the next two weeks, when I'm apparently not allowed to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds, and the next six weeks, when I'm not allowed to breastfeed.

Hello?  We build our children hefty around here.  Miss is somewhere around 40 pounds.  I've been trying to mentally prepare her that I won't be able to pick her up for a little while.  And she looks right at me, very seriously.  Listening intently.  Nodding a little.  And then says "You want to pick me up?"

Jr is at least 23 pounds and almost immobile, and I guess that should alleviate my second worry too, since clearly he's not suffering nutritionally.  We joke that this is just a little diet he has to go on because he's so fat.  But it does upset me some.  You know, to be told as an aside that as of tomorrow I'm going to have to wean him just like that.

Poor little guy.  Off boobs, cold turkey.  Poor little girl, off pick ups.  Poor little Mrs.  Poor little Mr.

There, all the boo-hoos are out of my system.

January 12, 2011

The Wednesday Bookshelf: Warning Labels And Some Dogs Do

Some Dogs DoSo my brother feels that books should come with warning labels, and I agree with him.  Like cigarettes, here in Canada.  Something along the lines of "If you read this, you might go blind".  I spent yesterday learning about cataract and vitrectomy surgery (hereafter "eyeball surgery", because I'm technically-minded like that), because I'm going to have some on Friday.

My eyeball surgery - which I found out I needed yesterday, mind you - has to happen as soon as possible because my retina got lazy and decided to give up on good posture.  It's slumping.  It had no mother to tell it to "sit straight or your back will stay like that".    It's slumping so bad that it's almost slumped right off.

So in the interest of admitting that I have a problem, and it is a book addiction, today's edition of the wednesday bookshelf will be limited to one book.  And we're going to stop talking about how they're going to melt off the front of my eye, scoop out all the vitreous jelly (eew), laser my retina back in place, and send me home.

Today's book (and this was one of the ones I got on Monday when I played the library game) is Some Dogs Do, by Jez Alborough, author of one of my other all-time favourites, Hug

The rhyme and rhythm of this book is so catchy that reading it out loud is the only way to do it.  Even if you're just reading it yourself.  Even if you're just reading it yourself, in the library.  Or bookstore.  You can't read this silently.  I dare you to try.

Some Dogs Do isn't a particularly witty or cheeky story - and you know how I like those - but even though it's sweet and cute, I'd still recommend getting your hands on it, and not just because of the way it sounds.  Sid's happiness about flying and the dear way his Dad relates to him when everyone else tells him that dogs don't fly is particularly refreshing, because I've noticed a trend in a lot of (bad) kids books (read this in a snarky, nasal voice, please): the only people who understand you and can guide you on your journey of self-discovery and potential building are your teachers.

Boooo.  Does that sound stupid to anyone else?  Great teachers are great.  It's a tough job, and some of them do it really, really well.  And some parents really suck at being parents.  But I'm a little tired of kids books, public school curricula, and provincial policy all produced from the mindset that - left to their own pitiful devices - parents will definitely screw up their child's imagination and potential.

Wow, that has nothing to do with this book.  Sorry. 

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I had to look up the plural of curriculum on line.

January 11, 2011

A Day In The Life Of

Well it wasn't one of those days.   You know the ones I mean...when you can barely think of anything to pray about except to ask that the kids have a really long nap.

Since I'm a complete peeper when it comes to the actual day to day of other people's lives, here's a day in the life of Mrs (since it wasn't one of those days):


7:23 - Miss wakes up, pads to the top of the three stairs down into our room, and starts crying.  About what, we don't know.

7:24 - Jr, whose room is mostly across from ours, wakes up.

7:25 - Mr runs barefoot across the cold floor to get Miss' blanket and animals for her so she can crawl into bed with us and we can all doze a little longer.

7:26 - I get up.

8:00 - Coffee's on, I'm nursing Jr while simultaneously reading Making Money, by Terry Pratchett (god among men).  Miss is on the potty, watching Sports Centre.  Mr is also watching Sports Centre, though not on the potty.

8:44 - Breakfast is (mostly) over, I'm helping Mr get his stuff together for various administrative tasks that only he can do...but needs me to get the paperwork for.

9:15 - Miss and I take everything out of her little kitchen, spread it out all over the floor, sort it, and put it back (organized) into her kitchen.  Because:
  1. If I can't do it to my own kitchen, I'll do it to hers.
  2. She thinks I'm playing with her if I do it.
  3. I'm a sick person, and this is what I do for fun.
9:55 - Jr goes down for his nap, I turn on Sesame Street, make a snack, and Miss parks herself on the couch while I park myself in front of the computer.

10:34 - I've checked my RSS feeds, email and Facebook, written my blog post for the day (kind of a blah one, in my opinion...sorry), and am wasting time surfing, until I remember that there's a book in at the library and I'd like to squeeze that trip in between Sesame Street and lunch, hopefully before noon.  Or grump time, at our house.

11:14 - Having stuffed Jr into his snow suit and wrestled Miss into her mittens (Hate.  Those.  Mittens.), we're at the library.  I've picked up My Life in France by Julia Child, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (thanks to my friend Leslie and her excellent review), and have navigated Miss to the computer...the only one in the world on which she can press the buttons.  It's a big deal for her.  I pick out a few books for Miss without looking through them.  As an aside, this is a very fun game that you should try.  Do it.

12:03 - Home again.  The kitchen gets a trail of coats and boots and - of course - mittens through it as we make our way to the potty chart.  Miss got two Gerald and Piggy stickers from Miss Sarah at the library and needs to put them somewhere.  Right Now.

12:05 - I nurse Jr, then Miss is persuaded to sit on the potty while we read all the new books from the library.  Two of them are way too long.  I'm hungry.

12:30 - They're eating lunch.  Pork and sauerkraut leftovers for her, with some applesauce, potatoes and peas and carrots thrown in.  Cereal, peas, beets, and squash for him.

12:52 - Mr comes home for lunch, just in time to carry Jr up the stairs for his nap while I carry Miss.  Ah.  Naptime.  I eat my burrito (I know.  Don't judge me.), Mr eats his pork and sauerkraut leftovers, and we sit on the couch and talk while The Price is Right is on. We wonder how much they must whip that audience up for the contestants to act like that, or how ridiculous you'd have to act in line for the show to get in it.

1:23 - Mr leaves again, and I read.  It's good for my soul.  I also eat Nutella.  But you knew that already.

2:59 - Jr wakes up from his nap, followed shortly by Miss.  She sits on the potty, he nurses.  It seems to be a pattern.

3:20 - Miss and I play restaurant.  She learned it from my mom at Mr's birthday on Sunday.  It's ridiculously fun to play restaurant with a two year old.  Find one and try it.

4:24 - I try to put Jr down for a nap.  He's grumpy, and teething.  He does not nap.

4:52 - Mr calls to say he'll work until six.  I feel all wifely and decide to have dinner on the table at six.

4:53 - I actually follow through with my decision, and start marinating the salmon from his recipe for Maple Glazed Salmon.

5:04 - I relent and get Jr.

6:05 - Mr walks in the door.

6:11 - We're at the table eating.  I have to pipe up and say that this is not usual.  Usual is me intending to eat at five and eating at six.  I'm no good at timing.

6:45 - Mr and Miss are chasing each other around the house with one of those magical emptying juice bottles, yelling something crazy and laughing hysterically.  Jr is watching them from his high chair and grinning like something that grins a lot.  I'm trying to drink frozen beer.  It's pretty hard to do.

7:07 - Both kids are in bed, Mr is in the shower, and I had a good idea for a blog post, so I'm blogging.  Not clearing the table.

7:14 - Mr comes down the stairs, and I jump up and start clearing the table like I've been doing it the whole time.  He doesn't fall for it.  We clear the table together and clean up.  I'm eating most of Miss' dinner tomorrow for lunch.  She doesn't mind, and I don't mind.  It's a winning combination.

7:38 - I sit back down, ostensibly to update Quickbooks for Mr's business.  I check Facebook again first, and trade loving insults with my brother.

9:00 - I switch manically between still working on the books and trying to watch the premier of "The Cape", and can't concentrate on either.

10:00 - I realize that this dumb tv show is two hours long.

10:10 - I give up on the books, although they're mostly done, go upstairs and have a shower.  Mr tries heroically to finish off his birthday cake.

11:01 - In bed, realize that "The Cape" will likely not get a second chance from me.  Mr goes to sleep...I should be sleeping.  Instead, I'm reading Shiver.  Bad news.

11:55 - In a heroic burst of willpower, I put the book down, take out my contacts, and turn out the light.

11:58 - I realize no one will read this entire list.  I wish someone else would do this, so at least I could read theirs.

January 10, 2011

Spilled Milk And The Mrs

Okay, here's another reason I love my ugly kitchen: I stand at the weird low counter that is actually the perfect height to knead bread, I look out the window, like so:

 
and I listen to Spilled Milk, a podcast by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette fame.  I didn't choose the curtains, if you're wondering; they came with the house.

I am as greedy with Spilled Milk as I am with food.  Seriously, I gobble up episodes like they're Wavy Lays and A&W Root Beer.  Insight you probably didn't want on my serious junk food and pop dependency.  I'm fighting it, really I am.

Ahem.

Since it's only biweekly, and only started this past summer, I have quickly run through my supply of podcasts, and am now forced to wait like a chump for the next one. 

I don't really remember how I came across Orangette, but the same applies.  I wait eagerly for a new one to shop up in my RSS reader...they've been few and far between lately, but she is a super-busy woman.  The only drawback is that until I can teach Miss read, I can't listen to Molly's blog while cooking (better, I hope, than I did before I started reading).

January 9, 2011

Mrs Cake

You know it's Mr's birthday party today.  At five.  In the middle of the Eagles game.

To make up for my football faux pas, I'm making pork and sauerkraut and chocolate cake with caramel icing.  I could live the rest of my life not eating either one of those foods, but Mr loves them, and I love Mr...so there you go.

Pork and sauerkraut is just pork and sauerkraut.  Put it in the slow cooker that you borrow from your mom, cook the crap out of it, and it's done.  Not too ambitious, cooking-wise.

For the cake, though, I wanted to go all out.  I chose Devil's Food Cake from Joy of Cooking, because since I read Julie & Julia I've started to enjoy the idea of actually following a complicated recipe correctly.  The idea, mind you.

For whatever lame reason - probably because I actually needed three pans instead of two - the cake batter overflowed in the oven and filled the entire house, especially our top floor, with the tantalizing aroma of burned chocolate.

One layer stuck in its pan, and had to be reformed on the plate by hand.  Sculpted, really.

I thought the icing would fix it though.  It's just boiled sugar and cream, really, and I thought I could use it to skillfully disguise the pre-chewed appearance of the bungled bottom layer.  It started so well - I thought my only problem was going to be resisting the temptation to dip my finger in for a taste.  Even I know that two hundred and twenty degrees looks fabulous, but tastes like burning.


As it turns out, caramel icing gives you about a thirty-five second window of spreadability, after which you may as well try to ice a pile of bread crumbs with a hunk of fudge.  There are parts of the cake that look artistic and delicious, if you're right up close to them and can't see out of one eye...


But mostly it just looks like this:



[singing] Happy Birthday to yooooouuuuu!