April 30, 2012

Building My Hello Kitty Empire (Mwa-ha-ha)

Ever since last week and the birth of the Hello Kitty felt board, new ideas for what to make have been percolating through my little brain. Pretty much non-stop, actually, which has seriously impeded my ability to function in normal human society, but their fruition has been delayed since there's not a lot of two hour blocks of time to be had around here.

Uh, none.

For the next four weeks, though, Oscar is in daycare on Mondays and it's just me and Norah - oh, and Lucy, the Easily Forgettable Baby* - and today we've been Hello Kittying our faces off.

What she needed today (other than a mouth, as Norah continually reminds me) was someplace to live, and fortunately for my wallet, I was able to use my amazing math skills to work out the equation:

Old Flannel Bedsheet + Old Felt Blackout Curtain + Old Spring-Loaded Curtain Rod = Free Felt Board

Like so:

After all that sewing, the only thing we had time to make was some kitchen stuff. Of course.

*True story: we spent all yesterday morning outside working on our horrible back yard (slightly less horrible now, thankfully) with Lucy chilling out in her car seat. She was so...what's the term? Oh yes: Third Baby that we forgot her outside when we came out for lunch.**

**Not for long, so relax. I'm sure I read in one of the baby books that two hours outside alone is perfectly fine for a two month old baby.

April 28, 2012

Lannis: A few lessons...

Okay. So. You know when you’re excited for a trip and you’re raring to go, and you have all these tremendously high expectations...?

What happens? It’s a let down, right?

Okay, maybe not always, but there’s still a drawback... the fun has to end sometime, kids.

This weekend past I flew to Atlanta for five days to attend JordanCon (I have a recap here and photos for public consumption here if you’re interested).

And truly, I can recap this extra-long weekend in three words: It. Was. Awesome.

To be even more succinct, I can sum it in two words: sleepless bender.

Seriously. I don’t know what crept into my brain, but despite the litres of alcohol poured down my only-semi-tolerant throat, I found myself lying in bed blinking at the ceiling at 3am (except for Saturday night/Sunday morning, because I was still hanging in the hotel lobby until after 4am. Thank you, Jono).

Thankfully my amazing roomie had Ambien with her.

Also thankful that that ceiling wasn’t spinning — because Lord knows that was a distinct possibility.

So. Things I learned this weekend:

1. If a border guard leaves the partial sentence “so you’re...” hanging, never presume he’s asking where you’re going, just tell him you’re a geek — he’ll laugh and you’ll be waved through. Which is good because...

2. Those Kinder eggs in your checked baggage are illegal in the US. Seriously. I spent the weekend handing out the case of eggs I brought, joking they were contraband because I’d thought they simply weren’t available for purchase in the States, only to come home and shit kittens because it turns out they really are illegal.


3. It’s really creepy when your flight’s seat mate is not only the same age and astrological sign as you, but he met his wife the same year you met your husband, and you both got married the same summer. The wide-eyed question, “so when’s your anniversary?” is extremely awkward.

4. The decidedly neutral look in response to “I’m flying down for a fantasy convention” actually speaks volumes. If you ever receive this look, I’ll advise that it’s wise not to bother informing your seat mate that you’ve weapons in your checked baggage.

5. Apparently I have a “heavy” Canadian accent.

6. People laugh if you say you’re from “Canadia.” If they ask where that is, they’re probably trashed.

7. If you think you’ll find decent tea, you won’t. Always pack contingency tea bags (don’t worry, they’re legal. I just checked).

8. I’ve met some of my favouritest (sure, it’s a word) people via the Internet (to my mother’s chagrin, probably).

9. These same favourite people live far too far away — geography has been the bane of my existence in one form or another all my life, I suppose I should be used to it by now.

10. Three hours does not a good night’s sleep make. You will wake up still intoxicated.

11. When a room party is handing out free booze called “swill” it’s probably best not to partake, regardless of how charming the bartender may be.

12. Americans find Ontario Driver’s Licenses fascinating. I bet it’s the holograms.

13. Always tip Atlanta servers with loonies and toonies — they’re far enough from the border that they get a big kick out of it. They also like it if you snort and pretend you’re insulted that their snobby tip cup only takes “American paper.”

14. When possible, shoot short video recaps of your day. You will not remember the whirlwind otherwise. Also? Drunk you is probably entertaining.

15. There’s always far more free alcohol than you expect.

16. You’re far too old for weekend benders and you’ll feel every day of your years (but it’s only once a year, right?).

17. When you’re a trophy wife/stay-at-home-mom, your kidlets will scream and wail and beg you to come home via telephone, because it’s apparently terrifying when their anchoring fixture has run away from home...

18. These same kidlets will not care when you finally walk in the door. Especially if Star Wars is playing on the TV.

19. It takes a good three days (at least) to get over Con Hangover (which is less actual hangover and more a byproduct of alcohol and sleep deprivation).

20. It would appear to take far longer to get over Con Depression (the period of sadness that the fun is over for another year)... I’m still waiting.

21. Mr Lannis is an excellent single father, despite rug burns, mold in the toilet (I was gone FIVE days?!), lack-of-grocery shopping and increased fast food consumption (possibly related), and...

22. Hamster will only be fed once. In FIVE days. Despite any sticky notes left in plain sight.

23. Not noticing your hubby has gone to the trouble of rebuilding your clothesline until two days after you’re home will make you feel very, very guilty... even if he’s still tickled you noticed.

24. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Erm... and other things other adjectives. Heh.

25. Daddies spoil kids rotten when Mommy’s not around to hold the purse strings.

26. Elf ears are great souvenirs for little boys.

27. It’s never fun to walk out of the airport and smack dab into wet snow.

28. It’s never too soon to start the count down to next year — just don’t tell the Con Chair (yet).

29. And the last thing I learned...

Sometimes when you spend the winter puttering on a costume, even though your hubby thinks you’ve lost it (more than usual, that is), all your hard work is recognized...

Good thing I finally stopped procrastinating, eh?

And yes. I really came in first place. I swear I’ll shut up now. (Or I could be lying. Heh.)

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.

April 27, 2012

Best. Yard. Sale. Ever.

The first thing we saw at this yard sale - the best yard sale - is the last one I'll show you. Because it is that awesome.

You know, like my aversion to Goodwill, my dislike of yard sales has eroded over time (and forced exposure - thanks Seth), and has morphed into A Good Time. Provided I have my coffee with me, and it's not raining.

Speaking of coffee, on Saturday we went to our first yard sale of the season, despite the frigid weather, and I was rewarded with the coffee mug of my dreams.

No, it's not the ladylike white one - that's Seth's. He found it at the Dollar store two months ago and hasn't drank a drop of coffee from any other receptacle since. Dainty. I've spent some time laughing at him, rinsing out his cup from the morning so he wouldn't have to drink his afternoon coffee out of some mug.

And then I found the unspecial, unglamorous, Corningware (for goodness sake) mug that is now my own personal obsession. I know you don't understand, so I'll help you:

 Doesn't that look appealing? Wouldn't you want to drink every coffee you ever drink for the rest of your life out of this robin's egg blue mug with the little chip out of the handle?

Too bad, you can't. It's mine. All miiine!

So there's that.

But there's also this. And it is perfect. It has brought my entire life full circle, and if a lizard broke into my house tonight and ate my brain, I'd die happy having experienced this moment. And now you can too. (Experience the moment, that is, not die happy.)

(Uh, not that I want you to die sad, or anything. Or die at all, for that matter. You know, if that was under my control something something.)

You're so very welcome.

Also this. Just because.

April 24, 2012

Why Yes, I AM Freakishly Crafty

I would love to say that this whole thing was my idea, but it wasn't. It was Seth's.

Well, it started with Norah, who woke up this morning and plucked "cut out Hello Kitty" from her mysterious brain as her most desired activity for the day. And then I thought: "paper dolls".

And then I thought: "Oscar", "ripping things in half", and "apocalypse".

At which point Seth intervened with my new favourite four letter word: F-E-L-T.

You may remember the malevolent hot dog and my plans to fill Norah's entire play kitchen with felt food, and - depending on how well you know me - you might have already guessed that I have a lot of felt lying around and not much to show for it.

Which is why I jumped on a Hello Kitty felt board idea as if it was a jar of maple candy (all for meeeee!).

To the internet!

To the empty cereal box! And scissors!

To the felt!

To the paper!

Back to the empty cereal box! And the felt! And the scissors!

To the girl!

I'm pretty sure you can't see it from where you're sitting, but from where I was sitting there was a pretty big smile on that girl's face. (Not Hello Kitty's face, obviously, her being slightly deficient in the mouthal area.)

I told you: Freakishly. Crafty.

This time last year: Graduation Day...All Together Now

Scooby-Doo And Jordan Too

Okay, close your eyes (not yet) and imagine my best Scooby-Doo voice saying "Uh-Oh!"

Open your eyes, please, and gaze at my future for the next week:

Looks like I won't be getting any more work done for a while. Good thing about that housekeeper, eh?

This time last year: Sales Rule, Coupons Drool

April 23, 2012

It's All Relative

It's Monday. The older kids are at daycare (Someday: the explanation. Today: not), Bean is asleep in the playpen beside me, and I'm sitting in a house that is not burnt down, with a relatively small laundry pile, mostly clean dishes, and fairly tidy living room.

This is not remarkable, except when I consider this fact: I haven't been in the house since Friday afternoon.

Seth has been home with Miss and Junior (This is getting boring and hard to do, so forget it.) Norah and Oscar, and I've been off gallivanting with Bean Lucy, my Mother, her five sisters, sister-in-law, and their assorted daughters, nieces, grandchildren, and grandnieces.

Women in groups are complicated, and related women more so. But every year (and this was the sixth) I enjoy myself and the time I get to spend with cousins and aunts that - owing to geography - I might not otherwise see or have enough time to devote to real conversations.

So since this is an event that I'd be bitterly disappointed to miss, my dear husband stays home with whatever kids we have who aren't breastfeeding and tries to keep body and soul together while I perform the only magic trick I know: Magical Disappearing Mommy.

It's not something he looks forward to with anticipation, but he manages, and although he doesn't have the kind of logical thinking that posits dismemberment and possible death from unsupervised pencil running, he can keep the kids well fed and entertained. And he doesn't let the house burn down - not literally, and since that time three years ago when I came home to a driveway full of our living room furniture and a living room full of our bedroom furniture, not figuratively either.

Let's not remind him about that year.

April 21, 2012

Lannis: Leaving On A Jet Plane...

I’m going on a trip—actually, if this is posted on schedule for Saturday I’m already on the trip...

I’ve left Mr Lannis in charge as Head Male, and I’ve debated tattooing “as long as they’re fed it doesn’t matter if they/the house/the pets are a shambles” in a readily visible area of my body.

And then, Wednesday night, as I am was sitting in the living room, I realized that Mr Lannis will remember to feed himself (food is waaaay up there on his priority list), and the kidlets and cats will complain if they’re forgotten...

But there is one member of the family who doesn’t have that luxury, and he’s sitting in the middle of the living room floor...

Place your bets, folks: Will they notice?

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.

April 20, 2012

In My Absence, WilliamB Plays Tag

 It's time for my yearly weekend with the women of my mother's side of the family. This year, I was the one taking care of the booking, and - not that it's hard or anything - it's taken up a little of my attention this week. So has getting the house and its occupants ready for my absence. 

Wasted effort, I know.

Lannis has also been caught up in a whirlwind of leaving - in her case to JordanCon, because she's that type of fan.

In our collective absence, WilliamB has again stepped up to the plate, this time playing along in our little game of Eleven Things You Don't Know About Me (But Do Now)

Enjoy, and see you Monday. Promise.

* * *

I’m cheating.

I started to post answers to Sandi’s post “Cheating at Tag” then realized if I played with it a bit, it might pass as a guest post. Ever helpful that I am, I thought it worth the effort. Just ignore the fact that it took me over a month – Even After I’d Written All The Important Parts.

(See #4, sigh.)

1. I try to keep a list of all the books I read. It usually doesn’t last the year – not sure why, it’s not like it’s hard to do - but I persist in the attempt.

2. I have very catholic taste in nonfiction.

3. I do not have a husband named Seth.

4. I am the world's laziest workaholic. I think of myself as inertial: an object in motion tends to remain in motion, an object at rest tends to remain at rest.

5. Chocolate is a daily necessity. So is reading. Despite several years of good intentions, exercise is not. See #4.

6. I once beat *myself* in a cooking contest.

7. I have no allergies.

8. Be wary when you ask me a question.

(Example: a friend asked me for a 7 word letter for Greek boat. I gave her the word, the history of the boat in question, how it was used in the Pellopenisan war, how Athens used it to maintain political superiority over the other Greek city states, and how it wasn't till the late 1980s that we figured out how to make the thing work.)

9. I can tell when a word is misspelled but often can't figure out how to spell it correctly. (Pellopenisan?!)

10. I have very narrow taste in fiction but I make up for it in volume. My favorite SF/F writer is Lois McMaster Bujold. Feel free to ask me about her … but see #8 first.

11. I loathe rote cursing. Bad words should be saved for dire emergencies. Now, an imaginative curse is worth listening to. Klinger in M*A*S*H had great ones, such as "May the fleas of a thousand camels come to rest in your left armpit"

And a bonus for you-know-who:

12. I like Lannis anyway.

April 17, 2012

Kijiji Is Renovating Jr's Room

So after living in this house for two years (to the day, even), we're finally doing something about the Disney Flesh Room.

To be honest, it hasn't bothered me with its ugliness...because I keep the door closed. But the time has come to de-Disney and de-Flesh it, since we need to put a kid in it and don't want to scar his little psyche (well, not with interior decorating, anyhow).

The thing about home improvements, though, is that they cost money, so we decided to let other people pay for this one by selling a bunch of stuff on Kijiji, like so:

We've sold stuff on Kijiji before, but not on this scale, and - dumb - we just let what little money we made get absorbed into our wallets...and then spent. On food, probably.

This time, we're keeping the money apart and using it to pay for the few things we need for this room. Like dumping fees for the Disney border, since we had to wait for Hazardous Waste Day.

So far, we've sold the remote control ($40), dog crate ($35), and dishwasher ($100 after we scrubbed the crayon off), and the proceeds have brought the room to this point:

Maybe I should respond to the guy who wants me to ship a roof rack C.O.D. "because I really, really want it and how else am I going to get one?"

Or maybe Jr can wait a little longer for his new room.

 This time last year: But...

April 16, 2012

Tossing The Old Google Salad

Once again, my friends, it's time to examine how you got here - and by "you" I mean "the coolest people I've never met."

By "the coolest people I've never met" I mean "people who are very possibly Disturbed."

And by "once again", I mean "Rebecca the house cleaner is here and I need to look busy".

Public Service Answers:

how do you pronounce boterkoek, how to eat french bread, and how to make friends at a store?
Boterkoek, with your mouth, and wear funny hats.

does root beer have pig?

what is a way to not smell burf when you are cleaning it up?
Burf's a funny thing, you know. Tricky. But I'm glad you got your answer, and hope you stop burfing soon.

how to say moneyon daper?
Put on your funniest hat, go to the store, and make friends with someone who can type.

Statements To Which There Are No Answers:

i want free stuff. Me too.

i know im a day late and a dollar short. Um.

the other dumb kids people. Yes?

babies like nice people. Not necessarily.

Three People I Have To Meet Somehow:

all together now where are the carrots, macarons aren't even that great, and pulled pork there are no pictures because i ate it all.

Questions For Which The Only Appropriate Response Is Visual: 
what does the mona lisa look like?

 patching a jean hole monster?

Best Example Of A First Time Search Engine User:

"still wears" diaper or nappy or "pull-up" or "pull-ups" or pullup or goodnites or underjams or drynites or pampers

Thoughts That I Will Now Attempt To Finish Satisfactorily:

i want know how you feel about me

i was about to tell you
That lemons are on sale three for a dollar until Saturday.

thanks for reminding me that
Zombies may be able to walk on the sea floor, but you're only in danger if the water is shallow.

Queries That Are Best Answered By Other Queries:

Q: wheel of time boobs?

A: geek corset

Q: the sound of metal?

A: "thxthxthx" or"lkkljkjikihiyz",depending on the ambient temperature of the room you're listening to it in.

Q: Built in gun cabinet under stairs plans, walk in closet with gun cabinet and earthquake gun?

A: See: zombies and "blame". Also possibly motherhood advice.


You're welcome. All of you. Even 1940s toilet bucket.

April 14, 2012

Lannis: Pointless Popcorn Spiel...

I’ll be the first to admit we’re a little behind the times in the Lannis household. Santa finally brought us our first gaming system this past Christmas, and we don’t have cable or satellite TV.

I also don’t have a data plan on my smart phone, but that’s a whole other post for another day.

Last week, though, we opted to upgrade. A little. Like, how most of you probably did in the 1980s (or perhaps earlier)...

We went from popping popcorn on the stovetop (yes, the old shake-the-pot method), (dun dun DUN!) to an air popper.

It all started when Mr Lannis read somewhere that it was healthier to air pop popcorn (duh). Of course I knew this, but aside from a short stint of microwaving popcorn when I was in university, I’ve stovetop-popped popcorn all my life.

“It’s easier,” Mr Lannis said. “It’ll be better for the boys when they’re older--they’ll be able to pop popcorn themselves with less supervision.”

The latter, I highly doubt. Probably because I micromanage the kitchen in general (except for Mr Lannis’ eccentric eating habits--another whole post for another day).

And so the hunt began. I went online. I researched. I frugally found our $10 reward card for Sears, and scrolled through what they had to offer.

Warning: ranting semi-digression ahead.

Handy time-saving tip: Sears is overpriced. Holy moly, are they ever.

And I knew this, but I was that girl who grew up leafing through the phonebook-thick Sears catalogue--and not just the Christmas Wishbook, but the other seasonal catalogues, too, just as thick.

I was trained from childhood that Sears is the go-to. And I’ve shopped there plenty, taking advantage of their catalogue store pickups to keep from having to travel all the way into the nearest department store location for the item of choice.

Overall, it’s always been a decent experience. Basically the free-shipping-little-travel sold it for me. So I figured my $10 reward card would compensate for the air popper’s overpricing, and I would be able to pick it up in my town at the catalogue pickup location.

The air popper I chose was $19.99...

Yes, you could argue I could wait until garage sale season and find sixteen being sold within walking distance of my house for $2.

But Mr Lannis wanted it NOW!

Okay, so, maybe he just mentioned it twice and I took the opportunity to shop because, let’s be frank, I’ll take any excuse to do so--I’m far worse when it comes to books, trust.

My point here is that by the time I had that $20 air popper in my online shopping cart, it was $28 after taxes and shipping.


Whoa, whoa, WHOA.

Excuse me, Sears. This is new to me. It was always free to have items sent to the pickup locations... now you’re charging $3.95?! And applying tax to that?!

And it seems to me I’m still using my gas to drive to your location to get it?!


Off to WalMart (no, it wasn’t a special trip--I had a whole list). For $14.88 plus taxes I got a simple Rival air popper. A similar popper from Sears would have been $18 after I’d applied that $10 reward card!

Yes, basically the same price, but I still have my reward card.


Digression over.

So I brought home the popper, to decidedly less fanfare than I had anticipated, but whatever.

Mr Lannis, God bless him, read the instruction manual cover to cover. All eight pages, including warranty information.

Uh... it’s an air popper.

Recklessly, I poured in the kernels and plugged in that bad boy.

Actually, it wasn’t my first time manning an air popper. Once upon a time I worked for a local museum, and part of our education programming was teaching school classes about Native Canadians and their relationship to farming. They grew corn, and they were brilliant folks.

They used to toss it with maple syrup.


Point being, I’d manned an air popper a time or two at the museum...

But Mr Lannis hadn’t. So I get it. But as I’m setting in to watch Game of Thrones on DVD, he’s got kernels flying willy-nilly, into and out of the bowl set to catch them, as he leafs through the manual.

And then he speaks, “Uh, hon. It says here that kids and pets are supposed to be kept forty inches away.”

“Hm. That’ll be tricky,” I reply. He catches my eye. “Are they recommending we tie them, or staple them to the floor?”

He may or may not have thrown the manual at me.

I may or may not have deserved it.

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.

April 13, 2012

Food Waste Friday: A Little Help

I only had a minute or so this afternoon to clean out the fridge, and since I didn't do it last week, I was expecting worse than I got.

This seems to happen to me a lot in life. Better than the opposite, right?

I pulled out the mushrooms, whipping cream, green beans, and one sad little leftover egg muffin that I've had in the fridge for three weeks and assumed were toast. Turns out only the green beans and muffin went to appease the trash gods and the mushrooms and whipping cream survived to rot another day.

But hopefully not.

In the fridge right now is some lemon-sauteed cabbage that desperately needs to be used up but has presented me a bit of a puzzle as to how. Your suggestions?

(As always, Food Waste Friday is the brainchild of Kristen at The Frugal Girl and graciously hosted by her.)

This time last year: Planning To Plan

April 10, 2012

And Baby Makes Zero (Books Read, That Is)

That's not exactly true; now that Bean's out of my uterus, I have more time to read. Time I was previously using up by sleeping all the time.

No, my problem is not finding time to read (I'll carve it out of my own eyeball, if I have to.)<— That made sense. Yes, it did.

The problem is also not about finding books to read. See exhibit A (through G):

Since I only ever buy books that I L-O-V-E, and since I'm a serial re-reader owing to the fact that I have a memory like a Kleenex diaper, I've got plenty of material that I can go back to again (and again, and again, and again...)

I also have a lovely library less than a block away that still has all the books I used to read (again and again and again) when I was younger and lived here. Also, the women there know me and my kids, I went to high school with one of them, and some of them read this blog (Hi.) They are fabulous.

No, my reading problem begins and ends with this woman:

You see, it might not be apparent to you, if you're blind in one eyeball or if your computer doesn't turn on on Saturdays, but this Leslie woman is a zealous proselytizer for Robert Jordan's epic(ly long) series Wheel of Time.

And - sneaky, sneaky - she bought me the first book and sent it to me in the mail.

And now that I have to read the whole series, and just finished book three (that she brought with her to lend me - read: "ensure the first free taste really took hold" - the last time she visited), I find that my library (which I otherwise love, obviously) doesn't have books four and five, which are listed - somewhat foolishly, in my opinion - as "reported returned".

Now I have to wait however long it takes for book four to get here from some other town. And I have to read something while I wait.

Suddenly, my collection is feeling a little on the sparse side.

This time last year:  My To-Do List

April 9, 2012

Monday Miscellany

At six weeks, Miss Bean is smiling. Not so much at me, which seems to be the norm for my children...they smile at my mother first, and say their father's name when they learn to talk. I'd be deeply irritated by this if they weren't all so cute. I should probably spank them more.


Leslie came over two whole weeks ago (or was it three?), and we ate these, proving once again that Jane is - how are the kids saying it now? - da bomb? Maybe the kids have never said that. Maybe I don't care and want to eat more tarts.

We also demonstrated incontrovertibly that we cannot a decent picture of ourselves take. I present to you the evidence:

Attempt One. And boobs.

Attempt two. Success? And possibly boobs.

I'm holding her Ziploc container and two Wheel of Time books hostage to ensure we have a rematch.


It is April 9th. And I'm already behind in keeping track of the new budget. I rule so hard that I'm expecting a sceptre in the mail any day now.

That, or an audit notice.


One of the rooms in our house looks like this, and I - despite what you think you know about me - am very happy about it.


My son has learned to colour.

Probably because of all the practice he's getting. 

Good thing we have that house cleaner.


Related: the house cleaner came for the first time yesterday and cleaned both bathrooms. Is it peculiar that she reorganized everything in the vanity drawers? Is it peculiar that I think it's peculiar? Someone else cleaning my house is a whole new(ish) world to me, so I'm not up on the etiquette.

I also struck a blow against class war, political incorrectness, and man's inhumanity to man everywhere by persuading my daughter to call the cleaning lady by her name, instead of by The Cleaning Lady.

Changing the world so much in one short day has made me tired. I deserve to sit down and have a coffee. Or to relive our Post Birth Of Bean feast:

April 5, 2012

Curried Peach Chutney: The Only Condiment

Hey, horseradish (also ketchup, hot mustard, and barbecue sauce): I think we should see other people.

Oh, sure, I'll still spend time with you. I'll probably even enjoy it.

But I'll be thinking of Curried Peach Chutney.

In fact, I'm thinking about it right now. Curried Peach Chutney on pepper goat cheese, on chicken burgers, on a spoon...

If you want to kick your existing (boring) old condiments to the curb, or just send them a message so they'll be nicer to you*, then I have an incredibly complicated and time-consuming recipe for you:

Take one jar of peaches in syrup. Open it, and pour it into a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, breaking up occasionally with a potato masher, spoon, or whatever, until it has reduced to a more jam-like consistency. Pour in a good amount of curry powder. (In my case, "a good amount" is probably a heaping tablespoon - or two.) Mix it up and eat it hot, tepid, or cold on anything you can think of.

See if you can wrap your brain around THAT in time for Easter dinner.

* I don't act like this at all. Except with food. And alligators.

This time last year: First, She Bought Some Flour

April 4, 2012

I May Be Late But I Brought Tostados

This is my “Congratulations on your new sweet little baby girl” post for The Mrs. I admit it was supposed to be done AGES ago and was meant for her to use as a buffer when she first came home with that sweet bundle.

However, I have my own sweet little baby girl at home and things have been going…erm…let’s just say less than smoothly.

Wait. Don’t get me wrong. She’s the most darling wee one. I’ve never met such a happy baby. And she SLEEPS. It’s so awesome that she sleeps. It’s actually not her at all. Nor is it my 4-year-old, tear the world apart, rambunctious little boy.

It’s kind of just everything. I know you understand what I’m talking about. We all complain about being busy all the time. Honestly sometimes I one of those parents that Jen would like to punch in the throat for complaining that they’re busy when really they’re busy with stupid stuff (Jen is the hilarious blogger at PeopleIWantToPunchInTheThroat.com).

I know I spend too much time at the grocery store (and too much money. Our darling Mrs. would cringe if she knew) and taking the 4-year-old to way too many activities, and tweeting, and facebooking. It used to all fit in though. Lately, it doesn’t.

Anyhow, that’s my explanation for why this post is so late. In addition to the explanation, I also offer an amazing dinner to help out other busy parents: Tostados! (a.k.a. what I make for dinner when I haven’t planned anything, don’t have time for anything and have kind of given up but am not quite willing to call in for pizza.) These are easy and tasty. The best part: They’re an excuse to eat sour cream.

We seriously eat tostados for dinner at least once a week. There’s no recipe here other than the method for baking the corn tortillas, given below. Then the toppings are up to you. Note that since the toppings are served individually at the table and everyone makes their own tostados you don’t have to worry about picky eaters. “You don’t like avocado? Fine, don’t put avocado on yours. I’ll eat it all myself. Put some black beans on instead!” Also, the whole separate-bowls-of-toppings thing means that I can make one bowl of something spicy (with chopped jalapenos) or flecked with “green stuff” (i.e., cilantro) and nobody is going to throw a tantrum. I offer it to the picky eater at my table and if he refuses, well, more spicy green stuff for me, more black beans for him!

I usually use some kind of leftover meat (chicken and pork are best), shredded using two forks and then mixed with a couple tablespoons of bottled BBQ sauce before heating in the microwave until hot. But I’ve also fried up ground beef or turkey with some chilli powder, salt and pepper, adding the BBQ sauce at the end.

After that, the toppings can be as easy or complicated as you like and you can have as few or as many as you’d like (or rather, as few or as many as you have time to prepare). The only requirement is that there MUST be a tub of sour cream on the table.

Possible toppings:
drained black beans
defrosted corn kernels (spicy stuff and green stuff optionally added)
drained diced tomatoes
a mixture of drained black beans, defrosted corn kernels and drained diced tomatoes – add the spicy or green stuff here, if you’d like
refried beans
shredded cheddar cheese
diced tomatoes
chopped avocadoes
diced cucumbers
sliced black olives
leftover rice
shredded napa cabbage
shredded iceburg or romaine lettuce
pico de gallo
chopped green onions
chopped red onions
chopped white onions
chopped any kind of onions
chopped cilantro
chopped jalapenos (fresh)
jalapeno rings (the jarred pickled kind that you get on nachos)

Assembly: Take your bowlfuls of toppings to the table. DON’T forget the tub of sour cream. (Did I mention that I love sour cream?) Take your crisp corn tortillas to the table. Give everyone a plate. Let them do as they please. I pile mine up as in the picture. My husband puts meat and cheese on the tortilla and then the other toppings are mounded on the side of his plate to scoop up as he goes. My son keeps everything separate and nothing is allowed to touch. He munches on the “big chip” and then works his way through the toppings. (Note: If you do it my way, have a paper towel or napkin on hand in case the toppings topple off with the first bite. No, I don’t mean to imply that this is what happens to me. I’ve become an expert at fitting it all into my massive mouth. But since I don’t know how coordinated you are nor do I know how big your mouth is, I recommend having a mopping up tool handy.)

Crisply Baked Corn Tortillas

Serves 2-3 people as the base for tostados


6 soft corn tortillas
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Lay the tortillas on a large pan in a single non-overlapping layer. Brush top sides lightly with the oil. Sprinkle each tortilla with a pinch of salt.
3. Flip the tortillas over and brush the other sides with oil and sprinkle with a touch more salt.
4. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until they’re puffed and lightly browned (some will puff more than others, some will brown more than others. It’s a general thing: some puffiness here and there some browned bits in places). If they don’t immediately feel crisp to you, don’t worry. They crisp up a bit more once they’re removed from the heat.

Christine's blog, Cook the Story, tells stories that center around food. Why? Because stories that make you drool are better than those that don't.

You can connect with Christine on Facebook and Twitter, where it's all about the story (except when it's about the food).

April 3, 2012

Some Sympathy For An Incredibly First World Problem

So much like when I had my eyeball surgeries, a thoughtful friend has given me the gift of housecleaning to celebrate the birth of my third wonderful (yet incredibly time-consuming and fairly messy) child. This time, it's my overwhelmingly persuasive brother-in-law, and I'm grown up enough to realize that housecleaning given as a gift does not necessarily equal a negative judgement on my housekeeping skills.

If you'll allow me to reminisce for a minute: My Mom kept (keeps) an incredibly clean house. Not in a creepy cover-everything-with-plastic-wrap kind of way, thankfully, but clean enough. For years she enjoyed the privilege that I aspire to achieve sooner rather than later: she was a stay at home Mom, and I remember harbouring a particular reverse snobbery about housecleaning, and those who had it done for them.

I also remember being shocked - Shocked, even - when Mom pooh-poohed my teenage snobbery, because I assumed she would share it. She told me that if I could ever afford housecleaning to jump at it, because having someone else do things like clean toilets and mop floors would not only ensure that they'd actually get done on a regular basis, but that I'd have more time to take on bigger projects, or just enjoy spending time with my kids.

Consider me corrected, and happily so.

But my problem is this: I don't want anyone who cleans my house to think that I NEED them to clean my house.

Translation: I'm almost irresistibly tempted to clean my house before she comes to clean it for me. Again.

So doesn't it serve me, my old snobbery, and my crazy pride in my non-existent housewifery skills right that the woman hired by my brother-in-law came by on Very Short Notice this morning to scope out the place, on a day when there were (many) crumbs in the carpet, a pink ring in my shower,a disturbing stickiness on my kitchen floor, laundry clean but unfolded and decidedly un-put-away on top of my dryer, my hair was air dried and therefore bushier than Hermione Granger's, and my face was as free of makeup as - thankfully - my three-year-old's.

Oh yes, and I was also wearing a baggy t-shirt with spit-up and - I think - goat cheese smeared across the front.

That woman's going to charge double, I can just tell. Good thing I'm not paying for it.