Wednesday, June 30, 2010

day 2 of my excellent adventure

This is not a great picture of either one of us, but at least Claire's teeth are really nice and white. And of course Norah is a cute munchkin.

We had heard that 8:30-10:30 is the best time to visit the Statue of Liberty, because that's when the lines are shortest. It seems to be true, because the ferries that were unloading when we were leaving were chock-a-block with all manner of huddled masses.

Like the rubes we are we discovered once we were on Liberty Island that the Citypass tickets we'd bought were only good for getting us onto the island, not into the monument itself, and that the tickets for the monument had to be purchased back on the other island, the island called Manhattan. So that was a bit of a downer, until we convinced ourselves that it wouldn't be that cool to be up inside the statue. You can't see her from inside, you know. And the grapes were probably sour anyway.
I was pretty amped about seeing the Statue of Liberty. I think she is one of the most beautiful and regal pieces of art in the world. It's difficult for me to articulate my feelings about it, because I get all muddled and weepy, but she is, to me, the American soul made flesh (or copper, in this case). That poem by Emma Lazarus never fails to bring a tear to my eye. She does not represent war or conquest, but charity and selflessness and tolerance. She represents our goodness. We forget too often how we came to be, and how we came to be great.
She is just as breathtaking as I hoped she would be.

Now, on to things of lesser import. John says that the way to get to know a city is to walk it, and boy, do I know Manhattan. Claire and I traipsed all over creation, lugging the stroller up and down many flights of stairs, and Norah was a perfect angel the whole time. We went to Great NY Noodletown for lunch and I was cheered by the fact that I could see dead pigs hanging on hooks in the back when we got there. I like restaurants that don't put on airs. I mean, who among us does not have a dead animal or two hanging in our kitchen?
The food was superb, as I knew it would be, as it was recommended by both the Dummies book and Tipsy Baker's sister. I got duck noodle soup, Claire got beef noodle soup, and we shared the salt-baked shrimp, which is stupendous. And the skin on my duck was so good I wanted a whole plate of it. I don't understand people who don't like the skin. They are nuts. Well, more for me.

We walked past Katz's delicatessen, but were too full to try anything. Then we went to the Tenement Museum and did the tour on "The Moores." I am super morbid, so this tour was right in my wheelhouse, as it discussed the squalor and filth of the Lower East Side during the time this family lived there, with the garbage and horse excrement flooding the streets, the swill milk, the drinking water contaminated by privies, the outbreaks of disease and the high infant mortality . . . it was gruesome and fascinating! I highly, highly recommend this experience. If nothing else it will make you appreciative of our modern amenities, as you stand, sweating and fanning yourself in the muggy New York heat, looking at the three wee rooms in which entire families lived. Plus my meaty arms came in handy when they had us all heft the big wooden laundry bucket full of rocks (to simulate water). Unlike the other tour-goers, I barely even swore in unhappy surprise at its weight.

After this we were feeling a little squalid ourselves and stopped for Italian Ices somewhere in what once was Little Italy.
Then we went to Russ and Daughters, where we bought chocolates and smoked salmon and cream cheese and salmon roe. On our way home we saw Mitchell from Modern Family, woo! We also accidentally rode the subway to Harlem.

Then we got all tarted up and went to Babbo for dinner, where we walked right in, sat right down, and had a crazy dinner.
Lamb's tongue.

Beef cheek ravioli with truffles.

Rabbit with carrot viniagrette.


The food was all delicious and perfect. I am so happy we went there, and that I ordered kookoopants food per Tipsy's instructions, because really, when else am I going to eat lamb's tongue? The sagey seasoning in the tongue, the rich, beefy sauce on the ravioli, and the tender, clean-tasting rabbit . . . so very, very good, even with the dink at the next table holding forth about how his father is a millionaire who made them eat steak for every meal, and where should he go for the summer? The Bahamas, maybe? He also has opinions on where the "old money" lives in Manhattan, if you're interested. He was speaking in that voice people use when they're pretending to have a private conversation, but really they're trying to make sure everyone in the restaurant hears them. Tacky.

If you were wondering, walking to and from Babbo in 4-inch heels is a stupid, stupid thing to do.

Home and to bed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

day 1 of my excellent adventure

I'm going to talk about my vacation now. You can't even stop me if you try! I told you about the flight already. It was largely uneventful, I was thankfully seated next to a trim, cosmopolitan Spaniard and his mother who were on their way to Valencia (as opposed to the brash, Rubenesque girls across the aisle), and the toddler two rows up didn't scream the entire time, just part of the time. Her parents were all scruffy and hairy and wearing climbing fashion, so they were probably hippie beatniks who don't believe in suppressing their child's instinct to scream and carry on in a plane full of disgruntled travelers. Lousy beatniks.

The landing was the roughest I've ever experienced, and I got all nauseated. When I got in my cab to go to Claire and Nate's apartment I was able to sit up and look around at part of Queens, but then the constant, violent stopping and starting got to me and I had to lie down on the seat and quietly moan to myself. I haven't gotten carsick like that since I was pregnant. I almost died.

This is before I almost died/ruined the cab.

Then I got to Claire's apartment and after composing myself we went to the Empire State Building, which is such a perfect example of all that is beautiful about Art Deco architecture. It's so clean and refined without being stark or cold. It's lovely. There was a middle-school group there at the same time, and I enjoyed making assumptions about the students near us, e.g., that the boy and girl who were glomming all over each other are sexually active, and that this is probably their most enjoyable field trip ever. Who knows, it may even be life-changing!

It's a really tall building, and the visibility was good that day. But so ungrateful is humankind that after a while it becomes mundane, and then you're just thinking, so we're really high up, so what? I'm kidding! It was neat. But no apes.

So we schlepped home, ate at Hummus Place (their hummus is really good, and it gave me some good ideas about how to make my hummus better), then went to bed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

thoughts on my flight to nyc

Pen cannot write nor tongue express the extreme pissed-offness of the toddler two rows in front of me.

Its parents (quiet, you, I can't tell boy or girl at that age) are letting it move freely about the cabin, I think in an effort to avoid more screaming fits.

I do not resent them, for I bear no responsibility for the care and entertainment of the child. It is freeing. I know how it feels to have judging eyes on you for circumstances and behavior beyond your control. They probably need to clamp down, but that's not for me to say. I'll be pretty incensed if it screams any more, though.

I'm so glad I brought my purple scarf.

I was in the bathroom trying to do whatever it is one does with a small bag of heroin, but we hit some turbulence and I accidentally choked on it! Whoopsie! But then a handsome scruffy doctor saved my life.

From the excessive degree of twee embroidery on its clothing I have determined that the screaming, wandering toddler is a female.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

whoopie-ti-yi-yo, get along, little dogies

I'm sick of looking at that Bon Jovi post, so here's a little something while I'm gone a-vacationing.

1. We had to irrigate on Monday, and it reminded me why people used to kill each other with shovels at the headgate.
2. A Cutco salesman called me the other day, and I was rude to him and told him I don't care for Cutco knives. I don't care how many people think they're great. I think they're crappy, and even if they weren't, they're powerful ugly.
3. I think the lady who lived here before us got the toilet in the upstairs bathroom from some kind of toilet seconds warehouse. It's the worst.
4. Despite my maverick tendencies I am seeing Wicked on Saturday night. If it's not as good as everyone has been telling me, I am holding all of you personally responsible.
5. A mouse should never marry a cat, because he will only eat all their food storage, lie about it, and then eat her when she finds out the truth. This is what always happens.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm no one's son

When he sings, "I never drew first but I drew first blood," is Bon Jovi (speaking as a murderous outlaw) shunting culpability, saying in effect, "He started it"? Is he saying, "Look, I don't even need a quick draw. My accuracy is such that I will plug you square in the breadbasket while you're shooting the tumbleweed behind me and to the left"? Or is he saying, "Anytime I draw first I kill a man, but it's up to you to determine how often that is"?

I think we can assume that he is a deadeye, but doesn't he also need to work on his draw? It seems like lazy gunslinging to just assume that the other guy isn't as accurate as he is--isn't speed sort of a really important part of a duel, at least to honor the Outlaw Code, if nothing else? I mean, we're not animals! I'm not sure I approve of his devil-may-care attitude toward his chosen vocation. If he's not passionate about drawing first, a probably life-saving skill, then what in the world DOES he care about? Barmaids, I reckon. But they don't have barmaids in purgatory . . . actually, scratch that. Even so, maybe he should practice the quick draw a couple of times.

stupid moles

Do you ever say something kind of stupid or rude, and then make a giant deal of it by trying to either cover it up or undo it? I think my communication consists almost entirely of this sort of thing.

Which is why while we were eating birthday cake at the zoo yesterday, I commented that trifle is better than cake. In between bites of the cake, mind you, directed at a group of people including the person who had made the cake (it was delicious). As soon as I said it I realized how rude it sounded and felt terrible. And then I went on to gush and fawn over the cake far more than I probably should have, just because I wanted to make sure she didn't think I didn't like her cake. And it called even more attention to the fact that I had just slighted her. And today I started composing a letter of apology, because I just have to keep worrying and worrying that bone. I haven't sent it, because I'm still trying to strike the proper balance between apologetic and breezy (it totally negates the breezy!), and I think I probably shouldn't send something at all. Because I'll just keep making it bigger. I wasn't wishing it was trifle, the cake really was good--really good--and I like cake, and trifle is kind of a headache in some ways, so it's not like cake is inferior or anything, and I'm doing it again!

Is this a mountain or a molehill? Because that's a discernment quality I was born without. What do you do when you accidentally say something rude? Or does this not happen to other people?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I need to call that lady and give her back the cat formula.

Ducklings, don't think of it as washing a gallon of cheese down the drain. Think of it as washing five dollars and twelve hours down the drain. Doesn't that sound better?

I keep forgetting that I have raw milk. It's been a while since I did a quick, soft cheese that doesn't require any higher temperatures, and when I found brownish whey and curd that smelled like vomit I decided that a little bit of pasteurization might not be a bad thing for a soft, fresh cheese. Live and learn, as they say.

Haircut tomorrow. I tried to grow it out, I really did. But it's so hard to be patient! I can't continue like this.

Did I tell you that Rex and Groceries are outside cats now, eating big boy food and pooping in the litterbox? I think I did. But I wanted to mention it again, because it gives me hope that I may one day have four beautiful adult children who can feed, dress, and clean up after themselves, only occasionally pooping on people's shirts. I have that skill set now. The parenting one, I mean. Not the shirt pooping one. Although . . .

tengo sueno

Yesterday was Pinga's birthday, and I made this cake. As a layer cake, not cupcakes, as if I needed to tell you. I was contemplating an ice cream cake, but had another one of those existential crises in the store, and couldn't bring myself to buy cookies for the crust, and I didn't have time to make shortbread AND ice cream, so carrot cake it was. It was darn good, too. Moist without being greasy, which is an accomplishment for carrot cake.

It made me think about that thing where people used to think that carrot cake was healthy, because of the carrots, and it uses oil instead of the Demon Butter. Now everyone makes fun of those people, not because they realize that there's nothing wrong with butter, but because there aren't that many carrots, and there is still a lot of oil. But really, it's no worse than regular cake, surely. At least it has the carrots in there. Same thing with zucchini and banana bread. I'm not saying they're everyday foods, but as an option in the sweet treats category, I think they're fine. Especially if you throw some whole wheat flour and sucanat in there. Until we find out from a study (funded by the Corn Refiners Association, obviously) that sucanat is like eating cancer straight, no chaser, and then we can go back to our refined sweeteners.

Don't you think it's so terrible how Obama bombed that undersea oil well and broke the ocean? Boy, I sure do. It's like he WANTS to be the Antichrist.

Did I tell you that our neighbor came and pulled out the juniper bushes with his skid steer? It was a sight to behold. He almost upended himself because he came at them at a dead run (figuratively speaking), jammed the bucket into the trunk, and had the rear wheels about four feet off the ground. It was thrilling. He was already at the next-door neighbors' house helping to clear away the dirt from the hole they're digging for an in-ground trampoline. Here's something fun: while they were digging the hole they dug up one of the perforated pipes in the leach field that comes off the septic tank, so it was leaking poo juice all over into the hole. My kids were fascinated.

One of the presents Pinga got for her birthday was a baby Cabbage Patch doll--one of those that you don't know if it's a boy or girl until you open the package--not that it was a huge mystery, I could see its topknot under the bonnet before I even bought it. It has the writing on its bottom and the adoption certificate, just like the one I had, and I realized that there are a bunch of different birth mothers listed, but the birth father is always Xavier Roberts, like, man! Does he get around or what?

Monday, June 14, 2010

already the windows are dirty

I just learned from a feature story in BH&G that cupcakes "are easier for entertaining than other desserts."


Leaving aside the simplicity of a crisp or ice cream, what, pray tell, makes cupcakes so much easier than other desserts--cake in particular? Is it the fact that instead of pouring all the cake batter into one pan, you can instead go through the process of dividing the batter into a bunch of equal portions? Is it that instead of frosting one big cake, you can frost a bunch of little cakes, each of which will take almost as long to frost as the one big cake? Is it that instead of being able to eat the whole piece of cake, you can leave half of the cake stuck to the inside of the cupcake paper?

In the immortal words of Vonnegut, what a crock of doo-doo.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I hope the wax on my wings doesn't melt.

I just got the coolest idea for a s'more cake, with a graham cracker crust, a sheet of homemade marshmallow for the center, and a chocolate ganache frosting. Overkill? Too much sugar, probably? Have you ever eaten those indoor s'more things off the Golden Grahams box? I am powerless against them. I want to make this. Plus, the graham cracker recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies book is really good.

In other news: I am going to New York! To visit my sister! But more importantly, to get away from my children! Who are less and less safe with me as each day passes!

If Pinga would just do a better job vacuuming it wouldn't be so bad.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

product may stay: don aslett's window washing thingies

Holy cow, I forgot to tell you! A while ago I decided that maybe since I couldn't see through all the hard water stains on the windows it was time to finally wash them for the first time since they were installed. Shut up.

I'd heard that squeegees were the way to go, and having tried the ridiculous newspaper and vinegar method last year--big mistake--I decided I would try it. So John went to the Don Aslett Cleaning Center on the south end of Logan and got some tools. The salesfellow said to just use water with a few drops of dish soap in it, and sold us a squeegee and raggy, moppy-looking thing that reminds me of Barkley, that dog on Sesame Street.

So the other day I set out to wash the windows, and twenty minutes later I was done. No kidding. And let me remind you that I have a crap-ton of big, big windows. You jam the mop and squeegee heads on the end of a broomstick or mop handle, dip the raggy thing in the water, wash the windows down, and squeegee the water off. It is so easy and so fast, and the windows are so clean, they look like I'm already outside! I am a disciple. Plus, did you know that Don Aslett sells packs of concentrate, so you can re-use your spray bottles and add your own water, thereby saving money and eliminating packaging waste? It's true. He is also a charismatic speaker, if a teense corny. You may wonder if the reason I like him so much is because he sort of looks like a combination of John (my husband) and Bob Newhart (my boyfriend), and the answer is "probably."

I've tried to tell the Mrs. Meyers people to sell concentrate, but I guess they like selling us water and ravishing the Earth, because they ignored me. Rudes.

But anyway. Buy the Barkley-looking window mopping thing and the squeegee, and you will not be sorry. Unless you don't have curtains, and then your neighbors can see your illicit behavior more easily. It's your call. Product may stay.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

marie! I'm doing your favorite one!

I saw a girl in an ad today who looks a lot like Courtney Love, which is not a good thing, right? She can't have been aiming for that, right? Her crotch was covered, and she didn't have barf in her hair, but still. Upsetting.

I haven't mowed the rest of the lawn. Probably not going to, either.

I have all kinds of ideas for how to remodel the house across the street, if they ever sell it and the new people want my input. They're welcome to it. For starters: lose the sliding window in the living room, and get a picture window. Pretty!

I saw a dress in Anthropologie yesterday that was on clearance (otherwise the price tag would have made my eyes bleed and fall out instead of just hurt), and it was beautiful! I can't describe it very well, but it's going to look great with my "stilts," as my grandpa calls my brown platform Mary Janes. Which I just grossly learned "are a popular part of kinderwhore and Lolita fashion." Bleh. Will wash brain now.

We're making terrariums for Scouts (is it called den meeting?) tomorrow. Shoot. I just remembered that the plants are still in my car. Whoops, accident. Cooked plants.

The kittens are eating solid food! Crunchy solid food! I'M FREE!

A guy just walked past my house who looks 'xactly like Dale Gribble.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I think we could do with more aspic

So far today I have run(ish) a mile, mowed the front lawn, and watered part of the garden. It's like I'm 1/5 of my mom! I don't expect it to last, but it's a pretty big day. I do know that I'm so proud of my efforts that I'm going to reward myself with a trip to Layton to buy a dress and some shoes. I'm not ruling out Salt Lake, either. I'm drunk with self-actualization!

On Saturday I found a black pencil skirt to replace the slutty one I already have that is only modest if I wear leggings with it. I tried it, but I decided that cheetah-print leggings are probably not appropriate for church. But that's for me. You do what you want. Just don't blame me if you get a bad reputation.

If you were wondering, sour cherry jam is terrible on squaw bread. Honey is a better choice.

I borrowed my mother-in-law's Gourmet Cookbook--volume one. I'm interested to see what it's like, from the standpoint of discovering how long ago we lost control to plastic food. It advocates shortening, but it also uses unconventional cuts of meat. I told John I was going to make him some boeuf a la mode en terrine (cold jellied beef), but he doesn't seem very excited--he said something about how there's a good reason people don't make that anymore. I guess he'll have to eat head cheese instead.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

every girl out wants to be her, but they look the same already, why adjust?

When I worked at Waterford a man came to sell the art department a new printer or copier or something, and he told them that if they messed up the settings they'd get what the artists would later describe as "real shiddy color." They spelled it like that because he said it like that.

Well, yesterday was a real shiddy day (sorry about the sweary homophone, mom). I'll spare you the details of the late start, slow chores, missed breakfast, hundred mile dress and shoes search, and tell you about my nervous breakdown. Our second son, the one we call The Hulk (because you won't like him when he's angry) is being baptized on Saturday, and naturally afterwards we're having a party for all the attendees. So I'm figuring out how to feed fifty or so people, and I'm having an existential dilemma about buying bread and lunch meat to make sandwiches. It's taking up so much of my processing space that I can't even perform simple tasks--I've been rendered totally incompetent by the back-and-forth of I should buy the food/I should make the food/buying food is lazy/being stuck in the kitchen preparing food all day instead of visiting with my family is stupid/if I were worth anything I would be able to do both food prep and visiting/I don't feel like making sandwich rolls for fifty people/well, Sarah made all the bread for her baby's blessing dinner, so what's wrong with you? (sorry, Sarah, you know I love you, but you've got some pretty big figurative shoes)/if I make my own bread or rolls, that means I have to slice them all and I don't want to!/so you like eating plastic, and think your friends and family should, too? nice/I don't want to cook a ton of meat and slice it myself/well, deli meat is basically poison/this is overkill/is it? or are you just lazy?/stop bossing me around!/stop being a slob!/you shut up!/no, YOU shut up!/nag!/whore!

It's exhausting. I've considered quiche, crepes, pork tacos, brisket, pot roast, meat loaf, and a panoply of other meals, most of them highly unsuitable for the situation. And now I've spent so much time worrying about it that I have no time to do anything but go back to the first plan of poison sandwiches on plastic bread. Neat. I feel so great about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

robots making pies

You might wonder why I haven't talked about cooking in a while, since it's one of the few things about my job that I actually enjoy. Do you wonder? Are you wondering right now? I know how curious you all are about my daily comings and goings--as curious as I am about the comings and goings of, say, a person who was in the checkstand next to me at Costco. Which is to say: how does someone eat that many frozen Philly cheesesteak sandwiches?

This is part of the reason I have been cooking shy:
I think Groceries looks like one of those Richard Scarry cats.

And what does Skiver think of all this, you might ask? I'll let him tell you in his own words.
Skiver says, "Boo."

He is sick and tired of it. His hair is falling out from the stress.

In addition to the life force-sucking cats, part of the reason I haven't talked about cooking is I haven't had any revelatory meals for a while. Because we have been eating a whole lot of eggs. Mostly in omelets. I make a fantastic two-egg omelet, but my three-eggers are not as reliable. My pan is two-egg sized, what can I say? The secret to a great omelet is a little bit of milk, gentle heat, and the very best eggs. It's true--in something like an omelet there's not a whole lot going on, so inferior ingredients (like sweatshop eggs, you know who you are!) will show.

On Saturday we disbudded some goats for a very nice lady over in Cache Valley who is my new life sensei. She runs the coolest little farm. You should check it out. I'm going to poach a bunch of her ideas, especially the electric net fencing. Because John and I use the most humiliating savings plan in the world, i.e. claiming no exemptions, we have enough money coming back to us that we can fence our pasture. Then I'll use the electric net to figure out how big each inner paddock should be. Not sure how to fit cutting/baling/stockpiling in there, but I'll worry about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

hating cats

I don't want to be a catmother anymore. These are terrible kittens. They refuse to grow up and eat normal food, which they should already be eating by now, and I'm afraid they're going to be like those grown men who act like babies and hire prostitutes to change their diapers. Rex especially is maddening. Anytime I try to help him drink milk out of a dish he starts clawing and foaming at the mouth and trying to bite me. Then they kick shavings all into the dish and make a big mess of it so they can't eat it. Idiots. There's a part in a Simpsons episode where Moe says, "I'm a well-wisher, in that I don't wish you any specific harm." That's how I feel toward these kittens. I don't want them dead or anything, at least not by my hand, but I am quickly losing patience.

Just thought you should know that I'm the sort of person who hates kittens. And don't get me started on puppies and unicorns.