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Monday, December 23, 2013

product may stay: hearts for hearts dolls

Hearts For Hearts Girls
Okay okay okay, I know that it's the 23rd of December and you already have all your presents bought, and most of you probably don't have daughters in the play-with-dolls phase of their lives, but this is still important information.  Last year when I was Christmas shopping I found the most beautiful doll for Willa, from a company called Hearts for Hearts (parent company Playmates Toys, also home to such products as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).  Here is their website.  But anyway, they have a line of dolls, each with her own story of how she is making the world a better place (we got Consuelo, who is from Mexico), and a dollar of the purchase price is contributed to a child-focused charity in that doll's region.  I don't know how much of an effect any of that would make, but it beats the heck out of nothing.  I like that there's at least some effort being made to teach little girls that they can be instruments of change.  I also like that it's at a price point I can stomach.  I would be sick if Willa were to mess up an American Girl doll, because that's a substantial investment.  But I can buy three of these for the price of one American Girl.  They are about 14 inches tall, they have nice hair that you can brush and style, though it is not quite as thick as an American Girl, and they do not have a huge line of expensive accessories, but they are very well made, and I think they're an incredible value for the money. Willa plays with Consuelo all the time and a year later she still looks great.  If you do want to buy one, Amazon is not your friend right now, because for some reason their prices have skyrocketed (on Lego as well, which makes me thankful I did my shopping so long ago).  Target is the place for you--I saw Shola there a couple of weeks ago.  If I could, I would buy every single one of these dolls.  I've already bought two more because I can't resist (Lauryce and Shola).  Do it, you guys.  Product absolutely may stay. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

ascending krampus

So, we're agreed that Elf on the Shelf is, like, the dumbest thing ever, right?  I employ "Elf on the Shelf" as a shortcut in describing a certain kind of person or family culture I don't like, and my kids know what I mean.  A couple of weeks ago the kids were being so bad about getting up on time, and as a joke I shouted down the stairs that the Elf on the Shelf was so disappointed in them.  We all had a good laugh and it helped them get out of their grumpy lazy funk.

Well, I've been thinking about something . . . have you heard of Krampus?  He's sort of the anti-St. Nicholas, because he finds naughty children and stuffs them into his basket and takes them away.  He is often depicted pulling ears and licking heads of terrified children, who, to be honest, probably shouldn't have been so naughty in the first place.  And here's my theory:  the Elf on the Shelf is like a Krampus Trojan horse.  Krampus has had a difficult time breaking into our cock-eyed optimistic/entitled American culture, and Elf on the Shelf is his way to ease us into suffering actual, painful repercussions for our misdeeds.  Give him a few years and I bet the Elf on the Shelf has horns, hooves, and a ridiculously long tongue.  No more empty threats, no more coal in our stockings, now it's into the basket and away with Krampus!  I welcome this development--St. Nicholas has been so emasculated for so long; he doesn't even have any real power anymore.  We need somebody who can put some teeth behind the warnings.  You'd better watch out, indeed.
Oh my gosh, I didn't even notice until now--he has one animal leg and one human leg!  That is messed up.  Krampus, you crazy cat.  Boy, if anybody doubted that our Christmas celebrations are really just a Pagan tradition that was hijacked and given a churchy veneer by the Christians, look no further than our old pal Krampus. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

we've not yet lost all our graces

I'm glad that there are people out there who are gagging just as hard as I am about R. Kelly's recent resurgence into popularity.  I saw his album cover the other day, and who could have foreseen that a sex predator would have such a tacky, sexist album cover?  Mysterious.

Have you ever watched the "Just the Tips" videos?  I watched the "Swants" one last night and laugh-cried just a little bit . . . okay, I just watched it again, and it might be the sleep deprivation talking but I laugh-cried again, so maybe you should check it out.

Yesterday when I was doing my Costco shopping trip/worship service there was a guy demo-ing Vitamixes, and I ganked one of the samples--he had put raw spinach in it, the dumb dummy, but also a lime so: forgiven--and the guy asked me if I knew anybody with a Vitamix.  I got a little bit confused and told him my sister-in-law has one (she actually has a Blendtec; it's Tipsy who has the Vitamix, but oh well), and he said "Well, you can't let your sister-in-law win this one!"  Look, guy, first of all, I've apparently given you the wrong impression that I'm welcoming a deeper level of intimacy in this conversation by telling you about my family's appliances, and second, I don't like the intra-familial class warfare you're trying to incite here.  My sister-in-law and I are just fine, and if she has more disposable income than I do that's just fine, too.  I will not be baited like this, and encouraged to spend money I don't have on your fancy blending machine.  I have a blender already, and it is sufficient for my needs.  Although, a larger jar for the blender I have would not be amiss, if you're listening, Bosch people.  (They are not listening.  If they were they would have deep-sixed the indescribably hideous new design and gone back to the classic Bosch shape.)

I mean seriously.  What a monstrosity.  And what about that huge lip on the bowl so that when you put it in the dishwasher it collects a repulsive soup of food, detergent, and water?  My mother-in-law has this new design because her old one got broken somehow, and I pity her every day.  Call me shallow, but that design is ugly enough to keep me from buying a Bosch, no matter how durable it is.  I'm so glad I bought mine fifteen years ago. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

I got all pig iron

I have been given an assignment by my guitar instructor to go out and listen to a bunch of different styles of guitar music and then rank them from most to least favorite.  He doesn't have classic country as an option, though--the artists he lists in the country category are Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks.  Barf, pass.  I don't like modern country music.  The exaggerated accents and provincialism seem so much better when seen through the haze of numerous intervening decades.  Whither Johnny Cash, is what I'm saying.  Maybe I want to learn to play "Rock Island Line," is that so wrong?

You guys, the school has taken away the volunteer parents' laminating privileges.  Evidently there was an incident and now we aren't trusted with the laminator anymore, even though I heard from a trusted source that it was actually a teacher who had the accident!  Ooh, intrigue!  All I know is that when I laminated some Christmas trees for Willa's teacher I was the powningest powner who ever powned.

Ugh, last night I melted one of my wrap dresses on the gas fireplace in the parlor, and I am so peeved about it.  I was just backing up next to the glass and thought, "I should not stand so close or I'll melt my dress," and then I smelled the burning.  Stupid polyester fabrics.  It was a great dress, too, and I got it for a steal.  I just really love wrap dresses, and now I'm one down and it was my best one!  Sniff. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

and his name that sat on him was death

I read the book Salt, Sugar, Fat this summer, and in it the author talks about something called a "bliss point" in manufactured food--the point at which those three elements are in perfect proportion to each other--any more and the food would be sickening, any less and it wouldn't be quite as compelling and addictive.  Ladies and gentlemen, this song is, I think, a perfect example of my specific bliss point in pop music:

Slow build: check
Thumping bass and drums: check
Pleasing chord progression: check
A cappella/minimalist middle section: check
Huge chorus following a cappella section: check
Power singing/yelling: check
Black choir: check

I could go on, but this song is basically a chocolate-covered potato chip.  I am powerless against it.  And the metaphor extends, because the song is ultimately not that satisfying or nourishing, and I'm sure I will eventually tire of it.  But for now I'm listening to it on almost constant repeat.

It has a similar energizing effect to "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers.  Did I ever tell you that I cried the first few times I watched the Nike commercial that uses that song?  CRIED.  In a Nike commercial.  So gross of me.  But, in my defense:

The animals?  The running?  The falling down?  (We won't talk about the complicated stories of some of the athletes.)  When people are running I can't help myself.  I have cried in every single one of my sisters' races, and I can't even adequately explain why.  It's like listening to Mariah Carey set her voice free--I am a sucker for effort and mastery and the unconquerable human spirit and so on.  For a cynic I am very tender-hearted.

Now I want to compile a list of all the perfect songs, nourishing and otherwise.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

claim your space--cesar would agree

There's a lady in our town who has the absolute worst posture.  She's barely older than I am and bends over so far she looks like she has a dowager's hump, and my interactions with her have led me to believe that she is self-conscious of her height.  She's probably around 5'11", and her personality is very . . . subdued, and I think she's subconsciously trying to make herself smaller.  Like she wants to be an extra instead of a lead.  That's fine--the world has plenty of leads.  But her bad posture makes her seem weak and insecure, which I don't love.  Not all tall women want to stride around like the magnificent genetically blessed gazelles that they are, but I hate when people don't own their space.  It's so submissive, in a way which is anathema to me.  I want to run my fingernails down her spine and bark "STAND UP STRAIGHT!" at her. I had a friend whose dad used to do that--he was former military and had had a grenade blow up in his face and supposedly the doctors left a piece of cotton in his head when they operated on him, so he was a little bit kooky.  Not sure how much of that story is true, but he was definitely into correct posture. 

I used to slump really badly when I had little babies.  Babies are the worst for posture because you're always cradling and nursing and rocking and you tend to protectively curl yourself around them like a cheesy ceramic figurine until the habit has turned you into a hunchback. 

John is a slumper, too--not as pronounced as the neighbor lady, but he has a very laid-back personality, and I think he is sensitive to how huge he seems to people.  I guess it's nice to not want to scare people, but he can do that by having calm, assertive energy and still standing up straight.  It works on dogs, it should work on people. 

So stand up straight, everyone.  You look like schmucks. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

and here's what I'm doing with it!

Yesterday our Sunday school lesson was about the government, and how it's important for us to be good citizens and be involved in our government to protect our rights and those of others, and as the conversation progressed of course there were people complaining, but thankfully nobody referred to the president as the Antichrist (which has happened in the past).  However, one man did bring up how "all these minorities" keep agitating for changes to be made, even though the general population doesn't feel that way, and as a result our rights are threatened.  He referenced the kerfuffle over the Washington Redskins, and said that when a group of Navajos went to the national capitol to be recognized for the role their language played in sending encrypted messages during WWII, "they were all wearing Redskins jackets!"  Pause for effect, look around the class for recognition of his insight.  Essentially invoking the "but I have black friends!" racism defense--some Native Americans are okay with the name, ergo no Native Americans get to complain about it.  There are a number of things that bother me about this reasoning, one of which is that naming your sports team a racial slur is not really a right.  I mean, I guess it's part of free speech, but free speech in the form of protests is also going to come into play here.  You have the right to say and do what you want, but not the right to escape the consequences of your tacky behavior.  And your opinion about the offensiveness or lack thereof of the name is worth a lot less than the opinion of the group of people in reference to whom the slur was created.  Secondly, as people in Utah tend to forget fairly constantly, MORMONS ARE MINORITIES.  The reason we're able to worship the way we want to is because of the protections granted to us by the unique form of government that we have in America, which, when properly implemented, allows the needs of both the many and the few to be addressed.  The sheer hypocrisy of it. . . it's like on Seinfeld when George gets that toupee and is mad that Kramer set him up with a bald woman, and Elaine shouts at him "YOU'RE BALD!"  That's what I'm going to start saying anytime people start whining about loud minorities. Thirdly, shut up, middle class white male, about the oppression you are dealing with by someone having to rename a sports team that's not even from your state.  I mean, could there be a gripe with less merit than this? 

Anyhoo, I raised my hand to voice opposition, and we continued our discussion with no harm done, which in itself is a miracle.  As our friend Brian said during one of his comments, this is an area that's difficult for a lot of grownups to discuss without causing a lot of argument and hurt feelings.  We all conflate truth with opinion a little too much. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm betting it all on a good run of bad luck

I'm totally a musician now!  I was already, because piano, but now I am within just a few short years of being a two-instrument musician!  I can almost taste the honorary doctorate from Juilliard now . . .

I changed my mind about a hundred times about what guitar I was going to buy, but always underneath it all was the one I saw in the first store I visited, and looking deep into my soul I knew that I would always think about that guitar and what might have been.  So I bought it and I am in love with it but not in a weird or gross way and I will answer questions about it if anybody is interested.  Here is a picture: 

I've always hated Guitar Center, because whenever I've been there in the past it's because John has some boring piece of sound equipment that's having something boring done to it boringly and I want to die--like when I was little and my mom used to take me to the fabric store, BARF.  But the salesman was the nicest fellow and he sat down and taught me about guitars for about an hour.  My fingers are sad and sore, but I can sort of play an easy version of "Amazing Grace" very clumsily!  Onward and upward, possums. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

when along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load

I'm asking for a guitar for Christmas, because I've gone long enough without knowing how to play one.  I took a class in college, but it was at 7:30 AM, so . . .

So I am now tasked with finding my own Christmas present, because I want to make sure it's the right one.  It's sort of like adopting--if not a child, then maybe a puppy or something.  You can't just be picking up any old thing and thinking it's going to be fine.  But I know nothing about guitars, so the learning/winnowing process is very difficult.  I have spent almost as much money on gas driving around to music stores and pawn shops as I am going to end up spending on the guitar itself. 

Do any of you guys play the guitar?  Do you have a favorite brand or model or style?  I'm wanting a steel-string acoustic. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

how lovely are your pickles

Sometimes I wonder if people purposely wait until they're in a steady relationship before they publicly announce that they're gay because the intense media scrutiny of your sex life while you're not even dating would be demoralizing.  Like the entire world becomes your prying aunt who worries that you're too bossy to keep a man. 

I'm so happy that this song got made before George Jones died.  It's perfection. 

I need more pie weights for the times when I'm blind baking more than one crust, and unfortunately the King's in Tremonton has decided to raise its game in the marble department, so they only have those fancy theme-colored ones that are $3 a pack for about fifteen marbles.  Boo!  Where are the cheap ones with the nondescript swirls inside?  Maybe the dollar store can be my friend. 

If any of you have a good idea for John for Christmas, let me know.  He's impossible. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

just snap your fingers and I'm walking

Hey all.  How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was good, if severely lacking in pie options.  There was a Key lime that was the best I've ever tasted and so my wrath was abated somewhat, but other than that there were a lot of bad things happening, pie-wise.  No banana cream, a store-bought French silk, other disappointments I choose not to discuss in mixed company.  I accept that not all people share my testimony of pie, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.  I can't help it that they're ignorant savages.  I made three pies, none of which I got to eat.  An apple pie for my sister, who was hosting her in-laws, which she cooked at her house because my oven was full of a turkey--more on that later--and then a raspberry pie and a bananas Foster cream pie for our friends.

I cooked a 32-pound turkey that we bought from a 4-H neighbor child and it was 1) incredibly expensive and 2) moist and delicious and flavorful.  The flavor was a bit gamy, and therefore off-putting if you are a fan of the standard "I know there's something in my mouth but I'm not sure what it is" taste of turkey, but I loved it.  My mom said it tasted like fish, which I know sounds like a compliment but was not.  Agree to disagree!  I also made 77 rolls.  It was a big day. 

We bagged a Christmas tree yesterday.  Every year I get closer to saying screw this noise and just sticking some branches in a bucket, but I guess we mainstreamed it one more year.  I would really love to try a Quakey, but I think maybe the tree permit only allows evergreens?  I would hate to go to jail for violating the terms of a tree permit.  Do you think the BLM has their own jail, and if so, do the inmates get coveralls in that rad minty green color?  Is the jail in the mountains, and is it a log cabin?  Might be worth it . . .

Over the past few days we've been making fun of Black Friday shoppers and loudly vocally shaming anyone who would go shopping on Thanksgiving because anyone who would make another person work on Thanksgiving Day just so they could buy their stupid thneed is immoral.  Just want to throw that out there.  I don't care if you go shopping on Friday, even though it makes me feel claustrophobic to think about it, but Thursday?  The actual day of Thanksgiving?  You are a monster.  As a wise man once said, if a piece of crap took a crap, and then that crap threw up, and that throw up then took a crap . . . that is you. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

no one else around believes me, but the children on the block they teased me

Okay.  Surely, surely this guy is trolling us.  I refuse to believe that he is for real with these pie rankings.  On what planet would someone seriously rank peanut butter pie above apple?  Peanut butter pie, are you kidding me right now?  Bean pie, lolwut?  French silk higher than any of the cream pies?  Who has ever had a French silk pie worth talking about?  Not me, that's for sure.  French silk is such a lazy pie, because it knows that it doesn't even have to be that good for people to be all, "Oooh chocolate marph marph marph."  They can't even tell if it's a good pie or not because they've already told themselves it is.  I like chocolate, love it even, and French silk leaves me cold.

 What do you think is the most egregious error in this list?   I don't think I can even pick just one.  There are so many offenses that every time I think I've decided on the worst I read another one and my jaw drops anew. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

no song unsung, no wine untasted

This morning when we woke up John started singing "I Dreamed a Dream," and it set me off on a tear about how much I hate Marius.  SO MUCH.  So much.  I wish he were real so we could all watch each other's videos in heaven, and he would see his, with his unexamined life of selfishness and privilege, compared with Jean Valjean's life of sacrificing himself for others, and then when the movies were over and we all saw what a monster Marius was we would SHUN THE CRAP out of him.  And he can take Cosette with him to go live with the Thenardiers, because Marius and Cosette caused Jean Valjean far more emotional anguish with their shaming and casual disregard than those two villains did.  I am so mad right now. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

you keep thinking that you'll never get burned--ha!

Last night at planning and zoning I found myself once again in a conversation with a person who doggedly insisted that Hooters is a fine restaurant with great wings.  WHY DO I ONLY KNOW HOOTERS CUSTOMERS?  And they're always so pleased with themselves, like they're sticking it to The Man, fighting back against the narrow-minded prudes who are offended by the bastion of good taste that is Hooters.  Look, liking Hooters does not mean you are open-minded, or progressive, or "sex-positive," or whatever garbage you're telling yourself . . . okay, it might mean you are sex-positive, I'm not going to work my way through all the possible meanings contained within that genital wart of a term.  But to my point: I have not yet encountered a Hooters defender who doesn't let drop this gem:  "Their wings are great!"  Right.  RIGHT.  And I'm sure that's why you go there, instead of, say, all the other places that also serve reheated garbage food.  Nothing to do with the boobs, I'm sure.  Here's the thing:  Hooters is a place where knuckle-dragging meatheads drool over their idea of the perfect woman: subservient, cosmetically enhanced, and bearing trays of the most American of American foods.  If you eat at Hooters, you think women are objects, not people.  It's as simple as that.  What was most bizarre to me is that this man is a husband and father--a father of daughters, even.  I'd always assumed that the Hooters clientele is composed mainly of bros and Matt Foleys.  But nope.  I am baffled by his cognitive compartmentalization.  Whatever.  He has the right to be a tacky pervert and I have the right to call a spade a spade. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

you gotta know that this is real baby, why you wanna fight it

You know how sometimes you get up and you get going on your day, and you start making lunches and doing laundry and washing dishes, and then whoops, it's eleven o'clock and you haven't showered yet?  And maybe I am just a gross dirty person, but when I'm in that situation, showering sounds like a total hassle, like it's a step backward in productivity or something.  I'm sitting on the couch right now in my sleeping/"exercising" clothes, and I'm having the devil's own time convincing myself to go and wash my body.  Boy, the major grievances that are part and parcel with life as a middle-class American, do you feel me? 

Today on my mosey I listened to  a bunch of the "Spanish in 180 Seconds with Senor Nance" podcasts I've downloaded.  I learned all manner of tenses, and my brain is bigger already.  Grant finally has Spanish again, and he has the same great but scary teacher I had in junior high.  Last night I told him "Vamos a hablar solamente en Espanol ahora, si?" and he looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.  So no career in the foreign service quite yet. 

I bought a bunch of little bowls and saucers at the hardware store yesterday, and have called all my sisters and sisters-in-law to try to convince them to buy some as well, because I feel so strongly that everybody should have nice white dishes.  I don't know what I was thinking when I bought butter-yellow Pfaltzgraff for my wedding dishes.  DUMB.  I got rid of them when we moved here and bought white Homer Laughlin stoneware from the D.I., because if you keep your eyes open, every once in a while there will be a glut of matching dishes, like a restaurant was offloading an old service.  I also bought a bunch of flatware yesterday because the set we got as a wedding gift was hideous, and it's taken me this long--fifteen years, you guys--to get all the way out from under it.  Bleh.  Be careful with your wedding registry, I guess is what my message is.  White dishes, classic lines.  No toaster ovens. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

he looks like one of those guys . . . he looks like a mormon!

Seven pies in one week!  I feel sort of proud about it.  And if you add the six mini pies I made from the scraps, which of course I do, seeing as they require the same amount of effort but in smaller packages, then it's thirteen.  Because 7+6=13.  And although I came close, I didn't kill any of my family in a stress rage, so it looks like I'm pretty much ready to go into business being a pie lady.  I cannot see a downside here. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

still not sure who is the wrecking ball and who is the building?

Okay, what do you guys think about this pie chart

I have some disagreements, for example the strawberry-rhubarb.  It enrages me that people refuse to just make a rhubarb pie--they've always got to dilute it with those stupid strawberries.  Look, make a strawberry pie or make a rhubarb pie, but stop acting like rhubarb needs a helper.  Nobody puts rhubarb in a corner!  I am puzzled why apple pie is the only one for which a double crust is preferred.  And then they prescribe a crumb crust for the lemon pie, but whatever. 

All in all, I like this little chart because it is cute and makes me think about pie.  And I can't believe I've never thought to make an apricot pie!  What a tragedy!  I will remedy this next spring. 

And now I'm off to the kitchen to start baking some pumpkin. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

being told to throw my hands up in the air

I'm getting a little tired of people using Jenny McCarthy's Playmate "credentials" as a reason to discredit her anti-vaccine stance.  How is that any different from Sarah Michelle Gellar, an actress, telling us that we should vaccinate?  How is an actress inherently any more qualified than a Playmate to advise the nation on health issues?  Jenny McCarthy's advice is wrong (and dangerous) because it's wrong, not because she's either a willing or unwitting participant in the objectification of women.  Call her a sellout if you want, but you can't say that her opinions about vaccines are wrong because she's a big-breasted blonde.  There are plenty of big-breasted blondes out there who still vaccinate their kids, and plenty of flat-chested brunettes who don't.  What if a big-breasted blonde is telling us to brush and floss--should we ignore her because no one can be both buxom and correct?  How can we say to not take advice from celebrities on one hand, and then turn around and ask Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jeff Gordon to shill for pro-vaccine?  Eloi and Morlocks alike have access to both incorrect and correct information.  How about if instead we say don't take advice from people who are wrong? Seems simpler to me.

This article and some of its comments were what prompted me to say this.  I agree with the sentiment, but when you cite science as the reason we should vaccinate, you can't use such an unscientific basis as a history of nudie pics for dismissing your opponent.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ranch dressing running through my veins

Like all Utahns, I love ranch dressing.  Unlike some Utahns, I am picky about my ranch--they are not all created equal.  Begone Hidden Valley, Kraft, and your demon kin!  You are not the dressing I am looking for.  There is a moderately famous local restaurant near me that has splendid ranch dressing; thick, creamy, savory, perfection in a cup.  John shares my affinity for this dressing and I have given it to him as a birthday present more than once.  But then a few years ago I called the restaurant to beg them to share the recipe and they said, "Oh, we just make it from one of those packets."  Que decepcion!  Packets do make a better dressing than the stuff in the bottles, it's true, but it still feels like a cheat for a restaurant to be making packet ranch.

I have tried for years, literal, actual years to find a dressing recipe that tastes like ranch, but every recipe has just made me sad.  And yeah, supposedly I should be eating viniagrettes instead of creamy dressings, but sometimes I just want ranch, goshdarnit!  So I gave up that quest and just started looking for ready-made dressings whose ingredients didn't make me look sadly at my children, thinking about the tumors I was giving them. Lately we've been eating the Simply Dressed brand.  It's in the refrigerated dressings in the produce department.  It tastes quite good and the ingredient list is manageable.  We all like it.

But possums, there has been a miracle.  I checked out Ina Garten's How Easy is That from the library, and though she is syrupy and wasteful (her recipe for chicken stock is offensively, egregiously so--maybe they can afford to throw away three chickens' worth of meat in the Hamptons, but around here that is called food), that woman has never steered me wrong, taste-wise.  I have made enough of her recipes here and there over the years that I trust her.  So when I saw the recipe for buttermilk ranch dressing with Bibb lettuce I knew there was potential.  And I was so, so right.  I want to eat a hundred of that salad.  My long search is over and I'm thinking about dousing some greens in that dressing right now, it is so good.  Ina, I thank you for this superb ranch dressing.  Readers, the recipe can be found over here on the Food Network website, so you don't have to buy the book or even check it out from the library.  As Ina would chirp, how easy is that? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

I was bearded when bearded wasn't cool

I am making five pies this week, but not all for me so don't be calling my cardiologist (I don't have one anyway, neener).  I'm test-driving a new crust recipe because mine is crap at blind baking.  I got it out of our community cookbook, and it's from a lady who was a fixture in our town, and whose house I lived in for a year when I was in first grade--when my parents got married my dad was house-sitting while she and her husband were on a mission.  She is in a nursing home now and doesn't remember anyone.  Her name is Muriel and she was friends with my grandma.  I like the name Muriel, and you just know some hipster parent is trying to bring it back.  Because it's awesome and hipsters have a knack for finding and ruining awesome things.  I hate the word hipster, because it's such a hipsterish word, but so far I haven't thought of a apt replacement. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

mr. heavyfoot puts on his pants

I got a glimpse of my future last night. I went along with one of the sister missionaries to do some music for the nursing home, and you know how when people start to get on in years they lose their filters and just say whatever they're thinking?  It's very refreshing.  And when their minds start going it gets even more unvarnished.  Anyway, there was one lady who kept asking people if they were wearing shoes or boots (she was wearing boots), and saying "You need to get some boots.  You can't be in the in crowd if you don't have boots.  Shoes won't work to be in the in crowd.  You need to go get some boots.  You've got to have boots in the wintertime." So I talked to her about how boots are the best ever and keep you from having cold ankles in the winter, and she worked that into her routine as well.  You guys, she is my boot sister!  I will be like her someday, only with more swearing and hitting.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

yeah, I'd like you not to

In one of his books, I think "Me Talk Pretty One Day," David Sedaris talks about the difficulty of learning a foreign language as an adult, and how he is so jealous of babies, because adults just say words over and over to them, trying so hard to help them understand.  I sympathize.  I would love to learn how to speak Spanish better than I do, and am frustrated that I lack opportunities to learn.  But Ike told me that the new neighbor lady across the street told him when he said hello to her at the bus stop that she doesn't speak very much English, and I was wondering how long before I can approach her and ask if I can follow her around all day and have her describe to me in Spanish what she's doing: "Estoy barriendo la acera," and I would reply, "I'm sweeping the sidewalk."  YOU GUYS IT WOULD BE AMAZING.  And not at all awkward, I'm sure.  Then maybe they will also let me pet their beautiful German Shepherd.


Monday, November 4, 2013

you'd know what a drag it is to see you

I just got done at the school--every Monday I go out there and volunteer for an hour in Ike's class and an hour and a half in Willa's class.  The rewards are manyfold:
1.  I get to keep tabs on how things are going in their classes.
2.  I get to do something valuable that helps both the teachers and the students.
3.  Even if I don't accomplish anything for the rest of the week I can still put a tick in the plus column because:  I totally helped some kids learn.
4.  Most three-day weekends affect Mondays, so I don't even have to be there every week.  Ha!

As you can imagine, the kids who are doing poorly are also the kids whose parents are not fully engaged in their education or their care and feeding.  Some of them look and smell like they live in the hyena house at the zoo and it makes me want to find their parents and choke them.  But I just smile at their cute little neglected faces and ask them how they're doing and try to make sure their interaction with me is positive.  I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm a hero and you should bow down and pay obeisance to me because I selflessly give to my own children's school the same amount of time it would take to watch one movie.

Willa's class is a sack of bobcats and I don't know what is her teacher's problem.  Discipline is arbitrarily meted out and the class just bounces back and forth between Loud and Very Loud in amplitude, with randomly selected children being given punishments that vary in severity according to a metric whose logic escapes me.  Not impressed.

When I was repeating my script to one of the kids in Ike's class today I got to the part where I say "If you don't know a word I will read it for you," and the kid said, "Like that would happen."  Confident!  He then speed-read the passage and even though he made way more errors because of this, he still blew everyone away word-count-wise.  Looks like somebody's parents value education . . .

Here's the part where I hubristically criticize other people's parenting methods.  We know some parents who micromanage their kids' Halloween candy intake, but allow them to run rampant in other people's houses, kicking balls at the walls and ceiling, punching and screaming at each other and their parents, destroying other people's belongings, and basically making everyone's lives miserable.  It's impossible to have any kind of a conversation around them because it's total mayhem and everyone keeps looking at each other, wondering how bad it has to get before one of the other parents can step in and bring things under control, getting more and more annoyed with the two people who are actually responsible but are blithely ignoring the atrocious behavior of their spoiled little monsters.  Like they have chosen a completely hands-off parenting style EXCEPT in the rigid control of once-yearly sweets.  Such a weird place to draw a line.  I imagine it's somewhat confusing for their kids.  And now one or more of my own children is going to do something unforgivable because I got on my high horse.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

oh it took Bell to make the telephone ring and it took Edison to turn on the light

Every day I hear something on the radio that makes me feel excited to get home and start writing a story or a novel or whatever, and then I come home and start visiting my internet haunts and before you know it the kids are home from school and I've pissed away the entire afternoon.  Whoopsie, that's what happens when you have no self-control.  


Can I just say that I am digging this new Pope?  On balance he seems like a class act.  Not that the Catholics are looking for validation from me, I'm sure.  But if they are:  thumbs up, guys.  

This morning on Diane Rehm they were talking about Frankenstein, and I decided that I really need to read that book.  I read a graphic novelization of it when I was young and liked it, but I'm interested to check out the original recipe and see how it compares to Dracula.  Dracula is gripping and scary, but also very much a product of its times re: gender stereotypes, as I've discussed before.  I wonder if Frankenstein is the same way, all paternal/controlling men and wide-eyed wonder every time a woman says something intelligent.  

Maybe I've told you before how the first few times that Grant and Emmett went trick-or-treating we exchanged their candy for a toy and sent the candy to work with John to pawn off on his coworkers.  Then for a few years we rationed the candy and only let the kids have a few pieces a day.  But now we have almost no involvement with their Halloween candy intake, and all the better for it.  Our normal diet is pretty decent, so a yearly candy glut is not going to kill anyone, and it'll allow them to learn how to govern themselves.  I'm trying to turn these people into self-sufficient beings; I don't need a bunch of adult babies walking around not knowing how to control their intake of treats (like me!).  And this lady on Slate agrees with me, so that's nice.  

Now I'm going to try to write a scary story about Thomas Edison.  SPOOOOOOKYYY!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

be gentle and loving in deed and in thought

Ha!  We watched Jaws on Saturday night, and Grant thought it was scary, just like I told him he would.  Emmett said it was not scary, just gross, but I bet he was being macho.  They didn't have nightmares or anything, so I'm still a good parent.  I guess we won't really know how scarred they are until we see how they feel about swimming in the ocean when we go to Port Townsend next summer.  They are finally members of the enormous, undiscerning club of people who have seen "Jaws," and we are their sponsors.  I'm glad that it seems to have been a memorable experience.  They both drew Jaws-related pictures in sacrament meeting today, which was probably irreverent, but they learned irreverent church doodling at my knee--recently I drew a picture of Beethoven scolding the dogs playing poker, so there you are.  Not sure what the talk was about that day, but I'm sure it was meaningful.  Here is Grant's picture:

In case it is too small to read, Jaws is wearing a name tag that says "Hello My Name Is Flaws" and saying "In real life I wouldn't deliberately attack the same boat but this is a movie" and Chief Brody is going with the classic "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Our new neighbors are finally here!  If they turn out to be horrible I may change my tune, but for now it is just really nice to see lighted windows in the house.  Empty houses make me sad, because statistically they're so much more likely to be used as a portal to a Hell dimension, and also because mice will ruin an empty house.  Raccoons too, probably.  Gotta keep an eye on those empty houses is what I'm saying.

Have any of you ever had a pet raccoon, or known someone who did?  One of my dad's customers had a pet raccoon, and I think they finally had to turn it loose because it was so destructive.  They are little whirling dervishes of mayhem.  At my sister-in-law's ranch house we found a smelly puddle that was dripping from the ceiling and it turned out to be pee from a raccoon that had secreted himself between the walls.  Tasty!  Even with those behavioral problems they are pretty cute though.

We pressed 34 gallons of apple cider on Saturday with some of our friends and neighbors.  It was hard work and I got sunburned and I halved so many apples and hauled so much wash water I can't even tell you.  But now we have nine gallons (our share) of sweet, spicy, gorgeous apple cider in our fridge, waiting for us to figure out how to fit it into our freezer.  There's the issue of the side of beef hogging all the shelf space right now.

Another week.  Are we ready?  One thing I know for sure is I am going to eat a crap-ton of candy, and I'm definitely ready for that.

Friday, October 25, 2013

you've been keeping love from me just like you were a miser

What are your feelings on tarts?  I don't care for them.  Last night I was reading my Cook's Illustrated, which I really should cancel, since I have become such a slapdash cook that I rarely remember to make a new interesting recipe, and there was a recipe for a chocolate tart in there, and I had the same reaction I always have to tarts:  Bored Now.  Why is that?  Let us dissect my aversion.

1.  The crust.  I am prejudiced against cookie crusts.  There are some tarts/pies in which a cookie crust is imperative, but they are by far the exception.  When I think about a tart crust, here are the adjectives that come to my mind:  Gritty.  Sandy.  Dry.  Too Sugary.  Too thick.  Gummy in the center.  These are not descriptors that invite intimacy.

2.  Delving deeper into my issues with the thickness of said cookie crust:  I have bought a few fruit tarts at pastry shops here and there, and they always, ALWAYS disappoint.  The crust always throws the ratio off and it makes me mad every single time.  This also happens with mini pies.  If you're going to make a small version of something, then for the love of all that is holy, reduce your crust's thickness to match!  This should be common practice!  Why are we even talking about this?

3.   Their ubiquity.  Why are tarts everywhere, everywhere, with their stupid fluted edges and their dumb little arranged fruit on top?

This is a nonsensical aversion; you're not telling me anything I don't already know.  I love shortbread, I love tender, cleanly-slicing filling, I love fruit pizza, I love lemon bars, which are basically just a rectangular tart.  I love food that has thought behind it.  I love fluted edges!  I guess I'm just a mystery.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

won't they be impressed I am a genius

We have our Halloween costumes almost all the way ready.  I have given John the year off . . . no, that's not quite true.  What happened was I told him that I was done thinking of costume ideas for him and he's on his own from now on, and if that means he doesn't dress up anymore, then no big.  He just doesn't feel the Halloween spirit like I do, but he has been as supportive of my Halloween zeal as a giant wet blanket could be.

I put together a seriously fantastic outfit yesterday (exaggeration mine).  I'm glad that at the tender age of 37 I'm already able to dress myself in a way that is comfortable, flattering, and context-appropriate.  What I love about this outfit is I used a sweater that I've worn a number of times but never been quite sold on, and it made the whole outfit better.  That's the best, when you find a new, great use for something you've struggled with.  And while we're talking about how old I am, what is up with people who lie about their age?  I had a choir teacher in high school who always said she was 28, and she wasn't fooling anyone, to put it gracefully.  I think they're related to the women who try to be mistaken for their daughters' sisters.  Gross.

Ha ha, the lyrics of "Crazy Train" are so un-Ozzylike.  I remember when someone gave me an Ozzy tape when I was a little girl (don't ask) I played "Killer of Giants" for my mom and explained earnestly to her what a neat song it was because it was anti-war.  Good times.

Some people bought Vilda's house across the street from us.  Word on the street is that they are moving from California, they have young children, and they want to have chickens and a cow.  Are they coming to the right place or what?  They're Chucking It!  It remains to be seen whether they have the California disease, but at least they're among like-minded people.

Monday, October 21, 2013

we would have taken state, no doubt in my mind

Oh, I forgot to tell you guys that I had a post published over on By Common Consent, one of the thinky Mormon blogs I like to read.  My piece is of course not thinky, so I appreciate them slumming for me.  You may read it here if you wish.

have I possibly gone daffy? what is this?

We are back, and I must tell you it is good to taste vegetables again.  Our entire time in Mexico was spent consuming mass quantities of celebration food (our fault, not Mexico's), and I think we gained as a family roughly eleventy billion pounds.  But what else are we supposed to do in the face of such trials as cocos frios?  The last time I had proper coconut water to drink was on the trip I took to Mexico with my fellow AP Spanish students in high school, and I have held mythic affection for it lo these many years hence.  The Spanish department no longer does that trip, possibly a result either of Senor Allred retiring, lack of funding, or the district finding out how many students sneak rum and Cokes while they're there.

Question:  how many wars, if any, could be solved by the antagonists going grocery shopping in each other's grocery stores?  For as negative and pessimistic as I am, there is a tiny little Pollyanna inside me who believes that one of the first steps of diplomacy is through cuisine.  I think it helps humanize a culture you might have previously seen as unrelatable.  But maybe that's just me.  All I know is I used to hate everyone, and now I just hate all the people who have gross food.  Hurry, let's invade all the places that eat grubs and testicles, ready, set, go!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

tocapillo barranquilla and perdilla I'm a killer

Estoy en Mexico, possums!  It is maravilloso to the max.  Today I bought a big old painted Dia de los Muertos skull that I am going to display for Halloween and probably the rest of the year and nobody better try to stop me.  Plus I bought a necklace in which the beads are carved to look like skulls, which is going to go great with the necklace I'm going to make someday out of all my children's wisdom teeth.  Stop looking at me like that, it's no different from those weirdos who save locks of hair from the child's first haircut.

We saw and petted a wild Mexican seal and were not bitten, we looked at tide pools, we saw meth-heads come tear all the sea stars off the rocks and try to sell them for ten dollars, and then when that failed, offer to return the sea stars to the ocean for ten dollars.  Ah, meth . . . is there any situation it doesn't make worse?  We have seen La Bufadora, watched game upon game of futbol, spent hours in the ocean, spoken embarrassing Spanglish, haggled with vendors, and eaten many, many tacos.

My internet connectivity has been extremely limited, and it has been good for me.  I'm pretty sure the internet causes as many problems as it solves.  Sure you can find a community of like-minded folks, which for me has been--well, I won't say lifesaving, because that sounds so theatrical, but it's been very helpful for my sanity--but you are also bombarded daily with confirmation that people are just the absolute worst.

If any of you are looking to do some sort of humanitarian/charity-type work, and if you happen to be a veterinarian, then they could really use a spay/neuter clinic down here.  There are a whole bunch of intact male dogs with their junk hanging all out the back like they sat on a pair of hamsters or something, and female dogs with their teats hanging down to their knees . . . it's not a good thing is what I'm saying.  I would do it, but I left my tools at home, darnit.

Well, keep America safe for me until I get back from 45 Minutes Away From America.  I think I heard that the government is functioning again, is that right?  It has been nice to not have to live through every peak and valley of the shutdown resolution negotiations.

Oh!  Another thing we did today is buy churros.  I've always wondered what is the deal with churros, because they taste like play-doh, you guys.  But the ones we had this morning were superb, and I am forced to conclude that churros must be added to the list of things that Americans have imported and subsequently ruined.  Good job, us.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

you better stop the things that you do

Pretty much I want to watch scary movies the whole month of October.  Like all normal people I love Halloween, but not the gross, weird bloody satanic sex orgy it has become.  I like Ray Bradbury Halloween.  The Halloween of my youth and my mother's youth that maybe never really existed.  Neutered Halloween, basically.  ANYWAY, I have all these scary movies I want to watch, and I was showing Grant the trailer for Jaws, and he sat through all that spooky music and narration ("It is as if God created the devil . . . and gave him . . . jaws.") and said, "Umm . . . people used to have a very different idea of what was scary."  And I was like, "Uh, this movie is the reason I am terrified of open water and swimming pools.  Imagine watching it when you were eight years old.  Still not scary?"  Pfft.  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  Maybe I'll show him The Village, too, if he thinks he's so smart.  Question:  which is more scary, the Jaws shark, or Those We Do Not Speak Of?  Hard to say.  Those We Do Not Speak Of gave me nightmares, but . . . great white sharks are a real thing, becoming more used to and less afraid of people all the time because we are a stupid, interfering species.  And people say how slim your chances are of being eaten by a shark, but we're all usually on the land, which I think skews the data.  I would like to see the data for people who make their living in the water.  When I first heard the story of my grandpa whose ship was torpedoed in WWII my greatest concern was that he had to swim to Java through shark-infested waters.  Shudder.  But regarding The Village, should we also talk how you can't ever truly escape evil?  That in fleeing, they brought the evil with them?  What do you think is the long-term prognosis for the village?  I'm guessing failure, ultimately.  Really all they did was press rewind, and their society will doubtless one day be at the same evolutionary (or degenerative) state our world was when they grabbed their go bags.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

in which I am a seventh grader who has recently realized that animals feel pain

I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown last night.  Our neighbor is taking our old chickens and extra goats to the auction today, and for some reason I chose last night to re-examine my place in the food web and my complicity in the miserable fates of countless suffering animals.  One of the anticipated benefits of raising our own animals and living in the country was the ability to extract ourselves to some extent from the chokehold of the industrial food system that tells us that animal cruelty is an inextricable cog in the great machine of feeding ourselves.  But have I really made a difference?  Or have I just added "supplier" to "consumer" in my placement in the food web?  So I was sitting on the bed, sobbing great hot tears of confusion and dismay, laughing a little bit at myself, and wondering where such strong emotion had come from so suddenly.  Anyway, I was wondering aloud to John about what if when I get to heaven all the goats I've butchered or sent to the auction over the years confront me and ask, "What did I do?  What was wrong with me that I was sent away while you kept the others? Why didn't you love me?"  Basically like Lisa Simpson's vision of that lamb at the petting zoo.  And now I'm crying again.  Maybe I'm starting menopause?  Whatever it was, last night was the closest I have come to becoming a vegetarian.  And I believe in eating meat, mind you.  I think it provides necessary nutrients that can't be replaced except synthetically, and you know how I feel about synthetic foods.  Is there anyone who has the emotional attachment that compels them to treat animals humanely along with the emotional detachment that enables them to slaughter the animals?  I can do it with chickens, but I haven't yet met a mammal I could kill. So I outsource it, like everybody else, and am I really so different from the people who buy roasts in the store without thinking about the life and death that put that roast in the refrigerator case?  Not to my animals, I'm not.  And I hate, hate, hate that the last memory my animals have of me is an act of betrayal; that I use their trust to trick them into approaching me and then drag them kicking and screaming either into a horse trailer to be transported and sold to someone whose feelings about animals and plans for them I have no way of knowing (but I have some guesses), or to a butcher to spend their last day alone and hungry before they're killed.

Have a great day, everybody!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

that's our job but we're not mean

I have become such a boring conversationalist lately.  I don't know if I'm more mired in the back-and-forth of the Great Mormon Woman Problem coming to a head because I live on the Wasatch Front in the middle of the Mormon bubble, but it is all around me at all times, and I feel like I keep getting forced into helping people see the difference between doctrine and policy and custom and tradition.  And then there's the Great American Woman Problem wrapped around that, and then the Worldwide Woman Problem wrapped around that.  I don't want to only see the world through oppression-colored glasses!  Believe me, I would love to never talk about modesty again.  I would love to not have to listen to sexist and incorrect opinions masquerading as truth.  I would love for every one of the Woman Problems to not be problems anymore, so we could all get on with our lives and spend more time worrying about and solving all the other problems in the world.  So dumb.  So I'm sorry that I tend to keep taking my dipper back to that same well, but unfortunately it's kind of what is going on in my life all the time.  It's so divisive.

I'm reading one of Tim Gunn's books right now, and I wish so badly that I had someone I trusted who could help me figure out who I am stylistically.  He mentions "soul-stirring" clothing, and the frustrating thing is I think I have a handful of pieces that stir my soul, clothing-wise, and they're mostly very casual.  I think I have a good idea of what kind of shoe person I am, and I think I usually pick a flattering shoe, but there are so few outfits that make me feel like I nailed it.  And sorry, Tim, but leggings are often a factor in my successes.  I can do a cropped ankle now and then, and boot cuts are easy for most people, even "dewdrops," as the pear shape is currently being rebranded, but other than that I have to be very careful.  A near-knee-length dress with leggings and either boots or flat sandals is a lot kinder to me than most other outfits.  But I keep buying stuff either because I think I'll love it, or because I think I need to get out of my young-children-at-home-must-dress-like-slob rut, and then it just languishes in my closet.  There are some successes.  A few years ago I got a red and black plaid wool car coat, and it has surprised me with its staying power. I could wax rhapsodic about my new boots that seem like they were designed just for me.  An orange cardigan I got from Target a couple of months ago fixes almost all my shirts.  I have found that wrap dresses are my friend.  But I have yet to find a really good classic trench coat and a white button-down shirt.  I have bought so many white shirts over the years, and with each one the relationship has soured almost instantly.  But I keep trying because I am an American, and therefore both wasteful and eternally optimistic.  Not so optimistic that I'll ever buy another pair of corduroy pants, though, no matter how thin the wale.

See what a boring caricature I've become?  Sexism and fashion?

Monday, September 30, 2013

you should have specified

Sometimes being a parent is frustrating.  Because you try so hard to indoctrinate your children with your values (which are superior to anyone else's, that's why you have those values), and then they go out into the world and well-meaning idiots tell them that our duty to treat one another with respect is contingent upon people behaving according to a given set of social customs.  Not in those exact words, obviously, but with their actions.  We heard a choice anecdote yesterday about a boy who was driven, DRIVEN I say, to a pornography addiction when he went to the city pool and saw some young women who were dressed in bikinis, and then another story that basically amounted to, "Welp, the boys don't say naughty things about girls who are dressed modestly."  Ugh, because of course it has nothing to do with the fetishization of women's bodies, or social conditioning that teaches boys they have a claim upon women, or the immense shame associated with moral failings that drive them into secret places to fester and rot, or the refusal to take responsibility for one's own faults and shortcomings. . . none of that is going on, I'm sure.  Anyhoodle, I spend a lot of time detoxifying my children of all the harmful folk doctrine they encounter here and there, and it's exhausting.  Like it's not hard enough doing my job as it is.


Kind of excited about the government shutdown that is or is not happening, according to which source you consult.  Will we lose power?  Will we have to eat our food storage?  Will it be like a nationwide campout?  I'll bring the s'mores as long as you guys are cool with dark chocolate.  Have you had those huge marshmallows, the muy grande ones?  Too big.  Too much of a good thing; it throws the proportions all off.

I have just seen a thing called a walking taco?  What is this?  Have you had it?  It looks horrifying but you better believe I would eat it.

By the way, the mini-pies turned out nice.  The fluted paper pans were wrong for it, because there's no rim and you can't make a crimped edge.  But for the second batch I got some little aluminum ones from Orson Gygi that were better.  I just don't want to sell pies in aluminum pans; it seems so declasse.  King Arthur Flour has some paper ones with an edge that I think would work marvelously.  I came up with a better way to make a peach pie as well, one that won't get me disparaging remarks written on my evaluation paper by the pie judge.  Basically with a peach pie you need to put in the right amount of sugar and get out of the way.  Have I ever asked for your opinion on peach meringue?  Because I think that might be a good one.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

see the tree how big it's grown but friends it hasn't been too long

All right, if you guys refuse to talk about how amazing Buffy is then I guess that's your choice.  But someday you will understand.

In related supernatural television news, I watched the "Sleepy Hollow" pilot, and so far I like it.  It's sort of a dog's breakfast, concept-wise--not sure why we're mixing Ichabod Crane and the book of Revelations--but there were some fun moments.  That demon thing is way scary.

I just mashed a fly on an inside corner, which I think you'll agree is a moderate-to-high kill difficulty level, so . . . feeling pretty good.

These new "Equestria Girls" doll things, that are like Dr. Moreau started making horse people, are way gross.  I wonder, does their more humanoid appearance make them more or less attractive to bronys?  What attracts a brony to a My Little Pony, anyway?  Is it cartoon bestiality,  or are they drawn to the humanity inside the horse?  Tough questions to answer.

For a long time I have wanted to have gray hair, like Heloise-gray.  Maybe the naysayers in my life would be more okay with gray, because they are all lamewads who for some reason are okay with white-blonde that is not typically found in nature except on Nordic infants, but start defensive panic pooping as soon as you start talking about marshmallow chick pink or vibrant teal.  Look, history is on my side, people.  Hair coloring is getting more and more mainstream, and one of these days, when it won't cause my in-laws to have a stroke, I am going to do something Defcon Level 1 to my hair.

I am going to attempt some mini pies in those little paper pans now.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

no one knows what it's like to be the bad man

I trimmed Hazel's and Sally's and Minerva's hooves this morning.  I had decided to keep Minerva because she's so much friendlier than Templette, but when I went into the pen after the hoof trimming to groom the rest of them Templette actually approached me and allowed me to pet her a little bit, and now I'm torn.  Minerva is the roan, but Templette has better conformation.  Bleh, goat husbandry is hard.  I guess I should work with both of them and give them an equal shot at staying.

Do you wish that smokers would switch to chewing?  Yes or no, defend in the comments.

I am probably getting goat hair all over the couch right now, but there's something important I want to discuss with you.  Since I just got done rewatching Buffy (I think this is my third time through?), I has some little questions.  For starters:
1.  Spike vs. Angel, in general, and for Buffy, specifically.  Discuss.
     a. Is Spike a better being than Angel, because he sought a soul rather than being cursed with one?
     b.  Are their differences in character due to the differences in their human characters?  Spike/William was a gentle, bookish softy as a human, and wasn't Angel/Liam basically a grody drunken poonhound with an unconvincing Irish accent?
     c.  Which of them, if indeed either, has a chance for a successful life--and I'm talking the rest of their lives, not a couple of years--with Buffy?
2.  With which character (regular or recurring) do you most identify?
3.  The acting . . . inconsistent, am I right?
4.  Does or does not Xander have it the roughest?  Discuss.
5.  Do you want Giles to be your dad?

That will do to be going on with.  And if you can guess the connection of today's post title to its contents, I tip my hat to you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

mowgli seems kind of bossy

I spoke disparagingly about our new alfalfa being lazy and letting the volunteer wheat take over, but now I see that it has been doing its job after all.  There is nice little meadow of alfalfa sprouts out there.  Good thing, because buying all our hay is really cramping our financial style.  I look forward to next year having a little looser purse strings.

Last night before we saw my sister off at the airport we ate at an Ethiopian restaurant.  Would you ever have imagined that we could take Emmett to a place like that and he wouldn't have a total comeapart?  He got something called tibs, and raved about it.  He ate the injera for a while until he figured out that it was sour, but at least he tried it.  He has gotten so much better.  He even eats salsa.  Tonight I'm going to push my luck by making stroganoff--he is not into saucy noodles.  Anyway, the waiter at the restaurant was a Rasta, and until right now when I googled it I was confused about what Rastafarianism and Ethiopia had to do with each other, because I am ignorant.  He was a nice guy who gave us a quick history lesson about Ethiopia, told us he didn't have a TV and he just reads books all the time, and encouraged our children to read lots of books and find their path, but he also said that women should just know how to cook well; that's just how it should be.  So it is possible for someone who reads a lot to still have sexist ideas, is what we learn.  He contains multitudes!

Monday, September 16, 2013

on my body on my body like a tattoo

I'm going to make some salsa today.  It's a messy, time-consuming project, but since it's not really possible to buy a decent canned salsa, I have no choice.  The recipe is from my sister-in-law, who got it from a friend of hers.  I like when people aren't stingy and possessive with their good recipes.  It's their right, sure, if they have something that sets their recipe apart from the madding crowds, but it's still rude.  I've already shared this recipe with my sister and my stepmom, so I figure I'll share it with you guys as well, in case any of you are looking for a project. I can't bring myself to type it all out in the right format to be read, so here are pictures.  Let me know if you can't figure out what it says.

Plus you get the skin-softening benefit of all the steam from the tomatoes.  Like being in a sweat lodge! Enjoy.






Thursday, September 12, 2013

but not a real fur coat that's cruel

Consider this a warning shot fired across the bow:  any clothing label that is still using itchy, sewn-in tags is asking, nay, begging to be boycotted.  What a bunch of malarkey.  It is 2013, sweatshops, you don't think those six-year-olds can learn to stamp a tag instead of sew it in?  It's a way easier skill, you can probably have the four-year-olds do it.  Speaking of which, how soon can we expect to start 3-D printing our cheap t-shirts instead of having child slaves do it?  Because I feel pretty guilty about my complicity in their hell life, but because it is a remote problem, I still refuse to pay more than $10 for a t-shirt, $15 for a nice one or one with long sleeves.  I don't see a better solution than printing our clothes, is what I'm saying.

The call from that weird water/kefir lady reminded me that I needed to check my kefir, and so I changed the milk and rinsed the grains, and now my hands smell like I live in an abandoned cheese factory, which would be the coolest children's book series.  Can you imagine what a group of plucky orphaned children who want to keep the family together could get up to in an abandoned cheese factory?  What if . . . what if they started the factory back up, and started selling cheese, and it started winning awards, and then the media would want to know who was behind this new cheese sensation, and they'd have to figure out how to elude the prowling reporters, and there would be some tension when they were found out, because an evil person would pretend to be their distant relative to try to cash in on their success, but then they would realize that the kindly middle-aged man they'd brought in off the street to be their pretend dad could actually be declared their legal guardian because he was a good-hearted war veteran who had lost track of his family in the dark years since Vietnam, and it turns out that he really was their dad's long-lost brother, and the evil Ms. Hannigan/Count Olaf figure would gnash her/his teeth in defeat, and then Uncle Russ would fall in love with the lady detective who had discovered the orphans' secret, and they would get married because I'm old-fashioned, and Uncle Russ would stay home with the kids while Hannah Storm or whatever would solve crimes during the day because I'm modern too, and the kids would make cheese except when they were at school, public school, because they know that if we all don't invest in the system it's not going to get any better.  BOOM, million-dollar idea right there.  I call rights on the story, but might have somebody ghostwrite it for me.  Haven't decided yet.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the moon had disappeared and so had christopher mcgill

I know that talking about 9/11 is tricky for a lot of people.  It was a hard day, but some of the public grieving on such forums as Twitter and Facebook seems so . . . weirdly exhibitionist?  There was a comment on a Gawker post in which someone squirmed about the people who tweet something like #neverforget and nothing else, like "oh, I almost forgot about 9/11 until I saw my aunt Mabel's picture of a crying eagle."  And brothers and sisters, I did laugh.  Because that is exactly how I feel.  And I know I shouldn't throw shade at the way other people choose to (tackily) grieve, publicly or privately, and if a Precious Moments figurine dressed as a firefighter gives somebody comfort, who am I to judge?  I guess that's just one more sin keeping me out of heaven.  It seems like people try to attach themselves or exaggerate their connection to a traumatic event, be it a death or a Hep C diagnosis, because it makes them feel important.  Am I imagining this?

Some weird lady called me the other day--she had gotten my number from the place we buy our hippie stuff--and she wanted water crystals, which I am not sure what those are?  At first she was asking for kefir, and I had some of that, and then she said, "Now, these are water crystals, right?"  And I was like, "Huh?  I thought you said kefir grains?"  But no, she wanted water crystals, which are, according to her, "crystals formed from water."  So . . . ice, then?  Not sure if serious.  Maybe it was a scam and they were wiretapping us or something and now the government is spying on me because they know of my secret ambition to be Maleficent the Great, Demon Queen of America.  Cat's out of the bag now, I guess I better look for a campaign manager for 2016.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I will do the dishes while you go have a beer

I am so offended by the line of portable toilets called "Honey Bucket."  Apparently it is also a generic term, whose etymology eludes me.  How repellent.  What person would want those two concepts associated?  A septic tank pump truck painted bright yellow and called "The Stool Bus," that I can support.  But I reject this tarnishing of honey's image and, should I ever have occasion to rent portable toilets, WILL NOT patronize this company.  This is my vow.

I've made most of our mayonnaise for the last few years, because I like meaningless busywork, especially on school mornings, and like a total lamewad I've been dragging out the blender and assembling the ingredients one by one, adding the oil in a slow steady stream . . . pfft.  What a waste of time.  Last week I remembered an infomercial I saw as a child, when immersion blenders were a new magic, and I remembered the shill making mayonnaise by dumping all the ingredients into a plastic cup and blending it right there.  So I, being a smartypants, decided to do that, and then today, just now, I thought, why not make it in the storage cup itself?  Do you see how sometimes people are intimidated by my prodigious intellect?  And it is a way big process improvement, if anyone was curious.

Groceries has been asleep on the chair in the living room since before the children got on the bus.  He is lazy.   He probably weighs about eighteen pounds.  He's also the one who barfs and poops in the house.  But look at him!  How could I stay mad at him?

You can poop on my bath mat anytime, little buddy.

This is a lie.  Don't really do that.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

guess we have to use the hobbles now

Sally was so bad on the milking stand today.  Here is a picture I made about it.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

there are some who call me . . . tim

I was reading a magazine yesterday, and here's a quote from a designer about home decorating:  "Give yourself permission to make beautiful little arrangements in your home."  This is his decorating advice for us.  I don't even know what to do with that sentence.  It is a garbage sentence.  It is less than meaningless.  Who would construct an idea in that way?  Are there people who feel guilty about what they see as a perverse compulsion to create "beautiful little arrangements?"  Or who don't feel they have the authority to decorate their homes?  Or who have great decorating ideas, but there's been something holding them back, and that something is a self-proclaimed designer's blessing of their efforts?  Stupid magazine-speak, making us all dumber with every article.  


I guess I'm finally going to read The Hunger Games.  I've avoided it in case it's another Twilight, but it seems like maybe everything's going to be okay.  Is it?  Warn me if I'm going to regret it and I'll go back to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?.

We've been reading the Harry Potter series this summer, and it inspired us to have a Start-of-Term feast last night.  I had a hard time deciding which cuisine to prepare, but in the end went with American, since that's where we live and all.  We had fried chicken, corn on the cob, sauteed turnip greens, and milkshakes for dessert.  We'll go British for our Christmas feast because I love me some Yorkshire pud.      

In other news, today was the first day of school and with my sweet, sweet freedom I did a batch of dishes, folded a few towels, watered the tomatoes, vacuumed and washed the car, bought painting supplies from the hardware store, ate lunch, and painted a couple of cabinet doors.  You might be thinking, "Layne!  Who said you could do all that?"  The answer is: I did.  I gave myself permission, in fact.  I think I might give myself permission to rearrange the furniture sometime, too, but I don't want to get too uppity.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

do not miss their snappy hip pops

Red ribbon.  RED.  And to be frank, it's better than I deserve.  I tasted the other pie I made with the same filling, and it was meh.  And that's being generous.  Probably the worst pie I've ever made.  But I was not alone--there were a handful of other pies, and the only one that got a blue ribbon was a gorgeous pecan pie that looked perfect.  I would like to have snuck a taste of it, but was not brave enough.

My honey got a blue ribbon, Emmett's pickles got a red, Grant's tomatoes got a red, the chickens got one red and one white (the pooping one got the white), and Ike's rabbit, the pee-stained rabbit with its nose bitten off, got a blue ribbon.  Que sorpresa!  I wonder if it was a pity vote.  Sugar is a nice-enough looking rabbit, but blue?  When beautiful Biting Martha only got a white last year?  I do not understand the mind of the rabbit judge.

While we were walking around yesterday Emmett said, "Sometimes I feel bad that we aren't real farmers."  That is such an uncharacteristic thing for him--especially him--to say.  He's my least agriculturally-minded child.  But he says he wants to show a goat next year.  We've already opened Pandora's box by entering rabbits and chickens because we have to go out there every day to check their food and water, so how much worse would it be to babysit a goat as well?

Do you think a roadside pie stand has a chance to be successful?  Argue for or against in the comments.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

yet another call to work out registration problems

It's fair week, and this year we entered pickles, tomatoes, peach pie, honey, a rabbit, and two chickens, one of which shat explosively and profusely at the entrance of her cage as we put her in, so much that it dripped off the table onto the floor of the small animal barn.  Just being our classy selves as always.  It was kind of crazy throwing things together at the last minute--I hadn't planned to enter a pie, for example--but the fair's a lot more fun when you have things of your own to look at.  I have a bad feeling about the pie.  I think it's going to be runny.  Oh, I'm going to be so humiliated when it gets a white ribbon!  What if I don't even place?  Ugh, it's too horrible to contemplate.

I spent a couple of hours last night rubbing mink oil into my boots and thinking about the difficulty I have communicating and connecting with people.  Group gatherings are always a disappointment, because I always say rude things.  I think it's because I am an insecure sociopath, if such a thing exists.  This might be a character flaw.  The boots turned out nice, though.

We have eaten almost 1 1/2 bushels of peaches since last week.  Our consumption is definitely at an all-time high, which gives me immense pleasure.  Nobody can glut like us!

The basement dormitory experiment is going well.  The couches are gone, the TV is gone, the mess is gone.  The boys ripped off all the disgusting faux-brick wallpaper, so the scariness has decreased somewhat.  It's the best that room has ever looked.  The boys can be together like they want, but with more space so they don't fight as much.  And since they're not using their former bedroom anymore, we can use it for storage.  One of these days we're going to be grownups.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I am disrespectful to dirt

We decided to go to Mexico this fall.  The GPNW (Great Pacific Northwest) is going to be next summer, and logistically it looks like Port Townsend, so hopefully Tori will have mercy on us and share some good ideas of what to do while we're there.  I think there's an aquarium there, and aquariums are always a good time.  The one in Seaside has those crazy seals that basically bully people into giving them fish all day long.

But like I said, we're going to Mexico, so I went to the library and checked out all of the Spanish instruction CDs and a fair number of books, in hopes that I will be able to regain my rudimentary Spanish skills before we go.  In the CD I'm listening to now the example speaker must be from Spain, because he has that lisp when he speaks.  It offends my ear because I learned to speak Mexican Spanish, but I guess you make do with what you have, even if it does sound weak and babyish.  And boy, the example guy has gotten himself into trouble!  One minute he's asking where he can find a pub and saying he wants to go to a party, and the next he's wanting to find a policeman and report that he's been raped!  How did it all go so pear-shaped so quickly?  If he could go back in time, would he still want to go to that party?  What happened at that party?  

It's funny how I'm talking about two vacations in one post, like we're well-heeled world travelers or somesuch.  Really it is all possible because once upon a time John's singing group was paid in time shares instead of money.  The time shares are usually in the general vicinity of the cities one would like to visit, not actually in the cities themselves.  They're like the Miss Congeniality of time shares.  But let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Friday, August 16, 2013

which would necessitate an entire rack

I don't think I'm alone in saying that a peach tastes better when the skin has been pulled off vs. pared off with a knife.  It's just true.  I bought my first half-bushel of peaches from my enabler Sumida's two days ago and the box is nearly empty.  I wish, I wish that all of you could taste the perfection of a Brigham City peach--they are peerless.  Perhaps you remember that when John and I went to Chez Panisse and had the best meal of our lives, all that kept it from being flawless were the sliced peaches in the sorbet.  How could they not disappoint when compared to a Canadian Harmony in its juicy, flavorful prime?  Speaking of which, I have to make sure you all know that gummy peaches are an atrocious abomination, an offense that will bring down heavenly judgment upon us.

A beloved story from our family history is of a fight that erupted over pancakes and chokecherry syrup, but I had only ever heard of chokecherry syrup, chokecherries not exactly being thick on the ground.  But this year I determined that I would find chokecherries and make this syrup and find out what all the hoopla was about.  I looked everywhere for a chokecherry bush/tree with no luck, but then when I had almost given up hope, I found a big one two blocks from my house.  It leans over the fence of the house where it's planted, and there are abundant thick clusters of deep purple chokecherries on it.  I surreptitiously collected some and washed them and boiled them and smashed them and mixed the juice with the amount of sugar the recipe said I should, which was too much sugar, then I added some fresh lemon juice and water and vanilla and then finally had some syrup, which we had on aebleskivers for dinner the other night.  Here is my verdict:  I do not care for fruity syrups, and would never ever choose them over maple syrup, but the chokecherry syrup was quite good, good enough that I might choose it over maple now and then.  It pleases me.

The other day there was a tremendous sale on certain colors of a boot that I've had my eye on, and I ordered three pairs.  They were half price or less, how could I not?  Of course I won't keep them all, but maybe I will, because when else am I going to find a deal like that?  You may argue that if it happened once it can happen again, but do I really want to take that chance?  I guess it would be weird to have three different colors of the same boot.  I can probably work my way through it, though.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

and it is a glorious work

The news out of Egypt is depressing.  This is where I feared it would go back when the Arab Spring first started, but maybe that's because I'm a pessimist.  I assume that any given branch of a government is just lying in wait for an opportunity to seize power and start the blessed work of oppression.


Are girls more whiny than boys, or does the higher pitch of their voices just make them seem more whiny?  This is an area ripe for research. 

More depressing/expected news:  the scienticians are saying that sugar is toxic even in "safe" amounts.  

Have you noticed that the first day you use a new deodorant or scented lotion that you smell yourself all day?  I am in Imari for the first time in a while today, because I unabashedly love Avon lotion so much and am secretly pleased that I smell a little bit like an old lady, and I am digging my fragrance. Sure I'm an old lady, but I'm a sexxxay old lady.  

The boys told us that they like sleeping on couch cushions out in the downstairs "family room" like transients (I added the "like transients" part), so I guess what we'll do is turn that horrible bedroom into a storage room and get rid of the TV and furniture and all the other crap in the family room and let them have a big dormitory.  Why not?  I dated a guy in high school who shared a bedroom with his twin brother and their younger brother, and they loved it and were the best of friends.  Sure they fought sometimes, and once they kicked a hole through the wall, but they had sheetrock and we have lath and  plaster.  If one of my boys kicks a hole in a lath and plaster wall we'll monetize that in a hurry and put him in the circus as the Amazing Mule Boy.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

today and tomorrow are yet to be said

Ladies and gents, I have finally seen a rattlesnake in its natural habitat.  It was a trip.  Not too much of a big boy, just a 3-4 foot long one, with 9 rattles.  We were at YW camp, so it paved the way for some delightful jokes about beguiling serpents.  Oh, those serpents, with their sneaky, fruit-shilling ways!  If you had to choose, which do you think the Forbidden Fruit was?
a) an apple
b) a banana
c) a pomegranate (new theory I just heard, sounds intriguing with its tie-ins to Greek/Roman mythology, have I ever told you that I think the myth of Hercules is related to the story of Jesus? think about it)
d) other

Last night we went out to separate the goats for the night, and I picked up Minerva, and then my hands smelled like I had picked up some peed-in pants.  THANKS A LOT, MINERVA.  Also I got a reply from ADGA, and wouldn't you know it, there was an error on my registration papers and I have to resubmit them.  I don't think there has been a single year in which I have not had to submit my goat registration papers numerous times.  It's a real blow to my self-confidence, since I used to think my reading comprehension was pretty stellar.

I think I found a chokecherry tree, but I'm a little nervous about just grabbing fruit and making syrup out of it.  The internet corroborates my identification, but the internet is always leading people astray.  You know it and I know it. What if I make a virulent poison and kill all my loved ones and myself with it?  Sad.  Will I get to go to heaven with them, or will I be bounced for aggravated stupidity manslaughter?  They'll be all, "Layne.  You know we can't let you in here.  You killed your family."  And I'll whine, "But it was an accident!"  And they'll say, "Yeah . . . we can't really let stupid people in here either.  We have our image to protect."  And then I'll feel sad and they'll send me back to earth as an otter, which is what I wanted all along.  

In closing, do you recommend Lake Chelan or Port Townsend for a family vacation?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

just call it a teen sex romp and be done with it

Last night John and I were discussing "Blurred Lines," (because it is a Serious Song and requires Serious, Scholarly Analysis) and how the narrative about it has changed from "it was just a summer jam we laid down in half an hour" to "listen to the lyrics; it's really a feminist manifesto" (referencing the "that man is not your maker" line, etc.), and I commented to John that I find it interesting that there is segment of the male population that is co-opting the mutlilayered feminist message and condensing it down to "feminism means you are free to have sex with me."  Sure, that is part of the feminist message--women are, or should be, agents unto themselves who get to decide to have sex--but it's also that they get to decide NOT to have sex if they don't want to, and also a few other things like control over the decisions that affect their lives, and equal access to education and economic opportunity--you know, little things like that.  But thanks, mans, for trying to turn sexual autonomy into another pickup line.  Love you for that.  Which is not to say that I don't enjoy the mindless groove of "Blurred Lines."  I dig it immensely when my kids are not around.  But let's not pretend Robin Thicke is some champion of egalitarianism.  And by the way, if I were him, I would have lost "Thicke" as a surname as soon as I was of age.  It's an unattractive name and makes me think of warts and sweat.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

maybe I'm going blind

Well, I guess I'm surrounded by unsupportive naysayers, because you would not BELIEVE the blowback I am getting about my plans to make a smorgastarta.  Here's the background:  a while ago I saw a piece about smorgastartas on The Kitchn, and fell instantly in love.  Who would not want a sandwich cake, which is what a smorgastarta is?  Idiots, that's who.  But everyone I told about it made rude noises and comments, and when I decided yesterday that for my pending 37th I was going to treat myself and make a smorgastarta, they all chimed right in again with the negative energy.  Boo to them, they are closed-minded and provincial.  Do they see the total hypocrisy in their refusal to accept the smorgastarta?  What is a club sandwich, after all, but a layered sandwich?  It's just a small smorgastarta!  


I'm going to have a tomato layer, a radish and butter layer, a bacon layer, an avocado layer, and maybe a cucumber layer, and it is going to be wonderful on grounds of adventure alone.  I can't decide whether to make it rectangular or circular, though.  There are benefits to both, I believe.  Now that I think about it, I think a rectangular one will be best, because I'm making a double-layered pavlova for my cake.  That way I can have two kinds of shapes.  Variety is important.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

you swear you've heard it before as it slowly rambles on

My birthday is coming up, and I'm trying to decide what to do, cake-wise.  Perhaps you remember the layered pie from a couple of years ago--two pies, one on top of the other, a success structurally, but disappointing in the taste department.  The berry pie was too bland.  Then if I remember correctly, last year was a banana trifle which was the bomb, as Grant says.  Are people saying "the bomb" again?  Of all the phrases to bring back, that would not be my first choice.  Anyway, I'm thinking about my favorite flavors and textures to see if I can come up with a good birthday treat. I like gooeyness, chocolate, cream cheese frosting, carrot cake, butter, cinnamon and sugar, and fruit.  And doughnuts.  So a computer would probably tell me I would like a cherpumple, but that computer would be wrong.  No cinnamon with chocolate!  No fruit with carrot cake!  I'm quite hard to please, you know.  I'm a fancy girl.

Methinks a multi-layered cake-sized kouign-amann would not go amiss.  Or a giant old-fashioned doughnut. Do you remember the bundt cake mixes that had a tunnel of pudding?  Why did they stop making those?  How stupid of them.  I bet people would be all up ons.  Oh, I remember--my sister Aleece made me a Boston Cream Pie one year recently.  So my memory is off, but in any case, I've had some good birthday cakes and I want the trend to continue.  Suggestions?