Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yardwork in November

I can't think of much clever to say, so why don't you listen to this fine song by an old friend of Uncle Damon's and look at my adorable family frolicking in the autumn leaves before they were covered in snow.

Leaves are fun!

No, Daddy!  Leaf me alone, you rake!

How about you get me instead...

then we practice our stunts...

finish up with a celebatory snuggle...
and go inside for a hearty serving of Mom's miraculous mac-n-cheese?

I like Actual Tigers.  I like autumn.  I like my family.  I love my mac-n-cheese.  The end!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Abominable Snowbaby!

We here in Sea-town are in the icy grip of what in most cities would be a mild and uninteresting snowfall.  Here, though, in a city filled with hills and generally without any idea what to do with any snow whatsoever it is RUINOUS SNOPOCALYPSE 2010!  Stock up on batteries and canned meats!  Hide your daughters and your jewels!  The end is nigh! 

At least this is what it's like for normal working folks who must drive and function in the stuff.  Livy and I had a great day at home filled with hours of books, blocks, low-speed indoor chases, and 10 minutes of frenzied snow play.  Because Olivia's not walking yet (But she's working on 3-syllable words.  ACT SURPRISED.) and I have no proper cold weather gear for her I expected that she'd hate being out in the snow.  But no!  She is the Shackleton of the toddler set and charged about like a bouncing bumble until her pants soaked through and she started shivering. 

"I seemed to vow to myself that some day I would go to the region of ice and snow and go on and on till I came to one of the poles of the earth, the end of the axis upon which this great round ball turns." - Ernest Shackleton

"Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results." - E.S.

"We had seen God in His splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man. " - E.S.

"If I had not some strength of will I would make a first class drunkard." - E.S.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Nicks Than Nicks

Oh, Regine Chassagne. 

Come hither?  Don't mind if I do!

Will you always wear sparkly, twirly dresses?  And will they always have matching fingerless gloves?  And will you always, always be mine?

Watch until the end when she outNickses the Nicks.  It takes my breath away.  If I'm not Tippi next year for Halloween I'm getting a curly wig and being Regine.  Shoot, I might just be Regine regardless of the day.  I think we'd all agree that it'd be an improvement, and maybe SLB will grow a foot and become Win Butler.  Win-win Win!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buy Me That: Tippi Hedren Barbie Doll

Back when I was in graduate school the first time around I fell HARD for film studies and managed to finagle a degree in English by taking mostly film classes and writing about feminist film theory for nearly every paper.  Ever an enormous coward, I surprised myself by finding that I really enjoy the horror genre as long as I approach it from an analytical and academic standpoint (any other standpoint and I just pee my pants and stop sleeping at night) and did some fun work on Psycho and Rosemary's Baby.  But the most fun I had at the place where fun goes to die was in writing one of my master's theses on The Birds.

Tippi's costume and hair + Jessica Tandy's face = weird Oedipal shit from the get-go, yo!  MY GOD, I love this movie. 

As I was working on my The Birds paper, cleverly titled "Rip Her to Shreds" and featuring an introductory quotation from the Blondie song, I became strangely obsessed with the movie and its star, Tippi Hedren.  I went so far as to buy an autographed 8x10 of her as a victory gift once the paper was finished and to drag my friend Jacob to see her speak at a screening of the film at the Siskel Film Center, where Ms. Hedren took umbrage at my questions about the anomalously terrible hilltop scene and berated me in front of the entire audience. It was humilitng!  It was hilarious!  It cemented a fixation that necessitates this purchase:

Accuracy right down to the stilettos...

That, dear readers, is the Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds Barbie doll, and you'd do well to consider it under my name on your Christmas shopping list.  If it makes you feel more comfortable we can pretend that it's for Livy.  Of course, if she ever touches it she'll be grounded for weeks, so she'd better get smart and stick with playing with matches and kitchen knives.

Or, if she really must participate in Mommy's madness, perhaps next year I'll wear a Tippi costume for Halloween and then dress her up in a crow costume to chase me around the neighborhood.

Oh yeah.  Halloween 2011 - LOOK OUT!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


What a waste of your time.  You ought to be ashamed.

Today marks both the one year anniversary of this blog AND my 200th post!  Hoory for me!  Hooray for you for getting to read so much about me!  Viva!  Viva!

Thanks for reading, friends!  Now, in honor of these two momentous occasions, I invite you to write a comment introducing yourself.  My stats tell me that I've had over 5,000 unique readers this year, and I've often wondered just who the hell you are.  So, tell me!  Who the hell are you?  Be ye friend or foe?  Are you just my parents, the Weavers, and the Morah using thousands of different IP addresses to stroke my ego?  Say hi!

Here, I'll start:  Hi!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

he Is Always Lowercase

Ooh La La!  The French - they have a word for everything.

My first real adolescent crush was on Steve Martin, and he has remained in my "Allowable Celebrity Lay" Top 5 ever since I saw him in L.A. Story on HBO when I was about 13.  Not only was he handsome (I am a true sucker for a silver fox [I'm talking to you, Eric Ripert.]) and funny, but I could tell from the writing in that movie that, colonic irrigation jokes aside, he was smart.  It was the first time that it had occurred to me that smart could also mean attractive, a notion that both gave me hope for my own gawky, flat-chested, braniac self and for the prospect of finding my own more age-appropriate Steve Martin one day.

I may be smooching you, SLB, but I'm thinking about The Jerk.

And I suppose that in many ways, I did just that.  But until SLB's flawless mahogany locks salt themselves pepperless, part of my heart will always be Steve's, especially because of this song.  I used to tease my former mouthy student and current mouthy babysitter, who is also a devout Christian, about the dearth of decent Christian music.  She never thought to tease me about the complete lack of any atheist music, and now she can't.  Suck it, babysitter Jenny!  See you next time SLB and I go out!  Thanks, boyfriend Steve!  See you in my dirty, godless dreams!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Razzle Dazzle is a Feminist Issue

It's this video

that helped me gain the self-acceptance to adopt these REALLY tight pants as my new gym wear.

Eeeeek!  I think I can see that lady's Razzle Dazzle in those pants, Mommy!

Yes, they leave nothing to the imagination, but DAY-UM they're some comfy workout pants.  It required some conscious effort, but in the Lululemon dressing room I took some inspiration from Leslie Hall's confidence and decided to raise two well-fed middle fingers to the notions that little dumpling-shaped ladies don't get to have the good workout wear and that being traditionally attractive in what are essentially technologically tarted-up sweatpants is necessary.  And in a world where my recent babyless (Thanks, Oma and Opa!) shopping spree determined that I am an extra-small, small, medium, large, 8, 8.5, 10, 12, and one-size-fits-all ALL AT THE SAME TIME, it feels almost revolutionarily validating to break a sweat in my Razzle Dazzle Wunder Unders not because they make others feel good about looking at my body, but because they make me feel good about being in my body.  That's right.  My RDWU's come in a size juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust right.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Mystery of Crap Circles SOLVED!

During my youth I was a huge fan of The X-Files, and so I was giddily thrilled when our humble home became subject to supernatural phenomena.  Witness the crap circle:


Every day unexplained circles of toys, books, and baby paraphernalia mysteriously appear throughout the house.  Above one has carved itself out in our entryway.  Its tight perimeter contrasts wildly with the more freeform crap circle, berhaps better called a crap nebula, that sprouted in the living room.

The grids and parallel placement of the maracas imply an intelligent designer.

Just when I thought I had an excuse to call Fox Mulder and request a thorough probe, I found that the source of the mystery in action!  As you can see, it was plainly terrestrial. 

Drat those meddling kids!

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Casserole Project: Southwestern Veggie Bake

Hello, friends!  It's been a while since my first installment of The Casserole Project, so new readers should start here to see what this is all about.

My niece's funeral in June reinvigorated my interest in TCP, but apparently not my interest in writing about it so I'm getting to this months after the fact.  After the service during which our family all cried until they were dry we sat down to a church lunch in the most traditional sense of the concept.  While it didn't take place in a cinderblock basement, it did feature loving church ladies moving amongst us in a warm hush delivering hugs, pats on the back, and compassionate commands to enjoy the meal they'd prepared for us.  It largely consisted of traditional casseroles in disposable foil pans or simmering in crockpots.  I can't remember them specifically, except for my favorite that had seen a generous inclusion of jarred enchilada sauce and sliced black olives, the only things that set it apart from its brethren.  They were exactly what you'd imagine at a church supper - warm masses of carbohydrates and chopped chicken or canned tuna held in fatty suspension by canned, condensed soup and/or shredded mild cheese - and they were exactly what we needed to heal enough to get through the day.  After crying so hard during the service, I was starving, and those casseroles were truly a balm for my troubled soul.  If ever an embrace could be delivered gustatorily or nutritonally, it would be through a casserole lovingly pepared by devout hands for the benefit of wounded strangers.

And it was with this in mind that I decided to revisit Best of Country Casseroles and revive TCP using my bookgroup as guinea pigs.  Because one of us is a vegetarian, my options were limited to meatless dishes.  And because SLB is a caring gentleman who values my friendships even when I don't, my options were limited to the Southwestern Veggie Bake.  While I was pondering aloud whether I should make the Fish Stick Supper, a Microwave Tuna Casserole, or the Black Bean Nacho Bake (ingredients: macaroni, black beans, nacho cheese soup, milk, tortilla chips, and cheddar), SLB sternly reminded me that my bookgroup consists of friends who I want to speak to me again and that it's not nice to force others to eat shit because I think it's funny.  So, seeing as the Southwestern Veggie Bake was my only option that did not feature canned soup but did feature actual spices, it's what was for dinner.

Project-continuing, friend-keeping dinner

Here's the recipe as originally written:

Southwestern Veggie Bake

3 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
.25 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
.5 cup milk
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 tube (11.5 ounces) refrigerated corn bread twists

In a large skillet, saute the carrots, celery, onion and seasonings in butter until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Stir in flour until blended.  Gradually add the milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from the heat; add beans, corn, tomatoes, and chilies.  Spoon into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.  Separate corn bread twists; weave a lattice crust over filling.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes or until corn bread is done.  Yield: 8 servings.

Now, although Julie Zeager from Kent, Ohio's narrative promises that "refrigerated corn bread twists create an appealing lattice top on this zippy main dish," after visits to 3 different supermakerts in search of the damned things proved fruitless, I subbed refrigerated tube-biscuits for the tube-twists.  The only downside to this would be that it dictates serving sizes in an unpleasant way, which can cause your delicate lady bookgroup friends to act shy and apologetic for their appetites.  Eat up, ladies!  There ain't no shame in eating two biscuits' worth of Southwest Veggie Bake!

This dish is an unmitigated, unironic success.  It's basically a chili that's been thickened with a roux, and the combination of butter, flour, milk, and cumin renders it somewhat reminiscent of a shamelessly American butter chicken on the finish.  It really is a decent dish separate from, rather than because of, The Casserole Project.  My 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish was licked clean by the night's end.  So was my 8 x 8 x 2 baking dish after I made it a DOUBLE CASSEROLE NIGHT by whipping up a batch of what we call Old Cold Pancake.

Two - TWO! - casseroles for the price of one!

This recipe is adapted from a back issue of Real Simple and so can't technically count toward The Casserole Project.  It is so in the spirit of the project, though, that I felt no compunction in including Old Cold Pancake in this particular menu.  After all, it's an ad hoc cobbler, which is generally the dessert equivalent of a casserole, and the recipe includes pancake mix, which is generally the baking goods equivalent of canned, condensed soup.  Thus, SVB + OCP = TCP BFF's.

To make Old Cold Pancake (so named because of the inclusion of pancake mix and for SLB's sick prediliction for eating it from the fridge the next day), follow this recipe:

Butter for greasing your 8 x 8 x 2 dish
2 or 3 cups of stone fruit and/or berries, frozen and thawed are fine.  (I think I used nectarines and blueberries here.)
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
Whipped cream and/or maple syrup

Heat oven to 375.  Butter your baking dish.  Add the fruit and confectioners sugar to the dish and toss.  In a large bowl combine the pancake mix, milk, and eggs until no lumps remain.  Do not overmix!  Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream as a dessert for bookgroup or maple syrup as a dish for brunch with Uncle Damon and Aunt Katie.  Voila!  You are a genius!

So geometric.  So modern.  So delicious.