Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Anyway, we had a lovely Thanksgiving, and the break from everything was very much appreciated and enjoyed. On Thursday, I spent the early part of the day in the kitchen, roasting turkey and making pies and all of that. Everything went off without a hitch, which was nice. The meal was wonderful, if I do say so myself. Matt said it was the best ever, but he says that every year. I was very proud of myself. After dinner, we watched a bit of football and napped and I slowly cleaned up the kitchen. We also planned for Black Friday shopping. I tried to get the kids in bed at a decent hour, but well, Alice is Alice and she read my mind that I was planning on getting up at 2:30 am to go shopping, and well, she decided to stay up until 2:00 am. I have no idea why, no idea what would possess her to do such a thing. But she did it. She wasn't grumpy about it--quite the opposite actually as she joyfully danced around the living room. But she would not go to sleep. At about 1:00, I just said to hell with it and sat up with her and ate dark chocolate almonds to keep myself awake. And at 2:30, I got Gabby up, and she and I went shopping.
Gabby and I go Black Friday shopping every year, and we truly have a blast. We always wear some kind of Christmas headgear (reindeer horns, Santa hat, etc.) and we have our set places to go and we buy very few gifts, but fun stuff for ourselves, our family, and for the holiday. We never go after a "big ticket" item like a TV or a camera (it is a little known fact that you can actually get better deals on brand name electronics if you wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas). We also drink copious amounts of Starbucks and giggle a lot. This year, Target was our first stop, as it always is. The line was much longer this year than in the past, but we got everything that I had wanted to get, including a toy for Sam (got the last one!) and a nice big blanket for my grandmother and some new sheets and pillows for everyone's bed. The line was long to check out, but everyone at Target was super friendly and accomodating. We then got our first Starbucks drinks, and went to Old Navy, where I got every one jeans and puffy vests (including skinny jeans for Big Al that may be the cutest things ever). After that, I was really dragging because of my lack of any meaningful sleep, and thought about turning around to go home, but Gabby started telling me about people at school, and I got tickled about it all, and we drove on to the mall, where I took part in the 50% off sale at Gap. That, ya'll, was amazing. I got a pair of Long and Leans, a pair of Modern Bootcuts, a tweed moto jacket, and a striped shirt that I am currently wearing. I got Alice a little tulle skirt and some of their play leggings and tees, which hold up very well and are super cute. I also snagged Gab a cardigan for Christmas by doing a little hiding game with my jeans. We also went to Bath and Body Works for Chinese Christmas gifts for my grandmother's house and my work and then to Justice, where I got Gab some other goodies and got a $25 gift card for coming out early! Score! We were immensely proud of ourselves. We stopped at Panera on the way home and got bagel sandwiches and then got Starbucks once more and drove home. Super fun, and we got a lot of great stuff for not a lot of dinero. Just the way I like it!
When we returned at around 10:00, I had hoped that I could take a little nap, but Sam wanted to decorate for Christmas, so that is what I did. I pulled out everything but the ornaments for the tree (we will get that next weekend) and we put up stuff and cleaned and listened to Christmas carols. We ate leftovers and just generally had a good day. Matt got home from work, and was pleased to show me that he had gone Black Friday shopping for the first time, and had gotten a $10 coat at Old Navy and two video games for $10 at GameStop. The pull of the Black Friday cannot be ignored....
On Saturday, we went up to my mother in law's for Thanksgiving dinner. I made (PW's) pecan pie with whiskey maple cream sauce. It was great, even though I am not a huge fan of pecan pie. We sat around and talked to my in laws for a while, and then came back home. Matt passed out because he had had early mornings at work the last two days, so I stayed up with Al and read magazines and watched Sleeping with the Enemy on Lifetime. My first time seeing that. I can't believe that I've made it this long.
On Sunday, we packed the kids off to stay at my mother in law's and Matt and I went out to eat lunch. We both are expecting a crazy week this week, and we felt we needed some time to decompress before we got started. We had lunch and then came home and watched shows on the TiVo and just hung out together and talked. We had a great time. The kids came home and I finished up laundry and then read magazines in bed until I passed out.
How was your holiday weekend? Any shopping? I just bought Alice a dress at The Children's Place online because you can stack their 25% off Cyber Monday coupon with free shipping (BOO YA!) and I bought a gift for my mom at LL Bean. I was so looking forward to purchasing the Sloan velvet trousers from BR with any kind of CM deal, but BR and Gap are not offering one. WTF, Gap?!?! I am not spending $110 on a pair of velvet trousers that I am only going to wear 3 months out of the year, so I am left pondering if I should get some from Ann Taylor that are not the ones I want exactly and that I am clueless about length in or if I should try to wait and see if these go on any kind of sale. I can't wait too long, though, because our Christmas party is December 16. So it is a conundrum. And I'm kind of pissed off about it. If Gap is still struggling financially, they should know that not doing anything for Cyber Monday is not helping a bit. Even J. Crew has a deal.... Sigh.
I am having a week of 12-14 hour workdays this week, so posting may be spotty at times. Or it won't be. We are hosting a conference here, and I'm still wondering what it is actually going to be like. We'll see, I guess.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am off today, so I am sitting at home, considering all the housework I need to do and wearing my night gown. The kids are not up yet, even Big Al who has decided that she will refuse to go to sleep if you even THINK of trying to get her to before midnight. Seriously. I struggled with her last night, and we finally both fell asleep in a hapless heap at around 12:30. She is still asleep in there, and I swear, when I looked at her this morning I wanted to be mad at her for her exploits. Because not only did she stay up that late, but she rolled around to nurse A LOT. Homegirl must be getting a tooth. Anyway, because of it, I am still sleepy. And my boobs hurt. But then I looked at her this morning--her mouth was open and a little spot of drool was on the corner of her chin, the dark hair she got from her father was mussed and fuzzy and her pajama shirt was pulled up around her chest--and I thought, "What an amazing little creature." Not in an ooey-gooey, helicopter mom kind of way, but in a total awe of just how much I enjoy her. Just being with her--in her presence. And how much I enjoy the other kids. Despite Sam mooning me about 3 times last night and Gabby getting into this giggle fit and starting to talk in a weird voice that no one could understand and just getting terribly annoying. I am incredibly thankful just to have them in my lives--just to know them. Much less to be their mom. And sometimes I consider a life where I wear La Perla lingerie and have the time to just sit down and read a magazine every once in a while, and I wonder what it would be like. But today, and really everyday, I am oh so thankful and almost giddy at the thought of spending the rest of my life caring for and loving them.
So now that I've made you completely sick, I'll tell you what I am planning for Thanksgiving dinner. I make dinner every year--have since I was 20 years old--for just our family. We invite others sometimes (this year I have invited my mother and father in law and my grandmother), but basically it is just for us. I make it come hell or high water because it is that important for us all to just sit around and eat together and give thanks and enjoy each other. It is not a formal affair--the kids and my husband wear their comfiest clothes and I use our same place settings that I use every single other day of the year, albeit with bigger plates. I did buy a table cloth this year at Target but mostly because I didn't want to have to scrape and coddle the dining room table where SOMEONE who shall remain nameless has made a mess of things at her particular spot. I make everything from scratch, and the only rule is that dinner is done when I get it done--I refuse to put a time on it. So I fix some snacks early in the day and let everyone graze a bit until I get it out on the table.
Here is this year's menu:
Snacks: chips with caramelized onion dip, stuffed mushrooms
Roast turkey with gravy
Cornbread dressing (yes, I live in the south, and it is dressing, not stuffing, and there is no sausage. That is just crazy talk. And I make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet, which is the only way that it should be made and there is NO SUGAR. Lord, you Yankees and your sugary cornbread...gettin' me all riled up...)
Mashed potatoes (if you have ever met my son, you know that his favorite story to tell about himself is when he ate a whole pot of mashed potatoes himself on Thanksgiving. He was 1 and it was adorable and if I close my eyes, I can still see his fat little face inhaling the potatoes.)
Sweet potato casserole (with both marshmallows and pecans because I can't decide)
Creamed corn (what we call "Skoby's Corn" because the recipe is from a restaurant that used to be in Kingsport, TN and was amazingly good. It is basically creamed corn made with half and half and a whole lot of fresh ground pepper.)
Spinach with gruyere (this is my first year making this, and it is a substitute for mac and cheese, which I have always made. I feel like our tastes have grown a bit, so I am trying it out. It is from last year's Real Simple magazine.)
Sherried green beans with wild mushrooms
Honey yeast rolls with honey butter
Bourbon cranberry sauce
Desserts: Pumpkin Pie with maple whipped cream and sugared pecans
So that's it. It seemed like more food when I was making the list--now that I see it typed out, I'm wondering if I shouldn't add something. Oh well. I am super excited because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it is also the "kick off" to the baking season which culminates (I feel) at Valentine's Day. My birthday is in there too, and I always make myself a wonderful, chocolate-y cake. This year, I want to keep an eye on my weight so it is going to be tougher, but I am still excited about all of the goodies to share with others.
What are your holiday traditions? Do you cook or go to eat with other family members? I am actually going to another Thanksgiving celebration tonight and then another on Saturday at my MIL's. I have to say that I am looking forward to my own the most though! Is your meal a formal affair or do you eat in elastic waist pants?
If you follow me on Twitter (@pbpickledginger), you will probably get to see a few pics as I put everything together. My husband always takes pictures of me cooking on Thanksgiving, and they are so fun, so this year I am going to ask him to put them on Twitter (A side note--probably one of my favorite pictures of myself EVER was taken on my first Thanksgiving that I made. I am holding the uncooked turkey and smiling this huge grin and you can see my tiny apartment kitchen and on the counter, there is a cookbook and a copy of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. Sam is holding on to my ankle. That pretty much sums that part of life up better than anything ever could.). This might elicit and eye roll, but I'm sure he'll do it because I always make him sweet potatoes and put both marshmallows and pecans on them because he can't decide either.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
So I had this one bra to wear to work. One bra. I know, I know. Here's the thing. I hate (well, hated, up until this point) to buy bras. Because buying bras meant that I went to Victoria's Secret and bought one overpriced bra and had my sense of smell obliterated by lots and lots of cheap body lotions that smell of Dina Lohan. And desperation. Going to VS now is slightly better than it used to be--when I was a size 14, no one would even LOOK my way in that store, lest they catch the fat disease. Now that I'm smaller, they are way too nice about the whole thing, constantly trying to get me to buy things that I have no desire to even see--the Lohanesque lotions, a demi racerback bra (HELLO? My boobs are huge and that goes up to a C Cup. Someone needs to go back to VS University.), a pair of sweatpants with writing on the butt. Knowing this was my fate, I made do with my one VS bra--handwashing after 2-3 wears and line drying at night, changing into a comfy nursing bra as soon as I walked in the door after work. I made do because I could not fathom driving an hour to walk in to that store and drop another $50 on another one.
Oh, and did I mention that the strap broke on the bra? Yeah. It is a convertible bra, and somehow the strap broke on one side, so I've been wearing it as a one shouldered bra. For a while now. And I have never owned a one shouldered top. I'll just let you mull that one over for a few minutes.
On Saturday, we finished at the parade and had a couple of hours before the lights started at the speedway. So my mom asked me if I wanted to run to the mall since she could watch the kids and let me go shopping untethered (which is something that I only dream about). At first, I said sure, that I wanted to go to the farther away mall where there is a Gap and get something for 40% off. A sweater, a pair of pants...nothing I really needed, I just wanted to get something cheap. When we thought about the time it was going to take to get over there (and Sam heard the word "Gap" and said he refused to allow such an abomination), we reconsidered. So I said, "Well, maybe you could run me to the mall and I'll buy a bra." Grumble, sigh, nashing of teeth. My mom was like, "Oh, you need bras?" And I said, "Well, yeah...." and I tell her the whole story about what I was currently wearing.
She hit the brakes and said, "I raised you better than that."
And she did. I suddenly realized how embarassing the whole thing is. I told her about not wanting to go to VS, and she clucked her tongue and dropped me off at the Belk entrance. Belk, for those of you not in the south, is like Macy's. With a Southern flair, I would say. So I go in, just knowing that I won't find anything.
I was desperately, sadly wrong. Once inside, I realized that all bras were on sale for $18 that day. $18!!! That is crazy talk, ya'll. I was going about my business, looking at the selection, when this nice lady of a certain age walked over to me and asked if she could help. I told her that I was just looking for bras--just that. And she nods one time and leaves and returns with about 5 different styles IN MY SIZE. Homegirl just looked at me, ya'll. Didn't ask what size I am, NOTHING. I'm pretty sure that this is a super power, and I have just discovered the person who will save the world from itself. She sent me to the dressing room without saying a word.
And they fit. Amazingly well, actually. They actually do, you know, what bras should do. And I think they make me look smaller. And the comfort level is amazing. Most of the bras that I purchased were different styles from Bali, which I think I vaguely remember wearing when I was in high school (back when I was a 32C--those were the days). One of them is actually, honest to goodness, gorgeous, like a pretty date night bra that actually does its job (I haven't been able to find it on the website, and the SA said she thought it was a holiday exclusive--I might go back and buy 2-67 more). The funny thing is, though, I didn't find a t-shirt bra, so I was looking at one made by the same company. The SA saw me out of the corner of her eye, and goes, "That just won't work for you." Ok then. Putting it down. Walking away.
I also bought this. Shapewear? Who knew? I am one of those rare beings who never got on the Spanx bandwagon, and so the whole thing is new to me. I really like this particular little tank though, because it just looks like a regular camisole. And, because it is just a cami, you totally avoid that "sausage skin" look. You know how some shapewear seems to make women look cylindrical? Yeah, none of that there. It actually just makes my clothes seem to hang better. Nothing too drastic. And very comfortable, which is, you know, a big plus with me.
I should also post and say that Big Al got some new undies too this weekend--I ordered her two FuzziBunz Perfect Size Diapers in Medium. And I love them! These are the first sized diapers we have gotten--my dad got me a BG set of 12 last year for Christmas, and I have a set of six that I bought, plus assorted other dipes that we have picked up through DS and the like, but they are all one-size. I am amazed at how trim the FB's are. Allie was able to wear her leggings without so much of a comment about her big old butt. I think she was happy about that. Al would like me to remind you that Kim Kardashian she is not.
The moral of this long, dramatic story is this: Skip Victoria and her Secret, and find you some nice bras. Preferably from a middle aged Southern woman who will tell you EXACTLY what you need and need not buy. You will thank me later.
Because here's the thing: I have three kids. And kids cost a lot of money. Actually, let me rephrase that. My son and youngest daughter are relatively inexpensive. Alice wears cloth diapers and eats what we eat and nurses. Sam is pretty happy if you just give him a $4 comic book. But Gabby. Holy crap. Between jeggings and dance classes (I just wrote a check the other night for an $80 dance duffle bag for her competition team) and can-I-have-$5-for-the-concession-stand, Gabby is an expensive little beast. And, you know, I like good food. A lot. And I need a new car for myself (we have a newer family car, but the car I drive to work is 10 years old--and AWESOME). And I have been known to buy a cookbook or two. So, while I love clothes, I cannot spend every cent that I or Matt make on them.
So here's today's outfit. I like it--it is super comfortable for the LAST WORKDAY OF THE WEEK (HUZZAH!), and I think it expresses my fun, slightly-quirky style pretty well:
The sweater is from Target. I bought it this weekend--it was on sale for $15 (reg. $22). I highly recommend these Merona cardigans because they hold up very well and have great colors. I actually like this one better than my favorite J. Crew Jackie's because it has full length sleeves instead of the 3/4 style on the Jackie. I have a summer version that is black with a white pattern that both my mom and I own. We both love it and wore it a lot in the summer.
The tank is the silk ruffle tank from J. Crew. I got it off of J. Crew Afficionada for about $15.
The pants are Modern Bootcuts from Gap. I actually bought this with one of my Groupons earlier in the year. So, although they are $59.50 in store, I got mine for $34.50.
The shoes are also from Target--also bought this weekend. They are by Mossimo and were $24.99. I looked all weekend for a pair of gray suede shoes at multiple stores (not just Tar-jay) and these were the cutest that I found. See? I was even willing to pay a bit extra for them, but found that the budget ones were the cutest and most comfortable.
And the necklace I got at American Eagle. I think it was actually free, because I bought a pair of earrings and their jewelry was BOGO that day. If you don't usually check out AE, give it a try sometime. Their jewelry is super cute, and my mom swears up and down that Artist pants are the best out there. I'm also wearing hoop earrings that were a gift from my kids for Mother's Day.
So according to my excellent-English-major calculations, my entire outfit today cost me $96.49. That is roughly the cost of one sweater at J. Crew that I am coveting right now. That doesn't mean that I don't occasionally splurge--I do--but I have found that building a wardrobe is easy and fun if one mixes their high end loves with a few budget friendly tricks! This makes for happy frugal husbands and lots of cheese in the fridge. And you know, lots of dance costumes. Can't forget that. Sigh.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I don't know if you can tell (or if you care), but I colored my hair last night. It is not that much different--just a tinge darker. I was really trying to eliminate all elements of summer brassiness from it, and I think it did the trick. I used Perfect 10 hair color, which is pretty easy to use, even if you are completely hapless like me. I used Medium Ash Brown, I believe. For some reason (unrelated to the color, I think) my hair is acting up today, so I now have it in a ponytail. See that weird bump over my shoulder in the first picture? Yeah, that's not supposed to be there.
The above is Alice, of course, and she was REMARKABLY good during this meal. So much so that people came to our table and commented. I wanted to say, "No, she is an evil genius, and she is just PRETENDING to behave in order to enact her future plan which involves world domination and an unlimited supply of Kleenex to shred," but I refrained. The other picture is of my mom and Gabby, and my mom would most certainly be upset that I posted it because it is not the best picture of her. I would counter by reminding her of the pictures that we saw this weekend. And the fact that I have a scanner. Do we really want to go there, Mom? Just ask Alice. I'm a mean girl with embarassing pictures and a free blogger account. Don't mess with me.
After lunch, we took a quick detour to the bookstore and to Ulta, and then I dropped mom off at the airport and the kids and I drove to Target (AGAIN) and Starbucks and then went home. We were all tired, but I spent the evening trying to straighten up because our living room looked like a goat exploded and there was a crazy amount of laundry. It.NEVER.ends.
Hope everyone had a great weekend and is slowly (but surely) getting into the holiday spirit!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I found my sweater. The one I had lovingly handwashed and then left to dry flat because that is what it says on the label. I know you took it off the drying rack. Don't give me those eyes, I know it was you. You know how? Because I found it up under the computer desk with a beater for the mixer and a copy of The Belly Button Book. As far as I know, you are the a) the only Sandra Boynton reader in the house and b) the only person who steals beaters and then pantomines licking things off of them. The rest of us wait until they are covered in sugary fat substances first.
So I'm playing hardball. Here you go, Alice. Embarassing photo time.
Yup, that's you. Asleep in your Jumperoo. Yes, it was a while ago. I found it on the memory cards you had stuck in your super secret hiding place. Look at how fat you were! This has got "college boyfriend" written all over it.
This also makes me fondly think of those times when you couldn't walk or crawl, when things were simple and I didn't have to find the sweater I had planned on wearing today crumpled into a ball under the computer desk. When I didn't have to lock the toilet after I used it. Before you got that look in your eye all the time that made me have heart palpitations and wonder if there was anything ANYWHERE that you could reach and then throw down the cold air return. Before you came a very exciting little child, hellbent on wrecking our house and making us laugh and laughing like something that they caught on Criminal Minds last week.
You light up our lives, Lil' Destroyer.
So I had to come back to my desk and regroup. I just decided to bite the bullet and go to the bathroom that I always go to. Office bathroom pics: control your excitement. And if you found this page from googling those particular words, you are looking for something altogether different, buddy. Ick.
And I just realized that you can't tell diddly crap about these pants in these pictures. I'm total crap at this, ya'll. Life is hard.
At any rate, maybe you can tell something about the cut of these if you have, you know, magic vision. I can't talk enough about how awesome they are. For those who care, I am wearing a pair of black Bandolino heels with them, probably about a 3-4 inch heel. And my top and sweater are from Loft.
Oh, and that one picture of me just cheesing for the camera? That is to show you what my hair looks like when I don't bother to do much to it. I swear the bangs looked better when I left the house. And yes, I'm in a stall. No, I wasn't doing anything in there. Told you that this wasn't that kind of blog. I just thought I heard someone walking to the bathroom, so you know, I ran like a scared little girl to the bathroom stall, clutching my camera and going "Ohmygod, ohmygod" the whole way. Because it is one thing to be taking a picture of yourself in your office. It is quite another to be doing it in the most used bathroom in the building.
Daily fashion bloggers: ya'll got my respect big times.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Because no one else out there can combine self-indulgence, baking, and a total disregard for the paperwork on one's desk like I can...
Because you need more references to Lifetime movies on your radar...
Because Daddy didn't hug you....
Because Hoarders isn't on, and you've seen that Law and Order rerun about 15 times now....
Follow me on (the) Twitter! Because I just started one. In it, I do all the banal things that people do on Twitter that makes you want to throat punch a nun! Things you might hear about:
*my eating habits!
*what I REALLY think of my employer!
*how I feel about other drivers!
*and airplane food! What's the deal there?!?
Anyway, it is @pbpickledginger. Because one has to keep all her social networking things simple or else chaos will rule. And send me your info as well, and I will follow you. You know that I dream all night about what you might be eating right now!
Hope to see you there!
That is me, approximately 10 minutes ago. I'm sitting in my office. If you are feeling stalkerish, you can see my nesting doll beside of my head and the empty bulletin board behind my back (I'm going to put up some Spring schedules and such later this week, if you are worried about my lack of office decoration). I took this photo very quickly when I first got here while everyone else was still filing in because the front of my office is glass, and I haven't been here long enough for people to look away and disregard if they spotted me taking a picture of myself alone in my office.
So why are you lucky enough to get this picture today? Well, let me tell you. My mother in law was kind enough to sweep up around the house yesterday, and she found Alice's secret stash of stuff hidden underneath a chair in the dining room. In it was three memory cards, the adapter for the camera and my Nars Orgasm blush (which I just placed an order to Sephora for yesterday morning to replace) among other things. So now, I can get off the 511 pictures that were on the camera and upload them. To show my anger at Alice for doing this to us all, I will post this:
Yup, that's a picture of Alice watching Dora naked. Alice, do not mess with your mother. This is the digital age. Keep it up, Chubs, and there will be many more posts like this, or (GASP!) on Facebook. By the time I'm done, you will never be able to run for political office, nor will you ever be Miss America. So are you going to take my blush again? Or the camera supplies? That's what I thought.
Monday, November 15, 2010
When I got home, the best thing happened. The kids were at my mother in law's, and my husband was there, and we were totally ALONE. Amazing. I had no idea our house could be so quiet. Matt and I are hardly ever in our house totally by ourselves--if we get his mom to watch the kids, it is because we are both at work or because we are going somewhere together. Plus, we called to check on the kids, and his mom said that if we wanted to pick them up IN A COUPLE OF HOURS, we could stop and pick up pizzas and all eat together up there. SCORE. So that is what we did.
On Saturday, we took the kids to see Megamind and out for lunch. We ate at Red Lobster, and Alice entered the world of the Kid's Meal when I got her her own chicken tenders and a side of broccoli. I usually just share with her and order her an extra vegetable side, but she sometimes looks at Sam's chicken tenders longingly, so I decided to just go ahead and get her her own. She was way, way excited. She proceeded to eat her chicken dipped in ketchup. Like a lot of ketchup. Homegirl looooves sauces, it appears. She ate her ketchup, as well as Sam's, who hates any kind of sauce. The funny thing about it is that when we left, Matt looked at the back of my lavender sweater, and noticed that Alice had actually slung the ketchup and flecks of it were all over my back. He said it looked like blood spatter analysis from Dexter. Nice. We went by Old Navy and I got the kids some clothes and Alice a new coat and Matt bought some khakis and button downs. Then we went to the movies. The movie was cute and funny, and Alice made it almost all the way through before she and I made our exit to the back of the theater where she had fun walking up and down the steps. Not many people were there, and the ones who were commented on her being good. HA!
On Sunday, Matt worked a bit (his work life increases exponentially around the holidays), so I stayed home all day with the kids. The kids and I were going to go shopping, but Sam wasn't feeling it, and I wasn't feeling being in the car for 3 hours with them and it was rainy, so we stayed home. The kids were, in a word, WILD. Halfway through the day, Sam took his Megamind toy from McDonald's that he had begged for the night before and decided it was his robot hand. He didn't put it down for the rest of the day and made all manner of strange sounds with it. When I asked him to take it off, he would say, "BUT IT'S MY HAND NOW!!! I can't take off my hand!" Sigh. Alice, in true Alice fashion, dashed around the house all day, gut extended. She managed to dump a bag of M&M's from Gabby's room all over the floor in the living room, carry a box of macaroni into the bathroom and dump it into the bathtub and then find a chicken tender in the top of the trashbag and stick it in her mouth. Those, folks, are just the highlights. I will probably find about 10 million other things she did today when I pick up a bit more. The scary thing is, she was by my side almost the entire day. I have no idea how this child does it and why we find it all so endearing. She also scared our poor miniature schnauzer, Hinkleton, so bad that he refused to come out from under the dining room table for about 30 minutes. Hinkleton is probably spending his Monday placing an ad on Craigslist for himself.
When Matt (finally) got home, I took a l-o-n-g bath, listened to the Black Keys and exfoliated/scrubbed/buffed/polished myself. I had planned on getting the house straightened up, but that didn't happen--in fact, it probably looks worse right now than it did on Sunday morning. Oh well. I did a bit of shopping for Gabby and myself with our Give and Get online codes and made homemade marinara sauce and garlic bread for dinner. I FINALLY got the kids to sit down by allowing them to make their Christmas lists. I told them to write it with pen and paper so that I could divvy it up among relatives, but Gabby said she just couldn't do that, that it was silly and she would just make it on Amazon "like any NORMAL human being." Kids these days. Sam, of course, was delightfully old school, writing to Santa that he had been "mostly" good and that he had two arch enemies (two girls in his class who like to hug him) and that he couldn't be expected to be "all the way good" under those circumstances.
So, since I took the time to make this meal plan yesterday, I'll share it.
Sunday: spaghetti with Ina Garten's marinara, garlic bread (we were supposed to have a salad, but I was just way too lazy. Yup, too lazy to open up a bag of salad greens and whisk some balsamic and olive oil together. It's official. I'm total crap.)
Monday: chicken tortilla soup (with that crockpot Mexican chicken I made a couple of weeks back)
Tuesday: burritos (with the rest of that chicken), spanish rice
Wednesday: potato leek soup from Masterpieces of French Cooking, which I desperately want to use more
Thursday: My mom will *possibly* be here, and if she is, we will eat with her. If she doesn't think she will get back in time, I am going to put some pork in the slow cooker and fix pulled pork and broccoli slaw.
Friday: probably eating with mom again. If she is tired (she is going to be helping my grandmother get her house holiday ready during this time), I am going to make PW's chicken scallopine for all of us.
Saturday: definitely eating out and going to a Christmas parade. This is a big family tradition with my mom and me, so we will probably go to this same pizza restaurant we always go to and then go buy candy making supplies for the holidays. I feel my hips widening...
Hope everyone's Monday is going well, and perhaps a bit better than mine. I just realized this morning that my father in law drove off to West Virginia (where he is going to be for the rest of the week) with my purse/wallet in his car. AWESOME! It has all my money and cards inside of it. Hopefully, he can overnight it to me. Sigh. Plus, I cannot find the witch hazel towellettes I have been using on my face anywhere and I am all out. I went to two drugstores this morning, and it looks like I will have to go BACK to Target. I love Target, but would it be possible for any other store to just TRY to have what I need? Just for convenience's sake? Lord.
Friday, November 12, 2010
But Friday just makes it all go away and gives me hope that next week will be better. That I can put all this behind me and move happily on. When I was in college, Friday was the one day that I didn't do anything school related (aside from go to class). I don't think anyone did. There would be a band on the Sunken Gardens sometimes, and it seemed like the weather always looked up on Fridays. Matt and I had a tradition that after our last class of the day, we would walk down to The Cheese Shop (if you are ever in Williamsburg, VA, you should definitely go) and get sandwiches for lunch. I would always get VA ham and havarti on a baguette and a spicy ginger ale, and we would buy a bag of bread ends and sauce to take home. Then we would go sit on this wall thingie near a parking lot and eat them. I can still remember the saltiness of the ham combining with the sound that my Doc Martens made as I kicked them off of the concrete wall. We would talk and laugh about our weeks and make every effort to not talk about school work. Sometimes afterward we would take a stroll to the candy store or to the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop and buy goodies and then we would go back to our dorms or apartment and take a nap (I guess you are starting to see why I weighed over 200 pounds in college!). It was delicious and wonderful and fun and now when I think of Friday, it brings a smile to my face. The funny thing is, I had a professor whose son and daughter attended the same preschool/day care as Gabby and a few times at pick up on Friday, I would see him and he would comment about just having taken a nap. Guess it was a widespread thing!
I have to make a trip to Target today to stock up on things like foundation, shave gel, moisturizer and all of the stuff that I let slide during the week when I am rushing around like a crazy person. I fully plan on walking in, going by Starbucks for an iced coffee, and then just leisurely walking around the store, purchasing my stuff. I am looking forward to it like crazy. I once read an article about Tina Fey and she said that that is her greatest fantasy--to buy a large soda and walk around a large suburban super store and just randomly look at stuff. I have to agree. And you know, I was going to type that I feel guilty about it, that I am having my mother in law pick up my kids from school so that I can leave work a touch early and do that, but I don't. After the last two weeks, I think I deserve to be able to walk around a Target. And I will see the kids when I get home and I will prepare them a lovely dinner and a pear clafouti and I will smile. But I need the trip to Target first. And maybe a short journey in TJ Maxx! Earlier this week, I realized how tired I am of moms playing the martyr game (I never take any time for myself! It is all Junior, all the time for me!), so I am not giving in and feeling any guilt about it. And that's the end of that discussion.
Well, this has been a lot of writing about really nothing. Did anyone take advantage of the Lands End Canvas groupon that was posted earlier this week? I have mine (well, two of them because I am greedy), and I am thinking of buying this skirt:
Isn't that cute? I kind of love it. I know I am running the risk of it being a bit costume-y with my bangs (I can just imagine my husband saying something about Lolita because of it--this is a man who used the word "Nabokovian" in a discussion about my daughter's 6th grade English class), but I really want it, and the Groupon is a good reason to take the plunge. Now if I could just find a pair of gray suede pumps at TJ Maxx today....
Hope everyone has a lovely weekend, and that your Friday is idyllic and pictureesque just as it should be!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
But children are frighteningly different from one another. And while you may have one child who is all sweetness and light and another who is dramatic and bright, you could have another who is HELL ON WHEELS.
My daughter Alice is that child. While a good deal of it comes from being 14 months old and recently acquring the ability move oneself with ease and a staggering quickness, the other amount of it comes from just being insane. I present the people's exhibit one: the toilet. Alice is my first and only child to be OBSESSED with the toilet. And not in the EC-ing, potty trained by 18 months kind of way. Like she wants to play in it. More than wants to, actually. Kind of like "lives to play in it." So much so that we have taken to totally shutting off portions of our house while she is walking around unfettered. If, by some miracle, she finds the bathroom open, she will go and sit there, IN THE DARK, and just wait until someone comes to look for her. Once she hears feet coming toward her, she sprints to the toilet, laughing maniacally the entire time, and proceeds to get as much splashing in as she can possibly do in the 4.3 seconds it takes for us to get to her, scream, curse, and pick her up. Same deal every time.
Or witness the People's Exhibit Numero Dos: rice. No bag/box/container of rice in our house is safe. She will find it, and she will figure out a way to puncture it/turn it upside down/whatever. And it will be all over the floor. And she will use her hands to dip into it and throw it to the far reaches of the house. And she will laugh maniacally. I used to keep rice in a lazy susan that is close to the floor and when she started doing this, I moved it to the pantry. She found it and screamed until Sam gave it to her. I then moved it to the countertop, behind some cookbooks and admonished Sam for giving in to her screams. Then one day I was holding her in the kitchen, talking to Matt about God only knows what, and she just calmly and quietly leaned over, picked up a package of basmati and boom. All over the floor. She was happy as a clam with herself. She then arched her back so I had to let her down and mussed her hands around in the rice while her two parents sat and watched her, bewildered, broom in hand.
This is just scratching the surface of what this child gets into on a daily basis. Perhaps I have rose colored glasses, but I don't remember my other two being this way. And I especially don't remember the glint in the eyes, this look that Alice gets that is the toddler equivalent of "IT'S ON, BITCH."
I also don't remember the other two just being this FUN. Sam was sweet and cuddly and Gabby was independent and stubborn. But Alice has the market cornered on just pure unadulterated fun. She tramps around the house, usually shirtless because for some reason she prefers not wearing a shirt, her bizarre distended baby-gut leading the way, wreaking havoc. And we all just sit back and watch and laugh. Her daily interplays with her siblings are especially priceless--Gabby is usually huffy and sometimes just purely angry with her for her exploits, but then softens and tries to please her. And Sam is purely in love with her, and accepts it all with happiness and hugs. I imagine that someday when she has wrecked the car and is left standing outside of a 7-11, smelling of Boone's Farm and bad teenage choices, it will be Sam that she will call. And he will show up, smiling sweetly and saying, "Well, A-lice..."
Kids are amazing. Sometimes I hear friends complain about losing their life once a child is born and not being able to do the things that they once did. And yeah, I get it. Sometimes you need a break. But seriously. Just sitting around watching one of these little monsters can be the most entertaining thing ever. That is, until you have to clean it all up. That, my friends, is what booze is for.
Monday, November 8, 2010
On Saturday night, I spent the evening making hot dogs and hot fudge cake at the elementary school's Fall Festival. And I came home feeling poorly. I thought it was because I had spent the last 4 hours on my feet, making hot dogs and misguidedly wearing a sweatshirt from my alma mater in the hot elementary school kitchen. I watched some tv and then went to bed. Matt, who had stayed home with Alice, said he was feeling a bit sick too. But he always says that. In Matt's mind, he is sick from November until April. I'm not even kidding. He has one long "cold" that goes on between that time--every sneeze, every sniffle, every headache is blamed on the plague that he gets, without fail, every year.
But then yesterday we both woke up sick. None of the kids, thank goodness, seem to have gotten it. Sam has long since returned to his normal self, running around in his underwear yesterday and trying to lick his armpit (and yes, he can do it, which he considers something to be very much proud of). Matt, I guess, is used to being sick on some level. Not me. I don't get sick that often (I do have allergies, which suck), but I have a fairly awesome immune system and bolster it with running and drinking a lot of that Trop50 stuff (seriously...try it. I really like it, and it is a very healthy alternative to my daily OJ habit).
The thing is, being sick just annoys me. I want to plead and yell and remind the world that YES, I HAVE SHIT TO DO. I need to work, and I need to exercise, and I need to cook and I need to remind my daughter that no, it is not polite to tell someone that you don't like them because they are loud even though, yes, I did say that honesty is the best policy. So I try to ignore being sick, which makes me feel even worse. Here I sit, at my desk, wrapped in a pashmina, WEARING FLATS and an old Old Navy cotton v-neck sweater that I didn't even know that I owned (When did I think it was a good idea to buy a cabled sweater? The mind boggles.) and just wishing that I could be at home in bed, which I very well could be because I have a flexible job and a laptop. But I'm not. I refuse to give in to the cold. I will go about my daily business and just pretend that everything is normal (except for the flats thing--I walked in this morning and at least three people commented on how "short" I am) even though I look like a zombie with chapped lips.
My husband, who does not have the deathwish, I mean, resolve that I have, is only working half a day and is on his way to pick me up for lunch and to give me medicine and Kleenexes. Which is amazingly sweet, I must admit, especially from someone who has convinced himself that his body is a battlefield, populated only by enemy forces whose only wish is to smother him in his own mucus.
At any rate, I didn't post the menu yesterday because I felt icky, and I should have posted it last night when I was up between 2:00 and 4:30, but it was much more worthwhile to lay on the couch and watch Keeping Up the Kardashians and moan. So here it is:
Saturday: Loaded Potato Soup
Sunday: Smoky Beef Stew with Blue Cheese and Chives, Spicy Autumn Crisp
Monday: Thai Honey Chicken, rice, broccoli (Oh sweet vitamin C!)
Tuesday: caprese paninis, fruit
Wednesday: Baked Ziti with Gorgonzola and Spinach (will be having a small portion of this with a big salad)
Thursday: Prosciutto, Pear, and Blue Cheese Sandwiches, sweet potato fries
Friday: spaghetti with homemade marinara, salad, garlic bread
Treats: pear clafloutis (have you seen the pears at the market? They are gorgeous.), oreo cheesecake cookies (these are for my kids and my husband because we were gifted a very big thing of oreos for Halloween, and they are tired of just eating them as is. I actually am not a huge fan of oreos, as I have spoiled myself making homemade ones.)
Breakfasts: Ellie Krieger's Cheddar Apple quesadillas because I have a whole bunch of apples and a whole bunch of cheddar left over from last week and from my grandmother visiting Amish country and bringing me back the spoils. You would be amazed at the food items that I end up with because people know I cook. For example, just in this past week, I have inherited:
*2 lbs. of pecans
*3 Mason jars of honey (with comb)
*1 pound of pepperoni
*2 butternut squashes
*3 sugar pie pumpkins
*1/2 lb. farmer's cheese
*a bag of nameless, faceless apples from some guy's farm
*some really salty cheese made with green onions that my oldest daughter may be obsessed with
Hopefully I will feel like doing some stuff with all of that. Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. Oy.
I hope everyone is well, and has had a good (non-sick) weekend. When I get my crap together, I am going to be doing some shopping this week, so I will be posting some reviews of things. Until then, stay away from people with colds! Especially if they are cute 7 year old boys. Those guys are the worst.
Friday, November 5, 2010
I got up this morning, and it is literally SNOWING at my mountain abode. Well, snow mixed with rain, but when I was driving to work, the snow would freeze together in chunks and when the chunks hit the windshield, they would fly back in bigger, amalgamated chunks. Crazy. Now, for about half of my FB friends list, this is something to be excited about (namely, the SAHM's who don't have to get out in this and have absolutely nothing to do but stare out their windows and sigh) and they are all saying cutesy stuff about "Oh, I'm going to make some hot chocolate and snuggle with my baby!" and all I wanna do throat punch them. Yup, you don't want to be near me today, people. It is supposed to snow tomorrow too, which means that the morning run I was planning as a goodbye to this hellacious week is probably not going to happen. Sigh.
And I really need to run, because this is what I'm making tonight:
Yup, that's what you think it is. Pasta, ya'll, swimming in cheese sauce in an almost 2-1 ratio of cheese to noodles. And not just any cheese sauce. No dainty-do "blue cheese" or "parmigiano reggiano." CHEDDAR, ya'll. The extra sharp stuff, orange and sticky. Ribbons of it, melting as I shred it. Melting me as I consume it. And there is no crust on this, no breadcrumbs. No bits of ham, no peas. No sirree. Just cheese and pasta baked in a casserole and then consumed greedily. Sure, I'll make a big green salad with some idiotic idea of caloric balance. Sure, it is more to use up the romaine before it dies than to do anything else. But who gives a damn about romaine when you've got this?
And today, I can honestly say that I don't give two flying craps about how many calories I consume. For the past 3 years or so, I have vaguely considered calories every time I opened my mouth. Not tonight. I refuse to. I might wake up miserable in the morning, but you know what? It will be totally worth it. I will run, and next week, I will eat a healthy lunch every day and not order out one time and I will start a strengthening routine at 6:00 each morning (I was planning on doing that anyway--not just because of the cheese flavored orgasm I'm planning tonight).
Sometimes you just have to. Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind. And I have heard people say that about many aspects of their lives, and for the first time, I'm really feeling like it is true. In more ways than one. But I'm going to start with this pasta.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Sometimes I wonder just how vain a person I am that my mood can be lifted that much by a simple change, like a new haircut or a new eyeliner. There is something un-feministy about it, that's for sure. But is it wrong to like those things? I don't think so. I get deluged by these stupid status messages on Facebook, talking about how moms should give up their "designer bags for diaper bags" and their styled hair for pony tails (if you are my FB friend, you know how much I hate these), and I get very angry. To me, clothes and hair and all of that is just something I enjoy. Part of me. If I have to give that up to be a mom, I'm not going to be giving all of myself as a mom. Does that make sense?
It is all ok, though, because my husband says I look like Bettie Page. Is there higher praise? I think not.
(And yes, I will post pretty pretty pictures of my hair someday. I was going to do it today because I have a brand new spankin' digital camera in my desk drawer, but it is rainy today, so I did not fully curl the hair to get the wavy effect--just blow dried it straight and then flipped the ends around with a straightening iron. Also my daughter is in the spelling bee today and I was spending my morning, yelling "SPELL TACHISTOSCOPE!" and not making myself pretty. Hopefully, the rain will subside, and I will do the full thing tomorrow.)
Also, I must tell you about these pants. There has been a Second Coming, ya'll. The Second Coming of the HOLY DENIM TROUSERS. If you were lucky enough to read my other blog, Cult of the Black Sweater, you will know that about 50% of my wardrobe revolved around this pair of size 14 J. Crew denim trousers that I adored. I babied those pants like you would not believe--Woolite, line drying, fabric softener that I bought on the internet. Hell, if they still fit, I would have them on RIGHT NOW. But aye, there is the rub in losing weight. Things that you love no longer fit. So I took the pants and donated them to my mom's church where they have a closet of work-related clothing that they give to people who are trying to get jobs. And I had a very hard time replacing them. I have some Gap denim trousers, but they were not exactly right--a bit saggy at the end of the day, the leg not tailored the way I like. But then, Talbots stepped into my life. And now, me and Talbots are like those couples who you see in romantic comedies who eat waffles together and work Sunday crossword puzzles and share sets of pajamas and dance to John Mayer songs and have nicknames like Cupcake and Lovepot.
These pants are freaking amazing and if you don't go buy a pair right now, you are certifiably crazy. Kidding. Kind of. I wore these the other day and got compliments on them, which was nice. And then today, I go to the bathroom, and I see something out of the corner of my eye as I'm washing my hands. I'm thinking, "Who is that skinny bitch in the mirror?" And then I realize--"SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL, that is ME." My legs, ya'll, were long. And that never happens. Because I'm 5 foot 3. My 11 year old daughter's legs are longer than mine. NOT joking. But these pants, plus my leopard print peep toes...I could easily pass for someone non-short. Plus, the denim is substantial and saturated--not that tissue-y stuff a lot of trousers are made out of. And they fit TTS--got my size 6 Regular (probably would get a petite if I were not wearing them with heels the majority of the time). HOLY, I'm telling you. They are truly HOLY. When I put them on, angels sing and babies are born and little kittens lick each other and then roll into cute little balls and mew. When I put them on, the Democrats control the House again and Tim Lincecum cuts his hair and Roy Halladay decides to sign a 50 year deal with the Oakland Athletics and everything that is good and right in the world happens. Or at least, that's what it feels like.
I should note that yes, I got the jeans for free in a contest. Talbots, however, did not ask me to write about their jeans. They barely know that I exist except as an address that the UPS man delivers to. And let me tell you, he will be delivering A LOT if these jeans are any sign of things to come.
SQUEE!! I love these pants!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Note: This is an awful picture of me and Matt isn't even looking at the camera, but it is the only picture I have of all of us together looking spooky.
So this weekend was Halloween and we were tres busy as should come as no surprise for any one with a family living in America around the time of October 31st. Halloween is my son's favorite holiday, so there is a lot of pressure to make it awesome. I think we more than succeeded this year.
On Friday, I took the kids to a party that a family we are friends with hosts every year. They go ALL OUT ya'll. This year, they had a realistic dummy-Frankenstein laying under a sheet when the kids walked in that was hooked up to this machine. They also had music and nachos--the whole bit. Sam amused himself chasing everyone with his sword (he was a zombie ninja), Gabby amused herself sitting with the other tweens in the back (where they kept the lights off and did God only knows what) and Alice just walked around and smiled and giggled and just generally made everyone's night. We had a good time talking and playing and then came home and the kids went to bed. Matt and I watched another Dario Argento movie and then Zombieland. Bill Murray made my night.
On Saturday, I got up early and went grocery shopping. When I returned with my huge, huge amount of food, the kids settled down to carve pumpkins. They were really intricate this year--Gabby has this cartoon character that she draws and writes comics about, so she wanted that on a pumpkin. I laughed at the mere idea and retreated to the kitchen to roast pumpkin seeds, make trail mix and prepare apple cider doughnuts. Matt went on with it, and ended up making two very interesting, eerie pumpkins. The kids were ecstatic and Matt was (very rightfully) proud of himself. We then went out trick or treating. We were able to get through two subdivisions and garner enough candy to break two bags before the kids got tired and cold. We then went home and all of us watched Night of the Living Dead (the original black and white one) before collapsing into bed. Sam was proud of himself for watching his first scary movie and not getting scared once. They're coming for you, Barbara!!!
On Sunday, we were set for some sort of a lazy day, but Halloween had other plans. I made pumpkin waffles, and then my grandmother called and asked me to go ahead and bring the kids down so that her sister could see them in their finery. I rushed around and took them and they trick or treated a bit at the farms around my grandmother's house. We then came home and I gave Alice a quick nap while preparing our roast chicken. We ate greedily and happily (as we always do when roast chicken is involved), picking the poor desiccated carcass of the bird until it was clean and there was no hope of doing anything but making stock. Then we took the kids out one last time to visit other family members and get more treats. We had a great time talking and catching up with family and I even got some treats--a big bag of GA pecans for my holiday baking and three jars of local honey that my husband's aunt and uncle process themselves! I was super jazzed. At both my dad's and in-law's house, the kids were given full-on gift bags full of candy and Silly String and money. Trick or treating is good business now, ya'll! We came home, high on sugar and happiness and put the kids to bed. Then Matt and I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, which I had somehow (shockingly) avoided seeing for my entire life.
However, we STILL have stuff to do tonight because we just couldn't get it all done. Gabby is wanting to watch Halloween with us, so we are going to watch that tonight, and I am going to make the caramel corn and truffles that I didn't get to make over the weekend. I have avoided a large amount of the sugar (only stealing a few gummy bears last night and taking the refused boxes of Nerds that none of my children like), so I am making the truffles for some gifts and I am definitely going to sneak a couple! It is my reward for not eating the super sweet candy that is so prevalent in our house right now. Bittersweet chocolate...so much better than the spoils of trick or treating!