Monday, April 28, 2008

Tortillas! Tortillas!

So, if you've been reading you probably know that I like to cook. And since my kids don't eat, I figure cooking with them can't make things any can only make them more interested in food as it's impossible to become any less interested. Oh shoot, I'm off track again, thinking about the fact that my children subside on air and kisses. Anyway.

I decided today I'd make some homemade tortillas with the boys. There was a recipe in a recent Highlights High Five magazine (great magazine, by the way, for toddlers), so I thought I'd give it a try. We had a lot of fun, it wasn't too messy and didn't take too long, and the quesadillas we made were surprisingly good. I'm not going to lie to you...these tortillas weren't any better than store bought. Maybe not even quite as good as my favorite tortillas from Trader Joes. But we all ate them and enjoyed it! Here's what they looked like...not too bad, huh?

Here's the recipe, adapted slightly from the recipe in High Five:


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, but I found the tortillas to be salty so I'll cut back in the future)
1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot tap water)
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil


Mix together flour and salt, then add hot water and vegetable oil. Stir until combined and mixture forms a ball (I had to use my hands, and let the boys knead it a bit, too).

Divide into 6 balls of dough.

Flatten slightly with your hand, then roll until flat and thin (my 2 3/4 year old boys could roll it out a bit, but then I had to finish rolling them thin). The dough should be fairly dry...mine didn't need any extra flour to keep it from sticking.

Coat a nonstick skillet with a small amount of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Add a tortilla and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the underside is slightly browned in places. Flip, and if you're making quesadillas, top with some cheese or other toppings and let melt with the other side cooks for approx. 1-2 mintues. Fold in half and enjoy. Or you could skip the cheese, just cook the other side, then use these to make tacos, burritos, whatever.

Random Unrelated Thought: Why does Massachusetts have such a stick up its butt about billboards off the highway? What, do they have to preserve ALL that view? Puh-lease! Connecticut is so much more fun to drive through. I mean, I feel like a trip isn't complete unless I see at least 10 billboards for some skanky porn related establishments. And you can count on Connecticut to deliver in the first twenty miles. I heart the Connecticut DOT, or whoever it is who lets them put up so many awesome billboards.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Red Carrots??

I was at a specialty food store the other day that had tons and tons of interesting vegetables. One especially intriguing section had a big pile of baby vegetables. No further descriptions were given, just "baby vegetables".

How could I resist REAL baby carrots, not just those ground down regular carrots that pass as baby carrots these days (which I also love, but it seems like a big cheat to call them baby carrots. Wouldn't whittled carrots be more accurate?)

But while I was searching through the bin, there were some baby veggies that looked like red carrots. Hmm, I've never heard of red carrots! I got a bunch even though I had no idea what they were.

I'm still not sure, but I googled around and discovered that as I suspected, red carrots do in fact exist. In fact, I guess carrots come in a far wider array of hues than the traditional orange carried in our grocery stores.

So here they are, our orange and red carrots. I washed, chopped, and steamed them briefly, then sauteed them in butter with some rosemary out of the garden. Yum, rosemary. I'm going to have to be careful or I'll eat all of the rosemary and there will be none left in the garden to grow! Anyway, they came out delightfully...a little earthier than the carrots I get at the supermarket but that gave the flavor a little more depth and character than what I normally expect from carrots. So if you happen to run across red carrots (or carrots of any unusual color), I'd highly recommend giving them a try!

Random related thought: While we're talking food, I think I've found a great answer to my "but coffee isn't local" issue. I mean, I doubt I'd ever be committed enough to go on a 100 mile diet or anything...I like chocolate too much for one thing! But here's a good compromise for me about coffee: Wicked Joe. It's made in Maine, and the company is wicked crazy about all the pro-earth stuff they do...certainly they're a lifestyle choice rather than just a drink choice. But most importantly, it's wicked good! We got Jamaican Me Crazy...a coffee flavored with Kahlua, caramel, and vanilla. Insanely delightful. Even walking past the bag of coffee is a terrific experience. We actually don't make much coffee at home, maybe two pots a week, so this is one area where I certainly don't mind paying extra. Especially for something that's super mega awesome wicked cool.

Oh, and there's the benefit of getting to say "wicked" all the time. What can I say? That's one of my all-time favorite parts of living in the Boston area!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cosmic payback

Or is it COMIC payback?

See, today I snuck in a little computer time while the boys were playing. I think it's important for them to develop some skills to play on their own, without constant adult intervention. It's a parenting strategy, damn it, not a desperate need to have a few minutes on my own on days when the boys don't nap. Oh geez, I need to start clearing a spot on my mantle for that June Cleaver award I'm sure is on its way...

Anyway, I used my few "free" minutes to write a reply to a friend's email where she tended, just a bit, toward over-explaining things. My reply may, perhaps, have teased her, just a little, I promise.

Well, while I'm busy thinking I'm so funny, the universe is conspiring to pay me back, courtesy of my wee little N-man. I thought he was playing with this annoying self-propelled Thomas train we have. It's kind of neat. It's battery-powered and it moves all on it's own. Sounds great, right? Well, it's surprisingly noisy and the boys both like to turn it on and let it roam all over the house until I'm on the verge of going mad from the constant sssssssss noise it makes.

So as I'm typing I hear N-man playing with the train in the bathroom. That's okay, we have the bathroom babyproofed of anything dangerous, and I'm right next door and I can hear everything. I spend my 5 minutes on the computer, then go in to see what he's doing.

And I discover that the noise the self-propelled train makes is the same as the noise of running water out of the tap. Assuming it's not hitting the sink but is instead hitting a pile of hand towels. N-man had piled all the hand towels into the sink, turned on the tap, and was making a pond. For a little plastic turtle.

Oh, and he's also managed, in those 5 minutes, to squirt out pretty much an entire bottle of hand soap into the sink, onto the counter, onto the soap bottle, and, of course, all over himself.

I just's hard to get too mad at him when it's my own fault for not paying enough attention. It actually made me realize that they're getting big enough that we need to do a more effective job of laying down rules about things they used to be too little to do. It's only recently that they could even reach the faucets...before we didn't have to have a "no turning on the water except to wash hands or brush teeth" rule. Now I know we do.

So there you go...the universe sent me immediate punishment for a snarky email. Please let me apologize to both the universe and J. I loved your email!

Random totally related thought: The boys didn't nap again today. What's up with that? Aren't they too young to give up their nap? Do I need to start reading Healthy Sleep Habits to them again? They totally ignored all of Weissbluth's advice the first time I read it to them, but now they're older and might see the wisdom of it**.

**Totally kidding. I hated that book. Of course, my B-man is in the running for worst sleeper ever so maybe I should have taken the advice offered in the his book.

Yes, really. Just one TV.

Our cable company is switching to all digital programming shortly, and they've been inundating us with letters announcing the upcoming change. The problem is if you have an older television, you need to have a cable box attached to it or it will no longer work. Okay, no problem. Our TV is old, but we have a cable box so I keep throwing away the letters.

So, today I get a call from the cable company saying they haven't heard from us about the upcoming change and they wanted to make sure we understood that older televisions without a cable box will no longer work.

Her: How many televisions do you have in your house?

Me: One.

Her: Just one?

Me: Yes.

Her: Because you only have one cable box. Any televisions that aren't hooked up to a cable box won't work after the conversion.

Me: I understand. We just have one TV.

Her: Okay (with a tone of "are you nuts" in her voice). Well, you'll be fine for the conversion then.

Me: Thanks.

Is it so weird to only have one television? What would we do with more televisions? I guess we're lucky that for the most part, TK and I watch the same stuff. Fine, I can't handle all the Stargates and he can't stand One Tree Hill, but we just stick those on the DVR and watch when the other is doing something else. But generally, we have the same taste. He says something like, "did you hear there's a new show coming on about a guy who gets a computer downloaded into his head that stars the guy who played Jayne in Firefly?" and I say "Wow, that sounds awesome". Or I say, "Oh my gosh, there's a Terminator show on TV that stars the girl who played River on Firefly!" and he says, "When's it on?"

Yes, we pretty much revolve our television watching around actors who appeared on Firefly. Or other Joss Whedon shows. What can I say? We're both total geeks. And I guess that's why we only need one television.

So how many TVs do you have? Please tell me, is it really that odd to just have one television?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our Herb Garden

There it is: our brand-new herb garden. I dug out a little corner of the yard right next to the patio. I figured that an herb garden should be pretty close to the house so I can just run out while I'm cooking. Parsley, rosemary, chives, and cilantro. That's it...those are the ones I'm likely to use in great quantities. We get herbs as part of our CSA share, so I didn't want to go too overboard.

We also planted our sunflower seeds. I refrained from taking a picture of that as I can't imagine it would be all that interesting to see a picture of an empty bed. Hey, hopefully in a couple months, though, I'll be posting pictures of gigantic sunflowers!

And, I couldn't resist: when I went to the garden store, right next to the herbs were strawberries. I got six little plants and stuck them in front of the sunflowers. I have no idea what will happen: if they'll ever even grow strawberries, or if any strawberries that grow will be eaten by animals. Who knows, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try. They're June bearers, and already have a few flowers so it shouldn't be too long a wait to see what happens!

I think this is it for me in terms of gardening. We have a giant area of overgrown garden that is still wild and untended. I'm not going to attempt to clean it up this year. In good news, I know at the very back corner of it, there are wild blackberries growing. In the past we've eaten a few berries, but mostly have just left them for the birds. This year I think I'll brave the thorns and try to get a more sizable amount. Birds be damned!

Random unrelated thought: I'm part way into Unaccustomed Earth by Jumpha Lahiri. I have to get moving. I have both that book and Run from the library and both are 14 day no renewal books that are due next week. Stupid trip to NJ eating away at my reading time! I didn't have time to read at all while I was there, probably due to the fact that I had at least one child hanging on me at all times of the day and night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm LESS green than the average US citizen??

Wow, according to this test, my GreenIQ is slightly lower than the average US citizen, which I find hard to believe.

My GreenIQ is 59

I think I must have entered something wrong, or maybe they don't take into consideration that it was winter in New England and therefore energy costs were high. Or maybe my lack of public transportation usage puts me behind all those city-dwellers. Who knows. Anyway, it was an interesting test, and there are some good tips on the site (as well as some annoying advertising while you're taking the test).

Plus, they'll donate a tree just for you taking the test. How's that for a pretty painless way to participate in Earth Day? Well, we'll see how painless it is when I see how much junk email I end up getting as a result of this. Oh well, at least they only ask for an email address so they won't clutter up my actual mailbox with paper waste :)

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I'm going to make my 10% promise official (or at least as official as writing it on a blog can be): I'm going to try to change 10% of what I do. Buy one thing of organic vegetables each time I go shopping. Buy less plastic (and less stuff in general). Recycle more, including bringing home plastic cups and bottles when we're out and it's more convenient to just throw them in the trash. Do the laundry in cold water, and turn off the extra rinse cycle (I've actually been doing this for a few months and my clothes seem clean. Maybe the people who know me will tell me if I seem dirtier than I used to??).

I can't change everything. It's too much. But I can change a little. And when I get used to that, I can change a little more.

So that's that.

We're off now to go buy some herbs to plant a little herb garden. And we'll be planting our sunflower seeds today...thanks to KCRSummertime for the great suggestion!

Happy Earth Day!

Random Unrelated Thought: We're back from our trip to NJ for Passover. I have TONS to blog about, although nothing too major that can't wait. But you'll probably be reading about the trip for days as I get all my thoughts down.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yes, we are flakier!

Continuing in my love of the random google hits that lead people here, I am pleased to announce that I have discovered that I am the NUMBER ONE google hit for "are people flakier". Try for yourself and see. I am the best source on the web for information about the general flakiness of people.

So, for those of you who are wondering, the answer is yes. People are flakier.

Now you know.

Random silliness

Okay, I've been in a pissed off mood. What, you noticed? Did my last blog entry tip you off? (Note for future readers, I'm not sure how long my rant will stay up. I'd imagine it will become the first of my posts to be thrown into the trash bin, for obvious reasons to anyone who has read and has become worried that my relatives would seek to poison my food. So if you read this, look down an entry, and wonder to yourself, "hmmm, why does a quickie post about Star Wars mean she's in a bad mood?", well, that just means you missed it. See, that's what you get for not checking all the time to make sure I don't have a new post up! I hope you've learned your lesson!)

But, my bad mood is affecting my ability to think of blogging topics. All my ideas are mean and contain lots of asterisks standing in for swear words. That's just not good. So in an effort to cheer myself up and lighten the mood, you will now be treated to one randomly weird thing about me. Here it is:

I used to be a carny. Okay, it might not have been that bad. I worked two summers at a shady local amusement park in the games department. You know, "step right up, step right up and try your luck!"

Yes, the games are fixed.

Want to know any insider tips? I was the queen of Wacky Wire. Oh yeah, I was unstoppable, although not as good as the guy who worked there who could do it with his eyes closed. I wonder if I could still do it?

When I worked in the arcade, I used to bring lots of quarters and play Lita Ford endlessly. And sometimes Guns and Roses. I probably spent more those days than I made.

The only saving grace of that crappy job was when I'd get to work a game with a friend (hi, Maggie!) Or when someone you knew was working at the ice cream stand and would give you a free ice cream when you went on break. Is there anything more delicious than stolen ice cream? Oh, my life of crime!

Wow, that was kind of fun. Lots better than an angry rant! Watch out, you might be subjected to more odd remembrances...

Random unrelated thoughts: The boys haven't been napping well. Today was a beautiful day so we were playing in the backyard. I made up a game that required them to run up and down a hill in our backyard. Yes, I made up the game to tire them out. Does that make me a bad mom? Because it worked great and they both napped. I might take them out every day to play this game. I guess the real test of "mom of the year" material would be if I still marched them out there in the rain...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Name that movie!

From the Verizon show description guide:

A naive farmboy is thrust into the midst of an intergalactic civil war.

Do you know what movie this describes??

Inappropriate public conversation number 963

I took my boys to the library today to return their books, get out some new ones, and put a hold on my impossible-to-find next book group selection (Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri).

Then I decided to spend two minutes looking for a book for myself. I've been wanting to read Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin for quite some time. It's been on my list to look for in used book stores for over a year, and I just haven't found it yet. But she was mentioned briefly in The Omnivore's Dilemma, and then I just read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which is a fictional story of a boy with autism so I decided this was just too much of a coincidence and I needed to read Thinking in Pictures right away.

Of course my library is a total disaster. Even with the call number, it's usually impossible to find the book you need since they seem to use numerical order more as a suggestion than a fixed rule. Hey, maybe they're following my system of organizing books by color! Who knows, I haven't managed to figure out their system yet. It's a bit of a mystery.

But I digress with this long explanation simply to set the stage. N-man had picked a book about trains, so I set the boys in a chair as I start my search for Thinking in Pictures and let them read their new books. I'm up on a ladder, searching through books far above my head, and of course, even though I'm in the right call number section, my book is nowhere in sight. Suddenly I hear, quite loudly in the silence of the library, "Mommy, I see Percy!"

Now, anyone who has little boys probably knows that Percy is the green Thomas the Train character. And sure enough in his book was a picture of a real train that was painted green. What a great connection for him to make!

But here's the problem: the boys don't say Percy. They clearly say "pussy". So he's yelling: "Mommy, I see Percy!" but that's not what it sounds like he's saying. Then B-Man comes over to look. "Mommy, green Percy!" "That's nice honey, but let's use our inside voice." "Percy! Percy!" "Shhh, we have to be very quiet in the library." "Mommy, there's Percy!"

This goes on for a few minutes until finally, cheeks blazing, I take away the book to try to get them to look at B-man's book about trucks. That was the worst idea ever. Because what did they both yell immediately? "Mommy, I want Percy!" Sigh. I bet all the guys sitting around were wondering if we found the secret porn section of the library.

Random related thought: I finally had to ask the reference librarian why I couldn't find the book I wanted. Here's the explanation I got:

Librarian: "Oh, is that a biography?"

Me: "Yes."

Librarian: "We pulled all the biographies off the shelves and put them in a section upstairs."

Me: "I thought we weren't allowed to go upstairs."

Librarian: "You're not, but I can go get it for you in a few minutes."

Me, looking at my watch and realizing I'm supposed to be home in 5 minutes for the start of the SIX hour window the gas company gave me for when they're coming to switch our meter, but that's another rant for another day: "That's okay. I guess I don't really need it."

I guess all my signs to read Thinking in Pictures immediately were canceled out by the sign from my ill-organized library not to read it. It's not like I don't have enough books to read. I'll just keep Thinking in Pictures on my list. Maybe it'll be at the used book store next time I go!

Raking leaves

Yesterday I raked seven more bags of fallen leaves.

What, did you think I mis-dated this blog...something from last October that somehow just got posted in April? Nope. I procrastinated fall clean-up long enough that it's become spring clean-up. Gotta love that the kids can jump in leaf piles all year round!

So, while we were out there, the boys kept asking to plant something. Anyone have any suggestions of something that would be easy? And likely to grow and not be eaten by bugs or wild animals? I've got the complete opposite of a green thumb (what's that? An orange thumb?)

Random unrelated thought: The boys are telling the most hilarious jokes. For example: I ask, how old are you, and they answer "Twenty. And a half". Or, they say apropos of nothing, "Mommy's a ....BOY!" and dissolve into gales of laughter. Or they start to sing the alphabet: "A B C D E F....L!" That one can get them both laughing for twenty minutes at least, as can their newest similar joke: "1 2 3 4...8!"

I'd ask where they get this sense of humor, but it's totally from me. They didn't get me hair color or eye color or any of my physical traits, but they've been blessed with my ridiculous sense of humor. I just can't wait until they're old enough to understand my favorite joke:

Ask me if I'm a truck.

Are you a truck?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cookies and stalkers

It's so funny to look through and see what google hits are bringing people to my blog.

For me, it's often the carrot oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. I can't believe how many people google that recipe. Oh drat, now I've mentioned it again. Sorry, all you random googlers who are now ending up here. And hi! Welcome! Follow this link to the recipe, with my apologies for the extra step.

The other google search I used to get all the time was for "what a card". I'm not sure who's stalking me around the internet (I do use "what a card" as my handle on other sites as well), but they must have either given up or finally bookmarked my site (if so, hi former stalker!)

I also get a lot of poopy diaper kid related hits. I guess potty-training failure drives people to the internet. Hi all you failed potty-trainers! Welcome, I'm happy to commiserate with you and glad to have the company.

I think the random google hits are one of my favorite parts of having a blog. That no matter how odd or insane I think something I've said is, someone is bound to end up here having done an even more odd or insane google search. So this one is for you, random google searcher! I love you a little bit!

Use the Force!

I've just started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, and thought I'd share a fun quote with you:

He had devoted an embarrassing number of hours to mute concentration--brow furrowed, breath held--to the development of his brain's latent powers of telepathy and mind control.

Hee! Remember doing that? I'm a Star Wars girl, so for me, it was the hours wasted trying to "Use the Force". Unfortunately, I've been forced (hee, hee, get it? Forced??) to face the fact that my midichlorian count must be exceedingly low as nothing ever moved for me. Not even a wiggle. I'd be lying in bed reading and would have to get up out of bed, walk all the way across the room, and turn out the light (don't even ask why my parents didn't get me a small nightstand light, but all I had was the overhead). Every night from about age eight to age twelve, I'd try and try to use the force to turn out that light. Nothing. Ah well. It's funny, because I am a SLIder and have been plagued with Street Lamp Interference as an adult. (Look it up! I'm only half kidding about this. I really do have this problem, although my theory is that my mind is just somehow more tuned into lights turning off than the normal person. I.e., I think lights go off often for everyone but normal people don't even notice.)

In college, TK lived with a guy who would spend hours trying to use his mind to do things like even out the spinning of a fan. You'd think he was a stoner...nope. Or stupid...nope (in fact, he graduated as valedictorian of the engineering program of the very large school we attended). He was just a really odd guy. Fun, nice, and kind of one of those people who was so smart he looped back around to dumb. I wish we'd kept in touch with him. I'd love to hear an update of how his mind control powers are going.

So what are your stories of your efforts to develop your latent telekinesis?

Random unrelated thought: B-man is cracking us up because he's becoming just as bossy as his mommy. He's started giving us advice. I say, "I'm tired" and he says, "Maybe you should take a nap". TK turns a corner a little too fast in the van, and B-man's little voice pipes up from the backseat, "Maybe you should slow down". It's pretty hilarious!

Monday, April 7, 2008

My best day ever

I worked this weekend at the Mother of Twins sale. No, we weren't selling Mothers of Twins. Don't get smart with me!

Anyway, I came home and told TK that I spent about an hour on Saturday morning rearranging a whole crapload of books. He said, and I quote, "That must have been your best day ever." He wasn't being sarcastic. I gave him a look and he said, "What, you love books and you like rearranging books."

That's true. I don't know if I'd classify it as my best day ever, but I do have a weird fascination with organizing books.

So how are your books organized? Do you alphabetize by last name of the author? Do you break up your books by genre? Size? What's your system?

When TK and I met, granted I lived in a dorm room and had a small collection of books with me, but I used to organize my books by size and color. Big books on the left, and colors ranging from darkest to lightest from left to right. I'm a very visual person, and I remember my books by what the covers look like, so this system makes tons of sense to me. It drove TK insane, though. So, now our book shelves are separated by genre and alphabetized by author within each shelf. Although my one concession is that I still separate hardcovers from softcovers and move all the oversize books to the left side of the shelf. I just can't have them jutting out willy-nilly in the middle of the shelf, even if that's where it technically should be.

Of course, our bookshelves go in cycles. Currently we're in an "overloaded" time, with books stacked where ever we've been able to fit them. Soon, we'll have to cull through to donate some and then I'll re-alphabetize. And perhaps that will be my best day ever. Wedding day, the day my kids were born: sure, those we good days. But can they really compare to reorganizing books?*

Random unrelated thought: I just read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I really loved it, probably because the style of the book is so familiar and comfortable to me. It presents a very believable picture of what I've imagined life is like for a person with autism, although the main character was far more able to function normally than many of the children with autism I used to work with. I loved all the lists and the logical layout and how every thing the main character does is does for a distinct reason. Really wonderful. I know it gets mixed reviews, and I was afraid it wouldn't be well-done...that it would be too reliant on autism stereotypes, but I found the characters to be reasonably well-developed. I especially like how it obliquely touched on how difficult it is for the parents of a child with autism (or any severe special need). It was really interesting to see that through the lens of the child.

*Disclaimer: I'm totally kidding. Just thought I'd clarify for people who don't get me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Nickel and Dimed

I just finished Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. It was an interesting book. The author took a variety of low-wage jobs in different areas of the country and tried to live on that wage. I didn't love it, and some of it was a little dated (it was published in 2001, researched in 1998-2000), but overall, it was a very thought-provoking read.

I came across this quote at the end that got me thinking:

When someone works for less pay than she can live on--when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently--then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life.

I'm mostly quiet about politics, but I may as well come out of the political closet just a little and admit my leanings are definitely in the socialist direction. I find inequities like this disturbing, and I don't have a solution besides giving to charities. But that seems so distant and inadequate. I don't know. It just seems like there's something wrong in America where the people who we rely on in so many ways are paid so little while others are raking in millions of dollars as a result of their work.

Shortly before the time when Barbara Ehrenreich was researching this book, I was right out of college and working my first job. TK was in grad school, and we were living together in Atlanta. The job I took paid $20,000 a year, which comes out to about $10/hour*, far more than the approximately $6 - $7 the author made at any of the jobs she worked while researching this book. I'll be honest: we couldn't make ends meet at $10/hour and had to rely on credit card debt to get us through that first year. We lived in a sketchy area. Nothing like the places the author described, but we did have to call the police a few times, and shortly before we'd had enough and moved out, a delivery truck driver had his truck stolen at gunpoint out of our parking lot. We had almost no furniture, just a bed, a cheap table, a futon, and the tiny TV I had used in my dorm room. We didn't buy much of anything, or do much for entertainment besides hiking in local parks. But we were never really in trouble. First of all, we were able to qualify for credit cards, which let us float for a year under the assumption that better times were ahead (thankfully, they were). We both had health insurance through my job. TK always could have dropped out of school and gotten a job had he needed to. And I could have gotten a better paying job quite easily. So we were never really living anything like the lives described in this book.

But still, I think back on that time, seeing how difficult it was for us making nearly double what the people working jobs like waitressing, housecleaning, or retail were making. How can anyone be expected to live on that, let alone support a family? And most of those jobs were hard on a person's body...the biggest risk in accounting (besides all those paper cuts**) is carpal tunnel syndrome.

As I said, I don't have a solution. I just think that the first step is to even recognize there's a problem.

So, book review time: would I recommend this book? Surely, although I didn't love it in many ways, I think it was a very worthwhile book to have read. It's one of those books where the idea of the book is far better than the execution, but the execution is good enough (and the book is short enough), that it is still a wonderful read. Anyone know of any similar books I may enjoy?


*That assumes a 40 hour work week, which anyone who has ever worked accounting knows does not exist during month-end close, when I'd work somewhere between 60-80 hours a week. I remember during one particularly hellishly long week calculating out my actual salary and realizing it was below minimum wage.

**I'm not kidding about the paper cuts. Filing was especially rough on the cuticles. I'd always keep bandaids in my desk as I'd end up bleeding from a paper cut usually at least once a day. I don't know how normal this is, though. I'm admittedly klutzy.

Bread, 463. Me, 0

Or perhaps that should say Math, 972, Me, 0.

Help, I've been undone by the difficulties of halving a recipe. What the heck? I used to be an accountant, and I'm completely able to divide, say 1/2 cup into a 1/4 cup if I only want to make half a recipe.

But I've got an excuse because today I'm making bread. And bread is the bane of my existence. Everyone has one type of food they can't seem to master preparing (right?? It's not just me, right?? Why do I hear so much deafening silence?) For me, it's bread. I can never make bread right. It's too dry, or too moist, or it falls, or it never rises at all. Or I screw it up entirely all on my own, by, say, adding double the amount of flour.

Yes, this goes down as one of the better self-inflicted screwups in the annals of What A Card bread making. I was halving a recipe so as not to have far more bread than we could possibly eat. I put in half the yeast, half the water, half the milk (both heated to the appropriate 110 degrees I may add), half the sugar, half the salt, half the egg, half the shortening. Yes, somehow I managed to get through all that, appropriately halving every recipe quantity. Then I get to the flour and for some unknown reason add the entire amount. I'm stirring and stirring and stirring and it's not coming together. It's just flour with some kind of wet parts. It's not bread dough.

Then I realize what I have done. Now I have a choice: do I try to salvage this mess by doubling all the other recipe amounts? Screw that. I tossed it all. I'm going to buy my stupid bread. Mumble mumble mumble annoying mumble mumble homemade mumble mumble idiot.

Random unrelated thought: I've been tagging clothes to sell at a Mother of Twins club sale, and have been driving myself crazy. I keep forgetting what prices I'm using for things. Am I selling Carter's sleepers for $2.00 or $2.25? Gap t-shirts for $2.50 or $2.00? Children's Place shorts for $1.75 or $2.75? I'll come across a piece of clothing, know that I've already priced a similar piece of clothing, and be completely unable to price the current item without digging through all my piles to find out how much I tagged the last one for.

Like there's going to be someone checking to make sure I've priced things consistently. Like someone is going to come up to me and complain, "Why do I have to pay $1.75 for this when she found the same thing for only $1.50?" Like anyone is even going to notice amidst the gigantic piles of zillions of other people's clothing.

But I just can't do it. I keep digging through the pile, even though I realize that a 25 or 50 cent price difference between two similar items doesn't matter...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Have Asbestos Hands!

Never before have I been so glad to have hands made out of asbestos as yesterday. See, I was in a hurry to get out of the house on time to get to a Mother of Twins meeting. And I was busy trying out a new recipe.

It's all Barbara Kingsolver's fault. And my friend Sheri's. The two of them, working together in an evil unknowing collusion, made it necessary for me reveal my asbestos-hands superpower. They made me cook a frittata last night. This is going to be news to both of them. I mean, Barbara Kingsolver doesn't even know me, and Sheri has never, in my memory, mentioned a frittata in my presence. But together, they set in motion a chain of event that led to this fateful day.

Sheri, in a really sweet gesture since she knows I like to cook, sent me the gift subscription to Taste of Home she got when she renewed her subscription. And I do really enjoy it, cutting out tons of recipes, some of which I even end up making. One in the most recent issue was for an asparagus-feta frittata.

How does Barbara Kingsolver factor into this? Well, as I've mentioned a zillion times previously, I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and in it, she waxes poetic about one of my most favorite vegetables on earth, the wonderful asparagus. I know, those of you who know me well probably are not overly surprised to discover I'm in love with what is arguably the most phallic-looking of all vegetables. But anyway, in the book, she talks about asparagus to the point where I'm practically drooling, and even mentions an asparagus frittata.

This was too much of a coincidence for me to ignore. I had to immediately make an asparagus frittata. So that's what I did last night. Now we're coming around full-circle, back to the point of this post. See, you just have to wait for it!

It took longer to set in the oven than the recipe called for, and I was impatiently waiting, getting closer and closer to the time when I needed to leave to get to my meeting on time. For those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of frittata-making, it's a recipe you start in a skillet on the stove, then you transfer the entire skillet to the oven to let it bake.

When it was finally set in the middle, I took the skillet out of the oven and set it up to take a photo. Because doesn't everyone have to take a picture of their food before they eat?

The picture didn't even turn out any good! I was in too much of a rush. I got out a plate, grabbed the handle of the skillet, and CRAP! I forgot a pot holder! I told you, good thing I have asbestos hands, or that would have hurt.

Oh wait, April Fools! Someone had switched my asbestos hands for plain ol' regular hands, without any heat-repelling superpowers at all. So it did hurt. And my left hand is burned. Stupid frittata. It didn't even taste that good, maybe because I was sitting there with my hand in a bowl of ice water while eating.

But ha, at least I got back at Barbara Kingsolver in one small way for her complicity in my most recent kitchen accident. Shhh, don't tell anyone, but that asparagus came all the way from California to my kitchen in Boston. I'm sorry, but asparagus is one of those veggies that even when it's trucked (or flown) from halfway across the world, it's still awesome. Maybe not nearly as awesome as fresh, local asparagus, but in my mind, even bad asparagus is good asparagus. So I got a jump-start on the asparagus season, and still have half a bundle sitting in my fridge. I think I'll just roast it and sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese and eat it for lunch today. Hopefully I can just remember a pot holder when I take it out of the oven.

Random unrelated thought: What do you think the odds are that I can make it across town to get my car inspected without getting caught by a police officer with an expired inspection sticker? We'll soon see! For the first time in my entire life, I forgot to get my car inspected. It was due in March, and I didn't think of it until last night at 9 pm. Now it's April 1, and I'm breakin' the law. I swear, at one point in my life, I was a really organized person. Now I can't even seem to remember to get my car inspected in THIRTY-ONE days. It's not like I forgot something for a few minutes, or a day, but a whole freakin' month.

Between forgetting an all-important pot holder and forgetting to get my car inspected for an entire month, I'm beginning to wonder if my brain is on holiday...