Soooo Slow

I am making some progress on painting the kids' bathroom.  I did all the cutting in for the primer two weeks ago... then it got cold.  I don't want to paint with the window open when it is 30 degrees outside, right?  So there it sat, pictures off the walls, towel racks down, no place to put the toilet paper.  Nice.

It's a small room, maybe five by ten feet, so I know it won't take a lot of time to paint.  But it took me weeks to finally just get started already.

But I did!  I started!  I primed all four walls!  Sad to say my bathroom looks better now, with bare primer on the walls, than it has since I moved in 18 months ago.

So here's the dilemma:   I am hosting a trunk show on Thursday.  There is no possible way I can get the painting completed before the party.  I'll need to do at least two coats of each color (pale blue and brown for a sky and sand theme, for those of you playing along at home), and I'm playing around with the idea of making the dividing line a curve instead of a regular straight line.  This will take some figuring on my part - not to mention way more time than I have to devote to it before the trunk show.

Sigh.  Guess I will be setting the bathroom back up (pictures, shower curtains, toothbrush holder) for the party, then strip it all back down for the final paint job.  Did I mention blah?  But at least I'm making progress, right?


Devil Soup

Another installment in the game of cooking roulette:

My third Bountiful Basket was an adventure in cooking with random co-op vegetables.  This week the starring role was played by a dozen fresh green chilies.

What the heck was I going to do with green chilies?

My big tough husband has a delicate flower of a digestive tract.  He is allergic to a wide range of weird foods (lettuce? seriously?) and just won't eat a lot of others.  My children are both currently experimenting with the air plant diet.  Anything remotely new and/or different prompts a food strike of epic proportions.  Sometimes it seems like they subsist on a diet of simple carbs.  I'm afraid they are going to get scurvy or rickets or whatever disease it is when you only eat from one nutritionally sparse food group.

So.  Green chilies.  Thank goodness for Google!  After a quick perusal of about a million variations of green chile casserole and green chile stew, I finally settled on a recipe from All Recipes for Roasted Green Chile Stew.   It seemed harmless enough:  pork and potatoes to absorb any heat the roasted chilies brought to the table.  Enough other spices that it wouldn't just taste like boiled chilies.  Super!

I decided to roast them on the grill.  (And besides, T likes playing with fire, so if he grilled them we could have a little quiet hanging out time.)  The recipe said to give them an even char all over, so that is what my sweet grill master did.  He charred them within an inch of their lives!  After I sweated them in a tupper, I tried to peel off the charred outer skin.  Um, the char went all the way through!  Out of the dozen chilies, maybe four of them yielded a usable product.  Sigh.

The rest of the recipe went without incident, but I tweaked it a bit to suit my family (recipe as I made it below).  I doubled the broth and tripled the potatoes.  I mashed up a few of the potatoes to give the broth a little more body.  The end result?  There was no heat to speak of.  The pork was super tender and it had a great texture.  Delicious! 

Or so I thought.

Q refused it entirely.  The slightly greenish tint of the soup was WAY too foreign for him.  Z fished out all of the pork and potato pieces, but only because she was trying to eat just enough to get dessert afterward.  T forced down a minuscule portion and loaded up on crackers.  Shortly after dinner, he emerged from the bedroom pale and sweaty and pronounced my delicious stew to be 'devil soup.' 

Huh.  Oh, well.  More for me!

Pork, Potato and Green Chile Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 large roasted green chiles
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cubed pork, garlic, onion, cumin and oregano. Cook and stir until pork is browned.
  2. Cook and stir for a few more minutes, then pour in half the vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and enough broth to cover them to the stew, and simmer for about 35 minutes. You can roast your chilies during this time, peel, seed chop and add to the stew. If the stew becomes too dry, add a little more broth.  When the potatoes are soft and the pork is tender, add the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and serve. It's delicious with a dollop of sour cream on top!
If roasted chiles are not available you will need to roast them yourself. A grill works best. Roast Anaheim or New Mexico chiles on grill till they are black on all sides. Place in a plastic bag in the freezer for ten minutes. This will make it easier to peel them. Rub the blackened peel off and rinse clean, then cut in half lengthwise, seed and chop.



Kids?  Are expensive.  What with the 'Mama, I'm hungry!' and 'Mama, my sweater won't fit over my head!' and 'Mama, I don't want to drown in a tragic fishing accident!' and 'Mama, I don't want to contract cholera from my own bathroom!' and all.  Needy little bloodsuckers*.

Today's expenditures:
  • Swim lessons for one month - $80
  • Second season of soccer for Z - $60
  • Food for the kids' beasties - $70  Okay, to be fair, they only account for half of the dog ownership, so - $35
  • Presents for Q's upcoming birthday - $25
  • Pajamas for Q so he doesn't have to sleep outgrown summer PJs - $15
  • Leggings to replace the ones Z put holes in - $10
  • Shoes to replace the ones Holly ate - $10
  • Cleaners for their narsty bathroom - $10
Gah, make it stop!  And that doesn't even touch on the groceries, tuition, ballet lessons, tumbling, and book orders we're already in for the month.  Is it too late to reconsider my decision to become a parent?**

* I know being needy is a kid's job.  I kid!
** I would never choose to not have my kiddos.  I love them more than air.  But the money... anyone want to buy a kidney?


Lookin' Good!

After a long and largely fruitless search for new glasses, I finally have a pair that I like!  I searched every optical outlet in Wester to discover that a.) all glasses frames in Wester are boring/square; and b.) frames even a little outside of average? Really, really expensive.

I prefer cat-eye glasses, which are harder to find than one would think.  Thank goodness for the internet! Though really, they weren't easy to find there either.  But I persevered!  Eventually, I found an eBay store that had just what I wanted.  In lots of colors!  With rhinestones!  Squee!

Actually, I ended up with optical quality readers.  Such a deal!  They were  $25 a pair.  Then I just took them into LensCrafters and had them put prescription lenses in.  That was not particularly cheap (their 2-for-1 deals only apply to frames and lenses).  I probably could have gotten a better deal if I had shopped around, but I was DONE with my old glasses and just wanted to get into the new ones as soon as possible

What do you think?  (Please ignore the dermatology-appointment-closeness of my un-made-up face.  Also, I do actually have eyelashes, I just look like a radiation victim without mascara.)


Spoiled Brat

Let me preface this post by saying that I have the most kind, considerate, generous dad-in-law of all time.  He is willing at any time to give of his time and talent.  I feel like a total brat for feeling the way I feel (that was a lot of 'feels,' huh?) as I write this.

So.  The kids have reached the age where we are ready to start them out on computers.  We are a family with a lot of computers to hand down, so all we needed were some work stations to set them up.  Enter GanGan.  He is a very talented wood-worker.  We have several gorgeous pieces of furniture that he made in our house.  When he heard we needed desks, he stepped right up.  I drew him a picture of what I had in mind that looked like this:
I wanted something simple with good clean lines.  I was going to paint them, so they didn't need to be made from fancy wood.  Other than standard desk height, I didn't care about the size.  Drawers?  Cool but not necessary.

"No problem!" he said.  "That's basically a trestle table.  I've built lots of those," he said.  "I don't need dimensions!  Building these will keep my brain sharp," he said.

This is what arrived at my house yesterday.

OMG, the ugly!  And there are two of them!  Yay...  With weird stick-out-y pieces!  And completely random pieces of trim!  And feet(!) that stick out further than the desk!  With routed edges!  Sob!  All the weirdness with the legs happened because he couldn't get the X-legs stable.  Hoo, boy.  They are stable now.  And SO heeeedeeeeous!

Now GanGan, for all his (many) talents, is very insecure.  All during the building process, he kept saying we could just chop them up and use them for firewood.  And I kept saying, "Never!  They'll be great!"  Which makes the fact that I want/need to completely change the legs all the more controversial.  Why don't I just kick a puppy while I'm at it?

On the up side, he took me at my word and didn't use furniture grade wood, so the supplies were cheap.  It won't be sacrilege when I cut the legs clean off.   And the tops are great!  Two drawers? Perfect!  But the legs?  Gots. To. Go. 

I'm such a brat.

So here is the plan (more or less):  1.) remove legs and all the assorted braces; 2.) trim out the top so that nothing is sticking out awkwardly; 3.)  attach new side panels to both sides; 4.) brace along the top and bottom of the back.  Something like this:
  Guess I need to add that to the 'To Do' list.  Sigh.


Mommy Haiku

I stumbled upon a fun little challenge over at Two Peas in a Pie and just had to play along.  She invited us to pen a little ode to motherhood in 5-7-5.  And I loves me some haiku!  Here goes:

Scream, yell, pinch and poke.
Mine! No mine! Leave it alone!
Crappy McPlastic.

A tiny tyrant
and an empress in training
search for minions.

Funny little guy
Pretty girl so very smart
Can't believe they're mine.


Checkity Check!

Apparently, all I needed to do to get the ball rolling on home improvement was wave my shame flag to blog-land.  Items completed thus far:

  • Hang art in entryway.
  • Find a place for the painting that used to hang over the fireplace in the living room. 
  • Hang curtains that mom-in-law bought me for the guest room.
  • Hang art in guest room.
  • Hang art - especially cool David Bromstad-esque deer portrait I made T for Christmas - in kids' den
Yay, me!

Don't quote me on this, but there are even plans afoot to get started on priming the kids' bath tomorrow.  Will the wonders never cease?

Sterner Stuff

I think that housewives of the early '60's - military wives, in particular - were a lot more hard core than housewives of today.  Or at least a lot more hard core than I am.  Every mom I knew growing up (admittedly a sample skewed toward military families), had to spend a year or more at a time as a single parent while their husbands were overseas on an unaccompanied tour and/or fighting a war.  It was just something that had to be done, and no one thought anything more about it. 

That was kind of a non sequitur of an opening.  Let me back up.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the sergeant position opened up here in Wester.  We were very excited about it because if T got the position, we would be able to stay here forever.  We LOVE it here.  Our house, the weather, the schools, the people, the proximity to the ranch - all of it!  T was a really strong candidate and we felt very hopeful going into the interview. 

Unfortunately, at the last minute, one of his co-workers decided he was really excited about the position, too.  As he has 20+ years experience on T, we weren't terribly surprised when he got the position instead of T.  And we like him, so we can't even be mad at him for it.  Rats.

There are a few nebulous promotional prospects that might be coming up out here, but they depend on the cards falling just so.  And even if they do open up, they would be available for guys who are already sergeants before they are open to guys that want to promote to sergeant.  So now T is in a fever to promote.

So.  There aren't any positions here.

Today T applied for a position six hours away near Ginormousville.  A year and a half ago, I would have been turning cartwheels and packing boxes.  Now?  Not so much.  If he gets it, we won't be going with him.  At least not at first.  Since the end goal is to get back here, we aren't in a hurry to move out there.  For at least the remainder of the school year, the kids and I would be staying in Wester.  From there, who knows?  Back and forth for the summer, for sure.  But the next school year?  A total question mark.

I am zero percent excited about being a single parent.  I know I can do it, but it is SO not what I signed up for.  On the other hand, I need to support T in his career and this is what that looks like right now.  So I'll do it.  But I'm not gonna like it.

See?  Not hard core.



Now that I have hit 40 and the baby-making-factory is officially closed for business, I have to liquidate all of the kid stuff that I optimistically hoarded held on to.  I have kept every stitch of clothing either of my kiddos ever wore in the hopes that there would be a third - and very well dressed - kid.  So, that makes almost six years of girl clothes and four years of boy clothes. Not to mention all of the accouterments two kids require: pop-up cribs (like five of them); monitors; strollers; changing pads; diaper bags; baby carriers; breast pump; boppies.  The list goes on and on.

I have been dressing the kids from consignment sales forever, so now it is my turn to contribute to a sale.  Q had a growth spurt recently, so yesterday I was culling the stuff that was too little as I folded the laundry.  That snowballed into ridding his closet of everything that was too small, which led to dragging out the bin of outgrown clothes.  The poor kid hardly has anything left!  He stayed the same size for so long that I haven't had a chance to buy anything in his current size! 

Once I had sorted all of the clothes into summer and winter stacks (the sales are seasonal, I can only sell stuff for spring/summer in the upcoming sale) I was already tired of the project.  There is just SO MUCH STUFF.  And nowhere to put them until the sale.  Blah.

Oh, my poor laundry room: dumping ground for all things homeless in Casa Critical Mass.  I need a place to hang the clothes until they are prepped for the sale.  With closet space at a premium, the laundry room it is.  The only place available is in front of the window, so that will be pretty.  Or not. Blah.  Maybe I can call it a window treatment?

I managed to cobble together the pieces for a hanging rack from leftover parts of other projects.  The stuff the contractor left on my front porch for a year has finally paid off!  I had a closet-bar-hanger-thingy from building T's closet last year, and another one that didn't work out from Z's closet.  There is about 40 feet of closet rod collecting dirt on my front porch.  Luckily, there was a piece just the right size for my project!

Once my cordless drill is done charging (the cold sucked the charge right out of it!) I will be cooking with gas.  Now all I have to do is attack the many bales of clothes in the attic... yikes!  Once I get them all sorted, all I will have to do is enter them into the computer.  And print the tags.  And iron every stitch.  And pin the clothes to the hangers.  And pin the tags on. And cart them to the convention center.

Man, I am exhausted just thinking about it!


2011 House Plans

The hubs is dead set on paying off the house this year, so we are officially in poverty mode.  That said, there are still a bunch of projects around the house that I can do that a.) I already have the stuff for and b.) are free/cheaper than dirt.  Here is a list from front to back:

Front Porch:
  • Install new front porch lights that I got for Christmas
  • Paint front door red
  • Paint porch swing (and possibly wooden rockers from my parents' house) black.

  • Browbeat David-the-Contractor into finishing the stair railing (it still wobbles).  You'd think that he would want to get this project finished before we hit the one-year mark next week.  He said he'd be here today, but here I am writing this...
  • Hang family portraits on stair wall.  This would include finally framing Q's baby portraits.  The second child SO gets the shaft.
  • Hang art in entryway.
  • Get mirror for empty frame above entry table.
  • Paint hideous brass chandy black and top with adorable mini-shades that were in my formal dining room in my last house to replace the much-too-small fixture in the entry.
Living Room:
  • Find a place for the painting that used to hang over the fireplace.  It was replaced by a gorg painting from my parents' house that was a better size.
  • Repair giant wicker flamingo that Holly mauled.  I think I am actually going to cover the wicker form with braided fabric rope a la a braided rug.  Colorful and not not missing vital parts!  Cool!
Kitchen and Dining Room:
(Not pictured: messy/embarrassing state of my kitchen)
  • Remove hideous wallpaper.
  • Remove chair rail and upside-down crown molding.
  • Paint beige-on-beige harlequins on kitchen walls.  I'm so stinkin' excited about this!
  • Build banquette.
  • Raise and re-cover Craig's-list wingback chairs to use as host chairs.
There are a ton of other non-cheap projects in the kitchen (new counters not held on with Scotch tape, an actual bar-height bar, built-ins, etc.), but alas, they won't be happening this year.

Laundry Room:
(Not pictured: hideously messy/embarrassing state of the dumping ground laundry room)
  • Make cafe curtains to hide my shame from the neighbors but still let in enough light to work.
  • Install more shelving/open storage for the less-used items from the kitchen
  • Possibly paint, but I have no idea what color.
Master Bedroom:
  • Install crown molding
  • Touch up paint (in the right light some areas are quite patchy).
Z's Room:
  • Paint yellow pine corner cabinet white
  • Wallpaper (okay, Contact Paper) the back of her shelves with SO cute green pattern
  • Sew pillow shams and second dust ruffle
If I want to get really crazy, I have an idea for a 'border' treatment around the ceiling that could be really cute, but I may save that for when other things are looking more finished.

Q's Room:
  • Finish rope detail around his ceiling
  • Put together his big-boy bed.
  • Buy/make big-boy bedding.

Kids' Bathroom:
  • Prime/paint sand and sky colors (like I had in the old house).  Possibly with chair rail, but probably just paint treatment with palm trees.
  • Make frames to hang over the builder-grade giant mirror
  • Spray paint the TP holder to match other finishes in the bathroom.

 Sewing Room/My Office:

  • Paint walls palest aqua.
  • Convert daybed to 'couch' (a small construction project) and upholster with fabulous cocoa-polka-dotted fabric.
  • Build custom desk that runs the length of the room with space for both my sewing machine and computer, with plenty of storage for sewing and crafting supplies.
  • Make a window treatment.
Guest Room:
  • Hang curtains that mom-in-law bought me.
  • Hang art.
  • Add accessories that haven't make it out of storage.
Guest Bath:
  • Find some art.
  • Circle border treatment like I saw at House*Tweaking, but with more colors.

Kids' Den:
  • Hang art - especially cool David Bromstad-esque deer portrait I made T for Christmas
  • Get kids' computer stations set up and running.
  • Find a home for all of the stuff in boxes from my parents' house.
I found the fabric I want to use for curtains in this room, but it will require some serious yardage (five windows!), so this may be a project for another year.

Oh, is that all?  Looks like it will be a busy year, poverty-mode or not!

PS - I joined the Home Plans party at Nesting Place.  People have big plans for this year!



Short version:  I made cauliflower and bacon gratin.  I didn't even make the kids try it.  Blech.

Long version:  I signed up with a group called Bountiful Baskets in an effort to eat more and/or locally grown produce.  For $15 you get literally a laundry basket of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Now I don't have the best track record with veggies.  They enter my fridge all fresh and hopeful and leave it wilted and slimy.  The round's basket included a head of cauliflower.  I am not opposed to broccoli's pale cousin, but my family?  Not so much.  So I decided to disguise it in make make it into a yummy cheese-butter-and-breadcrumb casserole.

OMG.  It was SO awful.  I wanted to wipe off my tongue with my napkin after the first bite.  But then it was like a train wreck:  I couldn't look away.  I kept taking bites thinking that this one would taste okay; that I would finally get to the good part.  Um, no.

Too many breadcrumbs and not enough cheese.  It somehow managed to be both over seasoned and too bland.  There wasn't enough liquid to even get the breadcrumbs damp and the minimum cooking time charred the cheese on the top.  It was like eating an unseasoned shrub with a coating of sawdust sprinkled with charcoal. Gag!

I should have just served it with Ranch.

So I Have This Blog...

So.  December happened.  Not that you could tell from the trusty ol' blog!

Lots of things happened:
  • Finally attended my first PTA meeting as a parent.  Turned out to be just a 5th grade Christmas concert.  Figures.
  • Got portraits taken of the spawn in their adorable Christmas regalia.  They turned out... okay.
  • I hosted a cookie exchange.  The hidden side benny to hosting?  I got all the extra cookies for the gal who didn't show!
  • Z had her dance recital.  Very cute.  But quick.  So quick that she was done with her number before GanGan got the video camera going.  Rats!  At least I got lots of stills.
  • Daddy's house sold, so I went down for several days to gather up the things from my childhood that I couldn't live without. Total sob fest.  Lucked out and got movers to arrive my second day there.  They beat me back to Wester!
  • Attended a Girls' Night/Gift Exchange with my besties.  Was so nice hanging out with them without having to mess with kiddos every few minutes.
  • Took Z to her first ballet.  We watched her cousins dance in The Nutcracker.  Z was a little distracted by the cousin and friend that went with us, but had a great time and enjoyed the dancing.
  • Hosted Christmas for the in-laws and two of my friends and their families.  It was lovely.  Great family.  Great friends.  Great food.  Made it most of the way through without crying, but still missed Daddy a lot.
  • Had a fun New Year's Eve at home playing games with friends.  Watched fireworks from the (new) upstairs window.
And a few things didn't happen:
  • I didn't ever finish decorating the house.  The stair rail on the wall had garland, but only a few ornaments and no bows.  (But the living room looked FABULOUS!)
  • I didn't send out the family gifties.  They are sitting forlornly in the laundry room waiting for me to make the dreaded trip to the post office.  Blech.
  • I didn't take the kids to look at Christmas lights.  This is a bummer because Wester does a nice drive-through display and I had hoped to do this whole I'm-a-good-parent-building-memories-with-my-children thing.  With hot cocoa.
  • I didn't finish my Christmas cards.  So now I have 80+ copies of the (much doctored) aforementioned Christmas portraits sitting forlornly in the laundry room waiting for me to make them into Christmas New Year's cards.
  • I didn't stick to my diet.  (See:  'Hosted cookie exchange' above)
Hope your December/Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year was great!