2007 Year in Review

I know you’ve been waiting for this with abated breath, so without further ado, I give you, ta-da! The Year in Review:

January: Abigail learned to crawl, and nothing was safe anymore- lost were the days of baby on the floor without mama paying much attention. It hasn’t stopped yet. We got snowed-in at the Exchange on the base, and I had flashbacks of my imaginary life as a pioneer while I fished for my keys in a snowbank. I didn’t die, despite my empathising with the pioneers. The Great Pizza Experiment was conducted, to rave reviews and much artery-clogging love of my husband, while I worked out the kinks in mastering home-made pizza. Beanie locked me out of the house in the snow.

February: Finally started Abby’s quilt- it’s still not done. The crib officially fell apart, and Jeffrey became a hero by saving Abby from the treacherous crib catastrophe. My planned weekend getaway to Seattle was ix-nayed by tummy troubles in our house, and Jeff got his first cavity. A Jasmine plant socked me upside the memory nodule in the middle of the grocery store, and I was suddenly 17 again. Jeffrey learned to read, and I discovered lipstick- it’s not just for my grandma.

March: My family finds joy in Frank, while going through another bout of the stomach flu, and DH passes out on the floor- I wonder if I will survive winter. Nitrous oxide becomes my best friend as we visit the dentist yet again. I took a two-week bloggy-break and discovered my contacts were in the wrong eyes, and maybe I wasn’t going to die after all. We decided to sell our house. Gulp…

April: Selling house, selling house, selling house. Going nuts. Fast. Cleaning. Real Estate agents. Hell. Another two-week hiatus- and more barf. With open houses. Hell. Did I mention Hell? Abby turned one.

May: Accepted an offer on old house, in escrow on two houses simultaneously. Don’t do it. Never. Hell. Escrow. Escrow. Money… More money… buh-bye. Someone stole our credit card numbers during escrow- because escrow isn’t enough Hell all by itself. By Memorial Day, we were moving, and sigh…… it was over. Joy! (If only it were that easy in real-time!)

June: Unpacked and unpacked and lost things, but I did find the marvelous book on Danger for Boys. More about my mercury concerns and soapboxing, as well as my ill-timed decision to paint some paintings before I was even done unpacking. I am, before all else, practical! Discovered yard sales in my new neck of the woods, and decided refinishing my antique piano was also a good idea since we weren’t unpacked yet. See? Practical.

July: Shared some recipes and griped about the heat. I hate July. Refurbished Phoebe the buffet, and took picture to prove it. DH busted out the big guns and blew us out of the bedroom with his new industrial fans, and I still couldn’t figure out why my house didn’t feel like home yet. Jeffrey chooses a wife, and I wax poetic on Haagen Daz. Harry Potter wrapped, and I gave my first talk in a Sacrament meeting, while counting the days until school starts.

August: Beanie renames himself, and yard sales take over my life. I found the ’35 Royal typewriter for three bucks, and went postal on the mailman. Oh, and I shut down Dandelion. Forever. Turns out forever lasts about 10 days. Oh well. What can I say? This is my drug. Jeffrey lost six teeth and looked like a Jack-O-Lantern, and the tooth fairy dropped the ball. Twice. Jeff turned six.

September: School started! I psychoanalyzed my kids, and decided they’re cool. DH and I decide we are capable, and assemble a playground in the new backyard. It only takes until midnight to finish… My babies are growing up, and I wax a little melancholy. Then I remember what life is really like, and laugh myself silly. DH scores major points with the first little Blue Box of my life, and we celebrate 8 years married, 18 together. Gah. How is that possible? Beanie turns four, and soccer enters our lives. Abby experiments with her poop, and decided it’s not really for her. Thank heavens.

October. My birthday comes and we celebrate with a rousing rendition and refrain of the stomach flu. Yet again.  My first sharing of the famous and inimitable Cinnamon Rolls. If you don’t have the recipe, do yourself a favor and print it. Yes, I will toot my own horn on this one. My first weekend away from my kids EVER actually happened this time! It was wonderful. Fell down the stairs with Abby and my knee still hurts. Next recipe, for Tote Bags, is also worth printing. California caught fire, but my family is safe. Had the best Halloween hair ever.

November: Celebrated the dead, and lamented the pink Christmas tree. Had a little locker-room problem and Jeff started swim lessons, and I tried to promote my pet-project of wooden and non-toxic toys. Gave up trying to clean my house, and finally accepted that chaos reigns. Had a little contest (they’re coming, really!) Had a little contest, and Jeff tried to pay me to wipe his tush. We learned that our grass is made of dead lions, and sometimes all I have to say is random crap. You got my hollandaise recipe, and I became the Human Napkin.

December: Was enchanted by a single snowflake, Abby got stuck in the kitchen while Bean created performance art, and western Washington floated away. Baked, cooked and ate until stuffed as fat ticks. Sent out the Christmas cards and had breakfast prepared for the first time by the monkeys. I cut the crap out of my hair, and took a dunk in the dark dye. Still in the holding pattern on that one… Christmas came, and Christmas went- whoooooosh. That was fast. Cheese, glorious cheese, and I waxed on… And there we were.

Here’s to a delightful and wonder-filled 2008. Happy New Year everyone!

Cultured Young

I’ve decided it’s my mission to culture my children. They’ve been to the theatre already, and can (mostly) audibly recognize the instruments of the orchestra. Since my husband is an ogre, and will only enter a theatre upon threat of bodily harm from me, I want my boys to be more comfortable with the niceties of society. They may not like Sondheim as much as they like the Steelers, but at least they’ll know who he is.

Today I took Jeffrey to the Cheese-mongers. It was a special trip, just the two of us, and he got to pick out two cheeses from the vast jewel case of fine cheese. The kid already loves cheese, so it wasn’t a hard sell, but this was introducing him to the good stuff. Most six-year-olds aren’t so interested in stinky cheese, but he liked the special-ness of the store, the dark walls, the shiny cases and the mysterious colors and textures of the little shop.

The cheese-lady talked to us about the different milks, and the things the animals ate that would flavor the cheese. She invited him to pick a few to taste, and showed him the special wires, knives and chisels used to cut wedges from the wheels. There were a few that caused him to wrinkle his nose in distaste, and he doesn’t yet have my fondness for Stilton- but he ended up picking a well-crystallized piece of Italian Regianno made with raw milk, and a creamy Mahon from Spain.

I picked some more Stilton, because I ate all the other stuff already- and added some more Vella dry jack and some Port Townsend seastack, which is a soft cheese washed in vegetable ash- I know, it sounds gross, but trust me, it’s divine. It ripens from the outside in, so it’s creamy near the rind, and firmer near the center. Mmmmmmmm…

Cheese Glorious Cheese II

It’s been a while in coming, but here is the second installment in my Ode to Cheese. Way back in Chapter One, I promised we could cover Ricotta Salata, Feta, fresh Motz and Cotija- but since I’m on a stinky-cheese bender at the moment, those are a little too young for the current vibe.

Fresh in cheese lingo doesn’t necessarily mean young- In cheese-speak, a young cheese is one that has not been aged for more than a few weeks. A cream or cottage or even some Brie, is a young cheese An 18 month old Regianno is a fresh cheese, but not a young one. See?

Some basics for the cheese-lovers among us: Serve your cheese at room temperature- the flavors are muted and the textures are incorrect when the cheese is cold from the icebox. Oh, and on that note, never freeze your cheese (yes, there are a few varieties that can handle it, but not many, so for the sake of ease, just make it a big no-no).  Start your cheese eating with the mildest, youngest cheeses you have chosen, moving to the stronger and more aged varieties.

If at all possible, buy your cheeses from a cheese-monger. Almost without fail, the cheese at the large markets are mass-produced and sealed in plastic wrap. Plastic wrap doesn’t allow your cheese to breathe, and cheese is a living thing; the mold and cultures that give each specimen it’s unique taste and texture do not fare well in an oxygen-free environment. That said, have your cheese cut fresh from the larger chunks at your mongers, and usually wrapped in waxed paper or a special cheese paper- it protects them from too much oxidation, but allows them to breathe too.

Purists do not accompany the cheese with anything, which is fine, but it’s also fine to have some grain crackers or chewy bread to pair. If you really want to go all out, or if you are just dipping your toe into the fine cheese world, pear slices or grapes with some pecans or other fine nut can be a nice accompaniment and cut the flavor of some of the more pungent varieties.

Today, it’s all about Stilton. Mmmmm. My mouth tingles just thinking about it- Stilton is a complex little symphony in your mouth. How something can be creamy, pungent, sweet, rich and mellow all at once, I will never understand, but Stilton achieves the impossible. Two things about Stilton- save it for the last cheese you are eating, and don’t eat the rind. Some rinds are meant to be eaten- Stilton is not one of them.

Stilton is still made exclusively in Britain, in the counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire from local milk.  Only seven dairies, using the original centuries-old recipe, are licensed to produce the cheese. It is the only British cheese graced with its own certification trademark.

Lighter than Gorgonzola, richer than Danish blue and more intense than regular blues, Britain’s Stilton is meltable, and it’s full-rounded qualities, if you’re not a purist, can enliven salads, meat, vegetable and fruit dishes.

Personally, I like it straight, with only a cracker or a hearty sliver of bread to carry the flavor. This isn’t a cheese for the faint of heart, but if you like strong cheese, this one may make you faint with delight!

Ransom!

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A man and his hat- what can I say? Mr. Mo Mommy left his hat at our house last night after the Christmas chaos settled- he turned over the house looking for it, but sleepy babies and grumpy mamas made him abandon hope and head home sans chapeau.

This morning, while digging out of the mess, it came crawling out from behind the tree, and I had to take the fireplace poker to it to subdue the beast. Mo claims the mister has several very becoming replacements for this tattered, ratty, sweaty, can walk-on-it’s-own ball-cap; and yet, something about the Y chromosome covets clothing such as this-

How bout you? What’s the grossest thing your husband insists on wearing, and what would you do to get rid of it? I’m holding this one for ransom- if he loves it that much, I figure it’s good for at least some nice cheese in exchange.

Merry Christmas

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Wishes of good tidings and a wonder-filled Christmas to you and yours

I’m taking a few days off to spend with my loved ones, making messes in the kitchen and enjoying their fleeting smallness. Merry Christmas, one and all.

Playroom Napalm II

They call me The Thrower Away-er. I can look upon the playroom, and not flinch. I can take on Tinker Toys and Lego in one fell swoop. Toys never know what hit them- instead, finding themselves sacked, bagged and tagged for the curb. Thwap! Zing! Zow! Take that, small sharp plastic man! I am Mama, hear me Roar!

It has to happen. It’s just necessary. In a mere four days, the Hoover Dam of toys is going to break and our innocent little home will be flooded with a tsunami of new, small, tiny, choke-able, plastic pieces. Tiny pieces I will step on in the middle of the night, and curse the name of Fisher Price. Minuscule pieces that will go missing, bringing on a torrent of tear and hair-wrenching agony.

Breaking out the evil that is Caillou, I put on the spawn’s Christmas special, and watched the Monkeys fall under the spell. Quietly, I tip-toed downstairs, three lawn and leaf bags in my clenched mama fists- ready to do the dirty work. I. Am. Merciless.

One hour later, nerves twitching from listening to Caillou’s whine, I climbed the stairs, triumphant.

“What’s that mama? What’s in the bags?” the boys curiously examine my stretched, knotted, black plastic sacks- “Nothing, just some trash that needed taking out- Hey, how was Caillou?” I brightly and deceptively divert their little 3 second attention spans back to the Caillou crack on the screen.

I am the Thrower-Awayer. Nothing is safe. I do not flinch in the face of chaos. I. Am. MAMA.