Introducing Ernie

ernieMy husband is nuts. He’s lost it. Remember Stella? Turns out Stella is a boy, and David just calls him Birdie now. He also carries him around the house in his cage, has him hand-tamed so all the kids can hold Birdie on their shoulders and cuts up fresh fruit and veggies for him every morning. 

Two days ago, I sent him to the post office, and he came home with another bird. The pet store is right across the street from the post office, and he strongly felt Stella-Birdie needed a friend.  Thus enters Ernie.

Ernie is a baby parakeet, she is lovey and sweet and doesn’t bite or peck at anyone, and as I write, David is heckling me for putting up a fake picture of his new Birdie. He’s eating a banana and teasing me, suggesting this cute illustration (which looks a ton like Ernie) is tantamount of putting up some random picture of a redheaded kid and calling it my son. I laughed at him. What say you, mamas?

He’s mumbling something now about needing a dog. I’m scared. There’s a cardboard sign down at the corner from someone selling puppies. Great Dane puppies…

I’m not letting him leave the house.

Bakin’ a Cake

A day or two ago was David’s birthday. It was my Mom’s birthday as well, and since she was in Disneyland, our only option was to bake a cake and celebrate ourselves. Originally, I was going to try and make a really nice cake. A cake with smooth icing, piped edges, pretty script and some buttercream roses. Then the kids decided they really wanted to help me. And here are the results:

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Evidently, David is 613, and really, super likes yellow sugar crystals.

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David says it was the best birthday he can remember. Me too.

In the Night Kitchen

1:40 a.m. What is it about nighttime that makes all the demons come home to roost? I’ve been lying in bed for more than two hours, tossing, turning, flopping, listening to David snore, and flipping the pillow in search of a cool spot. There is a cloud of tormenting demons swirling around over my bed. As they swirl and swoop, they whisper in my ears all the things I worry on, and can do nothing about in the middle of the night. Whisper… murmur… whisper… hiss…

My mother’s birthday present is sitting on my sewing table, and her birthday was yesterday. I’m a bad daughter. The mortgage is payed for March, but what will we do for April? Fifteen months without a job- will one ever come? What if I die before my children are grown? Will their step-mother be kind to them and love them even close to as much as I do? Do I have enough designs to give a solo career a try? What if I bomb? My head hurts. I need to go to the doctor, but we have no insurance.  I forgot to send thank-you notes to some people from Christmas, and now it’s so late, they probably hate me. I’m a bad friend. I need to buy milk tomorrow. Stupid snow. How many painting are in the queue? Four or five? And then the two for Primary? I’m so behind. I wonder when our car will be done at the shop and I can return the Dodge Turd? My teeth hurt and I need a dentist appointment. I wonder if my teeth hurt because I have some weird disease and I’m going to die and my children won’t even remember me?! I’m cold. Did I tuck the kids in tight enough? I wonder if they’re cold, too. Did I turn the iron off downstairs? What if the house burns down. Did I fill out that permission slip for Jeffrey? What am I going to decorate the table with for the RS dinner next week? And how am I going to do that with everything else I’ve got up in the air? Did Jeffrey do his homework tonight? I think I left laundry in the washer. Where are my keys? I’m so behind on everything, I’m never going to catch up…

And on and on and on it goes…

Making Stuff: Beanie’s Apron

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Beanie was feeling left-out today as Jeffrey and his dad broke out the Chemistry set. So to waylay the tears, I took Bean down to my sewing room, and told him I would make him whatever he wanted. He wanted an apron. He chose the fabrics, the color, the style and the trim. He liked the main fabric because “Rockets make it for a boy, mom!” Just nevermind the rest of it. I’m so glad my husband doesn’t care about nonsensical things like a boy in a pink blanket sleeper with a ruffled apron. In our house, that’s just normal.

Life snapshot: Right this moment, Jeffrey is watching a History Channel show about UFO’s, Abby is in the wingchair flipping through a magazine- (it happens to be American Rifleman) and Benie is still wearing the above outfit, and wrestling with his dad on the couch. We had hamburgers and tater-tots with homemade ketchup for dinner.

Recipe: German Apple Pancake

I’m going to give you a secret. This is the  most asked-for recipe in my arsenal. I’ve gotten phone calls and written note-cards asking for this recipe, and I’m going to give it away today. Some people call this a Dutch Baby, but I’ve always known it as a German Apple Pancake- and it’s simply one of the best things you will ever eat. Oh, and you simply must have a cast-iron skillet for this. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet- first, shame on you! and next, run to the second-hand store and grab one. They always have them, usually for only a couple of bucks. Google how to season it, and get going! Let me know how it goes…

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Dandelion Mama’s Apple Pancake of Yumminess (Official Title)

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 large firm apples ( I prefer tart) peeled, cored and sliced in wedges
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in middle position.
  2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat, setting aside 2 Tbsp in your blender.
  3. Add apple wedges to butter in skillet and saute until they soften and get some color. About 5 minutes, usually.
  4. While apples are cooking, add milk, flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt to butter in blender and whirl until smooth.
  5. When apples are colored and soft, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, then pour batter over the top of the whole mess.
  6. Put the skillet in the hot oven and bake until pancake is puffy and golden, usually 12-15 minutes.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with real maple syrup.
  8. Die happy.
  9. I’m not kidding.

What the World Needs Now, Is Love, Sweet Love

The muffled voices of the TV, talking importantly to itself, float though the wall. My chin rests heavily on my bent wrist, as I absently gaze out the back window. Fat white snowflakes are flying helter skelter on the cold wind, up and down in my gray, barren yard- mocking the near spring-like day we had yesterday, and the hope it contained.

For a while, the warm-ish ground was fighting back, melting the flakes as they landed, but now, the snow is winning, a veil of white descending on the yard.

I need green the way I need water or air. Yesterday, hope sprang, as all the Christmas snow finally melted and the faint tinges of green could be seen looking over the fields. Now, they are white again. When I lived in California, February meant spring, and by March, I had a tan. This is the time of year I struggle with most living in the Northwest. While mostly I love the seasons, March still being winter is really hard to take.

So, I’m off to make some stuff. I don’t know exactly what, but I need to do something to pep myself up. My floors need mopping and the laundry needs doing, but that will still be there, much like winter, tomorrow. Today, I create.

Dodge and Duck

I know why the American auto companies are failing. I found out yesterday, when I finally got my rental car with three rows of seats. The car Randy delivered to me, after my incomparably disastrous morning, was none other than the Dodge Journey:

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It’s a disaster on wheels. It’s ugly. It’s boxy. It’s small. It has absolutely NO visibility when looking over your right shoulder to make a lane change or turn. The interior is cramped- so much so, that even reaching for your cup in the cup holder requires contortion skills. The seats are uncomfortable. It’s hard to flip them open and back to access the rear seats, even my 7 year-old hits his head on the ceiling in the third row. If the boys are sitting in the third row, there is no room for legs in the second row. It’s dangerous to Abby’s legs, the space is so small. Forget an adult’s knee needs.

And, I’m not the only one who thinks so… a quick Google search turned up a scathing review by The Truth About Cars, and he says: 

“…the instrument panel upper is finger sink soft. But all the bits attached to it, including the protruding center stack, are straight from the bargain basement. It looks, feels and smells cheap.”

“…the driving position is an ergonomic abomination. The steering wheel rim obstructs the temperature gauge and the right half of the tach, and the optional rearview monitor is positioned at knee level.”

As if that’s not damning enough, he adds 

“And speaking of Novocain, the Journey’s driving experience is the only aspect of the vehicle that’s more forgettable than the exterior styling.”

My question is this: Why is this happening? With all the excellent automobiles out there, with all the fantastic designs, ergonomic beauties, why are American car designs so freaking butt-ugly? And not only are they ugly to look at, they are uncomfortable, and in the case of visibility, unsafe. I just don’t get it. There are car companies doing it well, making a quality product with good retention of value. There are companies making nice cars that fit your body comfortably, and get good gas mileage. So why are the Americans trying to reinvent the wheel? Why not look at what is doing well, and DO IT TOO?

Driving this disaster makes me all that much for frightened at the idea of bailing out the American Auto industry. It seems like a bottomless pit. If a company is making a sucky product, shouldn’t it fail? Nature abhors a vacuum, so another will rise and take their place, right? Maybe the next car company will be competitive with our Asian and German neighbors, and we won’t have to subsidize the American version of the Yugo.

End rant.

Stepping off the Ledge

I just did something really scary. I sent away for a registration packet for a trade-show for the industry I’ve been dabbling in for a few years. It’s scary because, well, what if it works? I’m not going to talk more about it for now, but I just wanted a record of when I did this. So there it is.

Can you tell I’ve been playing with code? Not very good at it yet- and I cannot for the life of me get the big words to go away on the header. I made an entirely new header, but it looks like crap with the big ugly font over the top…