Food Makes Everything Better

Yeah, so, um, sorry about the hissy-fit the other day. Nothings changed, but my attitude is better again. This roller coaster, I swear. So to make it all better, here’s a Make-Up Recipe. The best kind, you  know…

This is the best tomato-basil soup you will ever eat, and it’s easy-peasy. It’s from a local restaurant, and I can’t tell you how I got it, but you’re welcome. Someday when I have a camera again, maybe I’ll be as cool as Ree and take pictures while I actually make it. Go ahead and hold your breath on that one, K?

Tomato Basil Soup


  •  1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 16 oz. can chicken broth
  • 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 16 oz. can crushed toms in puree
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups half and half
  • fresh basil to garnish
  • shredded mozzarella to garnish
  1. Melt butter over med-low heat  in a soup pot. Add flour and simmer the flour for a few minutes, but do not brown.
  2. Add chicken broth and bring back to simmer. Cook
  3. Add tomatoes and sauce, as well as dried basil, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes on low heat for flavors to meld well.
  4. Remove from heat and add half and half. If you want to keep the calories under control, you can substitute evaporated milk and it will still taste good.
  5. Serve topped with chiffonade of basil and some shreds of fresh mozzarella. 

Even JEFFREY, the child who will gag, asphyxiate and go to bed before he lets a vegetable pass his lips, will eat this soup. Not only will he eat it, but he asks for it. And Abby asks for it almost every day at lunch. MMMM, lycopene!


You know, I’ve really tried to keep a positive attitude through all this. I really have. But I’m so done. I’m fed up with everything, and everyone. Kaput. Done.

I just fell stepping over a basket of dirty laundry in the laundry room. I yelped and slid down the wall as my right leg went one way, and my left the other. I fell hard enough that I knocked the leg askew on the back table when I slid into it, and no one even came to see if dear old mom was OK. Jeffrey had refused to bring down his laundry, and David dumped two baskets. The baskets I was stepping over.  I’m mad.

We now have FOUR birds. My husband devotes more time to the birds than to us. I get it. They ask nothing of him, and sixteen months of unemployment is hard on a man’s psyche. I get it. And the birds are about the least harmful habit he could have picked up. I get it. I’m even fricking happy about it. But FOUR is enough. No more. And stop bathing them in my shower- I don’t want to pick pieces of birdie poop off the walls. Enough.

There are apple skins by the TV, despite no food being allowed in the family room. There is a pudding cup on the floor where Jeffrey dropped in while he was bitching about his stupid homework and demanding a calculator to do simple addition.

I was so busy trying to put the groceries away, I completely forgot about my piano lessons today. The one thing that’s just for ME, and I forgot it.

I’m sick of feeling like an unpaid maid. I’m sick of endless laundry, endless messes on the floor, of picking up socks and stray toys on the stairs and trying to keep all of our chins up. SICK OF IT.

I’m sick of diapers and cannot figure out why Abby just doesn’t care if she sits in poo. Yuck already girl, the boys cared, why don’t you? Ew.

I’m sick from having to go to the DHS offices today because we are all out of freaking money.  We got foodstamps. We live in an upscale neighborhood, but we haven’t had regular work in a year and half, and I have FLIPPIN’ foodstamps. I want to throw up. It’s not about pride. It’s about what next? The lady at the DHS said I would qualify for more if I were unmarried. If I got pregnant, unmarried, they would even pay my rent. I’m sick.

SIXTEEN months we’ve lasted. In sixteen months we have never so much as been a DAY late on our bills. We used our six-months reserves. We used our savings. We used our cashed-in 401K. We used everything we could possibly scrounge up. What next? WHAT NEXT?! Are we supposed to fall on our faces? Are we supposed to fail? What am I doing wrong? Are we supposed to lose the house we worked so freaking hard for? Is this what lays in wait for me next?

How do I get out of this hell?

Now, I have to go ice my knee before I go meet the Bishop in half an hour.


Now That She’s Three

p1080415Here you can see the little pink gingham dress I made Abby for her birthday- courtesy of Mo’s camera. This not having a camera really sucks. I’ve been making all kinds of stuff, and have nothing to show/document for it…

Miss Abby went to the doctor for her 3 year check up this morning. In giving her the cognitive test,  they sh0wed her a picture of an unfinished stick-man, the object being for her to recognize and name the figure “person” or “man”, despite the missing parts.

She looked at the picture and said “Mama, that’s a friend, and he’s missing his eye. We need to fix him!” She took my pen and added his arm and leg as well as an eye and a belly button,  then declared him “all better!”.

I checked the “Yes” column on that one.

They gave her four shots, and the girl was absolutely crushed that they hurt her. She wept sadly on my shoulder and asked to go home where people would be nice to her.

Almonds and Abby, Beanie and Butter

almonds5So I was upstairs taking a shower (what was I thinking?!). The boys were playing Lego and Abby was in her room. Nice and quiet. Nothing at all happening. When I got out of the shower, David and I went through some mail and then we all came downstairs. 

Evidently, Abby quietly came downstairs before us, for she had found a small tin of almonds on the counter, and they were now poured on the table.  “Who did this?” I looked at her.

“Abby did it.” she quickly volunteers. Well, at least she’s honest.

Grabbing the can, I ask her to help me clean them up- when I realize every. single. almond is wet, and completely devoid of salt. She had sucked on each almond, and deposited them in a neat pile.

What does one say to that? Anyone remember this? *sigh*

Happy Birthday Abigail III

abby1Dear Sweet Abby,

It’s 2:15 in the morning, and you are asleep above, in your flower “bunny soop” as you say. In the morning a flurry of activity awaits as your brothers, dad and I all wish you a Happy Birthday and have fun letting you be Queen for the day. I’ve got streamers and balloons up, and your presents are wrapped. When you come down the stairs in the morning, I hope you are excited and happy to see all the pinkness, your current favorite everything color.

But more than that, I hope for your happiness and joy in this life to continue. You are like a little songbird for this family- always chirping and chatting, cheerful,  happy and vivacious. You bring the sun with you wherever you go. You have a sharp, quick mind and you astound me with your problem solving and puzzling skills. Playing outside in the dirt, digging in the garden and swinging seem to bring you great joy. Sometimes, if the house is quiet, I will find you outside, sitting on your swing, singing to yourself and looking as though you are contemplating the cosmos.

Three is sure to be a big year for you. The transition to big-girl undies begins, and you are motivated because you have your eye on a pink carseat you saw in a magazine.  You love to cook, and when I’m  busy and my kitchen is too hectic, you play cook right along with me in your wooden kitchen in the dining area. You even tell the boys to get out of the kitchen. I’m not sure I should be proud of that, but there it is.

Abigail, you are a delight to all who love you. We are so blessed and grateful that you are our daughter, our sister and part of our family. The sun shines brighter because of you. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Mama loves you.

I Heart Google Chrome

Ok, so maybe they’re taking over the world and someday I will regret letting them in, but OH MAN, the new Google Browser kicks Internet Explorer’s trash!! It’s awesome, simple, clean, well designed, intuitive and FAST. Yippee! Buh-bye IE.

Dancing with Myself

A tiny moment of utter glee and joy. Downstairs tonight, working on some birthday presents for Abby, I had Letterman on, and he announced his closing musical act. In passing he said “The Dead”- but I was only listening with one ear as I ripped out a zipper and wrestled a pile of pink gingham.

Then the sweet notes of Sugar Magnolia hit my ears. My head whipped up, and I stared at the screen. Jerry Garcia’s been dead since 1995, and when he left us, I stopped following the Grateful Dead. I knew of side-projects the other members were working on, but life moves on and blah blah blah… So when I whirled around and looked at the tv, there was Bobby Weir singing and playing his guitar. And next to him? That was Phil! Still holding my seam ripper, my heart started to bang, and I strained to see the drummers- Oh my heck, it’s Billy and Mickey!! It’s all of them!

I jumped up and down and squeeled with glee. I’m surprised I didn’t wake up the house. I had forgotten how utterly delightful a live rendition of Sugar Magnolia can be, and tears sprang to my eyes. I danced until my heart was pounding and the song ended.

If you never understood the Dead, or followed the band, or saw them live, I just cannot explain it to you. It’s cliche, but you really did have to be there. It was like seeing old, dear loved ones I hadn’t seen in a decade. It was happiness and joy in it’s simplest form- the joy of music and freedom of dancing- even if I’m just a mama dancing alone in her basement with a pile of pink fabric tangled about my feet.

Fat: Part I

I’m fat. I’ve always been a bigger person- I mean, size 12 feet? Come on. Even at my ideal weight, which according to “the charts” I haven’t seen since seventeen, I’m no shy violet. I’ve basically come to terms- even embraced- being bigger than the J Crew models, and never being able to order anything from Anthropologie.

Being big is one thing. Being unhealthy is entirely another. Gaining weight is like being the proverbial frog in the pot of gradually warming water- a few degrees hotter, a few pounds more, and pretty soon your legs are in some Frenchman’s mouth- or um, maybe I lost my metaphor. Either way, somewhere I went from being a big, healthy girl with strong legs and arms and slight tummy, to being just unhealthy.

The first time I realized it was walking into a Target. My reflection caught in the sliding doors, and I thought “Who is that big lady?”- Doh. It’s me. Holy crap. Ouch. It’s not a comfortable feeling. So what did I do about it? I bought a can of Pringles and checked out the sale racks. I’m already used to not being able to find shoes in regular stores, so what if I have to shop in the big-girl department? Except… except…

There’s so much more to it than that. Isn’t there always?

I’ve been on every program in the world. None of them have fixed me, even when I didn’t need fixing. Even Weight Watchers, which works, if you want to write down everything you eat and think about food every second of every day for the rest of your life. (I don’t.) But I’ve done their program. Three times. Nutrisystem. Slimfast. Suzanne Somers. Fit for Life. No carbs. Vegetarian. Vegan. Nothing white. The crazy lady in the 90’s with the shaved head… no, not Sinead O’Connor- the other one.

They all work- in the short term. But what they don’t get to is the “Why”. And that’s where I am now. A plan that will bungee-cord and whip-lash me back up after a short, exhilarating fall is not something I can stomach. Why? Because every diet out there is about the food. And I’m not fat because of the food.

I know what to eat. I’m a smart, educated woman. I know what’s healthy and what is just dumb. So why do I reach for the can of Pringles? Why have I gained 20 pounds in the last year of unemployment? Oh, there are so many “Why”s. And, that, think, is the answer to my question. Why. Not “what”. Not what , or points, or grams, or carbs, or combinations or calories or anything. It’s about WHY. And, until I solve that problem, everything else is just a Bungee-cord jump… good for a cheap thrill, but not taking me anywhere.

Innaugural Garage Sale Haul for 2009

Somewhere I read something about only surrounding yourself with things you love. I do a pretty good job already- my house is full of things with stories- like, almost everything has a story. But… I do have a propensity to stuff things in closets and drawers. So today, gleeful at the idea of nice weather and yard sales peppering the valley, I was determined to only buy things I really, really liked. And I had a place for. Ah, that changes the equation, doesn’t it? Mm-hmmm.

First I hit an estate sale. I have mixed feelings, I think I’ve written about, on estate sales. I suppose it has to happen. There are good ways of doing it (sort and cull beforehand, please) and bad ways doing it (opening the house up with grandpas jammies still on the back of the bathroom door). I saw both today. I bought nothing at either one.

What I did get:

  • Vintage linens with some of the finest applique work I’ve ever seen. Small table runner, two holiday tea towels, and a hemstitched linen scarf. $1 for the whole lot.
  • A cream-ware gravy boat. $1.
  • A pile, pile, of old maps from the 1960’s. So cool. 10 cents for the whole pile.
  • An old picture frame. I’ve got a photo of my grandma I think will be perfect…
  • A trash can for the boys’ room. $1.
  • A vintage baby book for a boy, dated 1969. 25 cents.
  • A set of six mini-bundt pans. 50 cents for all.

That’s it. I was restrained, and left some things by the wayside. I’m always excited to find linens, and I can’t wait to bake little chocolate cakes with Abby. She was thrilled when she saw them, proclaiming them “For ME!”. I’m thrilled about the maps. They’re way cool. Don’t know what to do with them yet, but I know I’ll think of something.

Total spent: $3.85. Awesome. If I had a camera, I would totally show you. Instead, you just have to use your imagination.

Pretty Little Things

In the middle of the chaos that is life, I’ve found much delight and enchantment in this little place- Papier Valise. If you like to make things and want to be inspired by random trinkets, head over there… most things are inexpensive, they take PayPal and the prices are all in Canadian dollars, so it’s even less than it at first seems…

mi1328_springgreen_crystal_pins    pa1653_vintage_pharmacy_assort

My very favorite color in the world is the glass heads of those pins. And who can resist a vintage label? Not me. I spent less than $2 and bought what you see above. Happiness costs so very little… and I get to look for the mail lady now!