Snow Abby

IMG_0489Because in the middle of getting ready for Houston, I really needed to stay up til’2 a.m. making Abby’s Halloween costume? Yes, I did. If you had seen her face this morning when she woke up and it was hanging in her room, you would have too. The boys are next- somehow making ObiWan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker costumes just isn’t going to be as much fun…

This was such an easy, fun pattern- and it went together beautifully. The collar detaches and it also has a red and blue satin cape- which I made, but she opted out of for this picture, and which Beanie is currently wearing. I suspect that may be the continuing trend. (JoAnn has all their satin at 40% off right now!)

Pushing the Boulder: Fat, Part 2

sisyphusHeather O’s post over at MMW got me thinking…

I’m basically lazy. Oh, I get tons and tons of things done- I’m creative to a fault- I have a million projects going at any one time, and I have more ideas  for more projects than accomplishable in this lifetime. But… It happens in it’s own time. I’m just along for the ride- and when I try to force it, it’s usually a disaster.

My business comes in fits and starts. My pattern tends to be: let things go until I am burried, then open up a can of crazy and run like a madwoman. I do that with little things, like housekeeping, dishes, laundry- but also with big things in life. I waited until I was 29 to have a kid- then I had 3 of them in four years. See? It’s feast or famine.

In thinking about my struggles with my weight, this same pattern fits. For years I just float along, sitting in a big innertube floating down a fat, lazy river. Then, one day, something will click, and I decide I have to do something. That something could be Weight Watchers or any new diet- I’ll join a gym or go Jazzercize at the community center, beat my brains out,  and start feeling pretty good.  I’ll lose some weight and get some praise from loved ones. But this is a struggle. It’s a constant, daily effort to resist gravity and keep myself moving in a way that does not feel natural.

It feels like pushing an enormous Boulder up a mountain. I keep waiting for the point where “exercising” becomes part of my identity- like the way “artist” or “mother” or “good cook” have become threads in the fabric on who I am. Yet it just never happens. It always feels like pushing that Boulder is something I’m doing while waiting to get back to my real life. I’m strong, and I can muscle that Boulder a long way up the hill- but the problem seems to be there isn’t a place to set down and rest- a place where I can park the Boulder on my journey, enjoy a little time doing something else, and then pick back up and continue up the mountain.

I doesn’t seem to work that way.

What happens is, I want to pay attention to something besides the Exercise Boulder, and it rolls back down the hill, and I have to start all over. Or worse. It seems the people who manage to love their Boulder, well, that’s what their lives are about- pushing that damned Boulder. How do I push the Boulder, and still take some snapshots of the flowers on the side of the mountain? What if I want to have a camp fire, or swim in a sparkley alpine stream? Nope, gotta push that Boulder.

And for me, life is full of such amazing things, I get really tired, really quickly, of looking at the ass-end of a Boulder.

Sow and Grow

sowandgrow_Look what came in the mail for me today! Oh, this book! This book is simply to die for… It’s a compilation of all vintage illustrations and paintings, with easy text for the Little Ones to read along with, and follows the life cycle of a seed and all variations of plants. It is sublime- and I don’t know how I made it this long without knowing about it. Thank you Emily- you really shouldn’t have. Really!

If you’re interested- you can get the book here– or at your local store- even better. There also appear to be two companion books as well- and one is about sewing! My birthday in in two weeks, and guess what I’m asking for….

Working on Houston

Busy busy busy… babysitting, substituting, church, scouts, school, homework, photographs of all the quilts, meeting with designer, meeting with printer, handholding with designer because she’s young, meetings meetings meetings, carpool, doctor appointments, family coming next week (yay!) cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery store, learning how to cook with no wheat, potty training (boo!) busy busy busybebacksoon…

Utterly Fascinating


Today is Bean’s birthday, but we spent yesterday at the County Fair to celebrate. Why? Well,  we had free passes for yesterday, and it would have cost us $32 to get in today. Yay for free passes!

It was hot. And the Fair was full of… “Fair” people. Oh man, is it fair for me to even say that? But dude, honestly, you know what you are thinking when I say “Fair people” and it’s not pretty. I spent half the afternoon trying to shield my kids from things, well, unfair. Oh, kids! Look over here at these newborn piggies- not at the barely dressed couple dry-humping by the camels. I’ll just let that one stand for what it is.

With a few diverting tactics on our part, the kids were oblivious to the seedy underbelly of the carnival, and they blew their entire Fair budget on the sling-shot thing that bungee’d them high into the sky. I think it was worth it- way better than the dirty ferris wheel. (Have Fairs always been so scungy?)

We looked at the 4H and Grange displays (cool) and walked through the event centers with the infomercial guys yelling at everyone as they passed (not cool). Beanie is coveting a Snuggie (what IS it with kids and those things?). Jeffrey thinks the Slap-Chop demo is the best invention EVER, and Abby wants stamps for her fingernails. Time to go look at the sheep kids!

The sheep were gone already. That’s what we get for waiting for the last three days of the Fair. The bunnies were gone too. Instead we got lots of chickens, enormous geese, some alpaca, a ton of cows and horses, baby pigs (for sale!) and, um, the aforementioned camels.

After the barn animals, the midway, the expo centers, the bungee jump and some salt water taffy, it was time to go. Waaaay past time to go. Which of course means both Beanie and Abby thought it was a great time to go all rubber-band noodle kid and liquify their bones while they turned on both the waterworks and the air-horns.

Nothing more fun that dragging three hot, tired, sugared up, crying kids through the Fair parking lot. The very big, very dusty, very hot, very stinky Fair parking lot. The car was a million degrees when we finally found it, and Bean was screaming this was the worst birthday EVER because we wouldn’t (pay $24 to) let them ride the dirty ferris wheel.

I wonder if some of my fun childhood memories were actually nightmares for my mom…

p.s. While at the grocery store last night at 11:30 to get “whipped spray creamy stuff” for Bean’s pancakes in the morning, (because of ongoing goal to ruin my kid’s birthday, right? yeah) they had the Snuggies in a display by the register. $19.95 at the Fair- $12 at Kroger.  Oh yeah. It’s wrapped and on the kitchen table right now. Becuase I love ruining my kids lives.

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Holy Guacamole


I get a lot of recipe requests. I’m no Ree, but I can throw down some good eats- and hands down, people ask for this recipe. Which has always kind of baffled me, because honestly? How do you screw up guacamole? But it’s possible. People add all kind off wrong things. This is an honest guac. No mixes, no fancy spices, no mayonnaise (egad!). Everything added is there for a specific reason, and adds it’s own simple voice to the song.


Here’s who’s coming to the party: You need 3-4 HAAS avocados, salt, jalapeno, a Roma tomato, lime or lemon, garlic, salt, sour cream, and hot sauce. That’s it. No, do not add onion. Do not add cumin, no matter what Rachel Ray says, “smokey cumin” is NOT good in everything. Do not add mayonnaise, or I will hunt you down. Do not add cilantro. Just don’t, and I love Cilantro. I do. But it is not invited to this party. The end.


Slice the avocados in half, twisting the pit out with the sharp edge of your knife. I started out with four avo’s, but one was too bruised and got tossed. Three works almost as well as four.


(My kids think it’s great fun to put the pits in a glass of water and grow an avocado plant on my kitchen window sill. You will soon be overrun with plants that cannot live in your climate- unless you live in LA. Secretly toss them.)


With a spoon, just scoop out the insides. No need to score them or get all Bobby Flay- just scoop. If they are perfectly ripe, they will be like butter.


Decapitate your fresh jalapeno, and if you are a wuss, scrape out the membrane and seeds with a spoon. You’ll just have the sweet fruit left, and there’s practically no head in the fruit. Don’t poke yourself in the eye or change a diaper after you’ve handled peppers. Don’t ask me how I know.


See? Wuss pepper. Fruity and fire-less. Mince that bad boy up:


And add to the avocado.


Now you need to choose your mashing tool. Any of these work, and I routinely use them all. Do not, I repeat NO NO NO, do not use a food processor or blender. We are making guacamole, not green mushy soup. We want texture, chunks- we want to know we are eating avocados! Well, at least I do. You do whatever you want. But I warned you…


Add a good pinch of kosher salt and mush mush mush. The kids like this. Good luck at your house.


Like this. See? Texture is a good thing!

Now I’ve cheated, because you can clearly see I’ve already dice my tomato- but just go with me here, okay?


Cut one Roma tomato in half. I know I showed two, but with only three avocados I needed to think on my feet, and one/three ratio is perfect. Slice it in half and scoop out the gelly goop in the middle. It’s good stuff, but not in guacamole. Dice the tomato up:


And add to the mushed up bowl.

Now, it’s time for the spice. The excitement. Regard the tender clove of garlic, impaled on my 12″ Wusthoff :


This little gem of acids and flavor has been hanging out in my fridge for a little too long, and has decided to sprout. Ever had that happen? When you cut open a clove, there is a tiny little green shoot inside?


You want to get that out of there. It’s bitter. It’s not good eats. The garlic is still perfectly good,  just pop that little shoot out with the tip of your knife. Thus:


It’s in a little sheath, and will usually pop out in one piece. One big clove or two small cloves are perfect for a 3-Avocado batch of guacamole. And, despite what the fancy food TV chefs may say, I am a fan of the garlic press. Voila:


Perfectly mashed garlic with no large raw chunks to ruin anyone’s guacamole experience.


Oh, hello Blurry. Next add the juice from half a lime or lemon. I prefer lime, but all I had today was lemon, so lemon it is. It really doesn’t mater- the whole point is the acid, and you get that from either. But you do need one of them! Also, and this is unorthodox and sacrilege to some purists, I add a blop of sour cream. Let me tell you why. Combined with the acid from the citrus, it keeps the avos from browning too much. You can leave it out, but you’ll end up with brown guac a lot faster. You have been warned.

Now, we need to pick our poison:


Any of these are perfectly lovely. If I have refined guests, I’ll opt for the Green Tabasco. If it’s for me, Habanero it is. My favorite sauce is Cholula, and I’m out, otherwise she would have been my girl today. As it was, I went for the old stand by:


You just cannot go wrong with good old Avery Island McIlhenny peppers. They truly are divine.


Now stir it all together.


Gently, gently now- mind your texture. And that’s it. You are done. Pop into a pretty bowl and scarf it down. Top some sopapillas made from your own masa. Grill up some fish and have soft tacos with guacamole. Or, you could just eat it. Enjoy!


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300px-Stacheldraht_93Tears are salty, like the sea, and like the tireless sea, they rust even the finest iron. Only tears aren’t tireless. Oh, no, they are not. Tears weep and sop and wring out and leave one like a sodden rag, taking with them even the energy to make more. If a soul is dry, wrung, dusty, will the rusting stop?  I wonder, when the old iron belt was in full-roar, and the smelters lit the night all along the Great Lakes, what happened to the slag as it was raked from the molten metal? Did the iron care, as the refiner burned off parts of itself? Did it ever cry “Enough!”, only to be lost forever in the warped curls of heat rising from the fires?

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2,996 Project: Remembering James V. DeBlase

This is a repost of a tribute I wrote for Jimmy DeBlase, who was killed eight years ago today.

deblase.jamesHis friends called him Jimmy D, and he was probably the only Dallas Cowboy football fan in all of New Jersey; he was certainly their most fervent!

Jimmy was born in lower Manhattan, and grew up playing football in the streets of Little Italy. He grew up with two brothers, Anthony and Ritchie. His wife, Marion, remembers meeting Jimmy in 1978, when his team, “Carmine’s Animals” had just won a neighborhood championship. Jimmy’s (perplexing to local New Yorkers) love of the Dallas Cowboys is something he passed onto his three sons, Nicholas, Joseph and James, even going to far as taking them to Dallas to see the team play. The neighborhood kids called him Coach Jimmy- he was very involved in his sons lives, coaching them not only in football, but baseball and basketball as well.

In Lower Manhattan, Jimmy attended St. Joseph’s Elementary School, and went on to Bishop DuBois high school, where he excelled at athletics. After high school, Jimmy decided football would not be his career path, and enrolled in Baruch College, known for it’s business courses as opposed to athletics.

After college, Jimmy and Marion made their home in Manalapan, New Jersey, and Jimmy worked on Wall Street for 14 years as a dealer at Oppenheimer. He joined Cantor Fitzgerald in October 1999 as a USA Bond-broker.

Jimmy was at work in the North Tower on the 106th floor on the morning of September 11, 2001. His brother Anthony was in Tower 2, and was fortunate enough to make it out. Anthony spent days after the attack looking for his brother. Jimmy’s body has never been recovered.

His godson, Robet Netzel, has this to say about his godfather:

Uncle Jim, you are a hero to Aunt Marion and the boys. We miss you so much. We are all in this together to help your family from here on in. I will take your boys under my wing as best as possible. You have been a great inspiration for your boys to be the best that they can be in life and as their coach, you helped make them some of the best players out there. Keep a safe watch over all of your family and shine down on them. Jimmy D, your are the best.

Please take a moment and pause to remember the innocent people, such as Jimmy D, who were taken from us eight years ago today.

This tribute has been written about James V DeBlase as part of the 2,996 Project, a grassroots movement among bloggers to commemorate all of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. For more information on the project, or to take part and be assigned a person to commemorate, please visit The 2,996 Project.

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