Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hot Chick

One of the nice things about having a blog is that clicking on my link today made me realize I hadn't called Colony Tire back to order a part. The good news on Monday was, the hammer-out-dents dude was able to fix the rim to the tune of $140 (yay!). And the tire was ok! (extra yay!). But then when I sensibly went to get an alignment done, I was told I had a rusty tie rod (boo!). So that will be a couple hundred bucks to fix, plus the cost of the actual alignment (*sigh*). But it could've been worse, so I'll stop talking about it now.

I've been in a super-shitty mood this week and am not sure why. I think my hormones are messed up. It's been this way for a few weeks now - skin all crazy, some severe emotional shifts, irrational irritability. No wait, that last one is TOTALLY rational, I live with a toddler. But still. I don't need to be snarking at her the way I've been. I can feel myself doing it. I almost burst into tears this morning when she wouldn't keep her damn head still to braid her damn hair. Damnit. She's two, give her a freaking break. SHE DOESN'T NEED BRAIDS! As long as it doesn't look like there's a squirrel nesting in there, who cares what the preschool teachers think? So yes. The mood. Has got to change. I can't blame it on the hilarious-because-it-won't-stop rain, because I've been like this for even longer than that, if possible. Diet? Exercise? (hahahaha, this is me falling off my couch laughing and almost knocking over a bowl of chips and a Pepsi). Dunno. Have to do something.

The beach trip this weekend is a definite no-go. So that's sad. I actually looked at a few local hotels for Saturday - a friend of mine said that during the winter she and her husband sometimes do that, find a cheap place with a pool and take the kid and go. I think it's brilliant, plus you don't have the travel hassle! With the car stuff I can't get past the price tag though. I need to come up with something else that's going to be cheap, relaxing, and fun for both of us. I'll keep working on it, but let me know if you have any brilliant ideas. There are a few local festivals, so that's a last option. My aunt and uncle are hosting their annual Oktoberfest, but as much as I love my cousins I can't take my car that far, and can't be on their schedule for rides. I looked at the train but times don't work out, and SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS. For the two of us for a 3-hr trip. Um, ick. Plus, you know. My mood. Rawr. I'd like to hide and not talk to anyone, please.

Changing tracks (get it, a train joke, you know, to ease the transition), I took some pics last weekend when I made a totally delicious roast chicken dinner. 5-6lb roasters were on sale for $5, you can't beat that. Especially when it lasted for 3 dinners, 2 lunches, and there's a bag of meat in the freezer for chicken pot pie. Mmm... pie.

First, start off with a nice plump little bird. I get what's on sale, I am very fancy that way. In this case, they were marked as 'Cajun Seasoned'. There was very little of that, but that was fine. Seasoning a bird means you are limited with what you do with the leftovers; for example, I've learned that Rosemary Chicken is really, really gross in enchiladas.

Hi, poultry. Meet my friends; garlic, lemon and fresh thyme.
I had never used fresh thyme in a chicken before, and OMG was it ever freaking delicious. Salt the inside and outside of the carcass after pulling out the gizards, rinsing it, and patting it dry. I read this weekend that patting dry was actually very important, because it helped the chicken to roast instead of, you know, steam. Science! Stuff some cut up lemons, halved garlic bulbs, and herbs in there. If you have room (and, uh, aren't out of them), I usually add cut up onion as well. Some people say you should butter the skin, but when you scroll down you'll see how unnecessary this is. Tie the legs together, tuck the wings under (I never manage to get that part right), place it in a roasting pan breast-side-up. It will be plenty moist, I promise you.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Yep, nice and hot. Because the a/c is still on in my southern kitchen, guess what I used?

Look how cute! A little chicky in a little toaster oven! Ok, in all honesty my toaster oven is kinda big. But that's why I bought it. I have used my oven only twice this summer, everything else has been cooked in here. I love the thing. If you don't have a digital thermometer yet, stop whatever you're doing and go get one. Mine has a little pager, it's great. Remember not to have the thermometer tip touch the bone. See the wings there, totally not tucked under or whatever? Sigh.

Cook for about 1 1/2 hours. I think the recommendation for internal cooked temp for poultry is 165 degrees. However, my thermometer has a well-done option so I let it get up to 174. I grew up in a home where it was more acceptable for my mother to sleep with another man than to undercook chicken, so I'm very sensitive about it. Plus, pink chicken, ew.

Since you have some time to kill, you might as well make some mashed potatoes and gravy. I have tried instant potatoes twice now, and they just don't cut it. Peel some potatoes roughly, quarter 'em, cover them in water with some kosher salt (the only kind I use in cooking - but don't get me started on my collection of 'finishing' salts), bring 'em to a boil and let them do their thing for about 15 minutes, depending on your definition of 'quarter'. Drain them, saving some of the water.

My mum was a hand mixer-potatoes kind of gal, so that's what I am. Nice, fluffy whipped potatoes - ahh, heaven. Drop in a generous chunk of butter (think Paula Deen) and a few dollops of either milk or half-and-half or (gasp!) cream, and start to blend. Since I had made my gravy prior to this step (was experimenting, and poured off some of the chicken fat early), I added a little gravy - I highly recommend doing this if you can.
Some people add garlic and other stuff, but again, I like to have leftover options so I leave them straight up. Fried mashed potatoes are great with eggs for breakfast.

Now, please don't be a-scared of making gravy. It is a hundred billion times better than what comes out of a can or envelope or a waitress's hand. Start with fat from meat drippings. If you're a better person than me you do some sort of intricate let-it-sit-and-pour-off or whatever, I don't bother. Stir a few tablespoons of flour into the hot fat. Add some broth (homemade if possible, or something from a really good bouillon base). Add a little milk. Add a little salt and pepper. If you're making turkey/chicken gravy, I boil the giblets for about 15 minutes, mince some of them, and add a little of that. I also add some of the water, and some of the potato water. My mother could probably give you much better instructions, sorry.

When the chicken is done, hopefully it looks like this:
Can you smell what the Jellybean Mama was cooking?! Don't you want to just reach into that pic and get yourself a hunk of white or dark, whatever your preference? (JR is a dark meat girl, I'm a white, so it's nice).

Serve with potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, steamed corn, and dinner rolls if you're my mum. If you're me, it's just meat and potatoes. Hello, I just did all that work, I'm exhausted, plus it's only two of us so that's plenty of food. As mentioned we ate this for dinner Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday evenings. Plus I ate it for lunch a day, and packed a cold chicken leg for Jelly for preschool (which she devoured, although not AT preschool). And there's leftovers in the freezer. Oh, and I served her Sloppy Joes on the mashed potatoes one night, she LOVED that. Yes, I make a lot of potatoes, I can't help it, I grew up with 6 people in my family. And that gravy? SO good on fries. A great cheap, filling, easy dinner.

Now I'm going to go look up pot pie recipes...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays


So... I have this post drafted (in my head) about the lovely dinner I made last night, to make you all very hungry and want to cook a la Jellybean Mama. However, I am having a bad day and wanted to write about that instead. It always cheers me up to read about other people's misery because I'm a mean person, so maybe sharing my bad luck with you will make you realize your Monday is actually going really well.

You know how when you're driving, and you're in a hurry because you're going someplace new and fun, and you're going to see people you like and miss, and you've got a toddler in the back who wants you to work her DVD player and hand her things and pick things up off the backseat floor for her and you take your eyes of the road for ONE SECOND? And then maybe your wheels hit the gravel, and you have been taught to NEVER. SLAM ON. THE BRAKES. because you grew up in the wilds of Northern Ontario, so you try your best to wrestle the car back on the road without slowing down and then **BAM**. You go from happy-excited to sick-and-terrified in a heartbeat. Yeah, that was my yesterday.

We were on our way to brunch at a little French place to meet the cousins. I had picked out a nice French-inspired little outfit (I had on makeup! And cute boots!), was on time for once, Jenny was in a good mood. Then shit fell apart very quickly. It was one of those situations where you wish with all your might for time to reverse itself, just for a handful of seconds, so you can undo your mistake. Like when I lost my camera. Or you want it to be a bad dream. One minute you're driving along carefree, the next you are remembering that cars are massive, dangerous machines that require a great deal of attention at all times. My passenger-side tires touched the gravel and pulled me over, then I hit a chunk of asphalt. The tire blew. Luckily I was on a back road so wasn't going too fast, and there was a place right there to pull over. Also, AAA came through - apparently, telling them there's a toddler in the car is the secret, the guy arrived in 20 minutes.

There are two (hopefully only two) very sad additional pieces to the story. One is that the tire was new, purchased a mere few months ago when I replaced both front tires. The other is that I severely damaged the rim, which I didn't understand until I drove to the tire place to get a replacement tire. Upon receiving a callback after my dealership opened this morning I learned that a new rim averages around $500. Five. Hundred. So I am going to run out between calls today to meet some dude who hammers out rims in the hopes that it's salvageable. Otherwise I foresee some more event cancellations in our near future. Plus, you know, I have to buy another tire.

I guess the good news is that we were fine, the spare was in decent shape, and Jellybean was happy because once I gave her my phone back she was able to play games to occupy her, plus of course I never go anywhere without juice and tons of emergency snacks. Technology is awesome (used my GPS to find exactly where we were for AAA directions, looked up closest open tire place, called cousin and The Ta, booted up Monkey Preschool Lunchbox). The Ta has generously offered up her Jeep if I have to get the rim ordered, which could take 3-4 days.

But still - ugh.

Also - the weather has finally decided to cool off. Which means that while it was 97 degrees last Saturday, it will be 67 degrees NEXT Saturday. Oh, and raining. You know - when we're suppose to be at that awesome beach house. There is nothing on this earth that will convince me to drag an already-cling-surly-toddler to a place void of toys with an unheated swimming pool that she can see but can't swim in. So that's very sad.

AND - daycare dropoff this morning was awful. Ms D is back from vacation, but I guess all the change and not feeling well has been tough on The Bean, so she wept and wept. Real tears. She told her beloved friends to "go 'way!" when they tried to say hi and bring her offerings of play food. I HATE starting a day out like that. I walked in the door of the house back home and spilled half a Red Bull on the floor. My shoes feel funny. The yard, of course, is flooded.

There you have it.

Will update after noon, when I find out about the rim. Please leave kind, soothing, sympathetic comments and your Paypal account info.

UPDATE: The rim-hammer-outer dude said he was pretty sure he could fix it. Squee! Fingers crossed for a call later today. Also, when I got up to go drop it off I kicked over the rest of the Red Bull that I had put, of course, conveniently on the floor. So I went ahead and switched to vodka.*

*I did NOT switch to vodka, although I wanted to. I switched to iced tea.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mural, Mural, on the Wall. And the floor... and my hair...

What I thought was just allergies for Jellybean ended up being a bad cold, that then turned into an ear infection/sinus infection, so I have had a sick, incredibly grumpy girl at home the past few days. Which translates into trying to get a whole bunch of things done, and doing none of them well. At ALL. Things I have done poorly include my job, taking care of Jelly, housework, meal prep, painting the @#$% playroom, taking care of myself, being patient, and bathing.

When Jenny is sick her standard retort is 'Tummy hurts'. Doesn't matter if it's her head or her butt giving her troubles. Tummy hurts. So you can imagine how many times I've heard that over the past 4 days. I've heard it at 3:30 am, at 7 am, at 7 and 7:15 and 7:30 and 7:45 and 7:55 and 7:57 pm (she did not want to go to bed). I've heard it when she was served something she didn't want to eat, when she was bored, when she wanted to dawdle on the potty. I am so freaking grateful that she went to daycare today that I could weep, because it means 9 hours of NOT hearing 'tummy hurts'. Which makes me feel a little guilty, because, you know, she was pretty miserable. But now she's back on a lovely antibiotic, and any time she opens her mouth I shove Motrin in it, and she's getting plenty of sleep PLUS she's had LOTS of extra mommy time. So, you know, I'll get over it.

In other I'm-excited-about-that news, I got a migraine last night BUT since my brilliant doc (Dr. Jones, isn't that awesome?!) prescribed an anti-nausea drug, I took that along with a fistful of Tylenol and the migraine pill and - ta-da! Look at me! I have a slight migraine hangover but none of the muscle pains and wanting-to-die-ness I usually experience. He thought that the violent vomiting might be a big part of the whole experience being so awful, and boy, was he right. What was likely happening in the past was that I was actually barfing up the migraine drugs. So although it all took longer to work than I expected (just a few minutes over an hour, believe me, I was clock-watching), and it was touch-and-go there for a while, I'm pretty stoked about this new development.

Since the wonderful Miss D is out of town on her well-deserved magical Disney vacation (bitch), I have Jelly back with the very nice Miss N for the week. Miss N was Jelly's caregiver back when The Horrible Thing happened and I was just looking for a warm body to keep one eye on The Bean while I looked for a permanent solution to replace the great nanny. Miss N ended up being a terrific provider, and if she hadn't already promised her open spots to some new babies, may have ended up being the permanent solution. But we ended up finding Miss D so I am plenty happy. However, the fact that Miss N LIVES ON MY STREET is, well, just really, really convenient. It's nice to have as a backup, since Jelly knows the other kids and remembers Miss N and the house and the toys and all those important things. And hey, she'll get away from me for a while, so I'm sure she'll be much happier there than at home (she cried over no less than 7 different things in the 15 minutes it took us to get out of bed and out the door this morning; getting dressed, not bringing 8 million toys downstairs, having milk instead of juice, her shoes, her hair, her breakfast options, and not taking 8 million toys in the car).

Since I was trapped in the house with Grumpy Pants, I did what any sensible, caring mother of a sick child would do, and parked her in my room with some toys and her friend TV and did some more painting in the playroom. Things went badly. Here's a pop quiz for you:

When is it a good idea to paint a mural?

A. When someone is paying you
B. When it's a favor for a friend
C. When you want to do something special for your child
D. When your parents ask you to

Ha, it was a trick, the answer is, 'Never'. I have painted murals for friends, for my parents, for money, and now for Jelly, and it's never, EVER a good idea. Painting is only a good idea when you're paying someone else to do it. Especially if you're impatient and a perfectionist - this is a terrible mix for painting. Painting requires patience, and planning, and laying down sheets of plastic on the floor, and waiting appropriate amounts of time for things to dry, and other things that I don't have/do.

Here's my problem; I envision the project, completed, and think - 'Wow - not only will that look great, it will be sooooooo much fun to do!'. I am wrong, because painting is not fun, it's work. I also always grossly underestimate the amount of time the project is going to take. In my head it takes 4 hours, start to finish. It's only when I am mixing paint, trying to get that perfect color, and realize 2 hours have passed already and the paint looks like poo, that it dawns on me - this project is going to take longer. I may actually have to come back on weekends and finish after I've sold the house in 25 years.

Then I start. The colors aren't right but I'm out of time already and don't care, and just want to get something up on the wall. Then I try to rush it, and drip paint all over the carpet, because I never lay down the plastic like I'm suppose to. I start with cheap CVS paint brushes that I picked up while getting JR's prescription filled, and am shocked that my convenience does not equal quality. So then I go get better brushes, and get going again, and forget to do the experimental stuff behind the door like a smart person would, but hey - that doesn't look so bad. But that's a terrible way to think, because then I get cocky, and that means I think I can do new exciting things that never work out, and I get fast and sloppy and it all goes downhill very quickly. Next thing I know, I'm up on a ladder, and I'm like, 'Oh, whoa, wait, this sucks'. Then I'm on my hands and knees, and I'm thinking, 'Hmm, this is pretty lame'. Then I'm laboriously doing some detail work, and my arm aches and my shoulders ache and I'm holding my breath to get it just right and I'm sweaty and exhausted and making up blog posts in my head, and I realize - this is an awful idea, I should NEVER do this again. And I suddenly remember saying that exact same thing, many times before, which I had previously blocked out in my excitement and stupidity.

I am really honestly hoping to finish the painting this weekend (hahahahahahahaha!), which means that next is the sewing. Remind me again why I do this to myself?!

Oh, right...

"I FWY, mama!". Yes, sweety, you are extremely graceful, stomping around flinging your arms around and screaming 'Whee! Butterfwy!' loud enough to scare the other small children.

Tonight we are meeting Aunt Jonesy and The Ta for dinner to discuss - BEACH TRIP PLANS! Hurray for another (free!) beach trip! I can't believe it's in just over a week. Aunt Jonesy has rented an awesome beach house (don't click that link unless you want to sob enormous tears of jealousy) and Jelly will be so freaking happy to be there with not just a pool, but The Ta AND her special friend Aunt J. The invite is open for the week, and with the wireless option we are going to stay a few days past the weekend (since I will be able to work, with other people there to help watch Fattybottom), so it will be lovely. The camping trip the following weekend might be off, but you know what? I think we might have enough to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I have no less than 6 different blog posts, fully written, in my head. If only that helmet that plucked stories and images directly from your brain and into the blogsphere had been invented by now, you would be reading about the beach trip, and the awesome Fiesta Del Pueblo last weekend, and our upcoming trip courtesy of Aunt Jonesy, and the latest lunchbox. However, since your friend Jellybean Mama has time today for only one story, and the latest craze seems to be painting posts (posts about painting, not like painting posts out in fields or whatever), I give you...

The playroom!
No, it doesn't look like much there, that's because it's my 'before' pic, with the really super crappy primer job I did LAST APRIL.

But look! I painted more! Can you believe it?
No, it's not water, it's sky. But the color is 'Sailing Day', which I thought was nice.

Then I needed some green on the bottom for grass.

She needs something on the bottom, I know. What can I say, she's a dirty hippie who likes painting au natural. Largely because I had the A/C off so that I could have the windows open and not die from paint fumes like I usually do. But mostly because she just likes to run around naked.
She was actually super good about the whole thing. I let her do that much then sent her away, where she played happily and quietly by herself for two hours. She got McDonald's and playland time after that, don't you worry.
And as a result, I was able to accomplish this...
A good base coat of the base! I need to go over it again because you can see the brush lines on the edging (and because I use cheap WalMart paint because no, I CANNOT be taught). But look! I decided on colors! And slapped a pattern of sorts up there! And I like the colors! The green is 'Appletini', which I thought was appropriate since that's what I'll be doing in the playroom.

If you want to be even more excited for me, I went online and ordered fabric for curtains and pillows for the reading corner that will be there, under the window. Yes, I am planning to sew them myself, I have sewn at least 5 things in my whole life and therefore believe myself to be totally accomplished. No, I do not plan to use 'patterns' or 'directions' or 'advice'. That is how I roll. Some people call it 'seat of the pants' or 'impatient'. Those people would be correct.

The fabric is here and here, and also here. Curtains here. Hopefully the colors work. I think it was quite daring to order it all online without swatches or samples or holding my laptop up to the wall. We'll see how it works out. The plan is to pick up some of the flowers/bees from that one pattern and hand-paint them on the wall. There was a gorgeous pop-floral that was my first choice, but since I'm not a millionaire and am totally going to ruin everything anyhow, I figured I shouldn't waste good money that could be better put to beach trips and appletinis. I mean, shelving. But that gives you an idea of something more my taste, and more what I plan to actually do on the walls.

Now you just have to wait another five months for me to finish the damn thing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bento Baby

Betcha thought this post was going to be about the beach trip, didn’t you? Well, I like to keep you on your toes. The beach trip was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC, so filled with the awesome that I am still working on the post. Also, I got some pics yesterday (from FILM) that I still need to scan in, and they are somewhere in a Target bag which my kitchen has eaten, and my scanner is soooooooooo far away… the whole thing is just exhausting to think about.

Instead I bring to you –

The Lunch Box!

Jellybean had her first full week of school this week. And by ‘first full week of school’, I mean she went and played with playdough from 9:30 til 1:30 on Tuesday and today. So basically she’s a CEO, except she makes a couple million dollars less.

Tuesday’s lunch box was my first ever official packed-for-a-child-of-my-loins school lunch. It was very exciting. I got to use the food markers, a punch-er out-er, and a new sandwich cutter thingy. Because I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t like bread I keep it in the freezer, so the bread was a little, uh, not-so-fresh-feeling. So the markers and cutter thingy would definitely have worked better on nice, fresh, friendlier bread.

Here we've got a good ol’ PB&J sammich on white-wheat, gherkins with cheese cubes, wheat crackers, orange wedges with fruit leather bunnies, and a Lychee drink/juicebox (dude, I can’t read that box, who knows what the hell was in it, really).

Her teachers were surprised she ate gherkins. Yes, she’s a two year old, she’ll eat cute little sweet pickles but not a piece of steak, what can I tell you. I don’t understand ‘em. The only thing that came home were 3 cheese cubes and the oranges. Guess she was carbed out by then.

Today I did a little better representin’. Yo, food groups in da house!

Leftover balsamic-braised pork chop with fresh thyme, pecan Nut-Thins crackers, pocky, fruit skewers (banana, peach, apple, plum), and broccoli. Nice cold milk in the thermos.

Yes, those are sprinkles in the broccoli. I am just doing whatever I can to get that child to eat a damn GREEN VEGETABLE. And so cute! Sprinkles! Where are my sprinkles in my veggies, I ask you? Apparently today’s lunch wasn’t as successful; either that, or Jelly was just too excited to eat, because most of her lunch made it back to Miss D’s house, whereupon the small grumpy child promptly sat down and ate it then. At 2pm. Toddlers, man. You can't really see the cute little fruit skewers since I piled additional fruit on top. You'll have to trust in the cute factor. Hopefully they'll make it back home.

Next week I’m going to try the egg mold. I know you’re excited, but you’ll just have to wait.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Weekend Starts Earl-y

Thanks for all your comments/advice on my last post. I finally wrote him back and told him we'd do something next week, so we'll see how that goes. I think part of the stark horror and abject depression about the whole thing may have been colored by my being, quite literally, sick and tired; now that I've been on the antibiotic a few days and finally got smart enough to switch to sinus headache meds, I'm feeling myself again. And kind of rolling my eyes at myself for being such a baby. Not that I don't still have all those worries and concerns, I just need to either push forward with dating, or accept that I'm happy the way things are and stop fretting about it.

Also - BEACH TRIP!! BEACH TRIP!!! BEACH TRIP! Earl bypassed us and hopefully won't get my sister or coworkers. So in a couple hours, The Ta and Jelly and I will be on our way to the scenic Wilmington Hilton Riverside.

Hey, I didn't promise this post would be longer, just happier.
Have a great long weekend, Friends of Jellybean!