Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Emphasis on the "Country"

I decided on a whim today to vacuum out my minivan. Two kids at school, the third asleep, and 33 balmy degrees outside? Sounds like vacuuming-the-van time to me!

I mean, I did just do it seven months ago, but it could stand another cleaning. Ahem.

As I was hauling out the vacuum and getting to work, I decided that I should just dispense with the "Town" part of my Town and Country minivan. This minivan ain't nothin' but country.

To start with, I had to go into the duck pen to unplug the extension cord from the heated water bucket so I could plug in the vacuum. That is not the way you start vacuuming out a vehicle in town.

Then I started sucking up alarming quantities of leaves, rocks, and mud. Nary a McDonald's french fry to be found. We live fifteen miles from the nearest McDonald's, so their food will not make its way into my minivan. (Also, I find their food revolting, but that's a separate issue.)

I found at least half a dozen of those pointy snail shells that the kids tend to collect on our beach, along with a screwdriver under one seat and a rusty screw under another.

Was the screwdriver used to take the screw out? Possibly. I just hope the screw didn't come off my minivan at some critical place.

I also had to vacuum up some flaked off rusted metal from the back door, because my van is decaying at an alarming rate thanks to the salt used on winter roads around here. I figure the body of this vehicle is going to give out before the engine. It's pretty bad.

It took me about half an hour to get the interior in a relatively clean state. Clean for a country minivan, anyway, which is all I can hope for.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Problem with Nutmeg

I love nutmeg. The taste, that is. Grating it? No. That, I do not like. Anything that has to be done on one of those really fine microplane graters--citrus zest, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg--is almost guaranteed to be a pain in the ass. But I love the taste of nutmeg in custard and so on enough that I take the trouble to grate the little nutmeg nuts*.

But I always, ALWAYS drop the damn nut into whatever I'm grating it into. I don't know if I have particularly clumsy fingers or what, but the nut inevitably slips from my fingers and sinks into the wet mixture I'm grating it into, requiring me to go fishing around in raw eggs and milk with my fingers to rescue it from the bottom of the bowl.


The recipe I made for bread pudding just now--to use up some random white bread the MiL had bought for church communion bread--required a full teaspoon of grated nutmeg. That's a lot of nutmeg. And a lot of opportunity to drop the nut. But I only dropped it once! Yay for me!

Should be good bread pudding, though.

* Incidentally, have you ever seen the inside of the nutmeg nut? It's got these little dark squiggles running through it. It's cool. Here's a page with a photo that is much better than anything I could ever take.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Because I Don't Want To Be That Woman

The division of labor within our marriage and house is pretty traditional. A. works full-time. I take care of the house and the children full-time. I cook. He earns money. I clean. He fixes things.

He sometimes does the dishes. I sometimes fix things. But it's frightening how quickly I can fall into the trap of thinking that just because I don't usually do something means that I can't.

Take the cellar steps, for instance. The fourth step down disconnected completely from the riser this week when the nails just rusted right out (they're probably at least a hundred years old--these things happen at Blackrock). It was possible to step on it to get up and down, but only if I was very careful to step on the back part sort of gingerly so it didn't tip me down the steps. I mentioned it to A. I said I would have to fix it. He told me the steps are made of two-inch-thick, old-growth oak and it would take some really big nails and a lot of dedicated hammering to get those nails into those steps.

So I thought I would let him do it.


That's stupid. I can use a hammer. I mean, sure, I'm not as strong as A., but the purpose of a hammer is to allow people to drive nails even without significant strength.

Still, I stepped gingerly on that step for three days before I finally mentally slapped myself and found some nails to hammer in.

It took all of two minutes. I didn't even bend the nails (I won't lie--this often happens when I have to hammer in long nails). And now I don't have to worry about going ass over tea kettle into the cellar every time I have to do some laundry.

Running a chainsaw, fixing the water pump, and lifting enormous stones are all things I'm happy to leave to my husband. But hammering in a couple of nails? Don't be ridiculous, Kristin.

Friday, February 5, 2016

How Brothers Do

Starting with Cubby . . .

"I think we have three trucks outside right now to play with. Maybe four."


"No, Charlie. Three."


"NO, CHARLIE. Now you're just lying!"

"No, I'm not. You are."

"You are."

"You are."





Then I jump in: "That's enough. Stop arguing."

"I wasn't arguing. I never argue."

"Yes, you are, Charlie."

"You are."

"You are."


Repeat ad nauseam.

Friends to the end. Usually.

Your time will come, Jack. Just as soon as you're old enough to contradict your brothers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Charlie woke me up last night at 11 a.m., shrieking that he was hot and needed water. What this usually means is that he is sick, though he didn't have a fever or anything.

Fifteen minutes later, he was shrieking that he was "fweezin'." And fifteen minutes after that, the phone rang with the fun news that the MiL's car had broken down and she needed to be picked up at the garage in the next village over.

Thanks for making sure I was awake, Charlie!

After I got back from picking up the MiL, I was lying in bed (for HOUUUURRRSS--I am not one of those people who can wake up and go right back to sleep) contemplating the probability that Charlie would wake up sick this morning. That would mean two things: 1) He would probably be having a meltdown every half an hour, because that's what Sick Charlie does, and 2) He would not be going to school.

It's supposed to rain all day. The prospect of being home with Sick Charlie all day in a gloomy house while rain poured down was enough to keep me awake with dread longer than I should have been awake.

But! Just to show that good things do happen in this world, Charlie woke up chipper and apparently completely healthy. He's at school. Cubby is at school. Jack is asleep.

It is gloomy in the house, and it is pouring rain, but Sick Charlie never showed up this morning. Clouds with silver linings all over the place.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Small but Significant Victory

Awhile ago at the library, Charlie chose this book called Look and Find Pooh. It's one of those Where's Waldo type of books with a million things on each page and you're supposed to find certain objects within the millions.

Those kinds of books kind of drive me nuts. Too much going on on each page. But then, I'm not three years old, and Charlie LOVES this book. It's the one he always chooses when it's his turn to choose a book.

So we've found all the things multiple times. Except the snail.

The snail is one of the things to look for on the "scary shadows" page, and I could not find it. Every single time we would look at this book, I would search and search, methodically moving left to right in small increments, looking in vain for that damned snail. Every time, I would fail to find it.

Look and Find Pooh failure. Oh, the shame.

Also, incredibly annoying. It's a book for small children! I am an intelligent adult! WHY CAN'T I FIND THAT SNAIL?

Today I had the brilliant idea to look not for the snail, but for its scary shadow. Because almost all the shadows on that page are supposed to be cast by the objects to be found. So first I found a likely-looking shadow, then I searched around that until I found the snail. FINALLY. It was on top of this hanging bell bracket thing and looked just like a scroll on the bracket.

But I found it! HA HA, Look and Find Pooh! Victory is at last MINE.

I think I need to get out more.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

When Leftovers Become Magic

I was feeling ambitious yesterday and thought I would make a homemade dessert. 

My first thought was apple crisp, because I was making meatloaf for dinner and if I plan it right, I can make the topping for the crisp in the food processor before I use the food processor to make the slurry of grossness for the meatloaf (you know what I mean--the nasty mixture of eggs, onions, garlic, and breadcrumbs that gets mixed with the meat) AND the crisp can bake at the same time as the meatloaf. 

I just love kitchen efficiency.

But then I remembered the four egg yolks left over from when the MiL made the chiffon cake for her sister's birthday. So I decided to make chocolate pudding.

I used this recipe from Martha Stewart, mostly because it was the first one that came up when I typed "chocolate pudding four egg yolks" into Google. I have also in the past made the Tyler Florence recipe that is the second recipe that comes up when you type that combination of words into Google. I liked the Tyler Florence one better because it was more chocolate-y, but everyone else preferred the Martha Stewart one.

I used half milk and half cream instead of all milk, because I had the cream and why not, right? I also omitted the straining step, because it was too thick when I took it off the heat to strain through the very fine-mesh strainer I had. Didn't make a difference. I alsoalso used salted butter instead of unsalted, because it was all I had. Again, didn't make a difference. Oh, and I alsoalsoalso did not use plastic wrap pressed into the top to prevent the skin from forming, because I didn't care.

So, with all the changes, can I call it MY chocolate pudding recipe, then? Sure. Anyway, it's the one I'm going to use from here on out. Or at least whenever I have leftover egg yolks.