Saturday, December 26, 2009


Know what kills that Christmas-y feeling dead? Cold, miserable rain that melts all the snow and turns everything all brown and sodden.

Bah humbug to you too, rain, you winter killjoy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Twisted Christmas Cheer

My family always had a tradition where any gifts from out-of-town relatives could be opened Christmas Eve. This was great when I was a kid, because you know how hard it is to wait until Christmas Day to open everything. And it's still great, because I still love to open presents and I've decided to keep the tradition alive by opening my family's presents on Christmas Eve. Gifts sent from Arizona certainly qualify as out of town.

So last night, A., the MiL, and I all opened our out-of-town presents. There were several wonderful gifts in there, but honestly? The most enjoyment came from the bows that were stuck on top of the wrapped gifts. You know the kind, with the little square of adhesive on the back to make them stick to the box? Well, they also stick very nicely to a dog's head.

All wrapped up and no place to go.

I actually laughed so hard I cried. As the MiL remarked, I have something of a low sense of humor.

Mia failed to get the joke. She just wanted me to stop howling with laughter so she could go to sleep. With a bow on her head. HAAAAAAA!!!

And then, because I just can't leave well enough alone, I decided what I REALLY needed was a picture of Mia wearing a Santa hat.

Internet humiliation: My gift to my dogs this Christmas season.

However. Her head is not so much vertical as horizontal, which meant I couldn't actually pull the hat on her head. So I had to just hold it there and take the picture. It still conveys the appropriate message, though.

And that message is: A very merry, laughter-filled Christmas to you--from Mia Clause and the whole insane Blackrock crew.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Living Up to Its Name

I just think it's nifty that Christmas cactuses* bloom so obligingly at, you know, Christmas every year. Just like the name promises. It's just so . . . reassuring.

Right on time for botanical season's greetings.

Merry Christmas Eve!

* I am well aware that the plural of "cactus" is "cacti," but that just looks and sounds so pretentious, I can't make myself use it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Farewell to Rita

Here's lookin' at you, pup . . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookbook Snobbery?

Last night, faced with a piece of top round beef and suddenly remembering that A. used to sometimes make chicken-fried steak with this cut of meat, I managed to convince A. that maybe he should resurrect that particular meal of fried fat covered in liquid fat (mmm, cream gravy . . .). Not that it took much convincing. He really likes fried foods. But I really don't like to make them, so he only has them when he makes them.


It had been years since he had made chicken-fried steak, and he wanted to consult a recipe. No problem, said I. It's, like, a classic American dish. There should be a recipe for it in every cookbook we have (well, not the Lebanese cookbook, maybe). First I tried Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated. No chicken-fried steak. Okay. Maybe in The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook? It's a farmy kind of thing. Nope, no chicken-fried steak. Joy of Cooking, The New York Times Cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World, The Way To Cook, The Good Housekeeping Cookbook . . . Not a single one of these books had a recipe for chicken-fried steak. In fact, the only cookbook that did was the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. And their recipe was weird, calling for an initial frying of the meat followed by 45 minutes of simmering, which sounds gross to me since wouldn't the crispy coating just get soggy and fall off?

In the end, A. ended up consulting the omniscient Internet for a suitable recipe. But it left me wondering: why don't these cookbooks have this recipe? Is it too low class? Is it possible that a cookbook that has Spam recipes (hello, Good Housekeeping circa 1973!) considered chicken-fried steak beneath notice?

The MiL suggested that maybe chicken-fried steak is just one of those recipes that's so basic a recipe isn't considered necessary. Or maybe it's just a dish so inevitably associated with diners that it didn't make it into cookbooks for home use. Whatever, it was weird.

But the chicken-fried steak was really good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Ready

Well. The MiL has found Rita's new family. They came yesterday to meet Rita, and will be taking her away on Wednesday.

Logically, it's clear that this is best. Rita is a young, very active, and still immature dog that demands a disproportionate amount of my time and attention during the day. Three dogs was already verging on too many; four WAS too many, especially with a baby coming. Rita really needed to go to people who could give her all their attention and love.

Intellectually, I know all that. But emotionally? It's so hard to let any of my dogs go. Even if they aren't all actually MY dogs, and I knew all along she'd be going eventually. I've spent almost a year taking care of her, and she really is such a nice dog.

But. She'll be a nice dog for her new family too, and she'll probably be happier there without the competition of three other dogs. We'll no doubt be more sad about her going than she will be. And in the meantime, there will be lots of petting and attention for Rita.

And lots more when she gets to her new home. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

P.S. I really should add here that when the family was here yesterday, the lady said to her sons, "You're going to have a sister now, like you always wanted." I think she was only partly kidding. This is obviously a woman who is worthy of Rita.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yet More High Fashion, Maternity-style

I have taken to stopping by the Salvation Army thrift store every time I go by it in the Small City to check out their maternity section. The "section" in question actually being about two feet of rack space, we're not talking a large selection. But, since it's a thrift store, the items change and turn over quickly, so you never know what you might find.

Last time I was in there, I got lucky. There was a red dress in my size. A kind of shirt dress, with a collar, which meant not a lot of spilling over cleavage. YAY! I have noticed that the makers of maternity wear seem to have this idea that if people focus on your chest, they won't pay as much attention to the rapidly expanding belly. Or something. Whatever, I don't appreciate the plunging necklines on maternity clothes. Besides making me a wee bit self-conscious, they also make me cold.


So there was this dress, with three-quarter sleeves, and it was red, and it fit me, and we have various holiday gatherings coming up, so . . . I bought it. Four bucks. I love thrift stores.

The dress was somewhat short, about mid-thigh, but since I was planning on wearing it with tights and knee-high boots, I figured that didn't matter so much. I had some vague thoughts of maybe going to a real store to see if I could find tights or leggings specifically made for pregnant women. Except I never got to a real store and last night we went to a party to which I wanted to wear the dress. Which left me jerry-rigging my pre-pregnancy black tights so they wouldn't sag immediately and bind me at the knees.

I safety-pinned them to my bra. Oh yes, I did.

This worked well, and I had no problems with knee binding. However. It did pose some challenges of a bathroom-related nature. So I made sure to go to the bathroom before we left home. Then, after two hours of eating and drinking (drinking seltzer--BOOOOORING), I made A. take me home so I wouldn't have to hang out in someone else's bathroom for like ten minutes unpinning and re-pinning while anyone else who wished to use said bathroom stood outside wondering what the hell could be taking so long in there.

So if anyone reading this was at that party last night and was wondering why we didn't stay very long? Now you know. I had to unpin myself so I could use the toilet.

And a very happy holiday to you, too!