Saturday, March 1, 2014

One Day Down

March first: In like a lion. It was sixteen degrees with clouds and forecasted snow today when I got up at six this morning. What a super day to begin my next thirty days of misery!

Yes, this morning was my very first viewing of--and, of course, following along with--Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30.

That's such an embarrassing title. But it is indicative of the tone of this DVD, which is, well, SUPER ANNOYING. I don't know why Ms. Michaels felt the need to channel some kind of quasi-boot camp instructor for this one, but it is really not an appealing presentation. It's a much different personality she's presenting when compared to the 30-Day Shred DVD. Very, very irritating.

But her annoying semi-belligerent/semi-attempted-motivational banter aside, the exercises are good. AND, in the beginning speech, she actually says she recommends doing this workout only five or six days a week.

It's like a dispensation from God! I get a day of rest! If, um, Jillian Michaels were God, that is. And if she were--and if I may continue what is admittedly a weak comparison here--then this DVD is like the Old Testament. I liked the New Testament 30-Day Shred a lot better.

Or something. I think I'd better stop now. Peace out.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Disappointed Yogurt Maker Seeks: A Warm Place

I've had a yogurt tragedy. Well, as tragic as a yogurt situation can be, that is. We've had a death in the yogurt cultures. SAD.

I should perhaps explain that I had not purchased any starter yogurt for three years. Years. I started making yogurt with some yogurt the MiL brought home from the Jersey dairy farm and it just . . . kept going. When I made yogurt, I would just use some yogurt from the last unopened jar from the previous batch in my refrigerator and everything was swell.

Every recipe I have ever seen for homemade yogurt says that it will get thinner over time and eventually you'll have to buy new yogurt and start over. But mine never thinned. Every time, it was perfect.

This yogurt culture was practically a member of the family. It was older than Charlie.

And then . . . tragedy.

One day a month or so ago when I made yogurt, I did it while the children were rampaging around the house and I was trying to referee at the same time I was monitoring milk temperatures. When the yogurt was supposed to be done, I took it out of the cooler on the kitchen floor and . . . it was kind of thin. It was not my perfect, thick yogurt.


I figured I had screwed up the water temperature or the milk temperature due to child distractions (it's always so nice to blame things on the children). The MiL brought home some new yogurt from the Jersey farm for me to start again. I did it a few days ago, this time very deliberately during nap time. No distractions. Just me and my yogurt.

Except it didn't turn into yogurt. After four hours in the cooler, it was more like slightly thickened milk.

What the hell? I've lost my magic yogurt touch. ALL IS RUINED.

And then the MiL brought up the fact that our kitchen floor is more or less like a damn refrigerator, thanks to the uninsulated nature of our kitchen and the severe cold this winter.


Yogurt needs a warm place to grow the yogurt-making bacteria. The cooler of warm water I use is only so effective if it's resting on a forty-degree surface*.

I'm not so swift sometimes.

A. brought home some more yogurt for me this afternoon, from a local dairy. This weekend I'll make yogurt and find somewhere less frigid to put the cooler. Victory will be mine.

Assuming I can find a warm place.

* I bet you think I'm exaggerating. Okay, so I don't actually have a thermometer on the floor, but it is shockingly, horrifyingly cold if you rest your hand on the floor, so I don't think forty degrees is too far off. Just ask my feet, which are frozen stumps after spending half an hour on that floor during dinner preparation. And those are feet that are swathed in wool socks and heavy slippers with a rubber sole. It's cold. COLDCOLDCOLD.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Owl Times Two

Newsflash: Charlie the baby is getting older. I KNOW. Crazy kid. Getting all toddler and not so much baby by the day.

There are, of course, pluses and minuses to this, as there are with every stage of growing. 

Minuses: Hey, did I ever tell you about the time Charlie dropped the woodstove lid-lifting tool INTO the woodstove? Super fun. Also the obsessive flushing of the toilet. And the worrying interest in plugs. And his amazing stubbornness. And . . .

Okay, that's enough of that. Let's get to the pluses. 

His attempts at speaking never fail to amuse me. "Sheeee?" is a good one. That's "sheep," obviously. Then there's "foo?" for "food," "ba ba" for "bye bye", and the absolute best, of course, is "ma?" when he pokes his finger into my chest.

When a boy can say "mother"--or a reasonable variation, anyway--life doesn't seem so bad after all. Even with the accompanying very poky finger.

But maybe the best of all is the fact that he now plays The Owl Game. Oh yes. Charlie sees a dark room and makes a beeline for it. Then he stands in the middle of the room and hoots. It sounds more like roaring, but whatever. He is definitely channeling his inner great horned owl.

My little Charlie Lemming has grown into a full-fledged owl. Awesome.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A.P.D.--The Bright Lights Edition

The three major rooms on the bottom floor of our house all have chandeliers in them. How classy, you say? How retro? How elegant?

How awful.

I hate these chandeliers. A lot. There are five light bulbs in each chandelier--the bulbs are those smallish ones that are supposed to look like candle flames or something, but actually do not in the least look like candle flames--and not one of these light bulbs has a cover over it. So we're talking five light bulbs blazing forth with no dimming whatsoever.

No lights hidden under bushels in this house, no sirree!

I can't really express to you how much this bothers me. I never, ever, ever turn the chandeliers on, instead opting to go around the rooms and turn on all the individual lamps. Cubby, however, tends to turn on the chandeliers for the simple reason that the switches are easily reachable by him. If I'm sitting on the couch and the chandeliers in the living room and adjacent library are on, that means two glaring light fixtures right in my eyes.

It kind of makes me crazy.

No one else in my house seems to be bothered by this, but then, bright lights are a particular issue I have. Along with loud noises. And repetitive noises. And scratchy fabrics. And strong scents. And . . . okay, yes, I am highly sensitive to physical stimuli. It's very annoying.


A. is the opposite about light. He rampages around rooms turning on every available fixture and switching out 60-watt bulbs for 100-watt bulbs all over the place. Yet another way in which we are so well matched.

But enough about us! Let's talk about you. Where are you on the light spectrum, my lovelies? Do you prefer to hide out in nicely dimmed, soothing rooms, or do you light your house as if it were an airport landing strip?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shredded (More or Less)

Hey, remember when I threw out there that I was going to do that 30-Day Shred DVD? Right. I did it. And I have restrained myself for the entire 30 days from babbling on and on about it.

I don't do a lot of exciting things, okay? My topics for conversation are pretty limited.

I'm sure you're relieved that I did exercise (HA! inadvertent, but funny) such restraint. Except now I'm going to babble. You've been warned.

Saturday was the last of the thirty days. And I did indeed do thirty days straight of this thing. Every single day I changed into my exercise clothes, grabbed the hand weights, and did push ups and sit ups and jumping jacks and lunges and a whole hell of a lot of other things that actually hurt quite a bit. In a good way, though.

It kind of sucks, as you might imagine, because exercising always does--if you're not the type that really, truly enjoys it, that is, which I certainly am not--and if you're doing it every day, then that means you're doing something that sucks every day. But damn it all if this particular routine is not effective. It hurts, but it works. Or rather, it hurts, and that's why it works.

I'm stronger. My clothes fit better. I don't look at all like Jillian Michaels, but then, I also don't eat like her. Her diet plan seems to consist of a lot of chicken breasts and vegan chili. If I lived on that, I would lose the will to live. So, not so much with the dieting. But even without that, there were results.

Incidentally, at least half of the credit for my perseverance has to go to A., who most days was locked in the dining room with our rampaging children so I could sweat in solitary misery in front of the TV in the living room*. The fact that I didn't have to give up my precious child-free minutes during the day to do this was a major (MAJOR) incentive.I have no doubt that if I had had to do it during naptime, there would have been days I, uh, didn't do it. So a round of applause to A.

I'm taking a break this week. And then I get to start on the other Jillian Michaels DVD I got, which is called, embarrassingly, Ripped in 30. Wish me luck. And wish A. luck too, for that matter. He'll need it more than I will.

* I have read accounts of people who actually do this DVD with their children present. I don't know what they drug their children with, but if I tried to do anything with my sons present that involves five-pound hand weights within grabbing distance and me down on the floor and hence vulnerable to attack . . . well, let's just say it would get real ugly, real fast.