Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jazzed

Just a couple of hours more and I will be free! Free for four whole days! Free I say!

I have been looking forward to this long weekend for a while now. (No great surprise, that.) I recall last year being so very excited for Thanksgiving time, walking out of work on Wednesday afternoon with a goofy grin on my face and a giddy spring in my step. I imagine I'll be walzing out of the building much the same way this year, ready for four days of rest and food and rest and family and rest and food and rest!

Thanksgiving is to be quite the to-do this year. Amy & her husband are driving out from Phoenix (on the road right now, actually), and my parents will by flying in late tonight. The family is converging - as usual - at Aunt Teresa's, where there will be food and craziness and food and Wii-playing and food and Soren-doting and food. After I wake up later this morning/afternoon, I'll set to work making the side dish we're bringing over (looks to be a delicious concoction of smashed butternut squash & sweet potatoes with carmelized onions & a citrus-y flair). Should be pretty tasty, I'm hoping.

Feast well, my friends! Back at ya a few days later and a few pounds heavier. ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glee


happy little clam
he has two bottom teeth now
small shiny and sharp

Mister sprouted his second tooth yesterday. It wasn't there the day before, and then suddenly it appeared. Crazy how that works.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Crock Pottery

ML requested a post about some of the stuff I've been making in the crock pot lately. There's not, I'm afraid, too much to tell. I don't usually follow recipes, and if I do use one now and again, it's more as a guideline than anything else. So unfortunately, I can't offer much in the way of replicable meals, but perhaps some general ideas and observations will suffice.

After my first two crock potting endeavors (here) I tried the bean stew ML recommended. All they had at the store, when I was shopping for ingredients, was a 16-bean mix, so I got that instead of the suggested navy beans. I tossed in the bones from the pork chops we'd had the night before, along with a couple of frozen chicken thighs and enough broth/water to just cover everything. I did find that I had to add some more liquid after a few hours because the beans had soaked it all up, and the ones on the top were getting dry, so perhaps some more broth from the start would have been a good idea. I let it cook for 8 hours, and in the end, the 1 pound of beans yielded enough food for 4 dinners. Whipped up some corn bread to accompany, and it was a pretty satisfying meal. The stew was actually more the consistency of chili, but without being spicy.

I've cooked frozen chicken a couple of more times. Once I did an improvised red curry dish (using a jar of Trader Joe's red curry sauce). I potted some chicken thighs (again, frozen) and vegetables, poured the jar of sauce over the top, and added enough veggie broth to keep everything nice and hydrated. A couple of nights ago, I tried chicken and carrots with veggie broth and a bit of caesar dressing, which turned out oilier than I'd have liked (especially upon reheat).

The main things I've noticed so far is that I haven't quite got the hang of not cooking all of the flavor out of the meat. It's all very fall-off-the-bone tender, but it frequently doesn't taste like all that much. So that is somewhat perplexing. Another thing I've read in various crock pot recipes is that it's always best to put a layer of some sort of vegetable (usually onions or carrots) on the bottom of the pot to shield any meat from the main heat and prevent it from turning to mush. I can't verify if skipping this veg layer will cause said mushiness, since I've always employed it, but it seems like a fine enough thing to keep anyway.

I would like to try a crock pot lasagna. I wonder if cooking chicken or ribs or whatever for a shorter amount of time will keep all the flavor from leaching out, or if I just need to use a more flavor-concentrated liquid than mere vegetable broth. I've also heard you can make brownies in a crock pot, and I am unreasonably intrigued by this prospect. Part of me is afraid that they wouldn't come out well, which would be a shame and a waste of a perfectly good batch of brownies, but the other part of me is all, "Brownies in a crock pot! Who knew?! It sounds so awesome!" Maybe a quiche? (I'm not sure if that's an option...seems it'd be tricky with the crust and whatnot.) I don't know. But I'll try to keep you informed of any exciting things I manage.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes it seems

The more things change...





...the more they stay the same.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seen on my commute

On my way home this morning, a motorcyclist was coming the opposite direction on the freeway, probably traveling about 70 mph. Standing up on the bike's pegs. Yikes.

In the category of "questions you don't really want answered"

I vacuum a lot more now than I used to. Like, a ton more. I used to vacuum maybe once every couple of weeks. Lately it seems like I'm vacuuming every 3-4 days. At least.

I'm sure most of it has to do with the fact that my beloved offspring is spending so much time sitting/crawling/rolling around on the carpet, rubbing his precious face on the floor and finding every piece of fuzz or tuft of cat hair or shred of paper he can possibly put in his mouth. I am, as a result, spending more time on the floor, myself. So I notice a lot more when it starts getting less-than-spotless...which really only takes about a day. Less than that, sometimes.

Still, I have to wonder. Are we somehow dirtying the floor a lot faster now than we used to, or was I in the habit of letting our carpet become disgusting before I ever saw that it needed vacuuming?

(Seriously, Tom, don't answer that. Let's just be glad I've improved in this particular aspect of domesticity.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trade-offs

When Tom & I moved into the apartment before this one, we found that the previous tenant had left a bunch of stuff behind in the kitchen cupboards. One of those things was a pasta roller. We decided it might be a cool thing to have, so we hung on to it and gave the rest of the stuff to Goodwill.

Yesterday - three and a half years later - I finally used the pasta roller for the first time. I had a butternut squash lying around and wanted to do something more interesting with it than just roast it up, and one of the recipes I kept seeing over & over online was one for butternut squash ravioli. Seemed like a neat thing to try. I'd never made pasta by hand before, but my friend Shay had, so Soren & I headed over to her house, pasta roller & ingredients in tow. I offered to split the ravioli batch with her in exchange for some assistance with keeping the wee one occupied & entertained while I made the food (trade-off #1).

I brought my camera along but never managed to take it out of its bag; pasta-making is pretty involved! (Not that I expected it to be otherwise.) So no pictures. Sorry 'bout that.

Soren had a fine time playing with Shay's dog & gazing at her 3 month old daughter. (Shay's daughter, not the dog's. The dog is a boy.) I thoroughly enjoyed learning yet another cooking skill. Handmaking pasta isn't all that tricky, really. And the roller was fun to use. Once I got into a rhythm it wasn't hard at all. In the end, I had 2 trays of delicious ravioli for my efforts. I returned home, boiled them up, and drizzled them with some melted butter. Heavenly. (Though I need to make the pasta sheets just a smidge thinner next time, and puree the squash a tad bit finer.)

Of course, I had to sacrifice one of my naps for the day (trade-off #2). Ultimately, the jury's still out as to whether the dinner - impressive and tasty though it was - was worth the extra sleepiness. I did get to crash out for an hour after Tom got home, but I was pretty logey thereafter. However, I'm not sure if an extra 40 minutes earlier in the afternoon would have made a difference. Eh. In any event, I would definitely like to make more handmade pasta in the future, and maybe try one of the roller's noodle attachments next time.

I'll just make sure to wait for the weekend, though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tooth!


toothy little guy
his tiny mouth dagger is
sharp like a puppy's

Monday, November 17, 2008

Backslide

It's been a rough few nights with the little sir. He stopped sleeping solidly through (even most of) the night, waking up every couple of hours or waking up and staying awake for a while in the middle of the night...not so awesome. I'm pretty sure though that he just needs to eat more. He's turned into a ravenous little beastie, wolfing down way more than his usual nightime amounts.

Last week I pureed some avocado for him, having heard nothing but fantastic things about its use as a baby food. High in protein, got some good fats and oils, yada yada. Plus it's delicious. Well, Soren wasn't quite so sure about this last claim at first. Gagged his way through about a teaspoon's worth, the first time, poor lad. Thereafter though, he happily opened his mouth for more at each meal.

Last night it was time to make the next week's worth of Soren food. The plan for this week was peas. We wanted to find a way to bulk the peas up a bit though, so Tom ground up some brown rice (uncooked) in the coffee grinder and made kind of a porridge with it, which he then added to the pureed peas, along with a tiny bit of olive oil. I'm hoping to get home this morning to a good report that the little weasel slept better last night with his hungers more effectively sated.

Of course, I also hope he is inclined to take a couple of good naps during the day today. Somehow though, I suspect we're only going to get one or the other.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holly Jolly

I am no fan of the increasingly accelerated schedule by which seasonal things go on display. Stores that start putting their Christmas stuff out before Halloween? Lame! Radio stations that put holiday songs into the rotation in early November? Bah! The same can be said of putting bikinis out on January 1st, or winter coats out in July. It's just so dumb.

However.

I am always excited when grocery stores bust out the cinnamon-scented pine cones. It could almost never be too early, for me. Those things are great. I don't know what it is about them that I love so much. It's not as though it would be difficult to just acquire some cinnamon air freshener or boil cinnamon sticks on the stove; it would make the apartment smell just as nice, any time of year. But few things put me in the holiday spirit like cinnamon pine cones and evergreen wreaths, so when these things become available for purchase, I have a very hard time resisting them.

Which is why there's a sack of cinnamon-y pine cones hanging on the back of our door right now. Yay, holidays. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Antilibrarian

One of Soren's new favorite pastimes (as you may have guessed from the recent photos) is pulling books off our bookshelves. Sometimes he tries to eat them; Tuesday night he left the cover of Assassination Vacation soaked with drool and profoundly ripped. Other times, he is less destructive.

Yesterday afternoon, he had settled himself in front of the textbook bookcase and began pulling the books off the second-to-bottom shelf, moving from right to left. There was no ripping or attempted consumption. He was just methodically pulling them down into a pile. When he got to the first big textbook (O-Chem), I walked over to stop him, put the books back up that he'd pulled down, and added four or five of his board books to the shelf so he could chew on those if he wanted. For the next fifteen or twenty minutes, he repeated the process - pull the books down into a pile until he got to O-Chem, wait for me to replace them, and then do it all over again.

I know as a mother I should probably not encourage this sort of behavior, especially after the destruction of Assassination Vacation. But it's pretty darned cute, and part of me feels like it's worthwhile for him to associate books with fun. Particularly since he won't let me read to him these days without making a dive for the book every few seconds in an attempt to eat it. (Forget the pictures, Mom, I want to chew on it instead!)

Silly little guy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Citizen Kane

I finally got around to watching Citizen Kane yesterday, which I'd never seen. It's been sitting in its little red Netflix envelope on top of our TV since June, taunting me, and for the first few months I didn't realize that Tom had already seen it and that I didn't have to wait for him. Oops. Anyway, I can now at last say that I've watched what many claim is the greatest movie ever made.

It was...good. For its day, it was quite good. It was certainly better than the other movie we watched this weekend (Transformers...the impressiveness of the special effects was directly proportional to the insipidness of the dialogue). But greatest movie ever made? Meh.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I finally watched it. I don't feel like I wasted 2 hours of my life in the process (Crash, anyone? Last Tango in Paris, perhaps?). But there are plenty of other films out there that have been more thought-provoking, more suspenseful, more intriguing, with better character development, better acting, better writing. I think the main thing is that it's really difficult to compare movies from different genres and eras. Plus, I am obviously more likely to be able to relate to a film created and set in the present day than one made forty years before I was born and set another ten or twenty years before that. You certainly couldn't remake Citizen Kane today, not without drastically changing the circumstances and punching up the plot. That it's not something easily remade makes it a classic, for sure, but it doesn't necessarily make it great.

Anyway. At least now I know that Hannah (in Playing by Heart) was actually saying "Why don't you go find a theater that's showing Citizen Kane and yell out, Rosebud is a sled?" and not "Rosebud is a slut." Hehe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not quite right


no son, this is not
the method by which we can
extract their knowledge

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Little Opilio

Soren has turned into a crabby little git over the last couple of days. Mostly it's just that he's passed the early developmental stage in which his wants are the same as his needs. Used to be all he wanted was food, dry pants, hugs, and sleep. Nowadays, his wants are, shall we say, significantly more varied. Yesterday we were at the grocery store, and he was sitting in the cart, and we were going through the checkout line. While I was paying, Soren leaned as far to the side as he possibly could, trying desperately to lick the change dispenser. When I moved the cart over and forward to thwart this disgusting mission he was on, I was rewarded with outraged cries, since obviously I am just the meanest mother ever.

It's much the same at home. Soren, why don't you play with this toy of yours instead of that piece of mail you managed to sneak off the table? DO NOT WANT! Hey buddy, how about we stop playing for a minute so I can change that soaking wet diaper of yours? UNACCEPTABLE! Little sir, won't you please come over here and stop trying to pull the floor lamp over on to yourself? YOU ARE TORTURING ME!

Et cetera.

I guess it just means our little guy is growing up. And fortunately, his little outbursts are usually short-lived. (Well, until the next great offense.) He'll learn his boundaries eventually, right?

Right?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Also

Here's my post from 4 years ago.

Glad things turned out differently this time around. :)

Soren Colbairn and the Pursuit of Toothiness*

Well, the first tooth has finally arrived for our little sir. I thought I felt something yesterday but couldn't get him to hold still long enough to obtain visual confirmation. Then this evening, he was lying placidly on the couch, grinning at Tom, and there it was. Lower left central incisor, just barely poking through the gum. Tried, and failed, to get a good photograph to share with everyone, but I'll try again tomorrow.

*I know. I slay me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well this is new

It occurs to me that I can't remember feelign this before. Feeling proud of the person my country has chosen as its leader. Oh sure I can appreciate, now that he's been out of office for nearly a decade, that Clinton is a brilliant speaker. (Sorry, Dad.) That guy knows how to give one hell of an address, no doubt about it. But back in the midst of his presidency? Hard to be proud of an unrepentant philanderer, never mind one dumb enough - and arrogant enough - to get caught. Repeatedly. And I don't think there has been a single occasion when ol' G-Dub has opened his mouth without causing me to wince in mortification or to seethe with rage...and sometimes both.

But here we are, with an Obama presidency on the horizon. Here is a man who speaks eloquently, who is (by all appearances) devoted to his family, who has inspired millions to have some hope in these increasingly cynical times. A man who doesn't dumb himself down, who isn't afraid to choose being our leader over trying to be our drinking buddy. A man who, thus far anyway, seems to have the respect of others around the world, rather than their snide derision.

I know that he could disappoint us, could disappoint me. But I don't think he will. More each day I am letting myself believe that he will be able to deliver. My optimism is cautious, but it is there. I'm not going to call him a messiah or anything silly like that, but I am willing to believe he will be a president I can be proud of. And I like that feeling.

(In sharp contrast to this newfound, unfamiliar pride and optimism, is my utter disgust at my fellow Californians for passing Proposition 8. Let people marry whomever they want, damnit. What is wrong with you? Ugh.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I want to be a sculptor

A sculptor of arms. Specifically, mine.

Tonight I finally finished Week 3 of the hundred pushups plan. I did 57 pushups. 57! That's more than halfway to 100! Granted, that wasn't 57 without stopping - the max I did all at once was 15 - but I only took short breaks between the sets. I'm still pretty impressed. Hopefully I will be able to keep getting enough sleep and won't have to quit again.

Oh my


looked up from my lunch
to behold this lad of mine
standing on his own

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sorry, Dad

For a few days now, I've been trying to coax Soren's "a-ba-ba-ba" babblings into "O-ba-ma." Because that would be way too cute. He's gotten pretty close a couple of times, but hasn't quite hit it yet.