Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Christmas Eve

I'm caroming off walls
In my very best jammies
The ones with the peace signs
And hearts on the bottoms
And tonight's the night
That it happens for real--
I bet that I see him,
See Santa this year.

I've waited for aeons
Wrote letters and songs
Just hoping that one day
He would come along

And tonight's the night
I feel it, I swear
The night when I finally had
Something to wear

And I have the plate
Of the cookies I made
And I have some milk
And I have to wait
'Cause I know he's coming
And I am just glad

That tonight my jammies
Aren't half bad.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shitshow Kitchen: Fondue!

I know, I know. I have been gone FOR-EV-ERR. You thought that perhaps I had deserted you, or maybe run off and joined a convent in repentance for my last post.


Here I am, back again, all the traveling and laundry and business catch-up done. Well, mostly done. OK, I am procrastinating finishing all that shit by posting here. What can I say? I have my priorities in line.

Tonight, ladies and gents, I made fondue. Fondue! YES! FONDUE!!
This is perfection. If your mouth is not watering, you should go to the doctor and get checked for that.
Fondue is awesome to make when you have friends over with whom you are comfortable sharing a pot of cheese. I guess you could try not to eat off of the long fondue forks but it is kind of impossible. People love this shit, yo.

And I am going to excuse the rest of my post by saying... um, I made fondue. And it really just gets you shithoused. IT DOES. For some reason there is just more alcohol than you anticipate, every time. It doesn't matter how you make it or how many people eat it or what. You are wasted at the end.

Which is right now.


16 oz (1 lb.) Gruyère cheese (or Swiss Cheese)
2 T flour
2 cloves garlic
2 C white wine plus MOAR for drinking
1 T lemon juice
1 shot Kirsch (AKA Cherry Brandy or Cherry liquor)
1 t nutmeg
1-2 loaves French Bread
Optional: An apple, a pear, boiled potatoes, or blanched broccoli, cut into cubes

Shred your cheese. I am pissed I didn't remember to get a photo of the unshredded block, since I got ACTUAL Gruyère, which is super spendy. I always used to make it with store brand Swiss when I was in grad school, so this was a momentous occasion. Oh well.  
Like half the ingredients. I don't know why I didn't take this picture with bread, etc... whatever.
Please ignore the red flecks in the cheese. I used my food processor to shred it, which is really easy, but which accidentally shredded the stamped rind. Um... yeah. Hey, it is not like it is poisonous. Just not so photogenic. Anyway. Sprinkle the flour onto the shredded cheese and give it kind of enough of a toss so that all of the cheese is slightly coated. The flour helps it to separate better when it hits the wine, and therefore makes it melt more uniformly and not all clumpy and weird.

Open your wine and pour a 2 cups plus one glass for yourself. Mmm.
Please use an acceptable Chardonnay. Something you would drink all by itself.
Cut your garlic clove in half and rub the cut sides on the bottom and sides of a medium-large saucepan and your fondue pot or crock pot. Yes, crock pot. My fondue pot was broken the last time we made it when one of my overexuberant (read: drunk) guests literally threw it into the sink and it shattered. Anyway, whatever you have. One or the other. Rub it all up with garlic. Rawr. Leave some garlic shreds strewn about the vessel because they are tasty. Then turn your crock pot/fondue pot to low and turn your burner on low. Measure out two cups of wine and throw it in the saucepan.
The beginning of the end
Realize you forgot to cube the bread. DAMMIT! Hurriedly cube it.
I didn't have time to take a picture of it cubed. Use your imagination.
When it starts to kind of form a bit of a bubbly froth on top, like it is aerating excessively but NOT boiling, add your tablespoon of lemon juice, give it a stir, then transfer to your fondue pot if you have one (or just leave it in the saucepan if you don't), and add a smallish handful of shredded cheese.
Do not add more than a little bit or you will be sorry.
You only add a little so you can incorporate it fully relatively quickly, and you have to stir it constantly so it doesn't burn or congeal. If you add too much, it becomes this blob of cheese in the midst of a bunch of liquor. So just be patient! Have a drink. Mmmm, wine. When the cheese is fully incorporated it will look kind of like this:
Keep doing that. Make sure each handful melts really well, to the point that it's just kind of cheese crumbs in the liquor. After about four handfuls it will look more like this:
I look the same. Bitch is crazy.
You can see kind of the extent to which the cheese has melted on the spatula. When you've got it all stirred in, Add the KIRSCH! That is right, more liquor. Because that is how we roll. The Kirsch actually helps to achieve the super-smooth consistency you want in fondue.
Kirsch I bought last year when I last made fondue. Thank God liquor stays.
Sprinkle the nutmeg on top and stir it in. You can add some cracked pepper, and maybe a dash of salt, but I forgot. This is where I transferred mine to the preheated crock pot. Keep your fondue pot heated or your crock pot on low(ish) while you enjoy the fondue.
I didn't sprinkle the nutmeg very well, so it kind of clumped up before I stirred it in.
Serve with bread cubes and/or all the other shit I listed in the ingredients, plus MOAR WINE for drinking, because it is TRADITION, yo. We used La Crema for the fondue and Rombauer Chard to drink because it is the best and I already told you we were splurging with the fahnsay cheese, so why not the wine, too?
Picture Charlie took while I was getting everything set up outside
So there is a method for dipping. You stab the bread or whatever you're dipping pretty securely, then plunge it to the bottom of the pot and make a figure eight with it, then bring it out. The figure eight ensures that you are kind of stirring it up, because otherwise the liquor might separate out onto the top of the cheese (if it does, just give it a stir with a spatula) or it might burn on the bottom (stir with spatula and maybe turn it down a touch). If you lose your bread into the pot, you have to forfeit a kiss (or some other agreed-upon penalty). IT IS TRADITION.
Also, if the cheese starts getting too thick and not liquidy enough for dipping, add a little bit of Kirsch at a time, stirring to incorporate, until it is the proper consistency again.

By the end of the night, you will all be drunk. If you are not drunk, you did not have enough fondue and/or did not properly enjoy the beverage service. Then you can post about it on your blog or do something you will possibly regret with one of your guests.

Serves 2-4

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Thyme Museum: Exhibit A

I went to church the other day with my mom. It was not a Catholic church, which is what I usually attend. It was a "Community Fellowship" church. The foyer looked like a career fair, except the booths were not luring you into the Army, they were luring you into the KidZone program or All+In (the young adult program) or Missions with Meaning. The people at the tables were literally hawking their programs, calling out to everyone to "Take a chance on God!" or "Join us for the pancake prayer breakfast Saturday!" or "Register for AWANA!" I do not know what AWANA stands for, but I believe it is some sort of religious Boy Scout substitute where you learn Bible verses instead of how to make fire.

The general chaos of the area was augmented by the loud rock-ish music emanating from the amphitheater. As I stopped to get my bearings, a teenage girl next to me was exclaiming about some Christian concert she was going to attend, "I mean, what better to rap about than Jesus?!?" My mom returned with lattes from the Coffee Corner (caffeine addictions must not be a problem...) and we entered the main area.

The stage was flashing with pink, green, blue, purple, and white lights, and the band was in full swing. The drummer held court behind a plexiglass screen, ensuring that the splintered shards flying from his sticks would not fly into the eyes of parishioners. Or perhaps to protect him from the panties sure to fly from the audience after his solo. There were large screens on either side of the stage, projecting soundscapes in time to the music. The pastor, wearing designer jeans and a fashionably rumpled button-up shirt, reached over his head, clapping in time to the music, urging others to do the same. The spotlight lit the electric guitar in time for a shredding solo.

It was wild. After "worship", the pastor sat down at his bar-height table on the stage, drinking a bottle of Evian as he confided in us, his rapt audience, that he had gotten his $50 shirt at Goodwill for $3 ("That's how you know God loves you!") and that all of his audiences, regardless of age, giggled at fart jokes.

Trippy. He faded out at one point, and the lights dimmed. The projection screens lit up with... the pastor. Except wearing a slightly different shirt, his hair artfully mussed as he looked into the camera and told us that the Lord had put ONE PERSON in the audience on his mind, specifically. That this ONE PERSON was going through a really hard time, and needed to know that he or she should GIVE IN TO THE POWER OF JESUS, should let him TAKE CONTROL of their life. That it could be more than one person! But there was SOMEONE THERE TODAY that Jesus had laid on his heart.

The lights came up slowly, he paced, he cajoled, he threw out a joke to lighten the mood. The worship band slowly played as he tugged our heartstrings. The lights dimmed again, this time for a mini-movie on the screens about the various Bible characters who had given control of their lives to God, "people just like you and me."

I mean, there was nothing overtly heretical or offensive in the sermon. But it was just... so not my style. So maudlin. So weighted on the side of emotional manipulation. After a sound and light show at the end, a prayer that we all said together so you couldn't refrain without looking like you hated God, a collection, and some sort of illustration using a leaf blower, the service ended, and everyone trickled into the marketplace again to dodge through the booths into the parking lot.

"SO!" My mom, proudly. "What did you think?"

"Very... entertaining."

It was wild.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Just a note to let you all know I'm at Ye Olde Family Homestead for the next week, so I may be more conspicuously absent than usual.

To sate your slathering for MOAR, I gift you with this rare photo of The Viewmaster.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Am Preserving This for Future Generations.

This is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, short of my husband who has done more than anyone ever could. These friends have made me so happy, so proud, and so grateful.

I would post the videos here, but as I'm not in them, and to preserve privacy somewhat, I will post a link to the original depository of the Love Bomb.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cartoons Transformed

I was watching the Lion King the other day with my kid. It was the first time he'd seen the movie, and the first time I'd seen it since I was thirteen or so. I remember it as being this epic movie, that we were all so astounded by the animation and the music and the...well, I mean, the story survived, and of course I was trying not to bawl during the stampede scene.

However. The animation was a little shocking to me, because I remember it as some sort of artistic vanguard. Which it probably was, it's just that I remembered it as being like a visual transliteration of the Serengeti, and it's more like... a caricature. I'm not knocking the art or the movie, because it is amazing as what it is. I'm just saying that my impression as a kid was that it was like going to Imax except drawn. Instead, it is this:

So then I'm watching Transformers today with the kid, and the Transformers are in some seedy neighborhood looking for someone, and I kid you not, this is the screenshot I took:
This is the one where they visit Big Al's Hookers.
Not only that, but at the end of the show, I SHIT YOU NOT, they headed over to a nearby casino to do some GAMBLING. And we're not talking Decepticons, these were the Autobots! Ironhide suggested it, and Optimus Prime was all, "Why not?" in his grandiloquent way.

How did I miss this stuff the first time around?

Friday, August 12, 2011


This whole month so far has sucked ginormous baboon balls.

The other day, the kid said that he was "spanking" one of his stuffed animals. Since we have never spanked him in our lives, we started asking questions. Which led to one of his recently hired preschool teachers being fired on the spot.

An excerpt from the letter I typed out for the school records:

After he told us this, we tried not to ask any questions that would lead him to say one thing or another. We asked him if he liked Miss *****, and he said “I like her but she doesn’t like me.” When I asked him why he thought she didn’t like him, he said “Because she spanks me and then she puts me on the naughty bench.” We asked him if Miss **** likes the other kids, and he replied with, “She likes some of the kids, but she spanks them, and she washes their mouths out with soap.” Again, this is a disciplinary method we have never even mentioned in our household, so he would have no idea what it was without an outside source. I asked him what washing your mouth out with soap meant, and he said, “It’s where you have to get soap in your mouth because you said a bad word.” I asked him how it happens, and he said, “Miss **** squeezes soap in your mouth and you can’t swallow it or spit it out and you have to sit on the naughty bench with soap in your mouth.”
WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN. I was so sad that he hadn't told us sooner. That despite all of the sheltering and interviewing of schools and all of that, this happened. And yeah, he said he hadn't had his mouth washed out with soap, although he named a couple of kids who had. And he's three, so I don't know if he even understands the difference between the truth and a lie, but regardless, that woman was not being loving and good to him.

The preschool owner is a wonderful woman, and she hired this girl recently to help while she is on maternity leave. She genuinely loves the kids, and the kids love her. But even that didn't keep the wolves out of the chicken coop.


I am so tired.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shitshow Kitchen: Magic Cookie Bars

These are also called Seven Layer Bars, but that sounds like some sort of salad/cookie hybrid to me and not at all like the sugary, chewy, delicioso candybar of a cookie that this recipe makes.

This recipe is actually so easy to make that I have done it while intoxicated. Literally. It is nearly impossible to screw it up. I mean, even if you just dumped it all in a pile and mixed it around then baked it, it would probably be good. It is Easy^Greyskull.

Yes, those are Fahncy Chocolate Chips
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grab a 9x13 cake pan and cut the butter into it. Kind of strew it about. Then slide the pan into the oven while it preheats.
This picture is so exciting I bet you are about to pee.
While the butter is melting in the oven, dump your graham crackers into a ziplock bag and smash them with the condensed milk can.
Food doubling as kitchen tool? Check.
When your crackers are crumbs, grab an oven mitt (or your ghetto mitt AKA dishrag) and pull the pan out.
I love how this recipe involves zero work.
The oven just melted your butter for you. BAM. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the butter somewhat evenly.
That was so difficult I need a break.
Then sprinkle the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on evenly.
It is possible this picture is blurry because I was shaking with fatigue.
Open your can of condensed milk. It is best to kind of give it a stir before your drizzle it over the whole pan. Scrape out the rest of the can with a spatula. Realize that your condensed milk is... not right.
That grainy sugar at the bottom? Is totally supposed to have been melted into the milk.
Thank you, Carnation, for fucking me over on this one. What the hell. The easiest recipe in the world, using ALL PREPARED INGREDIENTS, somehow devolves into a shitshow once again. If this happens to you, do not scrape out the sugar crystals at the bottom of the can, because they are grainy and gross and sticky and if you try to flick them into the pan they will only end up coating your walls and cupboards, and even though you wipe everything down you will miss a spot, and it will harden onto the wall and you'll find it later and try to pry it off and the paint on the wall will come with it.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Also, this may have been caused because I was using the Reduced Fat edition of the milk, and let this be a lesson unto me. Why would I even try to reduce the fat in something that is obviously going to kill me via diabetic coma before I am fat enough to succumb to obesity?

Throw the nuts and coconut on top and press it down.
Pop it in the oven and set the timer for about 20 minutes. Take out the pan when it looks roughly like this:
 Let it cool, then cut it into bars. Do NOT try to eat while it's hot, or you will just burn your tastebuds off of your tongue and be unable to enjoy them when they cool. I usually cannot wait for them to cool on their own, so I cut them into squares after they're not molten, then take them out of the pan and wrap them in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer. I think they're best frozen.
Heaven.... I'm in heaven....
AND JUST LIKE MAGIC, they are perfection. Cut them into tiny squares and give your friend ONE square... then see what they will give you for MORE. One pan of cookies will magically turn into you naming your price. Control of the remote for a week? You got it. No dishes for the next few days? Sure thing. A baby liger? Let me call the zoo.


Things You Wanted to Say Today But Didn't

If I were to tell you all of the things I wanted to say today but didn't, those things would fit in no space.

It's strange, I'm not generally a quiet person, but sometimes I get in these... moods. And then I speak so sparingly that a blind person could confuse me for a nun with a vow of silence.

It is easy to feel like quiet spells are unnatural when we are expected to Tweet every twitch and discuss every disgust. All of the things are open to opinion and opining. But the simple fact that we are able to broadcast our every breath doesn't make it necessary. Brevity can be the soul of wit just as loquacity can be the whole idiot.

It is okay not to talk all the time. It is okay to watch and wait and store things away for later. It is okay, sometimes, just to listen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

WTF #2



So... I would like to regale you with entertaining episodes from this weekend, but alas, I lived through it once, and that is all the living through it I care to do, ever. Suffice it to say, I am alive (barely), Charlie has managed to stay out of the hospital (barely), and my mother and husband refrained from strangling each other (barely). I did pick up my PVCs again, which is awesome. Also, Dust forgot he had to open the store Saturday morning and stayed out until 3AM getting shitfaced with his friends, so I had to open for him on two hours of sleep because he was still too drunk at 4:00AM to drive. That was fun. Although he worked at the store for me that day, all hung over, so I guess we are even.

On the bright side, I also went to a pops concert at which the orchestra played, among other things, "Orange Blossom Special." Michael Krajewski was the conductor for the night, and the whole thing was just... incredible. I was laughing the whole time. I miss going to the symphony.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On a Scale of 1-10...

Today was a TEN.
A twitchy-eyeball-bleeding, hair-pulling, spirit-crushing 10.

My employee quit while my mother is visiting, the day before she and I were supposed to have our ONE day together. He decided to retract his two-weeks' notice and make it a two-days' notice. I succeeded in not killing him ONLY because he succeeded in evading the store, going so far as to text my husband to meet him elsewhere so he wouldn't have to come in to give me the key. This is probably better, since I wanted to rip his ears off of his head and stuff them in his nostrils. Of course, he demanded his check immediately, because God forbid he would have to wait until payday to get it, that is SO INCONVENIENT.
A photo of my ex-employee, the cat turd
Oh, and in case you missed it up there, YES. MY MOTHER IS VISITING. Cue the rending of garments and the rubbing of ashes onto the forehead. Also the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And as if that wasn't enough. AS IF THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH!! Charlie has been suffering from diarrhea (like the really, really, TMI bad kind) for the past four days. I took him to the doctor the other day, and in the waiting room, as I hacked up a lung, the nurse was all, "Charlie?" looking at me, and I said, "Yes, that's him," pointing to my seemingly healthy child, and she was all, "What about you?" with that look that makes you feel like you are being sent to the corner with no supper. And I was all, "He is the one pooping like a firehose every five minutes." And right on schedule, Charlie tugged on my shirt, exposing my bra, yelling, "MAMA! I HAFTA GO POOPIES!!"

The poor little kid, I feel so bad for him. He woke up this morning, had diarrhea, then barfed as I was washing his hands. I just held him until he went back to sleep, then I had to get ready to go to work and leave him with the lions (my mother) while I worked all day today. Fucking work. I just wanted to be there with my sick kid. I feel so helpless when he is not feeling well. Like there is nothing I can do.


So. That was my day.

ETA: Oh, yeah, so the thousands of dollars would be the plane tickets I bought for myself and Charlie that we are supposed to use to go out of town for ten days in a couple weeks. And now the fate of my trip has been thrown into uncertainty, as I may not be able to leave the shop now. FUCKING A.


I promise I will post something later today, when my chest pains have slightly abated and I am no longer quaking with stress and suppressed rage.

I KNOW! Don't you want to hear all about it??

Tune in later for all the sordid details, including how I almost killed an employee with my bare hands, how I stand to lose thousands of dollars, how I ended up at the doctor's office and nearly had a heart attack, and how I am surviving all of the things WHILE my mother is in town visiting.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Watch Your Step

Hop on the bus. We are going to take a little daytrip over to Serioustown.

After a number of hurty and self-hate-inducing things occurred recently in my life, I was quickly brought down to earth by the same things happening in the lives of my friends. It seems that self-repugnance and general feelings of idiocy and deserved solitude are going around when perhaps they should not be. So I feel that I need to share something with you.

I am the kind of person who only understands my own fault in any given problem scenario. If I go to a restaurant and the service is shitty, it is because the server hates me. If one of the store's orders doesn't ship, it is because I somehow placed the order incorrectly. If the milk goes bad, it is because I fucked with its tai chi.

I know. This is fucked up. It is totally fucked up. Also self-centered, in a twisted way. But I am not coming from a place of selfishness. Who would want ALL THE BAD THINGS? Not me. HOWEVER.

What I do know is that if these scenarios were being played out in my friends' lives, I would be all, "You are not perfect, because you are human. But you are lovely and beautiful, because you are a good person. It is the circumstances of your life that are fucked up. It is not your fault that the rain fell on that parade today."

I think, sometimes, that it is like an impressionist painting.

This? By itself? Is an ugly kind of fuzzy blur of gray. It is how I view myself. My fucked up problems. Because I am right in the middle of it, all close up.

This, though?
Is the Cliffs at Etretat. The first image is part of it, viewed close up. I KNOW. I AM BEING SO TRITE WITH THIS. But for real, when you are inside of it all, you cannot see the big picture. You see some tiny piece that seems insignificant, fucked up, and ugly.

But on the outside? Everyone else sees a masterpiece.

It may seem, to you, that you have fucked your life up big time. That your window to the world is broken and shuttered. And yes, I initially wrote "shittered," and that works, too.

But guess what. Chicken butt.

No, no, no, I am trying to be serious. OK, Guess what. Your view of you is too close sometimes to be accurate. You need to step back to see the real you, except for you that is basically impossible. This means you need to depend on your friends-- the people around you who LOVE you, not the other people around you-- to remind you what kind of person you are. And when they tell you that you are beautiful, that you are trying as hard as you can, that you are the kind of friend or partner or sibling or parent or kid that anyone would be lucky to have, that you should not be so hard on yourself, that you make everything you touch turn to flowers--

Well, you should listen to them. Because they are standing about five feet back, and that is the optimal viewing condition, right there. Just out of arm's reach. You can't hit them, but they can blow kisses. Because I know you don't want to hear this, but they are going to fucking tell you, for Gods' sake, and you are going to listen,


And just so you know, I wasn't just writing this to be my own cheerleader. This is for you.

Lung-dwelling Tamarins and Salad Dressing in the Shower

I would love to write something earth-shatteringly beautiful, or side-splittingly funny, or even something pithily philosophical today, but all I can think of is the ache in my chest and back. It is like I went to the gym and lifted weights targeting my chest and back for three hours yesterday. Except instead of that, I have just been trying to cough my lungs right out of my body. My muscles literally ache from coughing. It is like there is a furry little tamarin lodged at the bottoms of my lungs, and my body will do anything to try to get it out.

If there was a poll to determine relative happiness of all campers present, I would register somewhere near the bottom.

HOWEVER! I did entertain friends on Friday evening until something like 3AM, I cleaned all the things on Saturday and wrangled the boys to a friends' place for dinner that night, and I made food and cookies yesterday. AND! I wrote a contract piece from beginning to end. I think this means I win all the things.

Also, I astounded myself with a discovery.

I KNOW! You are dying to hear what it is. Just let me tell you.

You know how your grandma is always telling you to clean with vinegar, and you are all, "Um, grandma, we have cleaning products now. I am pretty sure I can spray down the shower with Lime Away and it will work slightly better than a salad dressing ingredient."

BUT GUESS WHAT. Lime Away costs almost $5, and you need to use a whole bottle and scrub the shit out of your shower to get any results at all. A bottle of white vinegar costs less than a dollar, and you just spray it on, let it set for a few minutes, and RINSE OFF THE FUCKING HARD WATER STAINS. FOR REAL. It is like a miracle. To me, this is like rubbing Dr. Hartmann's Hair Tonic on a bald man and watching his lustrous locks grow in front of your eyes. I was astounded.

Aaaaand that is your helpful hint of the day. I am sure that you are all glad you stopped by for that one. Now you, too, can have a sparkling clean shower, like the mother fucking adult you are.

You're welcome.