Sunday, November 30, 2008

I survived Advent One.

I am watching "Hobbits Gazing at Each Other with Strong, Unspoken Feelings."

I do believe that I cried my way through this entire film in the theatre. I cried because the spider was scary, when Gollum embodied the human condition, when Sam did pretty much anything.

It is an awful lot of Eijah Wood in one sitting, though.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What I am learning on the food network tonight:

Duff met Mary Alice when he was working a ridiculous campus job at UMBC. He was a facilities guy, and he was called upon to fish her pearls out of the dorm drain.

Duff plays bass! Like Rodney! I find this facsinating. Could this be a Baltimore thing, this tattooed bass guys making superior desserts? Rockers making the world a better place through cookies? (Neither is from Baltimore originally. Perhaps it's just an unusually hospitable place for cheery weirdos to make a life from scratch.)

I will never be a chef. (I didn't learn this on the Food Network tonight - I learned it reading an article in the Post years ago. When a woman wrote about how she was always the one who had to carry the 50 lb bags of flour up the first escape.) It is entirely too much work. And Bill Buford's book totally confirms it. As does Ratitouille.

I will never be a chef, but I might be Duff Goldman for Halloween sometime.

Friday, November 28, 2008

so instead, let's admire the Keith Haring balloon

Hell for Hypochondriacs:

Oh my dear Lord. The other night, I was complaining about this and that, and my darling husband was kind enough to look up some things on this site.


yesterday's story

I woke up Ian. We were chatting - him standing up in the crib, me puttering around his room a little.

Ian: (gasps) What was THAT sound?
me: I think it was one of the cats, sneezing. It sounded like the cat exploded, didn't it?
Ian: OH. (long pause.) .....should we go check?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

we're watching the World Magic Awards on cable. All the performers on the bill appear to be winners of The Consistency Award, since every single one of them is doing the same material, WITH THE SAME JOKES, wearing the same costumes, that they have been doing on TV specials for as long as we have been watching magic on TV specials.

It's gruesome.

Not to mention the vaguely sheepish "celebrities" - people from reality shows, mostly - who are tasked with introducing the acts. Dougie's doing a good job as emcee - he's actually a magician, did you know that? He's pretty good, I hear. He's been doing mostly gags on this show, but I read that he does quite a respectable close-up set.

The best thing about this show in Hans Klok's sparkly pants.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Squash me

< carnival squash

butternut squash>

I used one of each to make tonight's dinner, a pasta dish vaguely modeled on this Mario Batali recipe. Very good, even though I had rather a free hand with the crushed red pepper and it came out spicier than I'd like.

I made it with whole wheat pasta, and a perfect combination of texture. Plus, this would make a terrific vegan dish as well - I adore cheese, but this would be just fine without it.

This may be the healthiest thing I have ever cooked.

Monday, November 24, 2008

goofball stories illustrated

I don't know if you read this tale of woe on my other blog, The Mulligan Years.

but someone did! I found this stuck on my monitor this morning: the anonymous artist (I have my suspicions...) even captured our matching pink cheeks!
What a wonderful thing for someone to do for me. ( look! he's even wearing a little homemade cardigan... wow.)

Also, thanks for the comments. I really appreciate it.

Ian the Terrible was only really awful for about half the day, so that was a huge step forward. Also, husband has been going out of his way to make sure that I have time to do things like go for walks and complete a sentence and stuff like that. So that has helped a lot. I'm not, you know, walkin' on sunshine or anything, but I seem to be handling things a little better than yesterday.

So thanks for my cartoon, Anonymous! I really love it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Sunday. I got nothin'.

the sadness, the lack of sleep, the crazy hypochondria (which can be kicked into clinically insane overdrive by a friend having a heart attack, believe me) the terrible twos and ADVENT all got together and mugged me. I am hurting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Okay, first of all, I would like to protest that THAT LAST POST about Scrooge and Love Actually etc etc was definately created after midnight. That was today's post, people. This is just wrong.

Second, have I mentioned my intense dislike for this woman?

Oh my, I do not like her at all.

I am not in the habit of hating random people on television - I figure that I am not the target market for most shows, and so, when a professional presenter is in some way distasteful, I barely notice. Even on shows I love, I can overlook a great deal - for example, the presence of Nina Garcia (Stacie knows why I am snickering.) But this tells me that she has authored 13 cookbooks! That she went to the Le Cordon Bleu!

All I know is, I just saw her make a drink that involved hot apple cider, bourbon, mulling spices and... COOL WHIP.

Seriously? Come on, Food Network - Seriously?! Really, seriously?

(I want to say that I'm not a snob, at least not a very convincing one. I have enjoyed my share of Cool Whip through the years. But seriously - even if you care nothing about weird fats, or about flavor - non-dairy whipped topping in a hot clear liquid is a bad idea. )

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm watching a terrible movie that I love - Love Actually. This actually dovetails nicely with today's household theme, Holiday Sentimentality.

Basically, it snowed for a second, and we all went over the edge.

Eric called me from the supermarket - he was delerious, buying bread cubes and cranberry sauce. We made a chicken, though, rather than a turkey. This was our faux thanksgiving, as we are going over the river etc etc for the buffet at the officer's club, as we do every year, an excellent way to do the holiday together.

But tonight we had nuclear family mini-Thanksgiving: roast chicken, apple-raisin stuffing, le suer canned peas, yummy cranberry sauce (not homemade, sadly - Eric makes this BRILLIANT fresh cranberry-orange sauce every year for Christmas. I think the recipe was in Parade Magazine, like 10 years ago. Eric has it memorized. I think we have to postage-stamp-sized clipping pinned to our kitchen bulletin board. In fact, let me see of I can find it on the web.)

Oh! Here it is! You can see why it fits on such a small clipping. I can't remember whether he puts anything else in it (grated ginger, maybe?) Anyway, it's great, plus it's easy. And fast.

Hey! Songbird should make that!

We followed up mini-Thanksgiving with a mini-viewing of a Christmas movie - the kid doesn't have the patience for a whole movie, so we just watched a few musical numbers from Scrooge before bed. Will I ever not cry at this story? At "I haven't missed it?" No kidding - I cry at the Bill Murray sarcastic version.

This week has been pretty rough, frankly. One might even say sucktastic. I was doing pretty well last week, spending time planning a funeral for my friend David, thinking about what to say, what to wear, running out to buy shoes (didn't think I should officiate my first funeral in Doc Martens). This week, though, there has been little to distract me from thinking about...things. (Little besides my husband, my pre-schooler, my congregation, looming freaking ADVENT ALREADY, not to mention Christmas gifts.)

So maybe a little stuffing, and a little terrible Albert Finney dancing, was just what I needed.

Kitchen Equipment Advice

Songbird over at RevGal is freaking out about Thanksgiving (with pretty good reason, I must add), and so she's doing a survey. About kitchen equipment.

Honey, you've come to the right place.

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it? I have 2 - both Cuisineart brand.

My first was a little tiny one, just one chopping blade and one speed (though it does go both directions.) I got that one to make baby food, for which it was completely successful, and I do use it for little things occasionally - not more than once a week.

And then I have the big one - my brother found me a used one in total mint condition, all the blades. I use it at least twice a week, and sometimes a lot more, chopping vegetables, grating cheese, making bread crumbs, crushing ice.

I use them both enough to keep them both out on the counter all the time.

And this is a pretty good time of year to buy one, incidentally - lots of competition. If one had tons of time, I would say try Craigslist or your congregation, since lots of people have bought them and never use them and will, like, GIVE them to you. But time is short for Songbird.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? I use all the blades, some more than others. But I found it pretty much impossible to store the blade assemblies safely UNTIL I HAD THIS BRILLIANT IDEA:

magnetic knife bar
mounted vertically on the wall, back in the corner where the kid can't reach them
it really works.

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?

I have that very one, except in white. We call it The Riding Mixer. I never baked until I had it. I LOVE it. I would say I use it 3 to 5 times a month, lots more this time of year.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
I have one (also found by my brother, King of the Refurbished Appliance) but I have never used it.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most? I adore my Lodge cast-iron pans, my heatproof silicone spatulas, and my flexible 'brownie spatula'. Oh! And my bench knife. But I think the most convenient kitchen tool is my instant-read thermometers (I have 2) that I use nearly every day. YOU NEED one of these for Thanksgiving, I think, more than other specialized kitchen thing.

I got all this stuff (not the cast iron, but all the gadgets I mentioned above,) from the King Arthur catalog, but nothing on the website now looks like the ones I have.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
Eric's family passed on their electric bunwarmer. We use it for biscuits on Christmas. Exclusively.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I sometime worry that I embarrass my church. You know, by being ME.

But I guess it could be worse.

Honestly, you barely have to read it. Just look across the bottom of your screen as you wait for it to load - 'swinging-biker-vicar'.

Man, too bad this blog already has a name.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

something beautiful

these are headpins, a supply for making jewelry, from the mermaidstone shop on Etsy. Isn't that a beautiful picture?

also applies to new versions of itunes

song chart memes
more via jean, jean, dancing machine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

please take me here immediately

edited to add: Jeannette from Snackreligious tells me that "It is no longer a bakery", just a comics store.

I'm crushed.

NOT that "just a comics store' is anything to sneeze at. It's just that I have never imagined a business that didn't include a bakery.. at least a cafe. Bookstore/bakery. bed+breakfast/bakery. church/bakery (seriously.) (Church of the Savior has a lunch counter in downtown DC. With a bookstore!)

You should cook this.

Fresh out of the oven:Cornmeal Crunch from 101 Cookbooks.

It's lovely - I just burned my mouth from over-enthusiasm. It's sort of a delicious savory custard with a crisy edge. I'm having it with some gigantic sliced mushrooms, which I sauteed in the same pan that I had used to carmelize the onions. So they're super-delicious, on their own, plus they're salty, so they make a nice counterpoint to the creamy/cheesyness.

I'll have most of it left, as Eric has taken the little darling to eat and play at the Chik-Fil-A, which they should rename You Can Get Really Good Milkshakes In Our Drive-Through. I am planning to feed it to the New Guy tomorrow at lunch...

Except our only device for heating it up is the microwave. Will this even be edible after being nuked?

Edited to add: This is a total winner. Survives reheating perfectly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Leftover birthday cake! It's What's for Dinner!

Me: What should we have for dinner?
Ian (thinks for a moment..) Starbursts?
Me: How about some quesadilla?

so we compromised.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This will cheer you up.

we had a great weekend up in Pennsylvania; David had a whole lot of friends, who came from all over to meet his family and send him off properly. Everyone was just wonderful, and it was all a dip in an ocean of answered prayer.


as we were TRYING to keep our darling child out of trouble this morning, we were poking around on You Tube. and I saw this.

And there is not one single thing about this that I did not enjoy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Here is what it means to travel with a toddler - sitting on the edge of a hotel room bathtub, reading a library book, drinking ice water. Across the pitch-black room, husband visible in the fishtank glow of the computer. We're separated by a freshly-disinfected Pack-and-Play and a child who eventually got too exhausted to whine anymore.

And then we traded.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No NaBloPoMo prizes for me - I missed yesterday.

Thanks for all your warm thoughts. For those that asked, David is David T. Crowe, someone who was my friend from the start of elementary school until his death last week. He was my best friend through childhood and adolescence. It was a rare day that I didn't spend a few hours with him, from the age of about 8 until about 20.

He was the funniest person I have ever known.
And that, my friends, is saying something.
He was funny in the third grade, funny in college, funny in off-broadway shows; I would imagine he cracked a joke on his last phone call on Friday. He didn't really try; really, he couldn't help himself. He just saw the humor in things.

He did not have a mean bone - a mean molocule - in his being.

His sweetheart said something in an email that I had never thought about, but it is 100% true: not everyone likes me, not everyone likes you, but everyone loved David. Of course people got mad at him occasionally, but truly - no one could keep themselves from liking him.

We used to lie and tell people we were brother and sister. If they bought that, we would tell them we were twins.

I used to steal his shoes and wear them.

I can remember a lot of things about him - things he wore, jokes we made, things we did together - but it's almost as if I can't get a clear mental picture of him, himself. Can't pin him down. He seems blurry. I guess he was always standing so close.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

This will come in handy later.

I was balancing the laptop on the arm of the comfy chair, looking up interfaith stuff on the web, and Ian was doing his twirly dance between my feet. Suddenly my screen dimmed.

Me: Ian, did you unplug mommy?
Ian: I didn't unplug you, Mommy.
Me, tracing the wire: You did! You unplugged me by accident, see? You knocked this plug out of the hole.
Ian: Ooops. Sorry, Mommy.
Me: It's okay, but you must remember never to unplug Mommy and Daddy. That'll be important.

I actually got him to raise his right hand and promise.
"I promise never to unplug Mommy and Daddy."

That's legally binding, right?

In fairness, “Repo,” which opened Friday, adheres to several conventions of the operatic form: a sung libretto instead of spoken dialogue; a chorus, of sorts, commenting on its themes of love, loyalty and class warfare; even a denouement that takes place in an opera-within-an-opera.

It also happens to be about a doctor employed by a futuristic biotechnology company to repossess bodily organs from still-living customers who haven’t paid their bills.

“People are tired of seeing the same thing over and over again,” Mr. Bousman said. “Here’s a movie that kind of defies description of what you can compare it to.”

Can't srgue with that. Read this.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

this would never have occurred to me.

Home Bleep Home

Stranger Photos Have Happened

I tied a disposable camera to a bench with a sign that read:

Good afternoon,
I attached this camera to the ben
ch so you could take pictures. Seriously. So have fun. I'll be back later this evening to pick it up.
Love, Jay / The Plug

When I retrieved the camera that night, I was happy to find that the entire roll of film had been shot.

See the photos at:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Today's recipe: Cranberry Apple Crisp

preheat the oven to 350 and grease a glass baking pan (9x13).

cut up about 2.5 pounds of apples (we used little tiny galas that you buy in a red mesh bag.)The recipe said to peel them, but screw that. spread the pieces in the baking pan.

squirt with lemon juice. (If you have actual lemons, you can zest one and add that. I had a plastic squeezy lemon. It was fine.)

sprinkle frozen cranberries (less than a cup) over the apples. Sprinkle with sugar (like a tablespoonful.)

In a bowl, mix some flour (I had a little less than a cup), some brown sugar (looked like more than a cup), and some salt. When that didn't look like enough stuff, a threw in a couple handfuls of oats.

Then take a stick of butter, cold, and mix it in with your fingers until you get that pebbley effect.
Your toddler can help, but only after he washes his hands for about 19 minutes.

Make sure he rinses.

spread the crumbles over the fruit, and pop it in the oven, uncovered, for 50 minutes.
When it's done, the crumbles will be brown, the corners will be juicy and bubbley, and the apples will pierce easily with a fork.

edited to add some ridiculous pictures

Friday, November 07, 2008

couldn't resist

Stacie recommends Cake Wrecks.

Ian is Art

we went to the BMA today, where there's an exhibit you should see - except you don't see it, exactly, you sit in it and carry it around and climb on it (and leave muddy footprints on it) and, if you happen to be there when Ian is there, you HEAR it.

We very much enjoyed this installation - Franz West's The Ego and the Id, an enormous looping steel thing reminiscent of doodles, cursive writing, gum stuck under tables, and djembes. It's also mounted on a plywood platform, hollow underneath, which encouraged Ian to bring the noise, bring the funk in a big way, along with the climbing and the drumming and the whatnot it entailed.

There was lots more art to see, but we contented ourselves with a few 18th c paintings with animals in them, and AT LEAST AN HOUR OF TORTURE IN THE MUSEUM SHOP, which my child much prefers to actual art, since you can look at art all day long and not come home with any plastic animals at all! CAN YOU IMAGINE! THE INJUSTICE!

(we got out with 3 plastic dragons.) (yes, because I caved.)

In the interest of fairness, I want to point out that I, too, LOVE a museum shop, and sometimes find them more interesting than the art on display for the same reason - you can get something and take it home, have a relationship with it. There were at least 5 or 6 things I would love to have bought for myself, were we feeling flush and I had no one but my selfish self to spend money on.

Anyway, this art is more fun than a playground. We're going to go back a million times before this exhibit ends.

I've posted a bunch more BMA pics on my Flickr page.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

this is for my dude in ohio.
i don't look all that happy, but i remind you once again - we won.
you know how, when you have a task coming due, and you precieve it as daunting, you can think of one million other things to do that will just take a second? And so you can keep putting off starting the big-looking task almost literally indefinately?

don't do that. Leap in. Sin boldly. It's almost never as big as you think, once you get up close to it.

I wrote one hard email today, and am about to write another. And my magical husband did the clerical task that he always puts off.

And then I am going to shut down the computer, and meet him at a restaurant, and eat a steak.
A small one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5 min chocolat cake: The results


It's not exactly like cake, but not totally different, either - maybe more like plum pudding in texture (sproingy around the outside, very moist inside where the melted chocolate is.) The body of the cake itself was moist and eggy but not very flavorful and not noticeably chocolate-y, despite the cocoa. I wonder if some aggressive spicing, like with cinnamon/allspice, might make that better.

I HATE it when baked goods are warmed in the microwave, because when they cool, they can become so leathery as to be inedible. I was afraid that this would be the downfall of this recipe, but it's not - I guess because it had never been baked to begin with - the texture doesn't change much as it cools, which is good.

I couldn't eat the whole serving. About a third of one, with a good glob of lightly-sweetened whipped cream, could be a very passable dessert. And certainly a good basis for experiments.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

church bird, against all odds, casts her ballot.

I had an unusual and inspiring election day experience.

A good friend of mine finds herself in the hospital, suffering from mysterious, dangerous circulatory weirdness, and needing transfusions and stacks of tests. She was determined to vote, and her son put a whole lot of miles on their car making sure that she could.

I voted, of course; the normal way, in a middle school cafeteria on a plastic-card-type machine. And I must say I felt very proud of my husband and the other poll workers. They work an endless day - he's still there! At 9:53! Since 5:30 this morning! and greet, instruct, and check on every single person who comes to vote. And were charming and friendly (and hopped up on sugar).

But I dropped by my friend's hospital room in the afternoon, and I happened to be there as she filled out her paper ballot. I even took pictures - and, in fact, I posted a few on the NY Times Polling Place Photo Project page. Which is pretty f-in' cool, because it makes it look exactly like they published my photo in the New York Times. (Yes, please, I would like that very much.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

5 minute chocolate cake: the results


It's not exactly like cake, but not totally different, either - maybe more like plum pudding in texture (sproingy around the outside, very moist inside where the melted chocolate is.) The body of the cake itself was moist and eggy but not very flavorful and not noticeably chocolate-y, despite the cocoa. I wonder if some aggressive spicing, like with cinnamon/allspice, might make that better.

I HATE it when baked goods are warmed in the microwave, because when they cool, they can become so leathery as to be inedible. I was afraid that this would be the downfall of this recipe, but it's not - I guess because it had never been baked to begin with - the texture doesn't change much as it cools, which is good.

I couldn't eat the whole serving. About a third of one, with a good glob of lightly-sweetened whipped cream, could be a very passable dessert. And certainly a good basis for experiments.

The World's Most Dangerous Recipe

So I had followed some link from some knitalong on Ravelry, and ended up stumbling on this.

I am not entirely sure it's technically cake, since it isn't baked, and the egg is the only leavening.

Right, like I'd care. About the technicalities.

Go make one right now, as I am. Tell me how yours came out. I'll have a full report tomorrow.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Slain by a fierce wild beast

Blessings on the Feast of All Saints!

After you make fun of me because this is my favorite hymn, enjoy my answers to the random but fun Rev Gals Friday Five

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
Cook! It's not unusual for me to start contemplating dinner over lunch. (This is a new development - in past years, I disapproved of people who seemed to think about food all day long. My brother would occasionally call in the middle of the day and ask what we were having for dinner, and I would practically yell at him.
Now that cooking is fun, it's not unusual for me to be thinking about groceries, or some kitchen procedure, as the day winds down.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?
Eat! It's kind of embarrassing, when you put it that way, but there's nothing like a big leasurely lunch on a Sunday afternoon. My days start somewhat early (I'm, among other things, the tech director) and by the time we lock up, I'm ready to get my money's worth (and then some) at the Indian Buffet.
And then nap.
Then recreation blog following.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
Project Runway. A new issue of Vogue (though I am not as devout about this as I used to be). I also like to listen to The Splendid Table, but I only do that if I can manage to be driving somewhere between 2-3 on Saturdays. Pretty much everything else - my weekly New Yorker, library books, knitting - gets fitted in around pastor/mom/wife duties. And it's astonishing that I fit in as much as I do!

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
Every day! The people I work with, and the man I married, are several of the funniest people on earth. And then I gave birth to another one. Even when it's hard being married, being the mom of a 2-year-old, doing this God business, we laugh a lot. Also astonishing.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.
Um, I'm pretty cheap, actually. Not yarn or fabric, that's for sure. Not even groceries - though I'm picky, I pride myself on my clever bargain hunting that turns into delicious, wholesome meals.
Maybe magazines and newspapers. I have no (well, few) qualms about laying out the bucks for an out-of-town paper or a gorgeous glossy, because it can still seem like I'm getting a lot for my money.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

intellegent design

"How could you do it? How could you cave like that?" asked the woman in the cutting line. She had a point, of course.

She meant how could I possibly say yes when my son, who had until Friday morning planned to be a pirate for Halloween, confidently announced at lunch that he was going out as a triceritops.

"well, because he's two." I thought for a long moment.

"And, actually, because I'm a huge show-off, and I want to prove I can do it. Like winning some ludicrous challenge on Project Runway."

And, I thought later, because he had said to me a few days ago, "Mommy! You can fix anything!"

I was actually a little disappointed in 'pirate', easily assembled from his own clothes and some fabric scraps I already had. Perhaps a stuffed sword, I thought, with a gold lame scimitar blade...

I was not the only person buying costume fabric and boning at 4pm on Halloween, incidentally. Not by a long shot.

What we ended up with: a mottled green fleece hooded pullover, with 3 horns on the forehead, a curvy stuffed tail, and deep green felt ridges down the back. (I never got around to attaching the standup frill, which was made of fleece and stiffened with spines made of that poly foam sheet stuff they have now.) He could wear it with his camo pants or with some cartoon dino pajama bottoms I just picked up at Target.

He wouldn't even put it on, a surprise to PRECISELY NO ONE I'm sure. Not even me, really. It was just all too much - it didn't scare him, exactly, just seemed to overwhelm him. I cut the hood off and tried it as a hat - no chance.

He wore his pajamas to trick-or-treat.

I cut off the tail, and pinned it to the hem of my sweatshirt.

Still, it must be said - I did win the challenge, create a cute and recognizable triceratops for a toddler in 2 hours, including shopping.

Do I have immunity for next Halloween?