Friday, August 28, 2009

Biting Humor

I went to my 10th grade son's first soccer game last night. I should preface this by saying he played soccer as a little boy, then quit, then started up last year, playing on the 9th grade team. His team last year won one game, losing the rest by pretty high margins, which is a little demoralizing. I think the tide has turned. They won last night 9-0 and I was in the position of feeling badly for the opposing team. I was just amazed at how well they played AS A TEAM.

On the ride home, we're listening to the radio when Womanizer comes on. Now, I kinda like the music but I really think her nasaly over synthesized voice sucks. And yet, my son reached over and turned up the radio slightly. Appalled that he might actually LIKE her music, we had the following conversation:

Me: Aw...c'mon, her voice sucks

Him: Yeah, but the video is kickin'

Me: Oh, you're just saying that because she's naked in it

Him: No, Mom, really, the choreography is awesome

I laughed. How could you not? I'm really starting to like him again after spending 4 years beating my head up against a wall dealing with his attitude. And I like his sense of humor. He gets it from me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Think Like a Dog

Last week, I was out on the riding lawn mower, cutting the acre of grass that encompasses our domain. The dog was outside. I was about as far from the house as I could get when the neighbor behind me, also mowing, stopped to chat briefly. I turned off my Ipod, stopped the motor and was talking about development business, mostly our decreased water pressure, when the dog, who had moved to the deck started barking. Not willing to make the acre trip up to see to the DOG, I let her bark. When I finished mowing, I returned to the deck only to find she had dumped out one of my large planters on the deck that was filled with 2 different varieties of basil. Not just tipping over the planter, she dug through the dirt, effectively destroying the root system and leaving the basil, wilting in clumps all over my deck.

I tried to salvage the basil, pulling it out of the dirt, which was very wet and clinging to all the leaves (and spicy globe basil has A LOT of VERY SMALL leaves) when I found Remy's black kong, buried in the dirt.

Now, I'm not Cesar the dog Whisperer. Heck, I'm not really a dog person period, but I tried to reconstruct what happened:

Remy had her kong over by the planter and accidentally dropped it into the planter. She then barked at me to come get it in a very Lassie-like, hurry, Timmy's fallen down the well, fashion. When I didn't respond she decided that Timmy needed help RIGHT NOW and went into the well on her own and attempted to bring Timmy to safety. Thus, effectively destroying my basil.

I was going to make pesto with the salvaged basil but I couldn't get the wet dirt off most of it you know how many leaves are on a stem? Like a BAZILLION. I don't have the patience for pulling each 1 in long by 1/2 in wide leaf off the stem, and washing thoroughly. I'm a fast and easy kinda gal. So, I'll be off to the farmers market this weekend where I'll spend $3 on 3 gigantic bunches of basil and have my pesto put away for the winter in a fraction of the time.

So, the reality is, Remy DID save me from the tedious task of attempting to make pesto with spicy globe channeling her inner Lassie.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spring Rolls: SO Worth the Effort

A couple years ago, a friend of mine asked me to cater an appetizer party for her husband's co-workers. I went in search of some fun recipes that, along with my tried and true ones, would make her party a success. I became intrigued by fresh spring rolls. I looked at recipes all over the internet and decided that I would just pull from each recipe those ingredients that *I* like and give'er a go. In case you are wondering...NO...I did not make them the first time for the party. I had a test run.

So I'm going to share my recipe for making fresh spring rolls. You will need the following ingredients:

  • shrimp I buy 40-60 count in 12 oz bags. They're cooked peeled and deveined with only the tails left that need to be pulled off. I use 2 bags to make appx 20 rolls.
  • spring roll wrappers (Banh Trang makes 2 varieties, wheat flour and rice flour...BOTH WORK WELL. These come in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, or can be found at asian specific food markets)
  • rice sticks (or rice vermicelli). You'll need about half a package. Soften as directed.
  • red and yellow pepper, cleaned and cut into matchstick size pieces
  • cucumber(normally I use and english, but not necessary. This time I used a regular cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, then in half width wise and deseeded it and cut it into match stick sizes
  • carrots (I'm lazy...I bought those already in matchstick size pieces
  • fresh cilantro (washed and removed from the stems leaving the leaves mostly intact (I used a half a bunch and have a lot leftover)
  • fresh basil (washed and removed from the stems leaving leaves intact. I used about 4 large stems cut from my basil planter in back)
  • hot water (I bring a pot to boil then keep it hot on the stove on low)

Once I have my ingredients ready (and I'll be honest, it's time consuming so I recommend doing all your cutting one day and assembling the next...the shrimp you can thaw out the day you assemble), I take two flour cloth dish towels (mine ARE clean, just stained) and wet them. I put the made rolls on one to keep them moist, and I assemble the spring rolls on the other. I set a pie plate, which I fill with about 1 inch of hot water, enough to submerge a spring roll wrapper. The hotter the water, the quicker the wrapper will soften so, be ready.
When you feel the paper start to SOFTEN, pull it out and set it on the damp dishtowel(the damp towel will help the wrapper continue to soften and it will be pliable when you are ready to roll):

I use 4-5 shrimp/roll and place them on the bottom, then a layer of softened rice noodles:

Followed by 2 of each color pepper strip, two cucumber strips and a few carrot matchsticks:

I then put a layer of cilantro over the veggies and top that with a couple basil leaves (2 if they're big, up to 4 if they're small):

I then CAREFULLY fold the spring roll as you would a burrito, sides first:

Then begin the roll, keeping all ingredients tight. Be careful...too tight will rip the wrapper, not tight enough and the ingredients will fall out when you cut:

Continue to roll and VOILA:

I've made these in advance, but never more than 2 days. The wrappers are very sensitive to cold and freeze quickly, EVEN in a refrigerator on a "warm" setting wrapped in clean damp flour cloth dishtowels.

To serve the spring rolls, I cut them on a diagonal:And serve them with a Thai Sweet Chili sauce:
Except...I've never been able to eat just one, let alone a half of one. Ahem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shave and a haircut....

This is too funny not to share. About a year ago, my husband decided he was done paying the $11-13 for a haircut and we bought a hair trimmer. We've experimented with the blade numbers and over the year have gradually moved to the #2 blade cover. I usually give him the haircut as he hovers over the bathtub. Not the most comfortable of positions but if he saves $10 every 3 weeks, he's willing to put up with the discomfort.

So, yesterday he decided that he was in need of a hair cut but for some reason he was unwilling to wait for me to completed whatever it was I was doing (probably on the computer). He decided to start without me. He came into the kitchen to ask if it looked even and I was a bit surprised that he had done it by himself and done a pretty good job...but there was one section on the right top of his head that appeared just slightly longer. I said I'd come back to the bathroom and fix it and before I could get there, I hear "NOOOOOOO" emanate from the bathroom. Being the good wife, I went to investigate.

Apparently, he had removed the #2 blade cover when he had finished with the initial hair cut and forgot that he removed it. So when he went to "fix" the long part, he did so with a trimmer with no blade cover...taking a 3 inch long 1 inch wide swath of hair right down to his scalp.

Really...a picture IS worth a thousand words:

We're considering his options: shaving the whole head (not my favorite), using a pen to draw on stitches (thus making it appear a PURPOSEFUL shaving), or using an eyebrow pencil to draw hair in.

Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pity admission fee

33 days 4 hours and 13 minutes and I'll be dropping of my youngest two at school and planning a self indulgent day without children. Is that wrong? Yeah...I thought so.

I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to have a summer vacation for children that lasts 3 solid months, but IMO, they should have been shot. Or at a minimum, been required to stay home and find a way of keeping 4 active children happy for those 3 months. Without the use of a TV. I don't think it's possible although I have no doubt that there is some parent out there who is quite content to listen to their children fight and bicker and whine because (select all that apply): 1. They're bored 2. There's nothing to do 3. It's too hot 4. It's too cold 5. It's too rainy 6. All their friends are busy...feel free to add your own.

Oh, don't get the impression that my children do NOT have all the 'right toys'. We have DSs, X-box, Ipods, books galore, computer. And if they STILL find a way of coming to the boredom place, I am more than willing to find them chores that need completed (and if even attempted, I'd have to redo). They've been to the boundary waters, to their grandparents cabin, to friends' pools, to amusement parks, to summer camps with the state fair on the horizon. Poor little dears...nothing to do. So, you unwittingly walked into a pity party of epic proportions. I.AM.DONE.WITH.SUMMER (actually, I like summer, I'm done with 4 kids being home 24 hours/day.)

And even as I try and get a little excited about them going back to school, they find a way to squelch my joy:

My oldest (son) has informed me that the black and red Champion back pack I purchased for him last year, that he chose not to use (for some unbeknownst reason) and still looks new, he will again not be using this year. It looks too babyish. I'm tempted to buy him a Sponge Bob backpack for comparison purposes. We even brought it up at dinner offering him $100 to carry a Sponge Bob backpack and he declined. Then he informed me that the two shirts I had purchased for him last week during the GAP Give and Get sale, he will not wear...for no other reason then they came from Old Navy. They were simple shirts that would have worked with several pairs of his plaid shorts. No...if it's not from Pac Sun or Hollister, he won't wear.

My oldest daughter has worn, ever single item purchased for her for school last week. Every.Single.One. After being told repeatedly that the new items were for school. I can already hear the ..."but everyone has already seen me in that" argument for new items before school starts. Tough.

My middle daughter arrived home from Safety Patrol Camp on Friday night. I was SO excited to see her and she was SO animated and happy to be home. For about 15 minutes. Then, she went to the ugly place. She is currently in the throes of "Jan Brady Syndrome" and it took her a good 18 hours to come out of her mood and only after having HER school shopping pulled because of her behavior. Not the way I wanted to start our first day with her home in 6 days.

And finally, my youngest. I'll just say she is a blonde haired, blue eyed Grendel. She has thrown so many tantrums these days that there isn't a decision made in this house that doesn't go her way that is tantrum free. It's going to be a long road to Tantrumfreeville.

So, I am ready for school to start. I'm ready to put their smiling (and if they're not smiling, I don't give a rip) little faces on a school bus (ok...only one will be riding a bus). My oldest will be walking to school (the 1.5 miles on a highway...or the 2+ miles on sidewalks). The youngest two, I have the honor of dropping at school. I'm anxiously counting the days.

Then the pity party will be over...and the real party can begin...heh, heh, heh...