Big Day

I’m supposed to do this once a week, so even though I really don’t have much to talk about, I’ll give it a go.

I’m positively giddy…Playoff football and the Golden Globes tonight. The Pats game is all but won by now, and I’ll watch the Globes later. It’s nights like tonight that the extra charge for the DVR is worth every penny. I don’t have to sit through any speeches or inane interviews. Look at the dress, judge the dress, move on. Hopefully this year there will be some spectacular fashion fails. Of course, if I were there, I would certainly fall into that category, so I feel its okay for me to be judgmental.

I took my extra energy and finally took down the Christmas tree (can you hear the DH exclaiming “about time!” from there?), and get all but one of the decorations down in the basement.

I also did something wildly out of character: I made bread. Once upon a time I used to make bagel for my friends and I when we lived in Hong Kong and bagels were hard to come by. But I am not a bread maker. I am an enthusiastic bread eater, but have never had the patience to make it myself. Well, for reasons beyond me, we have a butt load of bread flour. I can’t imagine what we bought it for, but I can guarantee you that it probably wasn’t for making bread. Anyway, I’m tired of it taking up space in my cabinet, so I pulled out the KitchenAid mixer and went to work.

Another reason I gave this a go was that there is this nifty setting on my oven: “Bread Proof”. Instead of having to wait a couple of hours for the bread to rise, this setting is supposed to cut that time to 20 minutes or so. And damn if it didn’t work. Two lovely round loves of country white bread with minimal effort. Not too shabby.

I also did something wildly in character and burnt the crap out of one of the good pans. Luckily it was a stainless pan, so a good deglazing got me off the hook. I hate it when I do that. I’m not the most focused chef, so I do that more than I would like to admit.

Well, the Terrors are all getting along, listening to the stereo too loud and playing Yatzee. I should go prepare for the end of the world. At least now I know how to make bread.

Greenish Acres

Well, I’ve blown the whole “blogging every week” thing in spectacular fashion.

Its hard to write when there is so much left undone around the house. Normally I can look past a pile of laundry and find the time to jot down a few ideas. But the deep down structural stuff that needs to get done here is overwhelming. I actually dusted the walls today. Yes, the interior walls of the house. After all the dry wall work in the bonus room the whole house was coated in a fine layer of dust. That included the walls.

Another chore accomplished today was heeling in the fruit trees the DH got for me this Christmas. They are bare root trees, which means that you don’t have to plant them right now, just keep the roots from drying out. This also means that we must remember to dig them up and plant them right when Spring hits. Otherwise they will be too close to each other and our garage. Of course, the way this winter is going, they might start budding next week.

The way I rattled off “heeling in”, you might be thinking that I am some kind of gardening expert. Don’t be fooled: I didn’t know what it was until bare root trees showed up on my doorstep in December. My first thought was “what kind of Mickey Mouse nursery sends trees in DECEMBER?” But before I fired off an angry email, I looked on line and found that this was not so uncommon, and I should just calm down and get them in the ground.

This, of course, means that I am now consumed with thoughts of the garden we are hoping to have next year. Since there is nothing but sand until you reach the Earth’s core on our lot, we will probably start with a lot of raised beds and veggies in containers. Everyone has an opinion on what we should grow. O man is a big fan of cucumbers and the idea of growing our own sunflower seeds. The Rookie is obsessed with growing carrots. J doesn’t seem to care, as long as he gets to help build the chicken coop with the DH.

Yes, I said chickens. Much to the dismay of our neighbors across the street, we are planning on raising egg layers next year. We’ve done a little research (mypetchicken.com is a great resource), and think that we can pull it off. Of course, if it doesn’t turn out the way we hope, there is always the DH’s grilled chicken recipe…

Christmas Time Shorts

Throw it...
  • Sorry, no Christmas Countdown this year. I’m sure you’re all heartbroken.
  • Finished the first draft of the Christmas letter. I ran it past the DH and got a solid “meh”. He thinks it is not up to my usual standard..said I sounded tired. Well, I am tired, dammit. But now I’m all in my head so I have to start over.
  • Squeeze the people you love a little tighter tonight. Got bad news and it always makes me worry I’m taking my time with the people I love for granted. No one ever said “I wish I hadn’t told my kids I love them so often”.
  • The DH had a taste for Indian food tonight, which meant either a 35 mile drive to Grand Rapids, or me making it. We are trying our hands at Tikka Masala. You probably won’t hear about it unless its a complete train wreck. I need to get my Indian cooking up to speed because the boys down the street have a honest to goodness wood fire pizza oven that they said they wanted to try and make naan in. Gotta have something to eat it with…right? (Just finished it…my second “meh” today. It was good, just not really Tikka Masala.)
  • I ruined Christmas. Don’t ask me how because I’ve only had the courage to tell three people, so great is my shame.
  • My neighbor hosted a Christmas dinner and since I was feeling festive I dressed up, curled my hair ( gasp! ) wore make up and generally tried to not look like I was taking the kids to the bus stop. My neighbor actually did a double take. I can’t decide if normally looking like hell makes it more impressive when you put some effort into it, or if I should think about upping my all-around game.

Of Burnt Gravy and Fake Trees

It feels like I was just sitting around, minding my own business, when…WHAMO!…the Holidays were upon me.

Okay, I wasn’t just sitting around. I was hauling ass on the bonus room. I painted the bottom six inches of the walls so we could get in the trim so they could instal the carpet so we could have guests for Thanksgiving. Having so much to do construction-wise took a lot of the pressure off the menu planning. Oh, wait, there was no menu planning. I made what we always make because I had neither the time, nor the will, to make anything tricky this year.

I did the usual: turkey slathered in salt pork, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yadda yadda yadda. I made an eye-watering amount of stuffing using Jeannine’s recipe. She was a friend of ours in Hong Kong, the only person I knew at the time who cooked, and I have made it just like she did ever since. Most of our personal Thanksgiving traditions came from our time in Hong Kong. We would have HUGE dinners with all our friends. The biggest involved roasting the second turkey in our neighbor’s oven. Looking back at how tiny our kitchens were, I can’t believe we pulled those off, but they were some of the best Thanksgivings ever.

Mabel, paternal grandmother extraordinaire, made some two-turkey extravaganzas as well. I would have never thought to try two turkeys if Grandma hadn’t done it with regularity. Hey, it was a big family.

One traditional component of the meal was missing this year: the gravy. I had enough drippings to bathe in this year, and in a moment of complete stupidity, burnt the gravy. Now, you might think that it isn’t possible to actually burn gravy. You would be wrong. I had added the flour to begin the thickening process and burnt the crap out of it. Millions of little charred floaty bits made it not only unfit for consumption, but ungodly smelly. And, much to the chagrin of my Boy Scout DH, I was not prepared with canned gravy in case the unthinkable happened. It was a dark, sad day. My brother in law tried to make it all better by proclaiming the turkey was so juicy we didn’t need gravy, but I knew he was full of shit. Yes, the turkey was divine. But gravy is not loved for moistening the turkey (though that doesn’t hurt). It is loved because it is the sauce of the Gods, and if there was a way to have it at every meal most of us would have it at every meal. We, however, would not be having any on the one day it was practically illegal not to have it because I was a stupid head. I will have to live with that bad decision forever: I’m sure the DH will never let me forget.

You don’t even have time to take in the enormity of burning the gravy before you are in the  season of the Fat Man. Time to break out the Christmas decorations.

Last year we had a real tree for the first time since the Terrors were born. It was a disaster. The first night it fell over because the Terrors only decorate a clump on the front of the tree. We lost some ornaments, though luckily none we cared about. In light of that experience, the DH was a little, okay a lot, concerned about our spankin’ new wood floors. So even though we live in the land of the Christmas tree farm, we are now the not-so-proud owners of a petroleum-based tree.

I know, I know, it is a sin against the Christmas gods. But what can I say…if the DH ain’t happy no one is. It wasn’t worth the fight. Rest easy though, Christmas got her revenge. The only “tree” left at the store was not pre lit and we had to put every individual branch on the dag pole. Nightmare.

It’s up, though I haven’t fluffed it yet. Not only did it not come with lights, but I don’t have any to put on it. The DH doesn’t understand how we could have three tubs full of lights and still not have enough for the tree, but there are lots of things the DH doesn’t understand about me and Christmas.

Of course the Rookie is DYING to put the ornaments on (translation: he wants to put up two ornaments and then complain that putting up the ornaments is boring). But he can’t do that until I get the lights on, so I will have no choice but to go back out into the retail hell that is Christmas shopping season and hope that all the lights haven’t sold out.

‘Tis the season…

 

 

 

Plenty to be Thankful For

A few of my friends are taking part in a “thankful for a thing a day” on Facebook. Everyday in November, they are listing something for which they are thankful.

I was not planning on participating, but today I saw something that just made me really sad on behalf of another person. You don’t know them, so don’t try to figure it out. But what I saw really struck me, and I learned something very important in that moment:

I am thankful that there are people in my life that love and accept me for who I am… not just in a superficial way, but in that deep down “man that girl is flawed but I love her anyway” way.

I am thankful that sometimes, I even manage to feel that way about myself.

 

This house…

…is kicking my ass.

You would think buying a new house would eliminate most of the butt-whooping from purchasing a home, but, nope, no such luck.

The DH and I have been humping on this bonus room, and I still don’t think it will be done in time for Thanksgiving. I have clothes I can no longer wear, because there is so much residual fiberglass insulation in them that they make me itch just looking at them. I don’t know that I will ever be able to enjoy that room, I cringe getting near it right now. I don’t think it would have been so bad if we hadn’t put ourselves on this deadline. It’s no one’s fault, holidays happen. And if I’m going to wait for the house to be done before we invite anyone up I’ll be long forgotten before I send out the evites. So we keep plugging away.

I have all the trim painted and ready, but the drywall guys are dragging their feet. I can’t hang the trim until they finish the mudding and taping but the carpet is coming on Tuesday so I have to get it in by then which means I have to prime and paint the walls before the trim before the carpet and are you now as tired as I am???

Things were further complicated by the arrival of the cement guys today. They are putting in a front walk and a pad down by the walk out basement doors. I don’t really want the pad, but I know I don’t have the will to lay pavers, so we’re getting a pad. I told the Dudes where to put the walk way and then made them change it. I still don’t know if I put it in the right place.  I’m concerned that the DH won’t agree with where I’ve laid it out, but he is out hunting with friends, so I guess he doesn’t get a vote. What I find hilarious is that the cement Dude was told that he had to discuss the placement with me, because the DH figured I’d feel strongly about it. Of course, I could really care less, and I’m all stressed out that he won’t like it. I think we need to communicate better… Every decision seems to take on a “you’d better get this right or you will regret it forever” kind of tone to it. My stomach is all knotty and I’m sleepwalking like crazy. Poor DH, he hates it when I sleepwalk…

But at least the sidewalk is getting done. I am, in all honesty, shocked that the cement guys are even here. Gun season opens tomorrow, a de facto bank holiday in this here state. I envision the cement Dudes all hunkering down on their deer leases tomorrow. I suppose there is time for them to hunt in the morning and make it to the house in the afternoon, but even though the forms are up, we might not have actual cement until after the holiday.

I have been told that we will wake up tomorrow to the music of gunfire as the entire state unloads into unsuspecting white tails. Should be an interesting experience. I have already occasionally woken up to gunfire as people took an odd shot at a coyote or the occasional duck, but this will take it to a whole new level.

It’s not like we will be done once the sidewalk and the bonus room are finished. There is still the little matter of the basement. Oh, the basement. DH is very concerned that the holiday decorating will turn an already disorganized mess into something so horrifying they haven’t come up with a word for it yet. I can’t blame him. If the half-ass way I dealt with the Halloween decorations is an indication of how I’ll deal with the Christmas debris, he has good reason to be worried.

Well, I’m off to watch the Twilight marathon (since I will not get a chance to see the new one or Skyfall before they disappear from theaters). Yes, I am that dorky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decision Fatigue

The reason for the rather inexcusable and lengthy pause in my work on the Blahg is:

My new house.

New as in brand spanking new. As in no one else has ever lived there before new.

I love it.

We decided to move the family out to a 1.8 acre plot of land in Michigan, a mile and change from the Big Lake, with woods and a boat dock.

“Why Michigan?’ you might ask. Well, the answer is simple. I love it here. Have since I was a little girl. It has trees and lakes and fishing and all the things I want to do and none of the traffic or shootings.

We looked at houses. We looked at land. Finally Tammy, Sparkly Realtor Extraordinaire, said “I know the lot you want.”, and took us to see the one in the above picture. She introduced us to our contractors, and after much number crunching and soul searching we realized that this was where we wanted to be.

Our Rock Star Contractors started digging the Big Hole on May 7th. We moved in on August 27th. For all of you counting on your fingers that is a new house, from top to bottom, in a hair less than 4 months. Now you understand why they are Rock Stars…

You might think to yourself “Wow. That would have been a great thing to follow along with on the Blahg.” Sure, maybe it would have been, if the stress of moving and building and dealing with other crap that shall remain nameless hadn’t resulted in my hair falling out in clumps and my Doctor being so concerned about my weight loss she rain actual tests.

It was going to be tight, but the Contractors assured us that they would at least have us on the driveway in the camper in time for school to start. They had until Labor Day weekend to make my Craftsman style walk-out-basement ranch a reality.

This meant that from the day we handed over our good faith deposit, we have been making decisions. Which house plans should we buy? Where should we orient it on the lot? What color should the siding/roof be? Do we want gutters? Should we use stone on the exterior? Do we want a fireplace? Any walls we want moved? Where should the outlets go? What color outlets? Floors, faucets, cabinets, countertops, appliances, light fixtures, closet rods, tile, paint, doors, doorknobs, hinges, drawer pulls…EVERYTHING that is now in your house, I had to pick out for mine.

Not that the DH and I were alone in this. I had all my besties around me making sure I had Diet Cokes and just enough guilt over leaving to feel loved. I had the Terrors, who asked everyday if the house was ready. I had my Mom and Dad, giddy that the Terrors would now be within day-trip distance. But in the end, none of them were going to pick out my backsplash (although my Friend Who Hates Hoodies did help with the paint colors).

Emails from the Contractor would drop into my inbox and I would die a little inside. “I just finalized plumbing fixtures! What more do you want from me!!!!” I would send a complete list of something only to have Scott reply gently reminding me about the 8 things I had forgotten. Hell, I’m still making decisions: what color for the front door…?

For all that had to get done, it went off remarkably smoothly. Sure, there were little things here and there, but in the end, the stairs ended up in the right place, the cabinets all made it to their spots in the right color, and they are sending a replacement fridge for the one that won’t hold a temp less than 40 degrees. Looking back, some of the things that went wrong are the ones that will give me the greatest giggles…the virility of my ice maker being one of the best (long story).

Of course, now I am completely spent. The guy from Directv wanted to know if we wanted to change anything about our programming and I almost started to cry. Its a yoga pants/hoody parade over here because picking out clothes is beyond me. I even find it hard to summon the will to pick out something for dinner, though the DH might say that has been an ongoing issue, not something caused by decision fatigue.

We have been here for about a month now. You still can’t see the top of the dining room table, but you can see all the floors. We have most of the window treatments up. All the kids have beds and radios and alarm clocks in their fancy new rooms. Everyone allowed to see the basement (after being supplied with a satellite phone and flares) gets a good laugh at our expense out of the amount of crap down there, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, dammit.  And while we are rearranging the kitchen for the 3rd time, our house now suddenly very much feels like our home.

So, I’m hoping to write some more, start to revise the Novel? again, and keep all of you in the loop about moving from the big city to a town of less than 1,000 full time residents.

Oh, and I am expecting visitors. Lots and lots of visitors…

A Girl Scout Scorned

Interesting article today, about two Girl Scouts kicking some ass…here’s the background:

A troupe of Girl Scouts were selling those delicious little slices of heaven they call cookie at a local Walmart near Houston. You know, where they set up a long table and tempt you into buying more of those delectable calorie bombs than you really should. Anyway, someone comes up and grabs the money and takes off in a getaway car. Two of the older girls chased after the robbers, one hanging onto the door as they drove away, punching a robber in the face. They couldn’t get the license number because the despicable cads had covered the plate.

The first question you may ask is “What kind of low-life piece of shit steals from the Girl Scouts?” Answer: if you are a person that is willing to steal, why would it make a difference? The cookie stand is a cash business, outside the confines of store walls, easy as pie. I’m sure they get robbed all the time. This instance got national attention because of the actions of the Scouts manning the table. Which brings me to the real question:

“What the f*ck were those girls thinking?!?!?!” The one girl hung onto the car while they drove away. WHAT? Do these girls have any idea what kind of danger they put themselves in, for $200! What if they had grabbed her and pulled her into the car? What if she had gotten hit by a car in the lot not aware of what was going on? What if they had punched her back, and she had fallen off the car onto the pavement? All over $200?!?  

We live in an area where bike robbery is an occasional fact of life. Something I constantly try to beat into the Terrors is that I could give a flying crap about their stupid bikes. If someone is threatening you for it, let them have it. Who cares? Yes, it is outrageous and makes your blood boil that someone should take something unearned from another human being, I get that. But there is nothing on this Earth worth more than the person being threatened. No matter how much you want to chase them down and go all Chuck Norris on them, you are not Chuck Norris!

True, the one girl landed what must have been a very satisfying punch, but what if the man had gotten out of the car? Doubt she would have had what it took to take down a full grown man. Of course, no one is really thinking in these situations…you are too pumped up on adrenaline to do much more than react, but goodness gracious I would KILL my boys if they reacted like that. 

I can appreciate this being the kind of story that gets a lot of press: David vs Goliath, Girl Scout vs Low-Life, Good vs Evil, but I really wouldn’t want the Terrors to hear about this and hold it up as what they should do in a similar situation. Call me a coward…

Nothing’s New

Well, if my life was half as interesting as I’d like to think, I would have something to write about. Seeing as how I don’t, I thought I would just shoot the shit for a minute or two.

The boys have started piano lessons, which would be fine if I didn’t have to try to get them to practice. I have explained to the new tinklers-of-the-ivories that if they don’t practice, I will no longer pay for lessons. The Rookie has had a string of excuses already, my favorite being when he explained that his thumbs hurt. How exactly do your thumbs hurt? In the end, they will be the ones that have to listen to the disappointed clucks of their lovely instructor, not me. The O man seems to be a little more motivated, but not by much. Mostly I remind them that their Aunty has a recording studio in the backyard, and if they want to make records someday they have to learn how to play an instrument.

Derby is going well. I am falling less, though the other day I did have my helmet on backwards. There is part of me that would love to skip it, but I always have fun when I go. We did this thing called “shopping carts and rickshaws” or something like that. It boils down to you either push, or are pushed…pull or are pulled. I loved being pushed. I was with a girl far more experienced than I and she could go very fast. That was awesome. Still haven’t taken a name yet, nor have I bought any fishnet stockings. You all know how much I love a good costume, so you can see how my lack of skating acumen weighs on me. Queen B tells me not to worry about it. I don’t feel I’m kick ass enough yet.

It’s party season again at the Terrors’ school.  They are having a Red Carpet party in February, and I will be helping out with a Luau/Pig Roast in June. Trying to decide what to wear to the Oscar party. I have the Mao dress, which I never get to wear, but is not horribly flattering. I have a dress that I could “flapper” up, to be in costume a la The Artist. Or I could wear my yellow strapless. If I thought there was a prayer I would fit into my Cheongsam I might also put that on the table. I think my tall skinny friend would look amazing in it, so maybe I’ll save that for her.

For once I have seen more than one of the Oscar nominated movies this year. I’ve seen Moneyball, Bridesmaids, and The Artist (which I HIGHLY recommend). Hoping to get The Help in under the wire as well. It’s a far cry from my youth, when I would have seen all of them, but I’ll take improvement where I can.

Aunt Pam is still kicking my ass at Words with Friends. grumble grumble.

Well, that’s the roller coaster of excitement that is my life.