Tightwad Tuesday: Make Your Own Yogurt

Back in the early 70's, my Aunt Cindy published a book full of recipes, tips and anecdotes called Out of the Molasses Jug. She is a very talented artist, and the whole book was hand printed and illustrated. It is difficult to find these days, but I have my old copy up with all my cookbooks. If you can find it, it's a really charming how-to book - how to live off the land, how to reduce your footprint, how to live naturally - quite ahead of its time, really.
I was thumbing through it the other day and ran across a total tightwad tip.
Did you know you can make your own yogurt?
To start, you'll need 1/2 cup plain commercial yogurt. From there, you can keep using the yogurt you've cultured from that starter batch to make your own. You just need to reserve a bit from each batch.

Here's the recipe:

Warm a quart of milk in a saucepan (whole, skim, whatever you like). When milk comes to almost a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool till lukewarm - about 110 degrees - where you can stick your finger in it and it feels hot but endurable). Add 1/2 cup commercial yogurt, or yogurt from an earlier batch. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
Pour into preheated jars or earthenware containers. Wrap snugly with a couple of kitchen towels and place somewhere where the yogurt will not be disturbed.
In three to six hours, a firm custard like curd should form. When this happens, refrigerate.
When you're ready to eat it, combine the culture with three cups milk and one large can of evaporated milk premixed with 1/2 cup powdered milk.
This will keep in the fridge three to five days.
I like mine sweetened with a bit of honey. This is also good in place of sour cream or in lieu of mayonnaise in dips.

For more tightwad tips, head on over to Being Frugal. And stay tuned for more fun stuff from Out of the Molasses Jug. It's a gem!


As if I Needed Confirmation...

that I've lost it, the signing is tomorrow.
I'm going to go start using my handheld planner again.
Clearly, I need it.

What Day Is It?

I was gearing up to write my Tightwad Tuesday post and I realized it's Monday.
Should I start freaking out about not knowing the day of the week? I've always been fuzzy on the actual date, but the day of the week? This is not good.
You think with the amount of time I spend online (way too much) I would have some inkling. But then again, do I read the news? Not much. Unless you count Perez Hilton, and he doesn't usually talk too much about what day it is.
Bejeweled isn't much help either. I am still obsessed with that mind numbing game. I literally can't stop. It's quite possible trying to beat my high score will be the end of my sanity. What's left of it, that is.
The good news is that it IS Monday, and if B is able to get out of work fairly early, I get to go to a book signing tonight.
I'm excited to be getting out of the house, natch, but I'm double excited because I'm going to see Heather Armstrong, who writes over at Dooce. She's pretty much my idol as she supports her entire family by writing a blog. WHAT?! I'm totally jealous. I'm turning green.
Wish me luck that I get out of here on time! I'll write all about it should I get to go.
And I'll write all about it if I DON'T. But that won't be a happy post. Not at all.


Hope Floats, Poop Does Not

The good news - G has a healthy diet.
The bad news is how I found out. He pooped in the tub tonight. And it sunk. Two perfect little turds, straight to the bottom of the tub.
I have talked to so many mom's who inevitably have a poop episode in the tub regularly. I've been very lucky. We only had what I call 'poop soup' once, and he was very small at the time. Tonight, he was standing up at the side of the bathtub, letting me brush his teeth.
'Guckie!' He said. There are ducks on his toothbrush. 'Guckie!' Then silence.
He gave me a very serious look, then:
'Hnnnnnnnnnh.' Plop.
'Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnh.' Plop.
I stayed calm while I tried to figure out what to do. I pulled the plug and ushered the offending doo doo down the drain (which started to slow, but is still draining, hopefully it will be okay) and kept him standing up. I quickly soaped G up, then rinsed him with the shower head. Yeah, he LOVED that. Note sarcasm.
A quick towel off then I handed him off to Daddy. Then I went to work with the bleach. All the toys in the tub, tub filled with the super hot water and Clorox. My hands have that gross bleachy feeling, but I'm pretty sure the tub is clean.
And I'm also pretty sure G is getting plenty of fiber and not too much fat.


Stacy & Clinton, Where Are You?

I just looked in the mirror and WOW. Wowie wow wow wow. I hope nobody comes knocking on the door this morning.

I am wearing:

-ugly nude nursing bra (but at least I'm wearing one!)
-grey wife beater tank
-magenta fleece robe
-faded out black yoga capris
-tall uggs
-mommy bun (you know, the twisted around ponytail secured with another elastic)

I need a fashion intervention. This is ridiculous!

I know there are ways to be casual and fashionable, but even the laid back/put together look takes effort. And when you don't leave the house except to walk the dogs and kid, why bother?

Just thinking about how I used to get up at 5:30, shower, dress, do my hair and makeup...well that sounds exhausting now. I go DAYS with no makeup. My hair hasn't seen a blow dryer for a month, at the very least.

Poor B, my legs get shaved once a fortnight. Maybe. He comes home and I'm in the uniform - yoga pants, t-shirt with G's meals stained across the front, a hoodie, crocs. HOT. He's a good sport and doesn't seem to care either way, but I'm sure he'd appreciate a little grooming and hygiene.

I'm a mess. Literally. Showering seems like such a hassle (but I do draw the line - a shower must come into play daily).

Is this what's supposed to happen when you are no longer out in the workforce, no longer forced to interact with adults on a regular basis?

Because I'm telling you, it's freaking me out.

That's it, I'm hitting the shower, plugging in the curling iron and finding my makeup...now where did I put it?


Separated at Birth?

Not a perfect match, but Michael Sarver from American Idol really reminds me of my brother.


You Capture: Week Five - Reflections

I'm thinking I should rename my You Capture posts 'Shout Out to Lynndale Park'. Because somehow I keep on ending up there. You think the scary child molester vans that park in the lot there would be a deterrent. But that's another post.

This week, I was really unsure about how to capture reflection. Mirrors seemed like the obvious answer, but I really wanted to try something with water. I was without wheels today and the closest water to me is the Puget Sound, about four miles from our house. It was too cold to walk that far, but I still wanted to get out as G was stir crazy (okay, me too) and the sun was shining. So off to the park we went.

What I forgot is I live in one of the wettest areas EVER and of course there would be puddles. OF COURSE!

And I got these:

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with myself. I love how vibrantly the trees showed up!

Of course, I couldn't let the week pass without the obligatory adorable albeit fuzzy child shot. G just had to kiss himself in the mirror. Babies are so yummy!

For more reflections on reflection head on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry.

Shrinking Jeans? Count Me IN!

So I found this cool little weight loss challenge through I Should Be Folding Laundry and am hoping this will jump start me on the road to being a lighter and healthier. I absolutely do not want to wear my god awful total mom swimsuits from last year when I go to Chelan for our annual family vacay, and I especially do not want my uber-judgmental step grandmother looking me up and down for the entire week.
So, I have to fess up on my weight.
Here goes.
182. Mid afternoon and needing to pee. But we'll go with that.
I suppose I should set a goal for myself. Short term, in the next eight weeks, let's say fifteen pounds? I don't really want to put a number on it, but I guess I have to.
My real goal is to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans without my beautiful baby belly oozing over the top.
And we're supposed to do a before pictures.
Here's mine. Oh god.

Ok, ok, that's from high school.
Here's me now.

Sorry, no full body shot, but you get the idea from the chins!

Red Scrunchie

Have you seen the movie 'Heathers'? Because apparently, my name is fitting.
Probably my junior year of college, my roommate Natalie came home (she was attending the local community college, I was at the local four year) and announced:
"I'm doing a group project with someone you went to high school with."
It wasn't a huge surprise since I was attending college about 10 miles from where I grew up.
"Who was it?" She told me, I won't say who it was here because it's probably irrelevant anyhow. I'll just call her Veronica (okay, if you don't get that please go watch Heathers. I'm serious.)
"I asked if she knew Heather Green and she said yes - I told her we're roommates."
"She said 'I'm sorry'."
Thus began my soul searching to decide if I really, truly was a bitch in high school.
I'll admit, I did some petty things, but overall I always thought I was a nice person. But judging from Veronica's reaction to me, I guess maybe I thought wrong.
Bothersome to say the least - I can get obsessive over these things. Probably more then than now. I'm really susceptible to other's opinions of me. B thinks I'm crazy - he's one of those lucky people who thinks everyone can go stick their opinions. Not me.
I thought about Veronica's festering dislike of me and tried and tried to remember something I did to her - said about her - even if I looked at her funny at some point. Nothing surfaced.
My high school career was filled with a lot of self doubt, loathing, body hatred, you name it. So basically, pretty typical. But my defense mechanism to this was to be ultra type A.
Yearbook editor, three sports a year, as many clubs as I could join - you name it, I did it. I made myself so busy that maybe I put off some false aura of confidence.
So I guess I embodied Heather to some people.
But inside I felt like Martha Dumptruck.
I saw Veronica at our high school reunion and I swear I felt like she was trying to impress me, which I found to be very odd and comical. And sad.
I guess in high school, we're all Martha Dumptruck.


Tightwad Tuesday: DIY Dog Grooming

We have a Golden Retriever, Carl.
He is absolutely beautiful until you get up close. And man, does he smell.
This morning, I'd had it. Dog hair everywhere, and the dirt that comes inside with it. Gross!
My husband cuts his own hair, so I thought hey, I'll give the clippers a try.
And lo and behold, it worked wonderfully. Though, for the sake of being sanitary, for future grooming, I'll probably invest in a pair of clippers for the dog only - something like this.

Here's what I did:
- Gathered all my tools - clippers, a pair of scissors, a dog brush (I love my Furminator, it is amazing), ear cleaner, paper towels
- Coaxed Carl out to the garage, where I clipped him to his lead and tethered him to an object heavier than he is - my husband's weight bench with a bunch of weights stacked on top.
- Went over his coat thoroughly with the comb.
- Buzzed him with a #3 guard.
- Used the scissors to trim around his toes
- Cleaned out his ears with ear cleaning solution and paper towels.
- Gave him a treat for being such a good boy!

I would have bathed him as well but this process took a good hour and I was filthy and exhausted. But he looks SO much better. And once you've invested in the tools and done the grooming yourself a few times, it sure beats a $50-$75 trip to the groomer.

However, I will not be learning how to express anal glands. That, my friends, I will leave to the professionals.


It IS a Valid Question.

B and I were watching Dancing With the Stars a few weeks back and Gilles Marini came onscreen.
'Who is that guy? Why is he famous?'
I thought about it for a moment.
'He showed his junk in the Sex and the City movie.'
That's all I had.
Male full frontal gets you on DWTS. Sweet.
Now if someone could help me with why Denise Richards is famous, I'd be truly obliged.


"A" For Effort

You can't escape it, it's everywhere. The Today Show, even Oprah.
Budgeting. And in particular, couponing.
I said to myself, self, you can do this couponing thing. It can't be that hard. You just need to concentrate on remembering to buy the Sunday paper.
So last week, I did. And I clipped. Did I EVER clip. I had a huge stack of coupons.
I bought myself this cute little coupon folder at Big Lots and went to sorting.
Then, on Wednesday, I noticed my grocery store flier had four coupons which would double the value of manufacturers coupons.
This was serious. I was so excited. I grabbed my scissors and snipped away.
Today, when our house guests left, I gathered up my orange folder and made my way to the store. I even sat in the car for a few minutes to make sure I was sorted out.
As I pulled items from the shelf, I made sure I found the corresponding coupon and placed it in the basket next to the item.
Damn girl, I thought to myself, you are totally rocking this coupon business.
I even pulled out the double the manufacturers coupons coupon's and placed it in the basket so I'd have it handy.
Nearing the checkout stand I was actually giddy about all the money I was going to save.
I placed my items on the conveyor belt with their coupons and then I realized something had gone very wrong.
My big bad double coupon coupons were GONE.
As quickly as possible I scanned my cart - nothing. I dug through my purse - no luck. And I rifled through my little folder - not a freaking thing. I tried to remain calm and mentioned to the cashier I'd lost my coupons.
'Too bad.'
So close. So very close.


Blog Party 2009 - Woot! Woot!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Hello out there!

5 Minutes for Mom is having a Blog Party and I'm joining in...

What does Mama Sass bring to a Blog Party? Food - check. Definitely embarrassing stories. A little venting...okay, a LOT of venting. And most of the time, the most random thoughts you'll run across. My blog quite simply has an identity crisis. It's a cornucopia of stuff, and some days, I actually even surprise myself!

One other thing I need to point out - my web address is http://thesassymama.blogspot.com and the actual title of my blog is Mama Sass. Why doesn't my web address match? Simply put, mamasass.com could very well be mistaken for a site that caters to people who enjoy MILF's with large behinds. See where I'm going with this? Yeah. Not nice.

I've been blogging for almost 10 months and have picked up momentum now that I am no longer employed. This lack of employment is not by choice, but by layoff, and yes, I'm bitter. But it makes for some pretty interesting reading from time to time.

I have been married for four and a half years to my husband, B, and we have a super energetic and adorable one year old son, G. We also house a zoo of 'domestic' animals at our house - two dogs and two and a half cats - one only shows up weekly to eat. I've lived my entire life in the soggy Pacific Northwest, taking only a yearlong breather to live in the UK where I studied literature. I love to read, check out new music, and am addicted to reality tv, the trashier, the better. That's me in a nutshell.

I honestly have no idea how many people read my blog but I do know that a post I wrote mentioning Neil Diamond last week got me the most hits I've ever had in one day.

So, if you're here for the first time, welcome and thank you for taking the time to read. Please stop in from time to time, and please let me know you've been by in the comment section!

OMG. LOL. LMFAO. Etc, Etc.

I was over on Dooce today and saw this site - I Can Has Cheezburger.
If you are as into utter silliness as I am, please check it out.
Why are cats and dogs with captions so funny, will someone please tell me?


House Guests

I like to consider myself a fairly social, welcoming and warm person. I enjoy having people over for dinner, coffee, drinks, games - you get the picture.
But for some reason I am not a fan of house guests. As in overnight (or more than one night) guests. Of course this does not apply to my dear friends, who understand I'm not a person who is good at cleaning and appreciate my efforts, and who, you know, help me with the dishes after dinner. Or maybe even help me cook.
I'm talking about house guests who come, enjoy the house I've gone insane cleaning, eat the wonderful food I prepare, let me do the dishes, and leave me on Sunday afternoon with a disheveled house, a tired and overstimulated child, and hardly a stitch of sanity.
You can probably guess where I'm going with this...we're having those kind of guests this weekend. They are very nice people, friends of my husband. And I know it makes my husband very happy to have his friends visit, since most of his close friends do not live close by.
One issue (and I realize I'm totally neurotic) is that I can never get an arrival time nailed down, so I never know whether or not dinner is expected. Both times I've tried to guess I've been wrong - the first time I ordered so much pizza we were eating it for days after, and the second time I had nothing in the house and had to run out for supplies.
Second bone of contention...voice volume with a sleeping child in the house. I don't know how many times I need to tell a grown person shhhhhh before I can hit them? Seriously. Indoor voices.
I am going to try my best to be a gracious and mellow hostess. I am practicing my deep breathing and have a bottle of vodka in my room for sustenance. Wish me luck.


You Capture: Week Four - Shadows

I'll admit, I was tempted to photograph my own shadow. BUT I DIDN'T, okay? I instead decided to challenge myself.
I packed up the kiddo and headed to the park for some inspiration.
And I find nothing more inspiring that my sweet little boy.

He's been walking about a month and here he is checking out the basketball hoop. He'll be shooting jumpers in no time!

But he still trips - he's just about to go down.

And finally, I call this Tire Swing in Motion. Artsy, huh?

If I had to chose a favorite (and I think I do), I'd definitely pick the tripping photo, because I like the motion it shows in just the shadow.

So that's me for this week - thanks for stopping by! For more shadows, click on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry.


Bejeweled Intervention

I haven't been here for a few days and it's not my fault.
It's Bejewled's fault.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're one of the lucky ones. It has taken over my life.
It all started the other day when I was on Facebook and a couple of my friends had status updates about Bejeweled causing them neck strain. I had to check it out. I'm stupid like that.
Bejeweled is a lot like Bubble Breaker or kind of like Tetris. For me, addictive.
I think I've always been a bit obsessive about video games. If something pulls me in, I can play for hours and hours. I had a Sims compulsion for a good part of my early twenties. I had not only the basic game, but also Sims College and then I'd go online and buy extra items to furnish my Sim's abodes. I'd spend an entire Saturday directing my Sims characters about their lives while I sat in my jammies all day. I would accomplish nothing in real life, but my characters would be married, with three kids in a mega mansion by the end of the day.
When I was in seventh or eighth grade, it was Tetris on the Sega Game Gear. It was my little brother's Sega and I would hijack it every time we had a long drive. I could play for hours. I distinctly remember a conversation with my girlfriend Megan about how we'd think about Tetris during homeroom, imagining how different things would fit into each other - such as, would the teachers bald pate fit into a garbage can. Something like that.
So now it's come to this - gaming on Facebook. Facebook is already the biggest time suck EVER. Now, add in the Bejeweled aspect and I'm screwed. Today I was talking out loud to myself. Just one more game. Just one more, maybe I can beat my high score.
This went on for two hours (during naptime).
I played so long last night that I had a headache from clenching my teeth.
Why can't I do these things in moderation - like a normal person?
Somebody help me!


Who Knew About Neil Diamond?

I have this nifty little stat tracker for my blog - it's pretty fabulous to see where all my hits come from (scary sometimes too - someone from my old work keeps looking and I can't tell who - if you read this please identify yourself!).
So yesterday I posted a bit about Neil Diamond. And OH. MY. GOD. I am not kidding, I got something like 50 hits yesterday stemming from this Neil Diamond fan site out of Hollywood. And the best part is, most of the URLs were out of the U.K.
Yet another reason I love the Brits. They are down with Neil. They are my people.
Most people who know me know that I studied English Lit at the now defunct University of Plymouth Rolle College in Exmouth, a little seaside town in Devon. Hands down, one of the best experiences of my life - at least what I remember of it.
Over many hazy nights in the local Student Union bar, I developed a deep love for Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, and Mr. Neil Diamond. I believe it is nearly impossible not to fall in love with him after belting 'Sweet Caroline' between swills of a pint.
I am positive that many Americans also are in love with Neil Diamond, but over here it is more closeted. The British pub culture has made stunning contributions to the furtherance of cheesetastic music.
Nearly ten years later with those wild days a distant memory, it brings a smile to think of a pub full of people standing and singing along with Neil.
Hello Again to you Neil, it's been a while...


On Mushroom Soup and Neil Diamond

As so eloquently put by Bob Wiley (What About Bob) :
"There are two types of people in the world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't."
I feel the same way about mushroom soup. On which side of the spectrum to I fall? I love mushroom soup (for the record, I love Neil Diamond too)!
Condensed mushroom soup was a staple in our house growing up - with chicken and rice, pork chops, and the ubiquitous tuna noodle casserole. Though it is widely pooh-poohed, I still fall back on it once and a while. What can I say? Its comfort food.
Today I was in the fridge and realized I had a huge container of crimini (baby portobello) mushrooms from Costco that were looking pretty bleak. So I decided to use them up in homemade mushroom soup. I've never even tried to make it before, and I must say, I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

Mushroom Soup

3 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 lb mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped (I would stick with crimini or a wild variety over button)
1/2 cup sweet onion or shallot
3 T dry sherry (don't skip the sherry - also use it for this amazing recipe)
5 T Flour
1 t thyme
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter at medium heat in a deep pot - add the mushrooms and onions, saute for about five minutes. Reduce the heat and the flour, sherry and thyme, cook for another five minutes to cook out the floury taste - scrape the bottom of the pot periodically. Add the broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes - the soup will start to thicken.

If you want cream of mushroom soup, add 1/2 cup of heavy cream (I actually used condensed milk because I had it on hand). Adjust seasonings - i.e. add more salt and pepper - and bring to a simmer.

Even if you don't care for condensed cream of mushroom, you might actually enjoy this soup. It's very earthy with the criminis and the thyme.

As for the Neil Diamond...well, I don't know if I can help you there.

No So Amazing Grace

Oh, how my body aches today. I wish it was from working out, but no. Oh, no no no.
It's because I am horribly, tragically uncoordinated.
B got home at the usual time yesterday and I had yet to start dinner - yes, I know I should be ready with clean child, immaculate makeup, cocktail, slippers, pipe and dinner, but I was busy yesterday, okay?
I began to whip up a gourmet meal, which included a can of tuna and a can of mushroom soup. While I was waiting for the water to boil for the noodles, I decided to go online and order some shoes B had been wanting (and needing). We do not allow G in the kitchen all that often, so we have a gate in the entry of the kitchen.
Usually I easily clear the gate, slo-mo hurdle style. I'm just tall enough.
I don't know if I was in a hurry or just not paying attention (it was a long day yesterday - G was on nap strike), but this time, I did not clear the gate.
In fact, the crotch of my ever present yoga pants (part of my mommy-form) caught on the top of the gate.
To hear B tell it, I ate shit. His words. I tried to catch myself, but I was like a rodent trying to claw it's way out of a bucket - no traction. The wall did me no favors. I hit the floor with a thud and I laid there, motionless. B and G sat there, waiting for a noise, some expletives. All I could muster was a few long intakes of air.
I forgot to mention my damn pants were still snagged on the gate. I had one leg kind of jutted up in the air and the other underneath me.
Here I am, stuck, in pain. B is mustering concern but I know, oh I know, he was trying not to laugh.
'Are you ok?'
I unhooked myself and limped off to the bedroom. He followed me.
'Are you ok?'
'No. Give. Me. A. Minute.'
I curled up on the bed. The pain was subsiding a bit but I knew what I faced when I emerged. B would assess the situation, decide I wasn't badly hurt, then make fun of me relentlessly.
I could hear the water for dinner boiling over - I had to get up and face the music.
Hobbling like an geriatric, I made my way into the kitchen (B had graciously taken down the gate, which was good, because I probably would have kicked it down).
B did not make fun of me at that point. But this morning, when I pulled myself out of bed feeling like I'd been in a boxing match last night, it began.
Like he said, he has the image of his wife going head over heels over a baby gate, hair flying, yelling 'Ohhhhhh Nooooooooooo."
I'd make fun of me too.


When I Grow Up.

Yesterday marked four weeks unemployed. It's surreal.
The strangest part is that I can hardly remember what it was like to work there. Yes, I miss the free coffee - seriously, the word MISS is an understatement. I ACHE for the free coffee. I drive by the stores and have to resist the magnetic pull because I absolutely refuse to spend any money feeding the beast.
The good news is the pain of rejection has faded and now I'm on to wondering what I'm going to do next.
Everyday, I do the usual job scan - Craigslist, Monster - and I am telling you, there is NOTHING. Its scary. I guess I could go back into the legal field but I honestly don't feel like going back on meds. Because I usually end up on meds when I work with attorneys (yes, there are some nice attorneys out there - but I haven't worked for them).
I was just getting to a point and had finally found a job that I felt was actually a career - something I could sink my teeth into and actually advance. But now, with only about a year and half of real estate experience under my belt, and very specialized experience at that, I'm kind of dead in the water.
This is the worst possible time to start a business, but all the time I fantasize about being self employed. I rack my brain...what am I good at? What can I offer that people would actually pay money for? Hmmmm. That last question just begs for a smart-ass comment. I won't go there!
What it comes down to is I can't justify leaving my child in childcare for a mediocre paying job that I'm not passionate about. I'm trying to see this as an opportunity to really stretch myself and dig deep to see where my talent and interest really lies.
And it takes me to this question: when I was little, what did I want to be when I grew up? The answer is the same across the board - a writer. That is, I wanted to be a writer until I got old enough to realize that being a writer just wasn't a practical profession. Then I wanted to be a teacher. Until I realized I didn't want to be overworked and underpaid.
Now, as I ponder my options (or lack thereof) my mind consistently wanders back to those two things. Maybe I should be more open to those things that excited me as a child. Perhaps the honest and open mind of a child has more depth than we give credit.

What do you want to be when you grow up?


You Capture: Week Three - Texture

This week's challenge? Texture.
I found capturing texture to be a bit difficult. It really made me want a better camera! But, I pushed through and this is what I came up with:

This is a knick-knack I inherited from my Great-Grandma. I used to stare at this thing for hours. I come from a fishing family and spent many years up in Southeast Alaska, and this piece reminds me of some remote fisherman's cabin. I believe it is made out of tin - I love how it has oxidized over the years. Plus, if you look really closely, you can see the texture of dust, because I am NOT a good housekeeper.

We moved into our house a few years ago and last summer had our floors refinished. We left the bedrooms unfinished because we were intending on carpeting - though my current employment situation has caused us to hold off for a while. At the top of the frame, the original 1961 oak floors, at the bottom, our new refinished floors.

Finally, the texture that my son really digs. His silky/fuzzy blankie. The edges are already snagged and getting worn from being chewed. He is our little Linus!

So, which one is my favorite? Obviously I love chubby little toddler hands, but I'm going to have to go with the tin fishing house. It was really difficult to get the right light - I ended up turning off the flash and opening the blinds to get a ton of natural light.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my textures! For more on texture, click on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry.


Tightwad Tuesday: Dying Veggies

Confession time: I'm awful at using all the produce I buy. I stock up on all kinds of fresh veggies with the best of intentions, but eventually find them at the bottom of the produce drawer turning into a science experiment.

Yesterday, I was cleaning out my fridge and getting irritated with myself. There was lot in there that was just going to waste - wilting celery, bags of carrots that were looking a bit dry, half a bell pepper that was a little mushy (not rotten yet) in some areas. All of the vegetables were still edible, but would not taste so great fresh.

So, I made soup.

Soup is a great way to use up all the vagabond stuff in your fridge - not just veggies. Half a carton of chicken broth? Chicken carcass? Half and half you never got around to using (not rotten of course!)? All can go into a soup of some sort.

Yesterday, I pulled out my trusty Joy of Cooking and cobbled together this recipe, I call it:

Waste Not Lentil Soup (ha)

2 Tb Olive Oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium celery stalks, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with liquid (I was out so I substituted 1 small can of tomato sauce and a few handfuls of chopped up grape tomatoes that were going soft)
1 tsp thyme

Heat the olive oil and add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Add the broth, lentils, tomato products and thyme.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.

That's it - I served mine with shredded Parmesan on top. This freezes well too - throw in the microwave for a quick lunch - and save money on takeout!

There are many more Tightwad Tips over at Being Frugal. Check them out!


Call Me Cyrano.

Today we drove about an hour north to my parent's house for dinner. My Dad is a commercial fisherman and we're trying to get him as much G time as possible before he leaves for Alaska for the spring and summer.
I asked my Mom to drag out some old photos to see if we could find any where G looks like me. I'm getting desperate - the only resemblance at this juncture is his wispy hair that on some days looks like a comb over, and my eyes. I dug through a few boxes - I love old photos. The hideous hairdos, embarrassing fashion choices...good times, good times.
Toward the end, I pulled out a photo of my Mom and Aunt, who are fraternal twins. B stopped and looked at the photo, looked at me, then looked back at the photo.
"Wow. You really look like your Aunt."
His next sentence:
"Is this before she had her nose job?"


Polygamy Going Mainstream?

One of my favorite guilty pleasures of late is the HBO show Big Love. I find it fascinating and have become hooked. On the same note, I was watching Oprah the other day (yes, I am a SAHM and I watch Oprah. Shut up.) and they had a Lisa Ling special where she went inside the Yearning for Zion Compound in El Dorado, Texas. They spoke with the men, the younger women and the girls. While I found the girls to be semi-brainwashed, I have to admit that I didn't find the people on the ranch to be all that crazy and/or evil. Then, the FLDS spokesman, Willie Jessop, came on and he was actually charming and cordial to Oprah. This morning I was cleaning up the kitchen and thinking about the show, and had a thought - are we softening up as a culture on plural marriage?
Growing up in a very Protestant household, I was always taught that Mormonism was a cult, and have always been very wary of the religion. I can't say I have any Mormon friends - not that I would dismiss someone simply on that basis - I just have never had the opportunity.
So with the whole Warren Jeffs drama and the YFZ Ranch raid, I have been very interested, wanting to know more - wanting to know what really goes on and why people choose to live like that. Though, granted, most don't feel it is a choice - it's what is deemed from above.
I absolutely do not condone young women or girls being forced into marriage. I'm positive that young girls have been abused, molested and raped at the hands of the much older husbands they are given to by their parents. So let me be very clear here - I am talking about plural marriage where all parties consent and all are of age.
During the Oprah interview, Willie Jessop raised a very thought provoking point - why does our society frown on plural marriage, yet seem to turn a blind eye to infidelity and men having children with many different women?
For me, neither infidelity or plural marriage is acceptable. But it is an interesting point. And as I watch Big Love and actually feel sympathy and compassion for the sister wives and the plights of their families, I wonder if I am the only one who has had to step back and tell myself - hey - polygamy - not cool.


Dogs 4 Sale!

I swear that one day, B will come home from work and the dogs will be gone. I'll have posted them on Craigslist and someone will come pick them up. I will most likely have to pay someone to take them away. I have a love/hate relationship with the dogs. More hate now that we have a child. It's so cliche and I thought I wouldn't be one of those people who gets rid of the animals once a baby enters the picture but believe me, the thought has crossed my mind. We have two dogs. Sadie, a husky/demon mix, and Carl, our special needs Golden Retriever.
We picked up Sadie the day we got engaged. We'd been trying to get a rescue dog but the Humane Society where we lived would not adopt to us because we both worked and the dog would be alone during the day. Apparently it is better to be unemployed and unable to afford to care for a dog...but I digress. We found Sadie on Craigslist and she was advertised as a husky/golden mix. I called and she was the last one left. This should have been a sign. But we REALLY wanted a pup, so we made the hour long drive up to this place called Paradise (which, if you've ever been there, you know it is the most ironic place name EVER). She was living in a fenced in kennel attached to a rusted out mobile home from the 70's. The breeder was, how shall I say this - tooth challenged. Sadie was filthy and scared. It truly did feel like a rescue. She was mild mannered and timid for about two days. Then she morphed into what our doggie daycare dubbed 'Crazy Sadie.'
Sadie went through obedience training, but it never took. I suppose it was more to train us, but again, it never took. She is now five years old and still out of control.
Carl came into the picture when we moved to our current home. We knew we would be working longer days (as our commutes both increased by about an hour) so we thought it would be a good idea to get a companion for Sadie. Oh boy, were we ever wrong.
We found Carl from a breeder on the other side of the state. We picked him up in February of 2006. As most Goldens are, he is the sweetest dog. However, Sadie hates and terrorizes him. The result of this is a 100 pound, dumb as a rock dog that is scared of EVERYTHING. He was stuck in our living room all night once because one of G's toys was too scary to pass by.
Not to mention the fact that Carl has had so many bizarre medical problems we've paid ten times more in vet bills than what we originally paid for him. He broke his toe when he was six months old requiring a splint for six weeks. I learned how to wrap the injury on my own after he stepped in his water dish for the fourth time. We had to have him spayed and neutered - he has a congenital defect which meant one of his boy parts did not descend. And, he has chronic ear infections.
I really do love my dogs, but there are days when Carl's high pitched whining and Sadie throwing herself at the back door starts to grate. Especially since this behavior is limited to the times when G is napping.
And the mess - did I mention the mess? The shedding, the dirt...well, it's enough to make a girl lose her mind.
Why don't I post them in the classifieds? Because they are amazing with G. Patient and gentle, and G absolutely adores them.
So, for now, the dogs stay.


Meet & Greet

I met someone.
Now before you go and jump to conclusions, it's not what you may think.

I met a mom. In our neighborhood. Until two days ago I thought we were the youngest people in our hood by, say, thirty years. We are surrounded by people my parent's age.
A few days ago I packed up G for a quick walk before what looked like imminent rain (imagine that!). It was about 3 pm and I went into a little cul de sac I don't usually turn down.
Well, let me tell you, I think I was meant to take that turn. Because lo and behold, there was a mom out in her front yard with two children under three.
I said 'Hi!', not really expecting more than a hi back. But she started chatting with me. I learned that her son is only a few months older than G, and that there are three other families in that cul de sac with toddlers.
WHAT?! How did I miss this little domestic hamlet? Oh yeah, I was at work...
Anyhow, she told me to stop by and when we're out again. She was so nice.
Is it weird that I'm nervous? I'm not great at meeting new people, especially so randomly. Do I just show up over there? Do I take baked goods? This is all unfamiliar territory for me. I mean, the only times I've spoken with my immediate neighbors is when our dogs escaped and ate their expensive Japanese maples (which were already dying, I might add).
I'm hoping this is an opportunity to make some new friends. I think it would really help to have friendly faces close by and other kiddos for G to play with - don't get me wrong, I love spending so much time with G, but I think he gets bored with me. And seriously, sometimes I'm dying for adult conversation.
Anybody out there have any tips for making this less awkward? What would a non-neurotic person do?


You Capture: Week Two - Perspective

This weeks challenge/assignment? Perspective. I wasn't quite sure where to go with this so I wandered outside with the camera. When I came inside, I had this:

You might think this was shot at night? Full moon maybe?
Well, it was taken at around 10 am. Seriously- that ball in the sky is the sun. And they wonder why so many people suffer from SAD around here (seasonal affective disorder).

I couldn't resist adding this one - from the perspective of a tennis ball.

Check out other perspectives on - ahem - perspective here.


TIghtwad Tuesday: Breadcrumbs

Lately I've been working on being more frugal. I have to admit now that I'm at home full time it's actually easier - when I was working I was all about saving time, which doesn't always translate into saving money.
But one thing I've always done is make my own breadcrumbs - and I don't use 'new' bread. Every time I get to the end of a loaf of bread, I'm usually left with two heels. I'm sure they taste fine but no one 'round here will eat them. I have a dedicated bag in my freezer to bread rejects. The heels go in the bag, also any bread product - hamburger buns, bagels, English muffins - that are just little too stale but still edible.
When the bag fills up, it's breadcrumb time!
Bring out the bag and let the bread thaw. Heat the oven to 200F. Pull out a bunch of cookie sheets or jellyroll pans - enough that you can dry out all your bread at once.
Tear apart all your bread products - by the way, it's fine to mix wheat, white, multi grain, pumpernickel, whatever - and lay them in a single layer on the cookie sheets. Place the bread in the oven for about an hour, more or less, until the bread is dried out. A good way to check is squishing some in your hand - if it crumbles and breaks, you're good. If it squashes into a ball, it needs more time.
Once the bread is dried, you have two options - you can crunch the bread up into crumbs by placing the bread in a big Ziploc bag and running it over with a rolling pin or beating it with a mallet. Both are equally satisfying, but leave you with uneven crumbs.
The second option is running the bread through your food processor. This will leave you with nice little uniform crumbs.
You can add dried herbs to spice it up a bit (if that's your thing), and store in the freezer. The crumbs will keep for quite a long time in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Head on over to Being Frugal for more tightwad tips!

Shut Up About My Crocs

I have a deep, deep love for Crocs.
And I get a little defensive when I see loads of sites literally devoted to trashing them.
I own - wait for it - six pairs of Crocs. I have the good old clogs (two pair), the ones with the fuzzy lining, the mary jane ones, flip flops and the dressy ones - slingbacks.
B has explained to me that they are gardening shoes (he works at a nursery so I guess he should know). Imagine my delight when he decided he needed a pair for around the house - though he won't wear them anywhere else.
Me, I'll wear them anywhere. Grocery store, work (when I was pregnant only), the beach. Anywhere I tell you!
My Grandma was the one who first turned me on to them. She is a very stylish Grandma! She wore Birkenstocks for years and made the switch to Crocs. She has a pair to match each outfit.
So seriously, Croc haters, give me a break. I love my Crocs. They're wallet friendly, comfy and most importantly, anti-microbial. My kid thinks they're a great teething toy. Okay, maybe that's not so great.
They may not be the most beautiful shoe, but they have my heart. They feel yummy on my feet. So Croc haters, shut it. Or I'll throw my Uggs at you - oh yes, I have those too. Suck on that.


Top Mess

I am addicted to Top Chef. I didn't start watching till last season but am completely hooked.
The finale was last Wednesday, but I needed a few days to decompress and calm down before writing about what transpired.
Everybody, I am so pissed off!
Hosea? Really?
Let's review. Carla pretty much rocked throughout at least the last half of the series. Her food always looked amazing. Plus, girlfriend is FUNN-AY!
Stefan reminded me of a little boy. You know, he'd figure out what buttons to push and then have no mercy. I adored his little lesbian crush on Jamie too. Love it.
Hosea? Meh. Honestly I was hoping Jeff or Fabio would make it into the finale. Fabio reminds me of the dog whisperer (yes, I know he's Italian and Cesar Milan is Mexican). And Jeff, well Jeff's restaurant name was enough to send me into hysterics every time I saw it...Dilido Grill? What kind of food do they serve?
Hosea, on the other hand...what a tool! His whole weird non-romance with Leah. So very high school. I just could never warm up to him. Plus his food just never interested me.
You think Stefan would bug me more - but he was just unapologetically annoying, which I found endearing. I mean, if you're going to be an arrogant jerk, you should own it, embrace it.
So, I'm disappointed. I need to move on.
America's Next Top Model starts this week!