Monday, March 29, 2010

Murphy's Law of Poo

Just a few minutes ago, a thing happened. A thing you should all know about before deciding whether or not children are right for you.

It started off innocently enough. Brought the Baby Gloucesterite upstairs for a diaper change. I had some diapers I needed to clean off in the toilet (I cloth diaper), so I figured while I went and did that, he could run around in his room with a diaper off. He doesn't pee very often now, and there's no precious oriental rugs or anything, so no big deal, right?

So I'm cleaning off the diapers when I hear THUMP and WAAAH, so I run in to pick him up. I realize that his shirt is soaked, and when he stops crying, I notice a puddle on the floor. So I reconstruct the incident and realize that he peed on his hardwood floor, and then slipped in it and fell down. As I'm cleaning it up with a towel he starts splashing in it merrily. I'm an awesome mom.

AND THEN. All is well again so I bring the last diaper in to dump it, only I'm holding it kinda funny to avoid touching poo because I'm a coward and THE ENTIRE POO FALLS OUT OF THE DIAPER AND ONTO THE FLOOR. And it's not solid. It's like cow plop consistency. And before my body can react, MY FOOT SQUISHES THE POO INTO THE BATHROOM FLOOR. It was like a slow motion train wreck I couldn't stop, I was all "NOOOOOO" and the poo was all "NOOOOO."

YES I WAS WEARING SHOES THANK GOD. And I was wearing old running shoes I garden with. But now there's poo stuck in every crevice of the sole. And in the grout of the bathroom tile, because I haven't the courage to go clean it out with bleach right now.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Au Gratin Potatoes!

I grew up loving those nasty boxes of Au Gratin potatoes with the dried potato slices and the powdered cheese mix. In all honesty, I *still* love them.

But I knew in order to be considered an Actual Grown Up, I should learn how to make them myself. So I did. And they are GOOD! And so blissfully easy. I used a recipe that takes 90 minutes, but you can parboil the potatoes whole and then slice them up if you want to save time.

Homemade Au Gratin Potatoes:

4-5 Yukon Gold potatoes (I peel mine, but the original recipe said it didn't matter)
1 medium sized sweet yellow onion
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
2 cups milk
1.5-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Slice the potatoes into thin chips, and slice up the onion. Layer the potatoes and onion in an oven-safe pyrex/casserole dish. On medium-low heat, melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Slowly add the milk while stirring. Add the garlic powder and some salt and pepper, then start adding in the shredded cheese. After all the cheese is melted, pour it into the casserole dish.

This should result:


It looks tasty already! And I haven't even cooked it!

Then I cover the top with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Usually with 20 minutes left I'll stir it all up and uncover so it gets a nice brown crusty top.


I made this with the chicken tenders I wrote about a bit ago. And steamed asparagus, as well. You will notice the green vegetables to fat/carbs ratio is set on "morbidly obese", but that's how I roll.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Rototiller: Ow. Signed, me.

The chickens were doing a half decent job of tilling, but unfortunately I realized that I didn't have the time to let them do their thing - peas, radishes, and broccoli can be planted now. I looked into renting a rototiller, and it wasn't too expensive to pick one up at Home Depot for the afternoon. I thought it might be tough to use, but if you've ever ridden a motorcycle it's the same set of steps. engine switch on, fuel tank on, choke on, etc. I even had no issues with the pull start - I have wimpy girl-arms.

So I sent Mike and Nathan out to go shopping (he has a separated shoulder, tilling is out), and got to work.

The tough part was the tilling itself. We had some thick grass and uneven ground, and my arms, shoulders, and back took the brunt of it. It had a habit of getting stuck in the ground requiring a lot of brute strength to lift out, and I stalled it a few times. But, after a few breaks for lunch and cold water, it was mostly done.


There are a few small clumps of grass I need to really dig out, and the compost/peat mixture that was in the raised bed last year needs to be redistributed evenly across the whole garden.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The huge change in my life over the past year, besides the addition of Nathan, has been that I no longer drive or take the train to Boston every day. I no longer dress in business clothes and talk to adults about adult logistics and adult solutions and have adult lunch meetings with Freshcity delivering tasty wraps and kettle chips.

I can't decide if I miss that or not. I know I miss the routine and being challenged and being, sometimes, rewarded for a job well done. I miss getting a quarterly bonus. I miss having laid-back, entertaining coworkers and an easygoing boss. I don't miss the long commute, having to smile politely at and work with people you dislike with every fiber of your being, and trying to do my job without the resources I needed because the economy was tanking and our clients were disappearing.

I've become a townie this past year. This is something I'm loathe to admit and not very fond of at all, but that's one of the things that happens that no one warns you about. Before, Gloucester was somewhere I watched TV for a few hours, fell asleep, then went back to Boston in the morning. I just happened to live here. Now I'm here all day, every day.

It has its upsides, I guess. I still live in a city, and everything I need is in walking distance. I now have spoken to most of my neighbors, they like the baby, they like the chickens. I have recognized people in the supermarket. I ran into my dentist at the bank. I have two people my age I'd consider friends here - someone I met online, and someone I carpooled to a Saturday class with.

And so Gloucester has morphed into somewhere we really wanted to move from as soon as we could, to a place where, begrudgingly, we will end up staying for a long time. It's getting easier, at least.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Right Near Da Beach

Mike has every Friday off from his day job so he can DJ Friday nights in Boston. This past Friday, it was so fantastic out that we took a car trip with the dogs around the North Shore through Essex, Wenham, Hamilton, and ended up at the beach off Rt 127 near downtown Beverly.

This was the first time Bea, who is from Tennessee, has ever seen the ocean. She walked right up to it, but was unimpressed.


Mike tried to convince the baby, who all of a sudden HATES SWINGS, that swings are actually pretty cool.


He still wanted none of it, and remained steadfastly holding the steering wheel to the little wooden car.


In summary, living near the ocean is awesome.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's tiring, being a dog.

it's tiring being a dog

All that lying around in the yard and destroying plastic cups with your teeth really wears you down. So you know what, lady? This time, it's your turn to fetch. A beer from the fridge, please.

I almost got one for him before I realized that dogs can't talk and don't like Molson.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Planning the Garden

For awhile I'd planned to garden in our side yard this year. However, it's just too big of a project at this point. There are very large rocks and deep roots and dead stumps that are too big for me to tackle on my own. Not to mention that it doesn't get enough sun.

However, the 8x8 garden I started last year is just too small. Everything got overcrowded.


On the left is the old garden. Underneath the deck is where I'm going to extend it. The deck is so high that it doesn't interfere with sunlight much at all. Instead of a raised bed this year, which costs a ton of cash (to truck in a few yards of dirt, for lumber, etc) I'm just going to do a regular garden and I'll find some way to edge it (maybe with the fencing I already have). I have to get the soil tested, but since I'll be spreading out last year's dirt plus some compost and old potting soil, it should be relatively decent.

But, I thought to myself, tilling this soil might be hard. Then I had an idea. Wherever the chickens are, they strip the ground bare and create holes. Which is exactly what I wanted to happen. So I used some 3 foot poultry fencing and ran it around the deck, stuck the chickens in, et voila! Instant tilling. I let them run around in there while I'm home and around.


So it looks like it will be about 10'x24' altogether. I'll be running a path down the middle to split the garden into two long, thin parcels. The issue I had last year was with rookie planning, I couldn't get into the middle of the garden to pick the green beans.

The tomato, pepper, okra, lettuce, and pumpkin seedlings are in a windowsill already. I want to have so much food I'm ding dong ditching it at the neighbors' houses.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why Wouldn't I Want One More?


He's so cute, especially when his mouth isn't full of cry and he's not climbing furniture.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Would You Do?

Two nights ago, the first night in oh, months that Nathan slept through the night, we were all woken up at 4:30 AM by a cat screaming.

I panicked thinking it was our cat, but quickly realized that Steven was, as always, sleeping obnoxiously close to my face. I love the cat, and he always sleeps next to me, which is really sweet. Except that after I gave birth, he started sleeping in really irritating positions. Up against my nose. Above my head, like a cat chapeau. Or my favorite - just far enough away so that when I closed my eyes, he inexplicably REACHED OUT TO CLAW MY LOWER LIP.


He looks cute, but oh, how looks are deceiving.

Anyway, it was coming from the alley, I think. The street that runs alongside our house is a court, really, but it's so narrow I refer to it as an alley.. There are four houses on one side, opposite us, right up on the street with no yard, and our property runs along 3/4 of the other side with one house behind us. Our bedroom window and Nathan's window overlook it, and our back deck is close to it as well. So we hear everything.

I got up and looked, but couldn't see a damn thing outside, it being dark and all. The cat was obviously in pain - it sounded like a cat fight, but with one cat. I felt like I should go out and find it, but then I realized... no. The dick part of me said not my cat, not my problem. The people in the house behind us have 5-6 cats they let roam the neighborhood. They're nice enough people, and they've said the cats were all strays, but really it's their job to wake up at 5AM to fetch their sick cats. Undoubtedly they could hear the cat too. I wouldn't expect anyone else to deal with the chickens if there was a middle of the night attack.

In all honesty, though, the biggest part of me not doing anything was the fact that rabies has been an issue here (a rabid animal was once removed from our yard, even). Maybe when I had nothing to lose I would've tried to track the animal down and bring it to a vet or something... but I have a baby and a husband and animals of my own.

So am I an asshole for going back to sleep? I feel like it. I like animals. I love them, I really do. Would you have gone out there and tried to find it?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We Can't Take You Anywhere.

This afternoon I took Nathan to my community college so I could fill out an application to graduate and also pick up a new student ID. In order to get the ID, I had to go to a computer lab and print out my current schedule to prove I was still taking classes there.

It went about as well as you could imagine bringing a 13 month old into a quiet computer lab full of students to go. The climax was when he farted loudly while struggling to hit random keys on my keyboard.

I bit my tongue intentionally to not laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation, but I really wanted to say "birth control. IT IS IMPORTANT", and then scurry out of the lab.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Roastin' Coffee

A month or so ago, Mike came home from 90's night with a small paper bag of raw coffee beans. Apparently, one of the convenience stores outside of Central Square in Cambridge sells them. He had always talked about doing it, but Mike also talks about smolting his own bronze and buying an entire dead cow, so I didn't take it too seriously.

It's actually incredibly simple. He picked up an old air popper at Savers for $5.00.


One of these deals. They're ubiquitous in thrift shops. It cooks just like popcorn, only it takes a little longer. When I finish, the house smells amazing.


This roast is a little lighter than the last roast I made. Usually I try to aim for blacker and more oily, but it's sometimes hard to get perfect.


Before and after. I was surprised how small raw coffee beans are.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baked Chicken Tenders with Oven Fries

So this is what I made for dinner tonight. The chicken was something I've never tried before, the oven fries are something I love making.


For the chicken tenders, I took some panko breading, threw in a little granulated garlic, and kosher salt, and mixed it up. I cut boneless breasts into thin strips, dipped them in an egg wash, breaded them, and then put them on a wire rack above a cookie sheet. Threw them in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes, and done. Oh, grease the wire rack. I forgot to, derp.

The honey mustard sauce is 1/3 cup mayo and 2 tbsps each mustard and honey.

The oven chips are just cut up red potatoes in a pyrex container coated in olive oil. I usually throw in half a diced sweet onion but I ran out tonight, so I had to cheap out and do granulated garlic and onion salt. I always sprinkle savory over the chips. We bought a cheap crinkle cutter awhile back at Marshalls. It's dull as hell so it's a pain in the butt to cut the potatoes, but they look cool and they cook evenly. I cook the at 400 for like 35 minutes.

So. Dang. Tasty.

Fun With Parenting - "Oopsy Daisy's Bad Bad Day"

This is, by far, Nathan's favorite book. It was given to us by a neighbor of Mike's parents, an older couple I've never met before. I never even really gave it a look until he started being old enough to read to. One day I picked it up and read it to him, and I realized it wasn't really a kid's book at all. There's multicolored, trippy drug references, ninja attacks, people throwing cell phones, and cute little Oopsy Daisy's untimely demise at the hands of a shark. And he loves it. From start to finish, he laughs at that book. Probably because of the colors, but I'd like to think it's because he finds her accidental destruction of priceless modern art hilarious.

I finally looked it up, and it was written by the same guy who wrote the Emily the Strange series, which makes sense. I need to find more books like this. I love Sandra Boynton, but there's not much dark humor in Sandra Boynton.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One more class.

I'm enrolled in community college. I've been in community college for three years now. It will be four when I graduate.

But I will be graduating. At the end of the summer. I am taking one math class now, and will be taking a Biology class over the summer.

Most of my friends have bachelors degrees, and many have advanced degrees as well. Most make a lot more than me at really great jobs. I skipped college and worked because I hated high school so much. When I finally wanted to go back to school, I was working 45 hours a week an hour away from home. I still pulled off 2-3 classes per semester and earned a GPA high enough to be in the honor society. I'm by no means brilliant or anything, but it's not really brilliance that I'm excited about, it's all the hard work and late nights I put into this. Sure, I took a whole year off with Nathan because I wanted a child more than my education at that point, but I didn't give up and never planned to.

The next part of my journey is up in the air. I very much want to continue on, and I'm automatically eligible for entry into any state school at a reduced price, as well as getting constant emails from private colleges I could never have pulled off in high school. Salem State is close by, and has a Hospitality & Tourism Management major that would pretty much work with most of my future options (go back to my old job field, work in food service, or open a restaurant). The issue is money, but I am going to look into scholarships and try my hand at at least doing it part-time.

So I know I don't have much to be proud about, but I am proud.