Friday, June 27, 2014

You Have Been Warned


Dear Appliances,

As you may be aware, the Bo Hunkmeister is going on a trip. This letter shall serve as your official notice to stay on duty. Previously, when the Bo Hunkmeister has gone away, a few of you decided that it would be great fun to stop working and leave me bereft of your services. While this has at times provided a small amount of amusement in the form of blog posts, in general, it has been a highly irritating happenstance.

Therefore, I am formally putting you on notice that failure to work according to your accepted standards will not be tolerated. It has already been an expensive year with the furnace, alternator and van transmission deciding to go AWOL. So much so that the Bo Hunkmeister and I were contemplating celebrating New Year’s Eve June 1 in the hopes of ending an expensive year and starting a newer, less expensive one. The UN however denied our request to alter the time/space continuum.

Thus you are hereby ordered to continue working. Please heed this notice. As the mom of six, two born by C-section, I am not to be trifled with. To paraphrase Shakespeare, hell hath no fury like a mom left without her appliances.

In closing, treat me right and I will treat you right. Resort to your previous hi-jinks and there will. be. pain.

Love Always,
the Domestic Goddess

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Potluck Ideas

I love my library. One of the reasons I love my library is because they periodically hold book sales in which they sell off old books from their collection or those which have been donated.
And just in time for our monthly potluck, I found these two gems:


I really don't know how people lived through the 70's. Good music and weed? Because the recipes in these books would have kept me fasting for years. For. Years.

The first book, "Casserole Cook Book" is not so bad. I mean there are reasonable casseroles in there like


Jumbo Cornburger





Chicken Chip Bake 

That's not chips make from chicken or chicken chips as in cow chips, but chicken with potato chips. (note to self: send email to Herr chip folks suggesting new flavor.)

photo credit: K. Frye
On the other hand, can Chicken Chip really compete with DAWG! ?
(exactly what flavor is DAWG! ?)



Here's a Tex-Mex favorite: 


Chili Con Weine

Because to say Weine is classier than saying Chili con DAWG! Make sure you garnish with olives because that's what makes it authentic.


Alas, there was no photo for this, but the ingredient list caught my eye.



Whoever wrote this must have gone on to work for a political campaign. The recipe calls for a batch of "Potato Fluff Topper" What is that, you ask? If you read through the recipe, it's your basic mashed potatoes with two eggs thrown in for good measure. I love how simple, down to earth mashed potatoes have been re-worked to be "Potato Fluff Topper" Is it a duvet or a meal? It's both!

This cookbook also has helpful hints such as:


Cereal and sesame seeds together? Using canned meatballs? What level of hell is that from?

My absolute favorite is what constituted a "salad" from the 70's. Now a days, when I think of salad, I think of fresh greens and veggies with a nice vinigrette. Back then it was stacked:

 

Tomato Towers!


Or, even better, in gelatin!!




Read the fine print: "Favorite - Perfection Salad"

Perfection was defined in the 70's as shredded cabbage and celery floating in unflavored gelatin.

And it's a "Favorite" 

Think on that a while.




Friday, November 08, 2013

Bucket List, part 2 (because I have a really big bucket)

My original bucket list had 14 items on it and in the year since I've published it, I have accomplished one thing! Woot! But I've come up with 5 more things for my list!! Woot, woot! At this rate, I'll have to live a very long time to get done what I need to get done. Hear that, Grim Reaper?

How much longer do we have to wait?


Here's an update: 

On the items requiring travel, those will just have to wait a while. Unless I win Powerball next week, there's no way I can swing airplane, hotel and food for eight people to all the places I want to go. 

However, I can cross off number 5! I ran my first 5k in April of 2013. It took seven months to get up to the 5k/3 miles but I did it with Princess Buttercup, W. Bear and Bo Hunkmeister. The best part is we still continue to run.

I'm close to achieving number 6 as well. I finished writing the series on my friend's experiences living in South Africa and America, but I've yet to stop procrastinating on getting it published by Lulu. I thought I would print up a few as Christmas presents, but at the rate I'm going, it might be Christmas 2020.

Here's some new bucket list items:

1. Eat out for two weeks.
Because I have issues with breakfast cereal, I basically cook breakfast five days a week for the kids. "But there's seven days in a week, oh Domestic Goddess!" Yes, my darlings but one day a week is cereal day and on Sunday Bo cooks the chocolate chip pancakes. Anyway, I also cook dinner six days a week, 52 weeks a year. I say six because we've recently instituted a "Kids Cook Friday" rule wherein the oldest three are in charge of getting dinner on the table. All that to say I cook. I cook a lot. And trying to cook something healthy, appealing and economical that many times is hard. So I have told Bo that the day my youngest moves out of the house, I'm going on a cooking haitus. I don't want to have to think healthy, appealing or economical for an entire two weeks. I just want to point at the menu and say, "Bring me this and bring it now!" I'm even going to leave my dirty plate on the table. Bo, having done a bit of business travel in his career, says I'll get bored eating out. I say, I'd love to know what it feels like to be bored of people bringing me food on demand.

What is your pleasure, my Queen?


2. Eat my way from one end of Atwells Avenue to the other.
We have a wonderful street near our house that has quite a few notable restaurants. It's Providence's version of Little Italy, but on a smaller scale. Ok, much smaller scale. Atwells Avenue used to be just Italian restaurants with one Chinese place thrown in (owned by an Italian of course) but recently, it has evolved into a more eclectic mix of cuisines. I want to eat at each and every one. Except the hookah places. I've got no desire for apple cinnamon smoke.

3. Play Chorus 42 from Handel's Messiah on the piano
Singing Chorus 42 (Hallelujah) from Handel's Messiah was an annual tradition with my high school choir. Accompanying the choir on piano was my friend Zoe. I played piano at the time but seeing her storm through this piece like a boss blew me away. I want to have that level of skill and dexterity. I wonder if she'll commute down from Boston to give me lessons. I have my own libretto and I'll pay you in cookies, Zoe!
Wait, what note is that?


4. Get my motorcycle license
This is more of a house keeping sort of thing. I've got no desire to run out and get a Harley. I just think that in the event I'm out for a ride with Bo and he becomes incapacitated, it might be necessary for me to ride the bike home.

5. Do an IronMan Equivalent
I say equivalent because you have to travel to one of these competitions and the entrance fee is usually big, like $700 big for the one in Lake Placid, New York. An Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile marathon, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race. You know, given the effort I expended to get to a 5k, I might have to reconsider this goal. Seeing as how I'm only at 30 minutes of running, no swimming and I don't own a bike, this one just might be a pipe dream. I also think dropping $700 so I can hurt myself is silly. Unless there's good swag. I'd do it for really good swag.
"Excuse me, when do we get our t-shirts?"


Ok, so let's see here...my original list was 14 items, remove one, add 5, carry the 3, disregard the 2 and I'm left with uh....uh....a lot to do.

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Morning After

I think the morning after Halloween is the most anticipated morning second only Christmas.

This is what I woke up to this morning:


The kids spent close to an hour sorting and trading their candy. They will set the candy up on display so the siblings can see what there is available for trade (OCD much Tater?). This photo was from 7:30 AM and already Tater had cornered the market on Nestle Crunch bars. Of course, Mom has a big bin in which kids can trade in "undesirable candy" (i.e. Double Bubble, Butterfingers, Almond Joys) for whatever Mom has left over from last night's give away stash. Mom has also been known to pull rank and force a trade for Kit Kats or Milky Way Dark. I like to consider it a unit lesson on life in the former Soviet Union.

Observing the mayhem, Buttercup asked, "Are we actually going to eat breakfast this morning or just fondle the candy?"

Here's some fun stuff that was acquired last night.



This made me laugh. When I was a kid, these candies were packaged to look like cigarettes. I guess it was decided this was not a good idea since, oh I don't know, CIGARETTES CAUSE DEATH. So now they're called "Candy Sticks." Just what flavor is Hulk Candy Stick? I'll probably continue to call them candy cigarettes just like I continue to refer to my breakfast as Sugar Smacks and not Golden Crisp (you're fooling no-one Post!)











The most coveted Halloween prize is the "Full Size" candy bar. Apparently calling something Fun Size does not make it so. The winner in this year's "Full Size" haul is Gummi. It's that smile. I swear, one day I'm going to walk into a BMW dealership with that kid, have him smile and walk out with a new car.









Do the Tootsie roll people have a factory somewhere that churns these things out just for Halloween? Is there someone out there who thinks, "Boy howdy! I can't wait for Halloween so I can get some of those lime Tootsie rolls!" I mean orange? Lemon? Vanilla?!? Apparently some of these flavors are actually made with an excretion drawn from beavers. But "Beaver Butt" flavor is a lot to typeset on a tiny wrapper.













Our very sweet neighbor gave us these cupcakes. Given the noise she has to put up with living next to us, I'm surprised she didn't give us a half dozen tranquilizer darts. This is also the neighbor who introduced me to Stroopwafels. I will never move from this neighborhood as long as she's here. Never.















This is by far my favorite piece. Who needs marketing? Branding? Pshhh! Get right to the point! Why waste time on logos and typefaces?
Maybe GUM is an acronym for something?
Gob-Smacking Unimaginative Marketing?
Gross Unidentifiable Mucilage?














Definitely more fun than should be legal.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween

 Halloween makes for some fun times here at Casa de Diva. Of course, having an incurable case of Art-School-Itis as well as being a tight wad means I require homemade costumes. Not only that, but I was scarred by those vinyl sheaths with the plastics masks that passed for Halloween costumes when I was a kid. Remember your breath making the plastic Casper the Friendly Ghost mask all hot and icky inside? Yeah, me too. I've noticed they don't make those costumes any more. Did OSHA catch up with them?

Anyway, having a large family,  I refuse to buy those 'costumes in a bag' for all six kids every year so they have to come up with costumes on their own. There's some whining and complaining, but I think it's right and proper that these kids expend some effort for their yearly bag of candy.

So most of our costumes end up being made of found objects or pieced together from Savers. We also instituted a rule of no last minute changes. The deadline for costume decisions is night before at 7:00 pm. This rule was set because I would have a kid that wanted to be the Michelin Man. Much effort and time would go into making said costume only to have the kid come up to me Halloween morning and announce they have a new and better idea. This in turn meant the entire day was spent scrambling for something to make them look like Mrs. Haversham. Thus we created the rule.

The day of Halloween is like backstage at Versace's Fashion Week show in NYC; semi-clothed people running round with make-up and hair partially done, fussing and fuming about missing costume pieces. And Mom sewing up last minute pieces or gluing a child into their costume. Finally, after about an hour of mayhem, we're assembled and ready to go.

Trick or Treating is always fun as the kids have to explain at each and every house what their costume is. "I'm a Weeping Angel. Yes, Weeping Angel. It's from a TV show called 'Doctor Who'. No, 'Doctor Who'. It's a British show." Why can't they just be a princess??

Gummi, the youngest, is fun to watch because he's still amazed that all he has to do is say three words and people give him candy. And that this happens more than once. He'll go to a door, flash his winning smile, even though he's dressed as a deadly spider, and then come running back to us with an exuberant, "Look what I got!!" He won't move on until we look in his bag and admire the latest Three Musketeers Bar. And this happens after each and every house.

I think the best part is the next day, what I call the 'horse trading'. The children all gather in the living room and assess their spoils. They sort the candy according to size and desirability. Then they commence furious trading with each other. Not just one for one trading but market value trading. After all, a Snickers mini-bar is worth at least three of those weird Tootsie roll flavors that are only available in October. Certain candies are confiscated by Mom. Like those Sponge Bob chewy things. They are just too weird to be safe to ingest. Some kids try to corner the market on a particular candy. Tater is known to trade anything, including younger siblings, in an effort to get Nestle Crunch bars. Other kids try desperately to get rid of the undesirables like Butterfingers. Then there's the kids who try to gain the Kit Kats and Twix bars so they can use them to bribe Mom later.

Here's the run down of this year's costumes:



This is Buttercup as a pirate. That's her most intimidating face. Maybe she should keep her day job.
















This is Gummi as a Black Widow Spider. I think the penny loafers go well with the skull cap, don't you?



















This is Baby as RobotMan. No small pieces were swallowed in the making of this costume.


















This is W. Bear as Hawkeye. Those are milk jugs put together to make a quiver for his arrows. Reduce, reuse, recycle Hawkeye!



















This is Git Ur Done as the aforementioned Weeping Angel. Although in this picture, she looks more like the What's Going On Here? Angel.


















This is Tater as Artemis Fowl. Seeing as how Artemis is a criminal genius, we told Tater to look smarmy. This is his best shot.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Illustrated Woman addendum


Betty just recently went on a trip to Las Vegas and since she was in the area, stopped by her favorite public works project and tattoo inspiration- the Hoover Dam. She sent these pictures showing the tattoo element and the design inspiration. Kudos to the artist, Mike Drexler, for some pretty fine work!





These are the penstocks towers which regulate the flow of water into the turbines.




This is one of the two "Winged Figures of the Republic" designed by Oskar Hansen. They flank a memorial dedicated to the workers who died during the construction of the Dam.















This is another part of the Hansen memorial. The full quote is "They died to make the desert bloom."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Realities of Having a Large Family

Most posts about having a large family are about the joys of having a lot of kids, and while I agree that having a large family can be great, I think we have to be honest and admit the other side of the dream. I think large families are afraid if we say something negative about large families, someone will jump out of the closet and yell, "Aha! I knew it!"

Having thoroughly checked my closet, I will now list for you the down side of a house of mirth and merriment. Mind you, this is not a statement of regret, more like a "you should know this before jumping into large family-dom."



1. We go through an insane amount of toilet paper.

We should own stock in Charmin. I got a $10 Starbucks gift card for 16 years of using Pampers. Charmin, I'm expecting bigger things from you.

hint, hint

2. Be prepared to answer the same question 10 times, usually within 5 minutes.

Usually the kids are listening in on conversations that are none of their business. Yet when one of them asks me what's for dinner, this is the one time the rest of them don't listen in. So the next kid, who was a mere two feet away from the first child asks, "What's for dinner?" Then the next kid, within even closer ear shot, but for some reason deaf for the past five minutes, asks, "What's for dinner?" I wish I lived in a canyon at dinner time. That way "what's for dinner?" can be repeated without effort on my part.
Tuna Casserole!!....Tuna Casserole!!....Tuna Casserole!!...Tuna Casserole!!


3. Restaurant Visits

Any visit to a restaurant will take hours. First is the look from the 20 something hostess at the front desk. "Eight?" she says incredulously. And then looks at all the kids like we're some kind of social deviants. Then there's the wait for the staff to set a table for 8 with high chairs and crayons and kid menus away from the rest of the general public. One restaurant actually put us in a seperate room! Then there's the wait for 8 different meals to be ready at the same time so the waitress can serve it. And forget about the "Kids Eat Free" promotions. If you read the fine print, there's something about one free meal with each adult purchase. That means we're still a few meals short of a good bargin.


4. Order an extra large of whatever drink you get or embrace the inner Grinch and don't share.

It's like having a pizza in a room full of stoned people. Every time I get an iced coffee, two seconds after I pull away from the drive thru window, a chorus of "Can I have a sip?" begins followed by the responsorial call "I'm thirsty!" So do I let all six have a sip and possibly not have an iced coffee by the time the drink gets back to me? Or do I be a meanie and say no one gets a sip? Maybe I should set up a rotation schedule: "Sorry Gummi, it's Tuesday and that means only Buttercup, W. Bear and Baby get a sip. Tomorrow will be your turn."

Daffy, I feel your pain.

bonus fun: My son Tater took as sip of my coffee once and AFTER said, "I just don't know how you can drink without leaving backwash." I didn't much want my coffee anymore.


5. Sexy and fuel efficiency are inversely proportional to passenger capacity.

The more kids we had, the less pretty our vehicle got. We now drive a whale that gets 10 miles to the gallon down hill with the wind behind us. It came in two colors.


6. When in public, be prepared for questions.

"Are they all yours?" Uh, why would I rent extras?
"Which is more difficult, girls or boys?" Neither, it's pesky people with silly questions.
"Are they all from the same father?" ?!?
"How do you handle it all?" I don't. Seriously.
"Are you going to have any more?" What, tonight? That's kind of personal, don't you think?


7. I am in constant need of socks and underwear.

Harvard University hasn't returned my calls, but I need a scientific study to see if large families go through socks quicker than smaller families. I suppose those boys up in Beantown have more pressing things on their plate but this is a serious need for me. I buy those mondo packs of socks and the very next day the boys are traipsing around here with mismatched, holey (and not in the spiritual way) socks. We have a box where we keep the orphan socks on the hopes of reuniting them with their lost partner after the next load of laundry. I'm embarrassed how big that box has gotten.


8. Noise

I once saw a definition of boys as "Noise with dirt." I've got four of 'em. My husband asks me why I stay up so late. It's because the silence is - and I thought about what word I'd use here for a while - the silence is luscious.


9. Totally utilitarian dishes

Those cute 4 qt. crock pots? Individual ramekins or onion soup crocks? Yeah, whatever. Making elaborate individual servings of stacked and saucy vegetables is a thing of the past. Four is not a problem, eight and you have to go next door to borrow the neighbor's counter space. Then there's the storage issue. I do not have enough cabinet space for 8 sets of custard cups, mini souffle dishes, soup crocks, bread plates, etc. Although I make an exception for those shallow fluted creme brulee ramekins. It is my rule in life to always make room for creme brulee.
Creme brulee, you complete me.