Monday, March 30, 2009

Tumbleweeds Are Real

When we pulled up to our house upon our arrival in New Mexico I was delighted to find a small tumbleweed in our back yard! I immediately sent out a text to friends and family about what I always thought was little more than a western legend. I thought for sure that tumbleweeds only existed in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

“Do you really have tumbleweeds down there?” is probably the number one question I get asked about New Mexico. I am here to tell you tumbleweeds are very real, and very unpleasant. Spring in New Mexico means day after day of 30+ miles per hour winds, which pull massive tumbleweeds out of the ground and send them spinning through the city. For some reason tumbleweeds love our front porch and after a big storm we are often unable to leave the house through the front door because these prickly, vicious weeds have barricaded us in.
On the other hand, it is pretty cool to see a weed the size of a Volkswagen go tumbling down the street and you really do feel like you are in the wild, wild west. I’ve been thinking of starting a website selling this mythical creature to the curious and uninitiated. Let me know how many I can sign you up for, I’ve got plenty to share!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comedy of Errors

Most people over the age of 30 will probably remember when Andrew Dice Clay was one of the filthiest and most controversial comics around. Even I remember him when I was just a little girl and blushing whenever someone said his name because he was supposed to be so dirty. I thought for sure I would get punished just for knowing his name. He’s probably pretty tame by today’s standards, but I digress.

My husband remembers Andrew Dice Clay’s whole “Nursery Rhyme” montage, and for some reason still chuckles about it (look, he grew up in a town of 4,000 people, he didn’t get out much). If you’re not familiar with what I am talking about you can check it out here, but I am warning you to clear the kids from the room before you watch it. Now, you probably have to be an adult to get most of the references, but if a child picks up on one of these lines and starts quoting it in mixed company you won’t be winning any parent of the year awards, which bring me to my point, finally.

My husband, in all his bumpkin good humor thought it would be funny to teach one of these gems to our seven year-old son. Now, as I’ve said before my husband really is a terrific dad and goes above and beyond the call, but sometimes he makes poor judgment calls, and this would be one of them.

The Honeybee has a memory like no other. This kid can watch a TV show once and quote every line from the show the next time it comes on. So, teaching him naughty little nursery rhymes that will quickly get repeated in school is not the most brilliant plan. The one Honeybee glommed onto was this lovely little ditty:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill, each with a buck and a quarter. Jill came down with $2.50. Ohh!”

Honeybee, being the seven year-old that he is, changed the characters in the rhyme to Squidward and SpongeBob, which of course makes it that much funnier. Honeybee has no idea what this means, his teachers, and his friend’s parents of course do. I’m expecting the phone to start ringing any minute now. Oh, and when it does, trust me, Buzzer is going to be answering that one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mmmmmmmm Monday: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

This cake is really flavorful and moist. I think it rivals any box mix, is just as easy to make, and doesn't require any "unusual" vegan ingredients like an egg replacer. The vinegar may seem strange to those not versed in vegan baking, but the vinegar combined with the baking soda gives some baked goods the lift and fluff that eggs would provide. I promise the cake won't taste tart or vinegary. The ganache is the perfect light frostingy topping for this cake, not too thick, or too sweet.

Chocolate Cake

The Must Haves:

* 1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose, spelt or whole wheat pastry work best)
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/3 cup oil
* 1 TBSP vinegar (white distilled or apple cider)
* 1 cup cold water

The Choose It or Lose Its (choose one, two or none!):

* 1 recipe Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
* Confectioners' Sugar
* Fresh Berries
* Peanut Butter Frosting

How You Do It:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil a Bundt pan, set aside.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar and water. Mix until just combined.

3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Cool on a wire rack. To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool completely before frosting. For a layer cake, double the recipe and use 9-inch pans.

5. Put on your string of pearls and serve to the family after a big Sunday dinner.

6. Get down with your bad June Cleaver self.

Rich Chocolate Ganache Topping

The Must Haves:

*1/4 cup soy milk
* 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I cheat and use chips)
* 2 TBSP pure maple syrup

How You Do It:

1. Bring the soymilk to a gentle boil in a small sauce pan. Immediately remove from heat and add the chocolate and maple syrup. Use a rubber heatproof spatula to mix the chocolate until it is fully melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use. (Wait until it is just warm to the touch for a drippy, pretty glaze on your cake, it will set up firm once cooled).

Yield: 1 hell of a cake

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Family That Shares Together...

gets every nasty germ imaginable. My kids love to share. It's true! They like to take turns with toys, share food right out of their mouths with one another, pick up any toothbrush they come across in the bathroom each night, they all cram into one chair together to watch TV, and they love to have sleepovers together. Really, so sweet, right?

No. They are like living, walking petri dishes with all this "sharing", and while I am glad for all the siblingly love here, having something wipe out all three kids at once is not so lovely. Right now, it's pink eye. Dani picked it up from preschool in one eye, today it has moved into the other, and into her brother Jooch's eyes too. The Honeybee decided he needed to do an eye exam on the Dani to see this "pink eye" we kept referring too, so it won't be long now until he is infected too.

I had big plans for next week since the kids are off for spring break. We had MOMS Club events to attend, and well planned mommy and me time spent individually with each kid. Instead it will be off to the doctor to take a look at my children's weeping eyes, and strict quarantine.

Oh, and did I mention Dani woke up with a crusty ear this morning? Apparently she had an ear infection, which she never complained about and we had no clue was going on, until she woke up with a gunk ear. Now the Jooch is complaining his ear hurts too. Thank god the Pediatrician has walk-in hours tomorrow morning. Enjoy your spring break everyone, I am in for some heavy duty spring cleaning and degermifying.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's The End of the World as We Know It

The Jooch is approaching two and a half years-old and I am in no way ready to put him in a "big boy bed". He is a monkey; he loves to climb, he is fearless, and he is constantly getting in trouble. I fear that if he was in a big boy bed he would give up his nap and be up wandering the house in the middle of the night. The crib still seems like the safest place for him.

However, the Jooch is making his own rules and has figured out that he can easily scale the side of the bed and wreak havoc on his bedroom when he is supposed to be napping. The funny thing is that he still loves naps and still needs them, which he proved the other day.

I went up the stairs to check on him during his nap and as I crept into his room I noticed that his bed was empty, but he didn't come running to the door. I opened the door further and what should I see but this:

Sounds asleep, curled up in his favorite blanket, on the floor behind the door. While this was so heartwarmingly adorable, it was also the end of the world as we know it. Nap times will be coming to an end soon I fear. I guess I better enjoy every napping moment I can, while they still exist.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where My Heart Lives

Since adopting our daughter, Maia Yordanos, from Ethiopia in 2005 our lives, hearts and minds have been forever changed. We think every day about the family she left behind and how they are fairing. We worry about the children there who have no one to feed them, protect them, educate them, and most of them. Sometimes I look into my daughter's eyes and imagine her alone in a severely poverty and disease stricken country and it is more than I can bear. We decided we needed to do something to help those children who we left behind in Ethiopia, but carry in our hearts.

One of the things we do is sponsor a child through our adoption agency. For $420 a year we provide an education, 3 meals a day, school supplies, clean water and visits from a social worker to assist the family. Every penny of the $420 goes to the sponsored child and in cases where the child lives with family, that money helps to support everyone. Sponsored families receive counseling and financial training in the hopes of creating self-sufficiency.

For more details about the program, watch this slide show. I hope you have better success with getting through it without crying than I did.

If $420 isn't in your budget right now, there are many other sponsorship program options to choose from. Check it out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mmmmmmmm Monday : Vegan Truffles

The Must-Haves:

* 3/4 cup raw cashews
* 3/4 cup cold water
* 1 lb bittersweet chocolate
* cocoa powder

The Choose It or Lose Its:

*Crushed Peppermint Candies
*Use your imagination!

How You Do It:

1.Put cashews and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 1-2 minutes (yes a long time).

2. Scrape the sides down and blend again until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream.

3. Meanwhile, in a double boiler heat the chocolate until it's all melted.

4. Cool the chocolate until it's comfortable to work with and fold in the cashew cream (making sure not to stir too fast or you'll create bubbles).

5. Cool in the fridge for 2 hours (to set).

6. Take out a small ball, roll in cocoa powder, or topping of your choice and store in fridge/freezer. I like to melt a little extra chocolate and put a dollop of it in the palm of my hand, then I roll the truffle in it, and dunk it in the cocoa powder. This creates a little shell of harder chocolate on the soft truffle center. I also like to bury a toasted hazelnut in the middle of each truffle.

7. Repeat until done.

8. Give as gifts to your friend or sweetheart, or bring them along to a girl’s nights out for a little naughty indulgence.

Yields: about 50 truffles, plenty to share!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Knitting Knoobie Giveaway!

My very best friend, Susie, is having a knitty giveaway on her blog. Susie began as a knitting knoobie but has quickly moved on to a knitting knot-so-knoobie.

Check out her blog for really cute knitty crafts and of course, her very first giveaway! She will be giving away two skeins of yarn and a book of knitting themed short stories to one lucky winner. As a native New Yorker Susie wants to know what you would do if you took a trip to the city.

Go, comment, win!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Barf, Barf Go Away

This morning my husband comes home from taking The Honeybee to school and announces that Honeybee is probably going to bring home another stomach bug tomorrow. Now, we have had a problem all winter with a stomach bug that keeps making the rounds in the house. We have Clorox wiped everything in the house and avoided some contact with the outside world hoping that intestinal goodies would leave us alone. It hasn’t worked. At least twice a month we are dealing with someone being sick all over again.

Today the parent’s of my son’s deskmate thought it a brilliant idea to send her to school, even though this child announced to the whole class that she was vomiting last night and this morning. She still wasn’t feeling well, her face pale and ashy, but her mom had somewhere to be this morning and needed her to go to school. We were assured her mom was going to come back and get her after her appointment. Lovely.

This is how it happens. Sending your kids to school when they have been vomiting in the last 24 hours is a huge no-no in the public health rulebook. This child was practically lying on her desk she was feeling so ill. But, hey, mom has somewhere to be so, fuck it, who cares if she makes the whole class sick, which in turn makes everyone in every houseshold sick.

I swear, if The Honeybee is vomiting tomorrow, or a stomach bug chooses to makes it’s home in our intestines again because of this, I will be mailing this mom our snotty Kleenex from our next bout of colds and runny noses.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Trouble With Two

Some days two-years-old is the greatest age that ever was. When The Jooch wakes up in a good mood and everything makes him smile and giggle, life is good. On those days he loves to give kisses, play together and listen to me read book after book while he snuggles on my lap.

Other days two is trouble. I won't say terrible, because that's a bit strong, but it's trouble for sure. Some days my two-year-old wakes up on the wrong side of the crib and the waterworks start before his tiny feet ever even hit the floor. On those days it seems nothing makes him happy, everything is worth crying over and we are both counting the minutes until nap time.

Either way though, I try to remember every moment, good and bad, because this is the last time I will have a two-year-old to enjoy. He is still experiencing new things every day, and this is the last time I will get to share this wonderment with one of my children. Pretty soon we will be done with diapers, temper tantrums, and strollers, and as strange as it seems, I know I will miss every bit of it. Diapers and all.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crunchy Granola

My gal pal Katie is hosting another giveaway that even a vegan like me can get down with, crunchy granola! How perfect.

Check out Katie's blog and sign up for this make your own granola mix giveaway. Get to crunchin' yo!

Monday, March 2, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

A week or so ago my real-life friend, and fellow blogger, Katie, told me about a blog at The Kitchn about ten favorite things from your kitchen. The author wrote about her ten favorite things and then asked readers to submit photos of their favorites from their own kitchens and they would choose several to feature over the next few weeks.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a girl who LOVES a retro inspired kitchen. Anything for the kitchen from 1920 - 1950 is right up my alley. I scour eBay and antique stores for vintage kitchen treasure. So, I snapped a few shots of some of my favorite things, and surprise, surprise, my kitchen is featured on The Kitchn today!

Go check out my kitchy kitchen. Thanks to Katie for the great tip!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's A Hard-Knock Life, Or Is It?


I don’t know about you, but I have always thought that the universe gives you back what you put out. If you are the kind of person who sees the positive in life and doesn’t complain too much about the little things, good things come your way. On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who feels like every sniffly nose, hectic day and poopy diaper is something to gnash your teeth and shake your fist at the heavens about, well, a lot more snot and shit will be coming your way.

I am a glass half-full kind of person, despite my sometimes prickly personality. I really do feel like things work themselves out in the end. I also keep a lot of my life’s little annoyances to myself, because we all have them and I don’t see the point of airing them to all and sundry, knowing full well they are going through the same things as me. Sometimes life is about sucking it up.

Recently my son lost the new Nintendo DS that “Santa” brought him for Christmas. Or, more accurately, my husband lost my son's Nintendo DS. At first I was annoyed that a $129 and $29 game were lost , but that passed in a second when I remembered that in the last year we had found two iPods whose owners could not be located and that my husband and son have since put to their personal use. So, their loss was our gain, and our loss someone else’s. It’s the balance of the universe.

I have been thinking more and more about this recently as a member of Facebook and formerly MySpace. Anyone who frequents these social “networking” sites knows that often times they are more of a social bitchfest. I am getting really sick and tired of reading about every runny nose, minor disappointment, and less-than-perfect spouse in passive-aggressive status updates.

It is at the point that for the sake of my good mood and positive outlook I want to block status updates from ever being posted on my page. It’s enough to make you depressed to read about every small misery day in and day out from hundreds of people. It seems that the posts that are fun, lighthearted and genuinely happy are few and far between. It's not like you get a choice about reading these posts either, because they just randomly show up on your page. It's not like a personal blog, which is like a diary, in my opinion, and something that someone has to make the choice to find and read.

In an effort to balance the universe I am making it my goal to only post updates that are positive and happy, unless of course something major happens. Otherwise, life is too short to let the mundane crud of life get you down.

If all else fails, I will start singing Annie, because noting should make you quit your bitchin’ faster than a an orphan who can still find the silver lining in every cloud. Who’s with me?