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Archive for May, 2008

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Stolen Moments Should Be More Fun

I am finding it really hard to steal a few moments for posting.  I’m thinking that posts will be few and far between until the end of July.  Bar review officially started yesterday and, of course, last week our babysitter went home for the summer and I didn’t make any alternative arrangements.  I was thinking that I could work it out on my own.  I can work it out on my own but I’m thinking that’s going to be not so much fun.  I was hoping that I could just do the evening lectures instead of the morning but ugh, I don’t like being out all night.  Anyway, it’s getting me down a little so once this week is over I’m going to figure it out for the 6 weeks that still loom ahead.  

I wrote briefly about the ribs that we tried on Saturday.  They were good but didn’t seem worth all the time spent smoking and basting them.  I want to take back my initial reaction.  We had two racks, one we ate on Saturday and one that we shoved in the fridge and ate later.  I didn’t serve it in the first place because it looked a little charred and I thought, meh, I’ll pull the meat off the bone for sandwiches or enchiladas because the other ones looked so much tastier.  I was wrong, dead wrong.  They were so meltingly tender and delicious.  That rack in particular (which was smaller to begin with) totally blew us away.  Now I know what to look for.  What appeared to be overdone was in fact just right.  

This was supposed to be a quick post so I’ll wrap up with one last tale of woe.  I want share with you my self inflicted ant infestation.  We were outside picking strawberries when I got distracted.  I took the bowl and put it on the picnic table and forgot all about it.  Hours and hours later it started raining.  I run out in the dark and grab the bowl, sprint back inside and put it on the kitchen table and walk away.  I return an hour or so later to find the whole thing covered in ants, covered.  Ants are crawling out of the bowl and all over the table.  I’m pretty proud of myself and that I did not panic.  I’ll take a brief detour here to tell you about the time the cat unleashed a live bird in our bedroom.  The short of it is that it ended with me hysterical, head buried in the blankets and screaming that the bird was in my hair.  Nothing like that happened here.  I had the presence of mind to wipe them all out at once with a couple of shots of seventh generation multi surface cleaner.  I covered everything, the table the wall, and anything within a spray’s reach, then just wiped them up.  There were a few rogues I had to stand around and deal with manually but the cat helped, he gets points for that.  

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Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Sun!

We were so glad to see the sun come out today.  I was so excited to see it that I almost managed to get myself so worked up that I couldn’t get anything done.  Does that ever happen to you?  The errands pile up in an insurmountable heap against other more pleasant things that you could be doing.  For me, the worst is having these sort of non-essential errands that always seem to need tending to at the same moment that a friend is calling to play or that an actual errand needs to be run and whatever these things are that I have to do are on complete opposite ends of the city.  That was me today.  Wendy called to see if Chase wanted to play but I had to pick up these PMBR books I bought on Craig’s List and that I’d already put off picking up all week.  The books, of course, were located in Canton and required money from the bank which, of course, is located in Towson and here I am somewhere in between.  My two destinations couldn’t possibly have been farther apart and the beautiful afternoon was looking like it might go completely to waste.  Right before my head exploded over the whole thing, I figured it out.  Frankly, I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out that our credit union has an ATM location downtown.  

Enough about that boring stuff though.  I picked up the books and we still had time to meet friends to play at Fort McHenry.  I’m so into Fort McHenry.  We took my uncles there when they visited a couple of months ago and I vowed to make use of the park.  You have to pay admission to visit the buildings but the park itself is free to the public.  It’s fabulous.  It’s just grass as far as the eye can see.  Chase can run and run and run and I never have to tell her to look out for anything, it’s just grass.  You can also get right up to the water and there are friendly ducks and crazy aggressive seagulls to feed your rock hard brick of stale homemade whole wheat bread to.  See, nothing goes to waste.  I found something willing to eat it and the kids sneaked a few handfuls too.  We saw sailboats and the giant naval ships.  I’m thinking one day maybe we’ll take the water taxi just for fun.  

I’m glad that you like my dress.  I’ll be sure to put the dresses into alternate ends of our clothing rotation to avoid any potential embarrassment.  Unless the event absolutely calls for us going dressed alike… like in case I start attending the Preakness or something.  Then we can wear the same dress and just get separate and ginormous hats.  

I’m resuming my fake ‘vacation’ for the weekend.  My last hurrah if you will.  I decided that I have definitely earned another 3 days.  So check out Chase’s red highlights in the last picture.  I’m pegging the milkman for them.  Wait, I mean Ben, she definitely gets that from Ben.  That’s what her shirt says anyway.    

 

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

Matching dresses? I thought it might be cute when I was looking at the 2 extra yards of purple knit that I used to make Chase’s dress last week. Now that I’m wearing it I think it might be just a little creepy. Not to mention that at 28 I can’t necessarily pull off what Chase can at 1.

Danielle got me into trouble trying to take pictures of myself in the mirror. Without an LCD viewfinder it was not an easy shot to get but I probably should have tried without being on the phone.

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Monday, May 19th, 2008

And So It Begins

Bar prep that is. I saw through my first 7 hour day of review. I think I’m beginning to see more clearly that this week is sort of a waste of time beyond doing the actual practice test that we’ll take on Wednesday. I could be wrong, I could very well be eating my words come November or whenever the results are released but right now, that’s how it appears to me. I’ve also spent a lot of time agonizing over whether or not I need to take the three day PMBR course in addition to BarBri. If I was working for a firm that was footing the bill it would be a no brainer but when the question boils down to dropping another grand out of pocket on something you’re not convinced will actually help you it becomes a stickier issue. On one hand, what’s that on top of everything else I’ve spent along the way if it means you’ll pass the first time. On the other hand, here comes loan repayment. After much soul searching I’ve decided that even though I believe that I don’t need to take PMBR I won’t be able to sleep at night wondering over the tiniest shred of lingering doubt as to my decision. So.. I hunted down last year’s materials on craigs list and I think that will take care of any lingering doubt.

I was really sad to see my time off come to an end. A week is not nearly long enough. I tried to make the most of it. I napped a lot, made those dresses for Chase, started watching The Wire and read The Kite Runner. It was a real page turner. I thought up until halfway through that it was going to strictly be a profound commentary on the human condition but somewhere around the halfway point it took a turn. I suspect that the author didn’t mean for that to happen but I closed the book thinking that this book was what I expected from The Davinci Code.. only I thought that The Davinci Code just didn’t deliver. I finished The Kite Runner in about three days. It was a real page turner but it didn’t leave me weeping and fell short, I think, of leaving a lasting impression on me.

It’s spring and our strawberries have started to ripen. Pretty exciting stuff. I guess we’ve been getting about 10 per day. I think I’ve gotten to eat about a half a strawberry total. Chase loves just eating them out of hand and that’s where most of them end up. Spring fever has also grabbed hold of our cat Francis. Last week he ran away twice and stayed out all night. On the second night he, of course, came home limping. This cat has spent more time in the emergency animal hospital than I care to think about. I have spent thousands of dollars on his medical care, xrays, days and days of hospitalization. This cat is undoubtedly down to five or six lives at most. We did not visit the emergency hospital this time. How it happens that he always seems to be injured or sick on a Saturday is just totally beyond me. The only upside to having dealt with this so often is that I am pretty well versed in various warning signs. I checked out his foot and it looked ok to me. My professional opinion is that he cut the area around his paw pad jumping the six foot fence. I didn’t see anything lodged in there and it didn’t look bad to me so home we stayed. He has luckily since stopped limping. I think we’re out of the woods here. I’m going to have him listen to Hayden’s song Woody to help him understand what it’s like to be me.



We’ve also been baking bread. I’m trying to figure out how to work that into our day to day. We made this one start to finish in the bread machine. I think this might be the way for us to go at the moment.

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Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Hi There

Now that I don’t HAVE to sit at my computer it’s hard to motivate myself to post. Sunday was commencement. I still can hardly believe that they actually called my name. I was sure that at the last minute someone would rip the rug out from under me and I’d find out I was one credit short or somesuch. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I think Erin hit the nail on the head when she said it was probably some colossal mind game on the part of the administration. I barely held it together. Only the fear of being remembered as the only person weeping at their graduation kept me from totally falling apart.

Things have been pretty low key here since then. I am fighting the customary cold that always descends upon me at the end of the semester. It comes like clockwork as soon as the last task, in this case graduation, is completed. We’ve just been hanging out. Now that the rain has finally stopped we were able to get out a little today and walked to the grocery store this morning and then to the park this afternoon. It’s been a long time since Chase has fallen asleep in my arms but she was close tonight. We’ve had a busy week but I’m inclined to think that she is having a growth spurt or something. She strikes me as unusually sleepy.

I completed another project. I loved the first bubble so much that I made her another. This fabric was so much easier to work with than the last stuff. It’s impossible to be intimidated by working with knits after having handled that… whatever that hideous gauzy stuff was. I have to give credit to my machine though, I don’t think I could have done it without my viking. That machine has totally revolutionized sewing for me. I have the base computerized model but now that I have worked with a computerized machine I will never.. ever go back… ever. The instruction manual is about 10 pages long, thus I actually read it. The most important piece of information in there is that most problems can be solved by either rethreading or using a new needle and it turns out to be 100% true. I have not yet had a problem that wasn’t solved one of those two ways. Not to mention that the thing doesn’t have to be oiled ever! I think it’s time she was given a name don’t you?

We had leftovers for dinner tonight. I kind of like leftovers, leftovers are kind of my “thing.” I have something of a reputation among my friends for coming up with creative ways to turn leftovers into something a little bit snappy. Ben grilled ribeye steaks for us on mother’s day. I have a few go to’s for leftover grilled meats but as I am feeling a little under the weather I wasn’t in the mood for any of my old standbys. I poked through the fridge and freezer and came up with several half bags of veg and a sheet of puff pastry and steak potpie was born. I made a little roux and then a sauce with chicken stock and a little milk with a little dollop of horseradish. It was quite good. I stuffed the leftover bits of pastry with frozen raspberries for a dessert treat.

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Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Pomp & Circumstance

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Friday, May 9th, 2008

The Bubble

I have so many things to write about. I’ll begin by simply saying that you can tell you had a good day when your head is pounding from all the cheap tequila. Today was a great day in spite of the crappy weather.

1. Went to the doctor today for a checkup with my new GP. I brought Chase with me and got there at 9:15 for my 9:30 appointment. At 9:30 the nurse put us back in the exam room to wait for the doc and told me to don a paper gown. I donned said gown and waited… and waited. Do you have any idea how long you can chase a toddler around in a paper gown before it falls away in tatters? Yea, there’s a reason that we don’t wear paper clothes. It was already hanging on by a thread when Chase pointed in through the armpit to make sure I knew that the gown was insufficient to cover my boobs and then reached over to just completely rip it off. Clutching the shredded remains of the gown I searched the cupboards for a new one, stuffed the old one into the trash can and did a quick change. I was pretty mad at having to wait. I was almost at the point of just cutting my losses and going home when the doc showed up. It turned out that I really like her. I have high hopes that she’ll be as good as my last GP in PHL. He was the best.

2. I’ve been stalking a pattern for a bubble dress ever since I saw a little girl sporting one on one of our recent walks. The girl’s dress was just plain black and I loved the way that looked. Of course when I went to buy fabric I bought the opposite of what I wanted. Sometimes I just don’t know what my problem is. In the end I love the way the fabric looks but what a pain in the @ss to sew. I have another yard of it. I’m going to cram it way in the back of my drawer because I never want to see it again. It was like constructing the whole thing out of pantyhose.  I again was inexplicably unable to follow the directions as written but managed to cobble together something respectable.  The best part is that it went together in one night from cutting to finishing and you have to love a dress that doesn’t need a hem.  I think I’ll have C wear it to graduation on Sunday.

3. I took some pictures of some random cuteness we picked up in the last week. I found these egg cups at T.J. Maxx. I picked up the vintage cups at value village. It’s a set of 4 and they’re super cute. I figure why not let Chase have cute cups now that she’s able to use them like a big girl and if they get chipped, meh they were cheaper than the sippy cups ever were. The juice boxes are from Costco. Chase doesn’t drink juice at home but when we’re out I find myself spending lots of money on bottle water and the like. The idea with the juice boxes is to be able to have a sip of something cold in my purse that’s not all huge and plastic. They’re adorable and only 4oz, the perfect size.

4. The giant pink beverages were an attempt at a cocktail sometime earlier this week. I saw a recipe somewhere for a Jamaican refreshment brewed from hibiscus blossoms. I wanted to try it out but took the fake it don’t make it approach and started with red zinger tea bags (artistic license). It was great until I decided to add a shot of rum. I don’t think I care for light rum. I’ll make it again as iced tea, red zinger, lime juice and sugar over ice, yum.

5. We celebrated the end of the semester today with a happy hour playgroup. Chase had 5 friends and I had five friends and everyone had a blast. I made margaritas that were so good considering how little effort went into them that it’s just stupid. At almost 1.50 each I wasn’t shelling out 30 bucks for the number of limes it would take to make enough margaritas for 5 thirsty ladies and 2 thirsty hubbies. A little research yielded the following recipe: 1-12oz can limeade, 12 oz tequila, 1/4 c cointreau, 2 qts ice I worked in two batches, poured it into a pitcher, popped it in the freezer and poured into salt-rimmed glasses as necessary. As an aside, you should probably have a blender to make these. I, of course, do not have a blender. We replaced the last one with an immersion blender when the last one died. I had to improvise a little. I started with crushed ice and used the adapter of the immersion blender that’s kind of like a food processor mini chopper thing. It was an adequate stand in and frankly after a couple of drinks no one cared anyway.

The kids had so much fun. Chase may have a new boyfriend… or two!

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Monday, May 5th, 2008

Naan on the Barbie

I saw Steven Raichlen making these on his show over the weekend and was salivating over them.  They fit perfectly into our cooking out theme and paired with shish kabobs turned out to be something of a pantry friendly dinner.  I started thinking about this way before noon while, as usual, Erin and I tried to hold off on eating lunch until a respectable hour.  What better way to stifle hunger than to think about dinner?  You’d think in time you would learn not to go down that road but the lesson never seems to take.  We’re on about day three of chicken for dinner.  It may not have been three consecutive nights but we definitely have way too much chicken in the freezer and I’m not buying any more meat until some of that is under control.  

That being said, even though I started planning in the morning I forgot all about it until 4:30.  The bread needs at least an hour and a half of rising time so it was a race against the clock to get things together so we could eat as close to our regular time as possible.  You can find the recipe here.  I mixed the dough by hand and started the kneading in the kitchenaid but it made this giant tall ball after a few minutes and had the motor straining so I finished the kneading by hand.  The recipe says to punch down and to form 2″ balls to yield 15 but I was only able to get 11, I can only assume that I was rolling them too big.  

I froze 6 portions to be defrosted and rolled out for grilling later and prepped the other 5 for tonight.  As written I think the recipe has you butter the topside of the bread after putting it down on the grill but I’m pretty sure that he buttered the dough before slapping it down on the show.  That made the most sense to me so that’s what I did.  Ben didn’t have any problem with sticking it’s a really great recipe.  Nothing beats hot fresh bread with dinner.  I guess it really should have been lavash but hey, you take what you can get.  It was quite an international feast actually.  Bread from India, kabob from, where, Turkey I guess and a little condiment inspired by tzatziki or raita.  Nobody cared where it came from as they stuffed their pie holes full of naan.  I think Chase ate about two bites of chicken but ate an entire piece of bread on her own.  The chicken marinated in a little olive oil, dijon and the juice of two lemons with a couple of cloves of grated garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper.  A good supper and I’m down to one last package of chicken!  

Even though I know the sooner I finish the work I have to do the sooner my summer begins I still refuse to work on anything.  Like right now for example I should be working on my pretrial order but I’m writing this instead.  last night I cleaned up the office in spite of its having been a total disaster for the last several months.  It just had to be done last night.  I added two drawers under my desk and mounted shelves that have NEVER been up on any wall even though we bought them when we moved into our last place four YEARS ago.  Better late than never.   I guess I’ll go get cracking on that work.  Oh, so our stimulus check arrived and I guess I shouldn’t have talked about it out loud because I actually heard the water heater heave oh, thank god before it conked out.

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Monday, May 5th, 2008

McCalls 5304

I’m really happy how this turned out in spite of all the bumps in the road along the way.  It’s an easy pattern to work with.  The views without the, what I call couture :), style collar are very, very, simple and quick to pull together.  I find recently that it’s hard to follow written instructions.  I find myself looking at the pictures and following along and this pattern is simple enough to allow me to do that.  The pants are a little longer than what I think capri length, I would like to see them a little shorter so that they are obviously not just pants that are too short.  You can see that there are still come issues with the rise but adding the waistband was a big improvement.  I like this pattern but I think I’m ready to move on.  I was stalking a particular Simplicity pattern waiting for it to go on sale and it finally did and I found some cute fabric on clearance that should be perfect.  I’m anxious to get working on it.   

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Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Fake It Don’t Make It

I finished another project. You’d think that I love hand sewing and finishing if you saw me working on this thing today. I had to sew and re-sew and sew the snaps again before I had them right. I almost abandoned the whole thing after the first two failed attempts. These are from the same pattern I used to make the ladybug dress. The fabric is a lot busier in the final product than I had envisioned but it’s been in my stash so long that it’s practically vintage and I wanted to use it. Not to mention that Chase has a pair of blue shoes that I think will be cute.

I almost botched the pants irreparably. I can only imagine that I made a mistake in cutting but the pants had no ‘seat.’ I tried to save them by adding a waistband made from 2″ lace and removing a row from the double stitched crotch seam. I figure it’s better to get some wear out of them even if they fall apart rather than never getting to wear them at all.  The lace is from a grab bag of notions that I found at the thrift store.  I’m never lucky enough to find stuff like this.  It’s perfect because it has a flower motif that’s similar to the fabric.  I thought the frog would be cute but now I wish I had made a little felt daisy for the front.  Next time.  

During an incredibly short lived bib making phase I bought a presser foot that applies bias tape, it might have a special name but if it does, I don’t know it.  It came in a package with absolutely no instructions but it was pretty self explanatory.  It was so easy to use and gave a really nice finish.  I didn’t have any of my usual problems with catching all the layers.  My last trip to JoAnn’s I stocked up on bias tape for an easy finish on upcoming projects.  

Earlier we planted the new box. We were able to use some odds and ends that we had hanging around.  Ben added the posts from an old headboard. We’ll use them and some garden twine to trellis cukes and stake tomatoes later in the season. We bought some plants and some seeds and did some flowers. I tried to keep it simple, flowers I have had success growing in the past, sweet peas, cosmos and zinnias. In spite of my best efforts I, of course, bought duplicates of about 3 types of seeds but I did find an awesome zinnia called envy. It looks like this: Read the rest of this entry »

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