Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome to My Laryngitis

When people used to notice my infant twins, they'd often chuckle, "You've sure got your hands full, don'tcha?!" They didn't know the half of it. The girls' boundless energy combined with my husband's NO FEAR policy has turned me into a screaming ninny.

Upon entering the Alaska State Fair, my husband noticed a 30' rock climbing wall 
and sent the girls right on up. "Be careful!" I yelled.

Next, he bought them lunch . . .

Corn dogs and cotton candy. "Gross! Don't get ketchup on your shirt!" I shrieked.

My husband is delighted by the fact that although they are young, our daughters are tall enough to meet the height requirement on a lot of the big rides. No carousel ponies for them. Oh, no. They wanted to go for a spin on the swinging chairs . . .

which seemed innocent enough, until . . .

one giddy girl decided to reach for her sister. The lady next to me did not appreciate
the damage to her ear drum when I bellowed, "Sit RIGHT!"

We spent the remainder of our day in the kiddie ride section so my heart palpitations could stabilize.

Dinner last night: Parmesan and herb Panko chicken breasts, pasta

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, August 29, 2011

View from a Ferris Wheel

There are two types of Alaskans: (1) those who love the State Fair, and (2) the rest. When the haters throw out such excuses as "too many people" and "expensive food," we fair lovers laugh at their nonsense. HA! we say. PISH POSH. People and food are the very reasons that attract us to the fairgrounds each August. Where else can you eat a gyro sandwich, a cream puff, a pork chop on a stick, and an ice cream cone all on the same day? Who doesn't want to run into old friends throughout the afternoon and catch up on what's been happening in their lives? The kids ride the twirly-things, Daddy checks out the four wheelers on display, and Mommy walks among the quilts and jars of jelly. Everybody's happy.

Life isn't worth living without an annual visit to the Alaska State Fair.

Dinner last night: fair food galore

Monday, August 22, 2011

If You Give a Moose a Mushroom

I pulled up into the driveway, hopped out of my car, and just about ran into the rear end of a moose calf that was nibbling the bushes along the side of the house. There was no charging mama in sight, so I whipped out my cell phone from my purse.

As usual, by the time I figured out how to turn on the camera function, the moose was taking off.

The calf stopped running from my bad self and tried to eat a mushroom. Not a real mushroom, mind you, but an ornamental mushroom made out of glass.

When he realized that mushroom wasn't real, he hid behind a tree in embarrassment.
Hiding behind a tree reminded him that he was hungry.

So he wandered out onto the front yard to to try some more mushrooms. 
At least they were edible this time.

Dinner last night: salmon pinwheels, fruit salad

Exactly three years ago:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where Are the Hot Tub and Wet Bar?

Eighth-grade girls are all about their lockers. I don't understand it, since I didn't even have a locker in 8th grade, and in high school—when I was assigned a locker—I never thought once about decorating the metal cage where I kept my textbooks and wet boots. Oh, how times have changed.

My daughter and her friends met up last week at registration, carefully selected their locker locations together, and set about decorating them. My daughter had actually sketched out a design plan for her storage space! This year's colors are blue and green, with a bubble motif.

My locker is ready. I can rest easy.

Dinner last night: panko-breaded tilapia, risotto

Exactly one year ago:

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Exactly three years ago:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Want a Run-on Sentence? I'll Give You a Run-On Sentence!

Flying over my home state's rough terrain reminded me that snow is a sneaky little Gollum creeping over the mountains, making its way to my house, which is a lot like Mount Doom, now that I think of it, all smoky and stinky and scary, with spiders lurking in the corner. Time to open the curtains, wash the dishes, and vacuum the carpets. Wow, did my husband and kids make a mess while I was gone.

Dinner last night: chili, cornbread

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Living Stereotype

My eldest daughter and I returned home last night from a quick trip to Seattle, where yet again I was confronted with one of my worst character flaws: a terrible sense of direction. When will I learn that if my instinct is to turn left, I should ignore that instinct at all costs and turn right? Of course, I always follow my instinct, which is inevitably wrong, and end up circling for hours, lost in a 17-acre maze of some industrial park that has been boarded up since 1992.

The only person in my family who possesses a worse sense of direction is my eldest daughter, who upon returning to our hotel after our first day of gallivanting about Seattle's abandoned industrial parks insisted that our room was 446. Who am I to contradict a 13-year-old's certainty? We stood outside room 446 for a good five minutes trying to open our door, inserting the key from every possible angle—even upside down, which we knew was incorrect, but thought maybe this key is the lone exception in the universe that actually works upside down. We finally gave up and shuffled down to the front desk to get a new key. TO ROOM 346.

The one and only place we found without any trouble at all was the Cheesecake Factory. I made a beeline to that restaurant with complete accuracy, like a human GPS, I tell ya.

Cuban Pork Sandwich, baby!

Dinner last night: packet of pretzels, diet Coke

Exactly one year ago:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Say Goodbye to Summer

School starts next week.

Dinner last night: chicken-vegetable soup, Popeye bread (spinach, red peppers, parmesan)

Exactly one year ago:

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Higher the Hair, the Closer to Jesus

I was cleaning out a box of junk from the garage when I came across an old scrapbook that included a picture we took of ourselves on our first wedding anniversary.

My smile masks my confusion over which I find more hideous . . .
my hair, my shirt, or my sofa.

Dinner last night: tacos, Spanish rice, corn

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thinking of Grandma

After my grandmother passed, my mom and her siblings tearfully went through her home, cleaning and packing and selecting small keepsakes with personal meaning. My mother thoughtfully gave to my sisters and me clippings from Grandma's hoya plant. I was amazed at how quickly my little sprig took root, and the hoya continues to grow large and leafy all these years later on a sunny windowsill in my house. It will sit there for months with its plain green leaves, and then surprise me with fragrant blossoms that seemingly form overnight. They are so lovely. Just like my grandmother.

Dinner last night: barbecue short ribs, mac and cheese

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Rare and Wily Risotto

The only time I've ever eaten risotto was over 10 years ago. Friends took us to a nice restaurant and I thought I'd impress my tablemates by ordering some exotic dish that included wild rice risotto. It was, to use highly-technical jargon of the gourmand, gross. I figured risotto was just one of those foods that I'd have to grow accustomed to . . . but I've never again been willing to eat a spoonful of moldy sand. WHICH HASN'T BEEN DIFFICULT, considering no one I know eats risotto, let alone serves it to company.

Last week, I put the kids to bed, crawled into my own, and fired up the Hulu to watch my guilty pleasure: Food Network Star. I watched as Wolfgang Puck threw down his napkin in disgust, picked up his plate, and trotted into the kitchen to show a student chef how to make a proper risotto. His advice was to use WARM chicken stock until the consistency of the risotto was nice and CREAMY. What? Huh? Puck's risotto looked nothing like the tepid brown pebbles I had been served. Had I been deceived somehow?

Over the years, I've watched many cooking shows. It seems like the one thing that TV cooks have in common is serving their masterpieces "over a bed of risotto." Maybe it's time for me to give it a second try.

So I bought a container of Arborio Italian-style rice. It was just sitting there on the grocery shelf next to all the other brands of rice, like it wasn't some fancy foreign gross-tasting rice.

I cooked it up, served it with some barbecue salmon and corn on the cob, and guess what? EVERYONE loved it and asked for seconds—even the twins! Well, maybe not my 13-year-old who declared she doesn't like fish OR rice . . . before even touching her dinner. When creating the next X-Men film, the screenwriters really should give one of the mutants my daughter's superpower: the amazing ability to know what something tastes like without ever taking a bite.

If you're feeling adventurous, try risotto. It really wasn't hard to make at all, other than having to stir constantly (but that's why you had kids, right? Call one of 'em into the kitchen and make him or her stir while you prepare the rest of the meal). Here's the recipe I used, sans white wine.

Dinner last night: barbecue salmon, risotto, corn on the cob

Exactly one year ago:

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