Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fail Whale

Just saw the infamous "fail whale" on Twitter for the first time.  I know, so lame to be excited, but I am.

I was GOING to tweet that John's car failed on the way home from roller hockey (so maybe the fail whale is more appropriate than I thought...).  He and JC caught a ride home with another hockey parent, and now he has called AAA and gone back to meet the tow truck.  With his dinner in a Tupperware, poor guy.

So with this, whatever it may be, and John going out and buying a suit (and a 2nd one for $100, and some shirts and ties and a pair of shoes (I should NOT let him go shopping by himself)), and the money I spent on a dress and necklace for the wedding we're going to this weekend, not to mention the gift...

I think the budget is shot for this month.  Does this mean I can just give up and stop cooking at home and talking myself out of buying things (not that I'm good at that anyway)?  I keep hearing about how Americans take on too much credit card debt and spend more than they make.  Can I just be like everyone else?

Don't yell at me, of course I know better.  I'm just tired of turning the A/C up to 80 and sweating today.  And cooking, somehow cooking has become a real chore instead of enjoyable.  Doesn't help that it was 92 degrees today and I didn't have anything in fridge or freezer that I could grill.

Oh, and I am still making something for the happy couple.  We bought them a gift, but I am also using parts of their "save the date" card and their wedding invitation to make a mobile.  A little different, I know, but when I pulled out the invitation to contemplate using part of it for a book, I had forgotten that the illustration on it was an old-fashioned hot air balloon.  (It was a funky, cool invitation, I wish I had thought to scan it before I cut it up, to share with you.)  That said "flying things" to me, and with all the pieces of the cards it seemed perfect for a mobile.  I promise I will take a picture when it's done (I'm close).

And I've discovered yet another obsession.  Carving my own stamps.  It is ADDICTIVE, I tell you.  Yet another thing to spend money on, though.  But there always is, right?

Monday, May 17, 2010

What to do, what to do...

No, no moral dilemmas here.  Just that we have a wedding to go to in 2 weeks.  The daughter of a long-time friend of John's from work.  The parents (our friends) are delightful, interesting people.  The daughter we have only met once, but she and her fiance seem delightful and interesting, too.  The sort of people that make ordering something from their registry feel like a cop-out.

Not that I have anything against getting them something useful, but I'd like to MAKE them something, too.  I'm thinking about a mixed media piece (also known as collage), with a love/marriage theme.  Or a little book with the same idea.  Feels a little pretentious to give them art they should hang up, a book they can choose to display or tuck away if they don't care for it.  But... I'm torn. 


Friday, May 14, 2010

Fail! (Kitchen Edition)

I made Macaroni and Cheese last night from my new Alton Brown cookbook that I got for Mother's Day.  Or rather, I tried to make macaroni and cheese.

I followed the recipe, really I did - even buying whole milk because that was specified.  But somewhere during cooking the sauce "broke" and we ended up with noodles and a grainy, nasty-ish sauce.  Edible, but not good eats.  I think I must have overcooked the cheese sauce during the thickening phase.  My stove burners run hot, and "Joy of Cooking" says to cook a bechamel sauce slowly over low heat.  Alton said "medium", and I over-browned the roux (although I don't think that was the main problem) and probably overheated the milk.  I think I tempered the egg correctly, the sauce seemed ok after that point.  But it was NOT cheesy gooey goodness, although the panko breadcrumbs on top were a big win.

Sigh.  At least the dinner we cooked for John for his birthday the night before came out well.  He requested a home cooked meal, and suggested the kids should help.  So Rachel made the cake (from a mix, but she did well), JC made the potatoes (Crash Hot Potatoes from the Pioneer Woman, yummy!) and helped grill the steak, and William helped make biscuits from Alton's cookbook.  Those were a big win, by the way, because even with his "help", which I'm SURE made for more working of the dough than the ideal, they came out tender and yummy.  And I made my first ganache (I know, what took me so long?), which was fun although really really rich on the cake.  Easy enough, and made us feel fancy (way faster than frosting, I'll say).

So it's a mixed bag, but I still love Alton.  Surprisingly, the book did not include any warnings or fixes about the cheese sauce breaking, but I'm betting if I could watch the episode, there would be some little comment that would make the difference.  John LOVES baked macaroni and cheese, so any help would be appreciated!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini

I went to the bookstore to buy something for John's birthday, and came home with TWO books for me.  (Yes, yes, and something for him)

I didn't open the book until sometime just before 3pm.  I finished it about half an hour ago, and that includes supervising homework, making dinner, a band parent's organization meeting, and MULTIPLE interruptions from my (beloved) annoying children.  Can't they see that I'm reading?

I know I'm a fast reader, but it really is a quick book, and pretty easy to pick up and put down.  And I enjoyed it thoroughly.  She's a mom, a knitter, a writer, and a college professor.  She likes many of the same things I do (NPR!  Terry Pratchett!  The Yarn Harlot!) and is clearly about the same age I am, so I identified with almost everything in the book.  Except the Type A personality thing.  Adreienne challenges herself to knit an insanely complicated Fair Isle sweater - and finish it in a year.  The last bit is the really hard part.

The book is not just about knitting, though, she goes a lot into the WHY of knitting.  Why handknit something that you could buy for much cheaper with less effort?  While she doesn't pretend to answer that question once and for all, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey she goes on to explore answers.

Good book.  Probably even for non-knitters (she translates).

Yay JC!

JC made Wind Ensemble!  That's an honors-level class at his high school, by audition only.  You're required to take private lessons (which he already is), try out for region band (which he did last year, but didn't make it), and be at school ready to play by 7:10am.  Grooooaaaaannn...

He won't get his driver's license until 17.

But we're very very proud of him.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Green Things and Hallucinations

When I was in High School, my friends and I thought it was funny to greet each other that way.  But as we are in the season of green things, it seemed appropriate.

We have started Spring Sports season here.  Practices, games, lessons, it's all fitting into the calendar reasonably well, although there's a lot of driving going on.  And it means that our formerly quiet (for the most part) evenings are over as of now.  But that's ok.  The kids are enjoying their sports, and so far, all teams are performing well.

But it also means I spend a lot of time waiting for game/practice/lesson to finish, and as I'm too cheap to spring for internet access for my phone, my computer time is more limited than before.

Some might say that's a good thing...

Greeting and Salutations to you and yours.  Happy Spring!