Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year In Review

Today is the last day of 2008. (you knew that, way to start off with a dud) As such, it's time to eat some junk late at night before the diet kicks in and think about how far we've traveled in 365 short days.

My best friend since 8th grade and I "resolve" every year. Our ritual includes going to Uno, last year's resolutions in hand, checking off what we did, laughing at how we didn't do hardly anything we said we would do, then beating ourselves up about being fat and lazy and writing new resolutions. All over nachos and deep dish pepperoni pizza. Yes, I now what "irony" means. And "self defeating." And "stupid."

Anyhow, as a year in review, I give you "2008 Resolutions and Goals"
  • Redo upstairs bathroom (paint, decorate, change light and fan). I (and by I, I mean DeuceDad) knocked this one out of the park because he installed a new tub/shower and 2 new toilets in the new house. Go DeuceDad!
  • Tackle Debt. I don't want to talk about finances here but suffice it to say that we rocked professionally this year and are now happy with our financial situation.
  • Lose weight. I lost what I gained earlier this year if that counts for anything
  • Exercise 3x/wk. I'm really doing that since October. Woo hoo!
  • Run 5k in spring. HA!! (that's a sarcastic "ha". Didn't happen)
  • Get a new roof. Um, we sold the old roof and bought a house with a new roof, does that count?
  • Reevaluate college. I was half-heartedly pursuing a Master's degree. I'm not anymore. Reevaluated and quit. Good for me.
  • Get house organized! This house is actually less organized than the last. Not good.
  • Exfoliate. I know that's a weird goal - but I had let my skin fall into disrepair. I'm in love with Dove Cool Moisture now, and I'm soft as a baby's rear.
  • Plant vegetable garden. Nope.
  • Cook my way through a cookbook. I found and unpacked my cookbooks, so I'm halfway there, right?
  • See friends at least once every other week. I was struggling with balancing motherhood/work/self. I'm giving myself the thumbs up here, even though I'm not working now, plus I moved close to BFF who I know see constantly.
  • Go on date with DeuceDad once per month. Not at all. I think we went out by ourselves twice this year. Eek.

6 out of 13. Not good. I wouldn't pass a Regent's exam with that grade. I did have a couple of things going on this year, so it's not like I spent the whole year playing with myself. I would give the year in general a big thumbs up. Move and new job accomplished, money set in order, and good exercise habit formed. The other items were things I would still like to do, but I feel good about where I've been this year.

Tomorrow's installment: Next year's crazy-long list of resolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What to do with all that paper

After the Christmas catalog-rush, the mailbox is partly ripped of the side of the house from the shear weight of all the catalogs we received, and the magazine basket is listing precariously. Time for action!

Reduce: I am a long-time believer in Consumer Reports, but I don't actually use the magazine the way it's intended. It just seems that I'm always buying things at some other time than when that thing is reviewed, and I never keep enough back issues to make the buying guide useful. So this year instead of the same old subscription, she bought an online subscription with searchable archives for how to buy any conceivable consumer product!

Reuse: All the health/fitness, fashion, and decorating mags go to my BFF for a second reading.

Recycle: That is 90% Cabela's catalogs BTW. We spent enough money this year that we may be getting the hard cover catalog.

That only took 5 minutes and it cleared some clutter. If I figure out how to cut back on the catalogs I'll be sure to let you know!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My New Toy

Santa brought me a new toy! Nice orange boxes, huh?

And the contents? A dSLR!! I've been wanting one of these. I've talked for a long time about getting into photography. I also want to be able to take some more artistic pictures to use in scrapbooks - you can only have just so many posed shots, right? DeuceDad is such a good listener that he remembered I had mentioned all that. He did a ton of research and went to a real camera store... what a great santa!

It takes great "plain-old" shots of Deuce being cute (playing with the shopping cart my parents got him for Christmas)

But I still have a lot to learn. The auto modes make it really easy to use but I want to learn the features and how to take some special shots - like close-ups:

Next I really want to work on action shots of Deuce. It will take 3 frames per second (and this thing is for beginners!) so I think I can do some cool things with that. I also have a big zoom lens so it would be an opportunity to take some scenery shots especially at my in-laws.

Yay presents!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Collective Sigh of Relief

Christmas is over. It was good, no complaints about the last 24 hours. And now may I have my life back, please and thank you.

I was a Grinch this year. Not in the mood, not having fun shopping or preparing. It really all came to a head when I couldn't find "the story." My father and his father before him always read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before putting the kids to bed Christmas Eve. It's a cherished part of our holiday tradition. When DeuceDad became a father in 2007, my dad bought him his own book and passed on the tradition. DeuceDad read the story to his wife and infant son last Christmas, our first as a family of our own. It was really a wonderful experience for me, and I hope for DeuceDad too.

Fast forward to December 24, 2008. We moved months ago, and with piles of boxes left to unpack, I can't find the story anywhere. I tore apart the basement. DeuceDad tore apart the garage. I burst into hysterical sobbing. We had gone the better part of a month spending money and fooling around with expensive gifts and I had forgotten one of the few things I truly enjoy - the story. I unwound with Deuce for a few minutes while DeuceDad re-searched the basement, and then it came to me. An odd box of books hidden around behind some shelves in the family room. It was found. I slid down the wall onto the floor and just breathed.

That sums up the month leading up to Christmas Eve dinner. DeuceDad and I cooked together like we haven't since last year, he submitted himself to hours of carols, and everyone had fun.

Christmas morning, Christmas morning part two, afternoon nap time, and Christmas dinner where all really wonderful and we were both able to enjoy watching our parents shower Deuce with affection (and gifts. Oh the gifts.).

Next year I plan to reread this post December 1 to remind myself of what really matters. To be honest, I don't think I can put my finger on what that thing is that really matters. Maybe it's sharing something as simple as a poem read aloud, seeing smiles on faces when they got what they really wanted, biting into food someone made from scratch, sitting back at the end of it all and feeling glad it's over. There it is - feeling glad it's over. Because as important as holiday traditions are, I think the everyday is more important. Remind me of that next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The PJs had it

...until I realized that I had 2 incomplete gifts and MILs gift probably isn't going to be here on time so we went out. Well, and I mopped the kitchen floor. But other than that, the PJs had it ;)

It's Christmas Eve everyone! The wrapping is done (unless UPS really comes through for me, please, please, please), the menus and shopping are done (some cooking to do but that's okay), and the house really isn't in bad shape (I've managed to maintain fairly well from my birthday).

The Christmas CDs are out in full force - any favs? My mom and I buy the Hallmark CDs every year, Barry Manilow from last year is spinning now. I have to admit that my all time favorite is Mariah Carey. "All I want for Christmas is you" has been my ring tone for the last month, and if the phone rings in the car, I often have that song on the radio, too. It's an obsession.

I wanted to post the video, but Sony apparently "requested" that the embed feature be disabled. Bah Humbug. If you are so inclined, you can click through.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

The DeuceFamily

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Either way, I'm going to be angry

DeuceDad has found ALL of his presents so far. He has even found the two extra presents I bought him because he found his "big" present. I blame myself - I left things lying out where 99.99% of the time he would never look but happened to need something right there. I just have such a hard time finishing a task beginning to end with Deuce around. He always needs something, which I don't blame his 18 month old self for, but it leaves a lot of unfinished business.

I was angry at DeuceDad for finding things and giving them a close inspection instead of walking away.

Then I was angry at myself for leaving gifts out and allowing the surprise to be spoiled.

But now I'm angry at DeuceDad again. "Well, if you get out of bed now you'll get more done and won't be able to blame Deuce for not finishing things."

Now I'm angry. But am I going to accomplish a lot today just to show him I can, or lie around in my pjs to show him I can.

I'm voting for pjs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Siren Song...

...of How the Grinch Stole Christmas means Christmas is really almost here. Time to dress up the pets and cook the roast beest!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy-a Birth-a-day-a To-a Me-a

I am one of those annoying people who hate my birthday. I hate getting older, hate assessing where I've been in the last year, hate planning for next year. I'm very happy in my daily existance, but once a year I take stock and find myself to be aging incredibly fast and accomplishing at an incredibly slow rate.

This year is no exception. At least the breakdown came last night when I cried to DeuceDad that I'm a loser with no job and there is no hope for me. With that behind me I hope to be able to enjoy my day.

I went to Jazz this morning and came home to Deuce already up, fed and dressed, and coffee made. DeuceDad's going out to shovel while I enjoy Deuce for a while.

Then maybe some shopping, chili eating, visiting with family and then board games!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I interrupt this blog post to give you a blizzard

Happy Friday, people, and welcome to New York State where we are experiencing um, clement (is that a word? the opposite of inclement) weather in the form of a blizzard.

At this moment I am second guessing the decision to buy a new computer instead of a snowblower. Why this moment? I am newly out of the shower I had to take to thaw my frozen skin from spending over an hour shoveling the driveway in stupid thin pants. I seriously loved this computer until 90 minutes ago. Oh, and our 2 car garage with the nice wide driveway. And the large lot so the house isn't too close to the road. All brilliant ideas in the summertime.

I thought I read something about 30 days same as cash...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookie Compromise

Christmas cookie baking is one of my favorite traditions. Every year my mom and I spend one of the days after Thanksgiving baking 10s of dozens of Christmas cookies, many of them Italian recipes handed down from her immigrant grandmother. We use fragrant ingredients like orange zest, cocoa, anise and nuts to create delicious treats we only have once a year.

These cookies are my favorites for sentimental reasons as well as their taste.

DeuceDad really loves chocolate chip.

I maintain that there is nothing special or festive about a chocolate chip cookie. I make them all year long and while they are delicious there's nothing Christmas-y about them.

But last year I figured out a compromise - I made chocolate chip Christmas tree cut-outs. The dough is too sticky to roll them out, so I spread the dough on a half-sheet pan, baked, cooled, then cut with a cutter.

The process begins (with some minor sampling from the corner)

Festive, huh?

The leftovers are the cook's treat:

Feel free to use that idea - you can cut any shape. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Your backyard friends..."

I'm hiding in the office while Deuce watches a little afternoon Backyardigans. I even have music on. Am I concerned that Deuce will get in trouble/hurt? Um, no, that would require him to move away from the television.

I just can't stand the Backyardigans any more. I like them. It's a cute show. Creative. I don't ever want to see it ever again!

Rant over. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday: Menu Planning

It's that time of year again - cooking and eating all the once-a-year special foods you only get at Christmas time. And for us that means buying exotic ingredients that I will no doubt forget at the grocery store unless I have a detailed list. Sharing time!

My birthday is coming up on Saturday (28! Yike!). We're having:
Beef chili
venison chili (depending on how many people are coming)
white chili
corn bread
toppings: cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, green onions

We're hosting Christmas eve and having:
DeuceDad's family's seafood salad
DeuceDad's family's tuna recipe
lemon spaghetti
caesar salad
some kind of dessert I haven't decided on yet

And Christmas morning:
Hashbrown casserole
pecan french toast

So good!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

W is for Winter

Winter has challeged me for finding things to do with Deuce. It's too cold and wet for babies at the playground and story hours at our local libraries are over until after New Year's. We go to the children's museum - that's about all I've got.

Oh, and this box.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baby "Shower"

Today I have the chance to talk about three of my favorite things; crochet, papercrafting and party planning!

My best friend from our old hometown is having her second baby. I haven't been around during the pregnancy like she was for me, so I wanted to do something special for her. I started off by making the Seija Set from Stitch and Bitch: The Happy Hooker. This came out really well and I would definitely make it again in any color combo for boy or girl babies. I love the braid accent just to make a simple thing a little special.

When I had Deuce, she and another friend threw us a really great shower - a couple's shower, which I had never heard of before - and I wanted to do something for her too. Showers for second babies are kind of a faux pas, plus she's having her second girl, so she doesn't need anything. She cloth diapers, so she doesn't even need diapers.

So for something special I booked a party at a place called Make and Take Gourmet. It's a meal prep place, plus they have a nice little sitting area where we can have some snacks and cake. The idea is the guests prepare meals and give some to the guest of honor and take some home for themselves. This is the ultimate party to throw - I'm bringing the snacks and cake, that's it. I invite people and Make and Take handles the RSVP's preparation and clean-up. Plus it's something she will use and will make her life easier after the baby comes. I'm so happy about this idea!

You'll notice I said a magic word - invitations! They're a tri-fold with all the info printed on the inside and embellishments on the front. Not too shabby for using what I have on hand. I'm being serious, I didn't buy anything for this. The only thing that went wrong with them is that I set up the words inside to print in 3 columns - but I didn't fix the margins to really center the columns on a tri-fold page. But I already printed everything so it's going to have to be okay.

I've had that elephant stamp and the special delivery stamp for years. It's Elephant And Baby from A Muse Art Stamps. I love every single thing A Muse sells and would shop myself silly there if I didn't have such amazing personal restrain. (ha ha ha ha ha!!)

And to top things off, I happened to find cute paper plates and napkins half price at Target last night. This thing is really coming together!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When did Wednesday get here?

I somehow completely missed Tuesday! I had a good tackle too! When we moved into the new house our garage was literally full front-to-back, side-to-side, floor-to-ceiling full of boxes and furniture. I unpacked 8 more boxes Monday so that both of our vehicles now fit in the garage!! Woo hoo! One of my must-haves when we moved was at least a garage for "my" vehicle. Which is a waste of lumber if you can't fit anything in there for all the junk!

Well that took up my whole day Monday, so Tuesday was laundry and housework catch up, and new cell phone day! Check it out! (Sorry the pic is huge...)

I'm so in love. I have tons of stuff to play around with, contacts to put in, features to figure out. Oh, did I mention this is my birthday present! Early, but awesome!

Um, what else? Oh, I applied to another job. No word on how the interview went, although I'm assuming not stellar since I haven't heard back yet. I know it's the holidays, but I would love to hear something back. No, scratch that. I'd like to be left in suspense and then hear a yes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy 18 month birthday!

18 months ago, I became Mom. I'm so thankful.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm probably the last fiber-crafter on earth to try Noro yarn, but the day came on Friday when I reached into my (small) stash of revered yarn and pulled out the Noro Kureyon, printed the instructions for the Rook hat and scarf, (Ravelry links) and unearthed my hallowed but seldom used carved rosewood K hook. This was going to be good.

And it was. The colorway I bought (deep blue/olive 233) doesn't have as much variegation (word?) as some, but I do like all the colors (no muddy brown blobs). So color after color was pleasing. Definitely some detritus - sticks and such on my lap after completing the crown of the hat. One knot. Thick and thin spots. Good fun after the 100s of rows of solid-color sc I'm doing for DeuceDad's SU afghan.

But I don't love the pattern - there's this spike stitch that I can't quite master that you're supposed to do when the color has completely changed to really show off the colors. Maybe it's my dye-lot, but the colors are changing gradually and I don't see the drastic change.

My gauge was also WAY off - soooo tight which is odd for me, I typically go down 2 hook sizes from what's suggested in the pattern. I mean, a K hook for worsted weight yard is a huge hook in my world. So I modified the number of increases to get a big enough crown (I guess that means I've made a few hats that I could do that without getting up for reference material). I also had to rip back a few times because I misjudged a color run and had to move my spike stitch. Oh, and this stuff HATES frogging. I actually broke the yard twice.

So I'm going to finish the hat because I don't want to risk destroying a whole skein by frogging the thing. I'm going to rethink the scarf though... we'll see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

V is for Villain

This was picked up Tuesday. Not clean (the door didn't get that dusty in 3 days), but picked up. Not remodeled (nice carpet and panelling, huh?), but picked up. And now? Junk. On the floor. Again.

Toddlers. Humph.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

U is for Underwear

When you are one, your undershirt is a perfectly acceptable outfit. You can even dress it up with a hat if desired.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday: Crap... I mean craft... Room

First I just want to say that after the awfully unproductive day I had yesterday, I've already done more housework in the 2 hours I've been awake. Phew.

Anyhow, our new house has an office on the lower level, that will someday be a real live craft room. In the meantime it has turned into a garbage dump. Since I don't have a camera today, I'm going to give you the 360. Starting at the door -
  • stool with books, pencil case, tissue paper on it, and work desk detritus under.
  • wire shelves with sorting trays. Sorting trays are empty
  • bolt of fabric for as-yet not started curtains
  • book shelf with one box worth of books unpacked
  • computer with modem lying next to it
  • desk with monitor, keyboard, old phone charger, baby wipe wrapper on it
  • filing cabinet, piled on top are empty CD cases, baby art and potentially bills
  • pile of junk
  • box of junk
  • empty Cricut cutter box
  • box of junk
  • box of junk
  • schnitzels of paper from die cutter
  • card table with ABC book project, empty bag of sun chips, papers to be filed, board book
  • shredder with stack of stuff to be shredded on the floor next to it
  • the center part of a ring stacker
  • a Mary Kay Satin Hands set

And I wonder why I have a hard time being creative. I'll update when it's tackle-complete

Monday, December 1, 2008

Waste of Space

Deuce is recovering from a virus and took a 5 hour nap today. And I did nothing. I took a nap, and ate left over taco dip. I'm a waste of space. And my stomach doesn't feel great now because of the snacking. Ugh.

Yay It's Monday! (I didn't just say that did I?)

It's a new week and time to come up with a game plan. In no particular order, this week I plan to:
  • Keep on that house work
  • Cook Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • Take pics and update Ravelry with the scads of crocheting I've finished recently
  • Apply to more jobs
  • Take Deuce to at least 2 activities
  • Work out!
  • Finish the ABC book
  • Process, post and print November pictures
  • Do one home improvement/organization project TBD

Okay, now I'm expecting you to hold me to that!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I said the other day that I haven't gone on a diet. I haven't. But I starting doing Jazzercise.

If you were laughing, you can stop now. It is so fun and such a great workout, and despite my horrible eating habits I'm losing weight.

The music is good. It's not sweatin' to the oldies. Each instructor has their own style, for example one of our instructors plays a lot of pop rock/dance, the next plays dance and a little country.

The moves all have lower impact variations. This was key for my first month. Now that I've built some muscle strenght I'm doing the regular versions. But they're there if you are getting back in shape or a little sore one day.

It's a solid hour work out, offered 6 days per week. I only make it to 3 or 4, but if you want to sweat, and do lifting and abs, 6 days a week, it's available. Only at certain times though, which is a drawback. But it doesn't give me any opportunity to procrastinate - it's either go or don't.

I've been going about 6 weeks now and I still really like it. We'll talk again in 4 months when my membership runs out and I have to re-sign up. But for now I'm really loving it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

And now we wait

I haven't posted much lately - I have had a series of phone interviews and I scored a face-to-face interview and I've been driving myself crazy with nerves. The face-to-face was today and I think it went really well. I'm not really expecting to hear anything until after Thanksgiving, so now I just wait and enjoy my time with Deuce. Hopefully I won't be a SAHM very much longer. Hopefully?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The check is in the mail

When I belonged to Weight Watchers, there were always women at meetings saying they wanted to be at their high school weight in time for their reunions. I cheered for them - who wouldn't want to strut into that gynasium/party house looking hot, drawing whispers from the worn out soccer moms and sidelong glances from ex-boyfriends?

Um, me apparently.

My reunion is next Friday and I haven't mailed the check and I most certainly have not gone on a diet. I'm a LOT heavier than I was in high school. I mean, I'm recognizable, but if someone hadn't seen me in 10 years it might be a shock. If they care, and I don't particularly.

I mean, I want to lose weight for some other very good reasons - keep up with Deuce, be healthy, look good naked, you know, the usual. But impressing my old classmates just isn't one of those reasons for me.

Maybe if I was more interested in the reunion I would have had my jaw wired shut and lost a lot of weight so that I could show what a jerk he was for not asking me to the prom, or that she should have invited my to her grad party.


But I didn't ship myself off to fat camp and here's why. My life is great. Not perfect, but great.
High school wasn't the glory days for me - these are. I'm happier now than I ever was. I don't think it will be particularly vindicating to share that with a bunch of people I used to know.

There are two things that make me want to go, though. One is sheer curiousity. What did 10 years do for a bunch of people who shared every day for 13 years of their lives? The other is the acquaintances - those people on the periphery of my circle of friends. I honestly only have 2 friends here right now and it wouldn't hurt to know a few more people.

I have been back and forth on this so much that it's pathetic. Do I really think it will be fun? Should I be spending $72 right now on something I'm not wild about? I'll have Bob with me, and I'm sure he'll get our money out of the open bar, so... I'm off to address an envelope.

This better be good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Now with pictures!

I updated "Eaten Alive by the Alphabet" to include pictures. Seems all my PC needed was a good night's sleep (turned off) and the camera and printer seem to be happy again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The funny thing about my temper

I've noticed a funny thing about my temper today. I raised my voice at Deuce (for hitting my glasses which he knows not to do), dumped him off in his father's lap and, frustrated, flounced down the stairs to the office. In the basically 4 days I was alone with Deuce I didn't even start to lose my temper. I wonder if I am quicker to get frustrated when there is an option - giving him to his father - and more apt to keep my cool if I am the only parent and therefore don't have the luxury of someone else to play with/feed/comfort/disipline him.

This seems counterintuitive. You would think that I would have a shorter fuse when all the responsibility is on me. I don't really get it, but I'm glad that it's that way. Oh and I'm so glad DeuceDad is back from camp...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eaten alive by the alphabet

Can I just start off with a big "argh"? I took some pictures to accompany
this post, and my camera just stubbornly says "one moment" when trying to
connect to my PC. That means I can't download any pictures.
Argh! Please do me the favor of imagining photos in your mind. Thank

Deuce's alphabet scrapbook is off to a challenged start. The instructions that came with the cover set suggest doing one page per letter with one photo and journalling. I would envision the final product being titled "The ABCs of Deuce" or similar. I decided to do two pages per letter with lots of things that start with each letter so that we could read the book together now.

I started off just making the "A" page. (It is missing airplane, btw). Fun, kind of time consuming.

I thought I could streamline the process by die-cutting all the letters, making all the page backgrounds, and then adding the embellishments as I found/made them. This went well.

I was thinking to myself that I should have used a lighter background and dark letters to make the letters easier to read. But, I decided it would have to do because I didn't want to scrape all the letters off and risk ruining the pages. Until I remembered I wanted two pages per letter... So off the letters came. I added a white page in between each colored page and mounted the letters on the white page.

This whole process has been 3 naptimes (less laundry and blog-reading time). But the tedious part is done and now on to die cutting animals!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Present Day!

Guess what came in the mail? My first issue of Interweave Crochet!! Thank you Carly!

I'm so excited to start some of the great looking projects in there. I think this is in my future...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tackled: Clutter and Over the Scrapbooking Hurdle

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

My tackles so far this week are minor as far as actual housework goes, but huge mentally. First was the kitchen. See how my counter tops are free and clear of clutter?

That's because it's all over here.

Poof! Gone! And all in it's proper places! This is a constant problem for me. I just toss things in the room they belong in (if that) and move on. Definitely a habit I have to break while at home.

Next, and more in the "mental tackle" category, is I started Deuce's ABC book! First, I didn't have a place to work. My future craft room is what it is. The future craft room. So this is a card table with the start of this really cute book from Creative Memories (product seems to have been discontinued, sorry). Can't wait to share when it's all done.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It was worth the back pain

I have a muscle problem in my back that gets worse when sleeping on unsupportive mattresses and riding in the car for extended periods of time. Guess what I did this weekend? And my back feels...? Exactly.

It was a really nice weekend, though, and worth the aftermath to my back. While I had no internet, there is just enough cell signal there seems to be improving so I wasn't totally out of the loop. Saw family, friends, and didn't go to the scrapbooking store. I know that's a total reversal from Friday! That was my last chance - she's closing - but I'm okay with it because I saw my BFFs and their children (and 2 pregnant bellies!) so it was really great. Oh and MIL fed us until I couldn't walk. She makes this dish she calls Steak Pizzaiola that is so delicious. She uses beef and makes the sauce separately. I thought pizzaiola had bell peppers in it, but whatever, this is so good it could be called Mystery Surprise and I would still love it. I make it with venison, so here is my crockpot version.

Venison Pizzaiola

4 lbs venison roast, steaks or stew meat, or any tough cut of beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans tomatoes (any style i.e. diced or crushed)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 C breadcrumbs
1/2 C grated parmesan reggiano cheese

Combine meat, garlic, tomatoes and spices in the crockpot and cook on Low 8 hours. Transfer to a 9x13" baking dish. If a roast was used, cut the meat into serving size portions. Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs over the casserole. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta, or with crusty bread.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My two front teeth

I got my first request for Christmas ideas today! This gets less fun every year as I try to think of ideas that don't require a savings plan. I really have my eye on cork flooring for the craft room and hall of the family room. Not a great gift idea. I love kitchen stuff, but don't have space for everything I have. I hate asking for clothes because I hate making returns. What else is there?

So far I have a robe, a subscription to Simple Scrapbooks magazine, a garbage disposal and a garage door opener. I rock.

So what do you want for Christmas?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Goin' Back, or, I may have a scrapbooking problem

Not quite sure how to title today's post. Let's begin with the facts.
  1. I will be spending the weekend at my in-laws
  2. My in-laws live 20 miles from the town we just moved away from
  3. I have not seen my friends from upstate since I moved
  4. There is a fabulous scrapbooking store in in-laws' town
  5. I have no job

What do all these things have to do with each other? Well, I'm really excited to see my friends, 2 of whom are pregnant and I'm just dying to hear everything. The thing is, all these friends live another 20 miles minimum from our old house. So that's going to be an hour in the car to see people, give or take. Deuce is just not going to put up with all that driving and being told not to break other people's belonging. So I have to talk to MIL to see if she will babysit before I make any plans. Which will most likely mean everyone will be busy.

Where does that leave me? Well... if I don't have any social plans... I'll have plenty of time for Crop Paper Scissors (no web site sorry)! Which means I will spend money I don't necessarily have on things I don't necessarily need instead of seeing people who have been friends for years. It's a matter of practicality. I mean, MIL certainly will be able to babysit for 30 minutes while I step out, but all day might be pushing it.

Um, so does that mean I'm picking shopping over my friends? Not at all. I just hate to roll into someone's house, dump off my kid and skeedaddle. Likewise I hate to come over to a friend's house, screaming banshee in tow and demand goldfish crackers.

If for whatever reason I end up at Crop Paper Scissors I'm not going to feel guilty. Not for a minute. And I will buy fabulous products. And they'll understand because they're my friends.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tackled - Yard work!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I finally put my nose to the grindstone and did yard work. I raked a mountain of leaves (that' just what was in the front yard by the way)...

And planted 100 bulbs (and 2 mums) in the front bed so I'll have some flowers in the spring!

So here's where I do a little environmentally-friendly encouragement. To all out there in temperate climates with lots of deciduous trees in their yards - please, please for the love of all things holy, please quit with the leave blowers! Think about what you're really doing - burning up fossil fuels in an inefficient stinking two-stroke engine and creating so much noise pollution that the operator wears ear muffs. None of the innocent children trying to play outside have ear muffs on by the way. Please use your arms, grab a rake, brake a sweat if necessary and leave the power tools in the garage.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And then it was Monday

Despite some serious fussing this weekend, we did have a nice time. I did some major tackling which I'll share tomorrow and spent time with my mom and my best friend. Deuce and I enjoyed the sunshine. It was really nice.
So how did last week's master plan work out? Not too bad.
  • cooking all meals (except 1 planned dinner out) - check!
  • finding activities to take Deuce to - check!
  • apply to > 10 jobs (I hope) - applied to 5
  • finding a mom's group - nope
  • one huge tackle and one minor tackle - check! I'll share tomorrow
  • getting into a schedule - eh...

There's room for improvement. So here's this week's plan:

  • cook all meals (ate pizza last night)
  • 2 activities with Deuce (story hour + play date)
  • review 1/2 of the companies on this awesome list I found and sent resumes to the promising ones
  • one big tackle, one small tackle
  • add "get all dishes done" and "do house cleaning" to that schedule

Here goes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Toddler "Activities"

Who needs playgroups when you have the pediatrician and the post office? I'm being serious.

I'm waffling on the playgroup thing. On a logistics level, there are so many to choose from I don't know which will be best for us. On an emotional level, I don't know if I want to invest in something and then quit when I go back to work.

We did go to Deuce's first story hour. There was only one other child, but the librarian was great! She knew all the words to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and she read this adorable If You're Happy and You Know It book with the little tabs that pull out to make things move.

(As a side note, my internet search turned up this extended version of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. I think this is overboard.)

So today's enrichment activities? The pediatrician for the nagging cough (I am so paranoid about pneumonia), and the post office to mail a birthday gift (no, you're not getting a pic Carly!) All a toddler's fav's. Oh well, he can tell his therapist in 20 years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Monday!

Kicking off the first week of SAHM/job hunting, hopefully with a bang. This week I'll be
  • cooking all meals (except 1 planned dinner out)
  • finding activities to take Deuce to
  • apply to > 10 jobs (I hope)
  • finding a mom's group
  • one huge tackle and one minor tackle
  • getting into a schedule

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three days as a housewife

So I came home on Tuesday, drank two beers, and painted my living room. If this bout of joblessness is anything like the last one, I have a long to-do list and limited time to accomplish.

We chose to keep Deuce at daycare through the end of the week to give me some time to unwind, do a couple of projects that aren't toddler friendly. May I introduce you to the bordello of blood:

That's one coat of primer and one coat of Cranberry Whip on my kitchen wall. It's less like a chainsaw massacre after the second coat.

I'm a crummy housewife, let me just put that out there. I would rather do projects (or shop, or nap) than do laundry and dishes. I justify it to myself that the big projects are more important. Whether they really are more important than domestic tranquility isn't mine to say.

Suffice it to say that my three days as a housewife were a bust, and I'm looking forward to time as a SAHM so much more. We can do toddler activities, like the Zoo Boo we went to this weekend.

Greatest excuse ever for not doing laundry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Fuck. At least it was a lay-off this time and I supposedly can use boss-man/owner for a reference. Doesn't make it better. I liked this job, a lot, and I'm really sad to leave it. Fuck.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday is having a CLR challenge this week. As much as I love products that take the work out of cleaning, I'm really off cleaners that make me dizzy and require ventilation (it's high of 40 today here). So instead of talking about CLR, I'd like to talk about Method Tub 'n Tile.

After emerging from our shower stall with my face red and eyes watering, and a hacking cough, once again, DeuceDad asked me why I use the bathroom cleaner I've been using for years. It works with hardly any scrubbing, which is a feature, but I think it was trying to kill me. So I gave that to my mom and bought the Method product.

I like it, but I can't say I love it. I have a fiberglass (or something similar) tub and shower surround, and I found that the Method Tub 'n Tile does a great job if I clean every week. Just spray it on and wipe right off with a sponge and everything was shiny fantastic. But I skipped one (two?) weeks of cleaning my tub, and I found that even with a little elbow grease, Method Tub 'n Tile wasn't getting all the soap scum off, particularly from the textured bottom of the tub. Next weekend I think I'll break out the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (I'm hesitating to use a scrubber sponge on the new tub. Damn manufacturer's instructions throwing a wrench in my works).

The scent of Method Tub 'n Tile is really great - Eucalyptus Mint - and doesn't make my head spin at all. And after rinsing the tub well I have no reservations about putting Deuce right in there.

So it's a mixed review for Method Tub 'n Tile.

Cleaning heavy dirty: B
Scent: A+
Environmental/Deuce-friendliness: A+

Monday, October 20, 2008

Inspiration Desparation

No flowery words, I'm going to cut right to the chase: I have sooooo much to do and nooooo energy. How is this possible?! Life isn't totally insane right now, just normal! As Tina Fey would say on 30 Rock, BLERG!

Okay, it's out there. I'm overwhelmed and under- uh under-energized(?) The only way I know to attack this problem is to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide while watching Tivoed episodes of Biggest Loser and then fall into a coma make a list.

I'm not going to bore you with the list. But I'll tell you that the secret to an effective list for me is to break it down into things I can do in one step. For example, I want to paint my hall upstairs. For that job to be finished I want to sand all the trim, change the stair railing (it's sticky-icky), light switch and switch plate, paint the walls, trim and stair risers and possibly change the light fixture. And never mind the floor molding... See, that's why I'm not boring you with the list.

With that list in hand I can either work at those doable tasks or crumple under the pressure and burn the list to get my life back. Either or.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How do I even choose?

After blog-vacation I decided to try to focus so that I would have a slightly more coherent blog. I'm definitely keeping the ABC Along because it's fun and my theme is Deuce, so, well, you get it.

Becca at Forward Motion did a Ten on Tuesday Meme. (Fav bands from High School. Love. It.) I clicked through to Ten on Tuesday and found this. Maybe not every meme in the world, but a lot of them. Holy Claude.

I've really been wanting to do Sunday Scrappin' (I've been wanting to scrapbook in general, but anyway...). Maybe on days I haven't scrapped, Unconscious Mutterings? Sounds fun.

Monday doesn't have anything that really catches my eye.

Tuesday I'm thinking Tackle It Tuesday (a constant theme around here) or Ten on Tuesday which is just random and could be fun. I also like Tuesday Tip Jar. The hostess goes beyond your average "use peanut butter to get gum out of your daughter's hair" tips (for example to show how to get factual information on political candidates). Or how to keep pancakes from burning to the pan. You know, whichever.

Wednesday and Thursday don't seem to be big meme days, the selection is a little lean.

I tried Friday Fill-Ins and just found that it didn't lead me anywhere too thought provoking. There's always Haiku Friday which was very fun and challenging for my computer programmer brain but I don't think anyone is doing it anymore (the most recent one I found on A Mommy Story was Sept 7).

Saturday's Photo Scavenger Hunt would be a really fun way to think about my photos (and maybe lead to some different scrapbook pages)

There are also tons of one-time memes, and a graveyard for "lost" memes that look like the ones you get in your email. So fun and great blog-fodder.

Back to Becca's Whatever on Whenever Tuesday meme on Friday here are

Ten Bands/Artists That Remind You of High School
  1. Stone Temple Pilots
  2. Weezer
  3. Matchbox 20
  4. Third Eye Blind
  5. Duncan Sheik
  6. Bush
  7. Rusted Root
  8. Ani DiFranco
  9. Sarah McLachlan
  10. Soul Coughing

Thursday, October 16, 2008

As of Saturday, None are Safe

Saturday is the beginning of bow season. Deer are quaking in their hooves right now as thousands of crazies men across NYS prepare to enter the woods, wearing every piece of insulating clothing they own, hoping to bring home the bacon venison.

Hunting is a controversial topic, and I'm perfectly willing to have a debate on the ethics of hunting, gun ownership, and raising children in a home with hunters and guns. But we'll leave all that for another day.

What hunting really means to me, as a non-hunter myself but at the daughter and wife of hunters, is that I take on "hunting widow" status from now until well after Thanksgiving. Hunting widows prepare crockpots full of venison dinners, bake vast quantities of cookies that disappear by the dozen at hunting camp, and parent their children alone for the weekend.
It also means DeuceDad has been treating me more or less like a queen all week to buy my favor. He's put up more curtains in the last week that he had in his previous 30 years of life!

My dad's hunting camp is different from many in that women are invited to come. I just won't leave the cabin for fear of stray bullets, so we don't hike or enjoy nature, instead we find little shops and tour wineries and read and nap for fun. It's great. Next weekend we're having a clam bake. It's really nice.

DeuceDad is really respectful of the fact that other people don't cease to exist just because it's hunting season. And he washes his own clothes. What more could a woman ask for?

So we'll devote tonight to bow-hunting preparation. He'll pack, and I'll bake cookies (which I love to do) and just enjoy the night together as a family. Then I'll plot my own weekend activities. Cleaning (blah), shopping (yay!), possibly reorganizing the kitchen cabinets (yes I'm still procrastinating on sewing), and lots of cool Deuce activities like the zoo and some painting!

The only ones that aren't excited for Saturday are the deer. I just figure they'll come back as PETA activists and I'll come back as a venison-barley soup and it all comes out even.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm doing some heavy surfing so far this morning and turning up buckets of great scrapbooking sites and blogs (you'll see my blog roll change throughout the day today). I also ran across some of these visual wordplay things that I love. Check out Spell with flickr:

d003 e42 U C Capital Letter E (Beltsville, MD) M O M - My brother and I

And Wordle: (this is my favorite part of Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road")

Have fun!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sewing projects for the commitment-phobic

As you probably have gathered, I am a huge fan of all things hand-made. And I have a new house, so that spells curtains! For inspiration on style I like to turn to Country Curtains. Their curtains are gorgeous and well made and fantastic. I own these curtains, which hang on these rods. Dreamy.

Anyhow, we're desperately in need of curtains in the living room window. You can see our whole lives from the street and that skeeves me out, but it just looks weird in there that it's a huge bare window (56"x112" of blackness at night). This seems like just the kind of project that will give me nervous diarrhea. So I'm going for it.

I found a pattern in Fun & Fabulous Curtains to Sew for these gorgeous pleated numbers. They are above my skill level and if I don't sew the pleats perfectly straight they're going to look terrible. I'm exhilarated.

I need over 8 yards of 54" fabric. JoAnn fabrics is having 50% off home decor fabric. It's fate.

Um, I was unprepared for the selection. And the prices. Oh I don't even want to talk about the prices. $39.99/yard, Christopher Lowell? What are you thinking? Right, so the selection. There are so many beautiful things and I went through all the aisles twice just touching everything. Then it was down to business. I don't want a pattern and absolutely can't use a stripe (too unforgiving). I kept circling around to the silk. I'm out of my finger-lickin' mind if I think I need silk curtains in a house with a toddler and a cat. I circled for close to an hour. I finally chose a very fine, polyester (read: machine washable) faux-silk. I found thread that matched perfectly right away. Good sign.

$90 later I was home, Robbie was napping and I... didn't start the curtains. I froze. I had already committed by buying a cut of fabric (although my heart raced when the shears made the first cut). But this isn't $6 of eyelet I can just throw out if it's ugly. Once I cut in to this bitch I'm all in.

I have all week to study the pattern before I have time to work on it again. Some days I wonder how I managed to get married when I hesitate to cut into a piece of fabric. Oh well, jumping that hurdle is part of the fun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day!

Columbus Day celebrates one of the very few facts I know about history. Say it with me -"Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred ninety two!" History teachers everywhere are groaning, but hey at least I remembered something...

I do think calling this a holiday is pushing it a little bit. Deuce is a little young for craft projects, but we are going to color Christopher Columbus on his boat. Check out this site for some Columbus Day ideas.

Daycare is "celebrating" by having an in-service day. I'm glad that our daycare provides professional development for the staff, and I love an excuse to be home with Deuce. But I have so much work to do today... Deuce is napping early, so he'll be awake during my 2PM conference call. The trials and tribulations of WOHMs are many. Hopefully he's in the mood to color because I don't think I can take notes and supervise on the playground at the same time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Book Report: Baby Love by Rebecca Walker

This morning I finished Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence by Rebecca Walker.

This book has been maligned as narcissistic and insensitive to adoptive parents. I can't speak about adoption but can imagine that some of her comments could be hurtful. Because I don't have any first-hand experience with adoption I was focused on what ambivalence really meant in Walker's life and was hoping to learn that motherhood made her a confident, decisive person.

Walker's ambivalence and mine were really coming from different places, and the outward affects they had on our lives are very different, but I think the internal, the feelings, are the same. Walker was born to a biracial family deeply involved in the feminist movement. Her parents later divorced and she alternated living on both coasts to spend time with each parent. She is a traveler and a writer, she's biracial and bisexual. As for me, I was born in a small city to white middle class parents who are still married and still live less than 5 miles from where they grew up. I went straight from high school to college to career to marriage and family. I now live 5 miles from where I grew up.

So what do we have in common? Ambivalence. Self-doubt. Fear of making the wrong decision. A sense of responsibility to honor others by making the same decisions they did. Guilt when we choose something else. It is normal and healthy to weigh both side of a decision, but unhealthy to constantly doubt and question every move.

In the end, motherhood did not really make Walker (or myself or anyone else I know) supremely confident, but it did give her one thing that she would never ever question - her love for her son.

What I took away from Baby Love is that honoring my desire to be a mother was the right decision. 100%. And that if I can make that life-changing, irreversible decision and make it right, then I can and will trust myself to make choices in my life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

T is for Travel

During the blog-break, Deuce, DeuceDad and I went to NYC for a wedding and a little break from the ordinary. My BIL and SIL came too, and my brother watched Deuce while we were at the reception. It was a really fun trip!

Deuce flew in a plane for the first time -

We went to the Bronx Zoo -

Saw some dinos at the American Museum of Natural History -

And enjoyed a pastrami sandwich (he definitely preferred the "new" pickles btw)-

The trip was a great success. With so much to see and do, Deuce didn't mind being trapped in his stroller most of the time. On the subject of strollers, I take for granted that I will see children in strollers everywhere I go because I'm such a suburbanite. Not so much with the babies in Midtown. The people that are crazy enough to wrangle their kids onto the subway are at least smart enough to have an umbrella stroller, not the combo-carseat-behemoth that us countrified folk are used to. They were primarily Maclaren strollers, costing between 2.5 and 5 times what our Graco did (I'll bet not bought at Target either). But shelling out $180 for the Triumph didn't sound so bad when we eventually just started walking and taking taxis everywhere to avoid getting caught in turnstiles.

All in all a great trip. We're looking forward to doing it again!