Monday, October 31, 2011

I Am The Queen Of Halloween

We only had three trick-or-treaters this year in our household (David didn't think it was worth it to hop around the neighborhood on a crutch when he could just pilfer his younger siblings' candy).  I'd like to tell you what the youngest 3 kids' costumes were; but every time I try to do just that, I end up typing, "A witch, a pirate, and a Viking walked into a bar...."

Brian made his own Viking hat out of craft sticks and duct tape and it was AWESOME.

I realized tonight that Larry has taken our kids out trick-or-treating 18 years in a row.  No wonder it seems a tad repetitive at this point...

We had 30 trick-or-treaters come to our door (including my 3).  Not bad, but still nowhere near our counts of 65 that we used to get years ago.  The problem is these stupid church parties and "trunk-or-treats" that well-meaning adults are sponsoring on Halloween night.  People, listen to me.  The fun part of Halloween is doing stuff that you normally don't do - including (but not limited to) wandering around outside after dark in weird costumes, knocking on people's doors, and taking candy from strangers.  Driving your precious offspring to your well-lighted church or school gymnasium and letting them grab candy from one large receptacle is not Halloween.  It's coddling.

NOT a Halloween treat
And don't even get me started on the neighbor who hands out apples every single year.  Honey, get with the program.  As stated in this blog before, the "H" doesn't stand for "healthy."

Someone this year was handing out leftover Easter candy.  That's just plain tacky.

And, no, I don't know who died and left me in charge of Halloween.  But I'm taking to the role just fine, thanks.

[Jack-o-lantern image: Cyber Cauldron]
[Apple image: Long Island Press]

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gone Knittin'

Way back last summer, I decided that I could knit a pair of socks each month.  Now, I'm not quite sure how I reached this decision, seeing as how my previous sock knitting rate has been approximately 1 1/2 pairs per year.  Maybe I was just seized with the desire to be like all these knitters in the blogosphere who actually complete projects regularly.  And, surprisingly enough, I have managed to knit 2 pairs since the beginning of August.  Meaning I'm right on track, so long as I finish the pair I started yesterday by...let's see...

August...September...October... week!  Monday, to be exact...

Of course,  I wouldn't have fallen behind if I hadn't become so immersed in my felted Lopi totes.  You know how it is...the ol' knitting switcheroo.

No?  You don't?  Well!  I don't even know what to say.

My yarn, but definitely NOT my socks
Larry's muttering something about maybe I should put down the needles and cook a real meal every once in a while.  I don't see what his problem is - the kids seem perfectly happy on a steady diet of pizza and franks 'n' beans.  Why should I neglect my knitting to cook food they'll hate?  I just can't see the sense in that, can you?

Don't even answer that.  Of course you don't.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with some sock yarn...

[Gone Knitting image: Midnight Knitter]
[Sock yarn photo: A Bluestocking Knits]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Florence Nightingale Fail

Judging from my blog stats, I'm attempting to entertain a mass of strangers who are here only because they were doing a Google Image search.  Everyone, everywhere, needs pictures of Tweety Bird.  Also?  Yosemite Sam.

When David was 2, he looked like Tweety Bird.  He had this big round head and skinny body, and he had the same speech defect going on ("tat" for "cat") AND he was very attached to a stuffed Tweety Bird that someone had given us.  Weird coincidence, that.

This is not me.
Well, now he is 14 and doesn't look like Tweety Bird (much) and is way taller than me and managed to sprain his ankle on Sunday.  Usually, David does everything for himself - laundry, cooking, homework, whatever.  And now, suddenly, he can't. Which infirmity has made me realize that it is a good thing my older kids are somewhat independent, as I have no idea whatsoever how to take care of someone bigger than me.  Actually, I have no idea how to take care of anyone older than 5, say, short of throwing some food at them and making them go to bed by a certain hour.  

So, deciding to make this a community-service opportunity for his younger siblings, I delegated David's laundry to Brian.  I made Susie his official water-cup carrier.  I've tasked Rachel with trying to keep the floor clear so that David doesn't break a leg while maneuvering his sprained ankle around on crutches.  And I'm off the hook.  Because it just feels downright weird to be pouring water for my 14-year-old.

[Tweet Bird image: Wallpapers]
[Florence Nightingale: Nursingcrib]

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stinkbugs Like Camping

Remember that spiffy used pop-up camper that Larry and I impulsively bought?  The one Larry was calling my "vacation home," the one we were so excited about because now we could go anywhere with the kids and still have an affordable place to stay?

It turns out anywhere means "anywhere EXCEPT where there might be large numbers of stinkbugs waiting to infest an unsuspecting tent trailer..."

My vacation home, before stinkbugs
You see, on that group camping trip a couple of weekends ago, stinkbugs found it easy - nay, IRRESISTIBLE - to crawl between the snaps that attach the canvas trailer cover to the trailer box. Larry, who usually pooh-poohs my drama-filled accounts of stinkbug encounters, regaled me afterward with tales of how he spent hours shoveling stinkbugs up with the dustpan and throwing them into the fire.

Under the mattresses!

On the ceiling!


Our camping friends, meanwhile, had hardly any of the pests infiltrating their unpretentious zipper-sealed domed tents.  Hello, Livin' Lite?  I have some redesign recommendations to make.

Isn't it funny that I bought the pop-up camper in part to prevent the insect PTSD I would suffer by staying in possibly bedbug-ridden hotels?  Joke's on me!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Statistics Will Be The Death Of Me

Not-so-grim Reaper
I'm just popping in to thank Murr for pointing out  (in the comments on my last post) that "death risk" is always 100 percent.

Thanks, Murr.  Now go away and leave the rest of us alone with our comforting conviction that we can avoid the inevitable, all right?  Sheesh.

By the way, doesn't that guy up there look a tad too cheerful for his job description? 

[Grim reaper image: FishbowlNY]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paging Angela Lansbury...

Where's Angela when I need her?
I came home from Bunko (a trifle sloshed, I'll admit) to find that my husband left this interesting health item up on the computer screen. For those of you too busy to click, the headline reads Vitamins Linked With Higher Death Risk in Older Women - which makes me wonder...

Did Larry leave that up for me to see because he is concerned about my health and longevity?


Did he forget to hide evidence of a nefarious plan concerning my future well-being?  In other words, will he be assiduously offering me a multi-vitamin every morning?

[Angela Lansbury photo: Mislabeled]

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Which I Pretend To Be A Recipe Blogger

Because I am a parent, I have learned that there is a series of children's books set in a fictional New-Englandish place called Cranberryport. 

I do hope you didn't think the second half of that sentence was going to be profound.  You're reading the wrong blog for that.

Anyway, the titles are Cranberry Valentine, Cranberry Birthday, etc., and each book has a cranberry recipe on the last page.  One of those books (I no longer remember which) contains the recipe for the birthday cake we make for Larry every year, if only for the reason that he grew up next to a cranberry bog.  As stated in a prior post, we have no idea whether or not Larry actually likes this cake; it may be that he loathes it but is keeping mum in order not to ruin our hallowed birthday traditions.

The moral of this being...speak up right away if you don't like something, lest you be saddled with it for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, I look nothing like this.
 So!  Although I am most emphatically not the Pioneer Woman (cooking-wise or photography-wise),  I am giving the recipe here (because you asked for it, people!).

Wait, I have to find it.  It's scribbled on an index card, as we discovered this cake way before I was computer-savvy (relatively speaking, of course).  Be right back.

Okay!  Got it!  And it's only 4 steps (5, if you count preheating the oven).  I'm putting all the ingredients in bold face, because I'm clever like that.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice and place 1/4 lb (one stick) (half a tub) butter or margarine in the bottom of a 13x9 pan (sometimes I just use canola oil, because I'm lazy)

Sprinkle 1 cup of walnut halves over the margarine/butter/oil.

Mix 2 cups sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and 2 bags of cranberries and spread it over the walnut layer.

Prepare 1 box yellow cake mix and pour it over everything in the pan.  Bake 40-50 minutes.

Whipped cream optional, but why not?

 Really, that's it.  But here's the most important part - do you see the name of the cake?  The "upside-down" part of it?  Well, I didn't.  In fact, it took me years to understand that I needed to flip the cake onto a plate when it came out of the oven. It looks much more attractive that way.  Also?  It's way easier to stick the candles in it.

[Cranberry Valentine image: Open Library]
[Pioneer Woman photo: Woman's  Day
[Cranberry cake image: My Recipes]

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Cranberry Sunday

I wrenched my back today by doing...well...nothing.  One minute I was fine, the next I was trying not to scream.  I went to work anyway, as it wasn't absolutely the worst pain ever - I mean, so long as I didn't try to buckle my seat belt, say, or turn a steering wheel, or breathe.  And then I realized (while sitting in Starbucks and attempting to recover from lifting my laptop onto the table) that my work website was down.

Mine's not a circle, though...
Hmmmph.  So I drove (slowly) home and baked Larry's cranberry-upside-down birthday cake instead, because I'm a good wife like that, despite my apparent physical infirmities.  I hope he appreciates that I didn't simply take to my bed instead.  And after that?  I made pizza dough, so David would make us pizza tonight.  And then?  I goofed off.  Because Larry has the kids away camping and it was quiet in the house.  You know, some people pay good money to go to a spa and feel the way I did this afternoon (I mean, minus the wrenched back) in my blessedly peaceful house. 

I highly recommend family camping.  Sans mom, of course...

[Cranberry cake photo: Playing House]

Friday, October 07, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Post Steve Jobs Edition

--- 1 ---

(Photo credit: Johnathan Mak)
We walked by our Apple store this morning (a pilgrimage!) and saw all these bouquets of flowers just lying there.  Hello, Apple employees?  Put those in water or they'll just die.  Duh.  Maybe I'll go back later with some vases and look like a crazy old lady fixing up all the flowers.

There were also a lot of apples left there, including one with a bite taken out of it so it would look like the logo.  Mac users have always been the artsy type, you know.

--- 2 ---

Check out the photographer's name on that image up there.  Both his names are types of apples.  Coincidence?  I think not.

--- 3 ---

I haven't been blogging about my kids much because they just don't do anything amusing anymore.  I'm thinking the batteries ran out.  All they do is play and read and fight with each other.  What's up with that?

--- 4 ---

Of course, I bet they don't find me too amusing, either.

--- 5 ---

Larry is taking the 3 youngest camping early tomorrow until late Sunday.  I am supposed to get a month's worth of editing work done in that time.  I'll try to fit it in around all the sleeping-late, eating-chocolate, not-cleaning-house activities I have planned.  It will be like Rumspringa for SAHMs, but squeezed into 36 hours.

--- 6 ---

That image up there is the only decent one I could use.  Take it from me - don't bother Googling images for "Wild Moms" or "Wild Housewives" unless you are looking for something you wouldn't show your kids.

--- 7 ---

Jennifer, being way more computer-savvy than I, would definitely know better than to Google either of those terms.  For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

[Wild Moms sign:]

Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs

This was a magic box.
I hate to brag, but I was one of the first people to use a Macintosh.  Really.  Apple made a deal with a number of large universities around the country to let them install Macintosh computers for student use in "computer centers" on campus.  You see, young 'uns, no one had their own computer in 1985.  No one halfway normal, that is.  Myself, I was still clinging to my electric typewriter when a friend dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the computer center.  "I don't understand computers!" I complained.  "You'll understand this one," she said, shoving a floppy disk into my hands.  And she was right.

Primitive thumb drive
By the way, we used to have to sign up and WAIT to use a computer, believe it or not.  And then?  We waited to use a printer, too.  How quaint.  Oh, and we didn't have these cute little thumb drives that fit on a key chain.  We had these 3.5-inch square plastic things called floppy disks (even though they weren't floppy) that we lugged around in our heavy backpacks.  The backpacks were heavy because we had to carry things called "notebooks" and "textbooks." 

No ebooks, no computerized notes, nothing.  It was like the Flintstones, only more primitive.

What I'm saying is, computers would have happened no matter what.  But until Steve Jobs came along, they were exclusively the province of computer geeks; and the Internet was a sort of Wild West, populated by coders and music pirates.  Jobs took this frontier and turned it into DisneyWorld.  He put the Internet literally in our pockets and transformed it into a playground for everyone, even technophobes like myself.  He connected the world.  It's awesome, the changes that have happened in 30 years. 

This didn't used to be a cool look, you know...
The other thing Steve Jobs did was make the world safe for geeks.  He made them seem cute, even, with that black mock turtleneck and blue jeans ensemble.  In high school, we avoided them, those asocial weirdos who walked in and out of the computer room with punch cards and talked to each other in some sort of code.  If we could have, we would have put "Least likely to ever get a date" under their yearbook pictures.  Now?  Geeks are hot.  Just pull on a black mock turtleneck and shove an IPhone in your Jeans pocket, boys, and watch those girls swarm.

Except you, David - don't even think about it.

[Mac image: Vintage Computers]
[Floppy disk image: Chris Pirillo]

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Some Light Whining

If I had extra cash lying around (which I don't, as we just blew it all on a pop-up camper), I would hire someone to come in and figure out how to light our living areas in such a fashion that I no longer feel as if I'm going blind every time I sit down to knit.  Maybe that person would even be able to explain to me how any lamp can survive unscathed in a household with children in it.  Our lamps all have shades hanging askew, messed up cords, stupid switches that don't work unless you turn them exactly right - all from being knocked over one too many times.

But you know what would be cheaper than a personal lighting designer?  If each of us just wore a hat with a headlamp on it.  Wouldn't that make more sense?  Light where you need it, every time!  No fragile lamps, no ceiling fixtures with breakable parts...just some simple headgear that we would put on first thing in the morning and take off when we go to bed at night.  Sort of like tefillin, only not sacred...

I Googled images of tefillin, so you would understand that they are prayer phylacteries , traditionally worn by Jewish men during prayer services, and I stumbled on this:

We've come a long way, baby...

I'm a bit out of the loop, but I'm guessing this is Judaism 2.0.

Monday, October 03, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Now I'm sick.  Just regular virus sick, not deadly-listeria sick.  I'm thinking the bout of food poisoning weakened me to the point where I was able to catch the common cold.  So I still blame the lettuce...

I suspect mine won't look this good.
I'm currently obsessed with the felted Lopi tote.  If you do not knit, you will not understand.  DO NOT TRY.  Just nod your head and smile.  Move on to the next blog, if you must.  Myself, I will remain happily ensconced among the 8 skeins of bulky Andes wool I purchased for what will theoretically become this year's Christmas presents for all the women in my family.  Never mind that I have not felted anything before.  Disregard that bag of yarn meant for last year's Christmas presents,  unknit and forgotten in the back of my closet.  Hope springs eternal for this particular knitter, who persists in allowing visions of homemade Christmas gifts to dance in her head.

This will not end well.  That is why I choose to live in the present.  It's happier here.

[Felted tote image: Spinning Fishwife]

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Produce - The Silent Killer

This is the one that got me.
The cantaloupe has been exonerated, and I offer my apologies to all melon lovers out there.  The produce item that almost spelled my demise last week?   Romaine hearts, my friends - never trust a leafy green.  An entire bag (well, half a bag - that was the problem) of listeria-ridden lettuce was in my fridge.  I had been chowing down on it all week because - get this - I thought it was healthy.  Silly me.

These people were NOT helpful.
What kills me (aside from the listeria) is that all the recall articles state that no illnesses have been reported.  Well!  I attempted to report mine - I figured the CDC would have a webpage for such a thing, or maybe my local health department.


I would have had to go to my doctor (at a time when I couldn't be more than 3 feet from a toilet) who would have then required a stool sample, etc., before he'd report to the health department. In case you ever thought that food poisoning cases in our country are massively under-reported? You would have been correct.

So now I"m scared to eat produce.  But ice cream is still safe, right?  I'll just eat that instead.

No cherry on top, thanks!

[Oh, and - unlike eating fresh produce - it's not life-threatening to  vote for me.]

[lettuce image:]
[sundae image:]

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Irritatingly Optimistic Voices

Thanks to Rachel's begging me to buy the sheet music for the Wizard of Oz during our latest foray to the music store, I seem to be permanently afflicted with this particular earworm (the first 30 seconds will suffice):

Misery loves company, you know...

[Oh, and Diana reminded me that I am supposed to remind you to vote.  I guess I was so busy banging my head against the wall in a desperate attempt to get these voices out of my head,  I forgot about the contest..  Thank you, Diana.]