Monday, December 29, 2008

Male Rationalization

When my husband asks me if he can have or do somthing, he has a habit of dancing around the subject. He usually gets me to agree to whatever it is before I really know what I'm agreeing to. So when I got the following phone call, my gut started sending up warning flares, alarms started blaring in my head and I swear I heard lightening strike.


M: Hello

R: Hey, it's me. Is your mom still going to be there tonight?

M: Yah

Warning flares started going up!

R: Well, I didn't know if she was going to your sister's

M: Why? (still very suspicious)

R: If I could get Guitar Hero World Tour for $5.65, would you let me keep it?

M: All of it? Drums & all?

I'm totally thinking he's full of sh*t! There is no way he got a $190 game for less than $100, let alone less than $10. Besides, all those blasted alarms started going off!

R: Yup, all of it

M: And it works?

R: Yes

I could hear the glee in his voice. He's worse than a kid in a candy store sometimes.

M: Well, I guess so . . .

Lightening strikes!

R: Good, because I got $200 for putting up all those shelves today so the net, including tax, is only $5.65.

M: What if I said I would rather have the 200 bucks?

R: Apparently, you didn't listen to my earlier question. I asked if I could get it for $5.65, would let me keep it? Implying that I already had it.

M: (long sigh)


Silver lining:
1. I get to go over to Roxie's more often while the boys have "band" practice. (It doesn't start until after the kids are in bed - hee, hee)
2. Hubby doesn't use the stickers that are included to "decorate" the components so the girls got two lovely sticker sheets of skulls, flames, warriors, dragons & what-not.

The only problem with this "Rock Band" is finding a lead singer. I've heard most of the neighborhood guys try their hand at karaoke - yikes! However, if Dash could get off that second shift . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008

And a Beer . . .

I don’t know how it started, but the Twelve Days of Christmas came up. Cupie could not remember how it went and wanted us all to help her remember by singing. Knowing it would take us forever to sing the song, I suggested we start at the twelfth day.

Cupie: Noooooo, start at the beginning.

Adults: On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . .

Hubby: A beer.

After an eye roll & playful scowl, I continue with, “a partridge in a pear tree.”

To satisfy the children we continued.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, two French hens . . .

We all stopped, knowing that was wrong.

Me: Oo! Oo! It’s turtle doves!

Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas . . .

On the fourth day . . .

On the fifth day . . .

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me



Six geese a laying, five goooooold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, seven geese a laying, no seven swans a swimming, eight maids a milking

Hubby: You’re going backwards!!

Uh, six geese a laying

Me: And a beer!

Believe it or not, no alcohol had been consumed.

Silver lining:
1. We finally finished all twelve days.
2. We've compiled the following versions of "The 12 Days of Christmas" for your listening pleasure:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Family Chef

As Hubby has been busy buying ingredients & preparing for our Christmas dinner, I got to thinking about the family chef when we were growing up. As I've stated before, my mom was not one to cook so this is not about her. . .

We had the goofiest, yet remarkable, dog when I was growing up. She was a Shepherd/Samoyed mix – not too big at about 45 lbs and she had the trademark Samoyed “smile”. We named her Ayla.

She would watch us get on the bus in the morning and be waiting with a smile & tail wag when we returned in the afternoon. Her entire butt would wiggle back and forth she was wagging her tail so hard.

She was agile enough to jump over our four foot fence. Most of the time it was to get over to her buddy, Lady, next door. Lady was a beagle mix so there was no jumping for her. While the neighbors liked our dog and were glad Lady & Ayla got along instead of constantly barking at each other, the dogs would tear up the yard. We had to start keeping Ayla on a leash in the back yard.

After a bath, she would race down the stairs, into the living room, rub her head & side on the carpet, go around the coffee tables, then, back up the stairs. She would repeat this several times until she felt she was sufficiently dry.

Ayla was good at curling up next to you and resting her head on your lap when ever you were sad or not feeling well. She would use her nose to push your hand up so she could tuck her head up under your arm.

What made her so remarkable is that she could cook!

A few facts:
She had a double bowl for water & food.
The food she was raised on was dry.
There was a rug under the bowl.

When she was hungry, she would “cook” her food.
She would dip her nose in the water and slosh some over to the food. Then, she would push her nose into the food a few times to mix. Repeat this dip, slosh, mix activity about three more times. Next, she would use her nose to fold the rug up over the top of her dish.

About a ½ hour later, she would return to eat her dinner.

We tried watering it down for her – no go.
We tried giving her canned dog food – no go.

We never understood it and have never heard of another dog that did this. But it was typical of our Ayla – goofy, but remarkable. Miss her lots.

Silver lining - I have lots of good memories of childhood. All kids should have a pet of some kind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Learned in Woman's Bible Study

The women’s Bible study group I belong to had taken a break when our leader started a new job. Now that she is settled in and gotten some routines back in order, we started up again on Wednesday. To introduce ourselves to new people and reacquaint ourselves with everyone, we had to share something interesting about ourselves. I learned some really interesting things in those two and a half hours.

1. One of the gals is a volunteer for crisis assistance if someone comes to the hospital and a rape was involved. I salute her for that – I didn’t know there were “regular” people to talk to should, God forbid, you need her. Her scheduled on-call time is Tuesdays from 4pm to 2am. She attends monthly meetings and many of the other volunteers have cases/stories to discuss, but she has never had any cases. So I’ve determined that if I were to take up streetwalking, the perfect time to do it is between 4pm and 2am on Tuesdays in St. Charles. You know, hard economic times lead people to do the strangest things. I’m not sure how many customers I would have – they would probably pay me to keep my clothes on.

2. Angel fish are terrible parents. I completely understand why some animals eat their young – I’m sure every human parent is aware of this, and most (except for the sickos out there) would not do so. But angel fish, oh my! Any change in their environment causes them to eat their babies. Drop food in the tank, they eat the babies. Kids run through the house, they eat the babies. A car door slams outside, they eat the babies. A train whistle blows two counties away, they eat the babies. A butterfly flaps its wings in Africa . . .

3. My husband is an ultra, over-the-top, hardcore conservative. I actually learned this outside the study group – when I got home. Our hostess at the Bible Study was displaying a card with President-elect Barak Obama on the front of it. People out there are putting Obama’s face on everything – even underwear!!! Apparently, she worked the polls on election day and it was from a friend who worked on the campaign. As our hostess’ children are conservative, I assumed she was as well. We all know the expression about assumptions – you can totally tag this one on me. After telling Rob about this card and my surprise to see it, he pointed out that she has always leaned to the liberal side of the spectrum. Then, we discussed the underwear – this is where the ultra, over-the-top, hardcore part comes in. He said he would wear them inside out and try to crap his pants. Good grief! Can you imagine crapping in your pants by accident, let alone on purpose??? GROSS!!!!!! As my mother-in-law says, “You married him. He’s your’s. I don’t want him back.” I guess I have to keep him – despite his gross-ness.

Silver lining:
1. Women’s Bible Study is back on for regular monthly meetings.
2. Even though I don’t attend church with these women, they have accepted me into their group.
3. Because our hostess reads this blog, I’m going to assume at this point that Rob is not getting a Christmas present from his best friend’s mom. I will say, despite this small character flaw :), I still love her.

PS – We all brought cookies and I need a couple of recipes if someone can get them for me – Laura’s Oreo balls & Christina’s spritz cookies. If anyone needs my chocolate cookie recipe, here it is: Buy some refrigerated cookie dough, break it apart, put on a cookie sheet & bake in the oven @ 350 degrees. Complicated, I know.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time to Make the Cookies

During the trip to the frozen tundra at Thanksgiving, my mom gave me some cookbooks – she’s never been a cook so I’m not sure why she had them in the first place. One of them was about holiday baking and I had a couple of Christmas Cookie Exchange parties to go to and I am the self-proclaimed cookie queen so I was excited to find a new cookie recipe.

There was one in particular that intrigued me, the Molasses Spice Fizz. I like molasses cookies so I decided this was the one. The recipe said it made seven dozen and that was exactly how many I needed for one of my cookie exchanges – perfect! Last time I said that, I had a dessert disaster (see Why would I think this was any different?

Since it had to be refrigerated for at least an hour (for ease of handling – impending disaster clue #1), I made up the dough for the first batch on Wednesday night (after Bible Study – blog coming soon) in order to make them on Thursday. The plan was to make up the dough for a second batch as soon as I got home from work so it could chill while we made cut outs from the first batch.

When I got home, I realized I had forgotten the recipe at work. Crap – If I was going to make another batch, I was going to have to go back out for that (impending disaster clue #2). I also couldn’t remember what temperature the oven was supposed to be at. Rob said he would get started with the girls. Before I left, I told him the one thing I remembered from the recipe – roll the dough out on a well floured surface. He said he would use the flour sifter to make a good coating on the counter.

I got home to him cussing because the dough was sticking to everything! His hands, the rolling pin, the cookie cutters, argh! So much for ease of handling. That was clue #3 – I now had a full blown dessert disaster. Also, when we looked in the bowl, it didn’t look like enough dough for seven dozen cookies. Was I going to have to make a total of three batches???

It was too late to turn back - the dough was made, rolled out and the cookie cutters placed. Using a spatula to move the cookies from the counter to the cookie sheet was the worst. The dough just kind of mushed up on itself. Apparently, sifting enough flour onto the counter so that you can’t see the counter was not enough. I had to scrape the whole thing off the counter & start again using a lot more flour.

I had to send the kids to bed without helping because I was getting so frustrated and I didn’t want to take it out on them. Needless to say, I was not going to put this recipe into the permanent file – I was never going to make these again! Then, I told Rob to call my sister to get my mom’s sugar cookie recipe.

Mom’s sugar cookies went much easier – I knew what to expect. Although my mom thought the recipe would only make 40 to 50 cookies, we ended up with 180! We had those made & frosted within four and a half hours. I was sooooo done with the molasses cookies, we didn’t glaze them until Saturday morning.

I’ve published both recipes in case you’re interested. WARNING - only the truly brave should try the molasses!

Silver lining:

1. We have a double oven so the baking went pretty fast.
2. In the end, (after a glaze frosting & sugar sprinkles) they were quite tasty.
3. Despite my doubts about the recipe making seven dozen, I ended up with 10 ½ dozen cookies.
4. Cookie exchanges are the bomb! Instead of only having one (or two in my case) type of cookie, I have more than a dozen different ones.

Grandmama's Christmas Cookies

3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Shortening
1 ½ Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 Eggs
¾ tsp Nutmeg
7 to 8 Cups Flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend sugar & shortening.

Add buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, eggs & nutmeg.

Add flour until you can roll it into a ball and it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Roll out dough to desired thickness & make shapes with cookie cutters.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes – until very slightly brown.

Place on wire rack to cool prior to frosting & sprinkling.

Ma Berg’s Christmas Cookie Frosting
1 lb Powdered Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
½ Cup Shortening
1 Egg White (no yolk)
¼ Cup Water2 tsp Corn Starch

Mix all ingredients for five minutes. If too runny, thicken with powdered sugar.

Divide frosting into bowls and add food coloring for added fun!

Molasses Spice Fizz Cookies

1 Cup Butter
1 ½ Cups Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
1 Egg
2 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda1 tsp Cream of Tartar
¼ tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Molasses
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add sugar; beat until blended. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until blended.

In a small bowl, combine molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend into dough.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight for ease in handling.

On well-floured surface (lots of four or it will stick – trust me!), with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick.

With floured cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake five minutes.

Cool on a wire rack prior to glazing & sprinkling.

Christmas Cookie Glaze
1 lb Powdered Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
½ Cup Shortening
1 Egg White (no yolk)
¼ Cup Water
2 tsp Corn Starch

Mix all ingredients for five minutes. This should be runny – add water if necessary.

Use a BBQ brush to glaze the cookies. Sprinke pretty quick after glazing – it dries fast.

Monday, December 15, 2008

That Carpet

Cupie had colored some pictures and planned to give them to her grandparents from the Great White North.

I noticed Cupie sitting on a rug by the back door, punching holes with a pencil into red construction paper. I told her to move away from the door because Rob was going in and out quite frequently.

She says to me, “I need to do this here because I can’t get pencil on the carpet and this (pointing to the linoleum) is too hard. And I am not going to get pencil on that carpet.” I don’t know where she learned that tone; although, I have the feeling I should stay away from mirrors lest I find out.

What made getting pencil on the rug any better is beyond me.

In the end, she taped together a very lovely (but holey) “box” to put the coloring pages in.

Silver lining:
1. The rug is kind of oatmeal colored so pencil won’t show up on it anyway.
2. Bumpa & Nana loved the coloring pages when they were here this past weekend. Sorry Grandma Berg, the "box" was ruined, but the coloring page is waiting for your arrival this weekend.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't Eat the Flowers!

My grandma is a remarkable woman.

When she was 85, she was "Gettin' Jiggy With It" at my wedding. I love that memory.

She says things like, "Beau-ti-ful" and "Won-der-ful" while exaggerating the vowel in the first syllable.

She is now 94 and still volunteers at a center that prepares meals / helps those in need. God bless my Uncle Dan who lives with her and helps take care of her. Dan also drives her everywhere because she can't see worth a darn!

While we were up in Wisconsin, Grams joined us for a Thanksgiving feast at my dad's.

Everything was delicious - turkey, dressing, home-made gravy, lumpy non-powder potatoes, pink jello stuff, seven layer salad, the ever present green bean casserole - mmmmmmmmmm!

Dan, in all his kindness, loaded Grams plate with a little bit of everything. When he was going back for seconds of seven layer salad, my grams said, "Oh, what's that?"

He told her what it was, to which she replied, "I didn't get any of that."

He said that she had gotten a little bit of everything. I also pointed out that there was still a little on her plate, as evidenced by the peas.

She bent her head down to look and says, "Oh, I can't see what's on my plate. I've just been eating what's here. All I know is I'm not eating the flowers." She was talking about the design on plate even though they actually had leaves on them.

Gotta love her!

Silver lining:
1. Being 500 miles away, we don't get to see her very often. At 94 we are blessed to still have her here on earth and we all got a chance to see her at least one more time.
2. We made my grams' year by being there for a holiday.
3. She is still getting around by herself (except for driving) and has a sound mind - we can all hope to be doing so well when we're that age.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Trip Up

Last week was just too busy to get a post in before we left - SORRY!

The trip up to Wisconsin was quite uneventful.

We planned on leaving at midnight Wednesday, but ended up leaving at one. That in and of itself is quite an accomplishment for us. Usually, we set a time to leave for a big trip and end up leaving town well after the set time.

Before children we would go on float trips with a big group of friends. It always involved camping for one or two nights. I am not much of an outdoor girl and would prefer to sleep in a hotel, but my Eagle Scout husband will have none of that. As an Eagle Scout (the highest Boy Scout rank), he is all about being prepared (as per the motto) and in doing everything without modern conveinences while camping. This means we do not use lighter fluid. We make a chiminy do-dad, light paper at the bottom & hope it gets the charcoal hot enough to burn. Honestly, the way he was so anal about making a fire, I'm surprised we were even allowed to use matches. I'm sure if it were totally up to him, we would rub sticks together or if it was sunny, at the very least use someone's glasses to make a flame. There were usually eight to twelve other people there so I think in a survival attempt, he gave into the matches. If he is drastically out numbered it is in his best interest to not hold up the fire for cooking - you don't want an angry mob on your hands.

Camping also means we have to sleep in a tent. For him a tent needs to have enough room to stand up, change clothes, do a jig and have a lounge separate from the sleeping quarters. We used to have the "tajma-tent". It had it's own "living room"! I think it said it slept eight, which means it only sleeps six, and there were only the two of us. For me, he gave in to an air mattress and I no longer had to gather leaves to form pillows - he let me take my own.

Because we usually ended up leaving so late, we were the last ones to the camp site and had to set up our tent in the dark (even though the sun doesn't set until almost ten o'clock). We fought about it every time because (a) I'm bad at setting up tents and (b) I'm crabby because it's late. This tent set up became a source of entertainment for our friends. The would turn their chairs toward us, pass out popcorn & wait for the show to begin.

So anyway, one hour lag was a pretty big deal! The kids slept most of the way. Cupie woke up around 5:30 or 6:00 just as it was starting getting light. She looked out the window and said, "What's all that white stuff?" It was snow!!!! It's not like she's never seen snow before, but in St. Louis, it ususally melts before the end of the day. Snow that lasts more than a day is a novelty. Welcome to the frozen tundra baby!

Silver lining - We still have children after a nine hour car ride (we're not in jail for permanently maiming them either).

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