Saturday, August 31, 2013

Good Times

Yesterday we took our son to the pediatrician because he had a fever over 102 for 24 hours. Thursday and Friday morning he kept sticking his hand in his mouth and when he went to eat lunch, well, that was a screaming experience. I figured he either had a sore throat, ear infection, tooth issue or, after looking on internet, hand, foot and mouth disease. And yes, I did call it Hoof and Mouth when I was talking to my husband. Badabum!

Go to our 3 o'clock appointment and ding ding!!! Hand, Foot and Mouth it is!! The doctor gave us three bottles of children's Motrin, thank you for the freebies! It seemed to help more than the acetaminophen. He did wake up twice last night at 9 and 10:30, but after that, slept until about 5:30. At that time I went into his room and moved the fan thinking he was a touch cold and it may have been because he fell back asleep until 7am. Not bad. He is better today and currently on a bike ride with daddy. He loves sitting in the little trailer and says "Hi" and "Bye" LOL.


I will be emailing my short story to Glimmer Train in a few hours. Hooray!

Laundry is not a favorite chore. I get it has to be done, but I do pride myself on making sure our clothes are nice and clean. Recently, I have been fighting with stains on my clothes. Not sure what is going on but I have used organic stain removers, vinegar, hot water and even broke down and bought Resolve. Ring around the collar and some food stains, even pre-treated ones, are not fully coming out and it is starting to piss me off. I tried to clean out the drum of my machine, pulling hair and dirt out, but to no avail, stains are still lingering. I use vinegar in every wash so it is not like the machine is not getting clean. This is incredibly frustrating and I would hate this turning into a major issue and have to buy a new machine because of something like this. I need to find the manual and see if I can find other things that may be jammed and causing issues. The machines came with the house and well, not everyone takes care of their appliances. I hate this throwaway society and I am as guilty as anyone to contributing to it from time to time, but most of the time I try to use or repair what I can. If we cannot use it and it is fine, we donate.

Now I need to figure out what to make for dinner. I really wish I was savvy like some women and had frozen meals ahead of time for the week so when I am just not up to the task I can pop something in the oven and off we go! Ah well, maybe one day I will get it together enough.

Enjoy this recipe I got from my CSA this week. I made it on Thursday and it was delicious!! Kohlrabi and Carrot Cole Slaw.

Cheers!
MissFifi





Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fini

Hold onto your hats and panties, I have finished my short story.

You hear that rumble? I think God just passed out.

Seriously, I finished some time after ten o'clock last night. Well, I actually reworked the last paragraph this morning, but it is done and now I need to send it off to Glimmer Train. It may not be what they are looking for, but just knowing it is done and that I can email it for publication or rejection is wonderfully exhilarating. It also now allows me to get back to working on my novel. Those characters and I have not been together for a month or so, but they have not been far from my mind. I so look forward to immersing myself back in their world. Creation is a funny thing. You really do get tied up into these people that you alone have given life to Even if it is historical fiction, you are giving words to say a Henry the 8th or Edith Wharton. You are giving them their voice and their personalities for all to see.
In my case, I have taken very well known figures, God being one of them, and gave them the attitudes and actions that I have always believed was inside them all. This of course has made them like old friends/enemies and I miss them and their antics and their dialogue. You know, if you did not know better, you would perceive me as Sybil and call the doctors. (That was some film too.)

Well, with hubby on vacation this week we are off to visit some friends for the day. A nice way to relax indeed.


Today's Recipe from Annie's Eats: Roasted Fig Flatbreads with Chevre and Greens.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yard Work and Peaches

For some inexplicable reason, the prior owners to our home planted Yuccas in the backyard.
I hate the wretched things because one, to me they do not look right in the NJ landscape though there are gardeners who love subtropical plantings and second, they have a vast root system which makes them a touch difficult to dispose of. Yesterday I went out to where they are and was going to just weed around them as they were infringing on my catmint and oregano plants. Well, I started to pull and one plant came right out. Oh yeah, that was all I needed and now my land is devoid of the Yucca. Not all the roots are gone, but I can work at that. I did manage to get a bunch of them unearthed along with a baby snake, two big millipedes and various sized pill bugs, ants, ear wigs, crickets and centipedes. I also pulled up a diseased root that smelled so bad I dry heaved. Good times. Now I have this blank canvas and am trying to decide what to do put there.  I do want to try to stick to native plants. (Says the woman growing rosemary/sage/oregano and has a huge butterfly bush.) But I do think it would be wise to cultivate what is meant to grow in my soil. I do want to get milkweed plants too so I can encourage monarch butterflies as well. It amazes me how much planning has to go into gardening of any kind.
And on that note, I am sad to say that my vegetable garden has sort of floundered this year. some stuff has done well, swiss chard and jalapenos and lemon basil, but my tomatoes were hit with blight and my kale was annihilated by cabbage moths. I ended up pulling all but a few tomato and kale plants and ripping most of the leaves off the kale plants I am keeping. Next year I need to purchase some bacillus thuringiensis to help keep cabbage moths at bay. In a few weeks I am also going to do an overhaul on the dirt in the vegetable garden by adding all my compost and a bag of ewe poo from the local creamery better known as Valley Shepherd Creamery. Their nettle cheese is fabulous!!
Interestingly enough, my pear tree is abundant with fruit this year so I am hoping I can gather some of them up and use them.
My other odd dilemma is I have a slew of peaches from our CSA and I do not know what to do with them. I have pureed and frozen some for the toddler, but the husband does not eat them and while I do not mind them, they are not my favorites. I made a mango/peach/flax seed/heaping tablespoon of yogurt pudding/smoothie for my son. He ate it with his spoon and his hand making the "Mmmmm" noise. I tried it and it tasted like a pureed mango/peach graham cracker crust pie due to the flax seed. Pretty tasty if you ask me. I even froze some of it into a popsicle. This is the one time I wished I was into canning, but then, who would eat it all?? LOL
Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for peach butter which I am considering and I bet it is delicious on toast or even on some southern soda bread. Hmmmm....

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Great Idea

Okay, this is one of those that make me go, "Duh! Great idea!" From Home 2 Me.



Use drink dispenser for liquid detergent


Today's recipe from Daily Bites Blog: Sunflower Oatmeal Crunch

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Birthday Gift

Friends of ours have three little gals turning three in September. Whew!
Their father is of the motto: "Experiences instead of gifts", especially when it comes to himself and his partner, so I figured perhaps it would be wise to do the same with the three little ones. Sure I can buy them clothes or hair stuff, but they have a lot of nice clothes and toys. Some have been handed down, bought at sales or consignment shops and let's face it, most parents would prefer to have less "stuff" in their homes.
They live close to NYC which presents a delightful array of options, some pricier than others. And so, in my mind I want to send these little darlings to tea. That's right. Tea. In Manhattan.
Apparently I believe myself to be a Rockefeller descendant and will stop at nothing to make this happen. Then again, I may just buy them boxes of a tea and their own tea set and then can have their own parties. LOL
Of course, I myself, would like to do these teas so maybe we can join them when they go. Let me share my options and please, pick yourselves off the floor once you are done reading the menus and seeing the prices.


American Girl Cafe - I hate these dolls with a passion, but it is not about me or my preferences. I am sure the ladies would enjoy themselves, but what worries me is that their dads may feel compelled to buy them each a doll and we all know how pricey they are. Still, I need to consider the location after doing more research.

The Russian Tea Room does a Children's Tea. I have eaten there a few times and I loved the food and the over the top ambiance. It is $35 though and I assume that is per child so again, something to think about.

I want it made very clear the next two options are something I would want for myself.

Afternoon Tea at The Plaza. Oh sweet God this menu is magnificent!

Lady Mendhi's Tea Salon.  Scroll down to the menu. I would feel like Edith Wharton and that is not a bad thing.

So there you have it. Perhaps these are a little extreme in pricing and I can try and find someplace else closer to their homes or in NJ. But I had to share these menus. Now, let me see about that Legoland location in  Westchester...

Cheers!
MissFifi



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oh To Be A DIY Wunderkind

I love that word. It sounds so...German and so official.  I also feel the word has been overused mostly by authors of magazine articles because it is always in the context of some up and coming chef, tech entrepreneur or financial brain. They are all "wunderkinds".
If I was to be a wunderkind I think it would be of the DIY sort. My sewing skills are minimal and my knitting skills, while good, are nowhere on par to the designers at Rowan Yarns. I can swing a hammer but have never built anything except IKEA furniture which makes me a pro with an allen wrench like no one else. But if I had some serious skills, what would I be willing to try? I am not afraid of failure. Trust me, I have had two novels rejected along with short stories so my skin is thick. Sadly, I worry more about the cost of the materials and then if I mess it up, well then, that is money gone. I mean, some sweater patterns require certain yarns that in the end make the project cost $250!! Um, no, I can go to Target or Marshall's and get one for $15.00 so pass. I get the whole concept that making it yourself is the crowning achievement, but I can't bring myself to buy $30 skeins of yarn. I would love to, believe me I would. I have used any pricey yarn I have been given or bought and made gorgeous scarves/cowls or hats for myself. My go to cheap yarn is Homespun by Lion Brand and it has done me very well. Washes well and is incredibly soft. Acrylic, yes, but it does the job and looks great and comes in wonderful colors. Apparently LB has a fancy selection of yarns now and offer a wool with stainless steel to make jewelry and wraps that do not lose their shape. Hmmm, may need to check into that. $10 for one, but if I am making earrings with it that could be so worth it. In a prior life I was a jewelry designer and co-owned an online business. I miss it from time to time, but that market is tough and quite frankly my outlandish designs needed better marketing.
So here are my "If I was a wunderkind in DIY land" dreams.

I wish to God I had a reason to have this sewing studio where Susan from Maple & Magnolia creates.

As a knitter I am embarrassed to say I do not crochet. I want to, I have tried, I need more practice. Once I aced it I would make this blanket in a NY minute. So gorgeous!!!!



I have these MASSIVE Laura Ashley wingback chairs and an ottoman that we got for $50 off of Craig's List a few years ago. I love them though they are faded and need a good rehaul. They are too big for standard slip covers, aces, so I got a quote from a professional reupholsterer for all three pieces. $1100.00 yes, you read that right. Now, from I have read online, wingbacks use a lot of fabric and are not an easy job. When you get them professionally done they redo the stuffing and springs as well so I know it is labor intensive. I did just come across this tutorial on how to do it yourself using a staple gun and if I get up the nerve, I may give it a go. Honestly if I do this, I will feel beyond accomplished LOL.

Vali is a dress pattern from Rowan Yarn. Yes, this is something I would love to make but God knows what it would end up costing.



Build a kitchen island. I have no room for one, but this is pretty choice.



Sure I knit hats, but could you imagine actually being a milliner? Oh how I wish women wore hats and gloves again. So classy. Lisa Shaub makes beautiful hats and Mama would love a Fascinator. I would wear it with my pajamas or while I garden. That's right, no one is the boss of me. ;-)



Today's Recipe: Sweet Cherry Syrup from The Kitchn.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Collateral From This Recession

Let us start off with a recipe before I get into a very heavy topic.

Country Living has a nice recipe for Green Tomato Gratin.

Last night I was disappointed to see that one of my favorite bloggers, An Historical Lady, will be signing off from the sphere. No one likes to see a familiar voice disappear and while most of us get that "Life Gets In The Way" I am angry that she has no choice but to be silent for awhile or maybe even forever.
I am in no way her voice, but let me put it in a nutshell for you. Her and her husband are pretty much impoverished and have hit a wall of massive depression. I could sugar coat, but why bother? Her husband had a good paying job like many other Americans, then BAM, job gone. After sending out resume after resume, he had to take a very low paying job and then another. So he works two jobs and combined they do not make enough for them to even survive. She is in antiques and that industry took a major hit when the economy went to crap. They also had both of their older cars bite the dust within the same week. When it pours it goes to typhoon level for some folks.
For those of you who are international you need to understand that while we do have some safety nets in place here, unemployment, food stamps, they are nowhere to the level of what France or Australia or Sweden has. The Republican/Tea Party/Libertarian bent of society would have you believe that any government interference is against our God given rights and if you want to survive you need to find a way. To that I say, what if you have done everything and yet you still struggle? What if you have taken every odd job or sold everything you could and still you cannot afford your electric bill? What should one do, live in a tent? Those who say hard work will get you far and to keep trying seem to forget that though some people might own their houses outright, they can still lose said home because of failure to pay property tax. What is also gross about some of our public services is they fail to reach those in need. One of the stories she had told once was how the oil company would not work out a payment plan so they could have heat in the winter. The stream of curse words I wanted to let fly were held back then and held back now. New Hampshire has brutal winters and to deny someone oil is tantamount to not just being a jackass, but cruel and should be illegal. Payment plans happen all the time in our area, we do it, so I find that response of theirs to her question just a touch masochistic.
Everyday I read comments on some blog or other about those here and abroad making do or doing without. These are working people. People who bring home a paycheck. Some are getting social security or are on disability, but a spouse may be working. These are not the stereotypes fed to you by the politicians and lobbyists. In their world the poor are living high on the hog form welfare checks and driving shiny news cars and have iPhones while pumping out more kids to get more cash. Does that happen here in the US? Absolutely, but they are the bad apples in the bunch. The good ones suffer on their behalf.
Why isn't there more press on the common citizen? The ones trying to make it and who can't. Why are people afraid to see the faces of the poor? Is it the same reason we do not allow pictures of our dead soldiers? Fear of a real reaction by our citizens? Or does it hit way too close to home? To see a poor person or family, why, that could be one of us! Is it that scary to see someone that looks like you struggle? Yeah, I am about to go there. White people are poor too and not just the hillbillies the media like to throw at you to make you believe they deserve their lot in life as well. FYI - Appalachia people are some of the most resourceful folks and if you do not believe me go read up on their culture and listen to terrific music on Blind Pig & The Acorn.

Could I take this to another level? Who could I reach out to? Maybe I can compost a letter. Here is a rough draft of rambling thoughts.

Dear Frontline or Ken Burns or some other Documentarian,
I have read some of the most heartbreaking posts by those doing their damnedest to survive. True stories with real outcomes and real consequences. Poverty is not just an urban blight, but suburban and rural and it is taking its toll. Please contact me as I can direct you to those who need to be the faces/voices to show what our governments (Fed/County/Local/State) and corporations have done. You need to show these are people who have no credit card debt or mortgages and yet, they can't even find the money to pay for heating oil. I think it is time to break the bullshit example shown to the general public and let them see that this could be them at any time. I do not have a solution and these folks are not asking for handouts, but empathy has long been going from society and it is time to get it back. It is time somebody in power understands that their choices can do a lot of damage when not thought out. Bail outs for banks but not home owners, expensive health care, prohibitive education costs, these things will snowball and hurt so many. Sure there is Darwin's survival of the fittest, but who knew the fittest would come to represent only those that have money and nothing more.

I remember being a child and hearing the phrase "Dog Eat Dog World". I have always known it to be true, but to see just how big and ugly it has gotten is downright depressing.

Cheers!
MissFifi



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Plight of Honey Bees

Heard a very interesting program about the plight of bees on NPR's Leonard Lopate Show. What was heartbreaking to hear was how experienced bee keepers are getting out of the business due to the massive losses caused by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and how crop monocultures (soy, corn, wheat) that are doing serious harm. I have planted flowers to help encourage bees, but I have admit I very rarely have seen a honeybee around my garden. Mostly bumble bees, carpenter bees, butterflies, parasitic wasps and hummingbird moths are what I have seen. I do have beautiful sunflowers, bee balm, lavender, hyssop, Russian sage, a butterfly bush, catmint, columbine, lemon balm, echinacea and let a lot of my herbs go to flower to keep feeding the wildlife. You will never see a more interesting frenzy then when you let oregano go to flower, it is pretty awesome.

Here is the link to the Leonard Lopate show. Hopefully they post a podcast for it soon.
Dying Honeybees

Some London scientists are not too keen on urban beekeeping for fear that bees will get sick and starve due to the lack of food aka flowers. Instead of more bees they want folks to plant more flowers.

Why Urban Beekeeping Can Be Bad For Bees

In honor of bees and their gift of honey, here is a recipe from Food in Jars - Honey Lemon Apple Jam

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sometimes it Ain't Easy

If you read a lot of simple living blogs, there is no way you could misinterpret how much work is done by those who have chosen the path of home maker. I do believe some people think we walk around like Snow White singing, eating bon bons and looking so put together. Listen, if I had seven little men to order around and do some of my work I would be giddy. Don't tell me Miss Snow didn't do such a thing. It is a Grimm's Fairy Tale after all ;-) As for those that work outside of the home as well, God Bless you.
I think what miffs me the most is that I do as much multitasking at home, maybe even more, than when I was an Executive Assistant. Too bad I can't put it on a resume. Also, I do not buy into this recent BS of "Leaning In". Like most people don't take on enough crap I need some millionaire Facebook chick telling me I can "have it all". Did you ask me? What if I think I have it all already? Why the hell should I need to be in constant competition? And for what? Money? More money is always nice and so is personal satisfaction but what if I get personal satisfaction from cleaning the door of my fridge that holds the condiments? I did that task yesterday and I did feel better dammit. I truly believe the media enjoys pitting certain factions of society against one another. Those who work out of the house and those that stay at home. Those who breast feed and those who do not. Funny how it is mostly geared towards female readers, but nothing shocks me anymore. I am sure men get targeted too, but in different more subtle ways.
I have neglected my vegetable garden more than I like. My tomatoes were poor this year, but it was stated that blight was back in NJ. Ugh. We got two beautiful ones with our CSA which were so good they made me want to beg them for a bushel of tomatoes. I did start purchasing milk at the farm we get our CSA share from. They get it from a farm in upstate NY and it is cheaper than the organic brands by twenty cents. I know, not a big deal, but you get a return for the glass container and I figure that can go towards a new half gallon so win win. Other things get put on the back burner, like my writing,  but this is how my life works for now. I do treasure my time with my son, but there are times I wish he would nap for five hours. Greedy, I know, but it is honest. His is always on the go, ready to explore and learn and we encourage that as much as possible and it can be exhausting at times. He does entertain himself well too which is fun to watch as he runs from room to room to throw the ball back over the gate. Thank God he sleeps through the night. Speaking of which...

We have two "geriatric" pets. A 10 year old handicapped dog, whose dark raised wart like growth was actually a funky scab. (The doc gave her a good once over and she is fit as a fiddle. God help me.) We also have our 16 year old cat. The cat is definitely a little senile and her health is declining. She no longer wants to eat her dry food and while I do my best to crush her Prednisone into her wet food, she doesn't always eat the amount we give her. Recently Isadora, the dog, has decided she needs a bathroom break around 3:30am. I always hear her first. She whines because she can't walk anywhere and this is how she lets us know she needs something. My husband is deaf when he sleeps and so I nudge him awake, he snores louder and I ask him in a quiet voice to get up before she poops on the bed and he grumbles as he carries her downstairs and outside. That is where it sucks. We have to put her in her wheelchair to do her business and when one is bleary eyed it is a bit stressful.
5:30 is Chloe the cat's call for food. I have to jump up and stop her from meowing because she insists on doing it in front of our sleeping son's door. Mind you my husband has already given her food when he took dog out. Ahhh good times. good times.
I have said it before, once they pass, no pets for a year. We need a break.

I have always, ALWAYS, loved Koala Bears. I want it to be known that if this has happened to me I would have had the same reaction this woman had, but I probably would have been crying with glee. Yes, I know their claws can rip your throat out and I don't care.


I think I am going to make this pizza tonight.

Swiss Chard, Garlic and Gruyere Pizza

Cheers!
MissFiFi



Saturday, August 10, 2013

No Texting While Driving Dammit

Director Werner Herzog released a 35 minute film, backed by the cell phone companies,  about the perils of texting while driving. I have never cried through what is pretty much a PSA before, but this one will rip your heart out and make you angry. ( I want to know every sentence these people got, if any, and why the teenager in Vermont got such a slap on the wrist for ruining someone's life.) For once, I wish this was forced watching throughout the world and I also think it needs to be treated like drunk driving. While we are at it, perhaps there is a way for phones to lock the texting mechanism when the GPS picks up you are driving. Anything to prevent more stories like these.

From One Second To The Next


AT&T - Itcanwait.com

Cheers!
MissFifi

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rainy Friday

Have a lot going on today. I need to take dog to vet since she has some black wart shaped bump on her body which may or may not be cancerous. :( It is pouring out. I am still working on submitting a short story, I have started over with one of my completed books, about the Bounty Hunters, by taking bits of it and turning it into a working short story.  Yes, I like to torture myself :)
Since I wanted to make sure my two men have something for lunch while I am out with Izzy, I made this tuna pasta salad from Betty Crocker. I used scallions and omitted the peas and added tomatoes. I hope I get to try some when I get back!

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 5, 2013

Stop Comparison Shopping

I know you are thinking I may have lost a bit of my mind, and I may have, but how many of us look at magazines and blogs about nicer things and suddenly feel as if what we have or what we wear pretty much sucks? I am guilty of it as I am sure you are at times. What if we just stopped doing that? What if we stepped back and said, "My house may not be a mansion, but it is my home. My car may be ten years old, but I own it." Envy is an ugly sin and it raises its head more and more as we are thrust celebrity lifestyles in our face on a daily basis. Luckily, if you avoid TV, which I do, then you never have the barrage of advertising telling you how inadequate you are. Of course, I do read magazines and blogs and there are times Houzz makes me feel like I live in a hovel, but let's face it, I could never handle a 5000 sq foot house nor would I want to. I have yet to see one that looks remotely homey. Showplaces are not meant to invoke a feeling of warmth and security. Depending on who you are, it may invoke jealousy, hatred, a feeling of inadequacy, inspiration or appreciation for the design or colors, it will vary.
Our house just had a walkway put in, but we are going to hold off on doing the plantings until Spring because it will give us time to save up some cash and there is really no rush. I do not need to keep up with any Joneses and luckily my neighbors are pretty down to earth and already appreciate how nice we have made the ugliest house on the block (my phrase).
The point of all this is, comparison shopping your life will only get you down and while that is good for marketing and consumerism since you will go purchase what they are telling you will make you happy, it is not good for your psyche. So let us get off the envy bus shall we?
Julia at Hooked on Houses inspired me to write this due to her perfect commentary about House Envy.

House Envy: What Not To Compare

Today's recipes from Food Loves Writing: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups


Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Today's Favorite Quote

My 19 month toddler is going through sleep regression with his naps. Yes That's right. Refusal to rest because he may miss something like Hugh Jackman coming over to play. (Hey, I have to fantasize when I am frazzled.) I understand that for his growing little mind it is hard to comprehend that when he wakes up, all things will be there and he can continue playing and living life. So while he panics thinking things will happen that are so exciting he must scream so he can stay up and not miss them, Mama would like a very stiff drink.
The good news is after howling like a wounded harpy he finally nodded off.
Mama still could use a drink. A Bloody Mary or Gin and Tonic would be best. Send Hugh to the front door with it please.

Last night I remarked to my husband how this quote absolutely applies to me.

"I write a little every day, without hope and without despair." - Isak Dinesen

Gotta keep your humor at all times right? I am now going to bust into a bag of Ghirardelli milk and truffle squares in place of the much desired alcohol.

These Gin Marinated Olives from 101 Cookbooks would be a nice treat.

Cheers!
MissFifi