Sunday, December 27, 2009

going julie.

I'll post all about Christmas later. And my seventeen hour snoozefest. But right now, right now, I must blog about my new book The Bread Bible. I am in love. I made recipe number one first thing this morning. It's White Mountain Bread, and I don't know what the word Mountain is doing in the title. It's just white bread. Simple. Plain. Scrumptious.

Recipe number two is french bread. Oy.

Here's the thing. I've decided that I'm going to pull a Julie Powell and cook every single recipe in this book. All of them, and there are at least 300. I say "at least" because the cover says "300 favorite recipes," and I don't know if that includes the variations or not. And I don't know if I want to make the variations. I must do a bit more investigating.

And here's my right-off-the-bat dilemma. I'm not going to make bread every day. It would go bad before we could eat everything if there were multiple loaves around all the time, and I am not about to waste perfectly good food. Especially when it's homemade bread. So, I'm just going to make bread as we run out. Of course, today's recipe made two loaves and we've eaten one already. We'll get through loaf two tomorrow in all likelihood. So, Tuesday will see the baking of the next recipe...unless. Unless I decide to perfect each recipe before moving along. I should've let today's bread rise longer during it's first rise, but I didn't. It was still delicious, but I feel like an extra half an hour would've made it divine. So, do I make White Mountain Bread again or do I proceed to French Bread?

Opinions? Talk amongst yourselves while I finish looking through The Gentle Art of Domesticity, which is crazy awesome in that the photographs are so colorful it makes me want to sit down with a lot of paper and markers immediately.

Friday, December 18, 2009

no more nyquil

So, I've got this cold. It's annoying. It really only bothers me when I'm tired. Then my throat starts burning and my eyes get watery and my head starts filling with gnarly gunk. Sleeping is a problem. NyQuil solved that problem for a couple of nights, but the night before last it didn't help at all and I could hardly sleep and when I did sleep I had crizzazy dreams about being on an Olympic swim team and also having to be on the diving team despite the fact that I don't know how to dive...and I did a canonball. Anyway...

Last night I skipped the NyQuil. It took hours to fall asleep. During those hours one of the things I thought about was food. Specifically food that I don't like. I realized that there is a difference in foods that I don't like and foods that I just won't eat. Foods that cause my gag reflex to go into overdrive just from the thought. To break it down for you...I do not like grapefruit but I could eat it if I had to. Same with cream cheese or capers. I can scrape that mess off and still eat whatever it was on. But the following foods creep me right the heck out. Cottage cheese. Thousand Island dressing. Eggs cooked anyway other than scrambled and scrambled until they are very well done. The thought of the runny yolk of a fried egg makes my stomach turn every single time. Sauerkraut and all forms of cabbage. Aspics. Giblet gravy. Chicken Divan. Raw oysters. Lobster rolls. Anything pickled.

That's all I can remember right now, but I know there are lots more. Of course, everyone knows about the well-documented Ouiser family aversion to mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch dressing and the like. Yuck.

Okay, my coffee is ready, and after two nights of subpar sleep, I need it. How did I live through having a newborn without coffee?

Have a great day, peeps.

Sight: the ornament that S made at school. her fingerprints are supposed to look like snowmen, but they really look like petrified terds wearing scarves. i love it.

Sound: S singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

Smell: the Christmas tree, candy canes, oranges

Touch: my very raw nose. boo.

Taste: oranges and chocolate truffles

Monday, December 14, 2009

life with two kids.

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. Friday was The Inkwell's Harry Potter party, which was great. Especially the pumpkin juice and Bertie Bott's. Saturday, I dragged my butt all over Cool Springs (super mall land for those of you not in the know) looking for the Snow White Snow Globe that S has become mildly obsessive about. She has given up completely on acting like she'll ask Santa for a babydoll. Instead, it's always "Snow White globe." I had checked at our Lowe's and our Walmart and both were sold out. My stepmom checked at her Walmart, and I checked her Lowe's. Sold out. So, Saturday, after leaving Columbia, I headed to Cool Springs. Mall area traffic two weekends before Christmas is kind of my nightmare. Anyway, both places there were sold out as well. So, I braved the mall and the Disney store within. Chaos is putting it nicely, people. Anyway, I've got a snow globe now. And it features Snow White. It's not the one she's seen, but I'm hoping it's sufficient. It's actually much nicer than the one she's seen, but she's not really at an age to appreciate it. Oh well. Hopefully, it's good enough. But, uggghhh, the mall. Vomit.

Moving along...

Saturday night, we kept L so Feathernester and her hubby could go out for her birthday. Here are the pictures...
I will say that the girls were great. So great that yesterday morning, M tried using his authoritative dad voice on me declaring, "I want another one. Let's have another baby." Then he remembered that we had to change L's diaper.

I've now come down with some sort of cold, so the Ouiser ladies are laying low today. I suppose I'll nurse myself back to health with the leftover chicken and dumplings from last night. And in case you're wondering, I will never again make chicken broth anyway other than Alice Waters's. Oy. Vey.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I know I've mentioned before how sparsely stocked our refrigerator normally is. Lately, though, it's been packed. Mostly because I've made things that have leftovers (chili, beer cheese, chocolate gravy, baked apples). This morning I'd had enough. I hate feeling like I don't know what we have because I can't see through the clutter. Luckily, it's trash night, so cleaning out the fridge today is great. Here's what's left...
  • Coffee creamer (4 bottles of it),
  • Salsa,
  • Homemade pesto,
  • Juice (apple, orange, and grapefruit),
  • Beer (Fat Tire, Guinness, and Sam Adams Winter Lager),
  • 1/2 granny smith apple,
  • Milk (2),
  • Eggs (huge bowl filled with fresh eggs from granddaddy's chickens),
  • Yogurt,
  • Applesauce,
  • Bacon grease (I am southern.),
  • Butter (salted and unsalted),
  • Shortening,
  • Carrots,
  • Celery,
  • Cranberries,
  • Minced garlic,
  • Cheese (brie, cheddar, feta, string, babybel, parmesan),
  • Sprite (for tummy aches),
  • White wine (for Feather nester), and
  • Condiments (including a variety of mustards, soy sauce, wasabi paste, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup, Bonne Maman, sweet pickles, and barbecue sauce).
Seems like a lot, but the fridge is looking bare. Life is back to normal. Whewwww.

a lot of ribbon later.

Yesterday, I finally finished wrapping the gifts that are in my house. Most of the presents were already covered in old newspaper, but they were lacking bows. I had saved most of the ribbon from last year's gifts, so I reused that first. Then I had two new spools of lime green grosgrain. Those are now gone. Then, when I realized that I was going to have to trudge out into the windy cold for more ribbon*, I decided that was ridiculous. I searched the house and found some red mylar ribbon from something like five years ago. And, voila, the gifts are beribboned. We made gift tags out of S's old art, and then S helped me put the gifts under the tree. She also helped by taking a marker to several of the packages, but that's cool with me.

She then requested a present of her own. When I told her that I didn't have a gift for her, she said, "Hey, what about my Kessel and Freddles (Hansel and Gretel) book that we bought yesterday?" (Note to the Reading Rock, I am not cheating on you.) All she wanted was to unwrap something. I taped a piece of newspaper to her book, and she was so happy. It was pretty cute. I fear that there will be lots of needless wrapping of old books and toys in the days to come, but she was very sweet about it. She got all excited and gushed, "Oh, thank you, mommy. I love it." So, maybe I'll consider it as practice for showing gratitude when receiving gifts.

And, that's that from here. It's a pretty simple existence. Just the way I like it.

*I am still working on being green with the gift wrapping. There has been zero paper purchased. The new ribbon was purchased long ago and has been sitting in my ribbon basket for months. I use a lot of tape, but I am not about to make paste to wrap gifts. I've got to draw the line somewhere. I didn't use any gift boxes this year. I just wrapped gifts as they are. I even shipped gifts in re-used containers. I'm feeling pretty good about it, thankyouverymuch. Of course, I was drooling over some really beautiful chocolate brown wrapping paper that I saw in a magazine the other day. And in the future, I'd like to start doing this...even though I adore grosgrain ribbon. How are you greening your holidays? Or am I a freakazoid?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

am i being the opposite of a scrooge?

I started to write a post the other day about "how many gifts does your kid get?" Then I decided not to write it, but now I have to. HAVE. TO. Really, my post was not only how many gifts, but what comes from Santa, what comes from mom and dad, and on, and on...

Here's the skinny. I just read this post and the comments (oh, the comments) over on Ohdeedoh. Because S can't read, I feel safe disclosing her Christmas gifts here. She's getting a digital camera (for toddlers), a Melissa and Doug Ice Cream set, some new toy food for her kitchen, magnetic letters, a puzzle, seven books, and some art supplies and jewelry and princess mess for her stocking. That seems like a ton when you list it all out, but it's a remarkably small pile. Of course, she's planning to tell Santa Claus that she wants either a baby doll or a Snow White snow globe, so depending on which of those she actually says when we take her to see Santa, we'll get one of those things, too. I don't feel like I'm buying so much stuff that I'm spoiling her. I really don't.

But then...then I read those comments on Ohdeedoh. The comments that indicated that most of those people limit their kids to four gifts based on some little rhyme about "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." Four gifts? Really? Was I that spoiled as a child? Am I that spoiled now? Or are these people totally on their high horse trying to make me feel bad about myself and my (apparently) shameless embracing of commercialism? Please. I've bought more than four gifts for my husband.

So, here's the million dollar question: what's the routine at your house?

And let me say this. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. I think it's perfectly acceptable to handle Christmas however it works within your family. It's just that I'm curious...and I'm feeling like a greedy jerk right about now.

Friday, December 04, 2009

five senses friday.

Sight: s lighting up at seeing the nutcrackers this morning when she woke up.

Sound: sleigh bells outside the window just now. it's christmas in downtown dickson.

Smell: s's morning breath. i know it's gross, but i love it. this is not to be confused with my husband's morning breath, which i emphatically do not love.

Touch: a very fragile antique ornament crunching in my hand earlier. oops.

Taste: homemade beer cheese.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


So, today the Cute Kids of McCreary Heights gathered at our home and had a wicked awesome paint-filled play date. I cannot wait to share pictures of the finished projects, but you can see the process here. I will say that these suckers look awesome and the Ouisers will be doing this a lot more. It's so cool. I am beginning to think of The Artful Parent as a lost gospel.

I also finished S's quilt last night. Of course, it's in her room, where she is snoozing, so no pictures yet. Just the same, that's done, and I am very, very happy with it.

Next up: tomorrow night is Christmas in Downtown Dickson, and I decided to invite a whole lot of people over for a little pre-party of chili and cocoa and cookies and whatnot. Because, I wasn't stressed already. I had a little moment a couple of hours ago where I realized that I have people coming over tomorrow and I have zero Christmas decorations up in my house, and then I reminded myself that people don't visit their friends to stare at their nutcracker collection or to run themselves ragged trying to keep their small children from demolishing their friends' Christmas tree. They come for fun and food and conversation. So, I don't care. My house doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be my home, and for me to be happy, my friends and family just need to feel welcome and happy when they are here. I think I can accomplish that task without handmade pine garland. That is me letting go, peeps. Remember's a first. Though I still feel obligated to clean the bathroom. Baby steps.

Now, I'm off to do a little light reading, and by "light reading" I mean that I'll be reading the CAD bylaws. Good night and good luck, right?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

letting go.

Seriously, folks. Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat and all that jazz. So, holiday stress is here and there is no reason for it. At least not at Casa de Ouiser. We've bought all but two gifts. They're even wrapped. The cards have gone out (if you didn't get one, I don't have your address). But somehow, I'm still a ball of anxiety. The decorations haven't even begun to come out. M is out of town, and I am actually smart enough not to try to haul them out myself...which would inevitably lead to a re-injured back. So, peeps, it's December 2nd, and our Advent Calendar is still in a box in the shed. Stressed. We're having a playdate tomorrow, and I don't know what to feed people. Stressed. My floors haven't been mopped in over a week, and the dust bunnies are taking over. Unless you can tell me a way to turn those suckers into Christmas decor...Stressed. I've gained something like eight pounds. Stressed. Holiday baking is coming. Stressed.

Now, let's back this up. Decorations don't really matter. They will be put out at some point, and M and S will love them when they're there. I know this is ridiculous. Feeding the playdate? As long as there's coffee, mamas are happy. A box of doughnuts would do it for the runts. No necessary stress. Seriously...who mops floors before a playdate? Hello. Eight pounds. Well, that sucks. I'm not going to lie. Holiday baking? Maybe I'll just make M's favorite and his dad's favorite this year. That might help keep those eight pounds from making friends anyway.

So, the kicker is that I know all this stress is unwarranted. It's just there anyway. I mean, I've got it good. I know how insanely fortunate I am, and I know how unfathomably unfortunate others are, and yet I have the audacity to be worried about all this trivial crap. It makes me sick. But it doesn't change anything.

Despite all that stress, here's the good stuff. S is feeling better. (Though I am a little stressed because it's 833 and she's still asleep and she's supposed to be at MDO in 27 minutes and I need to chill out because I'm starting to create wicked run on sentences.) S's quilt should be completed by the weekend. The binding is attached, but I have to finish it up by hand. I am actually really, really excited about this. We got our annual Christmas ornament from my family, and it is so perfect that I can't stand it. The cup of coffee in my hand is quite delicious. I am healthy. I am happy.

The bottom line is, I have to let go of the little things. Put it in a bubble, and let it go. Right? Right? Right. I'll work on that as soon as S wakes up and I get her out the door.