March 31, 2008

I'll never call my son a monkey again...

Okay, my mom sent me this. It is totally disgusting, but so worth sharing. Thanks for the blog material, Ma.

"Monkey Pee, Monkey Eww"

March 26, 2008

My Rocky Relationship with Rachel Ray

I've never been a huge Rachel Ray fan, but I still like to keep an open mind about things, so I vowed this month to try as many 30-Minute Meals as possible. To start off, 30 minutes is a crock. My average meal meal prep time has been closer to the 90 minute range. (Rachel should try making a meal in half an hour with a dog & toddler underfoot - both looking for scraps - and The Office streaming on her computer. Now, that's real time!) I've only liked about 1/2 the recipes so far. My odds are much better with recipes from friends & fam and Epicurious, my most frequented resources. I think I'll stick with my old standards for a while and start eating food that I enjoy!

Here are my favorite "30 min" recipes so far (yes, I do love pasta):

Cauliflower Sauce with Whole-Wheat Penne

1 lb whole wheat penne rigate
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, cracked from skin and sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and chopped
1 cup chicken stock
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
3/4 cup grated Romano, 3 generous handfuls
Salt and black pepper

Boil pasta. Drain and reserve 2 ladles of pasta water.

For sauce, heat a deep skillet over medium heat with extra-virgin olive oil. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes, then remove. Add onions and cook 5 minutes then add cauliflower, chicken stock and the rosemary. Cover the pan and cook 15 minutes. Uncover the sauce, add 1 to 2 ladles of pasta water and mash the cauliflower with the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the pasta and cheese to the cauliflower and toss to combine. Season the dish with S&P.

You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta

1 tbsp butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz fresh pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka1 cup chicken broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread (as side)

Boil pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add evoo, butter, garlic & shallots. Gently saute garlic and shallots, 3-5 minutes, to develop their sweetness. Add vodka and cook to reduce by half, 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble, then reduce heat to simmer. Season with S & P.

Stir cream into the vodka sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove from heat. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

March 25, 2008

Welcome to the Monkey House

I'm seriously considering changing the title of my blog from The Salad Days to The Monkey House. I immediately clung to this expression when I heard Tim Gunn say it to Chris on Project Runway. After an entire season of examining Chris's wacky creations, Tim made the greatest analogy when Chris presented to him garments that used human hair as fringe. He told Chris in a very Tim Gunn way that only Tim Gunn could pull off, that he had been living in the monkey house for too long. His analogy goes something like this: So when you first walk into the monkey house at the zoo, what do you do? You cover your nose and think, "Dang this place stinks!" Then, after 15 minutes or so you start to think, "Well, I guess this isn't so bad." And then, after about 45 minutes you don't even notice it anymore. However, the place never stopped smelling like sh**; you just stopped smelling it.

If you're living in the monkey house, it means you that you no longer notice the mess all around you. If you stay there too long, then you begin to enjoy it or to make it your own. Abandon all hope if crap starts flying across the room.

I feel a lot of days like I'm living in my own monkey house. We spend a lot of time running around the house screeching and climbing the furniture naked. Besides that however, I realize that when the tasks get overwhelming, the blinders turn on. I let dog hair pile up and papers sit on the counters for weeks, my socks never match my outfit and aside from applying makeup on the drive to church (to which we are always late), I am seriously lacking any beauty regimen. I could go on and on about how often I (don't) shower, but I don't want to shatter too many positive assumptions people have made about me. Instead, rest assured that Erich gets a bath, clean clothes, a massage, and weird, organic health food every day.. while I sit in my own filth eating Peanut Butter Crunch.

Thankfully, not every day is a "monkey house" day. That is why I would never title my blog to reflect so. I certainly wouldn't want to embrace a lower standard of living than I have now! But life is an uphill battle to find balance, so I'll keep my scooper in hand and start shoveling that poo out the window. Into the yard- where it might actually do some good.

March 17, 2008

An Holy Palm Sunday

Last night, Erich and I (sans poor husband that worked through the weekend) attended a very entertaining morphed holiday celebration hosted by some very creative and innovative friends of ours. I would describe it to you, but I think they did a much better job of summing the night up in the invitation. So, in their own words:

"We have a little tradition of doing something special for Palm Sunday and we thought it would be fun to gather with all of you at the same time. If you can make it, come with some kind of tree branch in hand. We lay down the palm fronds and then read a few scriptures and then sing Easter songs mixed with Christmas songs (so O little Town of Bethlehem sung to the tune of O Savior thou who Wearest, etc) and then we end with a wild rendition of Popcorn popping and gorge ourselves on popcorn and fruit and other beautiful growing things to usher in spring. It goes along with our traditional merging of pagan festivals with holy Christian/Jewish/Muslim holidays."

Well, they were telling the truth, that's exactly what happened, with the exception of an Easter egg hunt. It was great!! I stumbled through the first couple of hymns, but once I got the hang of it, the change of pace was oddly refreshing. The children all participated with the singing and waving of branches-my favorite being the giant IKEA leaf. Erich had a great time and certainly accepted the invitation of gorging himself on the delicious berries (we are definitely going berry picking this summer!). Hopefully this will be the first of many pagan rituals we are invited to blend with our dear friends. Thank you for the great evening, Olsen's!!

Below are some pictures that another pal took at last nights festivities. We arranged a deal where she'll take pictures of Erich soon and I'll repay her using my favorite commodity - me. (That means I'll give her a massage.)

March 14, 2008

I May Be Doing Something Right After All...

My poor Erich has had a pretty rough few weeks. First he had a nasty stomach bug followed by a super nasty cold, and then battled what we believe was a miserable ear infection. So naturally, being the empathetic mother that I am, E & I spent most of our days cuddling on the couch and watching cartoons. It was a yummy treat and I completely indulged.

We don't always watch TV though; we usually spend a significant portion of our days reading the zillions of books he has (quite literally) strewn throughout the house. So imagine my glee when, in the middle of
Der Prinz von Ägypten (yes, we've spent a fortune on Disney auf Deutsch), Erich slid off my lap, toddled over to his diaper bag and pulled out his Baby Moses book! I was shocked that he associated that book to what was on TV, which proves that he understands a lot more than I thought. It may not seem like much of a feat to an experienced parent, but its just so amazing to watch my little boy grow up. Besides, I must get a few brownie points upstairs for teaching my kid a Bible story.

March 11, 2008


March 9, 2008

Ich kann Deutsch... sort of.

As many ma
y know, Marc and I are trying to raise Erich speaking German. Yeah, it might seem random at first, but if you know us its really not so much. Marc took German in college but he's also half Swiss, so he's had a lot of exposure and strong ties to the language. We also have a lot of German blood between the two of us, so speaking German in our home seemed to us to be the perfect holla' back to our ancestry. We've always talked about doing this, but I didn't get serious about learning the language until Erich was born. I'm now in a second semester course, which Marc is taking with me as a refresher. (To be honest, I'm so glad he's there! He's naturally the smartest in the class and not shy in the least, so he raises the bar while bringing me out of my shell.) And now that Erich is 1 and saying his first words, the heat is on! I feel sometimes like he and I are in a race to see who can pick up the language faster. Sure, he can't form a lot of words yet, but I know he's listening and absorbing everything I say. And that is where the trouble lies; in my presentation. I'm no linguist and German is certainly not my native tongue. To say the least and I've had... moments. Sometimes I get really excited and have all the faith in the world in my abilities. Other times, however; I'm convinced that I'm making a mess of my child and I'll never be able to pull this off. I should add though, that those negative feelings have greatly decreased in volume and intensity over time. I only wish I'd started sooner. I still worry a lot that I'm not coming across to Erich as sincere, fun and confident, so I try to be very aware of how I come across when I speak to him.

We have a pretty decent arsenal of German books, dvds and music, but I'm always on the lookout for more - as at this point they help me more than they do Erich. I did a Google search today for "German Dr. Seuss" and found the best site: Alphabet Garten. It was truly a blessing to find because the woman who runs this website is a non-native German speaker (married to a German) and she keeps a blog about her family's bilingual life. She also links to all kinds of support sites for multilingual families. It was exactly what I needed!! I can't say what a relief it is to read about other parents in my same position with the exact same concerns, and then to read the reports and studies about why those concerns are crap! Seriously, check this out. What I realize now is just what Marc has been telling me all along: Don't give a damn. Around friends, family, or anyone, just speak German as best I can, make mistakes and don't care what they may think or say. The only person I need to care about is Erich and if I stay focused then I'm giving him gifts that will last forever. And now that I've said that... I hope you all hold me to it! I mean it now, if you're really my friend then you won't let me slack off in front my kid.

To top this all off, I joined a German playgroup through I haven't officially been accepted yet, though. The group representative sent me an email basically saying (depending how well I translated my German) that they expect all members to speak only German at home and with the playgroup. And if thats where I'm at then let him know. Yikes. I basically responded (in broken German), uh yeah, sure, I can do that.

I'm so scared.

March 4, 2008

Project Runway Finale... Fierce!!

This little lady is sooo excited for the Project Runway finale tomorrow!! Who will win? I have no idea, but I hope its Christian; he's "super fierce!" (and totally into himself). I really like Jillian, too, but I think Christian would add a lot of drama and new ideas to the fashion industry. Not that I'm any fashionista, but who doesn't love drama?! Rami definitely takes third in my book. Unless his final collection is amazing and changes my mind, I've still got him pigeon-holed as a Grecian draper. Sorry, Rami, love ya though!

If you're just like me and love spoiling surprises, check out the photos of Fashion Week 2008 here. Now it's your turn, Runway fans, who do you think should win?

March 1, 2008

BumGenius Owes Me Money

For all the people I've talked into switching to cloth diapers I should be charging some kind of finders fee! Okay, so I DO get a lot of satisfaction from bringing people over to the cloth side, and I DO believe I'm making the world a better place, but I sure wouldn't mind the occasional free diaper, BG! *wink, wink* I wrote an email a while ago detailing all that I've learned from my booty-wrapping experiences and send it out to everyone that asks. For any interested, here is a chunk of it:

To start off, the main reason I went with BumGenius over another brand is because they have a one-size adjustable diaper that fits from 8-35 lbs.

Here is the link to where I buy my diapers. I have 20 diapers, which is the perfect amount for me because I'll be doing laundry every 3 days and have a few to keep in the diaper bag all the time. And to be honest, you HAVE to do laundry every few days or else plug your nose when you put those things in the washer! After I started Erich on milk, his wet diapers began to smell like ammonia after a few days, but I bleach the inserts occasionally to keep the smell down.

For nighttime I use these as inserts instead of the ones that come with the diapers. I have 3. They're bulky but really absorbent.

And I place these in the diaper to catch poo (then I flush it). (Fyi, if there is a REALLY bad blowout I shake the diaper in the toilet for a few secs before putting it in the laundry.)

And I have one of these in a trash can with a lid.

I keep one of these wet bags in the diaper bag and wash it with the diapers:

My trash can is in a cupboard thing that mom made me. I just blot tea tree oil on a fabric swatch already in the bag. It keeps any smell in really well.

For laundry, I do 2 cycles, the first is cold/cold, to break up stains, and the second hot/cold. For detergent I use Purex Free n' Clear. You have to use something w/o any frangrances, softeners or additives because they leave a coating on the diapers and make them less absorbent. (A friend of mine throws vinegar in every couple cycles to remove any traces of that, but I haven't had a problems with my detergent.) This also means you can't use any fabric sheets in the dryer.
Well, there you have it, an unsolicited taste of my Diapering Diaries, as I so fondly call them. If anyone is interesting in the whole thing, just let me know! And make sure to tell me if you switch to BG because of my advice; it will help me to plead my case for a free diaper. :)