And the Award Goes to: Me

I would like to take a moment to send a shout out to Kelly over at Something Funny Happened Today for having the good sense to recognize the sheer brilliance and comedy of my blog and present me with my 100th first ever Blog Award. I am now the proud recipient of this beautiful button: award

I didn’t have time to prepare an acceptance speech, but in honor of my award I will be throwing a lavish party with an open bar and a red carpet in Los Angeles. However, since I just realized that I have absolutely NO weekends available for the next year – I am totally booked with kids birthday parties, house cleaning and children shuttling premieres, galas and celebrity parties – I have decided instead to honor the rules of my new, shiny award and list five obsessions. So hold onto your hats, I am about to completely bore WOW you:

1. Chocolate. Dark chocolate. With almonds. Although I recently discovered Endangered Species’ dark chocolate with mint, which is giving plain dark chocolate with almonds a run for its money. So good you might never need to have sex again.

2. My Chaco sandals. I don’t know what took me so long to embrace them, but I wish I had bought a pair years ago. My hippie sister turned me onto them this summer and they have changed my life. Good-bye, uncomfortable, back-ache inducing flip-flops. Hello, cushy, supportive Chacos. They might not be the most fashion forward-looking sandals in the world, but they have made my life all the better.

3. The chariot. It’s an all in one stroller, jogger, bike trailer and cross-country ski trailer, but I call it, simply, “Freedom.” It enabled me to get out and do what I love outside all while being with my kids. I wrote an article about the chariot once and called it a “threat to babysitters everywhere.” My kids are starting to outgrow it, and it’s a little worse for wear, but it’s like a member of our family or a loyal pet.

4. I am now going to break the pattern of only listing obsessions that start with “ch” (I think chess and checkers would make my list of bottom 100 obsessions, but I could easily go with cheese), and say yoga. Yes, I know it’s cliche and trendy and all that, but I absolutely love it. I used to be a runner and was constantly in pain until I discovered yoga. Now I actually feel good after exercising. Plus my husband likes when I wear those tight yoga pants. Bonus.

5. Here is where I totally cheese out and say something embarrassing like –  reality TV. Yes, I admit, I don’t watch that much TV but when I do, it’s gotta be “America’s Next Top Model” or “America’s Got Talent” or “So You Think You Can Dance.” I get completely transfixed and can barely wait a week for the next episode to find out what happened. Siig and Kaiden usually dominate the TV in our house, but when one of those shows are on, the family knows it’s mommy’s turn and the dishes are not going to get done. Hand over the clicker, kids, and no one gets hurt.

So to fulfill my award’s rules, I am supposed to tag five other people who are then supposed to list their five obsessions and tag five more people, or else somewhere a small child will die. Here goes:

1. Annieology, my first blogger friend. We were neck in neck for 20th place in the SocialLuxe Lounge Award for funniest blog, until she kicked my ass. I felt the wind in my face as she sailed past me in votes. But she has like 10 kids who all voted for her so it doesn’t really count.

2. Brittany of Barefoot Foodie. She absolutely cracks me up every time I read her blog. I have to wear a pad so I don’t wet my pants.

3. Brilliant Sulk. Funny. Plus she reads my blog on occasion. That will always get you major points.

4. And other new blogging acquaintances: The Accidental Mommy and, 5. MomZombie.

Watch out Rachel Ray, Here I Come

This pic has to be photo-shopped. Can you trust a cook this skinny?

This pic has to be photo-shopped. Can you trust a cook this skinny?

Holly Homemaker I am not. Nor have I ever aspired to be. Until last year, I even considered myself cooking-challenged, the non-Domestic Diva. My skills in the kitchen were limited to making a bowl of cereal or a turkey sandwich. That was about it.

Siig was the cook in the family, but I did all the shopping and cleaning.  He only had a few, plain recipes up his sleeve, but at least he knew how to grill chicken and broil meat. I was clueless, as well as having little desire to learn. I blame it partly on my mom, whose idea of cooking was scrambling eggs or throwing a salad together. (OK, she also knew how to make a quiche and a souffle. I think that was it.) Most of my friends who are good cooks had been raised by mothers who passed on their love and knowledge of cooking. I don’t begrudge my mother, that’s just how it was. She did pass onto me other valuable lessons, like how to heat up frozen food in the microwave and order take-out.

But last summer, I realized it was time for me to step up to the plate. I couldn’t keep asking Siig to come home from a long day of landscaping and cook us a meal. So I started by cooking him dinner on his birthday, a simple chicken dish. “Hey,” I realized, “this isn’t too bad.  All I have to do is follow directions.” Now, directions I can do. I have always been a good student. So I started looking up recipes on the Internet. Soon I had a drawer full of printed-out recipes: Chicken Marsala, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cordon Blue (notice a pattern here?), meatloaf (never thought I’d cook that!), pasta with smoked salmon. And you know what? We were actually eating better and more of a variety since I started cooking.

This week, I have to say, I have outdone myself. Not only did I successfully attempt my first Indian dish – Aloo Mutter – but I also made orzo for the first time with grilled rosemary chicken on top. Holy cow, who am I??? I have discovered a simple rule that makes cooking more appealing to me: as few ingredients as possible. Anything more than five or six and my eyes start to glaze over. So when I was in the grocery store yesterday and spotted Cooking Light’s “5 Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook,” I knew I had found my Bible.

I should have taken a picture of the “Grilled Chicken with Rosemary-Mustard Cream” atop “Orzo with Pine Nuts” that I served up last night. It was beautiful. But I was too busy eating to stop and find the camera.

Snack on this, at your own risk

snacktime    This album has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because my kids absolutely love it and they could listen to it over and over again in the car. A curse because, well, see previous sentence.

It’s a great way to keep my two rugrats occupied on car rides, long or short, and keeps them from fighting or spilling even more pretzels and goldfish crackers all over the back of my car. But car radio time was MY TIME, gosh darn it. It was the last bastion of sacred ME time I had, and now even that’s been taken from me.

It used to be such a satisfying feeling. Kaiden and Kaya snugly strapped in their car seats, knowing they were my prisoners and could not go anywhere. I would lovingly listen to NPR, catch up on all my news, and revel in adult world if only for the 20-minute car ride home from school. But it was all mine, and I relished the time.

Now, once they’re in the car, I stealthily tune to NPR, but soon I hear cries from the back shouting out their favorite songs. “Mommy, ‘Allergies!'” “‘Eraser,’ Mommy, ‘Eraser'” “‘Popcorn!”” My scheme has been foiled. I try to avoid the inevitable. “Honey, it’s Mommy’s turn now.” But that doesn’t work for very long. Finally, I have to chose between demanding toddlers and Terry Gross. So far, Toddlers: 25; Fresh Air: 2.

But I have to admit, as far as children’s music goes, ‘Snacktime’ is pretty good and even adults can appreciate it. Those talented guys from Canada cover just about every genre of music in the album, from 80s to bluegrass to a Queen rip-off. I even have my favorites. But I’m not telling my kids that. I miss NPR too much.

Don’t Eat the Kool-Aid

I’m not what you would call a “Martha Stewart Mom.” I love taking my kids out to the park or friends’ houses, but when it comes stay-at-home activities, I’m at a loss. I’m not very good at coming up with crafts or art projects for my kids, I can’t really sew or cook (though I’m trying!) and when it comes to keeping my children occupied on storm days sometimes I can think of nothing but the old standbys: reading or playing hide-and-seek.

I do like to bake, and that is always a great activity for kids. But after three weeks of bad weather this winter and making gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies and brownies, I had not only depleted my baking arsenal but I was either going to get really fat or I had to find a new project. Making playdoh was the perfect solution – it was quick, the kids could help and play with it afterwards, but best of all, I wouldn’t eat it!

After three tries, I finally got a good batch of playdoh. I used the usual recipe: flour, water, creme de tartar, food coloring. But at a birthday party this weekend, I found the Mother Ship of homemade playdoh – it was bright yellow, so soft and squishy I couldn’t put it down and smelled so much like lemon pie I had to keep myself from putting it in my mouth. The trick – Kool-Aid. Who woulda guessed it?

I found one recipe for Kool-Aid playdoh at this site:

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/ht/koolaiddough.htm   koolaid1