Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cardboard Chaos

At the risk of sounding like a CBS curmudgeonette, what's with all the cardboard, plastic and twist ties in packaging children's toys? I just spent the past 15 minutes of my life trying to unravel a plastic "mower" for Baby. When I finally huffed and puffed it into submission, there was more cardboard and plastic detritus than toy. (Did I mention this is a Learning Mower? About all I ever learned about mowing was that afterward, beer tastes pretty good. Somehow, I don't think Fisher-Price is going for this concept.)

Next came the fire truck. And do you know that there were two elaborately wrapped twist ties (actually, they're more like coated telephone wires) up, around AND through the fireman! The toy was designed so two wires could be woven through the toy and wrapped around him. Heavens, who has THAT job?

Okay, Baby is on his way over, so I must divert. Don't forget to recycle.

PS We played our brains out for over two hours. The wooden spoon was his favorite.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Book club was at my house last night, so in deference to my January pick of Julia Child's My Life in France, I decided to try her Boeuf Bourguignon. (Normally, we just do appies and a whole lotta champagne.)

The more I read up on this dish, the more I realized that because life is short, I have zero interest in dedicating a full day to a meal that will be consumed in just under 6 minutes.  However, there is a very similar recipe with 10,000 fewer ingredients from Ginette Mathiot's Je Sais Cuisiner. According to The New York Times, "Ms. Mathiot’s version, especially when left for a day to assimilate its flavors, is equally suave and feels more satisfying — great payoff for little work."

I am so about great payoffs and  little work. Add suave into the equation, and I'm there.

Blogger Sharon posted a video collage on her website ( that documents the evening quite well, though I think she hid the liquor bottles before taking the pix. Thanks, Sharon, for the video tribute. Dinner tasted pretty good, especially if you are partial to boeuf.

After enjoying Beth's Tarte Tatin for dessert, we roared while watching Julia on The French Chef, explaining with unbridled enthusiasm the price differential of hens and capons. Who knew age was the reason some chickens are more "expensiver"?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Mess With Valentine's Day

There's been a fair amount of grousing on Facebook about Conversation Hearts, those chalky/sweet/molar-busting candies from NECCO. First, they've changed the texture (from a roux of chalk and concrete), brightened the colors, taken the brand NECCO off the box and rewritten the sayings on the hearts.

See Ya, My Hero, No Way, Luv Me, Yes, Email Me, U Go Girl, Hey You, First Kiss, Get Real.

Frankly, I can't recall what they said last year, though I usually do make a point of reading them before chomping them. They ARE softer now, so that satisfying explosion of god-knows-what when you first crunch is gone, baby, gone.

The NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) website is very proud to add that it has added Spanish, chocolate and "dazzled" tarts. And then, there's this:

To meet the demand for its Conversation Hearts, New England Confectionery Company produces them from late February through mid-January of the following year. The entire production -- about 100,000 pounds a day -- sells out in just six weeks.

There's even an Iphone App so you can customize your own heart. That part I like. The chalk part is definitely missed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feel Like a Troglodyte

If anyone has seen the above, please o please steer it back to Chicago.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Thanks to Daughter No. 1, I received tickets to a performance of Mamma Mia! at the Rosemont Theater. Being the dancing queen that I am, this was a much anticipated, ton o' fun evening. Great cast, lots of laughs, much spandex. And who knew Mamma had two Ms in the title? I tell ya, ya can live your whole life not examining life's details and then whoomp.

I am thinking of moving to a Greek Island so I can serve Ouzo in a taverna, at least until our Get Out of the Snow Plan officially kicks in.

Meanwhile, all you singletons have a rare opportunity at the Higgins Road TGI Friday's: "Thank God, I'm Single Speed Dating Event" (register in the bar). 

Thanks for the great evening, Betts. Glad neither of us has to don platforms and hustle up a date.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Summer's Almost Here

Great  friends of ours, who moved from Naperville to Wisconsin to start a goat farm (not a typo), sent this picture to us this morning.

"Summer's almost here."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Isn't It Romantic?

“Margaret Watson, a star in the world of contemporary romance, grabs you on the opening page and keeps you reading to the happily ever after.”
New York Times Bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Margaret is my friend from the old hood. As far as I can tell, An Unlikely Setup is her 900th novel, all of them written while entertaining our children, the neighbor children and her own three. (I'm still working on the laundry from the 90s.) And while it would be very tempting to hate Margaret for writing and meeting deadlines and living the writing life, I adore her nonetheless. She is witty, smart and kind. She makes the best from-scratch caramel apples on the planet. And she has loved us and our pets for many years. (Did I mention she's a veterinarian?)

So head out to Borders and/or the Meijer and buy An Unlikely Setup. If you would like to read more about this lovely human being, her website is

An Unlikely Setup is the first of a series, set in Otter Tail, Wisconsin. Part Deux will come out in June.

The rest of the Margaret Watson library is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Blue Heaven

While Honey looks around for the calculator and crunches our "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" numbers, I bestow upon you a bit of heaven.

Can you feel it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Miracles Keep Piling Up

If you were thinking my husband surprised me with a bungalow in Savannah, GA, you'd be wrong.
However, there was a delightful miracle handed to us anonymously this morning because the driveway went from this

to this

 all while I was eating an English Muffin.

Having avoided the inevitable long enough, I rose to don my mukluks and glanced out to see that an angel had plowed the overnight snow from the driveway. AND from the sidewalks. As in zpfft, all gone!

Another miracle, possibly at the hand of my favorite Norwich Terrier's family, but I am not sure. I didn't recognize the pattern of tread marks. (Hmmm. Potential here for an epsiode of CSI:Snowbound?)

Thank you, my plowing friend. I shall find you and thank you in person.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Gotta Get a Plan

In about 12 hours, this is what Chicago is going to look like, which leads me to this thought: we gotta get a plan. I don't know what that plan is, exactly, I just know we need one so I can clutch it to my heart and keep its small flame alight while I'm snowblowing the forever driveway and sidewalks in my hometown, Naperville.

Savannah is too hot in the summer, but it might work for the three to five months of winter that gnaw and thaw at Chicago's heart. The question is, how much can we afford bungalow-wise in the sun? Honey? Where's the calculator?

A friend of ours actually has a 99-year lease on a mobile home on a beach in California (Venice, I think). He bought it so his very long commute to his real home in Cucamonga (yes, that really is a place) would be on weekends only. Of course, there were some spectacular trailer jokes cracked on his behalf, especially from his kids and their friends, who all now use the place constantly.

I'm thinking I'm not much for trailers, but I could do bungalow. And maybe a condo here? First floor. Good insulation. Handyman. This is beginning to sound really, really good.

Okay, there would be too much vaccuuming involved with this joint on the right, but you get the idea: no snow, fair winds, civilized, azaleas. I like that.

Honey, have you found that calculator?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soap/Salt Box

On the way to Costco to buy baby formula and tomatoes, we observed a SUV in front of us with the following affixed to the rear of the car: a Cubs logo, a Merry Christmas wreath and a manger scene.

"Look. They're playing for the Mangers," commented my husband. Or maybe he said in the mangers.

I'm all for enthusiasm, but the manger scene on a salty, dirty car hatch?