Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's So Much Better With Three

My husband and I had a plan on Saturday: take Monkey Boy to dance class, after which we would proceed to keep him busy and (hopefully) amused for as much as the afternoon as possible. On Friday evening, my husband announced that Monkey got to pick what we were going to do Saturday afternoon and asked for his preference. Monkey decided he would give us options (such a sweet boy!) and listed McDonald's, Redbox, and Old Chicago Pizza as his top 3 choices of things to do on Saturday. Two eateries and a movie - yes, perhaps we need to keep working on expanding Monkey's horizons. McDonald's is a NO from me 90% of the time, Redbox he & I have done a couple times this summer (plus one important part of the plan was to keep Monkey out of the house!), so Old Chicago Pizza won by default. Very scientific, no?

First up was dance class, though. While Miss Hilary put Monkey through his paces (I'm happy to report he has entirely remembered his whole Sword and is hard at working learning the first step of the Fling!), my husband and I headed for the nearby Edelwiss Sausage & Delicatessen, or "the German shop", as my mother referred to it when we were growing up, which has been a Portland landmark nearly as long as I've been alive (they opened their doors in 1982, when I was barely a year old).

Though he's heard about it for years and enjoyed their sausages on multiple occasions at my dad's house, this was my husband's first visit to the hallowed aisles of Bavarian yumminess. We picked up a few fresh pastries to take home, a process that involved m
y husband asking many questions and ooh-ing and aah-ing over the heavily accented answers from the dear German woman assisting us. I was not at all surprised that, by the end, she was cooing over him like he was her own darling son! Once the pastries were packed up, I led him over to the lunch counter, where I ordered a turkey & havarti sandwich and my husband got a bratwurst on a fresh roll - yum! Did I mention that, technically, this was our breakfast? Sometimes it's good to get all continental on a Saturday morning, I think. I remembered to ask for no butter on my sandwich and my husband did the same with his brat's roll. The woman seemed startled by the request, but politely complied. If my dad needs only one big sign that his daughters have acclimatized to American culture, I think that would be it - no butter on my turkey sandwich, thankyouverymuch!

After picking up a slightly stinky Monkey Boy (Highland really makes you sweat) we headed over to the Scottish Country Shop, where a fellow dance boy-mom had told
me she'd taken her son to try on various sizes of Balmoral hats. Can I just say, after 20+ years of being first a Highland dancer, then a Highland teacher, and now also a Highland mother, I literally have no idea where to start with outfitting a 7-year-old boy for competition? The male dress code is sooo much harder to figure out! Case in point: I assumed that the clerk at the Scottish Country Shop would know exactly what we needed when we arrived, Monkey in tow, and explained he was a competitive Highland dancer who had just aged out of Primary and was now a Beginner - wrong! Good thing I had taken a moment to look up the name of the hat style (Balmoral) before we left the house that morning, or we would have been completely out of luck. As it was, she left us on our own to figure out sizing, color, etc. My husband and I managed to find a hat that was just barely too big (several ladies in the know have advised me to purchase a hat with a finger's-space between the brim & Monkey's head, then take a stitch in the back so it will fit now, but also fit longer as he grows - brilliant!) but got stuck when it came to checked or plain. See?

...and assuming we can figure that out, then there will be the matter of the crest. What crest, exactly, is appropriate to display on the hat of a small boy who is Swiss/English/Irish/Welsh on his mother's side and African/Creole/Native American on his father's side, for the purposes of competing in Scottish Highland dancing? Does the United Nations have a crest, perchance?

For the time being, as he has at least a few years as a Pre-Premier dancer in his future, we've given him the choice of wearing a hat or not and, while Monkey enjoyed trying on the Balmorals and prancing in front of the mirrors, he has decided to go hatless for now. Phew!

Finally, it was time for the main event (in Monkey's mind, anyway) of the afternoon: Old Chicago Pizza on Stark Street, a mere stone's throw away from Mall 205 and my teeny little apartment, as well. Apparently, Monkey had heard about this place from one of the other boys in his theater camp last week and was eager to try it. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to learn, as we were seated, that Happy Hour was mere moments away. At 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon, the bar looked like it was buzzing, but the restaurant itself was nearly empty, except for several friendly servers, a few other patrons, and several television screens showing live Olympics coverage. It was awesome.

My husband thought it was strange I took a picture of the Happy Hour menu, but I figured it would be good to keep on file for those evenings Monkey Boy & I really need to get out of the house. For less than $20 before tip yesterday, we were able to get a massive plate of nachos & a lemonade for my husband, a personal pizza & a lemonade for Monkey, and a frozen strawberry margarita & artichoke dip for me. Granted, the margarita tasted virgin (which is fine at 3 pm, honestly), but the artichoke dip was hot and delicious and came not only with toasted bread, but also with crudites for my dipping pleasure. Who knew carrot sticks and articho
ke dip tasted so good together?!?

The day came to a perfect end when, after running errands that evening, we came to a halt at a stoplight behind this car:

The "BAGPIPES: putting the fun back in funeral" bumpersticker was perfectly accented by the ubiquitous "Keep Portland Weird!" down below, don't you think? It certainly was a nice place to spend a relaxed Saturday with my boys.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Perhaps the Beef will Heal Me

I've managed to make something fairly tasty in my slow cooker today, despite feeling half-asleep, disoriented, and generally just plain still sick today. My electric wife happily accepted a small beef roast (about 1 lb), a large can of cream of chicken soup, a packet of onion soup mix, and liberal amounts of frozen spinach and onions. Cooked for about 7 hours on low, then let it simmer on "keep warm" while I took Monkey to his Highland class this evening, et voila! Tasty, tender beef, the delicious scent of which drifted out the door to meet us when we returned home. Monkey is refusing to eat it, so I'm currently boiling water for macaroni and cheese, as well. Sick mommy is permissive mommy, I've learned over the years. I just don't have the energy to argue the merits of protein over carbs. Sigh. Oh well, I figure my beef will be even more delicious with a side of Spongebob mac & cheese, no?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raise Your Hand If You Can't Sleep

After a good...what has it been, 6 weeks? Seven? I have finally succumbed to another nasty respiratory infection. Ugh. Or, as my husband said, "When exactly are you going to get your septum un-deviated?" Okay, yes, my doctor did recommend it a couple years ago. So sue me, I've been busy doing things like moving across the country, working full time, and commuting 200 miles every other week to see my family. Yes, I'm bitter. And cranky. And craving sugar and lots of hugs, which seems to be how my body tries to keep me sick and spread the germs to everyone around me, as well. Well, that and incorporating the dreaded chesty asthma cough that only seems to happen when I lay down and try to sleep. Aargh.
What do you do when you can't sleep? I texted with my husband tonight until he fell asleep. Or maybe lost interest. Hard to tell when you live apart, so I'm just going to assume it's the first reason. I worked on the kiltie I'm trying to put together for Monkey Boy. By worked on, I mean pressed the pleats (which have been pressed and tacked, but not yet cut) and cut the material for the lining. Monkey chose bright red broadcloth for the lining. Raise your hand if you're not surprised. Anyhow, I made sure not to actually sew anything this evening. I realized a couple months ago, during a spell of insomnia, that can't-sleep-sewing rarely leads to anything spending an hour the next day ripping out stitches, for example. Sigh.
The red lining looks pretty awesome with the Dress Blue Thompson tartan, though, don't you think?
...too bad the only people who will see it will most likely be me & Monkey as he's getting dressed to compete, huh? Oh well. See how that picture is sitting sideways up there? Totally tried to turn it. Gave up. Tired. Ha! If this kiltie turns out even halfway decent, I will be very pleased. It's actually an upcycle project - the wool came from a long, pleated skirt donated to a family friend of one of our dancers in Dallas.
I'm also watching trashy television on YouTube. Thank goodness Comcast got me connected before I came down with this respiratory nastiness! Trashy choices of the evening include Real Housewives (any city, not picky), Little Miss Perfect, and Dance Moms. Oh yeah, I am digging my drama tonight :-)
So how about you? What do you do when you can't sleep?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recipe Run - Hoisin Chicken & Broccoli

I'm getting back into the swing of things with meal planning and freeze-ahead cooking and figured it would be nice to try out some new recipes - giving 'em a trial run, so to speak. So Friday night, I made Hoisin Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry for Monkey Boy, one of my favorite gal-friends, and myself. I'm also trying out, which touts "Easy weekly recipe and grocery lists based on sales at your store. Start meal planning today using easy, kid friendly, recipes and live stress free." Since I've only used it for a week, it's too soon for a review of the site, but I will say I think we have potential working together. I especially like how the site makes a shopping list for you, based on sales at your local grocery stores and your chosen recipes for the week. Here is the Hoisin Chicken & Broccoli recipe that foodonthetable printed out for me:

I did make a few changes (surprise, right?). I used chicken stock instead of broth, as that's what I had on hand. My local Safeway didn't have hoisin sauce, so instead I picked out Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze with Honey & Pineapple. Sounds good, doesn't it? I used broccoli florets, but will confess we used frozen, 'cause that's how we roll in this teeny apartment. I also added water chestnuts because I *love* them! Never bad to have a little extra crunch, too, I think. I cooked it all up as directed and served it over freshly cooked jasmine rice. Yum!

See? Even the leftovers look yummy! In fact, I may go eat some now for breakfast. 9ish am isn't too early for dinner, right? ;-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's Get This Desk Together!

Yes, finally! We are back online at home again! It feels like years since I've been able to just sit down at my own beloved computer and visit with you all, even though I know it's only been 6 weeks. Much has happened since last we've seen each other, but I don't want to bore you with details of the past. Let me just say that I had a fantastic time in Dallas, I'm loving having my son down in Portland with me, and overall things are going well. My teeny-tiny apartment is feeling lovely, even though I am still sadly living out of boxes & climbing over things due to not fully having moved in yet. It's a process, though, right?

This is definitely the quintessential Portland apartment, I think. The closets vary in size from teeny and almost hidden to walk-in with writing on the walls and shelves that curve around heating pipes. The back wall of the bedroom closet has
visible siding underneath the plaster, as the bedroom itself is an addition to the most original part of the house (built circa 1920). For the same reason, there is a one-of-a-kind step from the living room into the bedroom, as well as a step down into the shower, which boasts a curved, tiled floor and a wonderfully high ceiling. All the doorways are different sizes, slightly different heights, and not necessarily plumb with the ceiling. To me, it's like living in a dollhouse - I love it!

There are definitely challenges to living in such a teeny, oddly-shaped home, however. Today's challenge is going to be figuring out how the heck I'm going t
o organize and make the most of the fantastic built-in open shelving/desk that is going to become my little office space. Things right now are pretty much just shoved in wherever they fit, which is definitely not the way to make a functional office! Or any other space, actually.

So here's where we are now:

I've had a little lunch, I've turned on some Housewives on the net (LOVE being back online!) and am going to start at the bottom, going through the contents of both file cabinets (4 drawers in all) and *hopefully* figuring out how to weed enough things out that one of the file cabinets can go out in Freecycle this week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!