Monday, March 30, 2009

That'll show him!

I just finished going through a long drawn-out set of memos from many decades ago. Memos that get more and more heated as they progress. And I highly enjoyed some of the banter. So for your enjoyment on a Monday, I am sharing my favourite line. It was from a transcript of a public record and I'm not naming names so I'm ok with passing it around.

Anyway, things are getting meaner and meaner - in a very mild way to our modern eyes - when the whole thing ends with one person shouting the following:
"YOU, sir, are an Ambiguist!"

I'm not sure if that is even a word, but the line itself is too hilarious to not use someday anyway. Feel free to do so as well, should the situation warrants it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not that I wouldn't want to try.

I wonder, sometimes, if I would die of excitement and happiness if I ever won the lottery. Why? Because I get pretty excited over things that may not be the lottery to you, but to me they're like bricks of gold wrapped in chocolate, covered in honey served on a plate of maple syrup.

What might these things be, you ask? A cooler and a penguin. Wait, I can explain.

First, I had the awesomest childhood ever. EVAR. Seriously, I sometimes feel guilty about it. So I look back with great fondness on it. And being a cook, I tend to remember the food related things (who am I kidding - I like to eat, so I remember food related things).

One of those things was a Scotch Kooler. We used in on family picnics (if les filles Hingston, Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Handsome Rob ever want to see how seriously hippy-like I was even as a kid let me know: I have family video featuring said cooler, my family, me and lots of skipping and some seriously fluffy milk pods), and every fall it was used to ripen fruitcake. Don't bother telling me how much you hate fruitcake. I like it, my dad and sister like it and I sell enough of it at Christmas to cover the cost of making it for us. So BACK OFF, fruitcake haters. (That line originally came out fruitcake hatters. Now you can mock those crazies as much as you want).

Anyway...most grievously, the cooler from said fantastic childhood went missing. Which is sad but little did I know that my brother-in-law is not only awesome to his wife, but he is awesome to everyone. You've heard about him getting me a flight to BC in February, and you may have heard about the cooler but I don't care. I'm telling it again because I can't bring myself to search for it in previous posts. So...I go out to visit said sister and husband in the summer of 2008. And what miraculous thing has he done? He bought me a Scotch Kooler on Ebay!! I just about fell off my chair in sheer happiness.

And it has happened again. We may not have had an actual penguin as a pet during my(or maybe we did. I'm neither confirming nor denying), but what we did have was something that we called the penguin. It was really an ice bucket, but we used it for pancakes. Why? Because it was the perfect pancake keep-warm thing ever.

Yes, I know you can use other things like your oven on keep warm setting or on low, but then they dry out. The Penguin kept them perfectly warm, with just the right amount of moistness. The penguin wasn't lost (dad has it), but I didn't think I should ask if I could just have it. Not sure how often I thought a retired person living on his own would need to keep a lot of pancakes warm, but it didn't seem right to just ask for it. I did, however, mention it to awesome-sis (who is, naturally, married to miracle-man) and she FOUND ONE. And BOUGHT IT. I was so happy all afternoon yesterday that I have no recollection of what work I did after she called to tell me. And even though I don't have the Penguin yet, I made little mini-pancakes as a snack for everyone last night, just to celebrate.

I think Miracle-man and Awesome-sis should keep the one they bought, or get dad's. And then we'll both have a penguin.

Note: I just spell checked this - I did the whole thing writing penquin instead of penguin. If penquin isn't a word, it should be. For something a bit more modern than a quill, but not as new as a pen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not witchcraft...but maybe some pixie dust

This is an email from J. this afternoon:

Don't be shocked if the townspeople show up with torches and pitchforks because I'm pretty sure that list could only be completed using witchcraft. Doesn't crepe batter have to chill?

It was in response to this, which may seem crazy but when his girl is grown up and there is perhaps a mini-j as well, he'll be doing the same:

This morning I:
Let dogs out
Took laundry out of the dryer and folded it and put it in kids rooms
Peeled potatoes
Took beef & beans out of fridge
Made crepes
Boiled potatoes (ok, the stove did that bit)
Woke kids up, gave them breakfast
Mixed the meat and bean mix in the food processor and put it in a casserole
Had a quick shower and washed the stupidly long hair
Unloaded the dishwasher
Loaded the dishwasher
Told A. if he wanted a shower before school he better get moving
Handwashed the bowl of the food processor and the blade
Pureed the potatoes, with a bit of cream cheese and garlic and salt and pepper
Covered the casserole with potatoes. Covered it and put it in the fridge
Set the delay start on the oven, to be ready to cook at 5:15
Told the girl that A. was finished with the bathroom and it was her turn. Because she’d fallen asleep after eating breakfast
Made two sandwiches
Found two bags and put a sandwich, some fruit and a Hershey’s kiss and one cookie in each bag
Asked A. to start the car
Got dressed
Made sure everything that could be in the dishwasher was in, and turned it on
Let the dogs out again, turned the heat down, let the dogs in and put up the barrier so they can’t get in the bedrooms
Took the kids to school.
Got to work a bit late…8:15 means staying until 4:45. But that’s ok, because M. is done at 5:00, and I need to stop at the drugstore anyway so the timing is fine.
And that is my morning, from 6:55 to 8:05

Yes, it is new.

No longer Sex and the Hamlet. Why? Because I don't watch Sex and the City so trying to be clever that way was pointless. Mainly, though, because this isn't a hamlet and there is no sex. Pixie dust, though, that I have. Not much, but I do have it. And some day I'll use it. It's blue and sparkly, by the way. Just in case you've never seen pixie dust.

She is dead to me.

The Backstory:
The boy loves Nutella. He’ll sit and read, eating bananas smeared with it. He loves crêpes spread with it – with or without bananas – and I’ve caught him just eating a spoonful of it straight out of the jar.

The Story:
I have a European cookbook (this really is relevant) and the recipes frequently refer to nut nougat. Almond nougat, hazelnut nougat, pistachio nougat – on and on. I thought at first that what they meant was paste, similar to us having almond paste available at Christmas. But the way they were using it that didn’t make sense. I knew it wasn’t nougat as in the stuff with honey and nuts like Montelimar. So what is it? Turns out that making a paste of nuts, sugar and chocolate has been popular there for a very long time. What we call Nutella, they call nougat. Voila! I’ll just use Nutella.

But wait…you can get imported nut nougat. And since I wanted to know if they were vastly different I bought some. And yeah, it’s different. How different? I couldn’t find the jar that I’d bought – that we’d all tried – so I suggested to the boy that as a snack he could have Nutella and bananas, since we had both. He looks at me, with great seriousness and a great deal of passion, (sort of like a 1930’s movie idol tossing a lover aside) “No. Seriously no. Nutella means nothing to me now”.

And here I thought the girl was the only one with a flair for drama.

The New Math

When my kids were in elementary school they were still getting problems like "if a train leaves the station at 8:00..."

This is silly math. Firstly, well, if they're in the station we've broken the law: the station is a casino. Secondly - read the schedule if you want to know when a train arrives somewhere. Not that the schedule will be correct, but neither would you calculations be.

They need to have a problem to work on, the solution to which would be useful. For instance:

If you do two loads of laundry a day, and create enough dirty clothes for a half load a day, and every Saturday you only do one load of clothes but two sets of sheets, and every fifth day regardless of the day of the week you do no laundry at all because back off I'm not a machine, how long will it take to finish the laundry backlog that consists of one and a half large tubs of dirty clothes, a pile of who knows what at the end of the hall that appeared unexpectedly when the girl "cleaned" her room and the various assorted and virtually identical black hoodies and t-shirts from the boys bedroom floor?

Now THERE'S an answer that I would find useful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Define your ideal job

Hmm. I already get paid for reading stuff, but then I have to photocopy stuff sometimes too. And except for birthdays, there is very little baking. And never breakfast baking.

The thing is, I love making breakfast. And/or brunch. Or breakfast that you eat at supper. Which means my kids think that the normal alternative to breakfast cereal is...French omelettes. American omelettes with mushrooms and cheese and stuff. Crepes with fresh fruit. Pastry. Pancakes. Blueberry pancakes. Pain perdu. Eggs Benny. Ok, to be fair that last one has never happened on a school day. But the rest, yup, because they are they only ones around at breakfast.

Now, if I could start work by making breakfast here for people to eat...and then lunch, and then make something that people can take home in individual portions for supper. And maybe pastry and stuff for tea break well then holy hot chocolate batman I'd be the person with the bestest job ever. Ooh, and I could make tea, and coffee and iced coffee and maybe lemonade and...and...and

And this job will never happen. I remember dreaming once that I worked at some giant ranch. Was it a dream filled with hot cowboy naughtiness? Nope, it was a dream filled with making breakfast for fifteen people who were happy to eat, and who needed to stock up for a day's work. It was a sad sad thing when I woke up and realized I'd dreamed the whole thing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I am so very very classy.

First of all, kudos to the guy for deciding a moments embarassment was worth saving me from wandering around with my shirt undone. I myself have wondered what the etiquette is for telling a guy - a guy you don't know - that his fly is undone. I know there are people (and yes, I am sometimes in that group) who say nothing, and let the poor stranger go on about their day. So I'm impressed that a guy on the elevator was kind enough to let me know I was missing a button. Sadly, what he said was this:

Him: "Excuse me, but your shirt is missing a button".
Me: look down, see nothing.
Him: (too kind/embarrassed to say "just below your boob line") ummm...right next to where you've spilled something".
Me: Dying, silently, of humiliation.

Another mountain (ok, small hill) conquered.

I finally got to bake a treat using something from the lovely parcel of cooking things that arrived this week. There's nothing like a parcel that is all about baking arriving at a job that has nothing to do with baking to liven up your work mood. Nothing that doesn't involved pharmaceuticals that is.

So what did I make? Cupcakes. Coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting and a pinch of toasted coconut to top them off. Not only were they the best cupcakes I've ever made, they were the best I've ever eaten.

Vanilla/coconut cake, light as air. Moist as all get out. Really nice flavour; not to sweet, not too blah. And the frosting...again, really light. And buttery smooth. Flecks of vanilla bean throughout. Light taste of coconut throughout. And that that bit of toasted coconut on top adds the perfect bit of crunchy yumminess to the whole thing. Woohoo! I have scaled the peak - however small - of cupcake making.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Same dog, different problem

At some point I will have had it with the bigger dog. But the thought I had last night was this:
Granted, she has eaten a half box of Bran Buds, but she also ate wax and cheese (the babybels that I had bought as a rare treat for my non-fur babies), so perhaps intestinally speaking everything balances out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Home, James

So my parcel has arrived from the kitchen supply place in Ontario. I am now the proud owner of two heavy duty cake rings, 8" and 11" respectively, and a bottle of vanilla paste. So now I just want to go home and make vanilla pound cake - or maybe some cookies - and some really intricate cake with interesting fillings. Too bad I didn't order them sooner; I made a cake on Friday and Saturday for Saturday night and could have used them then. What I did make was eaten though, so it can't have been terrible. Ah well, I'm sure there will be a reason for another cake soon enough!

And a happy Monday to you too.

There are some things that would definetely wake one up on a Monday. Canoodling with your sweetheart in the stacks would be one. If you're a librarian, that is. Or a farmer. Are there other types of stacks? But you know what REALLY works? Coming back from a coffee break* to find a message on your phone from a neighbour telling you that your front door is wide open and your dogs are long gone.

*Given that not only do I not drink coffee but that for the FIRST time ever in the history of this office the tea drinkers outnumber the coffee drinkers I will now refer to the break as a tea break. Maybe even in an English accent should I be feeling particularly posh.

Arriving safe and sound

So, safely on the plane, off to Calgary. Slept about an hour, which is good because I didn’t sleep between Calgary and Victoria. I should have, though, because the sky was so overcast that I didn’t get to see anything anyway.

No, wait, that is a total lie. I didn’t get to see any water things until just a minute before landing. What I forgot to mention was the completely fantastic thing that one gets to see flying at 5:50 am in February. Sun rise from above the clouds! Starting a trip that way is the most incredible thing. Worth getting up early for by any measure.

I landed in BC (well, we all landed what with it being a plane and all) at 8:00 am their time and the round of being showered with fun things began. My dad and I always start any trip with a drive around the Saanich Peninsula. The only difference was that we had breakfast first, French toast (or as it is called if you’re French in the first place, pain perdu) at The Dakota. Very yummy, and very welcome as I hadn’t done much in the way of eating the night before.

The drive was mainly what it always is: lots of trees – as in actual forest not prairie scrub stuff - , lots of green despite the time of year and lots of clear skies. The overcast I’d flown in on disappeared and stayed away the whole time I was there. Unusually for a trip to Victoria it didn’t rain at all the whole time I was there.

The highlight of the trip was a tour past a horse farm that I knew was for sale. I had emailed dad, and he worked out where it was. All I can say is Holy Moly. I tried to find a link but I think it has probably sold already. So I'll have to plan something else to do with ten million.

We wandered around the back roads for a while with a stop at the Red Barn to get my supply of Grade D maple syrup and then back to his place where I had a nap. A nap! Do you know how RARE that is for me? Weird dreams, but no ringing phones, no kids arriving home and best of all no large dog doing the weird leg thing that dogs do when they sleep. Sure, doesn’t sound like that would be a problem but you try sleeping when a 100 pound dog is pummeling you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not dead

If you've ever wondered if a large dog could eat the netting from around a rolled pork roast (with bits of potato peelings from the garbage bin attached) and not die from it the answer is yes, it can.

She didn't even chew it. Grab, swallow run from the wrath. And puke it up intact a day later. It really is a wonder she isn't dead yet!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

All growed up

I was going to make a post about my upcoming grown-up weekend, but I just realized that the song currently playing on my ipod is "A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes". Yup, from the original Disney Cinderella soundtrack. So I may be fooling myself that I am a grown-up. On the other hand, gravity and I can certainly prove that I am aging appropriately.

Anyway...I am going out on Saturday. Without my kids, even! Not that they weren't asked, I'm just not bringing them. I might wear my hair down (but with a hairband or something, let's not be crazy) although I did try that today at the office and only lasted an hour, but still it could happen. I may even wear lipstick. I'd have to buy some, of course, but I may do just exactly that. Stranger things have happened.

The plane, the plane!

The flight to Victoria was at six-areyoukiddingmefifty in the morning. I had planned to get my packing done during the afternoon before. Which stretched to the late afternoon, then to early evening which morphed into “I’m pretty sure I can just pack before I leave in the morning”. To which the beloved boy said “mom, you don’t HAVE any morning. So pack”. So I went to bed.

Oh relax. I couldn’t fall asleep anyway, so at midnight-ish I gave up even trying and packed. Forgetting some things, as it turns out but nothing drastic so no worries. Then some sleep. Truly only some, from somewhere around two until the alarm went of at four-fifteen.

Now for those of you that complain that I never leave early enough to catch whatever flight I am hoping to catch let me tell you a couple of things. First of all, I WOULD plan to get to the airport hours in advance if said Airport was Toronto International or JFK or somewhere similar. But this is REGINA. And coming home is just as simple, it’s VICTORIA. If I were flying out of Vancouver then, yeah, I’d leave hours before. But for smaller airports I don’t think hours are needed.

So that’s the first thing. The second thing is that I did promise my dad that I’d leave some extra time for an unexpected emergency. My delightful boy claims that when it is me, any disaster could hardly be termed unexpected. Hmmph. I disagree, but I also digress. The point is I did promise so I did have extra time. I was ready to leave at 4:40.

I started the car first, of course, because it was really cold out. Yeah, huge surprise there; Saskatchewan, freezing, at half past four in the morning in the middle of February. Went back into the house and Houdini dog decided that as it had been months since her last brazen escape, 4:40 am in minus 30 degree weather would be a great time to make a run for it. Which she did, leaping past me with NO CONCERN whatsoever when I went flying backwards into a snow bank. By the time I struggled to my feet she was a black dot against the whiteness of the street. A small black dot. A far away and gone black dot.

The one good thing about Houdini dog is that she is an idiot. Despite the fact that we never take her anywhere, if you can find her with the car she will happily jump into the back seat assuming you’re going to take her somewhere so awesomely exciting that it is totally worth giving up puppy freedom. We never do, but she always hopes. Stupid yes, but helpful. Because I did track her down and did get her home in a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable for a regular morning, not so good where there is a flight waiting. I was back at the house at 5:05.

So, quick good-bye to the boy (who was still hoping, apparently, that I’d let him take me to the airport and leave him in custody of the car), dash to the car and off to the airport. Found a parking space with only a moderate amount of trouble, and freezing the whole while (I had dressed for Victoria weather), I made it into the airport proper at half past five. Only to find a monstrous line….a line bigger than any I’d ever seen. More even than the year the summer games were here. Thank heavens for online booking! I got to go into the short line. One family ahead of me, and twenty minutes until the flight left.

There were two people dealing with the pre-checked line. At one counter was a family of too many, with more than the usual amount of bags. And nothing – truly nothing – seemed to be happening. Yeah, the check-in person was staring at her computer screen, but she wasn’t typing anything. And nothing was getting checked, and the people didn’t seem to be doing anything more than standing around.

The people ahead of me – family of three – seemed to be getting quite antsy. As was I, I must admit. The woman turned and asked me what flight I was on. I told her, and she said so were they. Everyone in the big line booked on that flight had been asked to move to the short line, but they were still waiting. And time was running out.

When they did get to the teller (not the screen-staring one, who was still staring) she said that they were on a flight leaving in fifteen minutes. And then she pointed to me and said “and she’s with us too, we all need to get on this flight”. Woohoo! So I got checked on with them, sort of. All I needed was to check my bags, as I had my boarding pass from the online check-in. She put an orange sticker on my boarding pass and told us to go to the head of the security line upstairs. I raced upstairs and the security line was HUGE. I rushed to the front and showed the person my boarding pass and said that I’d been told to bud in line (even having been told to do that it felt AWFUL. I am not by nature a line-cutter). She said I can’t do that. So I…well, I pretended I was deaf and/or stupid and went and put my stuff in the next gray bin and stood at the mark on the floor waiting to go through the metal detector. I had been very careful about not having anything on me that would make it beep. No jewelry, no belt, no underwire bra. And yet I beeped. So they made me sit down and take my boots off. So there I was, barefoot and sitting on a chair wondering what my brother-in-law would say if I missed the flight that he paid for.

I didn’t, of course. Miss the flight, that is. I may have got on barefoot. And helped the family of three on the way: the dad realized that his boarding pass was still in a gray bucket at security. So I took his luggage and the mother and little boy and I kept going and he took off running. The totally adorable child of the family kept saying “is daddy leaving? Doesn’t he was a hot time anymore?” The mom turned to me and said “Cuba” and then reassured the boy that yes, daddy was coming but that he couldn’t run with the carry-on luggage. So she carried him and one piece of carry-on luggage, I took three pieces of carry-on luggage and clenched my boots under my arm and we made our way to the plane. Dad caught up just as we got to the door, we got into our seats and within two minutes of our arrival they shut the door to boarding gate. The second closest I’ve ever been to missing a flight. Tired, stressed and freezing foot-wise, but I was on my way!