Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I thought of about 12 things I wanted to write about, but alas, my brain could not hold them and my fingers didn't have a chance to translate them anyway.  It was one of those days at our house with 4 under 4. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Doing the Math

Twenty four!  That's how many egg whites it would take to make 96 cupcakes from scratch... 24!  I made this recipe for confetti cupcakes last year and they were truly spectacular.

Aside for last year's attendees:  You may remember that they were a little dry, but that's because I stored them improperly.  They were quite yummy when I made them.  Because I take myself too seriously, I made them again on my birthday in January and got rave reviews. 
To make them spectacular, I used special cake flour and baking sugar.  However, our dear friend Betty (Crocker, that is) puts magic in her cake mixes and I could do roughly* the same 96 cupcakes with only 12 eggs.  And Safeway has Betty's cake mix on sale for $0.99/box.

The question is: does the savings in time really pay off in dollars? 

*I say that Betty's cupcakes are roughly the same because most people aren't foodie-wanna-be's like me so they may not even notice the difference.

Doing the Math...
  • I bought eggs on sale for $1 per dozen at QFC.  I will need $2 in eggs for the recipe or $1 in eggs for the mixes.

  • The other big expense is the fat.  The cake mixes call for vegetable oil and the scratch recipe calls for butter.  I would probably substitute butter in the mixes anyway because it tastes better.  I need 1/3 cup (~5.5 tablespoons) for each mix and 6 tablespoons for each recipe.  At $1.99/lb for butter at Costco, I'll need $1.50 in butter for the mixes and $3 in butter for the recipe. 

Cake Mixes: $3.96 for mixes, $1 for eggs, and $1.50 for butter = $6.46

Recipe from Scratch:  $1 for flour and sugar, $0.50 for other stuff (that's probably over-estimating), $2 for eggs, $3 for butter = ~$6.50

Since it costs the same, what should I do?  Are the better tasting cupcakes worth the extra work?  I have until Saturday night to decide. 

Either way, this is the frosting I'm making. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day in the Life

Before 9am, I had unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, scrambled 10 eggs, fed 3 children and nursed the 4th, washed-dried-reapplied my sheets, made coffee, and changed a crib sheet because of a diaper malfunction.  At 9:30, I think I finally sat down to drink my coffee.  Usually, I would consider that a productive day, but it didn't stop there.  I found and crafted free ways to decorate for our 4th of July party, added to the party plan, washed and folded more laundry, made salsa fresca and fish tacos, bathed 2 children, picked out clothes for church tomorrow, and fertilized the tomatoes.  I even flirted with my husband a few times throughout the day and had a requisite mid-day meltdown where I had to leave for 30 minutes.

I work hard throughout the week and even scramble a little (a little too much, that is) on Saturday to get stuff done because Sundays are for resting, fellowship, and fun.  The dark load can wait until Monday... by then it will have much offspring anyway. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eating from my Freezer

Don't you hate it when you're trying to avoid spending money and yet nothing sounds good to eat?  Well, I'm trying to get through until after the 4th of July with what we have on hand.  I'm totally a stock-piler so this isn't really a problem.  Here's what we have so far...

  • Grape-Stuffed Sausage Meatballs w/ Flatbread.  Okay, I do have to buy the flatbread and ricotta and grapes, but grapes are on sale for 99 cents at Safeway and I have the rest already.  I bought a pound ground pork over a year ago on sale for $1.19 and froze it.  It's time to use it, don't you think!?!?!  And I'm using dry parsley and plain old salad greens instead of fresh and arugula.  The whole meal won't cost much because I'll use the leftover flatbread and ricotta for something else. 

  • Grilled Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo.  I already have the fish (frozen tilapia) and the corn tortillas.  I even have a tomato, an onion, and some salad greens.  I'll add a bundle of cilantro and a jalapeno from the store and call it good.  I did run accross some Cilantro Lime Vinegarette so I may even get a little more creative if I have all of the necessary ingredients. 

That will get us through the weekend because we're attending a couple of social engagements with food.  Monday, I have to go get more milk and bananas anyway so I'll find something to go with our roasted chicken then.  Oooh... Fancy Chicken Salad because I'll have grapes!

PS... I do love Rachael Ray's recipes.  They're simple (enough) and full of flavor. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Estrogen-free Zone

My husband is a kind and loving and responsible man.  He enjoys conversing with me more than playing video games and he delights in tickling our children more than mowing the yard or fixing the car.  Because he places such a high value on our family, he doesn't often get a chance for time away - time with other men. 

Tonight, his parents were watching the kids and we went out on a date.  We got a call toward the end of the evening letting us know that the 2 month old was inconsolable and needed Mommy, pronto.  We were headed home when he got a note from a friend that his house was estrogen-free.  Even though it was still sort of date night, I sent him on his merry way.  Oddly, he was reluctant.  I think because I'm so important to him.  It makes me all warm and fuzzy to know that I am more important than the rare nights when he gets to hang out with the men in his life who encourage him and challenge him.  I am so grateful that I am loved. 


We have 4 small children and only 1 closet and 1 chest of drawers for them to share.  This means that periodically, I purge.  I purge those clothing items that are redundant (two pairs of hole-y jeans that Jenna has yet to wear because she has 3 other pairs) and items that are out of season (footed fleece PJs) and items that don't fit (that cute pink shirt Jenna has only worn once :( ).  If I only have 3 pairs of PJs for each kid, then I have to do laundry more often and it's less overwhelming.

I am, however, having a hard time purging Korynne's summer dresses because they are just too cute.  She has enough to wear a different sun dress every Sunday for the rest of the year (okay... the next 8 weeks at least).  And since I can't bear to get rid of them, maybe I can let her wear them more often. 

Date Night

It takes me a long time to switch hats.  I've been donning the Mommy Hat 24 hours a day for almost 4 years.  So when it's date night, it's hard for me to turn that off and become the girl my husband married.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Less than an Hour

In a trip to a local park with some other Mommies, my 2 year old needed to potty twice and my 3 year old needed to potty twice.  Yes, folks, I took my children to the bathroom FOUR TIMES in less than one hour. 

My husband has asked me a few times why I don't take my four children to the park very often.  Oh, I have my reasons. 

Reason #1:  We live in Western Washington.  The sun only shines here 2 1/2 months of the year.  So even if it was a good day for us to go to the park schedule-wise, the weather is likely to be cold and wet.  This is why we bought a house with a fenced-in yard. 

Reason #2:  Contrary to popular opinion, parks were not built for kids.  They were built for Mommies who need adult interaction.  My children are all young and I spend a lot of time keeping track of them.  If I'm helping them on toys and to and from the bathroom, how can I talk to other Mommies? 

Reason #3 (and this is the most important reason): I know my limits.  I know that if we get up, get breakfast, get dressed, get out the door, get to the park, get back in the car, get home, get lunch,  and get ready for naps(and then repeatedly enforce mandatory nap time), that I'm a little twitchy at the end of that.  My nerves are shot and I don't have enough energy left for maintaining sanitary conditions at my house and cooking a mostly healthy meal for my family.  I have to balance what is fun for them and what I am capable of.  When I had gainful employment, I knew no limits.  I could do it all.  But I could do it all in a realm I was really good at - bookkeeping.  I'm not really good at brain surgery and I'm not very good at getting four under four out the door and back again without losing my wherewithal.  We'll go to the park every once in a while... when I have help... and someone else is responsible for dinner.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tail Spin

Today is one of those days.  I over-committed myself again.  The sun still isn't shining.  My toddlers are... well, they're toddlers.  The laundry isn't done.  The floors are dirty.  The two month old wants to cluster feed.  The 16 month old is whiny (I guess I'm whiny too).  And I broke the bottle of E-V-O-O!
 Aside about EVOO (aka Extra Virgin Olive Oil):  Why extra virgin?  Was it or wasn't it the first press from the olive?  You wouldn't describe a gal as an extra virgin bride.  Is she or isn't she a virgin?  How very bizarre that something could be extra virgin.  Extra hot or extra small - well, that makes sense to me.  But extra virgin is sort of redundant. 
It was the little bottle I have for camping.  I repurposed an old babyfood jar because that's much easier than taking a large bottle for a weekend away.  Unfortunately, I had not found a good place to store it.  It had a very precarious perch in my pantry.  When I was in a hurry (for all of the aforementioned reasons), it fell and broke.  Cleaning up broken glass and oil is less than pleasant but not impossible.  It was just one more thing sending me into a tail spin of childish tantrum.  Seriously, you would've thought I was two. 

What excuse would be acceptable if my two year old started yelling and screaming and slamming things?  "My baby doll is too clingy."  "My clothes are all hand-me-downs."  "He hit me."  "My breakfast was served to me and cleaned up after me."  "I only slept 12 uninterrupted hours last night."  All of those excuses wouldn't really fly at my house.  I would tell her to lighten up... I have told her to lighten up (I wonder where she gets it).   

But as a mature mother of four, my excuses are so much better.  Check me out rationalizing my own misbehavior!  "I didn't get enough sleep last night" because I stayed up too late watching a Gerard Butler movie, my 16 month old woke up at 2 am needing comfort, and my two month old woke up at 4am to eat (go figure).  "I have a Vitamin D deficiency" because I live in the Pacific Northwest and the sun hasn't found us yet.  "I have PMS."  And while we're at it (add tears for emphasis), "I also lack a few creature comforts because there's a recession and it impacts my husband's business."  When I say those things to my husband or out loud to myself or to God, they sound silly. 

My husband can't see how Vitamin D or the recession has anything to do with spilled EVOO.  I can't blame anyone but myself for staying up too late.  And I think God probably nods and rubs His chin and would like to transport me to some village in Africa for me to sleep on a dirt floor and thrash my own wheat so I would stop whining and justifying.  By the way, I don't think that gals in Africa have an excuse for misbehavior.  My two year old daughter doesn't have an excuse.  And Heaven knows that I most certainly do not either!

I hereby own up to my own weakness of flesh.  I confess my sin of anger (and justification) and ask forgiveness.  With God's help, maybe EVOO (and the recession) won't send me into a tail spin of childish tantrum again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RANT: Illegal Dumping. Really?

Disclaimer:  You may totally disagree with my rants and my politics.  I try not to take anything too seriously... I'm too busy for that.  But sometimes I like to make my husband laugh. 

Really? Really, King County, you had to send me a postcard to tell me to call you to report illegal dumping? Really? People are poor or lazy and don’t take their junk to the dump sometimes. Sometimes they just put it in an open place. This irritates us all, but it irritates me more that you would send me a postcard to tell me to tell you when and where it happened. Really? Aren’t there enough government workers to spy out these offences? Between mail carriers and water meter readers and street repair crews don’t you think that most areas are already being looked at by one of the people employed by my tax dollars? But no… that’s not good enough. You have to send me a postcard telling me the number to call and giving me instructions on how to tattle tale. Really? I think it would be cheaper to hire an individual to go around looking for said piles of junk and trash and then asking the nearby residents if they saw anything. They’ll be the new Gestapo. You’re right. That’s a bad idea.

Instead, I paid you my taxes. Then, you gathered in a climate controlled meeting room (paid for by taxes) to decide that a postcard would be a good idea. Then, someone sat at their desk with their computer (paid for by taxes) and designed the card. Then, it went through countless revisions by people whose salaries are paid by taxes. Then, it went to the printer who was paid with tax dollars. Then it was printed on paper created by the logging industry you regulate so heavily that it’s ridiculously expensive. Then it was distributed to the mail carriers whose salaries are paid by taxes and whose vehicles putz around on products recovered and refined by an oil industry even MORE regulated than logging. Then it was put in my mailbox that you insist must be X feet from the street (also paid for by taxes). Then I read it, got angry, blogged a bit, and finally used it as a coaster. Then I trashed it and dumped it in the woods with all of the other garbage I’ve been collecting because I’m taxed too much to afford taking it all to the dump to dispose of it properly. You’re perpetuating the problem, stupid stupidheads.

I’ll probably get a notice about higher taxes in the mail tomorrow.

Toddlers Smell Tired

Just as we learned in Jerry Maguire that dogs and bees can smell fear, small children know when we’re tired. They know it is their opportunity to test the boundaries. They know that if we give in to their little (or really big) wills that they can rule the world… or at least the household. It’s not fair. As parents, we are physically worn out. We chase kids and then we don’t sleep.

Aside about sleep: They sleep twice as much as we do! My kids sleep from 8 to 7 plus a 2 – 3 hour nap. That’s 13 or 14 hours every day!  Personally, I’m feelin’ good if I get 5 in a row plus a few more. If you get less than 3 hours of sleep in a row, God be with you… that’s not a functional amount of sleep. Eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour period is what my midwife recommends and it seems to help keep chaos and utter insanity at bay most days.
Your children know those days that you are especially vulnerable to testing. They know (or at least they think they know) that you will give in. My recommendation to you (and to myself): put on your game face. Your tiredness is no excuse for their misbehavior. And your (read: my) tiredness is no excuse for overly aggressive parenting. When they don’t listen, I tend to think they must have a hearing problem and I raise my voice. Au contraire… the hearing tests reveal that their hearing is better than my own. I don’t have to raise my voice or spank to the point of pain. I can calmly put them back to bed again and again (just the way James Dobson suggests in The Strong Willed Child) in order to keep naptimes a part of our daily routine. I can calmly tell them to pick up their toys. Or more accurately, “pick up your toys. Pick up your toys. Pick up your toys” until it is actually done… with or without both parties crying. It’s more important to parent than to get the house spotless for guests or a lovely feast on the table for your husband. What is more important than the development of their character?

Getting Started...

My husband and I watched Uma Thurman in Motherhood last night. It’s not a particularly notable film unless you have small children and an emotional mom around. It made me grateful for 900 square feet for 2 grownups and 4 children because we could have two apartments on the 6th floor of a walk-up in the West Village of New York City. Thanks, but I’ll keep my lawn.

Anyway, the movie followed her through her day as she cleaned up spilled cereal and blogged a few sentences every chance she got. I can do that. I have this running dialogue in my head. I feel like there may actually be people who would enjoy seeing a glimpse of the world from my point of view. I may blog about politics or coupons. I may blog about parenting or my garden in the backyard. I may even talk about marriage and finances. These are all the things that occupy my mind.  Sometimes I rant.  Sometimes I ramble.