free hit counter Snacks, please!: May 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For your shopping list

I never appreciated The Radish until now. Our farmer -- I like to think of her as "our farmer," in the same way that we have "our doctor" and "our landscaper, i.e., Ricky, the guy who stops by and tells us to water the grass before it dies, hunh" -- has been stocking our weekly veggie box with fresh French Breakfast and Easter Egg varieties. (Half of their attraction must be the names, right?)

Seriously, these are not the stinkers that settle to the bottom of your cheapo Iceberg mix. They're spicy and juicy, and they're ever so yummy with a smear of salted butter on toasted 15-grain bread. In my opinion, the radish has been a previously under-rated veggie, but no more!

Anyhoo, lest you think I'll now spout off about "whole foods," "simple foods," "real foods," etc... Number Two is the Orange Pim's by LU. Take one round of factory sponge cake, top it with zesty orange jelly and an embossed sweep of dark chocolate -- and voila! (It's French.) The English have something similar called a Jaffa Cake and they argue constantly about whether it's a biscuit or a cake, which is complete silliness since it's so obviously a cookie... In any case, the one not-so-great thing about the Pim's is the size of the box! Just 12?? If they were American, there'd be like 60, thankyouverymuch.

Number three, and this stuff is seriously amazing, is Sabra's hummus. I am afraid to compare its nutritional info to the other brands because there can be just one reason for its restaurant-smooth faboolinous. (Fat! Of course!!) Sometimes I uncover the container, set it out on the coffee table with pretzel sticks, and we happily snack away. This is Margaret's strategy: Dip, lick. Dip, lick. Dip, lick, oh, fugged about this goddamn pretzel! Here goes the hand!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The playground bully

On Sunday we went to see a man about a horse. Specifically, we saw this man, a former Oregon rancher, who is riding a horse named Blackie across America. He was camping out in an Arlington park, just a good kick away from the playground equipment, before Monday's parade in D.C.

Anyway, while David gave him a whole bunch of pedestrian trail maps and aerial photos, the girls and I went off to the playground, which was covered with Wild Children. Unfortunately, we met this crazy bully, who screamed at one of the little boys when he threw sand in Josephine's direction, hissed at a little girl who was speaking less than nicely to Margaret, and bossed another kid off the elliptical ladder when he purposefully blocked Lucy's way and refused to go up or down.

Oh yes, it was me, of course.

I think I need to look more closely at my behavior around other children, i.e. not my own. Because I'm pretty sure that I used to be the kind of adult that was fun to play with, but now! Now I am fierce! I can't remember whether I wrote about the boy at Lucy's daycare that I made cry... but he was very naughty and, although I felt a little bit bad when he got all hysterical, I didn't feel THAT bad. He was punching another one of the boys! And seriously, these Wild Children on the playground, I wish I had made them cry.

Anyhoo, David says I am a playground bully, but I would have liked to see what he would have done when the future road crew foreman threw sand in Josephine's direction. Here is what I did: "AAHAHAHAHAH! (Like pennies in a soda can!) DROP THAT SAND! WE DO NOT THROW SAND! HEY! DID YOU HEAR ME?? I SAID DROP IT! NOW!" And then he did. And I was hoping he would run and get his recalcitrant mother so that I could yell at her too about what a terrible child she was raising that he throws sand at baby girls?? But he didn't.

Margaret, of course, did not sense the danger posed by the Wild Children, and she spun herself into their cyclone of disaster. "I'm just going to climb these stairs here," she said. "I want to follow that obnoxious pony-tail girl...bye-bye Mommy." I took her hand and said, "Margaret, you are too little!" And then the obnoxious pony-tail girl bent down (in her face!) and said, "Nyah-nyah, you are too little!" and laughed a little too meanly, in my opinion. So I bent down in her face, modeling much more appropriate behavior, and hissed, "BE NICE!"

I did feel somewhat self-conscious after that, and so I tried being a little more subtle with the kid who refused to get off the ladder. I said, "Are you going up or down? I bet you're going up, right? Let's see you go up!" But when he refused to move and said, "I'M NOT MOVING," with a sorta George W. grin. I said, "Oh yes you are. We're taking turns here, kiddo."

Is this wrong? Should I let Lucy negotiate her own playground problems? Maybe. But she's only 3, and these other kids were like 5 or 6. I did notice that I was the only parent participating in the negotiating of troop withdrawals, but all of the other mothers were drunk, so that's hardly the standard I should meet, right? (Oh, okay, maybe they weren't drunk...)

And then I said to another little girl, "Honey, put your tongue in your mouth."

Eventually I got tired of it all and said to Lucy, "Come on, let's go find Daddy-o." We did. And then Lucy says to him, "Let's go to the playground, Daddy! There are wild children there!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More from Lucy

Lucylu flew into the house yesterday, kicked off her Crocs, and announced, with equal urgency: "I need to poop! And I need to change my fingernail polish!" (Who is this crazy girl??)

And, another thing... "I love bears, but I don't like them. I love giraffes! Everybody loves giraffes. They are nice and quiet, they don't jump on people, and they don't eat their friends."

"I saw Booboo in a dream last night. He was sitting with Santa Claus and wearing lots of necklaces."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Uncle Teddy

I think I'm upset beyond reason about Ted Kennedy. I'm not sure why, but it probably has something to do with my personal obsession with all things Kennedy, his decades of public service, especially to the poor, and maybe that he looks like somebody I could be related to, except for the big head.

And this cyclone! What's going on in the world? I was listening to somebody from Save Our Children on NPR the other day, talking about all the little babies whose mothers have been killed. The babies can't drink formula, because the water is compromised, so aid workers are looking for wet nurses. (If I had any in the freezer...) But how likely is that to happen??

My old friend Reg Aignon has a list of good places to give money at his blog.

Monday, May 19, 2008

32,000 Calories and 13 Hours of Sleep

While Pamela blogs about knitting in New Orleans (of all things!!), I am here to provide an exhaustive food diary of my 42 hours in the Crescent City.

1 p.m., Friday

While we waited (and waited and waited) in line at Central Grocery, we chatted with a local pest-control man. It's a good sign, I think, when people who kill bugs come to a restaurant... Plus, he was a fellow foodie: "You gotta check out this place called Whole Foods!" he said excitedly. "You mean the overpriced grocery store??" Pamela asked. "Yeah!" he said. "It's got a cheesecake so good, it makes you want to slap yo mama!"

Muffuletta: A little treasure box of Italian meat and olive salad.
I like you. And I like your funny name.

4 p.m., Friday

A haiku of adoration:

Hot, deep fried goodness
I have sugar on my pants
Beignet, I love you.

7 p.m., Friday

It's possible that touring the Lower Ninth Ward with Pamela and Cousin Kevin may ruin my appetite. Two and a half years after Katrina, and this is it?? The debris has been cleared, but where are the people?? We see a dead dog. We see a live rabbit. We see signs of a half-dozen brave folks who have rebuilt their homes, maybe a little higher than before, with fresh vinyl siding and glass-paned front doors. I am pretty sure they're all keeping guns under their pillows, because this place is downright creepy. On the roofs of some homes, you can still see the chopped-out holes, where people climbed above the rising water. On others, all that's left is a concrete flight of steps to nothing.

8 p.m., Friday

Time for a drink. Hello Abita! You are lovely! Kevin takes us to a fabulous local bar, housed in a big ol' Garden District mansion. We sit at a wrought iron table, under a flowering magnolia in the side yard, like the kind of gals who might be invited to a swanky Mardi Gras ball. Why, yes, I would be delighted!

9 p.m., Friday

Reservations at Herbsaint, one of Gourmet's top 50 restaurants in America. First, more cocktails! (Did you know the word cocktail was invented in NO?) Pamela goes upscale with a Pimm's Cup. Very nice! Kevin is ordering multiple Jack & Cokes. (Is it going to be that kind of night??) Crispy lettuce with buttermilk bacon dressing for me, followed by snappy shrimp on silky grits. Best ever! No dessert. Must save room for more drinks... We're off to the Marigny for jazz.

9 a.m., Saturday

Breakfast at the hotel. Eh. But free.

1 p.m., Saturday

This place is like walking into the dragon's mouth. There's a Sopranos pinball machine, a surly bearded cook, and a bunch of drunk Tulane graduates in the back room. I love it! Best of all, I an introduced to a fellow named Po, one of the nicest boys I've ever met, who fills his crunchy bread with drippy roast beef and gravy. (It wasn't half-eaten when I got it.)

4 p.m., Saturday

Ah! Dirty disgusting rat pigeon, brushing my naked ankle with sticky stinky feathers! I hate you! But I love my beignet. Pamela makes the mistake of wearing a black T-shirt. She looks like she has a sweet case of dandruff.

7 p.m. Saturday

The commander is calling! We're off to one of New Orleans' landmark restaurants. First, some whiskey, a sprig of fresh mint, and a handful of ice in the appropriately named Whiskey Smash. Then, we're whisked into a turquoise dining room with dead song birds mounted on the walls. Aah! A Fire!! Oooh, bananas foster...

I have the turtle soup. And I refuse to consider the morality of it. And then I have the whole fish... (It says, "Hello Pamela! I'm looking at you! Have another whiskey smash!") How do they make it look like this?! As if it swum into a vat of boiling oil to die? For dessert, I have the bread pudding souffle. It's like a little warm pot of goodness. (Bathrooms: Excellent.)

Other notes:

Shelly C wonders why I need so many voodoo dolls. Since Shelly C knows where I work, I think she knows why I might be muttering to myself at midnight. But why assume it's a curse?! It could be a curative! Like, for example, I am not talking about anybody in particular... but let's say I work with a lunatic. I would, for example, not talking about anybody in particular, perhaps attempt to make this person sane! That would be extremely beneficial for me and her/him (and you too, Shelly C!)

Something I did not buy, but maybe would like to, is a lamp shade made out of melted Mardi Gras beads. Alas, if I had more than $183 in my checking account... (Could I do this myself? In my self-cleaning Maytag Gemini??)

I did miss the girlies. And I think they missed me. But David, who got thrown up on five times in my absence, probably missed me the most. Says Lucy, "Next time, you can take me with you. Right?"

And one final picture...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let the good times roll!

Pamela and I are in New Orleans!
So far, we have (collectively) bought five voodoo dolls, three beignets, one large muffuletta from the Central Grocery store and one (decaf) cafe au lait. Now it is time for a nap.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It would be better than a doctor in the family

You know how all the parenting magazines say, "You don't need to buy expensive toys! Simply open a kitchen cabinet and stand back, as your babies make their own inexpensive fun with a couple of measuring cups and spoons." Well, we go a step further in our house... Despite the piles of fabulous Chinese-made toys, so many that we need to have a separate room for toys on bed rest in the basement, our girls prefer dirt.


There's a nice patch of top soil between our new patio (very exciting!) and our new driveway (eh, not as exciting), and Lucy dragged a few lawn animals into the mix. (We inherited a gang of ceramic squirrels from the house's previous owners.) They have parties. Lucy tells them, "Cha-cha! Be nice!"

But Josephine loves it most of all. Maybe she will be a farmer when she grows up! A few weeks ago, we snuck into the lamb barn at the University of Maryland farm. It made Lucy a little bit nervous. Margaret was eh. But Josephine was giggling, and poking, and petting, and squeeeeling!

And then we were thrown out.

What else? The other day, I woke up around 6:30, heard them chattering, went into their room, and Josephine stood up and cried, "Ma! Ma!" And since then, she's said Dada and Lulu and Kitty... NO. Since then, she's said nothing at all! Margaret too has decided that speech is completely unnecessary. She gets everything she wants -- cell phones, cookies, ice cream -- by pointing insistently and yelling, "Eh! Eh!" She is a little bit of a grabber...

The other day, I made an ice cream cone for Lulu. In retrospect, I don't know what I was thinking... She shared it quite nicely with Josephine, but then Margaret stole it from Josephine with a big roar. (She has got this super-intimidating yell that she employs in attack.) Margaret ran off into a corner of the room and turned her back (I'm not here! I'm not here!), and then Josephine took off after her, her two arms waving over her head, shrieking -- a little bit like Richard Simmons with the curly hair and everything.

You know that Shakira song where she goes, "No fighting, no fighting."
That is me.
Just like Shakira.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The weekend report

This weekend's torrential rains didn't deter Auntie Pamela and I. But it did keep home most of the other casual runners who entered Saturday's 10K, which means we entered a field of crazy dedicated shoesters, wearing short-shorts and too little body fat. While waiting (in the downpour) for our shoe chips, a girl in a lavendar running bra says in mock exasperation to me, "What are we doing here?" I shake my head. "We could sleep in," she continues. "And run 12 miles this afternoon!"

Mile 1: Yoohoo! We're off! And it's all downhill! We jog past a cadre of Arlington's finest, guarding us from errant SUVs. "You should date a cop," I tell Pamela. (If we'd been thinking, we could have staged a collision in front of Sgt. Handsome. Ms P could have gotten out of five miles and into seven digits.) Then we pass a language school and I see the Bosnian girl who enters our house without knocking and says she doesn't like fat people. Yoohoo, girlfriend! Can you run six miles??

Mile 2: I'm running at the same pace as a very skinny woman. Impressed? You should be -- she's pushing a jogging stroller with a newborn inside, so small that he can't hold his own head up. I speed up. (Later, I see the same woman at the finish line, wearing an "Iron Mom" shirt.) Still downhill! Zoom, zoom!

Mile 3: The winners pass by, going the other direction! Good for you, ye of little body fat! In front of me, a middle-aged man in a Potomac River Running Club shirt slows, then starts walking. Oh look! Here comes one of the first women runners on the backstretch and... she's pregnant! Her t-shirt is rolled up above a belly that must measure at least 28 weeks. The Middle-Aged Man immediately begins running again. Oh! Goddammit! We're going under a highway overpass and a car above has sent a stream of dirty water into my face!

Mile 4: My eye hurts. I think I have been poisoned by dirty overpass water. I think it probably has mercury in it. That is possible, I think. And my music stinks. Who loaded this crappy 1970s stuff on my iPod? Me? I did that? Well... The slow runners around me are starting to walk. I pass by one in a high-tech green performance jacket and she immediately starts running again. Hmph. I pass two girls in matching beer t-shirts. I am gratified to know that I'm faster than teenage alcoholics.

Mile 5: Oh, the hill!! Furiously, I thumb through the iPod. Oh, thank God. I won't stop believing... There is a woman in front of me with a gigantic tushie. She is still running. I think I should not stop until she does. But then, when she does, I am convinced I can do better than that!

Mile 6: Almost done! A homeless man in a bus shelter is cheering us on! (But I can't understand a word he's saying!) Another college girl in a Greek sorority T-shirt is falling behind. Her friend runs from the sidelines and begins dramatically exhorting her on, "You can do it! You're almost done!" And the girl begins sobbing, hands to her face, stumbling to the left. "I can't!" And I think, Jesus Christ, this is much more exhilarating than the homeless guy.

Mile 6.2: Done! (1:06:45) Give me a banana! At the Gatorade tent, some girl says, "I don't think we ran nearly far enough to deserve Gatorade." I disagree. Minutes later, Pamela skips across.

What else? We went to a Nationals game on Saturday night to celebrate our newfound athleticism. (You know, we're athletes. They're athletes...) The new stadium is quite nice. Really good food options. But I bought the tickets and accidentally selected the handicapped section...

Side note: When I was a kid, my father used to take my brother and I to Whalers games at the Hartford Civic Center. Often, he would make us sit in other people's seats, which was very embarrassing. This was back when Bob Uecker was making those Miller Lite commercials and when we were forced to move by the rightful ticket-holders, people would shout down, "You must be in the froooont row!" But when we'd whine about public humiliation, he'd force us to sit in the handicapped section, which was even more mortifying -- but had an unobstructed view of the goal. I would tell my brother, "Act retarded or we'll get thrown out."

Anyhoo, on Saturday, David's friend says, "These are good seats!" And I said, "Yes. I got them for you." Hahahaha!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cue Lights, Lucy the Ballerina

I know you've been waiting... It took a little while to negotiate the rights to show the following films. Her agent! Good grief. What a nut. Anyhoo, here she is, the finest ballerina to hit the stage since that Russian gal they covered in baked egg whites and sliced strawberries.

The first film is a solo act. The second is an ensemble performance. Said the classical dance critic at the New York Times: "Such grace! Such coordination! Who is that blond ballerina? Kirov! Sign her up!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And another thing

I'm completely amused by the Safeway flyer this week, which purports to be advertising the kind of things that one should buy for Mother's Day. For example: Lobster tails at $9.99 per lb. (Yummy!) Or Fannie May Chocolate Assortments, buy one, get one free! But what's this? A big bottle of Aleve? Hmm... Well, I suppose it's true that motherhood is sometimes a headache, but I'm hardly looking forward to opening non-prescription drugs on Sunday. A pineapple ($3.99!) would be better.


I'd like to throw some chicken breasts in the crock pot, but I need a recipe. This is what I found on "Take chicken breasts and season with McCormick fried chicken seasoning and place in crock pot. Then add 1 to 2 1/2 sticks of butter and cook on low for 8 hours."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Racing ahead

So Auntie Pamela and I have registered for a 10K this weekend! Very exciting.

That's 6.2 miles for those of you who didn't study the metric system in 1978.

One potential problem: Now that it's heating up, I have to make the switch from long running pants to short running shorts...and it's really not working out. I have two or three modestly cut pairs, and I've found that the hem hits the fattest part of my American thighs. Swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe! (Yank!) Swipe, swipe, swipe! Yank! I look like some kind of nut, grabbing my crotch at every stop sign. Plus, it's slowing me down!

Side note: When I was in high school, everybody bought the exact same kind of nylon shorts from Herb's Sporting Goods in downtown Hartford. They were not a slinky nylon like basketball shorts, but a crunchy nylon. Like a tent maybe. (Unfortunately, they didn't cover quite that well...) I had pairs in red, white (not a good color), navy, maroon and Kelly green. They were actually a little shorter than anybody liked, so you had to tug the waistband down as far as possible. Unfortunately, this freed the belly to bob up and down like a buoy at sea while you ran loops around the soccer field. (What? That didn't happen to your belly??)

Anyhoo, go shorter? Ha. Not a chance. Go longer? Probably not a very good look either. David suggests bicycle shorts, but I say they don't breathe appropriately. I don't want my legs to suffocate and die.

The route takes us around the Pentagon. I will, of course, stop to kick dirt on warmongers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bad parents love disco!!

Oh! Oh! I am so offended! I got called a "don't-wanna-grow-up parent" in the Washington Post today! Me! ME??! I don't even drink (much) anymore. Or ride on the back of David's motorcycle. Or sleep past 7. AND I moved last year to a place called Dullsville because "the schools are good." What's more grown-up than that?? The Talbots dress that I wore to work today?

Good grief!

The problem: Me and my friend Meg took our girlies (that would be Lucy and Anya) to an event called Baby Loves Disco. It took place in a very hipster-ish club in one of the coolest neighborhoods of DC. (For example: First I parked David's car next to a sidewalk pile of clothes for homeless people to pick through, and then we all went to a coffeehouse where I eavesdropped on cute boys planning out their band's play list. It's THAT kind of neighborhood.)

The actual event featured my kind of play list: Gloria Gaynor, ABBA, Dexy's Midnight Runners, etc. The bar was full of Elmo apple juice boxes and organic pretzels, and there was a bubble machine, and hula hoops, and IKEA tents. The girls absolutely loved it! They jumped off the stage like maniacs, and then we swung them upside down in front of big gilded mirrors. Upstairs, under these creepy cow skulls, there was a manicurist for small children. (I know...horrifying...) And a balloon artist. And hummus and carrots and green grapes and strawberries.

We had a great time!

And all this becomes new evidence of parents who just want to forget their bundles of joy, and re-live their glory days of Long Island Iced Teas and independent music?

I just had water!!

I have no idea how how old Petula Dvorak, the WaPo reporter, is. But I imagine her as a 20-something single gal, stuck on the Sunday through Thursday shift, and horrified that her dorky editor has sent her to "Baby Loves Disco," as if it's REAL NEWS! She is thinking, Jesus Christ, there's a better story in that pile of ratty T-shirts and black pleather shoes on the sidewalk. But, oh no, this is the decline of journalism. We'll write about suburban parents getting their groove on, in some vain attempt to "connect with readers" on the "issues that they care about."

She is also thinking: God, I never want kids.

Well, whatever. I'm still buying extra copies because there's a delightful picture of Lucy and Anya. And I'm still feeling much more blithe than Meg, who not only got indicted by the Disco police, but also got an official health notice from the school system last week because Anya doesn't like underwear. Hee.

That girl is a born rocker.

P.S. Here's the link.