Friday, July 24, 2009

I Can't Seem To Stop!

Ok, I think this is some sort of record for me, three blog posts in one day? Wow. But this important stuff, man. I mentioned in my earlier post that Chickenhead and I were making Indian food this weekend, and Lola asked if I could share my recipes. Well sure! For me one of the best things about cooking is sharing it with someone else. Unless it's burnt or something. Then you can just throw it out in the back yard for the neighborhood cats, opossums, foxes and racoons. Yep, it's a regular Wild Kingdom around my house! Anyway, here we go-

I'm making Chicken Tikka Masala, using this recipe-
Pastor Ryan's Chicken Tikka Masala

If you don't have an Indian market nearby, you can make your own garam masala seasoning. Here's the recipe for that-

Garam Masala Seasoning
1 tablespoon coriander; ground
1 tablespoon cumin; ground
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper; ground
1 tablespoon fennel seeds; ground
1 tablespoon ginger; ground
1 tablespoon cardamom; ground
1 tablespoon nutmeg; ground
1 TEASPOON cloves; ground

You need some naan to go with that meal! I was really surprised at how easy naan is to make. Go ahead, don't be afraid!

Naan

There are also a lot of yummy looking recipes for Indian food at What's 4 Eats.

I seriously love trying different foods from different cultures. I may start doing a monthly thing where I try a new dish and share the results here!

A Title Would Be Nice

I’m feeling especially wordy today, I suppose. After a couple of weeks of not feeling like I had much to say, now I’m bubbling over with random thoughts.

Chickenhead is going to sign up for football tomorrow. Tackle football. He says he wants to be a runningback. I’m fine with him wanting to play, but nine years of being his mom makes me question his commitment. Chickenhead doesn’t like to sweat. At all. It seriously bugs him. In the summer, he’ll spend five or ten minutes running around outside and then declare that “it’s too hot!” and make a beeline for the nearest air-conditioned indoor shelter. I’m going to be cautiously optimistic on this whole adventure. There might be photos of him in his green and yellow uniform, maybe not. I’m not running out to get scrapbook supplies just yet!

My friend Carol posted this on her blog yesterday. Use one word, and one word only to answer the questions. Here are my answers, play along if you like!

USE ONLY ONE WORD!
It’s not as easy as you might think. Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It’s really hard to use only one-word answers.
1. Where is your cell phone? here
2. Your hair? forlorn
3. Your mother? crochety
4. Your father? heaven
5. Your favorite food? flavorful
6. Your dream last night? None
7. Your favorite drink? Coke
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. What room are you in? Cubicle
10. Your hobby? Papercrafting
11. Your fear? Critters
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Content
13. Where were you last night? home
14. Something that you aren’t? slim
15. Muffins? blueberry
16. Wish list item? shoes
17. Where did you grow up? Kansas
18. Last thing you did? typed
19. What are you wearing? jeans
20. Your TV? several
21. Your pets? Parakeet
22. Friends? many
23. Your life? Awesome
24. Your mood? resigned
25. Missing someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? Hoopty
27. Something you’re not wearing? earrings
28. Your favorite store? craft
29. Your favorite color? Pink
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? days
32. Your best friend? Rhonda
33. One place that I go to over and over? Michael's
34. One person who emails me regularly? Carol
35. Favorite place to eat? Out!

I had a minor freak out this morning when I realized that we were about three weeks from the start of school. Holy crap! That means a trip to the Walmarts to buy school supplies, which means that I will most likely have a nervous breakdown sometime here in the very near future. Have you ever been in the school supply section of WalMart during the BTS frenzy? I am a seasoned, pro shopper, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart. Plus, there's shoes to buy, the picking out of the new lunchbox, the trying on of jeans, etc. Oh boy.

Chickenhead and I are going to make more Indian food this weekend. I may not get to the Indian market, but I think I've got all the ingredients to make my own garam masala seasoning, so I'm ready to rock. I think tomorrow night is going to be enchiladas, though.

Carol also gave me a couple of blog awards (yay me!) and I’ll be passing those along this weekend. Stay tuned. As Ed McMahon used to say, you may already be a winner!

Teenage Wasteland

Yesterday, Gladys wrote about her teenaged years, and asked for others to do the same. Not all of my memories of that harrowing time of my life are exactly my fondest, but here goes.

I was pretty shy as a child. Being the chubby kid through most of grade school didn’t do much for my social skills, so I was more of an observer than a participator. I wasn’t really prepared, mentally anyway, for junior high. I remember feeling so confused; I wanted desperately to fit in, yet at the same time, I wanted in a way to stand out. I knew I would never be part of the junior high and later, high school hierarchy. That was for the thin girls with the perfectly feathered hair and the right clothes. While I was no longer the chubby kid, I still was not, in my eyes anyway, anywhere close to perfect. I would never fit in.

In high school, I had three close friends: Rhonda, Carol and Beth. I eventually made a small circle of friends, but these three wonderful gals were always the closest. They were the girls I hung out at the mall with, skipped school with, and obsessed over boys with. Boys. Ugh, boys! I didn’t date much in high school. If any guys were interested, they either didn’t show it, or if they did, I was too busy pining after some guy I never stood a chance with. Geez, is there anything worse than high school? I’m starting to think not.

Since my teenaged years were right smack in the middle of the 80’s, I have a lot of fond, if not the occasional somewhat painful memories of –

Those fingerless lace gloves like Madonna wore
Parachute pants
Legwarmers
‘ET’
Calvin Klein jeans
MTV – they showed videos back then!
Bonne Bell Lip Smackers- the big ones on a cord so you could wear your lip gloss around your neck, at the ready for whatever your lips might have to contend with.
Love’s Baby Soft or Heaven Scent

So there you have it. I am so, SO happy that my teenaged years are behind me. I would love to have my 16-year old body back, but that’s about it. I think that body and the brain I have now, could be a deadly combination! Ok, maybe not!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kitchen Disasters


Today over at Lola's Diner, the 'Blog Back Time' topic is Worst Kitchen Disaster. I've been thinking all morning about whether or not I've ever had a kitchen disaster, becuase for the most part, I've been very lucky in the kitchen. One particular episode does come to mind, though.



Back when Chickenhead turned 4, we had a pirate-themed birthday party. Pirate parties were not in vogue then, so finding all the pirate loot was a challenge. I've never been one to back down from a challenge, though, and I decided I was going to bake the cake to look like a pirate ship. I would decorate it with root-beer barrel candies, and Whoppers for the cannon balls. Yes, I had a plan!

The one thing I didn't have though, was a pirate-ship cake pan. No pan? No problem! I would simply bake two round cakes, cut them in half and set them on the rounded sides to simulate a ship. Enough chocolate frosting and the kids wouldn't care what it looked like, I reasoned. I found some cute little pirate figures in the cake decorating section at Michael's and I was in business.

Baking the cakes was easy enough, and I put them in the fridge overnight to cool. I woke up early the morning of the party and got to decorating. I got my cake halves frosted and stacked next to each other. I ran the tines of a fork through the frosting to simulate the wood. I stood back to admire my work and slowly but surely, the layers of cake began to fall away from each other. And fall apart in to a crumbling mess. Which was pretty much what I did at that point. After I finished cursing the cake, the frosting, the oven, the party itself and anything else I could think of, I realized I still needed a cake for the party that would be starting later that afternoon.

And so, at 6 AM, I headed up to the grocery store in search of cake. I figured surely they would have something made up in the bakery that I could just throw the little pirate figures on. But no, at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, there were no bakery cakes to be had unless I wanted a chocolate pudding bundt cake. Muttering under my breath like a crazy woman, I dashed to the baking aisle and picked up more frosting and another cake mix. By golly, I was going to make this cake and I was going to show it who was boss! I paid for my purchases and went home.

Again I baked two round cakes and threw them in the freezer to cool. I whipped the frosting to get it extra smooth. This time, it went on the cake perfectly. I woke up and held the layers together with some wooden skewers. I gave up on decorating it with root-beer barrels and Whoppers because it turned out Chickenhead had eaten all of them the night before. I put the little pirate dudes on the cake, and even made a couple of sails from some paper and more skewers. This would be a great place for me to post a photo, but I don't happen to have one. I'll have to scan it later. For all the blood, sweat and tears I went through, that cake turned out pretty damned good! It was hardly cake-wrecky at all!

After that episode, I vowed to never make another birthday cake. It was too emotionally draining! I bounced back the next year, though, to make an R2D2 cake that finally did me in. I've bought either cupcakes or a sheet cake since then. The best way to avoid a cooking disaster, I think, is to know your limits. And when you think you know your limits, go ahead and scale it back a few notches anyway!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Plot Thickens...UPDATE

So last night after I wrote my blog, I had a good laugh at Uncle Buck (rhymes with, well you know what Buck rhymes with!)being possibly stuck with two car payments.

But then I got to thinking. How could he trade the car in, when the credit union wouldn't release the title because there was a balance on the loan? I decided to check out Carfax.

Turns out, I'm too cheap for Carfax! They will give me info, but I have to pay $40 to see it, and what if it turns out to be info I don't need? A call to the state offices was in order. I called the Dept of Revenue and explained the situation. I may or may not have pretended to be my momma, but that's not essential to the story right now. What is essential is the fact that the Dept. of Revenue has in their records that the title was released in May! Two whole months ago! If the title was released, why is there still a balance on the loan? Back to the credit union.

I called the credit union and gave them the info that Topeka gave me. Now, they have no idea what's going on. I have to call back tomorrow. The credit union still shows an outstanding balance on the loan. I'm wondering if Uncle Buck re-registered the title in his name only? Was the release of the title back in May a lucky fluke for Uncle Buck? Will I ever get a break from all this nonsense?

Stay tuned...


7/23/09-UPDATE-
Well, the credit union released the title in error back in May. They contacted Uncle Buck as soon as they discovered the error, and told him to bring it back in to the credit union. Uncle Buck never got around to it, though. So Uncle Buck now has an unsecured loan that the credit union will be wanting him to pay off. My mom won't have to deal with any more of this BS, at least for the time being. I'm now contemplating sending Uncle Buck a certified letter telling him that being as he's the one who held on to the title, and traded the car in, this is his baby now. I can't write it just yet, though. I'm still a little too ticked, and I don't think I could keep my cool. Case solved!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I've Got The Power! (of attorney)

OK so. About a month or so ago, I set up a durable power of attorney for my mom. I wanted to make sure that if she was ever in a situation where she wasn't able to speak for herself, or wasn't fully understanding what was going on, I would be able to step in and help her out. Today, I had to step in!

Last year, my mom bought a 2003 Dodge Intrepid. When she went to finance it, the dealer told her she would need a co-signer so that they could get her a lower interest rate and keep the payments low. Enter my uncle, her brother in law. Let's call him Uncle Buck. For some reason, Uncle Buck was listed first on the loan paperwork and on the title. When my mom questioned this, the credit union where she had the loan assured her that as long as she was making the payments, it would be reflected on her credit that the loan was current and on time. So far, so good.

In June, when my mom broke her kneecap, Uncle Buck was over here lickety split to get the car. "You don't need the car", he told my mom. "You can't drive, and what with your mind the way it is, you're not safe on the road." Possibly true, but not the most tactful thing to say to someone when they are not only physically injured, but at an emotional low point. I told my mom then, if she didn't have the car, she should sell it or let him take over the payments. She didn't want to, and decided that if she was making the payments, the car should be sitting in her driveway, not his. Uncle Buck brought the car back, tossing the keys at me when I opened the door. "Give these to your mother", he grumbled as he walked off.

A couple of weeks later, he calls my momma. "My truck broke down, can I drive the car until I get it fixed?" Of course, my momma said yes, and off Uncle Buck went with the car. Cut to this past weekend. On Friday, Uncle Buck calls to ask if mom still wants to sell the car. She tells him that yes, she wants to sell it, as she realizes that she probably won't drive again. On Saturday, Uncle Buck calls her and tells her that she won't have to worry about the car payment anymore. Uncle Buck didn't sell the car, though. No, Uncle Buck took her car and his truck (that suddenly wasn't broken down any more) and traded them in on a new car for himself. How low. How sneaky.

So today, I took a copy of the POA to the credit union to find out if what he did was legit. In Kansas, it is. The title on the car was Momma and/or Uncle Buck. So he could trade the car in or sell it without her knowledge or consent. But. The loan on the car has not been paid off. The credit union won't release the title to the new owner until the lien has been paid. So unless they get the payoff in the next couple of days, looks like Uncle Buck will be stuck with two loans. HA! In your face, Uncle Buck!

What makes me so mad, what hurts so much, is seeing how much this has hurt my mom. It sucks when a family member pulls some sneaky-snake moves on you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Suppose They Threw A Party And Nobody Showed Up?



This past weekend was probably one of the nicest weekends, weather-wise anyway, that we've had around these parts in quite a while. I worked in the yard and enjoyed the sunshine and cooler temps. Yep, Saturday was beautiful. Until we had to go over to my FIL and Grand FIL's (see photo representation above) house for a cookout.

The two Grumps have a routine of going to Bob Evans for breakfast nearly every morning. They always make sure they get seated with the same waitress, and they know pretty much all the wait staff there. To honor all of their Bob Evans buddies, they decided to invite all of them over to their house for a cook out.

When they decide to throw a party, however, everyone else in the family is expected to drop whatever they are doing to go help them get ready for their soiree. Do I sound bitter? Why yes, I am. It's very frustrating to have to put up with them demanding that we do something, and when we do it, they grouse and complain about how it's not done to their exacting specifications. Why they don't just do all the planning and execution themselves, I have yet to figure out. Why the rest of us all seem to go along with their insane demands is an even greater mystery to me.

Anyway, come Saturday afternoon, we arrive at the Grumps' house. We needed to get there a little early to get the grill going, make sure the food was ready to roll, etc. When we got there, the Grumps were even grumpier than usual, which I didn't think would be possible. On Friday, they had confirmed RSVPs for around 40 of their Bob Evans posse. Folks were bringing their families, this was going to be the social event of the season for the Grumps. When we arrived, the Grumps announced that nobody was showing. Bobapalooza was a flop. Everyone had cancelled on them. There they sat, madder than a couple of wet hens, up to their necks in fresh corn, around 50 uncooked hamburger patties and the three dozen deviled eggs my MIL made at her ex-husband's (the FIL) request. I actually felt a little bad for them. They thought they had friends. One guy did finally show, a manager, I think. He didn't stay long, though. He had to go to work. To say the mood at Grump Manor was dark is an understatement.

So, my BIL and the Husband fired up the grill, and cooked some burgers and some brats and dogs. We grilled some ears of corn on a grate in the fire pit. We ate and we bantered back and forth the way family members do. Gramps stayed cranky and yelled at the boys whenever they splashed in the pool, which is 90% of the time they were in there. We stayed and talked until it started to get dark, and the mosquitos got really nasty. And then we went home.

The Grumps are still angry and hurt that nobody bothered to show up. I wonder where they ate breakfast this morning?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

OK, A Little Market Research

You all have been great in your responses to my post from yesterday about my Etsy store. So now I have some more detailed questions for you, the consumer. Let your voices be heard! Sorry, it's just me listening for now, but you go ahead and enjoy that little surge of power!

1. Would you be more likely to purchase-
a) Medium-sized tote bag -For taking stuff to work, or knitting, etc.
b) Large tote bag that could also be used as a grocery bag

2. Do you like the idea of a 'soft' lunch bag made of oilcloth so it could be wiped clean?

3. Purses/handbags/pocketbooks/the black hole/whatever you call yours- Do you prefer-
a)an adjustable strap
b)a detachable shoulder strap
c)funky, cool handles

Thank you for your input! It will help me to focus on what I really want to make!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So I've Been Thinking...

Last year, I was giving thought to setting up an Etsy store to sell some of my handmade bags and cards. I signed up on Etsy, but that's about as far as it got. Life has a way of interrupting my grand plans, and the whole idea got away from me.

I never let it get away completely, though. A part of me still wants to not just be creative, but share that creativity with others. The whole idea, as much as it excites me, also fills me with dread. I find myself wondering about the more challenging 'what-ifs', and how to deal with them.


What If #1- The economy sucks right now. What if nobody wants to buy anything? How much would someone be willing to pay for a handmade bag or a set of handmade cards? I want to charge reasonable prices for my goods, but I don't want to stiff myself, either.

What If #2- I have a ridiculously short attention span. What if I get bored with this venture? Worse yet, what if it becomes like a job? Part of why I enjoy making things is that I do it because I want to, not because I have to.

What If #3- What if I fail? What if my little Etsy shop sits there all forlorn and ignored? It's much riskier to not do it and always wonder if I could have, than to just try and possibly fail. But. Failing sucks. I hate failing! At anything!

If anyone has any advice or answers, I'm all ears!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday Night In The Kitchen

I get SO tired of making the same old thing for dinner all the time. Saturday night staples around here are usually something like tacos, enchiladas or homemade pizza or even just a call to Pizza Hut. But not last night! I wanted something different. Something exotic. Something Indian!

Ever since last summer when my neighbor introduced me to the awesomeness that is Chicken Tikka Masala, I've been craving more. And more jasmine rice. And more of that awesome Indian bread, Naan. Chicken Tikka Masala is basically chicken that's been marinated in yogurt (you wouldn't believe how tender and flavorful this makes the meat) and broiled or grilled, then served with a spicy (but not too much) tomato based sauce.I had found a few recipes online for the chicken, but really, they seemed like a lot of work, or at least more work than I wanted to deal with. As for the naan, it's similar to a pita bread, only softer and more flavorful.

Last weekend, though, I was outside and said hello to my neighbor. I asked her if the Indian market nearby sold garam masala, a spice blend essential to Indian cooking. She said they did, but in the true spirit of being neighborly, she ran back in to her house and brought out a plastic container of the spice, and showed me what the bag looked like. Sweet! I would soon be in business. Now all I needed was a recipe that I wouldn't find too intimidating. As usual, Pioneer Woman came through, as last month Pastor Ryan posted his recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. And at AllRecipes.com, I found an amazingly easy recipe for naan.

I made the naan first, and Chickenhead decided to help out in the kitchen. Here he is helping out with the naan-



After rolling it out, in to the pan it goes. Naan is traditionally made on a grill, but it was too danged hot and humid outside to mess with that. This grill-type pan worked wonderfully.


A lovely stack of heaven!


Chickenhead was way in to it!


And, our complete meal. Chicken Tikka Masala, with jasmine rice with saffron and peas, and naan. Everyone loved it! Chickenhead had two helpings, plus some leftovers for lunch today. The Husband loved it, and so did my MIL. My momma wouldn't even dare to try it, but she's not one to try new things.


The recipes were really easy to follow. I did make one change to the chicken recipe. Pastor Ryan's recipe calls for heavy cream. I used a can of coconut milk, but you could also use plain yogurt.

PS- Pastor Ryan's recipe also includes the ingredients to make your own Garam Masala spice blend. I think it may be cheaper to just go to a local Indian grocer and pick up a bag there. The bag my neighbor showed to me was only $3.99 and was probably about a pound in size.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fireworks

I hope everyone had a fun, safe Fourth of July. Ours was a combination of good and bad. Pull up a chair and a box of wine, and I'll tell you all aobut it...

So Friday I'm killing time at work when I get a call from my MIL, telling me that my Momma may be on the warpath. Seems that my mom had misplaced her reading glasses and asked for help looking for them. While searching for them, my MIL found a large container of nuts and a bag of candy bars. Things that my momma does NOT need to be eating. MIL told my momma that she would keep them in the kitchen, but she didn't think it was a good idea for mom to have them in her room. And then it was on! My momma accused my MIL of stealing, started going on about how much she hates living with us, that she wants out, how much she hates the Husband, etc. I felt bad for my MIL. She came over voluntarily to help, and my mom is talking trash about her son?

I'll be honest, I was fuming over this. My MIL did give my mom her stuff back, becuase like I told the MIL, my momma is going to do whatever she wants no matter how much we try to help her. This was the realization I came to this weekend- I can't fix my momma's issues, no matter how much I may want to.

My mom has been unhappy for as long as I can remember. Thinking back as far as I can, she's never been what you would call 'positive'. I don't think she's ever been diagnosed, but I really think she's been suffering severe depression for decades.Unfortunately, her negativity affects everyone around her, and it's getting more and more difficult to live with. I finally sat down with her last night, and told her that if she was truly as miserable living with us as what she tells everyone else, I would help her find somewhere else to live. I told her that while I loved her, I didn't like the way she was letting her unhappiness affect everyone else in my home, especially Chickenhead. Of course, she was mad and vowed to 'get out of this crazy house'. Will she really move out? Who knows? She did apologize to my MIL this morning, so that was a step in the right direction, I suppose.

As for the positive parts of the weekend, well, they were pretty sweet. Saturday evening we headed out to the lake to watch the fireworks over the water. We stopped along the way to let Chickenhead pick out some fireworks for him and his cousins to shoot. What is it about boys and fire? I think they would have blown stuff up all night long if we had let them. Yesterday was a lazy day for everyone. Chickenhead slept late and we vegged out in the Manhole watching the Lord of the Rings movies.

I even managed to squeeze in a couple of hours to work on some scrapbook projects. I was in the zone! I put on the headphones and had a grand old time, dancing and scrapping. I think I need to do that more often!