Monday, December 24, 2007

Crab Risotto

I wanted to make something special and comforting, but also something that would be light-tasting, since we've been eating so much heavy, fattening food (you know how it is around the holidays). I came up with this crab risotto, and it was the perfect thing for Mr Wonderful and I.

Crab Risotto
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c diced onion
1 c arborio rice
1 c dry white wine
4 c simmering chicken stock
10 oz fresh crab meat (Dungeness is in season here in the bay area)
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Melt the butter with the EVOO in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Seasoning with salt & pepper is a good idea at this point. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains, and let them toast for a minute or two while you open the wine. Add the wine and let it bubble until the alcohol is all cooked out. and the rice has absorbed some of the liquid. Add 1/2-3/4 c of hot chicken stock. Stir frequently, letting the rice absorb the stock until it's almost gone. The rice should not get dry on top, but when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, it should leave a track for a moment or two. That's when you know it's time to add more stock. Keep adding stock and letting the rice absorb it, stirring very frequently, until the stock is all gone and the rice is al dente. Be patient, it takes about half an hour to do this right!

At this point you can add just about anything you want to the risotto. For this meal, I used crab, lemon zest, and parsley. As soon as the crab is heated through, check the seasonings and add more salt or pepper, if necessary. Makes 3-4 servings.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
Good lord, it's been forever since I updated. I've been cooking, but it's mostly been stuff like chicken nuggets for the kids and re-runs of things I've already blogged about. I mean, who wants to see another blog about roast chicken? I did make a Beef Barley Soup the other day, but my camera batteries had died and I didn't have anymore AA's, so there wasn't a picture for the post. It was pretty simple anyway - just the usual soup starter veggies (onion, celery, carrot), 2 boxes of beef broth, some barley grains, salt & pepper and a bay leaf.

This soup recipe is pretty much the same, with a little variation. I love basic soups - you can pull them together in half an hour and you've got a comforting meal for 4-6 people that's perfect for wintertime.

Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large chicken breast, diced
8 cups (2 boxes) chicken stock
2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

Heat up the EVOO over medium heat in your big, heavy soup pot. Throw in the veggies, season with salt & pepper, and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent (about 5 min). Throw in the diced chicken, season with salt & pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook for a couple of minutes, until there's not much pink showing anymore. Add all the chicken stock, and raise the heat to high until it comes to a boil. Throw in the dried pasta of your choice (Rugrat's favorite is the "honeycombs" - AKA fiori, or "flower" shaped pasta), reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until the pasta is al dente (stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick). That's it! The chicken will be cooked through by the time the pasta is done.

A sleeve is done!

Finally! I finally finished one sleeve. Rugrat saw a kid wearing a sweater that had little holes for the kid's thumbs to poke through, and of course he had to have that for HIS sweater, so I made a buttonhole after carefully marking where his thumb would be.

So now all I have to do is one more sleeve, the collar, and weave in all those pesky yarn ends...and we'll have a sweater!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dyeing wool yarn

Last weekend we made a trip to Michael's, to get some glitter and food coloring for the kids (they were making snow globes). I figured since I was there I'd pick up a skein of cheap white wool yarn and try dyeing some myself, since I'd read up on it earlier in the week and it seemed pretty simple. I grabbed some Wilton's paste food coloring in forest green, brown, burgundy and teal, and a skein of Patons Classic Wool Merino in winter white.

When we got home, I pulled out some Pyrex dishes - casserole-type things - and preheated the oven to about 225. All my regular pots & pans are hard-anodized aluminum, and I wasn't willing to possibly ruin my expensive cookware on a test ball of yarn (you can't use aluminum because it is "reactive" - and I'm not sure what exactly happens, but I wasn't about to find out). I don't have any stainless still pots, so I figured I'd do it in the glass dishes in the oven instead of on the stove. I transferred the ball of yarn into a hank by wrapping it around the back of two dining room chairs (back to back) and then tied it in four places with some acrylic crap yarn to keep it in one big hank. I soaked the hank in plain hot water for about half an hour, until the yarn was fully soaked, then I drained the water from the sink and kind of pushed/squeezed the excess water out. I put 1/4 cup of white vinegar in each of the three casserole dishes, then filled each one with 4 cups (1 quart) of hot water. Then came the fun part - adding the dye. It's kind of a trial-and-error sort of thing; the more dye you add, the more saturated the color will be. I just scooped some out of the little jar with a wooden chopstick and swirled it around in the water/vinegar until it dissolved completely. I used the green, brown and burgundy for this trial (Rugrat wanted me to use the teal but I figured three colors was PLENTY to start out with). I carefully put the dishes in the oven (not real easy to make all three fit on one shelf, let me tell you!) and draped the damp skein of white yarn in the dishes, with brown on one end, burgundy on the other, and the green in the middle. I checked it often, poking it with chopsticks to make sure it was submerged all the way, and turned it over once to make sure the color saturated the top as well as the bottom of the yarn.

Finally I removed the yarn and let it cool in the sink, dumped out the remaining dye water, and rinsed the yarn. And rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed. The burgundy bled like crazy. When it finally let up some, I took a long, critical look at the skein and decided the colors were too bright and unharmonious, so I ended up re-dyeing the entire skein in brown dye. When I rinsed it out after overdyeing with brown, there was no bleeding, and the colors were much more muted - as I had originally intended. I ended up with a lovely autumn-y variegated skein, with coppery brown, camel, olive green, and cranberry colors. As you can see from the picture above, I'm turning it into My So Called Scarf, and the pattern shows off the color gradations beautifully.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Mostly paper, but gift bags if they're a funky shape

2. Tree--Real or Artificial? Artificial, but only because real trees are so darned expensive now. You can get a nice fake tree for about the same price as a nice REAL tree, but the fake tree lasts forever.

3. When do you put the Christmas tree up? The day after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? Shortly after New Year's

5. Like eggnog? I've got to have it at least once during the season

6. Do you have a nativity scene? No

7. Favorite gift received as a child? Cabbage Patch Kid

8. Hardest person to buy for? Step-dad

9. Worst Christmas gift received? I can't think of anything particularly heinous, although I was sorely disappointed the year that I got a FAKE Cabbage Patch Kid.

10. Mail or email a Christmas card? Mail ...and I am horrendously late this year, I know...

12. Favorite Christmas movie? So hard to choose! Love Actually (not really a Christmas movie, but it's set in London at Christmastime), A Christmas Story ("You'll put your eye out, kid!"), It's a Wonderful Life (of course), and most of the old-skool kids' Christmas specials, like Year Without a Santa Claus (Heat Miser!!) and Rudolph and Charlie Brown Christmas. I really love Christmas shows.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually just before Thanksgiving, but this year I didn't start until last Friday. But I got it almost all done that day, so I'm doing pretty good. ;-)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, bath stuff and bottles of wine

15. Favorite food to eat on Christmas? Oh boy. Slow-roasted prime rib with gravy and mashed potatoes - I think that's what we'll be having for Christmas dinner this year. Homemade fudge. Hot chocolate with whipped cream. Maple sugar candy (in my stocking every year!). Almond Roca. Tangerines. A big brunch, like pancakes or scrambled eggs and bacon. Coffee (but that's nothing new, I have that every morning).

16. Colored or clear lights? Colored, definitely. The tackier, the better, when it comes to my Christmas tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? The Charlie Brown Christmas album (Vince Guaraldi). Brian Setzer Orchestra's version of The Nutcracker Suite. God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen, by Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan. All I Want for Christmas, by Olivia Olson. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, by Andy Williams. Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, by Frank Sinatra. The Christmas Song, by Nat King Cole. What? I LIKE Christmas music!

18. Travel during Christmas or stay home? Stay home!!

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph

20. Star or angel on tree top? Angel, but only because I've never found a star I like as much as the one we had on the tree when I was growing up. (*sob!*)

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. Usually Babydaddy comes over on Christmas Eve and spends the night so we can all open presents together Christmas morning, but I guess that won't be happening this year! LOL

22. The most annoying thing about this time of year? All the noise, noise, noise, noise! Just kidding. Actually, it's the shopping I hate most. And the traffic. And the people, but I generally hate people so that's nothing new. ;-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Note to self: stop knitting while drinking.

I keep dropping stitches and fucking things up and having to rip back the poor sleeve I finally started on a few days ago. Every time I sit down with a beer and my knitting needles I screw the damn thing up. Like, when I decided to give the sleeve a little shaping, and so I (in my ultimate wisdom) decreased one stitch every other row, but only in one direction. So the sleeve decrease started to spiral.

Ah well, I guess this is just what happens when you knit your first sweater and decide to do modifications to the pattern. Before this, the most difficult thing I'd attempted was a scarf. A really easy garter-stitch scarf. Oh, and I did do that one two-color hat in the EZ book. But this is really my first big project, and quite frankly I'm so frustrated with it right now that I dream about frogging the whole damn thing. Literally. I had a dream I did that. It was kind of liberating but ultimately a depressing dream, so when I woke up I was glad I hadn't done it.

Anyhoo, I am plugging along. I found a local knitting group and finally made it to my first meeting last night. I'm hoping to make it on a regular basis, because I think it will help a lot to have experienced knitters that I can get help from, in person, when I screw up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Playing catch-up

It's been a busy week, what with Thanksgiving and all. The holiday was nice; it was just Mr Wonderful and I with the kids, but the food was delish (even if the kids didn't appreciate it). I spent all day cooking, but it was worth it.

Unfortunately, I've been slacking on the Spider-Man sweater. I haven't touched it since Thanksgiving and I really need to get back in the saddle if I'm going to have it finished in (eek!) less than a month. I did find a knitting group that meets at the local bookstore on Tuesday evenings, so that may help me get motivated, if I can ever get to a meeting! I wanted to go this week, but had to take Mr Wonderful out to pick up his car at the shop (again...*sigh*); that was the only night we'd be able to do it this week.

Current pet peeve: people who give out the wrong phone number. Some woman named Karen must have accidentally put my cell phone number on her business cards or something, because I keep getting calls for her. Just about every day I get a call for her. I may just stop answering my phone if this continues.

This weekend, we're taking the kids up to the mountains, where Mr Wonderful's sister & her family live. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there will be snow (now THAT would be a treat for the kids!) but I'll finally get to meet her.

Last but not least, there's been a little change on my blogs. Maybe you've noticed the Google ads in the right column? Well, I finally set up Google Analytics (stats, to tell me how many people visit my blog each day) and Google AdSense (the ads you see in the columns). I'm not really expecting to make much money out of it; anything I earned would just be icing on the cake, frankly. But I am quite interested in the stats. I looked this morning and there were visitors from Thailand and Ireland! How cool is that?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scalloped Croque Monsieur

Mr Wonderful's birthday was two days after Thanksgiving. His absolute favorite food is scalloped or au gratin potatoes, so I decided to make a variation by adding classic Croque Monsieur flavors: mustard and ham. In addition, we had a lovely salad with apples, candied pecans, bacon, caramelized balsamic onions, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. And for dessert we had Tiramisu, another favorite of his.

Russet potatoes are an antioxidant-rich food, so this will be my submission for Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day roundup. Click the link to see more great recipes from food bloggers!

Scalloped Croque Monsieur
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
1 Tbsp good grainy mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1 1/2 c shredded Gruyere cheese (or other good swiss-type, like Emmenthal or Comte)
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 lb thinly sliced deli ham
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble slightly, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the milk slowly, stirring or whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Raise the heat to high, and continue stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the mustard, nutmeg, salt & pepper (go easy on the salt; cheese is salty) and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

In an 8" buttered baking dish, layer the potatoes, sauce and ham, starting with a little bit of sauce on the bottom, and ending with a bunch of sauce on top to make sure it's all covered. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the casserole is golden brown on top. Serves 2-3.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

I obviously didn't spend much time on plating, but maybe you'll forgive me if I tell you that I was halfway through a bottle of wine by the time it hit the table, since I spent ALL DAY cooking for only four people. Oh, and only two of those people actually appreciated the food and ate it without making nasty faces.

I skipped the apple crisp, figuring that Rugrat wouldn't eat it and I'd be plenty full from dinner anyway. But I did put out a crudite platter for everyone to snack on during the afternoon, and whipped up a quick batch of stuffed mushrooms for Mr Wonderful and I. The kids won't touch mushrooms with a ten foot pole, which was just fine with me, because stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite things.

Mashed Maple-Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes
3 c baked, peeled & mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 c half and half
1/3 c good maple syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together and spoon into an 8" buttered baking dish. Then, combine the following ingredients with a pastry cutter (or in a food processor or stand mixer, if you're lazy like me) until it gets crumbly and the butter bits are smaller than peas:

1/4 c lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 c flour
2 Tbsp cold butter

Sprinkle evenly on top of the mashed sweet potatoes, then bake for about 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Stuffed Mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp EVOO
10 mushrooms, cleaned
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 c cracker crumbs (I usually use saltines; this time I had oyster crackers on hand, but you can use Ritz or whatever)
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop the stems finely. Place the caps, hole side up, on a cookie sheet. Melt the butter with the EVOO in a small saute pan, then add the chopped mushroom stems, shallot, parsley and lemon zest. Cook for about 3 minutes to soften the mushrooms and shallots, and to blend the flavors together. Add the cracker crumbs. At this point, you may need to adjust a little - if the stuffing looks too wet, add a little more cracker crumbs; if it's too dry, moisten with a bit more EVOO. Cook for another minute, to bind everything together and toast the crumbs a little, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

With a teaspoon, stuff each mushroom cap with the mixture. You should mound it up and kind of press it down a bit with the spoon, making sure it's well packed. Top the mushroom caps with the shredded cheese and then pop them in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and start to brown a bit. Serve immediately. This recipe will only serve about 2 people, though, because they are really yummy and you'll be scarfing them down as fast as you can.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

This year I had given my family over six months' notice that I would be doing Thanksgiving. Six months! And still, nobody is coming, as far as I know. I extended a last-minute invitation to my aunt & uncle, and my cousin & her son, but no word yet on whether they'll be attending. I guess the party jinx extends even to family parties now. :-(

In spite of that, though, I'll be making a FULL Thanksgiving dinner. Mr Wonderful and I and the kids will be here to enjoy it, and even if we're stuck having leftovers for a month, I won't skimp on Thanksgiving. So, the menu is:

Sage, Onion & Apple Cider-Roasted Turkey (a 12 pounder!)
Apple-Herb Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (will probably add some apple cider to this to sweeten it and tie it in to the turkey/stuffing)
Funeral Potatoes (I've been dying to make this - no pun intended)
Mashed Maple-Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes (recipe will be posted after Thanksgiving)
Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Crisp

I dislike Pumpkin Pie, but Mr Wonderful thinks it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it, so that's why we've got two desserts.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spider-Man Logo

Spider-Man Sweater
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister.
The Spider-Man logo I used for Rugrat's "Weasley Sweater" in place of an initial.

Chart (Excel format) can be found here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Clam Chowder

So much fresher and healthier than the canned stuff!

Clam Chowder
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 c diced onion
1 c diced celery
1 c diced carrot
2 c diced potatoes
1/4 c flour
1 bottle clam juice
4 c chicken stock (one large box with a pour-spout)
1/2 c half and half
2 cans whole clams, drained (juice reserved) and checked over to ensure there are no little bits of shell
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Melt the butter with the EVOO in a large soup pot or a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes, and salt & pepper to taste. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the bottled clam juice slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add in the chicken stock and bring the heat up to high, stirring often, until the soup begins to thicken. Reduce the heat back to medium. Add in the half and half, reserved clam juice and the clams. Cook just for a few minutes, until the clams are cooked through, then stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Makes enough soup for 4-6 people.

Edited because I forgot about the potatoes! Whoops!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm on Ravelry!

Ravelry is like MySpace for knitters/crocheters. The site is still in beta, but I signed up for a beta account and finally, after nearly a month, got my invite. :) I'm "snarkmeister" on Ravelry, if you're a fellow Raveler.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I was absolutely positive that I didn't want any more children after I had Rugrat. Rugrat is more than enough for me to handle, thankyouverymuch. And I have an almost-stepdaughter now, who is a wonderful new part of my family. But when Mr Wonderful offered to have a vasectomy, I told him to wait. Why? I don't know. Because I'm still in my early thirties (OK, mid-thirties) and there is plenty of time for me to change my mind. But I was still sure that I didn't really want to have one...I just wanted to have the option available. Does that make sense?

And then the other day, at Mr Wonderful's parents' house, he was joking with me, trying to cheer me up about some little thing that I was in a funk about (probably work calling me and needing something while I was ON VACATION). And he lay down next to me and talked into my belly. And I felt something like a cramp of desire to be pregnant. Because when I was pregnant last time I didn't have that, that supportive loving dad who was all excited about the baby. It almost made me cry, when he did that, and to be honest I'm crying on my couch right now, just thinking about it. Of course that's mostly because I am hormonal and on my period, but...still. It was hard, not to just tell him right then and there that I wanted this more than anything else in the world. But I had to wait, I had to really think about it, and I know that really, I don't want another child. I don't. Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and we're halfway to having the kids out of the house at this point. Getting pregnant again would mean starting all over. And with the sleep deprivation and the dirty diapers and the miserable pregnancy I don't really want it.

But it's all I can think about right now. So let's just fucking get past this stupid hormone surge, shall we? I don't want any more kids. I told Mr Wonderful that he can't do that belly-talking thing any more, because it makes me wish I was pregnant. And part of me was really, really sad at having to tell him that. And part of me wants to tell him that we should just throw out the birth control pills when we get married. But another part of me, the larger, saner part, knows that I will get past this weird baby fever and that I really, really DON'T want another baby. Even though he said he would totally talk into my belly if I were pregnant, and put headphones on my belly to play cool music for the baby, and all that supportive daddy-to-be stuff. Oh god, I don't really want another baby. I don't.

Meet the Fockers

Well, it's done. We've made the rounds now, and officially received blessings from the parental units.

Mr Wonderful's mom & stepdad are super-nice and loads of fun. We spent a couple of days there, swimming (yes! In November!) and playing dominoes and shopping and eating...and of course drinking lots of margaritas. Yum! Then we headed down to San Diego to see my mom & stepdad, and spent a couple of days hanging out with them. Mr Wonderful and I did manage to get to the beach (I took him to Coronado and La Jolla) and also out to visit my aunt & uncle, who I haven't seen in several years. We saw my stepsister & her family, too, including my two twin nephews, who I'd never seen. They were absolutely adorable, toddling around and screeching and bumping into each other. That girl must have loads energy to keep up with them all the time, though - they were exhausting!

I got lots of knitting done on the trip; I'm about two-thirds of the way through with the back of Rugrat's sweater and will be working on it every night in order to get it finished in time for Christmas. And now I need to plan for Thanksgiving; nobody's coming (party jinx in full effect, of course) but we'll have the kids that day and I am making a full T'giving dinner. Last but not least, it's time for Christmas shopping and cards. It's going to be busy for the next six weeks, so if I don't post very often, you'll know why.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I am so ready for a vacation. On Wednesday Mr Wonderful and I are driving down to SoCal to meet the moms. It's not a real long vacation but it will be relaxing (I hope). Some swimming, some eating & drinking, some bonding with the parental units....we're overdue for this, I think, and it's certainly something we need to get done before we make things official. It looks like this will be my month to meet most of his family, because he's talking about us taking the kids up to his sister's house in a little less than two weeks.

Mr Wonderful's birthday is coming up soon too, right after Thanksgiving, in fact. So I'm looking forward to making all his birthday wishes come true...starting with Tiramisu for his b'day dessert. I'll have to food blog that one for sure.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Have I mentioned?

I am in love with Sriracha. It is the asian garlic-chili sauce that comes in a plastic squeeze bottle with a rooster on the front. And it turns out, as well-publicized on the show Top Chef, it really does go well with everything (except ice cream).

It adds a spicy, vinegary kick to just about anything. I love the way it brightened up the mac & cheese. It was indispensable in Mr Wonderful's Comfort Stew. It's fabulous to add to those bland, child-approved casseroles and pasta dishes. I am telling you, I would marry this stuff if I could, I love it that much.

Mr Wonderful's Comfort Stew

A cross between a stew and a chili...I wanted to pamper Mr Wonderful a little bit at the end of a long, busy weekend, so I set out some chips & salsa and a cold beer for him to snack on while I finished making this "comfort stew" - a rib-sticking Mexican-inspired dish. With the healthy beans, potatoes and tomatoes, this stew will be my contribution to Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day roundup this week.

Mr Wonderful's Comfort Stew
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 diced onion
1 pkg kielbasa (four sausages), sliced lengthwise and then cut into 1/2" slices
2 russet potatoes, cut into about 1 1/2" dice
1 can black beans, drained
1 can white (navy or cannelini) beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 c pork broth (use chicken if you can't find pork)
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c thinly sliced green onion
salt & pepper
Shredded cheese, for serving (cheddar, jack, or similar) -- optional
Sour cream, for serving -- optional

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the kielbasa and saute until it gets a little golden brown. Add the diced potatoes, season liberally with salt & pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown. Add the two cans of beans, the can of tomatoes, the cumin, garlic powder (or fresh garlic; I was just being lazy), the cup of broth and the Sriracha. Add enough water just to cover the stew, and raise the heat up to medium high. When the stew just starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the stew has thickened. Taste for seasonings & adjust as needed. Add the cilantro and green onion at the very end.

Ladle into bowls, topping each bowl with cheese and/or sour cream if you like (we added a little dollop of sour cream to each bowl and the cool creamy goodness was the perfect counterpoint to the spicy stew).

Mac & Cheese

Made from scratch, with four different kinds of cheese and a buttery breadcrumb topping...this was decadent and delicious.

Mac 'N' Cheese
1 pound cooked pasta (penne, macaroni, or similar)
6 Tbsp butter, divided
1/4 c flour
2 1/2 c milk
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz Gruyere, shredded
4 oz white Cheddar, shredded
4 oz Brie, diced (rind removed)
1 1/2 c fresh breadcrumbs
2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
2 Tbsp freshly shredded Parmesan
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a saucepot over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble slightly, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add a little salt and some pepper (go easy on the salt because the cheese is salty). Add the milk and stir immediately to blend everything without lumps. Raise the heat a little bit, and cook, stirring constantly, until the bechamel sauce thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the nutmeg. Take the sauce off the heat and add 3/4 of the Gruyere, Cheddar and Brie cheeses. Stir until cheeses are melted and completely incorporated. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and pour into a large casserole dish. If you want, at this point you can drizzle some Sriracha on the mac 'n' cheese. It adds a tiny bit of kick and brightens up the dish. Top with the rest of the Gruyere, Cheddar and Brie.

In a saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter and add the breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring gently, for a couple of minutes, until the crumbs are pretty evenly coated with melted butter. Spread the breadcrumbs evenly on the casserole and sprinkle with the shredded Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New favorite show

Pushing Daisies. I love it. I love the bright colors, the narrator guy (the same guy who read the Harry Potter books in the audio versions!), the silliness and the characters spontaneously breaking into song (OK, maybe only Olive, but OMG awesome!). I love the dry humor and the plot point that will keep Ned & Chuck from ever getting jiggy. I love the flashbacks. I love Ned's partner, who has freaking AWESOME lines and who KNITS and has to get reward money to fuel his yarn habit. Totally, totally cool. I love Chuck's hair, and I covet her stylist, because I have curly/wavy hair that's very fine & prone to flyaways just like hers, but her hair looks GORGEOUS every week. And I love, love, love Olive. She dresses like a Brady Bunch tart, and throws herself at Ned every chance she gets, and did I mention the singing? Yeah, like when she started singing Hopelessly Devoted To You in the pie shop. Or this week, when she busted out with They Might Be Giants in the car. God, how can you resist? Throw in a bedazzled resurrected pigeon, and you've got comedy gold, folks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm sorry, what??

"[So and so] [did something] propissively."

Me: Huh? WTF is propissively? Is that like permissively? Propitiously?

Turns out: "on purpose." The word you're looking for there is "purposely." Or "purposefully." I know I am a total fucking English grammar nazi, but...propissively?? And he uses it All. The. Time.

Help. How do I gently, non-confrontationally, non-aggressively tell my significant other that he is regularly using a "word" that doesn't actually exist in the English language?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


If you haven't been living under a rock the past few days, you know about the wildfires raging down in Southern California right now. I've got quite a lot of family down there - mom & stepdad, aunt & uncle, stepsister & her hubby & twin boys, and cousins all living in the San Diego area. None of them have been evacuated yet (or at least as of 8 AM today, when I talked to mom). But there are fires burning within just a few miles of all their homes. It's not looking good; the fires down there are not even close to being contained - they're totally raging out of control. I have friends in the LA area too, and I haven't heard from them yet.

Scary, y'all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm so excited. I bought two new knitting books online, ones I've been looking at for several months, and they came yesterday. So very, very soon I will be starting my first sweater from the Fitted Knits book.

But first I need to finish Rugrat's Spiderman sweater....which is actually coming along quite well now. I'm up to the point where I think I can add in the spider, so it will at least be interesting for 30 rows or so, while I'm doing the two-color knitting. Then back to plain boring blue stockinette. I'm hoping to get it done by Christmas, so I really need to just bang it out.

I am also in the midst of making a pair of felted wool slippers. The original idea was that I would find a felted slipper pattern in order to try making a pair of socks in an overlarge size and big needles, so they'll knit up quickly, and since they're felted they won't show any mistakes. But it turns out that the pattern I selected is not really a standard sock pattern; there's no short rows and turning the heel and stuff, so the original reason for doing this is kind of lost. But it will still be nice to have a new set of slippers. :)

In other news, Mr Wonderful has moved in. He's been spending every night here for a couple of weeks now, ever since he brought over his cat. And almost all of his stuff is moved out of his old house (and into my garage, LOL). It's great going to bed with him every night, and now that the weather is getting colder the snuggling is awesome. But the commute is brutal, and it's really taking a toll on him. He's commuting 3-4 hours a day, and the worst is Tuesdays: Monday he works 9am - 6pm, then goes to Aikido class afterwards. He doesn't get home until 9:15 at the earliest on Monday nights, and then they always schedule him to work at 6am on Tuesdays, so he's gotta be out the door by 4:30am at the latest. So you can imagine that Tuesday mornings are tough on him. I hate that it's so brutal, and I wish I could make things easier on him. But it's just something we'll have to live with until his transfer goes through and he's able to work closer to home.

And the furniture project is nearly done. Babydaddy needs to come out and do some finishing work on the pieces (trim and stuff), but I've got the desk painted, and two other pieces patched, sanded and primed. Once those are painted and ready to go, I'll move them in and move the other two pieces (which are currently in the house, holding stuff temporarily) out to the garage where they will get the patch/sand/prime/paint treatment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Birthday surprise!

My 34th birthday, on Monday, arrived with a bit of a surprise: a trip to the ER! Let me explain...

Saturday, after a quick shopping trip to buy Tomboy a new twin-size mattress, I started sanding & priming some of the furniture Babydaddy is making for me. I thought I'd be clever and buy some spray-on primer, figuring that would save me a bunch of time, and I'd have the desk all finished with a couple of coats of paint by Sunday night. So I made a trip to Home Depot, picked up the supplies I needed, and headed home. I sanded, wiped off, and laid on the first coat of primer. I laid on a second coat of primer. I did all this in my well-ventilated garage with the door wide open. I did not use a mask, not even a cheap one, but I did take several breaks to walk out and breathe fresh air, and pulled my t-shirt up over my nose & mouth. I took a shower and made dinner (beef stew) for everyone, and we settled in for the night.

Sunday morning I awoke thinking, "Gee, my face itches. I wonder if I have a rash?" Sure enough, not only did I have a lovely red rash all over my face, but my face was all swollen and I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy with a sunburn. Greeeeeaaaat. I figured it was probably due to the primer, but I really wanted to get that desk finished so I went out to the garage, lightly sanded the desk, wiped it down again, and laid on one more thin coat of primer. Perfect, now it was ready for paint.

But my face was swelling up even more. I washed my face & hands and decided to take some Benadryl to counteract the swelling/allergic reaction. I ran out to Cost Plus, bought and picked up a new dining room table & chairs, and then came back home and crashed out for several hours, thanks to the Benadryl coma. I got up around four and made dinner (Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole, yum!) and celebrated my birthday with Mr Wonderful and the kids. I got some lovely flowers on Saturday from Mr Wonderful, and a big new electric griddle for making big family breakfasts on the weekends. I also received a new alarm clock (desperately needed), a couple of circular knitting needles, and a knitting book. Dad sent me an amazing genealogy report which goes back to the 1700's! Anyhoo, I got some great stuff and we had a tasty cheesecake for dessert (mmm, my fave!).

Mr Wonderful took Tomboy to her mom's house and I got Rugrat ready for bed. The Benadryl had worn off and my face was swollen and itchy again, so I took a shower and popped some Benadryl before vegging out on the couch with Mr Wonderful in front of the TV set. But I started coughing in the shower, and Mr Wonderful got all concerned about my breathing, telling me that I should go to the hospital. When we finally laid down to bed, I felt like there was a weight on my chest and I kept coughing. Finally I gave in, and around 10:30 we decided it would be best for me to go to the ER. I woke up Rugrat, popped him in some footy pajamas, and we all bundled into the car for the long drive out to WC (the local Kaiser hospital doesn't open here for another month). We were luckily able to catch Babydaddy at home, so we dropped Rugrat off there to sleep rather than drag him with us to the hospital.

We got to the hospital shortly before midnight, and after being triaged we were sent to the ER waiting room. The triage nurse had checked my vitals, and my oxygen level was just fine. We discovered, after being there for a couple of hours, that the wait was going to be several hours would likely have taken longer for me to see the ER doc and get a bed in the ER than it would have for me to just go see a doctor in the morning at urgent care. So we figured that since my oxygen level was fine, we could just as easily (and more comfortably!) sleep at home as we could in the waiting room, and we left with stern instructions from the triage nurse to call for an urgent care appointment first thing in the morning. Happy birthday to me! It was 2 hours into my birthday at that point.

Monday morning, we awoke around 8:30 am and I promptly made the appointment to see a doctor later that morning. When I got there, she checked me over, gave me a prescription for Predisone (a steroid to reduce swelling) and Atarax (which she described as high-dose Benadryl, for the itching), and sent me home. I crashed out for most of the day after taking the meds, so my actual birthday was pretty uneventful.

Now the swelling is down, and my face is chapped beyond belief. The rash is peeling and itchy, which the Atarax doesn't help with all that much. But even with all this weirdness and hospital visits and everything, I still think I had a pretty darn nice birthday. It was so lovely to have all of us together this weekend, working on building our home together. And Mr Wonderful and I are both still feeling very blessed to have found each other; it's just so nice to have someone else to pick up the slack sometimes, and to support you when you need it. It's wonderful to have a partner.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole

The photo is a bit overexposed, but this dinner turned out really well, using frozen Trader Joe's brown rice, topped with cheese and some sliced green onions. But the best thing was when I added a little Sriracha to it. OMG, fantastic!

This is my submission to Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day roundup this week, thanks to the mushrooms and onions and the uber-healthy brown rice (even if it's not technically an ARF).

Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 cup crimini (baby portobello) mushrooms, cut into quarters
Four thin-cut chicken breasts, sliced into 1" strips (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Celery soup (can use two cans of Cream of Mushroom instead, but I only had one can of that)
2 bags frozen Trader Joe's brown rice
1 cup shredded cheese - jack, cheddar, mexican mix, whatever you have on hand
2 green onions, white & green parts - sliced
2 Tbsp (or more) Sriracha sauce (optional) - this is an Asian hot garlic-chili sauce, it comes in a plastic squirt bottle with a rooster on the front
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Over medium heat, warm olive oil in a large saute pan. Sautee yellow onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are golden brown, about five minutes. Salt & pepper the veggies. Raise the heat a little and add the chicken strips, throwing a little salt & pepper on them once they're in the pan. As soon as the chicken strips aren't showing any pink on the outside (they will still be undercooked inside), add the canned soup and decrease the heat to low.

Microwave the rice bags for three minutes (cut a little slit in each bag first). They might still be a little cold when you pull them out, but that's ok. Mix the rice into the soup/chicken mixture and add the Sriracha, if using. Pour everything into the prepared casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake for about 30 minutes, until everything is bubbly. If the cheese isn't slightly browned after 30 minutes, broil it for a couple of minutes until it is. Top with sliced green onions and serve immediately.

When I made this, it was originally a dish for the whole family so I intentionally made it rather plain. About halfway through my dinner I looked at Mr Wonderful and said, "You know what this could use?" and he replied, "Yeah - jalepenos." My thoughts exactly. But then I thought, what about Sriracha? It is glorious on lots of stuff, and could easily be added to just the parents' servings after being dished out. So we tried it...and it was fabulous.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Beef Stew

A traditional beef stew with red wine, carrots, potatoes, celery, rosemary, garlic, etc.

Recipe coming soon.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fettucine a la Jen

Fettucine with bacon, peas, and mushrooms, in a sort of chicken gravy. Mmmm...quick, easy and tasty - the kids liked this one too!

Fettucine a la Jen
1 box (1 lb) fettucine
4 slices bacon, chopped into 1/4 - 1/2 inch bits
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt & pepper

Boil a pot of water, throw in some salt, and add the fettucine to it. Cook according to package directions.

In the meantime, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp in a large saute pan. Remove bacon from pan, and remove all but 2 Tbsp of the rendered bacon fat. Add the olive oil, then add the onions and mushrooms, cooking over medium heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the flour, and cook for another minute. Stir in chicken stock and raise the heat a little until the gravy bubbles and thickens a little. Add the red wine vinegar, the frozen peas and the chopped parsley. Stir until the peas are heated through, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the sauce with the cooked fettucine, top with the cooked bacon, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I loved Sex and the City. LOVED it. I still watch reruns on TBS, even though they are chopped to bits and have all the cursing and references to dicks and blowjobs cut out. And I am very, very happy that they are finally making a full-length feature movie to sort of tie up the series (even though I thought they resolved everything quite nicely in the series finale).


I just saw photos on that are a huge spoiler. And while I am not surprised at what happens, I will say that I think it's kind of superfluous for Carrie. And also? The FEATHERS. Dear God, no. I know SJP is all about the wacky fashion hijinx, but seriously. It's just beyond fugly. I'm not going to spoil you here, but if you go to that link, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nothing to do with food...everything to do with awesome

Sars over at Tomato Nation is rocking the house with her Donors Choose Challenge. Over $27,000 raised in less than TWO DAYS. That is unbelievable.

The power of the is amazing.

Six months

Last night as I was laying in bed, chatting with Mr Wonderful, I realized that it was my six-month anniversary. Yes, it's really and truly been six months since I had a cigarette. I am so proud!

Oh, and I'm knitting a hat, with stranded two-color knitting. I wanted to test the stranded two-color knitting on a small project before I did it on Rugrat's Spider-man sweater, which is coming along so slowly (thanks to size 5 needles and teeny tiny yarn) that by the time I finish it he'll probably be too big to wear it. Heh. The big brown & orange sweater I started last year is still unfinished, because I goofed up one of the shoulders pretty badly and I'm not sure how to fix it. I may just rip it all back anyway, because the yarn is nice but the sweater is pretty much sized for a linebacker, and I could use that yarn for a much nicer project.

The custom furniture project with Babydaddy is coming along, albeit a bit more slowly than I'd hoped. I was sick all weekend, so I didn't get a chance to do any work on it (I have a few of the pieces here now and I need to putty, sand, prime & paint them). And this coming weekend we have the kids, so we're talking about a trip to San Francisco on Saturday, and then on Sunday I've got a book club meeting...although they haven't sent out details on where that's being held so maybe it's not still on. Things are getting even more hectic around here. In fact, I just looked at my calendar, and I think we have stuff going on every single weekend from Halloween to Christmas. Not necessarily meaning that we have events scheduled, but between holidays and vacation and weekends with the kids, the only weekend I've got "off" is Dec 8-9, and I'm hosting a holiday party for the book club on the 9th. So I guess I better get my Christmas shopping done soon, huh?

And one final note: Sars over at Tomato Nation is rocking the house with her Donors Choose Challenge. Over $27,000 raised in less than TWO DAYS. That is unbelievable.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mashed Potato Soup

I tried making a sort of soup for lunch with leftover mashed potatoes, chicken stock, and a little cream (topped with crispy bacon and shredded cheese) but it turned out pretty grainy so I don't think I'll do that again.

Mashed Potato Soup
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
salt & pepper to taste

In a small pot over medium heat, combine leftover mashed potatoes and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Stir until heated through, and well combined. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick. Add in the cream or half and half, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheese on top and/or crispy crumbled bacon. Serves 1.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Roast Chicken and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy

A delicious old standby, made with lemon, rosemary and garlic.

Roast Chicken and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs)
1 lemon
3-4 sprigs rosemary
4-5 cloves garlic
Olive oil
4 russet potatoes, cut into 2" cubes
2-4 Tbsp butter
1/2-1 cup milk, half and half, or cream, depending on how decadent you want to get
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Remove neck & giblets from chicken cavity, and rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper, then quarter the lemon and put it inside. Peel the garlic cloves and put them inside. Tuck in the rosemary sprigs. Put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and coat the skin with olive oil, then sprinkle the skin liberally with salt & pepper. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, until the skin is crispy and golden brown, and the meat registers 170 on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the oven and tent with foil for about ten minutes, to let it rest.

In the meantime, cover the potatoes with cold water and cook on high until the water boils, and then for about 15-20 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and return them to the hot pot to cook off any excess liquid. Mash the potatoes with a masher or a ricer, and add the butter and milk/half and half/cream. Start with just a little butter and dairy, and add more if it seems too thick. Season liberally with salt and pepper. If the chicken isn't done yet, you can keep the potatoes warm by putting them in a bowl over simmering water (like a double boiler).

Once the chicken is done, pour the drippings into a fat separator (if you've got one, or a regular measuring cup, if you don't; skim off the fat from the top). Add two tablespoons of the chicken fat to a saute pan, and then add the flour. Cook the flour for a minute or so, and then add the skimmed chicken drippings and a cup of chicken stock. Whisk until smooth, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve the gravy over the chicken and mashed potatoes.

Serves 4, with leftovers if two of those people are kids.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chicken Potpie

I was all set to make roast chicken with mashed potatoes last night, when I discovered that Mr Wonderful and Tomboy had that EXACT thing for dinner on Saturday night. Dammit. So I figured I'd make the roast chicken another night, and instead we had chicken potpie. This will be my contribution to Sweetnicks' ARF/5-A-Day roundup on Tuesday, since it's full of gorgeous, bright veggies.

Chicken Potpie
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1/2 c onion, diced
1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
2 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1/4 c milk, half & half or heavy cream (I had cream left over from the mushroom soup, so I used that)
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1 c frozen peas
1 refrigerated can of croissants (can that makes 8, not 4)
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

Heat the butter & oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble a bit, add the onions, carrots and celery. Season the veggies up with salt & pepper, and let them cook for oh, about five minutes or so. You want the veggies to soften up a bit. Then push the veggies to the outside of the pan and add the chicken to the center. Salt & pepper the chicken, and cook until it's nearly done on all sides. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir it up. Your pan will get really dry, and that's fine. Cook for another minute or so to remove the floury taste, then add the chicken stock and stir. Raise the heat a bit, and keep stirring until the flour is evenly dissolved in the stock and the liquid starts to thicken and bubble. Add the milk or cream, and cook for another minute or so. Finally, toss in the parsley and frozen peas.

Dump the whole thing in a rectangular casserole dish (mine was 11" x 7" and fit everything just perfectly). Open up the croissant can and drape the dough over the dish, covering the whole thing. Pop it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the croissant dough on top is golden brown and puffy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

This is definitely not a diet-friendly soup, but if you're splurging and in the mood for something warm and filling and comforting, this will definitely fit the bill. Recipe is by Barefoot Contessa.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In real life, no. But on the blog, I've definitely been slacking.

Real life has been taken up by such varied activities as:
  • attending the wedding of my best friend from junior high;
  • making regular trips to the used book store to unload the boxes and boxes of books I have;
  • planning, shopping for, and cooking meals for twice the number of people as I was cooking for a year ago;
  • planning the backyard design & layout with Mr Wonderful;
  • shopping for Tomboy's bedroom;
  • designing a combination desk/cabinet/bookshelf thing that Babydaddy is custom-building for me;
  • arranging for a vacation in two months, so that we can visit Mr Wonderful's mother and my mother;
  • and rebuilding the old laptop by deleting all software and files, then reinstalling windows and necessary software in order to speed up the computer and keep me from ripping my hair out in big fat chunks.
In other words, it's been the usual hectic mess around here. We do seem to be making some progress though; I've taken at least a dozen boxes of books to the used book store (if not more). Also, there is a bookshelf (hutch-type thing that goes above the cabinet) made, and two cabinet frames, although there are no doors or hinges or anything on the cabinets yet. The desk is not built yet either, but I expect Babydaddy will be done with the whole thing in a few more days. Then I have to putty up all the little nail holes, prime it and paint it. And THEN, finally, I can move all the office stuff out of Tomboy's room.

Thankfully, though, I have something to offset all the insanity in my life: Mr Wonderful. He really is great, y'all. He still makes me laugh and keeps me sane and gives me kickass backrubs when my neck is all knotted up. And he still gives me butterflies. I love how patient he is with the kids, and how he can come home from a long day of work and a hellish commute and make me feel like the most important thing in his day.

Tuna Puttanesca

This is a slightly spicy pasta dish that gets a protein boost with canned tuna (instead of the traditional anchovies). This is one of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meal recipes. I followed it pretty much exactly, although I cut back the garlic a bit. (SIX cloves Rachael? Really??)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


One can of Trader Joe's refrigerated crab (real crab, not krab, and never frozen) made about eight of these HUGE crabcakes.

1 can TJ's fresh refrigerated crab
1/2 c chopped red onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
juice of one lemon
2 T Old Bay seasoning
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c mayonnaise (approx - you may need a little more or a little less)
1 c breadcrumbs (or so)
2 T butter
2 T olive oil

Dump the crab in a bowl and check it over to make sure there are no bits of shell in it (there weren't any in mine). Add the onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, Old Bay, and the egg. Mix it all together, then add in the mayonnaise and breadcrumbs. The mixture should bind together fairly well and not be soggy. If it's too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it's too dry, add more mayo. Shape into about eight big patties.

Put half the butter and olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Fry the crabcakes in batches, four at a time, for about 4-5 minutes per side (add the rest of the butter and olive oil before the second batch). You want the crab cakes to cook through without burning the outside, so you may need to adjust the heat a bit.

Serve over baby greens with a nice lemon vinaigrette.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I have been in just the worst freaking mood the past few days. I can feel myself being completely fucking irrational and totally blowing things out of proportion. Like the other night when I hollered at Rugrat for no good reason. He was yelling something down to me from upstairs, and I was in the kitchen washing dishes. I kept yelling that I couldn't hear him, and that he needed to come down and talk to me, and he kept yelling whatever it was down the stairs until finally I shut the water off and screamed at the top of my lungs, "[Rugrat's full name] get your ass down here RIGHT NOW!" And he came down, all wide-eyed and scared, and I proceeded to tell him in a super-pissy, barely-holding-it-together-way that when mommy is PMSing and tells you to do something, you'd best do it RIGHT AWAY and not continue doing whatever it is that's pissing me off. And he was very apologetic and of course I felt like a complete bitch, which I am.

And then there's the way I had absolutely no sense of humor with Mr Wonderful yesterday. He was joking around with me, trying to grab the clothes out of the air as I tossed them into the washing machine and I kept telling him to cut it out, until I finally lost it and started swatting him with a camisole and telling him to get out, get out, get out!

Sometimes I really hate being a woman.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Asian Chicken Salad

Loosely based on the Thai Chicken Salad recipe in the September 2007 issue of Bon Appetit, this salad has a super-yummy peanut butter-based dressing. It was pretty heavy on the garlic though, so I think I'd scale that back next time.

Asian Chicken Salad

2 roasted chicken breasts (I roast my chicken breasts - with skin & bone - at 400 with just some olive oil, salt & pepper, for about 40 minutes or so), shredded or diced into bite-size pieces
3 c coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage & carrot)
1/4 c chopped green onion
Thai Peanut Dressing (see below)
1/4 c chopped roasted, salted peanuts
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/2 c crunchy fried asian noodles (the stuff you get in a can)

Toss together the chicken, coleslaw mix and green onion with enough of the dressing to get it moist (you'll probably have a ton of dressing left over). Top with peanuts and cilantro, and surround the salad with the crunchy asian noodles.

Thai Peanut Dressing (from Bon Appetit recipe)
4 large garlic cloves (I found the garlic to be a little overpowering, so you might want to scale back on this)
1/4 c soy sauce
1/3 c fresh lime juice
2 T sugar
1 T smooth peanut butter
2 t chopped fresh ginger (I used a microplane and grated mine)
1 1/4 t hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
1/4 c vegetable oil

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Mr Wonderful brought over his Magic Bullet, which is like a wee little blender, and I used that. It works great for prepping small amounts of food or making salad dressings.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Days of wine and sunburns

This weekend, Labor Day weekend, was the annual Harvest Wine Festival in Livermore. If you've never been before, it's a huge thing where you pay a "cover charge" and then get to go to all the Livermore Valley wineries and taste their wines all day. They have live music at most of the wineries, food and arts & crafts for sale, and FREE buses to ferry you around so you're not all blitzed, driving from one winery to the next. The festival spans two days and last year there were thousands of drunk people swarming all over the place, so it got a little nuts. This year, they didn't really promote it, they raised the ticket price, and they held it on Labor Day weekend, when most people are out of town or having BBQ parties at home. So it was a lot more mellow.

Mr Wonderful had the day off (woohooo! Day off together!) and we went to the festival, staying for about four hours and tasting a lot of nice wines. Late in the afternoon, we went to a winery where his friends' band was playing. Now, I have kind of a checkered past with these folks. I went to high school with some of them, and they had a little high school band that my then-future (now ex-) husband was in. After my ex & I divorced, he ended up marrying my ex-best friend a couple years later, and started another band with some of those same guys. Well, he's since left the band, but they are still playing (with a new drummer, obviously) and this is the band we went to see yesterday. Mr Wonderful is pretty close with the lead singer, and has been for many years....whereas I have not seen these folks in a decade, and was slightly nervous about "coming out" to them. Not only is my ex-husband now married to my ex-best friend, but my ex-best friend is Mr Wonderful's ex-girlfriend. So it's pretty incestuous.

Anyway...ex-best friend and ex-husband were not there (thank goodness! I was NOT ready for that), but the guys I did know from the band were very friendly and seemed glad to see Mr Wonderful and I so happy together. I went to get some more wine, and Mr Wonderful told them about moving in with me, and they were genuinely pleased for him. It was nice to see them again, after so many years, and I'm glad it went so smoothly. Not that I would expect shock and horror or anything, but I was quite pleasantly surprised at how welcoming everyone was.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Spring Rolls with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Spring Rolls
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
My mom recently sent me a few Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines, and I thought this would be a great, light recipe to try. It's from the August 2007 Bon Appetit issue, and it turned out very well. It's low-fat, high in fiber, and full of incredible flavor. I poached the shrimp in plain old boiling salted water for a couple minutes, and they were perfectly cooked. It took a few tries to get the rolling technique perfected, but it's just a question of practice. I ended up adding green onions and a little bit of the dipping sauce to the spring rolls before rolling, and I think that improved the final product. Also, the hoisin sauce is pretty spicy, so you may want to cut back on the chili-garlic sauce if you're sensitive to that. It was fine for Mr Wonderful and I though; we like spicy stuff. :)

The recipe is available on

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I'm missing Mr Wonderful like crazy. He & Tomboy left on Saturday to visit his family down in PS, and our bed is just too big and empty when he's not in it. :(

On the plus side, though, Mr Wonderful told Tomboy yesterday about the two of them moving in with Rugrat and I. Tomboy is excited, and has already started thinking about how she wants to decorate her room. I'm really looking forward to that - it's going to be loads of fun. I saw the cutest sheets at Target the other day: green with white polka dots (green is her favorite color). Of course Rugrat is going to want to redo HIS room as well, so it's going to end up being a big process.

Now I just need to get moving on packing up the stuff and getting rid of the bookshelves. We've only got about two months before they officially move in. I have a massive set of bookshelves in the dining room, and they need to go away. Babydaddy is building a sort of modular shelving/desk thing to fit against that wall for me, so that I can move my office stuff out of the third bedroom, since that will be Tomboy's room. But before that comes in, I have to pack up the books, get rid of the bookshelf, and (hopefully) dispose of all the boxes of books as well. Or at least find a spot for them in the garage. I need to get a thrift store pickup as well; I have quite a lot of housewares, clothing, toys, and even an old TV to get rid of. It's getting sort of ridiculous. I did a lot of shuffling in the garage a few weeks ago when I moved some stuff into the shed, and there's a bit more room in the garage now, but there's a long way to go still.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I've been feeling a little disconnected recently. Maybe it's the crazy dreams. Maybe it's the hectic pace of life. And maybe it's the fact that for almost a month now, whenever Mr Wonderful and I have been together, we've been doing something - driving all over the bay area to shuffle his new motorcycle in & out of the shop, taking care of house stuff and moving issues (like buying/building a shed), juggling the kids, running errands, etc. There hasn't been any time to just BE together, and I miss that. But last night we spent probably fifteen or twenty minutes just kissing, and I feel reborn. I just really needed that time to reconnect with him, and remind myself of why we are going through all this upheaval and stress. It's because I love him like crazy and cannot imagine my life without him. It's because I want to spend every night with him and wake up next to him every day for the rest of my life (even if I do go right back to sleep because, hello? He's getting up at 4 AM!).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Curry Chicken Salad

A little bit of a twist on the traditional chicken salad sandwich. Yummy, easy, and best of all, it doesn't require turning on the stove or oven (as long as you've already got a cooked chicken breast, that is).

Curry Chicken Salad
1 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, meat shredded (you can use a rotisserie one from the store if you don't have any chicken leftovers and just can't bear to turn on the oven and roast your own)
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/4 c chopped celery
1/8 c chopped roasted, salted cashews (maybe 10 whole cashews, chopped)
1/4 - 1/2 c mayonnaise (enough to moisten everything and bind it together)
1-2 tsp curry powder (depending on how curry-ish you want it; I used about 2 tsp)
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Makes enough for two or three big sandwiches. I used yummy seven-grain bread to boost the nutritional value. You can also throw some lettuce and sliced tomatoes on there if you like. Or just serve it with the lettuce and tomato on a plate to cut the carbs (which I would never, ever do, because I live for carbs).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Sometimes I really wonder why Boss is in this business. He emailed me, asking about adding a captcha to a website form. I navigated to the page, and it was down. The whole site was down. So I emailed him back, asking which server the site is hosted on.

An hour later, he gets back to me saying that he doesn't think we have access to the site. Seriously? Boss? Do you not understand how this business works? If I do not have access to the files, I cannot make changes on them. I must have FTP access in order to do my job.

Sometimes, the just boggles.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Notes from the subconscious

I've been having crazy dreams recently. A few days ago, I dreamed that Mr Wonderful cheated on me and I woke myself up screaming at him. I called him immediately (he was on his way to work) and just the sound of his voice was enough to calm me down. Because I know he would never actually cheat on me, but when it's 5:30 in the morning and you've just woken up from a very vivid bad dream, you tend to sort of freak out just a little bit. Well, I do anyway.

And then last night (actually this morning) I dreamed that Mr Wonderful broke up with me and I went out and got drunk and then called a friend to pick me up. When the friend came, I accidentally locked my keys in my car (with the car running) and while we were waiting for triple-A to show up, some guy was climbing on a street light pole and slid down it like a slide and did a face plant in the street. Totally dead. Creepy, right?

I mean, what the heck is going on with me? Mr Wonderful thinks I have subconscious anxiety about our relationship. He's probably right, but...why would I be anxious? Things are great. Maybe I'm anxious BECAUSE things are great, and I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop? We still haven't had any real conflicts between us, and it's kind of weird. Good, but weird. I'm not used to having a relationship without some kind of drama. Things are just very smooth with us.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Yesterday I had to go into the city for a meeting with a prospective client. The client (hereby called L) insisted that they needed to have a meeting THIS WEEK, even though the Boss is out of town on vacation, and L specifically asked for me to be there since he couldn't. Fiiiiiine, I'll go, but totally under protest.

I toss and turn Wednesday night, wake up at 4 AM on Thursday, and can't get back into deep REM sleep. Fine. I get up at 6, do my hair & makeup (ugh), put on the clothes I spent half an hour deciding on the night before, and get Rugrat up to make sure he's ready to go in time. I fight the horrible traffic to WC, drop off Rugrat at daycare, park my car at Babydaddy's house, and walk to the BART station. In high heels. Because I am meeting a big client in the financial district in San Francisco.

I get there, an hour early (because I never go to the city and didn't know how long it was going to take on BART). Fine. I have a cup of coffee and a pastry, talk with Mr Wonderful on the phone for a while, and then head up for the meeting. I make it inside, up to the 36th floor, and I swear the office is practically deserted. It's 10 AM on a Thursday for crying out loud! Five or ten minutes later L, who coordinated the meeting & insisted on having it THIS WEEK, comes out and takes me to a tiny conference room, and says she's going to go try and find the other people who are supposed to be in the meeting. She comes back a few minutes later, alone, and says she can't find them, but she'll sit down and talk with me. As she's sitting there, going over what I already know about the project (which is that it essentially consists of migrating their Access DB to SQL and making some modifications to a few reports), the two guys come in. One of the guys is leaving the company and his last day is today (Friday) - he's the person who's been maintaining the database for all this time. And because he's leaving the company, L wanted to have the meeting THIS WEEK. OK, that makes sense...if the guy even really had anything to say to me about it, which he doesn't. He says, "She really just needs to get in and poke around and look at it" which is what I told them when we met two months ago. And the other guy says that he can set up Remote Desktop access for me, which is fabulous, and which we also talked about when we met two months ago. And they wanted to know when I could start on the project ("Could you start today? When you get back?" Um, no.), and I told them I'd have to check with the Boss, because I don't know what other projects/clients I might be committed to in the near future. And that was it. Meeting adjourned.

A ten minute meeting. A TEN MINUTE meeting!! Four hours round trip travel time to go to a TEN MINUTE meeting!!!!!!

Fucking fuckwits. I told the Boss that we need to bill them for all that travel time because THAT? Was completely fucking ridiculous. There was not a damn thing said in that meeting that couldn't have been said in email.

To add injury to insult, I got a big blister on my baby toe, and so I was limping a bit and I ended up pulling a muscle in my groin. Goddammit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So tired

It's been an exhausting week. Sure, Rugrat was gone at summer camp all week last week, but I didn't get much of a break anyway. Between running around like a head with my chicken cut off, and worrying about how Rugrat was faring off in the wilderness, it was a busy time.

Last Wednesday, Mr Wonderful had the day off and we ran to Home Depot at lunchtime and bought a shed. A huge 7 foot by 7 foot shed. And then we had to rent a truck to bring it home, and then we had to unload it off of the truck in pieces, put said pieces in the garage, and then take the truck back. All on my lunch hour (which ran way, way over that day, obviously). On the bright side, I got a letter from Rugrat that day. It read (spelling and grammatical errors unchanged):

Dere momthor

I'm Having fun at canp. I wish you Cod Be her I DeD the cooLest thening in the wold! I went on A caBoL SLieD!!! Yes I now you shoct and omazD Your BroBoBLy JeLos. I hop you can ret Back to me

Love Ryan

Friday, I took the day off of work and drove down to pick up Rugrat at summer camp. Turns out my worrying was all in vain; he had a fabulous time! Of course he didn't eat much -- the counselor told me that he was the pickiest eater he'd ever seen. Heh. That's my boy! Anyhoo, after I picked him up, we went to a nearby park and met with my friend L and her daughter, S, who is about six months younger than Rugrat. We were only able to visit for about a half hour, because S had a piano lesson, but it was nice to catch up a little bit and get to see them. On our way home, we stopped off again, at Babydaddy's house, so Rugrat could say hi and we could have a little pitstop. After four-plus hours of driving that day, I was ready for a break. We had a little snack, then filled up the car with gas on our way back out to the freeway. We collapsed into bed a bit early that night as we were both exhausted.

Saturday, Mr Wonderful and Tomboy came over around noon, and Mr Wonderful set to work putting together the shed. I had the easier (and air-conditioned) job of watching out for the kids and making dinner. They spent the night, with Mr Wonderful staying in the guest room with Tomboy so that she wouldn't feel scared if she woke up in a strange place in the middle of the night. And the next morning, we had a big breakfast (with Mr Wonderful running off to the grocery store for buttermilk -- and bringing back flowers, of course) and then we went to the water park for a few hours. The kids ran off some steam, Rugrat practiced treading water, swimming, and floating (he REALLY needs to take swimming lessons), and Mr Wonderful and I mostly vegged out on the lounge chairs in the shade.

After the water park, we went to Schooner's for a late lunch and then to the movies to see Underdog. Ugh, I know, but it was the one movie the kids could agree on, so that was what we saw. We headed back home, I had a bit of a nap and Mr Wonderful and Tomboy decided to go back to the water park for a little bit. Rugrat played on the computer and watched a little TV while I dozed. Eventually I got up and made dinner for the kids (Mr Wonderful and I were not hungry after our big lunch), and we had a little issue with the dessert after dinner. It wasn't anything major, but I felt like I was put in the position of being the bad guy to Tomboy, and I thought it was too soon for me to be playing that role with her. So later that night, after Mr Wonderful had taken her back to her mom's, and Rugrat was in bed, we talked it over. And it just reinforced for me how incredible it is to have a partner, someone who is willing and even eager to talk about disagreements rather than running away from confrontation. We came to a consensus about dinner/dessert rules, and both of us felt that our bond was even stronger afterwards.

This is nothing like the screaming fights I had with boyfriends when I was younger. This was two adults, talking about our different parenting styles and making compromises to benefit our family as a whole. God, it just feels so different: mature and logical and loving. With every hurdle that we tackle together, we just fall more in love, because it feels like a real partnership. It feels like we're building a family here, and even when things are exhausting and stressful and busy as hell, I'm still happier than I've ever been.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Stressful week

Life has been so hectic the last few days. Thursday Mr Wonderful came out and I had errands to run (Target for last-minute stuff for Rugrat's summer camp trip, the library to drop off books that were due that day), PLUS I had to work late because I took time off to deal with an allergy attack/Benadryl coma. Friday was insane. My dad & stepmom decided to move their visit up a day, and Mr Wonderful bought a new (to him) motorcycle. I had to run him out to look at/test drive the bike (only a few minutes away), and then of course I didn't get the grocery shopping done on my lunch hour, like I'd planned. They picked up Rugrat from daycare on their way out here, which was great, but they got here shortly before 5 pm and so I didn't get to the store before they got here either. So after the 'rents arrived with Rugrat, I took dad with me to the grocery store, and then we came back and devoured an entire batch of Shrimp and Orzo Salad (I added a few chopped Kalamata olives this time, and it was a good addition), had a few beers and a few glasses of scotch and they got to know Mr Wonderful a bit. I think it went well. Not that I was worried or anything. ;-)

Saturday, I got up early with Mr Wonderful and sent him off to work on his new bike, as he was planning to take it to the Suzuki dealership after work to have it checked out. I went back to bed for a few hours, then got up and Rugrat and I packed his stuff for summer camp (or at least most of it). Then we headed out to L for lunch and wine tasting with the parents. We got in a few nice hours together (and Rugrat was extremely well-behaved, for him), and I walked away with half a case of various red wines. Yum. Then I got a call from Mr Wonderful: the new bike got a pretty bad report from the dealership and was deemed unsafe to ride, so I packed up the Rugrat and we headed out to pick him up, about forty minutes away. Mr Wonderful and I decided that even with the repairs, the bike was still going to be a solid purchase, so we left it at the dealership to have the work done, and I brought Mr Wonderful back to his house to pick up his car. He had to work early the next morning, so he absolutely had to have his car. He decided to stay behind for a few minutes, to check on the pets and stuff, and Rugrat and I headed back home, finally. On the way, we saw the beginnings of a wildfire along the side of the road, and I called Mr Wonderful to warn him about it - the fire trucks weren't even there yet, and I wasn't sure how far he was behind me. Well, Rugrat and I saw the fire trucks only moments later, heading for the blaze. And it turns out that they shut down the road, and the fire got REALLY big (I drove past the area again this morning and several hills got charred), so Mr Wonderful ended up having to turn around and take the long way to my house. It was a mess, and we were both exhausted by the time we got into bed.

Yesterday morning I sent Mr Wonderful off to work again with a sandwich and a kiss, then went back to bed for a couple of hours. Rugrat and I finished the last of the packing and a final load of laundry, then jumped in the car with a sandwich and some drinks for the ride. Two and a half hours later, we pulled into the camp, and oh my goodness, this place was FANTASTIC. It was a wonderful choice for Rugrat's first sleep-away camp experience. It was huge, with probably a dozen different cabins, each one holding a dozen campers plus counselors. There was a full size built-in swimming pool, a bunch of different buildings for different activities (including a big dining hall, and a nearby bathroom with showers), and huge stands of redwoods everywhere. Rugrat was the first camper at his cabin, so he got the first choice of beds, and he was so excited to be there. In fact, when I left, he could barely bring himself to say goodbye and give me a kiss; he was too busy asking the counselors questions about "super hero week" (the theme for this week) and thinking of what his super hero name would be.

On my way back, after dropping Rugrat off, I called Mr Wonderful and it turns out that my timing was perfect; if I drove up to the hospital to meet him, he'd be getting off work right when I arrived. So I drove up there, we met and had some horrible (but delicious) Taco Bell, because I was absolutely starving, and then we headed back to his house. He hadn't been home to sleep in three or four days, so the cat was grumpy with him. Mr Wonderful decided he wanted to go see the Harry Potter movie, so we took a quick shower and headed out to grab a beer and then see the movie.

So...that's the last few days of my life, in a nutshell. It's been a lot of driving (I burned through an entire tank of gas in two days!) and some drama, but nothing we couldn't handle. I'm thrilled that Rugrat was so excited about camp; I was a little worried that he might kind of freak out a bit when I dropped him off, but he couldn't have cared less. It's also a weird being out of touch with him completely for five days; I can email him (and he'll write letters, hopefully), but I can't just call and find out how his day went, like I do when he's with Babydaddy. I know he's having a great time though, and I'm excited to hear all about it when I pick him up on Friday.

Monday, July 30, 2007


OK, I didn't really intend to take a one-month hiatus, but...I really haven't been cooking all that much. Some chicken chili here, a lot of panzanella and caprese salad there....I'm just doing a lot of assembling raw ingredients rather than cooking big meals from scratch.

But let me tell you, the heirloom tomatoes out here are stunning - gorgeous, multicolored, sweet as candy and perfectly ripe. Check out these ones that I had in my caprese salad last night!

Honestly, though, I've just been kind of swamped this summer. Between the Harry Potter book release (which I finished within 25 hours), going on vacation (camping, Monterey, Portland, etc), Rugrat's change in custody arrangements, and spending as much time as possible with Mr Wonderful....I just haven't had as much time as I'd like to do food blogging. I promise that when fall comes and school starts back up (and Mr Wonderful moves in), things will get into a more regular rhythm. Plus I just enjoy cooking more when the weather is colder. It's hard to get excited about turning on your stove or oven when it's 100 degrees outside.

Weekend in Portland

Had a lovely visit with my sister and her family up in Portland this past weekend. Mr Wonderful and I rented a car on Friday and toodled around Portland on our own, checking out a restaurant & coffee shop recommended by Rachael Ray (both were fantastic), and hitting up the mecca of bookstores: Powell's. It was a truly incredible store, and of course I couldn't resist buying a few books.

Saturday morning we went canoeing on the Clackamas river with my sister & her whole family (six people in a four-person was an experience for sure). Of course we flipped the boat, but managed not to do it until the very end of the trip, so we weren't soaking wet for very long.

Saturday evening we hit up the Portland Brewers Festival, and oh my goodness, that beer was STRONG! I had three or four and I was completely blitzed. My sister acted as our designated driver, and thank goodness because the rest of us were pretty drunk. I ended up passing out in my clothes and woke up very early on Sunday with a blue-ribbon hangover. It was a horrible headache, but I think it was worth it. We really had a great time overall and I'm looking forward to visiting again soon (but next time I'll bring the Rugrat; my nephew was very disappointed that Rugrat didn't come).

In relationship news, Mr Wonderful and I have decided to shoot for October 1 as his move-in date. This may be altered based on how comfortable Tomboy is with all this; it will probably seem very fast to her, considering she hasn't spent a whole lot of time with Rugrat and I yet. So we're going to see how things go - we are planning a sleepover on the first weekend that we both have the kids (in about two weeks, when Rugrat returns from summer camp). I've talked things over with Rugrat and told him that Mr Wonderful is probably going to move in before Halloween, and his only complaint was that it will be a whole two months before he gets a pet (Mr Wonderful has a snake and a cat). He is thrilled with the idea of having a "sister" (his word, not mine), and was very happy to hear that she would be here on the same weekends he will. Mr Wonderful and I are making plans already; he's looking into transferring to the local hospital that will open this winter, and I am making plans to redo the office so that Tomboy can have it for her room. There is a lot to do, with rearranging stuff and getting rid of superfluous things (i.e., boxes and boxes of books), but I think we can get it done in two months.

This is a little scary though, for both of us. Mr Wonderful has never lived with a girlfriend before - at least not officially. He was "practically living" with a serious girlfriend at one point, he says, but he always had his own place. I am a little freaked out too - of course I've lived with boyfriends (and my husband, a million years ago) before, but it's been about five or six years since the last time I lived with another adult. I'm used to making decisions on my own and not having to consult with anyone else; this is going to be quite a change. And the fact that we both bring almost-tweenage children to the party is another complicating factor. The last time I lived with someone, Rugrat was a toddler. He didn't have a whole lot to say about it back then. He seems fine with it now, but I'm not sure he really gets that this is going to be a permanent thing. So even if he fights with Tomboy, or the cat scratches him, or Mr Wonderful tells him to clean his room, or whatever...we're not going to change things just because Rugrat decides one day that he doesn't like it. We're merging two families together; there are bound to be some bumps in the road. And the ease with which Rugrat is taking the news kind of scares me, because I don't think he realizes what's actually going to happen here.

So...there's some stress here, for all of us. But Mr Wonderful and I are excited about taking this step, and the majority of the time we are very happy with this decision. We are both committed to making this relationship work, on a very permanent basis. This is just the next logical step for our family.