Sunday, January 28, 2007

How they can tell it's not your first child

When you tell another parent at a birthday party - in a way that is not a confession, but simply a true statement - that your one year old child is a bit obsessed with the teletubbies, and will ask for them by name ('teh-teh') while pointing at the television.
And when he growls politely for more cake and swats at the fork you are waving around him, you scoop another mouthful into his gob and say to another parent ,"He loves chocolate!"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It went something like this.....

Gwendomama: Don't ever ever EVER do that again! You can NOT just hide like that when we are out in public somewhere! I don't know if you are safe or in danger!
Supergirl: I know.
G: I know you know. Which is why I find it hard to believe I have to tell my FIVE year old AGAIN how DANGEROUS a situation can be!
S: Why?
G: Why? Why? Because the world is not fair, honey, and there are a lot of good people in it, but there are also a lot of really bad people in our world.
S: Why?
G: Why are they bad? Because they do bad things.
S: Like what?

Gwendomama: Really bad things, like some people steal things. That is wrong. But some people are really really bad - their brains don't work properly - and they do horrible things. They don't have respect for life, and they kill people.

Supergirl: Like our president?

Monday, January 22, 2007

More cupcake blogging

As if I have nothing better to do.
I made the vanilla clouds again for a new mom (#1 top deserving reason for cupcakes, in my opinion), and this time made some mini-cupcakes. I think that they were better than the big ones; because they are so sweet, the small ones are the perfect amount!
I had some leftover vanilla buttercream, so today I tried a variation on this recipe, so you can see the inspiration for the squiggle.
The cupcake itself was shockingly delicious considering it had no eggs and the tiny amount of fat. I shouldn't even say it like that - it really is an outrageous devils food recipe. Too simple to be true. But it is. True.
The original recipe called for 'vegetable oil', but when it comes to baking, I am a purist.
Incredibly moist dark chocolate cupcakes

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 Tbsp good, unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the sugar. Make a well in the center. Whisk in the water, melted butter, vinegar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. (The batter will be thin.)

Pour or spoon the batter into lined mini cupcake tins. Bake at 325 degrees until a cake tester inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool the cupcakes before frosting.
Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or choc pieces
melt over double boiler, turn to low and add
3 Tbsp heavy cream
whisk together to shiny consistency
Dip tops of the cupcakes into the ganache - do this carefully, since the cake is very fragile.
I made a double batch. I got 24 perfectly sized mini-cupcakes (by filling 3/4 full), and 11 slightly undersized regular ones. (Okay, 3 or 4 were of good size)
I decorated the tops of the little ones with a squiggle of vanilla bean buttercream, but the large ones got a good squidge of it inside for filling and then their squiggles on top as well.

The large ones don't look as nice, though, because they didn't have as much batter in the cups, so when I dipped them in the ganache, the cupcake liners got dipped too.
I have to say, I think small cupcakes are really the best. They contain the perfect ratio of frosting to cake, in one bite or three. Yum.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Short Story

I am not short on material, just short on time to write the lengthy stories of: the crazy, unbelievable fight with the misogynist hotel guy, going to traffic court head to head with asshole stalker cop, driving up AND down Hwy 1 four days this week, Bubbles being explosively hilarious, Supergirl being so freaking good because she totally believed me when I said I was leaving her with my friend next time we went to Hawaii because she was so AWFUL on the plane from pittsburgh....etc.
BUT! My friend Geener just told me a story that is nice and concise!

She was chatting on the phone with Supergirl, and she asked her who was a faster driver, Mommy or Daddy?
She hemmed.
She hawed.
In other words, she paused.
Then she finally said, "Probably Mommy. Because Daddy doesn't know where he's going."

All of it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Triple Vanilla Cupcakes

The Best triple vanilla cupcakes yet. I can say this after much self-sacrificing testing.
These things are like eating a cloud of cake. But not a dry cloud, eeuwww! A lovely little puff of cupcake with butterfreaking good vanilla bean buttercream.

Soft White Cupcakes

1/2 cup soft butter
1 1/4 cups vanilla sugar*
2 1/4 c. cake flour (sift before measuring)
3 tsp. baking powder, sifted
1 c. milk combined with 1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

Cream shortening and sugar. Then add milk alternately with flour. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Fill lined cupcake pans 2/3-3/4 full. makes 18-24 cupcakes
Bake in lined cupcake pans at 325 for 18-20 minutes, when top is just solidified.
Do NOT overbake.

Vanilla Bean Butter+Cream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter (unsalted is preferable)
1 tsp vanilla
seeds from 1/2 large (or one whole small) vanilla bean
(after splitting lengthwise, scrape seeds out with tip of butterknife onto a plate. save empty vanilla pod for vanilla sugar*)
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 c (maybe a bit more) of heavy cream

(Best results with a heavy duty stand mixer)
Cream butter for just a minute with the vanilla and then add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and cream together for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to get fluffy. Smear the vanilla bean evenly across the frosting, mix that in, then add 2 more cups sugar, mix that in slowly, add most of the heavy cream, and mix on high for another 5 to 7 minutes, until it is whipped up and shiny. Scrape sides in between mixing.
You can achieve your own favorite consistency by adding more sugar and/or cream and whipping up again. Use the frosting immediately so it doesn't get crusty.

*put vanilla bean pod/husk and all others in the future in a large jar and cover with granulated sugar. voila! vanilla sugar!

Mmmm....cupcakes for breakfast!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Absorbant and yellow and porous is he!

Am I the only one who sees the resemblance?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In the market for safety

I paid six bucks to consumer reports today, just to find out which convertible car seat got the highest safety ratings. Believe it or not, I could not find those results (yes, you can find the results for the infant carseats, but not for the convertible carseats) or a password to a subscription anywhere on those internets. And here I am -having been forced by a giant rat who lives in my garage, and ate the aged old joesohs and half the britax carseat they were wedged in; the car seat that was intended for this child of mine, and re-appropriated it for its own little rat-family vacation condo - Here I am, having to buy a new car seat for the little guy.

It just occurred to me, of course, that I could have started here. Here on the blog. To ask if anyone else had a sub to consumer reports. damn.

Anyway, my point is, if anyone is interested in checking out anything at all at consumer reports, especially anything related to safety which should be free, please email me and I will oh so happily share with you my temporary membership. For one month.
Oh so very happily.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Consider your travel options seriously

Family of four arrives at airport within 'level orange' security alert's allotted time-frame. Plane that was scheduled to leave Pittsburgh at 2:06 is being checked for a 'mechanical difficulty' and we would be notified 'in fifteen minutes' when we might be able to board the plane, as it is already 2:00.
Sure, I had no interest in getting on some tiny commuter plane to Dulles that has 'mechanical difficulties', but I did have an interest in feeding ourselves, as that had been impossible to schedule earlier in the day. Packing after three weeks is hard. With the kids. And all their STUFF. And their determination to bust in on your serious time-frame crunch and being all full of attitude when you have to just get packed and out of there for chrissakes!
But fifteen minutes is not enough time to run back and order, pay for, and receive food and be absolutely sure that you will not miss that plane (when it really should have already boarded).
So we waited. And waited. More of that. And then on to boarding the little tiny plane, but not early. No, there is no pre-boarding for families with young children for those flying on United. Not on little planes or gigundous planes. It is against their policy.
We were hungry, but since our layover itinerary had originally been excruciatingly long, we were comfortable knowing that we would still have time to eat some food while also making our connection - the five+hour flight to SFO. But we got to dulles to find only rows of donuts, flag kiosks, starbucks, fast food, faster food, starbucks, a smoking lounge or two, and one single Gordon Biersh restaurant that had a huge crowd of people waiting to be seated, we realized our options were less than slim. We wound back through two terminals with the hungry children - one in arms and one nearly being dragged by the arm - looking disdainfully at our food options, and in our closer examination we realized that each and every donut shop, starbucks, and mcsupersizeme had a supersized line winding from its cash register into the hallways. Seriously loooong lines. So we managed to nab a subway sammich after a 20 minute wait and just made it in time to (not pre-) board with our children.
So that we could then sit on the tarmac while we waited for twenty more pieces of luggage to clear customs and make it on the plane (wtf? who has ever lost luggage for NO REASON AT ALL? and we waited. for luggage. and waited.) and then we waited for another 3o minutes while they made space for us on the runway, etc. The usual traveling hell. (note to self: I HATE connections! Do NOT book connecting flights unless they involve a tropical ending. Are you listening, self?)
Except United did have more than just a feature film to offer. They also offered an inflight non-optional multi-screened viewing of some wildly popular crime show that involved a slow and graphic scene of a body being dragged across an white carpet, leaving a thick trail of blood. For you and your children, absolutely free! Thank you, friendly skies.
And, while there are some flight attendants that will pass you and your baby and ask if you need some warm milk (yes! really!), there are others that gather in a clan in the galley, sigh when you appear with an empty milk bottle in your hand and ask you what you want. And sigh again while digging out a cold milk carton, thrusting it in your hand and resuming their conversation without really any topic change. Ours involved the latter example.
When we arrived at SFO, we only had to collect our luggage, call the hotel shuttle where we had parked our car three weeks earlier in a sleep-park-fly lot, transfer the lot into our van, and drive the 1.5 hours home.
But we couldn't find the hotel's phone number. And information couldn't even find the hotel. And my phone was dying. So when information gave me the wrong number for the third time, I went a little ballistic. Which really was just a sign of things yet to come.
After we had made a substantial pile with our luggage (it was large enough to qualify as a fire hazard, but I looked so frazzled and the kids were spinning like tops so the security knew when enough to leave a mom alone), dh found the card to call the shuttle company directly. I did, and they informed me that it would be at least an hour until they could send a van. I had chosen this particular hotel because they advertised that their airport shuttle ran 'on demand' rather than the standard hourly offerings, and with the little ones after a long trip, that is more than worth the extra ten bucks they charged for their room (vs the hotel next door). So when I finally got the right number for the wingate inn, a woman answered the phone and said, "Best western coyote point! Can I help you?"
I responded with, "Damn that 411 operator gave me the wrong number again! I am just looking for the wingate inn! Not the holiday inn or the hitching gate inn, not the best western!"
"Oh, well we used to be the wingate in but we changed our name to the best western."
"You what? You changed your name while we were parked there and didn't bother to tell us? When did this happen?"
"Last Saturday."
"You changed your name and didn't bother to tell us?" I repeated, incredulous.
"Yes. I guess so."
I was way out of patience.
"Well shit! I certainly hope you can help me! I have been traveling for over ten hours with two children and we would like your shuttle to our car now, please."

"You have to call the cab company directly. There number is blahblahblah."
"Wow, thanks for your help. I did call that number, and was informed that I would need to wait over an hour for their services. Now I would like you to help by sending a van sooner than that, since that is the service you offer."
"I will call you right back."
She did not, and every time I tried to call the hotel again for an hour, it was busy. Meanwhile, I sent dh off in a cab to just go pick up our car and then return for us, as it seemed easier than waiting for the shuttle and then transferring everything again.
Finally, I reached the woman who did not ever intend to call me back.
"What is going on here? Is this some sort of joke? You change your hotel name and number, you can't send a shuttle, and you haven't even returned my calls."
"'am....the shuttle is right there for you. Right there to pick you up."
Right WHERE? You don't even know where I am! I never told you what airline I was flying!"
"Well they do this all the time."
"So that what? Makes the drivers psychic? They suddenly know where I am? Where are they picking me up? What airline?"
"Where are you?"

I had had more than my share of enough. More than my tolerance of ineptitude, the kids were losing their freaking minds, covered in airport filth, and then my phone died.

So after two and one half HOURS in SFO, two cab rides (the first driver could not find the hotel and dropped dh off back at the airport after collecting his fare, the second driver had never heard of either hotel name and almost gave up as well but dh was firm. very firm.), and another $55 later, the hotel and its new sign were finally located and our car was retrieved. Dh popped his head in the office to inform the young receptionist how lucky she was that I was not there to greet her, and asked the manager to call him the following day.
That was Sunday, I have called said manager twice, and still received no call back.
I will not stop harassing calling them until I do.
And a word to the wise: When you book your sleep-park-fly hotel, ask them to define what 'on demand' means. And maybe if they are planning on selling their hotel.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Live from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

I am homesick.

Supergirl got her first haircut. (Yes, her first, yes I know she's five and 1/2, shut up)
I have the braid.

My MIL is driving me crazy.
I had better stop right there before I piss someone off. But really, crazy.

I cannot wait to come back to CA - even though I heard that my neighbor's house was trashed from a tree falling directly into it - we missed a few storms, I gather.

I am back at my bro's manse, where there is an ample supply of wireless and wine. And in his chaotic house with his four lovely children, I somehow have more time to myself than I do when at my MIL's somber tomb of a house, where I am the sole entertainment. Or so it appears.

Oh yes, I need to stop. right now. before I piss someone off. But really, I am having the life sucked out of me. And it needs to stop.
So, after one more night of staying up just a little too late and drinking one glass too many, I will head back to the town that rejected pathetic little Sienna Miller's lame apology, pull my shoulders back and DEAL with MIL for another 48 hours until our blessed plane lets us on and takes us back home.

Wish me luck.