Saturday, January 31, 2009

Belmont Strikes Back

It is over.

For now, at least, The Great Belmont Critter Uprising of January 2009 has come to an end, and all sides can agree to live in a quiet if not apprehensive peace. Unless I find some sort of critter trap at Target tomorrow.

It began as we were all driving home from dinner at my parents house. As we drove up the last stretch of the steep street that leads up to our block, we came a cross a small deer just sort of hanging out in the intersection. Says Max, "Stupid deer, why don't you move?" Say the deer "...". So I roll down my window and say, politely, "Hello, deer. You should move so you don't get hit. Shoo!" The deer bounded off into one of the neighbor's yards, probably to devour their plants. Max mused about how the deer was stupid and wouldn't move. (Not much of a friend to wildlife, my husband, but I love him regardless.) To which I replied, "Yes, it's as if the deer was some sort of deer, caught in some sort of headlights." I laughed at Max's being foreign, and then we pulled into the driveway and trekked upstairs to put the baby to bed.

After an hour or two of couching, Max went out to meet a friend for drinks. I took this rare opportunity to go to bed early, my Favorite Thing In the World to do. Within minutes, Max called to warn me about the sinister looking teenager he
d seen sitting in a car parked outside our house, and that I and the dogs should be on orange alert. You never can tell about those youths, living int he suburbs and all.

So the dogs and I went downstairs to get ready for bed. Almost immediately, Nanna started acting like something was awry in the front yard. I let the dogs out the investigate...bad move. Within seconds, I heard growl, boom, crash, yelp, opened the front door and two dogs came trotting back in. Except one dog had been sprayed in the face by a skunk and also bitten or clawed at by said skunk or perhaps a skunky accomplice.

I swear, Ozzy hadn't been in the house 2 seconds before I realized what had happened and sent him back outdoors. But it was too late. Much much too late. The bedroom began to fill with an ominous odor, kind of like electrical fire and burned rubber mixed with something like jalapeno. I coughed and gagged and made all sorts of dramatic choking gestures while Nanna shivered in the corner and the baby began to cry.

Freaking great.

After getting Samson back to sleep, I texted Max ("your dog is stinky and your son is whiny"), consulted the interwebs, and ushered Ozzy into the bathroom where I bathed him in baking soda and dish soap. Miraculously, it worked. He didn't smell at all. I cleaned out his wound with hydrogen peroxide, and everything was fine. EXCEPT FOR THE SIMPLE FACT THAT MY HOUSE SMELLED LIKE SKUNK. Like, the whole, entire house. Every part of it.

After about 20 minutes, it didn't matter so much. I guess my nose just got used to it. We're not expecting any company this week, so we may be able to skate by this one. Nice try, Belmont Critters!

After all the commotion, I finally got to go to bed around midnight. And it was around 1:30 when Nanna started barking upstairs to warn us all about the infidels who were tearing about the back of kitchen garbage on the back porch that I had forgotten to take down to the trash can that night. And to top it all off, the cat pooped in the bathtub.

You win this round, mean animals. But don't be surprised if you see a "No Skunks Allowed" sign here pretty soon. I guess you better learn to read, jerk face.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Max is leaving for a Germany in a few days. The last time he had business in Munich, I begged him to bring home baby-sized lederhosen for Samson. He did not bring the lederhosen, and hence I did not take dozens of pictures of Samson wearing adorable baby lederhosen, which I would have dubbed "babyhosen."

Maybe this time I'll get lucky. To be fair, little kids in lederhosen is a pretty awesome occurrence.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Whole Bag of Taffy

For the last few days, I've been doing something that resembles working. It's been one hell of a long time since I done anything that could be considered proper, stare at a computer screen work. Anyone who emails with me knows that my time is subject to the whims of the Master, and lately, the Master wants me to get him a cookie. All of the damn time.

So the thing I've noticed the most about "working" that I forgot about is how time can fly by so quickly, and all of a sudden it's 1:30 and you haven't even considered lunch.

But you've devoured the bowl of candy at the receptionist's desk.

Apparently, my receptionist is our pantry and that bag of taffy that the Richmans got me for my birthday. It's nice to see that some things never change.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mini Muffin Mania

It all started with the need for a healthy snack for Samson. Voila! Carrot Blueberry Flax Seed Whole Wheat Mini Muffins! Also known as cannonballs.

Then Max commented on the general yuckiness of the muffins and suggested (read: demanded) that I make chocolate chip mini muffins next.


Then I wanted savory mini muffins, so the corn, cheddar and green onion mini muffin was born. Too much sugar--plus, all I'd had to eat so far that day were muffins and I wanted something more substantial. So I altered the base muffin recipe, and added vegetarian breakfast sausage, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, hash brown potatoes, and smoked gouda. A little smokey and a little gouda-y for my taste, so I swaped the white sugar for brown sugar and replaced the smoked gouda with crumbled feta.


Here's the recipe:

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced, sauteed with 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 Morningstar farms sausage patties, cooked and crumbled
1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix dry ingredients together, make a well in center. Combine egg, milk and oil, pour slowly into well. Mix with fork until combined, but still lumpy. Fold in the mushrooms, sausage, potatoes and cheese. Spoon (or use a small ice cream scoop) into greased mini muffin pan, bake for 23 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then transfer to wire racks. Eat 5 or 6 while their still warm. Go back for 2 or 3 more because they're just so darn good. Makes 36 mini muffins. (If you're on Weight Watchers, they're 1.5 points each.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's all about the sprinkles

On Thursday I woke up to more than just a shouting baby. This time, there were donuts, bagels, and a carton of fruit punch--not to mention my precious. Birthday breakfast is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Birthday of Cool

Does this post seem somehow more cool than my previous posts? A bit more snarky, perhaps? Does this post wear skinny jeans and sweater vests, horn-rimmed glasses and Chuck Taylors? I'm sure by now you've noticed that my blog, all of a sudden, looks totally at home sitting in a coffee shop with its laptop, furiously typing away while listening to Arcade Fire on its iPod and sipping a free trade extra hot soy latte with Madagascar vanilla.

Hi, I'm a Mac. That's right, the doting husband got me a shiny white MacBook for my birthday! Expect my posts to be all about politics and indie bands from now on. Oh, and also about hybrid vehicles and my dream of being a composer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Untitled Post

Ooh, why hasn't she been blogging? What's going on? Has she completely abandoned all of her resolutions?

No, but the pizza delivery guy about to climb our 56 stairs wouldn't know it.

Inauguration is good, the baby is delightful (he now says "hi" and waves to everyone we pass on our walks), the house is amazingly still tidy after Max's cleaning frenzy on Monday. I suppose I'm just...weary. The weather turned from fabulous 70's to dreary 50's literally overnight, and that seems to be a mood crusher. Of course, although I haven't mentioned it here on the blog, I'm still trying to sort through the feelings caused by the passing of my grandma late last week. Obviously, "sad" and "bummed out" are in the pile feelings, but it's not quite that. Thankfully, death is not something I have a great deal of experience with, and it tends to leave me feeling more uncomfortable and ho-hum than anything else.

Like I said, I'm thankful that death isn't something I've become adept at dealing with, not like friends getting pregnant (AHEM) or people moving to random states on he other side of the Mississippi River. But it would be nice if someone told me how I'm supposed to feel.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Definitely in the Top Five

What a cute baby filled weekend. And not just my cute baby, but other cute babies as well. Girl babies, boy babies, dancing babies, scrunchy babies. Of course, my baby was the cutest of them all.

No doubt, having a baby was the best thing I ever did. Except for going to Portugal. Having a baby was the second best thing I ever did. Except for going to that one really good steak restaurant that one time, years and years ago.

Having a baby is the third best thing I ever did...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Recipe in the Making

I just watched an episode of Unwrapped that was all about buns. BUNS, which I love. And buns stuffed with things. If there's one thing that I like, it's food stuffed with other food. Also, tiny foods with dipping sauces. OK, that's two things.

But it got me to thinking about how much better food is when it's either wrapped in dough or in a sandwich format. Case in point, Totino's Pizza Rolls. Excuse me while I drool all over my laptop.

So how does pie fit into this concept? It's not exactly dough-wrapped, and pastry or pie crust doesn't come close to bun or bread dough in my book. If it were up to me, the perfect pie would be described thusly:

-Savory, not sweet.
-Except for that it would be sweet because it would have BBQ sauce in it.
-And some kind of pulled pork or brisket.

Let us recap: a BBQ pork or brisket pie, with lots of sauce, and a doughy, bready crust. With pickle chips on the side.

Where's my spork?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


In the words of Adam, "I want to go to that."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Today's blog, in which I expand on the Pony Party

The pony party was totally awesome. The birthday boy was gracious, especially for a two year old. The ponies did not disappoint:

Samson never actually smiled during his pony ride, but he didn't cry either. Success!

Being the exceptional parent that I am, my favorite part was when Samson got bit by a chicken. He stuck his wee little finger through the wire on the chicken coop, and hilarity ensued. Also tears. And screaming.

Super bonus: these beyond creepy dolls in the ghost town section of the train ride. You know I love 'em!

Monday, January 12, 2009

So Lazy


Seriously, I'm feeling really lazy right now. I've got almost enough energy to feel bad about not having enough energy to plug my iPhone into my computer, download, and post the pictures from Saturday's Pony Party. Almost.

After Samson goes to the nanny share tomorrow morning, I'm sure I'll have more energy--funny how that works.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pony Party!

That's right boys and girls, Max and I are taking Samson to a birthday party tomorrow--WITH PONIES. TO RIDE ON. I am very excited to force terrified little Samson to ride a big smelly pony. I wish I had bought that baby-sized cowboy hat when I saw it in Portland last summer. And then given Samson special drugs to keep his head from growing.

Also, if you're into nudity, even a little bit, please to enjoy Mr. David Byrne.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Happy Birthday EAP

The King knows how to par-TAY.

That's not a joint in his mouth. It's one of those birthday-party-blowing-noise-maker thingies. Duh.

And it would be a really weird looking joint.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Not much of a blog post today. My brother Paul's in town, which is terrific (Samson is thrilled), but other than that I'm feeling a bit urmphy, for lack of a better word. Or a word that exists.

Now I have to go close the refrigerator door because it is beeping at me.

More, less urmphy blogging tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Stair Star

Samson's all time favorite new activity: climbing up and down the stairs. Clearly, he has talent. Clearly, he is skilled in a way that most of us could never understand. I truly believe that my 14 month old son is the Michael Phelps of stair climbing. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be one of those parents who is up before dawn, driving their athletic marvel to the practice field, meeting with coaches and trainers, staying up all night to sew shiny, skin tight costumes with racing stripes and glitter. I have to come up with a plan now on how to invest the money that he will earn from all of his stair-climbing sponsors so that he'll be able to retire comfortably after the stair-climbing world is inevitably rocked by some doping scandal and stair climbers fall out of favor with the public and the world of sports.

And if that doesn't work out, there's always his all time second favorite activity: tossing BBQ tools into the fish pond in the backyard.

Monday, January 05, 2009

One Thumb Sideways

I saw my first episode of the second season of Yo Gabba Gabba! today. I mean, Samson saw his first episode of the second season of Yo Gabba Gabba! today. The jury is waaaaaaaay out. Just a few minor tweaks and a retooling of the "let's go back and remember what we did today" section, plus these awful giant puppets in a couple of live action sequences, a la The Banana Splits, but it didn't feel right. Ever since I gave up the Today Show (there was no way having the TV on that much was OK for Samson), Yo Gabba Gabba! was the only TV we had on when Samson was awake, and even that's only 20 minutes or so a day. But when we moved to new house, we got rid of extravagant, expensive cable and switched to basic, so no more Noggin. No more PBS Sprout. It's basic cable for this financially prudent family. And after today's reunification with DJ Lance Rock and Co., I'm not as sad about it. Still a little sad--I do love me some Brobee.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

But I Love Him

We had another well deserved date night tonight. Bedtime Stories and a couple of really nice steaks--I think we're on a roll.

It occurred to me that having a conversation with my husband is often not unlike speaking with someone who just suffered a concussion. It usually involves something that resembles gibberish, followed by a long intense stare as if he's waiting for me to respond to his nonsense statement or question. It can sound like this:

(We're driving down El Camino Real, passing the strip malls and head shops and fast food places. We're listening to music, and neither of us has spoken in a few minutes.)

Him: It's like we had that conversation in a dream or something.

(long pause)

Me: What the hell are you talking about?

Him: The way all the signs are upside down.

(He's referring to a conversation we had a few weeks ago, in which I explained to him that when a shop in a strip mall goes out of business, especially one where there's one big sign advertising all of the tenants, their sign somehow ends up upside down.)

Me: Oh. Yeah, OK.

I guess I have no point, other than that it can take a little extra effort to talk to Max sometimes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Tea for Four

With a couple of friends in from out of town for the New Year, we once again were faced with the fact that we never know what to do with house guests. Where to take them, what to show them, what to feed them. When we lived in San Francisco, it was a little easier, but still involved the kind of foresight that neither we nor our friends seem to possess--we often get visitors with less than 24 hours notice of arrival; I think it's an Israeli thing.

Adding a baby into the mix certainly limited our options and gave us some pretty serious time constraints. Now with a toddler, we have a whole new set of limitations. babies are awesome because the tend to sleep--all the time, everywhere. Pop 'em in a car seat, give 'em a pacifier and eat your soup in a bread bowl or Korean BBQ or some other festive San Francisco meal. Toddlers tend to have a more established schedule, so you need activities of various lengths that will wrap nicely around nap time, especially if your young 'un, like ours, will not sleep in a stroller.

In my opinion, and I know there are many who will not agree, certain activities are off-limits with a newly bipedal kid. Museums (unless the are children's museums, of course) and most souvenir shops among them, I just can't bring myself to throw a loud and insistent baby into that kind of environment.

That being said, outdoor activities (weather permitting) are perfect. They provide the freedom for a toddler run and yell (or scream if you're Samson), and endless amounts of leaves, sticks and bugs to examine. Plus, it tends to be easier on the wallet. Once again, we're so lucky to live near San Francisco, and we've got Golden Gate Park. If you don't mind the search for parking and being around lots and lots of people, Golden Gate Park has plenty to offer. It will be years before we get to experience all of it, but we started off on New Year's Day with a trip to the Japanese Tea Garden for strolling around and a nice hot beverage. Again: squashed penny machine! Score one for the collecty-types!

It's funny, but we never once went to Golden gate Park in the three years we lived in San Francisco. What a waste. We're rectifying that now; next stop: Steinhart Aquarium at the Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Toddlin' Around Napa

If you're lucky enough to live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, then you may want to make your way up Highway 29 to the Napa Valley for some amazing scenery. This time of year, the way the fog mingles with the trees and hills is pretty amazing. I hear they have nice wine up there, too.

Wine, schmine. I like to work up a nice buzz as much as the next gal, but your 2005 Pinot Noir's got nothing on the medium rare steak I inhaled at Tuscany the other night--with a honey fig glaze. Now that's Napa style. And don't get me started on the French onion soup at Angele or the Jean Gorge triple cream brie from the Oxbow Public Market. Sigh.

If you care to bring your 14 month old connoisseur along for the trip, there are lots of fun toddler-friendly ways to enjoy the Napa Valley. Behold, a list:

Sterling Vineyards: Everyone loves a gondola ride, and this one comes with a self-guided winery tour. The ladies who pour the wine and explain why what your drinking is so special (I'm sure there's a fancy descriptive word that I'm missing here) are great with kids, and gave Samson a nice wine soaked cork to suck on when he started to get really cranky. For reals. How awesome is that? Also, they have a terrificly clean and large changing table in the ladies room. Well worth the $20 entrance fee.

Domaine Chandon
: We skipped the tour and tasting in favor of a Samson-led tour of the grounds and a special dirt tasting. the dirt was delicious, and was especially well paired with Cheerios and a nap.

The Petrified Forest: A healthy break from all of the binging, er, tasting, these petrified redwoods are historical or something, and I think are also geologically important. For some reason. I'm not sure. But they did provide Samson with four tenths of a mile of mud to walk, trod, crawl, play and run through. Awesome. Extra super fantastic bonus points: squashed penny machine at trail head. Score!

Sonoma Train Town: Did you know that every little boy is genetically hard wired to dig the hell out of trains? Bulldozers and garbage trucks, too. Weird, isn't it? It kind of explains things like this. I suppose it's akin to every little girl loving everything princess. Thanks heavens for Train Town. We all piled into what is apparently "the most well-developed scale railroad in the Americas." While Samson found the train whistle to be awfully distressing, the petting zoo at the end of the line was totally worth it.

Taylor's Automatic Refresher: This place was right next to our hotel, and the shiny exterior beckoned us in eventually. We try to keep Samson away from junk food for the most part, but the kid just loves ketchup and we eventually caved in the form of corn dog nuggets. Probably the most kid-friendly restaurant in Napa.

It probably isn't advisable to take your loud, cranky toddler to some of downtown Napa's fancier establishments, but if you do, just cross your fingers and hope that you get one of the kind and compassionate servers that we got at both Tuscany and Angele. You may just luck out and get your own private dining room a safe distance away from the lovey dovey couples and other adult types who may not appreciate the sounds of a young man who no longer wishes to sit in his high chair or is suddenly repulsed by the idea of eating cheddar cubes or blueberries. Believe or not, some people don't find the sight of your kid, red-faced, with tears streaming down his face, melting into the carpet as adorable as you do. Go figure.