Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Manifesto of Encouragement

right now:

There are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

Someone you haven't met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God's children.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, "nourish them."

Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you. Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favourite food is, and treat you to a movie. Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you -- for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they'll be thriving like never before. They just can't see it from where they're at.

Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to ARRIVE, will get precisely what they want -- and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in it's reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all "So worth the wait."

Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche -- this luminous juju is floating in the ether, and is accessible to you.

Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Someone is fighting the fight so that you don't have to.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe. Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity. Someone is coming back from the dead. Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable. Someone is curing the incurable.

You. Me. Some. One. Now.

Courtesy of white hot truth

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cooking With Saki

Tidings of comfort and joy to you, dear BlogFans! Are you enjoying the holiday season? I know we are, here at the Costa Casa. Christmas goodie making has been in full swing since last week, and I thought since I can't give my beloved readers tasty treats from my kitchen, at the very least I can teach them how to make it their damn selves :)

Jingle all the way to the store, because you will need:
One box of cake mix, any flavor
The ingredients to bake said cake
A tub of pre-made frosting that will taste delicious with the cake you picked
1 bag bittersweet chocolate
Vegetable shortening

Mix up that cake batter - I'm not going to hold your hands on this one, kids. Read the box. Bake your cake in a 9x13" pan according to directions. Cool completely. This is very important. We used funfetti cake. Who doesn't lurve funfetti?
Our helpful friend Charlie Chameleon supervises

Break that cake into pieces in your mixer, and scoop in the tub of frosting. We used creamy vanilla, but the possibilities are endless, really.
All set to mix in the fancy Kitchenaid stand mixer

One more gratuitous shot of the stand mixer. I think I hear angels heralding.

Turn that bad boy on and watch it go. Be sure to scrape the bowl frequently, as this creates quite the sticky mess.
Mmmm....Delicious goopy goodness

Cover this mixture and put it into your fridge. It will get sort of hard, the way cookie dough does. Using a cookie scoop, or any sort of spoon, scoop out spoonfuls of the dough and set them on a sheet of waxed paper. Try to keep them all the same size. When you're all done scooping, rub a tiny bit of shortening onto your hands (gross, I know, but trust me, BlogFans, it's for your own good). Carefully roll the balls between your hands until they're nice and round. *this would be where I would put the picture of the naked cake balls, had I not accidentally deleted it from the camera* Put all of them and the waxed paper onto a baking sheet and stick it into your freezer for an hour or two. When time is almost up, melt your chocolate in a double broiler, adding enough vegetable shortening to make it easy to work with. For us, this is usually 1-2TBL per 1.5lbs of chocolate. One by one, drop the frozen cake balls into the chocolate and then fish out with a fork. Put them on waxed paper or parchment paper while they cool and the chocolate sets. The chocolate will set very quickly on these, since they are frozen, so if you want to add any sort of sprinkles, be like the wind, BlogFans.
Somewhere around the 100th cake ball I begin to detest the smell of chocolate and cake.

Once they are cooled and set, transfer to your fridge. They will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge in an air tight container.
Sidenote: If your Hubbin' is like mine, consider hiding the cake balls, lest you not have any to share with the neighbors.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go Saki, it's your birfday!

Cecilia: Mommy, do you have a birthday dress?
Saki: No, I don't think so.
Cecilia: Let's go look at your dresses
*as we flip through my closet*
Cecilia, slightly horrified: None of these are fancy.
Saki: I know. Mommy has boring dresses
Cecilia: I KNOW! How about your wedding dress? That is VERY fancy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This is the end, beautiful friend

Well, BlogFans, another November is closing down, and December is upon us. Thirty posts in thirty days is complete. It's been fun. We should do this again, sometime.

And I promise I will stop neglecting my blog. You can hold me to that, okay?

Cooking With Saki

Well, BlogFans, is your fridge filled with tons of left over turkey, too? We've been slowly picking at leftovers - The Hubbin' especially. He looks forward all year to making tiny turkey sandwiches on dinner rolls. He slathers them with mayo, and stacks turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. He usually makes his first sandwich before Thanksgiving dinner is over. But even with his copious sandwich eating, there is still more turkey lurking in the fridge.

What to do with all this turkey, you might ask. Well, make a pot pie of course! Go to the fridge and grab all that leftoever turkey. While you're in there, also grab:

1 onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock
6 TBL butter
1/2 cup flour
2 pre-made pie crusts
2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
8oz frozen mixed veggies

In a large pan, melt the butter. Add your chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk, taking care to break up any clumps. When the mixture turns golden brown, pour in 3 cups of chicken stock. Whisk until smooth. Once the mixture becomes thick and bubbly, stir in the turkey and mixed veggies. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Pour into your bottom pie crust, and lay the top crust over it. Carefully pinch the two crusts together, and using a sharp knife, make four slits in the top crust. Bake uncovered at 350 for about an hour.

You can also pop the unbaked pot pie into the freezer for a quick and easy meal later.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's not going in the yard, kids. It's going in the living room.

Every year, the first weekend after Thanksgiving, we pile the family into the car, and head west until the suburbs give way to farms and trees. The last few Christmases we have had excellent luck out at Hartland Orchards. It's close to 60 miles from our house, but it's worth the drive. The Hubbin' grew up with an artificial tree, so all of this was new to him.

The kids, on the other hand, embrace the trip:

Cecilia hams for the camera

Luc had trouble walking on the grass, so he got a ride on Daddy's shoulders

It only took eleven Christmases together, but the Hubbin' finally cracks a smile while cutting the tree down

The kids help with the tree cutting

The farm also offers freshly hand dipped caramel apples, which we had to get for the ride home.

For now, our tree is in a bucket of water, outside. We will bring it inside in a day or two, once the rest of the decorations are up, and the boxes put away. More pictures to come!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Words I might have ate

I have always badmouthed Bank of America. They have been our bank since moving to Virginia. Until today, the only thing they really had going for them was their plethora of ATMs. Their hours were inconvenient, their fees are exorbitant, their customer service is stuffy, and I generally dislike them.

However, today, after returning home from a lovely day of Christmas festivities* with the family, we received a phone call from the bank. They introduced themselves, and said they were calling from the theft and fraud department. They were concerned about transactions made with the Hubbins' debit card.

They named the transactions in question, and they were correct - we had not, in fact, made said purchases. The charges were from local stores in our town, just a few blocks from our home. We were alarmed to say the least. The Hubbin' got on the line, and inquired as to how purchases were made, when he was in possession of his wallet.

But a quick check of his pockets, and we discovered that he was not in possession of his wallet. After tearing apart the house, the car, and retracing steps, it was concluded that the wallet must have dropped on one of our Christmas adventures, and some unscrupulous scumbag picked it up and went on a shopping spree with my husbands recently deposited paycheck.

Which set on an torrent of phone calls, cancelled cards, and so on that was both stressful and terrifying.

A side note here, BlogFans. . .Begin rant. I don't know how many of you have ever lost your wallet, but I find it to be particularly ludicrous when you report a card stolen, and the first thing the representative asks you is to read the sixteen digit account number from the front. If I had the sixteen digit account number in front of me on said card, I would not be reporting it stolen for God's sake. End rant.

In the end, and let us hope, BlogFans, that this is the end, Bank of America stepped up to the plate - not only nipping the fraudulent activity in the bud, but also immediately replacing all misspent funds.

Kudos to you, Bank of America. I won't speak badly of you again. For at least a week.

*pictures and stories about tree hunting tomorrow, BlogFans! Stay tuned

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Bout that time, eh chaps?

You know what time I mean! Time to decorate for the holidays. We pulled all of our boxes of decorations out today. At some point, as I was beginning to break a sweat from all of the hauling, I turned to the Hubbin' and asked "How did we get so much Christmas stuff?"

The Hubbin', who has been saying the same thing every year since we've been married, just shook his head and handed the next box over.

I would show you pictures of my decorating (mad skillz, yo), but so far all I've truly managed to do is switch out all of the dishes, both everyday and china, for Christmas plates, and make an epic mess. There is nary a flat surface to be found that isn't covered with packing paper, strewn decorations, or everyday bric-a-brack and decor waiting to be put in the attic. To walk from the bedroom to the front door requires careful planning, and frequently, assistance.

I think I may have a problem.

But Santa is coming! I know him!

PS - Tomorrow is tree day! The day when we pack the family in the car, drive to practically West Virginia, and scour the farm for the perfect tree. Yay!

Friday, November 26, 2010

'Tis the season for shopping

Oh Black Friday, how I love your bargains.

We are a family living on a single income. The Hubbin' earns a comfortable living doing his Nerdlyness, but money is never something in abundance in our household. Which is why we make the choice to be those people the day after Thanksgiving.

This year I elected the Hubbin' to take round one, which was standing in line at the place which instills fear in the hearts of parents everywhere: Toys-R-Us. The store opened at 10pm on Thanksgiving Day, which is a cruelty in and of itself. He donned several layers and headed out the door around 9:30, a belly full of turkey and stuffing accompanying him. His list included the coveted zhu zhu pets, a fancy Nancy doll, a tricycle, and a host of other items. He patiently waited almost three hours to enter the store, where he bravely fought off other toy crazed parents jockeying for the same things. He arrived home a little after 2am, arms filled with wondrous toys.

Two hours later my alarm beeped impatiently, signaling my turn to bundle and schlep to the store to continue the gift buying madness. I opened the front door and looked out into the inky darkness, my breath blowing out crystally clouds. Somewhere, something in my body decided "Oh hell no."

I tiptoed in socked feet into my bedroom and pulled out my laptop. With several clicks of my mouse, I loaded my virtual cart with all the goodies on my list. After punching in my billing information (and scoring 15% off and free shipping), I checked out.

I slipped back into bed a moment later, my Black Friday bounty on order. The more I think about it, the more concrete I am in the notion that this is totally the way to go from now on.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Well played, Brine. Well played

Happy Thanksgiving, from everyone here at the Costa Casa!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble Gobble Splat

Dear Reynolds,

This Thanksgiving season, I decided to try something new. It seems to be all the rage on cooking shows for one to brine ones turkey prior to cooking. Having never brined before, and a violent opposer of all things salty, I was very hesitant to try this technique. However, the interwebs assured me that my turkey would be moist and delicious, tender and juicy, and most importantly, not at all salty.

We have a modest bird, 13 pounds and a little extra. I spent the day concocting Thanksgiving delicacies, and finally, at 11pm, sent the Hubbin' out to Wegman's, to purchase your turkey size bags to brine my turkey. We rinsed and patted down our bird, set it gently into your (paper-thin-piece-o-crap) bag, and poured our cooled brine into the bag. We tied it off and set back to admire our handy work.

"Wouldn't this be a huge mess if the bag popped?" I foreshadowed.

The Hubbin' agreed, so we decided to set the whole thing in a large stock pot, to ensure that any leakage would not befall my other Thanksgiving accoutrements that were residing in my fridge.

As soon as the turkey in the brine in the bag was settled into the pot, there came an awful sound. The sound of gushing fluid. Your stupid Reynolds gianormous "oven safe" bag had split at the seams and was overflowing out of the pot, spewing forth a mixture of raw turkey germs, brine, citrus bits and bay leaves all over my pristine kitchen*!

The Hubbin' and I made scrambling attempts at damage control, one of us feebly trying hold the ever-ripping bag together, the other grabbing any towel, cloth or paper product we could find, making our best effort to keep the germy brine from flowing over the edge of the countertop and onto the floor, or worse, dribbling in between the cabinet and the stove. We managed to scoot the whole mess into the sink, where our poor naked turkey bobbed listlessly in its broth, a deflated, useless bag hovering around it like a shroud.

"Maybe we should scratch this whole brine thing," the Hubbin' said, trying to be helpful.

"No. Absolutely not. I made this brine, and I will use this brine," I argued, stubbornly.

Luckily, you folks at Reynolds must know how pathetic your bags are, and were kind enough to package two in a box. We very carefully set the same scenario up again. Knock wood, Reynolds, it seems to be holding. But if I wake up tomorrow, and my fridge looks like anything other than this:

we will be having words tomorrow.

PS - I really didn't feel like bleaching down my counters, cabinets, dishwasher, stove front, floor and sink tonight, especially since it is well after midnight. Just so you know.

PPS - This is all your fault.

* Read: super-messy-I've-been-cooking-since-six-this-morning kitchen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about

If I could go back to before I had my first baby, these are the things I would tell myself:

It's okay to make mistakes

Your heart will grow exponentially the second you see your baby

Babies are made out of rubber

There will be long nights and tough days - but they will all be worth it

No one is perfect.

Save yourself the trouble and skip the bassinet. Everyone will sleep better if you cosleep

Cherish the time you spend nursing your babies.

You will love your husband even more once you see him with your kids

You will care so deeply for your children that your body aches

You will be completely humbled, and you will never forget the first time their tiny voice says "I love you, Mommy"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking With Saki

It's about that time of year again, eh BlogFans? A bountiful time, and a thankful time; the time of turkeys and gravies and all sorts of potatoes.

While I do love cooking, I certainly enjoy spending time with my family more, so I like dishes I can prepare ahead of time, and pop in the oven beside the bird to cook the day away.

Take a xanax, and head to the already mobbed grocery store, because you will need:

Sweet potatoes
Red delicious apples, peeled
Pineapple, fresh or canned, but either way, you want it cut into chunks
Brown Sugar
Orange Juice

You are going to have to judge how many potatoes you want to cook, blogfans. Usually one potato per two guests works out nicely. Wash your sweet potatoes, and place in a large stock pot. Make sure there is enough room for all potatoes to lay on the bottom of your pot. Boil with the skin on until fork tender. Once they are soft, drain and drop them into a bowl of ice water. This will make the skin pull away from the flesh of the potato. Peel the skin away with your fingers, cut the ends off, and then slice into rounds, placing them in a buttered 9x13" pan. Try to get them as close together as possible.

Put a pineapple chunk on top of each potato round, and toss in a few extra for good measure, as experience tells us that there is often a fight over the pineapple pieces. Shred your apples over the potatoes. Generally one apple per potato that you cook is a good rule of thumb. Sprinkle the whole thing with brown sugar, drizzle with vanilla, and pour orange juice into your pan until the bottom 1/3 of the potatoes are covered. Dot the top with butter. They can stay like this in the fridge overnight, if you want to whip this up the day before.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for 40 mins and uncovered for the last 20.

Happy cooking, BlogFans!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playtime with Sissy

So, Lucas is a pretty sensitive kid. He likes to be involved with everything his sister does, including getting his nails painted, and playing dress up. The Hubbin' sort of grits his teeth about it, but no one can deny - the boy has fun!

"Hat! Hat! Pretty hat!" - Lucas

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The extra three exclamation points up there are so you guys know that I'm super serious.

I think I'm getting sick. That awful ache and burning in my lungs, the I'm-wearing-the-warmest-socks-ever-and-two-shirts-and-pants-and-i'm-under-two-blankets-and-a-down-comforter-and-FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-GOD-WILL-SOMEONE-TURN-THE-HEAT-UP feeling just can't be ignored. I've taken proactive measures, like using my neti pot, drinking lots of water, taking vitamin C, but it won't go away! WTF, blogfans?

And so, you thought that post a few days ago was the lamest post ever. Which it was. Until now.

Sidenote: I totally promise to put up a good post tomorrow. I finally have iphoto back, and I can upload the billion pictures that my camera is holding hostage. Prepare to be amazed!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained

August 2010: And so the day went on, I paced nervously about, unable to think of anything other than what could potentially be wrong with my son. The Hubbin' and I batted the idea of driving to Georgetown around, but it was a 4 hour drive, and we would arrive long after everyone had left for the day. The Hubbin' decided enough was enough, grabbed the phone and called the hospital.

I don't know what he said, or who he said it to, since I was practically catatonic with anxiety, sitting on the couch staring at the wall, but shortly after they hung up, another doctor from the neurology team called us back.

"I'm calling on behalf of your neurologist," she said. Why do these people waste so much time with introductions? At that point, I didn't really care who I was talking to, I wanted that paper read to me. "I have your sons imaging reports here. It looks like he has a venous angioma. A Cerebellar DVA. Developmental Venous Anomaly."

"I have no idea what that is," I said. It sounded awful.

"It's actually completely benign. It just means that part of his brain looks different, but maintains normal function. There are veins in the cerebellum that drain fluid, and sometimes they form in weird ways. Usually we see them branch out like a tree, but your sons twists around and around like a corkscrew." she said, sounding satisfied with her explanation, and quite ready to end the call.

"So what does that mean for Lucas?" I asked.

"Nothing, really. It's a rather unremarkable find, since it is not accompanied by any lesions or abnormalities. I don't know why the nurse wouldn't give you this information over the phone," she said. Ha, me either, doc. Me either.

We hung up the phone, and the good news spread through the house. Happy tears flowed all around.

I was beginning to think that Lucas was part cat, with nine lives and all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Overheard In Our House

Cecilia: Daddy, do you have snack time at work?
Hubbin': No.
Cecilia: I don't ever want to go to work


Cecilia: Gaga Ah Ah Ah RaMa RaMaMa Gaga Oh La La I have a little lamb


Cecilia: It's almost your birthday. What kind of party do you want?
Saki: I'd like a party where everyone says 'Yes, Mommy!' and 'Sure, I would love to help you with that!'
Cecilia: . . . How about a Chuck E. Cheese party? That sounds much funner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In which I write the lamest blog post ever

The problem with BloMo, is that I begin to falter with my posting around the halfway mark. This year seems to be no exception.

I have good posts coming, BlogFans, don't you worry. But they are stories for another time.

Tonight my eyes are tired and my body is tense and anxious. Tonight I sleep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.

1. What time did you get up this morning?

Well, I got up at 12:30am, 3, 3:40, 4:45, 6, 6:30, 6:50 and then up for the day around nine. Sick kids make for crappy sleeps.

2. How do you like your steak?

I like a strip steak, medium-rare

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Uh, The Bee Movie. In December of 2007. I don't get out much.

4. What is your favorite TV show?

I don't get to watch too much TV. I like House. I like Secret Life of the American Teenager (quiet! It's addictive!). I like Law & Order: SVU when I'm not feeling emotionally tapped.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Funny you should ask, I was just discussing this! I would like to live somewhere warm and palm tree filled. Or Palm-ish trees. I think South Carolina.

6. What did you have for breakfast?

Oatmeal and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

Italian, I think. Americanized Chinese food is up there, though

8. What foods do you dislike?

Lots. I don't like capers. I don't like meat that is on the bone. I don't like lima beans or peas or mushrooms or raisins. I really don't like fish. I hate jell-o, tapioca, and flan. I don't like eggs. Or gravy. I also greatly dislike when different foods touch. I find lasagna to be maddening.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?

My kitchen!

10. Favorite dressing?

Blue cheese. But good blue cheese, not shelf stable Kraft blue cheese

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?

Chevy Trailblazer. Sometimes a Honda Fit, but not if I can help it

12. What are your favorite clothes?

Yoga pants for the win!

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

United Arab Emirates, Bora Bora, Australia, Costa Rica or Hawaii

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

Half full and here comes the waiter to top if off!

15. Where would you want to retire?

See answer 5.

16. Favorite time of day?


17. Where were you born?

Mobile, Alabama. Y'all.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

I have no idea. We've been watching Redskins football (hail! and all..) but that's sort of like watching a worm try to swim.

19. People watcher?


20. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Neither, really, but I'm significantly less grouchy just before bed than I am when first emerging from bed

21. Do you have any pets?

Two pitbull mixes: Rizzo and Bruno; Three parakeets: Paco, Consuela and Hedwig; one betta fish: Rainbow; and a whole tank of freshwater fish whose names change at random.

22. What did you want to be when you were little?

A Princess. And a Mom. Halfway there!

23. What is your best childhood memory?

I don't know that I can single out just one. I have a lot of really happy childhood memories

24. Are you a cat or dog person?

Dog, definitely.

25. Are you married?

I am! For six and a half years now. Man, that makes me feel old.

26. Always wear your seat belt?

Yes, more or less. It's not the first thing I do upon getting into the car, but it gets buckled within a few blocks from home. Ironically enough, this commercial stays in my head as a reminder to wear my seatbelt.

27. Been in a car accident?

Too many. Only one was my fault though!

28. Any pet peeves?

People who don't use turn signals. Passive aggressive behavior. Made up or incorrectly used words.

29. Favorite Pizza Toppings?

Bacon and Pineapple

30. Favorite Flower?


31. Favorite ice cream?

Vanilla Bean. I'm so mundane.

32. How many times did you fail your driving test?


33. From whom did you get your last email?

Lauren :)

34. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Neiman Marcus, or Serago Roberts

35. Do anything spontaneous lately?

Hm...Nothing comes to mind. I'm not quite as boring as I sound, I promise!

36. Like your job?

I'm a stay-at-home mom, and it is hands down the best job ever

37. How do you feel about broccoli?

I feel pretty good about broccoli, actually

38. What was your favorite vacation?

Yorktown, VA I think. Except it wasn't really a vacation, because we lived there for a summer, but it's all kind of like a series of vacations when you grow up as a military kid.

39. Last person you went out to dinner with?

The hubbin', the children, Fuddy, Yaya, Mima and Aunt Rose. It was really fun.

40. What are you listening to right now?

Caillou whining about something in the background

41. What is your favorite color?


42. How many tattoos do you have?


43. Coffee Drinker?

You don't know me at all! Of course I'm a coffee drinker. I strive to drink eight full glasses of coffee a day.

...Oh, that's the standard for proper water consumption? Oops. Same diff'

Now tell me about you, Blogfans!