Sunday, December 27, 2009

that tricky turn signal & the cardboard box debacle

Ben and I own three cars, superfluous and luxurious we know. Yet for all the excessiveness of this, we have truly used each of them extensively since we procured the third one in April. And before you scoff at our waste, they are all between 9 & 12 years old and they are all paid for and we haven't had a car loan payment for a year and a half now. We have waffled for several months on whether or not to sell Ben's truck, which is oh so wonderful and would be undoubtedly missed. But then months like this month happen and I'm quite thankful that we have three cars. It all began 3 weeks ago...

Ben's truck (let's call it Bernard) doesn't so much like the cold and protests by making its turn signals not work. We have a two car garage, but Bernie has basically been relegated to the driveway because he's the first one to leave in the morning, and that way, I can drive whichever of the two cars I need as each has a different function for us. So as the weather has been getting colder, Bernard has been getting touchier. Bernie is so spiteful in fact that he tricks us into taking him to his friends at the auto spa shop (otherwise known as the mechanic) where they sit around and sip cocktails and then decide that nothing is really wrong with him, whereupon he comes back to us and continues his wily ways.

Bernard happened to be moved to the street to allow our Abby car, an (old) SUV that we shall call Ruthie, to go do something. I forget what we needed Ruthie for, but we did have to move Bernard to use her. Ben didn't get around to moving Bernie back into his normal spot, which he was apparently peeved about because he just belligerently decided not to start AT ALL for two weeks. Really what happened is Ben couldn't start Bernard in the wee small hours of the school morning, so he grabbed the keys to our long distance runner Honda (who I think of as a Molly) and took off, grumbling about Bernard under his breath.

Life was busy. The end of the semester was busy. Bernard wasn't hurting anyone where he was parked. Ruthie and Molly were working for us. Bernard sat. For two weeks. By this point, he was soooo peeved that he refused to start again when Ben went out and sweet talked him a week ago. Ben got mad & Bernard's feelings remained hurt. A tow truck was called to mediate their conflict. Bernard got his wish for a trip to his little spa retreat, whereupon he and his mechanical buddies laughed some more and decided that really, nothing is wrong with him. The joke is on us. Ben's super ticked about how things have been going with Bernard and having to call a tow truck. And then Ruthie gets a bruise.

We were coming back from my parents' house on the way to Ben's parents' house the day after Christmas. Ben was driving. Ben decided to drive over a cardboard box that is in the road rather than drive around it. He claims there was no space. Well, he was wrong. And, in driving over the box, it got stuck on Ruthie's undercarriage. More grumbling ensued. Abby was grumbling at this point to, so it was a jolly little family.

Ben pulled over, we turned on Ruthie's hazard lights, Ben fishes the box out, we take off... Lo and behold, NO turn signal. Nothing will make the turn signal work. Nothing. So we take Ruthie through town to his parents' house and home again. I take her to Target that night and back. We take her to Winchester today, all with no turn signals. Ruthie was just at the auto spa getting fine tuned, but it looks like we'll have to take her back. Maybe Bernard whispered something about tire rotations that sounded appealing and she thought that she'd join in on the fun.

I was driving Ruthie today to Winchester, which is (in good weather) 1 1/2 hours from our house. All of a sudden (dramatic music...kablam!), Ruthie's left turn signal pops on and will NOT turn off, no matter what I do. I must have looked like an idiot driving down the road in the snow turning lights on and off and whatever other gesticulations I was making. For the record, a turn signal that won't turn off is super annoying. Really super annoying.

And then I notice--the hazard lights button is still on. I turn them off and what do you know? The turn signal went off. They have not been flashing this whole time unless they're turning on and off with Ruthie, which means that I've been looking like an idiot driving with my hazards on for longer than just a few moments. But, crisis averted. If Molly pulls anything funny this week then I'll know that there's some sort of conspiracy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Spurn me once, shame on me. Spurn me twice, I'm starting to wonder if it's personal.

I have a desire-hate relationship with a restaurant right now. I'm not even sure if it's a love-hate relationship since the "hate" part comes from the restaurant that has spurned me twice now.

I exaggerate...which is, incidentally, one of those words that I'm eternally thankful for spellchecker seeing as how I obviously don't know how to spell it. Ever. (kind of like "weird" and "apparently")

I digress. Kokomo has your basic American chain restaurants that are all lovely in their own way and basically all offer the same thing with some variations--Applebee's, Outback, Chilli's, Texas Roadhouse, etc. Okay, there's quite a bit of variation between Chilli's and Texas Roadhouse, but still, it's not like you don't already know exactly what they offer before you go.

And within the last mmm....year or so, there have been two exotic new restaurants that have opened up waaaaaay on the other side of town from us (which means a) about 2 minutes from the in-laws and b) about 3.5 miles away...really far, I know). Ben and I used the prom last May as a chance to have one last wildly fantastic date together B.A. (before Abby) at one of the joints, a rather posh (for Kokomo standards), modern place called The Quarry. And, they definitely offer a menu that isn't your standard Applebee's fare (again, not that there's anything wrong with that...I rather enjoy Applebee's). Ironically, the other new establishment is located almost exactly right next door to The Quarry.

This is where my desire-hate relationship begins and sadly, ends. It's like the awkward 13-year old girl who has a crush on the exotic quarterback senior who doesn't even know that the 13-year old exists. I'm the awkward teenager; The Olde Oaken Door is the big stud quarterback. It's an intriguing place simply because it's a family style restaurant, and I've never experienced that in a restaurant before. I'm not sure why it's really that exotic, seeing as how it's how I eat every day (you know, communal bowls of food in the middle of the table and two people fight over the last roll...incidentally, I can easily war with myself over bread, so when I say "two people," I very well might mean me). But never have I feasted a la family style in a restaurant exciting! how unique! how different! I must try it.

Months ago, again, B.A., I tried to enlist the help of the in-laws to join us so that we can witness the family style experience in a group rather than a two-some. Alas...that never panned out. And then, I had an invite to join a group of lovely teacher buddies for a retirement party at...The Olde Oaken Door! Victory! Defeat...I gave birth two days before this extravaganza, which resulted in me being, ironically, directly across the street in the hospital while this shindig took place without me. Fast forward 6 1/2 months...Christmas date! (Sidenote--Ben and I started a tradition our senior year in college where we go on a Christmas date where price is not really a factor and we go somewhere where we wouldn't otherwise likely go and revel in the luxury of a credit card and two-full time jobs, throwing sense and 403Bs (the teacher equivalent of a 401K) to the wind.)

Christmas date...where do we want to go? We're dropping the little one off at the grandparents for a couple of hours, and in order to utilize our time most efficiently, we should try to stay within a few minutes of their house. Aha...The Olde Oaken Door!!! Granted, this isn't quite my fantasy as it's just going to be the two of us instead of a noisy, happy family/group, but still. I can just envision the fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Oh yum. I love fried chicken and the last time that I had it was literally 2 1/2 years ago, June 15th, 2007, for a catered rehearsal dinner. I remember weird things (look no spellcheck this time!).

Anyway, long story almost over--the restaurant isn't open on Mondays and Tuesdays, which we didn't know until we pulled up on a Tuesday night in eager anticipation. Denied again. I'm starting to think that the restaurant doesn't even know that I exist. Breaking up is hard to do. Off to the pasta restaurant we went. Spurned.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas photo shoot

Abby's Aunt Megan & Uncle Sam gave the little munchkin an early Christmas present at Thanksgiving. This was a lovely surprise as it totally inspired a mini Christmas photo shoot. If Meijer and I can ever agree on prices for pictures, this might get sent out in Christmas cards, too.
She really makes our $4 tree look prettier.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

new culinary explorations

How gourmet can baby food get? Pretty yummy, I dare say.

I couldn't wait to start Abby on solid foods, so much so that when she hit four months, we hit the highchair right away. It didn't take long to master cereals, which made me happy to get some more interesting viands introduced to her palate. I'm someone who, while always enjoying the standard fare of middle class American fruits and veggies during my younger years, has rediscovered a love of veggies in my 20s, now that I have found new and exciting ways to make them besides throwing some frozen broccoli bits & pieces in the microwave. The oven and veggies are made for each other. Roasted anything is pretty much a-okay with me! Couple that with a little (or a lottle) bit of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and I'm a happy happy veggie camper.

Something else that I blame on Manchester influences, I'm pretty sure that I could be a vegetarian after all if I wanted to be one. Right now, I'm really more of an often-but-not-always-just-because-I-still-enjoy-meat vegetarian. In other words, I'm a healthier eater now than I ever was growing up just because I'm willing to eat more veggies and in different forms now than I have before. Dare I say that I even ask for tomatoes on my sandwiches at Subway now??

I deeply wish that my Abby Shedabby will have a healthier lifestyle than me, especially what she eats. I can't wait to start a love of good food with Abby now. My plot involves two key components.

1. Do not use food as a bribe. As I watch my parents and siblings interact with my two nieces and nephew, who are 5, 4 and almost 2, respectively, I realize that this type of food-child relationship is ingrained in our society. "Eat three more bites of potatoes and then you can go play...Eat two more bites of your sandwich and then you can have a cookie...Since you asked so nicely, you can have a doughnut..." I can't help but think that this is why I eat the way that I do. I have been taught to reward myself. It also worries me that our families will continue this "tradition" with my daughter because that is what they do. I'm not sure if this is "wrong," but it is something that I'm now very uncomfortable with to teach my own child. Abby is only 6 months old, and already I have heard this sentiment multiple times: "This [the freezer] is where your mommy and daddy keeps ice'll get to have ice cream some day soon" or "Does Abby want a cookie? I bet that Abby wants a cookie!" No no no! Not my child!!!

2. Give Abby the very best food that I possibly can from the first spoonful of squashed squash. My theory is that I'm not going to have a bajillion kids, so I can afford to invest more quality in my small quantity. That means that I am willing to pay more for organic baby food, without complaint. It also means that I am intent on making my own baby food as is feasible. Herein lies my new culinary explorations.

So far, I've dabbled in pears and fiddled with sweet potatoes. I find that my blender is not the best aid in my endeavors. I did score a sweet, only used twice, 12-c Kitchenaid food processor this summer at a garage sale just with the intent of blitzing and blending to my baby's content. I haven't exactly mastered the art of using the big black machine yet, though, which means that I'm still reliant on my blender. Perhaps by the end of the month I will have figured out how to conquer the giant that lurks on the floor of my pantry. I have managed to stockpile the aforementioned pears and sweet potatoes in my freezer, though. And just in case you were wondering...Abby loves them. She loves all food that she's tried so far, except avacadoes. We're still working on that one.