Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Guess He's Not Done

This Little Pig Went Downtown

Well I'm back. Red for Christmas.

Baby doesn't know what to think... I guess that says a lot about my lack of beautification since having her.

It was nice to get downtown. Really, really, nice. I know I have my issues with Asheville... but I've always maintained that the downtown is really nice (well minus the panhandlers... but it's cold out so they are not quite as plentiful). And when I'm there I usually start wishing we had bought a loft apartment and returned to our city living roots. I'm just so much more comfortable walking down a city street than a neighborhood one. Blame it on spending my formative years in NYC.

Despite living within a couple miles I don't go downtown very often. We live in another city neighborhood that has all it's own services and going down and paying for parking and all that hoopla has kind of been a compacting "no no". There isn't much to do there that is free. I've actually been 4 times this week... and one thing always leads to another. Go for the museum... stay for the cupcakes. You know how it is. I don't seem to be able to go in and get out for less than 10 bucks. It's also one of those cities that is heavy on the cute shops and whatnot and I find if I stay away I don't know what I'm missing. The more I go the more I kind of think I should only wear one-of-a-kind handmade dresses. And that's not in the budget. One-of-a-kind handmade cupcakes aren't even in the budget these days.

But I digress...

It was also nice to get out of the house. And even better to get out without the kids. I don't do it enough.


Is anybody there?! Bueller?! Bueller?

Okay I need to know how much you tip for a pedicure? I'm being taken to get one this morning. Thank you Supermom! But I'd like to pay the gratuities. I have no idea how much the pedicures are to begin with.

Any ideas?


P.S. My Snapfish book arrived. Anybody else?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here's The Deal

We need a sitter. Badly.

We don't know anyone and we can't really trade sitting since... well... I don't really want to spend an evening sitting someone else's kids. I did that in Ann Arbor and most of the time I kind of felt like shelling out $20 was worth not having to babysit. You know what I mean... my nights out are few and far between... I'd kind of like them to be "no strings" attached style.

Okay so all you moms (and dads) with sitters... how in the hell did you find them? How much do you pay? How did you insure they weren't crazy?

Remember we, quite literally, don't know anyone. The few people I have met don't use sitters. Someone in Mr F's office is willing to sit... but... we need a sitter for the office party so that isn't going to work out this time.

Plus we really can't use a high school aged sitter because of Kid. They need to be able to handle the stress of a medical emergency should one come up. See why we've never had a sitter?!


Believe it or not I got a sitter! Huge relief. She works at Kid's school so she's already had background checks and CPR and all that jazz to boot!

Off to get Kid and meet her new eye surgeon. Let's all hope this goes well. Nothing like sitting through the 2-5 hour eye appointments. Fun times. Pray for me...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mr F's Drawing Distress

"Just say it... you were going off the deep end of crazy." Mrs F implores Mr F

Mr F laughs nervously and says "I couldn't handle the pressure."

Ah... just as I thought.

Well If This Isn't Depressing I Don't Know What Is

When I was searching through my photo archives, to find a link to some cookies, I stumbled upon THIS:

These shost are from exactly one year ago. I had just gotten my kid's jeans. Check out the fit.

This is what I looked like in the same damn pair of jeans a few weeks ago:

Yeah it appears I really, REALLY, need to pull my shit together! I'd actually forgotten how much better they used to fit. I mean I almost can't believe they are the same pair of jeans (sadly they are).

Oh and while you're here lay your BL thoughts on me! It looks like good vs evil will be going head to head at the finale.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Compacting Christmas Recipes

Okay I'm adding in the recipes and instructions in the little snipets I can get tonight. Scroll through and you'll see them pop up over the next couple of hours!


Cooked Playdough

2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
3 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water (mixed with food coloring)

Cook in pan over medium heat until it feels like mashed potatoes. Let cool before kneading.

*I made mine without the food coloring and then kneaded it into the cooled dough. That way one batch could yield three colors. This recipe made enough to fill 4 tins (4.5"). I used Wilton gel food coloring (available at Michael's).


taken from Food & Wine November 2001

2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt
3/4 c solid vegetable shortening
1 c sugar, plus 1/4 c for rolling
1/4 c unsulphured molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the shortening with the 1 c sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. beat in the molasses, then beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients and beat at a low speed until blended.

Roll level tablespoons of the dough into balls and roll the balls in sugar. Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on 2 large ungreased baking sheets (I actually find I need 3 and that they need to be 1.5-2" apart so they don't join).

Bake on the lower and middle racks of the oven for about 15 minutes (in my oven that is 13), or until the tops are cracked; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking (this is actually very important for even baking). If you are only doing one sheet at a time use the lower rack and turn the sheet around halfway through.
Transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 3-4 dozen.

Sugar Cookies

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

3/4 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 & 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt

In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and the 1 c sugar until creamy; beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly, to form a soft dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour) or for up to 3 days.
On a floured board, roll out dough, a portion at a time, to a thickness of 1/4 inch (just less than a cm), keep remaining portions refrigerated. Cut out with cookie cutters and place slightly apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn golden.
*I like mine soft, so I try and get them out just before they develop any color, this a batch to figure out exact timing (6-8 min)

Makes about 2 dozen.

Rolling tip:

Use two pencils or 1/4" dowels if you've got them to keep your rolled dough even and a consistent 1/4" thick!

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn
This recipe came to you courtesy of fellow blogger Amy. I'd seen her post about making this with her sister last year and filed it away as a gift idea. She was generous enough to share it with me... and now you. Thanks again Amy!

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6-8 quarts of popcorn (about 2 potfuls) (1 c of kernels)

Before starting, sift popcorn to get out all kernels, then take out 2 large bowls and 2 jelly roll pans (rimmed cookie sheets) for a single batch. Spray the jelly roll pans with non-stick cooking spray. Then preheat your oven to 250◦. Arrange the rack so that both sheets fit at one time.

Then combine everything but soda and popcorn in a medium saucepan on the stove. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. Take off heat and add soda.

Pour over popcorn in large bowls (I used one large 6 qt bowl & a 5 qt pot). After mixed, pour it onto a greased piece of tin foil laid out on the table. With buttered or sprayed hands (popcorn is hot so you don't want it sticking to your hands), separate the popcorn until it is loose, dry. Leave it to cool Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Makes 24-32 cups.

Dipped Cookies

White Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Joe Joes

One box cookies ... Candy Cane Joe Joes (from Trader Joe's) or mint Oreos
One 12 oz bag of white chocolate morsels

Melt white chocolate in microwave in 15 second intervals. Stop heating when chips are mostly melted and stir until smooth.
Using a knife dollop a generous amount on each cookie (holding over the bowl) and spread over edges. Place on parchement or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with decorations. Repeat. Let rest until chocolate cools.

Ding Dong

It's time to open your Furious Box Of Holiday Cheer!

[warning: if you are getting your box this week you might want to move along now before your surprise is ruined!]

Okay back to the cheer. When you get your box you should be just a little excited. You might want to put on some Christmas music before you even bring it inside. We here at the Furious house suggest something moving like the Nutcracker... but we're partial to nutcrackers.

Your box will be a feast for ALL your senses... so be sure you have your glasses on... and have blown your nose.

Okay begin!

Clear off some of that popcorn (I know genius... it's green too... or you could string it up for garland... or eat it... or feed it to the birds)

Hey what's that? Check out those cool vintage style looking gift tags!

The first thing you'll do is take out that bag of delicious looking caramel corn.

Then you're not going to be able to resist the cookies much longer so you'll take those out of the tissue paper.

Now if you've got kids you might want to take this out and hand it over... that way you can hide those dipped oreo's while they're not looking.

If you don't have kids you might unwrap one of these and breathe in the scent of Christmas.

Wait there's something else in there... I did say a gift for ALL your senses.

Average cost per box $5.50 (for what is in the box that is!)
I got all the wrappings, etc at Michael's for less than $30 and I'm sending out 12 boxes. The rest is the cost of ingredients. Labor is free... you might want some sangria on hand though...

A shipping box at USPS is $1.79 with shipping of between $5- $9 for priority mail.
If using a flat rate USPS Priority box shipping is $9.80 (the box is free).
The weight of these boxes was 2 lb 8 oz. You will want to log onto USPS site and punch in the zip codes. For most destinations it was cheaper to buy a box and ship priority rather than use the flat rate boxes.

Would This Annoy You?

If there are less than 4 pieces of bread left in the loaf Mr F will open a new one and start eating that.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This Week The Plan

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
I finished and sent out my first batch of Compacting Christmas boxes. And they looked freaking fantastic folks! I mean seriously... I have a gift for this (If I do say so myself... "TOOT TOOT"). Photos and RECIPES will all be posted in the next couple of days. Mr F wanted me to keep what's in the boxes a surprise. But I think it would be more universally helpful to get some great gift ideas BEFORE it is too late to ship them out yourselves. Am I right? Okay then. Check back for those later.

Unfortunately this week has proven (yet again) that I cannot really do "it all". So in order to don my Martha cap (even her more zen one) I had to kind of let diet and exercise go. Fortunately I did add in drinking... so my health won't deteriorate. ;)

On to this week...


Monday - Layered Zucchini, Corn & Bean Enchiladas (exactly what it sounds like) w/ salad

Tuesday - Turkey Meat Spaghetti Sauce w/ pasta & California mix steamed veggies (1/2 lb meat sauteed w/ grated onion, carrot, 1/2 T sugar & half a jar of sauce... double it for 2 dinners worth)

Wednesday - Brown Sugar & Ginger Salmon, rice mix & broccoli

Thursday - Salmon Noodle Casserole (finally found an organic cream o' mush soup!)

Friday - Homemade pizza (crust recipe from Bittman's How To Cook Everything)

Saturday - Pork Tenderloin w/ green beans & mashed potatoes

Sunday - Egg Crepes w/ spinach & mushrooms & Tomato Soup (boxed)

As soon as I get through the holidays I will make more of an effort to post full recipes and calorie counts (w/ pictures!) and add them to my recipes section. If I list something new between now and then you can always ask for the recipe in the comments.

Errands & Chores:

Monday - ice sugar cookies & pack gift boxes

Tuesday - mail boxes, make Pepparkakor for Kid (her fav) to take to school, get haircut

Wednesday - playdates AM & PM, clean house

Thursday - look at used piano!!!, clean off desk (still have never accomplished this lofty task)

Friday - Make returns & restock for gift box supplies at Michael's

Sat & Sun - make xmas cookies etc for boxes

Diet & Exercise:
Doesn't look like it's happenin' this week either ;)

Kid's Lunches:

Monday - smoked salmon, banana, yogurt, milk, pb&j

Tuesday - smoked salmon, orange, yogurt, milk, lomein

Wednesday - smoked salmon, kiwi, yogurt, banana, milk, spelt pizza (from school)

Thursday - smoked salmon, orange, yogurt, milk, leftover salmon rice & broc

Friday - smoked salmon, banana, yogurt, milk, leftover salmon noodle casserole

I Fear I May Have Failed To Mention This Little Tidbit

When I was at home my grandmother revealed that she's been thinking about (in her words) "cougaring someone".

When we laughed/gasped (whichever... it's hard to tell when your heart is seizing) she went on to say kind of mysteriously "Oh, you know what a cougar is then?"

Yeah... we do.

Monday, December 8, 2008

They Don't Make Enough Kleenex For This One

I just finished watching last night's Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "Front Of The Class", about a real life teacher who despite his Tourette's has gone on to become a successful teacher. Sweet Jesus... it was the best Hallmark Hall of Fame movie of ALL TIME!

It's Beginning To Look Even More Like Christmas

The decorating continues... carefully... very carefully choosing what and where to place things so that Baby isn't tempted to climb up and get them.

Kid wanted you to see ALL of her Nutcrackers in one shot:

And I continued pumping out *treats* for my Christmas boxes (with Kid's help):

caramel corn:


fancy (and PAINFUL) cloved tangerines:

gift tags:

playdough kit (steal this idea folks!):

And guess what we'll be using as "packing peanuts"?:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

If I Waited For Things To Be Perfect I'd Be Waiting A LONG Time

You may know that I suffer from a bit of extremist type behavior and thinking. Well this can really rear it's evil head during the holidays. I have a very hard time letting myself *enjoy* simple things like decorations if I haven't set the stage (ie have everything unnaturally clean & organized). This typically results in a lot of family stress... that... um... takes away from the enjoyment (right Mr F?!). It means we have to have a major clean the night before decorating and do all the decorating at once. It can be so overwhelming and bicker producing that we'll kind of put it off.

Well not this year. In part because our storage system is easier to get at I've decided to enjoy our decorations from the beginning of December without all the fuss. I've just brought out what I can a bit at a time. Why should I not be enjoying a snowflake on the window just because the toys aren't picked up? Why should it be less meaningful or joyous? We are not clean freaks... we do not insists the kids pick up each toy as they move on to another (and never will). Just like we will NEVER be able to keep a horizontal surface from collecting mail, broken things, tools, etc. This is us. So as the ever evolving human that I am this year I'm not punishing myself for it.

Just because this living room looks like this:

Doesn't mean the windows can't look like this:

Just because the counters look like this:

Doesn't mean our table can't look like this:

Just because the playroom looks like this:

Doesn't mean the mantel can't look like this:

Just because the stove looks like this:

Doesn't mean the oven can't look like this:

You get the point.

And NO our house doesn't ALWAYS look like this... it gets cleaned up every night (ish). The point is that is DOES look like this (more or less) every day because we are real. And we have real kids. And we put an outdoor slide in our house. And we suffer from Horozontalitis (thank you Emily) for which there is no cure.

At the end of the day it really comes down to allowing yourself to enjoy life where you are at. Do I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head whispering "But things aren't clean! You FAIL!" ? Yes. (hmm... that sounded a lot creepier than I intended it) But I am enjoying the holidays. I think I might even enjoy the decorations more this year than in the past because I'm not also freaking out at Mr F every time he "messes it up" by putting his loose change (or what have you) on the counter. I'm sure he enjoys it more too.
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