Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spin Cycle- Cyber Santa

You'll have to do without the Spin Cycle button this week. I'm at home and it is not. Just a little click on the words will get you over to Jen and the other Santa's though.

Without further ado, I would like to reveal my secret cyber Santa. Would Mrs. Bear from Outnumbered 2 to 1 please come to the stage? Take a load off while I tell the folks how much I like you.

We'll forgo that I was attracted to her by her name. Because we all know bears and badgers get along well, right?

Or the fact that she manages four children of varying ages and still has time to blog and look beautiful (because I've noticed that people who are amazed by this seem to piss her off).

And even though I love her title bar? That's not what keeps me coming back.

I visit Mrs. Bear because it's like sitting down to coffee with a friend. I won't be left in awe by her beautiful pictures, or her poetry. Her pictures are usually of her kids (or random items) just like mine. I won't be embarrassed because she seems to have her act so much more together than I have mine. Her stories could happen at my house most days. I don't feel like I need to hide my coke and donut breakfast for her. She's been there.

When she wrote about her daughters dating fiasco I must have laughed for an hour. And the snark with which she handled "someone" sticking their fingers into her 6 year old's lunch.? After I giggled about the "someone" comments, it made me think. And people- she kills her plants unintentionally, too. It's real life with a sense of humor.

If I had an older sister blogger? I'd want her to be like Mrs. Bear. You know, the sister you'd call when you desperately need to laugh about a bad day. The one that won't call your Mom to tell her how inadequate you are? That one.

If you haven't already, go over and see Mrs. Bear. Read her holiday letter. It will make you all warm and Christmas fuzzy. Wipe your feet and tell her I sent you.

That being said, I'm off for the holidays. Time to get my tinsel together and wrap a present or two. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Have a good Kwanzaa. Oh, hell, whatever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy your day(s).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts- Nothing about the Holidays!

Happy Tuesday (in my mind that came out sounding just like Frosty when he yells "Happy New Year" when they put the hat on his head...) Welcome to the Badger head, where things are highly caffienated. I'd like to say that makes them faster, or more motivated, but I'd be lying.

->For my first item today, I'd like to throw a shout out to all of the "Aunties" in our lives. Some are real relatives, and some are just good friends. All are well loved. These ladies rock, I tell you. Whether you just need some moral support to get through a krappy situation, or you need someone to watch a little badger in a pinch, they are the ones I call. Need advice? Call an Auntie. Need someone to give LG dinner while you deal with o? Call an Auntie. I've realized that our Aunties don't get half of the credit they deserve. So, THANK YOU!

-> My co-workers and I realized the other day that how we judge how our day was really depends on how are children are doing. If they have a krappy morning, you have a krappy morning. If they have a good night, you have a good night. Some one could call and tell you the worst news ever, but as long as the kid sleeps through the night, it'd still be a good night.

-> Goofy is a Mousketool. If you are subject to Mickey Mouse Club House, your laughing your arse off. If not, count your blessings.

-> Have you experienced the happiness that is If not, go immediatly after you leave this blog. They basically sell random stuff cheap. And when I say random, I mean random. Mostly "electronics". Everything from wide screen flat pannel TVs to weather systems. PB bought a heart rate monitor for $25 a few weeks ago. Really, no joke. Every day they sell something new (one item a day). When it's gone, it's gone. I've gotten my co-workers into checking each morning. If it's something good, my SIL will call me to make sure I've seen it. Fun stuff.

-> I want an "evil lair". One all to myself. To think up and hatch my evil plans in. They do not sell these on woot and it disappoints me. (yes, I've been watching too much Kim Possible late at night. o will ask for a naked mole rat for his first pet, I'm pretty sure.)

-> In the unraveling of o's mysterious illness, I've discovered I'm exhausted. Now that we know what is wrong, we're handling it. But during all the stress I didn't sleep (at all) and didn't eat right or get any sort of exercise, and now I'm paying the piper. We're all sleeping pretty well now, and I still feel like I'm running through glue. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

I'm all randomed out, but the fun doesn't end here. Head on over to Keely's place (the pretty picture above is a link for a reason, folks) and wade even further into the random pool.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spin Cycle- Holiday Recipe

This weeks Spin Cycle is "favorite holiday treats". Mmmmm, holiday treats.

I'm posting late this week because I've been ruminating on all the marvelous things we make at the holidays, and trying to decide which one to share. My husband (and most of his family) make these really good "acorn" cookies (think home made Pepperidge Farm type goodies). So tasty. I make strufolli (fried honey balls) and a lot of other "italian" cookies (think that Italian cookie tray from the bakery? now think of it homemade...) I pretty much eat cookies 24/7 this time of year. And I don't worry about the calories. I like the "spritz" cookies from the fancy gun (one of my c-workers made a recipe for those with cardamom this year?!!), I like the Pillsbury from the fridge cookies. I pretty much like them all. A good cookie can just make my day. Do you see why I'm so happy in December?

After much deliberating, I bring you one of my all time favorites. If you get one of those "Italian" cookie trays, and they don't have these, return it for a full refund. It's krappe. These are those square cake type cookies, the ones with many multi colored layers. The ones the non-Italians avoid because they're not sure what the hell they are. Stop avoiding them. They're the best ones on the tray.

Neapolitan Squares

1 1/2 cups butter
1 (7oz) package Almond Paste (not filling)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
4 eggs room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
1 (12 oz) jar seedless raspberry preserves (or apricot)
5 (1 oz) squares of semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp butter

In a bowl, beat 1 1/2 c butter, almond paste, sugar and almond extract until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at at time until well incorporated. Blend in the flour. Spread 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/2 cups) in a parchment lined and well greased 13 X9 X2 inch pan (I use a well greased offset spatula for this). Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned (pay attention to the time, you'll need it for later). Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Tint 1/3 of the remaining batter green, and the other 1/3 red. Bake according to the directions above. If you're really feeling it, you can do more colors and just divide the batter more. I've seen up to 7 layers work decently well. You could get all fancy and make the layers blue and purple and call them Hanukkah cookies.

Heat the raspberry preserves and stir until smooth. Strain through a sieve (do not try to alleviate this step by using jelly, it's not the same!) Arrange the green cake on a baking sheet. Spread 1/2 of the preserves on top. Slap on the yellow (white) layer and spread on the remaining preserves. Top with the red layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, place another baking sheet on top and weight it down (the recipe says the big crushed tomato cans work well- can you tell we're Italian?)

The next day, melt the chocolate in a double burner (sorry to get all complicated on you) and 2 tsp butter until smooth. Spread over red cake in a thin layer**. Let dry about 30 minutes. Cut into 1 inch squares.

**If you spread the chocolate too thick it cracks when you cut it.

I only recommend making these if you are planning on bringing them somewhere, or you're making cookie bundles for other people. If you are keeping them all for yourself, at least freeze half of them. They are high in calories, and you can eat about 1,000 without blinking.

I will warn that these are a tad time consuming, and not good to make with children. As a matter of fact, most kids don't really like them. But I highly recommend you indulge your adult nature and try them.

Happy Holidays, all. Head over to the Sprite's Keeper for more drool-tastic holiday ideas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordful Wednesday- A new one.

I'm going to try something new. Just cause. It's called Wordful Wednesday. Here's the button thingy if you want to see other folks and their words:

And now for the picture:

This picture is well over a year old (as the date on the picture attests), but it's still one of my favorites. Other than capturing his big brown eyes, it also captures LGs spirit. He was just learning to walk, and he had just climbed up my legs to a standing position to try to get closer to the camera. Now that he gets around just fine on two legs, I miss the tongue out determination with which he used to get around.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts...

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Yes, things are on the upswing at Chateau Badger. Read all about it, then sally on over to the Un-Mom for some more rip-roaring Tuesday madness.

->Thanks to everyone who was concerned about little o. Last week was pretty much hellish with the sick kids, and the not knowing what was wrong. But now we know (at least we think we know after a million tests culminating in an ultrasound) and we're taking care of the problem. He is now on the formula equivilent of champagne, and is feeling much better. He started his new daycare (he and LG are finally at the same place) yesterday. They called at noon to proclaim how different the two boys are. And as much as I love LG, I'm glad. Maybe this one comes with a snooze button.

-> I'm considering something I've never done before. Ok, not really considering it. It just crossed my mind. I had to buy a dress for a fairly formal event I attended in November. Because I was still in the process of losing baby weight, this dress isn't a size I will (hopefully) ever wear again. And it was pricey. But I only wore it for 2 hours. I actually considered returning it. I know, how wrong is that? Even more wrong than trying on a bathing suit with out underwear. But I hate the idea of spending that amount of money on two hours... It will now sit in the closet on the off chance I eat too much one holiday. Or I'll give up the ghost and donate it to one of the women's professional programs.

-> What do you consider to be the middle of the night? This is the topic I've given much thought to over the last week (see the part about sick kids above if you're wondering why). I am a self proclaimed morning person. PB is a night person. But when does "night" become "morning". I can handle anything after 5:am. PB's internal motor runs down at 2:am (latest). That leaves 3 hours when we both suck. Just ask o. He can attest that he did not have a single happy parent between 2 and 5 last week.

-> I hate listening to people chew. Which isn't usually an issue. The problem intensifies late at night (when I'm not at my finest), so PB sticks to quiet snacks after 9:pm. But have you heard the latest Kit Kat commercial? With all the crunching? Ahhhh, it makes my toes curl. I actually have to change the channel. I'm boycotting Kit Kat until it's off. What happened to "gimme a break"? I loved that one.

-> While watching "Mickey Mouse Club House" this past Saturday, PB asked, "When did Mrs. Claus start wearing hooker boots?" Uhm, good question. Maybe Disney is throwing the Dads of the world a bone, and trying to sauce up Mrs. Claus for them? So they suffer less through the "hot dog" dance? (go ahead, giggle. you know you want to.)

->I've decided that it's great to work in a multi faith office. Because just as the Christian/non-denominational tribe was gearing up the cookies and candies? The Jews show up with the latkes and geld. Oh, and coconut treats. Mmmmm. There is just nothing like a good latke. Fresh from the toaster oven (for re-heating). With some apple sauce. Ooooh. Go wipe the drool from your mouth. We'll wait.

Ok, I'm all randomed out. Have a good week folks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Spin Cycle- Dear Santa

This week's Spin Cycle is supposed to be our letter to Santa. Or about a letter to Santa. I don't remember which, and frankly, I'm to damn lazy to go re-read the assignment. I'm pretty sure Sprite's Keeper will take either as long as I make her chuckle (and she'll give me an "A" if I can get her to snort coffee out her nose...)

To really get in the mood, you should go out and find Sean Morey's song "Dear Santa". I've tried to put a link here, but it just ain't happening for some reason. Here's the link to his site, though. It's funny and worth a few minutes. Trust me.

Dear Santa,

I know I should wish for "world peace" or something like that, but quite frankly, I'm not in the mood this year. I've made my holiday donations, both at work and at church. Now how's about some loving for the Mama Badger? If people want world peace, they should just put down their guns. If they don't want to do that, I don't see how wasting my Christmas wish on them is going to help.

I would like a PS2. Yeah, I know. PB wants a Wii. The whole family could play the Wii. But all I want (and I've wanted it since 9th grade- remember that?) is a little hand held game thingy I can play Tetris on. By myself. Anywhere I want. Not so much to ask right?

I would also like those new Reebock sneakers that make your butt firm while you walk (Easy Tone?) They seem to suggest no "extra" exercise is required. If that's true, maybe get yourself a pair, too. I'm just saying. Oh, in grey, if they have them.

A Kindle, or some other type of personal reader would be nice. Could you please do the research on this one? PB offered to get me one, but I'm not sure which one I want. With all the advertising wars going on, who can tell which one will carry my WSJ by next year. If you can figure it out and get me the appropriate reader, that would be great.

If you could manage a day at the spa with the rest of this stuff, that would be nice. You know, the one with the message, the manicure ,the pedicure, a nice haircut and some lunch? Do you think Mrs. Claus would be willing to sit for the boys that day, too?

That's it this year. I should probably ask for a new car, but I'm really not ready to deal with that one yet. Next year, ok?


Mama Badger

ps- please excuse the finger prints all over your cookies. LG wanted to "help".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I'm working on 3 hours of sleep, so I'm having a hard time finding the motivation for the Tuesday dance. You'll have to settle for more of a sway in my chair (which may or may not be me trying not to nod off on the keyboard). When you're all done here, go see Keely at the clicky thing above, and turn the lights off on your way out.

In case you didn't already think I worked with some of the oddest people around, I present you with these two lovelies:

-> Being anti-social nerdy finance people, we have designated Thursday as the day we all go to lunch together. To bond, and such. Because Thursday lunches were becoming such a cluster f&*k to decide where to go and then meet up, my boss developed the RLG (Random Lunch Generator). He asked us all for potential lunch destinations in our area. Then he compiled them. Sent the list to everyone, with the opportunity to black ball one restaurant and rate the rest for preference. Then he took all the information in to customize the RLG. Now, instead of discussing where we want to go, he simply runs the RLG and it tells us where we will be dining, based on our preferences and when we ate there last. We are a sad bunch, but it makes us happy.

->To further the "we have issues" thought, it has recently been requested that I set out a spoon next to my M&M jar. So that people don't stick their hands into the jar. They can spoon out one or two for themselves, and leave the rest untouched. Because it was felt that even if people pour the M&M into their palm (instead of sticking a grimy paw into the jar) some folks inevitably poured too many, and return some. I now have plastic spoon next to my candy jar. I assume this will help the dieters, too, since a spoon only holds so many M&Ms. Far less than the average palm.

->I will now distract you with a picture or two.

Yup, o slept through our "Holiday Picture" experience on Saturday. And we all thought it was better that way.
LG did not sleep through the pictures. And for the first 5 minutes he was a really good boy. He even said "cheese" just like the nice lady asked. However, those were the 5 minutes the lady wasted taking family portraits (which I specifically stated were the LEAST important of all the pictures). Then it was all chasing him though the studio, reminding him that it wasn't our tree, and they weren't our ornaments (so he couldn't take them off to lick them...) And somewhere in there someone got their hands on him and "neatened" him up. Tucked in his really cute dress shirt, combed his hair. As though I had forgotten to do those things. Which I hadn't. So they combed out all his curls, and made him look like a future republican. Poor kid.
If you're on my Holiday Card list, please pretend you didn't see these. As they will be mailed to you this weekend. If you're not, hells, enjoy away!
-> The pediatricians office now gives out gift cards to patients they inconvenience in ways unimaginable, apparently. How do I know? I am now holding $20 in gc (as well as every sample size item that the dr could dig out) that might just go to chocolate and schnapps. Because yesterday I left my house with o at 10:30 am and returned at 3:45. The dr is a 15 minute drive, in traffic. Sigh, it was a long day. The highlights were that we waited an hour for a lab tech to get back from lunch to take o's blood, only to find out that she didn't have the right equipment. The dr was very apologetic. We drove across town, and then back to the dr. And I can honestly say, it didn't occur to me to be mad, or even mildly pissed off. I just wanted them to do something to make him feel better. And they tried, but it hasn't worked yet. Another saga for another day. It's interesting to know that in one of the health capitols of the US, the Clinic has realized that if I don't like my standard of care, I can simply go somewhere else. It's sad that it hadn't occured to me to do that until they handed me that card yesterday.
-> On Saturday, PB and I attended an adults only Christmas dinner (yes, I did get a sitter!) For the white elephant we brought a "Snuggy" and a Chia Christmas Tree. Dude, I know, now you want us at your Christmas party. Sorry, we're booked up for the season. Try us next year, though, when the "Magic" brownie pan might make an appearance.
LG's godmother moved sometime this fall (don't ask how the hell I misplaced that in the last few months, but I did). She now lives on Mockingbird Lane. Next to Herman Munster. Tee hee hee.
Ok, I have to leave you now. Time to go crash our new computer system. Seriously, that's what IT wants me to do. Since I'm the one that used to do it often under the old system. I think they're hoping it will take me more than 5 minutes this time!
Have a great week, and see you next Tuesday for more Random Thoughts.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Spin Cycle- Christmas letters

No, not the ones to Santa. The ones you get from relatives and friends who haven't bothered to pick up a phone all year (and don't realize that you didn't either) but think you need to have a recap. This weeks Spin Cycle is all about those holiday letters, the ones that may or may not include a picture. Read on, and then go visit the other spinners.

This weeks spin topic has brought out a lot of holiday angst in people. I was actually surprised at how much emotion people have about those lovely letters that someone composed in late November to tell friends and relatives all about their year. I was kind of surprised at my own thoughts on those (ok, I was surprised that I even had thoughts on them).

It has once again made me realize that maybe some things shouldn't go in writing. Because you can't hear the "speaker" and you have no idea how it would come out of their mouth. Let's face it, when you read all about how some one's kids are wonderful, and they took fabulous trips you can't help but hear a bragging voice. And I'm hoping (get into the giving Christmas spirit here) that's not actually the case.

Take an old family friend of mine. Every year we got a letter from them regaling all the wonders of the year. Which kid got into Yale, and which one spent the summer sailing up the coast from the Keys to Maine. A picture of the new puppy, and a little about the community service project they did as a family. And every year we groaned. Because we were never quite as good as they were.

But there is a catch. The kid who sailed the coast? Hated it. He would later tell us about how it was long tiring days, and little pay. The kid who went to Yale? Had really wanted to get into Harvard. The puppy chewed the baseboards. But you can't write that in your Christmas letter, can you?

So here's the Catch 22. You want to do more than send the obligatory card with an angel or a tree on it so that people know you are thinking of them. But the other option is letting them know way too much, when the probably don't care. Am I making sense here?

You could always take a good look at your Christmas card list and say, "Do I really need to send something to someone I didn't care enough about to pick up a phone for?" Pare down to just a few friends and family. Maybe the Aunt you see once in a while, but not too often. The friends you don't buy a present for, but want to wish a Merry Christmas. The ones you really would pick up a phone for if you could squeeze another hour into your day. But that feels bad. It's hard to admit that you've lost touch, sometimes.

For us, the picture card is the perfect half way point. It shows you how the kids are progressing (no adult should ever be on the Christmas card, sorry) without all the fluff. When the kids get too old, maybe put the puppy on the card. Let the picture speak for itself. People can see how cute your toddler is, or that your tween has reached the awkward stage. They'll notice that Jr is wearing a Yale sweatshirt. And if they want more info? They'll call.

But that's not the point of this blog. Let's get back on topic, here, MB.

This year I'm going to try to read those letters in a new light. I'll put on my jammies, and pour the eggnog. I'll try to think about the fact that someone cares enough about me to write out my address and put a stamp on the envelope. I'll try to be happy for all of their accomplishments. I'll send them my picture card with the boys on it to let them know I "care" too. Then I'll toss the letter into the fire and forget about them for another year.
Sigh, sorry if this blog post is less than smooth. Today I've been dealing with our holiday schedule, and I'm frustrated. I only have so many baby sitting favors I can call in, so I have to prioritize. Then there are the events where the kids could come, but really aren't wanted (oh, and if that's the case, just say so. Don't hem and haw until the last second when I can't find a sitter, please). Then there are the events that no one wants to attend, but we sort of have to (yes, PB, we have to). I swear, I'll sit down on the couch with my husband and get to talk to him sometime before Christmas. Just not until the 24th, from the looks of it...
Have a good weekend, folks.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Tuesday is upon us! No more mourning the weekend, people. Get some coffee and act like you belong. Then hit the button above and see how everybody else is handling the first Tuesday of the holiday season. Tee hee hee.
Today at work I'm being harassed for using a pencil instead of a pen. Uhm, I'm an accountant. That's what we do. It goes along with the calculator. A pen is a lot of commitment. If you make a mistake, you can never really get rid of it. You can cross it out, but the cross out is always there to remind you that something went wrong. It's a distraction. A blot on an otherwise perfect page. What I want to know is why the hell my co-workers care. I think it's because they need a reason to pick on the auditor. I get to pick on them all day, every day (it's my job...) This is their revenge.
The guy by my exit to work that I told you about many posts ago? The one that I can't really tell what his story is? He has a dog. A really cute black puppy. And it looks well taken care of (nice fluffy fur, slightly pudgy). He only has it on sunny days. Which now makes me think he's not homeless, at least. That's good, right?
I'm done with my Christmas shopping. I've been done for a while now. Yet I keep shopping. I see things that I think the kids will like, and magically it's in a bag in my hand. Argh. They need more stuff like I need a Shetland pony! This is what happens when I shop too early. I'm going to blame it on all the good sales, though. You just can't pass these deals up. But I'm going to start. It's really getting out of hand. My house will look like a toy shop if I don't.
I complained about "having" to read to my kid the other day. Yes, you read right. I should be shot. LGs favorite thing to do is sit on your lap while you read him a story. You would think I would be thanking what ever god caused this magic, right? Except we read the same 5 books over and over and over and over. I don't even need to see the pages anymore. I know all the words. We have probably at least 50 books in his box that he can choose from. And he picks the same 5. I've resorted to hiding some of them (because really, how many times can you read about Biscuit the puppy going trick or treating in November?) And yes, I've done all I can with them. "LG, where's the kitty on this page?" "LG, what shape is the witch's hat?" "LG, say tractor." Please kid, pick up a block or something. You're driving Mommy to drink.
PB is making me feel a little guilty. About a month ago, he put his road bike up on the trainer in the basement and he's been riding at night. He puts o in his swing, uploads one of his lectures for his class and rides for an hour. As a result, he's lost 5 pounds and he's getting a good education while watching the kid. And I say, good for him. Notice I don't say, let me get my street bike up on my trainer and join you! Nope, I put on an episode of West Wing and sit on the couch upstairs, frequently with a dessert of some sort. I shall continue to use the "I just had a kid" excuse to justify my extra pudge. And when o sleeps through the night, I'll consider doing something about the guilt.
Did anyone shop of Thanksgiving? If so, a pox on you. Retail stores are only closed 2 days a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those folks get 2 days that they are guaranteed they can spend with their family. Now they're down to one. And that sucks. Because even if the college kid behind the counter doesn't mind the double time to work and get away from his family? The manager in the back wishes he was home sitting on his couch watching the game. Or eating pie with her family. And really, retailers don't need to empty our pockets 264 days a year. They can settle for 263.
Ok, off to hum Christmas carols and annoy the neighbors in cubeville. I love my job. Have a good week, all.
ps- Mentos really are the freshmaker.