Category Archives: Domestic Bliss

Tired of Picking Up Socks? What Worked for Me

Of all the brilliant things I’ve put into place in my household, what I’m about to tell you may well be the brilliantest.

I know, I know… It’s hard to imagine anything any more brilliant than Ritz S’mores or the Chore System of Awesomeness but hear me out and then decide for yourself.

Two words.

Three syllables.

Are you ready? Get the whole story »

Better Than S’mores

I know I always say that I hate cooking and such but listen up, folks, because I’ve made an amazing culinary discovery that is so easy a monkey could make it. They’re a lot like s’mores—but 10,000 times better because they’re not all sickeningly sweet.

Prepare to fall to your knees and kiss my feet in gratitude, people. Well, unless you eat too many and gain a bunch of weight—I can’t be  responsible for that—but because I care…repeat after me: “I will not eat too many of these even though they are awesome beyond all reason. I will practice self-control. Also? I will ONLY use these to bribe my kids when my sanity is truly on the line. Or I need them to stop beating the crap out of each other because black eyes will totally ruin our holiday photos”

Alright. Maybe I’m building this up a bit too much…but whatever. THEY ARE GOOD. Get the whole story »

Is it Your Turn to Bring the Dessert?

Then you HAVE to try this…if you’re willing to veer away from plain old pumpkin pie and wallow in some MAJOR gastronomic sin this Thanksgiving!

Seriously, I made this last Thanksgiving and Oh. My. God.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake – Serves 10 to 12

Crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(I used a pre-made 10 in. graham cracker crust. It was much easier but you will have a little batter left over if you do it that way)

Swirl
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chips (because they are peanut-safe) but any brand is probably fine)
1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Filling
Two 8-ounce packages natural cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
5 eggs
(I altered the recipe and added 1 oz. of the Ghiradelli chips to the list of filling ingredients)

Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 275 F. Combine the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a buttered 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides.

To make the swirl: In the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water, melt the chocolate with the cream. Stir until smooth, then set aside, keeping it warm.

To make the filling: Cream the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer, scraping the bowl frequently and beating until smooth. Add the pumpkin, spices and cream, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Pour filling over the crust OR pour half if you like chocolate and follow the step right below this one.

(This part is my addition. You can skip it if you like less chocolate)–> Evenly spread the 1 oz. of chips throughout and then continue pouring the batter over the chips until pie shell or pan is full

Next, drizzle a spiral pattern with the melted chocolate on top of the filling and swirl it gently through the batter with the point of a knife. Do not stir.

Place the cheesecake pan in a larger baking pan and pour 1/2 inch of boiling water into the outer baking pan. < — (I still did this step even though I used a pre-made pie shell)

Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, or until the center is firm and not soupy. (I still did this step even though I used a pre-made pie shell)

Cool at room temperature, then chill at least 2 hours.

To serve, (I served it from the pie tin so I didn’t do this step. Skip unless you’re serving it as a cake) dip the bottom of the pan in very hot water for 1 minute. Invert onto a sheet of stiff cardboard or a plate. Remove the pan and place a serving plate on the bottom of the cheesecake. Holding both the top and bottom plates (or cardboard), flip the cheesecake back over and remove the plate or cardboard from the top.

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(This post was originally written in 2006. I repost it every fall because this cheesecake is soooo good)

An Easter Confession

I have a confession to make.

I’ve never dyed Easter eggs with my kids.

Yeah…I know.

When my kids were younger and at the right age to be introduced to the spring ritual of gaily dying Easter eggs at the kitchen table, I was like “Noooo effing way! Toooo messy! I’m not some kinda crazy masochist!” and that line of thinking has worked quite nicely for me until about five minutes ago when I got an email touting a NEW!!! egg dying kit.

And suddenly I’m all “WHY HAVE I NEVER DYED EGGS WITH MY KIDS?” and serious mom guilt naturally followed. But as I sat here and pondered this massive parental and possibly cultural failure of mine, I realized, it’s not really the dying that bothers me. No. That was just an excuse I made up. It’s actually the eggs.

Seriously… What the hell am I going to do with a dozen hard boiled eggs after we’ve dyed them? I can assure you I’m so NOT going to eat them because I think hard boiled eggs are the food of Satan. I mean really…THEY SMELL LIKE FARTS. If that’s not the devil’s handiwork then I just don’t know…

I continued to ponder the egg/fart thing for a moment and then SHAZAAAM! I have an epiphany. It’s not the fart smell that keeps me from dying eggs. No. That was just another handy YET VERY VALID excuse.

The real reason I’ve never dyed eggs with my kids?

*whispers* I don’t know how to boil eggs.

There. I said it.

And I’m pretty sure I can feel you adding me to your “Big Fat Losers” column in Tweetdeck RIGHT NOW.

*sigh*

Oh Crap! Grandma’s Coming!

One might have thought, from the title, that this was one of those wacky, sitcom-esque “Oh no! My mom’s on her way. Hide the porn/bong/vice of your choice!” kind of posts. Heh. If only…

The real story is that my stepmom will be here in TWO days. She just called me up out of the clear blue and told me she was coming for my son’s birthday on Wednesday. I’m glad she’s coming because she hasn’t seen my kids in two years. TWO YEARS!

I’m not glad, however, that I only have two days notice to prepare—that just isn’t enough. You see, my house has become something of a craphole in the past year. There. I said it. And I have way too much crapholey-ness to address and no time to do it:

• my carport only needs an old sofa, or perhaps a bench seat from a long-gone car, to make it truly white trash—it’s crammed with bikes, scooters, a spaghetti pot (WTH?), leaves, spider webs, a rusty old wagon, empty chalk containers, old jump ropes, a couple traffic cones and numerous pairs of dirty, outgrown fake Crocs that I keep saying I’m going to clean and give to Goodwill but probably never will

• the status of my backyard is what used to be a “work-in-progress” (soon to be downgraded to “abandoned-project” status) and it looks like complete crap.

• 98% of my grass died over our cold, dry winter and thanks to the recent weeks of torrential rain, bajillions of monster-sized weeds have taken up residence EVERYWHERE, even in the cracks of my driveway

• Earlier in the week, in a feeble attempt to address the clutter, I started going through stuff and getting ready for a yard sale. I have stacks and containers of yard sale shit everywhere

• I have about 15 loads of laundry to do to get the giant piles out of the bedrooms and hallway

• my sofa slipcovers are profoundly filthy. I tend to resist washing them because they’re the biggest pain in the ass to put back on but now I have to…

• The dustbunnies on my baseboards and in the corners probably have teeth

• every door, doorframe, glass door and mirror in this house needs a good wipe down thanks to sticky, dirty little hands that must. touch. everything.

• my kids…they make messes faster than I could ever hope to clean them up and getting them to do it? Puh…don’t make me laugh. The drama, the crying… They win every time.

• the clutter. OMFG…the clutter.

When did everything get so out of control? Ugh…I don’t know. I just know I have more work than I can possibly get done and two birthday parties to get ready for (one for school and one for home) And? I haven’t gotten birthday presents yet, either. How did I let everything get away from me to this degree? Where do I even start?

I’m not kidding about any of this.  I swore we’d never be those people who had kids and then became filthmongers and yet here we are, mired in it.  I’m truly overwhelmed and disgusted with myself and I can feel the anxiety building. Thank God for Xanax

All I really want to do is take a nap.

Someone please tell me I’m not alone. Lie to me if you have to.

————-

So what happened? Read the follow-up here

Veggie Tales of the Non-Religious Variety

I’m not a huge fan of the vegetables. Actually, let me rephrase that… I’m not a huge fan of cooking the vegetables.

Or buying them.

I don’t know how to tell a good *insert random vegetable name* from a bad one or an overripe one from an overpriced one—actually, vegetables seem to be quite a bargain to me and I’m perplexed when I hear people bitching about the price of peppers or avocados or whatever.

Anyway, to reiterate, I don’t hate vegetables. I just really like them a WHOLE lot better when someone else buys them (because they probably KNOW how to NOT buy bad veggies) and even more so, I like when SOMEONE ELSE cooks them.

Me? I typically mutilate them first and then proceed to undercook, overcook or underseason them and generally render the poor vegetables inedible—unless they come in a bag, drowning with processed cheese sauce in which case, they’re kind of already inedible by most standards..

Also, I must confess…I am of the mind that just about everything in life worth eating can be improved with a little hot oil and a skillet. Potatoes? They’re good. Crispy hash browns, however, are heavenly.

Salmon? It’s okay. Salmon in a crusty, crunchy pan-fried little croquette thingy? Nomnom-a-licious.

Toasted cheese sandwich? Meh. Grilled cheese sandwich? Far superior in every way.

As luck should have it,  today, while perusing my iGoogle page and reading news (an excellent procrastination tool, if I do say) I came across a recipe for veggie pancakes on NPR. Naturally, this appeals to me per my unbridled love for all things crispy, crunchy and savory and I really want to try to make them but I’m reticent…


yummmmmm

First, I’ll have to buy all the vegetables, which we’ve already established is a challenge for me; then I’ll have to cut them, grate them—whatever—without losing a digit (or any precious knuckleskin) and of course, try not to burn them which, in case I didn’t mention, is always hard because I am an impatient cook who frequently jacks up the heat “just for a second” and then wanders away to screw off on Twitter or read email or check out the news on iGoogle. The ceremonial ringing of the smoke alarm usually ensues.

Urggghhh. Maybe next week…

This Resolution Sucks

One of my numerous New Years Resolutions:
To get more organized—not just with my stuff but in the management of my time (this should probably include not screwing around on the internet so much, yes?) and the running of my household (I know…so lame)

Current Resolution Status:
For three weeks I’ve been rolling this stuff around in my head, trying to make sense of just what it is I want to accomplish and also, more recently, to assess what I’ve accomplished thus far. Well, heh, that second part is gonna be a preeeeety short paragraph because right now, I have more excuses than progress to report. (See? See? Another psychological roadblock to actually getting stuff done…the old “I already know I suck at this, so no need to document” excuse. Gah. I really DO suck at this.)

Ohhh man. This is too hard. Maybe a nap and then we write? Yes? Pleeease?

No? *sigh*

Okay, I’ve been busying myself (because, you know, I have sooo much time to fill and not nearly enough tasks) with reading articles on the internet (THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM) about getting organized, staying organized, and fighting clutter.

The problem? These articles are so…dry. So fact-filled. So utilitarian. So designed-to-actually-help. BLEH! There’s nothing sexy about decluttering in ANY of them. No earth-shatteringly easy secrets to organization that I could employ without even trying, either. And frankly? A distinct lack of of cute acronyms that I could actually remember in the heat of a clutter battle. Who writes this crap?

So yeah, I’ve been on this semi-passive quest for the holy grail of self-help materials; the quest for THE PLAN that will work best for me. That’s lazy person code for…the plan for which I have to merely breathe and be upright in order to execute effectively. As noted, I’m not having much luck—my life is still not organized, my time is still being squandered and frankly, all this domesticity is killing me.

I don’t know how all those Blissfully Domestic folks do it. The more I try to be pro-active and get caught up and be on the ball about stuff and just…DO…all the crap I was probably supposed to be doing anyway, the more made-of-suck I think this whole resolution idea is.

There has GOT to be a better way. But if anyone suggests a cleaning lady or a life coach, I might have to reach across the internet and pistol-whip you. And don’t think I can’t. We’re very high tech around here…

PS: Do men worry about this crap????

PPS: Please share your best get-your-life-and-stuff-under-control advice in the comments. Also feel free to share what DID NOT work for you.