Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rapunzel, Rapunzel...

Genevieve turned four years old in January. (This probably deserved it's own blog post.) She had been planning for her birthday since- literally - two weeks after Rex was born. (That would be from September to January, for those of you playing the home game.)

She squirreled away her favorite clothes in a special drawer, and called them her "January clothes".

A favorite thing? It's with the January clothes. Something fancy? It's with the January clothes. That thing we can't find? With the January clothes.

And you can bet that once it went in the January clothes drawer, it was unavailable until- you guessed it- January.

The long-anticipated January clothes

With some necessary boundary setting (no hand knits or shoes in the January clothes drawer), she packed her drawer.

I've mentioned before that she turns into a Gremlin when she has sugar, so I pulled out my copy of Sweet and Sugarfree (a gift from my friend Rachel), and picked out a cake recipe that didn't sound *too* terrible for a test run.

First- in order to qualify as a cake (generally speaking), you need the Deliciousness Trifecta: eggs, sugar, flour. Of the three, this recipe had... Flour. 

We made the "cake" and the "pineapple pudding" for the topping, and had a grand time doing it. But when it came time to lick the beater, Genevieve took one lick and handed it back. 

"Maybe it'll taste better once it's baked," I said, full of hope (and sugarfree righteousness). 

It didn't. In fact, you could see the writing on the wall when Genevieve's friend PhiloSophie very politely said, "The... Uh... Frosting (?) is sort of falling off the cake."

We tasted it, and I excused everyone from having to eat it. It wasn't cake. It wasn't bread. What it was, was horrible. 

"I'm throwing away the sugarless abomination," my mother, who NEVER EVER wastes food, informed me.

I didn't argue. The first thing I did the next morning was order the princess cake she had been asking pining after begging for. The bakery asked which princess she wanted (of two choices, neither of which was Elsa), and she picked Rapunzel. 

[Verne here. Rapunzel is not a princess. Didn't those yahoos over at Disney ever crack a book? Her parents were so poor they couldn't afford VEGETABLES and -essentially- traded their baby for some. Harrumph.]

Andrew took Genevieve to pick up the cake, and it was everything she had always dreamed of. 


As you can see, it also had a knockoff Barbie stuck in it, and to my great chagrin, it wasn't just a torso. (In saying that, I don't know if that would have been better or worse.)

I have a lot of issues with Barbie, but the main one - aside from all my feminist issues - is a sensory one. They don't feel nice to play with. 

I tried to spirit Rapunzel away after we cut the cake, but even I, Captain Killjoy, am not made entirely of stone. 

[Captain Killjoy! She crushes dreams with a single syllable! She enforces bedtime! She's able to stop shenanigans with merely a raised eyebrow!)

So now, despite my efforts to the contrary, there's a Barbie in my house. And Genevieve loves her. 

... And like a file, she snuck inside in a cake.

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The T-Rex is decidedly NOT a party animal.
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...Much better.
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Yes, those are dinosaur candles, per her request.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Corned beef and cabbage

St. Patrick's Day has always been an excuse for us to get together with friends and family, drink beer, and enjoy corned beef and cabbage.


I've done it a few different ways, including cooking it in beer (which made my diabetic-teetotaler father's blood sugar go unexpectedly CRAZY, oops), in the oven, and in the crockpot. My favorite way, BY FAR, is my newest discovery- to do it in my electric pressure cooker.

If I was going to do an ad for electric pressure cookers, it would go like this:

"Do you cook for your family, but have poor planning skills? Do you forget to pull meat out of the freezer until it's an hour before dinner? Do you WISH you could get that same effect from the crock pot WITHOUT having to add to your already stressful morning routine? 

Well, look no more! An Electric Pressure cooker is the thing for you!"

Below is Cook's Country (free) recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. (original recipe pulled from here, but reposted with my electric pressure cooker changes so I don't forget how I did it in the future).

A Pin-able image, for you

Corned Beef and Cabbage
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) corned beef brisket roast, with all the juices and "extras"
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 carrots, peeled (3 chopped, 9 halved crosswise)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds small red potatoes
  • 1 head green cabbage (2 pounds), cut into 8 (2-inch) wedges
  • Pepper


1. Combine beef, broth, water, chopped carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and allspice in Electric Pressure Cooker.  Cook for 96 min on high pressure (24 mins for every pound), 10 minute natural pressure release, then quick release. The fork should slip easily in and out of the meat. (And flake off the edges, for quality control and tasting purposes, of course.)

2. Transfer meat to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, feed the solids to the hoardes that smelled the delicious steam during the depressurization. (KidBrotherSam and Genevieve made short work of this; Andrew had to move fast to get some.) Pour 1 cup cooking liquid over meat. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes. (Defend from "tasters" and "quality control specialists" with a long-handled wooden spoon and a matronly voice.)

3. Meanwhile, return remaining cooking liquid to Dutch oven, add butter, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add carrot halves and cabbage, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer vegetables to serving platter and season with pepper to taste. (Reserve cooking liquid for making gravy)


4. Transfer beef to carving board and slice against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with vegetables.


Bon appétit!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

En garde... UNAGI!

Sometimes, I get to be The Fun Mom. (For the sake of clarity, let's call her Rosie.)

Rosie is the one who thinks up great ideas like taking a Costco sized bag of toilet paper to the preschool and letting the kids toilet paper everything they can get their hands on. Rosie is the brainchild behind Sparkle Magic.

Now, don't confuse her with Fiona, because Fiona likes to have fun, but tidy, organized, Pinterest-worthy fun. 

Where Fiona is a photogenic poster child, Rosie is an eyes-crossed-tongue-out kind of gal. Rosie is the unbridled, belly laugh kind of fun. 

So when we went to the drugstore for the necessary stuff, and came across foam swords, it was no real surprise that Rosie piped up. 

"FOAM SWORDS!" Rosie was ecstatic, "Can you believe it?! These are awesome!"

"These are a terrible idea. Someone is going to get hurt. Things are going to get broken," I countered. 

"They're FOAM. Come on, live a little," she encouraged. "It'll be FUN."

I gave in, and two swords became ours.

Genevieve couldn't WAIT to play with them, so we each took turns.  We had just watched the first half (roughly) of The Princess Bride (turning it off after - SPOILER ALERT - Wesley gets killed in the dungeon, because that part scared Genevieve.) so naturally, Genevieve was Buttercup.

I played the Man in Black, using all of my swordfighting skills- all obtained from watching the aforementioned Princess Bride. I don't quite know which character Andrew was, but my mother - in her purest form - observed classic swordfighting etiquette.

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From the hallway (the best place in our house for a duel, really), I heard my mother declare, "En garde!"

Then a pause.

"UNAGI!" Genevieve yelled, running towards Mom, wielding her sword like an axe.

Now, there was no question as to what she yelled, because it was as clear as a bell. Once I picked myself up off of the floor (and stopped laughing like a demented hyena), Andrew turned to me and simply asked, "Unagi?"


You know the bit with the shrieking eels? Genevieve likes to do big body play after naptime with me, and the day after watching The Princess Bride, she wanted to play "shrieking eels".

She, predictably, was the shrieking eel, leaving me to play the role of Buttercup.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not exactly the "damsel in distress" type. So, I turned the game on it's head - a bit - and said, "Eel? I love eating eel... as UNAGI!" and then wrestled, and nibbled on the eel- who then shrieked with good reason.

(Now we take turns being Buttercup, shrieking "UNAGI!" and nibbling on each other, for the record.)

Since only two of us can play at a time, I have been researching getting more foam weaponry (specifically these, though they're shorter than the swords) because you know the saying.

"The family that mêlées together, stays together."

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A little negotiation

Genevieve has started negotiating. I know it's an important part of her development, and a big part of growing her own sense of agency.


She's also four years old, which makes these negotiations more than a little entertaining.

For example, today:

Genevieve: I would like a television in my room.

Me: You can have one when you're 20.

Genevieve: How about when I'm 80?

Me: OK. I will put it on the list for your 80th birthday.

Genevieve: I would also like a remote control, and I would like you to make me a Cinderella dress, glass shoes, and a crown.

Me: I will put all of those on your 80th birthday list.

**Her ACTUAL fourth birthday cake, which is a story all in itself.

... And maybe a princess cake, too. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sound of silence

Today, for 20 blissful minutes, I drank a hot cup of coffee, I knit on my cashmere cowl, I ate Swiss chocolate, and I watched Outlander. All by myself.

It was bliss. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Something great

There are a lot of hard days. Competition for attention. Sibling rivalry.

But then, there's also this.


We bedshare, and when I get out of bed, I come back, and they're drawn together like magnets. Holding hands, snuggling.

I think we're going to be okay.