I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning Java

So there I was thinking DH was going to be pretty annoyed with me, when he got home (after reading this blog) and found out about all the things I did/didn't do while he was away. In specific I thought he'd be annoyed about the whole kids-and-coffee thing. After all, every morning of the entire week he was gone the kids and I shared a massive commuter mug full of coffee. He's has this "thing" (and really, I can't fault him) that kids shouldn't be drinking coffee. You know, all that caffeine. Not to mention the chemical cocktail in Sweet n' Low, or the fact that kids don't really need coffee per se. However, he now is left with no legs to stand on after: a) he readily lets them (occassionally) drink Diet Coke or Pepsi Max (which contain not only caffeine but also cancer-causing fake sugar substitutes) *and* b) he came home from his trip away with these:

Yup. Those are giant matching commuter mugs. Perfect for them to have their OWN tall mug of warm, caffeine-laden, pink sachet of cancerous goodness filled, growth-stunting cup of morning java. For shame, DH, for shame. This is how coffee addicts are born.

However, I've recently discovered that DH is smarter than I am. Funnily enough, HE won't make them coffee on mornings he drives them to school. Ya know, he doesn't want to support their habit or anything. So even though I was keeping java consumption down to a minimum (by us all sharing only one cup worth), he's gone and allowed them to have their own. Which, as we know, all six year olds who share every iota of their lives want. Something of their very, very own which they don't have to share because he/she is not sharing properly and it's not fair Mummy!!!!!!! So. He's the one who has made this bigger than Ben Hur, but *I* am the bad guy because I'm the one who actually fills the damn things up.

Sheesh. What's next? I offer them a sip of wine and he buys them matching hip flasks?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yup, I'm The Worst Mommy EVAH!

Actually, I'm not, it's just that sometimes my kids make me feel that way. You know, when I'm being totally NOT FAIR and MEAN because I asked them to...oh, I don't know... GET DRESSED for school. Or maybe I asked that they tear down (and put away) their 10 foot high volcano of furniture, Lego boxes, Ken doll legs, playing cards and stuffed tigers. Or when I ask them to brush their teeth...having already asked 4 times previously, with an elapsed time of 5 minutes between nice, friendly, polite asking. Us mothers, man, are we HARSH!

Never mind that I let them have treats which I shouldn't have, including our new morning tradition of sharing a massive commuter mug of coffee (made with instant, and made with Sweet and Low! Oh the horrors!) on the way to school. Or the fact that I will move hell and high water to make sure they get what they need. You know, like a roof over their heads and pants that fit and exactly the right outfit for the dress-up parade. All of this goes out the window the very second I become the unreasonable, horrible, you-made-me-cry Mummy ... because I dared comment that it seems to take them 45 minutes to put on their school uniforms, but 2.3 seconds to get into PJ's so they don't miss one second of the Backyardigans.

Here are a few more reasons why I am a mean Mummy:

  • I ask them to eat some sort of protein at dinner. No, tortillas are not protein.
  • I ask them to brush their hair in the morning. You know, so that the other mothers don't think I'm neglectful. I have a reputation to uphold!
  • I ask them to re-brush their hair, only this time with an actual hairbrush and not their fingers.
  • I act somewhat exasperated when they spill their milk, all over the dinner table, AGAIN.
  • I expect them to call me by Mum, Mummy, Mama, or variations on a theme, but not my first name. I earned this parenthood gig (with injections, money, emotional upheaval and a c-section scar.) Dammit, I want to be MUM. I'm the parent, I'm not your friend.
  • I politely, nicely, steel-pins-in-my-voice ask them to please, PLEASE stop leaning on me so hard it feels as though my arm will break off.
  • I remind them that picking one's nose and then using the same finger to lick icing off a cake is just, you know, gross.
Thing is, the Mean Mummy badge is one I wear with pride. Whether they like it or not, these three kids are going to grow up polite, pleasant, capable humans...and all because I dared to be mean to them. I say, Mean Mommies unite! (and god help us when they become teenagers.)

So - humour me - How have YOU been a Mean Mommy today? (Comments welcome. Don't pretend like you weren't mean. Seriously. No need to pretend. We're all friends here.)

emzee housekeeping: Go read some articles over here because I wrote some recently, and Three Sweeties now has a home (!) so expect more news on that front, and for two nights running the children have not eaten dinner from a square box with a picture of a guy named Luigi on the front. Yay me!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life Lesons #2

Should you find yourself single parenting for the week, while DH fritters and floats away his time in another state (read: he's at a conference, and we all know what that means. Namely, he'll come home with loads of receipts for dinners out plus oh yeah honey, here's a free pen I got for you), that would NOT be a good time to :

  • Tell the kids it's pizza for dinner every night
  • Followed by ice cream
  • Quit one's job entirely
  • Forget to lock the front door
  • Get yet more parking tickets
  • Call your BF in the US for a very, very, very looooong chat at premium rates
  • Decide to cut your hair (he's seen the go faster stripe and approves, but best I don't push my luck)
  • Decide to clear out all the crap on his side of the bedroom, in a no-holds-barred approach
  • Forget (not bother) to pay the cleaner
  • Forget (not bother) to pay said parking tickets
  • Leave the dishes to pile up in the sink
  • Not touch a single load of laundry
  • Stay up until all hours watching crap TV just because you can (and he's not here to look hang dog when you flick past episode number 1,346,788 of Star Trek because "I've not SEEN this one!")
...now I'm not saying I WILL do any of these. Nor am I saying I WON'T do any of these. I'm just saying he's been gone for about 6 hours and we've already had pizza for dinner.

It's going to be an interesting week.

Lessons for Life #1

Should you find yourself feeling a little down, a little blue, a little bit harumpf, harumpf, harumpf, (let's face it, a little bit crap about oneself altogether), instant relief can be found by acquiring a bright red "go faster" stripe:

It works. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Post Secret Mini-Movie

For well over a year now I've read the secrets posted on this website. I've laughed, gotten goose bumps and smiled both inside and out. Sometimes my heart aches for the people who have no other outlet for their grief than anonymously sending their secrets out to the world....but then I realize we all have our secrets, even if (like me) we live our lives surrounded by love and support.

In honour of Frank Warren's life-changing project, I am sharing a secret of my own.

One of my biggest secrets is this:

I hated being thin. The person in the mirror didn't look like me. I could no longer wear my weight as my suit of protective emotional armor. For many reasons I desperately need to lose weight, but I'm terrified of doing so (for the above reasons) , so instead I am eating myself into self-destruction.

Meat and 16 Veg

A traditional Australian dinner is the "meat and three veg" - literally, meat (usually a roast) of some kind, plus three vegetables (usually potatoes, and two overcooked boiled limp used-to-be nutritious veg.) Tuesday nights in our house have jokingly become "meat and 16 veg" nights because our weekly fresh veg and fruit delivery comes on a Wednesday morning. Usually Tuesday night finds me or DH rooting around in the fridge, trying to come up with a way to transform some lettuce, one tomato, a few stalks of celery, a head of bok choy and a limp carrot into a gourmet meal for five. Being as clever as we are, we often succeed. Tonight was no different except that instead of veg we had a whole basket full of just-past-nice pears and a couple of just-too-wrinkly golden delicious apples to use up.

Solution? Pear and Apple Crisp!

Start with somewhat dodgy fruit:

Make sure to enlist the kids....especially any cute 6 year old boys who might be hanging around the place:

Don't forget to take the close-up of just how damn SCRUMMY it all was:

...and then take the shot of how much it was a hit, with yet another six year old who happens to roam around the house

Lastly, go to blogger and post about it:

(Note: Method edited from original to reflect emzee's inherent laziness.)

Bunch o' apples or pears (about 8 pieces of fruit), sliced
2 T sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

To serve: ice cream, custard, or whatever

Preheat oven to 375/180. Take a large round casserole and spray with oil spray. Throw in the fruit, sprinkle the sugar on top. In a separate bowl add the remaining ingredients. Cut the butter through with a knife until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (note, this is when child labour comes in handy.) For the lazy among us, whizz it in a food processor. Throw (okay, gently scatter) on top and bake for 35-40 minutes or until crisp and smelling totally divine. Eat with accompaniments (I recommend 3 x six year old children and vanilla custard.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tooth Fairy Economics

It's raining teeth in our house at the moment, with each of the kids either losing a tooth or wobbling a tooth or discussing their wobbly teeth. A veritable dental typhoon around here! Since us Jews don't have Santa Claus, the only real 'fantasy' character we can use is the Tooth Fairy. I make a pretty good Tooth Fairy, even though my wings don't quite fit (and frankly are a bit out of fashion), and the pink dress does nothing for my complexion. Some months ago the kids found my stash of their fallen-out teeth (yes, I know, it's kinda gross to be keeping them - and scarily enough I even have some of my own baby teeth). They were thoroughly confused as to why I might have them, given that TTF herself is meant to take them away.

Hmmm. (Insert mad scramble thinking) Ummmm..... wwwwweeeelllll, you see, The Tooth Fairy SELLS them back to the Mummies and Daddies after she collects them, so the Mummies and Daddies can keep them as a memory of their kids growing up. Yup. That's it.

So this weekend we discussed TTF again - specifically, how someone so small can possibly carry coins which are so big and heavy. DD1 opined that in her fairy dress, TTF has magical pockets which can fit giant coins in so that the coins just barely peek over the top of the pocket edge. Sorta like Mary Poppins' carpet bag, the pockets look normal sized (eg tiny and suitably fairy-ish) but they can hold much bigger things than they look like they should. DD2, however, had a different theory. Namely that the people who give TTF the money in the first place give her tiny money, and TTF has a special magical skill which means she can carry her tiny coins and then magic them into normal size when she puts them under your pillow. Either solution works, really, and I was most impressed about the kids coming up with these answers.

It was quite an entertaining conversation, until such time as I asked HOW TTF comes upon all this money in the first place. I mean, millions of trillions of children across the world, times however many teeth - we're talking some serious dosh here. This is the point where my children proved (yet again) that they are smarter than I am, and that they remember what I say.

"Um, DUH Mummy! She sells the teeth to the Mummies and Daddies, and then she has money to give to the KIDS."

Ahhh. I see. My original explanation for why I had ziploc baggies of teeth hiding in my closet comes back to haunt me. Seems ol' TTF has a bit of a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" scheme going on. Clearly, a free market economy exists even in Fairy Land.

News Flash: Apparently, Isabella (friend of the trio) has SEEN TTF, for reals! Hmmm. Me thinks this report might be suspect.

News Flash #2: Apparently DS, when he lost his very first teeth (at age 3), stayed up awake ALL NIGHT to see her, and he didn't see her. Apparently she was SO small, he couldn't see her because it was soooooo dark in his room.

News Flash #3: Boy, are these kids going to be pissed off when they realise their Mum owns a fairy dress with no pockets!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I Never Thought It Would Be This Hard

...to find a recipe for lemon cake.

This week I've got a christening cake to make for a client. Normally, this is not an issue, except that this client asked for a "very very moist lemon cake." Simple, right? I've probably got dozens of lemon cake recipes, many of which I've tried before. However, most of the lemon cake recipes I have are either light and melt-on-your-tongue lemony, or fairly dense (but dry-ish) cakes of the loaf/bread variety. Neither of these are what my client wants - she wants something which is moist but not particularly dense (LOL, I can think of a few bad jokes here, but as this is a family blog I'll refrain.). From my perspective, it's got to be able to hold up some fondant (roll out icing), keep for a few days, and not require refrigeration. I spent a good hour or two (okay, more than that) trolling through my favourite recipe sites, Googling, reading posts on foodie blogs and begging friends for their lemon cake secrets. I really wanted to avoid using a filling like lemon curd (as I didn't know how far this cake had to travel, etc) and I needed a recipe which would make a fairly large cake without drying out.

Several (and I mean several) lemon cakes later, I *finally* found a recipe which fit the bill. Sadly, it's not the above photo of a Lemon Ricotta Cake (which cost me a fortune, burned on the outside and was raw in the middle, and tasted like wet soap). It also wasn't the "famous" Justice Lady Bird Lemon Cake. Nor was it Martha Stewart's Lemon Cake. Nor was it my precious Luscious Lemon Loaf, which dried out when I made it bigger than one loaf size. I also refused on culinary moral grounds to make the thousands of recipes which involved a box of lemon cake mix, frozen lemonade concentrate, a box of lemon jell-o, a box of lemon pudding, or lemon lime soda in various amounts. (Surely, all things which don't belong in a baker's pantry of ingredients?!)

I don't have a photo of the finished product (yet to be decorated) and the trial cake has only a small wodge left, sitting forlornly on my kitchen bench, waiting for someone (probably DH a bit later tonight) to finish it off. This is quite possibly the best lemon cake I've ever eaten, and in recent history I've eaten a LOT of them. Note, I didn't bother with the glaze, although I can see how it would add more lemony lusciousness. For those baulking at zesting 8 lemons, do yourself a favour and invest in a microplane. (Easily purchased at most decent homeware shops.)

Best Lemon Cake Emzee's Ever Had (from Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

...oh, and this photo? It's just a brag about the cute stuff I made at work recently. Yup, I used company time to make some treats for my kids (note, AFTER making 200+ of these things for a function...)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Book Review for HPG

My neice and I both love to read, sleep, eat and laugh - preferably all in the same hour. Our ideal world would probably have a room with tons of books, comfy chairs, cozy pajamas, and decent food. Not much else is required to make us happy! We often recommend good books to one another and then talk about them after we've read them. I previously mentioned our reading of Jodie Picoult's books. This time HPG recommend (and couldn't stop talking about) a book called "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. She briefly outlined the story for me, and while I was intrigued I wasn't desperate to run out and find it. I'm a good Aunt. I did it anyway.

My first surprise was finding the book in the adult fiction (rather than young adult fiction) section of the library. Then when I read the blurb on the back, I seriously considered not reading it. I just don't "do" the whole vampire thing. I like my books to be set in the here and now, and if they're not going to be totally blow-your-mind thought-provoking, then they need to be mindless chick lit. However, a promise is a promise so I brought it home from the library. I intended to start reading it, find it boring, and then regrettably email HPG and tell her it sucked. So I brought it home, cracked it open (cup of tea and comfy jammies at the ready)....and then didn't put it down for 3 days.

She was right. The book rocks. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it really did move from being pleasant fiction into the whole vampire genre. It got seriously creepy towards the end there. However it was written with such grace and with such honesty that I found myself not thinking so much about the blood and guts as I was about the characters themselves. The only real problem I had was the fact that these WERE high schoolers. The emotion portrayed just seemed very, well, adult. Almost *too* adult. The exact same story could have been written outside of the high school arena, except that the setting allows the main characters to interact in a convenient fashion. Many of the conversations the main characters had just seemed well beyond the realm of a normal 17 year old. It just seemed a stretch that the main character totally accepts the fact that her boyfriend is a 100 year old vampire - even with the author emphasizing that she clearly is not a 'normal' 17 year old girl.

In short, it's a book well worth reading and I enjoyed being forced out of my usual genres of reading. It would seem from Amazon that this is only part one of a trilogy (?), so I might consider seeing if I can find the next one. Thanks, HPG, for the book recommendation - by the end of it I couldn't help finding myself somewhat grateful that you attend an all girls' school! Stay away from boys whose eye colour changes, okay? *grin*


I always knew that I was hot stuff. Here's proof!