Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Suet. Everyone's doing it. Especially if it's wad shaped

We eat more meat than I'd like, but we have three sons and it fills them up so for now, I make meat.

Sometimes there's fat leftover from the meat. Sometimes the fat sits in the pan for a few days because no one washes a Godamn dish in this house but me (deep breaths). One day, as I was scraping the fat off, I thought suet.

Doesn't everyone?

Then I thought, if I make a suet ball, I can hang it near my home office window and watch pretty little birds all day, which will make me forget about how no one washes a Godamn dish in this house but me, and that will be good for everyone. 

Falalalala. 

I looked up how to make suet balls. 

I miss the days when you'd Google a recipe and just get the recipe but no, nowadays people have to give you their life history and pictures of their cat and throw in every adjective possible to describe their dish/project — yummy! moist! succulent! tender! — so the fricken details are like 50 web pages in but praise be, I finally found a succinct suet recipe. Here is my interpretation:

Make bacon or hamburgers and let the fat harden. Or you can buy pre-made suet, which is lame. 

Scrape fat into a container. Freeze fat.

Affix frozen fat to a hanger. You can buy one or use string. 

Roll the frozen fat in peanut butter and/or bird seed. 

Hang it to something outside. 

Voila. 

 

I like my suet ball — maybe it's more of a wad — because it's imperfect, like me. Awww. Self-love.

You certainly can get fancier. You can even add mealworms and dried flies to yours! Because I have three sons and spend my fair share of time washing dried urine from the sides of the toilet, I think my life has enough of a yuck factor for now, so I'm sticking with peanut butter and seeds but by all means, if your afternoon consists of talk shows and bubble baths, handling mealworms might be good your soul.

Not to judge or anything.

Sadly, my suet ball has been hanging outside for well over a week and I haven't seen one bird. I have, however, stopped our dog from climbing the tree to eat it, so it's not a total failure. 

I have faith, too, that soon enough, some intrepid bird will get a whiff off that tasty — yummy! moist! succulent! tender! — ball of beef fat and swoop down and wow me with its delightful plumage. 

And soon this

will be nothing but a faded memory.

Or, more likely, Chuck will read this post and attack the dishes, like he did the eggnog, and we will be carried off into the sunset by a flock of wood-warblers, blissfully entwined and smelling of cooked bacon and Dawn dish detergent. 

Is it getting hot in here or what? Seriously, I should start writing ornithological erotica.

If you are hungry for more, you can learn about types of suet here. Now go make some bacon!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Who, but whoest, art willful enough to tackle thoust far reaches of the fridge?

 

I've been looking at this container of eggnog since Chuck brought it home from the store mid December and officially announced it was "eggnog time." Junior drank one glass and remembered how he vomited up eggnog several Christmases ago.

After that, no one else drank any.

Christmas came and went.

The eggnog remained. 

New Years came and went.

The eggnog remained. 

The eggnog expired.

The eggnog remains. 

Recently, I started opening up the fridge and thinking of the famous William Carlos Williams poem, The Red Wheelbarrow. You know the one:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

I started thinking of my own Red Wheelbarrow poem:

so much depends upon

an old eggnog container

leftover from Christmas

that no one else will throw away

because they are lazy pieces of shit
 
Sure, it's presumptuous to assume that the eggnog is still there because people in my house are lazy, but I could easily sub something else in for eggnog. An empty shampoo bottle in the shower. A wet towel on the floor. A lone sock under the couch. Dog vomit on the rug. A Lego head under a chair. 
 
When you are the default parent (I fucking love this article), you see all and handle all. 
 
You are exhausted and sometimes — oftentimes — depleted by It All. 
 
Could I ask someone to throw it away? Sure. But it's so nice not to ask. To assume that maybe, hopefully, someone in your household will too see the things you see.
 
So yes, so much does depend on the old eggnog. And I'm taking bets on how many holidays and/or seasons this chappy back row fellow will now join us for. 

glazed with refrigerator dew

beside the white eggs
 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Finding pleasure in small things and sometimes in tall glasses

I have been fighting the comfort aspect of remote working and remotely homeschooling — mainly because I am a masochist at heart. 

I live by no pain, no gain. Just ask Chuck — thanks to me and the way I run the house, he lives by that motto too, but he sure does put up a good fight.

Love you, honey!

I also firmly believe if you're put together you can't fall apart and that wearing pajamas out in public means you've given up.

Since Covid sent us into hiding last March, I've diligently showered and put on real clothes mostly every day (except that first week, when I was 100% shell shocked from living 24-7 with four boys). 

Some days it was a boost; others, pointless. 

I'm over that now (the masochism, not the living with all boys thing, though I am kind of over that too). Somewhere around August I started to realize that if I didn't slow down and provide myself with some comfort, I was going to implode. I had to stop worrying so much about being put together and concentrate more on feeling better. 

That meant putting thought into my surroundings and what I put on my body instead of the mechanical I MUST GET DRESSED BECAUSE IT IS TUESDAY.

If you find yourself in need of some small pick-me ups too, here are some suggestions.

 

Something quirky 


I was lying in bed before Christmas, feeling the pre-holiday blahs, thinking about the naked trees outside, my off-white bedroom walls — blah — and off-white curtains — blah — and I thought, I need color. I'm a wimp, though, when it comes to bold wall color so I did the next best thing: I went for colored curtains. 

I was on the fence about the tassels, but their large size prevents them from feeling kitchy or juvenile. These Anthropologie curtains are so quirky and so cute, and the salmon pink brings a splash of soothing colors to the walls. 

They're pricey, so I only ordered one panel per window. I also scored them during a 30% sale. Now, whenever I walk into my bedroom I feel a jolt of happiness. Unless there is a child hiding in my room, which there always seems to be. 

Mindra Curtain at Anthropologie

 

Something that hides your butt 

I've been hiking but I've been stress eating too, and I don't care to wiggle my middle-aged jiggle in my stretchy pants. I know Chuck is rolling his eyes right now because I am such a freaken prude, but I want my ass covered and warm. It's 35 degrees in Connecticut and we have old, drafty windows. And like I said, the jiggle. 

So I ordered this cozy sweatshirt from LLBean. I ordered the Medium so it would hang loosely. It's definitely not a jacket, but it gets the job done and costs less than similar versions at Athleta or Title Nine.

Women's L.L.Bean Cozy Full-Zip Hooded Sweatshirt

 

Something soft for your bottom 

Junior is a teenager and has embraced the Hollister brand with passion. I am 40+ and obviously have not. But when Chuck and I were shopping for Junior for Christmas, these pajama bottoms were on a table by the register, and all I did was touch them and I was smitten. They are ridiculously soft. And on? So warm and cozy! When I scored a clearance sale hoodie for Junior for $14, I also grabbed another pair of these for myself. 

Gilly Hicks Dreamworthy Soft Ribbed Joggers

 

Something soft for your top 



Circling back to Anthropologie, this has been my go-to top since I bought it. On sale. The blue is that perfect Tiffany blue. I ordered a large so the waist wouldn't ride up. With a camisole underneath, it really is everything I want in a shirt: it's forgiving, effortless and machine washable.

Rocio Surplice Top
 

Something naturally pretty 

Of course, comfort doesn't have to cost money. When moss invaded some of my planters this fall, I didn't pull it out. Instead, I let it grow. I even moved more into my empty planters. Now, there's a lovely little collection. The soft green is comforting to touch, and it's a pretty pop of color by the front door.  

Even better, Connecticut can't tax it. At least, I don't think they can. Uh oh, time for my last comfort item:

 

Something pretty and tasty  

What helps battle the stress of taxes in the Nutmeg State, Covid, remote learning and work deadlines more than beautiful clinking glasses of vodka? The flower essences taste like summer, which is literally right around the corner!*

Ketel One Botanical Vodkas

*If you're sauced it's easier to believe the lies, so bottom's up!


Friday, January 8, 2021

Actual transcript of today's remote learning

 


From kindergarten today:

"Can you unmute your mic, Kendra? I can't hear your answer to what is one LESS than three?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Five?"

"The answer is four. Boys and girls, we are doing LESS than."

"Two?"

"Can you ask your mom or dad for help?"

"I can't right now. They're still screaming at each other."

"Can you mute your mic?"

"Boys and girls. If your parents are having sensitive conversations in the background, can you please MUTE YOUR MIC?" 

"Mrs. Anderson?"

Toddler screaming in background.

"Yes, Kelly?"

"I got a kitty."

"That's nice. Can someone please tell me, what is one LESS than seven?"

"Eight."

"We're doing LESS than. Not MORE than. Kevin?" 

Toddler screaming in background.

"Can you mute your mic?"

Toddler screaming in background.  

"Dale, can you please MUTE your mic?" 

Toddler screaming in background.  

"Kevin, can you please unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

"Can you unmute your mic?"

Toddler screaming in background.  

"Six?"

"Great job! Can you please SIT in your chair?" 

Toddler screaming in background.  

"Mrs. Anderson?"

"Yes, Kelly?"

Toddler screaming in background.  

"I got a kitty."

"Can you mute your mic?"

"Can you mute your mic?"

"Can you mute your mic?"

"Can you mute your mic?"

"Can you mute your mic?"

Rinse, lather, repeat, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

And now, to make something nutritious for dinner.



 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

No really, I have some 2021 resolutions, and they include swearing like a trucker on Slim Jims and Chiclits

I miss this blog. I miss it so hard. It used to be my happy place, and now it's like a tumbleweed-ridden town. Or, like our old 1930s house with its drafty ORIGINAL windows and spider webs. Loved in the rearview mirror but really, wouldn't new windows be nice?

(And what the fuck, Anderson? Sixty-five thousand dollars for 30 windows? Shouldn't we get $50,000 off for sitting through your 8-day window presentation and oohing and ahhing over your McDonald's heat lamp re-enactment? We made you coffee, for God's sake.)

But 2021! Fuck, yes. Never mind the pandemic and homeschooling three kids while working full-time. Child's play in comparison to my recent epiphanies: the kitchen sink and the moon. 

First, the kitchen sink. 

I am going to be a big girl and accept the fact that after 25 YEARS of living with my spouse, Chuck, he does not give a rat's ass about doing the dishes. He doesn't care if he has to climb on top of dirty dishes to rinse out a coffee mug. He looks into the kitchen and sees NOTHING. So, no more arguing about the sink. If I want to wake up to a spotless sink and countertop, I am going to godamn do it myself. 

 

Yes, I will still curse Chuck under my breath as I wash — notice how I'm protecting my 40+ something hands from dishpan hands so I'm vibrant and filly-ish for him? Sweet, yes? — and daydream about unique ways to make him pay (thank you, Unsolved Mysteries channel on Pluto TV), but I will also remind myself that Chuck snowblows, mows, shopvacs the attic and basement and runs out for chocolate and/or dessert items at 10 p.m. if I'm dying for something. 

He's also super cute and lets me put my cold feet on him in the winter. 

Thus, henceforth, being of sound(ish) mind in 2021, if I want to wake up to a clean kitchen I will do the dishes myself before I go to bed. 

Next, the moon.


I bought this moon lamp from IKEA in 2010. ELEVEN years ago and yet, I never use it because I'm worried I'll need to replace the bulb. 

THE BULB.

So, I plugged it it on New Year's Eve, and it's plugged in right fricken now. The kids love it. I like it. Thus, henceforth, being of sound(ish) mind, I shall plug in my lamps.

Just like that — BAM — I've tackled the spoons and the moon, and it's only January 2.

Maybe, just maybe, I've cleared out some blog cobwebs, too.

But what the fuck with the windows?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Day of the Flying Popcorn

 

See, Kid #2 (age 10), having seen a lunch box on the counter, tossed it into his backpack without knowing there already was a lunch box in there. Kid #2 had just boarded the bus — to sit with the other five masked passengers  — and headed to elementary school, which meant I needed to reunite the absconded lunch box with the correct kid, who happened to be Kid #3 (age 5), who was having a fit on the floor because he couldn't get his mask on without help. 

Kid #3 also had ripped his school-supplied name tag off his backpack, and I was frantically trying to find it.

Chuck had lazed in bed an extra hour because he hadn't slept well. As I'd raced around the house making breakfasts, making school lunches, making coffee, corralling school papers, yelling at the kids for leaving their socks lying around, scrambling for clean masks, listening to work emails ping my phone, and feeding the dog, I'd been cursing him — and everyone else — under my breath. 

Kid #1 (age 13), who is remote, part-time learning for middle school, stumbled downstairs and asked where the dog was.

"Oh no," I said. The dog was still outside. 

When I opened the door, there she was on the stoop, with poop smeared into her neck. 

"CHUCK!" I screamed. "I could use some damn help."

Kid #3 stopped his meltdown and calmly said, "Don't say damn, it's a bad word."

Chuck stumbled downstairs and sniffed the air. "It smells."

"The dog rolled in poop. You're welcome to give her a bath," I said. 

"I have a Zoom call," he said — without an ounce of regret, I might add. 

"I guess I'll just do it," I said. "I guess I'll just do EVERYTHING."

That's when I threw the popcorn across the room.

Chuck, Kid #1 and Kid #3 watched the bag hit the window and fall to the ground. 

"I'll do it after my call," Chuck said quickly.

"I'll help," Kid #1 said. 

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm not having a very good morning."

No one moved to pick up the popcorn.

I finally got Kid #3 into the car. When I sat down in the driver's seat, I sat in a pool of water. Lovely. It had rained the night before and we'd forgotten to close the sunroof. The entire front row of the car, and now my ass, was drenched. 

I dropped Kid #3 off at school, covering my wet ass — which probably looked like I'd peed my pants — as best I could while handing my kid off to the teacher. I explained I'd be back in 20 with his lunch. 

I drove to Kid #2's school and picked up the lunch — while covering my ass — then drove it back to Kid #3's school and left it at the front desk. 

It was 9 a.m.

That left a glorious 5 hours to change my pants, get some work done and maybe, just maybe, sit down and drink my coffee.

Then, at 10:30 a.m. my phone rang. It was the nurse at Kid #2's school.

"He's looking a little green," she said. "He would like to come home."

"Can you get Kid #2 at school?" I asked Chuck.

"Didn't he just get there?"

"He's sick to his stomach."

"I have a Teams call," he said.

"Really?" I asked.

"Really!" he said.

I got back into the car, forgetting about the damp seat and once again enjoying wet ass, and drove to the school. Kid #2 was sitting outside on a bench, looking white as a sheet.

"He thinks he's bus sick?" the nurse said.

"It happens," I said. Back into the car we went.

As we started to drive home, I joked with him, "You had to take two lunches today, huh? Two sandwiches!"

"Don't mention food," he begged.

"Two bags of chips! Two apples!"

"Open the door!" he cried.

But it was too late. He projectile vomited against the car door, his lap and feet.

"I don't think I can take the bus anymore," he moaned.

When we pulled into the driveway, the dog was waiting on the steps, poop and all.

"I feel better," he said. "Should I go back to school?"

"Absolutely not. Go inside and get some clean clothes on. Then please bring me the dog shampoo and dish soap."

I got the hose and called the dog over. I soaked her, scrubbing her neck clean. Chuck rapped on the window and gave me a "what are you doing I said I'd do that" gesture. I shrugged. I opened the car and sprayed down what I could, dousing the door with soap. A long, satisfying trail of soapy water ran down the driveway, catching fallen leaves on its way. The dog shook herself then found a spot in the sun and sat down. 

I turned off the hose. I was soaking wet, from head to toe. I went inside to change. Again. 

When I went back downstairs, the bag of popcorn was still on the floor. 

It still is today.




 




Friday, August 7, 2020

We got power! And this time, no fleas

It's been awhile since we've had a hurricane hit Connecticut. When Hurricane Isaias blasted us this week, I immediately thought of this blog and a) how much I miss it and b) how I'm so grateful I have this record of our past life in Mulletville Lite. 

Take 2011, when Hurricane Irene hit and we lost power for weeks. We were in the middle of a flea infestation, which halted my vacuuming and laundry-doing efforts. The kids had double ear infections. 

But what I didn't write about — as I was deep in the throes of electricity-less misery — was how every morning, our neighbors would walk over so we could cook breakfast on camping equipment in our driveway. We'd walk the neighborhood and survey the lack of progress on downed trees, pour some more whiskey into our coffee, then set up lawn chairs and watch the kids play tag in the yard. 

When the work crews closed the main road and diverted traffic through our small neighborhood, we gathered a supply of traffic cones (file this under "things you didn't know your neighbors had in their basement") and turned the street into a one-lane road. Drunk on whiskey, we were giddy at how it slowed people down.  

For our quiet little street, that was a lot of excitement. And remember kids, there was no TV or YouTube...

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power so the town postponed Halloween a week then we got a nor-easter. The neighborhood folks and I took the kids trick-or-treating, blizzard and all. We changed Junior's knight costume into a downhill skier costume, and I sweat through my winter coat as I carried a rotund 40-pound Everette up and down the streets, knocking on people's doors, asking for candy. People looked at us like, What the hell are you doing here? Halloween is OVER.

They were right.

Now here we are on the other side of the state. Last year, we moved closer to New Haven and gave up our cozy neighborhood setting for a house on a hill that overlooks a neighborhood. When Hurricane Isaias knocked out our power a few days ago, I missed my old neighbors, with all the fervor and want of a lovesick teen staring at a poster of a boy band crush. (My God, do teenagers even still hang posters on their walls? Do they even still have boy bands?) 

But my neighbors texted me pictures of sternos. And told me stories of cutting their spouse's hair in nightgowns on the porch, with clippers hooked up to a generator, wearing earmuffs to muffle the sound. And our new neighbors walked our yard with us, ooohing and ahhing over downed trees. They wouldn't drink whiskey at 8am, but we did share bags of ice and extra coolers.

Here's some gratuitous tree carnage:

 

It's enough to make you forget about COVID-19. Oh right, that

Here's hoping that if you lost power, you'll get it back today. But more importantly, that if you're aimlessly walking a neighborhood, looking for people to drink whiskey with while you gawk at tree limbs, you'll come find us.  

Bonus points if you have a spare road cone and wear it on your head like a party hat.

 

Suet. Everyone's doing it. Especially if it's wad shaped

We eat more meat than I'd like, but we have three sons and it fills them up so for now, I make meat. Sometimes there's fat leftover ...