In this month's issue of Publix's Greenwise magazine was an unintentionally hilarious article on reducing stress and saving time. One of their insights was to "rethink multi-tasking". I giggled when I read it. Really. Without multitasking how the heck would you ever get anything done?! I'm not talking about bad multitasking like driving and reading your mail. I'm talking about the 100,000 things I do - simultaneously - on a daily basis.
I can only assume the article was written by a man because most men, and by "men" I mean "my husband", are pretty bad at multitasking. Mr. J can't coordinate going to lunch and getting a haircut at the same time, never mind the totally efficient multitasking that I, and most women/moms I know, engage in on a daily basis. He also tends to get very aggravated when he sees me multitasking - he says it makes him feel like he's in the middle of a tornado. I say he's just jealous that I can get so much done in the same time it takes him to do just one thing. After which he'll claim exhaustion and need to go sit on the porch for 2 hours.
Even as I write this, I'm doing laundry, making a batch of cookies, finishing a round of emergency vacuuming since Anders decided it would be a good idea to pull the cover off the a/c return vent (with an air filter that hasn't been changed in a year - yeccch), and getting lunch/snacks ready for Dagny's afternoon playdate. Top that!
Now Greenwise did have a decent point - you must try to coordinate your multitasking so that you are doing tasks with similar concentration points at the same time, e.g., folding laundry and watching DVR'd episodes of "Good Eats". As opposed to trying to do your taxes and clean out a closet at the same time. It's probably not a good idea to try to multitask any financial-type activity. No one is getting hurt if your cookies don't turn out right, but you don't want to mess with your money, right?
At that's the thing about women/moms - we've got a LOCK on this multitasking business. I may look like chaos as I whirl through the house cleaning, straightening, piling, moving, cooking, squirting (Slatkin's Winter scent - awesome!) and fluffing, but I know exactly what I'm doing. And I'm getting it all done TODAY.
I am a little concerned that Mr. J has not begun inquiring what I'd like for Christmas. Usually he has asked for a few recommendations by now. So either he's come up with something on his own, forgot entirely or is waiting until 10:59 p.m. on December 24 to figure it out (hello Walgreens!)
So just in case he asks YOU, here are some goodies I wouldn't mind finding in my stocking: Slatkin's candle in Winter from Bath & Body Works. It even gets rid of wet dog smell.
"Artisan Breads Every Day" - to help fuel my 2010 homemade-only bread policy.
"Blackberry Farm Cookbook" - I've never been, but both the farm and the recipes make me drool.
"Bon Apetit, Y'all" - 'Cause Southern cooking is one of our favorites around here!
Pastry scraper - essential for making bread, scones, biscuits, etc.Pastry blender - so I don't have to haul out the Cuisinart every time I want to make pastry Ugg short boots in Chocolate (couldn't find an exact picture)
And finally, if we win the lottery this weekend, I'll be asking for sterling silver flatware, specifically Reed & Barton's Burgundy.
But mostly I would like a healthy and happy year for my whole family. And maybe some willpower to stick to my diet/exercise plan in 2010!
All that fuss about my candy? Turns out it's my wretched old candy thermometer -- totally out of calibration by about 10 degrees! Well no WONDER nothing was setting up!
I'll be looking for one of these in my stocking:
But for now, my candy-making days are DONE. I have one more wretched, gooey pan of peppermint marshmallows (really, peppermint marshmallow fluff) to clean and then I'm sticking with some ez bar cookies. Maybe some biscotti if I find the time.
As stated in an earlier post, I was planning on making candy for my Christmas goody boxes this year. Because candy stores better without going stale. Because candy ships better. Because candy can be made in large batches. But I forgot one important thing - candy is very weather-dependent. Humidity and heat do terrible, terrible things to candy.
And of course this has been the most humid miserable rainy December ever. It's rained so much they even lifted our watering restrictions! It's rained so much our lawn/weeds are as green as they are in July! It's rained so much I've ruined 1 batch of caramels (wouldn't set) and 2 batches of peppermint bark (chocolate wouldn't temper, candies clumped into a giant Starlight Mint ball).
I did manage to get one batch of marshmallows done last weekend, but the humidity came right back up again.
I've been pretty good about my diet this past month, in preparation for all the Christmas goodies I'll be eating next week. But today. Oh today. The weather is cool (and getting colder), gray and windy. I'm in a nesting mood. I've got the munchies. I want to watch a football game. I want:
- Crispy potato skins loaded with pimento cheese and bacon
- Hot wings w/ blue cheese and celery
- Spicy hot jalapeno poppers
- Creamy 4-cheese mac n' cheese
- Crab cake w/ remoulade
- A cold Sam Adams
- A dish of peppermint ice cream
Maybe not in that order.
What I'll have: a tuna melt, green salad and a gingerbread cookie. Sigh.
Haven't seen the sun in about a week now. So humid that our porch has standing water on it (DISGUSTING). Had to turn on the a/c yesterday so we could dry out a bit. Everything feels moist.
Help! Send sun!
Did you know we have a solar water heater? It makes this quiet humming noise as the water cycles through the heater thingamajig. I haven't heard it in Idontknowhowlong so I assume we're on the electrical back-up heater. The downside of going green -- only works when Nature cooperates. Well, I guess we could take cold showers (NOT!)
Going to crank up the oven, make some toasty granola, some pumpkin spice muffins and a yummy hashbrown casserole for dinner.
Anders is sick AGAIN. Is it him? Is it us? Is it school? We're considering moving him to the Tues-Thurs schedule after the holidays. Three days a week may be too much and he's having some behavior problems that concern us. I need to spend more time with him.... or wait? Maybe I spend too much? Anyway, he gets sick every month and he is hitting and he is yelling (at home not at school) and we are thinking it's because of school. He is on the young side -- late July bday -- he is a boy and parents are the best pre-school there is. And if you want to be brutally honest about it, the best thing about pre-school is the time it gives ME. I mean, sure, there are some educational aspects to it and certainly if you are a working parent then it's probably essential, but I guarantee there is absolutely nothing that is taught in pre-school that I don't know. (This is probably true up until 9th grade where I will hit the Geometry Wall of Pain. I had no problem with Algebra or Calculus, but I just don't "get" Geometry.)
But above everything, we have to think about what is best for this individual kid. And maybe I have to be unselfish enough to think that pre-school, even part time, isn't the best option for him.
Can your husband put up the Christmas lights without a single cuss word? Mine can't.
Somehow, during their 11 months in storage, we had three whole strands of tree lights completely burnout. After Mr. J tried for almost 2 hours to find the bad bulb, complete with language that made me hide the Baby Jesus from the nativity scene, I finally sent him out to the Home Depot with instructions to buy five brand new sets. Three for this year and two for back-up. And yes, I agree it's frustrating and silly, but nothing is built to last these days anyway. So just go buy those new ones and THROW OUT the old ones and move on already!
And we haven't even started hanging the wreaths yet.
Have you started thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet (if you make them at all)?
One of the ones I've been toying with is only eating homemade bread at home next year. Except for maybe the random burger or hot dog bun and even those are relatively easy to make, for the few times a year we'd need them. There's some logistical issues like should I make it every day or make a bunch of loaves at one time and then freeze them? Should I do no-knead breads, which are "easier" in terms of prep than traditional loaves, but require much more planning. How do I work in familial preferences since Dags only eats sourdough and Anders only eats whole wheat or honey wheat?
On the plus side, we really don't eat that much bread mainly because we're not big sandwich eaters (esp. Dags & I) so we're not talking about huge quantities of bread. Maybe 2 homemade size loaves a week will be fine. We do eat a lot of rolls and bagels, but those are easier to make in large quantity -- at least I think so. Plus they freeze nicely.
Lots to consider, but since I've gone homemade with ice creams, candies, yogurt, sour cream and almost all other baked goods why not bread?
Someone talk me out of it before I decide it's a good idea.
I started wearing J. Crew waaay back in college, back when they were super preppy and reasonably affordable. Cute stuff, built to last, I have two t-shirts that date back to 1986. (They are only worn around the house because they are not fit for public viewing. But they are soft & comfeeeee and I love them.)
But over the years J. Crew has changed, I have changed and let's face it ... we just don't have much of a relationship anymore. (Except for their favorite fit cropped chinos which I can't live without. And their favorite fit corduroys. Love.)
And here's why:
I mean really? She looks drunk. Or homeless. Or like she's had her spine removed. Her hair needs brushing. And that's how 98% of the models in their catalog look these days. It really doesn't entice me to shop there. If I wanted to see someone wearing 14 layers of clothing, slouching over with a semi-conscious expression all I have to do is walk about 8 blocks south of my house to the nearest public park. I would not pay well over $150 per item to look like this.
And don't even get me started on the absurdity that is CrewCuts.*
Now, they still have some reasonably cute and reasonably priced clothes like their tees, cable sweaters, chinos but guess what? Those things never go out of style. Back to basics J. Crew. A girl really can't have too many pairs of cropped chinos.
*Full disclosure, Anders does own several well-made polos and critter shorts from CrewCuts but I got them all on mega-sale and they will last him through at least the next 2 years of school. Under no circumstances will I cough up $45 for a regularly priced shirt for a child.
Does your three-year-old walk around telling you to "use the Force"? Can he school you on the slight differences between "Star Wars - A New Hope" (or as he calls it "Star Wars Regular") and "Star Wars Original"? Does he know that Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones AND Han Solo? Is he counting the days until Netflix delivers "Umpire Strikes Back"?
Either I have a movie prodigy on my hands or he watches too many movies. I should probably be happy since Dagny's favorite movie at this age was The Care Bears in Care-a-lot.
I'm being very ambitious with my list of Christmas goodies this year. For the last few years cookies just haven't been working for me. They go stale way too easy. They don't ship well. You can't make them weeks in advance. So this year I'm making candy!
On the list:
Homemade marshmallows (choc. dipped, plain and peppermint) - my sis convinced me to try these earlier this year and even though I was skeptical and thought it was too humid in Florida to make them, they actually turned out brilliant and the taste? To die for. So much better than store bought.