Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thoughts on being 35-- very, very deep thoughts

Last Thursday I turned 35. What? I don't look a day over 30? You're sweet. Thank you.

I've had a few days to let my new age grow on me and I have some thoughts on being 35.

1. Celebrating your 35th birthday at Great Wolf Lodge is a way to totally forget that you are anything but a kid at heart. I highly recommend celebrating anything there. Especially if it is on a weekday in mid-May. It was incredibly uncrowded.

2. The US Census Bureau considers 35 to be middle age. Most other sources feel it starts later. You're wrong, Census. Way wrong. Ain't nobody here but us spring chickens. (For some reason simply typing "spring chickens" made me feel at least 80.)

3. It is possible that your body will play funny tricks on you and have you wake up on your birthday with a very sore back. You will think this is the onset of old age. It is not. It is caused by sleeping in an uncomfortable (by your overly pampered standards) bed and carrying a 20+ pound baby around. A soak in the hot tub and a good night's sleep in your own bed will take care of that. If you're still feeling bad, see #1.

4. My 30s have been my favorite years. If the events in the past year or so--a sweet baby and marriage--are any indication, things will only get better. If that is even possible.

5. Cake. Every birthday deserves cake. This does not change when you are firmly ensconced in adulthood. If it does, immediately ditch whomever you celebrate your birthdays with and find people who worship at the altar of Cake. Your life will be tenfold better for it. Promise. (Disclaimer: The it in question is cake and not the ditching of people...)

6. The process of ageing is natural. You had no choice in when you were born. The choice you do have is how you are going to spend the days you are given. If you feel the need to wish away your days on being younger and hipper you will probably miss out on beautiful things, end up looking foolish and/or woefully regret not taking advantage of whatever age you are grumbling about. It is, therefore, pointless to lie to make yourself younger. Nothing will actually make you numerically younger, but your attitude will determine how old you feel.

Babies discovering your nose will make you feel young...

7. Lies about your age ARE OK if you tell students that you are 25 for 11 consecutive birthdays. The reactions are priceless. In doing this I have made some interesting sociological and anthropological observations. Among them are the following: 1) boys generally take you at your word, 2) girls will scrutinize you and/or do the math to figure out you are fibbing. Someone will call you out, and 3) no matter how young you say you are, someone (usually a boy) will always lie and tell you they thought you were younger--sometimes much younger. (There is no way I look 22, Charmer. I see you have a beautiful future as a politician. You have my vote.)

8. The advent of Facebook makes users feel uber popular on birthdays. (Wait, what? I have 64 pending messages? Look at all that love.)

9. I always thought being an adult would feel more um, adult like. Generally I feel like I'm a kid pretending to be an adult. Does that ever stop? I don't want it to.
I mean, I look like an adult, right?

10. Having a birthday does not make your library books un-due. They are still late and you still have a fine. Oops.

Do the 5's and the 0's seem to carry more weight for you, too? Why is that? What are your thoughts on your latest "milestone" birthday?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The little bathroom that could (because it had to...)

Our house is a cute little thing. And when I say little, I mean eensy-teensy. Don't get me wrong, I think it is plenty big for the three of us. And, really, if (ahem, when, Beau) we add a fourth, it'll probably be big enough for all of us*. A big house means big housework, and ain't nobody got time for that. (Come on, you all saw that coming, right?) 

We do, however, have one majorly irritating small-house problem.

One bathroom.

One very small bathroom.

Wait, that doesn't look that small.

No? Here's an aerial shot of the whole thing.

Some of you gasped. I heard it. Can you imagine not having your counter space/double sink/soaking tub/full length mirror in the bathroom you and your entire family use every-single day? We have none of that. We have a pedestal sink, a toilet and a standard cast iron tub. It's pretty small and way basic. Notice how the door hits the sink instead of opening all the way. The house was built in a time when large and numerous bathrooms weren't the norm. (Nor, apparently, were closets, but I'll get to that some other day.) I'm guessing people didn't brush their teeth at the same time back then.

You're thinking I'm going to write about our amazing redo where I get this amazing bathroom space, right?

Sorry, Charlie, this is amateur hour, not Young House Love.

Beau has talked about a complete gut, but to be quite honest, I like the original tile from 1946. It is charming. It's also in way better shape than I would be if I was from 1946. Since extending the house out to accommodate my dream bathroom is out of the picture, and gutting our only bathroom is impractical, we have taken some baby steps to create a more lovely space.

Namely, we got rid of the peeling and probably lead-filled ceiling paint and the rusty, outdated fixtures.

Look at those chunks of paint just waiting to fall into Little Man's bath water. And that fixture. Ugh.

I chose a soothing gray color for the walls (Sherwin-Williams "Aloof Gray")  and ceiling to give the illusion of a bigger space. The ceiling fixture is the Hampton Bay 2-Light Flush-Mount Restoration Bronze Light From The Home Depot, and the wall fixture below is the Perfect Home 2-Light Oil Rubbed Bronze Vanity, also from The Depot. They aren't the exact same bronze, but I liked the ceiling mount fixture because it felt a smidge art deco and fit with the retro tile. Oh,  and it didn't look like a boob in the middle of the ceiling.

The gray is very, very subtle and very, very hard to photograph. (Especially when the day is the exact same shade of gray as the walls...) I think I probably could have gone a little darker, but I played it safe because it is such a small space. I didn't want it to feel more claustrophobic than it actually is.

As for the actual process of scraping and re-plastering the ceiling, I can't tell you how that went. We hired a very nice man to do that and I took Little Man out of the house. It just seemed easier and safer to have someone who knew what he was doing since it had the potential to be pretty dangerous.

We've still got work to do, obviously: The medicine cabinet had to be special ordered because, like everything else in the bathroom, it is tiny. Beau grabbed a chrome shower curtain rod instead of an oil rubbed bronze one. (And then looked adorably confused when I tried to explain that it does actually matter.) We need switch plates, and Beau needs to hang the cabinet that will go behind the toilet. It'll all get done soon. (Pending the delivery of the medicine cabinet.)

It is a start, but I'm way excited for the little changes we've made to our little bathroom in our little house.

Now, I just wish the paint would dry on this day with 100% humidity so I could take a shower...

What little (or big) projects have you tackled that have made a big difference? Or, how do you feel about my decision to keep the tile and preserve the old feel of the space?

* Disclaimer: I reserve the right to redact that statement at any point in time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Did you love Magic Shell as much as I did growing up? Or, maybe more accurately, you love it still today. It's chocolate. That makes a hard outer shell over ice cream. Could there be a better pairing?

I say no. No, there cannot.

Making your own Magic Shell is easy. It is also probably copyrighted, so we shall from this point forward call the hard chocolate shell on ice cream "Dreamy-Deliciousness Shell." And yes, I do know that there is a very good reason I haven't been hired for that job in product development/naming. Don Draper I am not.


I once told you peeps that I was going to do a post about coconut oil for my Granola Mom series. I haven't forgotten. I just tend to use it more for cooking than experimenting with it beyond that. I do have a couple of fun uses to share, promise.

I like this coconut oil. You can get it from Amazon.
 Well, it turns out that because coconut oil is a saturated oil, it creates the "magic" for the shell-that-shall-not-be-named. Seriously, making your own "Dreamy-Deliciousness Shell" is incredibly easy. Like two ingredient, 45 seconds easy.

As per my usual, measuring is optional.

Dreamy-Deliciousness Shell

2 parts dark chocolate (I'm a fan of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips)
1 part coconut oil

Melt chocolate in the microwave on a mid-power setting. Depending on the amount of chocolate, somewhere between 30 seconds to a minute should suffice. Add coconut oil. Stir. Drizzle over ice cream*, let harden for a few second, devour.

 * Bonus points if you make the ice cream yourself. Here's my fool-proof and really easy vanilla ice cream recipe. (And yes, I do realize that sometimes exact proportions are necessary, so they have been provided for you.)

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract**

In stand mixer combine milk and sugar on low speed. Mix until sugar is dissolved, about two minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Turn on ice cream maker and pour mixture into frozen freezer bowl. Let maker run for twenty minutes or so until the ice cream has the consistency of soft serve. Either eat or transfer into an airtight container and freeze until firmer.

Drizzle with Dreamy- Deliciousness Shell. Eat.

So easy and not even a little bit healthy. Ice cream is not often in our house because I will eat it every. single. day. I have found, though, that in making my own I eat smaller portions. Maybe because it is real to me how much bad-for-me-but-oh-so-good ness I'm consuming.

Whenever I mention coconut oil to my mom, a registered dietitian, she starts to pontificate about saturated fat. I generally stop her before she gets started and tell her that coconut got a bad rap and isn't as bad as she thinks it is. I don't actually have much to back that up as far as science is concerned, but there are a ton of granola-y blogs that say it is the bees knees.  Despite being bees knees-y, I don't recommend eating this ice cream with dark chocolate and coconut oil combo every day. Your life span will most likely be drastically shortened.

** We have found we like vanilla from Mexico. Especially if ordered by a well-meaning husband who had no idea that two liters of vanilla will last us our entire lives. And possibly all of Little Man's as well.

On an unrelated note, if you ever need to borrow vanilla, I'm your gal.

What are you making that sounds more difficult and fancier than it really is?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zucchini so good your kids will eat it

I live in an awesome neighborhood. It is the kind of neighborhood that belongs in the past. You know, the kind with 4th of July block parties where the street is blocked off, and the kids are tossing eggs and playing on the slip and slide. The kind where jars of homemade salsa, jam, and spice rubs are given out as Christmas gifts. The kind where someone has a key to your house so if you need your passport sent to your employer and you are on your way to Massachusetts, it'll get Fed-Exed within the hour even if you're not positive where it is in the house. (True story.) The kind where the day you bring your baby home from the hospital there is a sweet onesie on the doorstep. Tied to a bottle of wine. (And the wine doesn't get stolen...)

It is also the kind of neighborhood where my neighbor Ayme often sends her husband over with a plate of whatever deliciousness they had for dinner. Seriously. That happens. Often. #nevermovingever

Tonight's treat was so good I had to share it with the entire world. (Because I have that many readers, obvs.)

Ayme made what she has dubbed "Zucchini Pizza." And yes, they are as good as they look. Better, in fact. Her two oldest boys can be picky eaters and she has made it her mission to "sneak" veggies in to their diets as often as possible. Sometimes her sneakiness involves veggies and legumes in cookies (tastes better than it sounds) or veggie laced breading on corn dogs. Other times (like tonight) she makes the veggies so compelling on their own that even a two-year-old can't say no. (Hello, who can say no to pizza?)

I begged her to let me share her concoction.

OK, really I just sent her a text telling her they were amazing and I wanted to tell the world. Can't say no to that. I didn't get any specific measurements, but that's not much different that most of the other recipes I share with you...

Ayme's Addictive I-Hope-She-Makes-Them-Again Zucchini Pizzas

List of ingredients:
Zucchini, sliced
Grape Tomatoes, sliced
Fat-Free Feta Crumbles, um crumbled
Olive Oil
Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs Paste (or chop basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
Gourmet Garden Garlic Paste (or finely chop garlic)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix olive oil, garlic and herbs together to a pesto-like consistency. (Ratios are to taste.) Lay slices of zucchini on a baking pan. Spread the zucchini slices with the olive oil, garlic, herb spread. Top with tomato slices. Finish with feta crumbles. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, then broil until the feta gets browned. Make a plate for your neighbor. Enjoy.

Ayme's husband was feeling spicy, so she added chili peppers to his. He said they were "bangin'". If you don't have feta at home, I'm guessing that goat cheese would also make a delicious bite. (I'm always partial to goat cheese.) In a pinch, pesto would probably be almost as effective as the garlic, herb, oil mix. Almost.

I'm not yet at the picky eater stage, but I imagine I'll have to resort to some sneakiness eventually. This recipe? I kind of hope Little Man doesn't like it...

Anyone else have sneaky/fun ways to give the veggies some love?