Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Little Norwegian Baking Anyone

I recently ran across a Reno resident on the internets and found her writings, and photography interesting.  I started following @Teepoole on twitter and saw her post this very gorgeous photo, of krumkake which inspired me to write down my history with traditional Norwegian baking. My photos are not nearly as pretty, but it’s the thought, right!
Photo by by teepoole  
Photo by by teepoole
For generations my family has been making krumkake,  sandbakkelse and rosettes during the holiday season.  The tins, tools and recipes used have been passed down over the generations.  Sadly, both the krumkake iron and rosette iron (both made of cast iron) were dropped and broken before being handed down to me.  I have purchased new rosette irons (2 now) and still have the sandbakkelse tins that have been passed down from my great grandmother (as I understand it) .  I still have the krumkake iron, but it’s broken at the hinge which makes it unusable.
My mother used to slave over these cookies every holiday.  If you are new to the making of these cookies, here is a little background. 
Rosettes are made by dipping a hot iron in batter and deep frying.  This is  slow and tedious process and the reason I have two irons. When baking by myself, I always have one iron in the fryer.  When my son Jacob helps, as he has for the last 2 years, we both have an iron.  This is a big help. Thanks Jake!
The instructions I have from my family were always very basic, and the method for making the best rosettes was always handed down orally.  So I have written down my method and will share with you here.  You will need a rosette iron.  When you get good at it, two is faster.
Rosettes
Makes about 42
Ingredients:
2 Eggs
1 Cup Whole Milk (from your best cow)
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
Fat for frying (original recipe called for lard)
1/4 Tsp Salt Powdered Sugar

In a bowl combine the eggs, granulated sugar, and 1/4 Tsp salt; beat well. Add flour, milk, and vanilla; beat smooth. Heat a rosette iron in deep hot fat (375°). Dip hot rosette iron into batter, being careful batter comes at least to 1/4 of the way to the top but NOT over the top of the iron.
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TThe technique for frying is to lower the rosette into the fat slowly until you see the batter “flower” away from the iron. If you do not do this you will struggle to get the rosette off of the iron. Note the batter separating from the iron as it is allowed to “flower”.
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It is at this point that you can lower it fully into the oil.  Fry rosette in the hot fat till slightly golden, about ½ to 1 minute (they will continue to cook after removed). Lift iron out; tip slightly to drain off excess fat. Using a fork carefully push rosette off iron onto several layers of paper toweling on top of several layers of newspaper. As each rosette cools, move to a newer layer of paper towels to allow for additional drainage of oil. Replace towels as needed. An oily rosette is a yucky rosette. Allow rosettes to cool overnight.  Do not put them in a sealed container or they will remain soggy. Sift powdered sugar onto rosettes.
Note: The first few rosettes will be “tasters” and each following rosette may require additional time adjustments till you are satisfied with the results. Practice, practice, practice.
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Sandbakkelse
On to the sandbakkelse.  This traditional cookie is typically made using almonds or almond flavoring.  I am not a big fan of the almond flavoring, so one year I substituted vanilla for the almond, and it was a big hit with a family who has been eating them every year for all of my life, and my mother for all of hers. Yikes, breaking one tradition, and creating my own.  The cookie is then traditionally filled with jam, jelly or lemon tart filling.  We have always just eaten them plain.  One year I made a barbaric break from tradition and dipped a few of the cookies in a family fudge recipe. I half expected to hear “blasphemy” shouted at me from all sides, but instead I heard “why didn’t you dip them ALL of them in fudge!!!???”  That was the clincher.  For the last few years I have made them the same way.
The key tool you will need are sandbakkelse tins.  Also called sand tins.  The trick here is to get older seasoned tins.  I have tins passed down from my family as well as newer shiny tins.  Frankly, I find the new tins nearly impossible to use.  I recommend getting “vintage” tins if you can find them. The new tins tend to be too slick, making it hard to press the dough into them.
Newer tin (not so good)  
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Vintage tin (best bet)
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The Sandbakkelse Recipe:
Makes: a lot
Ingredients:
1 lb. soft butter
2 teaspoons vanilla (or almond)
2 cups sugar
1 egg
about six cups or more of flour
Wash hands thoroughly (trim nails, you will see why when you press the dough). Mix ingredients in order given. Use more flour if necessary so dough can be easily handled and so it will leave the bowl.  Most recipes call for chilling the dough.  In my experience this actually makes pressing the dough into the tins more difficult. The technique I employ is to press the dough into the bottom of the tin, rotate, press, rotate, working the dough up the sides of the tin. Press the dough until it’s almost thin enough to see through. I then brush the dough off the edges of the tins and press the rim into the palm of my hand to create a smooth well formed rim.  Fill half of your tins and then bake at 350° for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden.  While the first batch is baking, you can continue pressing dough into the tins so that you create a round robin of tin filling and baking.
Your first batch will most likely be done baking before your are done pressing dough into the rest of your tins.  This will allow the first batch to cool enough to remove them from the tins. Cup the bottom of the tin in the palm of your your hand and gently squeeze the tin at the rim as you rotate the tin in your hand until the sandbakkelse is loose and falls from the tins.  This method works better for me than using a fork or other method to remove the cookie.
The first batch will be “tasters” and will most likely stick to the
tins until you get the hang of it. Do not wash them, just scrape out what you can and go again. Successive batches will be easier to press into the tins as they will be warm from the prior batch.  I actually leave the dough and tins on the top of the stove near the heat vent so they stay warm.
I then make a batch of our fudge and dip half of the cookie in the fudge, place it on parchment paper and place in the fridge to cool.

UPDATE: Adding the fudge recipe by popular request.

Mama Moyle's Fudge

Ingredients:
1/4 lb butter
18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (roughly 2 1/4 cups)
1 - 12oz can evaporated milk
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 jar marshmallow whip

Be sure you are prepared to dip the Sandbakkelse cookies before you start. Have enough cookie sheets with parchment paper prepared ahead of time.  Once this process gets rolling, there is no changing direction. If the fudge cools too quickly you will not be able to dip the Sandbakkelse. It is also helpful to have all the butter unwrapped, the vanilla measured out and the marshmallow jar opened and the safety seal removed.

In a large pot (as the milk and sugar will foam to a large volume), stirring CONSTANTLY bring the milk and sugar to a rolling boil.
Maintain a boil and stir constantly for 9 minutes. You will need to adjust the heat, but a boil is important as you are working to caramelize the sugar.
When the 9 minutes is up reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the butter until melted.
Stir in the vanilla.
Stir in the marshmallow until melted.
Stir in the chocolate chips until melted. Based on the thickness, you may choose to NOT put all the chocolate chips in, or you may wish to add additional marshmallow fluff to allow for a thinner consistency.  This all comes with practice.

At this point I put the heat at the lowest setting and start dipping Sandbakkelse into the fudge.  Dip in half way and place on a parchment sheet.  Allow to cool.

I usually try to put them in the fridge to set the fudge, but after that, they do not HAVE to be kept in the fridge.

I hope you give these recipes a try and enjoy them as much as our family does.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Time To Beef Up Security

by He Said

So, yeah.  I'm gonna post something.  I know you all thought we were dead, or had forgotten the password to our blog site.  It's really been none of the above, but just plain laziness.  I don't see all of YOU blogging everyday.  So this might be a bit rambling, or even boring, but I need to get back into it so you all have to suffer through it.  All four of you!

 Braedyn has a new canned response he gives us every time we film a funny video, or take a funny picture or even laugh at something we think is hillarious!  "Don't you put that on the internet!" he will scream at us.

I am not sure how I am supposed to respond to that other than by doing this.



That's not why I started this post.  Today is really all about Emily and her new found fears. Fears of going to the bathroom unless one of us is STANDING there watching her.  I don't know what she is afraid of, and she just says "I'm scared" and will stand in the hallway crying until:

  1.  I give in and follow her down the hall into the bathroom or
  2.  She pees her pants.

I never let us hit number 2.

This fear has now extended to the nighttime routine.  I tuck her into bed and if I scoot her over to the wall, you know, next to the deep dark crevasse of evil where the wall meets the bed, I have to be careful because the claws come out and embed themselves in the nearest area of my flesh.  That's when the ear curdling cries start as well.

So, I have learned NOT to scoot her towards the wall.

Most recently she began telling me she didn't want to sleep on the lower bunk.  She was scared.

Me: "What are you scared of Em?"
Em: "I hear noises at night!"
Me: "Emily, that's probably Charmin walking around, or me getting up to check on you because you moan at night, or mommy getting up to go potty."
Em: "No, they are other noises.  Its not Charmin."
Me: "What kind of noises?"
Em (speaking in COMPLETE seriousness): "I can hear a man walking around the house and he is carrying a sword he wants to stick in me."

Now I try to be a good dad.  I try not to laugh when my kids say really funny stuff.  This time I kept my composure, but I swear I heard Braedyn chuckling in the upper bunk.

Me: "Have you ever actually seen the guy walking around the house with a sword at night? Because I think I do a pretty good job at keeping strangers with swords out of the house at night."
Em: "I'm SERIOUS!"

And she was.....

I keep looking for evidence of a late night swordsman.  If you see one in my neighborhood, or yours, please, let me know.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Take Your Gluten-Free Cupcake and Shove It

Posted by She Said

Since the discovery of Emily’s allergies, we have completely changed our eating habits in the house. The results have affected us in many divergent ways.

First, and most notably, Emily is like a new, fully-energized little girl. I’m seriously having a hard time keeping up with her, and for that, I am thrilled.

Second, even feeling better, Emily has been bummed to not be able to eat some of her favorite things. This came to light during a play date when she was asked what her super power would be as a fairy, to which she responded, “My super power would be to eat anything I wanted to.” Even as hard as I have tried to find tasty alternatives, let’s face it. Wheat-free, milk-free, egg-free stuff is just different. Not bad, just different.

Third, Braedyn is not thrilled with this change. After being served a dinner of rice pasta and red sauce and homemade wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free meatballs, he broke down at the table and told me, “I don’t like any of dinner, you are just making stuff for Emily and not anything that I like.” I kept my cool and explained that I am trying really hard to find food that we will all like. This, however, was not a change I had anticipated.

Last, and most painful, our grocery bill has sky-rocketed. My friend Emma jokes that everything that used to cost us a dollar is now $5. After poking around in the store with her today, I think that number is actually closer to $7. Because we are going to a BBQ today, I also visited a local bakery that specializes in gluten-free and dairy-free sweets so that Emily could have her own special cupcake while the rest of us gorge on the good stuff the allergen-full stuff. Because we are spending gobs on alternative foods these days, I am trying to cut back in other areas as much as possible.

Call me crazy, but I think the following conversation with the bakery owner was a *tad* inappropriate on her part:

Me: I’ll take one cupcake.

Bakery Owner: We also have these day or two old cupcakes on the counter for 50 cents.

Me: Ah, ok. Perfect. I’ll take one.

Me to the cashier: Oh, I’ll also take a diet Pepsi please.

Cashier: <Adds an additional $1.75 to tally>

Me to cashier: The Pepsi is $1.75?

Cashier: Yes.

Me to cashier: You know what? That’s ok. I’ll just take the cupcake. I’m almost home and can wait.

Bakery Owner: That’s less than you’d pay at a restaurant.

Me to BO: I’m almost home. I’ll just wait. I don’t want to spend that on a diet Pepsi.

Bakery Owner: You need to help keep us in business.

Me to BO: I am.

BO: By buying a 50 cent cupcake?

Me: Well, I won’t if I continue to be harassed.

BO: Well, it’s just that we are a small, local business.

Me to BO: I just recently found out about my daughter’s allergies. I bought a six dollar (actually $6.25) for a loaf of bread here this week that I doubt my daughter is going to eat. I bought a donut for $1.25 this week. I’m encouraging my husband to bring the kids here on Saturday mornings for their donut outings. I AM supporting local business.

I paid my fifty cents and left, but I am left wondering if I ever want to go back. Yes, that would mean that I will have to make ONE MORE FREAKING THING from scratch. Right now, in this moment, it feels worth it.

photo (1)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Label Readers UNITE!

Posted by She Said

Every now and again, you need to have a serious post from us, right? RIGHT!? So, I’m going to give in to your need for something snark-free today.

Greg and I have been worried about Emily for a while now. She has had tummy troubles since…well, forever. And what has really worried me over the last couple of years was her level of energy. I’m not even talking about comparing her to Braedyn, ‘cuz let’s face it, not many CAN keep up with that fireball. I’m talking about her choosing to not have a play date because she’s tired. Or lying down on a couch during a play date and simply not playing. Or during a play date, getting up, going to her room, shutting the door, and falling asleep on her bed. I had every reason to believe that her tonsillectomy last December would remedy this, but it didn’t. In fact, it slowly seemed to be getting worse.

And you know me, I worry. I try not to, believe you me! But this time, I couldn’t help it. I had taken her to the doctor several times for her tummy issues and separately several times for her lethargy. A couple of weeks ago, I took her in again. This time, I pulled her doctor out of the room so Emily couldn’t hear, and I laid it all out. All my worries. And he understood and took action. I took her immediately after the appointment for some blood work to test for celiacs, crohns, iron levels, infection, and lastly, food allergies. She was such a sweetheart as the lab tech prepped her for the blood draw. She didn’t struggle in my lap, and she didn’t cry; she just looked up at me and whispered, “Mommy, I’m scared.” And let me tell you, my brave little girl was spoiled rotten after that! I’m talking chocolate from the candy store, two new dresses, and a new bathing suit. Girlfriend, we shopped!

And then I waited. And just to let you know, waiting patiently is not one of my strong suits.

After a little over a week of waiting for results, I finally heard the news. Thankfully, Emily does NOT have celiacs or crohns, nor does she have any infections. I can honestly say I was relieved to hear that Emily “only” has some food allergies. She is allergic to wheat, cow’s milk, egg, and banana.

Then I let all of that sink in. Um, do you remember all of those food stories involving our children while we were in China? And do you remember how picky they are? Especially Emily? Yeah, it hit me that everything Emily eats she is now allergic to.

  • macaroni and cheese, Emily’s staple – contains wheat and milk
  • cheese – contains milk
  • goldfish crackers – contain wheat and milk
  • chocolate milk! – um, yeah
  • banana – one of the only fruits I could ever get Emily to eat

Thankfully, she’s not allergic to broccoli - the ONLY green thing she’ll eat.

photo

I am lucky enough to have a dear friend that works at Whole Foods, so the day after learning of Emily’s allergies, we went shopping, and she shared with me all of her knowledge. I bought three different types of vegan cheeses, including one parmesan alternative. I bought goat cheddar cheese because her allergies don’t include goat milk. I bought coconut milk and almond milk. I actually found a “macaroni and cheese” that was wheat-free AND dairy-free. Yeah, it actually tasted good, but nothing, nuh-thing, like Kraft.

And I have to give it to Emily, she has been a trooper and has tried it all.

That’s right. My picky little eater has started a whole new culinary adventure at our house, and she’s the captain of the ship. She’s being honest about what she likes and doesn’t like. She’s never been one to complain about being sick (unlike her brother and her dad, ahem), so her willingness to venture into this new culinary world really makes me feel like she is excited about feeling better. I have a lot to learn and many questions to get answered still, but at least we know what we are dealing with.

We should see a difference in about three weeks, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Backpack? Check. Teeth Brushed? Check.

Posted by She Said

Emily started Kindergarten this week, and she has loved it. She loves the special cubby where her new Hello Kitty backpack goes. She loves her teacher, adoringly known among the parents as “The Kindergartener Whisperer”. And boy, does Emily love the special playground that is just for Kindergarteners.

Even with this excitement for school, getting ready in the morning and out the door has not become any easier on me. Any particular chore in the morning makes me sound like a broken record:

Me: Emily, Braedyn, get your shoes on please. It’s time to go. <me running around collecting backpacks>

Me: Emily. Braedyn. Time to go. Please get your shoes on. <me brushing my own teeth>

Me: It’s time to go!! Get your shoes on! <me making sure lunch and snacks are appropriately packed>

Me: Emily! Braedyn! Get your shoes on! NOW! <me watching my children blow bubbles in the backyard WITHOUT SHOES>

Me: GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON! GET YOUR SHOES ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <me spinning my head, pulling out my hair, and foaming at the mouth>

Good times.

So, once we are at school, Emily picks out the “Kindergarten only” swing with the least amount of bird poop on it, sits, and begs me to push her. I oblige, knowing the time will come when the pumping of legs will render me useless in this task. There I am, lovingly pushing my daughter on the swing on her second day of Kindergarten, and I start to run through the checklist in my head, hoping that I remembered everything in the mad dash out the door.

Backpack? Check.

Teeth brushed? Check.

Snack packed? Check.

Hair done? Check.

I continue to push Emily. She is happy. I am happy. And then as her dress flows up in the breeze…

Underwear on? Oh. Dear. God. Say. It. Isn’t. So. CRAP.

That’s right. My daughter went to school in a dress. Commando.

I let out a mumbled, yet loud, “ohmygodwhatamIgoingtodo?” intermingled with a gasp of epic magnitude. Thankfully, my friend, Emma, came to the rescue. Her oldest of three is in Emily’s class, but the poor middle child, who is only about a year younger than Emily, had her “knickers” taken from her and given to Emily for the day. Crisis averted.

We always knew that Emily had a soft spot in her heart for the Playa, so I blame myself for not double checking her “knicker” status. Trust me, it’s now at the top of my daily checklist.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Age Of Innocence

Posted by He Said

Young children can have a closeness in their sibling relationships that is innocent and closer than many adults can comprehend. This relationship changes, it can be strained with age and even vanish at the hands of the emerging adulthood of the teenage years.

Emily and Braedyn on many occasions express this love for each other and a closeness that can be seen as disturbing when viewed through the eyes of maturity. Those would be She Said's eyes by the way. We all know I am far from mature.

Our trip to China created a bond between them that I never had with my sister or brother and I don't think they would argue that statement. Since returning Emily and Braedyn have shared a room. In China they had to share a bed. They have not slept in separate rooms since returning, trust me, we tried. I figure if I can get Susanne to let them sleep in our room we will be weeks away from ordering a yurt. Who needs a three bedroom house when you all share room.

If you are new to this blog, don't be creeped out, the kids are 5 & 7 and hell no they aren't moving into our room.

I would however move into a yurt if my wife would let me.

So the adoration they share for each other is really quite cute and yet creepy when seen through the eyes of an adult. On more than one occasion Braedyn and I have had this conversation.

Braedyn: "When I grow up I am going to marry Emily."
(remember, this is his sister.....)
Me: "um.. No, no you are not"
Braedyn: "Why not?"
Me trying to be gentle, but keepin it real: "Because brothers and sisters don't marry each other."
Braedyn: "Why not?"
(because we all know the same question asked again deserves a different answer)
Me (having no urge to discuss birth defects, incest, or EEEEEWWWWW factors): "Because there are laws that say you can't."

Now it's important to note I have no idea if there are actually laws on the books against this. In fact, in the state of Nevada there probably are laws defining it as best practice and recommending a Colt handgun and a Remington shotgun as a dowry, but it was the best I could come up with.

Braedyn: "That's silly."

Now, yes there is a yuck factor here that is sometime hard to get past, but remember he is 7 and it's cute when you can keep the banjo music from Deliverance from playing in your head.

This week we are watching the Star Wars movies (Episodes 4, 5, 6 first, because it's just good parenting) when they realize that Leia and Luke are sister and brother.

Braedyn: "So they can't get married can they," he says matter of factly.
(remember, we ALL saw that awkward kiss in Episode 5)
Me: "No they can't."
Braedyn: "Because of those silly laws that say they can't."
Me: "Yes, because brothers and sisters love is different. Someday you will find someone who you love so much more in a different way than you love your sister, you will want to marry her"
Braedyn: "Well, I would rather marry Emily, but I can't because of those silly laws."

I couldn't help but smile and say "Yes Braedyn, because of those silly laws."

It would be easy to see this as a gross and creepy thing, and mock it, because that's what I do, but I can't, because I hope that he continues to treasure and care for his sister as he grows older.

I just hope he never kisses her like Leia kissed Luke.


- Posted using BlogPress from my White Dragon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fetch Spike. FETCH!

Posted by He Said


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Let Sleeping Bugs Lie

Posted by He Said

We recently purchased a backyard fireplace, one of those small round bowl types and as such I purchased a bundle of firewood.

We also purchased an aboveground pool back in April when we had a warm spell. Yes, I know, April. I even filled it. It is the BEST Ladybug catcher in the whole wide world, let me tell you. The surface area of a 14 foot round pool catches them by the handful. If I could only keep the cover on, the pool would stay bug free. Frankly, I think the kids rip the cover off so it can catch bugs, then tell me "the wind blew it off daddy, really!"

So the kids catch the Ladybugs and put them in their water and sand play table and have absconded with all the unburned firewood (because according to my wife and kids its too cold to swim OR sit outside by the fire) and turned it into a Ladybug home.

Here they are showing the Ladybugs in their "boats".




This morning the kids ran out to check on the Ladybugs who had been placed in their home the day before. They came running back in.

Kids in chorus - "Daddy, Daddy, one of the Ladybugs stayed in the house all night!"

Me - "Really, thats cool."

Kids (again in chorus) - "But he is still sleeping."

I'll bet.

- Posted using BlogPress from my White Dragon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All the features you need in a perfectly-sized package

Posted by He Said

The "Education of Charmin” continues.  I have been taking her to dog training classes at PetsMart as I mentioned in a prior blog.  Last week added a bit more stress to the class. Susanne was sick and I had to drag the kids along with me.

Part of the issue with Charmin is that she is very protective of the children.  This means in a classroom with four other dogs and the kids things get a little stressful.  Braedyn of all people provided a little stress relief this week.

One of the dogs was a Great Dane puppy that was taller than Emily, I kid you not. The sweet dog was focusing his attention to two golden retriever puppies so his backside was facing us.  All of a sudden I see Braedyn lock his sights on this dog, and a huge grin comes across his face.

“Daddy, look! He has a really big bum.”

I turn to look and realize that this puppy still has his package and it’s swinging in all its Great Dane glory.

I try to talk frank and grownup with him so I say “Braedyn, that’s not his bum. Those are his testicles.”

The smile vanishes and is replaced with a look of confusion.

“What are those” he asks?

Now come on, we are trying to be grown up about this conversation and I simply say with the straightest face I can muster “Those are the things that hang below your penis.”

I can tell you right now, we didn’t stay grown up about it very long. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How To Kill A Zombie

Posted by He Said

My daughter had her iPod taken away yesterday for pour behavior. No, I did not spell that wrong. It was the sort of behavior that makes me pour extra large glasses of wine.

As I said this pour behavior resulted in losing her iPod for the day. This means her zombies in Zombie Farm went unharvested. FSM FORBID they go unharvested. There were tears and more pouring.

I returned it this morning and when she turned it back on she looked at me with sad eyes and said with great dissapointment "Aaahhh my zombies are all dead!"

I am not certain this method of killing zombies will help in a zombie apocalypse, but I will let you know if anything comes to me after I finish the wine from yesterday's pour.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exiting GuyLand

Posted by He Said

This last week I heard a news story on NPR about this phenomenon where boys CHOOSE not to be men until in their late 20's.  What makes you a man? According to this story and the author of a book called GuyLand, it entails graduating from high school, financial independence, marriage and children.  So that’s what makes you a man?  I can assure you I know several males who meet those requirements and do not qualify as men.  I won't name names unless you make a direct financial contribution to my retirement fund.  This story made me think about this, and I believe I have a new life event to add to this list.

For those of you who don't know, we have a dog who is the reincarnation of Houdini but goes simply by the name Charmin.  Go ahead, search the blog and catch up.  I can wait.

So now that you are all up to speed on the fact that our dog can jump over the moon to explore the neighborhood, I have an update for you. It's getting worse. She now loves to do it anytime she wants whether we are home or not. Please, don't comment that it's a behavioral problem. I GET IT.  To fix this issue I started taking her to a dog training class at Petsmart taught by a great lady by the name of Roxanne Kimball.  I had hoped training my dog to understand that I am the leader of the pack would changer her behavior.  I had hoped she would start to stick around when we leave her in the backyard.

This is not what happened.  In fact it has gotten worse.  Normally she only jumps out when we leave.  Recently she has leapt out when we put her out to take care of business, she hears someone or something outside and over she goes. So it’s official.  Yes, I am a crappy dog parent.

The other morning I swore to start walking her regularly.  You know, because exercise is supposed to make your dog happy and suppress the wanderlust. This of course is traumatic in its own right because Charmin gets very protective of of the family when she is on her leash.  She is great at doggy daycare.  They love her there.  Put her on a lease to take her for a walk and she turns into Cujo growling, snapping and all the while wagging her tail like she WANTS to go play, but the second voice in her head is telling her to kill them…kill them all.

So the first day of our new routine, off we went down the street, headed towards the new home construction area.  It's bustling with early morning construction workers.  Full of buff, hard hatted, tattooed and flannel wearing construction workers. You know what I am talking about.  Man's man kinda guys. The kind of guys who have testicles hanging from the backs of their Mini Monster Trucks and fully loaded gun racks in the windows.  You know men who are native Nevadans.

Then I realized.  Here I am walking my dog with her pink collar and her pink leash. I’m comfortable with my masculinity I can handle it.  Then I realize on my way out I had to grab the last travel mug to bring my morning liquid crack with me.  It's not just any mug.  It's a bright pink coffee mug.

Seriously pink.

5a218bacd7a0a9afbfc27110.L._AA300_

I realize I look like a walking breast cancer awareness ribbon.

I won’t lie.  I considered crossing the street.

Let me tell you. Nothing graduates you faster from guy land like walking through a construction crew with all pink accessories.  Ok, except maybe walking through WalMart in a Utilikit, but that’s a story for another day. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Well, My Dream of Being a Backup Dancer for Lady Gaga Just Sashayed Off the Dance Floor

Posted by She Said

Oh, I truly believed myself to be a decent dancer. Good even. Sadly though, two things have burst this little fantasy of mine. First, that damn XBox Kinect Dance Central game. Don’t get me wrong, it is a blast. Great songs. Great moves. Great fun.

Until the replay.

Some sick, twisted geek at Microsoft thought it would be funny to let everyone see what they look like during a sped-up replay at the end of the song. Seriously, I did NOT need to see what I look like dancing during a replay. I know I look SO much cooler than that. In my head.

Second, I completed, and not gracefully, a hip hop exercise class at the gym this morning. I was all over the hip rolls, the attitude, and the sashays. That is, until I saw my reflection in one of the twenty hundred billion fifty mirrors emblazoned on every possible hard surface. As I step-tapped left to right while everyone else step-tapped right to left, I had to come to terms with the fact that I. Am. Not. A. Dancing. Queen.

If I were honest though, I could probably look to the way-back, known as my twenties, and discovered this a lot sooner. My friend, John, and I would drive to San Francisco in the wee hours to hit some hard-core thumpin’ dance beats. We’d dance FOR HOURS. Much of my time was spent with my eyes closed, dancing alone, stationed in front of one of the speakers. That’s right. I was THAT cool kid.

But I never, ever got a date out of it.

However, that might have been more due to the fact that the dance floor was filled with shirtless, sweaty gay boys than any misconceived ideas of my cool factor? Maybe I am just out of practice? Maybe I am still that cool kid dancer?

Ahhh, who am I kidding. I’ll give up thinking I’m all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips and just get used to the fact that people may giggle on the dance floor in my near vicinity. So be it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What the Hell?

Posted by She Said

What the hell has happened to personal responsibility? Seriously. I know there are people out there roaming the streets, just looking for that obviously icy sidewalk to “slip” on, hoping to cash in on a few. Or those that claim they had no idea they could gain a lot of weight from eating too many Big Macs and Super Sized fries and soda. WHAT? You gain weight if you eat lots of crappy food? I’m shocked.

I mostly thought these people existed largely as a means of feeding the sensationalist Interwebs.

Until now.

A friend of mine, she wants to be called Loretta, works in a grocery store, and it is her job to deal with any people that might come in with a complaint, or should I say a “complaint.” <eye roll> Here are some of the things she has heard recently:

I bought this avocado two weeks ago and it rotted.

What the hell? You mean if I don’t eat a piece of fruit, it will go bad!? GASP! That’s just bull. I would demand my money back, fo sho.

I brought in my bag last time, and the checker didn’t give me my bag refund.

What? You mean, if I forget, I can spend two bucks in gas getting back to the store and get my nickel? Oh, hells ya! I’m all over that.

I bought this piece of meat from you, and we cooked it last night, and it was terrible. Here’s my receipt.

Yeah, I got nuthin’ on the cajones it must have taken to actually pull that one off, but someone did. And they got their money back.

People, seriously. Take some responsibility for yourselves. Or I might just start suing your asses for pissing me off.

You are Going DOWN, Grandpa

Posted by She Said

Our family recently joined a gym, and as much as as it surprises me to say it, I am actually enjoying it. Originally it was the variety of programs for the kids that got us to step foot in there in the first place, but now Greg is training for his first 5K. And me? I took full advantage of the FREE month of Pilates given to me, a membership prize, so to speak. Now that my month is up and there is no way in hell I am going to shell out more bucks to continue Pilates, I have now turned to the world of the <free> group classes. My first (and so far only) one was the Body Push class which uses a barbell and weights during its THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED seconds of torture fulfilling and body-bettering exercise.

Luckily, I saw a woman who has a daughter at the same school as my kids heading to the class at the same time, so I tagged along with her and got the scoop on what to expect from the class.

The class was incredible, truly. But it wasn’t the challenge of the class or the collective energy of the group keeping up with the chiseled and humorous instructor that was the most memorable part of my inaugural Body Push.

Nope.

It was the 50-something man behind me asking me if the woman I was talking to when I entered the class was my DAUGHTER.

My daughter? Excuse me, Grandpa?

How <insert expletive of choice here> old do you think I am?

It must have been the daggers darting from my eyes that made him backpedal. Or maybe it was the tone of my answer, “No. We have kids at the same school,” I seethed, spittle and all. Which I am certain made me look even more youthful.

“She looks like she is about 16,” he about-faced.

OK, then, TECHNICALLY I could be her mother.

Shut. Up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Artificially Speaking

Posted by She Said

Last night Greg and I had a couple of friends over for dinner. I have known both Pat and Andrew for many years, and I met both of them while working at SNCAT, a no longer in business public access television station. Boy, have we got stories about Sharon Angle. Wait, did I say that out loud? Oy!

Pat long ago moved away from the excitement that is Reno and continues to be an incredibly talented photographer and creative genius. Gee, what I would give to be the assistant on one of his shoots. Damn it, there I go again. I said that out loud, didn’t I? Now I’ve got you wondering what Pat shoots, don’t I? Go ahead, check out his site.

Andrew, always a master of words, has a phenomenal relationship with the English language and has a large clientele lucky enough to have him working for them. Seriously, the guy is scary-smart.

Now that you know the players, I wanted to share a discussion we had last night about social media, such as Facebook and blogging. Andrew clearly and precisely stated that he did not care for social media or the blogosphere because of the way people artificially and carefully crafted their image.*

Andrew: People very carefully create their images through Facebook and blogs. It is an artificial representation.*

Greg: Do you think I was artificially speaking when I blogged about having to pick the toilet seat cover off of my sweaty ass?

Andrew: <laughing> I think that was a very clever response to my statement. However, I think it does make you out to be a self-deprecating funny guy.*

Greg: <contemplating> I think I am a self-deprecating funny guy.

So, this got me thinking today. When I go back to some of my blog posts and re-read them, I find myself laughing out loud (this one in particular does it to me every time). Am I a funny person face-to-face? Honestly? Probably not so much, especially without some liquid courage in me. So, in some ways, I guess Andrew is right. I am creating this online persona of being funny when perhaps I am not so much? I’ve made some virtual friends via this blog, and I would love to meet them and their families in person some day, but would it be a let down because Libby isn’t as snarky in person? (doubtful) Or I, Rodius isn’t really Greg’s doppelganger? (again, doubtful) Could Yellow Trash Diaries not make me keel over in laughing fits with her base humor in person? (seriously doubt that)

Nah. I don’t think so. I think the core of who I am and my beliefs are accurately represented here, and I truly believe the same is true of my fellow virtual friends. I may play with words a bit, and beg Greg to read a post before I publish it to make sure it’s at least somewhat amusing, but that is who I am. You know, artificially speaking.

____________________

* Andrew speaks much more eloquently and uses much larger words than I have represented here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

SpaChinglish

Posted by She Said

All right, it is the new year, and nothing like sharing an old story to kick my ass into writing again. So, here goes…

Those of you who have stuck with us for a while now know that our last week in China last year included the flat lining of our only functioning, blog-posting capable computer. No amount of wire hangers weighed down with the perfect amount of clothing could revive it. Trust me, we tried. And tried again.

_IGP8117

This really sucked because it was our last week in China, which included our vacation to Xi’an. An incredible week with wonderful friends, it was filled will all sorts of fodder for witty and adventurous posts, like the trip to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers. Yeah, the soldiers were spectacular, but it was the getting there that I am going to tell you about.

Our friends, Lilian and Chang, helped get us all onto a tour bus headed to see the soldiers. As the bus started to head out of town, a young Chinese woman stood at the front of the bus and, using a microphone, began what seemed to us to be a very detailed description of how the tour was going to work. Of course, Greg and I don’t speak Mandarin, so it was only a guess that it was something important about the day’s events because she talked non-stop for at least twenty minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. That’s plenty of time to let your imagination go wild with translation possibilities.

Anyway, after she finished, and my eyes returned to a non-glassed-over state, Greg and I turned to Lilian and Chang in the row behind us and asked, “So, what did she say?”

Chang: She talked about the trip.

Me: How is it going to work?

Chang: I’m not sure.

Me: But we are going to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers, right?

Chang: I think so. We are going to make a stop at the Hot Springs.

Me: Oh! We are going to see something else?

Chang: I’m not sure.

And… queue confusion.

Meanwhile, the two gentlemen sitting across from us were listening intently to our conversation. They appeared to be in their late 30s/early 40s, and one was Chinese, and the other appeared Caucasian. Then the Caucasian guy asked Greg and me a question, making it apparent he was of Spanish decent.

Spanish guy: <in English-as-a-second language> Do you know how the tour works?

Greg: No. We were just trying to figure that out.

Chang: <in English-as-a-second language> We are going to stop at the Hot Springs.

Spanish guy: We don’t have a lot of time today. Do we have to tour the Hot Springs too?

Chang: I don’t know.

Then to make things even more interesting, we found out that Spanish guy’s friend was a Chinese-born Spaniard, whose primary language was Spanish. He had left China at 4-years old, and was completely immersed into the Spanish culture, including Spanish school, thus making Spanish his primary language. However, interestingly enough, while he and his friend were visiting various places in China, his Chinese language skills, not used since he was four, were surfacing in a primitive form. In order to help with the language barrier between Greg and I <English speaking>, and them <Spanish speaking>, he tried talking to Chang and Lilian in Chinese to figure out what was going on with the tour.

Chinese Spaniard: <something in Chinese>

Chang: <something in Chinese>

Chinese Spaniard to Spanish guy: <something in Spanish>

Spanish guy to us: I’m not sure how this is going to work.

Us to Chang and Lilian: <something in English>

Chang to Chinese Spaniard: <something in Chinese>

Chinese Spaniard to Spanish guy: <something in Spanish>

Spanish guy to us: <something in English>

Us: Ah! OK! I think we’ve got it!

We all had a very good laugh about the confusion, but we completely appreciated how a little SpaChinglish could be used to solve a mystery.

 

_IGP8032_IGP8197(Lilian and Chang)