Archive | October, 2010

Say Cheesssssssssssssse.

30 Oct

Behold, the Cheesssssssy Bread that I conjured up for Alex’s Halloween luncheon at school…

I was thrilled that I was up for making something from scratch for the festivities, and also grateful that the Vermont Cheese Bread recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day had proven itself to be an easy beast to get just right, and also one that I could tweak a little bit without *poof* complete kitchen disaster.

In this case, I stretched the dough into a large rectangle.  I then sprinkled even more cheese over the surface (the recipe says to use good cheddar, but I made this with the part skim kraft shreddy stuff the first time around and the taste was pretty nice- tasted, with the slight sourness of the dough, more like the asiago bagel of my ABP frequenting days in New England)… Then I rolled, stretching the dough even more (in all directions) until I was left with a long, fairly thin log.  After resting for an hour, the log was big and puffy, so I gently pulled on it some more and realized that ovens should really come in letterbox.  So I bent it into a squiggle, said “Eureka!” aloud, and then I went off-recipe again and brushed the top with an egg-water wash to give it that slight hint of change of color that snakes have between their topsides and undersides… I was thinking of putting almonds in for eyes (and then I thought of making scales with sliced almonds) but decided against it because the whole point of this project was to make a food for the luncheon that Alex likes and could enjoy with his classmates, as he has been a trooper but still seems to feel a little isolation at school as far as his dietary needs go (due to G6PD Deficiency).  I also thought of burning a screen with the gocco to egg wash on a scale pattern.  Then I realized (and this is a major development in the world of my head and creating) that I was heading down my usually disastrous path of gilding the lily.  So I….


I did.


Did you see the picture above?  That was the first try. Even after my fantasies of silk screening my meandering length of cheesy dough.

I really did.  See what I mean?  I think that turning 35 next week has me suddenly having great moments of clarity and I’m really embracing all of my quirks these days, instead of putting on “the normal”…  Now I feel like I can use my quirky powers for good, and not derail myself completely.  I have to work smart, conserve what little energy and strength I have, and not go full on sparkle, glitter, laser show, sequins, fog machine, showgirls, hydraulic lift apeshit on everything.   But sometimes I will, because I’m a behind the scenes- make stuff happen- challenge myself (seriously. You know Barney in How I Met Your Mother and how he is always saying “challenge accepted” but nobody actually challenged him… Yeah. I do that. Or I used to. I guess only time will tell.) kind of creature.  And you can take the craft supplies away from this chickadee, but face it glitter freaking sticks to and gets in everything, so really, you can’t totally take away the craft supplies.  That and inspiration is everywhere.  Ooooh. Mah pain meds seem to be kicking in.  Mama is getting more verbose than usual.  Please tell me that you could tell and not that this seems like regular, ol’ me?  Please?!?!?  Pretty please with some demerara sugar and some edible glitter on top?

Where was I?

Oh… So when kiddo came home from his festivities at school, it was reported that 1. the kids and adults loved the bread and it was devoured fast as a wink and 2. the teachers told Baldguy that he should let me know that I am welcome to make this bread and bring it in any time I have the urge to do so.   I knew it was good, but Yippee! Other people actually like it and think it is *that* grand.  Kiddo reported that he was so proud of the reptile themed bread because it was tasty and all of the kids thought it was the coolest food ever. Woohoo!  And then he said that he is proud of what a good bread baker I am (he has plans for us making bread for the whole world!  I’m barely managing a loaf a day for us!)

Oh and the cookies we spent forever decorating? Nobody ate them! They were all stuffed with cheessssssssssy bread!

Remember, sometimes what looks like a trick is actually a treat… and vice versa.
Happy Haunting!


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Strange Fruit

25 Oct

Strange fruit vegetable… This is a cucumber/mole/naked hedgehog.  It’s not some exotic variety, it’s a Boston Pickling cuke that has been subjected to my anything-but-green thumb (though my intentions were good)….

The plant wound up dying shortly after it produced this (the 4th funny little cuke of the season, despite careful attention and hand-pollination by me, La Bee)…

Oh well. Round deux is on the horizon.



You had to be a big shot, didn’t cha?

21 Oct


Voila. The big shot.
Ok, it’s not *that* big. Actually, the needle itself seems only a little longer and thicker than my old insulin syringes, but with Cimzia it is much more volume and the solution is much thicker..

I started Cimzia last Saturday and so far I have nothing to report, though I have been asleep for most of the past 48 hours, I have stubborn headache, and my appetite is ravenous and then non-existent, which is a change for me as my appetite has been mostly non-existent for a few years now.

I’m in the loading/onboarding phase of this medication and hopefully will start seeing results in the next couple of weeks. Fingers metaphorically crossed and hopefully they will be literally crossable when this stuff kicks in and works it’s magic.

The syringes are pretty cool. I know that probably sounds a little freakish, but I have a thing for good design, and OXO Good Grips teamed up with the Cimzia people to design a syringe so not only could patients administer the meds at home, but as most of the patients that use Cimzia have RA which often results in limited dexterity and hand strength, syringe design is one of those things that should have been important to other manufacturers, but it seems that the Cimzia peeps were the first to run with it.  AND I’m all about looking at the bright side of things we can’t just ignore- so boohoo I have to take yet another freaking needle, but yay! it totally makes my inner design geek squeal with delight.

And they just plain look cool. They are definitely easier to use and I am glad I had my doc request self-administration with my pre-qualification for this medication. I just can’t see traveling 30+ minutes each way, to the cancer center, to pay a copay and have the nurse inject this stuff. I have 17 years of needle experience under my belt, thanks to diabetes, so another subQ shot is no biggie for me (though if it was IM I would have the baldguy do it for me, or I’d suck it up and get a ride to the cancer center which is just something I do not need in my day when I have less than even low energy).

I was nervous about adding on a biologic/anti-TNF med as I had such a lousy experience when the last new med we added onto the methotrexate almost did me in (Plaquenil, due to G6PD deficiency), but after a brief 3 weeks off RA meds and a rapid return of the more painful symptoms, I knew that this was the next logical step as far as regaining some quality of life. I do know there are risks involved with all of this, but RA is not “wear and tear” arthritis, it’s systemic and it does have, at least for me, a larger impact than just some achy joints or not being able to go running. If it was just an issue of discomfort, I’d suck it up. I have a high tolerance for pain and I have lived with major osteoarthritis damage in my spine since I was 19. But RA destroyed the mobility in my hips. They don’t hurt anymore, but I can’t move them much either, then again the loss of mobility/range of motion is easier to accept than the idea of putting myself through two more major surgeries at this point in my life. RA messed up my vision due to inflammation and made breathing without discomfort a serious challenge over the past year due to inflammation in my ribs. I quit smoking almost 4 years ago and oh the irony that something else would screw up my breathing, right? Doesn’t matter, I’m glad that I did quit because all of the toxic substances in a pack of smokes would make things worse now and for the future. And I smell so much nicer, so I get more of the sweet snuggles from my kiddo, which keeps my spirits up.

Anyway, enough of my babble for tonight… I’ve got to go catch up on some sleep as I have been awake for a whole 5 hours. Joking. I am happy to be awake, but I don’t want to overdo it or I’ll knock out for the whole weekend. I’m learning, slowly but surely, to pace myself.


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Beware! & Kindness!

18 Oct

Bean Men can be deadly, despite their catalog model good looks.

Beware the Bean Men!   Especially if you have G6PD Deficiency and cannot tolerate beans/legumes of any sort!

They are pure plaid wrapped evil.

The Baldguy saw this catalog in our mail and altered it for my enjoyment.  He stuck it back in the pile of mail that I may never actually get to.  It had been a couple of weeks so this morning he finally caved and showed it to me.

This is why I keep him around.  He’s a very creative goofball.

And he’s also sweet.   Back in 1998 we had a giant flood in Somerville, MA. Sure we were safe on the third floor of our triple decker, but a week or so before that I had decided to move back to NY and pursue work in NYC.  Being fairly diligent, I started moving non-necessity belongings down to the creepy basement so it would be quicker and easier to assess what I had left to do and would make loading the truck/van easier as I was still a hard-headed, fairly able bodied, do it myself kind of a gal.

And then the flood came while we were at Shnoog’s(not her real name, though over a dozen years have passed and we still think of her as Shnoogs and probably always will) graduation party up in the hillier area of Somerville.

When we got out of the car I was up to my knees in flood water and the rain was still coming down.

Jeff and I got inside and dried off and as I was a red-headed wild child, I grabbed our summer roomie and went down to the first floor to introduce ourselves to the bakers dozen (or more!) of young Irish medical and engineering students that were moonlighting on US soil for the summer, working for a local moving company and sleeping 4 to a room.

We had a ball hanging out with the lads and probably swaying just a little from all of the beer and the gentle rocking melody of their Irish brogue.

I checked the basement at one point, and the flood water was a foot below the ceiling.  The washing machine bobbed by, as did a bottle of Tide.  I think I took a photo of the tide as it made me us laugh… It seemed like very intricate product placement to us silly drunk ladies.


A few days later, and the firemen came to pump out all of the basements on our street and fix some of the damage at the school across the street.  That is when I realized that the non-necessities in the drip-drying basement didn’t just include winter clothes and books.

January was down there.  January, the stuffed pig I got when my folks went to Florida without me when I was four.

Here’s January now (after I cleaned him, restuffed him, and stitched him up)… He now belongs to Alex.

I realized that the little doodads I had saved from my childhood, and a few beloved books had been destroyed in the nasty flood waters.

I broke down as I carried them outside into the sunlight.  I just lost it.  I cried for my stuffed animals, for the extra odd symbolism this inflicted on my latest transition from child and student to independent adult.  I cried because I knew Jeff would be leaving for LA and the summer all of a sudden seemed so short.  I cried. I cried.  I cried.

The next day was like any other. I went to my job at the production company and took the T home to Somerville that evening.  I walked down the hall of our third floor apartment, toward the kitchen, and something caught my eye from inside the bathroom.

The stuffed animals that inspired my meltdown, the day before, were all sitting around the ledge of the tub.

They didn’t look dirty or muddy and matted.

On one of them was this note:

That’s the baldguy’s handwriting.

It’s strange.  We had a horrible year as roommates.  I’m pretty sure that Dave and Pete (our other two roommates) hoped we’d kill each other so we’d both be out of their hair, but we stuck it out and spent a good portion of the year fighting and angry all of the time, and the rest of it plotting what our next passive aggressive insult toward the other would be.

We really weren’t good friends before the flood happened, before that summer.

But this act of great effort and kindness changed that.  From then on, we were true friends.

Anyway.  I have to finish up this rice pudding (will share recipe when I’m done changing everything about it!) and go to bed.  More tomorrow..


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Family Topiary Garden

17 Oct

Some families do not fit neatly in the template for a traditional family tree.

Our family is one that is made up of so many root systems merging, in some cases, and veering off, in other cases.

Plus, I was raised in a German & Italian family- both of which have heavy branches, and the baldguy is completely Italian, so his tree, though more traditional in structure, has many branches and shoots.

Mine is further chopped up by adoption (mine), loss and remarriage and a big step family (my Oma remarried after my Mom’s dad died during WW2, she had three kids and married a man with five kids…It’s like the German Brady Bunch).

So putting together a family tree for Alex’s end of quarter project was a challenge and a half…

Thankfully, Baldguy “accidentally” printed all of the name and date labels on Post-It removable labels which came in handy when I was sticking and resticking everything…

This is definitely not a First Grade level project, not in any form.   Like most projects in Elementary school, I think this is more of a test of the parent’s skills instead of the child’s, but that’s just my opinion.

Alex did do so much of it, but there is no way a first grader has the planning skills (or the technological ones) to do this on their own or with minimal parental involvement.  I’m just glad we had nothing planned this weekend…

They should hand out Q&A sheets and planning sheets to build up to this sort of thing.  If the powers that be did that, they would be teaching (by doing, of course!) organizational and planning skills the whole way through.  Instead we learned that we will never find the 40% off any one item coupon from Michaels when we are actually going to Michaels (though they show up everywhere in the house when we are broke or just don’t need supplies)…  We learned that Crayola Squeezable 3D Paint absorbs into the paper covering on science project tri-fold boards, but it will wait until 11:30pm on a Sunday to do this little disappearing act so the whole tree/garden looks like a madwoman did it.

That madwoman would be me.

Anyway,  I wound up doing all of the traditional branches, with photographs.  I, of course, have an extra branch from my biological relatives.  I wound up connecting all like information, all “sources” by color.  My biological “sources” are purple.  My adoptive family is pink.  Baldguy’s family is green.  All of this leads up to Alex, at the very top… For his picture I chose one of him taking a photograph.  I outlined it in purple, pink, and green and put “flash lines” of puffy paint around it so it’s like he is taking a snapshot of his entire family.

I could have used at least 3 of these poster trifold things to at least make this look less mashed and more organized. Then again, I’m a diagram nut.  I adore flowcharts… I swoon over Venn diagrams… But you knew that already.


Off to peel some of this paint and xyron adhesive from my skin.  It’s like a pseudo exfoliation treatment for Mamas!

Then to bed!


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