Saturday, September 29, 2007

Our Fourth Lotus

Another amazing Lotus begins.
I just cannot believe there are people in this town who have never been.
I keep hoping that our friends and family from out of town will see the light and join us for this unbelievable weekend of music and celebration.

Here are links to three bands we saw tonight.
More later.
It is late.

MC Rai
17 Hippies
Red Stick Ramblers

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burger & Fries Anyone?

Good Afternoon, Loyal Ones. Seven years ago today, Jack was born. It seems like an entire lifetime ago. Besides reflecting on how completely different my life has become since becoming a mother, I have been baking. We are not having Jack's official birthday party today, but he has his two best friends over for a little pizza party followed by the "Happy Burgers" pictured here. Aren't they adorable? I would like to say that I thought up the design myself, but it came straight out of a book I borrowed from the library entitled Hello Cupcake. Jack is thrilled with them.

For Jack's official birthday party, I am going to make a spaghetti and meatball cupcake thing. It is chocolate cupcake "meatballs" on a mound of icing piped in the shape of "spaghetti". Red jelly serves as the sauce. It appeals to my taste not at all, but I am not the birthday boy, now am I?

This year, I made my own birthday cake because we had a series of little scheduling mishaps resulting in, well, me making my own cake. I made one that was fast and easy and wonderful. It also happens to be one of my husband's favorite. It is an Italian Yeast Raised Cake and you can find the recipe right here.

I hope you make that cake, Loyal Ones. You will thank me.

Well, I am off to clean up the kitchen and lament the fact that I ate a few too many cupcake middles that were left over from making the Happy Burgers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bloomingtongirl Sizzles

So, Loyal Readers, what do you think of BloomingtonGirl's new look? I figured that there was no point in aging gracefully so I went under the knife and the air brusher. The new real estate on my chest is a bit hard to get used to - especially when I work out- but I am confident that I will soon get the hang of it. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to reveal that in this photo, I am wearing a wig. After all, my Loyal Readers know that BloomingtonGirl does not have long tresses.

One of my sisters-in-law was responsible for placing me on the cover of Hustler and presenting it to me for my 45th birthday. My first choice for my second magazine cover (I was once on the cover of Food Technology Magazine, if you must know) would not likely have been Hustler, though I am certain that it does indeed have very nice articles. (For example, consider one such piece of literature in the current edition entitled "Big Thrills at the Midget Rodeo".) I would probably opt to be on my beloved Vogue wearing something with a bit more coverage, but a cover is a cover and BloomingtonGirl must gracefully accept whatever fame comes her way after all.

I am now off to bed to continue my quest to finish Middlemarch. Even sex objects such as your BloomingtonGirl have to keep our minds developed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Takes a Look at Herself

Greetings Loyal Readers on this fine Sunday evening. Fine, because it is close to Jack's bedtime and I have made it through the day in a relatively sane manner. Chris left for work at 11AM and will return later this evening, so I have been on point ALONE with my soon-to-be seven year-old ALL DAY. Now, I know that there are some of those Mighty Moms reading this who might think, Big Deal, Pansy Lady! What is so GD hard about spending a day with your kid?

In response, I say, if you really do have to ask, perhaps this isn't the blog for you.

Now that I am comfortably settled into being 45, I thought it would be a good time to take a hard look at myself. You know, take inventory. (The problem with taking a look at myself in the above picture is that I have to then look at myself in profile and see that I have the unsightly nasolabial fold thing going on - yes, that is really the technical term - and that I am a poster child for Restylane.) That, however, is a topic for another time. One which might be covered in concert with Botox, perhaps.

Anyway, I figure that if I live to 90, I am at my mid-point. Some might find this math optimistic, but why shouldn't I live to 90? I swim several miles a week, take a cycling class, do Pilates, eat a wide variety of foods, drink red wine and don't smoke. On the other hand, I cheat with the tension in the cycling class, eat far too much of this wide variety of foods and truth be told, my unchecked downfall is the entire salty snack category. Plus, while I do indeed drink red wine, I probably drink too much of it, and not wanting to be a wine bigot, I indulge in white wine as well. Then, of course, there are the way too many cups of coffee I drink per day, my poor sleep habits (late to bed, early to rise), and the incredible stress I heap upon myself for fairly trivial reasons. Hmm. Maybe I won't make it to 90.

No matter, I will just assume that I am somewhere at the middle aged point for the purpose of my little how-am-I-doing-at-midlife evaluation.

And, how am I doing? In complete seriousness, I have to say pretty well. I am far more sane than I had ever imagined I could be and not nearly as fat as I feared I would be in my forties. The quality, joy and stability of my marriage long ago surpassed what the single me could have conjured-up in her wildest imagination. And, periodic parenting despair aside, I am consistently grateful for and reasonably content with my lot in life. And content is saying a LOT. I used to think that content meant bored. I couldn't have been more wrong. Content is a luxury I relish.

Well, I am off to brush my fangs and attempt to read more than five pages of the sumptuous Middlemarch before I nod off. Before I go, however, I would like to recommend a movie that Chris and I rented recently. Zodiac. Long, but completely riveting. One of the best movies I have seen in years.

Bye for now, Oh Loyal Ones.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!!

This cake has nothing to do with me, Loyal Readers, but I found it in my search for birthday cake images and I thought it was hilarious.















Perhaps a more appropriate cake for yours truly is the one below. Isn't it just darling?
















I am planning to do a nice long swim today while Jack is at a friend's house for a play date. After my swim and before Chris and I go out for dinner tonight, I am going to go shopping and pick up a nice little birthday gift for myself, wrap it and give it to my husband to present to me at dinner. I daresay that a more thoughtful wife has not lived.


Besides world peace, small pores and being a size four, here are some items that have been on my birthday gift wish list, but I don't think that I will be so extravagant as to purchase any of these (except perhaps the Lucchese Cowboy boots which I might order from Zappos today). Of course, I adore the red boots but in my current life, I just won't get enough wears per $$ to make them even a remotely good value. Just looking at them make me feel like a million bucks. They just rock.



In other news, Jack brought me breakfast in bed today for my special day. This was a completely unsupervised effort because Chris is working this weekend. I heard him rummaging around in the kitchen and finally, he appeared with a plate in hand. He said, "Mommy, I made you bread and butter, but I used the soft butter from the pantry and it didn't taste right. Do you still want it?" I quickly realized that the "soft butter" was a stick of butter flavored Crisco, so I declined the bread and butter combo. No worry, though, more was on the way. Next on the menu was a bowl of Crispix. Jack proudly brought in the bowl and said, "Mommy, I put cottage cheese on it instead of milk, because I thought the milk might spill." Clearly, Jack gets his culinary talent from his father.

More later on my birthday report. I am off to swim.

Oh, and by the way, in case you are wondering, I am 45.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shoe Lust

Loyal Readers! Aren't these gorgeous? I just gotta have 'em. They speak directly to my already crazy shoe-lust. They are a delicious combination of sweet and sexy and sophisticated. (I know, you are thinking, Wow! That's a description of YOU, BloomingtonGirl!) They are made of pink hair-calf! I never knew that Pink Baby Cows existed. I do hope they harvest this hair humanely and responsibly.

The real problem is, endangered pink baby cows or not, that the price tag on these little darlings is $550, and I would never in a million years spend that...not even close.

Still, a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bloomington Girl Gets Started Too Late

Oh, Loyal Readers! Your BloomingtonGirl is so very tired. It is almost midnight and I am waiting for my pear butter to be done. In an ill-advised manner, I started to make said butter at about 8:45 this evening. I didn't realize that one (among several) step in the process took a full 55 minutes until I was well underway peeling the pears and at that point, it was too late to stop. So, here I am, waiting with great anticipation for the timer to go off. I cannot wait to get myself into bed.

I am making Spiced Pear Butter from a recipe that I found on Epicurious.com. It came out well, but it is just slightly too sweet. This weekend there should still be Pears at the farmer's market so I shall try again, this time with more lemon juice and less sugar. But, still, it is rather tasty. The recipe includes wine, cloves and vanilla bean so how bad could it be? I used a variety of Pear called Honey Sweet and I purchased them from a wonderful fruit seller at the market. When I mentioned that I was going to make Pear Butter, he offered to sell some pears to me at a discount. These were pears that "had gotten a little riper than I would like" he said. So, I bought eight pounds and he charged me a mere five smackers.

Yippee! The timer just went off. I am signing off!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bloomington Girl Buys A Wine Cube

At Target, no less.

One of my new friends - a woman of great taste and wit - recently said to me that she drank Target Wine-in-a-Box on occasion. She said that it wasn't bad. So today, I decided to pick a box up at Target, though for wine buying purposes, I should call it Tarzhay. Either way, I purchased a "mini cube" of California Pinot Grigio. You can see it pictured at left, along side a tissue box for a size comparison. This little box contains the equivalent of TWO bottles of wine and costs a mere $9.99. I could have purchased a regular cube but that seemed quite excessive. The regular cube contains the equivalent of FOUR bottles of wine for about $16.

So, how is it? It is not bad. Not bad at all. It drinks WAY better than a $5.00 bottle would drink, not that I would ever admit to drinking one, of course. The drawback to the wine in a box concept, though, is that you cannot see how much is gone, and I think that is an important visual guide when drinking wine, don't you?

In other news, Chris cut Jack's hair tonight with scissors rather than with the clippers, with which he has at least some experience. Let's just say that the results confirm my belief that paying for someone to cut Jack's hair four times a year is more cost effective than what we are going to have to spend in therapy dollars helping him get over the emotional wounds he will suffer from having these homespun haircuts. I think that this time around, my husband saw the light. I just hope Jack doesn't take a good look in the mirror tonight before going to bed. I sort of rushed him into the shower after the damage was done, hoping to buy some time before he realizes how badly his hair has been butchered. Last time his father cut his hair, he wept - wept - about how short is was. He might long for his last haircut when he gets a look at this one...

It brings back memories of a similar torture suffered by your BloomingtonGirl at the hands of her well meaning mother. When I was about six, my mother decided that I had to have a pixie cut. Why my older gum chewing sister got to grow her hair and I did not, I have never understood. But, having covered the issue in painful detail in therapy, I don't feel the need to delve into it here. Anyway, I had to go to this hairdresser down our little street (formally called Bellinger Ave but widely known in town as Pig Tail Alley). The hairdresser's name was Olga Hair. Yes, you read that correctly. Olga had a little salon in her house, on the second floor. My mother took me there (many times, I might add) for my pixie cut. The worst part of it was that Olga would put powder down my back afterward for some reason and I just remember it smelled bad and made me itch. When my mother did allow my hair to grow beyond the pixie from time to time, she often made a little pony-tail on the top of my head. I don't know why she did this. Perhaps it was to satisfy some crazy notion she had. I just remember it gave me a headache.

But, enough about the childhood of your BloomingtonGirl. It is time for the adult BloomingtonGirl to wash her face, study the size of her pores, apply moisturizer, kiss Jack goodnight and settle down with Middlemarch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cranberry-Raspberry Preserves & Some Hot Peppers, Too

I have been canning up a storm again. In the past three days, I put up some pickled hot peppers and two double batches of Cranberry-Raspberry Preserves. I am posting some photos here for your viewing pleasure. Don't tell my dermatologist, okay?



Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Must Have

Loyal Readers, have you ever seen such a delightful bandage? Forget Shrek, Peanuts, Princess Bandages. Now you can have THE MAN watching over your boo-boo. Very healing, I think. I have to order them if only to find out what the "Free Toy Inside!" is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Finest Man I Know

Is, of course, my husband, Chris. Now, don't get your agates in an uproar, (as my mother used to day) Loyal Male Readers. Each of you is no doubt, just as fine. But none of you, or anyone else for that matter, is finer. It just isn't possible. My husband is just a great guy with a good and loving heart, complete integrity, a fine character and a wonderful sense of humor. He is also one of the smartest people I know and always does the right thing. And he is handsome, completely unassuming and modest. How can you beat that?

I can honestly say that I am one of the most happily married people I know and I believe that I can speak for my husband and say that he is as well. Every day, I say to my husband at least once, sometimes twice "Honey, thanks for everything and I'm sorry for everything." We laugh and agree that that just about covers everything and anything.

If I had to say what makes a marriage a happy one, I would say it is at least 33.3% dumb luck that you meet a good person and remain compatible over time, 33.3% not taking yourself too seriously and 33.3% of a million other little things that pile up over time. My husband might say it simply takes a thick skin and a short memory. That happens to also be his formula for a happy life, which when you think about it, is completely true.

In my case, being happily married is made easier by having so luckily chosen such a fine mate to spend my life with. I feel fortunate every day to be married to Chris. He agrees with me. This morning, he said, "Happy Tenth Anniversary, Honey. You are a very lucky girl."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Scary Momster

Now, look at this photo, Loyal Readers, and tell me what kind of mother would ever think of running away, far away, where nobody would ever find her, from this gorgeous and sweet child?

I'll give you a hint...she writes this very blog.

Yep, it's true, Loyal Ones. I wanted to run away last weekend. It was the WORST weekend I can remember since, well, maybe the previous weekend or perhaps the weekend before that.

For most of the three-day weekend, Jack was overtired and chronically whiny and pissed because he didn't have a playmate for every minute of every day. It was a rotten combination of emotions, believe-you-me and I nearly had a nervous breakdown being around it. I finally understood what my mother used to say when I was growing up. She would say, "Sometimes, I just want to run away far in the woods where nobody can find me." To be fair, growing up hearing things like that from my mother did lead to years of therapy, but hey, at least she was honest. There are just some days when being a parent can be way more than I ever bargained for. For me, those days most often fall on weekends and holidays. When Jack's in school, I find that I am quite happy to be a mother.

It isn't that I don't love my kid. I love him beyond my own comprehension and the bottom line is that I wouldn't trade this experience for being without him. He is funny and smart and creative and so many many good things. It is just that he's about to turn seven and gives not a fig about doing ANYTHING his parents might want to do. He is not one of those kids who even thinks about pleasing his parents or getting their approval.

And besides, what sane adult wants to spend all waking hours playing games that a seven year-old makes up? (This is meant to be rhetorical, but just in case there is any doubt, I shall answer NOT ME. I am, of course, happily willing to spend some time, but all day? Can't do it. I'm just not wired that way.)

I have thought long and hard about this and I conclude that the solution to having a happy family is two-fold. First, I will make sure that I have an arsenal of babysitters so that my husband and I can occasionally do some things on weekend days together without a very vocal and unhappy Jack in tow to make things miserable. And, second, I vow to PLAN AHEAD for playmates to come over. There. Now, we can live happily ever after and maybe Jack won't need too much therapy from being around his Momster.

In other news, today I made Pomegranate Jelly which came out more like Pomegranate Syrup. I think that I shall rename it and be done with it. What's in a name? Sometimes everything.

In other other news, tomorrow is our ten year wedding anniversary. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Gets Seedy

Sunday Greetings to my Loyal Ones. I am glad to report that I am indeed a tad happier today than I was yesterday, though not a bit thinner.

Yesterday at the wonderful Bloomington Farmer's Market, one of my favorite farmers had pints and pints of raspberries for sale. I saw them and immediately decided that I would make Raspberry Jam. I had in mind a recipe I'd seen in a great little canning book I just got but couldn't remember the specifics. I figured whatever I needed besides raspberries, I could just go out and get. I purchased my five pints of raspberries for a king's ransom and went home to make my jam.

Well, it turns out that was wrong about being able to just go out and get whatever else I might need. This particular recipe called for homemade pectin. The author wrote that raspberries were low enough in pectin to require added pectin to get the right consistency but that she didn't choose to use commercial pectin because commercial pectin requires more sugar than she wanted to use.

I looked up other raspberry jam recipes but they had much more added sugar than the one I had in mind, and I didn't want an overly sweet jam. So, I decided to go all the way and make my own pectin. It seemed so simple.

Because I know that my Loyal Readers will now be eager to make homemade pectin, I shall briefly describe the process.

First, you boil pounds and pounds of granny smith apples in some water.














Then, you put the boiled, squishy apples in cheesecloth sacks and let them hang over a pot all night so that the pectin stock drains out. (Your kitchen will now smell exactly like a fruit processing plant. For me, this was a good thing. It brought back old memories of working in the food industry.)

In the morning, you concentrate the pectin stock 2X by boiling it and then is ready to use.

Voila. Homemade pectin.

I made the jam today (as you will see in the picture above) using the homemade pectin. The jam tastes great, but it is, in a word, SEEDY. I suppose I could have made seedless jam but let's face it. Once you remove the seeds (by God knows what tedious method), you wouldn't have anything left to can.

And, of course, you are wondering...Did the homemade pectin provide superior results? Hard to say, because I don't have a control batch using commercial pectin.

In any event, I doubt I will go to the trouble (and expense) of making raspberry jam again, especially with homemade pectin. Peach preserves are easier and better.

But, like so many one time things, it was a good experience and made me feel as if I was channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder or someone like that.

In other news, there isn't much. I am continuing to enjoy Middlemarch, though I haven't had enough time to read lately. Tonight, though, I am getting into bed early with that wonderful book and am going to read 'till my heart's content, or until my eyes shut.

Tomorrow, I will put up some Pomegranate jam (I have been meaning to do that for weeks now) and perhaps some pickled peppers. Not a peck, though.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Long Day

Hello, Loyal Readers. Your BloomingtonGirl is out of sass today, low energy, a little blue. You get the idea. First let me say that I do realize that each one of my ridiculous problems are indeed luxury ones. I feel fortunate every single day to not be in a war zone where I live in fear, cannot feed my child or get him remotely adequate health care. (Remember, it is easy to write to your congressional reps and urge them to get the hell out of Iraq NOW.) Alas, I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, my petty little problems.


First of all, as you can see in the photo at left, I am suddenly very very fat. As I was walking today, I was reflecting on how much time and energy I spend thinking about the size of my body, mostly the part of my body the bottom of my rib cage down to my knees. The rest of me doesn't bother me terribly much especially now that I am managing my pore size to my satisfaction, but the rib to knee expanse area takes up WAY too much of my mental space. And to be accurate, the actual physical space that the area takes up, while annoyingly larger than it used to be, isn't all that shocking or alarming for a woman my size. Still, I am really put out by the size of myself lately. But even as I ponder this and give in a bit to despair, I have to wonder what other worry would fill my mental space if I no longer obsessed about whether I am thin or fat?

There is never an in between, of course. It's an either / or question not to be confused with a real multiple choice test:

Circle the answer which best describes your figure:

a) Thin
b) Fat
c) Just Right
d) Depends on the time of month )

Second of all, I had to live with an overtired frustrated kid, who in turn had to deal with his overtired, frustrated and fat mother. It was just one of those days where no matter what we were doing, some kind of whining would erupt (I am ashamed to say it wasn't always Jack's) or an argument would ensue. I have to be honest. I spent most of the day looking forward to Jack's bedtime. Go ahead, call the Perfect Mommy Brigade. See if I care.

I am sure that there was a "third of all" but I am too tired to remember it.

More later when I am thinner and better rested.