September 2007


and I will tell you it might have something to do with one of these two things:

1. For lunch, we had crackers with Boursin Garlic and Herb cheese, Fiber One granola bars (9 grams of fiber, due to freakish amounts of chicory root extract, which is, presumably, very high in fiber, but adds what Derek says is a very “burnt” flavor, which I cannot detect, and confectioner’s shellac, which apparently isn’t an oxymoron, since shellac is edible. I looked it up. It used to be thought that shellac was derived from grinding up the wings of certain beetles, but it’s really a secretion from the female beetle that makes the bark of the tree they live on a little more sticky, so it’s easier to walk on. But in the harvest process of scraping the trees, inevitably some beetles get tossed in too, so shellac isn’t vegetarian, and is definitely not vegan), and a Diet Pepsi. Are you still with me?

Or 2. I was up from 2:30 am to 3:30 am performing my absolute least favorite parenting duty: cleaning up spaghetti vomit from the boys’ bedroom rug while simultaneously encouraging (ordering) the perpetrator to remain in the bathroom with his face pointed at the toilet, to stop crying, whining and yelling, and to try (skip this part if you’re susceptible) to snort out the piece that got jammed into his nasal cavity, causing pain and excess nose running. Curiously, the stuff running out of his nose seemed to have a little more wheat bran than is usual. Also, the poor delinquent has a very developed gag reflex, which makes the whole snorting part precarious. In the end, there was a joyful exclamation, “It came out!” and he went to bed without further ado.

I was, for the first time, really, really grateful for the garbage disposal. I don’t use it often, because of the energy and large amount of water consumed and the fact that it mucks up the water systems (I can’t direct you to where I read this information, sorry, but this will tell you a little), but when you have a towel full of recycled spaghetti, and someone hovering over the toilet, and you just don’t want to stick your hands in there anyway, the kitchen sink with the pig works just fine.

In any case, the stomach pain has ceased, only to make way for a new and exciting headache. Which should have been preempted by the Diet Pepsi, but what can you do?

Here’s another informal poll,

If you could buy a new fridge today, and money was not an issue, which would you pick?

Keep in mind that top freezers are the most energy efficient, bottom freezers are convenient because the normal stuff is at eye level and you don’t have to bend over to get an apple or a carrot, and side-by side fridge-freezers require less opening space, since the doors are narrower, but you can’t put a frozen pizza in them.

Poll SurveyTake Our Poll

Dangit, this isn’t working. I’ll try to fix it.

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Derek and I found a house that we thought would suit our family. We met the agent, and walked through the house last week. The more we thought about it, the more we liked it, and the more I got worried that someone else would like it too. Which is a little paranoid, since it’s been on the market since May, and home sales go down drastically in the Fall.

We talked about the pros: it’s cute, the neighborhood is nice, the school is 3 blocks away, it’s 2 story, it has a basement that’s habitable, it’s not weird and gross on the inside, it’s not too expensive, it has a great yard with big trees, it has a porch, it has new windows and roof, it’s not too big.

And the cons: it’s made of asbestos, it needs to be painted every 5-7 years, it has a tiny kitchen, it has no counter in the main bathroom, and that’s all. But those are all things I can live with or change.

So Derek began applying for home loans on Tuesday. We thought it would take a while to get approved, and to choose which bank to use. I had told the home agent last week that we would call him at the beginning of this week, so by Tuesday night, I thought we should at least let him know we were interested in the house. I didn’t want him to forget about us. So Derek called him, and set up an appointment for Wednesday, to talk about options, to discuss the loan process, and to let him know that, even though we don’t have an agent, we’re not naive or stupid (which we actually are).

Derek made a whole bunch of phone calls to different lenders on Wednesday, and found one that would give us a lending plan that would work for our situation (i.e. no down payment, short employment history in Ohio, etc.) He then met up with the home agent, called me once during the discussion to ask what kind of washer and dryer I was hoping for. He came home an hour later, to announce that he had bought the house.

He did end up offering slightly more that the asking price, but that was so they would do a few more improvements, like banisters on the stairs (which is building code anyway, but not necessary if the buyer doesn’t want it), run a gas line to the range in the kitchen, put light fixtures in the bedrooms, remove the tree stump in the middle of the yard, and get some fancy-schmancy appliances, including a new gas range, energy-efficient washer and dryer, refrigerator, and possibly a treadmill. But it’s still a pretty good deal, I think. There’s nowhere else I could have a cute house AND a big-ish yard. It’s a little more than 1/4 acre, which is little, but not as little as most of the other yards in the neighborhood, with their 1/8 acre.

So I wasn’t expecting to own a house when I woke up yesterday morning, but I’m really excited that it’s the house I like. We have to close before October 19th. That’s like 3 weeks!

Derek just came home and announced that he bought a house.

* * *

Compulsive Writer is on a dessert binge, and keeps posting cake recipes, so I have cake on the brain. But no zucchini! What to do?

I’m providing you with my mother’s famous chocolate zucchini cake, because every once in a while, you need you eat your zucchini in the form of dessert. For me, it’s actually hard to accumulate enough zucchini to make this, since I positively love zucchini, especially if it’s little and I can sautée it in a freaking hot pan until it has brown spots, add some salt and pepper, and serve it up with pasta.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Preheat oven to 350°, grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans (I think it’s 2, I’m gonna call my mom to make sure, so check back later, just in case).

In a big bowl, sift together:

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa
2 2/1 t baking powder
1 1/2 t soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon (optional)

In another medium bowl, cream together:

2 C sugar
3/4 C butter or shortening

Beat into the creamed butter and sugar:

3 eggs

Stir in:

1/2 C warm milk
2 t vanilla
2 C zucchini, shredded (packed, generous cups)

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix to combine, so there are no little bubbles of flour. Pour equally into pans, and bake for about 1 hour, until they’re done, that is, when a toothpick inserted almost in the middle doesn’t come out gooey.

Frost this cake with chocolate ganache frosting, chocolate buttercream, or chocolate syrup. I prefer ganache, personally.

Boo-hoo. Boo-hooo-hoooo. Whine, whine whine. Consider yourself warned.

I feel like if I could just lose 5-10 pounds, I would be able to run farther and enjoy it more. If I could just stop bull-dozing every scrap of edible matter in my path, I could lose those crappy pounds. I have no strategy. I keep thinking it would be so easy to simply eat less. And then I get so overwhelmed with loneliness, sadness, boredom, avoidance of responsibility, inertia… that I can’t face the idea of not seeking out any and every simple and complex carbohydrate within a 5 mile radius.

Also, since I started running again last December, after the requisite 6-week recovery period (which for me is actually at least 8 weeks) after childbirth, I haven’t found my groove. I remember running for a couple of hours at a time and loving the freedom, the strength, the meditation, all that goes with distance running. I miss that liberated feeling. I remember the need to brag to everyone I met about my 12 mile run that morning. I remember pushing myself, but having it not be that hard.

Now, I feel like I’m made of cement. My feet don’t want to come off the ground, my legs don’t want to move. My ankles ache on the days I don’t run. My belly pokes out more than it did when I was 4 months pregnant. My stamina is gone, and the motivation to get out and run 4 times a week is severely lacking. I wake up with a headache every single morning. But I do it, and I’m happy if I get in one mile.

When I was closing in on the finish line during my first 1/2 marathon, I came up behind a woman who had stopped to walk. She seemed like she had given it everything she had, and had come up short. I was creeping along at 10 minutes per mile, so as I passed, I encouraged her, “It’s only one mile to go! That’s your very shortest run! 15 minutes at your slowest.” She girded her loins and started shuffling along with me. After a couple of minutes, she said thanks, and took off. I think she beat my by 3 or 4 minutes.

And now, I can barely push myself those 15 minutes. I did make it a whole 30 minutes on Saturday, with a short walk after the first 15, but by the end, I felt hammered. I really, really want to love it again. I want to be able to do 2 hour runs on the weekend. I want to do a 1/2 marathon in the spring.

Can anyone help me?

Update: I just signed up for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. Anyone wanna join me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

I just checked my spam queue, as I do sometimes just for fun. Every once in a while there is a genuine comment that’s not X-rated, and those comments are worth the sifting. Well, here’s what I found:

Just a quick note to let you know how your blog brightened our day at the dairy. I work at the Maytag Dairy Farms where we work extremely hard to hand craft the blue cheese your sons enjoyed for lunch. It is a very labor intense and complex cheese to make so was nice to hear that what we do each day here on the farm was savored by your young men.

Thank you,
Myrna

I poked around, and lifted Myrna’s URL, because of course, I was interested. She works at the Maytag Dairy Farm. I thought it was so sweet of Myrna to post a comment, and I’m so glad I retrieved it. I don’t know why it was marked spam, it didn’t have any extra links or anything. Anyway, the folks over there at Maytag Dairy, they’re nice. And they make some good cheese.

Last night, we took the whole fam to view a house. Up to this point, I have been doing the house-hunting solo, using various internet searches to plan my attack, browsing neighborhoods, dragging friends and cousins along, and hitting open-houses. We don’t nave a realtor yet, nor a loan, but I’ve taken the approach that, since it’s very much a buyer’s market, there’s no rush.

A few weeks ago, I passed a house that I thought was cute. I made a note about it on my increasingly chaotic notes page, and drove on. The next week, I drove by again, and noticed from my car that the house looks vacant. So I got out and poked around. It’s a 1920’s bungalow, not unlike the fabulous house I grew up in. It sits on a double lot, so it actually has a yard, and not a 4×4 foot patch of weedy lawn. There’s an ordinance that prohibits the owner from building on the side yard, so it’s the same yard it has had for almost 90 years.

There is a great big tree in the yard (among a bunch of other big trees) that appears to be a magnolia. I have a particular love for magnolia trees-they make me weep for the beauty of the spring blossoming. There’s a garage in the back that has the original barn-style doors. The yard is definitely big enough for a pick-up game of soccer, a vegetable and herb garden, a compost pile, and maybe couple of chickens. I’m so not kidding. One day, I will have chickens. If you don’t believe me, go read this and tell me what you think.

I took Sheila to the house when she was here, and we poked around again. The neighbor, Nick, came out to introduce himself, and ended up chatting away a good half hour. He told us about the neighborhood, and seems to actually know the neighbors. I think that’s a good sign.

We decided to call the agent and schedule a walk-through, since I had heretofore only peeked in the windows. He met us last night and showed us around. I had to keep biting my lip to keep from gushing about how great this house is. It’s got a few things that are not ideal, including very little counter space in the kitchen, on which to knead my bread, the cabinetry is new and cheap, though not unpleasing to the eye, the side door is on the yard side, not the driveway side, it’s not quite 1400 square feet, there’s a giant stump in the middle of the yard, it’s made of asbestos (solid, though, so no risk of airborne particles), and I haven’t quite figured out where I would put the piano.

As far as advantages: it’s cute. Big yard. Two car garage. Two story. Some hardwood floors that were refinished this summer. Antique fixtures that the previous owner had been collecting, including super-cute doorknobs and some fantastically beautiful light fixtures. Big porch. 3 blocks from elementary school. Nice neighbors. Finished basement. What else? Take a look and tell me your impressions.

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