News About Buster

Buster Horizon

Buster has aggressive lymphoma. Today he goes in for a urine culture to see if his trouble urinating is due to a mass or an infection. They did see a mass at one point, but we’re hoping it is an infection we can treat with antibiotics, as a mass in the bladder or urethra will make his end of life more uncomfortable. We can not afford chemotherapy and, at 13 years of age, the benefits may not outweigh the risks associated with the treatment. (Though of course we want to be selfish and grasp at every possible day we can have with him at our side.) The veterinarian estimates that he has a month, maybe 3 months if he responds well to steroids. Three months is very optimistic.

Thank you all for keeping him (and us!) in your thoughts. I believe this goes without saying, but, this really sucks hard.

Green Card

looking-out-to-the-conservatory

I can tell you exactly when my love of plants took hold. I was 17 years old, and it happened while sitting in the theater watching the movie Green Card with my best friend. In the movie, Brontë Parrish, played by Andie MacDowell, agrees to an arranged marriage with Georges Fauré, played by Gérard Depardieu. He is French and in need of American citizenship; Andie is a horticulturalist who wants an apartment with a rooftop garden and greenhouse. If I remember the movie correctly, Andie needed to be married to appease the conservative board members of the building who didn’t approve of a woman living alone. (!!) Chauvinism notwithstanding, the second Andie walked into her dream apartment I thought me, too, please.

roof-with-a-view-2

writing-desk-2

apartment-living-room-2

Green-Card-kitchen-3

True fact: If we had a girl, her name would have been Brontë.

What I noticed about the apartment, aside from the historic greenhouse, antique fountain, and dozens of seed glass windows, was that every room had at least two or three plants.

bathroom-medicine-cabinet

Green-Card-apartment-entry-1

There were even plants in unexpected areas, like in the shower of windowless bathrooms. Andie Parrish: horticulturalist extraordinaire! That’s the only way I can explain what appears to be an enormous, thriving, blooming bromeliad in her entryway. Not jealous. Nope, not I.

IMG_5284

I’m having a plant situation around here. The weather has been unseasonably cold and rainy for weeks and it wreaked havoc on my warm weather plants. My spider plant is dead. So is an Italian topiary, a ficus, and a jade. You guys, I almost killed my philodendron. No one kills a philodendron (lie–I’ve killed at least three).

IMG_5293

I like to kill my succulents slowly, like a sadistic madwoman. The spindly creature third from the left has been gasping for weeks.

cacti

IMG_5390

I have had some successes. My cacti are thriving. No plant does heat and cold like a cactus. I was able to resuscitate my goldfish plant , kept a yellow mushroom situation with my Sansevieria at bay, and forced my first bulbs (amaryllis, and now I’m forcing paperwhites).

IMG_5391

We’ll see how these little cypress trees do. I’d like to say they were a well thought out purchase, but Trader Joe’s is a temptress with her plants in pretty pine boxes.

Baking Superstitions

Baking Superstitions

BS, 2

BS, 3

Saturday morning pancakes has become a tradition around here. I use a Martha Stewart Buttermilk Pancake recipe I found a few months back. It’s my keeper recipe. I’ve tried several since then, and so far this one is almost everyone’s favorite. Mikey favors one that produces thick, chewy pancakes no one else likes, so his vote doesn’t count.

I make the pancakes in the same thrifted, brown pyrex bowl every time. It’s one of my very few thrifting successes (the color could be better) and I use it for all of my baking. I have other bowls, but this one is the perfect size for mixing baked goods. If it’s dirty and I have other bowls I can use in the cupboard, I’ll wash this bowl.

The speckled mug with the peach and the blueberries and the inexplicable autumn leaf is for melting butter. Always and only. One day I heard a knock on the door, and on my porch were a three members of a new Seventh Day Adventist church going up in the neighborhood. We chatted for a while (Catholic, not going anywhere) and they gave me the peach/blueberry/autumn leaf mug with some literature. I didn’t want them to waste money when surely there was someone on the fence who could use a good mug, so I tried to give it back. They insisted I keep it as a gift. That was 8 years ago, and every time I pull down that mug to melt butter I think of them. I shared this story with the Mister once when I asked him to bring me the “butter mug” and he looked at me like I asked him to mend a rift in time. When I explained to him the origins of the mug he didn’t know we had, he called it marketing well done. I call it a darn fine butter mug. Seriously, perfection. I can melt an entire stick of butter in the microwave without the butter spilling over or the mug overheating. It’s, like, the best butter mug ever.

I have the best bowl for baking and the best butter mug. I’m sure something else would work–maybe even something that wasn’t thrifted or given to me for free–but I’m not willing to try because I’ve convinced myself that if I make pancakes in a different bowl or melt butter in a different mug the world will immediately splinter into sharp, irreparable pieces. And the pancakes are sure to taste terrible. Thick, chewy things only Mikey would like.

I’ve been eyeballing a Dutch oven for, oh, 13 years. I’m thinking it could become another one of my superstitious kitchen items. I would use it for soups, stews, and braised meats. Le Creuset has been out of my price range, but there are lower priced cast iron ovens on the market now. I don’t know how they compare. I bought one two weeks ago (the one from Kohl’s) and it’s still in my trunk. I’m undecided.

It doesn’t help that I made a beef and barely soup last night, only to discover no one really likes barley. Mikey called it “chewy, like tofu.” Nico asked for more bread “because that’s the only way I can eat this soup, mama.” The Mister and I just chewed, and now I have heartburn. I knew I would get heartburn–barley has a similar texture to oatmeal, and I can’t eat that in any form without my esophagus exploding into a fiery rage.

Christmasing

IMG_5256

Christmas Village

IMG_5267

IMG_5271

My mom was never one for holiday decorations. We had a tree, stockings, and outside two wreaths and a string of lights. I always wanted more. I wanted it to look like Christmas exploded. I wanted it to look like every holiday exploded. Didn’t happen. I vowed I would be different and that, for the most part, didn’t happen. It turns out holiday decorations are expensive and you have to store them when they aren’t is use! Just another one of the crushing truths you learn once you grow up.

When I put up decorations in the library, I wasn’t expecting the older kids to pay much attention, but they did. They immediately asked if there would be Christmas decorations and, most surprising of all, it was the 7th grade boys who were the most excited about the decorations. They wanted to put on the star, hang the ornaments, set up this and that. I was shocked. It changed my view on holiday decorations, at least a little.

I finally bought the Christmas Village I have always wanted, and I even spread out fake snow. No, even more embarrassing than that, I bought two kinds of fake snow (glittered and plain) and mixed them together because the glittered was too glittery and the plain didn’t have enough pizzazz. (!!) When I showed my little snow village to the family they just sort of looked at each other and blinked, smiled, and–were Mikey and Nico tall enough–probably would have pat my head. The Mister looked at me and said, “You bought dust?”

“It’s not dust; it’s fake snow.”

“But in a few weeks you have to dust the fake snow and throw it away.”

“No, I have it all planned out–”

“This I have to hear.”

“I’m going to sweep it into a container I marked Fake Snow. I’ll reuse it every year! You’ll see.”

It was $2, so I’ll probably just throw it away, but I refuse to admit defeat until it hits the trashcan.

In the spirit of things I never thought I would do, I’m making garlands! My friend’s family owns Patio World, and every holiday season they turn into Christmas World. Their prices really are better than large chain stores for a much better product, and you’re shopping local. But, if you’re making a garland for a K-8 library and want something super, super inexpensive, then you ask your friend Kelly to give you a garland making lesson in the parking of her store using only items from The Dollar Store. It was like wizardry. I had trouble tracking her hands because there was cheap garland and tinsel the width of dental floss flying. We’ll see how I do. I have this image of me looking like the Magician’s apprentice, covered in soot and holding a garland burnt to cinders. Then I sneeze and the garland crumbles to dust at my feet. An ornament rolls away, exit stage left.

Do you remember Dinosaur Mountain? They are alive and well! They come out every year, without fail. Dino Mountain–as it’s now called–has moved to the mantel since our three little trees gasped their final breath last year. I’m tempted, oh so very tempted, to add more dinosaurs to the mix.

Nico Laughs

I’ve been wanting to get a video of Nico laughing for a long, long time. The problem is that whenever he laughs, his laugh makes me laugh, so I forget to grab my phone.

I had my ipad sitting next to me at the dinner table tonight so I was finally able to capture a bit of the magic. When he was a baby I used to say it sounded like wind chimes. Now that he’s older and his voice is deeper, it just sounds like…crazytown awesome. Remember when I said his eyes turn into triangles? This is what I was talking about.

Warning: I have a horrible cold and my voice sounds even more like a whiskey soaked truck driver than usual, but now with congestion! Also, coughing. Ignore the coughing. I have a feeling you won’t notice either one because the boys, well, what makes them laugh is…boy stuff.

p.s. The “Aw dangit” and “Aw dagnabit” is them immitating their favorite Geico commercial. The one with Old MacDonald being a horrible speller.

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.