Just two more sleeps

16387365_1701486873477922_1700657066013080432_nWell, my friends, the stage is set for Fitzgerald’s arrival. The food bowls are waiting, the gates are up, the baby bed is soft and cozy, the crate is assembled and we have, possibly, every type of puppy toy imaginable. Did you know, for example, that they make Kong Binkies, which are in the shape of pacifiers? He now has two.

On Sunday, we get to pick up our little bundle of joy and I couldn’t possibly be more excited. I mean, I guess I could be if I wasn’t slightly nervous too, but maybe being nervous is the same thing as being excited, just a little less fun.

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The terrible, no good, very bad recipe

stove-fire1Last night, I stood over the stove and knew I was screwed. No matter how much I mixed, there was a frightening glob in the pot that was slowly but surely sticking to the bottom, thus turning into a frightening glob that was burning. I looked frantically around, wondering if there might be a Food Network star nearby who could help me with this culinary horror. But, alas, no one was there.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: My husband and Gabrielle were there. And, frankly, they looked pretty hungry. But guess what they were eating if this glob didn’t suddenly turn into a lovely meal? Yeah, that’s right: toast. They were going to have to eat toast.

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To January, the beautiful

fullsizerenderIt’s that time of year where the kitchen has become a place of atonement. The holidays are over, every piece of clothing in your closet is tight (I had an infinity scarf feel too snug this week), and you can’t even use the excuse of East Orthodox Christmas anymore (celebrated Jan. 7, mmmmmm, 12 meatless dishes). Essentially, reality has set in hard. You have weight to lose, that’s one. You’re big into self-improvement, that’s two. And the fact that January has 31 days? Not. Nice.

This used to be my most hated time of year in the kitchen. By middle of January, I’d already eaten my fill of lentils, broccoli, frittatas and other foods that can feel like the nutritional equivalent of self-flagellation. Summer was a long way off so I couldn’t even look forward to a good tomato. I’d be looking around the place starving, searching for any excuse I could possibly find to reward myself with some cheese. By the end of the month, I’d usually lost two pounds, but my mood? It was sour. And February wasn’t looking much sweeter.

But last year, I decided to shed this attitude and turn to my cookbooks. Over the years, I’ve been gifted and have bought a lot of them, though through the summer, when I cook very simply, and through the holidays, when I rely on traditional stand-bys, they don’t get cracked open very often. But last year, I decided that they were the key to saving me from the culinary doldrums.

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Introducing pup talk

fitzi-cropped

Just 23 short days left and our perfect baby boy puppy will be ours. And, oh readers, oh lovers of mine, I’m in full nesting mode.

Last night, William, Gabrielle and I sat around the kitchen island looking at collars online. We’d decided on the Blueberry brand with the help of one of our friends, so now it was time to choose color and pattern. You’d think we were picking out a prom dress with the amount of deliberation that went into it. Scottish tartan? Too fussy. Flamingos? Too Floridian. Cupcakes? Too gluttonous. Was he a red man? A blue man? Both seemed too predictable. We finally decided on yellow, which we felt would go nicely against his sharp black and white coat.

Our baby is a Boston Terrier, and was chosen thanks to our friend Hannah’s dog Pepper, who is also a “roundhead.” It took just 15 minutes of being around that little charmer before my husband, who would never be accused of being overly demonstrative, was on his haunches yowling, “Who’s my good girl? Who’s my good girrrrrrl?”

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The chipmunk and the chompers

wisdom-teethIt is the year of the rodent for the Kaprowy/Baker household. First, we had frequent (and damaging) visits from a screen-licking, wood-eating squirrel. Now we have a chipmunk living upstairs. Yes, our dear, little Gabrielle has reached the ultimate oral rite of passage: wisdom tooth extraction.

It happened yesterday morning and we are T-minus 23 minutes from reaching the 24-hour mark. While Gabrielle has been an exceptional trooper, she’s had a rough go. The poor kid had not four, but five wisdom teeth removed, the eerie fifth lodged near her sinus, which required considerable rooting around to retrieve. As a result, she swelled up like a balloon and went through a few bad hours as the freezing wore off and she was dealing with the anxiety that consists of, “Umm, just how bad is this going to get?” In answer, she has taken to walking around with icepacks on her face that she keeps in place using an ingenious tying technique she developed with a Caribbean-hued scarf. Think brassiere meets babushka meets top knot.

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Apology to a schnoz

noseDear Nose,

I’ve taken you for granted. I’m not making any excuses, and it’s not that I don’t think you’re great. I mean, you’re as much a part of me as my hand or my little toe or the elbow I broke twice so it doesn’t straighten out like it’s supposed to. It’s just that usually you’re so reliable I don’t even have to think about you. It’s not fair to take something for granted that is so good to a person. But that’s exactly what I’ve done.

It’s only since I’ve had this cold that I realize just how important you are to me. Yes, hardship is what made me separate what’s what from what’s what. I realize that is a little despicable. Remember, I am not making excuses. I’m just saying: You are very, very important to me, and I realize that now.

For example, last night I tried to brush my teeth with absolutely no help from you. You were so blocked from the cold, I had to brush my teeth using only my mouth. I never realized how hard it is to brush your teeth when your nose is inoperable. I mean, I was out of breath. There was froth everywhere. Toothpaste is minty fresh, except minty fresh on the inhale isn’t that useful when you’re wanting to cough at every opportunity.

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The secret inside the gingerbread house

img_4102In the kitchen, the gingerbread houses sat in a row, creating a sugary subdivision on the granite countertop. One was decorated with precise detail, everything from gummy bears to peppermints on every window, door and shingle. A few were adorned just on one side, the architects having abandoned the project so they could go and play dolls. One house had collapsed under the weight of a bag’s worth of icing on the roof, despite several efforts at repair. And one stood with a lawn made of candy, the joint effort of a brother and sister. The view was like staring at the embodiment of Christmas.

These constructions were the result of a cookie-decorating party I was lucky enough to attend this past Saturday. I knew we were in for a good time the minute I walked into the kitchen to see a fold-out table covered with magical bottles of sprinkles, cans of icing in every festive color, and plain sugar cookies just aching to look pretty. The kitchen table had been reserved for the gingerbread house kits and marshmallowy cups of hot chocolate. The kids, 10 of them under the age of 10, were bouncing around, their eyes saucers as they eyed the candy. The hostess wisely handed each mom a glass of champagne and we got to work.

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You’ve got mail

email11A few weeks ago, in a move that likely won’t win me Auntie of the Year award, I sent my nephew an Amazon gift card for his birthday. Since, again, I was not winning any competitions, I had the gift card delivered electronically to his email because, whoops, it was the day after his birthday and I needed to get his gift to him as fast as possible.

Then a week later, I asked Gabrielle if she had heard from her teacher about a recommendation for the Governor’s Scholar Program when she told me she’d have to check her email. It had been approximately five to 10 to possibly 20 days since she last had.

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Caution: student driver

"When I let out a blood curdling yell and scream 'Jesus Christ you're going to kill someone' I'd like you to apply the brakes..."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepmother and stepdaughter sit in driveway, teenager at wheel. Sun is out. Car is shiny. Nerves are tense but intact.

“OK, ready?”

“Ready.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“OK, if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure!”

“OK, let’s go.”

Car stalls.

“What you do you think you did wrong?”

Teenager looks accusingly at car. Stepmother points delicately at lifted handbrake.

“Right,” says teenager.

“Let’s try again.”

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Food on my mind

crop_weblime-and-cranberry-thumbprint-cookies

I am so very, very, very hungry. I’m running a half marathon this coming Saturday so have been training to get ready for it. Long runs, though, mean my appetite skyrockets and all I can think about is how much I love food. So, the driving lesson column I had intended for this week will have to wait. Instead, in keeping with my ravenous mindset, I thought I would rank my Favorite Foods Ever and see if you agree.

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