Sunday, August 31, 2014

Zen and the Art of Lawnmower Maintance

Part of being a fabulous single woman is having to do the things around the house that my ex-husband used to do.  Now, truth be told, that is not a very long list, but that is a topic for another day....

Mowing the lawn was always the purview of the man of the house.  Even when my husband was gone for weeks at a time I never mowed the lawn.  (I just sort of let it grow wild out there and hoped that all of the children made it home at the end of the day.)  Now that I'm on my own mowing the lawn is the chore that I dread the most.

Lawn mowers are the culmination of everything I hate.  They are loud.  They smell bad.  They can remove a limb if you're not careful.  These are, in my opinion, not positive qualities in a car, a man or a power tool.


I never look this happy mowing my lawn

The first time I tried to mow the lawn I spent about 15 minutes pulling that damn string before I realized that you have to hold the handle down at the same time.  Then there was the time that the lawnmower ran out of gas.  I didn't know where to put the gas.  I didn't know what kind of gas to use (diesel?  unleaded?  kerosine????)  I had heard some vague whispering about mixing oil with the gas, did that still happen?  How did you do that?  I HAD NO CLUE!!!

But then ... I figured it out.  I harnessed the power of Google, the owner's manual and my very lawn savvy neighbor and somehow managed to keep my lawnmower in functioning condition.

I still hate mowing the lawn, but now when I look out there and see my (poorly) mown lawn it just reminds me that I can do stuff on my own....I'm actually sort of kick ass.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What I want to be when I grow up......

As part of being a newly single woman I am obligated to find a job. (I had initially just assumed that I would sponge off of my ex for several decades, but he seems to thing that's not how it should be...go figure.)

It's been a little over a year that I've been seriously searching and I have to tell you...pickin's are slim out there my friends!  Being a mom gets a lot of lip service.  No one will ever tell you that being a mother is a waste of your time, that would be down-right unAmerican!  But when you tell an employer that you've spend the last 8 years being a stay at home mother they look at you like you should be carrying an apple pie instead of a resume. 

I don't have to tell you, my fellow mothers, that being a mother (stay at home or otherwise) is no walk in the park.  In fact, mothers have developed several valuable skills that can easily transition to the workplace.  Let me enumerate several for you....

1.  Time Management - I can get three kids to three different activities at three different locations, do a load of laundry, cut out three dozen paper apples for a kindergarden class, bake brownies for Elementary School movie night, mow the lawn and have dinner on the table at 6pm without batting an eyelash....That's a typical day for a mom, I'd like to see the CEO of Microsoft take on THAT schedule!

2.  People Skills - A mother often must work with small people who can be demanding, unreasonable, rune and often in need of a nap.  If we can manage these sorts of people difficult co-workers or prickly clients are a cake walk.

3.  Budgeting - Feed three kids for a month on less than $300 - check.  Make difficult budget cuts including canceling cable and going from good wine to two-buck-chuck - check.  Forgoing the current season of Sherlock until it's (FINALLY) available on Netflix - checkedy-check-check.  Mom's know how to stretch a dollar and where to cut back in their budget to keep things running during slim times.

4.  Professionalism - Moms are SO beyond the drama.  We know what matters and what doesn't.  As a mother you only have so much time in the day to worry.  We've learned that worrying about who the trendy teen idol is dating or who is wearing what to work isn't worth our valuable time. We'd rather worry about doing the best job that we can do, mastering out trade and growing in our careers.

As you can see, mom skills are really quite valuable and easily transferable to the modern workplace.  Now....if anyone is looking for a molecular biologist with these skills ...and more drop me a line!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

cha - cha - cha - CHANGES!

Big changes are afoot here at Chez Delinquent.  I don't know if anyone still reads this blog and I guess for now it's ok if no one does.  Over the past year things have gone all wee-wacky-woo-hoo and I've ended up as a single mom with three kids!

So ---yeah....divorce...the D word.  When I tell people I get a lot of mixed reactions.

Most people say that they are sorry, which I guess is the "right" thing to say, but really, why would they be sorry?  My marriage wasn't working and I think that everyone is better off now that we have acknowledged that and are moving in our own separate directions.

Some people want to know what happened.  It's pretty hard to distill the issues that eventually broke apart a 15 year marriage into one pithy sentence that doesn't end up sounding a little bitter....so I usually just go with the standard, "We just grew apart."  This is really just code for "A whole lot of crazy shit went down and if you really wanna know what happened you're gonna have to set aside a few hours and buy me a drink."

My favorite response came from a mother in my neighborhood who is one of those people who either tells it like it is or is a huge bitch, depending on your perspective.  Frankly, I like her, you know where you stand with that woman....anyway, when I told her that I was getting divorced she replied "Oh thank GOD!" and proceeded to dish on my so to be ex.

Now my STBX is a nice enough guy, and I'm not blaming him for the divorce (well, maybe a little) but it was strangely cathartic to hear someone else justify my leaving my marriage.

Anyway...I'm not going to dwell.  I'm happier than I was a year ago.  Things have been hard, but they are getting better for everyone...I hope.

So I'm back, maybe no one wants to hear what I'm going to say, but that's cool.  I've learned that sometimes you need to do stuff for yourself, and if someone else appreciates it that's just gravy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Around the same time I fell off the blogging bandwagon I also took a dive off of the menu planning train.  My sanity and my pocketbook have suffered.  So I'm back on the wagon 24 hours sober tomorrow!

Monday - Pulled Pork Burritos

Tuesday - Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner at St. John's - Swing by for great pancakes and other fat Tuesday goodies and watch your very own Domestic Delinquent Sling hash...or pancakes or whatever

Wednesday - Slow cooker italian meatball soup (Can I avoid burning in the fiery pits of hell if I don't eat the meatballs?)

Thursday - leftover soup (I have to get to eat it eventually!!)

Friday - Tuna Noodle Casserole.

So, I do try to be observant during Lent.  I TRY not to eat meat on Fridays, but this presents certain challenges.  My kids are all under the age of 14 and are therefore (technically) exempt from the rules of fasting, my husband is not particularly religious and is also therefore exempt.  So, in the end, I'm the only one fasting and there are times where something's got to give and I end up with a meal of bread and cheese.

Also....I try to give something up for lent.  Generally that something is chocolate.  I've never made it.  One year I made it to the very last week...but then my birthday fell about 5 days before Easter and someone bought me a chocolate cake.  Now at the best of times when you put a cake in front of me I'm going to eat it.  Couple that with the fact that I was turning 30 (yes the big 3-0) and I didn't have a chance.  I ate that bugger before I knew what I was doing.

I'm not sure what to give up this year.  I'm considering sleeping or oxygen, just so long as I can have my chocolate.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

So....I may have gone a little overboard on Valentine's day this year, which is totally unlike me!

I thought that it would be fun to make a bunch of homemade candies and whatnot and get the kids all whacked out on sugar. 

I ended up making raspberry truffles, chocolate dipped marshmallows and meringue hearts.   I bought the kids a bunch of Valentines-y stuff and did up the dining room for dinner...here is the result.





The paper heart garlands were made by cutting up a cheep book from the dollar store and then sewing the hearts together on my sewing machine.  There is something very satisfying about sewing paper, it makes a very appealing crunching sound as the needle pierces the paper. 

and yes...that is the selvage edge on the tablecloth...I'm not freaking Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pink Marshmallows

In preparation for Valentine's day I tried to make homemade marshmallows yesterday...it seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The basic principle is fairly simple.  You add a hot sugar solution to a gelatin solution and mix the bejeebers out of it.  But, as always, the devil was in the details.  Here is the recipe that I used (from NBC Washington) .

Pomegranate Marshmallows
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
½ cup pomegranate juice
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup corn syrup
½ cup water
Sprinkle the gelatin over the pomegranate juice in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let sit 5 minutes. Place over a double boiler (a pot that has water boiling) to heat & dissolve the gelatin.
Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer or until you can place a small amount of the mixture into cold water and when you squeeze it, it has the feel of chewing gum.
Using caution, pour the hot syrup into the mixing bowl with the gelatin and juice. With the whisk attachment, whisk on high speed until cool, about 15 minutes. Place into a well oiled dish and let sit for 4 hours. Cut into desired shapes.

 I'm not going to say that they were a total failure...but they ain't stay-puft.  I learned a few things that I will now graciously share with you.

  1. It takes for freeking EVER to get a sugar solution that last 10 degrees.  I know that it's vital to have my sugar solution at the correct temperature...but I'm not known for my patience.  I tried so so hard, but I may have been a degree or two short.  This may have been my first mistake.
  2. This concoction will expand in your mixer.  I made a double batch, and my mixer was very nearly overwhelmed.  She photographic evidence below.
  3. Before
    After
  4.  Marashmallows need to breath - in an attempt to keep dust, pet hair and small children out of my marshmallows I covered them as they sat.  I think that this was a mistake, I think that they sort of needed to dry out a little. 
UPDATE:  After cutting and allowing the marshmallows to dry out a bit they became much more marshmallow like....live and learn!

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Surviving the pending Zombie Apocolypse

    I was chatting with a friend the other day when I asked him, in the event of the inevitable zombie apocalypse, who would he eat first, me or a mutual friend of ours. Without hesitation he replied "you". NO hesitation, not even a courtesy pause! At that moment it became clear to me that my post-apocalyptic survival skill set is severely lacking.
    Now, truth is, I'll probably never learn to weld, make my own shotgun shells or fashion working generator out of discarded bicycle parts, but it seems only prudent to pick up a few worthwhile skills.

    It was time to take stock. I made a list of the practical real world skills that I currently posses:
    • Knitting - should survivors need socks and be willing to wait a few years.
    • Canning - I could probably put up enough food to last for the winter...though I can't necessarily promise that some survivors won't succumb to botulism.
    • Soap making - ok...I don't really know how to do this, but I read a book once.
    • Childbirth - ok, so I'm sort of pushing it at this point, but there will be the need to repopulate and I have some past experience is this field.

    So, clearly there are some holes in my apocalyptic planning so I've made a list of skills to acquire.
    • Sewing - just because zombies are roaming the streets doesn't mean that the survivor shouldn't sport the latest in brain smashing fashion.
    • Gardening - an apple a day keeps the brain eating undead away. 
    • Chicken keeping - Gotta have protein!
    Hmmmm..ok, so that's all I have for now.  I'm open to suggestions. 

    I'll keep you updated on my progress.  In the meantime, here are some pertinent links to help you too be ready for the zombie apocalypse:

    CDC - Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
    The Undead Report
    Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse