Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

In the tradition of Fran Lebowitz, I'd like to present some New Year's resolutions for other people. I don't go in for them myself - it's too much shame to handle when I fail miserably by February 5th.

For Sarah Palin - I will resolve to learn a few things, and shut my mouth on everything else.

For the fundraising teen athletes at the grocery store - I understand that I'm packing folks' groceries in exchange for actual cash. Therefore I will NOT to put the rolls on the bottom.

For my kids - I will remember that I'm just too old for this nonsense, and will pick up after myself from now on.

For Jon and Kate Goslin - I resolve to just be a parent to my brood and disappear from public life.

For President Obama - I will remember that I freaking WON the election.

For the St. Paul Pioneer Press - I will remember that Mnmom's family have told me 27 times that they get the Mpls Star Tribune and aren't interested in the Pioneer Press and therefore I will quit calling them every 3rd day.

For Oprah Winfrey - If I say I'm retiring I really really will, and will not make several comebacks like Brett Favre.

For the Minnesota Vikings - after losing to the Bears, we will realize that asking Minnesota taxpayers for a new stadium is not a good idea . . . . . at all.

For the GOP - we will comes to terms with Universal Healthcare, and will realize it would be a feather in OUR cap too.

For the Teabagger Party - we will get a life, read some books, and watch the BBC now and then.

For Joseph Cassano - I'll put myself through a wood chipper and save you all the trouble.

For my paper carrier - I will remember that the end of Mnmom's driveway is NOT her front stoop.

For Mnmom's butt - I will not horde fat like some war-starved refugee.

For Tim Pawlenty - I will remember that I'm governor of Minnesota by default, and that I'm just too extreme, snotty and white for words.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tamale Pie

Ok, I apologize, I'm not a food photographer. The above looks horrible. But trust me, this stuff is good. Have I ever lied to you??


2 cups browned ground beef
1t. chili powder (I used more)
1t. cumin (again more)
1/4 t. salt
1 (16 oz.) jar thick and chunky salsa
1/2 each of a red and green bell pepper, chopped

1 & 1/2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 & 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup veg oil
4 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a bundt cake pan.
In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Add seasonings. Stir in salsa. Cook over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile sprinkle chopped bell pepper in the bottom of the bundt pan.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients for cornbread (flour through salt). Add milk, eggs, and oil. Stir until moistened. Stir in cheese.
Spread 1/2 of the cornbread batter evenly over the peppers in the pan. Top with meat filling, then remaining batter. Spread evenly.
Bake 35-40 min. or until top is lightly browned. Loosen with a spatula. Invert onto a serving plate. Serve with sour cream.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

VINTAGE Family Slides!

I came back from Iowa with the best possession ever - a flash drive full of old family slides!
And proof of some of the BEST TOYS OF CHILDHOOD!
Above we have me opening my treasured Crissy doll circa 1969

Me again, in the dark hair, with my beloved Mattel vanity in the background, with the styrofoam stool still intact. You can see my mother totally gave up on pajamas - we always wore what we wanted.

This one's for Skyler's Dad - look at that Major Matt Mason space station and moon crawler!

Here's a favorite Xmas for Cheesecake Maven and Sister #3 - the year they got majorette boots, batons and shaggy sweater vests. That's me in my fab new inflatable chair.

Another great year - when we got an "indoor trampoline" that poofed up a whiff of icky rubber innertube whenever you landed on it. And no I don't have a gimpy eye - it's just a weird photo.

And here's a classic family shot thrown in for fun - my Uncle Steve hitched up to Beauty, at the family farm.

Get ready for a whole year of family slides!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Another great Christmas! Somehow Johnny C and I pull it off every single year. We've trained our kids well - kept the budget low from the start so they are never disappointed. Their cousins get much, much more but ours are still happy - and that's what counts.

We're leaving for Iowa in a few hours. The big SNOW-NAMI of 2009 has petered out. It's been like a normal Minnesota winter week. I was actually looking forward to 20+" of snow, just to see what it looks like.

See you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas and snow are a-comin!

The above pic is me and my siblings, Christmas Eve, probably 1967. One of our poor Mom's attempt to get a "nice" shot of the kids. Check out my brother's dirty socks. From the left you have Cheesecake Maven, brother John, Sister #3, and Mnmom.

We've got a snowstorm on the way, which of course means another trip to the grocery store for staples like egg nog and butter.

Christmas Eve we'll be having our traditional Italian feast with some paisanos in town. We're bringing the antipasti tray, bread, and dessert. Christmas Day we'll do our traditional waffles with strawberries and whipped cream followed by a day of appetizers. Then on the 26th it's off to snowy hilly NE Iowa for a few days with extended family. My SIL's sister and family are coming up from S. Carolina just in time for all this snow.

Here's what I'm cooking, and someone better eat it, over the next few days.
How about you? What's up at your house?:

Antipasti platter for Xmas eve pot luck dinner


Crab meat and cream cheese rangoon, and homemade egg rolls
Hot shredded chicken and cheese sandwiches - to take to Iowa
Steak and gorgonzola appetizers (from frozen)

I have very confused spirituality, and it makes sense to no one but me. Check out Dr. Monkey's wonderful essay on his atheist love of Christmas. His comes close.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Gifts of Childhood #6

My first set of electric rollers! And the above pic is the EXACT set! I was probably 12 or so, and man did I look GOOD after setting my hair with rollers steamed to perfect finger-blistering temps. You used the little enclosed cup to dump water into the reservoir under the metal rods of death, where it was boiled, yes boiled, with the ensuing steam heating the rollers.

I always found the bubbling sound and the strange aroma of steam and hot plastic and metal rollers to be oddly comforting.

The steaming facial mask promised to fully open the dirty pores of my teenage skin, and banish blemishes forever. What it didn't say was "unless you are that unlucky teen who's acne is purely genetic and nothing short of massive drugs will curb the pustules on your face". Wish someone had told me that - or at least told other people so they wouldn't tell me to wash my face more! What they didn't know was I was washing with Lava three times a day and using Sea Breeze astringent in between. It's a wonder I even have skin left.

But my hair? It rocked!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Politics Schmolitics

1. I'm so disappointed in President Obama. More war?? Really?? How is this change? Do you suppose some wingnut has wrapped Obama's ankle with explosives and has threatened to light the fuse if he doesn't cooperate?

2. While the Republicans have all gone ape shit teabag nuts, the Democrats have a serious degenerative spine disease. Will SOMEONE in Washington just LEAD already? Get us some universal health care now! I don't care if this hurts your chances for reelection - you were elected to lead and serve. Not to plot out your political career and eventual book deal.

3. We'll invade Afghanistan now, but we'll leave in a few years? Kind of like having your rigid Uncle Earnest show up at breakfast, tell you he's going to trash the place while he preaches Evangelical Christianity at you, but be gone by supper. So you just wisely hide your guns and go wait at the neighbor's place until he leaves.

4. If Barack Obama's campaign was a "culture of personality", what do you call Sarah Palin's recent tours?

5. I've heard more than I ever remotely wanted to know about Tiger Woods.
6. Hello, Congress? This health care issue is not some vague abstract idea. While you are debating endlessly and playing politics, there are actual human beings wondering how they'll pay for tomorrow's insulin. There are actual families with two full-time wage earners going down the financial tubes because their child had cancer. I know YOU don't have to think about that for YOUR bodies - they are all fully cared for with taxpayer many. But could you please remember the suffering masses of taxpayers who are waiting for you to do your job? And some dying while waiting?
And you Republicans ought to be completely ashamed of yourselves, and quit calling yourselves Christians because Christ would have asked you to care for your neighbor straight from your own pocket and to be joyous for the opportunity. Not to be some sniveling greedy coward who left the poor and the sick out in the snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm not really feelin it

I'm kind of blah about Christmas this year, here are my theories.

1. The past two years have been HELL on wheels and we're just cooked. Well I am anyway. I'm just feeling angry and disgusted at the entire banking/real estate world. And listen up Anonymous: don't go spouting that pig manure that we got what we deserved. We never deserved this - never - not in a million years. Not me, not my husband, certainly not my kids. We are prime examples of a family doing everything right and still getting kicked to the curb. It can happen to anyone, including hard-working people. Anyone could be next.

2. I'm not religious, and the more I read the more I realize the story of Jesus's birth was a huge effort by the the Christian authorities to put down pagan and druid solstice celebrations and the squash the divine feminine. Bummer. But I still like the music.

3. Hard to make merry when you're living an 1/4 of a shoestring.

4. I miss my parents. Still. After over 10 years.

5. I'm homesick for my house, and so are my kids.

But some really good things are going on anyway:

1. Our little family is talking and laughing together more in our new little house. Is it the house size or the relief that the move and loss are over?

2. Cupcake likes to bake, and we're doing it all the time.

3. Housework is a snap these days. 1500 sq feet is a lot quicker to wipe up than 2700.

4. Some wonderful things are still the same: my family, my extended family, my friends, my internet friends, etc.

5. My current job is much higher on the fun scale than my old one. The Middle School band played holiday music throughout the lunch hours and the annual staff pot-luck was in the lounge. Great food!!! I like working in a place where outrageous Christmas sweaters and costume jewelry are encouraged.

6. Our school's holiday sale! Our media center has a bookstore called Tattered Pages where the kids can buy donated books with "coupons" they earn through good behavior, good grades, and doing chores from the job jar. At the holidays it expands greatly and includes gifts and new books donated by local merchants. With donated gift paper, we wrap the books for the kids to take home. It's open every school day all this week, and one night, so families and all students can take advantage. The kids love it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best Gifts of Childhood #5

THE MATTEL VANITY! I thought I had surely reached the Nirvana of girlhood when I got this gem at about age 6. It came with a cheap "tufted" styrofoam stool, but it might as well have been expensive damask, so deep was my love. I kept all my fake little-girl cosmetics in there including my fake nail polish, fake lipstick, and fake pressed powder. My imagination conjured up a lovely 4-poster lace canopy bed with over-stuffed white furniture in the background, and marabou mules on my feet, with a silky satiny quilted white robe around my shoulders.

Of course the reality was much different: the bunk beds with mismatched bedding, my youngest sister's crib, the piles of toys, the diaper pail, the chipped paint, the hand-me-down flannel nightgown from a cousin, the floor covered with the flotsam and jetsam of busy dirty kids. But this girl had a dream.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Gifts of Childhood #3 and #4

MOUSETRAP! My siblings and I have no earthly idea how to play this game. We would just set it up and run the marble through again and again and again.

I had this exact Crissy doll and loved her with all my heart. I spent hours twirling the knob on her back to ratchet that ponytail back into her head, then pull it all back out again in all it's auburn glory.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No New York Christmas this Year

We'll be staying in the Midwest this Christmas season, which means no long wintry car ride to Johnny C's family in New York. While we won't miss that 18+ hour drive in a small van, and REALLY won't miss driving through Gary, Indiana, there are most definitely things we will miss.

Mostly we'll miss noi famiglia - our cousins, Uncle Tony & Aunt Gina, Grandma Angie, etc.

We'll miss seeing these guys on Arthur Avenue - the Little Italy of the Bronx. I think his name was Vinnie.

We'll miss hopping the Metro North train at the Crestwood station for our annual trip into Manhattan.

We'll miss stocking up on stinky aged provolone

We'll miss the most amazing bread from this place. And Johnny C. will miss his sfogliatelle (pronounced schvoi-a-TEL), a lovely Italian pastry.
I'll miss Italian deli treats like these. Who needs pastry?????

Johnny C. and Tony will greatly miss their annual hand-rolled cigars from these guys. It's their gumba/paisano New Year's Eve tradition.

We'll REALLY miss loading up the suitcase with sopresseta, prosciutto and other dried Italian sausage for the trip home.

We'll miss Nona Angie's cooking the most! My mother-in-law is the most amazing cook. Out of thin air she creates mouth-watering food without a mess or a spot on her apron.

Instead we'll be going out for spring break, which will mean we won't fight Holiday crowds in Manhattan. If you're from the Midwest, don't ever go to Manhattan around the Holidays, because as Garrison Keillor says "we Midwesterners need to stand at least 28" apart or we get headaches". You'll be tempted to tell each and every person to just GET A MOVE ON ALREADY! And you'll die laughing at the New Yorkers in their minks, scarves, mittens, etc when it's 50 degrees and sunny.

So Buon Natale New York! See you in March!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Wintery Christmasy Bits

Above are some of the results from my Annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza with MG. This year did not disappoint - well, except for MG's chocolate crinkles. They were again a limp sad confection so he's given up on the recipe.

The gingerbread house that Cupcake built. After it was done we were wiped out, so no fake snow on the ground. It's a GLOBAL WARMING gingerbread house.

Scenes from a blizzard. What doesn't show in the above photo of Wednesday's storm is that the wind was blowing the white stuff horizontally. It was great to be watching it from inside . . . . with coffee . . . . and cookies.

Evidence that it snowed at least a foot.

I must show off this gem. It's my BETTY FURNESS candy thermometer! Scavenged from a great aunt's kitchen when she died. The aunt, not Betty Furness. It still works wonderfully. I have a newer one, but it doesn't label the cooking stages for candy. You cooks know what I mean. Who would make an unlabeled candy thermometer?????

One of my favorite ornaments on our tree. First, you must know that I loathe most fruitcake and as a kid acted like it was liver and onions. So bitter was my hatred that extended family knew of it. So in about 1978 when my fabulous Aunt Co sent one of her famous homemade-fruitcakes-in-a-can to my folks, she added a note on the lid. It says "Sorry, Margaret. It's another damn fruitcake!". It's been on my folks' tree or my tree for the last 31 years.

Another favorite homemade ornament. My artsy sister Cheesecake Maven took juice lids, added classic paintings, covered the edges with copper tape, and pounded them in. On some she put beads and thingys on the wire hangers.
Visit Cheesecake Maven for a lovely childhood pic of me!
This painting always reminds me of my sisters and I, aka The Butt Sisters.

This one isn't homemade but it's a favorite of our daughters. Every year they look for the "little skater baby" first.

Another classic that's been on our tree since 1990. It's hubby Johnny C!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Laps I'd rather sit on

I got this idea from Lisa, and it's a doozey!!
How do you spell "doozey" anyway?

Name some laps you would rather sit on
than Santa's!

First off would have to be my very sexy, 100% Italian, strong armed, handsome hubby Johnny C.

Second would have to be Tony Soprano, because he looks like Johnny C and he might peel a $100 off that wad of bills in his pocket. Or he may dump me off the back of his boat after putting a slug in my head. Good thing he's fictional!

Third would be Robert DeNiro - I'm noticing a clear Italiano pattern here!

Fourth is a young Dean Martin - again with the Italians! And Hey, it's an imaginary challenge so I can go back in time, right?
Fifth is Omar Sharif in the 60's. Remember, I am taking the liberty to go back in time.

And to throw my pattern completely off, please add Scottish sweetie Ewan McGregor.

And to round out the Holiday season, please please throw in Alan Rickman. Holy Cow what IS IT about that man? Even as Severus Snape he manages to be oo-la-la.

Merry Christmas Indeed!