Happy Birthday Shelley!

Twenty-three years ago today, I saw the Easter Bunny. I woke up, went to the kitchen, and the Easter Bunny helped me back to bed, but snuck me in 2 oreos as a treat. I realized later to much disappointment that it was actually our neighbor, Glenda, who'd come to watch Eric and Me while Mom was at the hospital having a baby. Shelley.

A day or so later they brought Shelley home in a yellow dress on a sunny Spring day. I sat in the living room, draping my three year old body over the back of the couch trying to get a look at her while Dad carried the car seat inside. I was eating a plum and my fingers were sticky with juice, and I remember thinking, "This is going to change everything."

I have never thought truer words.

Shelley did change everything. Suddenly, it wasn't just Eric and Me. We weren't the "Mom and Dad, Boy and Girl" family that I was so fond of (Eric can back me up on this). It would take years for Eric and I to realize that the addition of Shelley shifted the balance of family power in our favor. Three kids vs. two parents: we would win in any democratic election, except those taking place in Florida.

Shelley added everything to our family. Everything that none of us knew was missing at the time, but now can't imagine being without. Shelley makes everything instantly funny. Shelley can make anything cool. And Shelley can make scrambled eggs better than Martha.

When Shelley came home, I had no idea what it meant to be a big sister. I didn't know that being a big sister meant you had an instant accomplice. Almost every bit of mischief I've ever been in was not only with my little sister, but because, planned, or decided by my little sister.

Shelley decided we should go 50 around a corner and see if the civic could go on 2 wheels. Shelley bought the sun-in that resulted in our having orange hair for all of 1999. Shelley started the wax fight that cost us both our arm hair in high school.

I may be older in age, but I was always along for the ride through Shelley's life as her totally unhip big sister and her: the coolest kid on the block. Shelley oozes cool. Shelley was meant to be 23 from Day 1.

Shelley asked Santa for Reba McIntyre boots when she was 4. She insisted on having a home perm when she was 8. She wore fake nails in 5th grade. And the hair dying began so long ago I can't even remember, but I think it was right around the time that she tried to shave her legs without Mom's permission and came out of the shower bleeding like a gutted fish. "The razor fell off the soap dish." Sure it did.

And now Shelley is a Mom, Shelley is a wife, Shelley will be a college graduate in May. Twenty three years ago, I was right: Everything would be different because of Shelley. Everything would be perfect because we have Shelley.

Happy Birthday, Toonis!

Love, Midge

Sailor Jack

I'm at the point where "Why fight the nautical workings of this house?" Clearly, it's a losing battle and even more so with my latest discovery.

I was thumbing through an old photo album and found a faded black and white picture of Jack's Great-Great Grandpa, who was a sailor in WW2. He was the on the SS Catnip -- I think they fought somewhere off the Canary Islands (get it? get it?). He even has those classic "sailor tattoos". What a handsome little gentleman.
However, I'm not thinking his Great-Great-Grandson shares his same affinity for the open waters. I snapped the picture below during the ceremonial first sail around the neighborhood after Chuck mounted the ship's wheel. If you look closely, you can actually see the horror and disgust in Jack's eyes as he watched Chuck, a grown man, play Boat Captain on a staircase. He judges like I do.

It's Official!

I have a ship's wheel mounted on my staircase. Don't be too jealous, now, remember --they're all over eBay!! Go buy your own. Or better yet, come buy mine.

Having the ship's wheel available to pretend drive the house when company came over wasn't doing it for Chuck. Oh no, my anal retentive, let's-go-too-far-with-a-joke husband has spent the last week fashioning a removable mounting system to allow for perfect sailing. Just imagine all the things he could have gotten done around the house, then try to still love him. Welcome to my life.

Chuck tends to be a tad detail oriented. Actually, change that last sentence. Remove tad, insert obnoxiously. Chuck tends to be obnoxiously detail oriented. Allow me to provide you with the details of how said "wheel mount" was created.

Step One: Cut a whole in the box.
Wait...sorry, wrong directions. Here you go:

First, Chuck bought the initial supplies. I say initial because there were numerous trips to both Lowe's and Home Depot for this project. It was a team effort. For wood, Chuck choose oak so that it would perfectly match the banister. Well, thank God, because if it had been cedar or pine, I would have DIED of embarrassment. Along with the oak was the matching stain. Remember, obnoxiously detailed oriented.

Naturally, Chuck then had to perfectly chisel each board. Yes, he has a chisel. Try and imagine how many trips he made running up and down the stairs to make sure that he was chiseling the exact amount and at the exact banister angle. Do you have your number? Double it.

A series of supplies followed -- I've noted which part of Chuck's personality are evidenced in each piece:
- An anti-slip mat which goes under the wood block to protect the banister (anal).

- A dowel to allow the wheel to spin for a more authentic sailing experience (too far).

-E-clips to hold said dowel and wheel together which involved more chiseling but I'll spare you the details (anal).

-Cleats and rope (too far).

Let's talk for a second about that final supply, for which Chuck is most proud: the cleats and rope. Although Chuck was disappointed that I didn't want the ship's wheel to be permanently fixed to the staircase, he understood that it needed to be removable. Bless his heart. He chose the cleats for a nautical feel thus enhancing your sail around Klahanie. He's a bit upset that it appears the wheel is tied on slightly off centered (anal), but he's willing to work with it. He loves the cleats. He was giddy when he bought them. Giddy, I tell you.

So, there you have it. It's official: I have a ship's wheel mounted in my living room. Can you now consider our residence a House Boat? Anyone? Just curious.

Oh, you know what? I have to go. Chuck's spotted land off the starboard bow.

Photoshop is a must, Gretchen!

My teammate Gretchen has one of the "original blogs" -- original in that it's one of the first that I started stalking late last school year. Gretchen chronicals the antics of her two boys, Avery and Brady, and the Sattler family day-to-day. She's one of my blog-heroes.

Because of my new obsession with Photoshop, Gretchen was lucky enough to get to listen to me ramble on and on about how much I love this program today at school. And she didn't even roll her eyes at me once! What a good teammate!

Chuck bought me the really low key photoshop -- not the $2000 one. Thanks, but I don't need to be able to edit nose hair in a video. It was about $150, called Photoshop Elements, and was totally worth it. Gretchen suggested some before and afters so you could see how magical photoshop is. I used the images from yesterday's post -- sorry about the repeats.

This picture of Shelley is "after - before", but you're smart enough to figure that out.

And here's baby Lucy's before and after:

Pretty cool, huh?

My Two Favorite Girls

Shelley made a big leap in adulthood this week, making one of those "it's what's best for the family" decisions that only truly mature people make (I'm not one of these people). Shelley and Shane decided to give up their beloved dog Dude because of his happiness. Dude was hilarious, but the poor thing was a year old and still "using" a potty pad (I use the word "using" as loosely as possible).

The day they took Dude to the pound, he went out with a bang. He left them a nice warm present in the living room and absonded with 6 oz of breast milk. His choice wasn't surprising. Since the baby arrived, Dude has shredded several breast pads, ate the breast pump, and grabbed a dirty diaper and ran. Turns out, Dude was a boob man.
I know Shelley loved Dude and this was a toughy, but they made the right call. It was a very selfless decision that Shelley and Shane made. Don't they sound just like a Mom and Dad?

Never being one to take time and breath, Shelley decided kitten shopping was the best cure for her heartache. We went the pound with Fe, and Shelley bought Betty. Betty is awesome. Betty is independent. Betty is already house trained. Betty 1, Dude 0. Isn't Betty a doll?

(And for those of you dog lovers, I checked Saturday on the status of Dude. Shane dropped him off Thursday and he's already been adopted.)

Shelley and Lucy hung out at our place most of Saturday, giving me an unlimited amount of time to take pictures of Lucy Girl.

I know I'm a tad biased, but she is the cutest thing since I don't know what. The cheeks, the eyes...what a stunner!

ps. Send complaints to Chuck over my new photo obsession. He bought me Photoshop for my birthday. Now I have no reason to get off the couch, making my transistion into Gilbert Grape's Mom all the more seeemless.

Almost Mid-Twenties

One of my favorites, Catlyn, has started a blog and I wanted to give her some publicity because she's so fabulous. Enjoy this window into Catlyn's life. She's a pretty big deal (at least to Laura and Me!).

Wait....I'm human?

I think I blog a little too much about what an amazing cook I am. So, tonight for dinner, I served up a little humble pie. Just to clarify, I like to cook from great recipes -- I'm no chef. And second, I'm a moron.

We had this AMAZING dinner tonight (are you picking up on my sarcasm...any one? Beullar? Beullar?). I bought some Kalbi marinated pork tenderloin at QFC. It was on sale, and needed a lazy dinner. Ok, I'll just detail the comedy of errors that was my dinner:

1. Apparently, you are supposed to grill this stuff. Fe and PK gave us a Weber, but you need propaine to work a BBQ...so Plan B: We'll use the electric skillet! Which led to it's own list of questions -- What temp? When is it done? Do I spray the skillet first?

2. I hate simultaneous cooking. If you know me, then you know my ADD, and you know that I can't multi-task. Hence, I burned the rice-a-roni that was suppossed to be the side dish. Yeah!

3. More questions: How long do you cook pork tenderloin? Can I pass the rice-a-roni off as "smoked chicken" flavor? Did you know that pork tenderloin shrivels like you-know-what during an artic swim?

Oh, did you need to see pictures?
Here's our poor little dinner...what's left of it.

The rice-a-roni was so inedible, it didn't even make the final plating. You can see the rice-a-roni in the back of this picture, which was taken to highlight the plate and towel. After starting, I realized the lid was in the dishwasher which was running. And the towel, well, I packed my pot holders really well when we moved, and still haven't found them...After we ate our plethora of pork, Chuck chowed down on some spamoni. We were laughing pretty hard by this point, since it only took us about 2 minutes to eat the whole meal.Don't worry, we're stopping by McDonald's on our way to Adam and Tyrell's to watch the Office. Mmmm...humble pie....a dish best served burnt!

You and the Captain make it happen

Captain Chuck took the house for a quick spin today. Cappy docked in Port Klahanie for a while, long enough to bring his favorite first mate aboard. If you're assuming that's me, get real.

Here Cappy is just about to tie up his rig. What an Adonis. Remind me again how I got so lucky?

Continuing on, The Captain brought his first mate to the bow (remember, first mate = NOT his wife) and decided to re-enact the "I'm the king of the world" scene from Titanic.

Your job is to decide who is Jack and who is Rose. And then say a little prayer for me.

The Father

If you don't know my Dad, then you're missing out. I can say with total honesty and assurance that my Dad is better than your Dad. Trust me on this. It's a fact.

Dad's very athletic and works out with the same intensity that I compulsively eat fast food. He called Mom yesterday right at the start of school, but she couldn't talk. "Nothing big," Dad said. "We'll touch base later."

Later, Mom got an email from Dad detailing why he had called during school hours. Here is the exact text from the email. And just for reference, Nuun is a business in Seattle. And just remember, my Dad is awesome.

No big deal – sort of got hit by a truck in a cross walk by nuun – I had the “walk man” and he probably thought the intersection was clear and rolled through the red. Fortunately, he slammed on the brakes and I was jogging so I just sort of slid up on his hood and then off, looked at him and kept jogging. I think maybe adrenaline kept me from stopping. I was fine at the time – no bruises or anything – back is a little tweaked.

This clearly demonstrates how my Dad is better than your Dad. Case in point. Who gets hit by a car and says "no big deal"?? PK, that's who. He's hella tight, huh?

This is because of Catlyn and Laura

Catlyn and Laura threw a fit (uh huh, fit) because they weren't featured on the blog. So they had me take a recent picture of them, and then threw another fit when I didn't upload it ASAP (sorry that I put report cards and a sinus innfection above you -- I'll never do it again).

Here they are in all their glory: Catlyn and Laura. Laura is my life partner and Catlyn tries her best to make me cool, even though I will never know what I should wear to a bar or even where bars are. I love you both!

Just to make sure that my other two dearest friends don't feel left out (especially since they have both been extremely supportive of my blog, despite a lack of any actual substance). Here's a shout out to Emy and Cheryl.
Emy and I met when we were 15 and 16, skipping church with a mutual friend. It really set the tone for our relationship. Emy's blunt (rude, actually :) and I'm always right so I have no idea how we've tolerated each other for almost 10 years. I've tried to learn how to be a clean freak like Emy and not just make piles, and she's taking cooking classes and has finally opened up the cookbook I gave her for Christmas 4 years ago. We're evolving together...

And then there's Cheryl. Cheryl and I are yin and yang. I'm type A and Cheryl couldn't be more type B. Actually, she's more like type X. She calls me Sue, because no one named Susie could be as uptight as I can be on occasion. I hate her for it. I did her homework through her last year of college. When she graduated with honors and she'd forgotten to purchase Honor Cords (shocking), she wore mine. It seemed fitting. She's my soul mate. I couldn't decide which pic I love most of Cheryl and Me, so I did two.

On her wedding day, I was in full Sue-mode trying to coordinate the event and Cheryl didn't have a care in the world. She was marrying Conor and no one was ever a more beautiful bride.

Her Totally 80s Bachelorette Party -- it was the best party I've ever planned.

Who needs a baby for a blog?

I know, I know. Blogs are for Moms-only. Whatever. Blogs are now for journalism-major drop outs with a new house, cute niece, and the best cat baby ever. I do what I want (right Emy?).

I have a baby. He has beautiful black fur, green eyes that I can get lost in, and a wet nose that sometimes drips. Everyday when I get home, we have a love fest and he stretches in my arms. Sometimes the stretching/loving turns into a "maul and attack mom" fest.
Chuck captured today's session on camera (eek-- pictures of me on my blog? I'm breaking the fourth wall).
I know, "Take the paw out of your mouth."

Cooking on a Saturday is a sin

Or at least that's my personal belief. I'm not one for big weekend meals, except for the occasional slow-cooker Sundays. In honor of my now religious beliefs (or so I've decided to try and justify this post), here's my recipe of the week.

It's not a new recipe. It's not Martha. It's simple. Because it's Saturday and I didn't want to cook (but my inner miser refused to let us eat out), I made a classic. It's a relic of a recipe in my cookbook and was the first dinner I successfully cooked in my first Ellensburg apartment when I was 19. I probably called my mom 6 or 7 times while cooking it, making it more step by step than independent really, but whatever.

It's withstood the test of time and 7 years later, I still have it in the rotation. It's the jewel in my "good dinners are simple dinners" crown. It's not fancy. It's not expensive. And you can prep it faster than the oven can preheat.

Stove Top Chicken
4 chicken boobies, boneless and skinless
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
Stove Top stuffing
1 Tablespoon melted butter

Put the ta-tas in a 9x13 pan. In a bowl, mix the soup with the sour cream. Pour over the chicken knockers and sprinkle Stove Top stuffing mix (dry) on top. Drizzle with melted butter and bake at 350 for 60 minutes. I think it's best served with cranberry sauce and a salad, but that's just me.

This is for Shar Luck

Have you seen the latest Mutual of Omaha ads? Shar Luck was the creative director for the ads. She loves them. Don't believe me? Check out the web site:

Mutual of Omaha

Love you, Shar Luck!

Lucy came to visit!

Mom, Dad, Shelley and Lucy came for a visit Sunday. We had dinner, introduced PK and Fe to the Wii (fantastic, by the way), and watched Jack completely lose it over the baby. I have no pictures of them together because he wouldn't get within 5 feet of her. Low, razor back, poof tail cat. He was beside himself.

I had a great time with Lucy -- we are in love! Here's Lucy and her Aunt Sister:

Now let's talk a little about Shelley. Prior to January 7th (Lucy's Birthday), Shelley was the most un-maternal person I'd ever met. She would cringe if she had to hold a baby and cry louder than it if it started to squirm. She barely babysat -- unless absolutely necessary, gun to her head, you get the picture. She once fell asleep in Fe's kindergarten class while trying to earn community service hours. But God love her, the kid (er....woman??) has risen to the occasion. WHAT A GREAT MOM!!!!!!!

Did I mention Shelley went 22 years, 10 months without ever changing a diaper? EVER. Now, look at her go! Changing diapers like a pro with her Dooney and Bourke diaper bag, wearing her non-maternity Joe's jeans, and a look that could kill.

Aren't they so happy together??

I'm not sure what Shelley was saying to Lucy exactly, so I'll improvise a little:
"And in July we travel to our Mecca on NE 8th and Bellevue Way. They hold a big ceremony called the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and we all celebrate together with Grandma Fe. And a month later, Grandpa Ax gets a bill and cries."

This is why we don't have children

I did my best Lucille Ball impression on Sunday -- it's not a big comedic stretch for me. It's more like life or me just being me. Let's see, Ryan's called me "Hurricane Susie" ever since I made him dinner once and got spaghetti sauce on the ceiling. Actually, it was all over the ceiling and the walls and the floor and me. And Nan's called me Missy for years, because only a Missy could shatter a chandelier with her hands while telling a story or leave a refigerator door open in a garage during a 100 degree summer day. Oh and then there's my immediate family. Well, they've learned tricks to avoid my inevitable calamity. Mom never puts anything on the edge of a counter, Eric doesn't stand near me and a counter, and Shelley, well, she can actually be an accomplice sometimes. Yep, I have disaster written all over me.

And that's why we don't have children. Chuck has his hands full. It's a full time job trying to raise me.

On Sunday, I baked a cake. I decided to frost said cake. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.

Recipe of the Week

I can't believe people actually liked my idea of putting recipes on my blog. It felt a little pretentious doing it, but as the great demotivational posters would say, "The problem with being better than everyone else is that people tend to assume you're pretentious." Just kidding. I teach kindergarten -- I love to share (expect McDonald's french fries -- DO NOT touch)!

Here's my new favorite. I made it for Chuck last week and he declared it the new fried chicken recipe of choice. I'm making it tonight for my parents, Shelley and Lucy, and Shane in spirit (get well soon Shaner!!). It's super easy and isn't greasy, like baked fried chicken can get.

It's Martha Stewart again. The book is Great Food Fast and don't worry -- the picture is not from me. That's all Martha.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
8 slices white bread -- I used 1 1/2 cups Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs because I'm lazy
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 pounds chicken parts (preferably legs, thighs, and wings), rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil. In a food processor, pulse bread until it turns into coarse crumbs. Again, I used store bought bread crumbs. Sorry Martha. Don't hate me. I know I've shamed you.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, hot-pepper sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet.
Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 minutes.
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