Thursday, September 29, 2011

Museum of Natural History

We took the girls into the city to visit the museum of natural history. We loved it! We did even see a fraction of it and look forward to going back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Eliana was so proud of herself, this was her first time by herself on a roller-coaster and she LOVED it!
Annabelle was mad that she was too little to ride on some of the big girl rides that her sisters got to ride on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Van Saun Park

This park is so cool! It is within about 20 minutes of our place. It has an amazingly huge playground, a great carousel, a nice little zoo and even a train. It is a great way to spend a morning.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I smell a rat

I pride myself on not being a huge wimp. A little wimp sometimes, but generally a moderately tough chick. I kill spiders. I set and empty mouse traps when the occasion arises. I pick up worms to show my children. I have been known to hold a snake. I have a strong dislike for crickets (they are sneaky!) but am otherwise unfazed by generally creepy things.

The other night we had a guest for dinner, Matt's ex-boss and a friend of ours. We had a very nice evening, we talked about Jersey and other parts of the country we would rather live. We discussed the house and all its "character". As we sat enjoying conversation, our guest politely pointed out that a mouse just ran under our dinning room table. Awesome. I know how to leave an impression.

The next night we spotted the little fur ball while we were watching tv. But something seemed off to me. We have had mice before, I know how they scurry and I know how little they are. This guy didn't scurry and was a bit...large. I tried not to think about it when we set traps.

They next night, same time, same place, I saw the little mongrel again. This time there was no mistaking it, he was a RAT! I didn't freak out, exactly, I just told Matt in no uncertain terms that this rodent would be taken care of in the next 24 hours or the girls and I would be relocating until the problem was addressed. Off to bed I went, leaving Matt setting traps and figuring out a solution.

I was almost asleep when I heard a loud BANG! At first my sleepy brain resisted this as the trap going off but as my wine logged synapses started firing I realized that was much to loud a noise to be a trap. I scampered downstairs to see what it was.

I found Matt staring into the corner where the rat had been seen, he looked slightly befuddled. At this point in the story it might behoove me to mention that Matt and I had split a bottle of wine while watching a movie earlier in the evening. I asked Matt if everything was ok. He said it was and that is when I notice the rat under a Tupperware. I am proud to say I didn't freak out. But what was the bang?

Apparently, the rat sniffed at a trap and it went off and didn't catch him (he was too big for the mouse traps) but it stunned him. Matt, hearing the noise and curious if we had been victorious, came to see the carnage and found the rodent sitting there, dazed. He first thought was to grab a cast iron pan and see if he could drop it on the back of the rat and break its neck. Because it seems so logical to kill pests with cookware. With the benefit of hindsight and a little less alcohol, the fallacy of this plan would be easily recognized.

When he dropped the pan and missed the rat entirely, it was time for plan b. Shooting from the hip as he was, he grabbed one of the kids toy Tupperware and smacked it down over the rat. We now had a slightly bloody, disoriented rat trapped on our floor, Matt in his boxers, me in my pajamas, all of us wondering what the hell just happened.

Matt started to fold a piece of cardboard to slide under the box so we could pick him up and flip it. At this point it occurred to me that Matt really had no plan. Neither of us wanted to kill the rat with our bear hands or really any other way, and it seemed silly to toss him in the back yard.

I suggested Matt take him down to the river but he said he didn't want him to get out in the car and it was a little late for a half mile walk. I genitally reminded him that, in his obvious foresight, he had the rat in a Tupperware that had a lid, so we locked up the rat and Matt took him for a drive.

My house is now free of all things ratty. I would love to have a clever life lesson, qwippy remark regarding our adventure, or some deep insight on the whole situation. I don't. Rats are creepy and I never want to see one in my house again. Fixing the cellar door is now number one on the "to do" list.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Naughty" in cookie form

I have a 'thing' for chocolate. And I have a 'thing' for baked goods. When the two meet, it can be a little crazy. Well, if you think "suburban mom with a sweet tooth and expanding waste line" is crazy. It is around here. I will consider the utter pathetic-ness of that statement at a later time.

I had a gf brownie mix burning a whole in my pantry but didn't want to go the whole "make a pan of brownies" route, because you know me, I like to get a little wild. So I googled brownie mix recipe ideas, got some ideas and adapted as I saw fit. And, oh my goodness, I nailed it and because nothing is more irritating than having skinny friends, I am sharing the wealth with you! You will need:

1 brownie mix (mine was GF Betty Crocker, I assume any one that makes a 9 x 9 would work)
1 egg
1/2 cup of butter
1/4 cup cream cheese

Mix all of the above together. Should make a soft cookie dough.

1 cup of peanut butter
3/4 cup of powdered sugar

Make into a playdough like consistancy

Scoop chocolate cookie dough into balls and flatten a bit. Make large marble size balls of peanut butter mixture and squish slightly on top of chocolate dough balls. If you like your children and don't mind messes, this is a great job for little people to do. Bake on parchment paper covered cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes at 350. Let cookies cool on rack. While they cool mix

1 cup chocolate chip
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix together and microwave on low until melted. Spoon over cookies. Sigh deeply. Lick spoon, bowl and everything else covered in chocolate. Wash smudges off of forehead.

These cookies rock. They seem fancy but come together quickly. The chocolate ganache sets up on top so you can stack them. I am not sure how long they would last because they disappeared quickly at our house. I blame it on the fact we had guests and I am sure the both had at least 2 cookies each.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Character is over-rated

Many years ago, when Matt and I were house hunting, I was hooked on homes with "character". Old houses with back stories, brick and hardwood, fireplaces and history. My dad has one. Matt and Amanda had one. But then we found our Colorado house. I must say, it was never a "love at first sight" type thing. It was a "what a good deal in our price range" type thing.

We looked at a lot of houses out here. Big ones, small ones, expensive ones, close to work and further away. I told Matt that if I had to live all the way out on the freakin' east coast, away from everyone and everything I loved, I was going to at least live in a house I liked. This means a house with, you guessed it, character.

I wasn't very old when I discovered the phrase "it builds character" was synonymous with "it really sucks by you might end up being a better person if you make it through". I quickly decided I don't really want character, the price tag just isn't that appealing. And really, is it so bad to go thorough life "character-less?".

Recently I have discovered that there is a lot in common with houses with character and character building situations. Basically, if you survive it, you might be a better person because of it. This occurred to me as I was standing in the shower watching my neighbor mow his lawn and his wife cooking dinner in their kitchen. All from the shower. Because nothing says "character" more than a randomly placed window in your shower.

Unless it is the fact my toilet flushes with hot water. Free hiney steam bath with every flush! And if you, like me, generally use the toilet before your shower, be sure to adjust the temperature accordingly. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped shrieking, damp and naked from the shower because the toilet tank was done refilling (with hot water) and the temperature of my shower just suddenly increased by 20 degrees. Note to self: flush after the shower.

Character also means that there is no such thing as "level" in this house, which, of course, saves time when hanging anything on the wall. Don't bother using a level, it will just make the straight picture look crooked if it is hanging straight in a crooked house. It is fun for the girls, you don't even have to push your hot wheels car to make it roll across the floor, just choose the highest corner in the room!

When heading to the basement, be sure to watch you head. Don't spend too much time down there or you will have to visit the chiropractor for the crick in your neck and the emergency room to fix the gash in your forehead from the exposed pipes or random bare wires that hang down. And I sure hope your remembered to put on your shoes before you went down, it always feels a little nasty to step in the stream that runs across the floor in bare feet.

The random wet spot that shows up on our bedroom floor every time it rains is a great conversation starter. No, there isn't a leak from above nor is the ceiling below it ever damp. There is no pipe below and and isn't wet all the way to the wall. Its a real "character building" head scratcher.

Nothing like randomly leaking pipes and clogged plumbing that pops the main line cap to keep you on your toes, and everyone knows you can't build character flat footed! Having to keep matches by the stove since my ignite never works reminds me to always be prepared. Have no closet space keeps me thinking outside the box (and under the bed). The funky smell in the carpet on the stairs helps me remember that while pets may come and go, their stench remains.

I have learned that I am not really as big of fan of character as I once believed myself to be. Character, like life, is messy and unpredictable. I will never again take for granted that just because an outlet exists, that it works. I will be able to say that I once lived in a house over a hundred years old, but I will say with pride that we were smart enough not to buy it.