Monday, January 30, 2012

We're Having Fishues

We've had some turnover in our little aquarium lately. Sweet little cord, our snakey loach has passed on. He led a long boring life so we weren't too surprised. And little Skye Masterfish, our sky blue betta named after a character in Guys in Dolls has also passed on. And as I mentioned the other day, we had some fishues with our little catfish.

Well, to console ourselves over the loss of Whiskers the 2nd, we got ourselves a couple of silver mollies. Well, who knew that they were piranhas in disguise? We set them loose in the tank and by morning poor little Zoidberg the 2nd was nothing more than a bit of sludge on the top of the tank. I'm not entirely sure that was his remains, but he's missing and the mollies looked awfully smug. I suppose I could have tried to return the sludge to the store, but  since I'm not entirely sure it was fish remains I didn't try. We'll just write that one off.

So, what did we do? We went out and got a couple more of the bloodthirsy little buggers. I wasn't going to get another catfish, that would be a waste of money. So we got a black molly and a speckled molly. I thought they would all play nice but no. The silver mollies hang out together in a group (a small group) and the black and speckled mollies hang out on the opposite side of the tank. I was hoping they might warm up to each other, but the other morning we discovered the speckled one, belly up. At least he had a belly and hadn't just disappeared like the catfish, but still.

So, I bagged him up. The little black one is still alive so far (knock on wood).


Friday, January 27, 2012

Bag O' Dead Fish

We recently purchased two albino catfish - Whiskers the 2nd and Zoidberg the 2nd. The theory was that they could keep each other company. Well, that didn't work out so well. The day after we bought them, we found Whiskers the 2nd floating belly up. And since we'd only had them for less than a full day we wanted to get our money back.

I wasn't sure of the proper procedure for returning a dead fish, so I first looked at the receipt. I had 30 days from the date of purchase to return merchandise as long as it was in the original packaging and in good condition.

Hmmmm. Well, I could dig the bag we got it in out of the garbage I suppose. But it was going to be tough getting it back to original condition. I mean, how do you do mouth to mouth on a fish? Mouth to gill I suppose. But it's only a one inch fish. The attempts didn't go so well.

So next I decided to check out the website. OK. Making progress. I can return defective merchandise (and a dead fish is certainly defective). All I need to do is put it into a sealed envelope and mail it to the store along with a copy of my receipt. But as I was stuffing the fish into the envelope, I thought that maybe they didn't mean fish when they referred to 'merchandise'. I mean, the envelope was rather lumpy. And damp. And smelly.

OK, so I decided to call the store and ask what I do with a dead fish.

Just bring it back to the store, they said. And we can replace it or refund your money.

OK, great. NOW we're making progress. So I walked into the store holding the fish by the tail and, . . .

What? You think that's disgusting? Ok, so I didn't do that. But I was tempted. I put him in a sealed baggy with a little water - out of respect you know. And then the kids and I piled into the car and headed out. And of course, despite having three able bodied children with me, not one would hold onto the bag of dead fish. Ewww! Mom, that's gross!! I'm not gonna hold that!! Eeeeeewwww. Ick! Get it away from me!! 

Ugh! Are my children wimps? It's a dead fish for god's sake. I was tempted to remove it from the bag and hold it between my teeth. You know, for the shock factor, but that was a little too icky even for me. And besides, the kids probably wouldn't have been shocked anyway. Grossed out, but not shocked. And besides, I didn't really want dead fish between my teeth. And I also know how dirty that aquarium gets - I've scraped the big strings of green-black algae out of the tank more than once.

I did however hold the fish bag between my teeth. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. After all, I needed my hands to drive.

I was unusually forward for me while at the store - brandishing my bag o' dead fish and trying to get someone to help me out. I didn't want to be holding the dead fish any more than they wanted me waving it around the store. But it wasn't long before I got my money back.

In  my next post I will bore you with regale you with tales of catfish #2's fate.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Most Colorful Cake in the World

I can honestly say I recently made the most colorful cake I have ever seen.

The most colorful batter in the world:

The baked cake:

The top half:

The finished product:

Tasting time:


Monday, January 23, 2012

No One Makes Potatoes Like Grandma Used to Make

Just the other day I posted about my bland roasted potatoes. Wow! That was a thrilling post, wasn't it? Nothing better than rivieting stories about potatoes! Well, have I got another one for you! And it's also about potatoes! Whoo hoo! Potatoes!

When I was young we used to occasionally eat dinner at my Grandma's house. One of the highlights of those dinners were her mashed potatoes. My sister and I loved those potatoes. Grandma made the best mashed potatoes in the world! Buttery, creamy, delicious! We couldn't get enough.

We always tried to get Mom to make them the same way.

Mom! Add more butter! Make them like Grandma does!

It was many years later when we discovered Grandma's secret. The secret recipe! Yes! And I'm going to share it with you!

[drum roll]

Wait for it . . .

Here it comes . . .


That's right! Grandma's super fabulous, uber-delicious, wonderfully creamy, tasty and buttery mashed potatoes were from a box.

I have no idea why it was such a secret. I suppose they feared if we knew the truth we wouldn't like them anymore. But to this day I still like boxed mashed potatoes. I'm so weird like that. (My favorites now are fresh ones, made from actual freshly-peeled potatoes and whipped up into a buttery, creamy deliciousness by the Hubster, but boxed are a close second.)


Friday, January 20, 2012

On Your Potatoes? Really?

  The other day my roasted potatoes were a little bit bland. Oh no! I know! Tragedy. It was terrible! But really, not so much. I mean, it's only potatoes.

But, in order to satisfy my tongue and also to gross out the kids, I heated up a little bit of tomato sauce for dipping. The hubby and Sweet Pea were dipping in ketchup (ick!) so I thought I'd try a little bit of tomato sauce.

Ugh! Ick! Yuck! Sauce? On potatoes? Oh Mom! You are so disgusting. Eeewwwww!

The faces around the table were priceless. I think I would do it again, many times, even if I didn't like the taste. The faces were awesome!

It reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes. There were a couple of different sets of Calvin and Hobbes comics where Calvin was making these terrific and horrible faces - one set was when he was eating dinner (and it was eating him), the other was family portraits. Priceless! Well, those faces across the table really brought Calvin and Hobbes to mind.

And since I know that you all are waiting with baited breath to find out if the bland potatoes were fixed by the application of some tomato sauce I will tell you . . .

Drum roll please. . .

Sure, they were OK. A little weird, but good.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Want a Lap Cat

I want a lap cat. Forget that I rarely have a lap! I know that I rarely sit down and when I do, I have a lap full of kids, or crafts, or beads, or computers. But on those rare occasions when I do sit down and my lap is empty, I'd like it to be full of cat. Fuzzy, soft, purring, happy, snuggly cat.

But you have a cat, you're saying.

Yes. Yes I do have a cat. And the whole purpose of a cat is so that you have something to warm your lap on cold evenings. But no. Not this cat. She wants nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with laps. Occasionally, when we pick her up and put her on our laps, she will sit quietly and submit to petting for about, oh, 6 seconds. Sometimes, if we hold on real tight, we can get her to stay there for maybe 8 or 9 seconds. But eventually the claws come out and it's all over. Even if we could hold on longer, once the claws come out who wants to?

I used to think that she liked us - I mean - she is almost always in the same room as us. And if we get up and move to another room she follows. But now I think she is just keeping tabs on us. She wants to know where we are at all times. If she can see us, she knows we aren't doing anything she wouldn't approve of. (What that would be I have no idea.) Or more likely, if she knows where we are, she knows what we're doing and that lessens the chance of her missing out on her fair share of Redi-Whip or butter.

In any case, despite my attempts I don't think she will ever be a lap cat. That's just a little too close for comfort. (The cat's comfort of course - nothing else matters).

Fine! Be that way. But you know what? Ha ha! I have a guinea pig. She'd make an excellent lap pig! She doesn't purr, but she does rumble when when you pet her fur the wrong way and she's warm. That'll do (pig).


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Sleepover Isn't a Sleepover Without Giggles, Elbows to the Face and Knees to the Groin

Sometimes the kids and I have a sleepover. That means that all four of us (the hubby usually politely declines) snuggle up on the floor on a pile of blankets and pillows. There's some talking and giggling, some reading and snuggling, often some arguing and yelling and eventually some sleeping. It's a good time for all. We all feel bad that the hubby doesn't partake, that he's all alone in his bed with no giggles, no elbows in the face, no knees to the groin, no being squashed out of bed between two little bodies. But he says he really doesn't mind. And besides, I only have three sides. Yes, that's right. Three. One on the left, one on the right, and one at the top. Not ON the top, but AT the top. Like perpendicular to the other three of us, across the top of my head. Like so:

And of course, that leaves no room for the hubby anyway. I have two sides and a top. The bottom is no fun because my feet stink he can't talk to us easily from that angle. So he just stays in his bed. He gets to have a sleep over with me every other night anyway. Since the kids and I all had Monday off of school/work for Martin Luther King Jr day we decided to have a Martin Luther King Jr. Day sleepover. Any excuse for a sleep over works for us. And while we usually just go with the flow, this time we decided that we had to have a sleepover activity. And what better activity for a sleepover? We all had a dream.


Friday, January 13, 2012


  Several years ago the Hubby and I went to NYC on a trip Hubby had won through his brilliance at writing. He wrote an essay extolling the virtues of the Dinosaur Barbeque restaurant and it was chosen by Good Morning America as the winner. So, we got a weekend in NYC complete with a tour of the studios and two meal vouchers - one for the Four Seasons and the other for Tavern on the Green.

The trip still comes up in conversation now and then, usually in reference to the huge Toys R Us we visited, or in reference to how delicious the meal at Four Seasons was, specifically the duck (and the chocolate souffle, but this is about the duck).

One of Snickers favorite animals is ducks so he is not amused to hear us speak fondly of the crispy crackle of duck skin and the succulent, tasty meat. He was equally appalled the other day when I referred to said meal as 'Quacktastic'.  And who knows, after all this time maybe we've just built the meal up in our minds into something bigger and better than it was, but does it really matter? If I remember something more fondly that I have any reason to do so that just makes it better right? Indeed. And what better endorsement than to have 'Ginormous Duck' declare the meal quacktastic!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Importance of Ambiance

When fine dining, ambiance is of utmost importance. The flavor of the food is affected in subtle ways by everything from the lighting, to the shape of the dishes, the scents in the room to the service, the music and the surrounding sounds and sights. The ambiance can make or break the meal.

Case in point:
Peanut butter crackers and a cup of skim milk. The perfect meal (as far as Doodlebug is concerned). But, if the lighting is off, putting the meal in shadow, or shining too brightly, the flavor of the meal will be off.

If the scent of sizzling onions across the kitchen is too strong, the peanut butter will taste flat, the crackers stale, the milk old.

If the peanut butter is not spread just right, with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, if the milk is poured without cheerful banter, it just won't taste right.

It must be perfect in order to be enjoyed fully! Let's try not to spoil a nice meal, shall we?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Alarm Clocks are Dangerous Things

Snickers got a Pac Man alarm clock for Christmas. It's shaped like Pac Man and when the alarm goes off it's all 'boopita boop boop, boopita boop boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop' You know how it goes, right?

The only problem is that it goes 'boopita boop boop, boopita boop boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop' at FULL VOLUME. Loud enough to be heard easily in a crowded arcade full of noisy 80's games. That's somewhat of a problem when it goes off in a silent, darkened bedroom, waking one from a sound sleep.
 The other day I heard the tell tale 'boopita boop boop, boopita boop boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop' blaring in from down the hall, through the bedroom door, through the bathroom door and through the towel wrapped around my wet hair. It sounded like it was next to me. I stepped out into the hall and there was Snickers, hair all askew, eyes wide, panting with his hand on his chest. Apparently the alarm is very effective.

He breathlessly confided that if he was an old man he would have just had several heart attacks. So I assured him that he didn't have to use that alarm clock if it was going to result in an early death. 


Friday, January 6, 2012

Living a Life of Cin(namon) (That Mystery Mint Left a Bad Taste in My Mouth)

A few weeks ago after a nice lunch out the waitress dropped some mints on the table. You know, those red and white hard-candy peppermints. A nice way to cover the taste and smell of the onions, greasy friedness, coffee and whatever else I had eaten. I popped a mint into my mouth. This one had a pink center. Ooh la la! And wow, was it tasty! For some reason I thought it was the best one of those mints I'd ever had. I really enjoyed it.

I dropped the others in my purse for later because no one else wanted them. Ooh! More for me.

So then a few days later, I decided to have another. I really hate coffee breath so I attempt to cover it up whenever possible. I think it harkens back to my youth - well, to one of my first jobs anyway, where I would go into work at 5AM and work with this woman who was a heavy coffee drinker, heavy smoker and heavy everything else. She was very nice, but her breath was enough to knock me back several days. Wow! I decided that coffee-cigarette breath was one of the worst smells ever. Right up there with dirty diapers, polyurethane, turpentine, rotten eggs, ammonia and sauteed garlic. Combined. And possibly a bit worse.

But I digress. A couple of days later I popped another mint into my mouth to cover the coffee taste. And much to my surprise, I discovered it was cinnamon! That darn tasty little mint was cinnamon! I felt betrayed! For two reasons: one - betrayed by my taste buds and the fact that my brain and mouth had just accepted the fact that if it was a red and white hard candy mint - it must be peppermint. And it took me two mints to come to that realization! Even though I noticed it was better than usual, it never occurred to me that it was because it was a flavor other than the obvious peppermint. No wonder I liked it so much!

Two - even more so, I felt betrayed by the mint. That little innocuous mint was masquerading as peppermint! How dare it?! That . . . that . . . that . . .imposter! And even though I love cinnamon, I didn't enjoy that little red, white and pink mint as much as I had previously. It was living a lie! It was pretending to be peppermint while living a life of cinnamon! (How's that for a pun? Huh? Huh? Get it? A life of cinnamon? A life of sin? Masquerading? Living a lie? Oh, nevermind.)

Just goes to show you that appearances are very important. We are all fooled by appearances. It's all about perception. The lesson here children, is that, well, it's, um. I'm sure there's a lesson here. I just can't think of it. But in the wise words of Stephen Cosgrove (the international, award-winning children's author whose books I have never read, but whose quote adorned the front of my favorite t-shirt when I was 10):

"Never judge someone by the way he looks, or a book by the way it's covered. For inside those tattered pages there's a lot to be discovered."

And as I discovered, inside that clear cellophane wrapper, there is a mystery mint to be discovered, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

On a related note, I was in an airport a few weeks back and saw a bag of cinnamon 'old-fashioned' hard candy. Since I really enjoy cinnamon I bought it. They are delightful! They are honest! They are not trying to pretend they are anything other than cinnamon hard-candies. No peppermint disguises, no fancy pink centers, just plain, hard, red, candies. I appreciate their honesty.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Keep Those Moths Out of My Woolens!

My dear sweet Grandma. I think she must have had a horribly disabling fear of moths. Maybe it was too many showings of Mothra, I don't know. Poor woman. But growing up she used to keep moth balls in her house. I think she must have had them sprinkled around liberally because very often food that she brought to us would have a rather strong odor of moth balls. I suppose it kept the moths out of the soup. More likely she stored them near the food wraps, but at this point, who knows? It's been a long time and I like to let my imagination run wild sometimes. So I picture them scattered throughout the cupboards, in the bowls, in the refrigerator, under the toilet seat.

And the moths - well, in my memories they beat their soft dusty wings and their feathery antennae on every window, trying to get in, kept at bay only by the overwhelming fumes billowing out. Should one happen to sneak in through an open door and flutter threateningly, it would be repelled almost instantly by a yellow noxious cloud of MOTH REPELLENT MOTH REPELLENT MOTH REPELLENT (do you hear the deep loud echo? Do you?)

But I exaggerate - I doubt that my Grandma had an all-consuming, fear of moths. Don't be ridiculous. I'm sure it was just a disabling and irrational fear of holes in her collection of woolens. (Can I say that with a straight face? Collection of woolens? It makes me want to giggle).

But in all seriousness, I have many many fond memories of my Grandma and of spending time at her house. And it isn't overshadowed in the least by clouds of noxious fumes, futiley beating dusty wings, killer moths or woolens so full of holes that Swiss cheese makers would be proud. Not at all.

Now, the dark, grapey smell of the basement where wine-making went on is another story altogether.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Electric Frosting and Mortal Peril

For my boys, as with all boys I'm sure, while playing, anything and everything is a weapon, from cardboard wrapping paper tubes, to folded up paper, to food, stuffed animals, LEGOs, you name it. Just about anything, with a little imagination can be a weapon. It's quite entertaining.

I remember fondly the days when White Kitty would shoot electric frosting.

And it's not only toys-as-weapons, it's the entire thought process - pirates and bad guys, lava and avalanches, tornadoes, wars, battles, monsters, dragons, evil sisters and on and on and on.

Just the other day one of the boys was singing a Christmas carol. I heard from the down the hall, ringing with youthful exuberance, the dulcet, tenor tones of

"Here we are in mortal peril, Fa la la la la la la la la"

I explained that it was supposed to be "Don we now our gay apparel" and explained what 'don', 'gay' and 'apparel' were.

He listened carefully, nodded sagely, then raced away with his sword in hand singing, "Here we are in mortal peril, fa la la la la la la la la". Apparently, his version is better.