Archive for October, 2011

Gift Ideas: Creationary

A year or so ago, friends introduced Tim and I to a new “board game”–Creationary.  Much to my dismay (or not), Tim fell instantly in love.

Put very simply, Creationary is Lego Pictionary.  You’re given an object in a category, and you have to draw build it.  A supply of legos (Tim would like me to note that it is a limited supply) is included.

Here’s why it made a good gift for Tim: he has a very soft spot in his heart left over from boyhood (otherwise known as ‘nostalgia’) for Legos–one that he rarely gets to indulge now that he is an all grown up man.  This game gave him just the dignified excuse he needed to climb right back into his little boy shoes.  

Let me invite you to take a peek at how it works, courtesy of a rousing game we played a few weeks back with Nathaniel and Anna.  See if you can guess what we built!


Did you get them?  Backhoe, Cow, Crocodile, Dock, Hospital, Gas Pump, Clock Tower, Parthenon (I think), Main Street.

Here’s what I like about the game (that I haven’t already mentioned): It’s a great thing to play with a mixed group of kids and adults of all ages (although Pop declined when we offered to let him in on the action) since cards come in three categories of difficulty.  It’s good for even a very young kid’s creativity and fine motor skills, plus it won’t drive the parent nearly as crazy as oh, say Candyland.

Here’s what I don’t like about the game: the scoring system is really weird.  We scratched the existing instructions when we played and let all the players guess what was being built.  We gave the point to the first correct answerer.  We also let the builder finish his/her item even after it had been guessed, just so we could ooh and ahh over the brilliant execution. 

Overall, though, I think it’s a great game and a creative gift idea.  It sells at Walmart for about $30 (Lego stuff is expensive) as well as online from several venues.  And I imagine you might even be able to make your own if you already have a Lego supply.


Potato Soup

I made the BEST Potato Soup for supper last night, yo.

I’ve never made potato soup before in my life, for two of three reasons (you pick):

1. Not enough protein.

2. Too much fat cream.

3. Potatoes are people too.

Yesterday, though, I forgot all about making plans for dinner until about 4:30, at which time nothing sounded good.  You know, of all the amazing work a housewife does, I think the most miraculous has to be the execution of three good tasting, nutritious meals per day.   I had almost decided that since it was just me and Pop, I was going to pack our bags and head to Panera for a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup (everything tastes better when I didn’t cook it).

And then I thought well, why not make my own creamy concoction?

Except we’d eaten all the broccoli in the house the day before and I only had one potato.

Undaunted, I set to work.  Here’s what I came up with:

Potato Soup:
1 lb ground chicken (or turkey or beef)
1 large potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1/2-1 cup lentils*
1 small onion, sliced
seasoned salt
pinch of lemon (pepper, juice, or peel)
a beef bullion cube
Cook all of the above in a saucepan on high, stirring often, until hamburger is cooked through.  Add:
5 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
Stir.  Then add:
1 cup water
1 to 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 to 2 Tablespoons butter
Stir constantly until soup boils, turn down to low and simmer 15 minutes (minimum).  Just before serving, stir in:
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
serves 6.

Whala!  In less than 45 minutes, dinner was served.  It was healthy, it was gumptious, it was low fat, and it was good.  

Just ask Pop.  He had thirds.

*Lentils are a relatively new discovery for me, and I’ve been working them into all kinds of dishes since I learned how good they are for you: “This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Iron, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Folate and Manganese.  Read More


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Laundry Room Fail

Occasionally I’ll get it into my head that I can do anything.

Note to self: NOT.

Here’s the deal: I love my washer and dryer.  They are the stuff.  They were cheap, they fit into a tight space, they’re white, and they work wonders with my laundry every single time: it comes out clean AND dry all in less than an hour.  (I know, I know, it’s a minor miracle.)  In fact, I love them so much that I sing their praises to Tim every laundry day evening (while he tries not to be jealous).  And I felt like they deserved some extra special treatment.

So three months ago, during a particularly busy stretch of work for Tim (one which was supposed to last a week and has morphed into the last nine months), I took it upon myself to carpet the laundry room.  The one with the floor otherwise known by geologist-wannabes as a concretion.  (Unfortunately for this geologist wannabe, real concretions sometimes contain pearls.  Our laundry room floor?  Not so much.)

We already had the carpet (a big scrap of green berber that was left rolled up in the corner of one of the bedrooms), so what did I have to lose?


Note to self: HA.  HA.

First I had to measure.  You know what they say about measuring: with what measure you use twice, cut once.  Or something like that.  Just to be safe, I measured about 7 times.  Don’t ask me why, it just sounded like the perfect number. 

Then I had to draw.  I drew out the laundry room.  I drew out the carpet.  I tried to fit the laundry room into the carpet.  Then I realized it would be just as easy to fit the carpet to the laundry room.  So I did.

The carpet was too long and not wide enough.  So by my calculations, if I cut it in half length wise and stacked the two pieces side by side–I was good to go.

So I made my cuts.  I used a utility knife and followed the weave on the back of the carpet to make sure my cut would come out straight.  Whoever invented weave on the back of carpet was a genius.  Maybe he and the guy who started printing that grid on the back of wrapping paper are brothers, who knows.  But I’d like to shake the man’s hand.

On accident, I cut in half width wise instead of length wise even though I’d measured twice x 3 1/2 so I’d only have to cut once.

I do not want to shake the man’s hand who made up that stupid wrong rule about measuring twice.

But all was not completely lost, since I could still cover all the visible parts of the laundry room concretion with some clever editing and minimal overlap.

The fourth (and purportedly final) step involved laying the carpet.  I was particularly proud of this accomplishment, since it involved some single handled maneuvering of some rather large furniture.  Oh, and I pulled a tricky trick where the carpet tucked under the laundry room door and met head to head with the tile in the hallway: I folded the carpet under and stomped it flat, so it looked like a real, professional seam.  Shwew.  Go, me.

Enter the happily ever after that wasn’t.

First and foremost, the carpet unbalanced the washing machine.  My beautiful, perfect, quiet, purring machine turned into some sort of raging lunatic every time I pushed her buttons.  Not only was it loud and annoying and cumbersome, but then I read somewhere that the life expectancy of unbalanced washing machines is dramatically reduced compared to their level-headed peers.

If that’s not bad news, I don’t know what is.

Obviously, the carpet had to go.

I procrastinated for a few weeks, but as the time neared for our triannual trip to the dump, I knew I had to act.

So I did.  I enlisted Tim’s help, and together we singlehandedly wrastled that carpet back out from under said heavy furniture, rolled it up, carted it out to the trailer, loaded it up, and drove off into the sunset.

Enter the end of story that wasn’t.

While removing the carpet from underneath the dryer, we (I) accidentally pinched (punctured) the dryer exhaust hose.


So off Tim runs for a new hose, some extra hose clamps, and a bottle of vodka.  (Just kidding about the vodka.)

Alas, alack, the hose clamp doesn’t quite fit the exit pipe.  So back he runs for some sort of pipe re-sizer and more vodka.

At this moment in the saga, something terrible happens: outage season–otherwise known among control engineers as the ‘drop everything and run to work death dance ‘–begins at the power plant.  So Tim did just that two weeks ago, and he hasn’t been back since ‘s been home just long enough to eat and sleep since.

Well, good wife that I am, yesterday I decide to contract another case of the I-can-do-anythings (my only other symptom being a huge basket of dirty laundry).  So I muscle around that hose, figure out why the clamp doesn’t fit, fit it, tighten it down, and take my trusty-dusty machines for a test drive.

Here’s how that went:

Not well.

So, dear readers, in case you missed it, three months, a big mess, and a few wasted days of work later, we are now right back to where we started (a laundry room with a concrete floor), except that now:

The washer’s still off kilter, despite being back on a level playing field.  I know this because of the loud protestations she made yesterday at even the most simple of tasks.  Oh, she’ll do what I ask her to alright–but not without making herself heard.

The dryer hose leaks steam (at both ends), despite being tightly sealed (at both ends).

And outage season isn’t over for two more months.

In conclusion:

The moral of this story is I am not as amazingly skilled as I’d like to think, so please don’t ask me to do anything even remotely simple for you anytime soon.  And remind me next time I get a case of the I-C-D-A-s to just leave well enough alone, thank you very much.

Oh, yah, and the other moral is I’ll probably be wearing this same shirt for the next month, so don’t get too close. 

Good thing I scored a deal on deodorant last week.