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  • A Smashing Dinner Party

    April 25, 2011

    I love to have people over for dinner.  I think hosting small dinner parties of four to six, is about the funnest thing you can do.  But, in all honestly, since Sean was born, I have not done as much of that sort of thing as I like to do.  I am out of dinner party shape.  But now that Sean is getting older, it’s a lot easier and so I have been trying to get back in the swing of entertaining.

    If you did not know, I am a bit of a foodie.  I like to feed people.  I love to buy food, I love to talk about food, I love to learn about food.  I read cookbooks for entertainment and about the only television I watch is the Food Network.  So it was weird that as I was planning my little dinner party menu, I was stumped.  I could not think of one thing to fix.  Even foodies get in a food rut from to time.

    Someone suggested that I make Lazy Chicken. Frankly that didn’t sound all that great for some reason, and I think it was just that the name evoked unpleasant imagery.  As does yogurt.  I don’t really care for yogurt and I think it is because the word yogurt is an ugly and unappetizing word.  Yogurt just doesn’t sound like something you oughta eat.  They should call it buttery creamy caramel toasted stuff. Then I would like it.

    Anyway, I looked around on the internet and this Lazy Chicken had a pretty good reputation, except for you know, being lazy.  So I went with it and followed the recipe without deviation.  But I had a not-so-good feeling about this dish all along.

    If you are interested, here’s the recipe:  Take a bunch of spices and coat the chicken, either frozen or fresh, and then bake it at 350.  So that’s what I did.  But when I pulled it out of the oven and tested a piece, my not-so-good feeling was confirmed: this chicken was not-so-good.  I just couldn’t serve it.  So I rinsed off all the spices, smothered it in salsa and covered the pan with heavy foil and set it aside to rest, to take a little power nap.

    I then said a little prayer that through a baptism of salsa, the not-so-good chicken might experience a trans-substantiation of sorts and turn into something not-so-bad. Salsa can cover a myriad of culinary sins.  And with the guests set to arrive in 10 minutes, there was nothing more that could be done.  I had to move on.

    And if the chicken wasn’t so great, then at least I had prepared other things.  Lining the counter and ready to go was some hummus I had made for an appetizer, a spring salad, creamy au gratin potatoes, clover leaf rolls and pretty little homemade cobbler topped with a dusting of sugar which sparkled in the glow of the under-cabinet fluorescent lights.  Pretty much, my entire meal was setting out on the counter waiting to be served.  All that was left to do was make the tea so I boiled some water in the microwave.

    When the microwave beeped, I popped open the door and retrieved a small pitcher of bubbling hot water.  But as I did, the pitcher caught on the heavy12-inch glass platter that rotates inside the microwave. And out it fell.  It first crashed onto the granite counter top and busted into a zillion pieces and then the rest of it crashed to the porcelain tile floor and busted into ten zillion pieces.  Granite and porcelain tile are not forgiving surfaces.  Keep this in mind should you be thinking of remodeling your kitchen.  One unfortunate incident and your grandmother’s china is history. As well as any food you may have prepared.

    When I opened my eyes there was glass everywhere. Every. Where.  For weeks after, I found bits of glass all the way into the breakfast room and even the den.  There was shards of glass in every dish I had prepared — everything that is except the stupid lazy good for nuthin’ chicken which was covered tightly with foil.  And my guests were set to arrive any minute.

    I wanted to cry big fat sloppy unappetizing snotty tears.  And I also wanted to bust something else and stomp my feet and maybe even shake my fist.

    But I didn’t do any of those things. I screamed for Sean to go get his father to help me clean up the mess.  My plan was to first clean up the glass and then figure out how to prepare another meal in six minutes.

    While AD swept up and wiped up and vacuumed up glass, I dumped all the food into the trash, dish by dish, making up new curse words in my head with every scrape.

    Then on to Plan B.  I always have a couple of blocks of cream cheese and crackers on hand, so I think I poured Somethingoranother over the cream cheese and put out some crackers and called it an appetizer.  Then I made a pot of minute rice and seasoned it with a leftover packet of Somethingoranother that I found in the freezer.  Then I opened a couple of cans of green beans, also seasoned with Somethingoranother and for dessert I pulled a Sara Lee Somethingoranother cake out of the freezer.  If you don’t stock Somethingoranother and salsa in your pantry, you really should.

    As luck would have it, our guests got caught in traffic and were a few minutes late and I magically pulled a meal together in time.

    When the guests I arrived I tried to forget about the fact that I had glass dust floating in the air, and just relax and enjoy their company, which wasn’t hard to do as they were a fun couple, good conversationalists with entertaining stories.  When they complimented me on the chicken I didn’t quite believe them because, in my opinion, it was really not very good. But they did clean their plates, so maybe they were sincere.

    I guess as is often said, all’s well that ends well and no sense crying over shattered glass in your entire meal and if it ain’t broke, then Antique Mommy hasn’t touched it. Whatever.

    So then, for a truly smashing dinner party, stock up on Somethingoranother and have Plan B. And maybe a dustpan handy.

    Things I Falsely Believe

    January 13, 2011

    Random, Stray and Otherwise Unassigned Thoughts:

    If I could just find the right color of blush I wouldn’t look so washed out.

    Someday I will find the “right” haircut and I’ll have fabulous easy to do hair that always looks great.

    Jeans are comfortable.

    My kid is astonishingly smarter/cuter/funnier than all the other kids.

    My seven-year-old will always be the loving, delightful and polite little fella he is today.

    My husband forgets to take out the trash on purpose.

    If I get it on sale, I’m saving money.

    I can still shop in Juniors.

    Everyone else has it together/knows what they’re doing.

    Fun-sized Snickers are a healthy nutritious snack.

    Someday I will get rid of The Mole.

    And then I will have a beautiful Southern Living yard.

    Coffee counts towards my daily 8-glasses of water because it’s made with water.

    That weird smell coming from the sink disposal is probably nothing.

    The Run Away Game

    July 22, 2009

    I am assuming that every family has some weird little games they play that when described to others fall into the category of evidence for the state.

    We have many of these games, but the one that Sean loves most right now is called The Run Away Game.

    The Run Away Game erupts. It is never planned and usually happens when we are all just standing around the kitchen grazing and looking through mail and that kind of thing.  The first parent to faint from exhaustion loses.

    One of the parents picks up the child and says to the other parent, “No! You may not have my baby!”  And then runs like crazy through the house, carrying said child, while the other parent gives chase.  Eventually the run away duo is captured in a group hug. And then the capturing parent steals the child saying, “No! You may not have my baby!”  Another chase ensues all while the little boy squeals and shouts, “Run! Run faster!”

    Great fun.  And a good bit of exercise running through the house with a five-year-old.

    Yesterday, after a rousing round of Run Away, I set Sean down and clutched my chest and tried to catch my breath.  And I wished that either a) I was about 10 years younger or b) that I worked out more often.

    As I sat on the floor panting, I thought about all the different little made up games we have played along the way, most of which he probably doesn’t even remember and I wouldn’t either if I didn’t write stuff down.

    I wondered if he would remember the Run Away game and play with his own little boy some day.

    I hope so.

    Does your family have any made up, unexplainable, weird games/things?

    Mourning The Mourning Dove

    May 6, 2009

    As quickly as she came into my life, she was gone.

    Yesterday morning, I checked on my sweet little dove.  She was sitting quietly in her nest in the Carolina jasmine, just the same as ever.

    Although she did not seem thrilled to see me, she did not glare at me either.  I suspect that is only because the dove lacks the ability to glare or cast disparaging looks. With no eyebrows, the dove is stuck with an all purpose blank expression, a lot like Jessica Simpson.  Otherwise, upon the sight of me, she probably would would have narrowed her eyes and curled her lips. If she had lips.  Another problem.  It’s also probably good that doves can’t make gestures. The symbol of peace indeed.

    So early this afternoon, I went outside to get the mail and I couldn’t stop myself from toddling up the driveway to check on her again.  I was surprised to find that her nest was empty! Very surprised. No dove, no eggs, no feathers. Nothing. No Tom, not even a note.

    I assumed that when the eggs hatched that she would hang around until she saw her young out of the nest and then she would fly off into the sunset, but not before perching on my kitchen window ledge, tapping on the glass with her delicate slender beak and then casting me a knowing and grateful look for all I had done for her.  I would dab a tear from my eye with a dish towel and wave her off. “Go on you crazy bird,” I would say, “Get out of here! Go see the world!” And then she would spread her wings to fly, but pause one last time, wink her round black eye at me and then be off.  I would rush to the window and wave as she melted into the sky and became a dot in the distance.

    Or something like that.

    When I told Sean that the dove was gone, he said he thought it was my fault, that she had left because I had disturbed her.

    Perhaps so.  I was a terrible landlord, I know that – nosy and overly interested. I was Mrs. Roper, not in a caftan, but in a frighteningly sad pink chenille robe.

    For more than a week she had put up with cold rain, hail and high winds.  But it was me dropping in on her and asking all kinds of personal questions that sent her over the edge. She just couldn’t take another day.  Perhaps  it all became too much and she threw herself in front of a cat. We will never know.

    And now (dramatic pause, dropping chin to chest) I must mourn my mourning dove.

    No, really. I’ll be fine. (sniff sniff) Carry on.

    ~The end~

    The Carolina Jasmine

    May 1, 2009

    So for a week or more now, I’ve had this mother dove nesting in the Carolina jasmine that is growing on the fence that runs alongside my driveway and just outside my kitchen window.  And I have to admit here, I’ve become involved with this dove.  I wonder if the dove is okay, I wonder if the dove is hungry, I wonder if the dove recognizes me, I wonder if the dove likes me.  I am obsessed with the dove.

    Multiple times a day, I run outside and check on the dove.  And multiple times a day I find the dove sitting on her nest staring straight ahead pretending that I do not exist.

    Early yesterday morning, we got a terrific thunder and lightning storm with some heavy rain and high winds.  It woke me up around 5am and my first thought was not “Is my child frightened? Does he need his mommy?” but “I wonder if the dove is okay.”

    So an hour later, after the storm passed, I went outside in my threadbare hot pink chenille robe and fuzzy leopard print slippers to check on the dove.   I realize as I leave the house that I look a little like Crabby Maxine and for a split second I consider putting on something less likely to frighten or offend the dove. Doves probably have very delicate sensibilities when it comes to garish fashion and other startling things.

    I stand on my tip toes to see her and yes, she was still there, sitting on her nest and staring straight ahead as usual.  I coo to her in a low and soothing dove-like voice.  I tell her how I worried over her.  I asked her if the storm had frightened her. I inquire of her health and tell her she is a pretty dove and that I am a kind person.  I continue our conversation along those lines and at one point she blinked which I took to mean that we were bonding.

    When I turned to go back in the house, I offered a feeble wave to the speed walker at the end of the driveway who had slowed down enough to catch me talking tenderly to the Carolina jasmine.

    A Children Ache

    December 28, 2008

    Every night before bedtime, and sometimes before school, Sean and AD will read at least one chapter from a book of children’s classics.

    Having gone through most of the other more exciting and well known titles, we are down to Pollyanna. But he is just as enthralled with Pollyanna as he was with The Swiss Family Robinson.

    Stepping up to chapter books like Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist has presented many opportunities to talk about some of the more unsavory and unpleasant aspects of life.  Many of the characters are orphaned or suffer cruelty at the hands of those who should protect them.  And there is always a concern to AD and me over how much of this kind of information is appropriate for a five-year-old.

    But the thing about Sean that continually amazes us is how wise he is beyond his years and how tenderly perceptive he is about the human condition and matters of the heart.  Although we would certainly like to claim credit for that,  it’s simply the way God made him.

    If you don’t recall or haven’t read the story of Pollyanna, she is a young girl who was orphaned and goes to live with her Aunt Polly who is a cold and crusty middle-aged spinster.  Aunt Polly suffered a thwarted romance early in her life which left her bitter and she has never gotten over it.  Aunt Polly has a big house, yet she makes Pollyanna sleep in a hot, stuffy, bleak attic and in general gives Pollyanna no affection.  Nonetheless, as the story goes, it is Pollyanna’s way to see the silver lining in every gray cloud.

    At one point in the story, AD stopped reading and looked over the book at Sean who was lying in bed.  “Why do you suppose Aunt Polly is so gruff?” he asked.

    “I think she has a children ache,” Sean said quietly.

    “Oh Sean,” AD sighed, “I think you are so right. A lot of times when people are gruff on the outside, and sad or mean, it’s because they are hurting on the inside.”

    It’s true. I had a children ache once too.

    Small Talk In A Big World

    September 11, 2008

    Small talk makes the big world a smaller, cozier, more manageable place.

    I love on-line small talk. I love to chat with people on Twitter and through the comments on my blog. But in the real world, small talk makes me break out in hives. It makes me extremely nervous because, oh glory be!! What if there is a silence?! It will be awkward! And then I will have to fill it up! And oh the pressure to think of something to say! Something pithy and funny, something that makes sense outside of my own head?! (screaming inside head: aaaahh! haaaaaallllpp! Beam Me Up!)

    On-line I can just walk away and hide under the bed whereas it’s really bad form to vaporize in real life.

    I’ve noticed that senior citizens, the FDR generation, excel at small talk. I don’t know if they are just friendlier or if you just get friendlier with age. Or maybe you just have more time to be friendly. I don’t know, but I suspect it’s all of the above.

    My parents and my in-laws will talk to anyone at anytime about anything. And not just the perfunctory “Hello, how are you,” but they take time to engage strangers and swap stories and get to know them, trade colonoscopy stories.

    My mom flies out to Texas several times a year and every time I pick her up at the airport, she has made a new friend on the plane, she’s hugging them goodbye at the gate and wishing them luck, they’ve traded emails and are planning to vacation together.

    The last time I picked her up, she had met a nice young man who is getting out of the military, he is hoping to become a police officer… he was on his way to see his… he’d never been to Texas before… his wife’s name was… and she has asthma… he grew up in….

    I probably would not want to sit next to my mother on an airplane.

    One time when both of my parent’s were visiting, we went to the mall. My dad usually finds a park bench outside the store while mom and I go in and browse. When we came out he was talking to another man, also wearing Hushpuppies, a Members Only jacket and newsboy cap. It seems the other man was here visiting his daughter too… he lives in Ohio and has two boys and two girls and seven grandchildren and his wife name is… and he was in the army stationed in… and can’t play golf anymore because of his bursitis and…

    I think small talk makes the world a better place. I just prefer mine in an electronic format.

    * * * * *

    Do y’all read Bub and Pie? If I were held at gunpoint and forced to pare down my Bloglines to 10 blogs, hers would be one I couldn’t cut loose. Anyway, she posted about small talk today too, so go check out her perspective and leave her some comment love while you’re there.


    Chain Yankin’ Episode #7

    August 29, 2008

    One of the many many delicious things about having a four-year-old about the house is that you can really get away with yankin’ their little chain, because, you know, they are only four and they’ll believe almost anything you tell them.

    I know. I know. It really says something about you when you can trick a four-year-old.

    On the other hand, I once convinced my Cousin Cheryl that I had won a trip to Zimbabwe in a random drawing when I purchased some luggage at Foley’s. None of it was true – no luggage, no drawing, no trip to Zimbabwe. I don’t even know why I brought it up. At that moment, it just seemed like fun to yank Cheryl around a little and luggage came to mind. It almost made me sad when I had to tell her the truth a day or so later. She used to live in Africa and I think she was trying to figure out how she was going to go with me.

    It’s kind of thrilling to see if you can come up with just the right detail and insert it in just the right spot with just the right amount of nonchalance to convince the victim and then gauge their expression to see if they are buying into it.

    I also once convinced AD for more than a week that Rhode Island was named after my mother’s ancestors who came to America in the 1700s. My mother’s ancestors did come to America in the 1700s but so far as we know, no one named a state after them, even a small one. (He just reminded me that he recently convinced me the remote control was voice activated. For a full five minutes I was talking into the TV remote saying, “Volume up! Volume up!”  So you see, it works both ways.)

    Be that as it may – story telling or chain-yankin’ as the case may be is one of my many non-income producing talents and makes me very popular and well-loved among family and friends as you might well imagine.

    And now I have a four-year-old to mess with (rubbing hands gleefully).

    This morning, Sean slept in a little later than usual and so I took the opportunity to make some muffins. When he finally got up and followed his nose to the kitchen they were done and sitting on the stove cooling.

    “Oh mommy, did you make muffins?” he asked.

    And I could not stop myself.

    “These? No I didn’t make these.”

    “Well, who did?”

    “Well, funny you should ask,” I said with just the right degree of nonchalance.

    “I was here in the kitchen working on my computer at my desk, when I heard a little bell in the distance. Sounded just like an ice cream truck and I thought, ‘That’s weird, an ice cream truck this time of day?’ but I didn’t think anything more about it and I went right back to my computer.

    Well, the next thing you know, I heard a little tap tap tap at the kitchen window and I looked up and there was a little round man wearing a white hat standing in the shrubs and motioning me to the window. I raised the window just a bit and oh my goodness, the sweet smell of something filled the air, like cake or cookies or something. ‘Yes?’ I asked him, ‘Are you here to check the meter?’ ‘No ma’am’ he said ‘I’m the muffin man and I was wondering if you’d like some muffins.’ ‘Why yes!’ I told him, ‘My little boy loves muffins! What kind do you have?’ He said he had blueberry and bran and so I said we would take six of each.

    Well, he walked down the driveway to his little white truck and when he opened up the two little doors in the back – oh my! The aroma of fresh baked muffins filled the entire neighborhood! The smell was so captivating that the birds fell right off the telephone lines. He had a little bitty bakery right in the back of his truck! Can you imagine such a thing?! Well, he came back with the muffins and I handed him some money through the window. I turned to set them down and when I looked up to thank him he was gone but for the sound of a little bell in the distance.”

    Sean cocked his head and squinched one eye shut. “Are you teasin’ me?” he asked skeptically.

    “Sean,” I said, “I would not tease about something as serious as muffins.”

    “I think you’re teasing,” he said.

    Then he got up and looked out the front window.

    Poster Child For The Ridiculous

    June 5, 2008

    Proceed at your own risk. Pointless drivel and digression ensues.

     

    * * * * *

     

    If there were a poster child for the ridiculous, it would be me.  I don’t go looking for the ridiculous, it just seems to find me.

     

    For example, one morning last week, I got trapped in my laptop because I took the rug out of my office.

     

    Digression:  A while back I took the rug that was in my office and put it in the bedroom because I needed a rug in my bedroom.  I originally purchased this rug for the bedroom, but then I needed it for the office.  And then I needed it for the bedroom again.  This rug, it has commitment issues. 

     

    My plan is to get another rug for my office, but like the 29-jillion other things that need to be done around this house, it’s only gotten as far as being so noted on the list of things that need to be done.  It’s not actually on an actual list, per se, in actual ink. It’s on the list that is in my head, the one that is written in disappearing ink.  (Maybe I should get this rug?)

     

    At any rate, to make a short and pointless story long and pointless, on that particular morning, I was sitting in my office, no doubt composing something brilliant to over-share with the world wide web when I got the warning that the battery was low on my laptop.  So I scooted to the edge of my chair and closed the lid of my laptop juuust enough so that if I sat up tall on the edge of my seat, I could lean over juuust enough to see behind it to the itty bitty hole where the plug goes. 

     

    Yet another digression:  Are computers not the most temperamental high maintenance PMSy things ever invented? Do they not just flake out for no good reason?  Are they not just made of plastic and estrogen, sort of like an aging Hollywood starlet??  I think so.

     

    And because I began this whole operation precariously perched on the edge of my chair to begin with, and because I’m leaning forward over my desk, and because I no longer have a rug in my office, my chair starts rolling backwards and away from my desk on the slick hardwoods.  As I roll away from my desk, so does my center of gravity.  And before I realize it, my chin begins to bear down on the lid of the laptop as the back half of me rolls away — and oh yes, small detail, smashing my fingers which are located between the screen and the keyboard.  

     

    So then, to help you visualize the scene:  My chin, my fingers, my laptop and my desk are on one side of the room, while my behind, which is firmly planted in my chair, is on the other side of the room.  And I can neither move to nor fro.

     

    Because my torso is now parallel to the floor and stretched to its elastic limit, I can’t stand up.  And I’m terrified to put my feet to the ground, because even though I’m not a student of physics, I get the sense that if I lean forward more than a centimeter? My chair will tip forward and dump me like a cheatin’ boyfriend.

     

    So then.

     

    In order to stand up or roll forward, I have to bear down the full force of my weight, through my chin, onto the laptop lid which is holding my fingers hostage.  I am imagining at that moment that I must look a little like Olga Korbut on the balance beam in the opening shots of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Only I’m not doing that goofy shakey smile for the camera, but I do have lopsided bangs.  (I realize that reference is probably too obscure for most of you who were not yet born in 1972 and remain unawares of the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.  And yet I can’t stop myself.) 

     

    Just then I hear beeeeeeeep boop which translates to BUH-bye!  My computer laughed snidely in my face and then died.  Oh phooey! I say — or something similar to that.

     

    I am left with no options.  The computer gods must exact their pound of flesh, specifically the flesh that is wrapped around my fingers.  So I give in, sacrifice my fingers and pull myself up. By my chin. 

     

    I then jump quickly to my feet, and clad in my hot pink chenille robe, I do the silent scream while hopping around and shaking my bruised and battered fingers like a crazy Indian in some bizarre ceremonial campfire dance.

     

    And that is the picture I’m going to submit for the poster. 

     

     

    My Week So Far

    April 16, 2008

    Bought new tires. Nothing quickens the heart of a girl like a new set of tires.  Can’t wait to show all my friends.

     

    Noticed an emerging zit on my chin.  Carefully applied my super-de-doopery zit medicine.  Prided myself for not messing with the zit.  Discovered later that day that it wasn’t a zit. It was jelly.

     

    Stopped by the dry cleaners to pick up a shirt I had dropped off for Antique Daddy.  The clerk disappeared into the back where the mystery of dry cleaning occurs.  I heard a lot of rustling of plastic and Korean chatter before the clerk appeared and said, “No shirt give me phone number”  I gave her phone number and she punched in some buttons and said “No shirt” and shrugged her shoulders.  And then she said something in Korean to the other workers and everyone started laughing.  Went home and found the shirt hanging neatly in the dry cleaning plastic in the closet.  I had already picked it up.

     

    Mailed my sofa reupholstery fund, summer shoes fund and general entertainment fund to the IRS.  Apparently the IRS has needs too and their needs trump mine.  Even though it’s my money and I’m the one with a shabby sofa.  But no, I’m not bitter.

     

    Coasted into the gas station on fumes. Removed gas cap and began pumping gas. Knocked gas cap off its holder.  Falls to the ground.  Rolls under the car.  Beyond my reach. Searched car for gas cap retrieving device.  Cursed myself for cleaning car. Crawled under the car and retrieved gas cap.  Tried to pretend that I didn’t have my nose centimeters from someone’s gum.

     

    Reached up to adjust my earring in Wal-Mart.  Caught my watch on my sweater. Sweater and watch lock in bizarre interspecies mating ritual. Left Wal-Mart with a watch hanging from the front of my sweater and probably axle grease in my hair.  Tried to look normal.

     

    And it’s only Wednesday…

     

    But!  Shortly after 6pm tonight some lucky gal will be getting an email from me telling her she’s getting a new swimming suit courtesy of Lands EndAnd that makes up for the axle grease and the fact that I nearly had my nose in someone’s gum.