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Thursday, November 27, 2008

How to cook a turkey, kid style

Ellen’s Tercy Recpe 2008
(Made by Ellen, first grade)

1 cup of stilt
2 cups of green benes
3 cups of ptatos
5 cups of corn
4 cups of fower
7 cups of apple juse
6 cups of water
8 cups of Pumpkin
10 cups of bnanas
9 cups of peper
11 cups of cinimin
13 cups of spinach
12 cups of asparirgch
14 cups of shuger
16 cups of tmatos
15 cups of butter
17 cups of coffe
18 cups of milk
19 cups of persie chees

First you torun on your ovin to 16 dgerese. Thn stuff the turkey with tmatos and stuf the trkey with bnanas. Then wipe the turkey with butter and shuger. Then put the rest of the ingedtis on top. I love turkey. My turkey is 19 feet long. And 19 feet wide.

Toby’s Turkey Recipe 2008
(As dictated to mom)

1 big flop of yogurt
some cookie dough
Apple juice
hot dogs
Glob of ice cream
1 bone of turkey

Put them all in a big bowl and grind it up. Add the finishing touch: chicken noodle soup.
And a 105 pound turkey.

TO COOK:Cook it in the fireplace at zero degrees for 146 hours.

TO SERVE:Put some sushi around it. Then I set the table and serve the drinks and then I serve the food.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Inevitable Holiday, Part 1: Sole Food

Note: The newspaper requested holiday themed columns from now through the end of the year. Why not put it in a handy, dandy format? This is the first installment...

Even though the aisles were decked with the hall-decking decorations long before Halloween, it is now -- with the onset of cold weather, snow, and Thanksgiving -- that we officially welcome the holiday season. And so in honor of this wonderful time of year, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my readers to things they really already know in a little series I like to call “The Inevitable Holiday.”
I personally start feeling the stress of the holidays long before I need to, wondering how we’re going to get it all done, fit it all in, make it all special, and be holly jolly, by golly, all at the same time. My hopes in this next series of columns is to assure people (and mostly myself) that we’re all dealing with the same things this time of year. We’re not alone, and maybe if we realize that and all help out a little, the holidays will be as magical as we could ever hope and I won’t bury myself in wrapping paper and go on a frosted cookie binge around about December 19th…
In all seriousness, we do love the holiday season in this house. Secretly we’ve been listening to Christmas carols and have had a little tree up for a couple of weeks now. Yes, we welcome the season with open arms.
And unfortunately, also with open eyes, noses, mouths, etc.
Around here, we knew it was the holiday season long before the calendar told us because we rung in this jolly time of year with a double whammy of germs, a bunch of holiday gifts that we really didn’t ask for in the form of a weekend of pinkeye and a set of colds to beat the band.
I felt as if my home, my fortress, had been invaded, but I wasn’t surprised. I have a really bad habit of getting sick during the holidays, the best being last Christmas when I was knocked out by a case of strep throat and spent the entire day asleep. Not the merriest of holidays. So when the germs came at us this time I was ready to fight, to do whatever it takes to keep us happy and healthy.
But then the coughs came. And came.
And my daughter coughed all day and all night and no one got any sleep. And where our pink eyes had cleared, they all had dark circles underneath. Any parent with a cougher will know the mayhem that is caused by this single, simple, maddening symptom.
So for the good of the entire family I tried different cough syrups. I tried cough drops. I even tried the doctor, all to no avail. So I called upon the one person who I thought could help.
My grandmother.
At 85, she’s got some tricks up her sleeve and so I asked her for some home-remedy advice.
Naturally her first concoction contained a little something-something from the liquor cabinet, and while the thought did cross my very weary mind, I went with her second suggestion. Vicks Vapor Rub slathered on the bottom of my daughter’s feet.
The suggestion came from my great-grandmother, so I knew this was no new-fangled idea, but still it seemed a little odd. But desperate times call for desperate measures (but not liquor cabinet measures, mind you) and I made her some tea with lemon and honey, slimed up her feet and threw some socks on, and sent her to bed.
And now, after a good night’s rest, I’m not sure what it was that helped. It might have been the tea, the Vicks on her feet, or the blessing and prayers from her great grandmother. Whatever it was, we’ll take it and keep it in our arsenal of defense against the unwanted gifts of this giving season, because we know that no matter how much hand sanitizer we use, the germs will come.
It is, well, inevitable.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quote of the day

Ellen, singing: The Earth is our mother, we must take care of her...

Toby: Stop singing that. It doesn't make sense. The Earth can't be our mom. How would it give us drinks?

Oh yes, it's nice to be loved.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

what a day.

We have had numerous lights on the dashboard, so before the holidays roll around we thought we'd take in my Silver Spaceship to get tuned up. And, a chunk-a-change later, I was happily rolling along on my way to Wally World for a shopping trip. I was organized and I was ready for tackling the super giant and all of its scuzzy patrons.
I was not ready for a completely flat tire in the parking lot.
So a call to AAA later and a running in and out of the store trying to keep the kids warm, the man showed up to fix the tire right smack dab in the middle of the Walmart parking lot. He told me that the tire THAT WAS BRAND NEW and put on YESTERDAY had a stem issue and I had to take it to the dealer to be repaired.
I stuffed my shopping list, my super organized shopping list, into my pocket and loaded up the kids and drove on my little spare for 45 minutes where we sat in the waiting room and played with the Indiana Jones swords that I had to purchase to appease the youngins.
Finally it was fixed, but now, here I am, with nothing that I actually need and I have to go back to the store which with two kids, is really more of an athletic event combined with academic challenge.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Memoirs of a Gen X snacker turned mother

I was having one of my especially apathetic parenting moments and when the children asked me if they could do something (I don’t know what it was, I wasn’t paying attention), I said, “whatever floats your boat. Whatever creams your Twinkie.”
I fully realize that the second line of that sentence is not the most commonly used version of that phrase. I actually thought it was something the fellow Girl Scouts of Troop 1166 made up about 20 years ago, but a quick trip to the Internet tells me it’s more than just crazy tent talk. It’s an actual saying. That said, it’s still not frequently used and I’d guess that most people haven’t heard of it.
Therefore I wasn’t surprised when my kids gave me that look—the one that says “you know, we actually do listen to you sometimes, and that didn’t make any sense.” It didn’t take me long to realize just what they were confused about:
My. Children. Have. Never. Eaten. A. Twinkie.
When I figured this out, my mouth hung open and a little drool came out because I was thinking of course about that golden sponge cake with the creamy filling, and how, when you eat it, you’ve got to take precaution so that the creamy filling doesn’t squirt out the back and leave you with a dirty shirt and an empty Twinkie…
But back to reality. What kind of mother have I been to have been harboring my children from such an American staple their entire lives? With a combined age of 12, my two older children should have consumed hundreds of Twinkies by now, let alone HoHos, Snowballs, and those chocolate cupcakes with the swirly white frosting on the top. Those are the snacks that practically built Generation X! We all packed them in our lunches and ate them after school. The introduction of the singly wrapped snack cake had our mothers dancing in the kitchen as they packed our brown bag lunches with ease. Or at least I know mine did… or that I would have.
So without further adieu, I put Twinkies on the top of my shopping list. I told the children about the wonderful little inside out cakes with the frosting on the inside (what a concept!) and their happy yellow color. I was giddy with nostalgia as I recalled my childhood days with manufactured foods. Being more of HoHo girl, I hid them in the back of the freezer so that my dad wouldn’t eat them and so that I could peel off the chocolaty coating and go straight for the chocolate cake inside. Oh, the glory! Oh, the delight! Oh, the delicate perfection of the snack cake!
Why, oh, why have I been keeping these from my children? I was trying to do the right thing. “Processed foods are bad,” they tell us. “High fructose corn syrup is virtually poison.” “White sugar bad, white flour bad, must have sugar substitutes and whole wheat flour.” These things are drilled into my head every time I open a magazine or flip on daytime television.
But forget it all. No health benefit can match the pure processed bliss I remember as a child.
Racing through the store, overly anxious to finally reveal what I have been keeping from my children for so very long, I found the Twinkies under a glow of radiant light. I chose my box and rushed home to share the wealth of happy yellow cake, ready to gift unto them an entirely new world of cuisine that had, until this day, not existed. Something so new and so radical, something so fantastically delicious that surely it would change their world forever.
The crinkle of the cellophane wrappers…
The smoosh of the cake between tiny teeth…
“Yeah, it’s okaaay,” said one.
“I give it a thumbs in the middle” said the other.
I hung my head in denial, but maybe, just maybe, kids are different these days. Maybe they don’t have the palates that we used to have. Maybe they actually prefer real homemade treats. Or HoHos.
Hey, whatever floats your boat. Whatever creams your Twinkie.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Check back a few posts and you'll see a little guy pretending to be surviving in the wilderness. This is the child that literally leaves a ring around the bathtub every time, the one who I have pulled leaves out of his ears and his underwear. The one whose feet I've actually had to scrub with pumice to get clean.
And today, in his own little world, he gets dressed by himself. He emerges from his room like this, dressed up for school in his button down shirt (all-the-way buttoned and tucked in), too-small pants, dress shoes, and he also slicked his hair down with water.
(The pen and paper in his pocket are so that he can look like his Papa, a man with a habitual habit of carrying around a complete office full of paper and pens in his breast pocket.)
"Don't you think you'd want to go on a date with me?" he asks.
Well, naturally, yes. I would certainly go on a date with him.
But now I wonder just what little girl at preschool he's going to hit up for a night on the town...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These booties are made for walking

She woke up yesterday a crawler. And by the end of the day, she walked! A full transformation, all of which occured before my very eyes as I was folding laundry. How memorable...
Watch her grow up too fast and see her walk on youtube here.

Raphie I can't get up!!!

Colder weather has definitely arrived here in Ohio. I can tell because I'm starting to bundle the baby in such a fashion that rivals Ralphie's little brother in the Christmas Story.

Here's proof:

Monday, November 10, 2008

The most amazing calendar

I don't like to use this blog as an ad service, but I just received my EcoCalendar in the mail and have to spread the word.
This things is beautiful! Something like I've never seen, and better than I expected.
I can't even describe how very cool it is, just check it out at www.ecocalendar.info.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creamy pumpkin soup

Here is my very own self-concocted recipe for pumpkin soup that I taught at the community center tonight. Think: pumpkin is a squash... pumpkin is not always a pie.
I love this soup, especially around Thanksgiving. It is incredibly flavorful and will impress your friends and family, guaranteed. If you're not a turnip fan, leave it out and just use 2 potatoes instead. It's still great, and will taste a little less like a fart. :)

Makes 6 servings
1 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl butter
2/3 cup chopped sweet onions
¼ cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken broth1 can pumpkin (15oz.)
1/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp dried thyme (optional)
~1 cup water1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1. Melt butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot. Add onions and shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Add garlic, cook for one more minute.
2. Add stock, potato, turnip, parsnip, pumpkin, paprika, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.
3. Cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender, or cool a little more and use a blender or food processor. Return to pot if necessary. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Stir in ½ cup of heavy whipping cream. Reheat on the stove.
Serving suggestion: Ladle soup into bowls. Top with a swirl of the reserved cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley and a few roasted pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

C'mon over!

Please visit my new blog, www.karriemcallister.com, for all of this good Outdoor Mama stuff!

C'mon over!

Please visit my new blog, www.karriemcallister.com, for all of this good Outdoor Mama stuff!

Making Richard Louv proud

My son, the mighty fort builder, has again moved outside with the onset of Indian Summer. We would be up to four primitive dwellings, but our lean-to collapsed today. Thank goodess for the following:

The Leaf Pile Fort

And his own creation, the "Fort for the fire in case it rains" Fort:

(note the proud pointing: "I made THIS")

Little boy and little girl ingredients are still questionable

I can only sit on my couch between the hours of 9:00PM and 7:30AM. This is slightly distressing because it is a very comfortable couch and I do miss sitting on it.
Especially since I’ve been spending most of my time sitting IN it.
Every night when the kids go to bed, I collect the cushions and pillows from the couch, neatly reassemble them, and collect and fold the blankets that are draped here and there. And every morning, before I even get a chance to sit on my own couch, my son rips them all apart to construct his very own “survival fort” of the day that is just barely big enough for my head to clear.
Every cushion, pillow, and blanket available goes into building these dwellings. Once the walls and roof are erected, he packs his survival bag for the day which contains everything he believes, in his nearly-five-year-old wisdom, is necessary to survive in the wilderness. These items include (but are not limited to): plastic swords and guns, rope, string, gloves, binoculars, sticks, buffalo hides (really just a blanket, but we run with it), rubber lizards, and M&M’s.
These most necessary items are then usually stashed inside the workings of the couch to hide them from the so-called bad guys who are trying to invade our camp, and then naturally I find things such as whoopee cushions and rocks when I reassemble my beloved couch.
It all again reminds me of the old nursery rhyme about what little boys are made of. Actually, it wasn’t just the couch. It’s also the fact that my son has now started communicating in flatulent noises that he has perfected with his armpit, as in, “pfft! Pfft! Mom, can you help me tie my shoes?”
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails indeed.
But are boys always snips and snails? And what about girls? Are they always sugar and spice and all that’s nice?
I’m not so sure. I can think of many times during my own childhood that I put my parents (and that nursery rhyme) to the test. What instantly comes to mind is the time I tried to harness our black lab puppy so that she could pull me around the yard in my little wagon. Even though I had it all planned out, there was much barking, running, and flipping. And I think only a couple of bandages.
There is a consistent conversation among parents, an age-old question that never is resolved: which is easier to raise, girls or boys? Some will say that girls are easier, that they listen better and they are easier to potty train. Others will argue that boys are easier because they are less emotional and you don’t have to learn how to French braid and correctly operate a barrette. And still, many will dispute that boys may be more difficult as small children, but that girls take the prize by a mile when it comes to the teen years.
Being a mother of both genders, I’m not really sure how I feel. All of my children are equally wonderful and barbaric at times. But out of curiosity I turned the question to my own kids over dinner:
“If you were a mommy or daddy, do you think it would be easier to have sons or daughters?”
My daughter responds: “Girls! Girls aren’t so wild and they like to read books and color and don’t get so dirty and definitely don’t smell so bad.”
My son responds: “Boys. Boys are so much cooler than girls. Then we could play survival fort and make armpit toot noises all the time.”
The jury is still out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mom Writer's Literary Magazine!

Woo hoo! I've just launched the Fall/Winter 2008 issue online. It's a big honkin' issue, full to the brim with good reads. Every good mom should read it.
We've got a different online format this time, so my column doesn't appear in it's entirety online...you need a real subscription for that. But we're also running a winter special, so for $15 bucks you get a whole year worth of mom writers.
Take a look! http://www.momwriterslitmag.com/.

the weary webmaster

Sunday, November 2, 2008

C'mon over!

In lieu of this blog which is completely non-identifying for myself, I started a new one. Stop by at www.KarrieMcAllister.blogspot.com. I will post columns as usual, but also a bunch of other stuff-- photos, everyday thoughts and stories, recipes, etc.
Whatever comes to mind.
You just never know.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

H-A-Double L-O-W-Double E-N: That spells holiday memories

Knee-deep in glue trying to concoct a Carmen Miranda hat and stuffing candy corn in my face, I heard the inevitable question come out of the mouth of my kid:
“What is Halloween?”
“Uh, er, well, uh, it’s complicated.”
According to the History Channel, Halloween dates back to an ancient Celtic festival, over 2,000 years ago. They believed that November 1 was the first day of the dark winter, which they related to human death and the end of the bountiful summer harvest. So to commemorate this boundary between the worlds of life and death and keep the bad guys from slipping back to Earth and ruining the next year’s crops, they lit big fires to keep them away. Not only that, but they dressed up in costumes of animal skins and heads to supposedly help predict the future.
Later, when Christianity came along, the Pope of the day declared November 1 “All Saints Day” and later November 2 “All Souls Day” when people had parades and dressed up as angels and devils. Together, October 31 (when they used to scare away the dead), November 1 (when they used to honor saints) and November 2 (a holiday to honor the dead combined to be a giant festival called Hallomas. And somehow over the past thousand or so years, it has evolved into what we now do on October 31. Halloween.
(But really, if I tell my kids this they will be more scared and confused than if Linus really saw the Great Pumpkin rising out of the pumpkin patch.)
During my stint in higher education, I was very lucky to take a trip down under one fall, to where the kangaroos roam, the water goes down the toilet the other way, and where Halloween is as mysterious as it sounds. They were familiar with the holiday, but my g’day mates didn’t understand why I was so homesick for my haunted holiday.
And because I am a terrific pack rat, I still have the email saved that I wrote to him:
“Halloween? You don’t celebrate Halloween? You guys are really missing out. It’s the greatest holiday. You spend the entire month of October trying to decide just what to be and then make your mom crazy trying to put it all together at the last minute. Like the time in fifth grade when I decided to be a foot. I can still see my dad sweating out in the garage while we carved this giant foot out of carpet foam. My head was the big toe nail. It was awesome.
And the jack-o-lanterns! Nothing beats the feeling of cold pumpkin guts oozing through your fingers. Except maybe roasted pumpkin seeds with lots and lots of salt.
Then, on Halloween night, you get together with your friends and all meet at someone’s house with your empty plastic pumpkins and flashlights and run from house to house. You start off behaving and using the driveway and sidewalk, but soon enough the excitement builds and this is the one time you can run across everyone’s yard and your dad doesn’t yell at you.
After you’ve run the neighborhood and your voice is hoarse from yelling “trick or treat” at the top of your lungs (who needs doorbells?), you all head back to someone’s house. There, you sort through the goods and trade Tootsie Rolls for SweeTarts if you are me, and when you’ve had your fill of candy, a mom will serve powdered doughnuts, apple cider and popcorn and you all sit on the floor and watch The Legend of Sleepy Hallow and laugh at Ichabod Crane until you have to go home or you just fall asleep, surrounded in costume parts and candy wrappers.”
That right there is Halloween to me. Pagan ceremonies just don’t measure up to my own memories, and as much as I would like my kids to know the real history of the holiday, there is time for that. For now I’d rather just make the costumes, buy the doughnuts and cider and let them make their own history. As long as they give me their SweeTarts.
Note: That's me dressing as myself, circa 1993. Those are my old goofy clothes from high school. Yes, score one for me because they still fit, but take that point away because really, I wonder why I was such a social outcast...
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