Saturday, March 16, 2013

Holding Down the Fort

Since Jon will be home tonight, I suppose it's ok to now say, that he's been out of town on business this week. I've missed him a lot, and I'm glad that he's coming home.

At 4:00am this morning, I woke up to the un-Godly sounds of an industrial sized snow blower outside my window. FOUR A.M.! (This is what you get for choosing to live in a downtown.) The world is now covered once again in a blanket of heavy, white snow. And poor Jon has to come home to all of this. Where he is at the moment, it's 81 degrees and sunny!

I suppose I don't feel SO badly for him. I mean, when he travels, there are always nice restaurant dinners, conversations and taking in the scenes of a new place. Back at home, for dinner,  it's me, trying to bribe Noah to behave with scrambled eggs and special  McCain's Potato Smiles.  Again.

It's not exactly easy for me when Jon travels. Not terrible, usually, but not a breeze either. There's so much more to do, all of the meals and the child care, pet care, taking out the garbage, keeping the house clean, running every errand. Doing all of this on reduced sleep makes it particularly exhausting.

I don't sleep when Jon travels. It's just that each little sound, each house creak, I feel like potentially, it could be an intruder! And then what am I going to do? I know it's silly, an over-estimated risk, but still.  I don't understand how men of the house seem to not be afraid of these kinds of things. Or worry about them as much as I do. Do they? Is it just an act, to seem not afraid?

So when Jon travels, I set the house ALARM , (we always set it, just so you know, you robbers!), and I turn on every external light that we have. And then, I put a pair of the biggest, manliest looking boots of Jon's that I can find by the door, so just in case a burglar comes, he sees those boots and runs off!

None-the-less, alarm, lights and menacing boots in place, I still always manage to not sleep much. I wake all night, vigilant for odd sounds. Which, inevitably, is always the cat coughing up a hairball.
(You should have seen what we came home to last night.)

Oh! And by the way, I CAN'T even believe what I read in our local paper yesterday. PERFECT timing for me to come across this. There was an attempted break-in at a house just around the corner from us. Luckily, once the burglar heard the house alarm, he ran off on foot. BUT....he ran down the street, turned the corner and went UP OUR STREET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then, he cut through a backyard and ran RIGHT BEHIND OUR HOUSE.   OH-MY-GOD!!!!!!!!  

Listen, I try not to be naive, but this has always been a fairly quiet city crime-wise (Knock on wood). Things are definitely getting worse. HOW I ask you, HOW can I sleep well now, with Jon out of town, with some freaky burglar on the lose, BEHIND MY HOUSE!? Urgh!
As you can expect, I slept VERY lightly last night. It wasn't easy.

The good things when Jon travels, are few, but important enough to point out. For example, no need to cook a proper meal! Why put on airs of a good housewife, when the husband's not there!? And Noah certainly doesn't want another complicated or multi-dish meal. Buttered pasta, scrambled eggs, simple chicken, Noah is THRILLED to be off the hook, and enjoying these basic meals.

My goal being to make the least amount of mess in the kitchen that I can. Because clean-up is a pain when you're tired. So I graze, and we're done with it by 6:00. Oh! And that's another thing. Noah and I usually wait for Jon to come home from work to eat, but when he travels, like old people, Noah and my favorite dinnertime hour is 5:00. It's like you barely even have time to get hungry by then. It's great!

Also, we play this game called: "Get your pajamas on at 6:00". Both of us. Why sit around in clothing, when you have perfectly good pajamas just waiting for you?

Noah and I also have nice chats, and it's an opportunity to do things together, just the two of us, so that's good.

Apart from the lack of restful sleep, the additional responsibilities, the McCain Smiles for dinner, and the loneliness, holding down the fort on my own can sort of be ok.

That is unless you have to rush yourself to the urgent care clinic like I did two days ago...........

Jon's traveling, so naturally cue the ridiculous self-preservation health anxiety. Do you remember last time when he was out of town? The DROP OF BLOOD in my nose?

This time around, like clockwork, it was the small, white, Strep-looking spot on my tonsil. At first I tried not to think about it. I mean, it's not like I had a fever or even a remotely sore throat. I tried to reason with myself, that if it was Strep, I'd feel all kinds of sick. But I am a shameful Googlechondriac, and of course, eventually caved and Googled "Step symptoms", and found some random site with some random woman talking about how she had NONE of the classic symptoms and blah...blah....blah...

And that's when the anxiety really set in. Images of this white spot getting bigger, and a sore throat and fever setting in at midnight. Me, home alone with a sleeping child, but needing to rush off to doctors, but no way to go! And furthermore, no doctor, no walk-in clinic is open at midnight, except for the emergency room, and the thought of that trip, at least to me, is so so scary!

It was 2:30, and I had one hour before needing to get Noah from school, and just three hours before we had to be fed and on our way back to school, for a big recital and family night. I was in a crunch- either get this Strep-y doom checked out, OR play the cards and risk a sudden, helpless midnight panic, where I need to get to a doctor, but can't, and then I damage my heart because the strep goes into my heart, or whatever it does. Like they warn you it could.

Of course, like Chicken Little, I call my Mom, nearly in tears. The tonsils are falling, the tonsils are falling! And THANK GOD, she is kind enough to pick up Noah from school, should my trip to the walk-in clinic take too long. So I race to our local clinic, (My internists are far and often booked.) fill out the forms with shaky, petrified hands, and try to do my breathing exercises. What if it's NOT Strep!? What if it's something really reaaaaallly bad I think!?

And right then and there, at the height of my panicky feelings, all alone and racing to get to school and dinner on the table and back to school again for a full, long night, I would have started crying, had I not thought it would be totally, completely and utterly lame of me.

The kind staff lead me back quickly. My heart was pounding, my pulse very quick. I won't even tell you where my blood pressure was at. (Just so you know, BP, another of my worries. I know it's fine because I go through this with all of my doctors. I am a class white-coat person. It's normal when I'm not freaking out). So the nurse examines me, takes a strep test,  and then the doctor comes in, and she's SO incredibly nice. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You doctor! For being understanding and not laughing at my silly worries!

She listens to my story. I admit to her that I feel like I am having a panic attack over a stupid tonsil. That my husband is out of town, and I'm in a huge hurry, and that I have all this responsibility tonight.

The doctor was incredibly sweet and even related! I couldn't believe it! Suddenly my heart stopped pounding and the anxiety eased away. All it took was somebody to say: "I understand, it's ok!"

And that's when she told me that my tonsil...........yeah, it was just a piece of food. FOOD. 

Yeah, we can all stop talking about this now, ok?

The rapid Strep test came back negative, and my fingers are crossed the non-rapid comes back for no such virus or other germs bug. I feel just fine, so knock on wood, it'll be ok.

I was out the clinic door just as my Mom was picking-up Noah. We met at home, I feed Noah a nutritious dinner, got his JUMP ROPING outfit ready, and we were back to school completely on time for an excellent night! Phew! Oh yeah, it was a Jump Rope Team recital. :)

So today is Saturday, and after a long week and little sleep, Noah and I are going to take it easy.
Apart from having to pick up a suit from the cleaners for Jon, we've really got nowhere pressing to go.
Although, willing the snow to melt from the sidewalk and driveway probably won't work very well, I might end up needing to shovel too.

Yesterday, I mentioned wanting to try out three recipes this weekend. Two being savory dishes for lunch or dinner, and the third a nice dessert/snack. Since Jon won't be home today for any meals, I'll save the first two recipes for tomorrow and Noah and I can make the snack today. It might be a nice surprise when Jon rolls in from the airport around 1:00am tonight. Maybe he'll be hungry. **

So, we'll make Esther Walker's Lamingtons from her blog Recipe Rifle. Esther's writing cracks me up. I love it. She's relatable and honest about life as a mother and wife.  Her recipes look wonderful, and I really hope to try out quite a bunch. She's even coming out with a book later this month called Bad Cook. I wonder if you can download books to your Kindle from the UK? I'm going to look into it!


It's taken me most of the day to get Noah and I up and going, and everything else done around here. It's nearly 4:00, and the cake for the Lamington's just went into the oven now! It's ok though, sometimes you have intentions to start one thing, but then the day changes direction.

I feel like we've gotten a lot done today though. Noah had a nice big breakfast of eggs and toast. The house has been picked up and cleaned. We went to lunch with an old friend, and made it in time to the dry cleaners. We shoveled the snow from the side walk, and I watered all of the house plants in my ever growing collection. A birthday gift for a little friend was wrapped, laundry put away, and smelly, stinky, fishy cat food has been dished out and is now thankfully gone. Eeeeew.

This is the start of things. I'm glad to find a way to finally use this lemon curd. I hope that it works out ok in Lamingtons. Fingers crossed!

After baking the vanilla cake, Noah ate it all with a giant wooden spoon in one sitting.

No, not really. But I will tell you one thing. One really stupid thing that I did.  I FORGOT to grease the cake pan! I must be even more tired than I think, who forgets to grease the pan!? Luckily, it was alright in the end. I cut the cake into small, 1" pieces that popped out fairly easy. It would have been better to have turned the entire cake out, then cut, but this worked in the end. I used a 9" x 13" pan.

This is the improvised bain marie that I made to melt the chocolate. I ended up using quite a bit more chocolate than Esther's recipe, but I'm sure that is because 1.) I am very bad at efficiently covering things in melted chocolate,  2.) I am a glutton, and 3.) I bet I converted grams to ounces incorrectly.

Also, yes, it is true, this chocolate dipping part was a complete mess. It was insane. But, if you go into this with the attitude that you WILL become covered in chocolate, and that, Hey! It'll be fun!, you'll be alright.

I found that it was easiest to dip the pieces in using a hand and a soft spatula. Two forks might work, if the cake was firmer. You just have to play around with it.

The most helpful tip from Esther's recipe was definitely to not use all of the coconut on the plate at once. Otherwise, you'd be left with a gooey , chocolate and coconut muddy mess. I'd sprinkle some on the dish, lay a freshly chocolate coated piece onto it , then roll and sprinkle, roll and sprinkle some more.

Here they are drying. (The one without the coconut is for my Mother.)
These Lamingtons are HUGE! Are they supposed to be so big!?  Does this prove that everything really IS bigger in America? What did I do wrong!? *

I'm actually not really sure, what their true size should be, but I will say that I firmly believe that one of these Lamingtons would be the perfect size for a person. About the same amount as one cupcake. This recipe worked out quite well, as I was left with exactly one dozen Lamingtons!

What I think might have happened, was that I used an extra egg in my cake batter, which made it fluff up a lot! While the pieces were just one inch each (You sandwich two pieces on either side of some lemon curd), two puffy pieces ended up making one huge Lamington!

My most advanced and civilized dessert to date! I feel so proud! :)

Eventually, after dinner, later in the evening, I ended up splitting one with Noah, and boy were they delicious! I'd love to try the original version with the raspberry jam, but the lemon curd was just fine, nice and light. If you crave something sweet, these Lamingtons are perfect.  I highly recommend!


And this is the part where I fall asleep at the computer. Signing off for the night my friends.



* I am completely cracking up. I went back to again to try to gauge what the true size of a Lamington should be. I was so off the mark, it's comical! I really think that my cake was just too tall. Had each square been just a 1/2" thick, they might have been much better. So funny. Well,  now I know, and there you have it, everything is indeed bigger in America. We gluttons. ;)


Indeed, hunger ensued! While I promptly passed out from exhaustion at 1:00am, apparently, Jon was enjoying a late-night Lamington, and then another with his morning coffee. Success! 

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