Monday, April 30, 2018

One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

*** this recipe is adapted from THIS RECIPE

I was multi-tasking like a mother last week when I looked up to see we were in the middle of a damn blizzard, so I added another task to my plate because what could be better than homemade cinnamon rolls and stovetop hot chocolate after school during a blizzard??

Seriously, while my rolls rose, I was working on the elliptical while bleaching my teeth and defrosting pork chops.

Okay, these rolls are easy and so, so, so, so good.

Whisk together 2.5 cups bread flour and a packet of yeast and set it aside.  Then use the whisk attachment on your stand mixer to mix together 1/4 cc. sugar, an egg, 1/4 c. milk, a half c. water, and 2TBSP melted butter.  Pour the flour and east in a little at a time until you have dough.  This is when you need to switch to the hook attachment for your mixture and then let the mixer beat the dough while you tidy up your mess.

Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest.

SHHHHH-- the dough is resting.  Quietly tiptoe across the kitchen and preheat your oven to 200.
 After about 5 minutes, throw some flour on your counter and roll the dough out.  I'd say a rectangle is aspirational, but really it does not matter at all.
 Make the filling my melting a stick of butter almost all the way in the microwave and adding in 3/4 c. brown sugar a generous couple of shakes of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla, followed by a teeny drip of almond extract.  It should look like paste, and you should use a spatula to spread it on your dough.
 Roll your weird dough shape into a really tight tube, and be sure to flatten it out if it gets too thick in the middle. Then cut the dough into chunks and put them in well-greased cake pans (pie plates work really well, too).  I had 18 rolls, but they were pretty small.  Cut them however you want.
 Turn your oven off when it reaches 200 and put the rolls inside to rise while you clean up your damn mess and run a couple three quick miles on the elliptical.
 Throw them in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes, checking at 10, so they don't burn.
 Let them cool for a hot second while you melt another stick of butter and mix it with vanilla, a bit of milk, and about 3 c, of powdered sugar.  Drown your  hot rolls in the glaze.
Perfection!  In an hour!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 18/52

Deli sandwiches, chips and veggies and dip, fruit
Ben and the kids are on their own for my Last! Monday! Meeting! of the Semester!
FINALLY getting my hair done, so Ben and the kids will have a baseball picnic
Subway after soccer!  Best I can do!
Ribs on the grill, potato salad, coleslaw, green beans
Movie night!
Breakfast for dinner, followed by baseball park snacks

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

TLC Book Review: True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness by Christine Lahti

Another TLC book review, and this one is my very favorite genre of all: the celebrity memoir.
I LOVED this books, you guys!  It is funny and delightful, but also really touching.  I cried 3 separate times.  She has lived a really interesting life, but at the same time, the childhood she describes and the family issues she highlights are things that all of-- regardless of celebrity-- have had to negotiate.

I flew through this book, thought about it when I was doing other things, and looked forward to reading it.  I loved her brand of feminism.  Particularly nice was her takedown of beauty culture coupled with her simultaneous recognition of her complicity in its maintenance.

Read this book!  It's sharp, funny, engaging, and memorable.  Lahti is a good writer with a compelling voice, and this book is a complete delight.

Here are the deets:

About True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness

ï Hardcover:†224 pages ï Publisher:†Harper Wave (April 3, 2018) A fiercely intelligent, hilarious, and deeply feminist collection of interrelated personal stories from Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Awardñwinning actress and director Christine Lahti. For decades, actress and director Christine Lahti has captivated the hearts and minds of her audience through iconic roles in†Chicago Hope, Running on Empty, Housekeeping, And Justice for All, Swing Shift, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, God of Carnage,†and†The Blacklist. Now, in†True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness, this acclaimed performer channels her creativity inward to share her own story for the first time on the page. In this poignant essay collection, Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: her childhood, her early journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. Lahtiís comical and self-deprecating voice shines through in stories such as "Kidnapped" and "Shit Happens," and she takes a boldly honest look at the painful fissures in her family in pieces such as "Mama Mia" and "Running on Empty." Taken together, the collection illuminates watershed moments in Lahtiís life, revealing her struggle to maintain integrity, fight her need for perfection, and remain true to her feminist inclinations. Lahtiís wisdom and candid insights are reminiscent of Nora Ephronís†I Feel Bad About My Neck†and Joan Riversís†I Hate Everyoneóand yet her experiences are not exclusive to one generation. The soul of her writing can be seen as a spiritual mother to feminist actresses and comedic voices whose works are inspiring todayís young women, including Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Caitlin Moran, and Jenny Lawson. Her stories reveal a stumbling journey toward agency and empowerment as a womanóa journey thatís still very much a work in progress. True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness†is about the power of storytelling to affirm and reframe the bedrock of who we are, revealing that weíre all unreliable eyewitnesses when it comes to our deeply personal memories. Told in a wildly fresh, unique voice, and with the unshakable ability to laugh at herself time and again, this is Christine Lahtiís best performance yet.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

[caption id="attachment_63551" align="alignright" width="160"] Photo by Peter Ash Lee[/caption]

About Christine Lahti

Christine Lahti is an acclaimed director and stage, television, and†film actress with a career that spans over forty years. She won an Oscar for her short†film,†Lieberman in Love; an Oscar nomination for†Swing Shift; a Golden Globe Award for†No Place Like Home; an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for†Chicago Hope; and an Obie Award for†Little Murders. On Broadway, she starred in†God of Carnage†and†The Heidi Chronicles, among many others. Her films include†Running on Empty†and†Housekeeping. Her television shows include†Jack and Bobby,†Law & Order SVU, and†The Blacklist. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles. Follow Christine on Twitter.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

LIFE HACKS! The April Edition

You guys!  Dorothy and Jack are like a month apart.  WHY NOT HAVE ONE BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR BOTH OF THEM?

This was GENIUS.  We had a big party place and sent out 2 separate Evites, got 2 separate cakes and types of decorations and did everything on one night!  It was still expensive because birthday parties are expensive, but OMG!  So much easier and more delightful.  Why haven't we ever thought of this before, and how else can we combine celebrations going forward?

Also!  Birthday party favors!  This year, we did balloons, ice cream gift cards, and bowling free game cards.  Like $7/kid and NOT JUNK!  I highly recommend this hack.

In non-birthday-related hack news:  BOWLING is really fun and a pretty cheap way to entertain the kids.  We have been going so often I am thinking of getting our own shoes.  I KNOW.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Things I Am leaving in April

  • Wasted time at work.  One of the challenges of my job is that I have a lot of unstructured time.  This is, of course, amazing and contributes to my overall feeling of happiness and well-being.  I am someone who hates to have deadlines hanging over me, so to be able to cross projects off my list months in advance and work on my own timeline is a must for me,  BUT.  This also means that the shame spiral part of my process is generally left unchecked. It's really hard to NOT waste time.  And I don't mean staring out the window or screwing around on the Internet.  I mean, checking email 60,000 times a day or prepping a class so far in advance that when I go to teach it, I have not idea what the hell I am supposed to be saying.  Stuff like that.  But also the other stuff, too.  And then I wind up coming home from work feeling like a failure and super defensive because Ben makes more money that I do and teaches more classes than I do, and my wasted time could have been his productive time.  I think these feelings we be naturally lessened next year when we both have a lot of unfettered work time thanks to the magic of kids growing up.  But still.  I want to turn over a new leaf in terms of wasting time at the office.  Here's how I think I can do it:
    • To-Do list with the day clearly mapped
    • Tackle the stuff I do not want to do first
    • Set clear writing goals so I don't feel overwhelmed and then justified in my time-wasting
    • Be proud of the all of the irons I have in the fire
    • Stop spending all of my time with the low-hanging fruit
    • GET OUT OF THE OFFICE and take a walk around the block or to the coffee shop up the street or to the lake.  Sure, the weather has sucked, but it won't always, and I can facilitate this by making sure I have comfy shoes stashed in a drawer.

Anybody have any advice for how to be more productive when you have lots of unstructured time?

  • Baby longing.  Don't get me wrong, I would still love to be pregnant.  But I can't let this distract me from the magic of the kids right now this second.  Some days I am better at this than other days.  My kids are really fun and funny right now, and I think we are in a sweet spot.  No one is hormonal yet (except for me) and everyone is a pretty good time.  I need to spend more time in the moment.  You know what's helping?  Instastories.  Weird, right?
  • Fear of flying.  I am toying with this one.  There are friends I want to visit and beaches I want the kids to see.  What if I just decided not to be scared anymore?  Is that a thing?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April Gratitude

  • I have been sleeping SO WELL.  I am getting up too early, so I am basically always tired, but when my alarm goes off, I feel incredibly well-rested.  It's lovely.
  • The kids are fun people to hang out with, and going someplace with them is practically no work at all.  Dorothy needs  a little help with her seatbelt, but she's the only one and also the only one who can't go to the bathroom by herself.
  • The kids think my jokes are funny.  Because my jokes are basically all dick jokes and fart jokes.  But still!
  • Whole Foods is having a pink wine sale to celebrate April, and I love pink wine.  And also sales.
  • POTY is baaaaaaaaack

Monday, April 23, 2018

Weekends: Not for Relaxing, Apparently

College students always say their weekends start on Thursday, so what the hell?  I'll pretend like mind do, too, even though I work a long day most Thursdays.

I started with my very favorite lecture:
 It's FINALLY nice outside!  So I FINALLY did what I always say I am going to do and went for  darn walk when I started to hit the midday procrastination spiral.  And!  I am so glad I did because look at this weird thing that I saw!
 Also, I didn't eat my healthy/semi-healthy snacks, but  sure did eat the coffee shop cookie purchased on my walk.  Which, OF COURSE, calls the whole walk into question.
 Henry came over for dinner on Thursday-- so of course we took a cousin pic.
 They even played basketball in the snow.
 Friday morning breakfast was EXHAUSTING.
 Shorts weather!?
 At least one child has the good sense to wear  a coat and boots.
 She spent the entire drive to school lip-balming her face and arrived very shiny.
 We made a trip to the NFA national speech tournament in Oshkosh and brought the Bradley kids a pinata that, in my defense, looked smaller at the store.
 SPRING IS HERE!  We can finally go to the park!  This is YUGE.

 I love the ball in the bush.
 Friday was family movie night.  make-your-own pizza with extremely sticky but also extremely excellent bread-machine dough.  It's always a hit.

 Beatrix spent quite a bot of time licking a package of bacon.

Dorothy fell asleep during Wonder Woman, but the rest of us loved it.
 We also adored UW-Oshkosh.  There's an excellent game room in the basement of the union with board games and pool, and the kids had an excellent time.
 They also got to go to the cafeteria and get lunch in trays, which continues to be their major favorite.

 Jack and I went grocery shopping as soon as we got home while Ben, Dorothy, and Harry hung out at home, and Cooper went to a sleepover with his BFF.
 I powered through my book club book and then spent the next 18 hours hating my family until I got to talk about the book with my friends, which totally helped.
 When I was cleaning the house, I noticed that our ottoman is a total piece of crap and needed to be replaced a couple of years ago.

The dog had SHREDDED the top.
I feel like Target has my back with a couple of solid options.

Thoughts?  Ideas of other places to look?

 What weekend would be complete without COOOOOOOKIES?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 17/365

Last week we ended up eating all of the meals we have shoved in the cabinet and were too lazy or busy or queasy to make.  We had sausage and pepper, brats, pork chops, and chicken.  It was great.

This week, I am making this plan looking at the calendar and the weather and trying to be both cheap and realistic.

Book club for me and sandwiches, etc for everyone else.  I love book club.
Pizza for the children
Baseball picnic
Sloppy Joes, tater tots, carrots
Burgers on the grill, fries, veggies and dip, ice cream cones
Movie night!!
Salsa chicken for tacos or burrito bowls, chips, salsa, margs

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Video(s) of the week

Watch Dorothy direct Cooper in a library puppet show:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Crunch time!

It's that time in the semester.  You know, the time that proves the Eliot quotation about April being cruel.

So much to do.

So many meetings.


This week is the Week of the Young Child, a phenomenon that always cracks me up because isn't every week the week of the young child? It is around here anyway.

To celebrate, Dorothy's preschool has been having dress up days, like costume day!
Favorite team day!
And also pajama day!
She's a fan of dress up days, NEEDLESS TO SAY.

Harry and I are keeping up our Tuesday adventures.  We went mini-golfing again because there's just not that much to do around here, you guys.  WE TIED.

 Cooper thought he was being annoying scratching my back with his Black Panther hands, but actually?  It was awesome.
 They played Jumanji and were pretty sure they were going to get stuck in the game.  Spoiler: THEY DID NOT.
 Beatrix is getting her spring coat and is really itchy and shedding everywhere and really enjoys being touched all night long.

 Luckily, she has a Harry
In case you were wondering, dance continues to be adorable.
 Look how hard she;s squeezing that glitter.  Ha!