Thursday, November 30, 2023

Thankful Thursday: SANTA

 Ben's mom does an excellent job of decorating for the holidays. When we were first really serious about each other in college and started visiting each other's homes over break, I was blown away. All the bedrooms! ALL THE OTHER ROOMS! DISHES-- everything. That's definitely the model we have gone with-- although her house is also really pretty/expensively done/tasteful, and ours is more like red and green joy vomited all over a carpet of toys. But anyway-- hers is a living Pottery Barn catalog that we are always trying to recreate (but make it sticky!).

One of the very best features is a collection of Ben and his sister posing with various mall and hardware store (LOL the 80's were a trip) Santas (Minnie calls them HELPER SANTAS), and I went to work curating my own Santa collection starting with Harry's very first Christmas.

Last weekend, we went to Zoo Lights and saw Santa-- his 18th visit. I told him he's off the hook now, and my first collection is complete!! I am so thankful for this fun tradition and kids who will humor me til the end.

Behold the adorableness:


2007 (Impending big brother-dom and he had NO IDEA)
2008 (Look how squishy they were!!)
2009 (in their jammies, fresh off a Picture People photo shoot— anyone else remember that mall gem?)
2010 (I was SO ANNOYED that Jack got scared and made us join in) (I am HOLDING MY CAR KEYS)
2011 (Another baby!!)
2012 (Harry’s smile! LOL)
2013 (Cooper! They’re losing him!)

2014 (Santa loves scared kids, apparently)

2015 (This is not just a mall; it’s a PEORIA mall)
2016 (Oooooh I hope Dorothy’s outfit will fit Minnie this year)
2017 (Not even SANTA is looking at the camera!!)
2018 (my dad, a reliably soft touch, bought everyone those necklaces at Zoo Lights, and how could that have been his last Christmas, you guys/??)
2019 (can you even believe the whole world shut down just MONTHS later?? Also I was  barely pregnant with Minnie and keeping it a secret)
2020 (yard Santa!)
2021 (yard Santa redux!!)
2022 (triumphant return to the mall Petri dish!!)
2023 (18 years of Harry and the big guy)

Zoo Lights was a BLAST, even if the kids DID punch the heck out of each other in the Santa line, and we had to ride the merry go round so many times I got dizzy and wondered if I have a brain tumor.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Random Word Wednesday: SATISFACTION

 Well, my friends, in typical impatient fashion, I DID, in fact, buy an oven based on delivery date. I AM WHO I AM, OK??

Our insurance agent said we could file a claim on a much younger appliance but because our cooktop was scarred from other non-fatal drops, we really couldn't claim it. GE DID have the replacement top... for $750.

Soooooooo, we shopped around.

The one I REALLY wanted was not available until THE END OF DECEMBER. It was a Samsung smart oven with rapid preheat and power boil.  ON DECEMBER 27-- NO THANK YOU.

Costco had a slightly less cool model (no rapid preheat or power boil) that was smart, but, ultimately, I went with a dumb oven with rapid preheat (this is genius for someone like me who usually just shoves something in the oven while the oven heats up and ends up cooking it poorly) and power boil (our old range has this feature, and it is an impatient person's dream-- giant spaghetti pot boiling in under 5 minutes). 

We decided against GE because the non-Profile model has NO FEATURES AT ALL and is basically the exact same range we have now with a ceramic top that is really hard to keep clean and scuff-free. Every other brand automatically has an airfryer setting, is a convection oven, etc. Also! The Samsung models had almost no space in the storage/warming drawer but were a cubic foot bigger INSIDE, and the one we went with is half a cubic foot bugger inside and still has storage/room to proof to my heart's content. 

SO ANYWAY. IT COMES ON THURSDAY, which is the biggest selling point.

(MORA brand because we are rolling the dice, obvi, from Costco because why not get that rebate, HERE ON THURSDAY.) (DID I MENTION IT COMES ON THURSDAY?) (Probably not the range of my dreams, but THURSDAY YOU GUYS).

In the meantime, I made turkey pot pie with the sauté function on my InstantPot, and it was DELICIOUS.

Also, everyone is sick everywhere, and I hate going out into the world— it’s like early panny all over again. Dorothy’s dance team app is a barrage of messages about sick kids. Minnie only had 4/8 friends in class the last 2 days.

She’s fine, BTW— just a cough and an upset stomach from her augmentin. She has no appetite and has to drink it in chocolate milk with MUCH cajoling. I am one illness away from saying eff it and keeping her home with me.

Oh! Speaking of satisfaction! This Trader Joe’s holiday candle is AMAZING!


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Why keep the complaining confined to a Monday, really?

 On Sunday afternoon, I was prepping Monday morning’s coffee and starting to pack Monday lunches and dance/diving commute dinners and feeling very proud of myself for being on top of my ish. I was also really excited about my coffee because Jack and I went to Trader Joe’s during diving practice on Sunday and bought gingerbread coffee, my fave (thanks for the reminder, San). I opened the jumbled cabinet next to the stove to grab coffee filters (a cabinet I cleaned out before Thanksgiving but is ALWAYS a freaking jumble), and a glass jar of pumpkin pie spice fell out and shattered our cooktop.

It’s hard to see here, but the crack covers two burners and the warming burner my kettle rests on. The other 2 burners are uncracked, but I feel like the crack will most definitely spread if we try to use them, and then we’ll probably get electrocuted or something terrible like that.

But ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME UNIVERSE?? We have lived in this house for 12-and-a-half years and have dropped SO MANY THINGS on that cook top, spices chief among them, because the stove is flanked by 2 cabinets we use to store spices and random cooking ingredients AND BOTH ARE TOO FULL.

I mean. YOU GUYS. I am not, like, SUPER SAD to be shopping for ranges, but! First of all: HELLO, this is a really expensive month/months. ALSO! I need a stovetop, so I don’t have, like, tons of time to dither about this purchase. BUT. It’s a really important appliance, so it’s not like the washer where I am happy with literally the first metal box an appliance company can chuck in my back door, you know? (Which is not to say the washer is unimportant (IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT in terms of living my life, I think), but I was WAY LESS PICKY about which one I got since they all do the same thing, and I based my decision SOLELY on availability followed by price).

We have a 2-pronged plan: 1. Call our insurance agent to see if this is covered by our homeowner’s policy. My childhood bestie (an insurance agent) says falling spices are not a typically inspired peril— which is a fair point. BUT the appliance was working fine before the accident. So, MAYBE? 2. Call GE and see if they have a replacement cooktop since the oven works fine. (This is probably not a good solution because the appliance is 12 years old, and then we’ll have a frankenoven, and probably the rest of it will break soon anyway and it will end up being more hassle and money than just buying a new one now, but I want to check how much/how long it will be).

And! This might be a silly concern, but all of our appliances are the same age (except our dishwasher because the original one CAUGHT ON FIRE, and GE gave us a new top-of-the-line model FOR FREE 3 years ago), and they are the same brand/perfect color match. Do I want the same brand?  Maybe not. But then they won’t match. So, like, I feel like I have to at least look ahead to microwaves and fridges to make sure I like what a brand has to offer for down the road… ANYWAY, I already have analysis paralysis/ decision fatigue, and I have only gone to ONE STORE and done ONE GOOGLE SEARCH.

Smart oven? Anyone have this? I think THIS is an appliance whose texts I would like to get (I am forever forgetting cookies, etc), and it would be handy to control it from afar in terms of cooking a casserole while we are out and about.

Airfryer setting? This seems to be popular, but why? We have an airfryer that we DO really like, but do we need one in our oven? Anyone have this?

Also? My $5 jar of spice survived the fall just fine, so if you need a heavy duty pumpkin spice, I recommend Spice Island **eye roll**

Monday, November 27, 2023

Case of the Mondays

 This week, I will grade 100 exams, put the finishing touches on my spring course shell, and make sure my ginormous public speaking class is fully prepped with fresh teaching docs for spring. YOU KNOW. JUST A FEW THINGS.

Do I feel chest-tightening stress when I think about all of these tasks happening in ONE SINGLE WEEK? Why yes, of course I do. WHY DO YOU ASK? But! HOW HAPPY will I be in December when all of January’s jobs are done?

(Also, I am getting 100 more exams next week. And yes my TA could be grading these, but I wrote all new exams and wanted to grade them myself to make sure they’re doing what I want them to do. Next time I teach this class, I will have great answer keys ready to go. Plus she has been covered up in papers all semester because the research paper assignment is aggressively scaffolded.)

We also decided to hold off on visiting the Christmas tree farm for our upstairs trees* until this weekend because last weekend was VERY hockey-centric, so I want to get everything cleaned and staged with non-tree decor in advance (CHRISTMAS COMFORTERS HERE WE COOOOOME). AND also, there is a little bit of on-campus shopping I want to do…

So. Another full week. Another host of things to feel put-upon about.

*Harry was talking about Christmas trees at work and mentioned that we usually have 4-5 trees. The person was like HOW BIG IS YOUR HOUSE, and we all had a good laugh when he retold the story.

Apropos of nothing, I want to tell you that I did take Minnie back to the museum, and had the best time: