Monday, February 22, 2010



No turning back now...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fences > Neighbors

Remember last Summer when we had movie night & someone called the cops on us for a noise disturbance at 9pm? On a Saturday? Well, that same lovely neighbor yelled (from two houses away) at Josh & Dash for making too much noise in our backyard yesterday at 4:45 in the afternoon. We have never even met this woman (her house is actually behind ours and one over, so she lives on an entirely different street), but she feels free to yell to my husband and son to "knock it off," when she deigns that they're being too rowdy. Christ.

And so this is when being a grown up is hard. When being a parent is punishing. Because what I wanted to do more than anything when that happened was stomp over there and explain to her that she is a terrible bitch who hates fun and children and laughing and that she ought to take some time to reassess her position in the universe before everyone and everything she holds dear escapes her bitter grasp. But I couldn't. Because I have a child and it's my job to model decent behavior for him, despite my absolute disinclination.

So here's what I did instead. I baked her a batch of chocolate chip cookies (I resisted the urge to wipe boogers on any of them) and wrote her a note apologizing for the noise, giving her all of our phone numbers and email addresses so she could let us know if we're too loud in the future, and inviting her to our next movie night. I did this after explaining to Dash (who announced that he was "very concerned" about being yelled at by a total stranger) that everyone is fighting their own battles and that she was just probably having a bad day.

I took the high road even though I didn't want to. I did the right thing even though that wasn't what was in my heart. I tried to show Dash that kindness is usually the answer, even though all I want to do is set fire to a bag of shit on her stoop.

Fuck. Little turd had better appreciate our sacrifices. Also the resulting ulcers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Evening Routine

7:05pm-7:12pm: Fruitlessly try to convince Mommy to take her pants off and rub butts ("It'll be yummy, Mommy! And puhskusting!").

7:12pm-7:23pm: Rub Nana (blanket) on butt and try to get Mommy to sniff it (again, fruitlessly).

7:23pm-7:46pm: Try to stand up while Mommy grabs your ankles and pulls you down.

7:46pm-7:48pm: Fart, laugh.

7:48pm-7:50pm: Underwear on head

img 016

7:50pm-8pm: Jammies

8pm-8:30pm: Story

8:30pm: Bed, part I

8:31pm: "Mommy! I'm thirsty!"

8:35pm: "Mommy! I have to pee!"

8:44pm: "Mommy! I have to poo poo!"

8:49pm: "I'm duh-un!"

8:50: Bed, part II


Sunday, February 14, 2010


On Sunday I took my two lovely Valentines to the Santa Monica Playhouse for the world's most adorable pantomime production of Alice & the Wonderful Tea Party. It was Dash's first live theater experience & I thought his head was going to blow off his shoulders.

It was a teensy little theater, and the cast encouraged audience participation in the form of screaming and offering helpful tips to the players. Somehow Dash made a friend of one of the characters, and every time they broke into song she'd run over to engage him personally. If you're local I highly encourage you to pack up the kids and make an afternoon of it.

valentines day 2009
Dash & his Lady in Waiting

Love Day

valentines day 2 2009

Friday, February 12, 2010


bc 025

The way Proust felt about madelines, I feel about Earl Grey tea. Just a whiff of it almost overwhelms me with the memories of cold Sunday afternoons in my mother's apartment; me wrapped up in wool blankets on the beige velveteen couch, a tray nearby holding two soft-boiled eggs, a small pile of salt for dipping, a tarnished silver spoon and a cup of strong, sweet and milky Earl Grey steaming alongside.

I'm not much of a tea drinker these days, but I've never had a pantry that doesn't contain a dusty yellow box of Twinings Earl Grey. Every couple of years I'll catch a particularly terrible cold and nothing will comfort me like a cup of that tea. The rest of the time it's just there for reassurance.

So. When I came across an old issue of Bon Appetit with a recipe for Earl Grey truffles, I couldn't be deterred. It took two nights of work--stirring and dipping and dredging far past my bedtime--but the smell alone was worth the effort. Of course, every last one was packed up to give as Valentine's gifts for Dash's teachers, and we each had just the teensiest taste of them. But those tastes were enough for me to highly recommend them here.

(I can't find the official recipe online, but here's the crux of it):

Earl Grey Chocolate truffles

1 lb. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter
6 bags of Earl Grey tea, cut open
1 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. brandy
2 Tbsp. sugar
pinch salt
unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan, melt butter & chocolate over low heat.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, bring cream and sugar just to a simmer & then remove from heat. Dump in the tea leaves, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Once the chocolate & butter is melted, add the brandy and salt. Then strain the tea/cream mixture through a very fine sieve (or a couple of layers of cheesecloth) into the chocolate. Stir everything to combine.

Cover and chill at least four hours (I left it in the fridge until the following evening. Then I took it out a couple hours before I planned to work with it).

When chilled, scoop little balls (I didn't actually roll them into balls--I left them lumpy so they'd look like real truffles) onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill again for at least an hour.

Once the balls (or lumps) have chilled, dump about 10 at a time into a gallon freezer bag, pour some cocoa powder in and shake gently to coat. Repeat until they're all coated. Then bag 'em up and weep gently that you didn't save any for yourself.

(makes about 50)

Friday, February 05, 2010


Yeah, it's February 5 and I'm just getting around to making my goals list for the year. What?

Mainly Summer 2010 (But Not Exclusively) Engel Family Goal List as Conceived by its Matriarch

(Some of these are for the whole family, some are just for me. Because it's my blog & I do what I like)

1. Learn to crochet--Class booked at Urban Craft Center for Feb 12, what what!
2. Go to the snow--Dunzo
3. Go camping--Never been camping in my life. It's about time, I think.
4. Get a cabin at Russian River--Booked for May 13-16!
5. Make gazpacho entirely from veggies I grew--Tried this last year and failed. Not giving up.
6. Grow those veggies--See #5
7. Learn to ride a bike with Dash--Bike has been borrowed & skid lid secured. Now I just need some courage.
8. Movie night--Last year's was so awesome! Can't wait to do it again.
9. Malibu beach day--So, so far. But so, so worth the trek.
10. Watch Josh run his first ever full triathlon in Palm Springs--Four weeks and counting!
11. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo--We tried this a few years ago, but Dash was too little. I think he'll like it a lot more now.
12. Make a quilt for Josh & me--Fabric has been secured and pattern has been decided. Now I just need 15 hours to sew.
13. Go strawberry picking--Best way to kill a Summer afternoon ever.
14. Make jam from #13--Maybe keep some for ourselves this year.
15. Visit Legoland or Universal Studios
16. Invite friends over for mussels--I have the best recipe for these and never get to make them.
17. Go to the Hollywood Bowl--This is on my list, like, every year, and I never get around to actually going. Let's try again.
18. Take Dash to see a play--Alice in Wonderland at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Feb. 14!
19. Go to the LA Times Festival of Books-Never been. Shameful.
20. Picnic at LACMA--My favorite way to spend Mother's Day
21. Go to the Ventura County Fair-Because going last year was my totes fave.
22. Find a great bra--Seriously. It's time.
23. Go apple picking--This'll be my third year trying to get up to Oak Glen to pick some apples. I'ma make it happen in Oh Ten.
24. Rent a boat--Did you know you could do this? I am FREAKING OUT over it.
25. Lose the baby weight--Yeah, 4 years later. What?
26. Bake a fancy cake--I've never made one of those tall, fluffy coconut cakes before. Seems incredibly satisfying.
27. Take care of my feet (gross)--My heels have been so disgusting for, like, ever. I have finally figured out how to care for them (ceaselessly, apparently). Now that they are lovely I will never go back.
28. Read 12 books--I love how everyone else in blogland is all, 52 books in a year! Never happen in a million years in my house. Even 12 is a stretch, but what the hell.
29. Eat at one seriously fancy restaurant--Like this.