Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hormones are the worst

Something is wrong with me.  I think it's probably just premature PMS (because it shouldn't be kicking in til next week), but if it doesn't clear up soon I shall be going to the doctor.  The other day I was so tired I literally couldn't get off my couch for like two whole hours which is pretty much unheard of in my world and with my very active lifestyle.  You know unless I am physically tied, stapled, glued or otherwise restricted to the couch.  And Then today I went shopping immediately after eating a fine lunch at Pinestreet Cafe in Ferrysburg  and it wasn't pretty. 

The meal was amazing, but yet it was less than five minutes later (in fact I probably sped there) that  I found myself buying 2 Salmon Patties at the Meat Block in Spring Lake.  Granted I hadn't even gone there looking for fish, I was searching for prosciutto!  I figured after we suffered the 11-year old halibut incident last week (sidenote I ate the last of the leftovers for lunch Tuesday), we deserved some fresh seafood and our 10 year wedding anniversary is this weekend so I am going to surprise Jeff with them....and then a few minutes later I found myself at Orchard Market in Spring Lake to see if they happened to have any prosciutto. 

I was pleasantly surprised that they did in their imported cheese section!  You know where this story is headed...straight to me buying more gouda!  I did and it's smoked too!!  In addition to buying these items, I also purchased many other items that were not on our list of approved items including but not limited to, chocolate, candy, cheese sticks (I repaid my inlaws the four I owed them today.  I always repay my debts), gogurts for the kid's lunches next week and good and plenty candy for yours truly.  I couldn't believe how much cheating I fit into a 15 minute shopping spree.  I think I could totally kill it on that game show that you have to run around and spend as much as you can during a two minute shopping trip.  Seriously I would own that game.  Supermarket Sweep apparently that was the name of it because I just googled "shopping game show" and that was what popped up!  So I spent the most in a single shopping trip that I have in well over 3 months and I blame it on PMS or me possibly having some unknown life-threatening illness.  I will let you know.  The statistics for this outing: I spent $52.50.  A total of $43.80 was spent on items not included in my challenge. So I had a failure rate just shy of 83%. YIKES.  I just have to put this behind me and move on though.  I will not allow it to be the start of an avalanche of failures. 

So our new means of hauling wood to our home involves loading it in a sled and dragging a few hundred yards to our basement.  It is all uphill too! Can't say I didn't see this day coming, but still it seems like an all time low for this good, old-fashioned, Michigan winter. I have included a poor quality selfie of me during this recent workout. 

 I am now the Gouda Goddess and the Wood Hauling Diva!
Wood hauling with a sled!  It's all the RAGE!
 The proof is in the Gouda...
 and the cheese sticks... and the gogurts... and the baby bels...
and the dark chocolate...and the Good and Plenty Candies!
I really should have done my research before I bought those salmon patties too because apparently the traditional 10th anniversary gift isn't supposed to be fish. It is supposed to be made of tin or aluminum.  Who knew?  Oh well you can't win them all I suppose.  I bet I have a can of something we can eat with our fish in the pantry anyways.  Might be outdated, in fact it probably is, but at least it will suffice for tradition and rid of us of another long term pantry resident! 

Vern Out

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Gouda Goddess

It is not often (okay not ever so far) that I refer to myself as a Goddess. If you know me you totally get this without explanation.  For those of you who don't know me personally here is my reality. I am a complete and utter fashion nightmare. I always choose function over fashion and comfort over looking nice.  My 4-year old can out dress me for crying out loud and meanwhile you will generally find me in jeans, sweatpants or running clothes conservatively I would say 99% of the time.  Some people don't even recognize me when I go out into public in other attire.

My body is anything, but perfect; First of all I am 37 which is probably explanation enough for not being a goddess.  However, I have also had three kids, brain surgery and not so much as a smidge of plastic surgery so my body is just not so pretty. And I am not really on the same level as any of the Greek Goddesses or the likes.   I realize this and I accept it and I am not complaining.  I am healthy and happy which is what counts. Praise the Lord!  But I am no Goddess.

But in this particular instance, I am making an exception because I am totally a self-proclaimed Gouda Goddess!  I have perfected the art of adding Gouda to anything capable of carrying the delicacy to my mouth and gobbling it up in record time!  I love Gouda cheese.  My family has been the major benefactor of this recently improving skill set as I have been creating all kinds of interesting things the past week or so.  This recent development was inspired by my mother-in-law.  She wrapped gouda in crescent rolls with her home-made mustard at our Christmas gathering and it was so darn delicious that I have been dreaming about it since.  Seriously dreaming about it.  So I have been buying the stuff like it is going out of style and trying to create the perfect gouda recipes. 

And I have rationalized this cheese spending frenzy in my mind as being acceptable during the rest of the challenge. I have justified it by labeling it as "milk" which was allowable according to the original terms of my grocery shopping challenge.  So far the stuff imported from the Netherlands is the absolute best.  And smoked gouda is in a league of its own!

Other than that not much happening in our little world.  My sister did sign us up for our annual fruit of the month club at Christmas time so we have had fresh grapefruit, oranges and plums the past two months which is AWESOME and definitely noteworthy.  Thanks to the VanKotens for this special gift.  Now if only you guys could make some authentic Gouda (you know since Ivar is from the Netherlands and all) and sign us up for that club, life would be absolutely perfect!

Vern Out

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cheating with a one pound sausage

Okay once again people this is not perverted.  It's not porn that I am creating here, just a fun blog centered around our grocery shopping habits! I just went to the store and bought a pound of Italian sausage yesterday to add to our home-made pizzas for dinner last night. Yes I am a bacon lover living in a sausage lover's world.  I am the odd man out in our household where sausage ranks supreme.  For the record I detest the stuff, but in the interest of pleasing my fellow family members I made this sacrifice and bought the sausage.  But even though it was just a pound of Bob Evan's finest meat, it was still cheating... And since I am so honest and I have rid my conscience of this infraction, I feel much better having shared this most recent development.

Oh and I wanted to let you all know that I have some of the best friends and family members is the entire world. FOR REAL.  I don't know if they feel sorry for my poor family being caught up in this grocery gig I created, or if they just had random outdated stuff that they wanted to get rid of and like me they feel too guilty to throw it away, (but unlike me they are too scared to actually eat it) but whatever the cause my sister-in-law, my mother and my friend Tracy have all provided us bags and boxes full of food the past few months so this is my official "thank you" to anyone who has given us food, or had us over for dinner since December 1st we really appreciate the break from this nonsense!

Vern Out

Friday, February 21, 2014

And now the dog has added me to his crazy list...

Just a quick one today to let you all know that the dog now thinks I am crazy too.  It's ad and also true.  I made him go out to go potty before I left for work this morning and he looked at me with those big brown eyes and while he can't actually speak this is what he would've said if he could.  "Mom you are out of your F*CKING mind.  I will be blown to Canada, or somewhere further away, if I go out there right now.  Please don't make me go outside.  It looks down right dangerous. Please I am begging you!?"

After that look that said so much, he did go out for like 5 seconds just long enough to piss all over our front steps. Good thing I LOVE Stan so much.  He is the best dog ever `and he is officially geriatric so I let him get away with stuff like this without yelling.

Heading to Orchard Market to get milk and bread... and today we are counting crescent rolls as bread because I plan to wrap them around some gouda cheese for our appetizer tonight since we are dining on the leftover halibut and roast that have a combined age of 16.  Yeah, they are old enough to drive! 

Vern Out

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Much ado about nothing!

Recently my book club friends (who are basically all of my very closest female friends who like wine because reading is optional, but drinking wine is not) tactfully pointed out that if I really want to be a serious blogger I probably should join the 21st century and get internet access at home.  I am not easily offended so I took this intervention pretty well and didn’t let it rain on my parade.  I did however quickly respond, “any moron can be a blogger if they have internet access at home and state of the art technology on their side; it takes a real brilliant mastermind to pull off a blog when each and every post requires a trip to the local library or McDonalds…generally with three kids, a dog, a 10-year old laptop that weighs more than the average kitchen sink… and my mixed up mind orchestrating the whole production".  Or something like that...  I am a committed professional blogger people, not some punk, kid, pothead, blogger want to be, who is blowing off steam from the comfort of his or her dorm room, or more likely parent’s basement. 
Yes, I am serious about my writing, but not serious enough to spend $40 a month to have internet installed.  Maybe I can find a few followers willing to pitch in to help bring our household into this century or maybe verizon would want to cut me a deal because I am so entertaining or maybe because we already have our cell phones and home phones with them.  I should probably check into it because I probably spend a lot on gas driving to places with internet access.

One other noteable update, our Discover bill arrived the other day and it was more than $500 less than usual.  I attribute this savings to our grocery shopping challenge so I was beyond excited.  Jeff was not nearly as enthusiastic which ticked me off because he is the cheap one in our relationship and here I go and make all this effort to save us a crap load of money (sidenote a "crapload" is actually a formally recognized unit of measure here in Nunica. It means a hell of a lot of money) and he doesn’t even have the common courtesy to get excited about it. Anyhow, I am still thrilled that we saved a bunch of dough this month and I am still not grocery shopping... yet.
The kids LOVED the roast from 2008 that was our dinner last night!   So we have about a dozen more roasts in the deep freeze that will be cooked over the next few months in the order in which they were harvested/butchered/hunted/killed or fill in the blank with some other term (that means to kill an innocent beautiful animal) that works for you___________!  Also I do realize that being older is only a favorable thing in the world of cheese and wine (and maybe men) and I am okay with that. However, I like to live on the wild side so eating this "aged" meat out of our freezer is all good with me.

I just added this picture because I LOVE the SPARTANS and
March Madness is coming and I figured it will help us do better!
PS if you are a wolverine fan, just pretend they are wearing Blue and Maize, but realize you are cheering for the wrong team!
Vern Out


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Halibut anyone?

Now about the halibut.  First of all, It’s complicated… it really is. And the story starts over a decade ago when Jeff and I were dating so bear with me. This one will be long out of necessity, but in the end I can assure you that you will appreciate the significance of the halibut. At least I hope so otherwise I am a terrible writer and you should just quit reading this stuff!  
Once upon a time, Jeff actually enjoyed my spontaneous, energetic and slightly crazy side.  Back then, I think he actually found it attractive, possibly even irresistible.  Now I am pretty sure these same traits that once made me so appealing, drive him crazy on a regular basis.  He probably wonders what he was thinking when he proposed.  Anyways back when my then boyfriend (now husband) Jeff decided to go on a two week trip to Alaska with his family; I decided to have some fun of my own. My sister lived in the same area of Alaska that Jeff’s family was visiting so I totally told him I was going on a work trip and flew up to Alaska a few days before they arrived and surprised him at the airport wearing a home-made, wild, tie dyed, shirt that read “Happy Birthday Jeff”. Oh and a hot pink wig.  I was wearing one of those too! 
In Alaska when I crashed his family’s camping trip, he was elated and smiled ear to ear.  If I tried to pull the same crap today, I am pretty sure we would end up divorced!  Anyhow, if you hadn’t already guessed it during the trip Jeff’s dad caught a 200 pound halibut and had fifty pounds of it flash frozen and shipped home.  We ate much of it up over the course of the next couple years (it really is some of the best fish I have ever eaten) and when we moved in 2012 we found a nice sized fillet of the halibut in the freezer.  Like most of you reading this, I was convinced we should throw it out immediately before it killed someone, but Jeff insisted we bring it along. His argument being that, “it’s fine because it has been in the freezer the whole time”.  I was too tired to argue at the time (I mean we were well immersed in the moving process for a family of five and all our meager belongs (including, but not limited to, a dog, rabbit, flock of chickens and a lot of sh*t) so the halibut stayed in the deep freezer and made the move with us.
 The worst part was cutting the skin off the raw fish! YUCK
(insert gagging noises for me please because I was totally gagging while I did this)
 Die Killer Microbes, Die!!!
 The recipe for disaster: me and an 11-year old halibut fillet!
 The finished product Halibut Casserole. 
Despite the age issue, it really does taste good!

Flash forward a couple years and I am amidst this stupid, self-imposed, grocery shopping challenge.  When I did my beginning inventory, I found the damn halibut fillet.  I was not happy about this discovery.  I voiced my concern to Jeff and told him that we should totally throw it out and cut our losses, but he was adamant that it was fine and he felt we should eat it for dinner.  We have been amidst an ugly stand off ever since (for like over two months).  Well the other day I had enough so while planning my weekly menu I decided to get rid of the halibut once and for all.  I was not about to disappoint my husband by throwing it away.  So halibut casserole became Monday’s meal this week!  I boiled the heck out of it. For real.  Like 15 minutes of a rolling boil.  After witnessing the boiling process, I decided that the chances that anything poisonous to us actually survived was unlikely.  Plus, as I already mentioned, my husband makes a living protecting people from food born illnesses and he felt completely comfortable with it.  So we totally had halibut casserole for supper Monday and as leftovers last night!  And other than it being spongier than usual it totally tasted great.  A friend pointed out that this fillet is older than all of my children which is totally true.  I can't argue with that  and if I stop to think about it is still a bit disturbing, but the important thing is the stand-off is over and we both got to win (kind of) and we are still alive so I am happy...and the challenge continues.  Maybe we will make it to St.Patrick’s Day.  Tonight we are eating a venison roast from 2008.  Not as impressive as the halibut, but I am still excited to be rid of it!

Vern Out 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What a crazy day

*****DISCLAIMER (this is actually about yesterday, but this was the soonest I could get online to post this because we still live in the 20th century at our house.  We lack cable television, smart phones and internet access.  At least we have running water and electricity! And at least I am still alive after the halibut incident) 

Today was crazy.  Now coming from a borderline crazy lady like myself, I am not sure how credible this assessment is so I will leave the final decision to you, but I have to admit it felt crazy even to me.  To help you make up your own mind (weather I am crazy or not) I will share some basic information with you.  
Shortly after boiling the heck out of eleven year old halibut fillet that I was preparing for dinner (more on that later it deserves its very own story and I am working on it) I found myself dressed like a poorly clad homeless person, running down Leonard street, trying to answer a phone call from a company that has been harassing me to sign up for some free offer that they have.  And all this was happening while Jackie Chan babysat my four-year old and a blizzard was blowing through town! 
See what I mean?  Crazy afternoon even for me! 
Crazy Selfie!!
I laughed right out loud at the water salesperson lady too because of the ridiculous nature of my situation.  I was not trying to be disrespectful, I was seriously just trying to catch my breath because I was of course running during the heaviest brunt of the storm so why wouldn’t a pushy salesperson call me amidst the mess to ask if it was a good time to talk.  Needless to say, It wasn't a good time to talk and further complicating matters was the fact that I was in a hurry because I needed to get home as soon as possible because Jackie Chan had to leave by 4 (aka the movie my child was engrossed in was over at 4).
Anyhow, at that particular moment while laughing hysterically at the poor, desperate and down right pushy, saleslady (who BTW definitely votes for insane with regards to me), I started to believe that perhaps I actually am crazy. Or does the fact that I realize it was all crazy mean I am still sane?  I am not sure... things are becoming very confusing to me…and I see a unicorn dancing on the ceiling drinking a margarita and knitting a scarf.  And right next to her is a dragon that is cooking steaks with his flaming breath while drinking a Heineken! And next to him a Smurf is ...
Dont worry I have already made an appointment with a shrink!
Vern Out 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Perfecting the quickie

Get your mind out of the gutters people.  Remember this is PG rated not XXX.  I am talking about perfecting my writing of a quickie for my blog not improving things in the bedroom.  Anyhow as you well know, I tend to be long winded in the writing department so I am trying to keep it brief while still giving my husband the credit he is due. 

I totally got peanut butter for Valentine's Day!  And he also got me a new running shirt, a waffle iron and some fresh cinnamon roasted almonds!  For those of you who do not know my husband personally, this is a big, fricking deal.  It required him to first of all spend money (he is cheap) and secondly to actually give thought to what I like and enjoy (he is generally not so good at that either).   Oh So I pretty much had the best Valentine's Day since I can remember. And for some inexplicable reason our good,old-fashioned, family Valentine's Day party last night made me think of Christmas Vacation. So I will leave you with a short quote from Clark W. Griswold himself just insert Valentine's Day wherever he says Christmas and it totally relates to my story.

 Waffle Maker Jif Peanut Butter and Roasted Almonds.  PS I already wore the shirt and it is really stinky and waiting for me to do laundry Thursday so that is why it's not in the picture. Duh!
 Peanut butter... making my dreams come true!

 Me the happiest little Valentine this side of the nuthouse!

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."  ~Clark W. Griswold

Vern Out

Friday, February 14, 2014

Zombies and hotdogs and squirrels, oh my!

I now have a zombie vacuum and yes I do realize how crazy that sounds. The problem is it’s true. 



                             Without a doubt.


 But yet it’s also true.  Victor is ALIVE and therefore I have to accept that I have a zombie vacuum cleaner on my hands!  You never know when life is gonna throw a zombie vacuum at you and that's just what it did to me yesterday...

You see, Thursdays are Grandma Day which basically means that I scurry around like a hectic squirrel, frantically preparing for winter every single Thursday. Only instead of harvesting acorns or other tree nuts (because this is a “tree-nut free” blog. Don't even think about bringing your nuts around here!), I am busy getting done all chores that are easier done without my kids.  Yes, I basically take the entire week off from housework and then do it all in one wild day. Thursday. 

On Thursday the kids hang with Grandma and Grandpa while I behave like a squirrel and for the most part it works for us.  Don’t mistake this to mean that I am claiming we have a clean house.  We definitely don’t, but we are doing okay.  Our house isn’t condemned, there is no mold growing in our home (at least that I am aware of) and I don’t weigh 400 pounds.  This cleaning frenzy occurs during about a six hour window mind you and I usually fit in at least a 4 or 5 mile run as well because I need to burn a bunch of calories off for the second phase of Grandma Day better known as the FEAST.  Named so because the second portion is a home-cooked family meal that is usually rich in taste as well as calories and fat.  It is a wonderful arrangement that Jeff’s parents developed when they became Grandparents about a decade ago and I must say I live for and LOVE Thursdays.
Anyhow, this Thursday (yesterday) I worked furiously to pick up our house and decided that since I asked for peanut butter for Valentine’s Day (instead of a new vacuum like I had originally planned) I had no choice but to risk using Victor to vacuum the upstairs because it looked very dirty and Jeff would be suspicious if I didn’t vacuum on a Thursday. You know because I am such a great housewife and I vacuum every Thursday.  I plugged Victor in, crossed my fingers, prayed wholeheartedly to God and then hit the power button.  And then I held my breath (long enough that I nearly passed out) waiting to see if smoke would emerge. And then I breathed a sigh of relief because Victor was alive and sucking (which in this particular instance sucking was a very good thing) and most importantly there was no smoke!  I swear in that moment I learned what it felt like for Dr. Frankenstein when his creature came to life.  A wild mix of emotions.  Elated.  Impressed. Surprised. And overall Horrified. I managed to vacuum the entire upstairs level without any smoke or other troubling symptoms from Victor too.  I realized at that moment that I am now the proud mother of a zombie vacuum! YIKES.

Victor in his zombie form haunting my housecleaning from the closet!

 Victor enters this world for a second time!

After more analysis, I decided that his hose thing is broken and it causes the smoke alarm to sound not the main vacuum component because he worked fine today.  I have therefore labeled Victor physically handicapped.  I mean without the hose thingy he is basically an amputee so I think it’s a fair assessment of the situation. I am busy working to have him declared special needs so that we can get federal funding for his education and a cool handicap parking pass.  Turns out there are a ton of forms for such classification to happen so I will let you know how that works out in about ten years when I finish cutting through all the red tape required for such assistance.


During my cleaning frenzy, I also went exploring in our chest freezer and located gold, I mean hotdogs. But same difference; at this point in the game, hotdogs are as valuable as gold to me. It is just a cheap 8-pack that I bought last summer with a coupon for 88 cents, in fact I am skeptical that they are real meat, but still for my family this discovery means that we will make it one day longer in this little no shopping challenge and we already made it to Valentine’s Day so I am happy!
 Eureka we've struck GOLD! I mean Hotdogs!

I also found a fish fillet from halibut we caught in Alaska ten years ago.  my husband swears it is still edible and he is a food sanitarian (restaurant inspector) so I tend to trust him on such matters, but still that seems really, really. old.  makes the incident with the Ranch seem trivial doesn’t it?  This is quite the predicament because eating it will certainly lengthen how long we make it with our challenge, but it could conceivably cost us our lives...
Vern Out


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chocolate themed breakfast rocks!

I am pretty sure my 4-year old now thinks I am the coolest mom ever this morning and I have to admit that feels pretty darn good.  Yesterday we had a repeat play date with the same two girls as the misfortunate lunching incident a few weeks ago and this time I was armed with Mac n Cheese (back story to this development.  We were having friends to dinner a couple weeks ago and I bought one box of Mac n Cheese as a back-up in case their kids didnt like Carbonara.  They loved it so the box was still hanging in the pantry just waiting for such an occasion).  So we had a PERFECT play date this time it was not tarnished with a lack of proper kid's foods.  We had an orange colored lunch theme too: mac and cheese and oranges!  But the best part of the play date came after lunch when we hit the pool, or technically my jetted bath tub!  But first we had a five minute jumping on Mom's bed gig and danced to the music of Barbie Pink Shoes Video.  And all this fun from the comfort of our very own home!
 Jumping on beds sure is hard work.  No wonder it is strictly prohibited on most days!


 The Barbie Pool Party was epic and elevated my status level
among 4-year old girls! 

Three girls, six barbies and tons of water.  They also had fresh beverages (chocolate milk) served by me the drink master and live entertainment (AKA mom dancing and singing to the top 40 music playing on the radio).  There are no photos or videos of my singing or dancing and this is on purpose because it wasn't pretty people. So while I fully admit such videos or photos would probably be entertaining to you, I had to preserve a small shredd of my dignity.  While it was not even a little pretty, the 4-year olds sure ate it up!

Last night we ran out of Peanut Butter and you read about that if you read PBJ's. If you didn't read it yet go do that and come back so I get the statistics boosted for that one! Elevator music plays in the background for about three minutes as you read...Nice job and now you better understand my current peanut butter crisis!

Then this morning while still mourning for the loss of my favorite food, I had a couple brilliant ideas.  The first was doing a chocolate themed breakfast for Hazel in hopes of getting her excited about Bible Study since she had informed me that "she is too tired to leave the house today" and she was going to "need to be in her pajamas all day long".  She was so dramatic with her announcement that she may have a future in the entertainment industry yet even though she is completely tone deaf and dances like a drunk monkey!

Hershey's Chocolate is the best especially since we have three commercial sized bottles of it in the pantry!  Drink up, Hazel.  There is plenty more chocolate milk to be mixed!

I dreamed about peanut butter (and about President Obama being killed in an unfortunate  bobsledding accident at the olympics, but that was just weird) and the peanut butter dream was much better.  It was wonderful and delicious and inspiring.  I was swimming in the melty sweet stuff, eating it from fountains and the very best part... there were islands made of crackers to put all that glorious peanut butter on (oh and I looked okay in my swimsuit)!  I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS! 

I woke up from my strange night of dreams (I attribute the dreams to the cough medicine I have been taking to help me sleep better) thinking first that I probably should discontinue taking cough medicine to help me sleep because it is giving me some vividly strange dreams and second that I was going to ask my husband to buy me some peanut butter.  And the timing couldn't be better because I totally asked for the peanut butter this morning for my Valentine's gift from Jeff.  Geez he gets off the hook easy this year.  Oh well, he can't not get it since it is what I asked for and since I am absolutely certain he has no gift (nor gift ideas) for me at this time. And you know since Valentine's Day is less than forty eight hours away!  Gosh I am smart sometimes.  I can't wait for Valentine's Day now!

Vern Out

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


First of all, I am feeling much better so the ramen noodles are being rationed again and we are no longer using them as our primary form of nourishment.  I even prepared baked spaghetti for dinner tonight (it was the last of the spaghetti sauce) and homemade garlic bread to go with it.  I was feeling really proud of myself for pulling myself together (I even ran 7miles this morning!) and providing my family with a great home-cooked meal...

And then Jeff walked in the door with sushi that had been given to him at work by one of the restuarants he inspected today.  Which he totally never does.  And it was fresh and delicious and I had not had sushi since I quit working at a"real" job over four years ago.  So I had incredible sushi for dinner and everyone else had baked spaghetti!

But things are about to get real...  We are officially out of peanut butter now too. If you recall from a few of my past posts, we are also out of mac n cheese, chicken nuggets and spaghettios (no thanks to my kids on that because they refuse to eat them). Clearly things have changed since the 80's when I am pretty sure that spaghettios had their very own spot on the food pyramid!  Anyhow, the more items that we eliminate from our food pantry and freezer the more interesting things have gotten.

But life without peanut butter doesn't sound interesting. It just sounds scary.

This recent turn of events may bring an end to the food challenge because I have a serious love for peanut butter.  I hate PBJs. I always have.  It's the bread I don't care for though, not the peanut butter.  But any other possible way to ingest Peanut Butter that you could think of would probably be acceptable to me.  Heck I could just eat a spoon full of peanut butter and I would be satisfied. 

Yes, if I had to live off just one food for the rest of my life, it would likely be peanut butter.  Or maybe, avocados (but I would have to have spices and chips to go with them), or possibly bacon (but bacon always makes me really thirsty so probably not).  So it would probably be peanut butter.  Peanut Butter can stand alone and it is so versatile!  It can be any meal;breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It's even sweet enough to be a dessert. Or it could even be a side dish. Or even a vegetable in my eyes!  (I mean if popcorn counts why not peanut butter right)?

Anyhow, I am trying to process this new peanut butter-free situation that I find myself amidst.  I have not been without peanut butter in a very long time so I don't want to make any rash decision on the matter.

Vern Out

Monday, February 10, 2014

Not funny

It seems the stuffy nose/cold thing I have has zapped all of the funny out of me.  It also has stolen my appetite... so I am not hungry... so I am not cooking... so my family will be eating the ramen noodles for the unforeseen future....possibly forever...  That is all. 

PS a test on Facebook also just told me I should continue popping babies out indefinitely because I was made for making babies. This recommendation was based on the fact that according to the answers I provided the quiz our house is a wreck (and it doesn't bother me), I don't care about privacy or personal hygiene, vomit and other bodily fluids don't make me ill and I love babies.  Pretty sure more babies would push me over the edge at this point in the game although I did always want to have a fourth!

PPS I am going to go teach my 4-year old the culinary art form of making ramen noodles so that I don't have to cook those either!

PPPS Just kidding please don't call child protective services.

Vern Out

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In the meantime, Victor died

I am still working diligently on the blog renaming fiasco, but to be honest I am not sure I am going to prevail in making a super cool announcement happen and in the meantime I had a situation that I felt needed to be shared promptly I've titled it

"Victor’s Dead"

But first of all, can you keep a secret?  I think I accidentally killed Victor.  Don’t worry though, it was an accident.  Besides that he was just our vacuum cleaner, not a person so it’s not as big a deal as it sounds.  I’ll tell you the story too, but you have to swear to never share it with my husband because I am taking this one to the grave.  Seriously...I really mean it....  So if you think you can keep this a secret read on, otherwise click on another page right now and don’t read another, single word.  Not one. 

In case you are cheating, I am not going to start the story just yet I am going to share a joke with you from one of my kid’s popsicles the other day. 

Q:  What gets wetter the more it dries? 
Punch line:  A towel! Those popsicle manufactures are just so clever aren't they?!

Now if you are serious about keeping my secret safe and you have sworn on a bible, or Koran, or whatever other religious book you believe in, then you may read on.  If not, get out of here once and for all. Scram.  Beat it.


Okay now that I have weeded out all of the unworthy readers, let’s get started.  This story spans a few days and when I analyze it on a deeper, more personal, level, I realize that my husband is actually to blame for Victor’s untimely death, not me.  Had he merely done what I asked of him right the first time, Victor would still be alive and well today.  Such accusations must be backed by facts and proof.  So here are the facts.  If you follow my blog, then you will recall that I cleaned the van for my husband to borrow it the other day to attend a work training conference. I did this for my husband because I am a nice wife and I do wonderful things like this for my husband all the time.  On an unrelated note, but offered up as further proof that I am kind to my husband, I also made him a crockpot full of potato soup to take to a coworker's retirement potluck last Friday!  I know. How nice am I?  What I didn’t share at the time, however, was a piece of information that I thought was irrelevant, but that turns out is critical to the plot of Victor’s slaying.  I better elaborate.
Victor and Mom all dressed up in their Tiger Gear for their trip to the
Detroit Tiger's Game.  One of our happiest times together!

You see, when I agreed to clean the van I asked my husband to put the Shop Vac back together because I had accidentally knocked it over the last time I used it and try as I may, I couldn’t figure out how to reassemble the damn thing.  Maybe Survivor should use the assembling of a Shop Vac for one of their challenges next season.  That's how hard it is (for me anyways). Putting things back together is not exactly a strong suit of mine.  Being nice, yes.  Reassembling things, not so much.  Well, my husband told me he fixed it. However, when I went to use the Shop Vac, there was no sucking power. None, whatsoever. Clearly he “fixed” it wrong which is why Victor died.  

Mom and Victor on his first day of Kindergarten waiting for the bus!

Being the creative woman that I am (and possibly stubborn) when faced with this vacuuming dilemma, I decided to use Victor’s hose thingy to clean the van instead of waiting for the industrial strength Shop Vac to be properly put back together when my husband returned from work.  I had determined I would finish this project independently before Jeff got home and I was not about to let Jeff’s inability to properly assemble the Shop Vac stand in the way of my plan.  Sidenote: we generally reserve the Shop Vac for all truly nasty jobs such as cleaning the van, garage, basement and other creepy places in order to protect Victor. Right or wrong, we have always sheltered Victor in this way. We have tried diligently for years to keep him safe from such evils as are found in this terribly broken world (namely our van and other creepy places). Victor had been a member of our family longer than I, so we were really very attached to him.  I was so proud too and pleasantly surprised that Victor was working just fine as a substitute van cleaner.  He really rose to the challenge...until I accidentally sucked up a Huntington Bank pen (which was my favorite pen by they way). 

I was initially pissed because I just witnessed my favorite pen being sucked into a one-way street to darkness.  Then the anger turned quickly to horror as I realized that the pen actually went all the way into Victor’s internal makeup.  I by no means claim to be a vacuum expert, but I was pretty sure that a pen could cause serious problems to the proper functioning of a sheltered, household, vacuum cleaner, like Victor.  I turned him off immediately and tried shaking his hose really hard in hopes of dislodging the pen.  It didn’t work so I then turned Victor upside down and beat on the bottom of him as hard as I could, but he would not give up the pen.  I think there may be a market for vacuum cleaner CPR classes for any young entrepreneurs out there too because I know I wished I had taken such a course at that very moment.  I had an incident with my blender awhile back too so maybe it could be applicable to all small appliances.  The details would need to be worked out, but there’s definite potential there.  Anyhow, I continued to beat on him for a few more minutes and failing miserably I decided to turn him upright. Then I hit the power button to see how he worked, or I guess to be more accurate, if he worked.  To my delight, Victor seemed okay. 

Victor standing proudly and full of delight as he is asked to fill in as a van cleaner.
He eagerly resonds, "yes, I can do it mom!"

Since he seemed to be working acceptably, I decided that maybe I had just imagined sucking the pen up and it was actually somewhere inside the van or in the eternally messy garage.  That was probably what happened.  So despite that I didn't locate the pen during a thorough searching of the area, I still convinced myself that it never happened. The more time passed, the more certain I became that the entire pen incident was nothing more than a figment of my imagination.  Yes,Victor’s consumption of my favorite pen was nothing more than a horribly, vivid hallucination.  Besides that, I was almost done so I finished the van project and packed Victor back safely in his spot in the closet.  My final thought on the matter was, “Geeze, I dodged a bullet with that one”. 

Fast forward a couple days to when I was cleaning the basement and you will find me pondering briefly what was causing Victor to smoke as I tried to clean the bird cage in the basement. With a perplexed look on my face, I suddenly remembered the horrible incident with my former favorite pen and I realized that it was probably related to the smoke pouring out of Victor’s undercarriage at that very moment.  I cut the power to Victor immediately, but then found myself in a bit of a predicament because I hadn’t mentioned the pen ingestion incident to Jeff.  I was deliberating on what to do about the situation, when Jeff walked into the room to investigate the smell Victor was making. It smelled kind of like Coopersville when the dump is working overtime, or like a burning piece of rubber or plastic.  You get the idea; it reeked, really, really bad. 

Without thinking, I immediately went into self preservation mode.  Yes, I lied.  I totally played stupid, batted my eyelashes and told Jeff I had no idea why the vacuum smelled like a huge pile of burning tires.  Maybe I am not such a great wife afterall.  He looked at the vacuum briefly to see if he could determine the cause of the foul odor.  Of course, as with all vacuum cleaners, Victor had at least a pound or two of hair wrapped tightly around the part that spins. Jeff declared that the hair was probably the cause of the foul odor and that it was okay for me to finish vacuuming, but I should clean the spinning part of the vacuum once I was done.  Jeff doesn’t believe in calling the appliances by their names.  He says it’s silly so that is why I referred to victor as an inanimate object in the last sentence. 

I finished quickly and then I cleaned the spinning part. One noteworthy item to share and I apologize in advance because it is slightly gross, or maybe totally disgusting, I am not sure. But of all that hair stuck in there, most of it was mine because I have a lot of long hair, but more importantly none of it was gray!  NONE!  Silver linings people, silver linings.  So I may have to ask for a new vacuum for my birthday… better yet for Valentine’s Day since Victor was removed from life support earlier this morning.  I am taking his passing better than I thought I would, but it's not going to be easy to find another vacuum cleaner I can love like him.  But the best news from all of this is that I don’t have gray hair…yet.  I realize it’s just a matter of time though these kids and appliances are sure to give me gray hair eventually! 

RIP Victor Lee Constantine You will be missed.  We loved you so!

Vern out

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stay tuned

I realize I am roughly two days behind with my announcement about the new name of the blog and I apologize, but I've run into a bit of a problem in that Bruno Mars wouldn't give me the thirty second spot that I requested during halftime unless I paid 4 million dollars for it.  Which, if I had 4 million dollars do you really think I would be wasting my time blogging about saving my family money by using up the food we have in our house? Well, sorry I wouldn't be.  I would be on safari in Africa while a nanny cared for my husband and children and various animals.  I would not be trudging through waist deep snow to feed our chickens every morning, wiping people's butts on demand while counting toilet paper squares and tending to a fire in order to keep the pipes from freezing. 

We would also have a housekeeper, a chauffeur, a gardener and a pool boy. And we don't have a pool either, he would just be nice eye candy for me.  If I could afford 4 million dollars, would we be eating ramen noodles for every single meal, Bruno?  I think not. So while I truly love your song about the amazing woman (or I guess technically Girl) and I totally wish that my husband would serenade me with that song, "Say Anything" style with a boom box outside our bedroom window, I am really upset that you wouldn't approve my announcement about my super cool blog during your halftime show ( I mean it was only 30 seconds I needed) and just because I don't have 4 million dollars.  By the way, I could really use just a couple bucks to get home from the library because we are almost out of gas. 

Readers I promise you the votes did count and the announcement will be soon, very soon. But I have to think of an equally awesome way of doing it and the Super Bowl is hard to match.  Bruno does owe me a call back so maybe we can work something out.

Vern out

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Iron Lady

Turns out I’m completely screwed.  I am now officially an ironing 101 flunky.  Yep, I am pretty sure I am not cut out to be an ironer in this lifetime.  I may have to change the title of my book now too because I seriously suck at ironing and “iron” appears in the title of my New York Times Best Seller I am am writing.  I spent over two hours yesterday trying to emanate Jeff’s Grandma’s (Aka Grandma Lulu) system for ironing which is both mystical and magical to observe I might add.  I took detailed notes, asked lots of relevant questions, followed her directions and still felt like an octopus with 9 or 10 arms (or I guess technically tentacles) trying to man handle Irma... that's what I named my iron, Irma.  I thought if we were on a first name basis, maybe it would help my attempt to master the art of ironing.  I was wrong.  Irma apparently does not want me to become a good ironer.  Maybe she is insecure and feels threatened by me. That is common between women.  Or maybe she is mad that I haven't developed a relationship with her sooner since she joined our family when we were married 10 years ago and I have only used her once or twice.  I don't know, but she was definitely not trying to help me succeed. 

Irma, the Iron, trying to sabotage my lesson!  She looks so innocent, but don't be fooled. She is cunning and will stop at nothing to ruin my chances at being an ironing champion!

I watched Lulu's flawless motion with Irma in complete awe continually for at least a half an hour.  And then I attempted to copy her motions, but it was useless.  No I was useless.  Lulu whips shirts around like a seasoned cowboy roping cattle (gently I might add).  She knew exactly what to do with all the parts of the iron (which I do not) and ironing board (which I do not).   She even managed to have each shirt wrinkle-free in less than three minutes time (Yes I got my stopwatch out because I was curious and then once I timed her I was just impressed)  Conservatively, I think it takes me, “forever” or “until hell freezes over” to produce a wrinkle-free shirt.  Meanwhile, I am convinced that Grandma Lulu may have a future in the Ironing Olympics or the Iron Super Bowl because she is just that good!  All the while, I am no closer to producing a wrinkle-free garment now, than I was two days ago!  And I feel like a complete and utter failure because of this.  As with most things in life, I blame my mother for my ironing deficiencies.  Clearly, she did a lousy job teaching me the ways of the 1940s housewife. How could she have been so blind to my future needs and desires?  I want nothing more than to have my husband happy and wearing smooth shirts for the rest of our days together and now I am faced with the realization that this may not be possible.  I am truly crushed.

Getting back to the blaming my mom deal for this ironing dilemma, I often find myself wondering how badly I am messing up my own kids.  Don’t you?  Have I already done too much damage? Or is there hope that they will grow up somewhat normal and not blame me for all of their issues as adults? I don’t know, but I highly doubt it. But I do know that when we were kids our mom yelled a lot and I swore I never would if I was a mom and now I totally do.  I am such a hypocrite. I yell a lot more than I should and it bothers me too. But I honestly don’t know how to stop it because truthfully the kids don’t listen unless I yell. If they would just do what I tell them to do the first time, yelling would be obsolete.  We would all be whispering or talking in indoor voices.  Instead it a vicious cycle of yelling that I find myself amidst and I do fear that it is probably screwing my kids up because all of my mom’s yelling totally screwed me up! That’s why I find myself perpetually trying to prove my sanity is intact!  Am I making any sense here? or just sounding more crazy than ever?  Either way, I am moving right along...

Back at the ironing ranch...I guess to be an excellent ironer you may have to start at an early age, you know, like elite athletes, or famous artists.  Maybe I just missed my window.  Remember, as children, for safety purposes because my mom was all about safety, we only observed ironing on extremely rare occasions from extremely far-off distances.  Maybe if my mom had introduced me to that hot piece of metal sooner, I would be an ironing expert today. I guess we will never know!  Instead I find I can’t figure ironing out to save my life (or my marriage) and my husband is shunned at work because his shirts are so imperfectly ironed that everyone teases him and calls him “messy man” and "wrinkle hoser".  I am probably ruining his life too not just the kids.  And all because of the bloomin’ iron and my mom's failure to properly train me in the manner of ironing at an early enough age. SIGH

 I may look okay with an iron in hand, but once I start using it the boom totally falls out!

 Watch out!  I've got an iron and I am not afraid to use it! Oh...actually I am scared.

I am going to schedule another lesson next week and try to talk to Irma to see what her problems is and see if we can work things out.  There must be some kind of solution to be had here or something I can do to make amends.  I will persist in my attempt to become an ironing whiz and repair my relationship with Irma, even if I look a fool doing so.

Disclaimer no moms were hurt or killed during the writing of this blog and any comments made about my mom were done so in good humor and are meant to be light-hearted criticisms about my mother. They were embelished for entertainment purposes and she mostly is not responsible for my being so strange!
Vern Out