Nerd Night: Ginger-Lime Banana Cake

Go ahead. ASK ME IF THE BATHROOM IS DONE. Or don’t, if you don’t want to see me weep. (Long story short: The tile guy has been working SO HARD, and he is so nice and so earnest and he WORKED ON SATURDAY and I hate that we had to point out that the floor is uneven and the lines in the shower are not plumb. He is now upstairs grinding out the tile and presumably fantasizing about my untimely death.)

Anyway. The bathroom is a special kind of sadness, right now. So I baked cookies one day and then this cake the next day, because sugar and flour fixes everything, right? I hope so. I had a bunch of over-ripe bananas and then I had a vision of a slightly spicy, tangy, banana-y cake. I ended up with this:

banana-lime-cake-full

My hopes were not entirely realized, which I’ll get to in a minute, but it was cake and people ate it, plus the helpful feedback I received informed the recipe tweaks that hopefully will make it into something closer to what I’d wanted in the first place. And either way, it’s still better than uneven tile in your bathroom, so there’s that. (more…)

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Death by remodeling

We’re renovating the upstairs bathroom this week. More accurately, this week I am trying to keep the dogs from going insane while a crew makes a lot of noise and a big mess. So far it doesn’t look much like a bathroom, but I have high hopes. Also, it was supposed to be finished by tomorrow. HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA.

Um. I am still hoping it might be done next week. Or this year. Something. My usual way of coping with the grossness my offspring proliferate in their bathroom is to… just never go in there. But until that bathroom is done, they have to use the bathroom I use. Let’s just say my motivation to do whatever the contractors need right now is VERY HIGH.

I wrote about the ongoing renovation over at Alpha Mom, because my brain is rotted from doing things like going to the hardware store and having twenty-minute-long conversations about whether the satin nickel and the brushed stainless are actually different colors.

Then to take my mind off of the fact that I got a great deal on a killer light fixture only to discover that the bulbs it requires are 1) not included and 2) almost as expensive as the fixture itself, I also tackled another teen advice column question, because I am excellent at advising you on what to do with your kids, but terrible at picking out lighting.

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Nerd Night: Bishop’s Cake with Raspberry/Lime Glaze

Spring Break is upon us, and on Saturday, Monkey jetted off to see his dad, Otto took Chickadee to an event at her soon-to-be college, and my lovely friend Ruth who lives too far away came to spend the weekend. Instead of spending quality time with my offspring the night before they left me, I spent quality time in Atlanta traffic gabbing endlessly with Ruth, and then we went out washed down our weight in sushi with a couple of martinis as if we were party animals. (All was forgiven because Ruth makes her own AH-MAZE-ING chocolates and she brought us a box of goodies. The kids might’ve missed me, but hey, CHOCOLATE!)

Saturday we did some random walking around, more stuffing of our faces (gourmet tacos, this time), and then flopped on the couch and watched baking shows. When Otto and Chickadee returned, we played Cards Against Humanity (“Oh I’ve never played this before,” quoth Ruth… GUESS WHO WON?) and went to bed entirely too late.

Before we turned in, though, I starting combing through recipes. “I think they’re having Nerd Night without Monkey,” I said. “Chickie will go. I need to make something tomorrow morning.” Ruth not only makes candy, she’s a master baker (and also sweet and pretty and hilarious and it’s okay, you can hate her a little), and she suggested I find a Bishop’s Cake recipe.

When I asked what it is, she said, “It has a crumb like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. It gets crispy on the outside but it’s buttery on the inside. It’s simple, but it’s amazing.” Bishop’s Cake it would be, then.

bishops-cake-whole (more…)

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Just a regular day (but extra snot)

Monkey—sweet, darling Monkey—has changed SO MUCH over the last few years that sometimes I forget about the things which haven’t changed. Like, say, the fact that he now towers over me does not change the typical trajectory of: it’s a minor cold, it’s a minor cold, it’s a minor cold, MOM I THINK MAYBE I’M DYING MOM I FEEL AWFUL. Good job, me! My streak of sending that child to school even though he’s sick as a dog remains unbroken! WOOOOO! Yesterday had an added bonus of his doctor mentioning that it may be time to go back to the ENT and discuss sinus surgery… I think… I was too busy screaming “LALALALALAAAAAA I CAN’T HEEEEEAR YOOOUUUU!”

Yeah. Um. Yesterday afternoon was spent picking him up from school, taking him to the doctor, going to the pharmacy to get his antibiotics, and then stopping to pick him up a milkshake (flavor: MOM GUILT). But at least while I was doing all of that, Chickadee texted me to say she thought maybe she was sick, too. Because of course.

This is all true, but also a good introduction to this post I wrote for Alpha Mom about figuring out how to balance working and mom-ing. Spoiler alert: There’s no one right answer. But I do appreciate having the flexibility to deal with a sick kid or two without worrying I’m going to lose my job, obvs.

Also! If you’ve been paying any attention this election cycle (with mounting horror, one assumes), you may be struggling with how to talk to your teens about it, in which case I’ll suggest this Alpha Mom post, instead. My kids are asking hard questions, and they’re forcing me to figure out better answers.

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Nerd Night: Better-Than-Cinnabon Birthday Rolls

I can’t remember when I first made these cinnamon rolls, or how they became the Holy Grail of baked goods in our house, but what I CAN tell you is that Monkey asks for these for his birthday instead of cake. (Chickie usually asks for both cinnamon rolls AND cake. And right there… you have a pretty good summary of my children.) That should give you some idea of how awesome these are. So: I make these almost exclusively for birthdays, because they’re kind of a pain in the ass. But when I asked Chickadee what she wanted for Nerd Night, she immediately said “cinnamon rolls!” and I remembered that I had a batch in the freezer (I always double the recipe and freeze half, because if I’m going to spend all that time, I may as well) from Monkey’s birthday last month, so I agreed. She may have then done a victory fist pump and squealed, “SWEEEET! Fresh ones for my birthday!”

The base recipe is this one, which I’m sure is delightful as written. In fact, the first time I made them, I probably just followed the recipe (save for modifying it for non-breadmaker preparation). Over the years I’ve modified it, though, and now it’s even better, I promise. I double the pudding (and make it butterscotch rather than vanilla, which heightens the caramel-y flavoring), skip the nuts, and load it up with cinnamon chips. Plus I double the frosting, because FROSTING. I mean:

cinn-roll-plate-2

Ooey, gooey, AH-MAZE-ING. If you love someone, make them these cinnamon rolls. (more…)

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By my fingernails

I called my dad from the car today—both because my ridiculous new car makes it easy and because who has time for an actual phone call with words unless it’s en route to someplace?—and he told me that he is really enjoying the Nerd Night posts, and thinking about which desserts he would like me to make for him. “Oh yeah?” I said. “Which one piqued your interest?”

“I think maybe that fruit-covered cheesecake,” he said. “Only, when you make it for me, could you maybe not drop it on the floor?” Yea, verily, I was offended. I explained with multiple huffs that I DID NOT DROP IT ON THE FLOOR, I merely whacked it into the toaster oven AND THEN CAUGHT IT. Sheesh.

But we laughed, anyway, because what is more ME than baking a beautiful cheesecake and mangling it at the last minute? Probably nothing. It’s a pretty good life metaphor right now, and everything seems to be racing past me at breakneck speed, and here I am in the middle of it, peeling back tinfoil. Or something. I’ve been thinking about how I deal with everyone around me being so busy, and my solution is to slow down, for better or for worse. (That link will take you to read more on Alpha Mom, if you’re so inclined.)

I hung up with Dad and went where I was going and did what I needed to do and then headed home in some very ugly weather. Internally I was mumbling and grumbling about how gross it is outside, but then it occurred to me that maybe I’d see a rainbow. And you know what? I did. I pulled over and took a picture of it, even. Sometimes slowing down has its perks.

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Nerd Night: Snickerdoodle Bars

It was a long week, last week, and even kind of a long weekend, as Monkey ended up at an Academic Team competition that we knew would be “all day” but hadn’t entirely grokked would be an 8:30 – 6:30 kind of all day. (That is a long day even if you enjoy extended nerdery. I mean.)

Honestly I doubt either child would’ve bothered getting dressed at all on Sunday if not for the siren call of Nerd Night, complete with zombie-fighting hijinks and—of course—sugar.

For my part, I wasn’t up for anything complicated. I wanted something I could bake in very short order on Sunday morning so that I could go about my day and get some other things done (say, all the things I didn’t get done during the week while I was dealing with fun little distractions like having food poisoning). So: it had to be simple, it had to be fast, and it had to be GOOD.

It had to be… a snickerdoodle bar cookie.

snickerdoodle-bar-plate
(If you don’t like snickerdoodles, you probably kick puppies for fun, right?) (more…)

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I wrote you some things

Somehow I never linked you up to my Alpha Mom advice column last week, probably because I was busy dealing with non-writing things as if I actually have a life outside of the computer. HAHA. Anyway.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that today you get a twofer from me!

First, I’m answering a reader question about the value of labeling autism, and I think you know which side of that argument I come down on, but it’s hopefully worth a read, anyway.

Second, no one asked me, but because I know how to make sure your kids don’t have sex before they’re ready, I’m telling you. (Disclaimer: Results may vary. Do not come yell at me if your precious snowflake does something naughty. To parent is to accept that you can never really control another person EVEN IF you know better than they do, and probably that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

Third, there is no third. Just those other two. Go read those, please.

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Nerd Night: White Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Soooo… last week was sort of A Week. By Friday—no joke—I was falling asleep with my eyes open on the couch at about 8:30. (We’re all fine. Our school district is in the middle of an enormous clusterfuck and as I am stupidly “involved” and “part of the solution” [geez, whose stupid idea was THAT??], it’s just been… a really long week.) On the bright side, it was just the kick in the pants I needed to sit down with Chickadee this weekend and order her graduation invitations. We may have high-fived over the notion of her being nearly finished with this particular circus.

At the same time, Otto’s youngest brother Wild Thing was here to visit, and Sunday was BOTH Valentine’s Day AND Nerd Night. Clearly, no matter my exhaustion, a special dessert was needed. Something… luscious. Silky. Something RED. I checked the pantry; yes, one can of cherry pie filling remained. Cheesecake with cherries was clearly the answer.

Say, something like this:

white-choc-cherry-cheesecake (more…)

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3 things about The Vagina Monologues

1) Although this year was my fourth time being part of my local production, everything was different this time because Chickadee was in it with me, too. We could not have picked a better way to come full circle from the first time I was in it, years ago. (And if you want to read more about her, head over to Alpha Mom. I don’t know if you know this, but I am awfully fond of that kid.)

2) I’m not sure how (lies, I know how; I am largely oblivious), but my ENTIRE FAMILY conspired with Kira and kept me completely in the dark until SHE APPEARED AT MY FRONT DOOR ON SATURDAY and I started screaming loudly enough for her to hear me outside. This is because Kira lives 2,000 miles away, and I had no idea she was coming, and in fact I hadn’t even asked her to try to get to the show this year because we’ve never been able to manage it before AND she went back to college this year and went from being insanely busy to actual, like, truth-is-less-believable-than-fiction levels of swamped. But she came all this way to see the show and spent less than a day with me because she is the best.

3) There is video. [Editing to add: NSFW video, obvs.] My husband set up shop the night he came to see the show and so if you missed it but are dying to see my piece (and if you are, I am both flattered and slightly uneasy, but that’s another matter…), you can. But Imma put it after the jump, here, because I don’t think we need it sitting right on the front page. If you don’t need video, you’re done. (more…)

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