05 October 2007

New Recipes Available

For those of you who are interested, I put 5 or 6 new recipes online this week that are all serious home runs. The Banana Bread recipe (without the oatmeal) is great. The Basil Roasted Vegetables over Couscous was on the menu at our wedding and has been a favorite ever since. It pairs really well with salmon (try the recipe with roasted cherry tomatoes for a complete wedding-day throwback). Chicken Linguine is one of our favorites for making and freezing, it tastes better after being frozen than it does made fresh. I put the pumpkin cheesecake recipe online because a dedicated reader told me the other day she was craving it. I don't expect her to make it, but I like to taunt. We tried the Steak with Peanut Sauce and Broccoli on Monday and absolutely loved it. I recommend serving that one over an aromatic rice, such as Basmati or Jasmine. Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is a Cooking Light recipe that is a favorite of ours. It's a little bit of a chore, so set aside some kid-free time to try it out, but it's definitely worth it and it also freezes well. The Cajun Shrimp Orecchiette, on the other hand, was super easy and the kiddos loved it . . just cut back the Cajun seasoning a little bit if you plan to feed it to them, you can always season it more at the table. And finally the Taco-Stuffed Pasta Shells, which were another great option for freezing. The best part about them is that Avery actually ate them and asked for more. Serve them with yellow rice.

There are a few more that I want to get online before this weekend, so keep checking back! If you have problems downloading any of the recipes, just leave me a comment and I'll get it resolved.


04 October 2007

They Never Even Saw Me Coming

Flying well under the radar . . noon on a Friday, no kids with me, plain white polo shirt. . I walked through the grocery store today and completely robbed them blind. I'm telling this story not to be boastful, but rather to open your eyes to the feeling of complete power that can be achieved in the aisles of your local supermarket. For those Dads who miss the old job, the feeling of accomplishment after a good day of work doing whatever it was you used to do, I have discovered the ultimate substitute. I've posted before about my shopping scheme, but that story was more about inventory control and menu variation than it was about saving money. Today it's straight cash homey.

I told Mandi yesterday that after looking through the weekly specials and my coupons, I felt like I could save a bunch of money. She didn't seem to think there were a lot of good deals this week . . what male wouldn't take that as a direct challenge? She had the day off today, so I talked her into letting me go to the store by myself while she stayed home with Lily. Actually, I had to agree to let her go spend a small fortune at Kohl's in return, so we'll call that a tie.

So as I finished my trip through the store, meticulously checking items off my list and counting my coupons, I surveyed the landscape to find what I thought would be the most unsuspecting cashier/bagger combo. That time of day was slim pickings, but the pair I decided on were prime targets. The forty-something cashier was half asleep and daydreaming out in front of the register when I approached, having surely just returned from her lunch break. The bagger, who, judging from her eagerness and fold-creased pants was in her second day on the job, actually bumped into the bag-stand she was in such a hurry to ask my preference of packaging material. As they were wrapping up my transaction they had to call the service manager to validate something. So with the three of them standing there and the 32" receipt printing out, the cashier does what they're asked to do, which is to circle the "total savings" near the bottom and then tell me how much it is. As she began to speak, she looked up at me and said "You saved uh . . A hundred and two sixty three!" All three of their jaws dropped just a little bit, the bagger's probably a little more than the other two, not because that's better than anyone ever does, but because they never expected it from a guy. In that moment I felt like I had won some sort of contest, one in which I was a huge underdog. As she handed me the receipt, mouth still agape, I smiled and gave her the subtlest of winks as I turned to leave. Few feelings rival what I felt in that moment . . it was a pure, one-sided ass kicking, and I was on the right end of it.

03 October 2007

Amazing Amanda

Last year around this time Avery was putting together her Christmas list. She's a pretty reasonable kid when it comes to the things she asks for, so when we examined the list and found the $80 Amazing Amanda doll at the top we felt obligated to get it for her. As a male, it is understood that I just don't get dolls, not to mention ones with such steep price tags. But it doesn't matter if I get it, it's what she wanted and that's what's important. Well, Mandi charged me with picking it up at Walmart while I was out shopping with Lily a few weeks before Christmas. I left it in my trunk until Christmas Eve to keep it hidden, and at around 10:00 as Santa was putting the finishing touches on his work I went out to retrieve it. That's when the roof caved in.

As I set the doll down near the end of the pile of presents, I heard Mandi gasp as though the tree was on fire ("It was an ugly tree anyway"). I turned to find her jaw on the floor, staring bewildered at what she saw. The next words from her mouth will live in Slovick family lore for a long, long time. "You got the black one", she said. "What do you mean? There's more than one?" I asked, realizing that I had pulled one of the all time biggest blunders in recent memory.
To make a long story short, we spent at least a month trying to track down the blond Amanda, all the while keeping Ave convinced that Santa must have just dropped off the wrong one. It ended up costing us an extra $20, but we finally got it right.

So why am I telling this story now? Yesterday Avery brought Amazing Amanda downstairs with a folded up set of toy instructions and asked me to figure out how to make her work. Aside from the first 4 days after we got the right doll, I promise you this is the first time she's picked it up, a whopping 8 months later! It turns out the instructions she had were to something else, so Amanda went back to the bottom of a pile somewhere. I've been assured that a much bigger portion of the Christmas shopping will be done by moi this year, and I can promise you that NO gift will go without a thorough double-checking prior to Christmas Eve this time.

02 October 2007

Miss Communication

I'm not usually an outright play on words guy . . most of my puns are very tongue in cheek and can usually be attributed to my being a complete dork. But this one is, if only slightly, more subtle and certainly more relevant to the adventurous nature of raising toddlers.

I find myself, as I'm sure all parents do, asking my toddler what she just said about 50 times a day. I'm sure it's about double that for my wife . . I'm with Lily all day every day now, so I'm the family translator on Mom's days off. The thing that doesn't cease to amaze me about Lily, though, is how often it occurs that I'm not asking "what'd you say?" because I didn't understand her, but because I just can't freaking believe how well she speaks. Seriously, I've met 5 and 6 year-olds who don't enunciate or express themselves as well as she does at 2 1/2. I know, I know, I'm partial because she's my baby girl. I will certainly not rule that out entirely . . I am definitely her biggest fan. But the thing is, I know kids parrot what they hear, and that is a big part of how they learn the language, but Lily uses almost every word she picks up correctly. The one big exception to that rule is her seeming inability to discern between things she wants and those she "needs". I'm working on that one, it drives Mommy and I equally crazy. That and the other toddler-favorite which she has her own twist on . . "I do my byself!"

Lily's latest verbal conquest is the word "actually", which she started using on Sunday afternoon. "Lily," I asked her today, "do you want to walk, or should I carry you?" "I want to walk. Actually, I run!" Just now I asked her if she wanted to watch Charlie Brown. "Yep. Actually, I want to dance to my song!" Our friends in Tallahassee will appreciate the fact that when she refers to "her song" she's talking about T-Pain's Buy U A Drank. The rest of you . . don't you judge me, it worked to get her to stop crying in the car one time, how was I to know she'd make it her anthem.

Which leads us back to my play on words. I've decided that my new nickname for Lil is Miss Communication, and I expect it to stick.

01 October 2007

Christmas In July

I know that phrase is usually reserved for department stores doing their semi-annual sale, but the holidays start so early at our house I wouldn't be surprised to hear Jingle Bells right after the Star Spangled Banner on Independence Day. Seriously, we had Halloween decorations up on September 23rd. I've heard the argument "those guys at the end of the street have theirs up too", but they were expecting a newborn baby last week. That guy gets a free pass for being ultra-early. At least now it's October and I can rest a little easier knowing it's the 'holiday month'.

Avery woke up this morning and begged me to wear the black shirt with the glitter pumpkin you see in the photo . . I knew that resistance was futile, she is after all her Mommy's daughter. So I played along, dressed Lily up in matching Halloween digs, and even put the appropriate Boo and Pumpkin hair accessories on for them. Ave completed the ensemble with her bright orange Spooky sweater and scurried off to the bus stop.

I'll let you all know when I hear the year's earliest Christmas song. Be sure to respond to my newest poll about your holiday decorating habits.