Snapshot 01.21.15

20 Jan

–Man, what a fantastic week! Just kidding! It was shitty! I spent one of those days cleaning projectile cough-barf off my clothes, and while I was otherwise occupied, Isobel let Elias into the pantry where he managed to pull a heavy vintage glass bottle containing vitamins down off a shelf, where it landed on a giant wine bottle, unleashing a tidal wave of shattered glass particles and Pinot Grigio. Thank the sweet babby Picard Jesus no one was hurt, but after whisking the kids away and sequestering them to Isobel’s room, I spent an hour sweeping, wiping, and mopping the floor to make sure it was baby-safe again. And then my phone got stolen.

–Isobel has been jonesing for a Bat Utility belt for awhile and nearly smothered me with requests for one after I was able to create a wardrobe for Twinkle. I told no guarantees, that I would try, and that Saturday morning we should hit up a thrift store for a belt to start with. It was another girls’ trip, just me and Isobel, having fun and getting our thrift on. They happened to have a killer selection of books in the kids’ section, and she and I wedged ourselves into a corner to investigate. It was a Saturday morning and the store was packed with people, as it usually is at this time, and two boys were also trying to browse the kids’ shelves at the same time we were. I kept saying to Isobel, “Scoot in closer, honey, these boys need some room to look, too.” They crowded in close. I was trying to check out books and answer Isobel’s many questions when I paused to take a photo of a hilarious headless giraffe on a sign that said FUN ZONE! Isobel had chosen that moment to start piling books in our basket willy-nilly, and I must have set my phone down when I asked her to stop and help me put them back on the shelf. A minute or two later, I realized my phone was gone, and the boys I had I tried to be friendly to are the most likely suspects.

–Isobel was dressed in her full-batgirl gear at the time (black gloves, black mask, pink-and-black cape, super hero girl t-shirt) and decided that she would not stand for her mother’s phone to be stolen. Not on her watch. She was batgirl, and she was going to get the bad guys who did this, right after she called Kingston for backup. In the car on the way home it cheered me up slightly to hear her say, “Superheroes aren’t real, Mama, but some kids are brave, and they need to fight.”

–Without a phone I’m doing everything like an Amish person: pooping, waiting in line, checking my FB messages on my desktop. I’m having severe withdrawals. Along with some precious photos and videos of my children, I’m also losing a photo I took of a game of Bananagrams in which I successfully played both “Poo” and “Pee.”

–(I for real cried about the kid videos and photos though.)

–My Crohn’s disease has been hitting me hard with its most insidious weapon, extreme fatigue. The last two or three months have been so especially bad that I get exhausted to the point of tears at the thought of doing regular day-to-day activities. This is one of the more stealthy symptoms, as it doesn’t immediately grab your attention like the severe pain or the inability to eat does. It sneaks up on you and quietly steals your quality of life. I’m trying to boost my iron and vitamin D intake to see if that helps, because I’m not sure when I’ll be able to next see a specialist with this insurance. I’m also trying to keep a strict, very early bedtime. I’m hoping that helps. I’m already treating the disease as aggressively as I can. Taking immuno-suppressant drugs for your Crohn’s disease is the ultimate Quit Hitting Yourself.

–The good news is my glasses came in an they are FABULOUS.

–Elias is babbling constantly, and he’s quite good at clicking his tongue, something that took me years to master. He is going to be a natural at click consonant languages!

–I used to sob and sob because I missed nursing Elias so badly. (Antibiotics, hives, and steroids made it impossible to continue.) Right now I have a prominent scab on my cheek where he bit me and drew blood. I think about that happening to my nipple, and I am less sad.

–Remember how I was complaining about having to ask Isobel to not crumble crackers in her brother’s hair? Turns out she kept doing it because she wanted to make him “fashionable.” If having crumbs all over you makes you fashionable, I should have gone to Paris and taken over the fashion world long ago.

–“Sometimes I make stuff and I don’t even know what it is.” –Isobel, on crafting.

Little Big Collection: Vintage Trays.

Follow Friday: Garden, with Cat. Photos from the garden, each with cat. Plus hilarious tweets!

Links for Valentine’s Day.

Snapshot 01.14.15. Of course I gave her as much as she wanted, because, bitch, peas.

Video Games with Kingston. Best day of Elias’ life, obvs.

Little Big Collection: Vintage Plastic Cups and Mugs. Nigh near unbreakable.

Follow Friday: Zoo Nature. We ain’t nothing but mammals. Have some hilarious tweets.

Mom, no!

Soup tattoo?

LEGO Movie director makes his own LEGO Oscar after being snubbed in Best Animated Feature category nominations. Via 

Pikacthulhu. Via internet buddy  

D&D Stats Explained with Tomatoes.

How to Even, for Dummies.

Guilt Cakes. “When a circulation page leaves, I give them a cake that expresses my feelings.” Via and created by my twitter wife, Kristin.

‘In Dog We Trust’ mistakenly printed on Florida sheriff’s rug.

Use laser vision to destroy the baby. Do not allow the baby to manipulate you into using laser vision on others.

Wow, SYPHILLIS! Both of them! That’s unfortunate.

Before The Internet, Librarians Would ‘Answer Everything’ — And Still Do. Via nypl

Whoa, buddy. I’m just here for some ice cream.

Nothing to see here. Just a log, breakdancing.

Authorities suspect a shark tried to eat Vietnam’s Internet.

My masterpiece is framed at last! Cross-stitch greatness.

Goodbye, bank account. That Totoro backpack, tho. Via 

Map: Literally Every Goat in the United States. This map is Very Important and was sent to me via dear friend, Jenna, who gets me. It’s like Dr X using Cerebro, but to find goats.

Men with Unicorn Hair. Via 

A truly incredible bookmark has just been brought to our attention.

Handcuffed teen saves cop’s life.

STEM is incredibly valuable, but if we want the best innovators we must teach the arts. I feel like some people see division where there is none. We need both halves of our brain’s hemispheres. We need both types of education.

If Mitt’s seriously considering another run in 2016 this is gonna haunt him.

Why is reading diversely important? Is it racist to pay attention to an author’s race? Reading Diversely FAQ #1

Hey McDonalds i ordered a sundae but instead you gave me the souls of the damned, did i have to pay extra for this

5 Blithe Retorts That Made Dowager Hearst Exclaim ‘Heavens Me!’ At Lord Pickley’s Winter Ball. I’m pretty sure Clickhole was created just for me.

Shadows cast by Curiosity rover on Mars look strangely like MST3K.

button bar banner time machine

Reuse Roundup: Toy Storage (The Saga Never Ends). Our ever-evolving, thrifted toy storage solutions.

Snapshot 01.30.13. Come the apocalypse I’ll be eating pickle relish with a spoon and laughing like a maniac, partly because I’m glad I saved so much relish and partly because my mood stabilizer will be long gone.

Recipe: Candied Bacon Popcorn. I want to eat this right now.

Thrifty Crafting: DIY Border Paper Crown. Still kicking, years later, has outlived five or six plastic tiaras.

Scrapbook: Anthony’s Birthday. Some of my favorite Anthony photos & adventures.

Follow Friday: City by the Bay. Photos of the city and the most hilarious tweets.

Recipe: Roast Fingerling Potato Nachos. These are some fancy potatoes.

Recipe: Quick-and-Dirty Unglamorous Chili

20 Jan

There are some things you can feasibly brag about with a dish like chili. “I cooked it all from scratch using heirloom organic beans,” or “I fire-roasted my jalapenos over a hot charcoal grill,” or even “I cooked the meat until fork-tender for over eight hours.” You could be proud of a chili like that.

This isn’t that kind of chili.

You aren’t going to be winning the admiration of slow food devotees or the respect from culinary snobs. At the end of the day, when you visit the pantheon of chili, this one will be among the least prestigious. But that doesn’t matter because it’s fucking delicious.

In my mind I tend to refer to this as “pantry chili” but I wanted to give it a different name here to drive home the point that this is quick-and-dirty chili. You don’t have to start with dried beans from your pantry when canned will do. You don’t have to have a ton of fresh vegetables on hand when this requires just a few. It doesn’t take all day to make (though it certainly gets better with time.) You have have the solace of a bowl of warm comfort food in about a half hour. Quick and dirty.

I don’t always make my chili this way, and it is wonderful to make chili from scratch with dried beans and long-simmered meat, no doubt about it, but there are times when quick-and-dirty is essential. I don’t think I would have made it through my second pregnancy without it, as I fed it to the family at least once a week. It didn’t require much in the way of time on my feet or a fully-stocked fridge. I often made this before a trip to the grocery store. When I was pregnant and making this frequently, 30 minutes was the upper limit of what I could stand.What makes this chili special is salsa, and for the best flavor I like to use two: jarred restaurant-style and a fresher, ready-made pico de gallo version that I find at the grocery store. I sometimes fancy it up with roasted poblano peppers that come from the freezer, or bell pepper and green onion from the garden. This chili is endlessly adaptable and builds layers of flavor through the salsas and the fresh ingredients. Sometimes I add frozen corn for sweetness, because Isobel loves that, or I’ll brighten it up with a mist of lime juice. It depends on what I have on hand, which is the whole point. Ground beef, also optional, cooks quickly and ensures dinner is on the table in roughly 30 minutes.


Strict measuring and precise ingredients are antithetical to the whole premise of Q&D Unglamorous Chili. I’ve made this with a full tub of salsa, a partially used one, some fresh tomato, no fresh bell pepper, mild heat, no heat, and scorching heat. It’s all good. This is not the sort of dish to stress over. Trust, follow the basic outline, adding and deleting as necessary, and trust it will be good, because it so will.

  • one-ish pound ground beef, I don’t like the extra lean, nor do I use the fattiest–shoot for the middle
  • one large onion, diced
  • three cloves of garlic, minced
  • one medium bell pepper, diced
  • three green onions, sliced
  • one can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • one can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • one 8oz (or thereabouts) tub of fresh pico de gallo salsa
  • one 8oz (or thereabouts) jar of blended salsa (any kind except fruit)
  • dried spices such as cumin, dried basil, coriander, red pepper flakes, ancho or arbol chili powder, etc
  • olive oil for the pan
  • cheese, if desired
  • sour cream, if desired


–Spread the oil about the pan, I probably use about two tablespoons’ worth, and turn your heat to medium. When it’s all warmed up, add your onions and cook until they start to soften, about three to five minutes.

–Add the ground beef and brown for five minutes, stirring frequently.

–Add in your bell pepper, garlic, and white and light green parts of the green onions. Sprinkle in your seasonings and cook for another three minutes.

–Add your two types of salsa and your drained and rinsed beans. Add extras such as cooked or uncooked peppers like jalapeno, serrano, or poblano, or frozen corn.

–Simmer for 20-3o minutes and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve with cilantro, queso fresco, and lime, or sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onion tops–or, really, any combination of the above. Freeze leftovers for even quicker, dirtier chili next time.

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