“Sun” Days

27 03 2007

You know how sometimes you get the day off from school, just because there’s too much snow and the roads are dangerous to drive on?  That makes a lot of sense, they don’t want school buses crashing or parents causing accidents picking their kids up from school.  I always loved snow days when I was a kid.  You got the day off, and on top of that you got to go sledding and snowball fighting.  There was nothing cooler.

Except I think I’ve got a better idea.

Why do we have to save up our vacation or personal time to take when the weather is lousy?  Why isn’t it acceptable for people to skip work on a nice day and go to the park instead?  You’re right, you’d get fired.  What we need is an organized system, and I think I’ve got it:

  • “Sun” days would be announced by the school district in the morning, just like snow days.
  • Everyone working in the school district would also get the day off on a “Sun” day.  This would encourage people to work in the town where they live.
  • “Sun” days would be reserved for days with clear skies and high temperatures between 70 and 82F  (that would be 21-27C for you metrics).
  • “Sun” days would not count against personal time or vacation days.
  • If a “Sun” day falls on a Friday and it’s supposed to be nice all weekend, Monday will be cancelled as well.  This will encourage people to take weekend trips with their families and will also stimulate the economy.
  • There will never be a “2-hour delay” due to Sun, however there may be early dismissals.  It’s always better to leave work early than go in late anyway.  Early dismissals could be announced using air raid alarms in the center of town.
  • There will be no less than two “Sun” days during each of the following months: April, May, September (go ahead and make one the first day of football season), and October.  There will also be one in March.
  • Every four years February 29 will be declared “Groundhog Season.”  Sorry, but the limit is 1 per household.  This will encourage families to hunt together. 

Think of going to the grocery store the night before a really nice day and finding that they’ve run out of chicken, steaks, charcoal, BBQ sauce, and beer instead of boring milk and bread like they do before snow days.

Perhaps I should start writing my posts before midnight. 

Wallpaper is evil

25 03 2007

I’m making slow progress on the dining room.  After about 12 hours of steaming the wallpaper is finally off, and on Saturday a very good friend with a lot of tools came by to help me put up the crown moulding.  I asked for his help because he has the tools, and he’s also quite a perfectionist.  It took longer than expected because I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, but I gotta admit it looks great.


This is why wallpaper is evil.  Tearing off the wallpaper did expose a crack in the wall behind it.  I think I can patch that.


I’ve now got the cold Karen had last weekend, so I suppose I’ll be bedridden tomorrow.  I’m such a pansy when I’m sick.  So I’m taking this opportunity to sponge off the last of the wallpaper glue so I can patch some holes, and finally get to painting.  That’s the fun part.  I’m also very good at it.  For those of you who don’t know about my last painting project, here’s a picture:


Yes, a full gallon of primer fell on the floor, upside down.  Karen had just said “You shouldn’t put the paint can on the rung of that stepladder.”  What does she know?

The field trip

22 03 2007

I really enjoy my Thursday mornings.  Jonathan is at preschool, and it’s really my only big block of time alone with Ben.  I like to go do things, but I also like to come home and veg with the boy.  Jonny also goes to preschool on Tuesdays, but Ben’s got physical therapy that morning at 9:15 and I’ve got to have the house clean; it’s not particularly relaxing.

So imagine my dismay when I realize last night (10:30pm) that Jonny’s preschool class has a field trip this morning.  At that point I have two options.  I could do the right thing and take the two of them to the old folks’ home, or I could use this as a sick day and pretend there is no preschool. 


Why do preschools go visit nursing homes anyway?  Is it to teach them, at that young age, “Hey, one day you’re going to put me in one of these, pick a good one!”

And another thing.  I don’t usually look at those monthly preschool newsletters as thoroughly as I should.  So what happens?  There’s Mark showing up at 9:07 or so (my usual arrival time) at the preschool door, only to have the teacher tell me “No, Mark, we’re meeting at 10:00 at (fill in the place here).”  So what they’ve started doing is telling me about the field trips the day before, to you know, “remind me.”  Except it’s usually the first I’m hearing of it.  They probably took bets last night on whether I’d forget again.

The first field trip of the year was to the pumpkin patch in October.  I still didn’t know anybody, certainly not by sight, except I could recognize one of the teachers.  I got to the pumpkin patch 1-2 minutes late, and found the group.  We went into the patch and they started passing out plastic bags to the kids for them to put their pumpkins in.  They are completely bypassing Jonathan, pretending he’s not there.  I think to myself, “This is odd.”  I also don’t recognize any of the names of the kids.  I looked up at one of the parents and asked, “I’m with the wrong group, huh?”  The answer was swift. “Yes, sir, your group is back there.”  oho.  Isn’t it nice to be around mommies that have it all together?


Look how great I can boil water!!

18 03 2007

See, I don’t ruin everything.  In fact, I’m very good at boiling water.  Here’s a picture of me boiling some potatoes, and I even peeled them!


See?  I can do two things.  Here are some things that I can totally do with boiling water:

  • make mashed potatoes
  • cook pasta
  • peel wallpaper
  • steam vegetables
  • make soup
  • steep tea
  • sterilize baby bottles
  • burn myself

Okay, I don’t do the last one on purpose, but I do burn myself on occasion, so I suppose it counts.  I did make dinner on Saturday and Karen liked it: 


Thanks Mario for the dinner and the wine.

Presents for Mark

15 03 2007

I’m hard to shop for.  I admit it.  Karen has a heck of a time finding birthday and Christmas presents for me.  And to make matters worse, I’m always home, so she can’t buy something online and keep it a secret.  So last week, when she found something online that was a good idea, she bought it so she could keep it until my birthday, or father’s day or whatever.  But then she made a mistake.

She told me it was coming.

Not exactly, she just said “Don’t open that box when it arrives.”  So naturally I assumed there was something for me in it.  Now I’m happy, and I spend all afternoon staring at the box, imagining what’s inside.  Not really, but when she finally came home from work she told me that it was for my birthday.  In six months.  Like I’m gonna let that go by.  Long story short, she looked on despondently while I ripped the box open, revealing a present that she was excited to give me – when the time came. 

It was a cookbook.

Well, not really, more like a theory of cooking book.  Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food.  It’s got lots of food science knowledge that I’ve been lacking.  Very cool.  Except, two things strike me when I think about this as a gift:

  • I no longer have an excuse to ruin dinner, and
  • Karen doesn’t like my cooking

Actually I think it’s a very nice gift and I’m very happy with it; I’m just sorry that Karen is now going to have to think of something else when the time comes, or just count this as my present when father’s day arrives.

Don’t laugh or your pizza will look like this too.

11 03 2007

I was excited about pizza night on Friday.  This time I started singing the Molto Mario music at about 3:00.  And for all you people looking for the theme music, I’ll find it I promise. 

Not content to ruin just one kind of pizza dough, I wanted to use a different recipe.  I found this one from my friend Mario.  Anybody that puts wine in the pizza dough is cool in my book.  I didn’t have the wine, though.  When a recipe calls for a specific wine from Italy, I probably shouldn’t use cooking wine from the grocery store.  So I brought out my Pizza Margherita recipe from before, and the results were about the same.  I used Mario’s pizza sauce though, and it was yummy.  To recap:

What I used:
Pizza Dough
Pizza Sauce

What I wanted to make:
Pizza, Mario style

 What I made:



Let’s get a good discussion going.  What states do these pizza outlines look like?  And here’s a map to get you started.  And why are pizzas supposed to be round anyway?

If you’re interested in what went wrong, keep reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

Karen only likes spicy food

8 03 2007

Okay, the title is a bit unfair.  I should say she prefers spicy food.  I just rarely make spicy food.   Who knows, if I were to start making Indian or Caribbean cuisine, I may ruin them to the point that she stops liking spicy food.  No, I think it’s best if Karen handles the exotic cooking in our house.  Anyway, this week I made Chicken Marsala.

I’ve made this recipe once before and we liked it, so I kept it.  It’s from Emeril, who is the first person you think of when you hear Italian cooking, especially on the Food Network. 


I like any recipe that calls for three cups of mushrooms.  Emeril says to slice them, but I like them halved instead:


It’s a lot faster and I just like them better like that anyway.  Here’s the chicken cooking in the sauce:


I like this method of cooking chicken breasts; they don’t dry out.  It’s impossible to ruin, right?  Maybe, if your pasta is done on time.  Now let’s talk about my brand new stock and pasta pot, with the included colander.  Big pot plus lots of water plus ceramic cooktop equals 45 minutes with no boiling water.  Ugh.  To use this pot I’m going to need a gas range.  I had to kill the heat on my chicken and cover it to keep it from being ruined.   The recipe said to “boil until thickened.”  Well, dude it was plenty thick.  Here’s a picture of my water not boiling:


The chicken turned out moist and the sauce was (I thought) kind of nice, although Karen thought it tasted bitter.  All in all I liked it, it was nice and shroomy, but Karen was apparently in the mood for something spicy.  She’s been like that a lot lately.  Perhaps I need to go get a pregnancy test.  Or she may be just missing Trinidad a little more thanks to all this snow.  Next week maybe I’ll make my chilli.

The recipe with my modifications follows

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m #1 for Trinidad cooking

7 03 2007

I’ve seen some blogs where they list interesting search strings that bring people to their site from google or yahoo or somewhere else.  Some of those are very entertaining, and it makes me think that my blog must be kind of boring.  But yesterday I got my first hits from people looking for doubles recipes.  And when I went to Google to investigate I found out some interesting things.  Here are some search strings that I’ve noticed, followed by my ranking on Google for them:

The top 10 returns are on the first page.

“How to make Trinidad food”  – #1
“How to ruin a dinner”  – #6
“Farting shampoo bottle”  – #2
“Invisible pizza”  – #10
“How do you get the burned taste out of soup”  – #3
“Farting daddy”  – #3
“Gordon Ramsay rabbit recipe”  – #2
“Mario Batali pizza peel”  – #7
“Invisible string”  – #8
“Bara recipe for doubles”  – #8
“Invisible string trick”  – #5
“Bara for doubles”  – #13

I included two variations on “invisible string” because I get more hits from that search string and its variations by far.

Karen is offended that I am the #1 google hit for “how to make Trinidad food” since I’m not from Trinidad and I’ve only made one Trini dish, and even that I’ve only made once.  Maybe if she posted about making channa and potato roti, or perhaps how to caramelize brown sugar to make Trini stewed chicken she’d be #1.

I’m making pizza this Friday again.  Let’s see what state I can make it look like this time.

What’s next, more poached flounder?

5 03 2007

Okay, so maybe I’m not as fast a learner as I should be.  What’s rule #1 of home renovation?  It should be “Don’t tear off wallpaper unless you are fully prepared to re-hang drywall.”  Case in point:  When we bought our current house, the living room walls looked like this:


Fine, we’ll just paint and it will all be fine, right?  Wrong.  Underneath, the walls looked like this:


Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t see what’s really there?  Look closer:


Two rooms worth of new drywall and $1700 later we had a lovely living room that didn’t make our eyes hurt.  Lesson learned?  Perhaps not.  Here we are, two and a half years later, and I decided to tackle our dining room, shown here the day we moved in:


Now this makes my eyes hurt every day.  Who would purpose to make a room this dark?  We’ve got well over 200 watts of light bulbs in this room and we still can’t see our dinner.  I decide we’re going to paint this room to brighten it up a bit.  Okay, a lot.  Except there’s one problem.  There’s some sort of industrial adhesive holding the wallpaper to the wall.  It’s like the house is clinging to it, relying on the wallpaper for structural integrity.  And then I get this dose of bad news.  Wall #1 is finally free of wallpaper, so I start on wall #2.  Except this wall is not sheetrock.  I don’t even know what material it is, it feels like cardboard.  It’s some sort of wallboard made from a paper based material.  Boy does this thing soak up the steam.  I’m doing my best, people, but this house has it in for me.  And I know for a fact that two of these walls are plaster, so that’s going to be even more fun.  One room, three different wall materials, that’s going to look great, isn’t it?  If there’s butt-ugly wallpaper on the walls, there’s probably a reason nobody took it down.

The Missin’ Rhoda Blues

1 03 2007

A song for my brother in law’s girlfriend.  They came for a visit during Christmas, and over three weeks she played with Jonathan nonstop. 


Now, a month and a half later, I still can’t even drink my coffee in the morning without being dragged upstairs to facilitate some elaborate make believe play time, and he makes me do all the work.  For you, Rhoda:

I told her “Don’t leave me,” but Rhoda, she couldn’t stay.
“I can’t live without you.” but the plane just took her away.
I call her at night and say “Please, Rhoda, come back today.”

Auntie Rhoda’s gone, and now Jonny won’t leave me alone.
She played with him so much, and I begged her “Don’t go home.”
I can’t even drink my coffee, can’t even sit on my throne. 

That Rhoda she left me, she left me high and dry,
She got on that plane and left, and with tears I said goodbye.
Please come on back Rhoda, I need some babysitting tonight.

I’m hiding in my bedroom, then I’m hiding in the tub,
I’m hiding in the basement, and then I hear “Daddy, come wipe my bum!”
That Rhoda she left me, she left me high and dry,
Please come on back Rhoda, I need some babysitting tonight.

It would sound a lot better with BB King on vocals.  Imagine him singing it.  Jonathan says hello: