Friday, July 30, 2010

how to make yummy susan cookies

I have a cousin named Susan but these are not her cookies.

I'm not sure I know any other Susan's.

But maybe I do and I call them Sue.

Let me think.........

Nope. Don't think I know any other Susan's or Sue's.

But I made these cookies anyway and they are absolutely delicious.

Melt-in-your-mouth delicious and perfect with a tall glass of ice-cold milk.

You should make them too. Because of the deliciousness.

You will thank me.

Yummy Susan Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Using a stand mixer: Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly. Blend in flour. Shape a teaspoon of dough into a ball and put on a cookie sheet. Flatten ball a little bit with your thumb. Bake in 375-degree oven 8-10 minutes, until cookies look dry but NOT brown. Let them cool thoroughly and then frost with a dollup of chocolate icing.

For chocolate icing: combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. For the smoothest icing, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together into a bowl.
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Moving quickly, put icing in a piping bag while it's still warm (I use a plastic disposable one with the tip just snipped off) and then pipe a little swirl of icing on each cookie.


* Just a note: when I made the cookies for these photos, I made them bigger than I normally would. They were still delicious, but next time I'm going to stick with the 1-teaspoon size because they are perfectly bite-sized that way.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

musing on a thursday morning

Sometimes I feel like I invaded this life I live - a life that couldn't possibly be mine. A two-year-old child, a home in a somewhat suburban northish area outside of Seattle, a husband, friends who bring me Valentine's Day cookies, and notes waiting in my in-box. All of this just couldn't possibly belong to me.

I am still the girl living in a too-tall apartment next to The Burrough. This girl lives in a dreamworld but occupies a ghost's space riding the bus to her job in downtown Seattle. She eats dinner in front of the television or sitting at an empty kitchen table reading a book. She ascends steep stairs to the third story each evening, climbs into a white-sheeted bed, whispers goodnight to her cats and sleeps. In her dreams she wanders long gray landscapes. She scans the indistinct horizon for familiar silouhettes that never surface, only the gray-green mist against silver hilltops, her steps soft on grass. She wakes in the dark, blinking eyelashes against the gathering memories. She feels a deep sense of gnawing loss that can't be fed. These small stretches of dreaming sleep are punctuated by this, the waking and wondering and feeling as though she should burst from her bed and scour the dark for the lost piece. In the morning, the dreams are mostly forgotten.

Just like in the mornings of these days now that I spend with Bean and Chip, the memory of my life before is gauzy and vague, a feeling of something hovering off in the distance.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

to be filed under weird things I've done because I am terrified of stinging insects

In this case it is the 40-something wasps busily constructing a nest in the eaves outside my studio window.

The story goes like this: we have an elaborate cooling system at our house. This might be a bit too tricky, but it's called "keep-one-window-open-downstairs-and-another-window-open-upstairs-with-a-fan-blowing-out-of-it". Crazy and outlandish, I know. But it works. It pulls the cool air in and pushes the hot air out. Simple and effective. Except for when Chip is out of town--- and when he's gone, which is every week, I don't feel comfortable keeping the downstairs window open all night. Which is a mighty cramp for our high tech home cooling system.

My fancy work around for closing the downstairs window Monday night was to open the window in my studio, which is the room next to Bean's. Still providing the necessary air cooling system for the house. BUT all was put to a huge stop when Bean and I were hanging out on the lawn Monday afternoon. I looked up at the house and spied a creeping crawling nasty mass of wasps doing their nasty horrid wasp-nest building thing RIGHT OVER MY STUDIO WINDOW. I was so horrified that I immediately whisked Bean up into my arms and ran straight back into the house, locked the doors and windows, and did everything but stuff the crevices with towels and newspapers--- anything to make sure that no stinging wasp creature could wiggle its way into the house and MAKE US PAY, PAY FOR EVERYTHING.

(It's possible that I have some fairly elaborate theories about the evilness of wasps and any other members of their stinging coven. But most especially the wasps. What kind of sick joke is it that a wasp can sting and sting and STING someone without suffering a truly deserved death? At least with bees they pay the ultimate price for their offense--- but a wasp? A wasp can just sting you for kicks. And that's just so very wrong. I sort of envision the entire wasp family as this angry dysfunctional sociopathic mob family and they roam the countryside looking for unsuspecting people to MAKE THEM PAY, PAY FOR EVERYTHING.)

Obviously I didn't open the studio window Monday night. I was too worried that the wasps might burrow through the screen or bring their tiny tiny wire cutters to break through the screen and then sting me and the cats and Bean in our sleep and MAKE US PAY, PAY FOR EVERYTHING. And then they'd break our knee caps.

Instead, I suffered. Well, Bean and I suffered. We took turns. She was too hot in her room, resulting in several wake-ups before midnight. By then I was so stressed out and weirded out about regulating the temperature that I couldn't stay asleep longer than 50 minutes. I'm not kidding, and I know for sure because every time I woke up I looked at the clock. First I was worried that it was too hot in her room--- during one of her wake-ups I changed her into cooler jammies (shorts and a t-shirt). Then I was afraid that I'd keep the fans on in her room too high and she'd actually get cold and wake up. Then I was waking up (every 50 minutes) to check on the temp and try to do something to regulate it. Too hot: turn the fans up. Too cool: turn the fans down. Too hot, too cool, too hot, too cool. 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am... and then Bean was up for the day at 6.

I vowed that Tuesday night would be different.

So I went to work on the window screen in the studio. Taped up the edges with masking tape --- the edges where the screen meets the window and any other possible crevicey type area except for the screen itself. I worked quickly, quietly, and oh so freakishly--- flinching and shuddering every time one of those evil flying buggers made a pass by the window. In most cases I would quickly slam the window shut lest one of the wasps decide to invade the house and MAKE ME PAY, PAY FOR EVERYTHING.

And this is why you love me: neurotic, weird, and all too willing to tell you about it. Are you afraid of bees and wasps and anything with a pointy stinger?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Goodness almighty on a piece of toast but I feel like I've been hiding or buried or sitting in a cave for weeks and weeks, all disconnected and inarticulate and mumbling nonsense while the whole world spins on. The other day I glanced down at Bean's fingernails (ones that I could swear I just clipped a few days prior) and they were like eagle talons for all their length and breadth. Life outside my head right now is like that: could've sworn I just checked on y'all a few days ago and now what heck is UP with you guys? It's like you have LIVES or something.

(And this is where we dismiss the fact that I just likened your sweet selves to FINGERNAILS. Uck and ugh.)

Anyway and moving on.

I've been on an obsessive food kick. I want to cook and bake and buy unusual ingredients. I blame my intense watching of Food Network. It happens to be one of my favorite things--- from shee-shee fancy Ina Garten to the quirky weird science-behind-food Alton Brown. Love it all. And the best part is the Bean enjoys watching it with me. She likes to ask what they're doing on screen (my creative answer is almost always They're cooking, baby!).

Part of the food kick includes searching for recipes for some fairly inscrutable items. Like a susan cookie recipe to replicate the ones you buy at Safeway. (And oh if you've never sampled them, think dense and buttery, the near-consistency of fudge, I'm not kidding, but not chocolate fudge-- it's like VANILLA FUDGE base as a cookie, with a dollop of rich chocolate on top. I'll post the recipe sometime soon, promise.

Another food obsession: pancakes. Oh sweet fluffy goodness of pancakes. I like to whip up a batch in the morning and freeze the rest. So far we've had a few versions of classic pancakes, and some with buttermilk. But I'm dying to try this brown sugar version (can you IMAGINE?), without the syrup (we eat our pancakes plain or with powdered sugar). And I stumbled on a recipe for strawberry vanilla pancakes that we are sooooo having soon. Reports to follow on all of the pancake madness.

Which brings me to peaches. We still have some that I froze in the late months last summer fresh from Yakima, Washington (if you're not familiar, imagine the fruit basket capital of the Pacific Northwest and you've got Yakima). Chip brought home a whole flat of them fresh from the grower and what we couldn't just eat whole from our hands (faces slick and sticky afterward), I put into pie. And what I didn't put into pie, I froze to eat sometime later. I am thinking that I can use those peaches for some pancakes. And also these cookies--- we'll see how they come out using fresh instead of dried. But there's one last thing that I can't seem to get out of my little food obsessed brain and I desperately need your help and your sympathy, because what I want to eat, in ginormous heaping steaming spoonfuls----

is this. It doesn't get much more brown bag and jello than using a yellow cake mix and a can of peaches to make a 'cobbler'. And I say it as 'cobbler' because if you've had the yellow-cake-mix-peach concoction you know that it doesn't really taste anything like actual cobbler. Which is fine, because I LOVE the weird buttery/sweet/yellow-cake-mix-flavor of the peach NOTcobbler. Love it. It is synonymous with warm summer nights and skies spread with stars. Delicious. Now I know how to make the NOTcobbler. But what I want to do, and what I need your help to do is create the NOTcobbler as cupcakes. Bite-sized and mouth-poppable cupcakes. Peachy creamy gooey cupcakes. I've thought about just sort of dividing the directions and ingredients between twelve cupcake papers, but I'm not sure how it would work exactly. I'm going to give it a shot, but if you have any words of wisdom or warning, let me know.

More random foodiness:

--homemade waffle cones without owning a waffle cone maker. I have no idea how, but I keep thinking about it.

--homemade chicken nuggets. I've amassed a few different recipes to try.

--homemade fish sticks. Bean is allergic to all seafood except for cod and salmon. But the child loves carbohydrate-encrusted meat (see above re: chicken nuggets). I want to try to make some fish sticks but must do so with 100% cod and with Chip at least 100 miles away, because the mere thought of me rustling up anything seafood related within our four walls sends him into a lurching tizzy. Not a fish fan, is the Chip.

--finding a recipe to make homemade animal crackers as close to the ones you buy in the little red barnum n bailey box as possible. It's such an iconic taste, with a smidge of grahaminess and sweet cookie flavor with an ever so slight touch of lemon. The next time you eat one, think about the exact taste and you'll know what I mean. You'll also know that no one has written a recipe for making them.

I could go on, but my stomach is growling.

Monday, July 26, 2010

because I love you

I lash out at the ones I love best, show them my worst face, don't hide the outbursts.

I think I lie in wait for such moments when the loved one is near, when he is on the phone and having a bad day, snappish.

It's like a tiger inside of me that's ready to spring.

Listening to his tone, I know he's trying to hold it together, trying to give me the best parts of him.

But I push. It's not enough.

It never is.

And then I roar. Strike with claws. Leave him shredded and bloody.

There is no patience for him.

No loving breath or held tongue.

No fence that keeps me away from his pink underbelly.

I've never understood the phrase about hurting the ones you love. I know it's true, because unquestionably that's what we do. But I don't know why we work so hard being polite and pleasant to a stranger: the gas station attendant, the mechanic, the bank teller; and we spit poison in the tender faces of our closest loves.

Tell me truly: any theories about bad behavior and loved ones? Any horror stories you care to share?

Friday, July 23, 2010

three words to strike fear in the heart of every parent

Two year molars.

All four at the same time.

(pray for us sinners)

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, July 22, 2010

update cheese... or something

It works like this: something pushes against the grain of my life, leaks out through the seams and has me grappling with meaning and stress. So I talk about it. Sometimes a lot. And then as hours and days pass it just settles into the warp and weave--- sometimes so quietly that I don't even notice. Which is really stupid, when you think about the anxiety and worry that I have just previously poured into the entrance of The Problem in my life. And just like that, I don't talk about it. At all.

Which has got to be irritating for those of you sweet enough to, like, CARE about me and stuff.

The thing is... sometimes the updatery of a situation is so tedious I just want to forget about it altogether. That, or I know that there is no way I can present the update in a creative way. Whether you wrap cheese in plain brown paper or something terribly snazzy, it's just cheese. (Does that make any sense at all? I'm not sure it does, and it doesn't matter anyway.)

So, er... here's the cheese, I mean UPDATE, for any and all interested parties, about some of the stuff that's been occupying the pages of The Creamery.

For our resident pacifist:

I just went up and cold turkey and told Bean that the pacis would be for sleepytimes for now and forever more amen. And the Massive Freakout Meltdown Panic Attack with the kicking and the screaming and the rending of garments (that's what they do, right? Rend their garments?)... it just... didn't happen. !!!! ...don't get me wrong, there have been moments when Bean sort of SNAPPED and LOST IT and DEMANDED that I give her a paci, but on the whole it's been a non-issue. When she wakes up from her nap, and before I even get her out of her crib, I bring a little bowl over and have her put the pacis inside (yes, she goes to bed not with one, but TWO of them). And then we do the whole thing over again when she wakes up in the morning. In some ways, I am hoping that this foretells how it's going to be to get rid of them altogether. When that time comes (which I'm not pushing... I'm happy with her having it for sleep). And in other ways, the part of me that is somewhat devious and evil, the part of me that doesn't want people crowing over AND YOU WERE SO WORRIED AND SO FREAKED OUT BLAH BLAH BLAH--- I am hoping for a Royal Deathly Freakout of Fire. Because I like to know that I can anticipate my child. And also because I like to be right. But, you know, it's a really small part of me that hopes for that.

About the running and the exercise:

For the non-skimmers among you, you know that I was put on a strict NO MOVEMENT WHATSOEVER edict in June and I (again, here it is) freaked out. I will defend my freak out with the following: I had worked really really really (should I add another really) hard for months on establishing a new routine for myself. A routine for giving my body some attention, for feeling good about myself and my choices. And I was seeing all these great results, you know? I felt better and I moved better and I just started to feel like a Revived Whimsy. And a Revived Whimsy is a Happy Whimsy. So to have it just yanked out from under me because I had done something royally wrong to my neck? It wasn't just a universal NO, it was a door slamming on my nose and I was left on the doorstep all pathetic and whimpery. But I continued to do somewhat regular treadmill walks--- nothing like I had been doing, but I wanted (and still do want, of course) to get healthy and stay that way, which sort of requires a working neck. I had a couple of weeks there where I did some serious I'm-bored-and-depressed-and-there's-no-one-around-to-stop-me-from-eating-four-brownies-in-a-row eating. And then I just... snapped out of it. I'm trying to walk every day now and my physical therapist gave me the green light to start running in 30-second increments--- which let's be honest feels ridiculous, but then again, at least it's something. And I'm happy with that. I can't tell you this is the Big Lesson Learned, but there is at least a little one that I've gleaned, and it's this: You can't always do as much as you'd like, but do what you can and then enjoy it. And sometimes that little bit you can do is even enough.

Which brings us to THE GREAT NECK INJURY OF 2010:

Well, like anything and everything in my life, my neck is a work in progress. And I'm totally okay with that too. It turns out that it was this whole stabilizer neck muscle mess (totally the technical term)--- so the only thing to do is to get strong strong strong. And I can do that. I try to pace myself these days on anything I do, but I am thankfully back to doing dishes and laundry and other housery things. Which is really good. I'm also not so much a sitting-in-one-place-for-long-periods-of-time person anymore. So if you see me in real life, you'll notice that I shift and stand and move and stretch. A lot. And (say it with me) I'm okay with that.

So that was it, my fabulous Thursday Update Cheese. What do you have? I'd love to know what's going on in your life right now, what you're doing and what you think about it all.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to break the news to your physical therapist that you sort of feel like, um, I don't want to come back because I'd rather do these exercises at home and not have to pay someone hundreds of dollars to tell me that my neck needs to get really strong but I'm good to go and thank you you've been great? I'd love to hear your suggestions, because I'm not so much a Break Up kind of girl. I'd rather just not call... ever again... and I know that's bad form in the dating world and I'll just go out on a limb and say that maybe it isn't such a good practice in the medical world either.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

picture a summertime

I think that pictures of summertime should be this: all legs and pigtails and backs of necks as they stream past.

I think that the pictures of summertime are blurry for a reason: there is no time to stop for catching a breath or saying cheese.

I think that the pictures of summertime are lit with a specific yellow light: the yellow of lemons and noontime sun and daisy centers.

I think that the pictures of summertime come too few and far between, and the handful that we're left with at the end of the season stand as precious little reminders of what we have waiting for us in the next July.

Monday, July 19, 2010

more rules and theories

I have a theory that all bad food experiments involve a can of tuna.

I have a theory that it is always 8 degrees hotter at the zoo than anywhere else on the planet.

I have a rule to not call anyone after 9pm unless it is a dire-and-extreme emergency. 8pm is the yellow zone.

I have a rule that the height of pigtails on the side of your head should be in direct relation to your age --- and the use of pigtails should cease and desist somewhere around 42. In other words: it's okay for babies to wear wee little piggies right on top of their adorable craniums, Bean wears hers right up high on her noggin, and I wear mine low down by my shoulders and will continue to do so until I reach the cut off age.

I have a rule that if your hair is long and starts getting all separated and pointy at the ends (visualize a sawtooth effect running along someone's back - I call it pointy hair and you can thank me later for that particular addition to your vocabulary), you should RUN not walk to the nearest hair stylist personage and GET IT CUT.

Tell me some of your theories and rules.

Friday, July 16, 2010

names for things

...yep, the beebo is still there

She says GOPEN for open.

RAISIN BROWN for Raisin Bran.

DIMEYSORE for dinasour.

TISS for kiss.

SANK YOU for thank you.

She had Corn Pops cereal for the first time when we were in Idaho in May and she called them IPops (you can guess why, seeing as how she covets my IPod for her very own).

SOPPIES for spots.

MEDISANIN for medicine.

COPPYCAKE for cupcake.

EAR GO for here ya go.

FLIP SHOPS for flip flops.

GROVERF for Grover.
She loves to correct me when I say "earth" - she insists it is EARF. There's a song I sing to her, and one of the lines is about earth, and each time, no matter how sleepy or tuned out she is, when I sing that word I hear her very meticulous correction, "EARF, Mommy. EARFFF!"
BAP-PAP is for backpack.
There are so many others, so many that I'm not capturing here but I wish I could. I have saved this list and added to it for weeks now, hoping to put down her little eccentricities. To paste them here to the page like a locket of her silky hair. It's silly, really, this desire to hold so tightly to something she does for this minute (and maybe this minute only), hoping that I will always remember the sound of her lisp and the way she gets so excited sometimes she can't help but spray a shower of spittle onto my cheek as she's crowing over something she found or helped me with (I ELP YOU, MOMMY! I ELP YOU! and YOOK! I FOUND THE REMOTE, MOMMY! I FOUND HIM!).
I know that these days of being two are numbered for her, and for me. She exasperates me more often than she should, my nerves fried and frayed. There are so many names for the moods she has, mercurial by seconds on the clock. There are so many names for things she's learning as those seconds click by, and so many names I miss when I'm too busy or too tired or too engaged in something I'm going to forget tomorrow.
For today, I will post this list of names and share them with her when she has moved on to naming other vistas without me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


My earliest memory has me standing in my parents' bedroom holding my white flannel bankie. I am leaning up against the black valet chair, the one my dad would sit in as he shined his shoes. I loved watching him do this ritual, reaching into the compartment in the seat where he kept all the shoe polish. The smell of the astringent polish, little bits of black getting on Dad's fingers as he worked. In this memory I am holding bankie and searching frantically for my pacifier--- an orangey rubber affair with a giant round handle on the end.

As the memory fades to an end, my thoughts of Bean roar into my mind's eye---- her Security Trifecta of Bo the Lovey (bankie), a stuffed buddy, and the ever-present paci. There isn't a question where she got this from, seeing as how Chip has no such memories of blankets and pacifiers (he was a thumb sucker).

I relate to Bean's love for these objects--- I get it. I understand that need to take a piece of comfort in your hands. I understand how encompassing a blanket can be, a friend to wrap around you when you're cold or sad or lonely or worried. I understand the way you can create an entire world of sweetness by putting the blanket on your head, surrounding yourself with the smell of home. I understand how its soft folds become softer the more you hold it in your hands and rub a corner of it on your face. And yes, I totally understand the paci.

The thing is... I'm finally ready to coach Bean out of the Paci Love. I've been fine with it for two+ years. But I just think it's time. Time to let it go, time to let it fade into memory.

But I'm not sure how.

I've talked to her about how it's soon going to be time to let go of the paci, that we will only use it for naps and bedtime (I'm willing to let a paci sleeptime routine continue for a while longer). And I've tried to get her to sort of forget about it for long stretches throughout the day. But.

Well, this is a stubborn child (wonder where she gets that from). A child with an iron will. A smart child who remembers things like hey mommy put my paci in her pocket and I know it's in there and maybe if I just sort of hang limp and boneless on her leg she'll relent and give it back to me. NOW.

So I'm turning to you. Whatcha got for advice about the Great Paci Phase Out? I'd love to hear your stories of what works and what doesn't, and the cautionary tales of things I should absolutely never try.

Monday, July 12, 2010

so I won't forget

I want to remember that Chip will hold Bean's foot to his head like a telephone, putting her toes on his lips as he talks, an imitation she surely doesn't understand, but thinks is HILARIOUS anyway.

I want to remember Bean's sweaty neck - the way she smells sweet and salty at the same time.

I want to remember the sound of Bean's voice as she's calling to me, her voice rising higher and higher into the range of monkeys and dog whistles. Look! Look at that plane! That plane in the sky!!!!!!!!!!!! Looooooooooooooook! (dog whistle squeak)

I want to remember the way my 36-year-old body feels, even as I struggle with that familiar sense of dissatisfaction with it, I know it's a miracle. A youthful, will-never-be-this-young-again miracle.

I want to remember the stresses we feel right this minute - how encompassing they are, how much room they take in our shared internal family room. I want to remember this feeling of stalling out at a roadblock, knowing that it's not going to last forever, a helpful mechanic is going to wander by (or a taxi or a bicycle or a hot air balloon) - something or someone is going to come, and when it does these worries will be smudgy memories.
I want to remember Chip's stubbly cheek against mine, to feel his breath on my neck as he is whispering something to me.

I want to remember this summer sun on my cheeks and Bean's weight on my legs as she's leaning into me.

I want to remember each moment of today, to hold them so tightly in my hands they leave an impression on my skin. I want to press my nose into the crease of the day, breathe it in so deep that I cannot possibly take in anything else. I want to keep track of every little second and memorize that there were moments of teeth aching bliss and heartache--- that all of it was here. Just as it will be again, wearing different sounds and smells and sights, each one crowding out the ones before, as if they never happened.

I want to remember so I won't forget.

Friday, July 9, 2010

summer snapshot

A summer day in early July, when the heat is a novelty, bringing out popsicles and sticky fingers. Ice cream dribbling in a line down a small shirt. Hot waffle cut french fries dunked in cold ketchup. Street parking and a leisurely three-block walk. Musing (a theory) that it's always 8 degrees warmer at the zoo than anywhere else on the planet--- not that it matters, because there are bamboo forests to wander and elephants to see. Up close and personal with a napping jaguar, her face an expanse of velvet spots. This is a day for holding hands and running free, for eating a sack lunch on a bench as we anticipate seeing lemurs and kangaroos. A free pass to ride the carousel and screams of glee for the wind in our faces, the wheeling fling around and around and around, the world spinning.

Just beautiful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

things I learned last week while watching way too much television

Wesley Snipes uses Total Gym.

It's important to be on The Bachelorette for "the right reasons".

I am deeply disturbed by the commercial for the new Huggies diapers that look like denim jeans. I'm not sure which is worse: the full grown adult woman giving the little baby boy a look or the line "my diaper is full... Full of fashion" or the whole aura of a baby boy done up to, sexy.

I don't really understand what The Bachelorette people deem to be "the right reasons".

There are whole tv stations devoted to and sponsored by salad dressing. True story.

It turns out 'Sobongo' is not a really long movie about drumming. It's a shopping channel. No matter how long you watch the channel to see if a movie will come on, it will never come on. Commercial after commercial. Yes there's a whole tv channel of that.

I think if you're on The Bachelorette, it's pretty likely that you aren't there for "the right reasons".

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, July 2, 2010

you be the judge

Future Project Runway contestant, huddled street urchin, or something altogether different? Please discuss.

She comes up with these concoctions herself.

Though it's possible I might have helped her with the Bo-as-turban combination.