L is for LAME

QUICKIE: Does anyone else have a quickie for today?  I’m out.
Vincenzo never did catch onto L week.  He treated the letter like it was dead to him.  We went to the library, out to lunch, to the lake, we had lollipops, and we went out looking at Christmas lights.  Anytime I asked him what those words start with he yelled, “NO!”  I’m beginning to understand why teachers always have the most messed up kids themselves.

For an art project I printed off a lion to color in and add a mane to.  Before your socks are knocked off by my son’s mad skills, I should tell you I did all but one handful of the mane.  But the coloring is pure Vincenzo!


What?  You don’t see any coloring?  Check out the lion’s left haunch and paw.  That’s the work of three separate coloring sessions, each of which lasted 3.5 seconds.  To his credit, Vincenzo did a lot of his coloring with a white crayon.

I think the lion and I can both agree on one thing: “Grrrrrrrrr.”

The week in pix

QUICKIE: Vincenzo: “My penis looks like a lollipop!”
I keep trying to write posts but they turn out only half-funny, so I’ll just let these pictures do my work for me.

How I discovered Vincenzo, taking a foot bath:


Favorite toy of the week: balloon-stuffed undies


Clyde (apparently after swallowing some Christmas lights)


Vincenzo, wearing his LOLrsk8s


Kevin, in his favorite ugly Christmas sweatshirt:

ugly k

Me, once I discovered the magical softness of Kevin’s ugly Christmas sweatshirt:


No wonder I have no words left.

Grilled Pear and Beecher’s Cheese Panini

Is your refrigerator running?

QUICKIE: V: “Mom, your nose is too big.  It almost touches your lips!”
I just realized I spelled “mantel” wrong in my previous two posts this week.  Wide world, please EXCEPT my apology.

You all know about my love/hate relationship with Martha Stewart, right?  This month I opened her magazine to find this ad for a refrigerator.


It’s hard to see, but everything in the fridge except the raspberry trifle is white and has at least a two inch personal bubble from other items in the fridge.  The milk is in a white carton with a white cap; the butter is in a white, unlabeled package; the eggs probably even have white yolks if you crack them open.  This is clearly the fridge of someone who has a hard-core case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and who DOESN’T COOK, which is baffling as there is what appears to be a homemade trifle in amidst her refrigerated items.  Ten bucks says the owner of this fridge is in the bathroom washing her hands again and again because she can’t deal with the fact that there are RED RASPBERRIES in her ALL-WHITE fridge.

Is it just me, or is this what most people’s fridges look like? 


I actually made a trifle the day I took this photo, too, but as there was no room in between the thawing spinach and leftover chicken tettrazini, it ended up in my basement refrigerator which, though not as impeccable as the Martha Stewart fridge, is at least thematic.  (It’s decked out year-round in an “eclectic beer theme.”)

How about your refrigerator?  Do your items enjoy the luxury of personal space?  Do you only buy products of a certain color so they look pretty in the fridge?  If you’re brave enough, take a picture and send it to me at rachelabeto (at) hotmail (dot) com.  I’d like to make judgments on you based on your refrigerators.  And if I get enough pictures I’ll do it contest-style and send the leftover tettrazini (or something less perishable) to the winner!

Cheap buffet food at fancy Microsoft party

Thanks…for nothing!

QUICKIE: V: “Mommy, what do you want to do now?”  Me: “I thought we’d take a bath.”  V: “No Mommy!  I wasn’t talking to you!”
I was planning on making fun of all of you for choosing the WRONG mantle for my holiday home yesterday, but I got comments from some super cool people who are usually too shy to comment on my blog, so I instead am humbled to thank you for trying to help me out. You guys ROCK and I give you all an A–except Casey, who thought she was above the rules.  She gets a B-.

I have to admit, I had already chosen a different mantle before I posted all those pictures yesterday.  I was just seeing how good of friends you really are.  Are you the kind who would tell me that leg-warmers didn’t look good on me in the 80s and they certainly don’t now?  Would you tell me that balloon skirts really do make my butt look big?  I’m still not sure.  But at any rate, here is the mantle you probably would have voted on, had I given you the choice.


As you can see, the Lord smiled upon my Christmas mantel and shined a beam of sunlight upon it just as I snapeth the picture.

Through all my mantle obsessing and worrying I was hyper-conscious of the fact that holiday decorating seemed to be my biggest concern of the season while thousands of people are worrying about their retirement or their jobs or genocide.  I felt a healthy dose of guilt.  But what can I do?  Make Kevin retire early so we can feel everyone’s pain?  Try to get him fired by sending lots and lots of porn to his work e-mail?  Move my family to a Rwanda?  Instead, I turned my attention to a more pressing area of concern:


The basement mantle. 

Dear friends, these are tough times we are living in.  Tough times indeed.

I don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll eat something.

Indecision 2008

QUICKIE: At church, someone blessed Vincenzo by touching his head.  He thought they were petting him and spent the rest of mass meowing so they might do it again.
On Friday I hit up a craft store and bought a few sets of decorations for my mantle, then spent the entire day trying to make some combination of them work.  I laboriously took pictures of each set-up so that I could later ask Kevin for his opinion, to which he could respond that he honestly can’t tell any difference between the five mantles I spent my entire day meticulously working on.  I obviously need a new husband. 

That’s where you, my bloggy friends, come in handy!  Will you be my husband for a day and decide which mantle I should keep for the holidays?  You can mix-and-match if you’d like.

Mantle A:


Mantle B:


Mantle C:


Mantle D:


Mantle E:


So if you were Kevin (or better yet, if you were me), which one would you choose?  Please answer in complete sentences and support your decision with examples.  Or just answer with a single letter.  I don’t have the same grading power over you that I have over Kevin.

Florentine Frittata
Gorgonzola Fettuccini
Maybe Peas with Roasted Onions and Mint?

K is for Knucklehead

QUICKIE: Spotted on a bumper sticker: VEGETARIAN: an old Indian term for “poor hunter”
Vincenzo and I got to pretend we were Kris Kringles for K week–we made Cookie Kisses and delivered them to our friends.  We also ate Kettle Korn and made kite art.  Vincenzo put about 20 stickers on his but it’s difficult to tell, as he is a Sticker Stacker purist.


Vincenzo made a crown and pretended to be king for the day, which isn’t too much of a stretch in his world (although he prefers to think of himself more as a tyrant).


We also made a totally lame kazoo out of a toilet paper roll.  Does anyone else remember those being really cool when we were kids?  They’re not.  They’re not even cool enough to take a picture of and post on your blog.

Vincenzo spent a day or two this week throwing up, and try as I might I couldn’t tie it into K week at all.  He ralphed, blew chunks, hurled, puked, barfed, vomited, upchucked, tossed his cookies–not one of the euphemisms for puke starts with K.  After he flung the floor pie on the carpet the first time, I scooped him up, cradled him on my lap, and explained the concept of a barf bowl.  I rocked Vincenzo gently  and told him it was okay to throw up all he wanted into this here barf bowl while I rubbed his back.  He meekly took the bowl, put his head straight into it, and yelled, “BLAH!” then started laughing maniacally.  Minutes later he was seen running around the house with his new barf bowl fedora.  When he went to sleep that night, I left the bowl in his bed.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night my sick boy filled up his barf bowl.


How do you Mother something like that?  Knucklehead.

Florentine Frittata
Cream of Asparagus Soup


BRACIOLA: Flank steak rolled with Romano/Provolone cheeses, pan-seared with wine and marinara, then roasted for 2 hours.  It is said that in biblical times braciola appeared on the ground once the dew disappeared each morning, thus sustaining the fleeing Israelites.  Their word for it was “manna.”  And if this doesn’t sound right, go ahead and tweak Wikipedia for me.  Tweak it for all of us.

From Giada’s “Everyday Cooking”

Serves 4-6

2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Provolone cheese
½ cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
2T chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
4T olive oil
1 flank steak (1-1/2 pounds)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3-1/4 cups Marinara Sauce (I posted Giada’s recipe because it ROCKS with the braciola)

IN A MEDIUM BOWL, stir the cheeses, bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic to blend. Stir in 2T of the oil and set aside. Lay the flank steak flat on the work surface and sprinkle with ½ tsp each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture evenly over the steak to cover the top evenly. Starting at one short end, roll up the steak as for a jelly roll and enclose the filling completely. Using kitchen twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle the braciola with the remaining salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large heavy ovenproof frying pan, heat the remaining 2T of oil over a medium flame. Add braciola and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil. Stir in marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake, turning the braciola and basting with sauce every 30 minutes, until meat is almost tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Uncover and continue baking until meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Remove braciola from sauce. Remove kitchen twine and cut braciola crosswise and diagonally into ½ inch thick slices. Spoon sauce over and serve.


*Picture taken from day-old braciola pulled straight from the fridge.  It’s slightly noticeable.

Marinara Sauce

This is a hearty sauce with a bright taste–I don’t like it on pizza but it’s excellent with pasta or meat, especially braciola!

from Giada’s “Everyday Cooking”

Makes 1 quart

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots—guess what—PEELED, and finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

IN A LARGE POT, heat oil over medium-high flame. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and ½ tsp each of salt and pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. (Sauce can be frozen.)

Dear Santa

QUICKIE:  Vincenzo:  “Mom, if my nose is still bloody later we should go to the arcade and it will just kind of disappear when I’m playing games.”
Dear Santa,

I’m assuming you know my son, Vincenzo.  He’s three and all he wants for Christmas are guns and video games.  I don’t want him to have guns or video games for Christmas, so I just thought I’d point out a few things to you.

1.  Vincenzo threw the garage door opener across the driveway yesterday when I asked him to put it away.
2.  He also hit me with a chocolate mold when I told him we didn’t have any chocolate to put in it.
3.  He refuses to donate to Goodwill.
4.  He pushed a baby.
5.  He turned all the nativity scene people into pretend cat toys and keeps taking baby Jesus’ manger away from him.

Now, it’s not like I want my son to be on the naughty list.  Every parent wants the best for their children, right?  I just wanted to put all this out there so you know not to bring my son a gun or a video game for Christmas.  We’ll just take the lump of coal, which he will probably pretend is either a gun or a video game, and we’ll just have to deal with that when the time comes.

Warmest wishes,

Mrs. Mouthy

Cauliflower Gratin

…and because someone asked yesterday, braciola is a flank steak rolled with parmesan and provolone that’s pan-seared on all sides, then cooked with wine and marinara sauce for 2 hours.  It is pure awesomeness.  If you ask for the recipe and prove your worth, I will painstakingly type it up and post it so you can all sigh and groan and wish you had such mad cooking skills as me.

I bring you…CHRISTMAS!

QUICKIE: (reading the nutrition facts on his juice box): “Hoo-eee! This juice is expensive!”
You know the fable of the Little Red Hen?  She grows the wheat, she waters it, she harvests it, she grinds it, she bakes it into bread, and then in the end when everyone wants to share the bread she’s all, “I don’t THINK so!”  Does anyone else feel that way about Christmas?  I decorated the house; I  baked the cookies; I  chose the tree; I  made and wrote and sent the Christmas letters; I  slipped egg nog into everything we ate all month.  Come Christmas day, when someone looks at the tree and says, “Wow, what a beautiful tree.  I could sit here all day and look at it,” I’ll be all, “Oh no you don’t!  I decorated that tree and I  will be the one to enjoy it.”  Then I’ll have no choice but to give them a roundhouse kick to the face. 

I just hope Vincenzo isn’t the first one to make that mistake.  It would ruin all our Christmas pictures.

While I single-handedly make Christmas happen, there is one thing I need help with: the outdoor lights.  I always love to have a couple trees plastered with some of the one bazillion white lights left over from our wedding.  Unfortunately, I got put on light restriction after our first year living here when some of the neighbors tattled to Kevin that his young bride was climbing a tree with a string of plugged-in lights in her mouth.  Kevin didn’t actually believe them until he went to take them down in January and physically couldn’t reach the lights, even when standing on the NEVER EVER EVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES STAND ON THIS RUNG of the ladder.

I sent Kevin out to do the lights this year and I forgot to take a picture, but here is the basic idea:

bad xmas lts 

Needless to say, there was a slight mismatch between his vision and mine:

good xmas lights

So I sent him out again and out of defiance he did something like this:

medium xmas lights
(Picture a Soccer Mom Minivan in place of Beetle)

Not to worry; I have a plan.  Every day during Vincenzo’s nap I go out and move exactly one strand of lights.  Kevin wouldn’t notice just one strand, would he?  Slowly, slowly, my vision comes into play.  And by March, anyone who drives through the neighborhood will have to stop at our house and exclaim, “Now THAT’S a light display!”

In which case, I’ll have to give them a roundhouse kick to the head.

Peas with mint and parsley
Quick buttermilk bread