Love lives!

QUICKIE:  Vincenzo: “I am NOT happy.  And I do NOT like mommies.”
Thank you one and all for your date night suggestions.  I now realize you are all sorrier than me.  Your ideas included:

1.  Playing Bingo with old people: intriguing, but where would a young couple like us find a group of able-bodied old people to play with?
2. Popping Kevin’s blackheads in bed: just thinking about this gave our love life an irreversible blow
3.  Going to the spa for separate massages (i.e. paying other people to touch our naked bodies): if I weren’t so friggin’ nauseous, this would be a great idea
4.  Building a fort and cozying up inside with lots of pillows.  This also would be a great idea if you didn’t already spend your day doing this with all the cushions and pillows in your house:

6AM: Kevin wakes up on “Second Bed”


9AM: Throw all pillows/cushions in house down one flight of stairs to build Jump Planet for Turtles and Anybody (concept created and coined by Vincenzo)


2:00: Haul cushions/pillows back up so I can watch TV or blog during naptime:


4:30: Lug cushions down 2 flights of stairs to build Turtle Island:


9:00: Back upstairs to build Second Bed again.


So thanks, Casey, but we decided to give the pillows, cushions, and ourselves a night off this week.

As it was, I did not make Kevin wash the windows for date night.  Instead we went out for a lovely dinner, after which he mowed the lawn, moved all the furniture downstairs to spray for cat pee (AGAIN), and straightened the living room while I ate Creamsicles and took pictures of our couch.  It was slightly reminiscent of a date we went on in our first year together that began with Kevin scrubbing cat poo off all the carpets in my apartment while I ate a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and made calls to the vet.

See?  We still got it!


MrsMouthy, MrsMouthy, HOW does your garden grow?

QUICKIE: Vincenzo, after asking for and receiving a second piece of candy, but before eating it: “Mom?  It takes a long time for your teeth to fall out, right?”
This weekend was a perfect one for gardening, so we spent almost all of it outdoors.  Usually when I weed it’s meditative and mindless.  When I weed with Kevin, it’s a bit different.  About every 20 minutes he comes up to me and says, “You know, I was thinking…” then presents some charming but grossly under-informed new method for pulling weeds.  “What if we just cut them back instead of doing all this digging, and if they came back we’d cut them again, and we’d keep doing that until some other disease got them?”  I’d love to see him out there, cutting the tops off of the 10,000 weeds no taller than my pinky nail like he was pruning 10,000 itty bitty roses.  I also love that he’s spent a total of two days of his life weeding and he’s pretty sure he has an idea that no one has tried in the thousands of years humans have spent gardening.  Isn’t he precious?

Last year, when I first started blogging, I wrote about how I had one lofty goal for the year, and that was to wind up the hose whenever I used it.  (Sorry you can’t read it–I never transferred all my posts from my old blog site.)  I hit that goal with about 80% accuracy (there was some gray area about whether or not I had to wind it up after someone else used it).  This year I have a new goal, and it is to stake my plants before they have buckled under their own weight and/or sheer neglect.  If I don’t pull another weed this year; if I don’t water even once this summer; if I let the stinky groundcover I accidentally planted make a comeback; if I do all or none of that, it doesn’t matter.  I may have low ambitions, but you have to admit it–I’ve got high stakes.  (Or at least I will have them.)

Orecchiete with sausage and broccoli rabe
Gado Gado salad
Lemon poke cake

Flakes among flakes

QUICKIE: Wendy to V: “What do you wear when you go out in the snow?” V: “Um, NUFFING!”
It doesn’t snow much where I come from.  I mean, it did when I was a kid and walked both ways uphill to school, but since my last day of 8th grade we’ve maybe had enough snow over all the years to scrape together one snowman–if we threw in the ice scrapings from our freezer.  This week, however, it’s been snow, snow, snow and we are behaving as expected: like a town of n00bcakes.  Check it out:

1.   Schools were canceled all over the area on Wednesday, not because it was snowing but because it MIGHT have snowed.  As it was, the sun came out, the birds sang, and the only flakes we saw were the ones on TV, reporting on WINTER STORM WATCH ’08 and noticeably over dressed for the weather.

2.  My neighbor has spent the past three days trying to get his car up his driveway into his garage.  Sometimes he tries it from the downhill side; sometimes from the uphill; sometimes he tries to catch his driveway by surprise, suddenly jerking the car to life from out of nowhere and hitting the driveway head-on.  So far nothing has worked, but it was really cool when the car came inches from flipping over and rolling down the driveway.

3.  I waved at said neighbor as he stood at the top of the driveway after another defeat but he just gave me a stony stare.  He probably thinks I’m going to tell him, “All’s you need to do is put some load in the back of yourn truck there,” like everyone else keeps telling him.  That, or he probably thinks it was ME who messed up his beautiful yard with a snowball fight earlier in the week.  (It was.)

4.  My other neighbor was seen attempting to RAKE a foot-deep snow out of his driveway.

5.  We went to Fred Meyer to stock up on storm supplies and it took two hours to finagle the crowd, only to discover they were out of chains, out of candles, out of flashlights, out of fire logs, out of handwarmers, and out of Bud Light.  We bought as much SPAM as we could carry, being the only thing in abundant supply, and went home feeling like rich folk.

Only the kids seem to know how to really handle the snow, as I have seen snow castles and igloos that would make an Inuit swoon.  Vincenzo and I watched from inside as my husband built himself a snowlady with graceful hydrangea hands and a pouty rose mouth.  Now he keeps going outside for hugs.  I’m  not worried though; she doesn’t look like the type who’s going to stick around.

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?

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