Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Today a friend asked me how we were doing. My auto-response was, "Good!" But it took me a moment to remember what we've been doing for the last couple weeks. I felt like somehow, I'd misplaced fourteen days of my life. Where did that time go?

Perhaps the sight of tiny, meandering ants in my kitchen has got my brain a little scrambled. At least they're small, but there's something unsettling about opening a drawer or two and seeing something crawling amidst the silverware or the placemats. I can't tell you how many tiny lives I've ended with my index finger, rinsing their broken bodies off under the faucet with a shudder. And for the life of me, I can't figure out where the heck they're coming from. The empty, dormant dishwasher, perhaps? (After a round with the Black Flag last week, I finally ordered a replacement gasket to see if that's the problem for the leak. I have GOT to fix that thing.)

And far be it from me to claim a crumb-free kitchen, but I do NOT leave open containers of food in my cupboards! I've cleaned the kitchen out quite a few times to ensure that nothing is attracting them. I promise! Brian looked at me suspiciously last night, and said, "They're probably getting into your baking stuff, honey." No! Not true! I've got airtight containers and everything!

(Hmm. Maybe fighting this ANT WAR is what I've been doing the past two weeks.)

Anyway, with some babysitting here and there, work projects piling up like dog hair, last-minute landscaping endeavors, and regular house stuff to be done, I've been a little busy. (Cue the frizzy, frazzled Maegan at 5:30 PM: "Hi, babe! Um, for dinner, we can have - pickles or omelets!")

And not to mention that it's SPRING 'round these parts, which always presents (along with random hand-picked blooms presented to me by Brian) a huge PULL to be out in the yard, planting seeds and transplanting shrubs and planning my garden! This year, I've finally got space to cultivate some flower beds, and I could spend all day long outside doing that. At least until the end of the week, when the temperature will get to the high eighties. (Um, no joke.)

But you're not here to read the rambling rush of whatever my brain's generating right now. You want some powerful Wonder Wife tips! Well.

Fine, then. If that's what you want.

Um, I've got nothing today. (I don't even have a helpful ant bait review. None of mine are working.)

But please, let me direct you to learn from my friend Candice (at The Morse Mixing Bowl), who is (I suspect) a Wonder Wife in her own right. Ladies and gentlemen, how to spend less than $80 for two weeks worth of groceries.

What the what?! Insane. I'm going to print that out and find me my nearest Trader Joe's.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beauregard Fitzgerald Montgomery Ward. Happy belated birthday to you, sir.

I like Brian and me, the two of us, our relationship, better, with a dog.

I'm sure Bo will have to take a back seat when the rest of our family decides to join us, but for now, he's our baby. We can bond over him. He's a story that I can tell Brian when he gets home from work - one of the only stories I can tell him about my day in which he is really engrossed. He laughs and comments. He pets Bo proudly.

Around four in the afternoon, Bo starts watching for Brian to come home. It doesn't matter that Brian won't be home for well over an hour. Any noise and movement at the top of the driveway is heralded loudly and I find myself running to the door several times to see if Brian's pulled in. When the Kia finally sweeps into its parking place, Bo spins endlessly in front of the door, making low, guttural noises, madly wagging his tail, and scattering the rugs and shoes all over the entryway. He bounds out when I finally get the door open and his entire body wags. "What's my Bo doing?" Brian asks him, crouching down to pet and play. Meanwhile, I stand in the doorframe to watch in pleasure the excitement of my dog, the way his ears pin back and his head lowers and he rubs frantically on Brian's knees before taking off into a "chase me" sprint. I used to walk out to the car to compete for a hug, but now, I know better. I wait until Brian makes it to the door after running around the car and chasing an exuberant Bo. When Brian finally makes it into the house, Bo bounds past us and heads for his toy box to find his rope. There's no one he loves to tug with as much as Brian.

In the evening, after catching up on the day's cache of Fox News Online, Brian climbs off the couch and lowers himself onto Bo's big pillow bed. He lays behind him and gives him a firm belly rub. Bo flips onto his back and squirms in enjoyment. "Come pet The Bo with me," Brian invites, patting the bed on the other side of our dog. I lay down and we pet Bo together, admiring him. I tell him just how cute he is, and Brian reminds him that he is also tough. "You're a vicious little pit bull," he tells him. "My little pit bull guy." It's at this point that Brian makes up songs to sing to Bo. I try to soak up these moments as much as I possibly can. I never thought my husband would be the song-singing papa, and I love it.

This doesn't get old. This won't ever get old. These child-free evenings will end someday, but I'm not going to rush it. I wanted to rush it before Bo came along. I wanted so badly to add something to "Brian and me". I wanted the romance of a family. At these times, Brian would gently remind me that we were going to stick to the plan. And we have stuck to the plan, and I believe we will, after all's said and done. But fifteen months ago, Bo came to live with us, and something wonderful happened. I didn't expect it, but I got my family.

Bo's birthday was on Tuesday. He is two years old, but still very much a puppy, ready to play at a moment's notice. I don't know what he was doing in the eight months before he was ours, but the job's he's done since he got here is monumental. Bo, you will never, ever read this, but thank you. I love you, buddy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When I pop out a kid, I'd like her to be five right away, please.

Babysitting Amy and her friend, Rachel, today:

Rachel (5), somersaulting into a pillow: "Aliens stole my brain."

Me: "Are you serious?!"

Rachel: "Yup."

Me: "What did they replace it with?"

Rachel: "A dumber brain."

Amy (5), arms crossed: "Rachel thinks that aliens are real."

Rachel: "It's only because they are green and slimy when they come to MY house. When they come to AMY's house, they are invisible."

Me: "Amy, are you sure they didn't come to steal your brain, too?"

Amy, rolling her eyes: "Well, they didn't GET it."

Me: "Are you certain?"

Amy: "YES. When they tried to take MY brain, I kicked them in the head. And they DIED. So," (glaring at Rachel) "they are NOT real."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blue Monday

Yesterday evening, my computer shut off.

Just went dead.

I had known the end was near for the old girl, but I hadn't realized how close it was.

I panicked at the thought of saying goodbye so suddenly, of losing all the memories I'd stored in her hard drive.

"Don't panic," said Brian. "It's probably just the power cord."

"I would know if it was that!" I insisted. "I would know if it was the power cord. No. It's worse than that. This is bad. What am I going to do?"

"Take it to the repair shop tomorrow and see," he replied calmly. "I guarantee you it's the power cord."

"Well," I huffed, "I guarantee you it's NOT."

Well, it was. It was the power cord.

So until I get my new power cord in the mail, posting will be light. Ah, this daily-blog run I had going wasn't destined to last, I reckon.

Oh, folks. The Wonder Wife is blue this evening, and not because of the power cord or a failed diet. For once, the far edges of my comfort zone are being frayed by pain and it's difficult to see, even from my perch. A family that I know is breaking apart, and I love those kids. And I keep imagining their faces, eager and honest and smart enough to understand that things aren't the way they should be, and I keep crying.

And another family has lost a son, a friend of ours, a brother in Christ. And although we know where he is, I can't imagine that their moment is any less painful than for those who grieve without hope. After all, life seems long at these times. Long and painful and full of tears.

And all over the nation, the sober-minded are grieving the loss of freedom. We were careless with our rights, and now they're being stolen.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, true, but God also told us there's a time to mourn, to be sober, to grieve. I'm doing that tonight.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wordless Sunday

Well, not exactly. I get a couple words.

Only this: never did I expect to see Duke and Bo cuddled together on Bo's bed. Literally, the lion laying down with the lamb, only in this case, the lamb is the mean one.

It might be the end times, here. I'm just warning you guys!

(Bo and Max, not such a surprise.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Break Family Time Extravaganza!

My family’s visit here was really wonderful. We ate lots of food, watched a few movies, drank gallons of coffee, went through a seven pound bag of chocolate chips (almost), and played several games of Hoopla, Whoonu, and Argue.

(Yes, Argue is a real game, not our family’s version of some normal game. (Although it’s not unusual for us to turn a game of, say, Monopoly, into a game of Argue, but that is beside the point. Plus, that never happened during this visit! So there.)

Anyway, it was all very fun, but in true Maegan fashion, I did not take many pictures. We did get a lot of pictures of the dogs! But people? Eh.

Joel offers Erin and me a snap pea for Sunday's dinner.

Erin and I scrub it up while making bentonite clay pills and watching SpongeBob sing the F-U-N song.

Joel enjoys a nap!

Matthew and Duke hog Bo's bed.

Morning coffee with Brian.

Brian spends quality time with the Littles.

The Kids.

Joel demonstrates the Heisman Trophy during a game of Hoopla.

Indecipherable shouting and gesturing.

Erin and the Maxi-Max.

Maeg and Maximus!

Fun in the kitchen on Pi Day!

Bo uses a rare couch opportunity to gaze out the front window.

Bo imagines himself a small dog, and Matthew willingly obliges him.

We had a great time. I wish it wasn't over, and I can't wait until the next time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It took me, like, fifteen minutes to post this blog. (UnderestiMaegan strikes again!)

“I think we should do the same thing that we did for Thanksgiving,” said my mom over the phone, a few days before their visit. “I thought it was awesome to cook all day and then reheat the leftovers for the rest of the week. We should do that again.”

“Aw, Mom,” I whined. “I already have our menu planned. Plus, Thanksgiving was a TON of work.”

“Well we don’t have to make a meal like that,” she said. “We should just throw together some casseroles, bake up a bunch of potatoes, stuff like that. Do it all the first day we’re there and then reheat it for the next week.”

“That means we’ll be cooking all day on Saturday,” I replied. “One of our two weekend days. I don't really want to spend all Saturday cooking.”

“Well, we don’t have to do my idea,” she said. “We’ll figure it out.”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” I said. “The meals I have planned are easy – a couple chickens on the grill, enchiladas, you know. Easy. We won’t have to do a lot of cooking.”

Little did I know, it was my alter-ego, UnderestiMaegan that was spouting this rubbish. UnderestiMaegan (“underestimating”) is the part of my psyche that believes that everything on my list will take fifteen minutes.

Ah, fifteen minutes, that magical timeframe in which everything, from cleaning the windows to cooking dinner, can be completely accomplished.


UnderestiMaegan, you can do literally NOTHING in fifteen minutes!

You can’t shower, you can’t put your makeup on, you can’t do a load of laundry, you can’t bathe and groom the dog, you can’t make a cup of tea, you can’t drive to choir, you can’t run to the store, you can’t write a birthday card in fifteen minutes! “Fifteen minutes” may sound like enough time to cross one of these things off your list, but it’s not.

It’s not!

(And don’t even get me started on the use of “it’ll just take two seconds." Putting on your shoes takes more than two seconds, UnderestiMaegan!)

Anyway, the “quick” menu I had planned was not very quick at all. We ate some good food, but my poor mom was constantly washing the dishes I was using. And every time I found myself in the kitchen, “whipping up an apple pie” or “throwing a casserole together” (I could have sworn it would only take, like, ten or fifteen minutes), my mom grabbed the camera. “After we leave, you can post these pictures on your blog,” she joked. “You can show them how much time you spent cheffing it up!”

Therefore, here is UnderestiMaegan, taking fifteen minutes to make dinner.

We did have some great times, and I'll post those pictures tomorrow!

Happy Friday, and Happy Leftovers Day to Brian!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy belated...

Pi Day! March 14th was Pi Day, and boy, oh boy, did we celebrate!

My family was in town for about a week, and we had a wonderful time.

They left this morning. Before they pulled out of the driveway, Bo sat in their minivan and refused to get off Erin's lap. I almost climbed in there and let them drive off with the two of us, but I remembered my husband and decided to stay.

As I said, we had a wonderful time. I'll post some pictures tomorrow, but today, I am just going to medicate my depression with leftover pizza, ice cream, pizza, ice cream, pizza, and ice cream, in that order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wonder Wife Recipe: Ghirardelli English Toffee

This is not an original Wonder Wife recipe - it's the recipe straight from Ghirardelli's chocolate bar wrapper - but I wanted to show you guys how easy it is to make the best toffee you've ever eaten.

I've always been intimidated by "candy-making," but it's really pretty simple (as long as you've got a candy thermometer, which is VITAL). And for the record, I made this yesterday while it was raining and my windows were wide open. So baby, we're talking lots of humidity. And it still worked.

So if you want to put together a batch of extremely delicious toffee, gather a few simple ingredients and bolster your spirits! Because HERE WE GO!

In a saucepan with straight sides, toss 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of butter, 2 tablespoons of water,

and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, take a handful of mixed nuts (the original recipe calls for pecans, but I think these are just fine)...

And chop them finely.

Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about five minutes.

I toasted these for a little too long and the edges were burning, so I took them off the cookie sheet right away. But you can still see the toasty brown color.

Also, take a sheet of foil and make a little "tray" by folding up the sides. This doesn't have to be water-tight, so don't worry about making it perfect. Set the tray on a cookie sheet.

Begin melting the ingredients in the saucepan...

... and grab your trusty candy thermometer. You can't see this, but there's a clip on the thermometer for attaching it to the side of the pan. I would not know how to make this toffee without a candy thermometer - it is VITAL. And since one of these will only set you back about $1.50, why not have one in your drawer just in case you get a candy hankering?

Make sure the metal tip is not resting on the bottom of the pan.

As luck would have it, the temperature that we're going to look for (305 degrees F) is covered up by the clip. So instead of photographing the rising mercury, I'm going to show you the progression of color in the toffee and trust YOU to look for 305 degrees F when you make it yourself. With your candy thermometer.

Did I mention that having one is VITAL?

Bring the toffee to a boil over medium heat and stir periodically. Make sure you get the corners of the saucepan to keep the sugar from getting trapped and burning.

The toffee will thicken as it boils.

As the temperature rises, the color will begin to darken.

Remember to stir every now and then.

Here, the temperature has now risen to about 305 degrees F, what some cooks call the "hard-crack stage." It's ready! At this temperature, the sugar will start burning, so stir prodigiously!

As SOON as it reaches 305 degrees F, turn off the heat...

... take one teaspoon of vanilla...

... and stir it in fiercely!

Now, with a heatproof spatula (which I've been using to stir the toffee this whole time) pour the toffee onto your foil shell.

Quickly, before it hardens - and it does start to harden fast - use the spatula to spread it as far to the edges as it'll go.

I could have spread it thinner, and I SHOULD have, too, but since I was taking pictures, it hardened faster than I could work.

Now wait about 45 minutes to an hour, until the toffee has hardened.

Take 8 ounces of chocolate chips - here, I'm using the 60% Cacoa Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips - and microwave in 30-second bursts until it's smooth.

Pour onto the hardened toffee and spread with a spatula.

Remember those toasted nuts? Sprinkle them onto the melted chocolate...

... and gently flatten with your hand to adhere them.

Let rest until the chocolate hardens, about an hour.

Now break it up into bite-size pieces, and eat! Or wrap in a wax-paper-lined gift box...

... tie with a bow, and give to someone you appreciate.

Ghirardelli English Toffee
Yield: 1.25 pound(s)
  • 8 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar or Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup(s) pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup(s) butter
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 2 tablespoon(s) water
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant. With heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch square shell with 1-inch high sides. Place the foil shell on a baking sheet, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290F because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture reaches 305F, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into the foil shell. Spread with a spatula.

Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until hard. Melt the chocolate according to instructions on the side of package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle with the pecans, pressing lightly to set pecans into chocolate. Let set at room temperature 1 hour, or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 month.

This recipe is copied and pasted straight from Ghirardelli's website!