Sunday, October 17, 2010

Household Chore Horror Story

I haven’t written in awhile mostly because there hasn’t been anything to post, really. We are still plugging along: J with school and me with looking for work. I’ve still been cooking and other than successfully baking a pumpkin pie (I wanted to practice before Thanksgiving) and totally mucking up my grandma’s recipe for gravy, there haven’t been any kitchen adventures. The practice is helping. I’m learning to preheat the oven before starting with the food. I am also learning to streamline some tasks to make my culinary life easier. Lately I have been bored with Food Network or Cooking Channel. I’m more interested in “stories” as my grandpa called them. (He pretty much only watched PBS informational programs, including cooking shows.)

As I look for work, I realize that every day I DO work. Not only is looking for work a job, but keeping a home in a Becca-worthy condition is a job too. So, I guess I am a “home-maker” or “housewife” (gag me). I NEVER thought I’d be a housewife, but then again, I never thought I’d be unemployed for so long. Now, please don’t get me wrong… to be a home-maker is a ton of work and I completely support any woman or man who would like to take on that role. Its valid work and its worthy work, I just never thought it would be my role. This is our biggest apartment. It is also the first time that my “roommate” (or husband) is completely engrossed in school/work more than 75% of the time. We still split chores like we did in the “old days”, but I take on the majority of them considering that I do not have a place to be or projects to turn in… I also know that I am a smidge of a clean freak. Oh, okay, I’m a complete raging clean freak. There are things I’ve learned to let go: no longer do I hunt dust bunnies under the bed on a weekly basis and six out of ten times I will let our dishes air dry instead of drying them by hand and putting them away immediately. But I still dust and sweep every other day. The kitchen counter and stove gets Windex-ed twice a day. And towels are always folded and hung up nicely. (Among other things.)

Still, I do not consider myself to be “domestic.” While I may channel Martha or Rachel Ray from time to time, I don’t carve pumpkins or bother to decorate my food beyond sprinkling it with a bit of Kosher salt. On Sundays I tend to be my “homiest.” Perhaps that is because J is so engrossed in school or sports (gag me again) that I try to occupy my time with small tasks that I let build up during the week. And thus, I come to the real point of this post: I HATE LAUNDRY.
Now, I have always hated laundry. I hold off doing it until I run out of under-things. I have been trying to do it once a week so it doesn’t pile up to the point of becoming a stinky sock monster. But ever since we have moved to Miami, I hate laundry so much more. Now I’m exposed to the elements. I actually miss the creepy basement that resembled a psycho killer’s lair at my old apartment. And I really, really miss the two years that I had laundry capabilities IN my apartment. I haven’t done my laundry in the rain recently. But now I am contending with wildlife problems and fear that the people in the condo behind our apartment building can see all of my… well… dirty laundry.

I guess it is the wildlife that bugs me the most. That damn cat is still hanging around. I feel bad for it. But I’m pretty sure saw it go into our neighbor’s house once, so I don’t think it is a stray. Also, it is too too friendly to be a stray. It constantly wants to touch you, which, I do not like being touched by mangy things, so I have to shoo it away. It doesn’t respond to a firm “NO” or “GO AWAY” so I usually have to wave my laundry basket at it, or a dirty towel. J once had to fend it off with our recycling. I also suspect the cat is sick. Right outside of our “laundry closet” is a pile of cat puke. Now, being the owner of two cats, I know what cat puke looks like. Our fat cat inhales her food so fast she doesn’t chew and sometimes it just comes back up. And our old cat is senile and does nothing but clean herself, so we have hairballs galore. The puke has food in it, and it is so old it’s actually hairy. Not like cat-hairy, like mold-hairy. I shuddered when I saw that.

When I left the apartment to do the laundry I had a huge basket of clothes, my detergent, and I was opening our kitchen door to walk the flight of stairs down to the closet and that cat was sleeping right there. I could have stepped on it. Or worse, it could have bolted into the house to give our cats and us who knows what: ringworm, mites, worse… Here I am, in broad daylight, talking like a crazy person to this cat, “Go away!,” and trying to side step puke while loading my laundry. Then, it gets worse. How much worse could a three hour ordeal of two loads of laundry that makes me $8 poorer get? I saw… the bodies.

BLECH. So, remember when I told you about those lizards that dart all over the place. (I still jump when I see them move out of the corner of my eye!) Well, one darted under the door and somewhere in the laundry closet (probably under the washer) when I started my first load. “Ugh, whatever,” I thought. I had to contend with the cat who wanted to rub my leg. But, the next time I went down to switch loads, I saw this crusty little thing on the door frame. It was the outline of a lizard body. I bent closer to look at it and sure enough- some lizard had been smooshed between the door and the frame and there it was- crispy little fingers, eyeballs, and tail- all intact. Just below that body was a fresher one. Its skull had fallen out at some point and was lying in the corner. All of this, just above a pile of furry puke and just as I was about to stand up, something smacked me on my behind and I screamed.

It was just the other door (the laundry closet has French doors- it’s a “classy” laundry closet). I was foolish enough to think it was the cat that pushed the door on me, but it was the wind. That cat magically appeared on the other side of me and I had to shoo it back again. “Doing the laundry is going to give me a heart attack… or fleas,” I said to myself amid a stream of PG-13 rated curse words. I hoped I was putting on a good show for the guy sitting on his balcony at the condo. I stomped back up to the apartment, ranted at J about how inconsiderate it is to neighbors to have an outdoor cat that is too friendly (what if I was deathly allergic?) and by the end of my rant I had placed us in the hospital with nasty cat-borne illnesses and our cats at the vet with more illnesses with our bills piling to the ceiling, and then I sat down to blog about how much I hate laundry. The only problem is, I still have a load to dry and both to fold and it means two more trips out THERE. Sigh.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For someone who doesn’t like the heat, I’m in the kitchen a lot!

First of all: Happy Birthday to my Auntie R! I love you and I miss you.

Yesterday I felt like crud. I developed one of those horrible migraines that made me sick to my stomach. My body also has a nasty habit of carrying all of my stress in my neck and shoulders. On Friday I had my back up against the wall with a rubber band ball between me and the plaster trying to work the knots out. The method was unsuccessful and I ended up snapping rubber bands. Not good. J came home to a living room rearranged because I couldn’t turn my neck or lean my back against the arm rest to watch television, so I had to be sitting forward in front of the TV. (The way we have our living room set up has the TV on a stand that is perpendicular to the couch with the TV at an angle.) My neck and back feel a bit better today, but that migraine had me down for the count. I slept badly and ended up staying in bed till noon today. Oops.

This weekend has been pretty chill. Last weekend J and I went with one of his grad school buddies to a place called “Shake Shack” on South Beach (aka SoBe). Finally! A decent burger! It was more expensive than Kopp’s back home, but it was well worth the $4. I decided to finish my meal with custard. They actually had it and I had to contain my squeals of delight because J’s new friend doesn’t know me and I don’t want to embarrass my husband. I walked up to the counter, waited my turn, practically bounced in place while I ordered my vanilla custard, and waited for it to be handed to me. “Well?” You are probably wondering, “was it good?” Sigh. No. It had ice chunks in it. I don’t know if it was the batch or if it was the recipe itself, but I ate my custard with silent disappointment.

Since my back and shoulders had been bothering me almost all of this past week, I haven’t been cooking as much. I did bake some sugar cookies on Monday and frosted them with vanilla icing and sprinkles, but they were slightly burnt and just so-so. Baking desserts eludes me. It must be the need for precise order and measurements. Cooking is so much more forgiving. I also dislike my oven and stove. In Madison we had a gas stove and I could control the temperature much better. Here things tend to burn even on the medium-high setting, and I have to turn things around in my oven so one side doesn’t get scorched.

Yesterday, before I got sick, I decided to make turkey meatloaf for dinner. I added cut up string cheese to the recipe because that is what Mom did for me when I was younger. Despite the fact that I slightly burnt the onions, it turned out pretty darn good. See- cooking is forgiving- Worchester sauce and ketchup cover many offenses (like big, dark sunglasses the day after a night of debauchery). And, like lasagna, I think meatloaf is best the second time around. J prefers to microwave, I prefer to fry up in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. While making the meatloaf I cracked one too many eggs (I like cracking eggs! What can I say?) so I decided to make another batch of Becca’s Failed Fudge Brownies. I used more fudge this time, so they are even gooey-ier than last time. Personally I like my brownies that way.

We have been trying to use up that dang Failed Fudge. For lunch yesterday, J treated me to breakfast foods- my favorite. Turkey bacon and an epic omelet with cheese, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers… He makes turkey bacon so much better than I can. And he surprised me with a dessert. Dessert for lunch is a treat! He made banana hot fudge sundaes by melting up some of that fudge we have sitting in the freezer. We still have over a third left!

Today I had a slow start- as I mentioned before with me rolling out of bed at noon. I watched some episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that we had DVR’ed. I love that show, but it makes me ravenous. So, after watching three or so episodes, fast forwarding through the commercials (love that!), I decided I would give baking another try. But this time, it would be bread, not dessert (since brownies are the only thing I can do). I had a “No Knead Bread” recipe from the Cooking Channel. The first try with yeast didn’t go so well. I called J into the kitchen and we sniffed it and we stirred it and he Googled what yeast was supposed to look like… We tried again. It turned out that I didn’t mix it properly. I had to add the sugar and the yeast first and then add the water. Oookay. That is why I did terribly in chemistry. Luckily I have a scientist for a husband.

The yeast worked the second time around. I made two loaves of bread. One was “savory” with steak spice ground on top and one was “sweet” with brown sugar sprinkled in top. The bread actually turned out and J enthusiastically approved. The one problem was that both loaves kind of stuck to the bottom and I had to use my knowledge of physics to get them out with a lever-like tool (aka an awesome Pampered Chef spatula thing). I ended up massacring the ends of the savory loaf. They were stuck in there. I probably should buy a can of Pam instead of using butter to grease my baking sheets and dishes.

Tonight for dinner I am planning on a grown-up pizza with fresh mozzarella, shallots, and mushrooms. It should be fairly straight forward. I also have to work on wedding Thank You notes, hanging the rest of our wall d├ęcor, picking out pictures for our wedding album, and doing two loads of laundry (ugh, hate that!). For someone who isn’t working, I sure have a big to-do list. And for someone who doesn’t like the heat, I am in the kitchen a lot.