Monday, March 26, 2012

Rubbing Elbows and Ruffling Feathers

Way back in 2006, when I was a mere lad with wide eyes and the belief that people who have children actually want to raise them, my Dad tossed in front of me this article from USA Today.

On a whim, I Googled Beacon Hill Nannies, filled out the application, and never gave it another thought. The agency was clear about its strict requirements and desire for Pedigreed nannies for the pickiest of snobs the elite. A couple of weeks later, the agency called me back and asked that I submit a video interview to be shown to potential families. I'm cringing as I type that because it has just now dawned on me that when I ditched that circa 2006 desktop computer during last Fall's move, I neglected to save the video footage.

I sat in front of a pond full of geese in a park during a perfect autumnally appropriate and orange day. My sister asked questions and filmed as I sat on the bench in my J.Crew khakis, button up shirt, and denim coat and pink loafers for a touch of, "look at me! I'm a nanny! I'm a professional AND I'm fun!"

Chris mocks me to this day because for every interview, I sport some random, nonsensical accessory. He wiggles his Jazz Hands at me as I go out the door and taunts, "look at me! I'm FUN!"

Khakis with embroidered puppies land the job, every time.

Anyway, I ended up with the agency and felt really proud of the accomplishment. Beacon Hill was known to be THE YALE of nanny agencies and I had somehow squeaked by their SAT requirements. The owner pimped me out as a Midwestern Girl which is exactly the kind of prime rib dinner that hungry East Coast tigers like.

You know, family values, solid morals, and hot dish casseroles? The sort of things that serve as a substitute for parents that don't want to do an ounce of parenting.

Why do what you can pay someone else to do for you!

After years with a Totally, Certifiably Whacked Out Cuckoobirds family, I resigned on my own free will. There was an AH HA moment of holy shitballs, I am almost 25 years old and I have never had my own life because I've been so damn busy managing someone else's!

I took a year to teach preschool. I accepted a job as the nanny of five for a seemingly normal family.

They were not.

Six years after I first read that article in USA Today, I had a flashback moment last week when the New York Times ruffled the feathers of many with an article last week about a $180,000 nanny. I read the article and nodded sagely to some of it-- knowingly-- and rolled my eyes at some of it. I read all 325 comments left by online readers and felt both offended and appalled.

The only comment I found acceptable was this:

180,000 per year
365 days per year
24 hours per day
comes to $20.55 per hour.
That is a FANTASTICALLY low wage for someone with all the various skills, talents, knowledge and disposition that a nanny does. More power to them!

Which is exactly what many professional nannies do and it is what ALL East Coast nannies do. There is not a moment of personal time, not an ounce of privacy, and more use and abuse and mistreatment than anyone could imagine.

To be a professional nanny is to be someone's personal slave, I can assure you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oops, I did it again

I know, I know, overuse and abuse of an inexplicably popular song by an inexplicably popular white trash hobag entertainer.

As discussed many times before, I suck at baking. Cooking I do, baking I do not. I found this over the weekend and identified Dilemmas #4 and #5 as the culprits in my dessert mishaps.

Now if only I could FIX the problem.


There are many variables in baking. Pictured are cookies with various problems using the same dough (with flour adjustments in numbers 3 &4).

1. This cookie is done just right. It is pictured to compare with the rest.
2. This dough was not refrigerated. It is still good but a little flatter than it should be.
3. This dough contained too much flour and did not spread much at all. It is interesting to note that the dough looked identical to the correct dough, but was much stiffer and drier.
4. This dough had too little flour. It spread too much and didn’t bake evenly.
5. This dough was over-mixed. It had a poor color, baked flat and had a strange consistency.
6. This dough was formed too small. It was overcooked at eight minutes. It is fine to make smaller cookies, just bake them for less time.
7. This dough was formed too large. The outsides were done while the middle was too high and underdone.
8. This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too hot. The outside was overdone and the inside was slightly underdone.
9. This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too cool. It fell flat and became too crisp without much of an inside.
10. This dough was frozen when baked. It took longer to bake and didn’t cook as evenly. To use frozen dough, set on cookie sheet at room temperature while oven is preheating, 15-20 minutes. It takes the frost off and bakes perfectly.

Look at Me, I'm Not only Having my Cake, I'm Eating It!

Dear Self,
Today, you are 28.

That's right, kid:welcome to your motherfucking late twenties.

It's a little scary, and the road here has done a lot of meandering en route to THIS moment. The good news is, the track didn't take a total nose-dive off of a cliff, it just ran off course for long enough to taste the bitter bite of being young and dumb and making piss-poor choices.

Try not to be too hard on yourself: none of those choices shamed your family or completely squashed your dignity. And also, in spite of stealing a few pieces of federal property for giggles, the stop signs and construction barrels were all disposed of before words like "arrested" or "convicted" entered the picture.

The neck piercings and Warped Tour Band Member Boyfriend episode were sort of embarrassing, but not altogether tragic. Your hair has been every color, your closet has represented every Shouldn't Have Done That fashion moment since baggy carpenter jeans, and your bank statements have gone from bar tabs to utility bills.

Congratulations, you're growing up.

And oh, those grown-up wrinkles! I know you stare in the rearview mirror during your morning commute four out of five days each work week and are mentally saving for Botox already. You're a planner, a worrier, a Doomsday Prepper.

Those wrinkles were hard-fought and well-earned.

Two years ago at this time, you were sitting in your parents' basement wondering when your time would come. Those were some tough days: years of use and abuse as a domestic employee are hard on a gal. It would only be natural to look at the big salaries, beautiful houses, and growing families that surronded you and feel a little sad.

We all throw Pity Parties for ourselves sometimes. As long as you don't drown in your own tears, it's acceptable for a certain period of time.

Last year at this time.. and brace yourself, Big Girl... you had left the Job From Hell two days ago. The Mrs sent you on your merry way with Bible scripture about selfish people rotting for all of eternity. Those years of tolerating such mistreatment and total lack of boundaries have made you stronger. Tougher. Bolder and more adament about your right to be treated like a valued employee with a schedule, and oh yeah, AN OVERTIME RATE should you be called in early, held late, or worked until your fingers bleed.

This year has been big. Too big to minimize by trying to write about it all.

It feels good to feel good, doesn't it? To have real, grownup relationships with family members and friends. Real friends. Not people that are readily available when you want to pay for their Kamikaze shot and conveniently unavailable when you need a ride while your car is in for an oil change.

Twenty eight is going to be deliciously full of good things. And even when the skies cloud over withe Really Bad Things, your twenty-eight year old self will have the strength and the smarts to know to sit tight, hold onto your britches, and believe in the ultimate outcome.

Happy Birthday, Self. It is a happy day, indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Farmers Market Fabulous

If you don't know much about making ass-kicking homemade pizza, you're about to learn.
What I'm talking about is not the Pillsbury pizza dough in a tube type. No, what I'm talking about hardly even involves mozzarella cheese blankets or sugary red sauces.

That crap is for amateurs. Even Domino's admits so.

image courtesy of

After mastering the art of the dough-- and yes, it does involve more than pouring yeast into flour, letting it rise, then pummeling it into shape-- you can move onto fanciful tricks like GRILLING your muthafuggin PIZZA.

And that is some crazy ass shit, son.

For now, here's the most delicious homemade dough recipe from a most delicious man:

Tyler Florence, Ultimate Pizza Dough

1 ounce fresh yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Pour the yeast in a small bowl then add 1/4 cup of warm water and the syrup. Stir together and leave for 5 minutes to dissolve.

Put the flour and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook and give it a quick spin to mix. Pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining warm water and the olive oil at the same time

Spin on low until the flour and water come together and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put the ball of dough in a large bowl and drizzle a few drops of olive oil on top to keep it from forming a skin as it proofs. Cover with a towel and leave in warm place for 30 minutes to let the dough proof. When the dough has proofed it will double in size and look spongy.

*Bloggers Common Sense Note: This can positively be done without the jumbo KitchenAid stand mixer and its 17 attachments you don't know how to use. You'll just have to use your noggin and a little bit of good old fashioned sensibility when mixing. Typically, I find that all is as directed above, but mixing by hand uses slightly less flour*

Now, once you have this Ultimate dough, do me a fracking favor and don't try to force it into a circle. I find a jelly roll pan to be prime.

Oil the bottom lightly with olive oil, dust with yellow cornmeal, then proceed to spread dough. Dividing the dough in half and forming two individual, hand pressed ovals works well around here since Chris is such a patsy-ass and refuses to touch my "ONION JAM" pizzas.

Then you'll need some damn toppings for this uncooked slab of carbs. Bobby Flay is a pizza phenom, but he of course GRILLZ his. So save that recipe for when no one is waiting on you to feed their bellies. Rest assured, you will dump half of the pizza in between the grill grates at least the first three times you try. So worth it once you pull your act together though.

Another pizza I'd be willing to have an affair with comes from Cooking Light, volume 13. Which was about 11 volumes more than necessary, but never the less...

Farmers Market Pizza

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
5 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Blacken the corn. Season. If you cannot handle these two steps, do not pass Go, do not proceed to the remainder of the recipe. If you can handle charring corn, move along.

Set corn aside, add oil to a skillet and saute onion and bell pepper together until onion appears translucent. Add garlic and thyme or even Herbs de Provence if you're feeling sexy.

Add previously burned blackened corn to the onion jam. Scatter over dough and top with mozzarella. Dust with parmesan glitter, season with S&P. Bake at 425 damn degrees for 20 minutes. Remove pizza and add halved tomatoes. The recipe says do this "evenly" but I think that's some real contrived bullshit. Toss those bastards on, bake another 5-10 minutes.

SHAZAM. Sprinkle with fresh basil and devour.

There you go. Legit homemade pizza.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Terrier Tuesday

Alright, so Drake is no Terrier. But I couldn't stand to wait for Furry Friends Friday or Wet-Nosed Wednesday to share this shamrock of love with you all.

I was so blown-over by the response last week to a simple Pinning of the beautiful, loving Ava and her special need for a compassionate home. Not only did Ava find a home in a matter of hours, but so did fourteen other dogs.

There's always another four-legged friend that needs a home. Feast your eyes on Drake:

Drake is better than all of the marshmallows in a Lucky Charms box combined.

Better than the gold in the pot at the end of a double rainbow.

Drake IS a cupcake frosted in rainbows and a game Duck Duck Goose.

He's bounding with energy and would make a most loving, energetic running partner and buddy. Drake is someone's canine soulmate, we simply have to help him find his human rescuer! (you can find him through Secondhand Hounds)

Lights, Camera, Feelings of Inferiorness

Sometimes when I want to feel bad about myself and often when I want to host, cater, and attend my very own pity party, I check in with my favorite style blogs to see just what the frack the cool cats are struttin with these days.

What I often find is unlivable beauty. The kind I typically work in. My favorite kind of fantasy. The kind that's beautiful in glossy magazine spreads but makes me think- I could never wear sweatpants on that silly couch! And surely someone would die if I ate leftover Sesame Chicken on that bizarre antelope horn sidechair!

And what we all also know is these people never let a television be seen in photographs. Oh no. Television is for neanderthals. Heathens! The Bachelor Watching Bottomfeeders of unrefined societies!

But man, those snobby bitches sure do have some pimped out palaces for acting like a stick in the mud in. Not an Ikea bookshelf for country club miles.

Some of my favorites as of late are the designs of Alessandra Branca. No, no, not the booby Victoria's Secret model. Although I my disdain for her and her perfectness is also overwhelming. But no, Alessandra Branca who is, as far as I can tell, the greatest of the Roman contributions to design.

She's the daughter of a Vatican Museum art historian, for crying out loud!

Her bio also identifies her design as exceptionally livable. Maybe in the context of her delicious life full of antiques and Roman summers and Master Design awards. I even once saw her style called Chinoiserie Chic.Then, right after that, an entire book sited her as the inspiration for a design movement referred to as New Traditional.

She's also beautiful, well spoken, and super self-deprecating.

God, can you imagine being so fricken effortlessly cool?

Saturday, March 10, 2012


While I haven't quite put my finger on what exactly it is that's so intriguing about this webcam feature, I do know that I check in with Mr. and Mrs. and their eggs before work and bed. Each and every day.

The dog hears the wind and owls hooting and traffic whirring by and sniffs the house out for intruders. After 9pm, it's usually nothing more than a white headed bird sleeping, in night vision.

I heard rumors that one of the adult eagles brought half of a baby pig back to the nest for snacking a few weeks back and knew I had to tune in. The most exciting thing I've seen thus far is what appeared to be a sexual relation of some kind between Daddy Eagle and Mommy Eagle. The nest is in someone's residential neighborhood and if you catch the feed during the day, you can often listen in on people's conversations. Maybe the eagle could talon an innocent bystander's eye out for us to see.

It doesn't look so impressive on camera, but take into account the monster size of these birds then note that the nest itself weighs more than 1.5 tons.

That's a baker's dozen pre-Dancing With the Stars Kirstie Alleys!

Isn't voyeurism delicious?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breeders are for Westminster. You're a Real Person. Woof!

If you live in the Minneapolis area-- or Wisconsin or Iowa or Dutch Pennsylvania for all I care-- never forget adoption when adding a four-legged member to your lifescape.

Two weeks before departing for her freshman year of college, my dearest sister Lo arrived home with the most darling puppy. A 3 month old half Husky, half black lab puppy named Lilly. She found her at the Humane Society and thought HEY! Let me make this 12 year commitment right as I'm about to go live in a shoebox sized, cinder block youth hostel for four years!

Ah, to be young and a moron.

Our dad threatened to return the dog for weeks and we all sobbed and cried with hysteria. It took him a while, but he finally accepted Lilly. Who is also known as Lillybean. Who is also known as the Princess of All Living Things, second in command only to Katie B., may she rest in peace, Queen of All Living Things.

She was the original gangster of canine royalty in our family.

Lilly makes Lassie look like a real half-assed family member. She knows when you need a hug and even leans in when you reach out for a squeeze. She'll sleep at your feet out of protection and adoration, but won't maul you with a slobbery tennis ball. She's well mannered and playful and honest to God, if the Mayan Calendar is correct, I want to die by her side.

Of her litter, Lilly was the last to be adopted. We know in our hearts that Lilly knows in her's that we rescued her. She repays us infinitely each and every day.
Ava is in foster care and comes with special needs
and, I'm certain, a very special kind of
 love and companionship to offer her rescuers.

There are plenty of studies that suggest to us humans that the dogs we rescue love us even better because they KNOW that we were their savior.

Don't get me started on religious saviors, but animal saviors I'm all sorts of into.

Bob Barker asked us to help control the pet population for decades, but we all know that the people that need to hear that message probably aren't watching The Price is Right. So here we are and here are all of these dogs so desperately in need of homes.

Also, try to remember when looking at the puppies that puppies, like those darn babies, grow up. Puppies pee and chew and nip at little fingers: if you're at work all day and can't properly house train a puppy, consider a dog. If you have small children that will throw blocks and play on the floor, consider a dog. The companionship is the same and it is often DOGS, not puppies, that most desperately need placement.

They will love you as you've never been loved before.

And even if you cannot commit to owning the animal indefinitely, consider fostering one. It's the no-strings-attached sex you loved BUT with all sorts of cuddling and kissing.

We all know about the Humane Society, and they certainly are wonderful. I like underdogs though-- Secondhand Hounds belongs to the sibling of a friend of our's and they're doing lovely things.

Not only do all dogs go to heaven, but most certainly those that do the tireless work of trying to save them do as well.

So Easy, Even Your Idiot Brother Could Do It

Does everybody have a blog?

Does everyone have a "lifestyle" worth Pinning about and pining after?

I swear, blogging has given the cool kids another "W" for their self approval talley board.

Listen, I dont weigh 98lbs and blog about scones and wildflowers and my law school husband. I dont wear impossibly cute outfits or go to Crossfit between tea parties and happy hour while noshing on 7 Skittles once every 36 hours. My life is the Paris Hilton of sex tapes: uneventful and uninspiring.

Nothing about my life is lofty or fluffy and oh yeah, I'm not full of shit and trying to blow smoke up everyone's ass about the fairytale fantasticness of my life either.

Sometimes, the extreme boringness of my life makes me wonder why I bother blogging at all anymore. I'm not single and dancing on bartops and I'm not married with adorable children and stories of preschool hilarity either. Hell, I'm contractually no longer even allowed to tell tales of toddler antics and child rearing mishaps at all.

Total and complete Nanny Gag Order. And I gotta tell you, Internet people, I have it so good here that I'm not even going to turn up my nose or flip out my middle finger at the hushing of my employment experience.

Chris and I are so stable that it makes me want to pick a fight over toilet seats or him making eyes at the Applebees waitress simply to have something other than pleasantries and snarky jokes about the idiocincracies about one another that we find so annoying yet oh so endearing to talk about. We go to work. We come home. We like walking the dog on Friday nights and talking about the week. On Saturday, I wake up at 7am to go to the gym and the Co-Op and eat my favorite Veggie Overload pizza with my once weekly Diet Coke splurge.

I imagine it's somewhere between my overhead press and hill sprints that Chris heads out to the golf store. Actually, every golf store. To stare at shit he has already seen and stared at on eBay all week. This is what I know to be the BORE SNORE of shopping tours.

The most titillating event of the past six months came last week when I decided to change my hair color to brewery brown from Malibu Barbie blonde.

And I have to say, I hate it entirely.

I used to change my hair color every other month: hot pink, black, cherry red with bleach bangs. But this time, I looked in the mirror and thought..nope, not me. Not anymore.

My hair- my skin- feels so comfortable, so consistently who I've become that it feels insincere to not be blonde and bubbly and excited to do nothing more on Friday night than wear my pajamas and watch Gold Rush while shoving Sesame Chicken in my mouth. With a fork.

Maybe real adulthood isn't much different from childhood afterall. If the principal doesn't call, if the dentist doesn't have cavities to report, if they're just upstairs playing Wii and coloring, it's alright.

Maybe no news is good indeed.

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