One Thumb Sideways: The Ivy Huff Story

Okay guys, I really tried to put the fun in perfunctory with this week's recipes. 

Asian Garlic Tofu

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

See? Feeding people multiple times a day every day doesn't have to be a soul-crushing slog! You can...put garlic and bacon and stuff in there. Spice it right up. Very exciting. No problem.

Ivy had her very first school cafeteria meal this week. She gave it one thumb sideways, which I think is fair.

Actual contents of her stomach at the end: chocolate milk, juice, pumpkin pie square, three green beans

Hey...y'all can't tell that I'm the one who's been cutting Anna's bangs, right?

They look very good and professional, right?

Thought so


312 months running

So here is, I think, the key to super-convenient, extra-quick recipes: following the instructions. Wait, hear me out! Otherwise you might, hypothetically, spend significantly longer trying to crisp up the bacon that was already supposed to be cooked before you put it on the Egg Squares than you did putting the whole thing together in the first place. And that would be really really annoying. Like you would probably just want to give up on things for the day. And not even eat your Responsibility Broccoli because who cares nothing matters.

Completely unrelated, one tab over are a page full of results for "best period tracker app" because I have said "oooooh, that explains it" every month for 26 years and I'm starting to think maybe I should play some active defense for once

The children did not catch on to my failure, but rather gloried in their first exposure to pre-packaged crescent roll dough.

"This bread," she said breathlessly. "This bread is like heaven."

This weekend I met a goat named Pablo and he caused me to rescind my previous uninformed anti-goat stance, he was extremely chill and gloriously curly. Apologies to goats, I truly did not know you could be like this.

Thank you Pablo




I made some Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, which tasted very good but looks terrible because DST has ended and nothing suffers from lack of natural lighting more than pictures of soup.

Liquid food was not meant for the age of electricity

I consider this to be the one and only drawback of the "fall back" time change, which I otherwise embrace wholeheartedly. My children actually fall asleep at bedtime because it is dark outside! Our walk to the bus stop is no longer pitch black! And listen, I realize that I am a Texan by birth and inertia, but ~spiritually~ I'm from some dark, damp village much much closer to the North Pole, so if I could just decide I was In For The Night around 1:00 pm every day that would be fine with me. Honestly, any time I have carefully weighed the idea that I might be a supervillain, my evidence is not so much words or deeds or thoughts but rather my deep and inexplicable mistrust of sunlight.


Anyway, at Girls Scouts this week Anna made a wreath comprised of things she is thankful for, and one thing I am thankful for is her grasp of the parenthetical.


No omen no omen you're the omen

Just want to say that yesterday began with a bird in my house...

 ...and ended with a late-night phone call from myself.

So everything is fine here.

The slightly more ridiculous of my two fairly ridiculous daughters turned six this weekend.

This closeup brought to you by the fact that behind Pusheen she is entirely nude

She asked for, and in no way could be deterred from the idea of, a "poop cake." So that's clearly some degree of parenting failure there, if my enemies would like to make a note of it. I compromised by making it "unicorn poop" and hoping to pass it off as a colorful geological feature.

Beautiful scenic Crap Mountain

After a weekend of birthday nonsense I decided I needed to buckle down and make an actual nutritious meal, so I landed on Maple and Mustard Glazed Salmon, and I gotta say, it was a nice, gentle landing.


My only regret is not crafting more fake viscera

Last night's recipe is called, uh, I Used Up All of My Food Prep Energy On Halloween

With Rice

But look at the cute things! Little orange pumpkins and banana ghosts and apple monsters and spiderweb eggs!

And if you need further proof that I was feeling especially antsy this year about the limited number of little kid Halloweens remaining at our house, please know that I spent roughly one and a half forevers peeling grapes in order to gross out my children by telling them they were eyeballs.


They recovered pretty quickly.


BOO (hoo I am old)

This is a little dish I like to call Whoops I'm Stuck With A Sick Kid on Grocery Day What Do We Have Broccoli and Bacon Guess That'll Work Pasta.

A lot of time goes into crafting these culinary offerings

Anyway, happy Halloween everyone. Up to you to decide what you find scariest:

Some sort of DC villain amalgam 

Menacingly winking Minnie

The fact that Speed came out 23 years ago and your youth is receding in the distance at no less than 50 mph


Everything in this post is very dark

This week I successfully followed two recipes without incident and I am here to relate them to you as follows:

Asiago Cauliflower and Quinoa Chowder

Creamy Shells with Tuna and Spinach

I can't tell you how much time it takes to put together a "silly outfit" for Silly Outfit Day with a child who insists that literally any two items of clothing actually can go together, thematically.

"But this one also has a little bit of pink."
"But stars go together."
"But this has a stripe too."
"But cats like butterflies."
"...and flowers."

Ivy lives in a world without mismatch

For the past couple of weeks I have been assiduously avoiding real world news and Twitter in particular throwing myself into spooky podcasts in order to make the most of my October and also gain some perspective re: the fact that humans have literally always been unhappy and afraid. It's kind of our whole deal! Sometimes it's nice to feel unsettled as opposed to genuinely horrified and depressed. Here's are some I've tried out if you are in the market for similar:

  • Lore. This one is not Halloween-specific, I have been listening to it for a while. It's history-based, for the most part, and a lot of the stories are interesting, although Aaron Mahnke has some narrative tics that drive me absolutely bonkers. The madness is part of the experience! Recommended for: people who like some historical research with their thrills and chills; people who are maybe open to doing a shot every time Mahnke pauses and says "they say" or "you see."
  • Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked. These are mostly stories submitted by listeners about their "true" experiences, but obviously there is a pretty broad range of plausibility in play. Some are kind of sweet and sad, some are nuts. At the end of the zombie clown story the narrator does a thing that made me roll my eyes and think "I see what you did there" but damned if I haven't thought about that zombie clown a couple of times since. Recommended for: people who can convince themselves that because it's on NPR it's probably real.
  • Within the Wires. I actually only listened to a couple of episodes of this because it ended up not being the flavor of "unsettled" I was going for. But I really like the setup: it's a series of guided meditation-type recordings where you gradually gets hints about how messed up the surrounding world is. It's from the Welcome to Night Vale people, but I found it more serious and more stressful to me personally on a "kids taken away from their parents" level. Recommended for: people looking for a mysterious dystopian puzzle.
  • The Lost Cat PodcastThis one is actually the Night Vale style I was after--the narrator encounters many strange and spooky things (and loses a couple of body parts) while searching for his lost cat, but does not seem overly concerned about them. It's dryly funny and not particularly scary although the last episode of Season 1 did make me...nervous. There is original music in every episode. There is a lot of wine-drinking. I've only finished the first season and that cat is still missing. I'm worried about the cat, guys! Recommended for: people who can relate to being willing to face off with eldritch abominations in order to find their cat.
  • Knifepoint Horror. I had this on my list for a long time before finding the courage to actually listen to any of it because both the name and the thumbnail picture imply actual horror when my goal is subtly creepy shivers. But I was pleasantly surprised! A lot of these stories are really engaging and intense in a way that I liked. Some are more predictable than others ("oh I get it, that guy is a werewolf") but they are mostly fleshed out nicely. I started with the story called "attic" which is great if you're interested in a "WHAT'S IN THE BOX" situation. I will say, all of the more recent stories are read by the same guy, so if you listen to too many in a row it kind of switches over from "oh no what's going to happen to him" to "man, this guy can't catch a break." Recommended for: people who want straight up spooky campfire stories.
  • The Ghostlands Podcast. I love this one. Maybe all I really want is a Canadian voice in my ears, eh? Each episode focuses on a different historical monster and ends with a scary story that is old enough to be in the public domain (think Lord Dunsany, Ambrose Bierce, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allen Poe, etc., including a real banger from Charles Dickens). Recommended for: people who see that the latest episode is about goblins and think "oh sweet, we're getting some Christina Rossetti today!" i.e. English majors.
  • You Must Remember This: Karina Longworth's always-consistent Hollywood history podcast is focusing on Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff this month. Technically this topic is significantly less chilling than, say, her Charles Manson series, but it is terrifically researched told and fun to think about as Halloween draws near. Recommended for: people interested in early-to-mid 20th century Hollywood; anyone amused by a display of absolute disgust at the lack of acting ability in Lon Cheney, Jr.


I think I actually saw pumpkins sweating

I made Moroccan Nectarine and Plum Chicken last night, mostly because I've had a lot of luck selling my children on the concept of couscous by describing it as "the world's tiniest pasta." I think they will eat anything as long as I frame it as being somehow adorable.

Wait until I tell them about micronutrients, they are going to be PUMPED 

It Is Too Hot To Go To the Pumpkin Patch in October in Texas: 2010 vs. 2017.


The wind cries broccoli

Three or four times a week I walk outside, raise my arms to the heavens, and wailingly implore "What will my children eeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaat?" And if I am quiet and still, I hear the delicate strains of an answer float down to me on the breeze, gentle and not entirely confident: "Noodles. Maybe some broccoli."

Pad See-Ew

Speaking of wailing, I get the sense that the ghost currently haunting our house isn't getting paid enough per hour. Pretty lackluster.

Or maybe we got stuck with a trainee or something


Very nearly a recipe

If you've read this blog for any amount of time you'll have noticed that I like to post about food and I try to throw you some helpful links but I never write out actual recipes. The reason is simple: it seems like a lot of work? And also, when I do manage to create something that tastes good all by myself, I tend to forget to pay attention to the tiny details such as "ingredient quantity" or "cooking time."

So I'm going to give you a very general summary of these German potato salad...nachos? See, naming things is also a problem. I wanted a party-friendly version of potato salad, so I coated thick slices of red potatoes with olive oil and Dijon mustard and roasted them in the oven at a...high-ish temperature for...a while. Then I flipped them over and put a little pile of chopped red onion and sauerkraut on top and cooked them...some more. Then I took them out and put sour cream and scallions on top. Ta da!

Listen, I also wish I had more specific details, okay? We're all at the same disadvantage here.

The last couple of bus stop mornings have been very very very good for me.

Less so for my children, who remain unconvinced that humans can survive sub-70-degree temperatures for extended periods.