fetch("crackers: cheese")

As I promised on Tuesday, I am attempting to ignore devastating celebrity deaths in favor of my Japanese reality show. I ASSUME EVERYTHING OUT THERE IS FINE. But if you must know, Episode 21 was a very stressful bump.

We are also still in the holiday eating zone of "no cookies until you finish your Chex Mix." We have waffles more days than not.

Thanks to Dan, our resident only-person-who-doesn't-shrug-and-say-"just cereal"-when-confronted-with-morning-hunger

I'll be honest though, we're starting to be kind of over it.

This is like a sixteenth century morality painting about the dangers of getting everything you want

Since I have not made any recipes, is it tacky to just show you the awesome stuff I got for Christmas?  What if I confine it to awesome stuff made by people I know?

First up, some good good goat milk soaps from my mom, made by my cousin Mindy. I let my soap bowl run all the way down this month because I knew I would be getting an infusion of these bad boys for Christmas. They're so SOFT and they smell so NICE and the goats they came from are so ADORABLE despite being GOATS. I also want to plug her Instagram feed, which is one of my very favorites. Almost every day it briefly tricks me into thinking I want to be a farmer, which is patently untrue.

Next! This delightful necklace from Dan, made by my artist market buddy McKinley Mizar. It has some heft and captures some light and feels like a very legit piece of personal decoration. Just a real old school "look at my stunning medal adornments" situation. Also, McKinley is honestly the nicest lady and I'm always pumped when we are set up next to each other.

And then! This way cool agave print tea towel from my unfairly talented sister-in-law Tiffany. I also have one of the armadillo t-shirts and it is the best. I currently have my eye on the Desert Crow design because like all reasonable people I love pictures of birds but not birds themselves.

Finally, I don't think she dried and ground the peppers and barks and such herself, but my mom did portion out a lot of spices for me and give my inspiration for 2017's cooking project, which is: Uh Erica You Have A Lot Of Spices You Should Use Them.

Finally we will know which paprika reigns supreme

Still got a couple more days of really trying to avoid news/any non-Japanese-reality-show conflict. Maybe I can use Anna's new robot to just fetch me snacks.


You also should watch Terrace House, DO IT

Greetings from the Kids Table!

I decided to stick with my "round and brown" strategy for Christmas Day: Chocolate Pecan Pie and Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie. This worked out pretty well. All brown foods in 2017, maybe? Just dark mounds of life-sustaining sugar? Still tweaking those plans.

Diabetic like a fox

If you celebrated Christmas this weekend, I hope it was so terrific that you were slightly put out by someone distracting you with a donut muffin.

And I hope you received a gift that truly spoke to who you are as a person, be it "tiny and fierce:"

Or "drippy cheese mess:"

It me

And if you did not celebrate Christmas I hope you still had a nice weekend, I don't know, my gift to myself is not reading the news this week. Gonna let that 2016 celebrity death toll rage on without me for a few days. Gonna binge on Terrace House instead.



 Well y'all, we deep in it already.

Everybody stay safe, do your best, make good choices.

And remember, as the very inspirational and eternally cheerful Victorian Mr. Charles Dickens taught us, we are all just "fellow-passengers to the grave." See you on the flip side!


Just some big ol' wall- and roof-shaped cookies

Good news, I believe I've got my baking groove back after a shaky, melted-peppermint-sadness-pile of a start. The key, I'm finding, is to focus on things that are Round and Brown and Look Good Against These Placemats:

Andes Mint Cookies. This dough was the complete opposite of the candy cane cookies, by which I mean "successful." I would make these again. I might go make these again. Here in a minute.

Pumpkin Gingerbread. Yesterday I had a leftover can of pumpkin in my pantry. Now I do not!

Y'all know I love IKEA slightly too much and that I've never complained about the putting-together of the things, but I could not keep their gingerbread house set standing for the life of me. Do I adore the fact that it's called a pepparkaka hus? Of course I do. Should I not have image-searched pepparkaka hus if I did not want to feel that the failure was solely mine? CLEARLY. Did my children care at all, even for a second, that the candy-covered gingerbread cookies weren't perpendicular to the table?

They did not.


Hint: it's not Saturday

I'm going to be straight with you guys, at this point I have allowed myself to be fully enveloped by the Buddy the Elf diet and I don't really see that changing in the next week, if this jug of maple syrup in my purse is any indication.

I even thought I'd try my hand at some Crispy, Buttery Candy Cane Cookies, since the main element missing from my holiday season this year has been baking.


(To be fair to the above recipe, she spends about twelve paragraphs warning about this exact problem and I tragically "nah it'll be fine"-ed it. Good enough for historic elections, good enough for batches of sugar, I say.) Anyway, the room-temperature butter and eggs and bag of Andes baking chips on my counter say that I have not yet begun to fight. Either that or this is like when I put on a sports bra only to take it off in sweatless defeat at the end of the day.

Last bus stop of 2016:

Big Kid presentation on Matisse:

Unknown student bringing some Monty Python realness to the life cycle of the dog:

This is an EX-DOG.

 Weekend forecast for Austin, guess which day I have an outdoor market guess guess guess:


Run run Rudolph

I have emerged from my busiest week of the year to find that Christmas is in...twelve days, it says here? Hmm. I should probably double-check that, I don't think that's right. At any rate, let me assure you that I'm sprinting out of this fog of wax-pouring and vendor small-talking straight into the loggy arms of Yule. (I have already failed at my promise to personally monitor political disasters in order to keep them under control with my focused anxiety, but it's only been a few days, I'm sure nothing deeply worrying about international espionage and our electoral process has come to light. He's not even president yet!)

First stop: Martha Stewart Living, December edition. Flip flip flip flip flip oh, the whole middle section is pasta! Nice.

Spaghetti with Brussels sprouts and bacon

Okay now quick, who has a seasonally appropriate hat that lights up?

Ivy coming through in the clutch

Candy canes? Face paint?

Check and CHECK

Oh no I think we overshot it and ended up at a Christmas morning breakfast of waffles and whipped cream!

I think she was genuinely surprised to find herself at a bus stop after that.



But seriously, folks

Among the many failures of 2016 is the unforgivable slacking of Regan's and my devotion to Super Social Food League of Austin. We tried to right the ship as best we could on Tuesday, with a trip to The Peached Tortilla:

"Mom's Toast." Whatever mom came up with this recipe really has her shit together.

"Crispy Fries." Why yes that is an egg to poke those fries into. Yes it sure is.

Crispy Fish and Chicken Pad Thai tacos. This was my most fulfilling Taco Tuesday in recent memory, all around.

Aaaaaaaand a Dolly Parton concert. First, let me point out that Dolly's outfit and guitar were so sparkly she was impossible to photograph. All of the pictures just look like you took a stage and cut a Dolly-shaped section out of it.

And I can honestly say I don't remember a three-hour stretch of time where I have felt more emotional whiplash in my entire life, which is really something for a Tuesday night. To wit:

  • I love Dolly, come on
  • She started at 7:30 on the dot and I both respect and am amused by that
  • Nostalgia for old-timey rural white people life is hitting me real wonky
  • Also everyone here is white
  • Everything on stage SO SHINY and I am a magpie of a person
  • Boob jokes
  • Dolly has a perfect, non-ironic 80's standup delivery of the line "But seriously, folks"
  • Again, romanticizing a simpler time when everything was much, much worse for women and POC is not a great look right now
  • Oh wait are we...singing protest songs?
  • We are singing protest songs
  • Lord help me the dulcimer is also covered in rhinestones and I love it so much
  • Boob jokes
  • Every time she says "But seriously" I dissolve into giggles
  • The whiteness of this crowd is even more apparent when they start dancing
  • I am deeply, deeply ambivalent about my heritage WAIT A SECOND is she playing the Benny Hill theme on the saxophone?
  • Yes
  • I probably watched 9 to 5 more times than was appropriate for my age and also I'm starting to wonder how much that one movie influenced my current feminism, I think it might be a shocking amount
  • I am exhausted and she is still in those heels, though

Wait, maybe we can see her better after the intermission outfit change?

So that was three nights ago and I am still worn out just thinking about it. Luckily, Ivy is here with the Cake Delivery Train.

Not a moment too soon



One slice of French egg thing, one slice of life

I am fully immersed in CANDLETIME right now, which means there are long stretches where my eyeballs and brainballs are mercifully engaged with things other than current events. This works out pretty well until re-engagement, at which time I begin to feel like an extremely superstitious sports fan in that I am certain things become 500% worse every time I leave the room. So I'm vowing to you here and now that I will resume my incessant worrying for all of our sakes going forward before we are fully at war with China due to my lack of attention. SORRY GUYS.

In the meantime made a Savory Clafoutis. Look, right here:

I made a food

Here are the snowmen napping on my couch. I am not allowed to move them.

Here is the "how to create the proper ketchup and mustard pattern on Ivy's hot dog" manual stuck to our fridge. Please, if you are ever in an Ivy-feeding situation, heed these instructions. Please.

Dot squiggle dot squiggle dot and God help you if you mess it up

Here are my offspring, working through a single trivia question.


Flush with artistic potential

I'm kind of in the weeds with candles right now (in the wicks?) which is bad for the state of my house but good for my mental health, as it means I skip right past the "Dear Heavens What Now" sections and directly to the "Give Me Some More Soups" section of the NYT:

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

Anna even time-traveled all the way from the 1980s to express her disdain for this one!

She found it, like, totally not radical

Instead of agonizing over bad news today, here is a brief shot of good news: the unemployment rate is the lowest is has been in nine years so let's just keep that in mind going forward in case, you know...anything changes. And I have another soothing, SlowTV-style recommendation for you. Most of the podcasts I listen to either are full of goof-em-ups or are harrowing true crime stories that I should stop listening to when I'm alone in the house, self. But my post-election mood has steered me in a different direction, specifically to an all-out binge of Nate DiMeo's The Memory Palace. I should start by saying that to my ears at least, Nate DiMeo has a very good voice. I first heard him on the You Must Remember This podcast (also great if you are interested in the history of classic Hollywood) where he was playing the part of Charles Manson. And I thought, "Hmm, yeah....I kinda get it."


Anyway, the good good voice of Nate DiMeo tells short, fascinating stories from American history and some are sad and some are uplifting and some will send you scrambling to Wikipedia to read more and if you are a pod person such as myself you should check it out.

Meanwhile, my cheery wall calendar is helping keep things in perspective this month by constantly reminding me that death is waiting and our comforts are few.

Speaking of bowls sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry that whole "dire times will bring out great art" thing might be kicking in already, because I feel that Ivy's latest piece, titled "2016," really captures the spirit of our times.

Someday I will contribute the phrase "Mommy! I made a toilet!" to her artistic retrospective


We're going to have to invent like 100 new synonyms for "dangerous"

I have very recently become a paid subscriber to The New York Times, among other publications. Hard to say what inspired it, guess I'm just reaching that point in adulthood where I panic about the future of our democracy and specifically the free press, haha, middle age, so predictable. And hey, guess what? They have a Food Section! With tomato soup

And the soup recipe starts with half a pound of butter!

So I guess that's the sum total of good news for the week.

I did learn another new word though, and edification always brings a certain degree of satisfaction. If kleptocracy didn't seem quite dire enough for you, try on Jamelle Bouie's offering of "kakistocracy" for size. How's that fit? Feels right, doesn't it? Can't have a woman in charge of our government, so I guess the alternative is the worst men. Makes sense.

Time to check in on how that popular vote is coming, yeah? As of Sunday, Hillary Clinton's lead stands at 2,332,814 votes. Two million. Three hundred thirty-two thousand. Eight hundred. Fourteen. 

Now let's take a horrified peek at where the man we have...mostly not chosen, but here we are, to lead and represent us is getting his allegations that many of those Hillary votes are fraudulent: Alex Jones! Since our topic for the day, and surely many days to come, is "the worst men," let's look at a few other tidbits from this source that is for sure legitimate reporting and not the ravings of a complete lunatic: the U.S. government is responsible for 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the murder of school children at Sandy Hook; fluoride in water is for mind control; juice boxes are a conspiracy to make children gay; intergalactic lizard people control the world. All the greatest hits from the email forwards of your craziest grandparent are there. This is the source of "news" that our president-elect is leaning on in lieu of official security briefings from the intelligence community.

But, I mean, Hillary had a private email server. Lesser of two evils, right? Real rock and a hard place.