Scenes From A Parking Lot…

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(I’m sure the owner of this vehicle has been forgiven for the grammatical error.)

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Freezer Food

My mom reminded me that it had been a while since I’d blogged.

This is true.

Here’s what I did during January:  I ate lots of food from my freezer.

You see, I’m a bit of a freezer hoarder. Not to the extent that TLC would actually feature my freezer on an episode of Hoarders. Definitely not. It’s a sanitary freezer — it was just getting a little cramped.

I also had a strong attachment to some of my freezer food. I got a little freezer for my basement so I could freeze tomatoes, peppers, basil, squash, etc. from my garden. It worked well. Two years ago, I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Many of them wound up in the freezer. This year, I had a bumper crop of yellow squash. The squash was still in the freezer (some was blanched and chopped and some was pulverized into a random recipe I found for “squash patties”).

One might have thought I was into vegetable cryogenics.  I’m not. (although it does sound interesting)

Plus, those squash patties were a dish only a squash mother could love. They were a little funky. But that yellow squash plant fought off squash borers all summer in a battle that resulted in a somewhat-gruesome-looking-but-VERY-fruitful plant. I had to reward its efforts.

So, I ate my squash patties in January. I also ate my 2011 tomato crop.

I discovered that yellow squash and tomatoes cook up rather nicely in a cast iron skillet.

I found frozen lasagna from last year. It was pretty tasty.

I also found a random ice block that turned out to be spaghetti squash. That was pretty tasty, too.

My January grocery bill hit an all-time low, and my tolerance for freezer-burned food hit an all-time high.

Now it’s February, and almost all the “antique” items in my freezer have been eaten (including a roll of Thin Mints….that was a welcome surprise). The only aged item in the freezer at this point is a small container of tomato soup. John and I made the soup a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the individual who created the recipe must have had some sort of salt deficiency, because the soup is basically a tomato-flavored salt lick. I’m not sure why I saved it and put it in my freezer — probably because it was made with tomatoes and basil from the garden.

Alas, I feel like I should attempt to consume the soup to deem my month of freezer food a true success.

Anyone on a low sodium diet should decline any dinner invites to my house.

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My Christmas Present

I admit it. I’m a little obsessed with The Splendid Table podcast. It’s the show for people who love to eat. And I do love to eat. And Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s voice is so lovely — in a perfect world, she’d read me a bedtime story every night. I even like to pronounce words in Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s Italian accent — prosciutto, mascarpone, ect.

So, in my quest to make Lynn Rosetto Kasper proud of me, I decided I needed a bit of cast iron in my life.

My dad totally came through on this. He found three beautiful cast iron skillets and seasoned them for me.

And tonight, my large cast iron skillet had her maiden voyage.

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The cast iron butternut squash was delicious. And, I did a little cast iron skillet research and discovered some of the iron from the skillet cooks into the food — this means my iron levels could be at an all-time high! How cool is that?!

My biceps will also benefit. This skillet is heavy.

And my refrigerator says “Beware Los Vamositos.” In Scrabble tile magnets. (Don’t be concerned — I don’t really have dangerous vamositos in my fridge.)

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Hello, 2013

Oh, the new year. It’s here again.

I totally dig New Year’s Day. It’s a time for keeping the stuff you like and getting rid of the stuff you don’t like any more. It’s a time to pat yourself on the back for all the cool stuff you did over the past year and anticipate all the cooler stuff you’re going to do this year.

I was a little anxious about the whole 2013 thing. Thirteen is the unlucky number of the number world, and I think we could all use a little luck during the coming year.

My grandma just turned 94, and I think she’s becoming psychic in her old age. Seriously — I spoke with her on the phone a few days before her 94th birthday and (1) she said I sounded sick (I felt fine); and (2) she said I probably wouldn’t get to celebrate her birthday because the roads would be bad. The night before her birthday, I came down with some sort of evil fever/cold…and there was a HUGE blizzard that pretty much shut down the state for a day. Hence, my grandma is psychic. She’s also oddly superstitious. She never puts 13 cookies or rolls on a baking sheet, and she’s a firm believer that black cats are good luck.

So, I asked Grandma what her thoughts were on 2013. She said it’ll be a good year.

I agree.

Here’s to another year of celebrating the little bits of joy that happen every day.

Here’s to celebrating the fact that I successfully trapped a mouse in my garage (ok, that’s kind of celebratory and morbid…but we’ll go with a glass-half-full approach) and am starting 2013 with a mouse-free garage!

Here’s to celebrating the fact that a Cheetos bag managed to wedge itself in my car’s license plate and remain wedged for over 100 miles! Instant car decoration! (unfortunately, it un-wedged before I got a picture)

Here’s to eating a lot of squash when life (or your dad) gives you a lot of squash and hoping you don’t turn too orange!

Here’s to getting rid of the 25-year-old couch in my living room and replacing it with something that doesn’t remind me of my battle with mono (although I was extremely grateful for that couch when I had mono).

Here’s to living life with unaccustomed zeal, learning new things every day, and sharing all the kind words that gather in my head.

I shall tackle 2013 like a Ninjabread Man. Hiiii-YAH!*

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*I do not plan to ninja kick any penguins in 2013. Unless my foot gets smooshed in a cupcake.

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Garage Rodentia

Sure, they can look all cute and innocent…

But, really I think mice are just waiting for an opportunity to take over the world.

I’ll admit it — I have an abnormal fear of mice. They have fur and little rodent faces. And they fit into little spaces…and they poop.

I do not wish the mice of this world any harm. I just don’t want them in my house. Or my garage.

I’d be willing to construct a little mouse house for them, and I’d be willing to feed them little scraps of food during the cold winter months. In return, the mice cannot not enter my house or garage. Somehow, I can’t seem to clearly communicate the terms of this agreement to the mice.

Last week, I was backing my car out of my garage,when I spotted the enemy. The first sighting was innocent enough — a little mouse ran across the back wall of the garage. It’s a detached garage. Perhaps the mouse was just passing through on his/her way to visit another mouse.

Ok. I didn’t even handle that mouse sighting very well. I called my mom from my car and said I wasn’t getting out of car. Like, ever. I assured her she didn’t need to be overly concerned — I wasn’t in any danger of harming myself or others. I just planned to live in my car. Forever.

She used her stern “I’m a mom and a teacher” voice and told me to stop being a weenie. (I paraphrased that.) I followed her orders and walked through the mouse-infested garage and into my house.

The next day, I cautiously opened my garage and backed my car out. I don’t have an electric garage door, so I got out of my car to shut the garage door. As I walked around the front of my car, a mouse sprinted from the underbelly of my car into the garage.

I screamed. And swore at the mouse. Any neighbors watching me obviously wouldn’t have seen the mouse and likely would have assumed I like to scream and swear before I get in my car to go to work.

The next morning, I was prepared to see my little mouse enemy run from my car to the garage. But…I didn’t see a mouse. I walked back toward my car — and SAW A LITTLE MOUSE HEAD POKE OUT FROM THE UNDERBELLY OF MY CAR! The enemy was living under my car! And was apparently trying to hitch a ride to work!

More screaming and swearing ensued.

I drove to work. I have no idea if the mouse survived. I’m sure he/she did. The little mouse probably roamed around downtown Des Moines for 8-9 hours and then hopped back under my car for a trip home. Probably.

I think this hypothesis was correct, because I saw the little furry rodent yesterday — running from my car to the garage.

BUT — yesterday, I fought back. Ok, I didn’t fight back. I called the best mouser I know (with two legs) — DAD.

He arrived with two bottles of yellow spray stuff to seal up the cracks in my garage. He also gave me several little pouches of anti-rodent potpourri. Apparently, mice don’t like the smell of this stuff. (I think it smells quite nice.)

The vulgarity of my language seems to increase with every mouse spotting. So, for the sake of any small children in the neighborhood, I hope this does the trick.

If it doesn’t, I may start buying the mice plane tickets to Florida.

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A Girl Walks Into A Hardware Store…

Oh, my. My life is one awkward moment after another.

It all started when my parents stopped by my house and my dad used the bathroom. Mom and I heard him yell, “Kid! (fyi — my dad doesn’t use my first name — he usually calls me Kid or Fritz) You’re out of poop spray!” (true.) This was followed by, “Kid! You’re out of hand soap!” (also true — although there was a little bit left if the bottle was tipped juuust right.) This was followed by, “Kid! Your bathroom door just fell off.”

pause…..

“No! Really! The door just fell off! It’s heavy! Come help!”

I ran to try to help my poor dad, whose routine trip to the toilet resulted in a trip to Home Depot AND Ace Hardware. He’s a good fix-it dad. Although it was unfortunate that his day was interrupted with door repair, I was grateful the bathroom door broke when there was a person with repair skillz in the house. My solution to a broken bathroom door may have been a curtain.

After my dad had the bathroom door back in swingin’ shape, he told me I needed to replace one of the screws in the door with a longer screw. THIS is the type of home repair I can do — I may not be able to operate any sort of power tool, but I can use a screwdriver.

Dad also told me the mortar in my home’s foundation had crumbled in a few places and needed to be repaired. He showed me where repairs were needed and told me to get some caulk with mortar at the hardware store.

*Fast forward to the next day.*

After a long day of staring at my work computer, I left my office and traveled to the hardware store.

I walked into the hardware store, and the friendly clerk asked, “Is there anything I can help you find?”

I answered her question quickly and said. “Yes, I need a longer screw and some caulk.”

Then I realized what I’d said. It seemed even worse to acknowledge the humor in that statement, so I stifled my laughter, found my longer screw and caulk, and left the store.

As soon as I reached my car, I started laughing. I hope the store clerk did the same.

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The Many Faces of Laura

I like to think of myself as a versatile person. I go beyond “At Work Laura” and “Weekend Laura (watch out — she doesn’t always shower!).”

On Halloween, I discovered my inner Garden Gnome Laura. I hung out with my fellow lawn ornament, Flamingo John. Together, we were Gnomingos.

I gnome what you’re probably asking — “how did John make such an impressive flamingo costume?” The answer — two hula hoops, a pink tablecloth, pink fleece, a sock, a plastic googly eye, and a few random items I forgot.

I also discovered my inner dinosaur today. Turns out, Laura is a dinosaur on Dinosaur Train! And, after “researching” my new favorite dino for about 2 minutes, I’ve discovered we have a lot in common.

Laura the Giganotosaurus is the largest dino on the Dinosaur Train, she’s a carnivore, and she has great eyesight.

If you overlook the fact that I’m one of the smallest humans on the “Human Train,” I’m a vegetable enthusiast, and I’m practically blind without corrective lenses — we could be dino/human twinsies!

Isn’t she cute?!

 

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