Landscaper Lady

Not in the provocative early 2000’s way, but in the dirt under my nails.  Okay, two stories, here is one of them…

1) When we took possession of our new home we had about two weeks to do a lot to it.  From the mundane, termite tenting to the glorious, new wood floors.  I was project manager and yes, I did bring it in at budget, thank you.  So, there is a little clubhouse/ man cave structure in the back yard at the top of a hill. It’s a little rickety and according to our inspector is going to be eaten to dust by termite as a big tasty, uninsulated little morsel in about 2 to 3 years, but in the meantime I’ve made it the art room for the kids and the place where Mark and I can hang up our vanity.  You know posters of cancelled shows, promos for cookbooks.  Things that say we have had brushes with accomplishment, but would make our house feel like a tavern if we put them in our actual home.

So, I had budgeted for my termite tent and for a few pieces of eaten up wood to be replaced. I was leaning into the floor guys ( tough job, not me, them) because no point in tenting until after the floor is down and I was trying to hustle so I didn’t have to pay anymore rent. The termite guy sends me an email that they can NOT tent because the plant that is poking out of the rafters of the clubhouse is from our neighbors and even though they signed releases that in effect said, “spray away”, the termite dudes won’t go near it.

“There has to be daylight between their plant and your structure.”  Here is a pic, though it doesn’t do it justice.  It was deep, dark, thorny.  Staring at it I felt like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.   I called my landscape gardner friend.before

“I need someone to cut this thing.”  It was about 8 feet deep and 3 foot wild of gnarled mass.

“Probably $300.”

Gulp…over budget!

We had the added pressure as well that since the termite tenting had not been done during escrow our lender withhold a considerable amount of money until there was evidence the work had been done.

I started to chop.  Not much success.  Plus both my kids needed my attention from time to time.  Then, one of our new wonderful neighbors said she would take Vivien ( she also has a daughter) and lent me a really good cutting device.  Gloves on I yelled a rebel yell and went in while Rex busied himself nearby with dirt, balls, whatever.  20 minutes in I was bathed in sweat.  I really doubted I would be able to finish. Thank goodness Rex was not feeling needy, because I was able to push forward for 2 and half hours.

How did I do it?  I told that thorny shrub that I was going to make it my bitch.  I did.  Chop, chop, chop.  I was obsessed. My arms throbbed ( screw the gym) and I took a few water breaks and to make sure Rex was alive, but I did it!  Except… for three branches at the top of the structure I could not get to from any angle.

Then right on cue, Mark popped home.  He climbed on top and chopped the last few.  I was glad that he showed up, but was a tad jealous that after all of my hard work he got the “mission accomplished” moment.

I took a picture and sent it to the termite guy. after In effect saying, “Get your tent and your poison here”.

Now, clearly, it’s not looking that pretty right now, but saving $300 never felt so good.

Second story tomorrow.

Kenmore Washer and Dryer, Oh Yeah!

I have a few vids and blogs coming about settling into our new digs. When we got the house, we found out we needed to get a washer and dryer as the previous owners wanted to take theirs with them. I had been doing some fantasy buying (where I stay up late and surf on images I covet, you know). My wandering eye settled on a pair of energy efficient front loaders from Kenmore. Oh, yeah, they knew they wanted me.

In one of those rare “put it out into the universe and it will come” types of things, I got an email from Kenmore that asked if I would judge a contest for them about Genius Tips. This is a fun read, let alone a great opportunity for you. They want tips about short cuts and hints to different domestic topics. There is a winner every month who gets a $3,000 Kenmore gift certificate. That would buy you a lot of Kenmore. So, I reached out to the Kenmore rep, told her of my love and desire for a Kenmore washer and dryer and how I could perhaps help them with their Genius Tips contest. Long story short, I got this washer and dryer to review.

When I picked them up at the local Sears (on Crenshaw), I did spend over $200 on a warranty for the washer (which MP told me not to buy, but I did). Otherwise, I was given this set to review and for my ongoing participation in the Genius Tips contest.

Here is my first take on the set (by the way, in the store, they seem to cost a little less depending upon the special being run).

Check out the Genius Tips. I have spent some time, after the kids go to bed, on that myself. The winning tip will be featured in a Kenmore ad.

Second Baby

Oh, we have special guest today: a brand new baby!!! My dear Cool Mom producer is taking some time off to care for her new, second baby, Paz. She dropped by and I had to ask her how things were going and to meet the lovely baby. He was inside her while she helped me create the last several months of Cool Mom vids. Rex missed Michelle so he was happy to see her.

Why do we forget when our own babies were that tiny?

Pork Rut

Some of the sponsored vids that I have done here over the years hit home more than others. Fruit Roll ups have stopped MANY tantrums around here ( Gen Mills), I did always hope one vid would go viral ( Smart Water) and I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about dinner ( Ragu). Granted I always thought about food for myself and was never one of those people who met up at a restaurant when I was single and said, “no, that’s cool I ate.” If the chow was good I was having some. But, every year I am a mother I get deeper and deeper into this making dinner thing. Partly because the ages of my children increase and present different challenges and also because I want to challenge myself. Also, the chef husband is gone more and more, so I can’t fall back on that.
I can’t just feed them cake, though that would bring a smile to their faces.
let them eat cake

For a while now I’ve been doing very well with pork. All three kids will eat it. I can make a nice pork roast or pan fry chops. It pairs nicely with a vegi, like my 4 star brussel sprouts. But, if I don’t defrost it in time I’m screwed. Mark buys a huge hunk of pork and we cut it up and freeze hunks big enough for a dinner in separate plastic bags. I’m on my last hunk today and Mark said, “maybe I should buy something different. A beef roast perhaps?” I was nervous. I’ve gotten my pork thing down.
But, wait, that’s bad I thought. That shows I have to vary it. I’m also getting low on my other go to. Chicken drumsticks in my “Hawaiian sauce” Soy, teriyaki and random spices.
I ventured the other night to  potatoes with bacon and it fell flat. So, maybe I’m in a pork rut. I love the other white meat, but I need to do something like pork belly ravioli ( Mark made this at Tar Pit recently, delish), but that’s a lot of steps for me.

When we shot the Ragu spots a few months back  ( with other mom bloggers like Mindy Roberts and Kim Tracy Prince) I was in a good dinner zone. This is our “Moms the word” series on momversation, but really exists on Facebook and it’s an ongoing conversation.  Last night I clicked on one of my Ragu vids about “dinner inspiration” to get inspired. My memory is shot, so it’s all new to me.
I seemed pretty confident in my dinner zone.  But, that was pre rut.  I’m a little tweaked in that I seem to only be able to concentrate on one or two ingredients at a time.

Okay, I will do something different.  I will use three spices I haven’t used..or used much in my pork show.  I shoved the kids into the back yard at 4pm and put brussel sprouts ( my go to ) and broccoli in on dish with olive oil, water, salt, pepper and oregano. (new)  Put in oven.  Check.  Then salted the pork roast with kosher salt, pepper, sumach( rarely use) , whole cumin (never use).  Put in ceramic baking dish with small white potatoes and a can of beef broth( usually use chicken) and a little apple cider vinegar ( new) and 4 cloves of chopped garlic and some chopped oven.  425 for and hour.   Then ran out in the back and played with my kids before my mom came over for dinner.  The best is doing it a little ahead.  I don’t like rushing to dinner because then I’m more of a rag and not enjoying myself.  Coming in muddy with some wet near naked kids and room temperature food ( I did take it out of the oven at one point) is so much better.

Oh, I over salted the pork, Vivien didn’t like the vinegar taste of the potatoes and Rex ate 4 bites and then tried to rip up my blouse.

Everything had been going so well…

What are cooking these days?  To share and get ideas check out the conversation on the Mom’s the Word Ragu page.

The Move 3.0

Since starting this experiment/masterpiece cool mom, I have moved three times. In three years. The boxes, the emotions, blah blah… The truth is I was FAR less emotional than previous moves. My skin is thick. This is also a very hopeful move. We moved into more of a shoulder area than where we owned before, further south from where we rented. I used to walk to cafes; now I can walk to auto body stores, but whatever. I’m so thrilled to have a second chance at home ownership, and I am really hoping we don’t have to leave this house for many years to come. But who knows?  In the meantime, I have really enjoyed fixing the place up for me and my family. Later, I will show you some of my DIY jobs.

I think this vid — like a lot the next week — will fall more into the “slice of life” category than big knee slappers. It’s the mood I’m in as I settle and nest, and being so flipping tired is short circuiting my brain (Rex’s 5am wake ups continue).

So grateful for what I have and for you all visiting the site.

Botox Girl

On Cool Mom when I try to be timely it doesn’t always work out. If I shoot a homemade, I can upload it quicker. But last week was my monthly gang shoot (not the “Colors” variety, but when I shoot a bunch of vids with a camera man). It was the day the Botox momma was on “Good Morning America”.  Well, since Child Protective Services took her kid away from her, she is saying she made the whole thing up.

Either way she is a real gem of a role model for her kid. Not as good a model as Arnold, oops, more info on that now, okay, take his father of the decade award away. Reportedly he is vacationing with John Edwards.

Do successful men not use condoms?

PS What’s the point of baby pageants anyway?  It’s always chubby moms that push their kids to that.

Mommy Coma

No wonder I’m in a mommy coma. Rex got me up at 4:50am. “Thomas Tank, Thomas Tank.” We are out of milk. UGH.

This is a good one… with cameos by producer Michelle — who just had a baby boy!! Welcome Paz (we’ll meet him soon) — and Marissa, production assistant and jack of all trades.

Are you in a mommy coma?

Treasure Kai: The Book App

I’m still dirt deep in my landscape project at Vivien’s school. We are a designated Big Sunday school… the get out and volunteer day. As the head of the committee — um, there are two of us — I have been hoeing it up in such a different way from the late ’90’s. On prep day I was so engrossed in where the boulders and Mexican Sage should be placed, I lost the keys to Mark’s catering van (sorry honey!) Felt like such a bimbo.

So, this vid is from a calmer time. In between volunteering for tasks that are really too much for me. I’m very proud of how well Vivien is reading, but she sees her older brother playing games on his iPad and is gravitating toward this, so a friend in Australia pointed me to this app as a way to bridge this.

Beat Poet: Sheep in a Jeep

When you read a book enough times you can move past boredom to appreciation.  I am clearly not alone as I found another grown woman online with her own version. I found reading the rhythmic “Sheep in a Jeep” to Vivien and now Rex to be pleasant and quick.  It was a book that never overstayed its welcome and it is pretty clever.  I heard a different sound in it.  In another time and coffeehouse maybe it could have been presented as a beat poem.

It’s not Howl, but please come into my scene and dig it.

Trash Trucks

As parents, we indulge our kids’ interest … which is how you can end up standing up in public, next to a large gang-looking guy with many tattoos as you both belt out, “I’m the map, I’m the map.”

Recently I catered to Vivien’s delight with the Imagination Movers concert. But on a weekly basis I try to get Rex what he wants. It doesn’t cost a thing, I get some exercise and I think we make some city workers feel mighty special.