Early Morning Rising.

7 days since my last post.  On a good note, my kids are healthy and have returned to school.  On the flip side, I am either getting a cold or beginning to suffer from allergies.  Hard to tell which.  Being new to Maine, I’m probably susceptible to “foreign” pollen or something.  But I’m also just plain beat.  Keeping baker’s hours is no picnic.  I used to despise coffee.  Now, DAY 6 of JAVATHON! and I am consuming it with a passion I once reserved solely for booze.  My husband is enjoying the novelty. I am enjoying the bUZZZ.

Yet despite all best efforts to caffeinate myself, I am still almost perpetually tired.  And, unfortunately, a portion of this fatigue is simply beyond my control.  That’s right folks.  I have a problem.  A serious problem called apartment living.  I managed to escape this dreary fate for 8 glorious years, but now I am trapped.  For the next 3 months, or maybe even longer… If someone will not BUY MY HOUSE!!!!! OOHHHH PLEEAASSSSE.  PLEEEEAAASSSSEEEE.  WON’T YOU??? It is soooo PREEEETTTTY and I am asking SOOOooooOOOOO NIICEEEEELLLLLYYYY.

SO. IN SUMMARY.  Sleep cut short by my new employ = GOOD.  Sleep shaved off by my living circumstance = BAD.  We would up and move, but as we’re already strapped w/ 2 mortgages, a boatload of debt, a signed lease, 2 kids in school, pets out the wazoo, yada yada blah blah blah… we’re not going anywhere.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love this apartment.  LOVE IT.  The place is fabulous.  Sunny, spacious, a stone’s throw from school.  Great neighborhood – a little yuppie for my taste, but still. T-rrific.

But living on the 2nd floor of a 3-story house means we have neighbors.  UPSTAIRS neighbors.  Who seem nice and all, but keep completely different hours from us.  We are a family w/ 2 children in school.  They are 2 singles w/ night jobs and/or a penchant for partying.  A sit-com in the making?  Perhaps.  But NOT REALLY FUNNY.  Our neighbors come home late.  MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT late.  Our bedroom is right next to the stairwell; our headboard literally beside it.  My REM sleep is being broken several nights each week – sometimes twice a night.  And when I go to bed close to midnight and have to rise at the crack of dawn to bake, those hours are PRECIOUS.

But all of that — the noisy entrance, clomping up the stairs and door slamming I would take.  Willingly.  If the dude above me would simply stop having sex.  My problem in a nutshell?  His nut sack.  Tackle box.  Wild willy.  His pelvic thrusts worthy of GUINNESS BOOK FAME.  YOU HEARD ME.  My neighbor’s penis is getting on my NERVES.

What people do behind closed doors is their private business and theirs alone.  AT LEAST IN THEORY. Problem is, theory went out the effing window when it moved into a 2-bedroom apt below Sir Humps A. Lott.  Our first morning here we thought we were witnessing a freak earthquake.  I hadn’t heard anything about earthquakes in Maine, but hey, they happen everywhere, right?  WRONG.  That was NO EARTHQUAKE.  That was a taste of things to come.  My husband and I began noticing things – subtle at first, and then downright HARD TO MISS>.  Like when we felt the whole damn house shaking.  When our headboard began whacking itself against the wall.  Our dresser contents began shifting and our door threatened to break off its hinges and go cascading down the hall.  You see, Humpers likes to do the deed every couple days for a whole heaping helping of time.  And since he’s such a night owl, you can guess who’s UP when we’re NOT.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  I’m not counting, those are just his hours.  But it’s not consistent.  Oh no.  That would be too easy.  He likes to putz around for a while.  A creak here – a creak there — juuuuuusssst enough to wake you from SOUND SLEEP.  Then, right when you’re about to nod off again – BANG!  BAM BAM BAM BAMMMMMMMMMMM.  Which would be fine, if he would just FINSH THE HELL UP ALREADY.  But no. NO.  That goes on for – who knows how the hell long.  I have lost count.  Meanwhile, I am laying there, TRAPPED beneath my upstairs neighbor, trying to ignore THE WHOLE DAMN ROOM VIBRATING.. it’s unbe-f*cking-lievable.  A woman should be able to retire to bed, make sweet love to her husband, and go to sleep — NOT TO BE AWAKENED BY THE UNTOWARD ADVANCES OF HER UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  I feel like going up there and hosing him down.

But what can I do??  Really?  Not much.  I can joke, but laughter only lasts so long.  We can’t switch rooms w/ our daughters. b/c that’s just plain wrong.  It doesn’t help to sleep on the couch.  Not enough room for me AND my husband, and besides — Humpers damn ass shakes the whole front of the house, couch included.  We can’t up and move.  To break the lease would cost too much money – which we don’t have.  And it would be nearly impossible to find another apt in the school district which would take lease breakers with a zoo.. Seriously.  We are stuck.  My dad suggested slipping the Humpenator a sticky bun laced w/ saltpeter… “That’ll keep him from rising for a while..” But I think that’s cause for legal action.  I cannot imagine trying to have a conversation w/ this person about his sex life.  He can do whatever he wants in his own apartment. SIGH…. For once, I am completely at a loss.


Sometimes things just magically fall into place.  In the past three weeks, I have done more than settle into a new city and apartment. I’ve also managed to land myself a sweet new job. And by sweet, I mean SWEET – as in BAKING. My very own sticky buns for a bakery around the corner. As the recipe itself came to me in a dream, and this is for me a dream job, you can imagine my state of mind right now.  A little bit country, a little bit rock-n-roll. And a whole lot of WOW.

Three months ago, if you’d told me I’d be living in Portland, walking my kids to school, and baking for a living, I’d have told you you were crazy.  But here I am.  The first time we visited – wwaaaaayyy back in February – a sign greeted us at the border.


Who would have known>?

It’s beginning to SMELL a lot like CHRISTMAS!

It’s the HOLIDAYS!  And for me that means COOKIES!!!!!

As many of you know, I run a low-sodium recipe site – also called THE DAILY DISH.  From now until Christmas, I will be highlighting holiday baking & gift-giving ideas.  AND I AM LOOKING FOR SOME MAGICAL ELVES TO HELP ME.

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe you would like to share with the world??  Do you LONG for FAME AND/OR GLORY?? or simply want to WIN A PRIZE?!

WELL, YOU and YOUR RECIPE could be featured on The Daily Dish.

I am holding a contest now through the end of this week, looking for delicious Christmas cookie and/or candy recipes.  If you have a tried-and-true personal favorite you would like to share, then please LET ME KNOW!  Although my recipe site is devoted to low sodium cooking, Your recipe does NOT need to be salt free.  I will be adapting entries to meet sodium restrictions.  All you need to do is THINK DELICIOUS and let me handle the rest.

To make a submission, please email me: CHRISTY at THEDAILYDISH dot US.  Put “Recipe Contest” in the subject line and be sure to include not only the recipe title, but list of ingredients and step-by-step directions.  If you have a photo you would like to include as well, by all means do so.

I will be accepting submissions now through the end of this week – Friday, December 12th – and YES. You may enter more than once.

ALL of the winning recipes will be announced here, Monday, December 15th, and will be featured on The Daily Dish website – one per day – beginning Monday, December 15th. All winners will be contacted via email, and will receive not only the honor of appearing live on The Daily Dish, but ALSO A FABBBBBULOUS PRIZE!!

So what are you waiting for?? ENTER NOW!

The day after.

So how was your Valentine’s Day?? I have to say, I am feeling a little depressed this morn. It inevitably happens after a big holiday – I get sooooo EXCITED and then it comes and then it is gone. Way too fast. This feeling probably hits most people following Christmas – I know my mom gets it pretty bad, the blues, the doldrums, but for me, it’s Valentine’s Day. Oh well. I hope everyone had a terrific time yesterday. And I hope many of you got the Valentine’s cards on time. I have been thinking about that a lot. It was a relief knowing at least one arrived safely – Thanks Hayden. Really hope that tongue thing worked out for you.

WELL since I’ve been harping on Valentine’s Day Lo these many weeks, I thought you’d all enjoy hearing a bit about what I actually did.. SO HERE GOES.

My Official V-DAY Preparations began weeks ago (yeah, I CAN SEE you eye-rollers out there) with an initial trip to Target. They have those $1 bins of holiday-themed stuff in the front of the store, and for Valentine’s Day there were lots of frogs & chihuahuas. Neither of which makes me think of love, but were very cute nonetheless. So I got Post-it notes with the frog prince & socks with chihuahua cupids. Valentine’s Day candy. Gift bags. Headbands. All adorable. They seem to stock these $1 bins with the sort of stuff you will eventually use, so you don’t feel too guilty buying it. Because it’s only a DOLLAR after all. But it always makes me wonder – all this stuff coming from China that costs $1 and looks a whole lot better than $1, I wonder how much the person who manufactured it actually earned. Even a cent? How the hell could they possibly pay a living wage to the people making this and sell it so damn cheap? And then I feel guilty. TERRIBLY guilty. and I try not to think more on that b/c I l have filled my cart. And I know that I suck as I wheel it to the checkout. And as I place those bullseye bags in my trunk I feel an ache deep in my soul which begs to be held. Like that man who earned just 17 cents for the whole lot of it.

MAN. I feel really depressed now. And It’s only 9AM. Too early for wine. I have to go raid my kids chocolates. I’ll be back in a minute…

*****TIME PASSES*****

Okay. SO weeks ago I saw this stuff and even though it was early, like the first or second week of January, I thought WOW.this stuff is super cute and so cheap! I have to stock up. I will stash it away for the ladies for Valentine’s Day. And so I did, I got a whole bunch of stuff, and even though my younger daughter was with me, I knew she would forget. It must be fun being 4.

So I got cards and candy and a bunch of other heart-themed merchandise and when I got home I hid it. Several weeks later, I was at Target again, and I noticed how picked over everything was. They still had some stuff, but no where NEAR the selection they’d had just after Christmas. This is the reason why you need to buy early, to get the good pickins. So seeing the picked over less-good pickins reminded me of what I’d already bought. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget, like when we went to Atlanta for the holidays, and Christmas morning we’re opening presents and I realized that the Vince Guaraldi CD we’d gotten my dad was actually at home in the closet. Then I had to mail it with his birthday presents a couple weeks later, and I felt a little silly b/c it was a Christmas album.

Anyway, I remembered I’d already bought a bunch of stuff, and was very happy (even though now thinking about it I am way sad and don’t think I will ever buy anything from those $1 bins – or the dollar store, come to think of it, ever EVER again. and that poor man, he is probably supporting his extended family of 15 on that cruel unfair salary, living in a waterless thatched hut next to the town garbage dump. While those stupid corporate execs at Target are living in fat plush mansions, with gold-lined toilets, drinking espressos and eating $400 steaks. Those rat bastards. And that poor man. That poor, poor man……BOY……I am so depressed. I need more chocolate. Be right back.)

*****TIME PASSES*****

SO I AM truly crazy about Valentine’s Day!!!! I have no idea why I am this way, but it’s like Christmas & Easter excitement to me, all mashed together and sprinkly with a heaping helping of hearts. I know I am a truly hopeless romantic.

My day started out like any other Valentine’s Day should – in bed next to my main squeeze. Unfortunately both of the kids were there too, having woken us @ 6 AM jumping up and down yelling HAPPY VALENTINES (YO!). When I finally extracted myself from warm covers & their grasping paws, I enjoyed a nice breakfast. And on Valentine’s Day, even my cereal says “ROMANCE”.

The remainder of the morning was consumed orchestrating my SURPRISE V-Day treat for said main squeeze. I had a covert operation going with 2 of his coworkers, little did he know.. So after stops at SEVEN (count em SEVEN) different stores, I had everything I needed. I had already gotten the rest of the things from another 3 stores in the weeks before. Including Target. SIGH……………………….. [Reaching for the chocolates.]

SO WHAT DID I TAKE HIM??! I know you are all wondering, particularly in light of all the wonderful & marvelous suggestions I’d already offered on my great big list of creative, thoughtful & CHEAP Valentine’s ideas. WELL, I made him two gift bags. In one I assembled an array of presents, and in the other I brought him a special gourmet lunch.  But the gift-giving didn’t stop there. Oh no. For the past 2 weeks I have been working on a little covert operation of my own, code name: heart pillows. You see, after wracking my brains for days and days, trying to think of how to out-do my past V-Day extravaganzas, I decided I was going to make each of my three beloveds a pillow. But not just any pillow. I was going to make themed pillows of love, dedicated to each of them exclusively. I initally thought I would make square pillows, emblazoned with each of their portraits, cut out of fabric or felt and stitched on. But when I got to IKEA (that magical store I had decided to purchase pillow fixins from), I spied the most perfectly PERFECT & enchanting pillows ever. Big fat soft red hearts with crazy arms sticking out each side. WOW. I KNEW these were IT. So I bought three – and at JUST $9.99 each, a super cheap bargain. I will not think about how they got such a super cheap bargain right now b/c I have already had to let my pants out from all the chocolates. I feel confident that IKEA paid those pillow seamstresses a just wage and they are all living in penthouses or at least apartments with clean running water. So I am not thinking of that anymore – nah-nah-nah-nah-nah I can’t hear you bad thoughts..Now I will describe what I did to these pillows.

SO I went to the craft store and bought an array of multi-colored felt and fleece sheets, some shiny embroidery thread, and several beaded felt hearts. I brought all of this home, and then periodically, over the course of the next couple weeks, when no one was looking, I would break all of it out, put on heavy rock music and start sewing. It was hard to do – not only b/c it was very labor-intensive work, but b/c my time is consumed so many other ways. Blogging, cooking, photographing, wiping up bird poo, mothering, cleaning. Plus I like to read and drink wine and watch TV. Sometimes I even shower and get dressed and leave the house. So I am usually pretty darn busy – so making these fabulous pillows took quite a bit of doing. BUT I DID IT! And here’s how they turned out:

ANd everybody LOVED them!! And they were so SURPRISED!! I am so glad they didn’t look under the bed, b/c that’s where I’d been hiding everything during the ‘making of’ process. I had to stow them in one of those huge blue IKEA bags, but they didn’t quite fit:

That doesn’t look too good.

ANYWAY, last night we enjoyed an absolutely decadent meal of crab legs, shrimp, and bread from Metropolitan bakery. Then we drank champagne, (the kids had Boylans sodas – a real treat for them b/c we don’t usually drink soda) and we all ate the chocolate chip cheesecake I’d made earlier in the day. And even though I really am NOT a fan of cheesecake I have to say it was AMAZING and I could have eaten the whole thing myself. I was feeling a bit of a pig. But I cut myself off after two pieces. So we all watched Survivor – our family favorite! Then put the kids to bed and we decided to watch Lost. What a mistake. Is it just me or does anyone else feel that Lost has become an hour-long tease, sandwiched between the most irritating and/or offensive and/or downright fool stupid commercials? I am tired of the whole drawn out process of watching this show unfold. I like long & drawn out but where is the damn black smoke and the polar bears and the crazy ass forest whispers? I don’t give a crap about Benjamin Linus. Ooooohhh scary. This show – I feel like they’re just making it up each week as they go along, trying to keep us in the dark. It is very annoying. PLUS those horrible commercials. I feel like I am being pummeled by a pharmaceutical pusher – I don’t HAVE ALLLERGIES – and then when they busted out “Viva Viagra” I nearly turned the set off. Have you heard of TOO MUCH INFORMATION? Listen, if you can’t maintain erection and have to take a pill, fine. But when they have to warn you in the commercial that “You must see a doctor to see if your heart is strong enough for sexual activity” I am thinking maybe you as a 69 year old man shouldn’t be dating a lusty 25 year old. Seriously. No offense but she’s your granddaughter for pete’s sake. Talk about putting a dampener on my own libido. SIGH…… [Reaching for chocolates].