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*second 'side.

The Woodside has a new look! What do you think, fair readers? Leave your opinion in the comments, or let me languish forever in discontent and despair.

haley comet.


Let that be on your heads, is all I'm sayin'.
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*before the fall.

It is 72 degrees outside right now.

downhill.


The humidity is an almost arid 39%.

sky with diamonds.


There is a brisk, 12-mph breeze whipping in from the west-northwest.

autumn drive.


And the sun is bemused instead of beaming.

autumnal.


We only have a couple of days like this each year below the Mason-Dixon line. People walk around in a fog of antsy giddiness. There is a world out there, and we want to play in it. It's just outside the window, just out of reach.

cube.


Or beyond the cubicle, through a coworker's office, and outside her window. I can see a whole square foot of paradise from my swivel chair, and that's not maddening AT ALL.
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*beef people.

A funny thing happened on the way home from the doctor last week: I tripped and fell face-first into this.

burglar.


OK, strictly speaking that's an utter falsehood. But I did, per her gentle orders, reintroduce meatstuffs to my diet. And I knew that with more than two years of vegetarianism under my belt, I'd have to take it slowly, reintroducing things carefully and gently.

So, you know, I thought I'd have a side of beef.

pile high.


Because you know what? It turns out I have an ironclad constitution. Aside from the fact that my stomach acid is directionally challenged, my insides are pretty much made of graphene.

I didn't want my virgin foray into burger town to be a lackluster affair, though, so I chose the Bottega burger, a liberally seasoned ground beef patty with crunchy Bibb lettuce, pepper-crusted tomato, and a schmear of homemade mayo on a grilled sesame seed bun. The bread was my only beef (HAR!) with this burger—it was charred precisely to my specifications (medium)—because it's too dry and crumbly and, frankly, a little dull.

To start, though, I had the eggplant snack, which I had been told JBSH had ordered not once, not twice, but five separate times in a single sitting the week prior. Still, I was not prepared for what hit the table.

stacked.


This is ... beyond description. It's deceptively simple—thin slices of eggplant pan-fried to stiff crispness, sandwiched around fresh slices of tomato, mozzarella and mascarpone cheese, capers, and basil. The tomatoes are warmed through and the cheeses are oozy and melty, with the briny capers and grassy herb. But it's the mascarpone that's magic. It lends an unexpected bright tang that wakes up your taste buds and makes your eyes widen in surprise. (This is the most fun part for spectators, apparently, which I didn't realize until I noticed JBSH intensely eyeing me in amusement, waiting for my post-first-bite "oh!".)

stacked.


You needed to see it again. That is some phenomenal, addictive stuff.

After that, because I have only a passing acquaintance with portion control, I had the white bean soup, hearty with vegetables and sinful porchetta.

porchetta.


I only had a cup, though. I'm not a complete glutton.

Plus I had to save some room for my favorite polenta tiramisu.

me sue.


I don't even like tiramisu, people. But the sweet, espresso-soaked corn cake gets me every time. It is the only tiramisu I will eat. Yet.

I also grabbed a quick shot of JBSH's black bottom pudding. Because saying "bottom" makes me giggle a little bit.

black bottom.


Heehee! Black bottom.

It was a lovely lunch. The rain came down in sheets outside the window, but I was nestled into a banquette with my two favorite fellas, TFin and JBSH, having drinks before noon and all the livestock my heart could desire.

YOU'RE WELCOME, cardiovascular system.
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*levity from brevity.

not thursdays.

He's quite busy on Thursdays.

networking.

Makes sense. Jesus is on Twitter.

say what?

So God's team is ... New Orleans?

what a shame.

Ah, now that's a shame.
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*finish line.

You know, it feels like I'm forgetting something. Like something is rattling around unaccomplished in the myriad empty crannies of my brain. I set the alarm when I left the house. I haven't cooked anything in years, so the oven isn't on. I'm wearing underpants. What could it be?

bath batch 1 (6).


OH! Right, that. That does not look so much like that anymore. That looks like this.

bath batch 4 (3).


Remember the floor?

batch batch 1 (4).


I know, I know. Of course you remember the floor.

Well, a few coats of porch and patio paint, and it's a whole new surface.

bath batch 4 (6).


The grout lines held up under a coat of primer and three coats of gray, which is nice. Unfortunately, there was a tiny accident this weekend that gouged the paint up, so it will have to be patched. But that's small potatoes compared to what I had before.

bath batch 1 (5).


Lord. I wore shower shoes in college, and it was cleaner than that.

I'm really pleased with the way the mirror turned out. I had no quibble with the existing one, really. It was aesthetically inoffensive, and it did its job, in that it adequately ... reflected things.

bath batch 1 (3).


But TwinFin was gracious enough to come hang my new one, which is a vast improvement. It multitasks as lighting and mirror, thanks to fixtures that act as sconces but connect to a single junction box (no gouging into walls!).

bath batch 4 (7).


Ooooh ... pretty.

bath batch 4 (1).


The vanity stayed, touched up with Old English and Tilex.

bath batch 4 (4).


An improvement, you think?

bath batch 4 (2).


Hm, let's check.

bath batch 1 (2).


GAH! Warning, please! This might make a good guessing game, come to think of it. A nice Facebook quiz I can title "K Slobbishness or Crime Scene?"

Because I know you haven't forgotten this.

bath batch 1 (1).


Haunts your dreams, no?

Well, check it out:

bath batch 4 (5).


BOOYAH!

I rock. Though, seriously, all thanks go to S&M and Twinfin, without whom the Woodside could never again have been considered fit for humans.

Now everybody come visit! Only ... call first. I tend not to do the dishes. Or wear pants.
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*canine cuisine.

It has officially rained every. single. solitary. day. this week. Not during the day, no of course not, because I left J inside, which is tantamount to carrying an umbrella. So I arrive home, sagging from a day's work and cranky sinuses and heavy lungs, to find Liza Minnelli is waiting for me.

There is dramatic whining, panting, and warbling, followed by wild eyes and manic scrambling. It looks something like this:

ACT I


[K enters, stage right. The stress of being a single mother hangs thick in the air around her as J wags his entire body in anticipation of Lord knows what.]

K: Do you need to go potty?

[K shifts nervously, anxious at potentially being discovered speaking to her dog as though he were a toddler or slow cousin.]

J: HERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNH.

[K opens the door, stage left. J sprints out at warp speed, scrabbling nails over the linoleum and tripping over not one, but two doorway thresholds in the process. K shakes her head knowingly and heads off stage, then stops. She pauses, as though listening, then stomps to the door and flings it wide.]

K: SERIOUSLY?

J: herrrnh?

[The distant sound of thunder rumbles in the distance, like maybe three states over for chrissake, and J puts his paw tentatively on the accursed threshold, begging. K motions him inside.]

K: OK, you can come in, but I'm not letting you back out in three minutes when—

[Suddenly, a chorus of dog voices rises from across the back fence, like the sound of hyenas in a cement mixer. K's face visibly darkens, while J's lights up like a Vegas New Year.]

K: NO.

J: Herrrrrrrrrnh! Herrrnh herrnh herrrrrrrn!

K: Motherfather. Fine.

[The door opens, and secondary scrabbling and graceless bounding commence. Mosquitos swarm the stage, and the lights dim on another night of domestic bliss on the Woodside.]

END SCENE


And I feel guilty, I do. I mean, sometimes I want to leave him out in the downpour or make him wear galoshes so he'll stop tracking paw prints across my cleaned-for-once-in-its-godforsaken-life kitchen floor, but also there's guilt. It's been three weeks since J had a decent walk, a decent amount of attention, or a decent bloodthirsty romp along the fence line. Then, last night ...

well, I ran out of dog food. OK, technically I ran out of food the night before, but I can't be expected to remember these things! I have ... you know, stuff. IMPORTANT stuff.

But I didn't want to go back out. It was raining and I was lazy and my mother says I am not allowed to go out of the house after dark. It was true when I was 4 and it is apparently still true today, and who am I to argue?

And so I began to think. Who do I know who's as basically insane as I am on the subject of pups? I only had to get to "basically insane" before I knew the answer: Rachael Ray.

RayRay has a whole section of her magazine (Every Day? Everyday? with Rachael Ray) devoted to the foods she cooks for her pit mix, Isaboo, who has a sweet face with desperate eyes that beg for a new name and a life without Marlboro Reds and Creepy John.

Yikes.

Based on the foodstuffs on hand, I settled on Carrots-and-Peas Orzo. Even though I had no peas. Meh, details. I decided to make it Carrots-and-Broccoli Orzo, because I've fed J broccoli before, and even though he won't throw a ticker-tape parade for it, his brain is too small to register anything more than HUMAN FOOD! before he gulps it down and the look of betrayal has time to settle in.

You boil away carrots

carotene.


and broccoli with a little salt in one pot,

florette.


and orzo in another.

grains.


Yes, in copper pots.

bright copper kettles.


We are not barbarians; we are crazy people. There's a difference.

When the orzo is cooked (about 7 minutes) and the broccoli and carrots are tender (about 12 minutes), the vegetables go into the tiny food processor with a little cooking liquid for a quick puree.

J, who had been dancing around my ankles for 15 minutes, promptly retreated to safe floor space. How do you feel about the processor, J?

chess.


Wuss.

While he guarded the hardwoods, I made a difficult decision. Considering the lethal potential of J's digestive system, was this wise?

parm farm.


What the hell. It was a swinging singles Thursday night on the Woodside. I was drunk on Tylenol Nighttime, and J would have his cheese!

The vegetable puree, pasta, and cheese get mixed together to serve.

dog food.


Yes, I molded it and sprinkled a garnish on top and served it on my fine china. I was really, really pleased with myself at this point. It might have been the Tylenol.

Verdict?

slurp.


gulp.


chomp.


fin.


(Note: Never serve a dog food from a plate. Sure, you're feeling adorable and kicky from cough medicine, but one sweep of the tongue and the whole shebang flops into the floor. Didn't slow J down, but it diminished my satisfaction. Have you seen that Cesar dog eat? All dainty nibbles and snout licked clean? Yeah, no.)

Nevertheless, guilt be gone!

Oh, wait. Having seen this recipe now, in the light of day, I see that it makes two servings. I halved it, so that means it makes one serving. And I gave J half of what I made. This is at least my second episode of inflicting inadvertent starvation on the dog.

Guilt be back.
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*sick and tired.

Walking pneumonia.

clean ex.


fluids.


cuppa soup.


z pack.


DO NOT RECOMMEND.
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*pretty in pink.

It isn't polite (or easy, I wouldn't imagine) to toot one's own horn, so I offer this caveat—LSis' baby shower was primarily lovely because LSis is herself gorgeous, and because MW has utterly enviable photography skills.

I almost don't recognize the Woodside.

The "garland," a sweet clothesline of onesies for Mama-to-be to take home (full disclosure: Wal Mart, only $3.50 for all three!):

Shower 01


Shower 08


The food, healthy snacks and richer fare, with sandwiches cut into fourths and then skewered for presentation and tidiness purposes (how amazing is the china my grandmother gave me?):

Shower 02


Pretty little orzo salads, all in a row (some of my vegetarian guests don't eat fish, so I omitted the shrimp, but it stood on its own quite nicely and was one of the favorite menu items):

Shower 03


Favors—no one knew what craziness lurked inside (I love the blown-out window light in this one):

Shower 04


LSis had quite a haul:

Shower 05


including a kangaroo JLB lovingly toted all the way from Australia for baby Stella:

Shower 10a


Someone brought a
baby to a baby shower, which, in the case of this particular baby, was downright genius:

Shower 11


My paper chain:

Shower 06


I think MW really captured this beautifully, especially the texture of the metal tile:

Shower 26a


and somehow managed to make my handwriting look legible:

Shower 28


but this is maybe my favorite—with its visible staples and 4-year-old construction methods, it still manages to look exactly like what it was, which was earnest effort:

Shower 27


And so completely worth it.


Shower 20


All photos courtesy of MW, photo prodigy of unparalleled talent. We regret to inform her that she's probably not going to stop hearing "Will you take pictures?" anytime soon.

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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.

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