Hobbit Breakfast

Do you enjoy meals that are comprised of oil, salt, and heart disease? I sure do!

Back in Idaho we grew/raised most of the ingredients needed for a vaguely omelette-shaped meal, dubbed the “Hobbit Breakfast” on account of its size. But when I moved to the east coast, I didn’t have the ingredients readily available anymore, so I stopped making it.

Until today!

I thought I’d share how to make it, because the internet is full of quality recipes that are picture-perfect and healthy, but somewhat lacking in ugly creations that equal five McDonald’s meals in calories. Frankenstein food needs representation too.

Your ingredients are:

  • Eggs
  • Milk, I guess, if you aren’t lactose intolerant
  • Some kind of seasoning. Italian, maybe
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Ham
  • Grated cheese
  • English muffins with butter, toasted

You’ll note that the amount of each ingredient is not listed. This is because it all varies depending on how much you can eat and it’s all very haphazard to begin with.

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You start with start with two potatoes. It’s usually two. Sometimes in Idaho we’d pull a potato the size of a celebrity’s purse dog from the ground, and then I’d just use one. Sometimes I’d use five if they were the size of a chicken egg. It all depends on how much your body can handle; the goal is to stuff it so you don’t want to eat for another week.

These should be diced to about the size of your thumbnail, because they cook faster and brown more evenly if they’re smaller. Then- this is the key part, really- you pour a lot of olive oil over the top of them. This is no time for moderation. We’re not healthy here.

Finally, you throw a lot of seasoning over the top. The type of seasoning doesn’t really matter; I use “Mrs. Dash” when I have it, but anything vaguely garlicky will work. Add a little salt, set it over mid-low heat, and stir enough that it doesn’t stick to the pan too often.

While that’s cooking, I start with the omelette.

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I recommend living in your rich employers’ house, so that you can use their Wisconsin 10 Year Aged Cheddar in your terrible breakfast food.

Now, you can put whatever you like in your omelette. Some people like onions, and those people are wrong. But it’s a free country, so while I can’t endorse putting in anything other than cheese, ham, and some of those diced potatoes, you can do whatever you feel is right.

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Proportions here vary depending on the size of the individual. I’m a tiny person (much like a hobbit, you see?), so my egg mix is two eggs and a small splash of milk. I toss in some grated cheese to hold it together better. Salt and pepper to mask the fact that everything besides the cheese is poor quality, and maybe a little garlic or onion powder as well.

Then, when the potatoes are done frying, you put them aside on a plate for later, turn down the heat on the stove and pour the egg mix into the pan.

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Yes, the pan that’s all dirty and greasy from the potatoes still. But yes, I also pour out excess oil beforehand. You want flavor, not a massage parlor in your mouth.

Back home our stove lacked finesse. There was high, medium, and low, and that was all we needed. Here, I tried putting my omelette on “low” and discovered that on a nice stove, “low” means “simmer your omelette mix for six hours.” Thus, this part took longer than I expected it to.

While the omelette was slowly doing nothing, I started heating the tea water (of course), pre-buttered some English Muffins, and threw them in the toaster.

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The funny thing about Thomas English Muffins is that they are not even close to the best English Muffins I’ve ever had. They taste like I tried to make English Muffins but forgot to add something like salt or love. And yet, the east coast doesn’t seem to sell any other kind. In Idaho, you often had several options; here, the English Muffin section of the bread aisle is dominated by Thomas and their eighteen different types of bland.

Note: Do not butter your English Muffins ahead of time if you don’t have a toaster oven. I much prefer buttering beforehand so that it melts into the bread as it toasts, but I don’t feel that would work well when your muffins are toasted vertically.

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When your omelette is on the verge of hardening up, drop your omelette contents onto one side so that they start to heat. Then, I recommend getting too impatient with the speed at which your employer’s stove is cooking, so try to flip it prematurely.

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Perfect.

The good news is that this recipe is very forgiving, because the end result is supposed to look bad. Even when you flip one of these omelettes poorly, it’s still all right because I always divide the omelette down the middle, to make it easier to move around and share with others.

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This could be the front cover of the next Martha Stewart book.

At this point, if you’ve timed it right (and I often haven’t), your tea should be done, your muffins should be toasted, and your potatoes are probably cold so heat those up in the microwave real quick. After that, all you have to do is throw everything together on a plate.

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There you are, Hobbit Breakfast.

It may look terrible, but the high salt content makes it very addictive, and once you’ve convinced someone to try it they will never stop badgering you to make it again (hello, sister). Alternatively, you could have a McDonald’s breakfast and delay your impending heart attack by a few years.

Happy eating!

How to Aquarium

On Saturday I was treated to a date at the Camden Aquarium, which is really an excellent place to be no matter the occasion.

The aquarium, that is, not Camden. When I told my employers I would be in Camden on the weekend, the gist of their response was to take along my defense spray, wear running shoes, carry a crowbar, bring my trained attack-bear, and never ever ever leave the car, which should always be locked and hovering twelve feet above the population.

The aquarium was nice, though. The only problem was that they didn’t allow the items that were supposed to keep you alive in Camden, such as a pocket missile launcher and mace. Midway through the door, ticket in hand, I realized they were going to search my purse and find my pepper spray, so I shoved it in my pocket instead. This worked because the security people just don’t care anymore.

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An almost accurate simulation of the crowds in the aquarium, only they weren’t all going in the same direction and they weren’t pleasing to the eye.

A pair of childless twenty-somethings don’t often consider that educational places will be packed on the weekends, so we were unprepared for the gritty Camden crowds and were gently buffeted from one exhibit to another.

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I fought tooth and nail through thirty people to see this turtle eat lettuce out of this feeder. It seemed very important at the time.

As with any zoo or aquarium, the animals were very unimpressed by the humans. The penguins in particular spent most of their time looking at us as though we were a mildly interesting ant on the sidewalk. We weren’t worth the effort to perform.

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Both sides were waiting for the other to do something worthwhile.

I spent a lot of time elbow deep in the frigid water so I could pet the things that really just wanted to be left alone. At least, the starfish looked as though they wanted to be left along. I could swear the rays kept getting closer on purpose, like puppies.

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I wasn’t banging on the glass, but whenever I stuck my hand in there I felt like Darla.

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And speaking of Darla, there was the obligatory Finding Nemo tank.

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I’m not a horse girl. But I will stare at seahorses all day.

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This little guy sat so still for so long that I was certain he was fake. You’ll be proud to know that when he moved I barely even screamed.

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One of the first pictures I ever took as a child was of the jellyfish in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They will always be my favorite things to watch.

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Jellllyyyfiiiish

The biggest draw of the aquarium, as far as I am aware, is the tunnel they have that goes right through one of the larger tanks. In theory, this is really neat. But mid-afternoon on a Saturday, this is less neat.

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I’m not actually sure there were fish in that tank; I spent most of my time trying not to get stepped on, so I couldn’t check.

And, additionally, the aquarium had a neat little net bridge over a tank of sharks. This exhibit was also experiencing the same problems as the tank tunnel; though it was in theory very cool, in practice it took quite a lot to get a look at the sharks, because the heavy netting was hard to see through and you were being the jerk that held up the one hundred person line if you stopped.

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Just keep movin’, just keep movin’…

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Hey, I think I almost see something!

All in all, I recommend visiting the Camden Aquarium during the middle of the week when the kids are in school. At first it struck me as odd that the aquarium’s hours were 10AM – 5PM every day of the week, but then I remembered that if you were out after 6:00 in Camden the police wouldn’t even try to save you from your own stupidity.

If you do go, I recommend seeing the jellyfish, and bringing a date who’s over six feet tall to hold you up over the crowd. Both were excellent.

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“Quick! Let’s snap a picture of the foggy Philly skyline and then run inside before the residents of Camden smell fear!”

Belated Christmas Gifts

I’m told that the problem with buying presents for me these days is that I’m an adult, and if I see something I want, I buy it. None of this waiting half a year in the hopes that Saint Nick will bring me something anymore. It was easier for my parents and my sister when I had no money, and it looked like I might never have any money, because then they could just give me money and be done with it.

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But since I’m adult, look at this plant I just bought! I forget what it’s called, possibly something like Hypothermia, but I felt a personal connection to it because it smelled funny and had a weird name.

These days, before I come home for Christmas, my parents ask me to put together a list of things I would enjoy owning that I don’t already, and then they pick just a few things out of the list so that it’s a mystery what I’ll get. This has worked well so far.

Of course, after I finish opening all my presents in Idaho, there’s the problem of how I’m going to fit them all into the four cubic inches of space my airline has allotted for carry-on luggage. Most of the things go into a box, and in the grand tradition of all Ludvigs we never send the box and forget that much of the stuff in it ever existed.

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This time I received the box, but I just didn’t open it for a week or two because I was “too busy.”

I had already forgotten what I had received for Christmas, so this was like unwrapping presents all over again. The rest of this post is all just me showing off my presents, so you can go do something else now. (I thank my good friend Wendy for the very pretty shawl I laid everything out on.)

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A while ago, unbeknownst to my family, I had purchased a book-shaped wallet for myself. Coincidentally, I received a book-shaped purse and a book-shaped backpack for Christmas, so now I can put my book-shaped wallet in a book-shaped purse in a book-shaped backpack, and still have enough room leftover for an actual book!

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I got the games “Coup” and “Happy Salmon.” Coup is a nice little social deduction card game that’s easy to learn and quick to play, good for my board game nights. Happy Salmon, on the other hand, is the easiest way to turn functioning adults into flailing, shouting, desperate maniacs. I highly recommend it.

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Did you ever want to read lengthy full-color comic books about small shirtless quasi-anime elfs that ride wolves and can talk to each other in their minds? Well, now you can! ElfQuest! Slogan: “Made in the ’70s and it shows!” (I love these things so much.)

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My parents are still very concerned that I’m going to be mugged or murdered by thugs out here in the big city, so they like to give me emergency items like heavy-duty flashlights and defense spray so I can use them on my opponent and then be mugged and murdered by even angrier thugs. Also, some earrings! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

And then, last but not least, I got this beautiful thing:

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I’m told it’s a sundial. A portable one, to be exact. If I were an especially competent hipster I could carry this around in my purse and pull it out whenever I wanted to know the time whilst outdoors on sunny days. Sadly, I have not yet figured out how to properly set the thing up, so I can only tell the time by looking at my phone. But it looks really classy.

This stuff really is spectacular. I have to hand it to my parents, they know what I like.

Because I tell them. In a list they request.

God bless us all, every one.

How to Write Thank You Cards (by Eleven Year Old Me)

I’ve never liked writing. Or, at least, I’ve never liked writing when it’s expected of me. I could turn out three pages of Lord of the Rings related nonsense before I would ever touch a essay assignment. The very idea that I could write something actually worthwhile is appalling- for instance, why would I want to make a living out of this? Then it’s not fun anymore!

A subset of this balking at writing expectations comes about in the form of being very, very bad at writing letters and thank you notes. I should take this time to apologize to my relatives who don’t read this blog for sometimes getting the Christmas thank you cards out in, say, early July. It’s not that I don’t deeply appreciate your thoughtful gift, it’s that writing is terrible and awful and I don’t know why anyone ever does it. Sorry.

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These four cards took me hours.

But it’s that time of year again, and it’s harder to drag my feet when it’s just myself I’m fighting. Mom isn’t here to nag me anymore, so I have to adult up and nag myself, which is just thoroughly unpleasant of me.

Today, only nineteen days after Christmas, I forced myself to spit out four very genuine thank you notes. Because, again, it’s not that I don’t love the gifts I receive, it’s just that I’m very bad at things like emotions and feelings and putting things down on paper. I mean, when we get down to it, do we really need communication and the written word? What good are they, anyway?

Eleven year old me had it far easier, because eleven year old me had a system and was allowed some leeway for being a child. Eleven year old me had very specific rules for writing thank you notes, in order to stretch them out and make them seem longer and nicer than they actually were. These were:

  • No contractions. “Was not” takes up more space on the page than “wasn’t.” Marginally.
  • Double spaces after all words and sometimes between each letter.
  • Start as far down on the card as possible, and make your signature take up almost half of the remaining space.
  • Fill up most of the page with stretched out words to show your “enthusiasm”, such as: “Thank you sooooooooooooo much.”
  • When in doubt, pretend you “forgot” and say you’ll “get around to it” whenever your mother reminds you to write thank you notes, preferably holding off until next Christmas rolls around.

Nowadays, of course, I write things that actually are nice and I’ve learned to fill up the page better, but it sure is great that this generation is comprised entirely of heathens and that I can get away with a “thanks for the gift, bro” and a quick hug when I’m given something by the younger crowd.

And man, don’t even get me started about writing letters to people. I apologize in advance to my friend David, who is LDS, going on a mission, and will receive maybe two letters from me in as many years, the same way his brothers did.

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that writing is so horribly… horrible. Just awful, y’know. But you WordPress people that I follow, keep at it, you’re doing great and you’re very interesting. Anything I haven’t written is just splendid.

 

Paper Dolls

Saturday was a good snowfall that turned the roads to ice and left my poor car sliding sporadically around like a young puppy on a frozen lake, but by Monday the roads had been cleared enough that school was back on, much to the children’s disappointment and the nanny’s delight.

Still, it’s been quite nice, and the children get to go outside after homework and bodily tackle each other into the snow until I decide I should intervene. The littlest ones wear hats made for two head sizes bigger, and it’s highly amusing to watch the gradual slippage until their eyes are completely covered and they have to stagger blindly over to me so I can right it again.

Childhood, am I right?

On Tuesdays Mrs. Parent and the housekeeper spend the day scouring the house for dirt (and with three to six boys, they don’t have to look very hard). In order to not upset the natural balance of things, I spend most of my time in my room while the children are at school.

Today, I thought I might try creating one of those Japanese paper dolls from the creation kit I was gifted.

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My last attempt at Origami was making an elephant out of a dollar bill for the oldest boy, over a year ago. The oldest boy did not get an elephant made out of a dollar bill.

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I started with the first doll in the book, the “Spring Doll,” on the assumption that I couldn’t possibly mess up the very first (and theoretically easiest) creation on the list.

Everything in the kit is very helpfully labeled, and to my surprise the instructions are very well done. As I had understood previously, origami instructions typically involve a picture of a flat, unfolded piece of paper, followed by a strange midway step that looks like an exploding elevated highway, and then the third and final step telling you to make a simple inverse overstimulated duck fold and voila, you have the completed Eiffel Tower.

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This kit, on the other hand, really doesn’t want you to mess up. They give you lines to show you where to fold.

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All right, I give them this, this looks like a kimono and I hardly had to do anything.

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Sleeves? Arms? Cape?

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This will become a head somehow.

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…Huh.

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It took me ten minutes of rifling through the available paper pieces before I realized there was a false bottom on this thing.

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They instructed me to use a lot more tape than I thought an origami book typically would. Don’t get me wrong, I’m insanely grateful, but it feels like cheating.

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Good enough!

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…Tape for the head, then.

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There.

Overall, I rate this kit a good 5 points out of 5 stars, and recommend it to anyone who is generally so incompetent at paper folding that they need a perfect pre-made kit to complete anything worthwhile. I’m honestly astonished I managed to make anything out of it at all, because it looks much more intricate when you just glance at the box.

Now I’ll just leave these lying strategically around my room in the hopes that people think I casually put together elaborate paper dolls in my free time.

Who am I kidding, I don’t have people over, this isn’t my house.

The After-Christmas

Christmas is done and gone, the children are back in school, businesses are opening back up, and my friends are planning fun things forty minutes from me, which is why it’s now snowing so heavily that I can’t locate the driveway or two of the children.

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These paper snowflakes feel kind of redundant now.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m conflicted about snow. I’m starting to realize that if you want the kids to go to school or want to be able to drive to Target, the roads need to be clear or you will inevitably end up upside-down in a ditch somewhere with children burying you in snow.

(Children never stop trying to bury you in snow after a certain age. It’s instinct.)

Fortunately, it’s snowing on a Saturday, which should give the schools ample time to shovel everything up in preparation for Monday. Unfortunately, it’s snowing so heavily at present that the roads aren’t really roads at all, but more like incidental logging trails covered in petroleum jelly. I foolishly tried to drive south to play some board games with friends today, and I drove for 40 minutes at 25 miles an hour on the highway. If you’re doing the math, that means it took me exactly an hour to realize I would be better off back at home with a cup of tea.

So now I’m back at home with a cup of tea, listening to the sounds of chaos outside my room, and I’m organizing the Christmas presents from my employers.

Yes, there are enough that they have to be organized.

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Bottom left: Box of chocolates that are missing most of the coconut variety already.

My employers are very kind and generous people, and Mrs. Parent in particular loves giving gifts that are thoughtfully tailored to the recipient. I’m not sure they quite understand the all-consuming passion I have for magic, fairy tales, etc., but they really do their best. The purse she was particularly proud of, because she knows I like deep browns and across the chest straps.

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My favorite, of course, is the tea.

The peculiar tea set they gave me was composed of one single teabag per type of tea, which is artistic if not very practical, and each tea bag has a little leaf on the end of it for decorative purposes. The covered teacup has a little hole in the top which lets the teabag string through, allowing one to steep their tea without it going cold.

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Much like in fancy restaurants, you know the food is too classy for you when there’s so little of it.

Naturally the teacup can be re-purposed to fit regular teabags with enough folding and stuffing.

So now I’m stuck inside the house, but I have my own little oasis, lit by Christmas candles and smelling like chocolates and tea. It’s almost enough to forget that there are three to six boys outside my room, gleefully smacking each other with their new stuffed Pikachus.

I also gave them extreme dot-to-dot books so that they have something that requires sitting quietly for hours at a time. It doesn’t sound like they’re using them.

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Don’t tell anyone I’m still playing holiday music. This could be the fourteenth day of Christmas.

Winter Wonderland, Etc.

Ten or so years ago, when it snowed, my sister and I would get all our peculiar friends together and go sledding up and down the canyon near our house. This was a poor choice for a few reasons:

  • It was a canyon.
  • The best part to sled on was a steep slope followed by a sudden three foot drop to small ledge, which was a great shock to your spine.
  • If you overshot the ledge, you had one more slope to stop on before you plummeted over the second drop and fell thirty feet onto the railroad tracks below.
  • There were trees placed very carefully every seven feet so that you couldn’t possibly avoid them all. (But if you couldn’t stop in time, it was better to run into a tree than to plummet thirty feet to the railroad tracks.)
  • It was a canyon.

We nearly killed ourselves many a time, but snow was snow, and snow must be appreciated.

Sadly, most of my Idahoan friends are off being grown-ups, with jobs and spouses and other adult things, so snow must be appreciated on my own, or perhaps with my mother and her abominable snow dog.

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Yes, dog. Forge ahead and create a path for us, that our walk might be easier.

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She’s not really a snow dog. This is her “Why are we doing this?” face.

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If you ever wanted to shuffle through the snow like a drunken penguin with boards strapped to his feet, snowshoes are for you!

The great thing about where we live is that you can pick any direction and just walk. Sure, eventually you’ll leave your property and end up on someone else’s, but no one really cares out here. If you slip in and out without shooting a bunch of animals or chopping down trees, no one minds- heck, no one can really tell you were there. The forest around us is just big, and it makes you realize how long it must have taken people to get anywhere when they traveled by anything other than cars.

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I did a lot of poking around for nostalgia’s sake. We used to spend all day running around the fields and forests as kids, doing normal things like pretending to be werewolves and burning our hands in strange club initiation rituals.

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The unseen slope here, just over the crest, is the beginning of our vast sledding hill. Fortunately, my sister and I never broke anything on here. Only the neighbor boys broke things.

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This egg-shaped mound of snow shows you just how deep it was around there. No, there’s nothing in the middle of it.

Coming back from Idaho, I miss this. Not necessarily Idaho, although Idaho is nice, but the vast open spaces. A “big” space in the suburbs is like my employer’s backyard, which is bigger than most of the neighbor’s, yet barely a fraction of the size of my parent’s- and my employer’s is worth three and a half of me, plus tax.

I mean, sure, my employers live near things like movie theaters and fire stations, I don’t know if ambulances are reeeaaally necessary in life.

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Someday I’ll live somewhere like this again, just you wait.