8.31.2009

Another ode to Twitter

You remember when I wrote my Ode to Twitter?

Well: I have to profess my love for Twitter once again. More specifically, for the amazing people using Twitter. Yesterday, my phone decided it was going to go crazy. Like, certifiably crazy.

It's been doing wonky things for the past few weeks, but yesterday it went off the deep end. It erased all of my text messages, and then started cycling on and off constantly--on, off, on, off--all by itself.

I called AT&T and worked with them for 30 minutes, and it came down to the fact that since I had water damage to my phone (remember that time I dropped it in the toilet?), I was kind of screwed: my warranty was voided, and they were convinced that any problems I was having were because of the water.

Which could be true, but is weird since that happened 5 months ago. BUT WHATEVER.

This really, really worried me because I have serious tuition payments due and debt accumulating (hi, student loans!) and etc., etc., etc...basically, I *cannot* afford a new phone.

I took to Twitter and ranted a bit about the situation, and within 10 minutes I had two people out of the blue offering me their old phones for free. You see? You see how amazing that is?

TxNewsPrincess is giving me her old phone this evening. I can't tell you how relieved I am, and how grateful I am. It's times like these when I am reminded of the inherent good in people.

So thank you, TxNewsPrincess. And thank you, Twitter, once again.

8.29.2009

The kids

Now that I'm (sniff) nearing the end of my employment as Sam, Ben, and Coco's nanny, I wanted to write down a few (or a lot of) things about each child to remember. I really do love these kids--they're just so sweet and fun.

Sam: Sam is seriously the best big sister I've ever nannied, and just about the sweetest girl in the world. She is my helper, always right there to help make Coco a bottle, entertain Coco while I change her diaper, and help me sing Coco to sleep. Sam taught me the "Night, night Coco" song, where we sing night-night about everyone in Coco's family, including the pets and her birthmom. I love that Sam includes Coco's birthmom. ("Night, night, Coco. Night, night, J. Night night, Mama, it's time to go night-night. Night-night, Daddy. Night-night, Benny. Night-Night, Sammy, it's time to go night-night" and all the way through all 5 pets!)

Sam always wants to be near me, and every day before quiet time she asks where I'll be. She loves to be read to! She especially loves a book that has a bunch of nonsense limericks in it. We crack up reading that one :) She and Ben both snuggle close when we read, which I love. She's excellent in helping clean up, and she's (most of the time) very sweet with Ben. She has the most gorgeous smile, and her whole face just shows her happiness. The few times she's been upset, she crawls in my lap like a baby and we just rock and snuggle. Oh, sweet Sam, I love her!

Ben: Oh, Ben! This boy cracks me up. From his shaggy hair to those irresistible dimples, he is just the most adorable boy. Ben also amazed me with his love for his sisters. Even with Coco, he's so sweet. (The other day he was in his room, and Coco was crawling around in the hallway outside of it with me. He called to her, "Coco, come in here! Coco, I love you, baby!") He loves animals and is so very gentle with them.

He loves playing kitty, and he's a very convincing one at that. He's got his "meows" down pat! His name when we play is always Thunder (he says 'Funder'), and he always says he's a 'fire kitty,' whatever that means :) He constantly asks if we can play the Wii, and though the answer is always no, he always finds something else to do. He loves to build extravagant train tracks and hot wheel tracks, and he loves swimming! I think he'd swim every single day if he could! He always wants me to throw the "tomato" (torpedo) in the pool for him to chase after. And he gives great snuggles when we read books together. Oh Ben, I love him!

Coco: Colette, Coco, Cocopuff, the Puffster...oh, this sweet baby. Seriously, the world's happiest baby. If she's ever unhappy, then you know something's wrong! The best part about nannying for babies this age is watching them grow and change and develop so quickly. When I first started nannying for her, Coco couldn't even crawl. Now, she's out of the room like a rocket and *thisclose* to walking! She babbles and laughs and smiles constantly. And she's always good for a snuggle (she's recently started giving me hugs, which just makes my heart explode), though these days she's so on the move it's hard to get her to stay still long enough!

Today, their dog Bolt kept coming over and giving Coco kisses all over. She was making the funniest scrunched-up face, but she loved it! She loves crawling over to the big mirror outside her parents' room and looking in it. She's pulling up on ev.er.y.thing and is so very curious about what her brother, sister, and I are doing. Back at the beginning of the summer when I was in a real funk, she was the bright spot of my days (before Sam and Ben were out of school). I couldn't wait to get to her house and snuggle and play with this sweet, sweet baby. Oh, Coco, I love her!

I'll miss these three gorgeous kids so much this year. I will *definitely* be seeing them when I come home for Christmas Break (though I don't even want to think about how big Coco will be!). And in my dream of dreams (my fingers are crossed!), I'll be their nanny again next summer!

(Oh, and I can't close this post without mentioning how amazing my employers have been. They are the complete opposite of Mr. & Mrs. R. They're sweet, caring, so generous, and so loving. They truly made me feel like a part of their family and I can't thank them enough for that!)

8.27.2009

The best. dinner. EVER.

So I know I've been posting a lot of recipe stuff lately, but I'm getting all the cooking (and eating) out of my system before I go back to school and can't cook at all!

Tonight, we chose two recipes out of Cooking Light, so they're deffo healthy and ZOMG you should all go make them RIGHT NOW. And the dinner/dessert combo sounds weird together, but honestly? Everything was so fabulous that it didn't matter. I'm not kidding. Go make these things. Like now.


Falafel-Stuffed Pitas (4 servings, a.k.a. enough for 4 full pitas)

Ingredients in falafel:
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large egg
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients in sauce:
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 garlic clove, minced

Remaining ingredients:
4 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half
8 curly leaf lettuce leaves
16 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomatoes

Preparation:
To prepare falafel, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor; process mixture until smooth. Divide mixture into 16 equal portions* (note--we got 14) and shape each portion into 1/4-inch-thick patty. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until patties are browned.

To prepare sauce, combine yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, and 1 garlic clove, stirring mixture with a whisk. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce into each pita half. Fill each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices, and 2 patties.

This really wasn't that difficult. Next time, we're going to double the falafel and triple the sauce for 4 people (and have some extra). There's 15g of protein per whole pita and 403 calories (and since this was a full dinner for me, not bad!). Seriously, this was awe.some.





Now, dessert!

Sticky Date and Coconut Cake

*Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray so this puddinglike cake doesn't stick. Prepare the topping while the cake bakes in step 3.*

Ingredients in cake:
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter
Dash of salt
6.75 ounces all-purpose flower (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Ingredients in topping:
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fat-free milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare cake, combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes or until dates are tender.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in date mixture, granulated sugar, vanilla, and egg until well combined. Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes* (note: it was still very goopy after 20 minutes. That's okay!).
4. To prepare topping, combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Pour brown sugar mixture over cake; bake at 350 degrees for an additional 13 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 12 servings.

Ohhhh, this was SO good!!! I was a bit put off by the dates and coconut at first, but this was AWESOME!




8.25.2009

Videos

I took several videos of Coco (I can't take pictures of her anymore, she just doesn't sit still long enough!) and Ben today to share with you guys. Big sister Sam started school yesterday, and it was entirely bizarre not having her there!

Let me just tell you: it is an entirely different experience sans-Sam. I love her to death, but she talks
a lot while we play, and Ben rarely gets a word in edgewise. Today? It was ALL him, and he was ALL talk-talk-talk! :)

In this first video, I was on the floor with Coco while Ben set up his "house" so we could play kitty. In the video he asks me what would happen if you took a picture in outer space (randomly). Right then, Coco pulled up on the rocking chair and honest-to-goodness, I thought she was going to walk away (she's getting reeeeally close to walking). I was a bit distracted when I answered Ben! :)



In the next two videos, Ben and I wanted to show off two of Coco's tricks: slithering under impossibly small spaces, and crawling over things.




Oy, lordy--this one made me nervous! I hadn't seen her do it before, but her mom assured me that she could :)



Hummus help!

So I'm a hummus girl. I love it. But I've never found a store-bought hummus that I've really liked. Ergo, I decided to make my own at home!

I've seen a zillion recipes everywhere, but I found one in Cook's Illustrated that looked particularly appealing, so tonight I decided to make it.

Um.

Let's just say...life would be a whole lot easier if I had a food processor. BUT all turned out fine in the end, and my right arm is all nice and exercised!


I put some hummus inside of a toasted whole wheat pita pocket, with lettuce and purple onions. It was okay, but I really wasn't crazy about the hummus. It had a strong nutty taste that...eh, I didn't care much for. My parents both liked it, though (unless they were just humoring me), so maybe it's just my crazy taste buds (you know, the ones that don't like cheese).

SO, today, I ask of all of you: do you have a kick-butt hummus recipe? Can you share it with me, pretty please?

In case nutty hummus is right up your alley, here's the recipe I used:

3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons tahini, stirred well (Cooks Illustrated recommended the "Joyva" and "Krinos" brands)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Cooks Illustrated recommended the "Pastene" and "Goya" brands)
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves (for garnishing)

1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.
2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

8.22.2009

Psssst...

Twenty-one days.

That's THREE WEEKS.

WHAT.

8.20.2009

Ode to Twitter

Oh Twitter, at first I resisted you so...
At first I thought, "What's the use?
Who would want to keep updated with my oh-so-random
(and often inappropriate)
stream of consciousness?"

BUT: but. Twitter, you won me over.
I'm coming up on a year of having my little account,
And thanks to you,
I got a summer job
and I have met some really, really cool people.

You keep me entertained,
You allow me to know the goings-on of complete strangers,
You inform me of Very Important Events
(like Michael Jackson's death)
And you make my unlimited texting plan worthwhile.

And most of all,
When I am out with other people,
You make me look ridiculously popular
When I get 30 Tweets-to-phone
in 10 minutes' time.

Thank you, Twitter.

8.17.2009

"Playing" with the dog

"Wait, Max."

"Waaaaait..."

"Waaaaait..."

"Waaaaait..."

"Are you ready, Max?"

"Okay, Max! Go get one!"

"Wait. What's he doing? He's not...he's not going to try to get two, is he?!"

"No! Wait! ONLY ONE, MAX!"

"Good boy, Max."

8.15.2009

Bloglines problems

So for whatever reason, my blog isn't updating on a certain Bloglines feed. I'm not sure if it's the same way on Google Reader (I just have Bloglines), but I have no idea how to fix this. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

8.13.2009

A fairy bit of pressure

I don't think I've blogged about one of the most stressful experiences of my life to date.

The time I had to be the Tooth Fairy.

On the morning of the first day of overnighting for Sam, Ben, and Coco back in June, Sam lost one of her teeth. This was before I got to her house, and when I got there, I was greeted at the door with a small plastic bag in my face and a wild, crazy six-year-old chanting something about "ILOSTATOOTH" and "MONEY."

I'm just kidding. It went, "MONEY" and then "ILOSTATOOTH."

Anyway, I was briefed on Standard Tooth Fairy Procedure for their household (four quarters under the pillow), and we went about our merry way. That night, around 11 p.m. (the kids were SOLIDLY asleep), I knew I needed to go pick up the tooth and leave the quarters before I collapsed in bed because hitakingcareofkidsalldayistiresome.

But y'all: I was nervous. What if Sam woke up and caught me? What if I ruined the whole tooth fairy experience for her?? She and Ben were sleeping in the same bed, what if they BOTH woke up and I ruined the whole tooth fairy experience for BOTH of them??? What if they woke up Coco and told HER that the tooth fairy was fake???? Poor thing would never get to experience the magic of the tooth fairy!

I'm telling you: I was more nervous that night than I was waiting for my DreamSchool admission decision.

But I worked up the nerve, got the four quarters, and snuck into their bedroom. Now, they were sleeping in Ben's bed, which is up against the wall. Ben was sleeping on the outside, Sam was sleeping on the side closest to the wall. So, with my short-short-short arms, I had to leeeeean over Ben (ohpleasegoddon'tlethimwakeup), reach under Sam's pillow, and root around for the tooth.

Let me not fail to mention that it took me approximately 20 minutes from the walking-in-to-the-room point to the actually rooting-around-for-tooth point. I wanted to make sure they were NOT waking up.

I found the tooth, and pulled it out. Sam turned over. I had a heart attack. Sam remained asleep. I tried to start breathing again.

Next up I had to slip the quarters under her pillow. At this point, I realized that I forgot to ask if the quarters were supposed to be loose under her pillow, or in the bag with the tooth, or in the bag without the tooth, OR WHAT. So after a temporary freak-out and debate in my mind, I decided to leave the four quarters loose under her pillow.

I KNOW. I totally wasn't thinking. Thank GOD they all stayed together because can you imagine the tragic scene in the morning if she could only find three quarters?!?

But: all went well, and I made it out of the room without scarring the kids for life, and come morning Sam came bounding into my room at the crack of 4 a.m. (well, 6:30. But it felt like 4) happily sporting her four quarters. And I exhaled for about the first time since finding out I'd have to play tooth fairy.

8.11.2009

All growed up

It's odd, this age of mine.

I mean, I'm at a perfectly normal age. College-age. But it's weird how I can fluctuate between teenager (even though I'm not one anymore) and grownup mentality given circumstances.

When I'm off at school, I'm a grownup. (Er...at least, as much as a grownup as you can be when you play MarioKart on a daily basis.) I pay my own bills, run my own errands, do my own laundry, the norm.

When I'm at home (and this counts the past two summers) and nannying, I'm a grownup. I have the health, safety and well-being of other human beings in my responsibility. And while I have a blast (most of the time, haha) doing that, I am still constantly on alert. Feeding, playing with, mediating for, hugging, comforting, occasionally doctoring, etc., the kids I am responsible for.

When I'm at home at my house, my parents treat me like an adult. I'll run errands for them as needed. I'll do my own laundry as needed (STOP LAUGHING, MOM AND DAD--I TOTALLY WILL). I keep track of my own bills, keep my room (fairly) straight (no really, Mom and Dad, STOP LAUGHING), and, y'know, all that grownup-y stuff.

And yet: I'm not quite a grownup. I don't have a house or a mortgage (though I do have massive tuition payments and a significant chunk of debt looming over me). I don't have kids--the bonus of being a nanny is that you can hand them back to their parents at the end of the day. I still have my dad to kill cockroaches for me.

I can vote, smoke, buy porn, have abortions (NOT THAT I WOULD. Just legally, I could), I can gamble, I can buy guns (again: not that I would. REALLY), and I can go to war.

I can't, however, buy alcohol (yet) or rent a car.

It's weird: when I'm with family, and I transition back into the 'kid' role. I'm sillier, gigglier, (my sister would say 'annoyingier')...it's bizarre, and kind of hard to explain. I think it's because most of my extended relatives do look at me and consider me still a kid.

I do wonder if I'll always be a kid in their eyes.

Well, yeah, probably. Since I'll be 4'11 for the rest of my life.

Skin solutions

For all of you cosmetically-minded folk out there, Heather e-mailed me a link to the Rejuva Minerals web site--all of their cosmetics that I was able to check rated at 0 or 1 on the Cosmetics Database site. They have sample sizes of their stuff so you don't have to order a whole container of foundation or eye shadow or anything. Sweet!

8.08.2009

Winner winner chocolate dinner!

Okay! The votes have been tallied, the random number generator has been employed, and we have ourselves three winners!

The milk chocolate goes to...Elizabeth

The milk chocolate with almonds goes to...Monica H

The dark chocolate with raspberries goes to...CJ

Congrats, you three! If you'll e-mail (theonlinenannyATgmailDOTcom) me with your addresses, I'll get the chocolate out to you right away!

If you're interested in purchasing Endangered Species Chocolate for yourself, you can do so here. (And no, I'm not being paid for this. I bought the chocolate myself. They didn't ask me to. I just love the chocolate and what they stand for!)

Here's what Kyle from Endangered Species Chocolate wrote in the comments section of my giveaway post:
For all you out there who don’t know about Endangered Species Chocolate, we are 100% ethically traded, gluten-free, kosher, all-natural or organic, GMO free, and we donate 10% of our annual net profits to charity. This year we have teamed up with the African Wildlife Federation and the Ocean Conservancy. If you would like more information on our mission as a company or our delicious premium chocolate products visit us at www.chocolatebar.com or email us at community@chocolatebar.com. And as always...Savor Chocolate. Save Our Planet.

I love that tagline. Savor Chocolate, Save Our Planet. I can do that! :)

8.07.2009

Chocolate giveaway over!

And the giveaway is officially done! I'll figure out the three winners tonight and post tomorrow!

8.06.2009

I DON'T. LIKE. CHEESE.

Alternate title: WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN.

I made mac'n'cheese for the kids for lunch today, and without thinking, I gave some to Coco to munch on as well. Fast forward three seconds when I'd realized my mistake, that I'd have to *shudder* really touch and clean up *shudder* *SHUDDER* cheese.

I didn't even THINK about having to pick it out of the folds of her high chair, baby chub, etc. Good thing she's ridiculously cute.

(If you're viewing this in Bloglines, the video below may or may not show up. You might have to click over to the blog to see the video.)



Don't forget about the giveaway!

8.04.2009

One month, 8 days

Don't forget about the giveaway!

A year ago, I was freaking out (only ever-so-slightly) about moving 2,000 miles away.

Now? I'm counting down the days until I can go back!!!

This summer has been...well...interesting. Something (I can't find the right word to use here. Shitty? Fucking awful? Depressing? Sad?) happened right before I left DreamSchool to come home in May, and it kind of threw my whole summer (and life) for a loop. Basically, since then I've just been trying to pick up the pieces of everything.

(I know, I'm cryptic. Sorry. I may or may not spill some day, but it's a really, REALLY long story that goes back several years and blah blah blah. Not now.)

But this summer hasn't been all bad! I can't tell you how much I've loved nannying for Sam, Ben and Coco. Of course it's not all fun and games (though let's face it, it is 90% of the time), these kids are so sweet, polite, respectful, and fun. My very favorite thing about Sam and Ben is how I can just open a book and immediately they'll both be over in my lap, ready to read. My favorite thing about Coco is GOOD GOD, THE BABY CHUB AND SMILES.

I've gotten closer to a few friends from high school, which has been really nice.

Spending four solid days on the beach was heavenly.

I've discovered that I am okay on my own, and that I can survive. This was a good realization.

But now? I'm itching to get back up to DreamSchool. I'm ready to be back with my friends, eating way too much Ben & Jerry's and playing way too much MarioKart and giving way too many tours for the admissions office (which I love!) and occasionally doing some homework as well. And I'm ready to be back out of the heat! (GAH!)

One month, 8 days.

8.02.2009

Ask and ye shall receive

Don't forget about the giveaway!

Have I mentioned how lucky I am? And what amazing blog readers I have?

All last week I was on vacation to see family up in Michigan. It was a lovely trip, filled with days at the beach, games, and more food than I think I've ever eaten before. I'm not kidding. My daily menu looked about like this:

Breakfast: apple pie
Lunch: veggie pasta salad sandwich (yup, pasta on a sandwich, ONLY ON VACATION) and apple pie
Dinner: veggie pasta salad sandwich and apple pie
Dessert: chocolate cake

I really have no idea why none of my clothes fit me anymore.

ANYWAYS. I came home late last night to something on my doorstep that made me absolutely squeal with joy (and no, it wasn't George Clooney. I'm still waiting for him to show up *sigh*).

It was, however, a box filled with homemade soaps and lotion from one of my blog readers, Shavahn (who doesn't have a blog or twitter or I'd link to it)! She read my post about being concerned with what's in my cosmetics and soaps and shampoos, and offered to send me some of her own homemade items. I cannot tell you how excited I was to get that comment!

So I eagerly opened the box and was immediately greeted with a medley of AMAZING smells--mocha, blackberry-apple, ginger snap and more. The soaps are awesome and the lotion is just incredible! Seriously, I'm on cloud nine right now. Shavahn, you are the best!!! Thank you!



Note: Shavahn occasionally sells her homemade products. If you're interested, e-mail me and I'll put you in touch with her!