Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why My Feet Look Like This

So, this past week, T. and I embarked on a little project.  Well, not so little.  As in it took both of us two full days to actually build the things not to mention several days to plan, amass materials, and return items several times to actually get the right thing.  The returns lady at the Lowe's knows my first name now.  Sigh.

In addition, I can't get the mud off my feet.  I wore rubber clogs the whole time, but the long hours in the mud/clay of Central Texas and the permanently gooey state of my shoes has left these horrible brown (burnt siena in the 64 box) stains on my feet.  It's so bad that I had to wear socks at yoga yesterday, which never leads to good things.  And I will save you the description of what's under my toenails.  And I've showered every day since Sunday.  Maybe.  Okay.  Just once.  Okay.  Yesterday.

Everything took a really long time because we were creating this design from scratch, incorporating ideas from gardens we liked the looks of but couldn't afford and gardens we could afford but didn't like the looks of.  The basic premise and what we used for our fencing (cages) came from Square Foot Gardening (also the reason for the small beds and grids), the Suwanee, GA extension service and the Austin Food Bank.  There's also great information at the SFG Forum.  

I also had a most expert tutorial and demonstration from my friend, R, another recovering lawyer turned mom turned gardener.  It really does help to actually SEE what you're going for. If you can, go find someone who's doing the square foot thing and ask to visit.  She might even offer you her leftover seed.  Most of R's seed love has already sprouted in the front bed.
And for our new beds, what started as a mish-mash of ideas has turned into something really beautiful and that we're really proud of.  Even the girls are excited to help keep the gardens going.

We started with bare ground along the edge of a new granite gravel pathway.
The poles are electrical conduit (a/k/a/ cheap fencing) is for the garden cages that we built later.

After tilling the soil where the beds would go, we built a frame from UNTREATED pine (cedar was crazy expensive) boards 12" high.  We bought these handy, dandy (but NOT cheap) corners from Gardener's Supply Co.  We decided to spend the money here because having a place to put our supports kept us from having to build a giant deer fence around all three beds.  Because the damn deer eat everything.

We removed about half of the tilled soil and supplemented with several bags of organic Hill Country Garden Soil from Natural Gardener and Turkey Compost, which is what Larry told us to buy.

After making my square foot grid, I planted both transplants and seeds.  My goal was to grow only what I will be able to either eat or can for later:  tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers from transplants, pickling cucumbers, radishes, and squash from seed.

So, the final product (late on day 2) was beautiful.  We also spent some real money on the fence panels because they provide structural support.  Still far, far cheaper than fencing the entire area.  Other than the fencing, all the metal caging and hardware came from the electrical aisle at the Lowe's.
T. has promised to put together a materials list.  Check back for details.

Now, I just have to wait to see what all comes up!

And get a pedicure.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not bad at all. Vicariously.

Friday was a big day Chez O.  

Now, I'm not one of those types who brags about their childen's every accomplishment on Facebook. Ugh.  Every once in a while a photo, or a shout out, but you just don't want to be that guy.  Nobody wants to hear that much about my kids.  The occasional update, a few photos from vacation, a significant award, have at it!  But I was friends with someone on Facebook who not only posted every single one of her kid's accomplishments, but also scanned in a picture of her kid's report card and posted it.  Her kid was in 9th grade.  Really?  As a result, I had to do what no one wants to do.

I had to hide her.  Oh, you thought I was going to de-friend her?  No way.  Too public.  Too obvious.  The hide feature is the genius invention of a crazy passive-aggressive code writer.  Also probably an introvert.  And to him/her, I can only say thank you.  You let me avoid people who have no FB filter.  You permit me to gently and lovingly get away from the every-ten-minute posters (Just loaded the laundry! In another meeting!). And, you let me dislike people without their knowing about it.  What a relief.  I'm sure there are plenty people out there who don't like me - I just don't have to know about it.  How great is that?  AND I can not like them, too, without any ugly repercussions.  

So, since I don't want to be one of those people, I'm not going to brag about my kids on Facebook.  I'm going to brag about them here!  Yay!  S. came in first in 100m hurdles, 2nd in 100m dash, and 5th in the long jump last Friday.  Placing in 3 out of 4 events is really, really great, and we're very proud of her.  The very same day, G. and her partner won the varsity A division doubles.  Way to go, G.! Not bad for a days work, if I do say so myself.

Oh, wait. Yes, I know that I didn't actually do anything other than make breakfast.  But let's be honest.  The only reason anyone has children is so that they can live vicariously through them.  Otherwise, what's the point of the diapers and the messes and the whining and the eye rolling and the trips to Walgreens at eleven o'clock at night for the posterboard for the science project that you have known about for three weeks but didn't start until tonight?  

My kids have no choice but to be successful in sports.  They have to because I was not.  It is their job to atone for my sins.  Both girls run - G excelled at distance, while S. is a sprinter.  In high school, I ran the 800m, otherwise known as "where fat girls go to die."  I did so only under penalty of I can't remember what, and I didn't do it well.  At all.  Most of my memories of that event involve wheezing, gasping and chafing.  Not much else.

At our weekly neighborhood drink-beer-in-the-driveway session, while bragging about my kids (with only a passing nod to the irony), I commented to my friend, S, that it is a little sad that I am living vicariously through my children.  She said, "everyone does."  Coming from S., that's saying something.  She is one of the coolest, funniest, most laid back people I know.  She's had three kids at the high school and has never had to call the principal or the coach or the counselor.  She lets her kids deal with their own stuff.  She never yells from the sidelines, never complains about her child's performance.  Yet she's yearning, too, for what she could have done.  

And that made me feel a lot better.  Yes, I want them to do well; in large part, I think, because I have a lot of regrets about things I could have done better.  And because I know now the satisfaction of working really hard for something and seeing success at the end.  I know how easy it is to quit or give up, how hard it is to keep going, and how much dignity there is in perseverance.

Oh, yeah.  And it also feels awesome to win.  There's just no getting around it.

Go get 'em, tiger.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Maudies,

How I love you.  How I love your tortilla chips and spicy salsa.  How I love the queso even though it doesn't have any discernible peppers or other bits to entice me.  Or perhaps because it doesn't have any vegetables in it to spoil it.

I miss you, Maudies.  I miss the Maggie's Plate with the one beef taco and the one cheese enchilada, yes, with onions, duh, and the chips with queso.  Didn't I just mention queso as an appetizer?  Yes, and I'm having it with my meal, too.

I drive by you almost every day.  Some days I get really close to you because you are on the way to math tutoring.  And you are right by that grocery store that I only go to in emergencies and on Sunday afternoons when I just need a couple of things because it is too expensive and, therefore, never crowded.

I want you to know it's not you.  It's me.  It's not you.  IT'S ME!

You see, we want different things.  You want me to eat there, and I cannot because I am on the project.  I know it's not fair to ask you to wait for me.  You deserve to be happy with your other paying diners and people who come for happy hour and free chips.  But I will always love you.  I think about you everyday.  You will always be in my heart.  I just wish you were in my tummy, too.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Upside: Instant compost

I just found a half a bag of baby carrots in the back of my fridge.  The exp date was 11/16/11.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I love you. Now, get out.

No one believes me when I tell them that I am an introvert.  I am loud and love a good party, as long as I know and like everyone there, which means that I don't go to many parties.  I talk a lot if I feel comfortable.  I love cuss words.  None of these things, however, makes one an extrovert.

I am an introvert in the classic sense that I get my energy (or recharge my batteries) by being alone.  I can be at your party, or teach your class, or spend the weekend with you, but as a result, I will have to lie in a fetal position in my room for the rest of the week.  Alone.  I will not be able to answer the phone or go anywhere.  Or do anything.  For a while.

Which makes lengthy school holidays tricky.  And vacations.  Because as much as I love my family, and I do, passionately, I also don't really want to be around them for that long.  Four people sharing a hotel room and a car and a dining table for five days is rough.  And then, when the vacation is over, they come home with me.

Which makes tomorrow the best day ever.  The first day of school after a holiday.   Last kid gone by 8 am.  First kid not picked up until 5 pm.

Don't call me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Small Victories

So, we're back.  We had a wonderful time, if 33 percent shorter a time than expected. We had pool time.  We had spring training baseball.

We had the Phoenix Zoo, which was great.  Our super-cute waitress had told us it was only "okay."  Then she asked us if we'd been to the San Diego Zoo.  We hadn't.  "Oh, then," she said, "you'll love it.  Everything's kinda lame after San Diego."  We loved it.

We made some friends.

And I will call you Squishy.  And you will be mine.

Just like at home.

In the car on the way to the airport, G said, "I think I'm ready to go back on the project.  I don't feel so well."  Score.

She's not kidding.  Let me just tell you, turns out that this project is about more than saving money and living sustainably.  It's about much more than that.  Why?  Well, at the risk of going all Supersize Me on you, there's nothing "regular" about that regular-sized combo meal.  Ugh.  I can't button any of my pants.  My face is a mess.  I've got zits in some places and freaky dry scaly patches in others.  It's like Jurrassic Park IV.  The kids feel like shit and so do T and I.  And we did not go all crazy vaca at every meal.  Yes, there were some desserts.  There were some sandwiches.  But there were also salads.  And vegetables.  And some lean meats that did not necessarily come on a bun.

There is something that goes wrong with that much eating out.  I don't know if it's salt content or preservatives or just portion size, but there's almost no way, no matter how mindful you are, to eat "right" when you're forced to eat out for every meal.  Yuck.

And if G is glad to be back on the project, you know it's big.

Welcome home!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are you kidding me?

We are having a lovely time.  Viewing amazing sights, such as this:

Sedona Petroglyph (ca. 950 ce)

And this:

Wupatki Ruins (ca. 1150 ce)

And this:

Grand Canyon (ca. 6,000,000 bce)

And then, as we are on the road from the Grand Canyon yesterday, I get the following text message from my house-sitter, who is a saint:

"Hey, just wanted to let you know that the Sears guy came and repaired the [range], but he said that your power cord was fried, so he couldn't actually plug it in to test if it works.  He said they don't do power cords."

This may make more sense after reading this.  And this.

Are.  You.  Fucking.  Kidding.  Me.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Silver Linings

Now, I'm going to be honest.  You know those people who try to find something positive in every situation, who are upbeat and can always find something to smile about, who are always looking for the silver lining to a huge thunderstorm of crap?  Yeah, well, I usually want to punch them in the face.

But after the absolute and utter misery of missing my flight to Spring Break and having a forced 48-hour layover at my own home, I came to the unlikely realization that things had indeed happened for a reason.  First of all, NOTHING had gone my way all day Friday - prescriptions not ready, car not ready, kids not ready, mama not ready, mid-40s, raining, South by South-who-the-fuck-are-all-these-people, no cabs available, nothing.  Everything took 10 times longer than expected.  I seriously wonder if we were not supposed to get on that plane.   And here's why:

Upside #1 - Growing up - both girls were forced to decide how to handle a really disappointing situation.  Not only did they hold my ponytail while I metaphorically barfed my tears all over the Southwest Airlines ticket counter, they handled it beautifully.  And once I put on my positive about everything demeanor, they followed along.  Really, it was remarkable -- they didn't reset to their default fighting mode until we landed in Phoenix yesterday.

Upside #2 - Sleep - all of us had been completely done in by a week's worth of TAKS, track meets, lessons, extra work, and the exhaustion that is only duplicated by the week before Christmas break.  We called it a night Friday night at about 10:30.  S woke up twelve hours later, and G slept until 11:30 the next day.  I'm just saying, Arizona would have been a much grumpier place if we'd left on Friday.

Upside #3 - LO - My very best friend in the world went back to work right when I left.  She lives way northwest.  I live way south.  We don't get to see near enough of each other.  I had updated her by text on my ill-fated first attempt to leave town, but when I called to give her the full rundown, turned out she was in the car on the way to Beaumont.  Yes, on purpose.  It was the longest uninterrupted visit we've had in ages.  We got some very exciting plans made.  And I'd have missed it if my vacation had actually started when it was supposed to.

Upside #4 - Game Night - sweet K, who had to drive us to the airport Friday night at breakneck speed, in the rain, and the traffic because I couldn't find a cab, called Saturday morning and said "what you need is a game night."  S, K, and L joined me and the girls for snacks and what has to be the most hilarious, last-minute, sorely-needed girls night ever.   We laughed until we cried.

Upside #5 - This!

And then suddenly, it was time to start over.  Bags were packed.  Boarding passes printed.  Blessings abound.  

And P.S. -- A shout-out to my sweet and precious husband who was the only one with no upside when we missed our flight.  He was stuck out-of-town without his family for twice as long as he planned and with no hotel reservation.  Luckily, he was able to check out and then back in again, but his weekend pretty much sucked.  At least the girls and I had each other and were home.  He's a trooper.  And a fox, too.

Arizona, here we come!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Griswold Family Vacation

So, apparently, 6:55 is not the same thing as 5:55.

Which is when our plane to Arizona left.  Without us.

And yes, we did have our elegantly packed snack bags.

Not so elegant was my hysterical weeping at the ticket counter.

We're booked on the next available flight out.

Which would be Sunday afternoon at 4.

And yes, we ate at home.  This project sucks.

This Project Sucks

So, here's how the conversation went:

G:  As soon as I get to the airport, I'm getting a Schlotzsky's.
T:  Sorry, dude, it closed down.
G:  No, it didn't.  (Hasn't been to an airport since September).
T:  Uh, yes, it did.
G:  Okay, Maudie's then.
Me:  Uh, no.
G:  Why not?
Me:  Because (A) we're not technically out of town if we haven't even left the airport, and (B) we're having a nice dinner in Phoenix when we get there.  You can have a big snack before we leave.
G:  This project sucks.

And, I have become one of those people.  You know, the ones who don't necessarily keep up with the shaving and smell like patchouli?  I've packed lunch bags with sandwiches and snacks and fruit for all of us to take on the plane.  I'm sure we'll be very popular.

Happy Spring Break, y'all!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's not what you think. That's not for me. Really.

I was completely out of spray cleaner.  Which isn't all that big a deal.  But I was out of spray cleaner because I was out of vodka.  Which is a big deal on a lot of levels.

So, I went to Specs, which is a really fancy liquor store in Houston that my parents used to go to when they were having really important people over, but like everything else, it's become a chain.  I needed vodka, and I was by a Specs.  So, I went in.

And bought this:

A really, really cheap ($5.40) bottle of vodka.  In a plastic bottle.  At noon.  On a Monday. In my yoga pants.

I don't know how the Russian (really?) guy at the register felt about it.  Because he wouldn't look at me. I tried to explain that I wouldn't drink this myself.  It was for stuff to clean my house.  Not a glance.  I gave up.  I had to go home and take a shower after that.

And then I made cleaning spray!  Why?  A while back, I read an article about the artificial fragrances that they put in cleaning products to cover the smell of the really scary chemicals in them.  S also has asthma, which was starting to become a problem.  We consciously tried to decrease the amount of chemical ookiness in our house.  Is it working?  Who knows?  Central Texas is the most allergy-plagued place on earth, so there are a lot of variables to contend with.

I found a great book -- Easy Green Living, by Renee Loux.  If you can get past hating her for how cute and skinny she is and the fact that she lives in Hawaii or someplace equally tropical, she has a lot of great information, including recipes for products AND recommendations for store bought natural stuff.  She's also very non-judge-y.  Here's her website http://www.reneeloux.com/ and a link to the book.  I am especially fond of the disinfecting spray and the window cleaner, both of which I pretty much use for everything.

Here's the recipe for the disinfecting spray:

Good Smelly Disinfecting Spray CORRECTED!
Renee Loux, Easy Green Living

1/4 cup cheap vodka (Renee says to use the cheap stuff -- they're all the same alcohol content)
3/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide (yes!  the stuff from the drug store!)
1 cup bottled water (preferably distilled, but I never have it)
10 drops grapefruit or other citrusy essential oil or extract
10 drops lavender or other woody essential oil or extract

Combine all the ingredients and swirl.  Do not shake - it makes the peroxide bubble and reduces the effectiveness.  I pretty much put this on everything - I always spray my cutting boards down with it and always for the counter tops.  Right now I'm using a combo of 10 grapefruit, 5 orange and 5 rosemary.  For a long time, I used half lavender, half orange.  I think you usually want to use some form of citrus extract because it has some antiseptic properties.  

This is pretty good stuff, but Renee says it might not take care of raw meats or poultry.  Bring out the big guns for that.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I. Can't. Stand. It.


THIS is happening right now!  On my front pathway!  It's too much!  I've been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and it's just about to POP.  Any day now.  Well, let's be honest.  I'm leaving town Friday, so I'm quite sure it will pop first thing Saturday morning.  But still!


And I have these all over my front yard.  Because of the rats.  Well, they're not technically rats since they have wings.  And beaks.  And striped faces.  But they're just like rats.  This winter I was completely overrun by song sparrows.  They're awful.  They're bullies.  They're mean girls.  Like Lindsay Lohan before that bizarre plastic whatever she had done.  What the hell?  They take over nests and feeding areas of the really cool birds whose potential hasn't yet been fully realized.  The band birds.  And the brainy birds.  And the theater birds.  And the ones who wear glasses and have really, really big hair.  No, wait.

This is NOT a song sparrow.  This is Lesser Goldfinch.  
He's in B lunch and sits at a table by himself.

Anyway, I made the rookie mistake of buying some songbird food that had some of the cheaper millet, small pellet-y, whatever stuff in it, and that's what song sparrows like.  A lot.  They were going through a feeder a day!  I got tired of saying "squirrel" to the dogs and sending them outside to their unending disappointment, so I quit feeding them.

But much to my delight, after I cut back the knee high weeds (it's been a long drought -- I was just happy to see some green), I discovered sunflowers.  Lots of them!  In February!  It's been warm and wet here, and they have managed just fine.  And they're everywhere.  Turns out, those horrible varmints only like the cheap stuff and spit the sunflower seeds out.  So, they germinated where they lay, and now, I'm getting ready for a bumper crop.  Thanks, guys.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dear Douchebag

Austin really is the greatest city.  I love it here.  Aside from one very difficult year in my hometown of Houston (difficult because of a job, not the city itself), I have lived in or near Austin since 1987.  Austin is diverse, tolerant, smart, fun, musical, and a whole lot of other adjectives.  It can also be, well, a little too Austin for its own good.

Yesterday, I went with L, my superfabulous tennis partner and canning partner and cooking partner and friend, to the bag-your-own-dirt section at the Natural Gardener.  A mecca of sorts around these parts, Natural Gardener has all kinds of organic soils and amendments and groovy things for your garden.  And even better, instead of buying by the bag, you can go and dig your own, thereby recycling (less plastic from using your own bags) AND saving money (no labor other than your own, no transport costs, no markup).  Neat, huh?

We arrived well before opening time and joined the long line of cars (it's almost planting season around here AND the weather was PERFECT - and I mean perfect even for Central Texas -- clear skies, mid 60's, slight breeze) waiting for the gates to open.  When the pearly gates opened, we drove slowly to the way back, delicately marked SOIL with an arrow.  It's true - what they're putting out elevates dirt to soil and beyond.

L and I were the only ones there for a solid half an hour - digging, bagging, filling, sweating, chatting.  It was great.  I'd have been miserable if I'd had to do it all alone, which I will have to do tomorrow.  Because I can't measure volume.  Which, by the way, is cubed and not squared.  Dammit.  We were soon joined by a benevolent and wise farmer guy who, as one does when sharing laborious tasks, began to chat.  Turns out, he's got a large garden/farm out east of town and belongs to all manner of volunteer tomato forums (fora?).  We chatted about tomato varieties, amendments (went with the turkey compost based on his recommendation), and blossom-end rot.

Please don't stop reading because you couldn't care less about tomatoes - this is about what nice looks like and what asshole looks like.  Carry on.

Now, this type of conversation isn't going to happen just anywhere, but it was lovely.  I mean really lovely.  And even though I don't tend toward the wistful, it felt like blowing bubbles in the summer time.  One of those little moments that you probably will forget later but will wish desperately that you had held onto it just a little longer.  Our new friend, Larry, went so far as to give us each two tester tomato plants.  He and his tomato buddies are cultivating new heirloom/hybrids, and he had a bunch in the back of his truck that he didn't need.  Now, he didn't know us from Adam (Eve?).  He, like us, had found a pleasant moment of time with some people with common interests and a gift of gab.  So, he shared his knowledge and his tomato plants with us.  It was, in what has become such a big city, magical.

Until.  As L. and I were tying up our bags of garden dirt and getting ready to move on to the turkey compost, we noticed that the soil yard had filled up significantly.  As in packed.  As in sardines.  So, she remarked, "I didn't realize that gardening had become so popular."  And then, we got "outAustined."  It's a phenomenon that you see every once in a while, usually at Whole Foods or REI or Natural Gardener (great places all, just locations for this disturbing trend).  And it's not pretty.  A young (to me - maybe early-30's) gentleman in just the right race t-shirt, from just the right 10K, with just the right track pants, said, "Well, gardening's been popular for a long time.  You're just new to it, and you've come at a very busy time."  And then gave us the stink eye because apparently we had less right to be there than he.  So here is my missive to him:

Dear Douchebag, 
Oh, no, you didn't.  Let me just say that my friend L is from a farm in Gonzalez, Texas.  She and her sister have access to some of the best produce you've ever eaten, including jalapenos so hot that I couldn't put my contacts in for a week after we canned them.   She has the most beautiful gardens you have ever seen.  She is also a lovely lady in her late 50s.  You are the most condescending and preposterous and disrespectful piece of work that I have seen in a long time.  And it popped my bubble.  I am angry.  And angry. I don't like people messing with my friends.  I don't like general disrespect.  And I don't like you thinking that you have anything on anyone, especially when you DON'T EVEN KNOW US.  

And I especially don't like you taking what was a community of gardeners and planters, of amateurs and grizzled veterans, of like-minded strangers and friends and turning it into some kind of twisted game so that you can feel superior.  Now, I realize that by letting you bother me I gave you control over my day, which you didn't deserve, and I am a bigger person that that, so I should have just ignored you.  Bladdiddy, bladdiddy, blah.  But Austin didn't used to be like that. And it's so much more than that.  And I was having a perfectly nice tomato fantasy with my new friend. Larry, until you shit on it.  So, thanks for that.  Seriously, just be nice.  It's really simple. 


Hrumph.  One of my favorite people in the whole world had a bumper sticker in the 90s that I loved.  People could live by this.

Mean people suck.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bouncing on Jellyfish

My new best friend, Karl T., came today to fix the oven/stove.  As he worked, I blithely wandered about the house assuming that I was only a few short moments away from normality.  But then, my usual bubbly optimism (ha) took a hit.  Man down.  The stove needs a part that will take 10 days to come in. Are you kidding me?  I'M ON THE PROJECT!

Last week, the project did battle with full-time work.  This week, we'll have to turn lemons into lemonade, or leftovers into leftoverade.  We're going to party, pioneer style.  If you consider cooking on a gas grill and a bunch of small appliances pioneer style. 

The challenge:  to use as many small appliances as possible to cook at home meals.  No oven, no stove.  It'll be just like when we got married.  We had to move back to Austin for T's job and had no money to buy a house or rent an apartment because we'd lost our security deposit for breaking our lease as a result of our relocation.  So, we lived in an Airstream trailer on my aunt's property in Dripping Springs.  We had a toaster, a microwave, a grill, and an electric skillet.  I'd forgotten all about that.  

Piece of cake.

PS Bonus points if you got the movie reference in the title.


More like appallingly awesome.

Okay, so I don't usually go in for food that may or may not be made from petroleum products.  We eat a relatively balanced diet -- lean meats, vegetables (except on Tuesdays) the occasional ice cream cone.  I buy organic and local when I can.

But not today.  Today, my family is coming over for dinner because I can't go out according to the project (it's not a reunion if your brother lives in the same town and your parents come in quite a bit).  And, if you've been following along, not only have I been working full days this week, my oven AND stove are broken.  As in kaput.  As in no-workee.  As in nada.

Did I cave in?  Did I wave the white flag?  NO!

I bounced the herb-marinated pork tenderloin (I love you, Ina) to Friday.  I'm making baked potatoes in my crockpot and one borrowed from my awesome neighbors, S and E, who should not be confused with my awesome neighbors, K and D, whose kitchen I virtually overran on Monday.  My brother and his crew are bringing salad, and my parents are bringing appetizers.

The only thing left for our dinner is dessert.  Do we need it?  No.  But do we need it?  Yes.  It's been a long week, and we don't really all get together as often as we should.  Normally, I'd throw together an olive oil cake or some cookies.  I really want to make this grapefruit-pecan sheet cake from my husband's college friend, Lisa Fain.  On my very best days, I might make the buttermilk pie from the Houston Junior League Cookbook (um, the 1968, y'all, not that impostor from the 80s).   All of those would be great.  If I had an oven.  And since I'm not buying pre-prepared items these days, I decided to forego the cakes and pies (yeah, we had one at S's birthday party, but I'm filing that under the birthday exemption).

So, that left ice cream, which is fine, but not terribly festive.  I remembered a concoction that my neighbor, S, made me for my birthday many years ago.  It was like an ice cream cake, only better, and homemade, and with crunchy bits.  So, I called her from the freezer section at the HEB.  "Hey, remember that thing you made me with the ice cream sandwiches that made a sort of a cake?"  "Wow, I don't think I've thought of that since I made it for you."  Yeah.  And that was about 8 years ago.  Neither of us could remember exactly how it worked, but we remembered that it was AWESOME.  And contained copious amounts of Cool Whip.  Between us, we were able to cobble together a reasonable working facsimile of it.

Now, Cool Whip is not the healthiest thing around.  And if I think about it too hard, I start worrying about my blood pressure.  And my butt.  And then I get a little light-headed.  So, instead of thinking about it, I did something about it.  I bought a box of mini ice cream sandwiches, a tub of Cool Whip, a box of nutter butter wafers, with a Butterfinger candy bar kicker.

Here's the deal:

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
It's very June Cleaver.  My brother said it's more Marge Simpson than June Cleaver.  You be the judge.

This is going to be waaaaaay better if you make it the night before.

1 box mini ice cream sandwiches
1 tub Cool Whip
1 pkg Nutter Butter wafers (not the regular cookies - too hard)
1 Butterfinger candy bar
1 8x8 square pan (I used disposable here - it's irresponsible and I feel terrible, but I will recycle it)

Line pan with ice cream sandwiches lying side to side.  You may have to cut one in half to make them fit.  Leave as little space in between as possible.  Mash sandwiches down until all spaces in between are filled.  Your fingers may be covered in chocolate cookie goo from the ice cream sandwiches.  This is very sad.  You will probably have to lick it off to make yourself feel better.  Spread sandwiches with half of the Cool Whip in an even layer.  Place a single layer of Nutter Butter wafers on Cool Whip.  You may have to eat some of them while you are working because this is a really grueling process.  Then place another layer of ice cream sandwiches down and mash them into the wafers until they have spread into an even layer.  Oh, dear.  You may have picked up some more ice cream sandwich cookie goo.  Top with second half of Cool Whip.  Bang candy bar against kitchen counter and beat with cookbook until it's in little bits.  I think I used The Essential Pepin.  Sprinkle top with candy bits.  Cover and freeze, preferably overnight.

Mmmmmmmm.  Well, hello, Eddie.