Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: Warren the 13th

Come to the Warren for the illustrations, but stay for the story. Warren the 13th and the All Seeing Eye hits bookshelves today, and it's a must-give-gift for your book lovers this holiday season.

This is likely to be the most beautiful book you'll see this fall. Gleaming foil embossing kisses the cover and every page...you heard me...EVERY PAGE brings you perfectly vintage feeling illustrations and graphics to unfold this story.

It's beautiful. Find one. Touch it.

Nobody is ever too old for a book with pictures.

This is the brain child of illustrator Will Staehle, whose story lay in his mind and drawings and was brought to life with words lent by Tania del Rio.

Warren is a kid running a dilapidated hotel with his uncle under the menacing watch of his uncle's new wife who seems to have sinister motives. A mysterious guest and ensuing adventures leave questions at every turn.

What Warren lacks in looks, he makes up for in heart.

When I first got it, I flipped through its pages and admired the art. It can only be called that. Art. Staehle is a gifted artist and this book is filled with pages your eyes will enjoy exploring. It carries the weight of an instant classic, a book you feel has been around forever, and one that children love pulling off the shelf time after time because they loved it so much the first seven times. I kept it for myself at first, rendering my children jealouser and jealouser until I snapped it shut with finality.

My favorite illustration. Those are tattoos, BTW.

"OMIGOSH. I cannot BELIEVE it!!! I know the secret of the All Seeing Eye. And you don't."

Yes. I never miss an opportunity to motivate my children to read, even if it's in a very immature neener-neener-chicken-weiner manner.

They fought over who would be the next to read it. I stepped in to referee and offered a solution. I would read it to them together during our usual bedtime reading slot. They both agreed.

It gave us many discussion opportunities for new vocabulary words. Dumbwaiter, ascend, descend. References to some old-timey things. Discussion around Warren himself and how despite how others treat him, he persistently plugs along, always being kind and doing the right thing. Guesses about what will happen next....I have a strict two chapter maximum then it's lights OUT.

Every chapter greets you with clues

A hearty congrats and job well done to del Rio, Staehle, and the people at Quirkbooks for making this story come to life. I urge anyone looking for a fresh literary gift idea to check it out. You'll fall in love.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie for Mediocre Mothers

Trust me, I'm just as surprised as the next guy.

Here at the DayLee Fix I pride myself on setting the bar low. My shorties' expectations correlate with my efforts. Usually. They know better than to ask for too much. Usually.

On occasion, however, they throw out a request that leaves me questioning once again:

"Should I shoot up my face with Botox to control my maniacal expressions?"  

Pro: Would help out in my professional life for those times when I'm able to keep my cake hole shut but my eyebrows betray me.

Con: Couldn't silently give my kids "the look" that has thus far kept me from having to beat the daylights out of them at the Walmart.

Last week, Clayton chose a day that I was knee-deep in my own mucous and wishing for death to depart from their usual cold cereal or untoasted pop tart breakfast. He wanted pancakes and had zero problem seeing through my red and watery eyes and waited patiently for me to finish my coughing jag to approach me with the Bisquick box.

"Are you kidding me right now?"


"Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. FINE. Even though I am DYING, but nevermind that, I'm happy to cater to your every whim."

"Thanks mom, you're the best."

He continued his brown nosing as he shoved those fluffy sticky stacks into his face.

"These are the best pancakes I've ever had in my entire life. They're perfect."

He knows. He knows that even if they taste like the inside of his shoe, he better just slather on another layer of shut the hell up and gag it down and pretend he likes it because I might cook with love, but my secret ingredients are guilt and bitterness.

I thought the pancakes would buy me a week of reverting back to their being happy with frozen Eggo waffles and chicken nuggets.


Sunday, which Esten declared as "official relax and no pants day", Clayton casually approached me with a can of pumpkin guts from the baking cabinet.

Our Inspiration Station, courtesy of Esten (E-Money$)

"Hey mom, can you make a pumpkin pie today?"

WTF? It's less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, and we don't even have any whipped cream, and this kid couldn't care less.

So I give you my recipe for:

Pumpkin Pie for Mediocre Mothers.

Step 1: Log into your Pinterest account. Locate a pin containing a picture that looks good along with recipe titles preferably containing words like "fool proof", "easy", or "three ingredient". Follow the link to the recipe.

Step 2: Never get all the ingredients out at once. I prefer instead to just jump to the instructions, and then refer back to the measurements. For example:

One can of evaporated milk
Locate your evaporated milk. Realize that you have three cans of sweetened condensed milk and zero cans of evaporated milk. Decide to use regular milk instead. Carefully measure  dump however much looks good because there's probably some kind of replacement/conversion information out there but you are just fresh out of f*cks to give.

One can of Pumpkin Guts
Locate your can of pumpkin guts. You know right where this is because it's the thing Clayton has been shoving in your face all morning asking you "when you're going to make the pie". Realize that the can you have came from Costco and is bigger than the recipe calls for. Carefully measure dump however much looks good because you don't want to reach into the utensil drawer for a measuring cup because you'll be pissed if you jab yourself with the corncob holders again like last time AND you have to wash something when you're done.

Butter and Shortening
These go in the freezer. Don't ask why. Remember vaguely that your grandma who kicked ass at pie crust emphasized that everything had to be cold. Which is weird. But her pie was good, so you do it.

Locate the vodka. This shouldn't be difficult, but you find it daunting to sift through the 87 bottles of foo-foo flavored vodka in the liquor cabinet to find the one "plain ol' vodka" bottle. Realize that it is really spendy vodka. Remember that for the last cup of tea you made to burn the phlegm out of your face you couldn't find "plain ol' whiskey" either, only an expensive and gift-worthy brand. Realize that this probably means you are now officially an adult. Carefully measure dump however much looks good into a small cup and have your kid put that in the freezer with the butter and the shortening.

Get into a fight with your kid who doesn't want alcohol in his pie. Tell him if he's going to be obstructive he can get out of your kitchen or you'll tell him how bacon gets made.

Be secretly surprised that you actually have eggs. Be secretly resentful because eggs are the one thing that never let you down when you have to say, "Sorry, I can't make that, we're out of eggs."

Step 3: [Netflix and] Chill the dough for a while, I don't know how long. Long enough for a documentary or three episodes of Hoarding: Buried Alive. Long enough to fight with your kid about why you're not just "continuing to make the pie". Tell him you're not going to touch the pie again until ToddlerBandit takes a nap and if he continues yapping about it and keeping him from going to sleep, then it might just be never.

Step 4: Roll out the dough. Maybe wipe the encrusted cocoa pebble residue off the counter first, or not. Whatever. It doesn't matter how thin or thick you roll it out, there's no way it's going to do what you want it to anyway and it will all fall apart. 

Step 5: Transfer dough to pie pan. Realize you do not own a pie pan. Shit. Well that would have been a good thing to remember before you committed to making A PIE. Don't panic. You own 39 round cake pans. Just use one of those because you are fresh out of f*cks to give. Smooth the crust down evenly apply the crust to the pan in a patchwork manner to create a functional container for the pie juice. Smash remaining scraps around the edge all willy-nilly for a rustic feel.

Step 6: Fill the crust with the liquid mix. Feel like something's missing, like you should have prebaked the crust like you do with the bottom crust of your chicken pot pie. Feel like they're punking you, but do it anyway. It will either turn out or it will not. This is how you learn to "move on" in life.

Step 7: Bake. Know that the instructions will not match your oven. For example, the recipe I followed said to bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then to turn it down to 350 and bake for another 40-50 minutes. I have a convection oven that is the devil, and ended up baking at 425 for 15 minutes and convinced it was going to burn, turned it down to 350 for 30 minutes. Notice how filthy your oven is. Vow to clean it (once it cools) but know in your heart that you will not.

Step 8: Fight with your kid about the fact that the pie has to cool before he can eat it. For like two hours. "No, you can't have any at dinner. Maybe when we get back from hockey. Keep on and maybe you won't get any at all tonight. Maybe I'll throw it in the trash." Etcetera.

Step 9: Serve your pie to your children, issuing your usual warning: "Now then. I don't care what this tastes like, you're eating it and I want zero complaints." Watch them devour it. Hear them ask for seconds. And thirds. Be unsure whether they really like it or whether they know they turned your guilt dial up to ten and they're making sure you don't flat out refuse to cook anything for them in the future. Be secretly pleased that you banged out a half-assed recipe that worked. Forget half of what you did and which pin it was, and know that you'll never be able to replicate it again.

Step 10: Clean your cake pan let your cake pan soak overnight...there's less scrubbing. Especially if your husband happens to get to the dishes before you do.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Holidays, A**holes

I reached my breaking point with humans over the past couple weeks. Before I get too deep into that, and since we're about to dive straight into the depths of Holiday Hell, let's reveal the winner of Jen Mann's latest and greatest: Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

My personal list just got longer.

Kamas T. wins this round, which is ironic because she is one of those people that everyone wants to punch in the throat and strangle with her own Christmas lights because she won't settle the hell down about it. She thinks her cat, Pancakes LOVES being dressed in ridiculous holiday outfits, but we all know that poor kitty is just waiting to eat her mommy's face off in her sleep.

I kid. (Not really).

Moving on.

I have the privilege of belonging to a private Facebook group that scouts out customer complaints for the Hope That Helps page. It's run by a trio including Ben Palmer, the man behind the Battman page. It's opened my eyes to the level of ridiculousness and entitlement that folks feel appropriate to bitch about for free stuff, attention, or some other self-serving purpose. On a public forum. For people like me to see. And make fun of.

Then there's the other kind of people. The people who generate false information for distribution amongst the masses that are otherwise too uneducated or lazy to fact find on their own, so they'll perpetuate said information into eternity with emotions getting hotter than a cookie sheet fresh out of the oven with each batch of shares.

This last couple weeks there have been two that stand ahead of the rest. First, American Girl, the six thousand dollar dolls that make me ever thankful that I have boys published a story about adoption from foster care in its November/December magazine issue. People.Freaked.Out.

A family. With love and everything.

One Million Moms (you know, the hate group) published its stance on the issue here, including their call to:


Please use the information we have provided to contact American Girl (owned by Mattel) and strongly encourage the company to remain neutral and not take a position on controversial topics. Tell them as long as American Girl is pushing the homosexual agenda to children, your family will no longer be able to support the company, its magazine, or purchase its products."

What. The. Fresh. Hell?

I only have this to say. THANK YOU to the dads who stepped up to parent these children and give them a forever home. THANK YOU to American Girl, who I probably still won't have an opportunity to support financially, but not due to a boycott, for standing up to and answering almost every individual crotchety asshat who made some vile statement as a visitor on their Facebook page, defending their article and bringing awareness to adoption and foster care in this country.

Even Focus on the Family, who has done so much damage to those who never deserved it seem to get it. Here's their graphic comparing the number of churches to the number of kids in foster care, by state. If one in every three churches had a family willing to adopt, we'd no longer have children waiting:

But by all means, as we head into this gift-giving season, please cross AG dolls off your list because 1MM feels they're pushing the gay agenda onto our youth, and by that I mean they are trying to turn all my kids and your kids and their kids G-A-Y.

While you're out shopping for NOT an AG doll, you might have occasion to stop by for a caffeine fix at Starbucks, where the pretend war on Christmas started last week. #RedCupGate has everyone all up in arms over Sucksbucks introducing of all things, plain red cups to mark the return of their holiday drinks.

Holy shit.

Joshua Feuerstein even posted a video where he really sticks it to Starbucks, having "tricked them" by telling them his name was Merry Christmas so they'd be forced to write it on his otherwise plain red cup. He pushed them even further by unapologetically daring to wear a JESUS shirt in the store and packing a pistol. Because nothing says F*CK YOU like a Yahweh tee stretched over your beer gut and a sidearm.

And of course, everyone who watches that shit just blindly follows along and gets all outraged like he says to.

And of course, every time I see his mug on a video I start watching it because I think that asshole is Kevin James and he's going to say something funny. But he doesn't. And I'm left disappointed beyond measure.

And those Jesus folks don't bother doing any level of fact finding to realize that Starbucks didn't remove Christmas from their cups, it was NEVER THERE. Every year their design changes, and they've never had little baby Jesus in a manger on those things. Go check. I'll wait.

No Jesus, No "Merry Christmas"

No Jesus, No "Merry Christmas"

Still No. Just no.

Let me break this down for you: There is no "war on Christmas". There do exist other religions and whatnot, and you know, Jews are still a thing with their Hanukkah and whatnot. And it's funny how they don't get all spun up about their holiday not getting appropriate recognition in cup design and when store clerks are passing out well wishes.

Because they're not assholes.

Yep. If you are going to get upset over the design on a disposable paper cup, and not do the requisite research to know that they still carry Christmas blend and an Advent calendar before just sharing posts and joining in the chorus of outrage, you sir, are an asshole.

Please go on about how they've taken Christ out of your coffee.

Literally an exclusively Christian item.

This holiday season, let's teach our kids better lessons than getting wound up about stupid shit like plain red cups and adopted kids with two dads. Let's show them how we can give to those in need, how we can share our good fortune with others, and how we can love one another despite our differences. Those are real gifts that will last a lifetime.

Happy Festivus.
Happy Hanukkah.
Happy Kwanzaa.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

DayLeeFix Domestics

If there's one thing I try to be here, on my social media accounts, and in person, it's genuine. I just don't have the energy to be fake at this juncture in life. So much weird and wonderful has happened that I've learned to ignore the bad is to miss out on some of the best and most hilarious memories your heart can hold. I also want other people to learn to laugh at themselves and to put down their walls.

We're all guilty at some point of looking toward other individuals, couples, or families and thinking that they have it all together, and feeling a twinge of jealousy. Of making mental notes to get our own shit together so we can be more like them. My message is this: nobody knows what the hell they're doing. We're all winging it. Quit beating yourself up.

That said, since Hubs doesn't want me to talk about the domestic we almost got into a couple weeks ago when I had to shave his man bits pre-vasectomy, I'll tell you about ridiculous argument we had this morning over hot rice in a sock instead.

Hot rice in a sock.

I would have just used these, but they're packed with the Christmas shit.

Most folks know I have migraine issues and other nerve problems around my head and ear region. Last night I had reached my limit after a week of constant pain on the side of my face, the kind where it hurt to touch it, hurt to have my hair brush against it, felt like it was being scraped by hot needles. I needed a heating pad on it, but my heating pad is too sharp and plastic-y, so I decided to make a hot rice pack.

Knowing he usually has a stash of brand new socks, I ventured into his side of the closet. There I found two pair of new black work socks. I took one, filled it with dry white rice, tied off the end, nuked it for a minute, and settled in to let the warmth begin quieting my nerves. It worked, and I was able to get to sleep quicker than I had the nights before.

This morning, I laid it out on the counter so I could take it to work with me. He rolled in off his graveyard shift, and when he saw it began questioning me.

"What is this?"

"Rice in a sock."

"My sock? 
Why couldn't you use your sock? Gross. It's ruined now."

"No it's not. I needed a new sock, and I didn't have one. It's just dry rice. It's fine."

"No it's not. It's CONTAMINATED."

Contaminated. OK. Let's back up. I was looking for a container for rice. I was going to put said container in the microwave, where we put our food. I was going to put said container on my face. I did not sew the sock shut even, out of courtesy so that he can have it back when I'm done. See how nice I am?

"Um, do you think rice is more gross than your foot? Because I've filed your feet before. And I can say for sure that NO, that rice is not more gross than your foot and that sock is NOT contaminated."

And I know that when I am done with this sock, even if I wash it and fold it back with its mate, he will pitch it in the trash, because in his mind it is contaminated and too disgusting to slip onto his highfalutin fancy foot.

I guess now we're even for last month when, after all this time, I found out it's been HIM rinsing and squeezing all the soap out of the SOS pads, thinking there was some foreign goop in regular steel wool, making every one of my pot scrubbing sessions a mystery that even the Scooby Doo gang couldn't solve.

Yes folks, these are the deep-seated things going on behind closed doors at the House of Lee. We are all weird. We are all winging it. Please keep putting your best (peculiar) foot forward because pretending is too much work.

What dumb stuff gets squabbled about at your house?