Feb 24, 2011

Snack Time



I love fake food. Even though these pretzels are the real deal, that glass ziploc baggie, is, well a glass ziploc baggie. My husband got it for me at Uncommon Goods for my last birthday. It's so funny. It's especially fitting because I am constantly using ziploc baggies for everything: the separated components of my to-go morning breakfast, my carrots and crackers and lunch snacks, saftey pins in my drawer, bobby pins and jewelry when I travel, all the dangerous horrible 3oz-or-under liquids when I go through the airport, diaper wipes, my kid's iTouches when I drop them in their overnight grandma bag, and the list goes on and on. I am basically killing the planet with my ziploc baggie consumption.

It also reminds me of our favorite things to snack on when we were kids. Especially during our latch-key years. That Lord of The Flies, anything goes, no parents around, 4:00pm to 6:00pm golden time when you really get to nosh on whatever you fancy. Some of our favorites were:

1. barbeque potato chips
2. Cheetos
3. brownies
4. nachos that we made by slicing block cheese and heating in the toaster oven on Tostidos
5. Oreos (especially Kathleen)
6. string cheese
7. Nacho Cheese Doritos
8. mini pizza rolls (I think that was only Donny)
9. Carl Buddig Turkey sandwiches (that really super thin papery kind)
10. white bread by itself (I liked to tear it in little strips like string cheese)

This was before high-fructose corn syrup was evil and when vegetarian (for Kathleen) just meant eating cheese and chips.

This site also has pewter saltine crackers that I got Donny for Christmas one year. Perfect pocket size. Now if they only made pewter mini pizza rolls.

Feb 17, 2011



This is one of the 500 baby pictures of me. Donny has about 150. Kathleen has about 50. And that's how it works when you are the oldest.

So lots and lots of attention and cute meticulously handmade outfits (with matching bonnets)... but also with a surplus of chub and a gigantic head.

Feb 13, 2011

Pink And White And...



... a very young bride.





If these silly-sweet pictures of Kathleen don't quite match the silly-sweet ones you've seen of her wedding. That's because these are from her other wedding. The first one.

Mom made the dress. And the pink sash. And I posed in funny pictures with her. And our dad walked her down the aisle. It was a garden wedding with pink roses, a buffet with pink shrimp and it was very picturesque. And pink.

When Kathleen told me and mom she was getting divorced two years later, it was in the food court at the mall. Mom cried over her Sbarros cheese pizza. Kathleen, in her Kathleen-logic was like "I'm either getting divorced or getting a tattoo." I told her to get the divorce. I have always been dead-set against Kathleen getting a tattoo.

We all really liked Kathleen's other husband a lot. He was very sweet and funny and owned his own record store. And they both rode scooters and had a cute little dog named, Go-Go (the name came from Kill Bill). Everyone was always surprised that they married young. No shotguns involved, or anything like that. So it seemed almost indie and rebellious that they were playing house. They even bought one.

But once Kathleen decides something. She decides something. (Case in point, she got the tattoo anyway a few years later. Sigh.)

And our mom eventually stopped silently tearing up about it. (The divorce, not the tattoo. Only I still silently tear up about the tattoo.)

Mom is always on our side. Even if our side isn't necessarily black and white. She sticks with us through the grey stuff, and when it comes to us, she usually does it with rose-colored glasses. So, really, we always know whatever we do... it will come out pink.

Happy Valentine's, Mom.

At least they didn't have any kids, right?

Feb 10, 2011

We Were Soooo Beyond Thunderdome


Like this far.

I knew I had this photo of Donny and just had to piggy-back on to Kathleen's post-apocalyptic fashion post when I saw it today, which she deservedly lead with tribute to the best movie of that genre ever – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

And if Kathleen's fashion sense of today and Donny's self-made cardboard and scotch tape boy-warrior-of-the-post-nuclear-world costume of our childhood, don't prove how much we loved this movie when we were kids, believe me when I tell you were were the most Beyond Thunderdome kids on the block:

1. We had a cassette tape of film's single "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner that our dad bought from a discount tape bin at Service Merchandise that we played in the deck of our copper VW Rabbit (that was our parents' commuter car, the station wagon was the family and boat hauling car).

2. We would often chant Thunderdome's most famous line, "two man enter, one man leave," louder and louder until we got sick of it, like say... in the car on the way to church. Or better yet, on the way back from church, usually one of us bringing home a friend for a Sunday afternoon of playing – the unexpecting friend not realizing that we were going to do donuts in the Rabbit at high speeds at the end of our street while blaring our Tina Turner tape. (Side note: we probably stopped going to church around 1990, but we still quote Thunderdome 'til this day.)

3. One lazy weekend afternoon when Thunderdome happened to come on some cable channel's commercial-ridden matinee movie feature, our dad decided to make a paper plate wheel with punishments written on it in ball point pen (entertainment during the commercials). See, in Thunderdome, if you step out of line or break your word to your leather-clad, chain-mailed post-apocalyptic neighbor, the law says (i.e. Tina Turner dramatically says) "bust a deal, face the wheel." Then everyone chants louder and louder, "bust a deal, face the wheel."

Then they spin a giant rusty like post-apocalyptic Wheel of Fortune wheel and send you out into the desert roped backwards to some horse with a giant thing on your head and a... you know, you should probably just Netflix this movie.

So, we had this punishment paper plate wheel, and entertained ourselves for quite a while doling out punishments like "go sit in the closet for twenty minutes," or "carry your sister on your back for the rest of the afternoon." Like Master Blaster. (Netflix it. Really).

4. You might think we love Thunderdome because it's a kitschy B-movie. A good lark. But I truly love it. I cry every time I watch it. Like when the feral children think Mad Max is their self-created savior, and airline pilot named Captain Walker who will take them back to the real world – so they show him these cave paintings and recite their tale while clicking through View-Master slides of airline captains, and showgirls, and skyscrapers:

They called it the 'pocky-clypse,
and said "we don't need the knowin'
we can live here"

But time counts
and keeps on countin'

And they got so l-l-lonesome
for their skyscrapers and their

So they said "bye 'd bye"
to them what they birthed
but one of them turned
and said

"Wait. One of us will come."
"Wait. One of us will come."

And so time keeps countin'
and we's tells the tell.

We's ready Captain Walker.
We's ready to go home.

If anyone reading this actually likes Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and hasn't already stopped reading this post like four paragraphs ago, and looked up that particular monologue, I'm sure I got it completely wrong.

But that's how I 'member it.

Feb 9, 2011

Snow Motel


Another week. Another snow day stuck in the house.

Driving in the snow isn't really something the Thomas family relishes. I mean, we're not completely opposed to it, but on a scale from one to ten, I'd say we're a six or seven when it comes to snow-driving aversion. Although, after getting pushed out of snowy intersections twice last week by complete strangers, I'd say I'm becoming a little immune to the anxiousness of winter weather motoring.

But no one, I mean no one wants to be stuck driving in the car with my dad when it's icy or snowy. This is the person that says "left is death" if you make a left turn under normal conditions, and acts like he can't see the exit ramp off the highway if it's like twilight or even nearing twilight.

Which is why when an unexpected snow and ice storm hit the Okahoma-Texas region during spring break of (I think if I do my math right) let's say 1988, we spent three days stuck at what I now call... The Snow Motel.


Now when our family – Mom, Dad, Me, Donny and Kathleen – left home for our family road trip everything was peachy keen. Yes, that's our Ford LTD station wagon. Yes indeed.


But on the way back home a week later, the weather took a turn for the worse. As we tried to make it down the interstate we just finally encountered an icy overpass that our poor wagon couldn't pull the boat (oh, we were pulling Dad's boat)... that we couldn't pull the boat across.

So we pulled over in Gainesville, Texas and found one of the last available rooms at a motel there. We quickly realized that we made the right choice, as within hours the motel was at full capacity, stranded truckers and travelers were sleeping in the lobby and we were grateful for our one room. Mom and Dad on one bed, me and Grandma on the other (oh, did I mention we were bringing our Grandma back with us for a visit? Yeah, we're like the Griswalds here people!) Then we had a little cot for Donny and Kathleen I think.

We were stuck there, seriously, for like three days. So what is there to do at the Snow Motel in Gainesville, Texas?

1. Mom and Grandma would frequently trek across the street to some Red Cross station there where they would visit with other stranded travelers and drink coffee and get free donuts. This was mortifyingly embarrassing to me because a.) I was thirteen, so everything was mortifyingly embarrassing to me and b.) I thought that it was really weird and inappropriate of my mom and grandma to take advantage of the Red Cross services like that... I mean, that was for people who were in trouble. Geeez. I guess I imagined a gym full of refugees over there or something. But really, it was probably just a bunch of other moms and grandmas who were sick of being stuck in this shelter with their bored kids and anxious husbands.

2. Kathleen got super sick. Like fever hallucinating. We just let her sweat it out on her cot in the corner of our room. So basically the entire experience for her was a total blur.

3. We rented The Milagro Beanfield War on the pay-per-view box of our crappy little motel room TV on like the second night. Random. This was before iPhones and wireless, people.

4. And while everyone just waited and waited for the thaw, watching TV, drinking their inappropriate Red Cross coffee, and feverishly sweating on their little pathetic cot... Donny and I had the most, most fun.

I don't remember all the details. Just that this motel was basically like a snowy, locked-down labrynth of snowy stairwells and icy empty corridors (all the grownups and normal kids I guess were bundled in their rooms) as Donny and I concocted this awesome epic spy game. It really was the precursor to the Bourne Identity in my opinion.

We literally played from morning to night chasing each other around, hiding, plotting, dramatically peering around corners. So much fun that I forgot to be thirteen and mortifyingly embarrassed. Now usually Kathleen and Donny were the ones goofing around when it came to outdoor shenanigans, and I was the inside girl who locked her door and told them to go away.


Look at my cool coat. It was like a white sweater knit on the outside with pink and tan sewed on patches.


Grandma is totally going to throw that at someone and steal their Red Cross donut.


But, I guess what happens at The Snow Motel, stays at The Snow Motel.

Feb 4, 2011

Here's To You Mrs. Robinson (And Your Oatmeal Lace Cookies)



"... makes about 2 doz. so double for more than a few people." Or if you are Tara and plan on your only nourishment being Oatmeal Lace Cookies in one twenty-four period. Which is basically like eating a stick of butter with some oats sprinkled in.

So Kathleen is not the only one in cookie-making mode, a biological response apparently to the snow, snow, snow. I have, gasp, also been on a baking kick. It's weird, I know. But my Aunt Lynda's Oatmeal Lace Cookies are like crunchy, buttery, oaty, can't-eat-just-eleven, amazing. And really easy. You basically just melt butter and then bake.

The only trick is mushing the mixture down really, really flat so they come out with holes in them. Like lace. Or a modest Kathleen top.




My Enabler. I now start salivating as I scrape. And these cookies take a lot of scraping. They are very, very thin and adhesive. I can't think of a joke to make about that description. This is not funny. It's dead serious.

I have made exactly five batches in four days. And I'm the only one who eats them in our house. You do the math. To make batch number five, I had to buy a new box of butter at the ransacked empty-shelved snow-pocalypse grocery store this afternoon. What exactly do people do with all those eggs when they're snowed in? Maybe they make cookies that require more than just butter.


What jump started this baking jag (besides the snow-mammal-trigger) was a coworker brought these cookies to work the other day. I was like "oh my god! those are my Aunt Lynda's Oatmeal Lace Cookies!" Then I found out coworker B, got the recipe from coworker A, who got the recipe from Kathleen, who got it from my mom, who got it from Aunt Lynda.

But I have the original recipe card.

And the coolest thing about that recipe card? Besides all the stains (butter) and brown spots (butter) and creases (butter addiction fidgeting), is that it says "Lynda Robinson." Which was our Aunt Lynda's now completely foreign and wrong-sounding name from when she was married a loooonnng time ago to a man who was, gasp, not our Uncle Pete (black banana bread Uncle Pete). Apparently a Mr. Robinson.

Just today Lynda called me (hunting down my mom because she didn't answer her phone, which is so going to be me and Kathleen some day) and I told her I was literally making her Oatmeal Lace Cookies that very second.

She laughed, because she said she didn't even remember ever making them. That it must have been from a former life.

A former life indeed, Mrs. Robinson:
- where she was living in a 1970 Austin, Texas
- where she was the lead singer of the folk band "The Whistlers"
- on the forefront of the emerging local folk-rock scene
- where she would open for folk heroes like Willie Nelson
- and hang out (sm*ke out) with Janice Joplin
- then apparently whip them up a batch of Oatmeal Lace Cookies
- meanwhile our eighteen-year old mom is playing with puppies on the back porch because she doesn't really like that stinky braided red bandana guy (Willie) or that raspy loud lady (Janice) or to drink or (sm*ke)... right
- where "The Whistlers" were eventually discovered by a California record exec
- where Mrs. Robinson and the band traveled to sign a contract
- where it fell through when Mr. Robinson (who was the songwriter and led the band) didn't like the deal
- perhaps because the execs liked the idea of a solo Mrs. Robinson a little too much?
- so she followed him back to Austin
- and eventually followed a different life

The disclaimer to this whole account? Basically this chronology is based on the eavesdroppings of a twelve-year old girl (me) who liked to listen to her mom and her mom's sisters talk and talk while riding in the backseat of long car trips while the little kids snoozed. It was like a lullabye that never put me to sleep.

And you thought this was a post about your cookies.

So forgive me Aunt Lynda (mom, sister, wife, pianist, organist, artist, best baker, best cook, best road-tripper, best singer my dad said he ever heard) if I got the facts a little wrong. But it's so irresistibly poetic.

Like butter, really.

Feb 3, 2011

Pizza House Revisited


So it's sort of become a snow-day tradition to walk down my street to Pizza House.







Correction, a Charlie and Tara tradition.

Our street always looks so picturesque in the snow. And Charlie and I are the only ones walking down it. That is, until we get to the end of our quiet street to a very busy, bustling intersection, and hand-in-hand hop across the slush, watch out for the sluggish not-used-to-snow cars, avert past the shady-looking characters getting their cigarettes and liquor from the corner store, and watch cars spinning their wheels, swerving about and getting pushed through intersections by the surprisingly good-samaritan-ish but still shady characters... until we hop to the other side like the little Froggers we are to the steamy, friendly, seedy Pizza House.


These series of photos are actually from our big snow last year.


And these are from this year's snow. Charlie is a little older. Our driveway is a little clearer (not because of less snow, but because I was a total badass and shoveled the whole freakin' thing. Chris couldn't believe it!)


And I was a little less well-accessorized.


Perhaps because a certain little sister borrowed my favorite Helly Hansen hat for her fabulous blog convention. Hmmph. I'm sure it enjoyed the Sundance Film Festival more than a trip to Pizza House.


But, I don't know. It could be a toss-up.

For a long time Charlie used to think that all neon "open" signs actually said "pizza." I think because we drive by Pizza House every day on the way home. I realized this when a summer or so ago, after driving nine hours to our beach condo vacation destination, the condo office had a neon "open" sign in the window, and Charlie said, "oh, great they have pizza!"


This is when Charlie got excited and asked if he could climb up on this pile of shoveled snow and take an Everest picture. Kathleen's fabulousness is not lost on Charlie.


I don't really know if this exactly captures the traditional mountaineers pose. But for reaching the summit of a snow-day Pizza House expedition? It's a classic.

Feb 2, 2011

Snowed In. Sea Monkeys.



Do you think Sea Monkey's get cabin fever? Because they really seem to just keep their cool.



We, however, do not. Sam pictured in chilled repose above, is not what I would really call an accurate representation of our second snow day – which included my two boys acting like pent up monkeys of a breed other than the kind that come freeze dried in a little pouch.

I could probably learn from the Sea Monkeys though, and go with the flow a little better. Let's just say my throat is not hoarse from the cold, but from the mom-yelling. And our bed (and the rest of our house) no longer even remotely resemble being "made."


But it sure looks cozy in retrospect. Maybe I'll go make the bed (for the fourth time) and we'll start snowed-in day three, fresh. Plus, I'm sure my vocal chords will have recovered a bit by then.