Saturday, January 30, 2010


Let's talk about shit.

So, I spent five hours today waist deep in a hole of human waste that I had dug.

Last week we noticed sewage leaking out of the front yard by the street.  Today I figured I would try to dig up the sewer to see what the problem was.

Trouble was, the sewer line was broken apart in a 4'w x 3'l x 5'h hole of sludge.  It was like quicksand, difficult to excavate.  There were so many turds that I wondered  if all these turds were ours.  Seriously -- some of these could be the previous owners turds.  It took hours and ours of digging, standing in the mud, then standing in the sewage, then kneeling in it.

At first the thing I kept repeating to myself was, "Take it easy, B, slow and steady -- don't splash any."  By the end of the day, covered in sewage, crouching in a four-foot-deep hole of human waste, I just wanted to get it done as quick as possible.  My mantra become "Be careful, B, you're tired, don't fall in."

The stench was awful.  But, like and combat veteran I suppose, you quickly become inured to it.  By the end of the day, I felt like I had been through hell.  Ask Dr. A -- I had the thousand-yard stare.  However, after some pizza-and-Lagunitas therapy, I finally feel like I've pushed through.

There's now a giant hole by the street, with about 100 square feet of excavated sewage and sludge around it, the gook four inches deep and oozing towards the gutter.

The neighborhood reeks of sewage.  I'm waiting for news vans to show up at our house, ready to interview the owners of the public health nuisance.

The broken sewer pipe is now unearthed, open and pointed at the street. We've been peeing in the bushes, and no baths tonight.  Anyone want to let us into their house to poop?


The owls are back after a three-month absence.  There's two out back right now, maybe fifty feet up in separate trees, loudly calling our their hoo-hoos in the dark.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Farm

Ash and I are watching the State of the Union address. Erin is walking around in her Elmo underpants with an old cell phone pressed to her ear, pretending to talk to her cousin Brendan: "Yeah, so, uh huh... we watching movie..."

Me: "Hey, Erin, tell Brendan that we're watching Obama."
E: "Uh-huh, yeah, Brendan we watching Old MacDonald."

Julia, you are a saucy woman!

Recipes attempted:

Poulet Poele a l'estragon* (Casserole-roasted chicken with tarragon)
Epinards a la creme* (Creamed spinach)
Grain Dauphinois* (Scalloped potatoes with milk, cheese, and a pinch of garlic)

Yes, these were all delicious. Not perfect - the potatoes were supposed to absorb all the milk and did not. So there was a bit of soupy milk in the pan after scooping out the slices. But the potatoes were creamy, well seasoned, and delicious. The spinach, contrary to how I've always made it, were basically stewed in some flour and broth resulting in a silky spinach that wasn't heavy in the slightest. The chicken was wonderful. Again, I was surprised by how simple the recipes were. And these were all keepers. Amazingly, less than 1 stick of butter was used for all of these dishes!

For the record - Erin did not take even one taste of any of these dishes. Guess she's not into French cooking.

* There are all sorts of accents on these words - I have no idea how to type them in. Suggestions?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Erin's New Hat

When we ask Erin how to spell her name, it's inevitably "E, R, eleven". Which I guess makes some good sense if you're two and you take a close look at "ERIN". 

Three months ago she would reply "E, R, Erin", which makes good sense if you're listening to the last two letters.

Erin woke up today and wanted to know what the words on my shirt were.
E: "What dat spell?"
B: "Well I don't know, why don't you tell me?"
Then pointing to each letter in the word "Turner" on my shirt:
E: "E, R, eleven, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eleventeen."

Friday, January 22, 2010

"It's a dolphin!"

So exclaimed Erin as she looked down in her little potty chair, after producing, for the third time, the type of deposit that earns her some chocolate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reason #563, 873 and 99991 why I love my husband

* He encourages Erin to clean up the noodles she threw on the floor by bringing the trash can over, holding her upside down, and letting her pick them up and throw them away.

* He does play-stroller races with Erin: she pushing a baby doll, he pushing a sock monkey. Sometimes she wins.

* He fixed the front door handle, which wasn't latching. In 10 minutes. And didn't brag.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

C'mon Julia, cut me some slack!

For Christmas, we received The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al (along with probably 100,000 other people). Now, I consider myself a fair cook and perusing the recipes I was initially excited - they are straightforward, amusingly written, and are often things I've always wanted to try.

Here are my results so far:

Carbonnades a la Flamande
Beef and onions braised in beer

Problem: Soupy. At the very end, the recipe says to thicken the sauce with cornstarch. Rather than stew, it was borderline soup.
Salvageable: Yup. It was still quite delicious. And with big hunks of crusty bread the extra sauce did not go to waste.

Gateau a l'Orange
Orange sponge cake (made with lemons instead)

Problem: Coming out of the oven, it was beautiful. Just barely golden brown, puffy, lovely. 5 minutes later, it was flat. More of a glorified pancake than sponge cake.
Salvageable? Not for my birthday cake, but I cut it up, and it is saved frozen to make a trifle with delicious berries come into season.

Pate a Choux
Cream puff paste

Problem: This one went OK, but the baking of the cream puffs was all off. Granted, our oven runs hot, so I lowered the temp and still the delicate little puffs were burnt before even nearing the suggested cooking time. Sigh.

Salvageable? Yes. I cut off the bottoms, and filled with a savory goat cheese paste for appetizers tonight. Not pretty, but quite delicious. And, I've gained confidence to try this again, hopefully next time we have a party, because it was really easy.

Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre
Potato Gnocchi

Problem: Rather than beautiful, pillow-like dumplings, it ended up looking like sad, thin potato soup. Still not quite sure what the problem was. I've successfully made gnocchi before, so I'll scrap this recipe and stick with those that work for me.

Salvageable? Amazingly, yes. I'd only used half the dough to make the dumplings, so I put the rest in a shallow buttered pan, with a sprinkling of parmesan and dotted butter, baked, and it made a very tasty side dish. This one will go on the roster of dishes for company.

Seriously Julia, can you just let me get one recipe right, the way you envisioned it? Please?

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Erin has a little redness in her lady business, so I told her "Oh, sweetie... you've got some redness on your vajayjay.  Let's good look on the intertubes to see how we can fix it."

So, I grabbed the laptop, did some searching, all the while Erin pointed to each page of text saying: "Is [that] my beh-day-day?"  To which, of course, I responded, "Um, yes."

Erin is currently running around the room singing: "My beh-day-day! My buh-day-day!  My buh-day-day!  My beh-day-day."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fridge Inventory

Our fridge has one shelf dedicated to dairy products. Lately, it has expanded to two.

Currently in our fridge:
  • 1 half-gallon whole milk
  • 1 gallon 1% milk
  • 1 half-gallon chocolate milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 6-pack TJ's strawberry & cream yogurt
  • 1 32-oz plain European style yogurt
  • 1 8-oz blueberry yogurt
  • 1 32-oz cottage cheese, whole milk
  • 1 16-oz cottage cheese, whole milk
  • 2 16-oz sour cream
  • 1 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 can whipped cream
  • 1 box unsalted butter
  • 1 box salted butter

No, we are not lactose intolerant.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dear Technology: Thanks!

Guess who got a fancy new watch from the best wife in the world?  Mr. B, that's who!

No longer will I spend time tediously measuring my runs on Google Maps or  Now, I can just let space technology and the intertubes be anal retentive for me.

Thank you, Dr. A!

Tahoe 2009

The McMillers took an impromptu trip up to Tahoe just before Christmas, with Jim and Kathy (B's oldest sibling and wife). With Erin and The Three Cousins, Jim, Sean, and Brendan, there was much silliness and fun: snowball fights, sledding, hot tubing, and even a small snowstorm. Every night Erin cried when it was bedtime, sobbing, "More cousins! More cousins!"

There were pictures, of course:

Get the flash player here:

And movies:

Daredevil Erin from Ms. A on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goodbye Two Thousands...

.... hello twenty, um, tens?

The McMiller household spent a quiet New Years Eve at home, relishing in the quiet time after a busy holidays. It was a very Julia Childs Christmas with two new cookbooks added to our collection. So Dr. A broke in "The Art of French Cooking" by making Carbonnades a la flamande, or beef and onions braised in beer. Not only was the recipe rediculously simple, it was delicious and probably the only one in the whole book that did not have butter as an ingredient.

New Years Eve 2009

Amazingly, the adults in the house stayed up late enough to celebrate Central Standard Time. Which was fortunate, because when Brian was awoken at midnight to the sound of the neighborhood going bananas, he felt quite rested.

Happy New Years, everyone.