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What Is SassTown?

Real estate rebel, residential designer, believer, blogger currently residing in the Detroit metro area.

As the Mayor here, I have achieved an uncanny reputation for being right more than 92% of the time while raising 5 daughters, 1 son, a BA dog and a husband who adds to the daily drama.

I am also fondly known as Your Honor, crazy bitch, psycho mom, wily temptress & that damn Yankee.



 

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Monday
Jul222013

A Prince Among Women

I had become brown as a bear (and as big as a bear) since the time my maternity leave began in June.

My daughter Jordan, 2 at the time and I stuck to a simple schedule for weeks:

Lazy afternoons at the neighbor's pool.  I got an immense thrill hefting my 9 month pregnant body up on the diving board in front of the neighbor ladies who never failed to let out a loud gasp as I hit the water.

Then, like clock work it was officially nap time for Jordan and I. Being this was not my first time at the rodeo I was motivated to store up on as much sleep as humanly possible.

After dinner it was time to hang out and watch our favorite family tv time program,  The Muppet Show. Dancing usually ensued.


The Muppet Show Theme Song on Disney Video

July 21, 1982 we were on our third turn around the living room I felt the little telltale "pop". Then wet trickle, running down my legs. I looked up into my brother's shocked face and said, "Oh Lordy, my water just broke". By the time I came out of the bathroom he had scedaddled out of there.

A few hours later contractions started. Midwives were called. Grandma came and took Jordan back to her house. It was a whirlwind labor. I stood in the shower as the sun came up, whining and bemoaning the fact that it wasn't over yet. A few minutes later, just after 6 a.m., my little boy slid into the world.

(For 31 years I've wondered exactly what the paperboy heard through the open window that morning and if the poor man is still in therapy as a result.)

So Michael Warren Nault joined his sister Jordan. Everyone said, "how nice, you have a boy and a girl now you can be done." You'll have to excuse me while I laugh at that. 4 additional sisters were put on earth to torment this boy. That's why we refer to him as the Prince.

The birthday kiss

Everyone claims he's my favorite, and to be blunt, he often is. I just love this boy to pieces. He's simply the child I'm the most sympatico with. We have similar personality traits, likes & dislikes, loyalties, sense of humor, taste in music. We work well together and have fun while doing so.

I realize it's bad mothering form to show favorites, but after spending decades parenting I've decided a new approach may be more affective. I'm thinking I may put up a leader board in the kitchen and let the 6 of them compete for position on a weekly basis.

Growing up in a house full of females has left it's mark on the man. Like most men, he can be a tool. He mumbles, spends too much time in dive bars, frequently loses his cell phone and acts comatose after  a stressful day at work. But he loves his mama & stands by his sisters. All 5 of them. He can cook, clean, fix stuff, is generally fun to be around and is  kicking ass at work on a daily basis.

Michael & Virgil

He adores his Grandpa and the feeling is mutual. I think you can see which side of the gene pool Michael hails from as far as stature & body build. Like good old Virgil, he's somone you can count on to have your back.

The lady who finally gets this Prince of ours is going to have a well seasoned guy who is used to dealing with girl stuff. Of course she's going to have to be pretty hardy to past muster with all the hens in this house.

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct112012

Bidets Are Not Just For Hairy Europeans

Upon taking occupancy of our current home, we were delighted that the remodeled master bathroom had a bidet.

I thought, "How fancy is that"?

Once the boxes were unpacked I watched a couple of YouTube videos on the subject. It just didn't make that much sense to me. If I'm going to remove so much clothing, I'd rather just get naked and take a nice bubble bath. We found quite a few ways to utilize the thing. So here are 8 ways to use a bidet:

auxiliary oral hygiene station
Hamper
Bouvier beard cleaning bowl
Linen closet
Kitty hot tub
Storage for hair products
Dog watering
Over flow beverage server

Of course there is always the option to use it as it was intended. As an additional luxury item in your bathroom that will one day  help raise your home's value.

My title may be a little misleading. After all our dog Cole is technically a big hairy Belgian breed.

Friday
Mar092012

Garden City Cheeseburger Turnover

If you ever attended Garden City, Michigan schools you know exactly what I'm talking about here. Think of it as your own personal freshly baked bundle of goodness, with a cheesy meat filling. Our schools sold them like hot cakes, as one of the most popular cafeteria items.

For anyone else, they are just plain delicious. And handy, good hot or cold, with or without condiments. We found out they make great picnic food as we munched on them on a boat between Harbor Springs and Petoskey in Lake Michigan.

Like green eggs and ham, you can eat them anywhere.

Disclosure: These are not the original school recipe.

Promise: They are better than what you'd remember. These are made from a recipe I have perfected over the years, and now published on the blog, they will officially be under the Sasstown copyright.

Problem: I cook quite well, but often I don't use a recipe. Which is sometimes a bummer when I can't remember exactly what I used  in a recipes that I don't make all of the time. This probably explains why I don't have my own tv show.

So a few days ago I took my cooking notes and put together a recipe for my daughter in Chicago, who is a pastry chef. She was having a gathering at home, that including some Chicago chefs.

Of course they all fell in love with them.

So I just want to lay claim to these portable goodies before Anthony Bourdain is visiting some Chicago restaurateur who is selling these as their own creation.

 

CHEESEBURGER TURNOVERS


Package of frozen bread loaves (usually 3 or 4 per package)
3 pounds ground beef
1 large onion - diced
3 cloves garlic- minced
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup low fat milk
4 cups shredded cheese (4 cheese mix or Colby jack)
Salt and pepper to taste (remember soup is salty)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Thaw dough and let rise according to package directions. I usually use the overnight method but you can use the quick thaw and rise if needed.

You will also need a bowl of egg wash (1 egg beat with 1/4 cup milk)

Wax paper and parchment paper (optional)

FILLING


In a large skillet, saute the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat just until they are softened up, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue to saute another 2 minutes.

I am not talking about browning the onions and if you brown the garlic it can get bitter. You just want to heat it up to release it’s magic.

Now you can add the soup to the pan, and about 1/2 cup and mix it together until it’s smooth. Set this aside.

Brown your ground beef, crumbling it up as it cooks. I always throw in a little salt and pepper when browning ground beef so it's not naked. Once it’s browned, and crumbled I pour it into a strainer to let any fat drain off of it.

Return the drained ground beef into your pan with the onions and soup. Add red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce. Let that heat up again and then gradually stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese, stirring until it’s all melted.

Now taste your concoction. Add pepper (I’m generous with ground pepper, maybe 3 teaspoons), salt if needed.

DOUGH

Risen and ready to use

Make an egg wash in a small bowl. Beat up one egg with 1/4 cup milk or water.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. This avoids a lot of mess on your cookware. If you don’t have it, give the cookie sheet a quick spray with cooking spray.

Lining cookie sheet

Separate your first loaf and place on a large piece of wax paper. It’s going to stretch out a bit as you do this.

Using kitchen scissors I cut the dough in half.

Then cut each segment in half again so there are 4 portions.

Using your fingers flatten each portion out and fill with about a 1/2 cup of meat filling. I like to sprinkle a bit more cheese on top.

Fold up the dough.

Pinch the seams together and place seam down on the cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper).

Brush a little egg wash on top of each turnover. Don’t soak it, just a little shine.

Now bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and brush with a tiny bit of butter if desired. There you have it. This recipe makes 12 cheeseburger turnovers.You are going to want leftovers.



Bon Appetite! 




Friday
Mar022012

The Mayor, She's Back

Handier than ever.

My freaking good handiness was born the day I married a workaholic husband, bless his heart.

My mother in law, Vonda, cautioned me as I painted, wall papered, installed a new kitchen counter top, “ You know once you start doing this stuff it will become your responsibility”. What she said was true. She herself a very capable woman, had realized early on that deferring to her auto worker husband in the area of home repair meant that was one less thing that would be loaded onto her shoulders.

Let me tell you I should have appreciated that amazing woman far more while she was with us.

But she raised a son who was driven, ambitious, laser focused on his business. Always has been, always will be.

There are things you come to accept after decades of marriage. So, 30 some years ago I slipped the yolk of household repair on my shoulders and it has remained mine. I’ve come to learn there is not much I cannot do. Most of the time, I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I complete one of my hundreds of projects. I like learning how to fix things, how to re-purpose items, how to improve our living environment.

Back in the day I was able to nurture my skills, my instinct,my ability to spatially visualize and relate to  contractors into a business. Design, build, remodel, decorate, sell. Until the economic downturn, it kept me busy.

When I walked into our laundry room /home office this morning I saw the dryer sticking way out from the wall and an embarrassing amount of dryer lint scattered in the corners I thought, I had better take care of this while Roberto is out of town. I can’t believe he’s been working in here with all this lint floating around. Guess that dryer hook up didn’t work out like he thought it would.

Who knows, todays dryer lint could be tomorrows asbestos. Not something we need to be breathing in.

I had bought an alternative dryer vent system weeks ago, so we could get the dryer to hug the wall closer, but it was still in the box.

Luckily, some of my favorite tools were all I needed to remedy this problem.

I haven’t found much in life that can’t be set right with a hammer, duct tape and scissors. I get this trait from my dad. Hillbilly fixer upper. It ain’t always pretty but we get her done. You  need a spot to hang something? Bang bang, here’s a nail. Hang your keys, your coat, the fly swatter. You can take the girl out of Garden City, but you can’t take Garden City out of the girl.

Truth be told, you can’t take Virgil out of the girl. And I would not have it any other way.

So I moved the dryer out, took my hammer and banged on that connection until it fit into the new, slimmer fitting. One quick trip to Home Depot let me finish the job with a new dryer vent hose. I explained to the man, "I had to bang on it with my hammer to make it fit...." He sucked in his breath and commenced sweating. "Now I just need the last piece to vent it outside".

Bang bang bang, used my nursing education to wrap that bad boy up with duct tape in 3 places and I am done.

Shazaam!

The Mayor, SHE'S BACK.

We call her The Supervisor

Friday
Feb102012

In Defense Of Cats

Notes from a dog person.

I’ve never really cared much for cats.The typical cat’s standoffish attitude bothers me. Along with their ability to jump anywhere they please and tear up your place and belongings.

It was in the early 90’s my hatred of cats really blossomed when I went to visit my sister in law  on Plum Island, MA. On one of my rare trips away from home sans children I was prepared to stay up too late, drink too much wine, go to bed alone, read until I could no longer hold my eyes open and get up whenever I damn well pleased.

The setting was a small  ocean front beach house (even if it was off season).All went pretty much according to plan. We did as we pleased and gloried in having a weekend without any babies, children or men around.

Then there was her cat. I was determined to block his presence out of my mind. I remember him as a nasty old tom cat. I think his name was Topaz.  I don’t really remember what he looked like but what I clearly remember is his urinating all over the clothes in my suitcase which I had left open on the bed. That pungent smell is pretty hard to forget.

To make it worse, my dear sister in law was a denier. As she held him in her arms, stroking him, “Oh no, I can’t believe Topaz would do that. He’s never done that before”.  He turned his head to gaze into the eyes of his accuser as if saying, “take that bitch”.

The war between me and her stinking cat was on. I tried to ignore him the rest of the visit but if he bugged me I’ll admit I took some perverse pleasure in shoving him out of the way with more vigor than necessary. He received  a fair share of having his ass booted under the table as I sipped my tea and smiled up top.

My bias against cats had been solidified. I had successfully deflected all pleas for a kitten of their own from my many daughters, who could otherwise talk me into pretty much anything. “Absolutely not. They are disgusting”.

Flash forward a decade. We had moved to Texas and things were not going smoothly. My youngest daughter can be quite persistent and using every ounce of emotional capital she could muster she wore me down. Now that I am old it is easier to do. She had found out about a program through Austin Pets Alive where she could foster kittens until they were old enough to be adopted and she was determined to participate.

We got the call last May, we were supposed to pick up 2 kittens, about 4 weeks old and care for them for 2-4 weeks then return them to the adoption center. OK. I was emphatic, “we are NOT keeping any”.

We arrived at the center and were given instructions  on how to care for these little “gruel babies”. Instead of 2, there were actually 4 waiting for us to pick them up. Holy mother, how do I allow myself to be roped into these situations?

We got home and opened the crate door. Inside were 4 scrawny, weary 4 week old kitties. There were two brothers for one litter, and a brother and sister from another litter. We devoted 1 bathroom as their nursery. Their care consisted of being fed 4 times a day. We were to provide some dry kitten food, water and gruel ( a mixture of canned kitten food, heated up with water ) and some medication.

Igor weighing in

To make sure they were all gaining weight, we had to weigh them morning and night on my kitchen scale. The smallest kitten, the only female was particularly vulnerable. We were to call if she lost more than 10 grams.

We weren’t at all sure how our 130 pound dog was going to take to them. These creatures were so tiny he could have probably swallowed them whole if he took a notion to gobble one up. We tried to keep them separated but a few times when he wandered into kitten land he didn’t seem to have much interest in them. Our theory was he instinctively knew they were babies.

I had to keep reminding myself how much I hated cats as we cared for these little guys. After training up many puppies over the years I was amazed how these itty bitty kitties just “knew” how to step into the little make shift litter box to go potty. They even scratched the litter over their own little mess before exiting the box.

They weren’t very happy about being still enough to be weighed. I decided to use a tupperware bowl on top of the kitchen scale to keep them put long enough. We fretted over the smallest 2 not gaining weight consistently. I kept saying, “ I don’t know nothing about raising no cats”. But as a OB nurse and mother of 6 I knew about human babies.

Hailey carrying Veruca

We fed the smallest kitty separately, so the others could not push her out of the way or bully her. Then I took to carrying her around a lot. Sometimes we’d tuck her in our big sweatshirt pockets. The rest of the family teased me when they saw the pictures on facebook. “Oh, what happened to the woman who hated cats”? All that I can say in my defense is I had to get this kitten to gain some weight.

Morning armful of kittens

Well the weeks went by and the little fur balls proved to be quite entertaining. They climbed, they grew, they chased, they slept curled up with each other or any other warm body who sat still long enough. Despite my bigoted ideology against cats in general, they all developed distinct personalities. Igor was the big lug but very pretty.  Mr Wilson was the independent and intellectual type. Victor was just plain sweet, cuddly and adventurous. Then there was Veruca (her name from the shelter) We tried on a new name every week for her. Peanut, Oprah, Sookie and Precious. We were pretty sure she was a special needs kitten.

After we had them 4 weeks, I realized that when the doorbell rang they often beat the dogs to greet who ever was at our door. Now that is saying something considering they were about 800 grams and my big dog was 130 pounds. I started placing Craigslist and local ads to find homes for them. I now couldn’t imagine taking the babies, I mean kitties back to the shelter. We likened it to taking your foster baby back to fend for itself in a crowded orphanage.

Especially not my baby kitty, the one I drug around with me all day until she was big and strong enough to fend for herself.  School ended in June and we prepared for a summer long road trip. There was a lot of fretting over what we could do with the 2 kittens who still didn’t have homes. Keeping more than one was way out of the question, did you ever see how much cat pooh multiple kittens can produce each day?

Finally the day came when we had to follow through on our arrangement to take the 2 brothers to another foster home. I claimed to be too busy to take them myself. I made my 19 year old drive them over there...I don’t like big scenes. The girls returned home with long faces.

We picked up Veruca and Victor from the infirmary at Austin Pets Alive after they were neutered and spayed and officially adopted. Veruca was ours to keep and Victor was headed for Chicago to live as a big city cat with my daughter and son there.

In spite of dire warnings from cat people, we set out on our 7000 mile summer road trip with Veruca and Victor in tow. Our first stop was Chicago to drop Victor off to his new place. Veruca spent the summer there with her brother while we traveled from state to state.

There, now I have spilled the beans on the cat thing. I don’t want to hear any more blather about it. I'll baby talk to the cat if I want. I'd like to put an end to the speculation that I've gotten so attached to this dumb cat due to the lack of a grandbaby. FYI:I can wait.

I love my kitty, but that doesn’t mean I’ve turned into a cat person.

Snuggling with her brother during a recent visit