Dear Manderley, I’d like spring-roasted chicken for dinner.

Lately I’ve been feeling like the most girlie girl in history; I’ve been lying on the couch reading Jane Austen’s Emma and eating bonbons. A couple nights ago I netflixed Little Women and cried three times. Not that I thought it was a particularly good movie; in fact, I didn’t like it. Laurie was an uberdork, which he’s meant to be, of course, but it didn’t help that I know people like him. And Jo was a total dyke. Ashley kept walking in the door and smirking.

Anyway, apart from caring for little Annie, I’ve had very little to do lately. In many ways I feel like a lady of the house. I could be living at Manderley except for the difference in our estates. Mine is something like 800 square feet, with one salle de bain and a tiny little kitchen. Plus one computer room/guest room/music room and the nursery and our bedroom. I do my “correspondence” in the morning on Facebook, and sometimes I even write on stationery. (Recently discovered that “stationary” and “stationery” are two different kettles of fish.)  The one means, well, stationary, and the other is letter paper. I had requested scented stationery for Christmas, but am perfectly satisfied with this. It’s olive green with rose hints and graceful flowers bordering the edges. And if I feel like it I could always spritz it with perfume.

Back to how I feel like the lady of the house. The part of the day where I discuss meals with the opinionated but loyal housekeeper is analogous to my time spent perusing Ree Drumond is a masterpiece. I’m half in love with her. I’d like to make everything she has a recipe for, but I’m still uncomfortable with any meat other than chicken. Only recently have I even been able to handle that, even. And it’s not from any misplaced concern for poultry or chicks. I just don’t know how to cook. Which is where Ree Drumond helps. She’s got hundreds of pictures to go along with her recipes. Sometimes as many as fifty per. I have to know EXACTLY what something is supposed to look like at any given point. Or I’ll screw it up. Regular cookbooks are no good because they don’t have pictures. On the other hand, I’ll try baking just about anything. My confidence level is out the rooftop when it comes to baking. I buy on-sale tricky European bakestuff cookbooks without a second thought. Metric! for heavens sake.

I’m reduced to calling sweet potatoes “sweetie potatoes.” My baby talk is devolving quite as rapidly as anyone would expect. I’m actually very ashamed. My pet name for Annie has morphed from Muffaletta (at birth) to Muffin (around three months) to Muffy to Muffies to just plain Muff, which I bark out when displeased. MUFF! As in, why’d you go and vomit on Mommy’s silk blouse?? So not only do I have to deal with the devolution of my grammar (WHAT is you doing NOW?!!) but also with the inappropriateness of my pet epithet. I have a degree in English. Should I really be saying “youse fell ova!” or “you is wet AGAINS!??” No. I should not.

I think that what started me on this whole cooking endeavor was the combined efforts of Miz Drumond and the baby food cookbook I have, which has recipes with all of one ingredient. Pureed sweetie potatoes, pureed squash, mashed bananas, pureed zucchinis, pears, peaches. I’m the queen of purees. If I can cut it, I can puree it. I could puree you, Briana. Watch it. With a little formula or breastmilk, you’d be the perfect consistency.

Like I was saying, Ree’s pictures and the ease of baby cooking combined to give me a teensy-weensy bit of confidence. I can now cook a handful of items: bacon-wrapped jalapeno thingies, crispy yogurt chicken (did not turn out well),  and chicken and dumplings (but only from a recipe; when I tried it tipsy the other night and had a jag of crying and hysteria because the dumplings were hard, chewy, and a whole bunch more antonymous descriptives that didn’t make sense if you didn’t try one– everyone was very gracious– had to throw the whole mess into a casserole dish and top with a block of grated cheese (now, in the spirit of Faulkner and his insane parenthetics, I’d like to point out that almost any culinary disaster can be slopped into a casserole dish and topped with a bunch of cheese and thrown into the oven until your pride is at least half-baked; cheese does amazing things)).

The Muff is squawking in her bouncy doorway thingie right now. It’s very cute. I’d love, if we had more space and infinite amounts of money to burn, to get her one of those itty bitty trampolines. It could go under her feet while she’s in the doorway bounce chair! Can you imagine the heights? The drama? THE FUN?!! I keep looking out for them in my weekly PTA excursions.

Well my doldrums have been alleviated for the time being. I will write more tomorrow, in between waking life.

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