This was an exciting weekend. After a week of looking online and trying to be the first to reply to a craigslist post, we finally found a wooden swingset that wasn’t an hour away, currently infested with termites, or looked so decrepit that I was sure it would collapse any minute. And as a bonus we get it at $100 off asking price because while the seller had lots of interest from others that wanted to buy it, he had no interest in selling it (he was selling it for someone else), and so he gave us a discount so that he could stop dealing with it. So Sunday the big plan was to go pick it up.
But first, a quick trip to the new farmers market just down the road from us. Or at least that was what it was supposed to be, but upon arriving we realize that there’s a band, a petting zoo, and tractor rides, all things that are irresistible to a certain little boy. So over an hour later, Xander, AJ, Max, and I are finally on our way back home, now with tomatoes, bok choi, asparagus, and sourdough bread (I am a sucker for sour dough bread, put it in front of me and I will buy it). But it was a good morning with perfect weather and Xander was delighting all with his skuut bike (which he managed to get going so fast that I had to run to keep up with him) and his lighting bolt hat.
A quick hot dog lunch and the we were off, just 15 min late to get our new (to us) swingset.
So off we ran to Newton to meet up with some overly nice friends who were suckered… I mean, bribee… I mean, volunteered to help us out. Money changed hands and we set off to take apart the swingset to get it ready to load it into the truck. It went fairly well. Things came apart, a couple bolts fought us, but it wasn’t anything that AJ couldn’t handle with his dremel, at least eventually. And then we had to get the truck. We were just going to rent one of the Lowe’s pickup trucks and make a couple trips because mileage doesn’t matter on those, but they refused to rent us one because we weren’t buying something big from their store. So we were stuck with Uhaul. I hate Uhaul, they are evil, but our only choice. We go to get said truck, and they give me a truck that critically malfunctions just a few feet from their store. Finally a get a second truck, and head back out to Newton to get everything loaded up as it is now 4 hours after we started and we are all starving and need to be done with this. however, upon returning, I find a new complication has sprung up. The tower fort won’t come apart, which means we have to schlep the insanely heavy piece as a whole home, and then figure some magical way to get it over our fence (as our gate wasn’t big enough for it to go through whole). After some amazing tetris work and some more cursing Uhaul, we get everything loaded up, and travel back home, now like 6 hours from when we started. And, surprisingly, after finding some miraculous help in the form of our next door neighbor’s boyfriend, we get all of it, even the tower fort into our backyard. Now we have an exciting (mostly assembled) swingset in our backyard, and and ecstatic almost 2 year old.
And finally, we could eat, and by request of our ever suffering helpers, I made flank steak with a side of mac and cheese. The mac and cheese is apparently tastier than I thought as it was the most important part of the dinner request, or so I was told.
Flank steak (from my mom)
Mix a bunch of italian dressing and a little soy sauce. I’d say maybe somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 bottle italian dressing and like 4ish dashes of soy sauce. This is a very exacting recipe as you can tell. Marinate at least 1 hour. Cook, preferrably on grill, but you can broil it too, remember that because flank steak is thinner, it cooks faster. Cut into strips to serve, try to cut on a slant.
Mac and Cheese (from AJ’s mom from some microwave cookbook)
Pasta (we use large shells (not manicotti large, normal large), but you can use your pasta of choice)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pepper to taste
tabasco sauce to taste (I usually do 1-2 dashes)
1 1/2 cups milk (whole works best)
cheese – standard recipe calls for 2 cups cheddar and some velveeta slices. We’ve found what works best is something like 8 oz of the block of velveeta (it makes it creamy, you can’t skip this bit), and then 10 oz of other cheese, the best being mostly cheddar with a bit of manchego mixed in.
Boil the pasta in some salted water until done. While the pasta is boiling, melt butter in a pot. Once melted add flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper, and tabasco and stir to combine. Then with the pot on medium high, add in milk and let cook for ~2 min. Then turn down the heat, add the cheeses, and stir until melted. Drain pasta and then return to pot and pour cheese sauce over it. Stir to coat, serve as close to immediately as you can, it will get a bit grittier over time. Reheat with a splash of milk to bring back creaminess.
If you want, instead of making the cheese sauce on the stove, you can do it in the microwave, just melt the butter, then add the dry ingredients and tabasco sauce, stir. Then add the milk, stir, and microwave on high for 3 min. Add cheese and microwave as needed until it is all melted.
And as a surprise treat (and because I’m susceptible to grocery store displays), I had bought ingredients to make smores. Very tasty, and for when you don’t have a large fire handy, marshmallows can be toasted over a gas stove, a handy trick I learned from Lauren.