This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

Preparation (H)eather

Thank god for meticulous gay men, am I right?

Yeah, that came out of nowhere. Does it need an explanation? I suppose it does if your life is lacking meticulous gay men. And if that is the case I’m sorry, you cannot borrow the ones in mine. They are too busy knocking the high fructose corn syrup out of my children’s hands and replacing it with locally harvested organic graham crackers.

RELATED TANGENT: Leta was getting a box of cereal out of the cabinet for breakfast when she noticed a plastic bag filled with what looked like Cocoa Puffs.

“Mom,” she said, her lip starting to curl. “What are these? These don’t look right.”

I glanced over to see what was happening. “Oh, those. Those are kind of like Cocoa Puffs but they’re organic.”

“UGH,” she said as she shivered. “Is John LaCaze buying food again?”

John LaCaze is my meticulous gay assistant otherwise known as Tyrant. And yes, he had been buying food again.

Late last week I started to panic about the Armstrong Game Night and everything that needs to fall into place to make it happen, starting with Learning How To Set Up A Gaming System. I know, I should just read the instructions, but the thought of all those cords and all the different spots where you’re supposed to connect them made me realize, oh my god! I am the parental equivalent of the black jelly bean! I don’t like to craft, I refuse to go to Disneyland, AND I have to take a nap after unraveling the cord that connects the WiiU to the wall. My kids got the black jelly bean and all their friends are drowning in cream cheese cupcakes.

So Tyrant and Dane took a few minutes out of their afternoon and set the whole thing up for me (when Dane wasn’t being attacked by Coco):

In return I wrapped up that bag of organic cereal and said, “Happy Birthday!”

The guest list includes 23 people: my mom, my stepdad, my father, my stepmom, my sister and her husband and five kids, and my brother and his wife and five kids. That’s eighteen (right? I used my head instead of a calculator so I could be off by about a hundred) plus Tyrant, Dane, Marlo, Leta, and me. And none of us is small. Both Dane and my brother are six-foot-three. My sister’s oldest boy is six-foot-one. My brother’s wife and oldest kid are as tall as I am and I’m five-foot-eleven. And everyone has back problems. See? This is what happens when you interfere with evolution with things like MEDICINE and TECHNOLOGY. You end up with professions called CHIROPRACTIC.

(I initially wrote CHIROPRACTY because I have an Degree in English from Brigham Young University.)

That’s a lot of big people, and we’re going to be playing games here:

There’s space, yes, but this room is a dumping ground for plastic toys and pillows and what’s that? Yeah, that’s a keyboard back there. Just sitting right there. Don’t even get me started on the elevated fireplace that I have wanted to bomb since moving in. You just wait. That photo is going to win me Interior Design Blog of The Year.

Sometime this week I’ll move the chairs around so that the room doesn’t turn into one giant incestuous mosh pit.

(Quick heads up: Federated Media, my ad partners, are hosting a sweepstakes for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation. You could hit the beach in Florida! Or tour the streets of New York! Or visit scenic Toledo!)

Next bullet point over which to panic: food for all those hundreds of people. Now, I could have asked my meticulous gay assistant to help me out here as well, except you might remember that he once tried to feed me my dead fish. Give him all those Mormons to play a prank on, and they’d likely end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. (I JUST HAD AN IDEA: next time he needs to borrow my car to run business errands, I’m going to tell him to get the keys out of my purse and I will have filled it with maxi pads soaked in Gatorade.)

So I called my mom and asked if she could recommend a caterer. She immediately called me “darlin'” and told me to roll up my sleeves. She remembered being over here one Saturday when I was cooking chicken in my slow cooker (because slow cookers can’t explode, right? A gerbil could operate a slow cooker). It’s a recipe I found somewhere online and it feeds me for a week:

She told me to make this chicken and then she’d walk me through some other options. Will you just look at that adorable, themed recipe card? No, I’m not going to print it out, cut it up and glue it to card stock. I learned my lesson: if I am going to craft I will do so electronically. (Feel free to use that mantra in your next rap song, Snoop.)

Next up, something all the kids love (all the kids except Leta who will be eating Fruity Pebbles with no milk):

I’ll have to borrow another slow cooker, but hey. Maybe I’ll forget to return that slow cooker, and look! FREE SLOW COOKER.

The next one is called Rotel Dip but it also goes by “Type 2 Diabetes”:

If I mess that one up the church will finally excommunicate me. Forget about the fact that I had sex with my boyfriend when I was 22, THE WOMAN CANNOT MELT CHEESE. No planet for me!

And finally, one that requires a little more than plugging in a machine that does everything for me:

Some of you are like, cranberry whhhaaaaat? And then you threw up and I’m sorry I ruined your favorite pair of khakis. But I tasted this at Thanksgiving and it was super delicious. Marlo even eats it. You cannot have a party with Mormons and not serve jello, it says so right there in the Book of Moroni.

Yes, I just used a double negative. See: degree mentioned above and the institution that issued it.

Also, a ton of my family members are on that diet where you count points, and my mom wanted me to point out in a very southern accent that this cranberry thing is almost negative points. She wanted me to LIE to you, is what. No such thing as negative points, MOM. At least not until my team is up against yours on Saturday and we check your score OH YES I DID.

……




My family game night is sponsored by Wii U. How U will play next! Click here for a chance to win a Wii U™ Deluxe Set and $5,000 to take your family on vacation.

  • Shellbelle486

    FYI, a few plops of grape jelly (I know, I know, just trust me) into that crock-pot full of cocktail smokies makes a world of difference. In a good way. No farting.

  • Val

    Hey – no posting our family secret recipe for Cranberries! OK I guess it’s not a family secret like my granny told us. Hmmm. I recommend that you freeze the cranberries – it works some much easier on the processing. Trust me. We’ve had girlfriends/wives try it unfrozen and it did not work. Maybe that was the family secret. My mom does forget to tell the new women in the family.

  • I suggest watered-down ketchup instead of Gatorade. Otherwise, carry on.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    You know what, I’ve heard of doing that before. Gonna try it. Just regular grape jelly?

  • Shellbelle486

    Yep, just regular grape jelly, I don’t have a particular brand preference.

  • issascrazyworld

    I am still laughing at the no farting part of everything. Because I am six.

    My kids want that thing. The Wii U thing. I am still unsure why we need it when we already have a Wii and every iThing known to man.

  • shestumbledin

    1.) I made little smokies over thanksgiving weekend (I’m vegetarian, so not something I make often) and amazed my guests. I use equal parts mustard and jelly. Use Turkey lil smokies vs beef or pork and no one will know the difference underneath all the sugar and spice.

    2.) The other thing I made was Spicy Queso Dip and they HAD to get the recipe from me before they left. I used one can of Ro-tel (drained) and 6 oz of Velveeta. 😉 They couldn’t believe it was Velveeta. There’s a reason it’s popular, people – it melts perfectly.

    3.) I love that Leta calls your assistant JohnLaCaze.

  • Margaret Lukes

    I have some other recipes for you, from the Sweet Potato Queens Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner. If you haven’t read any of the Sweet Potato Queen’s books, you should- funny stuff!

    The first is called Pig Candy (do Mormons eat bacon?)
    Ingredients:

    Bacon (several strips)
    Brown Sugar (enough to coat strips of bacon)
    Cooking Directions:

    Coat uncooked bacon in some dark brown sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

    The next is called Chocolate Stuff
    Ingredients:
    2 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup flour
    1 stick butter
    2 tablespoon cocoa
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    nuts (optional)

    Cooking Directions:

    Beat two eggs with a cup of sugar and a half cup of flour. Melt a stick of butter with two tablespoons of cocoa.

    Mix the two and add 1 full teaspoon of vanilla. Add nuts if you want.
    Put in a loaf pan then set loaf pan in bigger pan of water and cook at
    300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

    BTW- those little smokies are sure to cause copious amounts of flatulence. Just to forwarn you.
    As for your (very lovely, I might add) room and the raised fireplace: put in some bookshelves in those niches on either side of it and it will be fine. That’s my professional opinion. And I do have actually two graduate degrees in this shit- one in Interior Design and one in Architecture. I am putting them both to good use, see?

    Have fun on game night with all those crazy tall, farting people….

  • HeatherArmstrong

    I initially thought, how is this going to be different? But after we set it up, Leta has been glued to that controller screen thing and is playing it all the time. Something about it clicked.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    Both Leta and Marlo call him John LaCaze. First and last name always. It’s adorable.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    I’ve considered doing bookshelves in those alcoves, good to know I’m on the same page with someone who has a degree in this. Thanks for those recipes. Yes, Mormons eat copious amounts of bacon and they will die over this.

  • issascrazyworld

    I think I need to go see it in action. I just don’t get it. But then again, I didn’t get how the Wii was so great until we bought it. 🙂

  • onewithbooks

    I saw this recipe on a Food Network show years ago. It is super simple and delicious (well delicious if you love coconut – if not move over and I will take your piece).

    1 can of sweetened condensed milk

    1 bag of coconut

    A few drops of vanilla or almond extract – totally optional

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the two (or three) ingredients in a big bowl. Grease a 8×8 or 9×9 pan (you could probably do it in a larger one and have flatter bar like pieces). I use shortening to grease the pan. I also get one of those fold over sandwich bags to put over my hand to help spread the shortening in the pan. I find its the easiest and fastest way to do it. Put the coconut mixture in the greased pan and spread it out evenly. Put into the oven until its as brown as you want it to be. (I think 20 minutes is good.)

    Its the easiest recipe ever. You will want to wait until its really really cool to cut them (It might be easier to make it the night before). I cut them in fudge size pieces.

  • Another slow cooker easy recipe: thaw out a bag o’ frozen meatballs in the over, put meatballs in slowc cooker, add BBQ sauce of your choice (something not super sweet), and heat on low for a while (that was super specific), when it’s bubbling or hot, serve.

  • nic

    this is why you tell the people you are hosting to bring what they want to eat. you’re hosting. you should supply them with nothing other than the room they will fart in, and perhaps a block of cream cheese with pickled jam on top with a side of wheat thins (your mom is southern, isn’t she?) done.

  • Owengirl79

    My niece called my husband by first and last for at least a year after she met him. Then for many years after that, my entire family did it…except for me.

  • The Baker Bee

    We make that Rotel dip with 2 cans Rotel, 1 8oz block of cream cheese and a thing of Jimmy Dean sausage. Cook the sausage first. To die for. I eat the leftovers for breakfast. We used to call it Bubba Dip because our friend’s wife is from Georgia and she is the one who gave us the recipe. And then she cheated on him and had a baby with another dude… so now we call it Georgia Whore Dip. Yup.

  • This is great! I’ve been looking for simple sweets for my newly-gluten-free husband, and this fits the bill. Thanks for sharing.

  • KatieMama

    We do jelly with our little smokies, too, but usually cranberry. Grape is good, too.

  • Sarah

    That may be a big room, but when you put the number 18 (I chose not to check your math) and make those 18 warm bodies and the picture of that room in my head, yeah incestuous mosh pit comes to mind. Though, at least it is people you know.

  • Sarah

    This was my sister for the first eighteen years of her life, at every family gathering, holiday, weekday or weekend morning; glad to see she’s not the only one:
    “(all the kids except Leta who will be eating Fruity Pebbles with no milk)”

  • Amy Mac

    From one Memphis girl to another, a delicious and delightfully easy recipe:
    Grab a package of chicken breasts, sling into crock pot, cook and shred. Now, stir in package of plain, cubed cream cheese, bottle of buffalo wing sauce (Frank’s is a personal fave), a couple of cups of Monterrey Jack cheese shredded and a cup or so of bleu cheese dressing. Let it simmer, serve with Fritos. Obviously, this is a low-cal, low-fat, almost-like-brushing-your-teeth choice, as is most Southern snack food. May induce farting.

  • jthejellybean

    Cream cheesecupcakes are always abundant!!! Black jellybeans are rare, exotic and make your teeth look gross. Black jellybeans win!

  • You can also make it with frozen meatballs instead of smokies. Add a jar of grape jelly and a bottle of ketchup. It’s really good. Just don’t think about it too much, because I know it sounds gross 🙂

  • Gloria Wills

    I just finished reading this and realized that I am a black jelly bean. Shit.

  • charlene

    another option is take those smokies get two bottles of chili sauce and 3-4 tablespoon of jelly mix together throw the smokies in a crock pot. good. another option is frozen meatballs. follow the instructins to cook then simmer in a red sauce. cheese and sausage platters with crackers are good.

  • Kate

    I am now going to call Rotel dip, (which I make exactly the same way) “Georgia Whore Dip”. Thank you so very much for making my day!!

  • Always enjoyable reading, but this is one of my recent favorites. For many, many reasons.

  • Anne

    Tyrant is a hottie.
    You know they make a “buffet” appliance of three slow cookers in a row? You weren’t using that counter space, were you?

  • Toledo is anything but scenic..I know because I live there :

  • Jessica Abbott

    I cannot believe it took me this long to finally stop by your blog and check it out! And I cannot believe a fart joke had me laughing that hard, but I am very grateful – as I am hosting an event next Monday and needed some quick and easy recipes. This looks perfect! No farting.

  • twocharacters

    My mom makes a really similar cranberry salad every year for Thanksgiving. She tried to skip making it this year and I was like, “I don’t think so lady. Either make it or send me the recipe and I will!” and since she didn’t want me cooking for people on Thanksgiving she made it.

  • Lisa W.

    Heather, try meatballs with equal parts grape jelly and medium pace picante sauce. I kid you not. Crock pot number three can be reserved for this (TWO free crock pots!) It is out of this world! No farting.

  • I love your fireplace. If you decide to get rid of it, please carefully pack it up and send it to me in Pennsylvania. I would be forever grateful.

  • Diary of a Madwoman

    Real parents will tell you the truth…that Disney is horrible. it’s not magical. Everyone is crying. I haven’t taken my kids either. I’m too scared

  • Amy J.

    I haven’t commented on your blog in months. But, two things…rather, three. 1) I’m so sorry to hear about you and Jon. 2) You’re posting/writing has really picked up and I’m reading again without wanting to smack you 3) That cranberry salad is my youngest daughter’s MOST favorite thing in the universe and my sister makes it for her EVERY Thanksgiving because I HATE to cut up things in small pieces ; ).

  • shuggilippo

    This entire post is made of glorious PTSD from my brief stint of Mormonism (Yes. Yes I did just sexy that shit up by sm-ing the word “Mormon”, BISHOP WESTERGARDENDIAH!! LIKE AN ORGASM!) Motherfuck the Rotel, Heather. Mother. Fuck. It.

  • Natalie

    I throw a pound of browned ground beef into the rotel/Velveeta dip when I make it. Good luck!

  • Love that Rotel dip, had it often growing up in Texas. If you don’t want to deal with the ‘dip’ aspect (folks hovering over it, blobs of cheese on the floor) you can smear it into flour tortillas and cut into triangles, like little quesadillas. And No that’s probably not spelled right. Anyway, served like that is a bit more manageable for the little ones.
    As for the living room – ditto on shelves to flank the fireplace, and consider enclosed cabinets at the bottom (and maybe at the very top, depending on your ceiling height) so you can stash kid toys out of sight.
    Love you Heather, and more Chuck please!

  • Hey! Hey! A little respect for T Town please! If you don’t think empty parking lots, boarded up burnt out houses and muddy rivers are scenic, then I don’t know what is! 😉

  • Jason

    Add 1/2 can of Cream of Mushroom soup to the Rotel / Velveeta dip. Sound odd, but it helps smooth out the texture and thin out the cheese.

  • leafgirl

    Maybe I’m challenged, but I’m having difficulty with the contest. It says you need to leave a comment on your pin linking back to the promotion, but when I try to put the link in as a comment, it won’t let me because it says it thinks it’s spam. Am I the only one?

  • Anamaria

    I’m sure Heather is relieved you no longer want to smack her. I’ll let you know if your writing ever picks up enough so that I lose the urge to smack *you*. Geez.

  • Berit

    Black jelly beans are my favorite. I know I will be a black jelly mama (sorry little fetus in mah belly, but it’ll be ok, I hear Auntie Amy loves Disney!)

    Your post has made me very hungry.

  • Tammy

    I have a friend who makes it with frozen meatballs, grape jelly (more than a plop or two, but I don’t know how much) and a can of chili sauce. It sounds revolting but it’s quite tasty!

  • haha you just made my day!

  • Crazy Lu

    I love your rug, where did you get it? and I make rotel dip 2 ways… Velveeta and Rotel, and then…… CREAM CHEESE and Velveeta. you can spice it up by dashing a little tabasco in it.. My girlfriends LOVE the cream cheese version and all want to know “how do you make this delicious dip”