Sunday, August 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

The Back to School Edition
My least favorite thing about the kids going back to school is the ritualistic hunting and gathering of school supplies. When I was in school, back in the dark ages, it seemed like school supplies were available whenever you needed them but now they seem to have a very limited shelf life. It's my job, as the school supply provider for my family, to make sure I purchase every last little thing the kids might need for the next nine months. If I miss something it's going to cost three times as much to buy it later. So I buy it all now. A years worth of school supplies for three kids, plus two boxes of tissues and Clorox wipes for the classrooms, adds up to a virtual mountain of junk. I think if you totalled how many trees gave their lives for the reams of paper, boxes of pencils, and tower of tissue on my dining room table we would know why the globe is warming up!

We tend to eat very late during the summer. Partly because the sun doesn't set until after 9pm and partly because I'm a lazy bum... So I'm trying to keep the menu for the coming week relatively simple to make it easier to get dinner on the table early. Back to the grind...

Monday - Rotisserie Pork Butt, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans and Tomatoes
Tuesday - Stewed Chicken and Veggie Stew with Dumplings
Wednesday - Baked Masa Boats with Cheese and Roasted Poblanos, Pinto Beans, Shredded Chicken, Lettuce and Tomatoes
Thursday - Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Friday - Make your own Pizza
Saturday - Hamburgers and Veggie Burgers
Sunday - Leftovers

For more great menus check out Have a good week everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fritters anyone?

Photo by Slice
Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!

Og Mandino -

Brilliant isn't it?! You know where I found it? Right here on this blog, hiding in the September 2007 archives. Apparently I didn't follow Og's advice because I find myself here a year later still making the same lists of things to do, merely surviving the days. Frittering.

If life is a journey shouldn't the landscape be changing?

I did do one new and unexpected thing recently, although it's not cause for celebration. I called my mother and told her that I didn't feel well enough to make the 14 hour drive to California. I've been telling her all summer that I would get down there before school started.
I promised.
Last Friday I broke that promise.
She understands.

I don't.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Toke Bag?

I was tired last night and couldn't work up a proper rant so I posted the picture and left the commenting for today.

When I first saw this Marc Jacobs tote I thought there must be more to the story. Perhaps the proceeds were going to a charity? Maybe it was produced with reclaimed hemp and screen printed by displaced penguins? But I can't find any evidence that the bag is anything more than an expensive billboard for a vague cause. I was not impressed but apparently I'm missing the big picture.

Shannon at The Purse Blog writes "At first glance I just thought about the practical implications of the bag, but as I began to think about it a bit more, I couldn’t help but find myself reminded about the environment and how each small action a person takes can actually help."

Yes indeed! Each small action we take will help the environment. So, in that spirit, here is my list of ten other ways that Shannon's $158 can actually help...

1. If you must be a walking billboard try the "Stop Global Warming" bracelet from Roots. It comes in eleven colors, is made from scrap leather, and all proceeds go to The Global Warming Fund.

2. If what you really want is a cool tote bag try one of these from Tote le Monde.

It's cute, it's made of recyclable plastic, and you can get three of them for less than $158.

3. Or you can get ten of these innuendo laden totes..

4. Or you can think up your own cool logo and paint 20 of these!

5. Join the Sierra Club Foundation and get this totally awesome rucksack.

it's just like the one that some old dude named John Muir used to use way back before global conservation was important... You can use the money you have left over to sign up five of your friends and they'll get rucksacks too!

6. If it's the hemp you care about there are cute bags and a bunch of other stuff at Hemp Sisters as well as links to all things hemp. By the way.. don't smoke your bag.

7. If the penguins are your concern then Adopt 3 King Penguins. Adoption is in! Imagine how impressed your friends will be when you show them photos of your adorable penguin children. As an added bonus the penguins will stay in the Falkland Islands so you don't have to worry about raw fish or finding a good daycare provider.

8. If you really just want to spend your money why not spend it on something made in the place you want to save. Buy products from people who live in the Arctic. The Uqqurmiut Center for Arts & Crafts represents artists who live in the Arctic Circumpolar Region. They like their native wildlife almost as much as you do.

9. Are you worried about Global Warming? Plant 150 trees. No, you don't have to actually plant them. Just send your money and Trees for Life International will find someone to plant them for you. Planting a tree is like putting a big green umbrella on the global warming beach. Every little leaf helps.

10. And finally Shannon, if you really want to put that $158 to good use, go to your local library and get a few books on Conservation, Global Warming, Recycling, Endangered Species, Simple Living, Hemp, and Economics. READ THEM. Then invest your money in a cause you actually understand.

Monday, August 25, 2008 says...
This Marc tote makes plastic bags feel positively passé.
Woven hemp tote with 'Save My Pole' lettering and penguin graphic at front.
Screen print created using eco-friendly printing techniques.
Tonal banding throughout. Interior features patch pocket.

I say...
Someone must be smoking something...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just another day

So, Monday I was sitting in my doctor's office trying to explain how I'm feeling.

Everything is ok. (Except I'm scared to death that it's not.) Life is peaceful. (And it's freaking me out.)
We are recovering from the last few years. (And will be in debt for the rest of our lives.) Ian seems to be doing well. (But what do I know when I only hear from him once every four weeks or so.) I don't hear from him much. (I dread the beginning of each month as I know he will probably be calling to ask for money soon.) The other kids are doing well. (But I know how many ways I've screwed up as a parent and I'm afraid that eventually they are going to hate me.) I hate taking antidepressants. (I had panic attacks when my prescription insurance denied my last prescription.) But I know I still need to. (Because I stopped taking them when the insurance was denied and promptly descended into a pit of darkness) I've been really busy... (this is a complete lie. I have been hiding in my house eating ice cream and reading children's books) it took some time to figure out our new insurance.. (because they made me feel like a drug dependant freak when I tried to talk to them) but if you fax the prescription directly to them they will fill it (and if they have questions they will contact you directly rather than denying the claim) and mail it directly to me (thereby taking the responsibility for communication away from me and greatly improving the chance that I will finally get the medication). I am rather anxious but I think it's just because I don't deal well with change. Even good things like Bob taking a new job and me not working anymore. It takes me a while to feel like everything is stable. (maybe by 2020 I'll start to feel better). I know that compared to what others are going through I have very little to complain about. I'm not going to sit here and cry "poor me". It's disingenuous and self-absorbed. (that's what my blog is for) But I do have to figure out a better way to deal with stress.

She suggested exercise and laughingly said that maybe I just need to buy a carton of eggs and go throw them at a fence. She really doesn't know me at all... and that is completely my fault. The truth is I will never feel comfortable talking about what is really going on in my head. I just can't do it. I smile and laugh and make light of it all because that's what I have always done. Sometimes I will write about it but that's rare too. Mostly, in real life and writing, I blow off steam with a little ranting about inconsequential things and then move on. I'm a mess but I try keep that mess contained and private.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about blogging. I truly admire people who are open, who do more than just illuminate their day to day living but shine a searchlight into the depths of their lives. Some of the best bloggers are those who are able to open the doors and show the world their messes. I wanted to write that kind of blog but I'm beginning to think I lack the guts or the depth.

However, I have noticed a disturbing trend while ruminating about this. Some of my favorite bloggers, the brave ones and the vulnerable ones, only last for so long. Eventually they succumb to the pressures involved with being so open and they fold. Sometimes without any warning. No explanation. No goodbyes. No closure. One day they are there and the next "Poof". Gone.

Perhaps someone told them to go buy a carton of eggs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wordle hurdle

Kate at Kate5kiwis posted a link to this totally cool "word cloud" generator on her blog today and I swiped it right quick! I have spent the better part of the evening playing with it instead of doing something more productive. Fun times!

Wordle takes the words from your blog, or any other source, and arranges them by size according to how often they are used. I was worried that I would end up with some nasty word that that illustrates poor writing... like "like"... as the biggest word in my cloud but it wasn't as bad as I feared. Go try it out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer have got me down.

Actually it's the dog hair of summer that's really bugging me but I've decided to blame it all on Ancient Cultures because it's more interesting that way.

Did you know that July and August are called the dog days of summer because of Sirius the Dog Star? Way back in Roman times the hottest weeks of summer coincided with Sirius rising just before dawn. Back then they also used to sacrifice a brown dog to assuage the rage of Sirius and keep the miserable days to a minimum. I'm not quite sure how killing a dog would make the weather change but I'm beginning to think it is time for drastic action. Not that I don't love my dogs but I am seriously ready to lose my mind over the amount of hair they leave lying around the house. I've been thinking of shaving them and knitting little dog hair sweaters to keep them warm.

Sweaters don't shed, they just pill and I don't mind pulling out the sweater shaver every few days and neatening them up. It's got to be easier than dealing with the perfect storm of golden doggy clouds that rise every time I turn on a fan.... and I turned on all the fans today.

Two days of record temperatures and too many snacks from the freezer have left me lethargic and strangely sentimental for 1980. It was the summer before my Junior year of high school, it was hot, and I had strep throat. I spent day after day sitting in my darkened living room, eating frozen treats to keep cool, and watching the Olympics in Moscow on TV. Speaking of popsicles... did you know that today is National Creamsicle Day?

We didn't get Creamsicles back in 1980 because they didn't last long enough in a house without air conditioning and three kids home alone all summer. We got Otter Pops. And we were happy to have them (oh yes we were Mom) they were so much better than ice cubes on toothpicks! But every now and then the ice cream truck would come by, while my brothers were busy climbing on the roof or melting plastic army men, and I would rush out and get myself a real Creamsicle. Ahh.. the sticky orange shell covering the luscious vanilla-ish inside. It was truly a Quintessentially Frozen Treat. I haven't had one in years. I considered getting the kids a box in honor of the holiday but it was just too hot to go out. So I stayed in and made my own.

Happy Creamsicle Day!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


I'm having a lot of fun cooking lately and I think it's directly related to the planning I've been doing. We have had some very interesting meals. I'm still not sticking to the plan 100% but just knowing that there is a plan has helped me to be more creative. For instance, when we decided that it really was a great weekend to smoke salmon, rather than have the heavy roast that I had planned, it was no problem at all. The other positive change has been that I'm getting a lot better at making sure that my two vegetarians are eating meals that are fairly well balanced and hopefully interesting. This coming week is supposed to be very warm so I'm planning lots of grilled or no-cook meals.

Monday - Sopes with Shredded Chicken, Shrimp, or Beans
Tuesday - Rotisserie Chicken, Field Roast Apple Smoked Sausage, Grilled Potatoes, Corn on the Cob
Wednesday - Caponata or Steak Sandwiches on Ciabatta, Baked Potato Chips
Thursday - Salad Bar
Friday - Pork or Tofu, Pineapple and Pepper Kabobs, Couscous, Salad
Saturday - Make your own Pizza
Sunday - Waffles, Sausage, Fruit Salad
Thanks to Laura at for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Have a good week everyone.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Award for Little Old Me?

Jason from The Jason Show is one of my blogging heros. He has a wicked sense of humor, knows how to tell a great story, and, most important, he is able to tell the truth with remarkably little self censoring. I admire his writing and his courage. When he drops by my blog and leaves comments I have to fight the urge to dance around my computer. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was when I read his latest post and found that he had actually given ME an award.

Thank you so much Jason.

This award is especially neat because it comes with an A to Z quiz. So here are my answers...

A. Attached or single? Attached to the same guy for 24 years.
B. Best friend? Bob (see question A)
C. Cake or pie? Oh.. tough one.. how about cake with fruit but not fruit cake. A nice fruit tart with lots of fresh berries and pastry cream on sponge cake. Oh goodness I just took myself back to my Great Aunt's kitchen in Melrose Park... except no one is yelling at me in Italian.
D. Day of choice? Sunday
E. Essential item? Shampoo
F. Favorite color? Red
G. Gummy bears or worms? Ick!
H. Hometown? Jerome, Arizona
I. Favorite indulgence? ice cream
J. January or July? July
K. Kids? 2 boys 19 and 15, two girls 13 and 9
L. Life isn't complete without? Church
M. Marriage date? November 21, 1987
N. Number of brothers & sisters? 2 younger brothers, one much younger half sister
O. Oranges or apples? oranges
P. Phobias? The Post Office
Q. Quotes? I like using them.
R. Reasons to smile? Bob, Dogs, Kids
S. Season of choice? Autumn
T. Tag seven peeps! (see below)
U. Unknown fact about me? I have one elf ear
V. Vegetable? avocado
W. Worst habits? Complaining
X. X-ray or ultrasound? Ultrasound
Y. Your favorite food? Mexican food
Z. Zodiac sign? Capricorn.

Now I get to pass this award on to seven great bloggers. My seven award winners are:
JCK @ Motherscribe
Laura @ CenterDownHome
Debbie @ Etc., Etc., Etc.
Bellezza @ Dolce Bellezza
MS Teacher @ MS Teacher
Julie @ Absolutely Fabulous
Taylor @ My Blog of My World

I love your blogs and you all deserve recognition. Keep writing!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Missing my bloggy buddies

It looks like almost 80% of my favorite bloggers have been hit by a nasty Internet Explorer problem that is shutting down blogs as soon as they open. I had the same problem when I signed on tonight. After trying it about a million times I saw that everything was loading until it got to the site meter counter, which is the very last thing on my front page. I tried to go to and it wouldn't open either... So I deleted my sitemeter html and bingo, my blog popped right up! So.. if you are having problems you might want to try it.


While following me through the produce section yesterday, Zane found three types of coconuts, Young, White, and Easy-open, and was intrigued. Now I know absolutely nothing about coconuts but we do have a new semi-commitment to exploring new foods... and I've watched Alton Brown open a few. So I let him buy a coconut. He decided on the Easy-open because it had directions attached.

Zane was in charge of the coconut project and recruited Taylor to help. Delaney provided running commentary and constructive criticism. It turns out that easy-open is actually an oxymoron and it took more than a hammer to pry the sucker open. The kids started banging on it with my meat tenderizer but it only took a few minutes to see that wimpy kitchen tools just weren't up to the challenge. Out to the garage they went to raid Dad's tool box. In the end they used a hammer, an awl, a chisel and it took about thirty minutes to crack the thing. Then they had to extract the meat and peel it. Oh the horror! There were bits of coconut all over the kitchen.

Final verdict - Coconuts are cool but a lot of work and, after the work is done, no one wants to eat it! The shells however will probably provide years of Monty Pythonesque entertainment.

Does anyone have a good coconut recipe?