Sunday, January 13, 2008


It would probably be quicker to call all three of you who read this but I wanted to forewarn of a probable hiatus on MemeGRL. For the next few weeks-to-months, it's busy season at my job plus two other part time gigs, so I can't foresee a lot of time to blog.

I know some people have something that can actually tell them when blogs they read are updated (RSS feeds or bloglines or something?) but for those of you like me who just need to keep clicking to see if there's something new, I wanted to let you know to take MemeGRL off your click rotation for a while.

I'm pretty sure I'll be back, I just think posting will be sporadic for a while. (Of course, having posted this, I'll probably end up posting every day. But I really don't see that happening soon.) See you on your blog!

More Sunday Bloghopping

For parents only: You must check the results of Finslippy's Worst Parenting Moments Ever contest. Remember, this is not a competition, only an exhibition. Equally hilarious and horrifying. And just what I need on some bad, bad parenting days: I am not alone.

Did I mention I loved Catherine Newman's post here? The "claws of love" part reminded me, viscerally, that these boys will not always be pawing at me. They will not always want to be carried. There is coming a day when they would rather expire than sit on my lap. And knowing that, being reminded of that, makes it easier to tolerate and even enjoy it while it is happening. It still drives me crazy, say, in the kitchen while there are hot things on the stove. But I owe Catherine yet another round of thanks for reminding me what is magic about their childhood. I do usually enjoy them being all over me. But sometimes lately it was getting to be too much. And just in time, I'm reminded, this too shall pass. And so I relax back in to it and enjoy the four year old crawling on to my lap, yet again, to try to play with the mouse and the keyboard.

On a different parenting angst topic, this one really got to me.

On a political note, as a lover of all magazine quizzes, Pick Your Best Candidate by pointing and clicking spoke to me on a deeply superficial level. Kucinich, anyone?

Who knows what price oil will be tomorrow. But I loved this blog entry because my husband has talked about this for a while. As much as we whine about how much gas costs, a gallon of milk is still more than a gallon of gas, and yet we're not whining about that.

And, just to complete the randomness, and end on a much better note than the start, I don't know how far this story has gone, but I loved it. The story of the master, the servants, and the talents has always bothered me on some levels. (The master knew the third guy had limitations, right, or he wouldn't have only given him one talent! And would he really have been easier on him if the servant had taken the chance and actually lost the money? I know, that's not supposed to be the point, but I really feel for that poor third servant, whatever that says about me as a Christian.) But this was a real feat of the modern world: building community, self-esteem, and coffers. Genius.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Four Foods Friday #2

Hmmm. Weeks like this one are why this might only be an occasional thing for me. These four foods don't necessarily inspire me. Though they might inspire you...if so, go here to pick up the meme!

#1. What’s your favorite kind of crepe?
Savory: there was an amazing spinach crepe at the little place around the corner from us in Dupont Circle when I lived in DC. Sweet goes to the crepe place in the student center where I work (they used to sell crepes from a truck; I love that); they have one with nutella, bananas, and strawberries that I adore.

#2. How do you make ziti?
I don't. I prefer capellini.

#3. What is your favorite thing to put on toast, and which flavor if more than one?
Butter. If jelly is involved, almost any will do, though I prefer the reds; and I always liked cinnamon-sugar toast when my mom made it.

#4. When wok cooking, which oil burns the slowest? Peanut, vegetable or safflower?
No clue. I don't have a wok and hot oil scares me. Also, since we have food allergies in our family, it's now been over 4 years since peanut oil has been allowed in my house.

Foodie friends, any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WFMW--Backwards Day--HTML and Dishwashers

I know, I know, I am not exactly keeping to one theme this week. But my two pressing life problems right now:

1) Anyone ever use a free online HTML tutorial that they found helpful? I know nothing about building a webpage or elements of HTML beyond the world of Blogger (which I know enough to know doesn't count).

2) Our dishwasher is on its last legs. Anyone have one they adore or loathe that they would like to suggest I keep an eye out for sales on or run from like the plague? (My old one is fine, btw, just really old and not especially effective anymore, so it's not like I'm keeping some potentially instructive lemon story from you while asking for your dishwasher experiences. It is, I think you would say, reaching the end of its natural life, is all.)

Thanks Blogworld!

Got a problem you want help with? Or feel like dispensing your wisdom to dozens? Go see Shannon! Read about her upcoming trip to Uganda while you are there!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

By Popular Demand....

I will admit that the Poppyseed Chicken Casserole is one of my favorite meals ever. Here, due to popular demand, is the recipe. It's from one of my favorite cookbooks ever, My Mother's Southern Kitchen by James Villas. Several years ago we were hosting a birthday party for our "southern" (Virginian) sister in law and had a southern food theme. (Fewest. Leftovers. Ever.) A friend in my office who was an actual cookbook author recommended this as one of her favorites for southern cooking (this is pre-Paula Deen, y'all) with not-too-difficult recipes (important, as I was just learning to cook). We haven't had a loser from here yet. And since one of my favorite parts of the book is the stories that go with, pardon the length of the post but I want to capture all the details. (And as a note, I have used the low-fat versions of every ingredient [except the butter] that has one and the flavor is still good. Not the amazing that the whole-fat-artery clogger is, but still a great dinner. As I wrote in my cookbook the first time I made it, "A total winner. Yum! Easy! Only a cardiologist wouldn't enjoy.")

Poppy Seed Chicken

Over the years, reciprocal cooking interest have been shared by each and every member of our large extended family, as children and grandchildren have grown up and married other Southerners, and all seem to have contributed something to Mother's kitchen repertory. She was first exposed to this simple casserole when she once drove up to Raleigh to baby-sit a few days with her two great-grandchildren and found the refrigerator full of prepared dishes so that she wouldn't have to cook. She later got the recipe from her granddaughter-in-law, Alice Royal, and has since shared it with other family members and friends.

6 chicken breast halves
one 10-1/4 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons poppy seeds, plus extra for topping
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 lb (one stack) Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 cup (one stick) margarine or butter, melted

Place the chicken breasts in a pot with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook till tender, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, bone and skin the chicken, cut in to bite-size pieces, and place in a mixing bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the soup, sour cream, lemon juice, and poppy seeds to the chicken and mix till well blended. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size baking dish and spread the crackers over the top. Drizzle the margarine over the crackers, sprinkle poppy seeds liberally on top, and bake till bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 30 min.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Martha Pearl says: "This is one of a number of simple dishes I like to make for sick people, shut-ins, and bereaved friends. What I do is prepare the unbaked casserole in disposable aluminum pans and include instructions for cooking. That way, all that has to be done is to pop the casserole in the oven with no worry about having to return the container."

And I am with Martha Pearl on this. This is my go-to dish for dropping off to new moms or sick folks with a bag of salad and a microwavable bag of rice and frozen veggie. (That way, it's all freezable--except the salad of course--and can be used whenever. I print the directions on masking tape on the foil on top.) And if you want to split it in to two, make sure it's two shallow dishes so you can double the amount of yummy topping!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Double Header

Hey, wouldn't you know I am a day behind on all my memes this weekend--so I'm doing two in one here to get myself back on track.

Menu Planning Monday and Smart Habits Saturday--better together! (This is why I am not in advertising.)


Monday: Bertucci's. I cannot wait. I love the Lestina beyond all reason.

Tuesday: Leftover Bertucci's and leftover spaghetti & meatballs from Sunday.

Wednesday: Poppyseed chicken casserole, broiled asparagus, salad, baked potatoes.

Thursday: Crustless Quiche Lorraine, salad, carrots and celery with my new discovery Newman's Creamy Caesar for dipping.

Friday: Crock pot macaroni and cheese, probably with leftovers.

And my related Smart Habit? To start dinner while the boys are napping. I've been so worn out or holiday stressed I've either napped right along with them or done something unrelated and then been stressed about making dinner while they are starving and romping around underfoot. That, and sticking to the "no eating after dinner" rule. Which has been working for me, though really eye-opening as to how ingrained a habit it was!

Happy week, everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Meme! Four Foods Friday

Just found this new-to-me meme at Fun, Crafts, and Recipes. A meanie for those who are starting new year's diets!

#1. Brownies. From a box or from scratch?
I've done both. From scratch really isn't hard if you have the bakers' chocolate to do it. But I usually fall back on the box. (ouch)

#2. Chicken noodle soup. Does it cure everything? Do you make it from scratch, from a can or from a package?
I have to be honest: for the most part, I do not find chicken soup appetizing. But when I'm sick, the ring noodle stuff in the envelope is one of the only things I can fathom eating.

#3. Red skin potato salad. Do you think the red skin provides flavor or color?
Both. Also a better texture.

#4. French toast. How do you make yours?
Recently, almost always in the overnight-casserole mode. Otherwise, white bread in eggs, milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon, cooked in butter on the stove. Mmmmm....

Wanna play? I'm not sure how often I will but the link is above!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

WFMW--resolutions of self-kindness

Several years ago, when I still had time to read magazines and newspapers, one of the most influential articles I read was by a woman who had a revolutionary idea (to me at the time, anyway) about new year's resolutions. How about making ones that are nice to ourselves? She pointed out it is dark and bleak in January; the excitement of the holidays are over, and (pre-MLK-holiday-days) there were no vacation days coming for months...and we're beating ourselves up over losing weight or spending too much money? C'mon, she said, lighten up, and make your resolutions ones that will be enjoyable to keep, not something to slog through.

That year (again, pre-kids), my husband and I resolved to go to a new restaurant every month. When that got pricey, we kept the resolution but made it a cheapie one month and a splurge the next. It was a huge hit; it kept us honest about making date time with each other, even in busy work seasons, and gave us a chance to try some dynamite new places, ranging from hole-in-the-wall ethnic to fancy-shmancy-always-wanted-to-go.

Alas, those days are gone (or at least morphed) with the kids in tow. But we can still make the "kind to ourselves" resolutions. Ours together this year is to see one new movie a month, either on-demand or a borrowed DVD. (The Simp*sons Movie and H*arry Potter 4 are both coming to us from sisters-in-law post-Christmas stashes soon, and H*airspray is on-demand right now.) Mine personally is still in progress, at least in the kind-to-myself category; in the traditional "flogging" category is that I'd like to get my newly-cleared-and-even-more-newly-trashed-with-Christmas-wrapping space clear again, I'd like to read more, I wholeheartedly hope to yell at my kids less, and the ever popular lose weight. But (maybe other than the room), those resolutions will keep. Winter is long, and there's no need to start beating myself up over this stuff before Epiphany has even arrived. So. Deep breaths. The world is round. And there isn't much more important in my life once the boys are asleep than snuggling in on the couch with my much-loved husband, who adores the movies and misses them like I miss reading and sleeping in, and catching up. I'll bet there have been at least 12 movies worth seeing that have come out since 2003, and we are hoping to hit them all by 2009.

What's your resolution? What's working for you in the post-holiday-daze? Check out Shannon's blog and leave your ideas there too!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Not much to say today, as we are getting ready to host my father-in-law's 76th birthday party. So as I prepare the food, we're watching the "hoorayed," as my youngest calls it, and I needed to link to this post by my friend Rocco. Enjoy your celebration, whatever it looks like!