Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Best $10 I'll Spend This Week

Thanks to BooMama and Rocks in my Dryer for pointing this out.

I had a rare moment today of 15 minutes alone in my house to fold laundry with no one but the dog and the radio for company. As I flipped on NPR, where the dial on the laundry room radio is permanently set (inadvertently, but a happy accident), the BBC World News Hour was on. They were, thank goodness, close to the end of a report about devastating human rights abuses in the Congo. I won't go in to the few details I heard, but every last one of them was something I wished I hadn't known. And again, felt helpless to do much besides bear witness, which is cold comfort, if any, to those affected by these horrendous things going on in Africa, man-made and otherwise.

And, just like that, I checked in on some of my favorite mommy blogs today and saw a way to help. While I have admi(red) the (red) campaign (sorry, couldn't help myself), I am suspicious of how much money is actually going to the cause. Bite Back, however, is a campaign being run by Compassion International, a group in many third-world countries, working with direct aid to families. For $10, you can buy a family a mosquito netting, allowing them to sleep, protected from malaria-bearing mosquitoes, for three years. I like this because I know exactly how my money will be used. And having been in a room with a mosquito (hello, mountain house) and being annoyed, I can't imagine both being annoyed by mosquitoes in my bedroom and simultaneously fearing that that little thing could be bringing me death.

Ten dollars wouldn't buy me lunch at the place I was supposed to meet friends today. But it can buy three years of better sleep for someone...or her child. Please think about clicking. And if you enjoy having your heartstrings tugged, don't miss Shannon's and BooMama's descriptions of their time in Africa. And get a sense for the kids whose sleep you could be buying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008

So, here we are at Earth Day. This country will take anything and turn it in to a commercial opportunity. Not that I am such a drum-thumping tree hugger that I'm railing against the system, man, but it is truly amazing to me that Hallmark is now selling Earth Day cards. Oh, the tree-humanity!

Last year I made an Earth Day resolution to bring my own shopping bag/s to stores. I've met with mixed success, but emphasis on "success" rather than "mixed." I have my little group of bags I keep in the car, including a fabu freebie from Whole Foods last summer that is a cooler bag--great for meats and veggies if I am trip chaining and have a few more stops. My husband complained at one point because we were out of paper bags for recycling the newspapers. The plastic bags still come in way too frequently (for some reason I have a mental block about taking bags in to Target, and, well, there's 10 bags right there), but we were even almost out of those at one point. Both the Acme and my local store recycle plastic bags. At one point I was aggressive enough about taking them back that I had nothing with which to pick up the dog's business. (So I've scaled back on that.) Our newspaper has gone back to rubber bands, except on rainy days, which seems like a great plan. (And has increased rubber band availability in the house, which had gotten rather low after I stopped working in an office with rubber bands that set up colonies at home.) And between the recycling option and the original "recycling" option of re-using the plastic bags as trash can liners, I feel like we're at stasis on the bags issue.

My recycling, frankly, drives my husband crazy. If it isn't being thrown away on the main floor of our house (we're in a split level), he puts it in the trash. I, however, end up collecting the dry cleaner bags, diaper wraps (not from the diapers, but the plastic they come in), dry cleaner paper shoulder covers, boxes from toiletries (contact solution, soap, etc.) and toilet paper tubes from the upstairs to recycle. I have cancelled all but two magazine subscriptions (O and Guideposts--am I old, or what?--though I do love my Bon Appetit, which I got as a gift and have loved using--that's different, though, as it's like a new cookbook every month) as I have a stack literally three feet high of ones I want to read but haven't gotten to yet. When I'm done with those, I send them to the hospital for the emergency room. And somehow, we're the only ones on our block to put out two whole cans on commingled recycling day. (Either my kids drink a lot more juice than most, or no one else's kids drink milk anymore. Or they are not obsessively recycling. Hey, maybe that's it.) And when we replaced our toilet, refrigerator, and windows, we got the ones with every energy efficient trick in the book. (Ok, maybe our toilet isn't as spiffy as Dream Kitchen's, but at least it's better than our old one.)

So...enough of sounding like a sanctimonious old biddy. This year, for my Earth Day resolution, I'm going to try composting again. Yes, I am a composting dropout. I did the class that got me the Earth Machine, and somewhere over the winter, the top popped off and I haven't been able to get it back on since. And without the Earth Machine, the actual composting was...if not pointless, at least far more difficult. But really, what a lame reason to stop...and when we increase our fruit/vegetable intake in summer, it's amazing how much of that goes in the trash. And I love the idea of creating use for something formerly considered waste.

So, back out to wrestle the Earth Machine (since really, it would be embarrassing to recycle the composter). If anyone out there has one and would like to explain to me exactly how I'm supposed to get all six of the tabs in the slots, I'd be ever so grateful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

MPM--Earth Day/Election Week

My goodness, I don't know how I'll find time to cook this week, what with my buddies Hil and Bar calling me all the time, and offering me fun places to go and things to do. (Tonight: Rally with ALL THREE Clintons at Penn's gym! I'm not going--can only imagine the traffic--but am still sorry I missed Bill at the fire company last night.)

But, we still have to eat, and I know I'll have post-election blues (ha!) on Wednesday. Ok, maybe not, but I will have to find something else to fill my time once I don't have to use the time fretting about my vote. Cooking could work.

Monday: Leftover hoagie picnic as we go watch the marching band get ready for their upcoming trip. Juice boxes, goldfish, raisins, chips, soda...heaven, if it doesn't rain.

Tuesday: Leftover sloppy joes for the boys, Dinner A'Fare coconut shrimp for grownups. Finishing the roasted beets (yum) and cauliflower pimenton. Possibly rice if I get my act together.

Wednesday: Dinner A'Fare chicken alfredo should work for us all. If not, hummus for boys. Broccoli. Salad.

Thursday: Hoping to do the Indian Spiced Chicken, finally, from Don't Eat Baby, but more likely we'll have frozen chicken (hubby) and fish (me) from Trader Joe's. If I do the chicken, there will be rice. Otherwise I'll finish up some of my potatoes, have a salad, and perhaps some sort of frozen vegetable from TJ's as well.

Friday: Leftovers or out for pizza.

I won't be making much for the weekend because we're going to New York City this weekend for my college roommate's 40th birthday party! (She's MUCH older than I am. Ha ha.) Not only will we see her, but TBBITW is actually free to stay with the boys during the party so we can all go--woohoo! I predict the subway museum.

And for the first time in my life, I can't talk my husband in to a baseball game! I wanted to go see Shea and Yankee Stadiums (stadia?) this summer before they close. My husband thinks Shea is such a pit, he doesn't even want to bother. I know, it's his two least-favorite teams playing. I almost want to go because of the matchup though; my grandfather and I used to call it the "no one to cheer for" game when we were looking for baseball on TV and found a Mets-Braves game.

I couldn't come up with anything creative for election night (I suppose maybe burgers or dogs or something with...I dunno...blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream for dessert? Hey, I like that...maybe I will add it to the list!), but the "Earth Day" piece of this is that I don't need to go to the store for anything here--just to replenish produce at the end of the week. Did you catch the Oprah last week on waste? Our habits aren't as far gone as either of the highlighted families', but my kids are younger and it's not hard to see how things could go there without conscious effort to keep on a different path. And, as one expert in one of the Earth Day articles in the paper this weekend pointed out, The greenest purchases are the ones you don't make.

It's interesting...I used to have a goal of a well-stocked pantry, with the ingredients for meals ready to be whipped up in a flash, just on the shelves and ready to go. Then I realized I had a ton of money in "rainy day" food just sitting there, getting closer to the expiration dates, while I was going to the store and buying all new foods. Besides, I am not yet (and am coming to terms with the idea that I may never be) the kind of cook who can look in the pantry and say, "Hmmm...oysters, tomato sauce, and elbow noodles--terrific! I can whip something out of that." I totally admire those who can (yes, I mean you, City Mouse-Country Mouse, and you, my husband, who never reads my blog) but that's not me. So I'm back to the basics in the pantry...Creamettes noodles and angel hair pasta that goes on sale; canned tomato things--sauces and diced, etc., for chili or spaghetti sauce; cream of chicken soup, boullion, soda, and snacks. (Oh, and of course--Life Cereal since the world would collapse in our house in the morning without it.) I'm fascinated with the folks who are trying to build up a year's supply of food. (Why? I don't mean that sarcastically; I'm truly curious. There seems to be a religious reason for it.) And I am trying hard to figure out a five-day supply that wouldn't need electricity. (Storms happen, and I do try to have some large bottled water supplies just in case.) But as much as I would love to be a "create from what you have!" kind of person in the kitchen, that's not where my skills are.

On a side food note: is anyone else seeing the ingredient pimenton (Spanish paprika) everywhere lately? In the Bittman food column on the microwave a few weeks ago, it was a key ingredient in the cauliflower recipe. Now that I'm aware that it exists, I'm finding it in other recipe books too. Is it linked to the tapas surge? Or is it like the pink sea salt at Well Read Hostess--another thing to obsess on since we've already obesessed on everything else there is out there? And if you do know anything about pimenton, is it anything like the Hungarian paprika my in-laws brought back for us from their trip there? (Incidentally, I tried it with the cauliflower recipe. It was pretty good, though too much for my tastes. But I'll definitely make the cauliflower that way again, with the onions and tomatoes, but either a different spice or a lot less of the paprika next time.)

Anybody still with me? Sorry for the ramble to nowhere in particular. If you are looking for more inspirational meal ideas than mine, check out Laura's Organizing Junkie page.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Night and Day

So this morning I went to a funeral for a woman I barely knew but whose husband I have worked with (tangentially) for years. It was so heartbreaking I can barely breathe thinking about it. But it took me to a suburb I don't often go to...and they happened to be hosting an O.bama rally this morning. After I got through the crowd to get to the funeral, I stayed in my spot and walked down to the event.

What a fascinating, fascinating thing to be at both rallies in 24 hours. To be fair, the venues had a ton to do with it. But it was absolutely the difference between a 5th period high school civics assembly and a street fair. Both days were beautiful, sunny, gorgeous spring days. Hi.llary had us cooped inside a gym. had us out in the air. Hill.ary was giving out stickers and posters to wave for the cameras. O.bama was giving out gorgeous keepsake copies of his March 18 speech on race. Hi.llary arrived by motorcade. came by train. Hi.llary's volunteers had a grim, get-it-done approach I usually associate with things like diaper changing, spring cleaning, and tax filing. O.bama volunteers had all the chirpy cheeriness of people thrilled to be where they were.

And yes, while yesterday, almost all of us in the gym were white, female, and over 30 at least, truly every single demographic our area offers was there today. Super-urban style black men in chains and baggy clothes and baseball hats on unlikely angles. The deli counter girls from the sandwich shop in the strip mall next door, still all in their uniforms. A local union in matching yellow t-shirts for the occasion. Kids on dads' shoulders. Women in Talbots outfits too warm for the day. (Guilty as charged. I was just coming from a funeral, remember. But I did see another one, literally fainting--she was ok--in front of me, which is how I know she was in Talbots gear too.) At least three couples where at least one was on a cane. Buppies. Families walking dogs. Asian hipsters in shirts tighter than I'm used to seeing around here. Moms in yoga gear with tween kids climbing the fences. African-American grandmas, dressed just one step down from church. And those bored, restless teenagers from yesterday transformed in to animated, excited volunteers, getting people to sign up to volunteer themselves, or just cheering on the crowd as they walked up the hill to the event. "Thanks for coming! It's great to see you! You're almost there! Just right in that driveway to security and you're there!"

Even the music today was more pitch-perfect; while no one except my older son really could object to most of yesterday's music--things like John Mellencamp's "This is Our Country" and Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home," when I got through Obam.a security, Joan Jett's "I Love Rock'n'Roll" was playing, and then went in to "(Ooh) Baby Baby" (from the Motown/Philly Sound era; I'll have to look it up when my computer is fixed), and then--ideal for the day--"Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (currently better known as Will Smith, of course), followed by "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen--almost all local musicians, with great music for the tone of the day.

Everything wasn't totally perfect; the sound guys for the podium were having conniptions because of the music guys, who clearly felt that their need to DJ was more important than sound checks. Someone selling sunscreen would have made a fortune as there was no shade. A regular commuter train pulled in shortly after the time the candidate's train was supposed to arrive and some very, very surprised passengers disembarked. And it was not popular to confiscate bottles of liquid on an almost 80-degree morning (and not to even have a recycling bin there--a bit of a gaffe since global warming was one of his first issued mentioned). But again, the campaign recouped quickly, running out to get pallets of water which they handed out for free throughout the very large crowd (people were saying 10,000; I say no way was it that big but I would totally buy 3000-5000), and passing over chairs for people in back to stand on to see the candidate when he spoke. The campaign won, hands down, for nimble thinking and sheer enthusiasm, good cheer, and tremendous diversity of volunteers. (Kids in "Barack the Vote" tshirts; tons of " Mama"s of one type or another; my favorite, given yesterday, was "Another Middle Aged White Woman for")

When his train finally pulled up (much less late than Hi.llary, but still not on time), the crowd went wild. I have been to less enthusiastic rock concerts. This time, so there would be no confusion, the driver was blowing the whistle all the way in (I guess you can't have a "whistle stop tour" with no whistle), whipping the crowd in to a frenzy far more effectively than the Stepford volunteers did yesterday. The last car on the train was an old-time passenger car with the railed "porch" on the back, with a person in full conductor gear leaning off, with white-gloved hand cupped to ear, in an "I can't hear you" gesture that whipped up the crowd even more.

Someone I'd never heard of was the first introducer; if she was supposed to be the "common touch/converted voter," that worked. She was excited, and quick. The second I didn't catch but I think might have been Senator Casey, who was also blessedly not long. And then came the man himself. The deli girls almost passed out, screaming with excitement, bringing to mind the old-time Beatles footage and also that Washington Post essay that people got so upset about, implying women make themselves look stupid with the fawning over "Barac.k O'Boy.friend." This particular group of girls totally illustrated the columnist's point, satirical or not.

And then...the speech. He was everything the TV cameras and books tell you he will be. Gracious--lots of thanks to those who came with him (how I figured out that the male introducer was probably my senator) and those who worked so hard to set up the event. Eloquent--the man can really turn a phrase. Funny--referring to his "distant relation Dick Cheney," getting him out of Washington and "let him go hunting somewhere." Inspiring--with great stories, and full of visions of what America can do.

It's so nice to hear the positive statements about America. I am tired of being heartsick about the war, and our squandered goodwill throughout the world. I am tired of seeing only the worst parts of America--the greedy, the two-faced, the strident--reflected in our politicians. I absolutely get why people are falling over themselves for this guy. He has an amazing vision of an America I want to live in.

And yet. What I heard yesterday from Hi.llary was all policy. Lots of talk about how we have to get out of Iraq but need to stay to win the war in Afghanistan. Lots about education and ways to restructure how it's paid for. Was she inspiring? Not necessarily, but thought-provoking, and long on answers.

Today was just the opposite. The vision is there--and oh, I love love love the vision. But the roadmap was never really mentioned. Global warming was, and how he's confident that whoever wins, the Democrats will come together to win, health care, and college costs, and mortgage foreclosures and what living the American dream really means. And, of course, ending the war in Iraq. (Though nothing about Afghanistan...ah Sarabande, where are you now? Another post for another day.) But no strategies today for how these goals would be achieved.

To be fair, I had to leave before the whole speech was finished, so maybe I left before the well-reasoned plans stage.

But what I was really left with was the realization that the pundits in some ways have called this one all along. I need to choose between a proven record and tremendous promise. I need to choose between is uncanny in his ability to inspire--and experience--because I think it counts for a lot that H.illary already knows all the key players long-term. (Yeah, I drank the "day one" Kool-aid.)

All those little online "Who's Your Perfect Candidate?" quizzes put me squarely with Hi.llary (well, after Kucinich--more on him another day). I love the idea of voting for a woman, I thought she was awesome when I met her those zillions of years ago when she was campaigning for nothing, and she has, at the very least, done a better job of putting out her roadmap for the first priorities of her administration than has Obam.a.

But I am equally thrilled at the idea of voting for a person of color, who represents the changing face of America, whose book written before his candidacy showed someone who had experienced a variety of what this country has to offer, both through living in places as diverse as Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Illinois, and from living outside the US as well. His vision of America as a place where people can pitch in instead tuning out is a seductive one, and his devoted followers make me believe if someone can make that happen, it's him.

Which puts me back where I was 36 hours ago, before hearing either candidate. What will I choose: experience and policy, or inspiration and vision? Stage-show politics, or real, committed believers? Someone with few surprises, or someone with a shorter track record? Which is less likely to be torn apart by the Republicans? Is the country ready for a president younger than some of my sisters- and brothers-in-law? Would it behoove us to give the boomers just 16 years and tell 'em to move on?

I still don't know what I'll decide. I have more research to do. But I'm thrilled I saw 'em both. Now bring on

Filch It Friday

New meme, which I found thanks to Well Read Hostess, and created by Meg at Simply Nutmeg.

Want to join in the fun?
Here's how it works:
Write an original copy-cat version of the filched post. Don't just copy and paste their post!
Give credit to and link to the original author in your post.
Mention and link to Filch It Friday in your post.
Post on Friday and sign the Mr. Linky at Simply Nutmeg.
Every week visit the blogs that have filched and consider filching from them on the following Friday. Thus, we'll be creating memes within a carnival!

I am filching "PA as the next IA?" from Mary at trying to figure it out.

Thanks to the convoluted voter registration histories in our house, we have been getting calls for happening politically in our county. Ok, not quite true. O'Boyfriend seems to have written us off and has not called. (But I'm not bitter.) Even when he was at the school where my taxes go, we weren't called. Hill.ary, OTOH, is calling me about as often as my best friend in high school did in sophomore year (which is to say, about three times a day, every day). Alas, they tend to call at naptime--and CALL BACK if I don't pick up the first time. We even received a call inviting us to John McC.ain's local appearance, which unfortunately I missed due to atrocious behavior by my boys. Yesterday, during dinner, we got our second invite to a Clin.ton rally. Bingo. We were on it. When it became clear that Pennsylvania would actually be relevant this year, I set a goal of taking the boys to see all three major candidates.

Let the record show, I have not decided for whom I am voting. Having met Hi.llary a zillion years ago, I found her pretty amazing in person. (It was a low-stakes meet-n-greet at the time...she was a commencement speaker where I was working; I happened to get "speaker podium" detail as staff support that day. She was super-gracious, came in knowing my name from her secret service detail, and was just so much more gracious and charming than I ever anticipated that it's been hard to see her in only the way the media portrays her since.)

So I could have wept with progressive mom joy when both boys begged me for campaign buttons (one even choosing the hot pink "Hilla.ry rocks!" version and pinning it proudly to his t-shirt). When I was babysitting in high school, I remember the pride with which the mom of the family I sat for most often told me her son had gotten in trouble at day care because when one boy had said his father was a lawyer, her son had shouted back, "Your daddy can't be a lawyer! That's a MOMMY job!" and how hard it was to discipline him for the incident (which had escalated) on one hand while wanting to pop a champagne cork with the other. And this election is like that moment for me. I should learn from the quick rise of Ob.ama that perhaps this won't be such an anomalous election but I just want to plant it in my boys' subconscious minds that this isn't unusual, to have women and people of color in the running for president. (Hence my original goal to get them to every candidate before the election.)

But with that, a few thoughts for the Cl.inton campaign.

Wow, wow, wow, this is so clearly a campaign run by boomer women, it was hard as a Gen X-er not to feel like I'd crashed a reunion of all the moms I used to babysit for. Everywhere around, women at the +/-6 years of Hi.llary age are running around, mostly grim faced and without makeup, running everything from button sales to saying who might get in. The vibe was very much, "this is our candidate, it's her turn, and it's nice of you to be here but it's really our day." It was startling. I don't know what I expected exactly but I guess something less stereotypical.

The faux broad support is a little creepy. When one of the college newspapers around here endorsed Hillary, there were over 100 comments, mostly from people posing as college students, or at least not identifying themselves as with the campaign. But the dead giveaway, beyond the sycophantic echoing of the Hilla.ry talking points, was that no other article, including the ones having to do with things like banning alcohol, had more than 17 comments...let alone 50 in a row commending the editorial board for their sound, well-reasoned judgement. It was so Stepford, it really put me off. The equivalent at the rally today: when we got to our seats in the bleachers, there was a home-made looking poster with "Veterans (heart) Hi.llary!" that I was trying not to step on. "Oh, they just passed that back for someone to hold," we were informed. It's one thing to have campaign operatives trying to get "Hil-la-ry" chants going; it's another to be trying to fake grassroots support. And I think it's all the more jarring because Obam.a doesn't need to fake it at all if the pinko commie town where I live is any indication. (And I say pinko commie with love.)

How about a hand back? Continuing with the generational rage thing, I had at least three different women in their 50s suggest that perhaps this wasn't a great place to have brought my kids. I was one of perhaps 6 moms with preschool aged kids there. All of us but one were placed in spots around the gym that were patently un-kid-friendly, like high up in bleachers off the aisle, or smack-dab in the middle of rows of folding chairs. Would it kill them to put some space aside for moms? I know, it's unfair; I know I wouldn't be thinking that about Obam.a or Mc.Cain. But they haven't been moms of small kids. Hillar.y has. And as someone who's highlighting kids' issues, it would have been nice to see her be a little more sensitive to this. I'm also sure that if she did have a seating equivalent to "mommy parking" it would be blisteringly attacked as being either a ghetto or pandering and so they probably try to avoid the whole thing. So I'm not unaware of the potential pitfalls, but it would have set her apart from the others in a big way.

The treatment of the volunteers was crappy and half-a**ed. At one point, when there were maybe only 75 of us left in line, hoping to get in the building, one of the Boomerettes came by with signs, asking, "Where's my Visibility Volunteers?" and a couple of other Boomerettes flocked to her, asking what to do. Their charge was to "hold signs in groups in prominent places to show the enthusiasm of the crowd for the news media." Ok, some political pageantry and staging is fine. Not so fine: later, as I was waiting in the overflow gym to see if we'd get seats in the main area, those "visibility volunteers" trickled in to line behind me. These women had gotten out of the line from in front of us, most of them, to volunteer for this little play for camera people who weren't even filming until they got to the gym...and then for their enthusiasm, got screwed out of seats. Booooo.

So here's the irony: she was fantastic. She seemed well-rested, and maybe on a high from her Colber.t Report appearance, and was really by far the best speaker of the day. (A close second: Connie Williams, the representative for that high school.) The men who spoke laid it on too thick about how they met as 18 year old midshipmen, pandering to the high school crowd, and the congressman was unfortunately downright creepy in his speech. (He was trying to point out that working in the Bill C.linton White House, he got to observe first-hand Hilla.ry's great qualities, but it came out as truly stalkerish to a distracting degree.) Her comments were pointed but not strident, well-reasoned, and sensible. She lacked the direct connection I heard Ob.ama was able to make with the high school kids in his visit to a neighboring school--and frankly, the number of kids with Ob.ama buttons on was fascinating to see--but worked in some references to things that are relevant to kids on the cusp of adulthood without pandering. Alas, she started so late I had to leave before Q&A because my boys weren't going to make it any longer, so I missed that part. But the speech, despite being one I'm sure she's been giving for weeks, felt fresh and solid and yes, presidential.

Today's experience left me wondering: if I hadn't been seeing so many actual hand-made signs for, would the operative-produced ones have left me so uncomfortable? How much of the territoriality of the Boomerettes has scared off other potential supporters and volunteers? (H.illary's famously remarkable loyalty has cost her dearly in many ways--yes, Ma.rk Pen.n, I'm talking to you--and it's hard not to wonder if this isn't just another.) Even the guy selling buttons had a fakeness to him that was straight out of the Slick handbook, as he told every button buyer that she was getting his favorite. (Really. It's one thing to have something good to say about every button--"Isn't that a great picture of her?" "Don't you love the hot pink?"--but to say to every person, "Oh, yeah, that's my favorite too" is insanely off-putting. Especially when you are buying three of the five designs being sold.) It just echoed the "she'll say anything to get elected" criticism that is so often leveled. I left there as deeply disturbed by the microcosm of her campaign as I was impressed by her speech. Hill.ary the candidate impresses me. Hi.llary the campaign leaves me cold. And I have until Tuesday to wrestle with where that leaves me in the voting booth. I have the feeling lines will be long as Democrats stare in angst at the two levers, hoping they're pulling the one that will help end the Republican run in the White House...whoever that is. My neighbor jokes that his support was running on odd/even days, like the old gas rationing, but getting to be more rapid-cycling as the election got closer. He's not the only one.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Knew?

Hmm. On my daily bloghopping, I wandered over to Well Read Hostess and found myself tagged for a meme. This, I suppose, is what happens when you call yourself "MemeGRL" for fear of needing writing prompts. I was startled as I hadn't even realized WRH had been here (Hi Kristen!) but am happy to participate, and to steer you over to her, since her blog is flipping hilarious.

The Rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. Share six unimportant things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your entry.

Unimportant thing #1: I am secretly thrilled that our circa 1952 garage is too narrow to park my car AND open the door in at the same time. It gives me more space to junk up with things like freezers and bikes.

Unimportant thing #2: Last year I had some "mad money" and hired a gardener to plant bulbs all over my lawn, especially crocus since I adore them. The damn squirrels ate everything but the daffodils. Now I am just bitter about my lawn every spring...but my daffodils are gorgeous.

Unimportant thing #3: I'm totally intrigued by Twitter but can't help wondering: since my mom is dead, is there anyone left who really is interested in the updates on the minutiae of my day? Apparently so since strangers are signing up for my "feed."

Unimportant thing #4: TBBITW grew weary of the kids' music in the car and flipped to the '80s station. Now my kids ask for Bon Jovi, but in multiple ways...the latest being "John Moby."

Unimportant thing #5: It's been weeks since I stayed awake through Jon Stewart's guest in the original telecast. I just can't do it anymore. Distressing.

Unimportant thing #6: I am a somewhat obsessive recycler. I have stations on every floor (we're in a split level) for paper and plastic bags. This drives my husband crazy, who is a willing and eager participant on the main floor (kitchen etc.) but who really seems to feel like recycling the paper in the bedroom level is a bridge too far. This means I'm trying to stay one step ahead of him, mostly with things like dry cleaner bags and empty saline bottles, so I can get them to the appropriate recycling staging place in our house.

Don't Eat Baby
Your God Loves Me Too
Life in the Hundred Acre Wood (I know, you have a newborn, so take your time but sometimes prompts help when sleep deprived, right?)
Dream Kitchen
My Life as a SAHM
trying to figure it out

MPM---The Leftovers Edition

Here we are at the start of another week. Last week went pretty well; I forget how easy and what a big hit a roast turkey breast is with the family. Everything else went ok's what's coming up now...

Monday: Leftovers. Barefoot Contessa's brisket (sorry, Ina, this one just isn't a winner here. Shocking, really. There's a cranberry brisket recipe I really need to find, so alas, as easy as this one is, this is probably the last time we'll be making this recipe) and the best crockpot pork roast ever; sweet potatoes; spaghetti and meatballs.

Tuesday: New chicken recipe from Bon Appetit (thanks Country Mouse/City Mouse!)--roasted breasts with chickpeas. Broccoli. Quinoa pilaf.

Wednesday: Sloppy joes, baked potatoes, asparagus.

Thursday: Indian-spiced crockpot chicken from Don't Eat Baby, red lentils and asparagus from the "Delicious Living" magazine that is always free at two of my shopping places. Probably leftover sloppy joes and rice for my kids, but I can try.

Friday: Probably back to our usual pizza.

Weekend: we'll see. Leftovers, or maybe we'll get insanely lucky again. Last weekend, on Saturday night as I was trying desperately to summon the will to get off the couch to figure out what was for dinner, one of my sisters-in-law called, asking us to please please please come to dinner and bring containers. Ok then. We roused the boys, drove on out, and found she had invited all the other sibs and kids as well (so that was three adults and three teenage boys) plus a friend and her parents and a friend, her boyfriend, and his three kids, ages 10, 6, and 4. What was the occasion? She and her husband had hosted his family, plus her parents and one aunt & uncle for a lunch/dinner at 1pm. When everyone (~20) left, she found herself with a huge pot of meatballs in gravy (that's red sauce, if you aren't from around here and Italian), two lettuce salads, one with antipasti in it, macaroni salad, hot sausage and peppers, sweet sausage and peppers, two trays of deviled eggs, three trays of chicken (one lemon, two piccata), other stuff I can't think of right now...and, oh, yeah, dessert. Pistachio pudding whip straight outta my childhood, Italian Rum Cake (also straight outta my childhood), cookies cookies cookies, chocolates, and other stuff I couldn't absorb. AND we all left with goody bags. AND so did everyone who was at the first party. What a blessing. All I had to do was boil water last night and poof! Dinner for four. Hence all my own leftovers from last week for this week.

Wanna play? Go visit the Organizing Junkie (she's getting busy over there on Mondays!).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can't Resist This One--Four Foods Friday

#1. American cheese. Sliced fresh or prepackaged processed cheese product?

Little known fact: I grew up on government surplus cheese. No, really. Between my dad working for a school district, and therefore able to add personal bulk food orders to the district's, and (far more often) my grandfather standing in line for cheese and bringing it to us as though in trade for the dinners he'd share with us, I barely knew anything else existed. We always had a foot long block of cheese in the fridge and used one of those scrapey cheese thingees to get slices. So government surplus is really my favorite. It reminds me of my childhood.

#2. What is your favorite cracker?

Trader Joe's Rice Cracker rounds. I don't even let them in the house.

#3. What hot breakfast cereal do you like? Think oatmeal, farina, grits, etc.

Not many. If pressed, I guess oatmeal but none of them are big hits in my house.

#4. Share a recipe that uses corn.

OK, this is why I'm here. I LIVE for this recipe in summer. If Epicurious does nothing else for me ever again, this recipe will have been enough to earn my eternal gratitude.

Corn, Zucchini, and Tomato Pie
from Pot Pies: Comfort Food Under Cover | January 2000
Diane Phillips

This pie is made from the overflowing bounty of the backyard garden. Fresh corn and zucchini seasoned with dill bake underneath Parmesan-crusted tomatoes to make a scrumptious entrée that can be served warm or at room temperature.

Servings: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

3 cups fresh, or frozen and defrosted corn kernels
5 small zucchini, cut into matchstick pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill weed
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 to 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 13 by 9-inch ovenproof baking dish, combine the corn, zucchini, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the dill, and the melted butter, tossing to coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetable swith the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Remove it from the oven, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Wanna play? Click here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Amazing Posts Today You Should Read

It's Autism Awareness Day.

Read the Lemonade & Kidneys post here.

Read Domestic Goddess's post here.

And on a completely different note, Barack Obama spoke at our local high school today. Read the inside scoop at Well Read Hostess here.

You'll thank me later, really.

Someday I might get my act together enough to write about our nephew with autism. Or not. Even if I do, it won't be as eloquent or compelling as my friends' stories here.

And as you'll see in my comment from WRH, I will always remember this not as the day Obama dangled the idea of Gore as VP in his talk, but the day he sincerely implored support for early childhood education. I'm guessing he didn't know that his visit caused the host school to cancel preschool for the day. Leaving my boy without school today. (Fortunately, his cousin stepped in and said she'd take him for the day as I had to work and my husband, of all things, was at an accountability conference, and it looks really bad to back out of those.) A shame the little ones weren't there, really--my boy is cute. Would've been a heck of a photo op. I have a goal of taking the kids to see all the presidential candidates, but alas, they keep coming to our part of the state on days that I'm working. But there are almost three weeks until election day. Surely they'll be back.