Monday, October 31, 2011

A Maybe Misunderstanding...

...but from what I saw briefly in my look at the Google Reader blog, they are turning off not just sharing and liking but also following on Blogger.
To those of you who have been my followers, I thank you. Each one of you made me smile, and I hope I did that for you, too.
I'm not on Google Plus for several reasons, including that my Gmail account has been hacked twice, unlike any of my other email accounts, but if I figure out a way to get a MemeGRL Google+ account, I will hope to reconnect with my followers there.
I'll probably stick with this platform because this is not a time in my life for any more newness, so I hope we reconnect out there in cyberspace somehow. But I didn't want the features to evaporate completely without saying thanks. I'm so glad you're here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MPM--Let It ... wait what?

Ah, well. Man plans, God laughs...we were supposed to have a rustic fall weekend in New England, visiting our niece at boarding school (first one in our family to go, though her grandmother on the other side went too). And we got there, and had a lovely tour on a blue sky day, and then the snowstorm chased us home. I am a driving weather wuss and preferred dry roads over we had an unexpected "extra" weekend at home. Not that I am any more prepared for Halloween, or the week...

Monday: chili, with noodles or rice for under and for kids. Gotta be quick so we can get out trick-or-treating!

Tuesday: Lego build, so boys and I will eat out, dad will fend for himself

Wednesday: the long awaited sausage vamp with pesto quinoa for kids

Thursday: Taco Thursday

Friday: Last football game! If it isn't eleventy-billion below zero. Brr.

Last week went well, though I didn't get to either the sausage or pork ribs, so this week, I know better than to try. One night I made chicken nuggets, another night it was apples with peanut butter and rice on the side for the kids and something for my husband and me from the freezer. So I am recalibrating my expectations here. I'm going to keep trying to keep it simple and figure out how to recapture my kitchen mojo, which has about abandoned me here.

The lunches continue to go well, except that my older son keeps taking things from the cabinet that I have earmarked for lunches. This drives me crazy when there are other things here besides the nut-free, prepackaged, easy to send along things. But that's not a lunch problem, that's a kitchen storage problem. I'm working on it.

For more inspiration--try I'm an Organizing Junkie! And come back next week when maybe I'll have figured out how to do it all in one day and get some sleep too. Happy Halloween, & happy November!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MPM--The New Normal

So, here we are, settling in to October, all of us getting our rhythms. I still feel like I'm running to stand still a bit, but I'm getting there. And we lucked out with last week's dinners--on Sunday, we were invited to a block party celebrating a 40th birthday. As late arrivers, we became the de facto "clear off the street" crew, and as such, the lucky recipients of lots of party food. Spicy meatballs, palak paneer, cucumber and tomato was a good week. So some of last week will come to this week, which is fine by me.

I'm in a bit of a pork rut. It just seems like such a fall meat, doesn't it?

Monday: Slow Cooker BBQ ribs, CSA veggies (almost done for the season, sniff)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, of course. Ahh.

Wednesday: rescheduled from last week: riffing from a Trader Joe's sample: TJ's bratwursts in a skillet with apples and onions, cooked down in spiced cider, mashed potatoes, something vegetably (wish me luck, if you read here much at all, you know "riffing" is not a strong point for me)

Thursday: Please, God, let there be leftovers.

Friday: something fallish. Football game, or birthday party, or something fun...we'll see when we get there.

So, my older son is in the midst of a taste renaissance. He is all about raw onions (!) and trying new things. Last week, stir fry, this week, he asked for fish. Alas, I didn't get him any, but he did try the spicy meatballs from the party and loved them. And in an equally stunning development, Mr. Picky tried the spicy meatballs too. He didn't like them, but a bite crossed his lips. I'm shamefaced that this is what it has come to, but that passes for food excitement around here. They also both loved the pork that didn't quite work, in my estimation (the Chinese carnitas) so that was good news all around as well.

The lunchbox challenge, however, is suffering. By Friday morning, there wasn't a chance in the world of lunch being ready to go out the door, so my son danced off, $2.30 in hand, to eat the mystery chicken, a roll, and milk for lunch. Next week is another week.

For better menu plans than this, try I'm an Organizing Junkie! And see you next week for Halloween and November. November! You'd think I wouldn't be surprised, with the Christmas countdown getting so low, but somehow, it's sneaking up on me again.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just Ask. What's On Your List?

My grandmother died of ovarian cancer. It's a nasty, brutish thing. My best friend is battling breast cancer, the inflammatory kind, and it's a sword of Damocles, hanging over both of us (her more than me, clearly, but the worry is constant for all who love her, too). Just Ask! is a group dedicated to helping families create awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. And they have a lulu of a giveaway, creating publicity for their organization. They are asking people to list 15 items on their bucket lists in a blog post. Here are mine:


Kissed Jimmy Osmond. (Don't hate.)

Had a backstage pass to a rock concert.

Married the man of my dreams.

Worked dream job.

Went to Ireland with the extended family.

Went to Hawaii with the other side of the family.

Went to Disneyworld with the kids when they were young enough for the magic to be real.

New Year's Eve in Times Square. (Once is enough but I'm glad I did it.)

Drove the California coast in a red convertible Mustang.

Paid someone else's bill for something they couldn't afford. (It was anonymous, so no more details here, but: if you can do this, ever: DO IT.)

"Breathed" underwater on a helmet dive with my mom. (Most people dream of flying. I dream of breathing underwater, and every time I do, I wonder why I freak out so much about it, because it's really not hard at all.)

Raising kids in the town I grew up in, giving them experiences I loved and ones I never had.

Asked Stephen Colbert a question he clearly loved answering. (We went to a taping of his show in Philadelphia and before they started, they ask the audience to submit questions. They chose mine as one of the ones they'd use to warm up the group. The question was: What's your favorite Sunday School lesson to teach? And he was totally psyched to talk about it, which was really fun. The answer is: when Jesus told the apostle Peter to walk on water in the storm. Peter did, then actually thought about it, and then sank in the water. "It's the only example of physical comedy in the Bible," he quipped. True or not, he had us in stitches, describing the lesson.)

Oh, I am almost embarrassed to be posting this. I am so, so lucky to have had these chances and opportunities to make these choices. But I believe in the power of dreaming things in to life. Most of these experiences started as a vision and morphed in to reality over time and with effort. Oprah & company call it "the Secret." I'm not so sure I believe in "the Secret" hook, line, and sinker, but I do believe you have to have an idea of what you want if you want to get it. Sometimes you get what you want. Sometimes you don't. (note, for example, the lack of "see a taping of the Oprah Show" on this list.) And sometimes, you get something even better. (see Stephen Colbert, above.) But every one of those ideas started as just that: an idea. So I'm entering this because all of the prizes are things that either my kids (Universal!) or I (ski Park City!) would love to do. Hence, the 15 bucket list items.

Much of the rest of my list is travel too:

I've been to 45 states and would love to make it to 50 by age 50. (That gives me just over 7 years. Should be possible, right?)
-New Orleans with my hubby
-Alaska cruise with my family
-Montana with my friend Nina
-and New Mexico and Oregon somewhere in there.

Outside the US: Iceland. (No, I don't know why.) Australia & New Zealand. Asia (specifically China, Japan, and Vietnam. So, you know, a week or two. HA!). More of Europe. London with my kids. The Galapagos and Antarctica.

Closer to home: See a taping of Saturday Night Live. Host a Wednesday Spaghetti for my block. Create a storywalk in my town. Either run a 5K fundraiser or do one of those 2- or 3-day walks. Get the whole extended family to go bowling. See Lora in an improv performance. And divide the family photos among folks who would care.

There are more, but they are so universal (I think) I hate to mention them (like "live to see my grandkids" for example). But I do think that writing things down makes them more likely to happen. Not unlike my weekly menus, it's good to have a written guide to go back to. What's yours? What's keeping you?

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to to get the details.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MPM--October Randomness

Here we are in filet of October. The weather has finally turned, the leaves are following suit, and while the pace is definitely faster than I'm used to, I love most of it. Some of the soccer practices, I can live without. But the running around outside? The rejuvenated dog? The boys who think raking is fun? Hot chocolate but no bulky blankets at football games? I live for this.

Monday: Leftover pork, rice, and probably beets, I have a bunch to roast.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, naturally.

Wednesday: Dad's choice. Mama's working. (Hah! That will mean chicken nuggets and pretzels for the kids, and Trader Joe's mac and cheese for dad. Betcha $1.) Though I have had requests for lasagne for dad and pesto quinoa for kids, so I will try to do that if I can get my act together before then.

Thursday: riffing from a Trader Joe's sample: TJ's bratwursts in a skillet with apples and onions, cooked down in spiced cider, mashed potatoes, something vegetably (wish me luck, if you read here much at all, you know "riffing" is not a strong point for me)

Friday: we scatter to the winds. One to a birthday party, the rest probably to the football game, either way: not much cooking for me, and probably leftovers if anything.

Also: our CSA has been very eggplant heavy so I was happy to see this recipe in Mark Bittman's dinner party matrix. Because I love my eggplant tomato sauce, but I have had enough of that. And I love it grilled, but grilling season is mostly over. And I'm eager to try the minty eggplant dip of Catherine Newman, but I am a ninny about guessing how to change things and don't have a broiler. So I might try the chickpea and eggplant stew recipe...we'll see. But I'm not losing another eggplant, that's for sure. Too yummy. So of course in making the NYTimes recipe I got distracted and forgot to dredge in flour, so now I feel incompetent to make a real judgement call on the recipe. Maybe it would have held together a little better with the flour, but as is, it worked. But--I would feel like someone who tried to serve it to me for a main dish (if that person was not a known vegan) would have some nerve. But it was a fine Chinese-ish style preparation with just enough kick to interest my hubans.

Meanwhile, last week I ran out of time to make the pork on its designated night and tried a chicken stir fry instead. I got the (raw) stir-fry sliced chicken at my market (yay, no touching raw meat) and used the Trader Joe's frozen stir fry veggies. After casing a few recipes, I fried the chicken in oil, added veggies, and when done, tossed in about a tablespoon of hoisin and a few tablespoons of soy sauce. And to my immense shock, my older one loved it, especially the edamame. So that's exciting: another easy freezer meal that 3/4 will eat. Wahoo! (And at least the picky one will eat rice.)

Interestingly (well, to me, anyway), I made the Chinese carnitas again and I seem to recall this is the second time that I have had a hard time getting it down to the sticky, dark brown glaze that the photo shows. The first time I made it, I was beating myself up for not reading carefully and boiling (lid on) for the first 90 minutes, and I think I turned it down for the next 90. But that was the only time I got it to the sticky glaze point. I also think I used 4lbs of bone-in ribs and swore I'd never make that mistake again, because the meat was so good we wanted more. But I think maybe with more meat (I used 3+ lbs of bone in, and 1 lb of boneless, which I didn't think would throw it off) it's harder to get that glaze. It's not a disaster; it's still really good pork, even without the glaze. But the glaze was the "so good it will make you cry" part of the original post. Without the glaze, it's just a stovetop version of my awesome crockpot pork roast with ginger. Sigh.

The lunchbox challenge remains challenging. At least I have one child who likes the same thing every day; the other one gets tired of things quickly. No sandwiches, no peanuts, no tree nuts, no hummus. And it has to be something he can eat fast because he cannot wait to get outside. So. There is that. He raved about a certain yogurt, put three multipack cartons in my cart at the store, and I thought, fine, that's easy, and one excellent lunch choice down...and halfway through the first carton, he was done. Booo. He might come back to them. He might not.

So, for more impressive menus, try I'm an Organizing Junkie! and check back here for my cooking misadventures to see how the week goes.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Good thing I got that "Red October" reference in last week because wow, those Phils let us down in a big way. My husband is in a deep funk which will last until after the series. I am somewhat relieved because this is weeks of his time I have back. (He's a blogger for The Good Phight, a Phillies blog, and in season, it's a real second job for him.)

But last week, the second job around here was mine. It went well, though it was drinking from a fire hose as far as learning, but that was to be expected. The people are nice, the job is interesting, and I feel very, very blessed to have found this spot. But. It means by dinnertime, my brain cells are shot, so hooray for an easy week, and hooray for this blog, which gave me a nice archive of Stuff We Like now that I don't have time to focus on it.

This week:

Monday: Chinese-Style Pork Carnitas, rice, broccoli

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, of course

Wednesday: otherwise known as my son's birthday! We'll go out for Chik-Fil-A--his choice.

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Football night, I hope.

Easy week, but last week kicked my tush so I need it!

So, last week, I was looking for our pumpkin muffin recipe (and by "ours" I mean "the internets'"; thank you Donna at AllRecipes, whoever you are) and found two totally craveworthy recipes I had forgotten about. One was Pork Roast with Apples and Cider Cream Gravy, and the other was Chinese-Style Pork Carnitas. All three are on my sidebar now, for you to enjoy as well. I adore them both and was happy last week to have had all I needed but the pork for the cider-cream one. Yu-hum.

Besides re-pointing me to fall favorites, I was glad I made the muffins; they were popular in lunches all week. This is my new "deceptive way to feed them something healthy" trick of the week since the moment of the squeezers is over, alas. So the lunchbox challenge is, in fact, a little more challenging but I'm muddling through. I did feel grateful for my Martha Stewart Moment when I actually made pumpkin puree and froze it for just such an emergency but the banana muffin mix from Trader Joe's was just as popular.

Blogging time is a little more restricted for me so not much other news to report. Have a great week and check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for the best collection of meal plans on the web. No, seriously. It totally is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

MPM--Red October

SO, here we are, new month, new job, new routines all over the place. But some old ones will stay: I had to laugh at a Facebook post last week. Apparently there is Taco Tuesday happening all over our burbs! One of my friends' status was "Taco Tuesday!" and five more of us chimed in, three of who all do Taco Tuesdays every week. And here I thought it was just us.

This week:

Monday: Celebrating the first day on the new job. Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies from the CSA.

Tuesday: It's gotta be tacos, right? The fun part of this is that last week, the kids and I were at the playground and my husband did the prep and threw in revolutionized the meal. My older one wants onions in with the meat AND raw all over the top. He is in a huge onion stage and we are happy to oblige, even if his breath could slay dragons.

Wednesday: chicken nuggets and roasted carrots for the kids, and Trader Joe's chicken soup and garlic bread for the parents.

Thursday: Leftovers.

Friday: In a huge, huge karmic gift (maybe), my husband was gifted tickets to Game 5 of the NLCS. If they play it. So the jury is out. There is a football game, a soccer tournament, and a playoff game...this is an eat-on-the-fly night to the nth degree.

I know, no real inspiration here anymore. Sorry.

The lunchbox challenge is going strong...wish me luck this week. My son did buy lunch one day last week so I couldn't get away with it the whole month, but that was a long shot anyway. Still, back to it this week...I'm making muffins again, I throw in healthy stuff, he doesn't know it, and thinks he's getting away with something.

And I'm weeks behind on the Holiday Grand Plan, and probably will remain this way. But I am off to pull out the Halloween stuff in one last minute push to normalcy before things change again. I will miss these at home days, somewhat. And I can't wait to restart the career I loved. In a telling moment, I dreamed I was rehired at my old job the other morning and went through the whole thing: the travel, the assessment, the meetings--it was a subconscious review of everything I know about my profession. And I woke up smiling. I'm ready.

For actual creativity in meal planning, go see I'm An Organizing Junkie!