A Don't List for 2010

From the Cozi Family Website:

A Don't List for 2010
by Martha Brockenbrough

Martha shares 15 things to NOT do in 2010
  1. Don’t forget to take time off.
  2. Don’t forget to try new things—new restaurants, new stores, new recipes.
  3. Don’t clean where no one looks.
  4. Don’t compare your house or your kids or your life with anyone else’s.
  5. Don’t hang on to things you don’t need, things that don’t work, or things that aren’t useful or beautiful.
  6. Don’t volunteer for anything with subcommittees.
  7. Don’t try to repair a bedroom ceiling with super glue.
  8. Don’t over-bake the chocolate chip cookies.
  9. Don’t stay up late just because you’re a grownup. Falling asleep at 8 p.m. can be awesome.
  10. Don’t read magazines just because you subscribed. Magazines aren’t homework.
  11. Don’t turn on the TV just to see what’s on. Read a book, have a conversation, or get some sleep instead.
  12. Don’t hang on to old jeans that are too tight, underwear with holes, or bras that pinch.
  13. Don’t offer to do something you don’t really want to do.
  14. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t want to talk to anyone.
  15. Don’t forget to nap if you need to.
Get your family organized and on the same page with Cozi, the free online family organizer.
-Martha Brockenbrough

Best Christmas EVER!!!


LOL! This is really true. This year has been so tough for me mentally, and this season in particular. Usually Christmas is my favorite holiday. As The Ghost of Christmas Present sings "Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas." This is how I feel. But, like I said, this year has been tough. Mentally, financially. You name it.

But...

Let me tell you a little story. Christmas eve has come, and there are gifts under the tree (modest gifts, but gifts, nonetheless). We've eaten our traditional rib roast. We have company over and we are watching our traditional Christmas Eve movie: White Christmas.

Morgaine calls to tell me she's just over an hour away from home and to be looking for her. Life is good. Five minutes later...FIVE MINUTES...I get a phone call from an unknown phone number. I answer and it is Morgaine, crying. She has wrecked the car and is calling to tell me that she's sorry. I ask her if she's ok, and she mumbles "yes" and apologizes (again) for wrecking the car. I tell her I don't care about the car...I just want to make sure she is ok.

Mom and I get in the car...Pat and Steven stay home and see Frostie (our guest) off. Just outside of Mesquite...now in the state of AZ on our way to Utah, the Utah Highway Patrol calls my cell to tell me that Morgaine has had an accident and that they are transporting her to Dixie Regional Hospital in St. George, UT. About 30 minutes later we arrive there and they are just releasing Morgaine, who has a concussion, whiplash, and some bruises, BUT IS OK.

By this time it is officially Christmas in Utah, and by the time we get home, it is Christmas. What Morgaine remembers is this: she saw something in the road (an animal? we may never know and she says it gets foggy when she tries to focus on it) and swerves. She overcorrects and goes into the median, which is a big V. At this point the car starts rolling and ends up on its roof in oncoming traffic. Luckily the people coming towards her see her in time and stop. She manages to get out of the car by unhooking her seatbelt and crawling through the back. The people who have stopped get her out of the road and wait with her until UHP gets there. She used their phone to call me.

UHP decided no one was at fault, so there was no ticket issued. She had to stay up all night because of the concussion (why can't you sleep if you have a concussion?). Her eyes were all screwy until about 24 hours later, and of course she had a massive headache.

UHP, First Responders, and Emergency Room Doctors all told her that she is extremely lucky to be alive.

Which is my Christmas present. My daughter is alive and I am so incredibly grateful. And grateful is all I can feel. Part of me keeps thinking I should feel awful about this...just another straw on the camel's back. But all I feel is lucky and grateful that my daughter is here and safe and alive.

So our modest Christmas turned out awesome. Every time I tell someone how great my Christmas was, I get this look..."oh, how awful!" But, they just don't get it. I almost lost her, but I didn't.

Thank you for that, Powers that Be...

Happy [Insert Holiday Here]

Happy Holidays! We are getting ready to celebrate a non-denominational Christmas here. That is to say, we celebrate Christmas, but not really in a Christian type way. We do believe in a higher power, but are not so completely convinced of all the Christian hype. I guess you could say we are kind of agnostic, but maybe not. :)

We are desperately trying to get our finances in order here. We have stopped using the bank, which at times is extremely inconvenient, but since our income has been so reduced, it is really a very visual way of keeping track of how much money we actually have. I have hardly been working (kind of by choice, though) through the holidays--I am still writing for the paper, but I've backed off of Demand Studios a bit. I will probably write a couple of articles this week to cover my son's allowance, but I am building myself up to a new start as of Jan 1, 2010. This is also with our food consumption.

I have been struggling with depression for the last 4 years (almost exactly--since Dec 2005), and I am trying to find a way to "snap out of it." I am tired of feeling like this, and I am hoping I can muster up enough strength to change what I can change. As far as diet goes, that means mostly vegetarian--which isn't really a problem, because I like this lifestyle--it has just been easier to fall back on easy meat meals, because they mostly involve throwing something in the oven (which works when I can barely function). My goal is to get a bunch of meals in the freezer so that I have the same option of throwing something in the oven.

Money. Well, we are in the process of filing bankruptcy. This isn't someplace I wanted to go, but it seems to be the only way I can get my mortgage company to pay attention. So, we are doing a Chapter (whichever one allows you to pay back--not just clear the slate--13, I think). The point is that we are paying our bills--we are just trying to get a bit of relief. Hubby has been working, although only 3 days a week. Actually, he has mostly been working 5 days a week except for the holiday weeks since September. But only 3 days a week for the 9 months prior. And perhaps it was folly for me to quit my job at the bakery, but honestly--I truly believe that staying would have killed me. My blood pressure, which has ALWAYS been on the low side jumped to the way high side, and I am sure it was the stress of my job.

Anyway, for me this is normally a great time of year, and while my emotions have been fluctuating by extremes, for the most part it hasn't been too bad. And I am hoping that everyone else's holidays aren't any worse than mine. So Happy Holidays to you. May your days be Merry and Bright.

I probably won't "see" you until next year, but let's get together then. And start fresh.

Oh, That Darned Economy

You know, in the 90's, when we were in a recession--I don't really remember feeling stressed or strapped. This time around, though, things seem so much worse. Two of our family friends have filed bankruptcy and are (or have already) giving up their homes and moving out of town. One has already moved--where there was a job available. The other couple is moving when school gets out--closer to their families.

We are still struggling along with our mortgage company, who seems to lose our paperwork on a regular basis, so we have to keep sending in new paperwork. We have been trying to workout our payments with them, since my dear husband worked reduced hours for 9 months out of the last 12. He is working full time right now (thank goodness!), but we got behind on all of our payments in that time.

We had our Christmas Cookie Swap this past weekend. It was kind of bittersweet because it seems like time together with these friends is coming to an end. And of course, we missed the ones that have already moved away.

I don't know what is going to happen. I am plugging along with my writing, which helps, but is (so far) not consistent in its money-making qualities. The Christmas season is upon us, and I am feeling--not sad, exactly--more like melancholy. We are lucky in that several years ago we sat down as a family and "reworked" Christmas. One gift per person (from each person). Not loads of gifts. Sometimes that has been hard--but this year I am thankful for it. Money-wise it has taken some stress off of the lack of dollars in our home this year.

I guess I'm just rambling. I am already missing my friends, and they haven't even gone yet.

Carol of the Bells

or What I Did Today.

The Lost City Museum had its annual holiday open house today. I was assigned to cover it for the newspaper. It really is one of the coolest places around. It really is one of the reasons that I love living in a small town.

But, anyway, the high school choir performed one of my favorite songs, and I happened to have my handy, dandy, camera--thingee which also videotapes handy, so I taped it.

Beautiful.



Merry Christmas. Or Happy Holidays. Whichever you prefer. Have a lovely Winter Solstice...

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

This is really my most favoritest Christmas movie, EVER. I wish I had it on dvd, but alas...it is only available on vhs, and even then it is hard to find. Watch in order!




Holidays in Hand

Have you missed me? Just a little? Well, anyway...

I've missed being here. But I've actually been hard at work....wait for it....WORKING!! I know, crazy, right?

I've been writing articles like crazy. Both for my local newspaper and for Demand Studios. I should actually be working right now, but I thought I would stop in and let you know what's been going on.

First:
I signed up for this great scrapbooking class at JessicaSprague.com called Holidays in Hand. You can keep an eye on my progress by checking out my other blog NVScrapper - Holidays in Hand.


Second:
Boy Scouts. I probably don't need to say more, but I will. We are doing a crazy big fundraiser, and each time we need to show up somewhere, someone is sick or at another function and can't be there, and we end up with two scouts. On top of that, even though we've had high hopes for this fundraiser, we have had one problem after another. First, our product was delivered almost a full week after our first scheduled table-top fundraiser, then we were missing product from the delivery, and by the way--two of the cases of product were damaged beyond belief. Steven and I are going door to door today after school to see what we can sell. We have one more scheduled fundraiser on Wednesday. Hopefully all those last minute shoppers will stop and support us, because after that it is up to the boys to get out and sell.

Third:
Well, did you know this week is Thanksgiving? We've been going through cookbooks here trying to come up with the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner. I think it's going to be awesome.

Those are the big things. With a lot of little things thrown in there. Cookie swap comes to mind. Homework. Oh, yeah, my writing work. Here, there, everywhere...

Muppet Christmas Carol - Scrooge

I am really getting into the Holiday spirit. And since Christmas is my favorite, I just have to share my favorite Christmas movie. Every song in this movie is awesome, but I do love this one.

It's a Cookie Swap!


Yay! The holidays are here and I am working on our 2nd annual cookie swap. We are at a high this year with 13 people participating. We will have a potluck dinner and swap out cookies. We don't really have a lot of rules--just a "step it up" rule. That means, you can make chocolate chip cookies, but if you do--step it up. Make them really special.

Robin over at RobinsWeb has some handy tips to host your own cookie swap:

Important Cookie Exchange Planning Tips!
1) Send the invitations out a month before the party. Everyone's calendar fills up fast in December! I hold my Maryland party on Sunday afternoon. All the dads can watch the kids from the sofa in front of the football game. (Except my husband, he has to the leave the house and entertain the kids, he traditionally takes them to the movies.) The California ladies prefer a week-end evening. For your first exchange, take a poll and see what your attendees prefer.

2) Tell everyone to bake their cookies at least three days in advance. The biggest reason for no-shows is that they didn't have time to bake their cookies. This is the busiest time of year. Don't be upset if people that rsvp and say they are coming don't show up. I always invite way more than I expect to show. The average number that usually shows up for me is anywhere between 13-20. One year I had 23 confirmed and only 12 showed up. Usually two or three days before the exchange I say to myself "If this wasn't my party, I probably wouldn't go, I'm too busy!"

Another reason to bake the cookies early is so that they can "dry out" a bit. A freshly baked cookie is not a good cookie to transport. When we're swapping, we're piling different types of cookies on top of each other and the fresh ones crumble terribly, especially if it's a fragile cookie to begin with. After the cookies have been baked, they should sit out all night on a rack to cool and loose their moisture, with a piece of wax paper over them. Then you can put them into a cookie tin, with wax paper under and over them and between the layers.
I'm keeping my list here, so it's easy for everyone to find. You can ignore this part if you aren't part of my swap. :)

Cookies
  1. Whitney — Pomegranate Linzer Cookies
  2. Vicki — Frosted Sugar Cookies
  3. Eva —Chocolate Mint Cookies
  4. Lisa — Chocolate Pinwheels
  5. Julie —Russian Tea Cakes Julie's had to drop out, but I am taking her cookies anyway--feel free to participate!
  6. Victoria —Pepparkakor Cookies
  7. Jocelyn — Rocky Road Candy
  8. April —
  9. Holly —
  10. Kara —
  11. Cindy —
  12. Stacey — Italian Fried Cookies
  13. Mary Beth —Poppy Seed Cookies
Dinner
  1. Whitney — Salad
  2. Vicki — Penne Rustica
  3. Lisa — Salad
  4. Julie — Garlic Bread
  5. Victoria — Sparkling Grape Juice/Punch
  6. Jocelyn — Cheese & Crackers or Chips & Dip
  7. Carol — Cheese & Crackers or Chips & Dips
  8. April — Bottle of 7-UP or Sprite
  9. Holly — Orange Juice
  10. Kara — Sparkling Grape Juice/Punch
  11. Cindy — Veggie Side Dish
  12. Mary Beth — Garlic Bread

Jelly Making


So, I've been kind of caught up in this whole jelly making thing. You might even call it slightly obsessed. It started out innocently enough...I just wanted to make pomegranate jelly. But then I needed to get creative, so I started looking online for "creative" pomegranate jelly recipes.

And, by the way, there aren't a lot.

So then I started looking at jelly recipes at RecipeZaar. I started by searching "jelly" which gives some 650 results, but not necessarily all jelly recipes. Many of them just have jelly in the title (think PB&J). So then I clicked on one of those jelly recipes and, down at the bottom of the page, clicked on the jellies category. This brought the total down a little to around 250 recipes.

But now that I've browsed hundreds, maybe even thousands of recipes, I've got the bug. The jelly and jam bug. And not for your normal jelly or jam recipe. Nooooooo....I want to make the weird ones. The ones that make people say "What is this again?"

I started with the Pomegranate Wine Jelly. Yep, my own recipe. Because, hello...wine and pomegranate juice...in a jelly...really....I made a bunch of this. I used two different wines that I had in my little wine refrigerator: a pinot grigio (which is my favorite wine, ever) and a white zinfandel (which is the wine for non-wine drinkers). I had a huge bottle of the white zinfandel. It had been in the cupboard for at least two years (for two reasons: I don't really drink white zin--it was a gift--and it was too big to fit in the wine fridge). Both of these jellies are to die for...just the perfect amount of pomegranate zing with a dash of tipsy grape thrown in at the end.

And then I made regular pomegranate jelly. Because my darling son (who is NOT 21) wanted pomegranate jelly for his PB&J's. And toast. So, there you go. It was a necessity.

But then I had one little cup of pomegranate juice left. Just one. Not enough to make another batch of plain pomegranate jelly. And I already had a LOT of pomegranate wine jelly. So I got creative. I'd already bookmarked the (ummm, weird!) recipe for Mountain Dew Jelly. Because I have a couple of friends who are addicted to the stuff. So, I just decided to get a bit creative. And this is the result of that experiment: Pomegranate Mountain Dew Jelly. I did this in pint jars rather than 1/2-pint jars, because, well...I don't have THAT many friends who would dare try it...and I ended up with four jars. And it actually tastes pretty darn good!

And then there is the Tang Jelly (The Drink of Astronauts!). This one is just so out there that I had to try it. See, I have these Boy Scouts...well, one of them in particular just cannot go on a camping trip unless there is tang along. He drinks it hot in the morning. Which I think is gross, but honestly, I remember liking tang as a kid, so I've given him the benefit of the doubt. I made this as Christmas gifts for those scouts...in homage to him. And I tasted it. It really is pretty good, as a jelly.

And now my son, who thinks Mountain Dew Jelly is probably gross, is stuck on the idea of Dr. Pepper Jelly. And I'm thinking Root Beer Jelly might be a nice addition to our Soda Jelly Collection.

Help me! I'm jelly and I can't get up!

Now I've bookmarked recipes like:The only thing holding me back is the trip to the store to buy more jars and pectin...Oh Lord...

Bookmarked Recipes 10/28/09

I have a pumpkin roasting in the oven right now, and I am perusing the various forms it can take. These recipes sound particularly yummy!

A New Blog?

I'm tossing around the idea of starting a blog similar to Stephanie O'Dea's A Year of Slow Cooking. Not necessarily with crockpots, though. Does anyone have ideas of what they might like to see? I am tossing around a couple of ideas, but I am always open for more:
  • Bread (a bread a day)
  • Putting Up Stuff (I obviously need a better name!)--which would be canning, freezing, and drying food--putting it up to use later
  • Lunchbox lunches (which would really only be 5 days a week)
  • Breakfast--something I need to do better on eating.
  • 365 Days of Vegetarian Meals. This would be interesting, because it is really something I would like to learn more about. But it is so easy to fall back on meals with meat in them.
Please share your ideas! I am open to pretty much anything. And you are welcome to leave your opinion in the comment section. :)

Pomegranates


It's that time of year again. The weather is cooling down and fall is in the air. And in the desert of Southern Nevada, the pomegranates are ripe. Some people find it somewhat easy to grow things in this desert--but I am not one of them. I am surrounded by miles of clay that I can't seem to grow a darn thing in. And my attempts at container gardening have been less than dismal.

When we moved into this house, the property was lined with pomegranate trees. Twenty-one, to be exact. These beauties grow with almost no help from me. The pomegranates at the front of our property line the irrigation ditch that flows with overflow irrigation water from the hay and alfalfa fields that dot the valley. The pomegranates up the side of the driveway capture the overflow water from our neighbors trees, which line the other side of our fence. I don't even have to water them!

Pomegranates sell at a premium in the grocery store, selling for as much as $2.50 each. Many years earlier I had been gifted quite a lot of pomegranates. After calling my grandma on proper jellying procedures (or, in this case, jam), I ended up with cases of gorgeous pink jam which my husband happily handed out at work. The past several years I have been too overwhelmed to pick all the pomegranates and then make them into juice, so I let friends and neighbors harvest my bounty.

Two years ago, my husband chopped down the most sickly looking trees. The next year they came back healthy and strong looking. No fruit, though. This year the trees were dripping with the most gorgeous pomegranates. I was still intimidated by the idea of harvesting all those rosy globes, juicing them, and then processing them into some type of nectar for the Gods.

But fate was on my side.

Several enterprising Boy Scouts stopped by and said they would pick my pomegranates for me, separating the good ones from the bad. I only had to contribute to their National Jamboree Fund. In less than a day, I had mounds of beautiful pomegranates just waiting to be juiced. I called some friends because I just knew there was no way I would be able to use all those pomegranates myself.

I was left with enough pomegranates to collect around three gallons of ruby red juice. Beautiful! Now I just needed to come up with some exciting recipes to start creating my nectars of the gods.

There are many, many recipes out there for basic pomegranate jelly. I have that recipe down, though, so I was looking for something more exotic. Something that would tempt Persephone to do more than just nibble.

Exotic recipes are few and far between. So I made up my own.

I came across several wine jelly recipes that sounded divine. I adapted several for my own use, using a lovely Pinot Grigio and adding some of that luscious ruby red juice. I ended up with an amazing jelly--with hints of both the white grapes and the red pomegranates.


Pomegranate Jelly

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups wine (your choice)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar

Directions
  1. Combine wine, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and pectin in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  2. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Skim foam off top, if necessary.
  4. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Tighten 2 piece lids.
  5. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath.
*Note--you can use any kind of wine you like.

She - Tenpenny Joke

I am completely infatuated by this band, and by this song in particular. I don't know what it is about it--but it's stuck in my head--huh, kinda like the song says.



Anyway--awesome band from Australia. I just love the internet. Don't you?

Angela Lansbury


There's an Angela Lansbury movie marathon in TCM today. I've watched two (so far), and I'm left wondering if Angela always plays second string. She's so beautiful, but she never gets the guy.


The first movie was The Harvey Girls. A classic Judy Garland movie. Of course, she's the star, so she gets the guy. But Angela's got the moves, the voice, and the body. Well, I guess Judy's got the voice too--and she is a petite little thing. But Angela's got verve.

The next movie was The Hoodlum Saint. Esther Williams, William Powell, and Angela Lansbury. Angela's character Dusty will do anything to get her man, but he still ends up with the other girl. Dusty even saves him from going to jail, but darn it--he just prefers the other girl. What's the matter with these men?

Sicko


Sicko is a movie by Michael Moore. And I am loving it because after hearing how bad Canadians have it with their health care system, he actually asked them. Turns out, they are scared to come here because it costs so much. And they don't get charged for anything. And they don't have to wait forever to get treated. Crazy!

Everyone should watch this. Big Healthcare (Insurance and Drug Companies) here have 4 times as many lobbyists on the hill as another other business. And they have convinced us how awful it would be to have a national healthcare. Crazy!

We are so consumed by believing what we are told on tv, by the pundits, that we have stopped thinking for ourselves. Go out and learn the truth people. I may not be right, but at least I ask the questions.

Don't believe what the pundits are telling you. Find out for yourself. Read the bills that are going into congress. Call your congressman. Write them. Do something.

Do something.

Pawn Stars???

Have you ever watched this show? I have to admit, I am a reality tv junkie. It's my not-so-secret vice. Anyway, I've watched it a couple of times and it has given me a slightly different perspective on pawn shops. In that, I really wasn't aware that pawn shops bought things straight out from people. I thought they just offered you ridiculously low prices on items you brought in expecting to get back. Anyway, I didn't know that they bought things straight out.

One of the main guys on the show keeps talking about how they are trying to change people's opinions about pawn shops, and it certainly seems like he is offering fair prices for the cool items that people bring in on the show. And since I live near Las Vegas, and I happen to have some jewelry that I no longer wear, and I have a need for some quick cash to make sure my mortgage is covered, I thought I would stop by and see what the real story is.

And it was quite a bit different from the tv show.

Mind you, my husband has to be at work at 7am, and my son and I drove into Vegas with him (hello, have you seen the price of gas?). I also needed to stop by my mother-in-law's house to pick up Steven's birthday present. So we had a relatively open day, but in the interest of saving gas, it had to be...hubby's work, pawn shop, mother-in-law's house, bank, pick up hubby. It worked out to be kind of a circle around Vegas (the Gold & Silver Pawnshop is in downtown Vegas and not really near anywhere else I had to be that day).

We hung around hubby's work for a while, and finally made it over to the pawn store around 8:30 am. While the phone book says the store is open 24 hours, that really isn't true. The pawn store itself doesn't open until 10 am, and if you want to sell stuff to them you should either come back after 10am or resign yourself to doing business through a door with a plexiglass window. Which is what I did. It felt kind of like a drug deal. And it didn't help that two scary looking guys started hanging around that door as soon as I stuck my jewelry through the slot.

The guy inside separated my gold from my silver and weighed everything. Then offered me $410 for the whole lot. Now mind you, I had already decided I wouldn't take less than $800 for everything because the Native American jewelry that was in there (the pieces that I never wear) is worth well over $2000, and that isn't even including the two gold pieces of jewelry. He wouldn't go any higher, so I took my jewelry back and headed over to my mother-in-law's house.

The story doesn't end there, though.

After Steven and I left my mother-in-law's house, we decided we would try another pawn store. We passed no less than five of them, most of them SuperPawn. Really, they are all over town. I actually got to go inside that store (no outside drug-deal like transactions here). The girl behind the counter was extremely nice when she told me she couldn't take my silver jewelry, but she would take my gold jewelry. She took it over to weigh it and bag it up, and then offered me $565 for ONLY those two gold pieces. I happily accepted. She also told me that they would take any gold I have (and I have some other gold pieces that I consider pretty much junk). I asked her if she had any suggestions about where I could sell the Native American jewelry, but her only suggestion was the Gold & Silver Pawnshop.

So, it's back to ebay for the silver jewelry.

My final conclusion is that just because something sounds great on tv, doesn't mean in real life it will work out that well. I really felt like Gold & Silver Pawn was reinforcing my not-so-great image of pawnshops, although I had an excellent experience at SuperPawn. I am pretty sure I won't be shopping at Gold & Silver Pawn anytime soon, but again--I just might be at SuperPawn. Steven said they had an excellent collection of xBox games in his price range, so it is a definite possibility.

Ha! This gave me the giggles. Mostly because I was struck by the resemblance to one of my childhood favorites--The Love Boat!

And on that TV note, did you watch Eastwick last night? I love shows with witches (I must be able to relate on some level). Loved, loved, loved "Bewitched" as a kid, then "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch", and of course, who could forget "Charmed" (really, one of my all time favorites!). I watched the premiere of Eastwick last night. Didn't really love the movie--thought it was just ok. But I think the series has possibilities. Guess we will see!

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Paul Simon
From song I Am a Rock

Sigh...


I hate that this blog gets used so much as a place for me to whine and cry, but I can't help it. I don't really feel like I have another outlet to get out my frustrations, so they end up here. And I really do edit myself a lot...I don't share a lot, just when it gets to be so much that it bubbles over. And with that, obviously I am frustrated and it is bubbling over.

I am pretty sure that I need to do more to get work. I get so bogged down in the every day that constantly looking for writing jobs gets overwhelming, and I shut down and just do what I already have. But I need to really start contributing to the finances of my family. I need to do that so that when that person that I love that is living with me (not my hubby) starts in on me (which, honestly, is almost daily), I can just say--move out. We get along a LOT better when you don't live with me. I know that her life in the past several years hasn't been great. She is depressed. But, OMG!!! I am so tired of being the target of her anger. Or if she is mad at my hubby, well, she never tells him--she just tells me. And it's very passive-aggressive, which makes it really hard, because I never know what to expect when talking to her.

And I am pretty sure that this is part of the reason my daughter moved out. Not all of it--I realize that she's 20 and needs to be on her own, but I also know that she was the brunt of some of that anger.

I guess the bottom line is that my household is not a great place to be. It certainly isn't always a healthy and loving place. I try to extend my love, but something has to change here. I can't keep doing this and I don't want my son to grow up with all this negativity.

So, I need to really start working and contributing. I am a good writer. I know I can do it, I just get frustrated with trying to sell myself. But I need to do something because I am tired of hiding out in my room (which doesn't seem to matter--it seems to be ok for people to walk in and start in on me).

Sigh...

Mmm...Pepperoni Breadsticks

So, I am so enamored of my new baking mix that I am searching out recipes to use with it. And this one sounds good. Really good. Plus the fact that my darling son loves pepperoni. Pepperoni plain. Pepperoni sandwiches. Pepperoni pizza. We might as well add in these pepperoni breadsticks.

Pepperoni Breadsticks
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Quick Mix (or a baking mix such as Bisquick)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (about 2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  1. Heat oven to 425°. Mix baking mix, cold water, and pepperoni until dough forms. Beat 20 strokes. Turn dough onto surface dusted with flour; gently roll to coat. Knead 5 times.
  2. Roll dough into 10-inch square. Cut in half. Cut each half crosswise into 14 strips. Twist ends of strips in opposite directions. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, pressing ends onto cookie sheet to fasten securely. Brush generously with melted butter. Sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Heat pizza sauce until hot. Dip breadsticks into pizza sauce.
Makes about 28 breadsticks.

It's a Mix, It's a Meal...It's a...Wait?

Did I ever tell you that I collect cookbooks? I really love to cook, and I really love to read, and I actually really love to read recipes. My poor family rarely eats the same thing twice for that reason. In my kitchen I have a floor to ceiling bookshelf that is filled with cookbooks, and I have run out of room. But, to be honest, I can't stop buying cookbooks. I love them that much.

In my new frugal lifestyle, I've started going through my cookbooks looking for ways to save money. I have two wonderful cookbooks, Make-A-Mix Cookery and More Make-A-Mix Cookery (circa 1978 & 1980, respectively) that really answer that money saving question.

In today's world we rely on convenience foods so much, even though most of us recognize that they really aren't that healthy for us. With all the added preservatives we are preserving our own bodies. Eugenia Bone, in her book Well-Preserved, states, "A serious canner friend of mine told a story about a mortician in her town. He said in the past morticians used to have to get a body into the earth real quick, but nowadays a human body will hold for two weeks due to all the commercial preservation he's eaten." Ummm....gross!

Anyway, I wanted to share a mix with you. This is the master mix Quick Mix. Use it as a substitute for any Bisquick recipe.

Quick Mix (makes about 13 cups)

  • 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsps cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Blend well. With pastry blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Mixture will resemble cornmeal in texture. Put in a large airtight container. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 10 to 12 weeks.

Variation (and a much better one for you!):
Use 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 4-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour. Increase baking powder to 2 tablespoons.



Light and Tender Biscuits

1-1/2 cups Quick Mix
1/3 cup milk or water

In a medium bowl, combine quick mix and milk or water. Stir with a fork to blend. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°F. On a lightly floured board, knead dough about 15 times. Roll out to 1/2-inch thick (in a rectangle). Cut into 2-inch squares with a knife. Place biscuits about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated oven until golden brown. Makes about 6 biscuits.

Wait...It's September???

I can't believe that it has been a whopping 2 weeks since I've posted. Well, I guess I can...it seems like it has been a long time. Since the last time I posted, I've submitted some stories to my local paper. My daughter blew up her car, came home to visit for her birthday, took my car back home. We finished installing the flooring upstairs. Hmmmm...I guess not too much else has happened.

I have some new recipes for you, but it is 11:30 pm and I have to finish writing a story for tomorrow's deadline. I will get the recipes posted this week...

Auf Weidersehen
(can you tell I'm channeling Heidi Klum?)

Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore...

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article about Vegan and Vegetarian Children. Her family eats vegan only, but we are only part-time vegetarians. I am looking for healthy food options for my family, though, and we often eat vegetarian meals, with the occasional meat filled meal thrown in for good measure.

One of the exciting things about the article, though, is the abundance of child friendly recipes. My kids pretty much eat whatever I feed them, but these recipes will allow me to get healthier food into them.

The one I am drawn to immediately is The Happy Herbivore's recipe for Black Bean Brownies. She has a White Bean Blondie recipe as well, but fudge-y, chocolate-y goodness is really just right up my alley.



I am mostly set on ingredients. I have a ton of both white and black beans in my freezer from some cooking sessions I did early this month. Hubby is going to the mexican market for meat (for the dogs--that is another story!) after work, so I will set him looking for the agave nectar there. And bananas will be purchased at the store this afternoon. I will let you know how they turn out.

Back to School

Crazy times are here again! School started Monday and we've been trying to get back into the school routine. So far, so good. We've had dinner every night, and my son Steven has had a lunch every day. I thought I posted about the trials and tribulations of finding the perfect lunch box, but it must have just been a post in my head.

No. I found it. I must be a bit crazy.


Anyway, we settled on the To Go Ware Two Tier Tiffin Box.


Our backup plan is something similar to this:


He prefers the tiffin box, however, because it does a better job of keeping his food separate. Very important, especially when you are 13.

We were at the store shopping for possible lunch options, and they were offering a sample of this pasta salad. It was so good, we immediately picked up all the ingredients (except the tomatoes--the girl didn't make it with tomatoes and he loved it exactly the way it was).

Smoked Cheddar and Turkey Pasta Salad


Ingredients
  • 8 ounces uncooked wagon wheel pasta
  • 8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 8 ounces smoked turkey breast, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional!)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup milk.
Cook and drain pasta. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan, and milk; blend well. Combine pasta and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add mayo mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Prepare for gifts and accolades once your friends and family taste this salad.

The Women's Crusade

The Women's Crusade

“Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

Life is Crazy!

I know I've been AWOL for a bit, and I'm sorry! I've been neglecting my blogs while I've been trying to figure out my personal life.

My Blessings:
  • My kids are healthy and awesome. I love them dearly and they keep me going when things are tough.
  • My husband. We've been married over 15 years and together even longer. I love him so much and he loves me just as much. When things are tough (like they are financially right now), we still have each other. I thank "The Powers that Be" every day for bringing him into my life.
  • My animals. Yep--they bring me peace when I need it.
  • My mom. She loves me and she is there for me, although it is often with the downside of telling me what I am doing wrong at any given moment (this is an everyday occurrence, unfortunately). I love you Mom.
  • My writing ability--this is both a blessing and a curse. I know I can write well, but I have a tendency to overthink things and sabotage my career.
  • My new job as a freelance writer for my local newspaper, the Moapa Valley Progress. Wish me luck in this endeavor. Of course--since it is freelance, it is only part time, so I will still have time to write for Affordable Baby Organics and Demand Studios. And of course, I am always available for anyone else who wants to hire me.
My Curses:
  • Depression. I hate that I struggle with this. This is a relatively new development in my life, and it isn't under control. And I hate not being in control.
  • My finances. This is such a weird thing for me. I have no control over my husband's reduced hours, but that sucks. And I quit a "perfectly good" job at the bakery to pursue my writing career, which is being built, but slower than I anticipated. In my defense (and, boy, do I question this!), I had to quit for my mental health. I came home every day and cried. I love baking, but working in the bakery was very stressful. Let's just say that people can be extremely mean...
  • Dude, I have more blessings than curses! It's just that the curses are so big that they sometimes overwhelm the blessings...
So, I will be back in a bit. I am working on another cookbook, which I will post a link to here. Do a gal a favor though, and buy a copy. It isn't very much...just $2.95 per download.

So, current cookbook:
The Freezer Gourmet - 5 Chicken Recipes for the Grill (around the world version)

Thanks everyone for the comments on my previous post. I appreciate your thoughts and wishes, and I am thrilled to death that people actually read my blog. :)

Bittersweet

My daughter is moving out this month. I am going to miss her, but it is a good thing. She is moving 2 hours away into a really nice little house, recently built.

I have mixed feelings. I really miss her when she is gone, but I know that it is good for her. My son claims his space from what she leaves, and I think it is a sign for him that he's growing up.

But I feel sad.

I'm kind of stuck in this holding pattern--like she is moving on with her life and the rest of us are stuck here trying to work our lives out. My husband is still working reduced hours. My mom is depressed and taking it out on the rest of us. I feel like hiding in my room most of the time, but I know I can't because I need to be an example for my son.

Sigh...

I'm sorry! We're having one of those days here...

A Music Meme

Oh! And yesterday's winner post was my 100th post on this blog! Woohoo!

The Rules:
(1) Turn on your MP3 player.
(2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
(3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please.

My small but powerful RCA Pearl mp3 player
1. Changes in Latitude - Jimmy Buffet
2. I'll Keep Your Memory Vague - Finger Eleven
3. Owner of a Lonely Heart - Yes
4. Remember the Time - Michael Jackson
5. Tainted Love - Pussycat Dolls
6. Rocket Queen - Guns and Roses
7. Tangled - Maroon 5
8. Piano Concerto No 1 - Peter Tchaikovsky
9. Switch - Will Smith
10. You Don't Know Me - Lisa Loeb
11. Purple Rain - Prince
12. My Opinion III - Pato Banton
13. Time to Take Out the Trash - Brad Sucks
14. The Myth of Love - Georgia Satellites
15. Tube Snake Boogie - ZZ Top

Ummm...yeah. I have very eclectic music tastes! Thanks to my friend Emily for this meme!


MusicPlaylist
MySpace Playlist at MixPod.com

We Have A Winner!

Hi all! Sorry it has taken me so long to announce the winner...

It's Busy Mom of Two! Woohoo! I'm excited to announce that she will receive not one, but two signed copies of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters! Woohoo...

Thanks, all, for playing!
On Aug. 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon announced he would resign following damaging revelations in the Watergate scandal.
There are no Seeing Eye cats, of course, because the sole function of cats, in the Great Chain of Life, is to cause harm to human beings. The instant a cat figured out that the blind person would follow it wherever it went, it would lead this person directly into whirling unshielded manufacturing equipment.
Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Homes and Other Black Holes (1988)

Piles and Piles and Piles

I was going through my piles of emails this morning and come across an email from Leanne Ely from Saving Dinner. Here is an excerpt:
If you missed Wednesday's Saving Dinner Show on BTR, you missed a good one! My dear friend Marla Cilley the FlyLady joined me and we chatted up a storm on what constitutes taking responsibility for yourself in all departments of life, not just food and health. Marla started talking about how we procrastinate and how we make piles of stuff all around us. I had a light bulb moment and said we need an acronym for PILE...I had the first two words, "Procrastination Is"...then we let our friends in chat go for it and the group came up with Procrastination Is Loving Excuses; or it could be Living Excuses too. I believe it was Keri that came up with that one. Don't you LOVE it?

And isn't that what happens to us? We P.I.L.E. everything from our homes, to our cars, to our jobs, to our relationships...nothing is given priority, we excuse ourselves, but no one else, we PILE on, we feel guilty and we're miserable. It's a vicious cycle that needs to end! But here's the thing--if we can start taking care of ourselves, we CAN end this insanity! It takes PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! The payoff is amazing and the trickle down effect into the rest of your life is life changing and hugely empowering!
This really struck a chord with me because I am a "piler". That is, I pile things. Papers on my desk, stuff that needs to go to goodwill. Library books. Stuff. I pile it. I have a hard time dealing with it (although Marla Cilley from Flylady has helped a bit with this).

The inside of my house is NOT completely trashed, although I do have piles of stuff in my room. And I married a piler too. Or a packrat. Or perhaps they are one and the same. My darling husband brings things home from work all the time. Things that his company is throwing away. In his defense, the stuff he brings home is perfectly good stuff (like the 9 billion patio umbrellas he just brought home--all in working order and in perfect condition). I just don't know what to do with it. A lot of times I pull out what I want and spread the rest between family, friends, and goodwill, but what do I do with the stuff that hubby wants? It is piled around my house and on my property. It's kind of like living in a warehouse.

We do need to be responsible. The company my husband works for needs to responsibly dispose of the items they no longer want, either by distributing it to the employees or giving it to charity. Perfectly usable items should NOT end up in a landfill. I need to take ownership of my finances and paper. I need to take responsibility for my life. It is my life, after all, and I am the one who has control of it.

I sometimes feel like I am drowning in stuff. Stuff I own, stuff I want, stuff I want to do, stuff I want to start, stuff I want to finish. I have simplified some areas of my life, but others need simplifying as well. I have too much stuff.

I need to take responsibility. Responsibility for my work and my life. I am in charge. I decide which writing jobs to take and which not to take. Sometimes I hide from the world, though, and that just can't be good. It's time to take responsibility. Wish me luck...I know I am going to need it!

It's All About the Food...

I've cooked a lot of beans in my crockpot this week, so I can stock up my freezer. But today's recipe calls for garbanzo beans (chickpeas, if you will), and that is something my local grocer does not carry dried. So I will have to use canned, and have my husband or daughter check one of the stores in Vegas. Anyway, I am heading out the door to get the garbanzo beans and chicken. And this is what's for dinner tonite!

Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas

6 chicken thighs
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2-16 oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and largely diced
1 medium sized red onion
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of paprika
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

Serve over:
hot cooked couscous or brown rice

  1. In a medium pan, heat olive oil. Brown chicken thighs on both sides.
  2. Put garbanzo beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, raisins, tomato paste, water, cumin, and paprika into a crockpot; stir well. Place browned chicken on top. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Remove chicken. Stir peanut butter into vegetables in crockpot. Serve with hot couscous or rice.

Ultimate Rotisserie

I checked this book out from the library:


Oh. my. oh. my. I. think. I've. died. and. gone. to. heaven.

I've had my rotisserie for years. I got it from my grandma when she passed away. I don't think she even ever used it. But I had seen all those cool Ronco commercials stating that I can have a delicious rotisserie chicken for half the cost in the same amount of time it would take me to get to the deli and back, so I just had to have it.

Well. Those statements aren't exactly correct because for some reason whole chickens uncooked in my meat department cost the same as the cooked ones in the deli. And it only takes me ten minutes to get to the deli and back, but, whatever.

I do love it. And the idea of all the things I can do (but never did). So I checked the book out. And now I've tried it. On a whole chicken no less (which happens to be on sale this week for half of the price of buying it already cooked in the deli, so I've saved some money there!).

Anyway, the recipe I picked is the It Isn't Easy Being Green Basil Pesto Chicken. Which is really basic, but ohhhhhhh....so yummy!


So basically, take 1/2 cup of store bought or homemade basil pesto and smear it under the skin of your whole chicken. Roast according to your rotisserie instructions. Ummm...yum.

We served this with Zucchini Parmesan Rice. It was good. Really good. I'm actually surprised it lasted long enough for me to take pictures.

Anyway, I need to go to the store and buy a bunch more chickens so I have a frugal reason to make my own rotisserie chicken. Because $4 for a chicken is sooooooooo much better than $8.
On July 30, 1975, Former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in suburban Detroit. He is presumed dead, though his remains have never been found.

Woohoo! Another Giveaway


Oh, I am sooooo excited! Remember me telling you about The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters? Well, the author--Mr. Frank Cole--has generously offered, as a giveaway, not one--but two! of his books to my readers. That is one to keep, and one to give away to that special someone who is just dying for a good book! And, both copies are signed by the author!

How about that for an awesome giveaway???

Ok, so here's the blurb about the book:

What sort of trouble can a fifth-grader possibly get into? Well, if you attend an unusual school called Pordunce Elementary and you happen to be a student by the name of Hashbrown Winters, there truly is no limit. At this school, almost everyone has earned a strange nickname and half of the fun of the story is finding out why.

When Hashbrown crosses paths with the school’s number one bully, Hambone Oxcart, it sets the stage for a hilarious showdown. Hashbrown’s in some serious trouble. It is going to take the help of his closest friends, Whiz Peterson and Snow Cone Jones, some advice from the all-seeing Oracle and an appointment with Cordovo Figanewty, leader of the sixth-grade mafia to save his neck.

And the author:
Frank Cole was born in a quiet town in Kentucky where he spent most of his childhood sharing exaggerated stories for show and tell. He now lives in Utah with his wife and three children. One of Frank’s greatest claims to fame was when he was rushed to the emergency room as a third-grader after falling out of Hashbrown Winter’s tree house. If he had a nickname it would be Frankie the “Phantom”. The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters is Frank’s debut novel.
Now--here are the details to enter this fine giveaway--any one (or more, each constitutes and entry):
  1. Facebook or Twitter about the book. Include a link to HashbrownWinters.com. Leave a note in the comments stating which one (or two different comments if you did both). Bonus--extra entry if you "friend" me on Twitter--leave a comment for each thing you've done.
  2. Facebook or Twitter about the giveaway, linking to this post. Note that this is different than the previous entry option--which is solely about the book.
  3. Go to HashbrownWinters.com and ask the writer a question. Leave some comment love so I know you did it.
  4. Blog about the book on your blog along with a link to HashbrownWinters.com and leave me a link in the comments.
  5. Blog about the giveaway on your blog along with a link to this post. Please do not combine posts if you opt to do both #4 and #5. They should be separate posts. Leave me a note (or notes) in the comments.
And of course, if you just can't wait to get the book, you can always buy it here:

Rights...

I just want to clarify that believing in a woman's Right to Choose does not necessarily mean that a person is pro-abortion. Just Pro-Choice.

Just as someone who is anti-abortion is probably not anti-choice.

It's all in the use of the words.

But, having said that, don't for a minute expect me to believe on the one hand that government power should be limited, but government should tell me what to do with my body. You can't have it both ways.

On Feeding Boys...

Food is one of my passions. In fact, when I was a child I would cook in the kitchen, all the while pretending to be on a cooking show (รก la Julia Child). I used to be a professional baker. I just love to cook. Mmmmmm...

Anyway, my love of food has been passed on to my children (although I am not so sure about my love of cooking, although both of my children do just fine in the kitchen). Anyway, we have a houseful of boys this next weekend (ummmm...starting today, actually) and I am trying to get healthy yummy food into the ones who live on chicken nuggets and corn dogs. Hmmmm...

I've been searching the internet for quick, easy recipes and stumbled across The Pioneer Woman Cooks (by way of 365 Days of Crockpotting).

Oh. my.

I think I've died and gone to heaven.

For dinner tonight, we are making (yes, ALL of us--ummm, that is, me and the boys):


and
Cinnamon Ice Cream, doubled of course

My philosophy is (and I hope it works with the more picky among the crew) is that if you help make it, you are more likely to eat it. And they all love shrimp (so they all tell me!). The tomatoes might be a bit iffy with the one who likes ketchup, but hates tomatoes...and loves pizza, but hates tomatoes. Ummm...we'll see.

And after dinner, I'm hoping everyone will be full enough to just chill and watch the first four episodes of Torchwood: Children of the Earth. Except I've just been reminded that softball is tonight. So, Torchwood will have to be tomorrow.

Sigh.

But, the boys will be gainfully employed (volunteering, that is) at the concession stand during softball. Which will keep them off the computer and various game systems. And out in the fresh air. So, it's all good.

We Have a Winner!

You may remember that I won $40 in Fandango Movie Money from Laurie at Tales from a Clueless Mom during her first giveaway, and oddly enough--Laurie is the winner in my first giveaway as well! I am extremely surprised by the randomness of the world, but I am also quite pleased!
Congratulations to Laurie!

Current Temperature

120°. I think my house sits directly above Hell.

Bit of a Handicap, really

Part Time Workers

You know how much I love the NY Times. I read it every day. It is probably a good indication that I am a liberal.

With liberal ideas.

Which is why it frustrates me when conservatives (many of them my friends and neighbors) complain about our new President and how he is turning America into a Socialist country. It really makes me angry when you (the ubiquitous you) tell me that no one needs a helping hand and everyone who does is just abusing the system.

I think you need to read my piece on the Dutch.

Which brings me to today. Great article in the NY Times suggesting that the "Great Recession" is so much worse than is being reported. If you take into account all the people that are working part time because full time work is unavailable, it brings the unemployment rate up quite a bit. As much as 23.5% in Oregon, 21.5% in Michigan and Rhode Island, and just under 20% in Tennessee and Nevada (oh, where I live!). And to be honest--my husband's hours were reduced to 24 hours a week in December. He has looked for another job, but they just aren't out there. My daughter was laid off from her government job and is collecting unemployment. I am still working (at home, as a writer), but I am not even close to being the breadwinner in the family.

Guess what, we need a helping hand. And I am pissed every time someone suggests that our family problem is our own fault. And that by looking for help, we are abusing the system.

Crazy thing, all you naysayers who look to history to prove your point: The government and the economy seem to do better when the democrats are in office. The deficit isn't as high, if it is existent at all (remember, during the Clinton years we were running with a surplus--which went away very quickly when W. came into office).

That's my vent today. Thanks for listening.

KT Tunstall

My current favorite song:


Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall
On July 14, 1965, the American space probe Mariner 4 flew by Mars, sending back photographs of the planet.

It's Time Out Tuesday again!



Remember how I told you last week about Best Children's Movies' Time Out Tuesday? Well, guess what? It's Tuesday again. This week the featured film is "The Snow Walker". Head on over and check it out!

The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters

Oh, I am so excited! My friend Heidi--her husband has been working hard on his first children's book: The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters. And now it's done. And it's awesome. And I wanted to help spread the word! Go pick up a copy. Isn't it time for some family bonding over a book? I think so!

Affordable Baby Organics - It's a Giveaway!


Hi all! I just wanted to let you know how lucky I am! I have the pleasure of working with Amanda over at "Baby Organics at Affordable Prices!" She is generously offering some of her awesome organic cotton baby clothes for me to give away on my blog. Woohoo! Let's take a look at what I am giving away:
Papaya Orange Organic Onesie


Natural Organic Cotton BabyLegs

If you click on the images, it will take you right to Baby Organics to get all the specs for each product! These are my favorites. I love the Organic Cotton Onesie in papaya--mostly because I love bright colors. I chose the Natural BabyLegs because I really think they make the papaya stand out.

Ok, now for the nitty gritty. To enter, you must do at least one of the following:
  • Link to Baby Organics (as a hyperlink) in a blog post with your favorite product from the selection at Baby Organics. Tell your blog readers why it's your favorite. Leave me a link to your post in the comments.

  • Let me know (in the comments, of course), who you hope to win this for. Is it for your own child? A grandchild? As you may know--my daughter is almost 20, and while there is no grandchild in my near future--many, many, many of her friends are getting married. I suspect babies are still in my near future--but since my daughter isn't even engaged--hopefully it is just all her friends. Actually, at least 4 of her friends are new parents or are pregnant. So, as long as you have someone in mind for these awesome organic baby clothes--I am ok with that!

  • Link to Baby Organics in a tweet and let me know in the comments.
  • Ok--for the last way to win--let me know what you think is better--cloth diapers or disposable diapers--and why. I've used both. When my daughter was born, I used a great diaper service in Vegas. It was way better than trying to wash my own (which I did for a short while--and let me tell you, those diapers are the best dust rags I have now!). With my son, we'd already moved to rural Nevada, and disposable diapers worked better for me because I did not have access to a service. I was concerned about how hot I could clean the diapers at, and the use of water in the desert, and so on... Anyway, I want to know what you think!
I am running this giveway until Monday, July 20th. You have until midnight PDT to enter. Let the giveaway begin!

Oh! And I wanted to let you know that in the next 2-3 weeks, Baby Organics is adding Organic Baby Slings and Organic Baby Bedding to the site. See? It's not as hard to be green as you might expect!

Oooohhhhh...and lucky you! For all my readers, Baby Organics is offering a 10% discount. Just enter coupon code "Mreow10" when you check out.

Perky Blogger!

Thanks to Yonca over at Yonca's Kitchen for the Perky Blogger Award she graced me with:

I am passing on the award to some of my favorite bloggers:

JoAnna at The Adventures of Saia and Chago
The Audacity of an Optimistic Pessimist
Laurie at Guessing All the Way (Tales from a Clueless Mom)
Daisy at Dusty Barks

After grabbing please make a post of this award on your blog then link the person who gave the award to you. Also, please pass this award on to bloggers you choose.

Have a healthy and happy weekend!

Bento, Anyone?

For the last couple of days, I've been thinking about lunches. School starts again next month, and I am trying to figure out how to make lunches interesting for both my husband and my son. And help keep us within our grocery budget. To that end, I have been researching bento lunches. Last year I was looking at the laptop lunch system for my son, but he just wasn't interested. This year, though, we've been looking at stainless steel bentos (and tiffins) and he is much more interested. Especially since he now realizes that this is what kids his age in other countries do for lunch. He's all for being different!

My husband will take whatever I pack, but it makes more sense to make complementary lunches rather than two different things--which is why I needed my son to decide he was up for trying it. We are spending time this summer testing recipes--Just Bento has a ton of them. We are also trying to narrow down which box we are going to start with, although I am sure we will end up with a couple just because of the different ways you can use them.

Here are some of the options we are looking at:



We are still looking, but my son is leaning towards the tiffin box (2-tier stainless steel). I am excited about not having to pack ziploc bags (NOT an option in our previous lunch incarnations), and also about the variety (this is my own fault--it is just way easy to make a pb&j, stick in some fruit and a drink and be good to go).

Some fun bento sites:
Adventures in Bentomaking
Just Bento
Cooking Cute
JB Bentos
Lunch Bucket Bento
My Bento Diet
Obento Baby
Be My Bento
Bentobabe

I hope I've inspired you to be more creative with your lunches!

Parents Time Out Tuesday (yeah, I know it's Wednesday!)

BestChildrensMovies.com has started a new Tuesday release of movies for parents. That is, a movie for you to watch online while your TV is taken over by kidlets. I am loving this idea, although my kids mostly watch movies that I want to watch these days (that's the beauty of having older children--mine are 13 and 20!).

But anyway...

This week's movie is The Karate Kid II. Head on over and watch!

How to Give a Dachshund Physical Therapy


So you may remember how my dog pinched his vertebrae, oh--3 weeks ago. He has mostly been confined to a box for the last several weeks, only going outside to go to the bathroom. This has been achieved by an ingenious contraption my mom made him which uses a towel on a strap to hold up his hind legs.

This weekend we set up our large inflatable pool in the backyard. While it was filling, we took him out into the pool (with the strap) and let him walk around in the water. Then we took the strap out and he was still able to walk around. The water holds up his back end enough that he can move his feet. Of course, we were filling the pool for us--not for him.

So, we filled up a kiddie pool and put it in the front yard. He now goes out 3 times a day and "plays" in the pool. It is amazing--each time we stick him in the pool, he gets more control of his legs. He's been able to put weight on them, but with the strap, his front legs are usually moving much more than his back legs are capable of.

Recap: to give your dachshund physical therapy--put him in a pool with water up to his chest (about 3/4 of the way up his body). Let him walk around. Help him move his legs, if needed. Rinse, repeat--3 times a day.

I sure am glad that this happened during the summer.