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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Good morning!

Wishing you a beautiful Saturday.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The queen of king quilts

I'm not the queen of king quilts, but I couldn't pass up that title.

Remember the small quilt that I made for Jack a while back?  With a small toddler sized quilt done, I decided I was ready for a king size quilt.  What could go wrong?

Fucking

Everything

I was near tears a few times with this hoser, but I made it through and it's done. 

And I'm never making one that big again (that's what she said).  At least that is what I'm saying now.

The quilt took me forever (how long?  F-O-R-E-V-E-R.  Name that movie!), but mostly because I kept starting and stopping.  I crunched hard on this and finally finished it up in some long nights to get it ready for a friend's visit.  Currently, our spare bedroom contains an exercise bike, my wedding dress (slumped in the bottom of the bag and never sent to the dry cleaner.  I got married almost 8 years ago.  Outside.  It was 102 degrees.), and a bare mattress on the floor that once belonged to my in-laws.  Basically, the room looks like a setting for a snuff film.  The quilt "perks" it up a bit.  Not much, but a bit.

Just because, here are the enormous weeds on the side of my house that I can't grow anything and tend to forget about.  Oh, and a reflection of me taking pictures in my fleece bathrobe.  IN JUNE.  It's cold.

You might remember the bird fabric from my throw pillows!

The green fabric with white interlocking rings is leftover from my insulated curtains!

The green fabric is the back of the quilt.  I spent $2.99 at Goodwill for that.




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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go gluten free with me (and Troy)!

Ever thought about giving up gluten, but haven't had the motivation to do it on your own?  Well, do it with me!  And Troy.  You know, that one guy I married.

Let me preface this by saying, I don't think I have any problems processing gluten.  I'm kind of like a goat - I eat something and my body will process it.  I don't get tummy aches from certain kinds of food, and the only reason I'm ever sluggish or  tired is because I rarely get enough sleep.  I also have the immune system of Charles McNeversick - a fictional person I just made up who never gets sick.  The last time I called in sick to work was January of 2011, and it had been six years since the last time I called out.

Troy though?  Troy get colds more often than a new preschool teacher.  The term "man cold" was designed just for Troy.  He also seems to need more sleep than most toddlers.  Part of it is his crazy work schedule that has him burning the candle at both ends, but even when our lives were normal, he required much more sleep than anyone I know.

I've been kicking around the idea that his body is working too hard to process gluten (and he eats A LOT of gluten) for awhile now, but he's always kind of brushed me off.  Then I suggested that he should go gluten free for a month.  And I'd do it with him for moral support.  So basically, I cook everything in the house, and prepare all the meals he takes to work, so if I'm in, he doesn't really have a choice but to participate.

I promised him that I would do this with him to encourage him and so that he wasn't alone in this endeavor.  This won't be like the time he offered to give up sugar to support me when I had to go dairy-free because of Jack's allergy.  He made the decision at about 9 am the morning we found out about Jack's allergy, and by 2 pm I found him shoving his mouth full of ice cream cake at my niece's birthday party. Thanks for the support pal.

So, if you're interested in doing this with us,  we'll be cutting out gluten from July 15th - August 15th.  I picked a somewhat far off date to give myself time to prepare; gathering recipes, etc.  Generally when eliminating something from your diet, you need at least 20 days for your body to get it out of your system.  We're shooting for a full month to test my theory that his health will improve.

When I refer to gluten, I'm just talking about us giving up the glutenous carbs like bread, pasta, etc., I'm not referring to checking every single sauce and condiment to make sure that our ketchup is gluten-free.

This is going to be a bit weird for me because when I cook, I use meat as a small part of the dish/flavoring.  I know this gluten-free month is likely to increase our meat consumption.

Let me know if you're interested in participating!  I'm kicking around the idea of offering a few prizes for people who try this out for a month.  That decision will be made and announced before the challenge starts!  If anyone out there has an etsy shop, or is a crafty person and wants to offer up some giveaways, please shoot me an email.  If I don't get any giveaways, I'll just use some Swagbucks to purchase some cool prizes from Amazon.

Also, if you're daring (and I am.  Kind of), take before and after pictures to see if cutting out the gluten made a change to your physical appearance.  My sedentary lifestyle at work has added a few pounds to thee old backside, so this will be an interesting experiment for me to see if there is any slim down of my sit down.
"Join us", says Jack, "resistance is futile".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recovering dining room chairs

I need to start by saying I recovered these chairs like seven months ago, but forgot I took photos of it until I was rummaging around in iphoto.  So that is why there are a few missing "steps" in the "tutorial".

Our apartment in Los Angeles was so small that we didn't really have a table to sit at for eating.  We had this tall pub table thing, but it was so tight in the kitchen that we just ate on the couch or outside.  When we moved back to Washington, my mother-in-law gave us their old dining room table that they had replaced a few years back.  The table had been her father's, and used to be black but she painted it white.

Something you need to know about my mother-in-law, is that she LOVES bright colors.  She calls me "little Miss Earth Tones", and I like to joke that going in to her basement with the bright walls and decorations, burns my retinas.  So it was no surprise when she later gave us the matching chairs for the table, that one of them looked like this:

Oh yeah.

The others were in this grungy forest green material that needed some updating.  After months of looking around on Craigslist, garage sales, Target, etc., for new chairs, I had a light bulb moment of just replacing the fabric on the chairs we already had.  Armed with scissors, a staple gun, a screwdriver, and some encouraging words from my crafty friend Mary ("oh it's not that hard.  ANYONE can recover a chair" which implies that if I couldn't do this, I was an idiot),  I got to work.

1) I removed the old seat by the way of four screws in the chair.

2) I quickly realized that my mother-in-law must have had a staple gun fetish when covering these, because the seats were positively douched in staples.  It took me over an hour to remove the staples from all four chairs.  Removing the old fabric, revealed red pleather covers.

3) After removing the old cover, I laid it on top of my new fabric as a guide.  I'm not one for measuring, so I love being able to trace things.

4) I cut out the new fabric, and laid it "right side up" down (i.e., the pretty side of the fabric was facing the ground), and put the seat on top of that.

5) Here is where the photos kind of got lost.  I started by folding the fabric up and over the flat side of the chair, and with my knee in the middle of the seat, I stapled it down from end to end.

6) Then, like you're wrapping a present (which I am HORRIBLE at by the way), fold one the sides over the cushion, creating a nice tight hold, start stapling your way around the whole cushion.  Keeping your knee on the cushion, and pulling tightly before stapling helps keep things tight and prevents ripples on the cushion.

7) Screw the now finished cushion back on the chair, and voila, you go from eye-searing to calming and "beachy".
At some point, I'll need to repaint these.  Today is not that day.
Total cost for this project: $7 in fabric.
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Mostly Homemade Mondays

So, here goes.  Week 1.  If you guys don't link, I'm going to look like a dick.

Is that what you want?

For me to look like a dick?

Not cool!

Mostly Homemade Mondays - the link party for people who like cooking healthy food, but sometimes have to rely on the occasional store-bought item.  And for crafty people.  And gardeners.

Got something cool you posted recently on your blog?  Link up so that the rest of us can see the awesomesauce!

The "rules":

1) Please link back to this post so that people reading your blog know they can find more fantastic posts here!

That's it.  I think!  The rules might evolve over time if this becomes a weekly "hop".

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meal plan for June 25th - July 1st

Dudes, this weekend was crazy busy and the weather was insane.  The first two days of summer were the coolest on the record, and my neighbors were using their fireplace yesterday!  "Juneuary" is not making my garden happy.  My tomatoes are stunted (I would say that is at least 60% my fault), my basil is probably dead, and my cucumbers are sad sacks.  I have yet to see a single pumpkin seed germinate.  My peas and beets are pretty happy though.

This is week two of my crazy condensed work schedule.  It makes for some looooong days, and some simple meals.  Here is what we'll be shoving in our food holes this week.

Monday:: working too late to plan a dinner.  Jack will eat at my aunt's, and Troy and I will have eggs or cereal or something easy like that.

Tuesday:: Leftover lasagna (from belated father's day dinner on Friday), grilled zukes, coleslaw, and fruit.

Wednesday:: Frittata, and fruit.

Thursday:: Cold Thai noodle salad with spicy salmon patties.  And fruit of course.

Friday:: Walking to the little restaurant in our town.  If I'm being 100% honest, I'm not going to feel like cooking by Friday.

Saturday:: Popcorn, veggies, and fruit on the couch while watching a movie from the library!

Sunday:: Dinner at my parent's.

This week we spent $28.17 at the grocery store.  I don't have a picture because Troy, (yes Troy!) took Jack shopping.  Let's just say they had three stops to make, and I got about five phone calls and texts and it took them three hours.  I wasn't pressing for a picture at that point.

I also spent $14 on raw milk (needed a lot this weekend for homemade ricotta, yogurt, and ice cream (priorities)), and $30 at the farmer's market on cherries, zukes, apples, and more cherries.
What? Boba Fett doesn't watch TV at your house?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Whatcha ya'll think of this idea?

Anyone here familiar with link parties?  It's where a blog/website "hosts" a party where other people can link up things from their blogs.  An example of it can be found here.  It's an awesome way for lots of people to see a shit ton of great posts in one place.

I've been kicking around the idea of hosting one weekly, but wanted to get your input before I shell out the money for the hosting fees.  Would you participate?  Would you be willing to link up?  I don't want to be the lame ass who is all alone at the party.  At least there will be some appetizers to munch one while I kill time.

If I move forward, I need a theme.  I'm thinking "mostly homemade Mondays" or something like that.  There are some natural food blogs that I enjoy, but their link parties are so strict "absolutely no store bought food in recipes that you're linking".  Yeah, cause I make olive oil at home...?  

The "party" could be for recipes, crafts, gardening stuff, etc.

The cost of the link party is nominal, but your participation will make it worth it!

So, you in?  No?  Yes?  Bueller?

PS, does anyone remember Jesse and the Rippers from Full House?

Yes I am sleep deprived.

Why do you ask?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Grilled" feta stuffed plum tomatoes

Just the title alone sounds so fancy that I feel like I should be wearing a monocle while writing this post.  My pinkie is most decidedly out!

The good news is that I'm most certainly NOT fancy, so I've decided to "grace" the common people's presence with this recipe.

Someone in the film industry that Troy used to work with up here in Seattle, moved to Los Angeles about a year before we did.  When we first got to the city, he invited us over for a BBQ.  For anyone who knows LA, we were living in Century City and he lived in Tuluca Lake.  You can imagine the fun we had trying to find that place...

When we got to his apartment, he was outside grilling, and the smells coming from the grill were intoxicating.  A few minutes of anticipation revealed these beauties in all of their caramelized and cheesy glory.

Today, you can make these on the grill, or just be lazy and pop them in the oven for a few minutes.  The smell of them cooking always brings me back to being a person in a new city, and the comfort I felt by eating dinner with someone who came from the same place that I did.

And of course the comfort that cheese brings.  Cheese and are I likethisson.

"Grilled" feta stuff plum tomatoes
Plum or grape tomatoes, halved
Feta, or other salty cheese

1) Set your oven to broil.  If you get a choice between "lo" and "high" broil, choose high.
2) Cut your tomatoes in half, and scoop out the insides.
3) Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet (parchment paper makes the clean up much easier!).
4) Fill with your cheese of choice.
5) Broil for 3-5 minutes.  Watch closely!

6) Enjoy.  Yep, that's it.  Six steps, and two involved turning on an oven and eating the food.

PS, if you end up grilling these, you'll of course need a grill pan since these tiny little maters' would just fall between the grill wire things.  They're called wire things right?  I don't grill.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fun in the sun

Last weekend my friend Elisa came in to town from South Africa, bringing with her my goddaughter, Keiko.  There is such joy in old friends.  It's always so lovely to see a friend you haven't seen in two years, and it's like a day hasn't passed.  There is comfort in familiar laughter.

And Jack and Keiko?  Instant besties.  Elisa had always thought Keiko had energy.

Then she met Jack.

Ha!

After an hour or so at the beach with Jack, Keiko sat down on the ground and declared herself done.  She wouldn't budge an inch, and Elisa had to carry her home.

And Jack?

Jack was running a four-person relay (he was all four people) on the way home.

New business idea: hire out Jack to come over to people's homes and wear out their children.  Genius.  Dollar dollar bills ya'll.


Elisa, introducing Keiko, a child who was born in Los Angeles and has spent over a year in South Africa, to the cold cold waters of the Puget Sound.  Keiko was not a fan.
 Photo of "Auntie Wesa" by Jack
 I constantly have to have my camera on sport mode around this little duck.
 The art of picking the perfect rock to chuck off the dock.
 Jack, the rock hucking expert checking out the situation.
 She shoots, she scores!
 Please notice her calm and leisurely manner.  Then check out my maniac. 
Oh and this?  This is Jack trying to corrupt Keiko with teaching her some ninja skills.

Just looking at these photos exhausts me all over again.  My kid has ENERGY.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

We miss Keiko and Elisa already.  I wish they lived closer, but I take comfort in knowing that the next time we see them, it was like we've been together all along.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lazy lady's guide to sauteed shrimp and polenta

As you may recall, dear readers of this blog, I love meals that LOOK complicated, but are actually super easy.  Today, I'm sharing another one of those types of recipes with you.  Impress your friends with a meal that takes about one episode of Word Girl the same amount of time for your genius three year old to solve the New York Times Sunday crossword.

You are welcome.

Lazy shrimp and polenta
1 tube of store bought polenta
1/4 cup (half stick) of butter
3 tblsp of olive oil
1 splash cooking wine
1 pound of shrimp (preferably wild - not farmed)
1 cup of milk
1 generous tsp of dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic
2 green onions, or 1 shallot, finely diced
Sprinkle of smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Put your empty cast iron skillet over medium heat.

2) Meanwhile, in a pot, break up the tube of polenta, and lightly mash with a potato masher.  Slowly add in milk and stir to combine.  Place on a back burner over low heat.



3) In your (now) hot skillet, add the butter, and melt.

Add your olive oil.  Stir.

Then add your garlic and onions/shallots, and a splash of cooking wine.
The most flavorful cooking wine comes in plastic bottles.  True story!

4) (this would be a good time to stir your polenta).  Add your shrimp, parsley, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.



Stir, and cook for another few minutes.

5) Meanwhile, stir and season your polenta.  You could technically continue to stir it until smooth, but I used my immersion blender to blend this to a perfect smoothness.   This is after all, a lazy lady's meal.

6) Put a serving of polenta on your plate, and then top with shrimp, taking extra care to get some of the yummy sauce to pour over the whole thing.
Pretty plating be damned - I have real issues with my food touching.  Just seeing the butter migrating over to the tomatoes is giving me the boob sweats.
I had all of the ingredients except the polenta ($2.99 organic) and shrimp ($7.99, previously frozen).  This made four adult meals (two dinners, and two lunches), so $2.75 per serving.  Not bad for a "fancy" 30 minute meal.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation. And a meal plan

Boy howdy, thank you for being patient with me while I took a few days off.  I had a wonderful visit with my friend and goddaughter, I cooked, I gardened, I got my work out on, I made a Father's Day present, and I ate gobs and gobs of homemade guacamole with chips.  I also watched Beverly Hills Cop on Amazon.

Pictures by Jack
But I missed you!  I have some fun posts coming up this week, and I hope you like them!

Until then, here is our meal plan for the week.

Monday::  Baked potato "bar" (green onions, bacon, cheese, etc.), grilled asparagus, and tortilla soup from the freezer.

Tuesday:: Mostly meatless burgers sans buns (it was too humid this weekend to make bread like I had planned.  I didn't feel the need to heat my house up more), grilled squash with mozzarella cheese (holy shit I can't wait!!!), and sweet potato fries.

Wednesday:: Buffalo chicken pizza rolls (new recipe, will share if it doesn't suck), Asian snap peas from the garden (the snap peas are from the garden.  The "Asian" is from my spice cabinet), fruit.

Thursday:: Cowboy skillet (new recipe, will share if it's yummers), over cornbread, homemade guac and chips.

Friday:: Lasagna with homemade ricotta, dutch oven bread that I'm going to turn in to bruschetta, grilled asparagus, apple pie, and homemade vanilla ice cream.  We're having the in-laws over for dinner as a belated Father's Day meal.

Saturday:: popcorn, fruit, and veggies!

Sunday:: dinner at my parent's.
If you can find "Juanita's Chips" at your grocery store, they are fantastic for guac!
This week I spent $15.60 on groceries, $3.50 on raw milk, and about $40 at Costco (est. since we're heading out later today).

Pops

Happy Father's Day to my dad and Troy; two of the best guys I know!

I constantly tell Troy that he is a better father than I am a mother.  Jack and Troy are best buds, and can (and do) make anything fun!  I can't tell you how many times I've come home when they're having "boy day" and pretty much my entire house is a fort.  It's trashed, both boys are filthy, and absolutely nothing has been done.  But they're always so happy that I can't help but smile.  Thank you honey for being the best father in the world to our crazy little ninja.





As to my father, thank you for showing me how to be a real friend.  You always go above and beyond for anyone you love, and you show the world that great things are possible with caring and a huge heart.

One of my favorite stories about my father takes place when I was 9.  We were visiting my grandparents in Palm Springs, and went on a day trip to Universal Studies.  At the time, I desparately wanted to be an actress, and was always looking for my "big break".  When I found out that the Star Trek show was letting people act as characters for their next show, my dad stood outside in line with me for two hours in the hot sun.

When we finally got up there, they said that kids under 10 couldn't participate unless accompanied by an adult.  I know that was the absolute last thing he wanted to do, but he poured his 6 foot 8 inch frame in to an uniform made for someone no bigger than 5 foot 10 just so that I could be on stage for 5 minutes as a Stargate "commander".

Let's be clear, the ship was screwed from the start.  Piloted by a 9 year old and a giant?  Please.

Happy Father's Day to my pops and Jack's Poppy!

PS, this is random, but how freaking sexy are my husband's calves?  When we lived in LA, guys would ask him where he "had them done".  I always dared him to reply "my mom's uterus".

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Taking a break to play catch up

Raise your hand if you thought that title meant I finally had a good recipe for homemade ketchup?  Sadly, I don't.  All attempts to date have tasted like a goat's nuts.

Anyhoo, I'm going to take a few days off this week to play catch up on some home items.  We have friends in town this weekend from South Africa, and I stayed up very late every night for the last few weeks trying to finish a quilt for our spare bed.  May I give you some advice?  When you're a baby sewer, trying to attempt a king-size quilt is shit ass crazy.

In addition to a lot of late nights recently, a very sad event happened to my dear friend last week.  Last Wednesday, her father passed away.  I was so sad for her and her family, that fart jokes and homemade cleaner posts just didn't seem appropriate.  Hence my radio silence since Wednesday.

On Friday, I did a same day trip down to Los Angeles to attend the funeral.  In this life, there is a time for budgets, and a time to to just be there to hold a friend's hand.  The trip culminated in a 20 hour day which has left me a little wiped.

I don't know what we're having for dinner this week, but I do know that at least one day involves ordering pizza.  Basically, I'm behind on everything and prepared for nothing!  I'm going to take a few days off to catch up on life, and then I'll be back!  Thanks for your patience, and I hope you have a fantastic week until we "meet" again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Starting a campaign to remove a term from parenting nomenclature

(warning, photo ahead that includes some new baby goo)

There is a term that makes me cringe whenever I see or hear it.

"Fulltime Mommy"

:shudders:

I see and hear it often, and while I don't fault people for saying it, because I don't think they say it with malice, I don't believe it adequately defines what they mean.  I think the term they're looking for is "stay at home mom".  Because let's get one thing straight, in no way does working outside of the home downgrade me to "part-time mommy" status.

This post is not a working mom vs. stay at home mom post.  Society has created enough of their own biases and pressures on motherhood.  We don't need to add flame to that fire.  If you work or stay at home, you do so because that is what you and your family needs; any other reason isn't anyone's damn business.

Many moms work because they want to.  They love their jobs.  They love the people they work with and what their work means to them, etc.  Some moms work because they have to.  Some moms work for a combination of the two (like me).  Regardless of what camp a working mom falls in, the term "fulltime mommy" can be like a slap in the face.

Me?  I work because I provide 75% of our family's income and 100% of our health insurance.  No amount of side jobs and babysitting can replace comprehensive health coverage.  Am I currently in my dream job?  Nope.  Do I complain about it?  Often There is no point.  As of now, where we are in our lives, it is what it is.  I've always enjoyed working throughout my life, and I'm not certain that I'm cut out to be a stay at home mom.  But right now, I don't have the option to find that out.  Maybe some day.

You can read about my average day as a mom working outside of the house here.  (go on.  I'll wait).  With all the things I have going on, I still love, teach, and nurture my child each and every day.  Being away from the home during business hours, does not a bad mom make.

Is my child perfect?  Pardon me while I snort.  Is any child perfect? 

Anyone?

Bueller?

As parents, we can be around our kids 24/7, or just a few waking hours a day.  The end result is that we're going to fuck them up regardless of what we do.   We all fail our kids on a daily basis no matter our working situation.  And that is ok.  Our job and our right as parents is to make mistakes so that our children see us as imperfect human beings.  They need to witness our trials and tribulations so that they know what life has in store.  No parent can or should present a perfect plastic lying life to their kids.  That is a huge disservice to them, and frankly an insult to their intelligence.  We owe it to our kids to show them that life is a series of journeys - some are memorable because they're wonderful.  Some are important because they taught us a hard lesson.  Regardless, they shape who are are and shouldn't be glossed over.


Show me a mother, and I'll show you a working mom.  It doesn't matter if they're employed for money outside of the home, all moms are working.  We're all trying to do right by our kids and our families, and hells bells we need to support each other instead of judge one another because of the choice that works for OUR families.  And I'll be the first one to raise my hand and say I've been guilty of judging another parent's choices.  I'm sorry.  I was wrong. 

Let's just love our kids and keep our opinions to ourselves (and or blogs), give each other support to make mistakes and choices, and everything else will just fall in the place.



Just because.  Because I think this photo is adorable.  That's why!

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