Monday, October 31, 2011

Bad Day con't....

Ravings: The thing about bad moods, especially when you indulge them, is they are difficult to stop! Mine continued on through Sat, and if I’m being truly honest with myself, probably through most of Sunday also. I think there are still some remnants as I type these words this morning. Allowing that bitterness to creep out creates an emotional gap that allows the other stuff to surface. There are times I can be around children and I am totally fine. I can enjoy the moment and my aunt joy runs pure, but there are other times, like Saturday, when the grief comes bubbling up and overtakes my entire being. It feels like being punched in the throat, or what I imagine being punched in the throat feels like because I’ve never actually been punched in the throat. Thank God!

Came across this today and just wanted to say that I am so happy I’m not a boy!!! Man Gets Stuck in Baby Swing Overnight. Girls would just not do this!

Cravings: So, turns out there is a For Dummies book about Food Styling and Photography! There really is a For Dummies book about everything!

With the dark cloud following me around this weekend, I didn’t end up doing a lot of cooking. I did put something in the crock pot yesterday, but I ended up going on to dinner with my girlfriends so I have no idea how it tasted. It was similar to the one from the end of last week. Added one chopped onion, 3 chopped yellow beets, 2 chopped carrots, several leaves of chopped kale, small handful of chopped dried apricots, ½ cup of lentils (I had to use the French ones again because it’s what I had.), ½ cup of wild rice, about a teaspoon or so each of turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, basil, thyme, and ground chipotle pepper. Covered with water and left it on high for the day. I’m not sure what time they ate it because I wasn’t home.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad Day!

Ravings: I am Angry McBitterson today. Most days I fight the urge to be that person who can only focus on the negative, and I’m usually pretty good at it. Although, I admit it is difficult to tell because I have a deeply ingrained sarcastic sense of humor. I think it’s genetic, so I can’t really help it. That’s how it works right? I can just blame it on my genetics. Once that acrimony begins to rise in my throat, it can be hard to control. You know that feeling….where you can look at any situation and find the ugly part to focus on. Sometimes it feels good, guiltily indulgent and selfish. (Yes, guiltily is a word! I looked it up.) Like watching The Real Housewives or Teen Mom. You won’t admit it out loud, but we’ve all indulged that urge on occasion.

There is a technique in mental health called planned worrying. It’s a strategy to get anxiety under control. The idea is that you set aside time to think of everything this that worries you and allow your mind to go to all those scary places, but with a time limit. The idea is that you get to indulge the need to worry, but learn to turn it on and off. So rather than fight it, my plan is to run with it today. I’m calling it planned bitterness! Here are a list of things that irritate me:

  • The male trait of being utterly incapable of locating anything in the house, even if they are standing in front of it. Which seems to be directly connected to the expectation that the female of the house knows , and can recall instantaneously, the exact latitude and longitude of every single item in the home.
  • The other male trait of having to change every setting in any car they enter, even if it’s just to move it out of the driveway, and the apparent inability to put them back. Do you really have to adjust all the mirrors, change the radio station and move the seatbelt height for what amounts to less than 2 minutes in the car?
  • People who live in Cleveland, and forget how to drive in inclement weather during the 5 minutes of summer we get here.
  • My complete inability to drink coffee without spilling it on myself, especially if I’m wearing white! I’m blaming this one on genetics also. Thanks mom!
  • People with children. Usually it’s something specific about them that I disapprove of, but today it’s all them! Damn fertile humans!
  • People who blatantly steal the credit for an idea right in front of you. And worse, have convinced themselves that it was their idea/plan.
  • People who ask a favor and then treat you like they are the ones doing you a favor for letting you do what they asked you to do. And have absolutely no insight into their own selfishness!
  • My lack of any sort of fashion sense!

I’m sure I could keep going, but I should just get this posted and get some actual work done today!

Cravings: Last night was breakfast for dinner night. Primarily because I was planning to make fajitas and someone (not me!) ate all the tortillas, so I had to think on my feet. And really, who doesn’t love breakfast?! So here is my version of a frittata. I grated (with a hand grater, which I wouldn’t recommend) 4 large fingerling potatoes. I put them in an oiled oven-proof frying pan. I couldn’t find my cast iron frying pan! I would recommend getting some of the water out of them. I just blotted them down with a paper towel in the pan. This smooshed them down to cover the bottom of the pan also. Then I put them in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 10 mins, maybe a little less.

In the meantime, I chopped up some onion and got it caramelizing on the stovetop. Then I chopped up some red pepper. Once the onions were fairly browned, I took them out of the pan and sautéed the red pepper and added about a half a small can of green chilies, and about a cup of fresh spinach, and almost immediately took it off the heat, but left it in the pan and added the onions back in. Then I whipped up 10 eggs with some dried basil, thyme and oregano. I have fresh but it was cold and rainy so I decided not to venture into the back yard. I also grated a couple cups of swiss cheese. Once the potatoes were a bit crispy, but not done, I poured the eggs on top of them, added the veggies and the cheese and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes. I served it with biscuits, but only for the boys since I’m not eating gluten and I just made them with Bisquick. Ok, I ate a half of one, but that doesn’t count! I think most of the gluten was in the half I didn’t eat!

Better, but I think I need a food stylist. Is there a For Dummies book on photographing food? I am so googling that!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Ravings: Warning: I’m going to just put myself right out there. I know what you’re thinking. How much more could she put out there? This blog did begin by tracking my every move in an attempt to get pregnant! But it’s worse. So much worse. I have a horrible memory! Now I know that doesn’t sound so bad, right? We all forget where we put the car keys or leave that load of laundry in the washer. But I find it utterly impossible to remember dates. The really important ones! My husband’s birthday, my sister’s anniversary, my graduation from college. It’s all just gone from my brain. I’m not proud of it, and I have done my best to hide it, but it’s become a complete energy drain to pretend like I have any idea what happened when. I give up! Judge me as you wish, but I am hopelessly dependent on my electronic calendar. Now if I could just figure out how to synch them all!!!

Whew. I actually feel better.

Cravings: As I promised, there was some yummy goodness created in my crock pot last night. Added to the pot, in no particular order was 1 medium onion, 4 medium carrots, 2 sweet potatoes, several leaves of kale, 3 gloves of garlic, and 2-3 tomatoes all chopped. To that I added about 1 ½ cups of dried chick peas/garbanzo beans that I quick soaked (boiled for a couple minutes, covered and left in the pan for about an hour), some cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, allspice, salt, pepper, and some fresh parsley. I then added enough water (you can use chicken broth, but I have the vegetarian to please)to just cover it, and turned it on high overnight. When I got up in the morning I turned it to low for the 8+ hours until dinner. My crock pot cooks super high, just fyi.

When I got home, I boiled some kamut, which is a grain similar to rice, but has a chewier texture. I think technically it has gluten in it, but I had some and I love this stuff, and I’m not allergic to gluten. And I did only agree to go gluten light, since there is very little that would cause me to give up beer and/or wine! I served it in a big bowl mixed together with some fried apples on the side. For the apples, I just sliced 2 gala apples and sautéed them in some butter until they are slightly soft, and then added a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and a small handful of chopped up pecans. I served mine with some plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey, but Jason and CJ ate theirs plain.

I really need to work on my food styling! I promise it tastes much better than it looks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the 'hood

Ravings: I went grocery shopping last night at the Whole Foods in Beachwood. I only shop there periodically, but decided to go since I had been unable to make it to the West Side Market on Monday. I am very committed to eating primarily organic produce and there is very little available at the Giant Eagle in Garfield Heights. As some of you may be aware, Garfield Heights has not fared well in the recent economic downturn. That’s putting it mildly, by the way! When I purchased this home 11 years ago, it was a nice blue collar, family neighborhood. It is now just a ‘hood. We are trying to escape, but the housing market is such a mess. Never fear, we have a plan.

However, I digress. Normally, I come home pretty irritated and stressed out after my Giant Eagle shopping trip. I am that crazy coupon lady (I have a binder and everything) and sometimes I do not get lucky with the checkout person. Most of them are just flat out rude! And I’m very organized about the coupons. But they are just pissed that they have to scan them through. Once I thought the checkout lady might actually attack me because I had two free coupons and she had to look for the cost of the item, even though I ran them through first and told her that! Then there is the bagging. I can’t be the only person who brings in my own bags, but you would think I was asking them to drive me home, unload and put away my groceries for me! I have gotten anything from an eye roll to slamming and throwing the bags around to muttering “I hate these damn things.” I mean really, you don’t get paid by the customer. You have to be there even if I’m not checking out. I don’t even want to think about how they treat the elderly customers who shop there!

The other customers are just as bad. I have gotten my cart slammed into and then told to watch out, even though I wasn’t moving. I have gotten the exaggerated huff because we both turned the corner into each other, and clearly it was my fault for not just magically knowing a cart would be rounding the aisle at the same time as mine. Then there’s the parking lot. Carts are never put where they belong. Cars always have the right of way, even if they have to run you over to prove it. And the last time I was there, I came out of the store to a cop car pulled behind my car because the woman who had parked next to me had left her three children (they all looked under school age) in the car alone. Do I really live here???

Back to my point. The experience at Whole Foods was like a parallel universe. People stopped their cars to allow pedestrians to cross. A woman in the produce section politely asked me to help her pick out potatoes. (She was foreign and didn’t understand the pricing.) I walked by the meat dept and was asked if I needed any help. The checkout lady chatted and commented on my bags. (And you get a discount for bringing in your own bags.) She even estimated the weight of my mesh produce bags and deducted it from the weight of the produce! As I was walking my cart back up to the store after unloading the groceries into my car, a woman asked if I would like her to take the cart in because she was on her way in! I almost looked around for a camera!!

As I drove home, I wondered if this was the difference between Giant Eagle shoppers and Whole Foods shoppers, or if this was attributable to the neighborhood. I think I know the answer, but I have to live her for a little while longer! Denial can be a friend.\

Cravings: I don’t recall if I mentioned that I had ordered some gluten free pizza dough. Well, I did, and it came in, and since I had gone to the grocery store right after work I was starting dinner late. I thought that was a good time to try out the new dough. Either I did something wrong or these non-gluten eaters can fool themselves into thinking anything tastes good. Jason and CJ tried to be polite about it, but there was absolutely no resemblance to pizza dough! It was like a really dry, dense biscuit. Yuck! I have 3 more bags so I will be trying to improve it, so we’ll see, but I’m not looking forward to eating that again. Had it been regular dough, it would have been good. I love homemade pizza because there are endless possibilities, and Jason is so open to trying new foods. I really did get lucky! Anyway, for last night’s pizza, I spread the “dough” with bottled olive tapenade (you can make your own, but it’s so much easier to just buy it!), sundried tomatoes, and feta cheese. Would have been yummy with real pizza dough! I served it with a side salad of greens, red peppers, feta, and Annies Goddess dressing. That was the last of it, so I’ll have to make some one of these days and pass along the recipe.

Oh, and I put some yumminess in the crockpot last night and it smelled so delicious when I woke up this morning that I almost ate it for breakfast! I'll try to remember to take a picture.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fresh air

Ravings: What is it about being at your parents’ house that is just so peaceful and homey? Or maybe it’s just my dad’s house. Everything just feels cozier. I had such a great weekend, just hanging out with my dad and my sister. We did a lot of chatting, some driving around the country, played a poker tournament, and watched a lot of Storage Wars! My sister had never seen it and my dad and I couldn’t stop talking about it, so we had to introduce her! I’m totally addicted to that show, and now my dad has me watching Auction Hunters also! I’m turning into an old person. I even broke out the crocheting stuff yesterday! I think it’s hopeless at this point.

Does that fact that my sister and I played a video game for about 5 hours Sat night make me any younger? Probably not, since it was Donkey Kong. It was on the Wii, however, not like an old NES system. Does that get me any cool points? My sister and I both love playing video games, but we never get to do it, so we plan these video game weekends. One of my favorite times with my sister was a weekend at my dads, doing absolutely nothing but playing Ape Escape. We were house-sitting at my dads, and gathered up the snacks and the dogs and planted ourselves on the pullout couch in their basement. We left the basement, only to get food or go potty, and we played almost non-stop for 2 days. I’m not even sure we slept! And we had a blast!

Here is the view from the back porch. Tell me that’s not peacefull!

Cravings: We didn’t end up doing as much cooking as I had planned and hoped. Friday we ate a late lunch out so none of us was hungry for a full meal by dinner. We just ended up grazing, mostly candy! Sat, we made a thai veggie stir fry. My sister joined a CSA this summer and has been overrun with unusual produce, so we planned a stir fry to use as much as we could. This didn’t work as well as I had planned, since the only veggie really belonging in a stir fry was the napa cabbage. I will try to recall all the veggies we put in, but it’s a stir fry so you can really just use what you have. Napa cabbage, carrots, turnips (this really didn’t belong), onion, peppers (red and green), and maybe something else I can’t recall at the moment. I sautéed it all in some sesame oil, then added freshly grated ginger (you can keep this in the freezer and just grate it as you need it), ¾ can of coconut milk, couple tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, tablespoon of sriracha, about ½ cup of soy sauce, and about ½ cup chunky peanut butter. Then just let the sauce thicken up a bit. We also boiled some rice noodles, which only take about 10 minutes total, and served the veggies on top of the noodles. Even my meat and potatoes dad liked it! And that was with the turnips.

Sunday was leftovers day and yesterday I was sick so Jason made boxed mac and cheese. So much for not eating gluten. I’m back to being on top of my diet today though and plan to hit Whole Foods for my weekly produce since I didn’t make it to the West Side Market yesterday. Let’s think yummy crock pot thoughts and maybe a breakfast for dinner meal. Who knows, I’m sorta winging it this week!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lessons in life

Ravings: So, apparently I came off a little harsher than I intended. Given that, I would like to publically apologize to CJ. He really is a good kid. He’s had a tough upbringing and that’s really what bothers me the most and I should have made that more clear. And he is just a teenager. I’m really proud of him for telling me that the blog post upset him, and quite flattered that he’s reading it (what teenage boy wants to listen to some middle aged lady whine about life!) and really impressed that he felt comfortable enough to come to me and tell me how he was feeling! Sometimes screw ups can lead to really good conversation.
Cravings: We went to a family dinner last night, so no cooking for me. Sometimes it's nice to have a night off and let someone else do the work. I had a great time with my new family. Thank God for comfort food, wine (although not good wine! love you Suzy!), and great company.
My sister and I are headed out in a little bit to spend the weekend with my dad. My step-mom is out of town and I'm really looking forward to having some daddy-daughter time. It doesn't matter how old I get, daddy is still daddy! We have some yummy dinners planned though, so I will return with a couple good cravings if all goes well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

At a loss, in so many ways!

Ravings: How do you raise someone else’s child once they’re already grown? That’s the dilemma I am faced with every day. How do I get him to value a hard day’s work? How do I get him to take pride in himself and the things he does? Aren’t these all things you instill into a child as they grow up? How do I take an 18 year old and shape him into an adult? I really am at a loss. He doesn’t seem to care about much at all, although he would argue that point.

God, clearly, has a sense of humor on this one. This is not exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted a child. I wanted an actual child. Not this man-child being who argues with everything and thinks I’m a materialistic, out of touch Martian, and breaks everything in his path! This is exactly why babies are born so cute and cuddly. So you can look back at those sweet times and curb that desire to lock them out of the house and pretend you don’t know them! I didn’t get that cute, sweet smelling baby time so can someone please tell me how I can keep from secretly moving in the middle of his 4 hour shift?

Cravings: I absolutely adore spaghetti squash. I even adore it knowing full well what a PITA (Pain in the ASS!) it is to make. Pomegranates and spaghetti squash are permanently adorned across all corners of my kitchen. I am sure of it. To start the job, I cut the squash into fourths and clean out the seeds and seed pulp. I doubt that’s the official name for it, but I have no desire to google spaghetti squash seed pulp and see what comes up. Just not feeling it today. Similar to the butternut squash I put the pieces into a pan bit a bit of water and put them in the microwave for 10 mins. I cut the squash into 4 pieces because that’s what fits in my microwave.

In the meantime, I chopped up about a half a sweet onion and then sautéed it with a couple heads of garlic, mashed. I added a small can of chopped green chilies and a can of enchilada sauce. You can make your own, which I’ve done, but it was a Wed’s evening so I went with the canned. I then added some salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried oregano. I covered it and let it simmer on low while I did the rest of dinner prep. Once the squash was cooked a cooled enough to handle with a towel, I began the scraping process. I did my squash in 2 batches, so while I was scraping the first batch, I was nuking the other batch. After a bit of yelling because the dishes weren’t done (see above rant!) and my kitchen isn’t even as big as a walk in closet, I had a bowl of spaghetti squash which I then added to the sauce.

While that was simmering a bit, I chopped up the rest of the rainbow chard and sautéed it with some olive oil, butter, and quite a bit of garlic (probably like 4-5 heads). I also added just a small bit of butter and salt at the end once I turned off the heat, just to finish it. This is my favorite way to eat it. It’s pretty (although you can't tell from this picture!) and so yummy!

I served the spaghetti squash with some grated white cheddar cheese alongside the sautéed rainbow chard with a glass of Layer Cake Shiraz. What a perfect meal! Oh, and I also had a scoop of Jeni’s pistachio and honey ice cream later in the evening. Food makes me happy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is this a movie?

Ravings: Did everyone see the news about the wild/exotic animals that escaped in Zanesville, Ohio? Holy crap! That is some scary stuff. I can’t imagine living near there. One article that I read stated that “One animal that got away, described as a big cat, was hit by a car on a highway some distance away…” Can you even imagine that? You are driving down the highway and out pops a lion or a Bengal tiger. Do you think they stopped and got out of the car? I’m not sure what would be running through my head, other than “Holy shit!” The article also said that one of the escaped monkeys was eaten by a lion. Remember that movie, Jumanji? I totally flashed to that movie when I read that. Those monkeys were everywhere!

I don’t mean to make light because this is just sad and scary on multiple levels. Another article reported that Ohio is “one of fewer than 10 states that don’t regulate private ownership of dangerous wild animals….” I have always had mixed feelings about the zoo, and I have a problem with the circus, but I have no earthly idea why someone would want to own and house a big cat, a bear, or a wolf. These animals are aggressive and cannot be tamed. Many years ago I was working at a hospital on the neuro-intensive care unit when a circus trainer was bitten in the head and leg by a Bengal tiger. He had been in the circus animal training business since the age of 4, and, according to his family, had raised these animals. I saw the teeth marks in his legs. Do you have any idea how big a Bengal tiger tooth is? These are not pets!

I’ve been reading the comments on the articles from people who are outraged that these animals are being shot. While I think it’s sad that they had to be killed, are people really that naïve? Ok, I know that’s a stupid question, but really people, this isn’t the movies where animals can just be caught in a net and thrown into a box. I’m sad and angry that this man was allowed to even have these animals to begin with. Like I mentioned, I even have mixed feelings about the zoo. But these animals were kept in what amounts to large dog cages, and from what I understand may have been abused in some way. However, that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to roam free in a neighborhood where children are walking to the school bus. Should they just be allowed to feed freely because Ohio’s policy allowed them to be privately owned and housed in cages? I am just full of rhetorical questions today.

Cravings: Moving on to food. One of the pitfalls of being adventurous with food is that it sometimes doesn’t work! Last night was one of those “I would be ok if we didn’t have that again” meals. Isn’t he sweet?! That’s Jason’s way of telling me dinner sucked. I didn’t feel that strongly about it, and CJ actually liked it, but I did think there was room for improvement, so I’ll tell you where and what I would change as I go.

I’ve made stuffed peppers many times, so was apparently too arrogant concerning my ability to just wing it! I started with lentils (French lentils, which I’ve never used before so that may have been the start of the problems.) which I pre-cooked by boiling them for about 20-30 mins until they were almost done. (Here is my second problem. I think I should have boiled them longer because they never really softened up.) I then sautéed some onion and rainbow chard, added some of the dried mushrooms that I had reconstituted, and mixed in the lentils. I then added about a cup, maybe a little less of this chipotle greek yogurt dip that I’ve had in my fridge for a while and really needed to use soon! I used 3 red peppers, cut them in half and cleaned out the seeds. I spooned the lentil mixture into them and put them in the oven at 350 for about 45 mins. Besides using different lentils or cooking the French lentils longer, I think it really needed a tomato sauce. The top layer of lentils got crispy, which I didn’t mind so much, but Jason hated that part. I think he may have scraped that off and given it to Shadow! Oh and Jason said it needed ground beef! He’s a reluctant non-meat eater.

I also made dessert last night! I just mixed up some blackberries and blueberries with a bit of sugar (probably less than a tablespoon because I like the tartness), put them in a ramiken and covered it in a mixture of oats, brown sugar, and butter. I just mix them together until it’s not dry. It baked in the 350 oven for about 20 mins. Yummy!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts of Autumn

Ravings: I have mixed feelings about autumn as a season in general. I love the leaves and the crispness in the air, but I hate the impending feeling of doom it brings. For us Clevelanders, autumn is just a fast track to freezing cold, dark and grey, miserable winter. There are some perks of winter, like my neighbors staying inside their houses and fuzzy socks, but other than that it’s just something I endure! Autumn, however, I like to relish a bit. The smells and colors of autumn are breathtaking. The smell of a crackling fire or brightly colored crunchy leaves in a big pile. I wish I had a picture of the Basketeria stand at the West Side Market. There are the heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and colors, the dark purple sweet peppers, the saturated orange of the pumpkins, the dark green acorn squash, the fleshy butternut squash, and the bright rainbow colors of chard. It feels like a place of infinite possibilities! Good think I always make a list. Then those hues turn into yummy goodness, filling the house with aromas of smoky earthiness. Autumn is the time for thick, creamy soups and dark rich stews. This is the time of year when my crock pot gets a workout. What’s better than filling that bowl with all those veggies, some broth and some herbs and letting the house fill up with smells of onion and garlic and mushroom and rosemary!? This is making me hungry!

Cravings: After all that talk of autumn vegetables, this meal will fit right in. I cut a butternut squash in half, cleaned out the seeds (which you can roast like pumpkin seeds, btw) put a bit of water in a microwave safe dish and put the 2 halves in the microwave on high for about 10 mins. Peeling butternut squash is one of the worst tasks in the kitchen. I am surprised that I still have all of my appendages each and every time I complete this task. So this was my attempt at trying to make this task easier. It worked, to a degree. I didn’t have to wrestle with it, but it still wasn’t what I would call easy. Anyway, after the microwave I just let it sit for a while to cool off enough to handle.

Once I was ready to start dinner, I got out a great big skillet, sautéed some diced red onion, threw in some chopped rainbow chard, stems and leaves, and then added the cubed butternut squash. I then added about a cup of stock (I used vegetable stock because CJ is a vegetarian and when we do veggie night, I do it all the way so he can enjoy what we are eating as well), and a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. I then sprinkled in a little ground red pepper, some black pepper and some salt and then added a couple leaves fresh sage and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, both chopped. I also added a big tablespoon of some hot pepper mustard that my sister made. It simmered, covered, while a fried a couple pieces of bacon (for Jason and I). I served it in big bowls, sprinkled with the crumbled bacon and some grated parmesan cheese. So yummy and warm and full of autumn!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big annoyances come in small packages

What a fantastic weekend! I feel like I was in some kind of time warp. We were able to get so much accomplished and I feel like I actually got to spend some good quality time with my new husband! What more could you ask for from a weekend. I also made my niece a dress! Told you....some weird time warp!

Little annoyances (Ravings): Remember the socks I bought for Jason? Well, one of those chores I accomplished over the weekend was laundry. That never-ending pile of drudgery. I hate doing laundry. Can you tell? It’s the folding and putting away that I dread. Ugh! But I digress, because prepping new clothes for the wash is another crazy, completely unnecessarily time consuming chore that typically just serves to piss me off. Anyway, the socks. It’s a package of six dress socks, hanging on that little plastic hanger, wrapped with the ring of cardboard around the middle with the brand name, size etc. So I take off the cardboard ring and am met with the gauntlet of little plastic thingies. This is what I have been calling them all weekend. I have since googled them and they are called barbs, fine barbs to be exact because they are small and thin. There were 12 of them holding these socks together! And we all know what it’s like to get those things off. You have to carefully get the scissors in there to cut them, without cutting the fabric, which would create a hole. This means you have to gently pull the fabric apart, being careful not to pull that little barb right through, which would create hole. I had to buy these socks because he puts holes in them with his toenails! He doesn’t need a tiny hole to help him get started!

What is this trend to pinning and stapling and fastening everything so that there is no chance of movement? I don’t understand it. They are socks! I paid like 5 dollars for them. Seriously, I’m totally ok if they shifted a bit. I have noticed this with children’s toys as well. Getting anything out of its packaging takes multiple and various tools, infinite time, and unending patience. Not to mention that you have a 5 year old standing there making you feel like a complete useless mass of cells for not getting the pony out of the box fast enough! Clearly, I’ve had this experience and have not yet recovered because I recall also having to get this plastic piece that had been sewn in out of its mane.

What I’m eating: (Cravings): I took the day off from cooking on Friday and asked Jason to handle dinner. We ended up ordering pizza. And by we, I mean me! I really have no idea what that man did before I was feeding him. So, clearly, this was not a gluten free meal! Oh well, I’m back at it on Sat morning.

Saturday night I made flax and parmesan crusted tilapia with spinach salad. Basically, I ground up some flax seeds ( I never measure when I’m cooking so I will guess it was about a ½ cup for 2 fillets. ) in a coffee grinder, then added some (maybe a ¼ cup) shredded parmesan cheese, and put it on a plate. I dredged the fish is 2 beaten eggs and then the flax and cheese mixture and pan fried it in a tiny bit of olive oil. Right before it finished cooking I added about a tablespoon of butter. You don’t need the butter but Jason is a very picky fish eater and he likes it so I only do it to appease him. For the salad, I just chopped up an heirloom tomato and a bit of red onion (really thinly so it’s not overpowering) and put that over some baby spinach. I then sprinkled on some feta cheese we had leftover and a bit of Annie’s Goddess dressing, which I’m obsessed with. I have figured out how to make my own but sometimes it’s just too time consuming. The next time I make it though, I’ll post the recipe I use!

Sunday we had Jason’s family over for his birthday dinner. I made a citrus roasted chicken. Super easy and it just cooks all day. Put a whole chicken in an over bag, rub some butter on the skin (not sure if this actually does anything!) and then put the rest in the bag. I think I used a little over a ½ a stick. Pour in some chicken stock (about ¼ - ½ cup), then cut 2 lemons, 2 limes, and 2 tangerines into pieces (the first time I made this I used oranges, but tangerines were on sale at the West Side Market last week) and throw them into the bag. Then I added some fresh rosemary, lemon thyme, sage and parsley, tied up the bag, put it in an uncovered roasting pan and threw it in the over at 350 for about 4-4 ½ hours. Note: This was like a 10 lb chicken, so decrease your cooking time accordingly. About an hour before I served dinner, I cut up some fingerling potatoes, coated them with lemon olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in the oven with the chicken. Then right before dinner I blanched some green beans and then sautéed them with a tablespoon of butter and a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar for a few minutes. At the last minute, I threw in some sun dried tomatoes and then put them on a serving plate and sprinkled them with some leftover crumbled goat cheese. I was afraid I didn’t have enough food, so I also threw a bag of buttered brussel sprouts in the microwave! If I had more ambition, and a bigger kitchen, I would have used the juice from the chicken to make a gravy, but I had neither, so no gravy was had!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My heaven is mundane!

So here I am Friday morning, sitting at work with my second cup of coffee, which in reality equals 4 cups because I have one of those huge coffee mugs, but some days I need an IV drip of coffee to get through the morning. As I was pondering what to write about I realized that the last 2 days have been, well normal and mundane. My first reaction is to panic because I don’t really have anything exciting to write about, but then I find this smile creeping up inside me. I crave normal and mundane in this wild hectic schedule of mine!

Wednesday evening I met my sister in North Olmsted for a chemical peel. (I can’t say facial anymore because Jason, who is really still just a 12 year old boy can’t stop himself from making a sexual comment each and every time I say the word, so I now have an aversion to it!) We had purchased them several months ago on Living Social (great concept, btw. Why didn’t I come up with that?) and haven’t been able to coordinate our schedules enough to schedule the appointment until now. Technically, the voucher had expired, but since we called a few weeks ago before it expired, they still let us use it! So, for an hour or so on Wednesday evening I got to be girly. Even as I write this, I have to stop and savor that moment!

Of course, after the appointment, it’s on to some errands. I tried to extend our girl time but my sister had to get home to the sitter! Her schedule is worse than mine! I admire, and envy, her energy! I run to Target to get Jason some socks because he had these dagger toenails that rip right through them. I have had socks for years. He goes through socks monthly! While I’m there I decide to pick up some food since I haven’t been to the grocery store in almost 2 weeks, and then I head home to hopefully eat and spend five minutes with my husband.

Last night was almost like heaven! I snuck out of work about ½ hour early and ran to the store to get Jason some pants. He has to dress up for work every day and clearly we haven’t been able to get the laundry done quickly enough each week because he’s been running out. He needs at least a week’s worth of clothes, since I have 2 closets full! I get home about an hour after he gets home and he’s sitting on the couch with Shadow. The two of them are all snuggled up under the blanket looking all cute and inviting that I just plopped down on the couch with them! He said that Shadow had decided tonight was a no projects night! I took a few minutes to just snuggle them both, and then I forced myself to go make dinner!

We had a sort of ground beef ragu over mashed potatoes and parsley root with a side of roasted veggies! It didn’t take me too long to make it and we settled in for a family night. CJ even sat down and watched The Office with us when he got home from work. I did have to make a menu plan and a grocery list, but surprisingly it didn’t take me very long and I was able to finish it while Jason was on the phone with his brother. We even got to bed early! I love these lazy, snuggly days of fall!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to the Land of Bitter!

It’s Wed and I’m sitting down to eat my lunch. My intention was to write a recap of the last 2 days, but first I need to vent. I just went into the cafeteria to warm up my lunch of rice and veggies, with a side of organic pear and cheddar cheese, and I encounter another woman warming up her lunch. Normally, I don’t care what other people eat and I’m used to being made fun of for my restrictive whole organic food diet, but it’s one of those moments that strikes me and sends me to bitter land. She’s heating up a plate of mini pretzel dogs and has a can of coke sitting next to the box! Bad enough, right? Here’s where I go to bitter! She’s like 5 months pregnant!! I know, I know. Time to let it go. There’s more that makes me angry about the situation, but I can’t go to the bitter AND judgmental place. I’ll just stay here in bitter land while I eat my pear!

On to the recap: Monday was a blur of working. I hate those days when I am working 2 jobs and there is that awkward amount of time in between. It’s not really enough time to go home and do anything productive, other than maybe irritate Shadow and use the bathroom, but its way too much time to head straight to the appointment. So you are left with going early and wasting time, which is what I did. It worked out well though because I’ve been playing phone tag with my sister-in-law and I was able to have an actual conversation with her and get caught up, so ended up being time well spent.

It was about 9:30 when I got home, starving and exhausted, and walked in the house to find my kitchen destroyed. We have had some ongoing, although periodic trouble with our dishwasher leaking. Jason decided to rip it apart, find the leak and fix it. But of course, he did this before the dishes were done! So the dishwasher is in the middle of the kitchen and dishes are covering the counter. And they didn’t make the dinner I had told them to make, so there was nothing to eat! I just turned around and walked upstairs to change into my pajamas. Jason did make me some leftover chili and I finally crawled into bed.

Yesterday was a great day. It was Jason’s birthday and I was excited to have a real date! I only worked one job, so I got home at 5ish, and he arrived shortly after. CJ also started his new job yesterday and I was excited to hear about that, but he wasn’t due to arrive home until like 8:30. After getting caught up on our neighborhood drama because my neighbor couldn’t even wait until I got out of the car to come tell me the gossip, we left for our night out!

We ate dinner at Lago in Tremont. What a wonderful meal. The food was phenomenal and the service outstanding! I would highly recommend this place! It was almost like we were dating again. There was laughter, romance, food sharing; all the markings of bona fide date night! Being the constant observer of people, I couldn’t help but notice the “couple” at the table next to ours. They were an odd couple to begin with, but their demeanor and behavior made it all the more impossible to resist. I found myself studying them several times throughout the night. He was the quintessential nerd, ipad in hand, and I overheard him talking to the manager about not being able to access their wi-fi. She was a gorgeous black woman, dressed professionally. Odd couple, even in appearance alone. He stared into space most of the evening and she concentrated primarily on her food, occasionally looking at him with an expression that seemed exacerbated to almost disdainful. But they didn’t speak. At all! I couldn’t help but wonder aloud about their story! They didn’t appear to have that almost obvious look of a first date gone terribly wrong, and other than the occasional look of contempt or frustration, they appeared almost like strangers. Jason’s contribution to my musings was that the woman could be an “escort.” He has no imagination, or maybe it’s no interest. Either way, I disproved that theory when she was handed the check for dinner. She signed the receipt, got up and leaned over the table and said something to him, turned and walked out. He followed.

Of course, I do to ask our waiter about this odd couple and he confirmed that they are, in fact, a couple and come to the restaurant all the time! He continued on, telling me that they always act like that. They never interact with one another, they take turns paying, and he typically spends the evening on his ipad or his iphone. He also added that they don’t tip well. It really does take all kinds!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There's no place like home

What a crazy busy weekend!!! I finally had a free evening, and Jason stayed after work to play poker. So Friday night ended up being a “do stuff around the house” night. We were having a realtor come over on Sat, so it was probably best that I was forced to find something productive to do. So I spent the evening clipping coupons, making beds, and scrubbing the bathroom. All the while, recalling the days when Friday evening was about nothing but getting dressed up and going out. Those days seem so long ago!!

Saturday, I had a mandatory compliance meeting for my new business venture. Was pretty interesting, but nothing I didn’t know. I flew home after the meeting and had 2 hours to prepare for the realtor. I was under the delusion that I could deny the reality of the market by making my house sparkling clean. Jason and CJ had done a great job doing the basics that morning, but there were still some details to finish. They are boys after all! We get everything looking fabulous and even put some artwork up, including some really cool wall stickers above our bed because we don’t have a headboard. (We had subtle Wizard of Oz theme to our wedding, so it seemed appropriate. See below.)

Once this is all done, I say to CJ, “Is your room clean?” He, of course, says yes. So I say, “Clean to my standards or clean to your standards.” He admits it’s somewhere in the middle, and I know I’m going to have to go up there and check. He occupies the third floor walk up attic, and I’ve tried to avoid venturing up there since he moved in. But I know it’s inevitable. Before I cave, I send Jason into the abyss….. and then he comes back down and says what I’ve been dreading….”You are going to have to go up there!” So I steel myself against what I might find and walk up the stairs. And then the panic sets in. The man who will determine my fate (I know I’m being dramatic, but we really want out of the house/neighborhood!) will be here in 30 mins. This could take years! I knew that teenage boys were messy, but this….this is…..there are no words. And this was after he cleaned it! Thankfully, some unknown force are sheer brute strength and will took over. I began barking orders, shoving things under the bed, into drawers, wherever I could hide the junk. And I literally mean junk! (Note to self: Discuss possible hoarding tendencies with Jason and maybe find out how much weight the top floor of our house will support!)

Thankfully, the man was late! So Jason and I were able to compose ourselves, pour a drink and sit on the front porch looking like it was effortless before the man arrived.

We all know where this is going right? Unless you live under a rock that is buried in a cave covered in prehistoric sludge, you know we are underwater on our mortgage! And I think in the back of my mind, I knew it would be bad. The reality, for me, stings. For Jason, it hurt a little more! He’s still reeling a bit. I mean, I bought this house almost 12 years ago, and thought I got a pretty good deal back then. It was a fixer-upper (fun in the beginning, but I have since vowed to never undergo any form of renovation on a home older than 10 years!), and I’ve put a ton of work into it. And so has Jason. His more recent, which is why I think he’s still in shock! So, our only choices are to stay and deal with the drama that is our street or ruin my credit by defaulting or begging for a short sale. I know in the end we will do the right thing. We are both so damn responsible! But for now, we enjoy plotting our escape!

To console ourselves, and because CJ went to a haunted house with a friend, we had a real live date night at home! I made steaks, roasted potatoes and caprese salad, and then we played a video game on the Wii. No one can tell me that doesn’t count! It totally counts as a date!

Sunday was spent at my dad’s doing the winterizing chores and the yard work. We got some free plants out of the deal so we can finish the back yard landscaping, and we were well-fed. So all-in-all, it was a pretty nice weekend in total.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saggy pants!

A million thoughts were running through my head this morning about what to put into today’s blog post, but as I sat at a red light on my way to work, I saw a man and his son (probably around 5-7 years old) crossing the street. At first it was one of those sweet early morning sights that make you smile. There is some construction on E 22nd near my office, so there are orange barrels at the corner and near them the street is wet from whatever they are doing. The dad, starting across the street first does that half jump, half tip-toe we all do through water, and holds his hand behind him signaling for his son. His son now begins to cross the street, attempting to do exactly what his dad had done, but has to jump/tip-toe at least 5 times to his dad’s one, but he never takes his eyes off his dad as he reaches for his hand. They then clasp hands and walk the rest of the way across the street, the son beaming with pride. And then I see the back of dad, his jeans, belt and all, hanging below his butt cheeks, boxers completely exposed, sagging halfway down his legs, and I am instantly irritated! It almost deflated me. I was angry with him for taking this moment away from me. I so wanted to be proud of him for walking his son to school and being that role-model, but I was just so damn disappointed with the saggy pants.

Then the therapist mind kicks in. Why does this bother me so much? He’s still walking his son to school. He still held his hand across the street. His son obviously adores him and wants to be just like him. I think that’s it. He wants to be just like him, saggy pants and all. This kid will eventually be that same punk kid with saggy pants I see all over Cleveland! Or am I just angry (read: jealous) because I feel like I’ve sold out? I gave up my own versions of saggy pants to get ahead in my career. It’s an interesting question, which I’m sure I will continue to think about. What I do know is that those damn saggy pants set me on a path of irritation that isn’t easy to get rid of at work! Just another reason to hate visible boxers!

Here’s a brief synopsis of the other thoughts running through my head this morning:

• My step-son, CJ, got a job!!! Big news in our house because since moving in his days consist of playing on Facebook, watching tv, and playing guitar. Oh most recently, he’s taking up singing. Now, he has a natural amazing talent for guitar, even though I would still like him to get a paying job! He considers himself an unsigned artist and wants to focus on his music! He really needed to get a job. Let me state for the record. He is not a singer. My friend, L, called me a dream killer for saying that, but let’s all remember….I’m a realist!

• Now that I’ve accepted the fate of the childless, my husband has decided it’s his mission to get me pregnant. Sounds fun, right? Except, his plan if for me to give up gluten! I know, makes no sense. I do not have celiac disease, but he heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck talk about how she struggled getting pregnant until she discovered she had a gluten allergy. I have tried to convince him that there are some other differences between Elizabeth and I, but he has apparently never had a biology class. She’s in her teens and I’m going to be 42 in a month!

• My complete and utter lack of free time, and I’ve now decided to take on another job. While I’m excited about it, I’m also terrified that I will never sleep again. And I just got married. I would like to spend some time with my husband! Does sitting on the couch eating dinner and watching The Office at 9pm count as a date?

Speaking of: I worked yesterday until about 7:30pm, and then made dinner. We ate at about 8:30. I made sweet Italian sausage with sautéed onions, pear, and gorgonzola cheese. It was super yummy, only took me about ½ hour and dirtied one pan! Let me know if you want more detail!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How things change!!!

It has been years (shocking how many actually!) since I’ve looked back upon this blog. As I read it, some of the pain rushes back with that tingly sensation of having been asleep for a period of time. I don’t really recall when or how I made the decision to turn my back on this blog. I just know that I did, and I think I had to. As we all know, I’m not good at being vulnerable and those wounds were just too deep and too exposed to face. Even now as I look back with so much perspective and an entirely different life, so different, in fact, that it’s somewhat difficult to picture the old one, I can still feel that pain to my core, sharp and biting as ever. Most days it’s pretty well buried and I don’t even notice it. But even now, three years later, some event, image, sound, word, it’s pretty unpredictable really, will send me to my knees in tears.

Having said all of that, I am happy. Truly, deeply happy. I have mourned the loss and have moved into a wonderful emotional place. Toward the end of the “trying to get pregnant” process, I met a man who has become that person in my life that I had stopped believing possible. He was sweet and supportive from the beginning and held my hand and my heart through some pretty horrific grieving. We are now married and building a life together. It’s a crazy, messy, goofy, unpredictable life, and I really couldn’t be happier.

As I read back over all the posts and re-experience all the emotions, I can’t help reflect on how different I seem/feel, I’m not sure which of those words portrays the thoughts. I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, and as I read the blog I can still sense that inner strength that I held onto through that process, but I feel stronger now. Or maybe it’s surer. Is that even a word? It doesn’t set off my spell check so I’m feeling ok about using it, and I think it more accurately effects how I’m feeling. I feel sure, grounded, this sense of peace and security that wraps me up like a warm blanket. And I feel softer. I’m less afraid and more willing be vulnerable.

And I miss writing!!! So this in my new attempt at blogging. I’m going to try to be better at timeliness, but I’m making no promises. Currently my life is about, work and family. Work is work and I’d like to avoid it as much as possible, but I’m sure it will sneak in here now and again, but family will be my focus. Since I work so much, (and I’ve just taken on another part-time job!) home is a delicate juggling act. For the most part I think I manage it pretty well, so I’m going to put it out there for review. Be gentle please.

My current obsession is real, organic, healthy eating. I cook, from scratch, almost every night. And it’s good! Even my brother-in-law and my friend L*, who both have the palate of toddlers, (ok maybe pre-teens) think it’s good. But there are a million cooking blogs, so while I may focus on some cooking this isn’t strictly a cooking blog. I plan to take license to write about whatever strikes me, but I’ll at least let you know what I’m cooking. Deal? Good, then here we go…..