Archive from June, 2015
Jun 30, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on We Take Our Food Seriously

We Take Our Food Seriously

Howdy, Folks–I’m back!  I opted to be prudent and not announce online that I was heading up to Idaho to visit family for a week or so; I meant to write an appropriately vague post on ‘taking time off to be with family,’ but we had a crazy week or two, and that didn’t  happen.  I’m sure my legions of faithful readers were desperately wondering where I was…

Anyway.  Since my parents had come into town for our daughter’s baby blessing (sort of like a christening), the kids and I drove back to Idaho with them.  My hubby drove up by himself several days later, since he could only take a couple of days off of work; in the meantime, however, my sister and two of her kids joined us at my parents’ house, making for a full house.   (As in, every bed was taken, and people were sleeping in more than one room on mattresses.   When my two-year-old woke up before everyone else, I settled him in the kitchen with our portable DVD player and a blanket.  He spent at least a half an hour watching Curious George at a barely-there decibel.)

Here’s the thing–if I do say so myself, we’re actually a pretty nice family.  Outspoken, yes, but we didn’t squabble, no one used all of the hot water, and we all pitched in (although my mother always works the longest hours, while my sister and I wonder how she stays on her feet).  Among other things, we managed to make three batches of our family’s favorite summer salad (which we devoured with a single-mindedness that probably terrified the in-laws).  It was eaten for breakfast, for lunch, and for late-night (and not-so-late-night) snacks.  If you’re not a fan of bright lemon, fresh parsley, and earthy cumin, stop now; if the combination appeals, keep reading.  You’ll thank me for it.

Guatemala–or Garbanzo Bean–Salad

2 cans Garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained, and shelled (if you haven’t the time to shell them, it’s still good, though)

2 large tomatoes, chopped

3/4 C minced fresh parsley

3 green onions, sliced thinly

1 C cubed cheddar cheese (medium or sharp, if you’re me)

Zest of a good-sized lemon

2/3 C fresh lemon juice (juice the lemon you zest, certainly, but you can top it off with the bottled stuff)

1/3 C olive oil

1/3 t pepper

2/3 t cumin

1/2 t salt

Optional–1 can of black olives, sliced (I generally leave them out, but I will happily eat it with them in.)

The directions are not complicated; you combine the ingredients and refrigerate for at LEAST two hours before serving.  (It will smell amazing instantly, but don’t be fooled.  You MUST wait.)  My sister can eat it for breakfast–she’s lactose intolerant and loves savory leftovers in the morning–but I have a harder time with the acidity first thing.  For lunch, though…mmmm.  (And for dinner, if you can swing it.  Serve it up with cornbread for a fabulous summer evening meal.)  It was a delight to be with like-minded people for a while, since only my oldest enjoys it with me at my house.

I came home tired–my baby has stopped sleeping through the night, which is less than ideal–but it was worth the time.  Nothing in this world is more important than family, and few things say family to me more than cooking and eating together.

I hope you get the chance to make–and eat–this with some of the important people in your life.

Jun 22, 2015 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Words of Wisdom From Carol Mumford

Mrs. Mumford was my 12th grade English teacher–a gracious, well-educated, lovely woman–and she taught me many things.  Because of her I still (usually) remember when to use the subjunctive tense; because of her I know the origin of the term “malapropism”; and because of her I know that  even Shakespeare, while amazing and (sometimes) hilarious, produced a dud–or so she assured me.  (One of these days I’m going to read “Titus Andronicus” for myself, but her judgement was generally impeccable.)  According to her, everyone does.

And while I certainly haven’t read a sample of EVERYONE’S work, I discovered just this week that (believe it or not!) Lois Lowry certainly has a dud.  Because I just read Autumn Street, and OH.  MY.  GOSH.

I actually googled her when I’d finished the book, wondering if it was her first novel, because one of the two biggest problems with it is just how many different plot lines are going on.  Unfortunately for her, it’s not nearly her first (although it’s certainly an earlier one); she doesn’t have that excuse.  The problem with Autumn Street, however, isn’t just how much it’s got going on–it’s WHAT is going on as well.  The book contains–in no particular order–the following:

1)Racial Tension.  It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it comes out of subtlety so that it can be a catalyst at the end.

2)A father fighting in WWII.  He eventually comes home, but with a prosthetic leg.

3)A love triangle.  It’s in the distant past, but it still comes up to affect how the narrator views her world.

4)A sociopath.

5)A psychopath.

6)A benign, dignified grandfather who suffers a stroke and can no longer speak.

7)Situations very pointedly affected by social and financial status.

8)A new baby in the family.

9)Mild sibling rivalry.

10)The deaths of two children.  (Under ten, no less!)  A third becomes dangerously ill with pneumonia.

I got to the end of the book and just thought–seriously?  And here’s the thing–it’s still Lois Lowry, and so it’s still powerfully written.  It still has incredibly poignant moments.  (For Pete’s sake, the woman wrote The Giver AND Number the Stars.  The WORLD knows she can write.)  I wanted to love this book.  Historical fiction about WWII?  East coast setting?  Coming of age themes (because yes, they’re there too!)?  This is generally a recipe for success for me.  At the end of the day, however, it was just too much.

A book narrated by a six-year-old can have a sociopath OR a psychopath.  I just don’t think it can–successfully–have both.

Ultimately, it’s a dud.  Right again, Mrs.  Mumford.

(If she were still alive, we’d go to lunch and talk about it.

I miss her.)

Jun 21, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Scattered Thoughts

Scattered Thoughts

1)I am SO PROUD of how hard my husband worked on the yards today.

2)Few blessings rival that of family.  Today my sister made it possible for my hubby to do yard work and me to take the girlies to Lagoon (Utah’s amusement park), and my in-laws and I took turns taking different groups of cousins around the park.  (This made it possible for both my adventurous girlie and my timid girlie to truly enjoy the day.)

3)There are few feelings more awful than the helplessness that ensues when you can’t make your child comfortable.  My poor oldest girlie has skin issues, and her feet are itching her so badly that she is currently awake and soaking them in a darkened living room.  At 11:59 p.m.  After a LONG day walking in a very hot sun.

Jun 18, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Parents: Beware!

Parents: Beware!

I know I’ve mentioned my fondness for Patricia Polacco; have I mentioned that my second girlie loves her as well?  (She’s drawn to the emotionally complex, so it’s not surprising.)  When there is an author that one of my children likes, I try to go through his or her books slowly to make them last–I check one or two out of the library at a time, putting another one or two on hold when those are due.  I found The Lemonade Club, however, by chance; I was walking through the library and saw it on display.  Hmmm, I thought.  I like lemonade, and those two girls look pleasant.  I can’t lose with Patricia Polacco, anyway.  And so I checked it out.

Here’s the thing, folks.  I certainly didn’t lose–far from it.  But I have YET to read that book out loud to my kids (and I’ve had QUITE a few chances!) without giving myself an aching throat, trying to read past the tears.  And while I might have cried before I became a parent, parents haven’t a snowball’s chance in you-know-where with this one.  It’s a (lengthy) picture book about cancer, friendship, teachers and students, and making lemonade with the lemons life gives you.  It’s even a true story, WITH a happy ending.  As much as it brought me to tears every time, it’s still totally worth the read.  You really shouldn’t miss this one.

Just remember–my mother had to send my girlie for a Kleenex.


The Lemonade Club

New From: $9.52 USD In Stock

Jun 16, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on I Don’t Love Sports, But…

I Don’t Love Sports, But…

…I really can’t resist a good sports movie.  Who can?  I was flipping channels tonight while feeding the baby and caught some of “Miracle” on TV, and it almost derailed my entire evening.  (Only a much-longer-than-usual to-do list prevented me from settling down to watch the whole thing.) Olympic movies, of course, are even worse that way–they add patriotism to the already potent everyone-loves-an-underdog theme–but I also loved “Remember the Titans” enough to buy it.  My friend and I–FEMALE friend, mind you–even saw “Glory Road” in the theater (did anyone else get a kick out of the fact that the racist Kentucky coach’s name was Adolph?).

It’s not just the movies, though.  I still get choked up remembering Dan Jansen’s gold medal race, not to mention Kerri Strug’s world-famous vault, and I can’t be the only one.  As much as sports themselves aren’t a passion of mine, I love watching people’s dedication, hard work, and passion achieve them their goals.  I do confess, however, that there are a few classics I haven’t seen (or saw so young I don’t remember them), and one of these days I’m going to remedy that.  “Chariots of Fire” and “Hoosiers” are at the top of my list.  What else should be on it?

Jun 14, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on If You Like Word Games…

If You Like Word Games…

I’m really not much for games on my phone, for several reasons.  I have a computer in my kitchen, after all, and I prefer computers to touch screens; by my own choice, my phone is not fancy enough to support more than a few options; I don’t want to have to fight off my kids whenever I’m holding my phone; and I try not to tempt myself to waste more time than I already do.  (This isn’t me being self-righteous, by the way.  This is me knowing my addictive personality.  Long before the Candy Crush period, my hubby downloaded a solitaire program with 92 varieties of the game on it–3 times.  All three times, I had to go to him and ask him to take it off to save me from myself.)

That said, there are times–school pickup lines, for example–when  you need to kill a few minutes, and after reading about a game called “Spelltower,” I asked my hubby to put it on my phone for me.  That one cost $2, I think, but it’s fun–it’s kind of a cross between Boggle and Tetris, except that instead of getting faster to get harder, some of the letters start coming with minimums (as in, this letter must be used to make a word that is at least 4, or 5, or 6 letters long).  More recently, he got into Wordbrain, which only fit on my phone after he removed Trivia Crack.  It’s also Boggle-ish, except that you have to use all the letters each time, and you graduate from 3 by 3s to 4 by 4s, etc.  (I’m on my first level of 4 by 4s, by the way.)  There are hints, and it tells you how many letters long each word in the puzzle is.  It’s fun, it’s not timed (I’m not usually a ‘timed’ fan), and it’s less addicting than Candy Crush.  (Let’s just say that it’s possibly a good thing that Soda Saga, for whatever reason, won’t work on my computer.)

What are your favorite word games?

Jun 12, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Dental Success

Dental Success

Today the girlies and I went to the dentist, while my fabulous aunt tended my littles.  The oldest was psyched; her sister, not so much.  “I don’t want to go to the dentist…”  I heard this more than once today, in her tiny little “I’m afraid of new things” voice, but no longer!  “That was fun!  I love the dentist!” was the refrain as we left.  Who knew that a ceiling TV showing Doc McStuffins and a new toothbrush could accomplish so much?

And for the record, while I do have one small cavity (the girlies none–yay!), it’s on the same tooth as my most severe gum recession.  Which means that when my dentist fills the cavity, he can put something on the top of the tooth that will (I hope) make cold drinks enjoyable again.

This is a good, good thing.

Jun 10, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on As You Wish

As You Wish

Why yes, I DID just finish reading Cary Elwes’s memoir about filming “The Princess Bride.”  How did you guess?

Seriously, though, I’ve been looking forward to reading this one for months…along with half the population of the Salt Lake Valley.  It took forever for it to come in at the library the first time around, and then when I didn’t get to it in three weeks, back it had to go.  (Books are only renewable if there are no holds–or enough available copies to fill the holds.)  In fact, it may have gone back more than once, but I always got it back eventually, and it finally moved up to the top of my ‘what to read next’ list.  And oh, I enjoyed it!  If I’m going to be completely honest, the writing itself wasn’t always my favorite–there’s conversational, and then there’s too many blasted sentence fragments–but ultimately, it didn’t really matter.  Cary Elwes sounds like a lovely person (the phrase ‘thoroughly pleasant, likable chap’ keeps coming to mind), and he obviously loved everyone with whom he worked on “The Princess Bride.”  The behind-the-scenes stories are often hilarious, and the book is peppered with comments by his fellow cast members, Rob Reiner, and a few others involved with the movie.  If you love “The Princess Bride”–if you can remember watching it and quoting it more times than you may admit to now–then you really need to read this one.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt down Memory Lane.

Jun 8, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on On Bottle Feeding

On Bottle Feeding

I’ve seen a few photo groups and one or two articles lately about bottle feeding, and how it can be a beautiful bonding experience with your baby.  I appreciate this, as I breastfed my first two children and bottle-fed my 3rd and 4th, for a variety of reasons.  I noted one interesting comment, though, from a woman who had also done both and asserted that breastfeeding was so much more something to her.  (I can’t remember what she said exactly, but the impression I got was that it was beautiful, fulfilling, etc. in a way that bottle feeding wasn’t.)  I’ve been holding in the perfect response to that for weeks, but I can’t resist sharing it, so here goes.

If breastfeeding is an activity you enjoy, that is fabulous.  Enjoy it.  I’m OCD enough that I find a certain satisfaction in cleaning that not everyone does.  But if you think bottle feeding your baby is significantly different in terms of your bonding with your baby, then you’re doing it wrong.

(And lest you think I’m attacking the maker of the comment, don’t worry; this is something else entirely.  If you’re not laughing, you probably don’t have firsthand experience with the advice I’m satirizing.)

Jun 6, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on One Of The Best Cult Classics Ever

One Of The Best Cult Classics Ever

Once upon a time, when I was about 8, we were visiting my aunt’s family in New Jersey and decided to go to a movie.  When we got to the theater, our first choice–“Three Men and a Baby”–was sold out; my parents looked for another movie at a similar time that was 8-year-old friendly, and came up with a show that fit the criteria, although none of us knew anything about it.  About two hours later, we left the theater somewhat bemused.  What sort of movie was that?  It was funny, it was romantic, it was adventurous, and the dialogue was both witty and a little bit weird. Whatever we had expected, it wasn’t exactly what we got.

The movie was “The Princess Bride.”

Now, of course, it’s a household name–at least among the people I know–but at the time, we’d never heard of it.  (Or Cary Elwes, with his how-the-heck-do-you-pronounce-that? last name.)  We certainly didn’t realize it would become so terribly popular over the years, although its popularity seems eminently deserved.  We just knew that the lines were funny, although the genre was undefinable.  It wasn’t until years later that I read the book, which is possibly even funnier, but it didn’t take nearly that long to appreciate that fact that, solely by accident, we’d witnessed the debut of one of the best cult classics ever.  Who hasn’t quoted–at least once–“My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die”?  (By the way, I almost died when I realized that Inigo and Archibald Craven from my “Secret Garden” soundtrack are one and the same.  That man is one impressive tenor.)

This really might be my favorite cult classic of all time, come to think of it.  There are others I enjoy, some I actively dislike, and some I’ve never seen.  What are your favorites?