Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy Almost Halloween and Long Live Meatless Monday!

First, HAPPY ALMOST HALLOWEEN!!  My second most favorite holiday.  I'm getting dressed up as a 'good witch' but minus the princess garb a la 'The Wizard of Oz'.  Why does the good witch have to look like a lost princess and the bad witch get the cool gear?  I intend to make THIS good witch look kick-ass (sorry mom, butt).  Pictures may follow.  I aim for kick-ass and (sorry, butt) if I end up with ridiculous but cute well, I'll cut my losses.  ANYWAY, it's also almost...Meatless Monday!  

YESSIR!  I am taking the risk they’ll kick me out of Texas by having and admitting to…MEATLESS MONDAY.  But I will take the risk of frightening my friends and neighbors and I will tell you why:

For my HEALTH:  Less meat means I’m cutting my risk of getting cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and less of a risk for me but still, obesity.  Just by eating meatless ONE day a week.  I’d stand on my head and read the constitution in Spanish five times a day if it meant I’d cut my risk of ALL these diseases.  So, not eating meat for one day a week?  Um, I can do that.

For my WALLET: Meat is expensive.  One day a week of no meat means I save about $1,200 a year.  That’s not enough to buy that mansion on the hills of the south of France but…it’s nothing to sneeze at.

For the ENVIRONMENT: Ellie has to live here on her own in about 17 years.  I’d like for it to be a reasonably pleasant place to be.  Besides reducing green house gases and reducing fuel consumption did you know it takes about 1,850 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, and about 39 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables?  The good people of California may be interested to hear that.  And, easy on the almonds you guys ok?  Jeepers.

The ONLY problem is…rethinking the ENTIRE WAY I’ve been raised.  Vegetables as the MAIN dish, not just the side dish?  Unheard of.  Meat.  Potatoes.  And a few green beans cooked to death and you will LIKE IT…!  Actually dad always had a small vegetable garden so we had fresh vegetables every summer and fall.  But still, having vegetables as the MAIN dish and not just the grateful sideshow?  Craziness.  

The first few times I had meatless Monday Bill grumbled about ‘where the rest of the meal was…’  We really had to rethink what a ‘meal’ meant.  It didn’t HAVE to include meat as the main dish.  In fact, it probably shouldn’t.  

Us Westerners lead the world in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity rates despite being the one of the world’s most developed and technologically advanced society. 

We also lead the world in amount of meat and dairy consumed.  

We're 'rich' and we suffer from the 'rich' kind of diseases.  We won't die of rickets but our arteries are slowly being plugged up from too much animal fat.  Read ‘The China Study’ if you’re interested.  (Or watch the documentary).  Who has time to read when you're trying to figure out how to make a meal using no meat and still have it be easy, quick, and filling!? 

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind now after all the studies published recently that eating less meat and dairy and eating more fruit and vegetables will make you live a longer, healthier life.  Now to move that knowledge into action.  It isn’t easy.  

Life is hard enough without having to research new recipes and buying produce you don’t normally buy and figuring out how to cook it right.  

But enough whining, just do it already Angela!

SO for the last few Mondays I’ve been using the slow cooker (veggie stew, super easy) or making veggie spaghetti - (even easier.)   Saute a ton of veggies, whatever you like, add tomato sauce and bring to a boil then simmer, cook da pasta, add some garlic bread and viola - a filling, vegetarian delight.  But I’ve decided to branch out from these two dishes, the only tasty and filling vegetarian dishes I know that use all the ingredients I may already have in the house and….bought a spaghetti squash.  Ba ba baaaa.  I’ve never bought one before.  

Apparently all I have to do is cut it half and microwave it for a few minutes in water to make it soft, then take out the squash and pull it with a fork to make it stringy?  Then saute some veggies, stewed tomatoes, garlic, onion, zucchini, green pepper, beans and ladle it on the squash.  Easy peasy?  We’ll see.  Not as easy as the frozen lasagna I’ve got in the freezer that’s for sure.  But you know what IS easy?  

The decision to eat less meat.  To do what I can to improve not only my own health but also my family’s health and the PLANET'S health at the same time.  It's a no brainer.  

Live long and prosper my friends - and long live Meatless Monday!!  Don't be a chicken...dooooo it!  Just don't tell my neighbors.  Tar and feathering are not in the distant past in these parts...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Schlumpy Mom

I am schlumpy.  Somehow I’ve lost my way with my stay-at-home-mom-uniform.  (You know it.  Black yoga pants and various crinkled clearance-bin T-shirts.) 

Maybe I shouldn’t be sitting here in my stay-at-home-mom uniform with mysterious stains eating ice-cream and watching ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’  I’m the before Anne Hatheway, the one with the long skirt she got at a thrift sale and the blue sweater she got on clearance at a Club Monaco.

Ah, but I’m beyond such things as fashion.  And clean, wrinkle-free clothes.  And make-up…right?  I’m too smart to worry about what I put on my back.  And yet, and yet…sometimes I wish I had a closet full of clothes I don’t need.  Two for every occasion.  And instantly I feel guilty.  Images of hungry children starving in Africa flash into my head.  So many better ways to use any extra money I have. 

And yet…as I sit here in my rumpled uniform and ponder the vastness of space and the fleeting nature of our lives I have to wonder…would it kill me to vary my uniform every now and again?  Wear a dress shirt?  Iron…something?  

I think I’m just missing a little adult-time in my life.  A chance to get dressed up and feel pretty instead of just grabbing what I can find that doesn’t smell on my way out the door.  Sometimes it’s fun to be a girl.  Put pretty nail polish on, wear a dress, try a new kind of mascara even if you don’t need it.

As I put on my gardening clothes and look for my trowel I think…this is good too.  My head is full of landscaping plans for our new backyard, on where the light hits the ground.  Where would be a good place to plant my lavender and sage?  On how to keep the deer from eating my roses.  I think I came to a choice a long time ago about what I wanted to focus on, on what I wanted to be.  And it wasn’t on how to dress.  I don’t know designers or frankly, how to put an outfit together.  (I have two colors in my closet - brown and black.  Anything other than that, mom bought it for me….)  And for the most part I’m ok with that.  

But.  I’ve REALLLY gotten bad lately.  Since I’ve become a mom I’ve sort of become third priority to myself…Ellie, Bill, me.  And that’s not right either.  I mean, really, I’m not a hundred yet I’ve still got one or two good years left where if I try really hard, I could still turn a head or two.

So, my vow for the next couple months is to get myself one new outfit and to wear make-up at least two of the seven days of the week.  Just for me.  Just so I can look in the mirror and instead of seeing a tired, pale face gaze back at me wearily, I see the vibrant youngish woman I feel like on the INSIDE.  Because that’s what matters.  Because being a good mom is about doing what’s best for you, too, every now and again.  A happy mom is a good mom.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nurturer, Weird Deer Remedy, Spider Bites

Nurturing.  It’s where I hit my stride, when I’m in ‘the zone’.  

Whether it’s pruning a new transplant, watering, or finding a sunnier place for them to sit, I love it all.  I’m talking plants, of course but as I was weeding the garden out back I thought, it’s all nurturing.  

Cuddling my baby girl, settling the dirt over new bulbs like tucking a baby under the covers, even baking the season’s first apple crisp, watching to make sure it doesn’t scorch.  It’s all nurturing.  It’s working in your own quiet way to encourage life.  Creating something from nothing.  Moving a thought from your heart to the world, that’s MAGIC.  Every backyard gardner, every amateur painter, anyone who has ever baked cookies, we’re WIZARDS! 

Every new sprout I see amazes me.  (It worked.  I planted something, and it GREW!)  Every time I manage to bring an indoor plant back from the brink, or try a recipe for the first time and it’s edible I think…this is a MIRACLE.    

Bill and I went to some yard sales Saturday morning.  We bought a bread maker AND a pasta maker.  We are SO AMAZING stupid-optimistic.  Anyway at the place where we bought the pasta maker we met an interesting older couple.  Joe and Olga.  They let us check out their back yard (I don’t know HOW this happened - all I know is Bill went for an early morning bike ride and when he came back he said I had to go with him to check out this guy’s backyard).  Sometimes Bill is a mystery to me.

ANYWAY.  Their backyard was very, very cool.  There were beautiful plants and trees strung with party lights (party lights!!) lining these labyrinth-like walkways that crissed and crossed and double-backed on one another.  All of these launched out from a rambling patio full of furniture and hammocks and flowers.  On our way back we found the outdoor kitchen complete with BBQ, sink as well as a fire-pit.  (I’ve always wanted a fire pit!)  They had circled the pit in with mulch and just threw old logs down with the odd chair.  There were picnic tables and small home-made benches scattered throughout as well as loads of different kinds of plants and trees.  The effect was spooky (will we find our way back?) and charming at the same time.  (Who cares!)  You could tell he added each new piece one at a time, over years.  If fairies were real, they'd be hanging out in this guy's backyard.

So.  I think I’ve got Bill on board with my backyard schemes which is nice.  Turns out I like spending time outdoors as long as it’s CLEAN.  I understand I have issues which may or may not impact my quality of life….

I loved the idea of walkways.  (What, I can avoid walking on the grass with all it’s weird Texas ticks and spiders and strange small bugs that rise from the grass and hover in mid-air like a tiny insect pool of grass-fish?)  AWESOME.  Not to mention the avoidance of deer poop.  And rabbit poop.  And to a lesser extent Toby poo.  To an even lesser extent butterfly poop.  (What, you didn’t think they poo’d?)  They do.  EVERYTHING ALIVE POOPS.  And in our backyard, it seems.

I will leave you with a martial spat about our backyard.  (Well, ONE of them).  I’m not picking up Toby poo when EVERY ANIMAL in a 500 mile radius finds our grass a delectable place to defecate!!

ANYHOO!  I wanted a fence for the garden, because of said defecating animals.  Bill doesn’t think BUILDING A FENCE is something that needs to be done.  Instead, he has googled this weird ‘deer remedy’.  Instead of a fence he’s wrapped the garden in FISHING LINE.  (We tried that cheap orange plastic stuff, the deer just chew through it.)  He says the deer can’t SEE the finishing line, just feel it, get freaked out, and leave it alone.  “That’s not going to work.”  I said.  Being all supportive and sweet as per usual.
“We’ll see and if not I’m out $5 for finishing line.”  He says being all annoyingly reasonable and calm.
“No, we’ll be out what I planted because they will EAT IT.”  My voice is getting higher.  I can hear it but I can’t stop it.
“We can set up something tasty inside to test it.”
“Well we have to wait a week until they get used to it.”
“They’re not going to get used to it.”
“Yes, they will.”
“No, they won’t.

Then we break out in a fist fight while Ellie referee’s.  BTW, Mommie always wins.  Mostly because Ellie can’t say ‘daddy’ yet.

ANYWAY.  He put it up today.  It took ONE deer exactly TWO hours to work up the courage to step through.  

“You know how I hate to be right but….THIS DIDN”T WORK.”  I say, being my usual gracious self.
“We-eeeelll.  He can see the line, it has water on it from the rain.”  Straws.  He’s grasping at straws!
“I know another place we can use that fishing line….”  I say sweetly.  So sweetly.

So.  In the interest of marital happiness I have agreed to wait until ‘there’s no water on the line making it visible…’

I’m a saint.  A SAINT I tell you!  

Oh and Bill got bit by a spider.  He’s fine, he’s fine but I had to nurture him too for a bit today.  Although with him for some reason I don’t feel the same peace and happy-buzz I feel when gardening or cuddling Ellie.

IE:  “Sit DOWN and put your foot up!  Sit DOWN!  SIT BACK DOWN RIGHT NOW.  BLEEP BLEEP Bill if you don’t sit down and put that ice pack back on I’m going to take that fishing line and….”)  Yep.  I’m definitely a nurturer.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Ear Infections, Pole-Vaulting and Hasselhoff Dreams

Ellie has had her first ear infection at 17 months and her first dose of antibiotics yesterday.  I’m pretty worried she’s not drinking enough water.  To make things worse she didn’t have her nightly bottle last night because she fell asleep coming home from our friends house and she slept through the truck-to-crib transition.  She’s still sleeping soundly.  

A mother’s dilemma…wake her up so you can solve the issue YOU’RE worried about or let her get the sleep she needs…I’ve decided to let her get the sleep she needs.  So now what to do with my anxiety?  What to do, what to do, what to do…I’m assuming she will be ok until she wakes up in the morning (or in 5 mins who knows).  So instead of laying awake in bed listening to Bill snore and Toby scratch his ears, I got up and did something useful.  I just finished cutting up watermelon for her for breakfast.  I poured water from the fridge into a glass and covered it with a plate so her water won’t be cold tomorrow.  (Well I covered it with a small plate so floaties wouldn't get in her water).  Moving on...

Then I did the dishes.  I went on a baking frenzy yesterday and baked cinnamon rolls basically from scratch (I had the flour from a box and added the yeast and made the filling).  NOT on purpose by the way, I thought the whole cinnamon-roll thing was in bags in the box and I’d just have to slap them together.  Ugh.  And of course I didn’t check this before I mixed the yeast and kneaded it so now I’m COMMITTED to the rolls.  But now it’s done.  Then I made an apple crisp.  (THAT is from scratch.  And pretty easy, actually.)  Not so much a frenzy as a splurge of baking…not something I could have done if Bill hadn’t been here yesterday to watch Ellie.  

Still, despite the exhausting ordeal at the clinic (rectal temperature check, need I say more?) she wouldn’t nap for Bill all day and instead fell asleep in the truck on the way to our friend’s house.  So when Bill asked if he could go golfing today, I was a little relieved.  She didn’t drink enough yesterday because I wasn’t right there with fresh water/juice and pushing it on her like a Heroin addict with a mortgage to pay like I normally do.  (And dad’s don’t think of that.)  And Bill had her walking around outside while I was planting daffodil bulbs longer than I would have, especially her being sick.  So today I will get a chance to rest with her, push liquids on her, get her to nap even if it’s in my arms while we watch TV.  (Not going for mom of the year here, just for HEALTHY BABY!)  Bill doesn’t approve of letting Ellie watch a little baby TV.  (Oh he approves of him watching HIS shows with Ellie watching.  That’s different…)  La la la.  Good thing he doesn’t read this…he’s a good lad.  He’s a good egg I just like to beat him around every once in awhile.  Scrambled eggs for variety every now and again, you know.  

I may be getting slightly loopy.  

3:04am.  There’s nothing else productive I can do.  I can edit my book I wrote.  I’m submitting it to another publisher for rejection as soon as I’m done going through it one more time.  It’s over 300 pages and I’m not an editor.  It’s like asking the painter to tell you what the chemical make-up of the paints are.  I DON’T KNOW I JUST WANT TO SPLASH SOME COLOR ON THIS BLANK WHITE PAGE.  But when you don’t have an agent and you want to get something published you have to go over every line with a fine-tooth comb.  They won’t do the editing for you.  There’s too many authors, too little time.  Publishing industry being what it is I should just save myself the grief and start learning how to pole-vault.  Pole jump?  Surely getting into the olympics is no harder than getting published (and selling real books in real hands).

Ah but that’s the 3:00am talking.  And reality, but mostly the 3am.  I think most people succeed at what they do because they love it (check) and because they don’t give up (working on it), and lastly a little luck.  I am TOTS lucky.  So, just a matter of time before Penguin Random House or HarperCollins picks up the book, publishes it, it becomes an INTERNATIONAL best seller (selling more in Germany than the US but that’s ok because it’s SELLING) and me and David Hasselhoff will ride off into the Berlin sunset together.  (Well, not TOGETHER, ew.)

Ok I’m going to bed.  And it’s my own fault if I dream of Hasselhoff.  No one to blame but myself.

The Brothers Cuomo

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that New York state is a microcosm of America. They’ve got the big city of New York, but also rur...